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December 31, 2008

Fantasy Fix

There have been a handful of trades in the NBA already this season, none bigger than Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess and Cheik Samb for Allen Iverson. In the real world, it was a trade that kept the Detroit Pistons high in the standings and helped push the Denver Nuggets into first place in their division. However, in the fantasy world, it has been a massive disappointment for Iverson owners.

The Answer is way off his career average in points per game, and while 18.7 PPG is still pretty stout, Iverson averaged more than 26 PPG last year in Denver. He's had a minor bump in assists and rebounds since joining Detroit, but the trade basically bumped a Top 20 player about 40 spots lower on the big board.

Meanwhile, Billups has been better, slightly above his recent annual scoring average of around 17 PPG and right around last season's APG of 6.8. Iverson and Billups are both in their early 30s, and were so even coming into this year that they probably were drafted consecutively in the mid-second round of some fantasy league drafts. Right now, you have to wonder if Iverson is starting a late career breakdown as a scorer, while Billups looks as consistent as ever.

For talk of more possible trades, let's turn to the experts:

* Sports Illustrated's Dec. 29 issue has some trade suggestions for NBA teams to make before the first half of the season comes to a close. The most interesting one from a fantasy perspective is Rasheed Wallace for Tyson Chandler. Wallace joining Chris Paul and David West in New Orleans would be an exciting move for Hornets fans, but what about the fantasy effect?

West probably would lose a few touches on offense, though he probably would be counted on for a few more rebounds. Paul doesn't shoot many three-pointers, so Wallace, who still attempts multiple threes every game, wouldn't necessarily upset the balance there.

* Bleacher Report has a post on the decline of the center position in the NBA. It's true that several centers have been mediocre this year. After hyping Dwight Howard to death this fall, I've been mystified by his ongoing inconsistencies - horrible free throw shooting, bad field goal percentage nights from a guy who normally shoots from three feet away or less, and no effort to even pretend an interest in assists. Howard still has his monster rebound and block games, but I think we were promised a rounder set of numbers this year.

The same goes for the aforementioned Chandler, who seemed to have his break-out year last year with the Hornets, but this year has been playing like he did during his time with the Bulls.

* ESPN has a column on one of the latest fantasy metrics catching on - points per 48 minutes. I've heard this one before, and it's an interesting indicator, but also hard to build a team around. Sometimes you just needs guys who are getting playing time on a consistent basis to win out the week. You can't rely totally on super-subs whose per-minute averages are sky high if their real week-to-week totals remain low.

Fantasy Football Round-Up
I know what you're thinking: What else is there to say? Well, there's next year to think about. I started that game last week with a mock first round for next season. This week, it already looks stale, since my round-closer pick, Tom Brady, allegedly may not be ready for the 2009 season. I had kept LaDainian Tomlinson out of the first round, but let's put him back in to take Brady's place.

But, there's another San Diego Charger I also want to mention as a sleeper pick for next year: Darren Sproles. Earlier in the season, the kick-returning RB looked to be in line for a bigger offensive role. That didn't happen until the last quarter of the season, but Sproles' slick running and scoring on short passes in recent games provides great promise for next year.

In the best case scenario, he'll still get KR points to supplement a growing as a short-range pass target in San Diego's increasingly pass-happy offense. I like Sproles as a fifth-rounder next year, which may seem very high now, but he was tied for the lead in receiving TDs (5) by an RB with none other than Brian Westbrook, and finished 20th in total points by an RB in my recent fantasy league.

The fantasy football experts are taking their last laps around end-of-the-season stats:

* Roto Arcade takes a shot at predicting the first four rounds of next season's draft. They aren't on the Sproles bandwagon yet, but how about rookie Chris Wells in the second round?

* The Sports Network examines how unpredictable this year's fantasy football season was by looking at the disappointments that befell players drafted consistently in the first round. I guess that's why Roto Arcade and others are forecasting much different first rounds next year, as guys like LT, Steven Jackson, Brian Westbrook and Joseph Addai will drop into the second round in many drafts.

* The Dallas Morning News has end-of-the-season performance accolades to hand out. None of them are too surprising, but "Most Likely to Succeed in '09: Pierre Thomas" caught my eye. He is a totally different kind of RB than Sproles, at least physically, but like Sproles, he's a No. 2 with good hands in a pass-happy offense.

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:48 AM | Permalink

The Year Down Under: Australia In Review

The Year in Review in Australia as told by Andrew Kingsford's ten favorite Sydney Morning Herald stories of 2008.

*

Headline: "Aussies beware: the Kiwis are coming"
Date: July 2, 2008

*

Headline: "Budgies: an endangered species"
Date: August 8, 2008

*

Headline: "Tempers flare at Boobs on Bikes parade"
Date: August 20, 2008

*

Headline: "Chopper Read arrested"
Date: August 25, 2008

*

Headline: "Kiwi sperm quality in free fall"
Date: October 21, 2008

*

Headline: "How the American dream could come true for this Australian"
Date: October 23, 2008

*

Headline: "Did Kevin Bacon put the faeces in the ice-cream?"
Date: October 27, 2008

*

Headline: "When AC/DC's back in black"
Date: October 28, 2008

*

Headline: "Barack Obama's fairytale unfolds in no-fly zone"
Date: November 6, 2008

*

Headline: "Shark horror: snorkeller dead, kayakers menaced"
Date: December 28, 2008

-

Andrew Kingsford is the Angry Aussie. If you see him in the Greater Wicker Park-Humboldt Park area, cross the street to the other side.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

Obama's Senate Seat Saga

A look inside the Obama transition team's internal report.

*

"Emanuel has declined to speak to reporters about his role in Senate succession and left for vacation in Africa before the report's release," the Tribune reports. "In a conference call with reporters, Craig characterized Emanuel's conversations with Blagojevich as 'completely innocent' and 'completely appropriate'."

*

Transparency policy: we'll post our carefully calibrated positions and failures to comment on our website and make our bullshit transparent!

*

"Craig said his investigation should put to rest any suspicion that Obama's staff was involved in dealmaking, but the timeline of conversations in the report contained apparent inconsistencies that raised new questions about Emanuel's role on behalf of the president-elect."

*

Ed Genson says his internal report should put to rest an suspicion about his client too!

*

"Craig's report also did not explain why Blagojevich felt he had been rebuffed by Obama's transition team in trying to cut a deal to name Jarrett to the Senate."

*

"Obama has portrayed himself as taking a hands-off appraach to the governor's decision about whom to appoint to his Senate seat. But the report noted that he was very interested in who would succeed him in the Senate."

*

Should reporters to whom Emanuel leaked Valerie Jarrett's name as trial balloons now come clean and reveal him as their source? And is it even remotely possible he was "freelancing" against Obama's wishes?

*

"Emanuel, in a follow-up call to Harris, later added two names approved by Obama: Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and Cheryle Jackson, a former Blagojevich spokeswoman who now heads the Chicago Urban League."

*

Why would Obama add Madigan's name to the list? To clear the field for his gubernatorial-minded pal, Alexi Giannoulias.

*

"Jarrett did not perceive Balanoff to be speaking 'as an emissary of Gov. Blagojevich' in the conversation, Craig said."

*

Is it remotely possible that Jarrett, a veteran of the Daley administration and former board member of the CHA, CTA and various other tasks in the guts of the Machine, failed to see what was so plainly going on? How would such weak perceptive skills square with all those glowing profiles of her as the savvy strategist who is "the other half of Obama's brain"?

*

"Obama also said 'he had no interest in dictating the results of the selection process and he would not do so, either directly or indirectly through staff or others,' the report said, adding that Whitaker relayed that information to Peters."

*

But we know that Obama indeed did try to influence the selection process.

*

Then again, if Jarrett bailed because the process was dirty, why this?

"After Jarrett removes herself from consideration from the Senate seat, Obama discusses other qualified candidates with Emanuel and Obama adviser Axelrod, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., state Comptroller Dan Hynes and Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth. Obama understands that Emanuel will relay these names to Blagojevich's office."

And again, if Obama "understands" that Emanuel will relay these names to Blagojevich's office, how is that not trying to influence the selection process?

*

"But the report, when meshed with allegations in Blagojevich's criminal complaint, portrays Jarrett as being far more involved in seeking to be appointed to the Senate than has been previously known," the Sun-Times reports. "She removed herself from consideration after a conversation with a union official who had spoken with Blagojevich."

*

Emanuel listened to at least one recording, according to an AP report.

*

"Blagojevich, the complaint indicates, met with Balanoff around Nov. 5, at which time the governor understood Balanoff 'was an emissary' to discuss Jarrett's interest in the Senate seat."

*

"'Though their conversation would seem to suggest that Blagojevich - who holds the sole power to appoint Obama's replacement - was seeking a quid pro quo, 'Ms. Jarrett did not understand the conversation to suggest that the governor wanted the cabinet seat as a quid pro quo for selecting any specific candidate to be the President-elect's replacement,' the Obama report states."

*

"Obama, who has downplayed his role in the Senate selection process, 'believed it appropriate to provide the names of multiple candidates to be considered," according to the report."

*

"Unlike other contenders, who went hat-in-hand to Blagojevich - under an ethics cloud even before he was arrested Dec. 9 on public corruption charges - Jarrett did not approach the governor directly. I can see why. Would have been off message," Lynn Sweet writes.

*

In other words, don't taint the image with reality.

*

Greg "Alberto" Craig is going to be Obama's White House counsel.

*

"What Emanuel did not know was that Obama 'had ruled out communicating a preference for any one candidate'."

*

And yet, that's just what Obama did.

*

"No one suggested a link or quid pro quo."

Um, Patrick Fitzgerald did. C'mon!

*

"Just after accepting the top post with Obama, Rahm Emanuel discussed with Blagojevich the possibility of keeping his congressional seat 'warm' for him for a couple of years, the Sun-Times has learned."

*

Shouldn't Obama be asked if the thinks this is appropriate behavior for his chief of staff?

*

"Sources said Obama broached the subject of finding a candidate to temporarily fill the seat . . . there was discussion about whether Blagojevich could appoint an interim replacement, according to the criminal complaint in the governor's case."

That's instead of the special election called for by law.

*

"The report suggested that Mr. Obama had been more involved in thinking about his Senate successor than his public statements about the topic had indicated," the New York Times reports.

*

That's been clearly established. The question is: Why? Why the phony feints, Barack? My hunch is that Obama did not want to appear to be acting like a political boss - even though that's just what he was doing and it wouldn't have been inappropriate in this case. But also, if Obama actually did choose his successor in the U.S. Senate, he couldn't have helped but peeve off some of those who wouldn't have gotten the job. Barack Obama is a political animal of the first kind, and he tried to navigate a potential minefield - helping to turn it into a real one.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

The [New Year's Eve] Papers

1. Roland Burris is nuts too.

2. Alternate career moves: Roland and Rod in the Mornings.

3. A Top 10 Top 10 List.

4. Rod's Resolutions.

5. Let's clarify a few things. I've seen and read commentators express the notion that Roland Burris is tainted because Rod Blagojevich is the one appointing him, but they seem to have some trouble articulating the taint beyond that, pointing out that Burris is seemingly "qualified." I think I can help.

The reason why the selection of Burris is tainted is because his selection is the result of a corrupted process, without which Burris would never have been picked.

If the process had not been corrupted, the governor - be it Blagojevich or Pat Quinn - would certainly have made a different selection, most likely from among usual suspects Jesse Jackson, Jr., Jan Schakowsky, Lisa Madigan, etc.

Burris would not have been on that list, even as a wild card, the way, say, a Kwame Raoul might have been.

Another way of putting it is that we are not getting one of the top 10 or so folks in contention for the seat, nor someone else who earning the seat through a special election, but instead maybe the 20th person who might have showed up on some lists.

And by accepting the appointment, Roland Burris has already shown he's unworthy of it. Danny Davis suddenly looks a lot better; Bobby Rush looks like a fool.

Finally, Rush's race-baiting is despicable on several levels, but merely sticking to pure logic, it's not as if Burris is the only African American who can fill the seat. And if the U.S. Senate finds a way to reject Burris, it won't be because of the color of his skin. In fact, whoever would emerge as the alternative to Burris might very likely be African American as well.

So let no one be fooled.

6. Who else can we blame? State Democrats, that's who. Not only did they install Rod Blagojevich into every "elected" office he's held, but they refused to move on impeachment until it was too late. Then they refused to approve a special election that would have taken the Senate seat decision out of Blago's hands.

But it's not entirely clear-cut that that alone left Blago with no choice to make this appointment. The intention of state Dems clearly was that Pat Quinn would make the appointment. Unfortunately, they gambled with our Senate seat for their own political ends - and we lost.

7. And don't let anyone tell you a special election would be too costly. Of all the things we spend money on, surely democracy is the one we can afford. We also could have billed the Illinois Democratic Party and watched them try to fight it.

8. My favorite line so far comes from Jeffrey Toobin on CNN: "Rod Blagojevich is out on bail!"

9. "[I]t takes guts to keep a straight face while Democrats about you are losing theirs," John Kass writes.

10. More havoc to come, this time replacing Rahmbo:

"According to the Illinois Board of Elections, Blagojevich is not required to set a date for a party primary before the special election, but can."

11. The founder of Jimmy John's makes good in Elgin.

12. "Neighborhoods that recently bustled with teardowns and new construction are now filled with many such unsold homes, testament to a collapsed housing boom with a unique Chicago flavor," the Tribune reports.

More like a unique Chicago stench.

*

"Mayor Richard Daley has maintained the tradition of letting aldermen have the final say over what gets built in their wards. Almost half of the zoning changes approved by the council members are done despite opposition from City Hall's own planning staff.

"In case after case, aldermen ignored neighbors' complaints as well as planners' warnings that proposed projects would be too dense or would not be consistent with the character of the neighborhoods."

13. My doctor told me about this during a recent visit. I left with a cool Lexapro tissue box.

14. "In the past three years, 206 complaints were logged against CashNet at the Better Business Bureau," the Tribune reports. "All but five were resolved or 'administratively closed,' meaning the BBB determined CashNet made a reasonable offer to settle the issue. Even one unresolved complaint results in an 'unsatisfactory' BBB rating."

Anyone who has dealt with the Better Business Bureau knows it's totally ineffectual. But I digress.

"In September, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation fined CashNet $30,125 for violations found during a March 2007 exam. The violations included 59 instances of CashNet either not noting in a database when a loan was paid in full or when it was originated, and 25 instances of not telling consumers that they had a right to a repayment plan in a separate signed document. CashNet said it has resolved all issues cited in the state's report.

"CashNet, which does business in more than 30 U.S. states and the United Kingdom, points out that it has served more than a million customers. [CashNet President Timothy] Ho said more than 90 percent of users are satisfied."

Did he say it with a straight face? Because that's the way the Trib reported it.

15. "Cuban buys theater stake."

I sure wouldn't want to sit by him. Real talker.

16. "January 1 is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians," the New York Times reports.

17. Jay Mariotti with the No. 1 Most Erroneous Column of 2008.

18. Welcome to Illinois.

19. Name that firm!

"In 2008 Owensboro paid a Chicago advertising firm $50,000 to come up with a trio of new, exciting catch phrases for the city."

-

20. The Winter Classic at Wrigley

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Seat warmer for your soul.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 AM | Permalink

December 30, 2008

Blago's Subpoeana Saga

Editor's Note: While we've had the testimony before the Illinois House Special Investigative Committee of Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform posted on the site for several days, I just noticed that I missed the earlier testimony of Jay Stewart of the Better Government Association. The subpoeanas in question in the testimony have finally been released to the BGA, which issued this statement on Monday. And now, on to Jay's testimony.

December 18, 2008 - I would like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to testify today.

The events of last week are deeply troubling and as a result the functioning of state government has been seriously impaired and will remain so as long as Rod Blagojevich remains Governor.

Our state is in crisis and the Better Government Association ("BGA") supports the action taken by the General Assembly by initiating these impeachment hearings. The removal of an elected official is an extraordinary event, but we are not living in ordinary times. These hearings must proceed in a manner that promotes public confidence in our government. It is imperative that the people have confidence in our rule of law, as embodied in our Constitution, and in our elected officials. Therefore, all interested parties to these hearings must be provided with an opportunity to be heard and due process must be preserved. To the extent that my testimony can assist the General Assembly in these important proceedings, I am pleased to be a part of the process and look forward to answering any questions that you may have.

It is my understanding that the Committee is interested in the BGA's successful litigation with Governor Blagojevich over his refusal to produce federal grand jury subpoenas we have requested under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"). I will try to summarize events surrounding the litigation. In addition, I am submitting exhibits connected to the litigation, including a transcript of the trial court's ruling and the written opinion of the 4th District Court of Appeals to supplement my testimony.

The BGA is a nonprofit civic watchdog group based in Chicago. Since 1923 the BGA has been dedicated to combating waste, corruption and inefficiency in state and local government.

In order to achieve our goal of improving the operation of state and local government, the BGA has traditionally relied on the tools of investigative journalism to expose wrongdoing in government and working with mass media to educate the public on our findings. Accordingly, the BGA uses FOIA on a regular basis.

During the summer of 2006 the BGA, along with many others, read news reports that Governor Blagojevich's office had recently been subpoenaed by federal investigators. At least one such news report in the July 21, 2006 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times stated that the Governor's Office refused to discuss the subpoenas.

Shortly after reading the Sun-Times article, on July 24, 2006 the BGA sent in a FOIA request to the Office of the Governor asking for copies of federal grand jury subpoenas issued to that office. The request was copied to the Public Access Counselor in Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office.

On August 7, 2006, counsel from the Governor's Office responded with a denial. The letter stated "[a]s you know, this Office cannot confirm or deny the existence of the documents requested." Never in my experience with a FOIA request have I ever received such a bizarre response. The letter went on to state that "even if this Office were to have documents responsive to your request, such documents would be exempt from release under Section 7(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act." Section 7(1)(a) of the Act prohibits the disclosure of information if such disclosure is prohibited by federal or state law, rule or regulation.

On August 31, 2006, the BGA appealed the denial to Governor Blagojevich. The appeal contested the denial as improper, in part because hypotheticals are not grounds for denial and in asserting the exemption in Section 7(1)(a) the Governor's Office failed to specify which federal or state law, rule or regulation prohibited disclosure. The appeal was copied to General Madigan and the Public Access Counselor among others.

On September 15, 2006, counsel from the Governor's Office responded with a denial to our appeal.

On October 26, 2006 the Public Access Counselor copied the BGA on a letter written to the Governor's General Counsel. The Public Access Counselor, aware of the BGA's dispute with the Governor's Office, informed the General Counsel that under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, requests for copies of federal grand jury subpoenas must be complied with. Despite the letter, the Governor's Office did not produce the subpoenas.

Before deciding to file suit under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to compel production of the subpoenas, on November 7, 2006 the BGA wrote the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois and asked if such litigation would be opposed by that office. We recognized that if the U.S. Attorney objected to the disclosure, the state court might find that release of the subpoenas would interfere with the ongoing investigation into "fraudulent hiring practices" being conducted by the U.S. Attorney.

On November 13, 2006 the U.S. Attorney's office responded and did not encourage or discourage such litigation, but certainly did not assert that our action would interfere with the ongoing investigation.

On January 4, 2007 the BGA filed suit in Sangamon County against the Office of the Governor under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act seeking production of the subpoenas. (Attached as Exhibit J). Among the documents attached as exhibits was the letter from the Public Access Counselor to the Governor's General Counsel. That same day the BGA informed the U.S. Attorney's Office of our suit.

On August 7, 2007 the BGA filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint added Governor Blagojevich as a defendant and sought the same records as the original complaint.

To date, the U.S. Attorney's Office has never asked the BGA to cease the litigation, and has not filed any pleadings with the state court to indicate that disclosure would interfere with the ongoing investigation.

The BGA filed suit for two primary reasons. First, the BGA believes the public has the right to know what is going on with its government. Public officials often seek to limit and control information when things go wrong. As the public pays for government operations regardless of whether they are run well or poorly, we feel the public should have a clear idea of what is happening with their government.

Second, the BGA believes that the law applies to everyone, even the Governor of Illinois. He has public records relating to a very important issue, namely that his office has been served federal grand jury subpoenas. Rather than ignore this unpleasant issue, it should be aired to the fullest extent possible. Simply being Governor does not mean public records laws don't apply to you or your office. During a hearing in the trial court, Judge Kelley asked the Governor's lawyer:

I do have one question for you Mr. Londrigan. Say a person receives a Federal Grand Jury subpoena from the Northern District of Illinois. Could that person be subject to either the contempt powers of the Court or criminal prosecution if that person voluntarily discloses that subpoena to somebody else?

MR. LONDRIGAN: No, sir.

The Governor acknowledged that the law and rule on which he relied on does not prohibit disclosure of the subpoenas, yet he has continued to deny access to the documents, continued to spend public dollars on private lawyers to fight our suit, and continued to defy the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act as enacted by the General Assembly.

On January 9, 2008 Judge Kelley ruled on the Governor's Motion for Summary Judgment and the BGA's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Judge Kelley ruled in favor of the BGA, finding, in part, that Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)(2) does not prohibit the disclosure of federal grand jury subpoenas due to a request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. In ruling in favor of the BGA Judge Kelley relied in part on the language of the Freedom of Information Act, "[p]eople have a right to know the decisions, policies, procedures, rules, standards and other aspects of government activity that affect the conduct of government and the lives of any or all of the people."

On March 3, 2008 Judge Kelley denied the Governor's motion to reconsider.

Subsequently, the Governor appealed Judge Kelley's decision to the 4th District Court of Appeals. After briefs and oral argument the 4th District Court of Appeals issued its opinion on November 19, 2008. The appellate court upheld Judge Kelley's opinion. In ruling against the Governor's argument that Rule 6(e)(2) prohibits disclosure of federal grand jury subpoenas under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act the court wrote:

Our legislature enacted the FOIA in recognition that (1) blanket government secrecy does not serve the public interest and (2) transparency should be the norm, except in rare, specified circumstances. The legislature has concluded that the sunshine of public scrutiny is the best antidote to public corruption, and Illinois courts are duty-bound to enforce that policy." (Emphasis added).

The BGA has asked the 4th District to order the Governor to turn over the subpoenas we requested. The Governor has asked the 4th District to refrain from ordering production while he decides whether to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

According to published reports, the Governor has spent more than $150,000 in legal fees in this matter and a similar suit in Cook County despite the clear provisions of state law.

That concludes my summary and I would be happy to answer any questions the Committee may have.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

BREAKING: Blago to name Burris to U.S. Senate; Reid says no.

* Governor schedules 2 p.m. press conference. Can General Assembly indict and convict by then? Keep in mind, he usually runs late!

* Governor to name replacement for Obama as president-elect at 4!

* Roland Burris totally a chump, sources say.

* Burris in the Beachwood: Links to Burke, Cellini, Deutsch, Cacciatore.

* Hazy memory of thought upon meeting him: Nice guy, but what a zero.

* Laura Washington, Nov. 10: "[Washington] reports that Roland Burris is throwing his hat into the ring to replace Obama in the U.S. Senate.

"I can think of one reason it shouldn't be Burris," she wrote. "We already have an oversupply of egomaniacal blowhards in the Senate."

* From the Beachwood, Dec. 11, 2008: "It's true that Obama did not support Blago in the 2002 primary; he switched over in the general election. In the primary he backed Roland Burris. Roland Burris?"

* Via the BGA: Since 2002, Burris & Lebed Consulting has contributed (by my possibly faulty math) $10,796.23 to Friends of Blagojevich. Wow, that Senate seat is really going for a discount now that it's tarnished.

* New Wikipedia entry for Burris just up.

* Experts debate: Is Roland Burris insane? Madigan considers court motion to remove him.

* Burris was reportedly awakened by a phone call at 6 a.m. and asked if he'd like to be a U.S. Senator. At first he replied, "Is this a joke?" "No," he was told, "it's the governor."

* Journal of Self-Involved Psychology to devote next issue to whether Burris or Blago is now the most selfish and deluded pol in the state.

* Maybe Blago was just trying to find someone to share a press conference with who appears less competent than he does. Because Burris is making a hash of this.

* U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-AT&T) is now at Burris's side. He just thanked God for the decision by Blago. God reportedly called Rush at 6 a.m. and told him he helped make the appointment. At first Rush replied, "Is this a joke?" And then the voice in his head said, "No, it's God."

* Dane Placko: "Disarray is a good way to describe this news conference."

BREAKING: Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn now holding his own press conference.

* Will name Lt. Sen. to vacant seat.

* Says that Burris said on Dec. 13 that Blagojevich should step down.

Continuing Coverage!
* Tom Cross on Fox News Chicago: "He's the governor who just keeps on giving. It's astonishing."

* Memo to James Warren, now talking on MSNBC: Can we please put a moratorium on pundits who always tell us to "Step back and take a deep breath" whenever something breathtaking happens?

The [Tuesday] Papers
Now would be an excellent time to revisit our "Take Me Outside To The Hawks Game" piece, by the Beachwood Winter Classic Affairs Desk. Then come back and read the rest of this column.

Welcome Back!
Wasn't that funny? Way funnier than the frickin' Tribune Company. Now would be an excellent time to read "The Year The Tribune Company Became A Joke." Then come back and read the rest of the column.

Welcome Back!
Is that lame or what? It's almost hard to believe the folks behind that nonsense are in control of one of the nation's most significant media companies - and that they eat a whole lot better than I do!

It's really not fair.

100 Seasons in the Sun
We had joy, we had fun
Another season in the sun
There's a bone in our throats
It's the hundredth year we've choked

Now would be an excellent time to hear the song by our very own Tom Latourette. Then come right back!

Gov. Baloneyvich
Blago's Subpoeana Saga.

Mock Docs
10 Things Hospital CEOs Won't Tell You, including "I'm a CEO First and a Health Care Professional Second." (via Consumer World)

A Beachwood Christmas
Now would be an excellent time to revisit our 2007 "Twelve Days of Beachwood Christmas," starting with "The Twelve Days of Cubness and working your way backwards by using the links at the bottom of each page. And then hurry back

Welcome Back!
New in our sports parody library: a couple of old favorites from Green Bay Bill.

* I'm Sammy

* Calendar Bears

Holiday Specials
* Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol

* Snowzilla

National Rep
Chicago Crime Spree (middle image) by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tripp Tick
Now would be an excellent time to revisit "Naming the New Palin."

Shielding Commenters
"An Illinois grand jury subpoenaed The Alton Telegraph newspaper in September 2008, seeking the names, addresses and IP addresses of readers who posted comments to TheTelegraph website under five pseudonyms," the Citizen Media Law Project notes. "The subpoena required that the newspaper's keeper of records appear before the grand jury with the requested records on October 2, 2008.

"According to one press account, the state's attorney seeks this information in connection with a murder investigation that does not involve The Alton Telegraph. The state believes that one of the anonymous commenters has information about past criminal activity on the part of the subject of the investigation.

'The newspaper moved to quash the subpoena, arguing that the Illinois reporter's shield law protects the identities of the anonymous commenters as "sources.' It also moved to postpone the return date of the subpoena, apparently successfully. As of October 17, 2008, the court had not ruled on the Alton Telegraph's challenge."

I wasn't able to find any action since then either.

Movie Mojo
"I suppose in the next couple of months I may work up the enthusiasm to pretend that David Fincher is some kind of artist and that I care anymore about Clint Eastwood," our very own Roderick Heath writes. "I saw some of the best films I've ever seen in the past twelve months--trouble is, they were all from last year."

Motown Mojo
From Natasha Julius and The 0-16 Affairs Desk:

"I want to talk a little football. Clearly, I have a lot of wounds to lick in this regard. The Michigan Wolverines were so freaking bad I fled the country and holed up in a sweaty yoga retreat just to avoid them. And still I felt shame. The Bears managed to transform a decent 9-7 record into one of the most painful viewing experiences I've ever had. Both of these dubious achievements pale in comparison to the 17-week waterboarding that was the 2008 Detroit Lions.

"A little history: I used to be a Lions fan. I knew they weren't particularly good, but they offered a steady diet of amusing mediocrity along with flashes of transcendence, mostly provided by Barry Sanders. They were ho-hum more often than they were awful and they seemed like pretty nice guys. That's all I really asked of them. Then the Lions organization hired Matt Millen. He was an unlikable prick, which hurt my sensibilities, but he assured me and the rest of Lions nation that his piss-poor attitude and penchant for treating everyone like garbage were the outward manifestations of a profound football intelligence. They were not. When his contract was extended after the 2005 season, I had had enough. I formally renounced my Lions fanship and devoted myself to a team I felt might actually give two shits about winning a championship. Sadly, that team was the Bears, but that's a different story.

"Since that time, my only wish for my former team has been that they fire Millen. I have close relations who still bleed Hawaii blue and silver and it was embarrassing to see them represented by that incompetent fuckwit. So I was thrilled when his substantial ass was given the heave-ho, and like so many in Lions nation I enjoyed the public revelation of slights and sins that accompanies any such abrupt regime change. I'm not proud, but when you've finally washed that man right out of your hair all you really want is reassurance that it was worth it, he really was that big of a dick, and you're better off without him.

"Then the rest of the season happened.

"It felt really good to watch Millen's downfall, to see him publicly shamed by the owner's son in addition to the creative protests lodged by fans. But the truth is that getting rid of Millen, while undoubtedly the right move, is not the answer. Sure, the fish rots from the head down, but decapitating the fish doesn't remove the stink. A leader that toxic destroys everyone around him and leaves in his wake an infrastructure built to support exactly his sort of disgrace. It takes generations of work to excise that type of cancer. Yes, it's great to throw the bastard out on his ear and scatter his clothes all over the front lawn. But now you have to go through the ordeal of divorcing him. And it sucks, and it's exhausting, and pretty soon you're thinking it doesn't really matter who you bring in to replace him because it's got to be better than he was, right? And that is the perfection of this kind of corruption; you become so debased you replace hope with resignation and you don't even realize it. And far be it from me to draw some kind of clumsy parallel between the fate of history's worst football franchise and, say, this exact moment of outrage in state leadership because, Pat Fitzgerald knows, I'm way above indulging in that sort of cheap journalistic gimmickry. I'm just saying. Diagnosing the disease is not the same as curing it.

"And now that I've constructed metaphors based on football, cancer, pollution, divorce and animals, I have officially exceeded my allegorical budget for 2008. Thank Fitz this season is over."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Feel the warmth.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

The Year Tribune Company Became A Joke

The Sun-Times was already a joke on several levels, including its ownership, before 2008, but while the Tribune and Tribune Co. have always had their share of problems, they weren't jokes worthy of pure ridicule until this year. Here are two press releases the new Tribune Company put out that neatly bookend, I think, how lame this venerable institution actually became.

( I almost picked another moment instead to illustrate the point - when Tribune reporters e-mailed me asking if I thought Sam Zell was for real because they were so excited to find a cardboard cutout or somesuch of Bob Dylan in Trib Tower with the lyric, "the times, they are a-changin'," to which I could only try to suppress the urge to throw up on several levels, but no, I think these do nicely.)

Note to Tribune Company: The only thing worse than not being funny is trying to be funny and thinking you've succeeded when you haven't even gotten close.

Secondary Note to Tribune Company: You can't change organizational culture with slogans and press releases.

Addendum to Secondary Note to Tribune Company: While irreverence is welcome, facts are not to be trifled with by a news organization. Duh.

Here we go.

1. Tribune Company Press Release, April 7, 2008. This is real, folks.

Surely You Can't Be Serious? Marc Chase - President Of Tribune Interactive!

Randy Michaels' run of acquiring radio-management stars came to a screeching halt today with Chase's appointment

CHICAGO, April 7, 2008 -- Another freaking Clear Channel Communications executive on the payroll and this one's been named President of Tribune Interactive.

Tribune Broadcasting's Randy Michaels' past finally caught up with him when Marc Chase obviously blackmailed his way into a position he is not remotely qualified to hold. Insiders are irate. Chase is a fraud. A source inside Tribune HR, who wished to remain anonymous, pointed out that Marc Chase's resume (below) was obviously fabricated. First of all, his name isn't even Marc Chase--it's Mark Thompson. The whole thing is a sham.

MARC CHASE 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC 20500 202-456-1111

PROFESSINAL EXPERIENCE

Vocabulary Advisorist for George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
Washington DC, 2004-present

eBay
President of Buying Crap
San Jose, California 2003-2004

Google
Executive Vice President of Finding Crap Anywhere
Mountain View, California 2001-2002

Microsoft
Senior Executive Vice President of Technology and Stuff
Seattle, Washington, 2000-2001

CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX Television
Vice President of Watching TV A Lot
Los Angeles, California 1999-2000

Harvard University
Dean of School of Internetology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998

EDUCASHION

Nearly Graduated with Honers
School of Alabama in Atlanta Georgia 1985

COMMUNITY SERVICE

400 Hours (reduced from 600)
Judge gave time off for good behavior

Chase was quoted as saying, "Timing and infrared photography are everything. I couldn't be happier! I know Randy is relieved to finally have me on Sam's payroll."

Tribune has undergone major changes in the past year, with billionaire Sam Zell acquiring the company last April in a complex deal that left it with $13 billion in debt. Since then, Zell has brought in new executives to fill key roles. This one takes the cake.

Last December, Zell hired Michaels -- who helped Zell to build Clear Channel into a radio behemoth that he could then sell -- to oversee Tribune's broadcast and Internet divisions. It is obvious Michaels has lost his mind with this hire.

--By Hugh Jass - A Reputable Media Source

©2008, Bogus Information, a division of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe. All Rights Reserved.

---------------------------

CONTACTS:

» Media Contacts:
Gary Weitman
Tribune Company
gweitman@tribune.com
312/222-3394

---------------------------

TRIBUNE is America's largest employee-owned media company, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting. In publishing, Tribune's leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.), The Sun (Baltimore), South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant. The company's broadcasting group operates 23 television
stations, Superstation WGN on national cable, Chicago's WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune's print and broadcast properties and extend the company's nationwide audience. The company is also becoming known for its sense of humor and for not taking itself or the industries in which it operates too seriously.

--------------------------

Um, about that last line . . . the company was not and is not "becoming known for its sense of humor," though it was and is becoming known for its enormous debt load and shriveling revenue.


2. Tribune Company Press Release, December 15, 2008. Lessons not learned.

Ed Wilson "Sells Out" as New Tribune Chief Revenue Officer!

Hopes to "Sell Out" Inventory to Help Advertisers Move Products and
Grow Tribune's Operating Cash Flow

Takes Job At Local Starbucks As First Step

CHICAGO, December 15, 2008 -- Tribune Company today appointed Ed Wilson as chief revenue officer with responsibility for growing the company's publishing, broadcasting and interactive revenues. He remains president of Tribune Broadcasting, overseeing the company's 23 television stations, WGN America, and WGN Radio. His appointment is effective immediately.

"In the ten months he's been here, Ed has rebuilt Tribune Broadcasting and completely changed its culture," said Randy Michaels, Tribune's chief operating officer. "His eye for talent and his determination have created an environment that rewards innovation and hard work, and delivers results for our advertising customers -- I'm confident he'll have the same impact across the rest of the company."

Wilson joined Tribune after serving as president of the Fox Television Network from 2004 to 2008. In this position, he was responsible for network sports and entertainment sales, legal standards and practices, and Fox's 200 affiliated stations.

"We've really stepped up our sales efforts this year and we're seeing solid results, but we've got to do even more for our advertisers," said Wilson. "That means developing new products and new, innovative ways of reaching audiences across all our platforms -- internet, broadcasting and print. It means being aggressive and smart."

Known for his ability to work long hours on little sleep, Wilson also will man the night-owl shift at the Starbucks down the street from Tribune Tower. "With this third job, I'll have access to free coffee," Wilson said, "which means I'll have the stamina and energy for my two jobs at Tribune -- and I'll contribute a portion of my Starbucks' paycheck to the company as a way of kick-starting new-revenue generation."

Prior to working with Fox, Wilson served in executive positions with NBC and CBS. In 2000, he helped found NBC Enterprises and served as its first president. In that capacity he supervised foreign and domestic syndication, merchandising, licensing, music and publishing, as well as domestic and foreign co-productions and co-ventures. Prior to that, Wilson was president and CEO of CBS Enterprises and Entertainment.

In 1994, Wilson founded his own syndication company, MaXaM Entertainment, in partnership with A.H. Belo Corp. The company was sold to CBS in January 1996. His career began in 1980 as a sales trainee for Viacom. Let's face it, the man's driven.

Wilson was born and raised in Rison, Ark., and he is a graduate of the University of Arkansas. He is married and has two children.

---

TRIBUNE is America's largest employee-owned media company, operating businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting. In publishing, Tribune's leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Sun-Sentinel (South Florida), Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call and Daily Press. The Company's broadcasting group operates 23 television stations, WGN America on national cable, Chicago's WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Popular news and information websites complement Tribune's print and broadcast properties and extend the Company's nationwide audience. At Tribune we take what we do seriously and with a great deal of pride. We also value the creative spirit and are nurturing a corporate culture that doesn't take itself too seriously.

It's nice not to take yourself too seriously, but when you demean your own work, that's another thing altogether. What remains to be seen in 2009 is if the Tribune Company takes journalism seriously anymore - and the warning signs don't look good.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

100 Seasons in the Sun

Goodbye to Lou and this year's Cubs
Been swept again by another West Coast club
Now there's no joy in Wrigley Field
Another playoff year is sealed
Maybe that goat curse is real

100 Seasons

Goodbye Dempster, with all your talk
You couldn't buy a strike through seven walks
Then you gave up one big grand slam
Could hear a pin drop in the stands
Only silence from the fans

We had joy, we had fun
Another season in the sun
There's a bone in our throats
It's the hundredth year we've choked

Goodbye Cubs brass, you had a priest
Sprinkle holy water on the players' seats
Perhaps he should have doused their gloves
Four errors was enough
No help from the man above

Goodbye Kosuke, you're on the bench
Where there's a filthy foul and putrid stench
Soriano sitting there
I smell Aramis in the air
A four-hit turd is all they share

We had joy, we had fun
Another post-season is done
We've lost nine in a row
Won't be singing "Go, Cubs, Go!"
We had hope for this team
But they shattered all our dreams
Eddie Vedder we will flay
Won't be going all the way

Goodbye Ronnie, this ain't your year
No more Frosty Malts and no more beer
Without the bleachers we're just bums
Has this franchise made us dumb
Thinking we could overcome

Goodbye to Lou, playoffs you reek
You only need a toothpick in your teeth
One Dusty Baker was enough
You've joined the string of losing clubs
The perfect skipper for the Cubs

We had joy, we had fun
One hundred seasons in the sun
But this franchise is cursed
Will ever finish first?
We had joy, but we suck
Another season, what the ?
And to add to our shame, the cursed White Sox won a game

Don't you know any team
Can have a bad century
And when next year is done
We'll be on 101

We had joy, we had fun
One hundred seasons in the sun
We've lost nine in a row
Won't be singing "Go, Cubs, Go!"

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Also from the Beachwood Sports Parody Desk:
* Eddie Elia
* Please Stop Believin'
* 99 Years of Cub Losses
* Blame It On Bartman
* We Can't Wait 100 Years
* Dusty Must Get Fired
* Let's Call The Crosstown Off!
* Louuuuu!
* Ode to Ozzie
* The 12 Days of Cubness
* The Hester Man Can!
* I'm Sammy
* Calendar Bears

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

December 29, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

I'll continue to post throughout the site this week, though I likely won't post Papers columns on Thursday and Friday.

Bye Bye Babich
"Lovie didn't deserve to go to the playoffs," our very own Jim Coffman writes. "Neither did his errand boy/defensive coordinator Bob Babich. Together they have presided over the precipitous decline of a great defense during the past couple of years, capped off by yet another lousy performance against a mediocre quarterback during a must-win game. It is a defense that - despite its highly paid status (only the Baltimore Ravens spend a higher percentage of their payroll on the defense) - no longer has anything special on which to hang its hat. Nothing except for the knowledge that harsh conditions in Chicago will almost always help out for at least a game or two late in a given season, that is. And that is pathetic."

Ugly Chicago
Blair Kamin's tackiest building of the year.

Chicago Cookie World Weeps
Pinwheel plant perishes.

[ Just do a search at the link for Maurice Lenell if you want to read this; it's on its third URL and I can't keep up]

Gloom and Doom
The year on the CTA.

Smells Like Tech Spirit
The guitar stylings of local tech whiz Adrian Holovaty.

Recession-Proof
Pot, condoms, God.

Red Alert
High school students have less than one week to put their creativity to work on entries for a statewide disaster-preparedness contest.

Secretary of Earmarks
Searching the land over for the best possible appointment in an era when the days of appointing your buddies is over. Right?

Emil III
Please go away.

Best Buy Bonnie & Clyde
Illinois couple's scam.

All She Wanted For Christmas Was . . .
. . . a shower.

Holding Tank
"Eric Holder - President-elect Barack Obama's pick to head the Justice Department - has amended his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation paperwork to include a tie to Gov. Blagojevich," the Sun-Times reports.

The omission, which was made after the governor's arrest, was 'not memorable'," said Obama transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter.

Reached for comment, Alberto Gonzales said, "Hey, they're stealing my material!"

Like Saran Wrap
I'm not sure what Lynn Sweet is complaining about; I think the Obama team has been perfectly transparent.

Recalibration
"The question is on the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans and it's something that we plainly can't afford moving forward," David Axelrod said this weekend in yet another iteration of tax cut policy. "And whether it expires or whether we repeal it a little bit early we'll determine later, but it's going to go."

Or not. Depending.

Inaugural Ball
"Barack Obama may change Washington when he takes over the White House next month, but when it comes to paying for his inauguration, the president-elect is mostly doing it the old-fashioned way - putting the warm on wealthy supporters and promising VIP treatment on the big day in return," the Tribune reports.

Snow Job
The Sun-Times editorial page on Sunday tells Chicagoans to stop whining about the mayor's failure to salt and plow our roads and instead grab a shovel.

In a certain sense, I suppose, it's a nice sentiment, but we're so turned around in these parts that we no longer know what government is for. Keeping our roads clear and safe is a core responsibility of government - unlike, say, planting flowers and hosting Olympic games and raising revenue by immobilizing cars.

We all already dig ourselves out of our on-street parking spots, and some folks even shovel their own driveways. But it's beyond the capability of residents to salt and plow the miles and miles of streets in our fair city, and it's ludicrous to suggest that they ought to try.

Ebenezer Morrissey
I don't understand what Rick Morrissey has against the Winter Classic hockey game at Wrigley Field. It promises to be one of the coolest things ever. This is what it's all about, Rick.

We Don't Read So Good
Chicago is only the 34th most literate city in America.

I have to say, not only is my hometown of Minneapolis tied with Seattle for No. 1, but sister city St. Paul is No. 4.

Let Them Eat Nails
University of Chicago business school professor John Cochrane thinks the efficiency of the market will take care of our economy.

"People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do," he says.

Yes. For example, they could pound nails in the heads of University of Chicago professors instead.

Insanity Defense Lives
"If somehow [what I've done] is impeachable, then I'm on the wrong planet," Gov. Blagojevich says.

So true. So when is your return flight?

Blago Blah Blah
"I think there's probably tens of millions of people across America that talk like that from time to time," Blago said.

So true. For example, the other night at the Beachwood I said, "I'm holding the [bleep]in' pool table and I'm not about to [bleep]in' give it up for [bleep]in' nothing, because it's [bleep]in' golden. Now go get me a [bleep]in' beer."

Now Boarding
"Boarding Gate is, in some ways, a pure, reductive B-movie," our very own Roderick Heath writes, "with Argento as its manga-gorgeous muse (Sandra herself had created a sci-fi heroine for a website with whom Miles identifies her), and depending on Argento's ever-ready love of stripping off and stripping down to shift from wilted orchid to Venus Flytrap in a blink. Yet it's also deeply eccentric. Although the plot is more deftly constructed than first glance might suggest, the film never cares particularly about explaining it to us, and the final 20 minutes constantly perverts the expected."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tonic with a twist.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:27 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

Lovie didn't deserve to go to the playoffs. Neither did his errand boy/defensive coordinator Bob Babich. Together they have presided over the precipitous decline of a great defense during the past couple of years, capped off by yet another lousy performance against a mediocre quarterback during a must-win game. It is a defense that - despite its highly paid status (only the Baltimore Ravens spend a higher percentage of their payroll on the defense) - no longer has anything special on which to hang its hat. Nothing except for the knowledge that harsh conditions in Chicago will almost always help out for at least a game or two late in a given season, that is. And that is pathetic.

Don't even start to bring up Mike Brown's injury. It was a miracle the safety played as many games as he did this season. Brown did so after it became clear two campaigns ago that he simply isn't big enough or strong enough to withstand the NFL pounding for 16 games plus (the playoffs). He shouldn't feel bad - neither is 99.9 percent of the population. Brown may be big enough to play free safety, where he isn't called upon to consistently sprint toward the line of scrimmage in run support. But that isn't his strength. Brown is better when he plays strong safety, flies toward the ball and delivers audacious hits without even beginning to think about the consequences. But those consequences always send him to the sidelines at some point. With that in mind, it was also clear a ways back that the Bears needed to have a plan B, perhaps one that started with the signing of at least a moderately experienced free-agent safety who could step in when Brown went down and keep things reasonably organized. That plan was never instituted. Instead there was Danieal Manning, in a rerun of the play that, if it didn't lose the Bears the Super Bowl two years ago, it certainly put them on the road to a loss (more details to follow), inexplicably moving way up when he should have been way back . . . and then watching as Andre Johnson hauled in the long touchdown pass that started the Bears' most recent demise.

On Sunday, the defensive line once again failed to generate enough pressure on a quarterback who was susceptible to pressure. The Bears did hit Matt Schaub a few times early, and he was struggling before Manning decided to play Santa Claus. First and foremost in the off-season, this squad needs a big, physical defensive tackle who can command double teams and keep offensive linemen off Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs (who may be an outside linebacker but who lines up inside the defensive ends more often than not). If the Bears can't track down a guy who fills that bill, a pass-rushing defensive end who can drop back in coverage reasonably well would be nice. Really, it will be simple for the Bears in the off-season. Grab the best defensive player available, whether it be free agency or the draft, and go from there. And hey, Jerry Angelo, sign an experienced free-agent safety, would ya? You'll be able to get one cheap, I promise.

I'm not sure if it was after Andre Johnson's sixth or seventh catch that it occurred to me that the Bears, despite knowing that he was by far the Texans' most dangerous weapon, had no answer for Johnson other than usually having Charles Tillman cover him all over the field. Johnson eventually finished with double-digit catches, of course, and two touchdowns (how impressive was that touchdown grab when Tillman had his hand right in there ready to pull the ball out except he couldn't because Johnson was way too strong?) Let's make a New Year's resolution, shall we NFL media? Let's promise to focus on the best players in the league next season - guys like Johnson - and spend less time on me-firsts like Terrell Owens, who re-affirmed his cancer status yet again in the Cowboys' shockingly huge loss to the Eagles later Sunday. That was the loss that would have made the Bears the wild card team had they not gagged against the Texans.

What could Lovie and the errand boy have possibly have seen during the previous 15 games to lead them to believe Tillman on Johnson all over the field was a good idea? Corey Graham ends the season as the Bears' best cover corner. He's also the best in run support. At least Tillman retains the title of "Best Ball Hawk," after pulling out an early bobble to give the Bears a big first-quarter boost. Otherwise, he should quietly cover the receiver on his side when next year kicks off. Unless he gets beat out by Nathan Vasher. Graham will be good to go on the other side.

*

That long touchdown to Andre Johnson . . . the one where he was unbelievably open behind the Bears defense . . . where have I seen that before? Wait a minute, it was almost two years ago . . . after the Bears jumped on top of Indianapolis in the Super Bowl . . . when Reggie Wayne ran a relatively mundane deep route to Manning's side of the field. And just like he did on Sunday, Manning moved up for reasons only he understands, leaving his deep zone absolutely uncovered. Manning's inexcusable mental lapse led to Peyton Manning's easiest touchdown pass of the 2006-07 post-season, and surely Schaub didn't have an easier scoring strike this regular season than the one he threw to Johnson for Houston's first score Sunday.

As for the offense, well, the Bears made it through an entire season without one significant injury on the offensive line, a miraculous happenstance that should have led, at the very least, to double-digit wins. But they were done in by a brutally undermanned wide receiving corps. That was particularly evident several times on Sunday when the Texans blitzed, the line either picked it up or Kyle Orton moved forward to avoid the rush, and then the quarterback let go of passes toward Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd either failed to get even a tiny bit of separation from the guy covering him or his route wasn't quite crisp enough for Orton to hit him in stride.

As far as special teams go, let's just say that whoever is returning what next year, both Danieal Manning and Devin Hester need to undergo the remedial course in ball security during training camp. You may have forgotten that Hester had another fumble on Sunday (he foolishly reached out with the ball in a futile attempt to get a first-quarter, first down) but had the good fortune to watch the ball roll out of bounds before the Texans could grab it.

Wait a minute - let's have at least a few notes before we go:

* I'm all for a contract extension for Kyle Orton in the off-season, as long as it doesn't exceed three years. And that's all I'll say about that. There is way too much talk about contracts in the modern day sports town square. That stuff is red meat for sports radio - knowing that much guys make is always good for a few calls - but it is so much more interesting to talk about the sports stuff rather than the money stuff.

* Very nice bit from analyst JC Pearson early on as he assessed Schaub's brief hissy fit after it appeared rookie running back Steve Slaton failed to pick up a blitz. He noted that Texans coaches have been on Schaub about not criticizing teammates about missed assignments too frequently. He noted "You can't get on guys all the time, especially when you aren't playing very well." Unfortunately soon thereafter Schaub started playing a lot better.

* The Sun-Times's Mike Mulligan just missed calling the score. His Sunday paper prediction had the Texans winning 31-23. The little tabloid that could also featured Bear beat writer Brad Biggs telling us the Titans would win by 10. Biggs wrote a beautiful piece for the Sunday paper about how Lovie and errand boy were on the spot. In a perfect world, the head coach would now acknowledge the error of his ways and go looking for a new coordinator. Somehow I'm not optimistic about that happening.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

December 26, 2008

Recession Proof

Ad Age has come up with a list of recession-proof businesses. So have we. First theirs, then ours.

Theirs:

1. Soup

2. Mouthguards

3. Bankruptcy law

4. Walmart

5. Thrift Stores

6. Laxatives

7. Cable TV

8. Guns

9. Spam

10. Cheap beer

Ours:

11. Pot

12. Craigslist

13. Loan-sharking

14. Religion

15. Condoms

16. English

17. Left-handed relieving

18. Penis extending

19. Tampons

20. Ammunition

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 PM | Permalink

December 25, 2008

The Best of Adrian Holovaty

Adrian Holovaty is the Chicago tech whiz behind such projects as EveryBlock and Django. He's also a gypsy jazz guitar enthusiast who posts his arrangements on his YouTube channel. Here are my favorites:

1. Build Me Up Butter Cup

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2. Smells Like Teen Spirit

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3. Maybe I'm Amazed (embedding disabled)

4. Buddy Holly (embedding disabled)

5. Interstate Love Song

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6. MacGyver Theme

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:40 PM | Permalink

December 24, 2008

Blago's Cursing Gets An "F"

The coin of Blago's realm has become so hopelessly deflated that confused observers are even amazed about his ability to curse, as if he had any skill at it. I say it is the opposite.

The State of the Cursing Union has become so flaccid that the governor's lame excuse for blue language is given far more credit than it deserves. Ever the hack, the guv apparently wasn't raised properly.

I was. Lucky the son was taught to cuss properly by his father.

Fathers may teach many skills but the cathartic, cleansing value of expletives well-launched cannot be overstated.

Unfortunately, this is a universe populated by amateurs and ne'er-do-wells who swear too often and with no skill. I hate bleeping amateurs.

As my father taught me to bait a hook with an uncooperative and agitated night crawler, he also taught me the utility of quality cussing.

Of course, this was not a tame, sterile classroom exercise.

It was observational and hands-on.

I value this education not because I swear often but because I can, if the moment and inspiration are right, do so with a grand eloquence that clearly escapes the governor - though his wife appears to possess a more natural gift of nasty gab.

There is no way I can swear as well as my father did, for he was an artiste in the form, a Flemish Master of Foulness. When he swore, the words could hang like fluffy notes caught in the night air.

Just as the paint-by-the-numbers government hacker uses the same colors as geniuses, the palate of cussing has a standard repertoire, and I need not bore you with the specific words.

But you know what they are, or most of them.

The art, as it was taught to me, involved how you string these words together, the meter of the punctuation and which vowels get the proper exclamation. Also, my father often interspersed the standard vocabulary with other terms.

His was a contrapuntal, iambic pentameter cussing. He had an unerring ear when it came to syncopation.

He might say that an offending co-worker was an inconsequential, indifferent and thoroughly intolerable bleep-er bleep-er. And you can take that to the bleep-ing bleep-er bleep-er bank. His bank had a lot of bleeps.

We pause here to note that not everyone thinks cussing is a good thing, and that it might, indeed, be a negative social convention. One of them is Jim O'Connor of Lake Forest who has made thousands, millions maybe, teaching people how to not cuss.

His Cuss Control Academy instructs companies and groups how awful cussing is; how detrimental to commercial good and relationship amity the practice can be.

For $1,500, he'll instruct you and your co-workers how to be a generally happier member of the species. It's more if you live in Wisconsin, or Borneo. Travel expenses are high.

He's a best-selling author on the topic, and he's been on 85 TV shows, 600 radio stations and noted in 450 magazines. He's even gotten Oprah to quit cussing, for heaven's sake.

He tempers his anti-cussing theology by noting that some moments of overwhelming stress, and others where a literary turn of hostile phrase might be useful, are still acceptable. If Rhett Butler had said, "Frankly, Scarlet, I don't give two hoots," it just wouldn't have been the same.

Mostly, he says, there's just too much cussing for no good reason.

To this I can offer no countervailing evidence. I suspect Jim is completely right.

O'Connor says his highest goal is to help create a more civil society, and you can't be civil by calling everyone a bleep-er bleep-er.

Of course, there's an existential trap in that logic.

Soothing, thoughtful language isn't necessarily less obscene because the words are less toxic. A lie isn't less of a lie because you tell it in less hostile terms.

And terrible harm caused by one to another can be even more devastating with calm, precise words.

So I remain resolute about the legacy of my father's cussing.

I am the curator of a sweet science. Am I proud? Fuck, yes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:32 PM | Permalink

A So-Called Wonderful Life

1. The Lost Ending

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2. By JibJab

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3. George W. Bush's Blunderful Life

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4. Product Placement

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5. The Bank Run

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6. Kafka's Ending

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:59 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix

Last week's moral dilemma - whether to start last-minute pick-up Tarvaris Jackson over regular season starter Eli Manning - resulted in the devil on my shoulder winning and Jackson starting over Manning.

Despite Minnesota's collapse against Atlanta, Jackson outscored Manning in the fantasy realm 26-17. Unfortunately, that still wasn't enough for my guys, who lost the league title by four points. I was about to write "by a measly four points," but I know some leagues are so tightly competitive that the final score might be a difference of just one or two points.

My big mistake was starting Braylon Edwards over Jerious Norwood in a flex line-up slot. I love Norwood, but I really thought Minnesota and its Bear-stopping run defense would keep him quiet. Meanwhile, Edwards had a tough assignment in trying to snag Ken Dorsey's errant passes, but also was playing with a chip on his shoulder, which I thought would be good for a TD. No dice.

Anyway, the fantasy football year is done for some of us, so here's my list of most pleasant fantasy surprises from this season:

QB
* Aaron Rodgers: Responsible for 29 TDs (four of them rushing).

RB
* DeAngelo Williams: I'd love to say it Matt Forte, but 20 TDs (18 rushing) outweigh the fact that he's behind three other guys in rushing yards.

WR
* Calvin Johnson: OK, not surprising to find him near the top, but 1,229 receiving yards and 10 TDs for an 0-15 team?

TE
* Zach Miller: Only 1 TD, but 744 receiving yards put him among the league leaders for this position. Could mean great things for next year.

And it's way too early to talk about next year, but that won't stop me from forecasting the first round of next year's fantasy draft for a 12-team league:

1-Adrian Peterson, RB
2-Michael Turner, RB
3-DeAngelo Williams, RB
4-Maurice Jones-Drew, RB
5-Frank Gore, RB
6-Brian Westbrook, RB
7-Matt Forte, RB
8-Drew Brees, QB
9-Steve Slaton, RB
10-Marion Barber, RB
11-Chris Johnson, RB
12-Tom Brady, QB

That's right - no LT until Round 2.

One of our experts is also already taking a look at next year, too:

* Roto Arcade's early first-round list includes LaDainian Tomlinson, but where's Brady? Is he really going to fall out of the first round after his injury?

* Speaking of Senator Brady, Bleacher Report's Lee Johnson shows how it was in fact possible to survive the Week 1 loss of the demi-god QB. Matt Cassel didn't start fast, but had a handful of great weeks. Honestly, if Brady is down next year for some reason, Cassel could go pretty high (though not in the first round).

* The Las Vegas Review Journal doesn't tell you where to draft Brady next year, but it does tell a very nice story about how a $1 million fantasy football dream can come true. It's going to be the best Christmas ever . . . at least for one of us.

Hoopsville
The same year that Jerry Sloan is celebrating two decades coaching the same team, six teams had already fired their coaches this season as of last week. The coach, of course, is the fantasy basketball league owner's worst enemy. He keeps the world in the dark about injuries to his top players, lowers a player's minutes if he looks in the wrong direction, and flattens a star scorer's tendencies when the team offensive effort appears lopsided.

He's only doing his job, of course, but that sometimes messes with your ability to execute your own grand fantasy plans. The changes this year have a lot of people speculating on the players whose fantasy years could be turned around by them. But, as far as I can tell, none of the coaching firings this season looks to have much of an effect on any individual fantasy bottom lines, with the possible exception of Maurice Cheeks being ousted in Philadelphia. Cheeks is a well-known all-around good guy, but under him, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand have been having horrible seasons.

Iguodala had slid well off his numbers from last season, and some of that was due to Brand arriving as the new scorer in town, but Brand has been way off, too. Now injured for at least a few weeks, Iguodala has the best chance to break out of a slump that may have been due to a plodding offense that didn't give him the ball nearly as often as he used to get it. The speedy Iguodala was making up for that on defense, by bumping up his rebounds a notch, but he has much more fantasy value as a potential Top 10 scorer. He may now get his chance.

Here's what the other fantasy basketball experts are saying this week:

* Hoops Lab says another Sixer might also benefit from the coaching change there.

* Fantasy Lab has a piece on how the well-worn guidelines that carry many an owner through a fantasy football season can be applied to fantasy basketball as well. This is good timing, with more football die-hards trying the court game these days.

* Steve Schwarz of The Sports Network reports on the value of this year's rookie class, looking specifically at how the playing time of guys like Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo, among others, has made them indispensable. So, look for a rookie whose PT is inching upward, and do what you have to do to get him on your team.

Happy Holidays from Fantasy Fix!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:05 AM | Permalink

The [Christmas] Papers

A wintry mix of news and holiday items.

1. The audio version of 'Twas The Night Before Fitzmas.

2. Where to go for jerk.

3. "Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band will put out a greatest-hits album next month, and the only place to get it will be Wal-Mart."

The only way this is acceptable is if the Boss then uses the proceeds for union organizing at Wal-Mart.

4. Ethan Michaeli writes:

Many of you have written to me in the past few days to express your sympathy for the family and friends of Beauty Turner, our former assistant editor who passed away Dec. 18. I am writing today to let you know about funeral arrangements for Beauty. The wake, funeral and repast all will be held this coming Friday, Dec. 26 at:

Greater Harvest Baptist Church
5141 S. State St.
Chicago, IL
Wake from 9 am - 10 am
Funeral from 10 am - 12 pm

The repast will be held at the Swift Mansion, 4500 S. Michigan Ave., beginning at 3 pm.

Beauty's family has asked me to thank all of her friends and admirers and to invite everyone who wants to celebrate Beauty's life. Many of you have asked about making donations, and Beauty's family has asked me to let you know that they will accept donations at the wake and funeral. You may also want to send a donation in her name to:

The Poor People Millennium Movement
148 W. 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60628

Lastly, the family has also asked for people to bring food to the repast.

5. Don't read Russo's blog.

6. Did the Illinois Gaming Board just cut off our nose to save face? It sure looks that way because, let's face it, Des Plaines was the third-best choice for a new casino - a lame compromise choice not unlike making Arne Duncan the Secretary of Education. After all, this was no time for a state agency to actually award a lucrative enterprise to the lowest bidder.

Now let me say at the outset that, as much as I enjoy a casino myself, I'm not a supporter of government involving itself in the dirty and frankly immoral business of corporate gambling - especially as a way to raise revenue because our tax structure is so screwed up and discredited that we have to deal cards and sell parking meters in order to pay police officers and home-care aides.

But within the context of the gaming board's decision, Des Plaines failed as the best choice on every ground except that of least evil.

First, as supporters of Waukegan's bid argued, the state's gaming law is predicated in part on placing casinos in economically distressed communities. If that is no longer operable, rewrite the law.

Second, as supporters of Rosemont argued, it came in with the high bid.

And most observers seemed to think that Rosemont was the perfect site given its proximity to O'Hare and the unique nature of the tiny village as a mini-entertainment complex.

Yes, I know as well as anyone that Rosemont has long been mobbed-up. I just think there was another way: award the casino to Rosemont but remove the village from any management role and don't give it any more revenue than any other suburb in the split that both it and Des Plaines proposed.

In fact, it would have been a nice idea to send a certain percentage of the profit to Waukegan.

Des Plaines is a cute little town. But placing a casino there is a total failure of imagination.

7. The Titan Peeler: Peel In Any Direction! Up, Down, Back and Forth. Cuts Prep Time in Half!

8. The man behind the Des Plaines casino is wealthy Chicago developer Neil Bluhm. I wrote about Bluhm and his (now-failed) efforts to make a go of it on Block 37 for Chicago magazine in 2000; I'm trying to find my copy of that article, which is naturally not online. In the meantime, Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky weigh in.

9. The Bears really beat the odds; they only had a 2 percent chance of still being viable for a playoff spot at this juncture, according to stat whiz John Dewan.

Dewan now calculates the Bears chance of winning the division at 24 percent, and the Bears chance of winning the wild card at 10 percent.

There is also a 10 percent chance the NFL decides not to award a North Division championship this year on principle.

10. The size of the Reader staff has gone from 38 people to 17 under Creative Loafing ownership. And you can hardly tell!

(h/t to whoever pointed this part of the item out to me, I can't remember where I read it first.)

11. The O'Hare noise commission was a sham, dontcha know.

12. When a lot of people weren't looking, the General Assembly not only reinstated the state's questionable tax credit for movies filmed here, but increased the subsidy and eliminated the sunset provision.

13. If Jennifer Aniston is going to continue posing nude for dopey Photoshopped magazine covers and assail us in non-stop trailers for mediocre romantic comedies, she deserves every bit of paparazzi madness that comes her way.

14. "Maxwell Street Misdeed Erased."

15. "Man Survives 40-Foot Fall From Dan Ryan Overpass."

"Man Survives 100-Foot Fall From After Dan Ryan Crash."

"Man Survives 240-Foot Fall From Dan Ryan Overpass."

"Man Survives 350-Foot Fall From Dan Ryan Overpass; Image of Virgin Mary On Asphalt Credited."

"Man Survives 500-Foot Fall From Dan Ryan Overpass; Obama Catches Him."

"CBS Announces New Show: Survivor: Dan Ryan."

"City Sued; Daley Says People Fall From Dan Ryan All The Time."

16. "Residents Demand: Plow My Block."

Or what, you won't support the Olympic bid?

17. Flashmob, anyone? All disgruntled residents should gather at City Hall at noon on Monday and throw a snowball at the Fifth Floor.

18. "No Pork In Stimulus Plan, Biden Says."

A) In other news, Ray LaHood decides to decline Transportation Secretary post

B) In Obama administration, wasteful spending on pet projects for political gain will be all-vegan

19. "Chia Pets: The Evergreen Holiday Tradition."

20. I'll have something on the Obama-Blago report shortly on the Politics page; the rest of the site will be updated throughout the holiday weekend including new column items every day, so check back early and often.

21. Come, let us adore him.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Our gift to you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

December 23, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

I was planning on writing about Elizabeth Brackett's interview of David Axelrod on Chicago Tonight last night - she did a fine job in the portion I saw - but I really don't feel like being a buzzkill this morning.

Yeah, I don't know what's gotten into me, either.

Maybe it's the Easy Listening station I'm listening to on Comcast. You know, the Hollyridge Strings doing the Beatles songbook and the Golden Dream Orchestra doing "Try to Remember" from Easy Compilation Vol. 1.

It will pass. I'll be on to the Metal channel soon, I promise.

A Chicago Christmas
Give the perfect gift: a privatized parking meter.

Being Blago's Brother
We're learning a little bit more about Blago's brother, Robert, also known as Fundraiser A.

Dickipedia
Blago's now in it.

The Moment Passed
Okay, the Metal Channel has Sonic Syndicate doing "Encaged" from Love And Other Disasters, so let's talk about Axelrod after all.

One problem with political reporters is that they never ask about what goes on behind the scenes; instead they essentially ask candidates, officeholders and their aides and strategists to rehearse their talking points. Interviews tend to go like this:

REPORTER: Even though we've heard it a million times, what is your talking point on Issue A?

TOOL: [Talking point on Issue A]

And so on.

Or there is the classic deflection that reporters allow because they are so lame.

REPORTER: How do you explain the fact that just a day after receiving a campaign contribution from Montgomery Burns, you switched your vote against allowing an expansion of his nuclear plant to a vote favoring it?

TOOL: This expansion is going to provide jobs, and that's what the American people are really concerned about. In fact, I've got a 10-point plan for job creation, let me just take you through it . . .

REPORTER [five minutes later]: Thank you for joining us.

When it comes to someone like David Axelrod, whose main job is to craft messages that are then disseminated through the media, reporters never ask how those messages were crafted and disseminated. For example, you never see this:

REPORTER: David, tells us about the discussions that took place between you and your candidate about what kind of image you would create for public consumption. How much market research did you do? What was your strategy for selling it to the media? Which reporters did you decide to give early access to and why? How did you negotiate all those cover stories with outlets like GQ and Men's Health?

The media act like they aren't a part of political strategy at all. In campaign post-mortems, you never read that the winning candidate was successful in part by persuading the media to buy into this narrative or that, or quashing damaging news stories by releasing a barrage of irresistible soft stories about, say, the fashion tastes of the candidate's spouse, at just the right time to make the other stories go away.

In the case of Axelrod, if you were interviewing him now you might want to ask if he still believes in patronage, as he wrote in a Tribune Op-Ed three years ago. And if Barack Obama agrees with him. No one, to my knowledge, has asked Axelrod about his side business creating fake citizen groups for corporations, and how that squares with his image as a "true believer" in progressive causes. (And it's still not clear if he was the one who leaked Blair Hull's divorce issues to a friendly local columnist and/or other reporters at the end of Obama's Senate campaign.)

Perhaps most importantly, a reporter ought to ask: What strategy did you plan - because he did plan one - for dealing with Tony Rezko during the campaign?

And the most timely question would be this: How easy was it to leak in advance that Obama's internal report about contacts with the Blagojevich administration over his Senate replacement would show no wrongdoing in order to establish the narrative ahead of time and get a couple days' head of steam?

Brackett didn't exactly ask these questions last night, but she was aggressive. Her first question, indeed, was about the Blago report.

"There's been some extravagantly bad reporting on this," Axelrod said.

To Brackett's credit, she replied, "Like what?"

To which Axelrod punted.

Brackett then asked about Axelrod's statement to Fox News on November 23 that Obama had actually sat down with Blagojevich to talk about his Senate replacement. Which, by the way, wouldn't have been wrong in any way in my view. The AP also reported the same thing, citing sources.

"I was mistaken," Axelrod said. "I knew he had communicated a list of names . . . it was not personally, but at the staff level."

So Obama did communicate a list of names. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but at various points the Obama team has said the president-elect was staying out of it.

Huh. I wonder where that "extravagantly bad reporting" comes from.

Axelrod did make an excellent point: With all the government's wiretaps, all the contacts made between the Obama and Blagojevich people will presumably come out. Over time, of course. No reason not to start spinning now.

Axelrod then offered up a couple laughers, first acting as if the whole affair was only being covered intensely in Chicago. "It's being covered some elsewhere."

Some? Please!

The media, he said, should be focused instead on "the best Cabinet ever assembled in my lifetime."

The best because it combines Clinton retreads with Bush holdovers and Barack's basketball buds?

"This is a sideshow."

Show a little more respect, David. After all, the national media smarties are just discovering Operation Board Games, even though Barack's buddy Tony is at the heart of it.

Brackett moved on to Rick Warren.

"We need to find a way to have a dialogue with each other," Axelrod said.

My first thought was, why not invite Jeremiah Wright then? You know, make it a time of healing.

But Brackett's reply was better: "But does this decision bring the country together?"

Then Brackett asked, "When did you think Barack Obama could win this election?"

And that's when I bailed.

Now Playing
"Honey and Sulphur" by Cradle of Filth from Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder.

Chicago's Bizarro Sister City
It's Denver, which doesn't have a single pending public corruption case.

Out Easy
"Les Bicyclettes De Belsize" by Pete Fountain from Plays Bert Kaempfer/Plays It Easy.

Pete Fountain performed 59 times on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. He also once bought a piece of real estate from my dad, family legend has it.

Given our economic status, it must have been a very small plot.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Both easy and hard.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

Blago's Pay-to-Play Ways

Testimony given to the Illinois House Special Investigative Committee, December 22, 2008

I am Cindi Canary, Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a non-profit, non-partisan public interest group that conducts research and advocates reforms to promote public participation, address the role of money in politics and encourage integrity, accountability and transparency in government.

Ten years ago, ICPR was founded by the late Sen. Paul Simon, who throughout his government career - including his service in the Illinois House and the Senate - was dedicated to cleaning up politics and government in Illinois.

I am here today at the invitation of this Committee to address the pay-to-play scandal that has enveloped the Blagojevich Administration.

I want this Committee to be aware, that ICPR has publicly called for the governor's resignation. After reading the complaint lodged by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, it was clear to ICPR that the allegations have created, at the very least, a serious appearance of corruption, which has impeded the governor's ability to govern. The governor's intention to fight these charges without leaving office has made impeachment proceedings unavoidable.

We believe that the federal government's complaint provides ample basis for removing Gov. Blagojevich from office, particularly when viewed in conjunction with the fundraising and contracting patterns, which I will outline in my testimony.

I do not personally know if the Governor has committed acts of corruption, but the appearance of corruption - a standard our courts have acknowledged in upholding campaign contribution limits - is indisputable. Over the past six years it has eaten away at the trust of Illinois citizens in their Governor and eviscerated his ability to govern.

ICPR fully recognizes and supports the governor's right to present a spirited and full defense in federal court. However, we do not confuse the anticipated federal indictment with the Illinois Constitutional proceeding, which this Committee is undertaking.

We believe that this Committee should consider whether the governor has through his actions, undermined public faith and confidence in government and the office of the governor.

My testimony is about "pay-to-play," which in the broadest terms, is offering or asking for an inducement in exchange for an administrative action taken by a public official. The object of pay-to-play is to obtain a government contract, job or other favor. Pay-to-play is a two-way street. It can be initiated by a corrupt official seeking private benefit from their public position or by a private citizen seeking to corrupt a public official. Pay-to-play is not unique to the Blagojevich Administration or to Illinois. Pay-to-play is partly the reason that former Governor George Ryan is housed today at a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Indiana.

As long as both parties to a quid pro quo agreement keep the scheme to themselves, pay-to-play is extremely difficult to prove. However, this special investigative committee has the ability to dig much deeper than our researchers and the newspaper reporters who have examined the contributions and contracts.

ICPR has given Committee staff copies of numerous newspaper articles, as well as our research, showing the significant numbers of state contracts that have been awarded by the Blagojevich Administration to corporations and individuals who also have made large contributions to "Friends of Blagojevich," the governor's campaign committee.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH'S AGGRESSIVE FUNDRAISING PRACTICES
While it is unnecessary to explain Illinois' campaign finance law to this Committee, we should note for the record that Illinois places no limits on the size of campaign contributions and no restrictions on the transfer of money between committees, and (in contrast to federal law) allows corporations and unions to make direct contributions. Instead of limits and restrictions, Illinois requires only disclosure. If a public official wants to leverage governmental authority to generate campaign contributions or if a private party wants to use campaign contributions to influence a public official, Illinois' campaign finance law does nothing to prevent attempts at corruption.

When then-Congressman Rod Blagojevich created the "Prairie State Committee," a state political action committee and raised an inordinate amount of money for a committee not explicitly formed to support any cause or candidate, ICPR began to keep a close eye on the receipts.

By the time the committee formally changed its name to "Blagojevich for Governor" in August 2001, it had already amassed over $2.25 million in receipts. Over the next six years the Governor raised an additional $56 million. We believe that the patterns of fundraising that I will outline, when viewed in total, create an appearance of corruption, which has been a significant factor in the deterioration of our citizens' belief in the legitimacy of the Governor's continuation in office.

DISTURBING PATTERNS OF FUNDRAISING FROM 2002
As Rod Blagojevich ramped up his fundraising for the 2002 Primary Election, he reported significant, 5- and 6-figure donations from three different construction companies, all of which shared the same address in Markham, Illinois. Research determined that these three companies were affiliated with Chris Kelly, and that a fourth company, CGK Consulting in Frankfort, was also connected. Together, these four firms accounted for over $650,000 in donations and loans to the Blagojevich campaign. Kelly, of course, played a key role within his campaign as finance chairman, and later was named a Special Government Agent representing the governor with the Illinois Gaming Board. He is currently charged with tax fraud relating to gambling debts.

The pattern of making multiple, large, and apparently coordinated campaign contributions from affiliated entities to the governor's campaign fund was established early, and it became a pattern we looked for, and found, regularly.

From the day the gubernatorial campaign committee was formed, Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund has raised more than $58 million in eight years - an astonishing achievement. We came to see the fund as one of the most aggressive and effective fundraising machines in state history.

I outline this to illustrate that questionable, even alarming, fundraising practices were in evidence from the time that Mr. Blagojevich first set his eye on the governor's office. During Blagojevich's tenure, we have witnessed a sea change in how money and politics intersect.

I call your attention to a Chicago Tribune article from earlier this year. ("The governor's $25,000 club; Big campaign donors to Blagojevich benefit from state," Chicago Tribune, April 27, 2008.)

The Tribune's investigation found 235 checks written for exactly $25,000 and payable to the governor's campaign. The Tribune discovered that three-fourths of them came from people or organizations that had gotten something favorable from the administration, such as contracts, board appointments, favorable policy positions and regulatory actions.

An examination of records at the State Board of Elections found that Rod Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign fund has reported over 440 donations of $25,000 or more, and that these donations account for more than $21 million in receipts (including direct contributions, transfers, in-kind donations, and loans, but excluding other receipts).

Rod Blagojevich has raised more money than any other politician in this state's rich history and he has raised more, in large amounts of $25,000 or more than any other candidate in the history of Illinois.

These donations raise red flags to outside observers such as ourselves. The disclosure reports say how much donors gave to whom and when, but they do not tell why the donation was made. In many instances, there is a troubling, apparent correlation between donations and state actions. Media reports have noted that on many, many occasions, large donations to the governor's campaign fund came within weeks or days of the donor benefited from a positive action by an agency under the governor's control shortly after making a donation.

The Chicago Tribune highlighted several of these apparent correlations in a story published last April on what the Tribune called the governor's "$25,000 Club."

The Tribune noted:

* Attorney and political fundraiser Myron "Mike" Cherry made a $25,000 donation on September 9, 2002; his law firm, Myron M. Cherry and Associates made another $25,000 donation on June 18, 2004. According to the Tribune, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation hired Cherry's law firm, and the firm billed the state over $900,000 for legal services.

* Cordogan, Clark & Associates gave the Blagojevich fund $25,000 on July 25, 2003. John Clark, a named partner with Cordogan, Clark & Associates, told the Tribune that Wilton Partners, the lead contractor on the Tollway Oasis project had urged him to make this contribution. John Clark's firm, Cordogan Clark, had a subcontract with Wilton Partners.

* Patrick Engineering made a $150 donation on July 19, 2002; in September of that year the company gave $1,000; by 2007, it had given over $56,000. The company has held state contracts worth an average of $4 million in each of the last six fiscal years, principally with IDOT and the Tollway Authority.

* ACS State and Local Solutions gave its first donation to the Blagojevich fund, of $25,000, on July 25, 2003. It has since given about another $25,000, over three donations. Its contracts with state agencies, mainly the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, have averaged $17 million in each of the last six fiscal years. The Tribune noted that the contract, while initiated under the George Ryan administration, was finalized in 2003 in the same month as the $25,000 donation was made to the Blagojevich fund.

* Wight & Company gave the Blagojevich campaign fund $500 on March 6, 2002, $6,000 on May 22, 2002, and other donations through June of this year, bringing its total giving to the fund to over $125,000. The company has three no-bid contracts with the Tollway, where most of its state contracts are; total state contracts have averaged over $2.5 million over the last six years.

* System Development Integration gave $2,000 to the Blagojevich fund on June 23, 2000. The company made additional donations of $10,000 on June 8, 2004 and $5,000 on March 31, 2006; CEO David Gupta wrote a personal check for $25,000 on July 14, 2003. The Tribune reported that System Development Integration was a subcontractor on a new emergency response headquarters; the firm has a contract with the Tollway worth over $2 million for FY2009.

* Environmental Design International gave over $57,000 to the Blagojevich campaign fund, including donations of $25,000 each on July 25, 2003 and June 21, 2004. The company had contracts worth $560,000 in FY 2004.

These, sadly, are only a handful of examples of the troubling nexus between campaign contributions and the operation of state government.

In the last two decades, the size of campaign contributions made by state contractors to governors has grown tremendously.

Ten years ago, a contribution in excess of $2,500 would raise eyebrows. Those are the ones that ICPR and journalists would look at more closely to see whether there was a connection to a state contractor. Some were from old friends and wealthy relatives, while others were from executives, corporations and labor unions that had received some benefit from state government.

When there is a nexus between a campaign contribution and a state contract or government job, the questions that we ask are: Were they just supporting officeholders who shared their political views? Or were they using campaign contributions to insure favorable treatment? Or were they responding to shakedowns by making campaign contributions to insure that the officeholder would not shut them out from consideration?

In recent years - the Blagojevich years - the size of such contributions has exploded.

No longer does a $2,500 contribution make anyone blink.

ICPR, with assistance from Kent Redfield and the Sunshine Project, examined contributions at the level of $25,000 and above to the campaigns of Gov. Blagojevich, former Gov. George Ryan and former Governor
Edgar.

Here are the numbers we found:

* Jim Edgar - We examined his last six years as governor and found he raised nearly $11.8 million total. That included just eight contributions of $25,000 or more, a total of $422,000. The eight really big contributions to Edgar constituted about 3.6 percent of the total Edgar raised.

* George Ryan - We examined a six-year period that included his four years as Governor and as he geared up for his 2000 campaign. George Ryan raised almost $20 million, and that included 35 contributions of $25,000 or more, a total of $1.6 million in those big contributions. Those 35 really big contributors to Ryan constituted 8.2 percent of the total Ryan raised.

* Rod Blagojevich - We examined eight years that included his time as governor and the ramp up to the 2002 election. Rod Blagojevich raised $58.3 million, and that included 435 contributions of $25,000 or more, a total of $20.6 million in those big contributions. Those 435 really big contributions constituted 35.3 percent of the total Blagojevich has raised.

Those large contributions are the ones that have been raising questions since Gov. Blagojevich took office.

THE ROLE OF STATE CONTRACTORS IN CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING
In the last two decades, the size of campaign contributions made by state contractors to governors has grown tremendously.

In 2005, the Chicago Sun-Times analyzed contributions and state contracts. ("Donations and deals raise eyebrows," Chicago Sun-Times, January 30, 2005.) The Sun-Times looked at 20 companies that had given a combined $925,500 to Friends of Blagojevich and discovered the firms had been paid or were under contract to be paid a total of $365 million by state government.

The criminal prosecutions of Tony Rezko, Chris Kelly, Stuart Levine and others have dramatically increased the public perception that state contracts, jobs and other benefits in the Blagojevich Administration are handed out to the largest campaign contributors and not to the firms or persons most qualified to receive them.

More recently, the Chicago Tribune found that state contractors had given $250,000 of the $650,000 in contributions that Blagojevich raised in June of this year, which happened to be the first 30 days after the House unanimously passed House Bill 824, the pay-to-play reform legislation. ("Governor steps up fundraising; Contractors' donations flow as reform bill sits," Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2008.)

According to the Tribune analysis, more than 125 state contractors or their employees contributed at least $399,000 to the governor's campaign in the first six months of this year. Those contractors have been awarded more than $1.1 billion in state business since he was elected governor.

Utilizing public databases available from the State Board of Elections and Comptroller's Office, ICPR's own research has independently confirmed many of these news accounts.

Those contributions and the headlines led to the ultimate passage - over Gov. Blagojevich's veto - of House Bill 824. Beginning January 1, 2009, holders of state contracts valued at $50,000 or more will be banned from contributing to the officeholder who awarded the contract.

Strangely and sadly, the enactment of that law is alleged to have caused the governor to go into overdrive to squeeze more campaign funds from state contractors. The complaint from the federal government explains that the governor recently attempted to raise as much money as possible from state contractors in advance of the ban.

Because the ban did not take effect immediately, it was a little like handing an arsonist the keys to a gas station and a box of matches and telling him you would be back to check on him in three months.

The people of Illinois and, indeed, the world are now viewing the five-alarm fire that has resulted.

As I noted above, at the beginning of my remarks, ICPR is a non-partisan research and advocacy organization. Our work has been broadly recognized as effective in bringing necessary and important reform to Illinois, including in the pay-to-play area, but clearly we have much, much more to do.

I am personally saddened and angered by the devastating impact that the alleged pay-to-play practices of the Blagojevich Administration have had on our state and on the public's confidence in government.

I would like to close by again applauding this Committee for its work in helping the Illinois General Assembly fulfill its responsibility under the Illinois Constitution.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

BearTuesday

The Bears offense struggled again against the Packers. The defense stepped up but it still hasn't paid nearly enough penance for so many poor pre-December performances. And in crunch time on Monday night, the special teams failed to stop the sort of late kickoff return that results in the returning team prevailing just about 100 percent of the time.

But the coin toss team kicks ass!

And it doesn't just kick ass, it kicks ass when it counts. Who really cares who wins the coin toss at the beginning of NFL games? But in overtime, well, in overtime the coin toss is all, because the No Fun League still insists on the same old fundamentally unfair format - the one that does not ensure a level playing field (the team that wins the toss can go down and score without the opposition having a chance with the ball). College football has a different, much better set of rules of course, with both teams starting possessions from the opposing 25-yard line in each overtime.

But back to the coin toss. For the second consecutive week, the Bears clearly intimidated the opposition into a hurried heads-or-tails. Even the ref felt the heat on Monday and shanked the flip. And then . . . well . . . nice header, Brian Urlacher! Way to send that coin tumbling toward the side that ensured the Bears would seize possession with a solid kick-off return beyond the 30, bust out a beautiful pass to Greg Olsen out of the backfield (thanks for breaking it down Jaws! - ESPN's Ron Jaworski, one of the three best football analysts alive), benefit from yet another of them new-fangled horse-collar calls and then hand the ball off or pass it to Matt Forte just enough times to set up Robbie Gould for yet another perfect clutch kick.

Now, try substituting the notes on this splendid victory for your favorite Christmas Carol lyrics. They fit:

* On the field goal attempt, I believe that was the 1,000th straight perfect snap and perfect hold executed by Patrick Mannelly and Brad Maynard, respectively. I know I've gushed about these guys before but it ain't me braggin' on 'em if they back it up every stinkin' time. Maynard has bounced back after a mediocre to poor stretch of punting in the middle of the season but even if his punting hadn't improved later on, he might have been worth keeping around just for his holding.

* I have to send a shout out to my wife for this: As the Packers were lining up for the penultimate field goal attempt with 25 seconds left in regulation, Julie actually said "Come on Alex Brown, you haven't done anything in a while." And then Mr. Brown raised up that massive Mickey-Mouse mitt of his and stuffed that kick.

* How much did the Bears have riding on this game? There was Lovie actually waving his arms up and down in unison after Brown's beautiful block. It was definitely as demonstrative as he has ever been. And Forte, who so embodies his coach's "I not only will never let you see me sweat, I won't even let you see me exert myself" ethic, was positively howling at the moon after his final reception brought the ball down to about the Packer 20. Even with all of Forte's great runs and receptions, especially the ones in the drive on the way to the tying touchdown (and what a break on the fourth-down first down inside the 10 during that march - if the yellow laser line signifying a first down on TV had been right, the Bears would have been at least a couple feet short), his biggest play was not fumbling that second-to-last "handoff" before the final field goal.

* Jason Davis earned his keep. The former Illini backup fullback slid in and didn't let that punt return deflection off a blocker get away. Ron Turner's former Illini buddy can definitely stick around another week . . . hey, one more thing about that Forte non-fumble . . . um, Mr. Orton? The next time your running back is a foot and a half from sprawled out on the turf a beat before you give him the ball? Eat it.

I suppose one negative note is required. Maybe we could sing about the details of this one in a Festivus carol.

* Orton suffered for some drops but he also tossed his share of stinkers. I still think he can throw the deep ball, that he's just been in a slump, but the pass to an on-the-loose behind the defense again Hester early in the second half was yet again severely underthrown. And the other sub-par pass to Hester, the one that skipped off his hands high into the air before finally bounding into the end zone right before Gould's first field goal? That ball was thrown way too hard for that short a pass.

That'll have to do for now.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. Except when there is a Bears game on Monday night. Then he not only brings you SportsMonday in advance, but BearTuesday afterwards. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:17 AM | Permalink

December 22, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

Posting should be fairly normal through Wednesday, sporadic through the weekend, fairy normal through next week, sporadic through that weekend, and then back to normal starting January 5th.

As always, please take a considerable amount of time to read all the wonderful things tucked away in the nooks and crannies of this site. You won't be sorry. And if you are, you will get a full refund.

And now, despite what I wrote on Friday, I will present another column in numbered fashion today, because it just seems to fit the sort of items I have.

1. Huh, this is kind of interesting.

"It has been a bad year on the football field for the Green Bay Packers but not nearly as bad as it has been in the marketplace for businesses whose lifeline is tied to the storied franchise," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

"The economy is bad, Brett Favre is gone and the Packers are losing.

"That perfect storm of events has conspired to make life difficult for those whose livelihood depends on the popularity of the Packers. Numbers are down this year for the ticket broker, the sports apparel manufacturing representative, the hotel general manager and the sports souvenir shop owner."

2. Oh, and there's a game tonight.

Journal-Sentinel writers are all taking the Bears.

3. They've got weather up there too.

4. In Minnesota too.

5. Oh, and the Vikings are stupid.

6. Chicago's Double-Dipping Santa.

7. The holiday tradition is a little different among the Daley clan. The mayor comes down the chimney dressed as Santa Clout, and doles out chocolate contracts to the kids. For gag gifts, they hand out pajamas with prison stripes and subpoeanas in gold leaf. At story time, the three Wise Men come to bless the baby Daley. One of them sees no evil, another hears no evil, and the third speaks no evil - unless the feds get him on a wire. That's why the Daley story includes a magical figure called The Buffer.

8. Wrecking Wrigleyville?

9. Lynn Becker's Chicago Christmas photo essay.

10. I think the CTA Holiday Train is frickin' cool.

11. I'm gonna start saying "frickin'" a lot.

12. For example, what are the chances that Patti Blagojevich is indicted by Easter?

Sixty-five percent, according to the Beachwood Political Odds.

Why?

Because she could always turn state's frickin' evidence before then.

13. Maybe the CTA should create a slew of theme trains and charge more for them. For example, one train could be the Fast Train, which gets you to your destination on time. Another could be the Doesn't Smell Train, which could feature air fresheners shaped like little green trees. Of course, a Bar Car would rule; you could make that one free and just rake in the profits from alcohol sales. Maybe have a beer company sponsor it. I really think the CTA isn't being imaginative enough.

14. The Clout Train: No matter how vigilant you are, somehow when you get off your pockets have been picked.

15.The new Facebook group "LOVE CHICAGO BUT MOTHAFUCKIN' HATE THE COLD!!!!" has 193 members.

16. CTA: The Video Game.

17. Mickey Segal heads the list of lawyers disbarred this year.

I wrote profile of Segal for Chicago magazine back in the day that went something like this: "When well-connected insurance man Mickey Segal was accused of embezzlement, a shiver went through the corridors of Chicago power. Could this old-school clout wielder save himself by making a deal and if so, what would he offer?"

It's not online, but what's most remarkable about Segal is that he hasn't appeared to have handed the feds anyone.


18. "Can Holiday Cheer Survive Economic Downturn?"

No.

Nor an Upturn.

19. "Can Obama heal evangelicals without hurting gay community?"

No.

20. The BoDeans are so Wisconsin.

21. I can't believe I'm beating Billie Jean King.

22. Beware:

* JC Penney requires special occasion dresses to be returned with the return tag" still in place. (This thwarts shoppers from "wardrobing" for a one-time wearing.)

* Target technically offers no returns without a receipt, but has an undisclosed policy of allowing a limited number. They will also search their system for missing receipts.

23. It's not just the Chicago Machine that's now in the White House, it's the Combine.

24. Wasn't it nice of Obama's incoming Transportation Secretary to slip a note to President Bush from Lura Lynn Ryan? Here's my favorite part:

"In the note, Lura Lynn Ryan said, she reminded the president of the long friendship between their two families and spoke of her husband's efforts to help both the president and his father win election to the White House."

Because that should always be a factor when deciding whether to let a felon out of jail early just because.

25. A Bears Tailgating Monument.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a warm puppy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:16 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

As the football skittered along the turf deep in the Viking backfield for the second time in two second-half possessions Sunday, the Bears' playoff hopes bounced and tumbled right along with it. Shortly after Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson had allowed a Falcon lineman to punch the ball away from him - a fumble that didn't stop until it was recovered by Atlanta about 25 yards behind the line of scrimmage - a shotgun snap zipped past the quarterback on its way to the same general vicinity. Jackson recovered that one but the Vikings never quite recovered from a wacky spate of fumbles (seven in all, four of which were lost) that enabled a Falcon team that didn't play particularly well to pull out a 24-17 victory. So now all the Bears have to do to make the playoffs is knock off the Packers on frozen tundra at home, and the Texans on the road next week . . . and the Vikings have to lose at home to the New York Giants. Or the Bears could win the wild card by winning both games and the Eagles beat the Cowboys . . . and Tampa Bay loses to Oakland. And that's about enough of that, at least until the Bears accomplish, I don't know, maybe half their side of the bargain.

* * *

Thought I'd include a few NBA notes in the column today considering neither local paper covers the NBA anymore. Heck, the Tribune only covers the Bulls part-time these days. The gamer on the Bulls-Celtics clash Friday night - the lead story in the section - was written by a Boston Globe staff writer. Maybe the Trib should just publish the Globe sports section in full. OK, I take that back. I wouldn't want to have missed Sunday's Rick Morrissey column, his second on North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough in the last month. Morrissey really has his finger on the pulse of the Chicago sports fan.

Anyway . . . the notes. Former Bull Jamal Crawford put up a cool 50 for the Golden State Warriors on Saturday as Oakland's finest knocked off the Charlotte Bobcats 110-103. Crawford arrived from the Knicks via trade a couple weeks ago and has shown his usual flashes of offensive brilliance. But that hasn't been enough to right the Golden State ship. Saturday's win ended a five-game losing streak and the Warriors (8-20) almost certainly won't be contending for the playoffs this time around. In other news, Chicago native Dwyane Wade continued his stellar bounce-back season for the Heat by tossing in 42 as Miami squeaked past New Jersey. The Heat's overall mark now stand at 14-12, the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

* * *

Meanwhile, how 'bout those Blackhawks? A Saturday evening holiday party took precedence over the mini-road trip-capping 3-1 win over Vancouver, but earlier-in-the-week victories against the totally over-matched Edmonton Oilers and the much tougher Calgary Flames were must-see hockey. The Hawks, whose 18 wins are tied for second-most in the Western Conference and who have won seven in a row for the first time in eons, now take a break until after Christmas. Shortly thereafter is the gimmick game at Wrigley (perhaps you've heard the Hawks' will be playing at the Friendly Confines Jan. 1?). The sooner that's over with the better.

* * *

I was sure the Bulls would have embarked on a significant losing streak by now (reason No. 1,000,000 I don't bet on sports). If they keep pulling out wins when they need them to hover near .500 despite a severely imbalanced roster, I might just begin to conclude that this Vinny Del Negro character has a future in coaching. And to think I had such a good time mocking the hire when it happened earlier this year. There's still plenty of time for the local NBA campaign to go south of course. But wins like the win over Utah Saturday - accomplished despite primary low-post contributor Drew Gooden's absence due to injury - are building the case for at least a tiny bit of Bulls-related optimism. Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon played great again. Luol Deng did not.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

Beer and The BoDeans: A Wisconsin Story

The BoDeans are justly celebrated in Wisconsin. God love 'em. They are a great roots rock band. Their pairing with producer T. Bone Burnett on their landmark first album Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams remains a seminal moment in the development of alternative rock and, 22 years after its release, is still one of the best-ever debut albums.

The thing about the BoDeans, though, is they're just so . . . Wisconsin. In fact, they are so Wisconsin, not everyone may know they are inextricably intertwined with the recent history of the state, as our handy timeline shows below.

kurt_sammy.jpgThis week Madison is all atwitter about the big BoDeans show set for Friday night - the night after Christmas - at the Barrymore Theatre, and to be sure, I know it won't fail to be a hot Wisconsin cultural experience, between the music, the mistletoe and the Miller. The Wisconsin State Journal has used the occasion to publish a comprehensive and thoughtful timeline of the band's career, which I have reproduced here.

But I've added to it slightly. Because the BoDeans are such a Wisconsin institution, I have appended other important contemporary Badger State historical events to serve as counterpoints to the BoDeans factor. In this way, I believe Kurt Neumann & Sammy Llanas can be more properly placed in the sweep of Wisconsin's history.

Here goes:

1977

BoDeans: Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas become friends during study hall as sophomores at Waukesha South High School.

Wisconsin: Constitutional amendments authorized raffle games. Kurt & Sammy bond over their first pull-tab bingo game at the Waukesha VFW.

1980

BoDeans: Llanas leaves UW-Madison, where he planned to eventually study law, and joins Neumann to pursue music full-time. Early shows include Tuesday night bar gigs, earning free drinks and battling noise from pool tables.

Wisconsin: Eric Heiden of Madison won five Olympic gold medals for ice speed skating. Kurt & Sammy dream of playing hockey rinks.

1983

BoDeans: Llanas names the group the BoDeans in 1983 after gaining popularity in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin: Law raising minimum drinking age to 19 is passed. Twenty-five years later, the Wisconsin rock 'n' roll industry is still recovering from the shock.

1984

BoDeans: Bassist Bob Griffin and drummer Guy Hoffman, the first of many different drummers, join the group.

Wisconsin: Indian treaty rights to fish and hunt caused controversy. Rampant redneckism illustrates need for great new multicultural rock band to save state's soul.

1985

BoDeans: Record their debut album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, with producer T-Bone Burnett.

Wisconsin: Major consolidation of state banks by large holding companies raises the alarm that Joe Miller-pack is being buried by Milwaukee corporate sharpies and needs left-leaning, new kind of "alternative" country music to relate to.

1986

BoDeans: Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams receives critical acclaim. Time magazine features the little-known band in a full-page profile. The BoDeans' regional hit "Still the Night" is used prominently in the Paul Newman-Tom Cruise film The Color of Money.

Wisconsin: Farm land values drop across the state, causing a crisis. Yearning for country-pop-rock saviors explodes in rural landscapes across Wisconsin.

special_ex.jpg1987

BoDeans: Rolling Stone readers name BoDeans "Best New American Band." Release second album, Outside Looking In, produced by former Talking Head Jerry Harrison.

Wisconsin: G. Heileman Brewing Co. taken over by Aussie brewer Alan Bond, signaling the beginning of the end of Special Export Beer, whose green bottles and harsh, cheap buzz earned it the nickname the Green Death. Another defining moment in Wisconsin history.

1988

BoDeans: Neumann and Llanas appear on Robbie Robertson's debut solo album, including the single "Somewhere Down the Crazy River." BoDeans open a few stadium shows for U2.

Wisconsin: Chrysler Corp.'s auto assembly plant in Kenosha, the nation's oldest car plant, closes. The BoDeans' mournful yet uplifting brand of roots rock verging into pop sensibilities provides just the right escape for a new generation of laid-off Wisconsin worker.

1989

BoDeans: Release third album, Home. The band's touring popularity continues to soar.

Wisconsin: A statewide land stewardship program is created. Social historians note the BoDeans' environmentalism as a possible influence.

1990

BoDeans: Dana Carvey film Opportunity Knocks features the BoDeans' rollicking "Good Work."

Wisconsin: The number of Milwaukee murders set a new record, raising demands for crime and drug controls. The BoDeans' plaintive anthem "You Don't Get Much," which peaked at No. 20 in the Billboard charts, cited by police as a calming influence.

1991

BoDeans: Release fourth album, Black and White, including concert staple "Paradise."

Wisconsin: First Indian gambling compacts signed, setting up future concert venues for BoDeans in 2020.

1993

BoDeans: Performing solo, Llanas opens for Los Lobos at the Barrymore Theatre and plays BoDeans' new single "Closer to Free" from fifth album, Go Slow Down. Song doesn't make a dent on the national radio charts.

Wisconsin: California passes Wisconsin in milk production, Republicans win control of state senate for the first time since 1974. Double disasters even the BoDeans are powerless to stop.

1994

BoDeans: Party of Five debuts on Fox and slowly earns a devoted TV audience. "Closer to Free" is used for a 30-second snippet during the opening credits.

Wisconsin: A new telecommunications regulatory framework for the state Public Service Commission is launched in which cable companies found not playing BoDeans videos on public access are fined.

1995

BoDeans: Release the two-disc live album, Joe Dirt Car.

Wisconsin: Elk reintroduced in northern Wisconsin, like the BoDeans, a proud reminder of the state's heritage.

1996

BoDeans: Thanks to its use as TV's Party of Five theme song, "Closer to Free" becomes a surprise Top 10 pop hit. New album, Blend, fails to capitalize on the band's commercial success.

Wisconsin: Pabst Brewing closes 152-year-old brewery in Milwaukee. Strapped Wisconsinites, forced to turn to expensive imported beers, have less to spend on BoDeans' new record.

1997

BoDeans: Chicago-based BoDeans tribute band, Naked, becomes a popular club act.

hotdog.jpgWisconsin: Groundbreaking held for controversial new Miller Stadium, future home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. BoDeans, meanwhile, break no new ground.

1998

BoDeans: Llanas forms a new band called Absinthe and releases the album Good Day to Die.

Wisconsin: U.S. Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of extension of Milwaukee public school vouchers to religious schools. GOP-authored state law requires that Catholic nuns teach poor children that BoDeans are devil-spawn.

1999

BoDeans: Cover the Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face" as the theme for Party of Five spin-off called Time of Your Life.

Wisconsin: Gov. Tommy Thompson begins record fourth term, citing desire to counter BoDeans' pernicious mental health influence on state culture as a prime motivator.

2000

BoDeans: Sell out Milwaukee's 23,500-seat Marcus Amphitheater during Summerfest, beginning a string of huge annual Summerfest appearances for several years.

Wisconsin: Legislature approves a local sales tax and revenue bonds for renovation of Lambeau Field, and approves a resolution urging the BoDeans to end their solo careers and reunite "to rock us once again."

2005

BoDeans: A Milwaukee jury awards the BoDeans more than $200,000 from their former manager for breach of contract.

Wisconsin: 27 tornadoes tear through state, killing one man and causing more than $40 million in property damage. BoDeans' homes are spared the worst and state rejoices when they again sell out Marcus Amphitheater during Summerfest.

2007

BoDeans: Reuniting with producer T-Bone Burnett, BoDeans go into studio.

Wisconsin: After an absence, Wisconsin once again ranked first on list of worst states for drinking and driving, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Coupled with Burnett-BoDeans reunion, waves of warm nostalgia sweep through Beer Town.

2008

BoDeans: Release seventh album of original material titled Still. Some progressive rock stations around the country support the album.

Wisconsin: Brett Favre signs with the New York Jets. Wisconsin culture as we know it comes to an end. BoDeans prepare for gig at Madison's Barrymore Theater in the wake of a losing, Favre-free Packers Christmas.

Let's hope Kurt and Sammy can tap that good Badger karma now that the hurting and history-battered people of Wisconsin once again so badly need it.

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From the Beachwood Country All-Stars to Dylan's Grammy Museum, the finest bones of rock 'n' roll are rattlin' 'round Don's Root Cellar.

Posted by Don Jacobson at 12:02 AM | Permalink

December 20, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

We're tracking all the stories you need to follow this weekend, so you can go on out and finish that pesky holiday shopping you still have left to take care of. C'mon. For real. If you love your country, for Pete's sake BUY SOMETHING!

Market Update
Observers have long noted that global finances have been hanging on by a thread. It now appears that not only were they right, but that thread just snapped.

Fight On
Embattled shameless bastard Rod Blagojevich this week vowed to fight until his last breath during a brief but testy press conference. In regards to the specific charge that he tried to angle for an appointment as President-elect Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Blago scoffed, "Of course I'm going to fight that one. Have you seen Tom Daschle? I could bench-press that little fucker."

Last In, First Out
Meanwhile, Obama this week sought to complete his cabinet appointments early in the mistaken belief this would earn him some sort of vacation. In explaining why he waited until the last minute to appoint a Secretary of Labor, the president-elect pointed to national trends. "If the latest statistics are any indication, Hilda Solis' first official act will be to lay herself off," Obama noted. "And America doesn't need another vested 401k liability hanging over its head."

Sign O' The Times
We here at the Weekend Desk are feeling the economic pinch as well. We have been forced to suspend our popular Fantasy Dictator League pool because, with such a clear front-runner, we'd absolutely lose our shirts.

Grandmother's Little Helper
And finally this week, Police in Alaska have arrested the mother of Bristol Palin's baby-daddy. While no specifics have been confirmed, it is believed she was caught with Oxycondone, a powerful synthetic opioid. Legal analysts predict that, given the suspect's unique need to dull the pain of her bleak family future, she will most likely walk.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:13 AM | Permalink

December 19, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

One more day with the numbered format, and then next week I'll start mixing things up again.

1. Beauty's World.

2. Stroger's Stupid Spin.

3. Illinois Ethics 101.

4. Ray's Reward.

5. Assessing Arne.

6. Barack Obama disinvites his personal pastor - the man who presided over his marriage, his children's baptism, gave him the title of his book and campaign theme, and personally led him to Christ - from his speech announcing his presidential bid, and later cuts him off altogether when he becomes a political problem, but he invites Rick Warren to give the invocation at an inaugural celebrating one of the great civil rights achievements in our history?

*

I find Jeremiah Wright to be far less offensive than Rick Warren. To me, the Wright problem was how Obama dissembled from what he knew about his now-former close friend.

*

"The same Rick Warren who said abortion is akin to the Holocaust," writes Jay McDonough on the Progressive Politics Examiner. "(I suppose, by inference, that makes the women that made that choice and the health care workers that participated akin to the Gestapo?). The same Rick Warren who equated gay marriage with pedophilia and incest. And the same Rick Warren who advocates assassinating foreign leaders if he deems it God's will."

*

Obama's argument that he is demonstrating inclusiveness by reaching out to an exclusionist makes no sense. What's next, a Nazi honor guard? A Grand Wizard? After all, there is not just a tolerant America and a hateful America, there is just the United States of America.

*

Still vastly underreported: Obama opposes gay marriage on religious grounds.

7. Fitzmas is really just a Festivus for the rest of us.

8. Blagobait. Pass it on.

9. Gov. Baloneyvich (pass it on!) is scheduled to make a public statement today at 2 p.m. Sources say he'll agree to release the 12 million residents of Illinois he's holding in exchange for $3 million in unmarked bills and a plane to Graceland.

10. "The CTA is reporting delays on the Purple, Pink, Brown, and Green lines due to the weather," Chicagoist notes.

Delays on the Blue and Orange lines are just routine.

11. Grinders, gropers, wankers and flashers on the CTA.

12. See what The Parking Ticket Geek recommends for Christmas.

13. If you ever doubted that Huffington Post and its talentless poser doyenne were evil, doubt no more.

14. "Voters Unsure Which Party To Trust On Ethics." Um . . . duh?

15. It Says Here

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16. That's all for now, folks. It's been a long week.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bi-focal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

I have now seen two Bears games at Soldier Field and I can report that the crowd there adopts the worst attributes of Chicago's baseball crowds - the Cubs' fans tendency of being drunk and inattentive to the game, and the Sox fans tendency toward conflict and violence. Here are some "Do's and Dont's" the Soldier Field crowd should learn.

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* Do start crowd cheers. Example: Let's Go Bears! Let's Go Bears!

* Don't start cheers with shoehorned syllables. Example: Here We Go BBBEEEAAARRRSSS Here We Go! Bad cheer structure decreases enthusiasm.

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* Do tip your beer vendors, especially if you sit in the middle of the aisle.

* Don't tip your beer vendors with change, no matter how deep the recession goes.

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* Do tip your beer vendor double if you sit in the middle of the aisle and you want one beer and you pay with a $100 bill.

* Don't tip your beer vendor half because you intend to pour your beer over yourself instead of drinking it.

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* Do tip your beer vendor triple if the vendor accidentally drops the $100 bill and has to run down 12 rows to retrieve it, and the crowd is totally on the vendor's side.

* Don't tip your beer vendor triple if he assumes the whole $100 is for him because you are such a great tipper.

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* Do talk to all the fans around you.

* Don't let them hear you trying to impress your girlfriend with all sorts of nonsense stats and strategy explication.

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* Do cheer your team's successes.

* Don't take credit for those successes.

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* Don't talk to the young woman accompanied by her mom and ask the young woman on a date.

* Do slip your e-mail addy into her pocket when ma and pa aren't looking.

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* Do smuggle booze into the game.

* Don't smuggle smack into the game.

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* Do put your arm around you significant other and try to keep her warm.

* Don't accidentally put your arm around someone else's significant and try to keep her warm just beause she vaguely resembles your girlfriend after a couple of beers.

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Packers at Bears
Storyline: Hey! These teams hate each other! It doesn't matter that Green Bay is out of the playoffs, and the Bears are nearly out! Cue the old school pictures!

Reality: Hey, don't take your frustrations out on each other! It will not help the fact that the Vikings will win the division!

Prediction: Bears Minus 4, Over 41 Points Scored

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Sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 40%
Recommended sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 20%

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Last week's picks: 0-4-2
For the season: 35-25-6

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Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. You can send him love letters and hate mail and he will respond graciously.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Ironside: The Man Who Believed

Our look back on the debut season of Ironside continues.

*

Episode: The Man Who Believed

Airdate: 23 November 1967

Plot: A Twiggy-esque folk singer's body is found floating under the Golden Gate Bridge and her death is quickly ruled a suicide. Ironside refuses to believe that world-famous songbird Samantha Dain would take her own life. He insists on increasing the San Francisco homicide rate by one when he overrules the coroner and cracks opens a murder investigation. His reasoning? One heartfelt anti-suicide get well card sent to him by said victim when he was recovering from the gunshot wound that landed him in his wheelchair. Nope, Ironside is certain his pen pal didn't take a "200-hundred-foot shortcut into the bay" - she must have been pushed! And Iron-tuition is never wrong.

Guest stars: Guy Stockwell and Marcia Strassman (AKA Mrs. "Hello Mr. Kot-ter") as Samantha Dain. Introducing Barbara Rhoades as Bonnie Lloyd.

The Tripped-Out Tulip: Most of this episode is set in a swinging little club called "The Psychedelic Daffodil."

Opening night = farewell performance: Before we learn Samantha Dain has died, the episode opens at a morose gathering at the Daffodil, where a poster at the front door declares the singer's opening night performance is sold out. A handful of people inside the club glumly listen to the singer's nasal whine emanating from a reel-to-reel machine placed at the foot of a microphone stand. Samantha Dain is phoning it in - from the Great Beyond.

What's the matter with you guys? You act like somebody died or something: Slowly Samantha's backing band comes together, air-drumming, air-pianoing, and air-mandolining along with the recording.

The electric mandolin: (Hey now, that would make a bitchin' name for a swingin' little club.) The mandolin sounds suspiciously like an electric guitar.

Samantha Dain should fire her agent: Her character's name is misspelled in the program's opening credits.

I hope you like Samantha's number one hit, "Even When You Cry," because you're going to hear a lot of it:

" . . . In a rat race brother only rats can win.
Between the day you're born and the day you die,
You're lucky if they hear you even when you cry.
Even when you cry."

Ay, this song is going to make me cry.

Are we boring you? It doesn't say much for this episode's excitement level when the first scene after the credits begins with a close-up of Mark yawning.

Ironside likes to play with dolls, part 1: Back at Ironside HQ, Mark has delivered a life-size cutout of Samantha Dain. In the photo, she's wearing a paisley chiffon long dress and a vacant expression. She's perched barefoot on a stool, holding her guitar and looking ready to break into song at any moment. Ironside has requested the cardboard chanteuse for inspiration and she hovers like a creepy presence over the investigation.

I can fly! When the only witness to have seen Samantha on the bridge says he saw her laughing, waving and having a jolly good time just before supposedly leaping to her death, no one mentions the possibility of drugs. I repeat - 1967, music scene, San Francisco - and not one of the detectives mentions drugs.

Ironside likes to play with dolls, part 2: When Ironside asks Mark to find a toy store where he can buy a "boy doll and a girl doll," Mark begins to wonder if his boss is feeling okay.

Someone with too much time on their hands: In the next scene, the team is standing in front of a model section of the Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the length of Ironside's pool table. (Who had time to construct and paint this, I wonder.) All this so Ironside can recreate the scene of the crime and convince his skeptical detectives that, despite the witness' statement, someone else was on the bridge. Someone who helped Samantha off the bridge - in a hurry.

As solid as a Vermont Republican strung out on smack: No sooner has Ironside proclaimed that " . . . Samantha Dain was as solid as a Vermont Republican" then we learn she was a heroin addict with two failed suicide attempts in her past. On the night she died, she was flying - and not just off the bridge.

Shake it, don't break it: Back at the Daffodil, Samantha's band is jammin', while a woman on a small rod-iron balcony overhead shimmies and shakes to the music. In the middle of a back-bend, she spies Ironside and Mark coming through the door.

Hip-shaking girl: Hi!

Mark: What was that you were doing?

Hip-shaking girl: (Descending the circular stair to the stage.) You mean this? (Standing sideways with one hand raised and the other on her hip, she kicks out one leg, hops her feet back together, and rapidly shakes her ass from side to side in a bad mash-up of Bob Fosse meets Laugh In dance moves.)

Mark: Yeah. Wild.

Ironside: If you'll stop trembling Miss, I'd like to see Harry Brancusi.

Heeeeeere's Harry: Brancusi (Michael Constantine) enters through a beaded curtain. He's the owner of the Psychedelic Daffodil and speaks with a voice like Marlon Brando's in Godfather. (Constantine would go on to use a decidedly different tone of voice when he portrayed Principal Seymour Kaufman on Room 222.)

I'm cool, I'm cool: When Mark makes one-too-many smart remarks, Brancusi threatens him with a pointed finger, saying, "This is my place. You cool it or blow."

The Red Herring in a patterned suit and a paisley tie: Samantha Dain's manager is quite tightly wound, fairly creepy and appears to have some issues with women. In his mind, to be female is to be "occasionally treacherous, frequently cruel, and always difficult."

Apparently successful folk singers don't wear long sleeves to hide their smack habits: The heroin injection mark on Samantha's arm doesn't fit with Ironside's scenario, since a woman about to perform onstage would never have risked a puncture wound or bruise on her arm. Unless of course, she was wearing the dress pictured in her cardboard cutout, which is standing right behind Ironside. Yeah, the one with the singer photographed wearing long sleeves.

How convenient that no one thought to turn off the tape recorder once the session was done: The gang gathers around the table to listen to the recording of Samantha's final rehearsal. "Oh, it was you. You coulda got me twenty years in jail for what you did," the singer says to a silent party on the tape. "Oh, darling you're going to straighten it out and I mean tonight. Because if you don't, I head right for the police." Unless of course, someone gets me high as a kite and pushes me off the Golden Gate Bridge first.

Ironside, on the cutting-edge of technology, circa 1967: The Chief calls on the expertise of a Stanford professor to use experimental voice print recognition to ID the voice of the man on the rehearsal tape.

Well, hellooooo: When Eve comes through the lab door, Professor Peabody (that's really his name) makes a beeline for her. You can practically hear his internal voice saying, "Va va va voom."

World's worst pick-up line, number 1: A hospital nurse with white tights, brown cat's-eye glasses, and a stick up her butt berates Ironside for rolling down the hall in the opposite direction from physical therapy. She yells at him as if he was deaf, snapping, "And just what are you doing dressed?"

Ironside: I was just about to ask you the same thing.

Uptight Nurse: What are you talking about?

Ironside: Raw passion. (Cut to a shocked look on the nurse's face as she clutches a clipboard to her chest.) But I'll settle for Dr. Zelman.

I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you: Ironside interviews Paul Bridger (who's working his way through medical school by playing piano at the Daffodil.) They meet in the hospital lab, in the dark, late at night. No one around but Bridger, his microscope, and a scalpel. Their conversation boils down to Ironside asking Bridger point blank if he killed Samantha and Bridger pointing out if he did, he'd have to kill Ironside right now.

Who are you calling a cripple, you cripple? The scene ends with a series of tense close-ups between the two men, menacing looks, low tones, and name-calling.

Holy shillelagh! What is Eve wearing on her head? A Kelly green leprechaun hat, minus the gold buckle. It completely clashes with her rust and brown tweed suit.

Dope is the name of the game: Ironside and company brainstorm in the Daffodil dressing room and based on absolutely no physical evidence, they deduce that Samantha Dain unwittingly smuggled drugs through the airport.

World's worst pick-up line, number 2: (Professor Peabody to Officer Whitfield) I find your voice intensely interesting. I wonder if you'd let me program it on this machine sometime. Like, tonight.

*

Previously:
* A Cop and His Chair
* Message From Beyond
* The Leaf in the Forest
* Dead Man's Tale
* Eat, Drink and Be Buried
* The Taker
* An Inside Job
* Tagged For Murder
* Let My Brother Go
* Light at the End of the Journey
* The Monster of Comus Towers.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:45 AM | Permalink

December 18, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Best Blago Ode Ever.

2. Blago's Shell Game.

3. Sneed reports (so read with skepticism) that the governor "surprised feds when, upon entering his home, he began jogging in place - and then lying down in the fetal position. He reportedly repeated the frenetic exercise several times."

Actually it's a new fitness regime called Bloga.

4. Several folks have said to me that they weren't surprised the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear Lisa Madigan's bid to remove Blagojevich from office because he is unfit to serve because insanity hasn't yet been proven. I thought Madigan actually had a shot, though, because the language she cited included removal not just because of physical or mental infirmity, but "other disability." Now, that may sound vague, but lawmakers were correct to include it as a provision because no one can foresee all the different circumstances that may arise that renders a governor unable to do his job. An example that I think I heard from Abner Mikva is if Blagojevich is unable to enter the state into contracts because his word isn't deemed credible. This makes sense when you consider that years ago legislators started asking the governor to sign "Memorandums of Agreement" because he had reneged so often on deals he had agreed to. So I thought the case should have at least been heard.

5. Ed Genson's arguments in Springfield that the rules regarding impeachment are vague and that some legislators have already betrayed their biases are nice bits of deflection, but no different from how impeachment is set up on the federal level. Remember those debates about what constituted "high crimes and misdemeanors" during Bill Clinton's impeachment? And it's not as if House Republicans - and some Democrats - didn't call for Clinton's ouster before proceedings even began.

An impeachment is a quasi-legal, quasi-political action that in many ways operates within the confines of the Constitution but by no means by the restraints of a courtroom.

6. A few columns ago I wondered how investigators placed a bug in Blagojevich's home. A couple of readers have pointed out to me - correctly - that a bug was placed in Blagojevich's campaign office (actually two; one in the governor's personal office and one in the conference room) but not in his home. His home phone, however, was tapped.

7. The Sun-Times reports that Ald. Pat O'Connor's bid to replace Rahm Emanuel as the congressman from the Fifth District has hit a snag now that Emanuel has been forced to take a low-profile in the wake of Blagobait. (I just came up with that; spread it around!)

O'Connor, who is Mayor Daley's "unofficial floor leader," which I think means biggest tool in the mayor's shed, apparently was hoping that Emanuel would "clear the field" for him.

Gee, I wonder how Rahm could do a thing like that?

8. Unlike everyone else in the real world, Mary Mitchell can't quite find the outrage she expects from the citizenry about Blagobait (!).

"I don't quite get it," Mitchell writes. "Why aren't people marching around his home carrying picket signs?"

Gee, I don't know, could it be that people have to go to work? Or maybe that marching with signs is less effective than, say, impeaching him?

9. "The first black president of the United States cannot credibly govern without a national black agenda. But don't depend on him to front it," Laura Washington writes in In These Times.

"Obama's dodge around race was exquisitely choreographed" during the campaign, Washington writes.

She also now calls his landmark 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention "lame."

(Washington wrote a similar version of this column for the Sun-Times in October.)

- via Bronzecomm

10. Maybe Illinois should be forced to just forfeit its vacant Senate seat for two years. That's the kind of penalty that might actually deter corruption.

11. The Beachwood Bowl Series.

12. "Home Egged in Batavia."

Is this news because the Trib is going "hyperlocal" or because no one in their right mind would waste eggs in this economy?

13. "I Am The Number 9!"

(With special guest appearance by Bob Roooooooahrrrrrrrmannnnn!)

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Splitting headaches daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:48 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Bowl Series

We're here to help.

*

The EagleBank Bowl
Wake Forest vs. Navy
RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
Dec. 20, 11 a.m. ESPN

Navy sees things the way they are and asks why. Wake Forest sees things the way they could be and asks why not. Plus, the Navy is just as broke as EagleBank. Demon Deacons devour Midshipmen.

*

The New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State vs. Fresno State
University Stadium, Albuquerque
Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m. ESPN

Fresno is not a state, and longtime Beachwood readers know that this is grounds for disqualification under our sophisticated college bowl algorithm. Rams ravish Bulldogs.

*

The magicJack Bowl
Memphis vs. South Florida
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Dec. 20, 4:30 p.m. ESPN2

South Florida has the home-field advantage, and that's not really fair, but then the dropped calls you suffer through without magicJack aren't really fair either, are they? Bulls blast Tigers.

*

The Pioneer Bowl
BYU vs. Arizona
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
Dec. 20, 8 p.m. ESPN

We're not sure if Mormons are allowed to gamble, but we do know they aren't allowed to gamble drunk or even hopped up on caffeine. So the much better-rested Cougars will waste the Wildcats.

*

The R+L Carriers Bowl
Southern Miss vs. Troy
Superdome, New Orleans
Dec. 21, 8:15 p.m. ESPN

We're not sure Troy is a real school. We know Southern Miss is. And Southern Miss is actually a legitimate region, though we think it's called Southern Miss because most of its students can't spell Mississippi.

*

The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Boise State vs. TCU
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Dec. 23, 8 p.m. ESPN

Is the San Diego County Credit Union the most powerful county credit union in the world? How did they get their own bowl? Maybe the players on these teams owe them money. The Broncos buck the Texas Christians.

*

The Sheraton Bowl
Hawaii vs. Notre Dame
Aloha Stadium, Hawaii
Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ESPN

Notre Dame's in a bowl game? Didn't they go winless this season? At least they'll have to take a really long plane ride before getting their butts kicked. Obama will be at this game instead of explaining how Rod Blagojevich came to know who he preferred to fill his Senate seat. Blago will be here on his way to Micronesia, where he'll ask for asylum - and a job that pays $300,000 a year.

*

The Motor City Bowl
Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
Ford Field, Detroit
Dec. 26, 7:30p.m. ESPN

Wow, what a rich comedic vein. Let's try a few. Gee, more people would attend if they renamed it The Toyota Bowl. Officials insist Ford Field is safe even though it's in foreclosure. Non-union Florida Atlantic players get less money under the table than unionized Central Michigan. Game ends after three quarters unless federal government bails it out. Owls outscore demoralized Chippewas.

*

The Meineke Car Care Bowl
West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Dec. 27, 1 p.m. ESPN

Losers have to wash the winners' cars. But what's with another bowl team getting a home state advantage? Is this the new thing? Just for that, we'll pick the Mountaineers to trip up the Tar Heels.

*

The Champs Sports Bowl
Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m. ESPN

Apparently Champs hasn't ponied up the dough to get naming rights to the stadium still named after what this game used to be called. Badgers bust Seminoles, pour orange juice over head of coach.

*

The Emerald Bowl
Miami (Fla.) vs. California
AT&T Park, San Francisco
Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ESPN

If this was Miami of Ohio, that'd be one thing. And if this was U.S. Cellular Field, that'd be another thing. And if this was the Opal Bowl, that'd yet be another thing. But none of those things are so, so we'll pick the Golden Bears to hose the Hurricanes.

*

The Independence Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
Independence Stadium, Shreveport
Dec. 28, 8:15 p.m. ESPN

Maybe the home-state advantage thing is because no one can afford to travel anymore. Northern Illinois would struggle anyway because most of the team is under indictment. Bulldogs bite Huskies.

*

The Papajohns.com Bowl
NC State vs. Rutgers
Legion Field, Birmingham
Dec. 29, 3 p.m. ESPN

NC State will order Rutgers a bunch of pizzas the night before the game and stick them with the bill. Unfortunately for them, Rutgers will return the prank but order from Domino's, sparking high indignation among the Wolfpack but also game-ending indigestion. The Scarlet Knights nullify NC State, move on to the Renaissance Bowl.

*

The Valero Alamo Bowl
Missouri vs. Northwestern
Alamodome, San Antonio
Dec. 29, 8 p.m. ESPN

Is the Valero a car? A rental car perhaps? If so, don't buy the insurance. It's a rip-off. In any case, we'll take the Tigers to whomp the Wildcasts because we loathe elite rich-kid schools.

*

The Roady's Humanitarian Bowl
Maryland vs. Nevada
Bronco Stadium, Boise
Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m. ESPN

Lift them cases and roll them amps, haul them trusses down and get 'em up them ramps, 'cause when it comes to this bowl, the Wolf Pack will give the Terrapins cramps.

*

The Texas Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Rice
Reliant Stadium, Houston
Dec. 30, 8 p.m. NFL Network

Most Boring Texas Bowl Ever. We'd rather watch foreign reporters throw shoes at the president. We'll take Rice to roll just because.

*

The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Oregon
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Dec. 30, 8 p.m. ESPN

Winners get term life insurance. Losers must sing Madonna song at karaoke later that night. Cowboys kill Ducks.

*

The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Houston vs. Air Force
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth
Dec. 31, Noon ESPN

Always a favorite with comedy writers. This time the unfair advantage goes to Air Force, but as we've all learned over the last few decades, air power alone cannot win wars. Cougars cruise over, um, Air Forcemen. Er, the Pilots. Or whatever.

*

The Brut Sun Bowl
Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
Sun Bowl, El Paso
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. CBS

This bowl stinks! Yeah, too easy. But it's better than a beaver joke. As a matter of policy, we cannot pick recommend a team coached by Dave Wannstedt, so the Beavers overcome the Panthers.

*

The Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
LP Field, Nashville
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ESPN

Jesus, where to start? How about this one: Would it be more embarrassing to win this game or to lose it? We'll predict a draw.

*

The Insight Bowl
Kansas vs. Minnesota
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe
Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m. NFL Network

A Midwestern match-up of mediocre midweights. They should rename this the Sun Devil Bowl and invite teams that aren't so nice. Jayhawks just get by Gophers.

*

The Chick-fil-A Bowl
LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ESPN

It'd be a lot cooler if LSD was playing. We didn't know they had technology in Georgia, so we'll take the Tigers to take the sting out of the Yellow Jackets.

*

The Outback Bowl
South Carolina vs. Iowa
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
Jan. 1, 2009, 11 a.m. ESPN

Winners get seconds at the salad bar. Losers are deported to Australia. Gamecocks are just too unpleasant to pick, so we'll take the Hawkeyes to hang on.

*

The Capital One Bowl
Georgia vs. Michigan State
Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Jan. 1, 2009, 1 p.m. ABC

We're pretty sure we did a David Spade joke last year, and may have asked what was in your wallet. Winners get 0% interest for six months, but that's not any better than what you get from the Federal Reserve these days. Spartans are too Greek; Bulldogs to bask.

*

The Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Nebraska vs. Clemson
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
Jan. 1, 2009, 1 p.m. CBS

This game would be even better if it was sponsored by Xerox and played at the IBM Bowl. Faculty at winning school get to kick the shit out of their office printers. Losers have to find source of jam. Tigers tear apart Cornhuskers.

*

The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi Bowl
Penn State vs. USC
Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:30 p.m. ABC

We're sure it's pretty stale by now to say this one is sponsored by the American taxpayer, but we'll give it a shot anyway. This game is the real deal, between two powerhouses. Unlike our auto companies and financial firms.

*

The FedEx Orange Bowl
Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:30 p.m. FOX

The Bengals go to their first bowl game in 40 years. If they lose, they will have to swap nicknames with VT and become the Hokies. The winners get (part-time) jobs at various FedEx-Kinko's locations across the country. Hokies hold on.

*

The AT&T Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Jan. 2, 2009, 2 p.m. FOX

The losers will be forced to sign-up with AT&T for a variety of phone services, while the winners will just be slammed later. Ole Miss with later play Southern Miss for the right to date Swiss Miss. Texas Tech more focused on the Southern Engineering Bowl where they will face off against either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech. The Red Raiders ream the Rebels.

*

The AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Kentucky vs. East Carolina
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis
Jan. 2, 2009, 5 p.m. ESPN

The winners get (part-time) jobs with AutoZone at various locations across the country. The losers get (part-time) jobs at the company's new chain of stores, BikeZone. Because a whole state is always better than a half, the Wildcats pummel the Pirates.

*

The Allstate Sugar Bowl
Utah vs. Alabama
Superdome, New Orleans
Jan. 2, 2009, 8 p.m. FOX

The losers have to take all the Katrina victims still living there home. The winners get to have their insurance claims rejected quicker. The Crimson Tide is a much cooler name than the Utes, and besides, it's a damn good movie, so Alabama undermines Utah.

*

The International Bowl
Buffalo vs. Connecticut
Rogers Centre, Toronto
Jan. 3, 2009, Noon ESPN2

A perfect ending to the Bush era, when an "international coalition" meant one that Canada had joined. The winners get free take-out for life from the "international restaurant" of their choice. The losers return to America. Buffalo is yet another team named the Bulls, and Tim Russert was from there, so normally we'd take UConn. But UConn is another team named the Huskies (though we'd accept Cornhuskies or even Connhuskies as an alternative) and Connecticut isn't nearly as pretty as you might think it is. The Blue Jays in seven.

*

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State vs. Texas
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Jan. 5, 2009, 8 p.m. FOX

This bowl would be a lot cooler if it was sponsored by Pringles. Double-dipping will be penalized by a loss down and 15 yards from the spot of the foul. Ohio State will be penalized because it's from the Big Ten, which contains 11 schools, and Texas will be penalized because it seems like every school from Texas including the Lubbock Ladies College is in a bowl game. We'll take Texas to trim the Buckeyes because we love to hook 'em horns.

*

The GMAC Bowl
Ball State vs. Tulsa
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile
Jan. 6, 2009, 8 p.m. ESPN

The winners will be required to buy a car from GM at 0 percent interest; the losers will be required to hand over a share of their taxes for a GM bailout and not even get a matchbox. Rick Wagoner will be hung in effigy at halftime. The game becomes three times more exciting in the fourth quarter after Nissan buys it. At the two-minute warning, though, the stadium is repossessed by the Chinese. The Golden Hurricane hurls the Cardinals.

*

The FedEx BCS National Championship Game
Florida vs. Oklahoma
Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Jan. 8, 2009, 8 p.m. FOX

They should just let the BCS computer decide this game and slot these teams into the NFL playoffs as wild cards. We prefer Gators to Sooners, so we'll take Florida to ostracize Oklahoma.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

UPDATE: 5:06 P.M.: I will also be on the public radio show The Takeaway on Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m. central time.

-

If all goes according to plan, you can hear me talk about Ed Genson on WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight this morning. The program begins at 9:30 a.m.

Also, I'll be appearing on CAN TV21's Political Forum tonight at 7 p.m. and taking calls!

-

1. Dr. Blago. Brings state GOP back from the dead.

2. Governor goes for a jog this morning.

A) Can you run with those home monitoring ankle bracelets on?
B) Can you run with so much cash stuffed into your sweatpants?
C) Can you run in this city with a mayor who won't salt our streets?
D) Could he run to Indiana and seek asylum there?

UPDATE: Apparently he's running to work. Isn't that from his bedroom to his dining room?

3. Drew Peterson is engaged. To a 23-year-old.

Geez, could you make those of us still single feel any more pathetic? He's working on, what, his fifth wife? And he's killed two of them!

Lesson: Women really do go for the bad boys.

4. "I know Eddie Genson may be prouder of the politicians he's represented than the mobsters," Carol Marin writes this morning, "but honestly, isn't it sometimes almost a toss-up?"

*

I'm still not linked to Sun-Times stories because the website freezes my iBook G4. Whet Moser explains why.

5. Okay, I can't resist. I will be the ten billionth person to ask if interest rates could go below zero . . . you know, the Fed would pay banks to borrow money. Then they could lend it out to us for no interest.

*

I might have totally just botched how the financial system works, but there has to be comedic material plus socioeconomic commentary in there somewhere.

*

I have, however, read William Greider's Secrets of the Temple several times, and consider it one of the greatest pieces of journalism (and history) in my lifetime. It will make you angry, like reality usually does.

6. Not only is the mayor cutting back on salting our roads, there will be no MSG in our salt this year.

*

Hey, they can't all be winners.

7. "Treasurer: Gov's Arrest Cost State $20 Million."

But the free publicity is priceless.

8. If this was just a careless oversight, then Eric Holder isn't fit to be Attorney General. And if it was done on purpose, Eric Holder isn't fit to be Attorney General.

9. F-Rod.

10. "Obama adviser David Axelrod, who makes most mild-mannered people seem high-strung, dodged just about every question fairly deftly on Morning Joe this morning," MSNBC reports. "He disputed the notion that Rahm and Obama helped run Blago's campaign in 2002."

Axelrod isn't the only one trying to "walk back" Ryan Lizza's reporting in The New Yorker, but the Obama campaign didn't seem to have a problem with this back in July.

*

Obama himself agreed that he was "working hard" to elect Blagojevich in 2002.

And then there was Blagojevich's 2006 re-election campaign amidst a plethora of news reports about federal investigations swirling around him. Apparently Obama didn't learn from his Tony Rezko experience. As reported by Jake Tapper:

In the Summer of 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Obama backed Blagojevich even though there were serious questions at the time about Blago's hiring practices.

At the time, numerous state agencies had had records subpoenaed, with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald telling authorities he was looking into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" with a "number of credible witnesses."

In an interview with the Chicago Daily Herald in July 2006, then-Sen. Obama said, "I have not followed closely enough what's been taking place in these investigations to comment on them. Obviously I'm concerned about reports that hiring practices at the state weren't, at times, following appropriate procedures. How high up that went, the degree at which the governor was involved, is not something I'm going to speculate on.

Aside from the fact that Obama is reportedly a voracious newspaper reader, is it remotely possible thathe wasn't following the highly publicized investigations into the Governor of Illinois closely?

Remember that for at least a year, Obama said he was unaware that Rezko was under federal investigation when he made his Hyde Park land deal with him, only to later admit that he not only was aware, but called Tony Rezko on the phone and asked him about the stories he was reading.

"If I received information that made me believe that any Democrat had not been acting in the public interest, I'd be concerned," Obama said.

Does that include information from his own media master, David Axelrod? Axelrod was so disturbed with Blagojevich that he bailed on the 2006 re-elect effort.

That said, Mr. Obama said, "If the governor asks me to work on his behalf, I'll be happy to do it."

Apparently the governor did. At the Illinois State Fair in August 2006, Obama spoke on Blagojevich's behalf.

"We've got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois," Obama told the crowd.

11. Isn't it funny how the Arne Duncan narrative has changed from lightweight Daley tool and mediocre manager in over his head to national reformer who turned our schools around? Maybe there's a super-secret Chicago school district everyone is talking about the rest of us aren't privy to.

*

I had mixed feelings about Paul Vallas's tenure as schools chief here, though I thought he was the right pick to be governor in 2002, but he would have been much more plausible as Education Secretary, having worked not only in Chicago, but in Philadelphia and, now, New Orleans. In fact, it would have been a chance for the administration to show New Orleans some love by making it a national testing ground (no pun intended). Vallas is also a budget whiz, and his style is more befitting of a national post given how many feathers he ruffles in local environments. But he's a lousy basketball player doesn't quite have the same game as Arne. And I'm sure this didn't help.

12. Did Trib Timing Force Fitzy's Hand?

The Beachwood Tip Line: Disarming.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix

My fantasy football team is still in the hunt for a league title, though I was almost derailed by Pro Bowl-bound Eli Manning - or rather, Manning's offensive line, which allowed Dallas to put Manning on his back eight times last Sunday, with two interceptions on rushed passes. Eli's miniscule points aside, big days from WR Andre Johnson (207 receiving yards, 1 TD) and Steven Jackson (127 total yards, 1 TD) got me through the first round of the playoffs. My guys now get to play for the championship.

I had almost rested Manning and picked up Tavaris Jackson off waivers to be my second QB along with Tyler Thigpen, but just before I clicked the magic button, I got on a moral high horse and decided it wasn't quite fair. I rode Manning into first place during the regular season, I argued to myself, and I'm not going to go with a potentially hot hand off waivers just because I can. We now know that Jackson had a huge day (a modest 163 yards, but 4 TDs).

I gave in last night and claimed Jackson off waivers, but I'm still weighing the moral dilemma. Half the league no longer cares what moves are being made by the two remaining teams. My opponent for the title also made a waiver swap to prop up his defense after I claimed Jackson. No one has made a peep about my move, and my opponent has a pretty terrifying offense, including Drew Brees and Peyton Manning at QB, along with newly-crowned stud RB Pierre Thomas and other weapons. Still, I haven't yet decided whether or not I'll play Jackson. What would you do?

I bet our fantasy football experts don't get dragged down by such moral dilemmas:

* Pickups of the Week is still dishing up waiver ideas for whoever's ready. They have QB Dan Orlovsky as a "solid buy" against the Saints defense that the Bears barely manhandled last Thursday night. A notable "moderate buy" is RB Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who was not supposed to be back this year, but did return a couple week ago and has been gathering steam. Judging by his ownership frequency (just 3 percent in Yahoo! leagues), many fantasy team owners sold him for scrap long ago and may not know he's back at work.

* The Talented Mr. Roto has a familiar name of his list of pick-ups this week: Cedric Benson. The season has seen several Bears rejects-made-good, but Benson may be the most surprising. With Cincinnati depending on a second-string QB, the late-season Bengals addition has been busy, and collected 160 total yards last week.

* The Commish writes about Week 16 being the conclusive week for the fantasy football masses. May they watch Week 17 games and not feel like they are rooting for or against individuals rather than teams (I added that part myself). The Commish also talks about inherent conundrum of safeties.

Hoopsville
It's injuries galore in the NBA. Some of the ailing are players you expect to see injured or hurting this time every year (Carlos Boozer, Corey Maggette), and others aren't (Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce). In the NBA, even minor injuries can cost players a game or two, which means they can cost a fantasy team that week's head-to-head contest.

Such situations highlight the importance of position balance. Certainly, there are leagues where you need as many high scorers and top rebounders as possible, but you've got to have back-ups at every position, too. It's hard to seek at balance at every position during the draft when you already have two shooting guards but a shot at another Top 25 scoring SG. But these are the weeks in the late first half of the season when position balance pays off, and reliable second fiddles get their chances to shine.

Who are we talking about?

Paul Millsap has been doing a fine job getting Boozer's minutes (14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG. Players as a varied as Brandan Wright, Anthony Morrow and Ronny Turiaf have gained more minutes while Maggette has been out. Sometimes it's hard to tell who will benefit when a first-stringer goes down, but keeping an occasional eye on team depth charts is not a bad idea.

So, what are the fantasy basketball experts talking about this week?

* Fantasy Basketball.com has more on the injury bug in the NBA. We forgot to mention Kevin Martin and Rafer Alston are out, too. There are almost more players in the NBA getting hurt right now than there are coaches getting fired. Almost.

* Court Report looks at the beneficiaries of two fairly big trades within the last week. You can read more about who got traded at Court Report, but the key names to remember are Jason Richardson, who went to Phoenix, and Javaris Crittenden, who made his way to Washington. Richardson is having a slightly down year so far, but could move into superstar PPG range getting the ball from Steve Nash. Meanwhile, the once-heralded Crittenden hasn't done much at all yet, but he suddenly looks like a starting point guard in Washington, at least until well into the second half of the season.

* CBS Sportsline now has extremely useful updates on player position eligibility, another bit of information that can help you manage your roster through injuries. This column notes how many more games certain players need at certain positions to get new eligibility. Get ready to reap the rewards of Darko Milicic from the forward slot.
_

Next week, we'll feature our season-ending fantasy football wrap-up and predictions for next year's draft. In the basketball realm, we'll take a look at how this year's abundance of coaching changes may influence fantasy player performance.

-

Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

Taking Medicine, Flood Insurance, Energy Savings

GUIDE TO TAKING MEDICINE
Sorting through medication labels and managing both over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be very confusing. That's why the Federal Citizen Information Center and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Women's Health have put together the Guide to Taking Medicine, a free package of publications that will help you better understand what you need to know before you take any medication.

When you see your doctor, it can be hard to know what to ask about medicines you're already taking or those being prescribed. Use the fact sheets in the Guide to Taking Medicine package for a list of essential questions. The package also explains how to read prescription medication labels and spot red flags you should follow up on. For example, is your medicine an antibiotic? It's important to know that antibiotics work differently than other drugs.

The Guide to Taking Medicine package explains these differences and lets you know what illnesses antibiotics can treat, what they can't treat, and how to use them properly.

There is plenty you can do to take care of your body in addition to chicken soup and the right medication. You may benefit from taking a dietary supplement on a daily basis. The Guide to Taking Medicine package explains the function of vitamins and what you need to consider before you take them with any other medications.

Don't let reading medicine labels, managing your prescription and over-the-counter medications, or taking dietary supplements be a confusing experience. Use the free Guide to Taking Medicine package so you can stay in control of the medications and supplements you're taking.

NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE GUIDE
Did you know that floods are the #1 natural hazard in the United States, occurring in all fifty states, and that homeowner's insurance doesn't cover flood damage? Order the National Flood Insurance Guide to find out what flood insurance backed by the federal government covers and how much coverage is available. Flood insurance averages about $1 per day, and there's usually a 30-day waiting period before your coverage is effective. Be sure to protect your home before disaster strikes by ordering the free National Flood Insurance Guide from the Federal Emergency Management

TIPS ON SAVING ENERGY AND MONEY AT HOME
Why not make your home more energy efficient and save some cash at the same time? With tips provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home, simple changes can add up to big savings. Suggestions include sealing air leaks and installing compact fluorescent light bulbs. Learn how to properly insulate your attic and pick the best appliances for your basement. These simple solutions will give you the biggest return on your investment. This brochure costs $1.50.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:57 AM | Permalink

December 16, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

It's still Blago's world, we're just prisoners in it.

1. Junior's Story. What's he trying to tell us?

2. Blago's Staycation.

3. More than one letter-writer to the Sun-Times today suggests that the Illinois Lottery hold a sweepstakes to determine who gets to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.

You know what? It's not such a bad idea.

An ordinary citizen could hold the seat for two years - and compete against the big boys for re-election if he or she has done a good job.

It's time the state figure out how to cash in on these scandals, anyway. I mean, cash in for us, the taxpayers. I hereby propose the State of Illinois Novelties Division, specializing in satirical t-shirts and other props celebrating - and mocking - our elected leaders.

I would be happy to serve as the division's first director.

4. Another letter-writer to the Sun-Times wants us all to urge the governor to resign via a letter-writing campaign.

I have a better idea: At noon tomorrow, the entire state should go outdoors and scream in unison, "Get the fuck out!"

5. Ed Genson is already signaling his defense.

"The case that I've seen so far is significantly exaggerated. It's not what people think it is."

I saw another report that Genson will argue that the Senate seat imbroglio was just "political shop talk."

But as Mark Brown writes this morning, the "just politics" defense "has come up a loser in several recent federal criminal cases here from George Ryan to Robert Sorich."

*

Or, as I wrote in my profile of Genson in 2005 (last time I'll link to this, I swear!):

It's a defense he's been using for years.

When the mobbed-up power brokers of the old First Ward were tried in the early 1990s, Genson told a jury, "This case does not involve fixes. It's about old men brought up in a different system. It involves favors that are clearly political, but not against the law. That's all politics is - favors. This, ladies and gentlemen, is old-time politics.'

I asked Genson how he could really believe that.

"The laws governing federal prosecution are so nebulous, they're so general, that what is a crime to one United States attorney is not a crime to another," he said. "And what this [U.S. attorney] is doing is taking a political favor and elevating it to a crime. And nobody knew that was a crime. Now, [Scott] Fawell took a little bit of leeway - a little, but not much. And every one of the things he was indicted for - political people getting state jobs, people on state jobs doing political things while they're on state jobs - this is not a new thing. The fact is, he did what everyone else did."

I reminded Genson that the way things have always worked includes a steady pattern of indictments for business-as-usual.

"No!" he bellowed. "No! Because nobody's ever been indicted for that! Nobody's ever been indicted for doing that in Illinois. Oh, yeah, political corruption trials where people take money - I mean, all you gotta do to know that's illegal is to read the Ten Commandments! But if you sit in your state office and make a bunch of phone calls to the ward committeemen to get their vote, that's been done forever!"

6. This fundraiser was last night.

*

I'm telling you, folks, we have to publicly fund campaigns. Otherwise we're sanctioning legal bribery, and it ain't much different than the illegal kind.

*

"The irony is that if Blagojevich had appointed someone to the Senate seat, and that person just happened to show their gratitude a year from now by hosting a huge fund-raiser for him, not even U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald could have made a federal case out of it," Brown writes.

7. Brown gets it wrong here, though.

"As far as using evidence [for impeachment] put into play during the Tony Rezko trial, we must remember that until the wiretaps, the U.S. attorney hadn't seen fit to bring charges against Blagojevich based on that same material."

All indications are that the feds indeed already had enough evidence to indict Blagojevich, but they didn't expect to fully wrap up their investigation until March, when they would have finished presenting their findings to a grand jury and, presumably, won an indictment.

8. It looks like Rezko has more to say.

9. I watched Carol Marin interview Mike Madigan down in Springfield last night on Chicago Tonight and you would never call that man magnanimous. He's all vengeance and spite. And yes, that's understandable to a degree, given the circumstances. But state Republicans are right on this one: the legislative impeachment panel should be bi-partisan, not top-heavy with Democrats. And a special election should be held - just as Dick Durbin initially suggested - to fill Obama's seat.

The state is ruminating once again about what it will take to reform our sleazy political culture. Well, I've suggested - along with many others - two structural changes right here in this lil' ol' column: public financing of campaigns and filling all vacancies with special elections. It's really not so hard.

10. Elizabeth Brackett made a good point last night: Isn't it a bit, um, not right, to have a father and daughter both trying to remove the governor at the same time?

11. Also from CT: Experts confirmed that the tap on Blago's phone could simply be turned on from the central office. But the bug in his home had to be placed there - either by someone sneaking in or by someone blending in like they were supposed to be there.

I wonder if members of a security detail are allowed to cooperate with federal authorities in cases like this.

12. "Axelrod, years ago, was Blagojevich's media consultant when he ran for the House," Lynn Sweet notes. "His son, Michael, was an unpaid intern in Blagojevich's House office."

I'm sure Blagojevich had no idea who Michael's father was.

13. "Quinn Says Impeachment Can Be Done By January."

Can it be done by e-mail?

The Beachwood Tip Line: Wigged out.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

A Blago Xmas

1. Is There A Dumber Boy?
(To the tune of "Little Drummer Boy")

Here's a Senate seat for you
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Some gifts and cash will do
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Pay-offs and bribes I did accrue
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Read all about it in the Tribune
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Now my name is scum

Corruption and scandal I did bring
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
The Fed's were listening
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
How Patti and I could sing
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
But not like that guy Sting
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Like the Cubs, I'm a bum

They want me to resign
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Are you out of your mind?
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Saturday Night Live was so unkind
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
A slicker hair-do you won't find
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
Who says blonds have more fun?

Merry Christmas, Peace and Joy
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
My career is now destroyed
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
With Kerner, Walker, Ryan, just one of the boys
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb
The disgraced governors of Illinois
I'm dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb

Now where is the sun?
Someone get me my gun.
Prison in Wisconsin

- Green Bay Bill

2. 'Twas the Night Before Fitzmas

'Twas the night before Fitzmas,
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even the louse,
He had no way of knowing,
What the morning would bring,
But he found out at 6,
When Fitz gave him a ring

Those plum jobs and board seats
That danced through his head,
For him and for Patti,
Alongside him in bed
All faded and withered
As soon as he spoke,
And listened to find
That this was no joke

In blue sweats and t-shirt
His dreams interrupted,
Blago was handcuffed,
By the brave and uncorrupted
And as news of his brazenness
through the neighborhood spread
Illinois - and the world -
Yelled "Off with his head!"

He'd dare to dangle
Saint Obama's gold seat
Least that's what Fitz said
between every bleep
He played Candidate 1
off Candidate 5
With typical aplomb
of that ol' Blago jive

Beyond Obama, Rod's tentacles spread
To hospitals where children
Lay sick in their beds
It sickened the worst of us,
Including Dick Mell,
And reached even to Wrigley,
Which Zell could not sell

A national joke, a world-class clown
Rod posted his bail and and took a ride downtown
He visited his office, for the very first time
"So this is what it looks like!"
He said so sublime
The phone from Dan Webb
It did not ring
That's okay, he said, Ed Genson's the king

Now, Rezko! Now, Harris! Now, Kelly and Lon Monk!
Ali Ata! You gotta!
Talk out of your funk!
To the front of the bus! To the top of the list!
Now sing away! Sing away! Sing away all!
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall!

In Ravenswood they huddle
As the vultures do fly
Their own deals to make
For them do not cry
And then, in a twinkling, they heard on the roof
CNN and Fox and Chuck Goudie, the goof
They drew a deep breathe, and ran from the stairs
Who is it? Who is it? Who is it up there?

Down the chimney Geraldo came with a bound.
His baggage came with him, his mustache renowned,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
Like the day in Iraq his career went kaput,
His eyes - how they twinkled! upper lip oh so hairy!
His glasses so trendy, his sneer so contrary!
His prey was before him, wrapped up with a bow,
And Geraldo just knew now, he'd get his own show;

He smiled at ol' Blago, showed the gap in his teeth,
And despite Blago's f-bombs, he would not retreat,
"Just give me the first sit down, live on the telly,
And I'll pay you enough, to fill your lawyer's fat belly,"
Blago spoke not a word, on his attorney's advice,
And his silence was captured, on a listening device,
Geraldo said "I know Blago, this isn't your fault,"
While he dreamt of big ratings like Al Capone's vault

But Blago threw out the newsman, like a heat-seeking missile,
He knew better than squealing, he won't blow the whistle,
Unless, of course, Fitz's offer is right,
"Happy Fitzmas to all, and to all a good-night

- Rick Kaempfer, Mike Knezovich, Steve Rhodes

*

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, I know we're not close to being the first to get there, but we embarked on this tomfoolery last week wholly ignorant of other efforts until it was too late.

*

SEE ALSO: Blago Rock.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 AM | Permalink

Santo's Sad Saga

One of these days Ron Santo will make it to the Hall of Fame. Then we can all take a deep breath and figure out why the world plotted so insidiously to thwart him.

Until then, we must rely on the media/barstool cottage industry built around the "why-do-they-hate-our-beloved-Ron?" manifesto.

We have the usual suspects.

Idiot voters? Some of that. Misunderstanding of refined historical analysis that discounts his considerable achievements? Sure. Ron isn't as beloved outside of Chicago as he is in the neighborhood? True. The Hall of Fame voting system is just screwy? Probably.

But now that he has been rebuffed by his playing peers for a spot in Cooperstown, maybe it's time for a less teary-eyed view.

Famed baseball analyst Bill James has given Santo his imprimatur but oddly forgot some of his own insight about such matters. The reasons some players don't make the Hall transcend numbers and result from a cascade of psychological forces.

Sadly enough, Santo may be on the outside of Cooperstown as a punishment in general for being a Cub, and more specifically, for being a Cub in 1969.

For those of you who don't remember (But, WAIT, Cubs fans are doomed to always remember everything), the Cubs should have won the pennant that year and led by 8 1/2 games in mid-August. Then they came mortifyingly unglued, and fate let the Mets pull Excalibur from the stone.

It was amazingly awful for the Cubs. Every decade or so in the pre-Division Playoff era, the Cubs were good enough to juke their fans into realistic hope. Those Diaspora years made the pain of reality even more unbearable, except, of course, for those us who were not Cubs fans and delighted in the pain of others.

Indeed, 1969 was about as tragic and unrequited a season as the Cubs ever experienced, despite the superficial gleam of great statistics. For those of us who were not Cubs fans, it was like a trackside luxury box seat at a train crash. You hated yourself for liking the experience.

And finishing 22 games over .500 only made the pain more excruciating for the Cubs. Santo had 123 RBI that year. The Cubs had two 20-game winners. Those should all have been good omens. They weren't.

But here's what I remember about that season and more particularly about the breath of Santo's career,

No matter what Santo accomplished, it was never enough to make the Cubs a winner and history has decided to punish him and them for that lack. Anyway, the Hall ultimately rewards winners and needs a better reason than glossy statistics to honor losers. History is merely the way we remember what happened. It's not necessarily THE TRUTH. And history remembers Santo in a slightly different way than do Cubs fans.

Hall of Fame voters inducted Santo contemporaries Billy Williams and Ernie Banks for good numbers, and they grudgingly let Fergie Jenkins have a seat at the table, too. After all, you have to honor a good pitcher who singlehandedly withstood the worst agonies only his own teammates could inflict on him.

But Santo? Sorry. Generosity only goes so far. And apparently there's no statute of limitations for 1969. Santo's still doing time for it.

There's a logic to the rejection. How many valid Hall of Famers can a truly terrible team have? If they were all worthy Famers, why was the team so often so hideously miserable?

As the peer vote suggests and contemporaries testify, Santo was always regarded as a very good player in his own era, but never a great one. Sorry if the truth hurts. (That was the first decade of my totally obsessed baseball awareness/immersion. I always thought of Santo as the guy who hit 3-run homers in the eighth inning to make the losing 10-6 score seem closer than it was).

And what I remember of Santo's career may be what his peers most clearly recall now, too. And they should know. Santo did not make a bad team better enough to transcend its historic, meteoric awfulness. In the end, maybe there is a true Cub-borne voodoo that derives less from what the Cubs do or fail to do, than from simply being a Cub.

Unfortunately for Santo, those voters who hold his Hall of Fame fate now will have lived through those years as he did. So they are unlikely to forget or to judge him differently than they already have.

There's always some hope. In Santo's case, perhaps history's harsh judgment will be reconsidered and remedied by kinder souls. I'm sort of hoping so.

Even those of us who are not Cubs fans grow weary of schadenfreude.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:40 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Wonderland

WONDERLAND

So I got fired and may lose my home.
I wonder why it has to be so hard.
The very December wind now hounds me,
chilling visions of homelessness abound.
I wonder "why now?" I wonder "so how
do I party with the holiday crowd?"
Life takes no holiday. Life is this hard.
My sense of self has imploded in shards.
But I must smile my way through the season
and I must guile my way through cold reason.
The garish December sun gives no warmth
though after Solstice light again comes forth . . .

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:39 AM | Permalink

The 12 Books of Christmas

1. Best Book by a First-Time Author

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
David Wroblewski
HarperCollins
$25.95

The haunting tale of young Edgar Sawtelle, born mute but getting by on his family's farm where "Sawtelle Dogs" are born, raised, and trained, is a masterpiece. Reminiscent of Leif Enger's Peace Like a River in its gentle telling, it grips you without spectacle from page one and keeps your attention through good times, tragedy, murder, and revenge. Especially beautiful are the scenes where Edgar goes to live in the woods with a lively young pack of dogs. A perfect reminder of how man's best friend can be the most comforting thing when you've lost everything.

2. Best Thriller with a Moral

A Most Wanted Man
John LeCarre
Scribner
$28.00

The author of 21 novels, LeCarre is a master at the spy story. But this time, he clearly has a grudge to pick, and it's with Western civilization's xenophobia toward anyone Muslim. The story of Issa, a young Chechen with a Russian father who raised him to be anything but Muslim while condemning his mother to death and taking him from his people, is a story of impossible hopes for a brighter future. As Issa struggles to retrieve funds left for him by his father so he can go to medical school, Germany, England, and the good ol' USA watch his every move as a possible terrorist. Issa, gentle soul that he is, never has a chance.

3. Best Book for the Champagne Lover

Widow Cliquot
Tilar J. Mazzeo
CollinsBusiness
$25.95

The fascinating story of one of the world's best champagnes. Widowed at 27, the Grand Dame, Barbe-Nicole Cliquot was forced with a decision - close her family's business or take it over. In the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, and in a male-dominated business and society, Cliquot took the hard road and built an empire that continues to produce some of the world's finest bubbly. Cheers!

4. Best Book to Make You Take a Hard Look at Yourself

The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
Andrew Bacevich
Metropolitan Books
$24.00

Finally, an attack on the citizens of this country! Bacevich examines the ways in which We the People have been complicit in the breakdown of American ideals, the war, political chicanery, and our desire to have it all. Citing numerous sources and piecing together a fascinating historical analysis, Bacevich hits the nail on the head.

5. Best Book to Cover the Meth Epidemic - from the inside

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
David Sheff
Houghton Mifflin Co
$24.00

Nic Sheff had everything going for him. A happy, outgoing kid, it seemed like the world was ripe for the picking. But as adolescence hit, Nic began to spiral out of control. As a teenager, he used mind-altering substances. By the time his father, who narrates this story, found out about his son's drug problem, Nic was a full-blown meth addict. David Sheff doesn't candy-coat his struggles with his son. But he preaches the eternal prayer of every parent: hope.

6. Best Book about Nothing

Collections of Nothing
William Davies King
University of Chicago Press
$20.00

Theatre professor King has dedicated his life to collecting what many of us would call detritus. By his own account, he is an oddball, yet insists neither his work as a professor or in therapy has in any way influenced his strange compulsion to collect everything from gum wrappers to chain letters, skeleton keys to cat food labels. A great look into the mind of a man who seems to see value in everything.

7. Best Book for the Tyke in Your Life

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime
Bob Shea
Hyperion Book CH
$15.99

This whimsical charmer shows Dinosaur conquer his day in typical dino-fashion (Dinosaur vs. Spaghetti! CHOMP CHOMP!). Dinosaur takes on everything from a pile of leaves to talking grown-ups, but he does have one little weakness . . .

8. Best Book for the Teen in Your Life

The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman
HarperCollins
$17.99

Ok, ok, Neil made the list again. But it's because he's so good at his craft! Nobody Owens (aka Bod) would be a completely normal boy. But there's the tiny fact that Bod lives in a large graveyard and is educated by ghosts and guarded by a figure that belongs neither to this world or the next. Bod faces terrors no matter where he goes, from ghouls to the man who would murder him if he left the graveyard, the man who murdered his family, the man named Jack. A nice break from all the Twilight hype.

9.Best Book for the Sci-Fi Fan

Black Ships
Jo Graham
Orbit
$14.99

A strange, dark, yet imaginative weaving of The Aeneid and the rescue of the Trojans from slavery to a journey to find their brethren. Viewed entirely through the eyes of Gull, Oracle of the Lady of the Dead. Gull sees the "black ships" burning at Troy and travels to join Aeneas in the saving of the remaining Trojans. A unique blend of Virgil and Graham.

10. Best Book for the Science Lover

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body
Neil Shubin
Pantheon
$24.00

No boring lecture here. Shubin, a fish paleontologist, uses humor and science to deftly guide you through human evolution, from our days in the water to our days sitting in front of the TV. Fossils give clues to our senses while human cells and sponges have remarkable similarities. Probably not the best gift for the Creationist on your list.

11. Best Book for the Comic Lover

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America
David Hajdu
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
$26.00

Anyone who read Michael Chabon's masterful The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay will remember that once upon a time, the comic book was considered by some a threat to the moral fiber of American youth. Fredric Werthem wrote a sweeping tome coming down on the comics industry (The Seduction of the Innocent), which suggested that comics would inspire anti-social behavior and were often meant to be homoerotic. Hadju comes down hard on Werthem's methods of research and his cost to the comics industry. As a result of Werthem's work, many comics artists were called before Congress. Though it's laughable now, the damage Werthem did was very real and very unnecessary.

12. Best Book for the Modern Historian

The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days that Inspired America
Thurston Clarke
Henry Holt and Co.
$25.00

When Bobby Kennedy announced his run for president, America was on the brink of disaster. With an unwinnable war in Vietnam and social policies that weren't working on the home front, Kennedy worked for a tragically shortened time to bring back the social conscience of the country. Assassin-wary, Kennedy once predicted "I'm afraid there are guns between me and the White House." But Clarke doesn't get stuck on the might-have-beens had Kennedy not been correct. Instead, he reminds us that for a short period, Kennedy drew Americans together.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

December 15, 2008

Gore: Santa Must Relocate!

SAYS NORTH POLE HAS FIVE YEARS TO LIVE!

While In Germany Last Week, Former V.P. Says North Polar Ice Cap Will Be Gone Soon

An "allegory" is a visual symbol representing an abstract idea. It's also a word that may sufficiently explain Al Gore's argument that Santa will have to think about relocating.

Rob Roselli is an average American citizen with a civil engineering background that was utilized to unmask the fake science of the scam radical environmental movement and the real intentions of the environmental movement; a group our illustrious new leader embraces. Today, he has reached a point of such concern for his country that it has assumed "top priority" status.

Roselli is convinced that the entire climate change movement is a scam with a much bigger agenda. "People need to open their eyes," he says, "Never has their been better time for the old Wizard of Oz movie line, 'pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.' Besides, all the evidence is showing that the earth has actually been cooling for quite some time now. Mr. Gore better start thinking about getting himself a flamethrower if he wants to bolster his argument."

goreflame.jpg

Roselli cites a recent article by the AP as evidence. "The fact that we are in a stage of global cooling can't even be denied," he says, "Yet somehow the argument has now devolved into something so incomprehensible they're left with saying the earth is warming because it is cooling. What is that?"

ABOUT ROBERT ROSELLI
Bachelors of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee and in 1997 a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ. A licensed professional engineer in three states, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut currently working in southern New York state and residing with my wife in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Raised Roman Catholic and practiced on and off with regularity until college. Introduction into Biblical Christianity dates back to the early nineties but never took the "conspiratorial view" of history seriously enough until the last few years as events are seemingly leading us to the Lord's return to "Mother Earth", a descent "To the Mouth of Madness", or both. Self taught and, quite often, many of his sources came about as a result of the bibliographies and footnotes of earlier sources. The sources of Rob's acquired knowledge run the gamut from many famous "conspiracy theorists" to the most ardent "New" Agers to the Dalai Lama himself to "Ascended Masters" Djwhal Khul and The Count of Saint Germain. "The THEorYofLIVEvolution" is my first book.

THEorY of LIVEvolution . . .

There is a drive for a "New World Order" afoot and it's not an accident. The modern day descendants of the Moneychangers and allied fake religious leaders or Pharisees of Jesus' day are tying up some loose ends (2008). The introduction lays the groundwork for the rest of the book. Section 1 (posted on my website THEorYofLIVEvolution.com for length purposes) establishes the unique reality of Biblical Christianity. This is very important since a firm belief in a benevolent Creator is the only thing that stands between us and "Them" at this point. Section 2 points out the world is about to be plunged into a "New World Order" of Biblical proportions. If you think this scenario is outlandish, the "free" U.S., non-coincidentally, meets every one of the criteria for atheistic Communism listed in Marx's "Communist Manifesto". As Section 3 discusses, what "They" have planned for you on "Mother Earth" (if you're worthy of "evolution" at least) is the Nazis on steroids.

My name is Robert Roselli and I am a licensed professional engineer in three states and hold an MS degree in civil engineering. I say this only to establish myself as a logically and scientifically grounded thinker. I desire no fame or profit for this endeavor. Any monies collected from this book beyond personal expenses will be donated equitably to links that appear at the end of my website site. Let this book be the introduction into the way the world really works and "de-tox" much of the Orwellian re-education we've all been fed by the establishment owned education system and mainstream snews. After you're done reading this introduction to the way the world really works please spend some time on my website and related links to keep abreast of our steadily unraveling descent "Into the Mouth of Madness."

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

What I Watched Last Night: Lisa Madigan's Press Conference

I had a few things on my plate just before lunchtime Friday morning, but I ended up putting them aside when - like I was able to put them aside early Monday morning - I was drawn to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's expansive news conference surrounding her decision to ask the state's supreme court to keep Gov. Rod Blagojevich from doing state business out of the back seat of his SUV until his lawyers prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Sunshine didn't wake up all pissy one morning and decide to fuck a children's hospital out of $8 million.

I have no doubt the governor needs to have his loose screws tightened if he thinks he can run a state when his phone has become as useful as a banana in his ear. At this point, I don't care whether Lisa Madigan or Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn might be capitalizing on Mr. Sunshine's misfortune to further their own public service careers. Given the governor's conduct and job performance even before this pay-to-play business arose, there are less reliable coat racks than those two to hang our hats on.

Sure, I was drawn to Lisa Madigan's news conference because it was the newest chapter in the biggest crash-and-burn show this state has ever seen. As much as I think she's doing a good job of attorney generalin', I found myself being annoyed by the same question that's been annoying me for years: Why does every woman in the upper reaches of Illinois government insist on showing up on TV looking like hell? Lisa Madigan might not look like a man or anything, but I'd feel better if I wasn't always waiting for her to begin an important news conference by yanking her hands out of her armpits, shoving them under her nose and inhaling deeply before yelling out "SUPERstar!!!!!!!" She has the trendy glasses working for her since few women beyond Lisa Loeb can pull off the sexy-librarian look, but when you're calling TV news conferences with some regularity, how hard is it to drive down to the mall for a style at The Hair Cuttery and a makeover at the Clinique counter?

By the same token, I imagine most women like their lieutenant governors looking not so crumpled-looking when becoming the state's CEO looms large, so Pat Quinn might want to amble over to the nearest Men's Wearhouse. We'll like the way he'll look. They guarantee it.

Still, I'm so superficial to forget that the best thing about Lisa Madigan is her brains, not her makeup. That's why I could only imagine how centerfold-hot she might if she managed to investigate Illinois Senate President Emil Jones into submission.

-

See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:01 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Because the situation remains fluid, I'll be with you here all day once again, so here we go.

Blago Framed!
Mulder and Scully investigate.

George Ryan's Crocodile Tears
Apologizes when nobody is looking.

Sneed Undeterred
Still town's favorite patsy.

National Joke
The fake Elizabeth Dole on Saturday Night Live over the weekend telling the fake Rod Blagojevich why the U.S. Senate isn't disposed to seat him as Obama's replacement:

"In my opinion, you are a disgrace to Illinois . . . well, maybe not Illinois, but if you were the governor of any other state, you would be a disgrace to that state."

Weekend Update
Catch up with our special All-Blago All-The-Time Weekend Desk Report.

The Devils' Advocate
We're expecting to hear today if Eddie Genson will take the case. Here's my 2005 profile of the colorful criminal defense attorney.

*

Maybe Genson will consider these defense theories.

Some Honeymoon
"Forty five percent of U.S. voters say it is likely President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the unfolding Blagojevich scandal in Illinois, including 23% who say it is Very Likely," Rasmussen reports.

My guess is that "or one of his top campaign aides" is the key, meaning Rahm Emanuel. News reports have consistently put Obama in the clear, and even lauded his team for apparently offering nothing but
gratitude to Blago.

If The Shoe Fits
Would you let Blago go without jail time if, instead, every citizen of Illinois could line up and throw a shoe at him?

*

"In Iraqi culture, throwing a shoe is the ultimate insult," reports Kathryn Brown of CBS2 News.

*

The Iraqi economy must be on the upturn if journalists there now have extra pairs of shoes to throw around.

*

UPDATE: 2:56 P.M.: Brian Rhodes writes:

I took my shoe off and threw at the TV set since I wasn't there in person.

*

Beachwood Bob says:

"Did you notice that delayed response time by the Secret Service? It was almost as if they thought, this is it, stand back."

Killer Crime
"If Gov. Rod Blagojevich winds up in prison, he'll be the fourth out of the last eight governors to wear the orange jumpsuit," Rich Miller writes.

"As Jon Stewart noted on The Daily Show last week, just 48 percent of the people who commit murder end up in jail for their crime.

"'You are more likely to end up in jail if you become the governor of Illinois than if you become a murderer,' said an astonished Stewart."

Commuting Cost
Bob from the Beachwood suggests that whenever a governor has his or her prison sentence commuted, the remaining time be tacked on to the sentence of that governor's successor.

Barack Corleone
At the beginning of the movie, he insists he is "not like them." At the end of the movie, the door to the Oval Office closes as Rahm Emanuel kisses his ring.

Mystery of the Day
Go to photo No. 2: What's in the suitcase?

A) Really big comb
B) Jimmy Hoffa
C) Porn collection to be sent ahead to prison
D) The meds he was supposed to take but didn't

*

UPDATE 2 P.M.: A reader writes:

E) Unused flu vaccine
F) A ticket to South America
G) Lacy Peterson

UPDATE 2:49 P.M.: Michael O'Connor writes:

H) Ed Genson's fee, all in cash

Breaking Question
How will today's wind chills affect our Olympics bid? Just wondering.

Blago Bile
"In 1996, John Fritchey, a Democrat who shared a campaign office with Mr. Blagojevich, was told that his stepfather had suffered a serious stroke. He walked over to Mr. Blagojevich, who was making fund-raising calls, and shared the news," the New York Times reports.

"'He proceeded to tell me that he was sorry, and then, in the next breath, he asked me if I could talk to my family about contributing money to his campaign,' recalled Mr. Fritchey, now a state representative and a critic of the governor. 'To do that, and in such a nonchalant manner, didn't strike me as something a normal person would do'."

*

Meanwhile, this is insane:

"At points in early 2004, Mr. Blagojevich appeared with Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, at a community center in Evanston and a junior high school in Quincy. Mr. Blagojevich seemed confident, said two former employees, who refused to be named out of concern that their comments could jeopardize their current work, that he would soon be selected as Mr. Kerry's running mate. (An aide to Mr. Kerry's campaign says he was never under consideration.)"

*

But perhaps less insane than this:

"Behind the scenes, though, members of Mr. Blagojevich's staff saw a different man: one who was deeply concerned about his appearance (particularly his signature black hair, which he ignored suggestions to change) . . . "

Money Tree
They all dip from the same well.

"An Illinois businessman caught up in the federal investigation of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich offered to raise money for the governor on behalf of Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr., investigators say," the Times reports.

"But state and federal records show that the businessman, Raghuveer Nayak, has also been a financial supporter of other politicians, including President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain of Arizona.

"Mr. Nayak and his wife, Anita, have donated nearly $17,000 to Mr. Obama's campaigns since 2003, state campaign records show, and friends and associates say Mr. Nayak raised thousands more in the Indian-American community here for Mr. Obama in his 2004 Senate race.

"They also say that one of Mr. Obama's close friends, Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois state treasurer, showed Mr. Nayak's teenage son around New Hampshire at the time ofthe presidential primary early this year."

Sunburn
I bet when Lucio Guerrero was "Beach Boy" at the Sun-Times - writing about "the ABCs of the SPFs for the UVAs and UVBs while you get some S-U-N" and asking "Does this suit make my butt look big?" - he never thought he'd eventually make his way into the New York Times as the spokesman for an embattled governor who had become a national laughingstock.

Programming Note
As always, your comments are welcome.

Mell's Bells
"Rod Blagojevich does not seem to be a person of natural political skill and charm," A.B. Stoddard of The Hill just said on Fox News. "It's very strange he got this far."

Geez, the national media continues to drive me nuts.

Blago does have natural charm - it's about all he has. And the idea, just propagated by Stoddard, that Blago's inexplicable rise was all Dick Mell is just ignorant; the state's Democratic power structure was behind this guy (and not, for example, Paul Vallas in 2002), and that includes Barack Obama.

The media, too, went along for the ride. As I've written before, not all of us were fooled, but as usual, those of us who weren't were ignored.

As Bob Somerby often writes, the media prefers pleasing fairy tales to inconvenient truths that disrupt tailor-made narratives. When the New York Times writes "Blagojevich's Public Image Clashes With His Private Conduct," I hope they - and you - realize that public images always clash with private conduct because public images are just that: images. Images bought and paid for from the likes of David Axelrod and the corrosive, nauseating bevy of political spinners who are more talented - and far better compensated - than the crappy reporters they are paid to manipulate.

Cashelot
I was just watching a report on Caroline Kennedy's interest in replacing Hillary Clinton and wondering how much more it costs to buy a Senate seat in New York compared to Chicago.

Money Muddle
Over the weekend I asked why the Blagojevich family was under so much financial stress, as indicated by the governor's statements captured on wiretaps. An astute observer points out that he does have those huge unpaid Winston & Strawn bills - and that seems to answer the question for me. I didn't connect the dots on that one.

Affording Democracy
Just heard another report about how there's "no money" to hold a special election. Maybe all those folks ponying up for the Olympics could re-direct their charitable efforts to something far more important.

Barbershop
"We knew in the beginning from the hair that he was crazy."

- Mary Katherine Ham

Press Play
Obama is giving a press conference and calling on reporters from a written list of names, just like Bush was blasted for doing.

*

He took only three questions.

*

An NPR reporter nonetheless asked about Emanuel's contacts with Blago's office. "There was nothing that my office did that was in any way inappropriate," Obama said.

Obama says his team will release its findings of internal review of contacts with Blago about filling the vacated Senate seat next week - a delay requested by the U.S. attorney's office.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Bitten and shy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

Thanks ever so much to Kurt Warner and the rest of the Cardinals for their stellar efforts against the Vikings on Sunday. I suppose there is cold comfort in the constants in life, and one of the constants is that the football Redbirds have sucked since they left Chicago almost 50 years ago and they still suck, despite clinching their pathetic division title last week. The Bears put themselves in this position (the one where they needed the Vikings to lose two of their final three games to have a chance to win the NFC North) with their loss to Minnesota a few weeks ago. But it was acceptable to expect a better effort than that turned in by the Vikings' foes on Sunday.

Arizona (8-6) found a way to trail by 21 before viewers had finished their first beer, and when it appeared the Cardinals might just make a game of it with a blocked field goal return touchdown (making it 28-14) in the third quarter, they quickly obliterated that misconception. Instead Minnesota marched right back down the field and scored on a hitch-and-go to noted speedster and deservedly former Bear Bobby Wade. The Vikings eventually prevailed 35-14.

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson looked so good in place of injured Viking starter Gus Frerotte (four touchdown passes? Are you kidding me? The Cardinal defensive coordinator should have been fired before the team left the stadium after the game), maybe the Cards have started thinking about going to future Ryan Leaf-esque bust Matt Leinart either this coming Sunday or the next.

One other football note:

The wild card side of things heated up on Sunday. Tampa Bay (9-5) lost its second in a row and suddenly the first wild card is no longer a forgone conclusion. In fact, the Bears will head into next week only a game out of that spot (the Cowboys, Falcons and Eagles also only have five losses). Our Monsters still lose most tiebreakers but I'm guessing (crazy optimist that I am) 10 wins gets in even if it isn't enough to win the division.

And now, the winter sports:

* Blackhawk president John McDonough did a self-congratulatory interview with the Tribune a couple weeks ago. He did so around the same time that his team, which oh by the way is still the no-playoffs-in nine-of-the-last-10-years failure it was when McDonough took over, was actually releasing a book celebrating itself. At that time I began to think the bloom was off the "The Blackhawks Are Back" rose.

It is also reasonable to suggest the Blackhawks should actually qualify for the playoffs at the end of this season before they begin congratulating themselves. And though their record, especially a small number of regulation losses, was looking good a couple weeks ago, it was deceiving. After all, the last number in their mark (which heading into Monday is now 15-6-7), isn't ties. It is overtime or shootout losses. And too many of those were holding the Hawks back, even if a team earns a point (versus the opponents' two) when it loses after regulation.

But the beautiful uni's had a real good week last week. It was capped off first by a tough-as-nails road victory in Denver versus the Avalanche on Friday - welcome back Dustin Byfuglien, ye scorer of two goals in that contest after compiling a disappointing tally total during the season's first 26 games. And seconded by Sunday's 3-1 dispatching of the Columbus Blue Jackets. And I'm back on the bandwagon. The best thing about the Hawks is the fact that on the heels of their two great young forwards, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, bursting into the league last season, they've got two more exciting young front-liners introducing themselves this time around. Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd have all sorts of talent, just like their predecessors. You have to keep your eye on Versteeg in particular because he is capable of stick-handling moves that make the pulse race. It seems clear the Hawks aren't quite physical enough - and the jury is still out on the defense in general - but if the season ended today they'd be comfortably in the playoffs. More importantly for right now: they are seriously fun to watch.

* What will go down as Bulls General Manager John Paxson's biggest screw-up? The answer is coming into focus ever more clearly with every passing game this season. Worse even than the dim-witted draft day trade of LaMarcus Aldridge to Portland for Tyrus Thomas or the signing of Ben Wallace . . . worse even than the absolutely inexcusable failure to trade for Pau Gasol last year . . . worst of all was giving Luol Deng the big money and shutting the door on Ben Gordon.

During his team's most recent victory, Deng was again largely ineffective. The Bulls knocked off a surprising New Jersey team featuring an again-unstoppable Vince Carter (the massive talent who scandalously lost his competitive fire for a while - probably due to too much money, too fast - regained it this season and whose 39 points on Saturday could have easily been 50). Deng has been largely ineffective all this season and most of last (part of that could be attributed to injury but a lot could not). But Johnny P. gave the $70-million man the big contract before this season, in part because he believed Deng's qualities as a citizen justified a big expenditure. He had believed the same in recent years about Andres Nocioni and Kirk Hinrich and Wallace. But Wallace was such a disaster that Paxson had to trade for two shaky big-money contracts, Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes, just to dump him.

So the Bulls faced a dilemma last off-season. There was no way they could afford to take on two more 60-million-plus deals. They had to choose which of their restricted free agents they would focus on (and which they could sign for less), and they chose Deng. Gordon signed a one-year deal and unlike the previous season, when his contract status seemed to distract him, he came out firing this time around. And he played great again this past weekend. His scoring kept the Bulls in the game with Nets on Saturday until he and Rose went ahead and won it late with a series of big shots. I'm not sure anyone in the game puts up a more consistently beautiful jump shot than Gordon. His ball-handling and defensive deficiencies certainly gave everyone pause at the end of last season. And his agent's claim that his client should make considerably more than everyone on the team because he had led the team in scoring the last several years seemed shallow and almost ridiculous at the time. But this season Gordon is making it ever more clear that he is much, much better than Deng, let alone anyone else on the Bulls' roster other than Rose.

* A so-stupid-it-was-comical note ran in one of the dailies over the weekend saying that the Bulls are currently shopping Thomas or Joakim Noah (I can't remember which) along with Larry Hughes and Thabo Sefolosha in potential trade talks. No one is going to give the Bulls anything for Thomas or Noah, who coach Vinnie Del Negro barely tolerates all of 20 games into his first season with them. Sefolosha hasn't even proven he can be a reliable reserve in the NBA. And Hughes' contract is prohibitive (although he has been better than expected this season - flashing some of the great defense he played several years ago and improving his shot). Gordon is the only guy the Bulls have a shot at trading in order to finally address their never-ending lack of a reliable low-post contributor at both ends (Gooden has his moments on offense but the frequency of his mental lapses on defense boggles a basketball fan's mind).

In fact, the Bulls have to trade Gordon. Otherwise they'll lose him for nothing when he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. But it is almost impossible to trade a decent little (player, i.e. anyone under 6-6 or so) for a decent big in the NBA. I'm not terribly optimistic Mr. Paxson is going to be able to swing it. And if fans worry the Bulls are putting too much on Derrick Rose's plate at this point, just wait until they move Gordon.

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Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:15 AM | Permalink

Connie's Corner: The Master Bedroom

"It's not a sign. Kate refused to let it be a sign."

Kate Flynn, the opening character in Tessa Hadley's 2008 novel The Master Bedroom, was involved in a auto accident at the end of a long and frustrating drive. And it seemed to contain a sign - "In the dim light something fell from the sky; at first Kate thought it was a bundle of dirty washing wrapped in a sheet." But it turned out to be a swan that bounced off a truck and hit a car in front of Kate. After the ensuing pile-up, no one was really found to be hurt but everyone involved was confused and upset. The Swan from the Sky drew a long trail of consequences behind it that seem very believable and ordinary, but who can tell a real omen from a fake one? Should omens come "wrapped in a dirty sheet?"

master_Bedroom1.jpgThe story of The Master Bedroom is both ordinary and eerie. It takes place in Cardiff, Wales, and tells of characters from Kate, a narcissistic, thinly beautiful and childish professor of esoteric literature, to a teenage boy, Jamie, who is broodingly intelligent and also quite beautiful, who courts and wins her. Throw in Jamie's father, David, whom Kate really lusts after (in a ladylike way) and you have a story. As far as the significance of the bedroom, you'll need to find out for yourself.

Hadley wraps the tantalizing dance of miscommunications, betrayals, revelations and her style of metaphor in enough fog of mystery to keep the reader (at least this reader) chained to the baroque pattern of the telling. Her description of Kate's house - a mansion that was named Firenze by her grandfather, who was overcompensating for his mercantile background - echo Kate's situation. Its glamor was fading but still mesmerizes those who would live in or even visit it - its mirrors "glinted like dark pools." Also remember, this is the house of one of the master bedrooms.

The other one is part of David's house, which he shares with his wife and two children. Now we really have a story!

And speaking of "the story": There is a department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called the Center for Future Storytelling, according to a Nov. 11 story in The New York Times. Its purpose, as I understand it, is to ponder the viability of the story as we have known it. Is a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end in trouble in our modern world of text-messaging? There is even a man, David Kirkpatrick of Plymouth Rock Studios, who is thinking of putting together a documentary called The World Without a Story.

All I can say is if Tessa Hadley was without a story we would be in a boring world indeed. A good story will always beat with life.

-

Previously in Connie's Corner:

* "Heavier Than Air." Nona Caspers creates a tapestry of small towns and chronicles the lives of people living there who have a hard time coming down to earth.

* "Pale Fire." Nabokov creates a novel that doesn't seem to have coherent plot but a story that contains a do-it-yourself kit.

* "Out Stealing Horses." A coming-of-age story that reveals a father's secret life during wartime.

* "An American In Iceland." Answering the riddle: how many Icelanders does it take to change a light bulb?

* "The Physics of the Dalai Lama." How Buddhism squares with quantum mechanics.

* "Finn." Some kind of monster.

Posted by Don Jacobson at 12:57 AM | Permalink

December 13, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk Report will not appear per se, but I'll have a special weekend edition of Blago updates and observations late today or tonight, running through Sunday.

The Devil's Advocate
Blago is finally bringing in a big gun.

Here's my 2005 profile of defense lawyer Eddie Genson.

The Chicago Way
From David Rutter:

At the risk of sounding as I've never been to the big-time rodeo before, there are quite a few presumptions in Illinois in general and Chicago in specific about how politics work that may be a few toes short of a full foot.

I am lectured all the time by my sig-other that Chicago's penchant for political armed robbery is just the way the world works.

And I just as steadfastly suggest to her that, sorry buckaroo, that's not quite true.

Everyplace has skunks. But only in Illinois is Pepe LePew the Official State Mammal.

Evidence? Clear enough hints for the discerning sort.

Having plied the scribblers' craft in five states, I remain adamant that Illinois remains the only locale where the legislature had to pass A WHOLE NEW LAW to make it illegal to bribe public officials. In the year 2008, for pity's sake!

The whole question of ethics - heads we have 'em, tails we say skip it - seemed a tough choice for them, too, as if they were struggling with deep moral ambiguities. They were quite proud afterward.

It's almost as if shooting cousins was still legal because someone a long time ago forgot to promulgate the "if-you-shoot-your-cousin-it's-a-crime-in-these-parts" rule and a law clerk just stumbled over the loophole to murder.

It might even more shocking to realize that Illinois actually needed this law, and that the Legislature had to REALLY think it over before Obama armed-twisted Emil Jones into giving it a thumbs-up.

The deeper peril to the theory of common cause and common good is that fellow Illinoisans still think some version of Blagonomics is the way the entire world works. Of course, I'm not trying to be daffy about this theory. There's no need to presume that power and influence don't play roles most places. But there are many states where legislatures try to work out the best rules they can for their citizens and do so generally in a public-spirited, let's-win-one-for-the-Gipper sort of attitude.

If the worst were literally true - that only money and power buy legislative power and self-interest - then there wouldn't much reason to claim we were all that great a nation.

The [Blago] Papers
From October 2006.

*

The Beachwood's first use of the moniker "Gov. Baloneyvich" was April 2006.

George Ryan Is One Sorry Mofo
"Thompson said hours of lonely contemplation in a prison cell prompted Ryan to say he was sorry."

It was just coincidence that Ryan wrapped up his contemplation this week and concluded an apology was in order.

Saturday Night TV
Fox News: "Pay to Play: The Chicago Way?"

Answer: Duh.

Special Election
The financial argument against a special election to fill Obama's seat - that we shouldn't do it because it will cost $3-4 million - is a sham. We can't afford democracy? The powers-that-be can always find money for stadiums and Olympic bids and their cronies' pockets, but democracy is just too damn expensive. Please.

*

Let's just shave the money off the salaries of every Illinois elected official. Or charge it to the state Democratic party.

Sunday Morning
* Lisa Madigan tells Bob Schieffer: "We have been providing assistance and information [to the U.S. Attorney's Office] all along."

*

SCHIEFFER: "From a legal standpoint, is he crazy?"

MADIGAN: "We are using the term ['disability'], but it's "other disability" and it's not defined."

*

MADIGAN: "Nobody in their right mind would accept a Senate seat appointment from this governor."

Leave of Absence
Lisa Madigan said on Meet the Press that Blago could temporarily remove himself from office instead of resigning - and potentially keep getting his paycheck.

Money Honey
Why is Blago's family supposedly under such great financial pressure?

Quinn Spin
David Gregory just nailed Pat Quinn for saying in 2006 that Blago was a man of honesty and integrity.

Obamarama
Also in 2006, Barack Obama said that Blago had been a great governor. By then, though, we all knew that he was under federal investigation.

The whole state Democratic power structure - Michael Madigan was a co-chair of Blago's re-election campaign - is guilty of aiding and abetting this guy.

Mary Contrary
Mary Mitchell on Meet the Press (!) just said that what Blago really is guilty of is being tacky, because otherwise everyone does it - and not just in politics, but in, say, your workplace.

Um, no. Not everyone does it.

Beyond that, though, isn't the answer to reform how we fund campaigns? Mitchell says that we all know everyone expects something in exchange for their contributions - and by "everyone," she really means the big guns. How does that square with Obama's decision to break his campaign promise and reject public campaign financing?

And don't give me that small donor b.s.

You don't think Tony Rezko found it profitable to bankroll Obama up until the time he was indicted?

Media Mary
Mitchell indicts the media for not knowing that Blago was auctioning off Obama's Senate seat. The media has been all over the federal investigation of Blago - and suspicions arose as to how Blago was making the decision about who to appoint to the seat. But the media doesn't have wire-tapping authorization, and Blago's actions occurred in just the last month or so, so on this one I'll defend my forlorn brethren.

*

But Mitchell is right about this: "We we're talking about Obama's dog and not keeping our eye on the prize and exposing dirty politics."

Funny to hear from one of Obama's chief propagandists from the paper most focused on Obama's dog.

Rahmbo
The evolution of a media image: Rahm Emanuel, dirty politicker and hardball Daley trickster placed in the Clinton administration to be a pitbull evolves into centrist plotter wrongly credited for sweeping Democratic gains in 2006 because Howard Dean was the one who got it right to future House Speaker whom progressives loathe to brilliant choice for Obama's chief of staff because he'll crack skulls and he's such a talented dealmaker to oh my god he tried to crack skulls and make a deal? And can you believe he swears in private?

Another Fine Day
MSNBC: "Governor's Spokesperson: Gov. Blagojevich is not resigning Monday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:52 PM | Permalink

December 12, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

I had so much fun yesterday I'm going to do the same thing today. I've only got about an hour here this morning before I have a couple of appointments, but I'll pick it up later this afternoon.

For Starters
* Blago's Facebook Frenemies.

* Blago Bonanza.

Word of the Day
From Julia Gray:

bla*go*viate - noun or verb: to speak pompously (verb), a governor who speaks pompously and uses profanity when describing how unappreciated he feels after being ignored by the president-elect

Blast From The Past
* Blago vs. Spitzer, March 2008.

Programming Note
Once again I'll be taking your comments and observations.

Triple J
Yes, I know this is the big story of the day. I've only had a chance to glance over it, so I'll withhold comment until I can give it a close reading.

Sneedlings
A lot of folks have asked me to write about Sneed's pathetic role in this whole mess. I think Gawker said it best.

*

Michael Miner takes a more charitable view.

"If the governor calls Sneed and not somebody else, isn't that a feather in her cap?" Miner writes. "And if she comments that something 'sounds like looneyville,' isn't she showing the skepticism we ask of a gossip columnist? Sneed is paid, after all, to take the governor's calls."

No. Sneed is paid to vet the governor's calls, and "looneyville" or not, the governor knew who to go to to plant an item. I certainly wouldn't be flattered to be known as a sap.

As I've written before, Sneed's misdeeds have been documented many times in the past; Chicago magazine has twice annotated her columns to note how nearly every item is either factually wrong or has been reported elsewhere first. And her press agentry for pals like Lura Lynn Ryan and Judy Baar Topinka is inexcusable.

If Sneed is the old media and Gawker is the new, I'll take Gawker a thousand times over.

*

A reader writes:

"Don't forget Sneed pal, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, founder of the Special Olympics and defender of the true Catholic faith, as well as apple pie and the American Way. Ugh.

"Chicago may be the center of the universe, but we're still Mayberry in many ways, though at least Mayberry had honest government."

51st State
Southern Illinois secession movement.

Rating Rod
More people approve of Britney's MTV special than the governor.

Blago's Parents
In case you had forgotten, as I had, both are deceased.

Blago's Brother
From the Trib:

"The affidavit made anonymous references to many people, some as potential victims and some as helping facilitate schemes on behalf of Blagojevich. Fitzgerald said the investigation was not complete as federal authorities continued to try to track down which schemes were carried out and who might be involved.

"Among them is an individual described in the affidavit as Fundraiser A and chairman of Friends of Blagojevich. Blagojevich's brother Robert is his campaign chairman. Fundraiser A is listed several times in the affidavit as helping the governor pressure contributors.

"At one point when the governor remarks that he is not involved in any illegal activity, his brother responds by saying 'unless prospectively somebody gets you on a wire.' Rob Blagojevich could not immediately be reached for comment."

Prayer Vigil
Various news agencies are reporting that three ministers arrived at the Blagojevich home this morning for a prayer session. Rev. Jesse Jackson is not believed to have been among them.

Tough Call
"Illinois Voters By 2-to-1 Say Politicians More Corrupt Than Corporate CEO's."

Programming Note
It's 10:30 a.m., gotta run. Will return this afternoon. Feel free to send comments in the meantime and I'll get to them when I get back.

Back in the Saddle
I had a couple appointments this morning and a (postponed) lunch that meant I had to park in a downtown ramp, given the timing and route I was on. As I paid on the way out I mentioned to the parking ramp guy that I had heard the governor was about to resign (hasn't happened yet). He exploded.

"They have money, they have power, what more do they want?! They're never satisfied! They'll never be happy!"

Yes. It's never enough for these folks. I wonder how many powerful and/or wealthy people actually are mentally ill - and that's what drove them to the top.

Alt-Blago
Our very own Marilyn Ferdinand tells me that - in the wake of Bettie Page's death - traffic is going through the roof for her 2005 review of The Notorious Bettie Page at Ferdy on Films.

Disco Danny
I missed this in all the hubbub: Danny Davis has won a coveted seat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

You said Ways and Means, heh-heh.

Cynicism Writ Large
"Ryan To Give Public Apology."

Could the timing be any more obvious?

In other news:

- Jesse Jackson Jr. to serve meals at soup kitchen tonight
- Rod Blagojevich announces massive AIDS initiative
- Patti Blagojevich finds God, forms church
- Pat Quinn declares martial law

Dear Attorney General
Can you declare me unfit to serve, too?

I realize this is an extraordinary request, but these are extraordinary circumstances.

Programming Note
John McCormick, the Tribune editorial writer whom Blago tried to get fired, is among the panelists on Chicago Tonight: Week in Review tonight.

Talk Right
I hate how people from around here say Ellinois instead of Illinois.

Animated Blago
This is pretty good.

Nightcap
7:19 P.M. update; on my way to the Beachwood Inn soon. Maybe Bob will let me guest bartend tonight.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Unflappable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

BearFriday

Great win and all, Bears, but I have a few things I have to get off my chest before I start celebrating. Rashied Davis, you're fired. You were well into a crossing pattern when Kyle Orton threw you the ball in the third quarter and yet you had no idea it was coming until the last instant. Because it was a very well-thrown pass, you still had a chance to make a catch. Instead you tipped it up and into the waiting hands of a fortunate Saint safety. Infuriating.

Playoff Picture
  • In Over/Under.
  • Kyle Orton, you made a bunch of big plays but you were also tremendously lucky. I think pass interference was probably the right call on the play that set up the field goal in overtime but it shouldn't have hinged on a flag. Devin Hester was five yards behind the defense when you released what could only be described as a brutally underthrown pass. I think in time you will prove you can throw the deep ball accurately enough, but it hasn't been happening of late.

    Orton also struggled in the second half even before he threw the disastrous interception to Scott Fujita that put the Saints in position to take the lead. There was a telling sequence there where the Bears had third-and-eight and Orton went back to pass in a secure pocket. Instead of waiting a little longer for something to open up downfield, he dumped a no-chance swing pass to Greg Olsen, who was pounded down way short off the first-down marker, forcing a punt. Shortly thereafter, Drew Brees faced a third-and-eight. He found Billy Miller for a double-digit gain and the Saints rolled on. Orton even suffered a case of the Grossman happy feet on a couple second-half passing attempts.

    Of course, who can blame the quarterback at this point if he doesn't have any confidence in his wide receivers other than Hester. Brandon Lloyd's terrible drop ended a drive in New Orleans territory late in the second quarter. The fact the Bear defense held (with some help from two false start penalties and a bad Brees pass), forcing a punt from the end zone and giving the offense great field position, mitigated the sting. But Davis' drop was a crusher. It is hard to envision the Saints rallying to within a single score, let alone all the way back to the lead, if Davis doesn't gift-wrap that pick. And it wasn't just the wideouts. Desmond Clark bobbled away what should have been a relatively easy touchdown.

    Speaking of bobbles, what about that "Here, I'll just give you a touchdown" fumbled snap? Rex Grossman suffered from a rash of these sorts of plays when he lined up behind Olin Kreutz during the past couple years. He got all the blame but Kreutz deserved at least half. And he deserved it all in the second quarter, a fact you could tell he was shouting out on the bench.

    Transitioning now . . .

    * On the other hand, Clark made a huge play to set up the first touchdown; he fought his way through some contact at the line to catch a slant and absorb a hit before going down at the one-yard-line. Actually the hit wasn't as bad as it could have been. Clark ducked and Fujita, who was hanging onto his back, absorbed the worst of the blow. On the next play, Forte cruised into the end zone. My first thought when I saw the replay of Forte's first carry, the one that caused him to limp off the field and then into the locker room, was sprained foot, out for the year. But he came back none the worse for wear - very impressive.

    * Chris Collinsworth is a modern day football prophet. He correctly predicted the Bears would be able to run against the Saints defense in overtime and a couple first downs on the ground got the home team rolling on its game-winning drive. He also called out Reggie Bush for scurrying out of bounds on a first-half run. And he nailed it when he talked about Hester's ability to get deep, altering New Orleans' primary defensive scheme and make a huge difference for the Bears.

    But he was wrong on a few points. His explanation of why Adrian Peterson's catch on the fake punt didn't count as a catch was goofy. Also, he kept insisting that Robert Meacham was wide open in the end zone on Adewale Ogunleye's other-wordly interception. He was not. Meacham got a bit of separation on Bears' corner, but you could see the DB was still in position to close quickly enough to at knock away a pass.

    * During the Bears-Jaguars game, Tom Thayer noted on the radio broadcast that Kyle Orton's quarterback rating in the last two minutes of halves was over 100 this year. And surely that had to go up after he led the Bears to their third touchdown at the end of the first half and to the tying field goal at the end of the second.

    * Anthony Adams is awfully good at defensive tackle. Hey Lovie, could you please step up and tell us why this guy was inactive for more than half the season? He made more plays against the Saints than Dusty Dvoracek made all season before he tore his bicep the week before last.

    * It was a valiant effort by the defense - there are a few nits to pick but over all great stuff. They had some help from the elements - Drew Brees was not sharp in the first half in particular, overthrowing a couple passes and bouncing the incompletion in front of Lance Moore that forced the Saints to punt from their own end zone late in the second quarter, setting up the Bears' third score.

    The primary nit: Why do Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs play so close together so often? On Pierre Thomas' long touchdown run, they were both sucked inside by Brees' drop back action and after the delayed hand-off, all it took was a grazing block on one to knock them both completely out of the play.

    * The fake punt may or may not have been a great call. But it was a ballsy call.

    * Pierre Thomas is a better ball-carrier than Reggie Bush - knee injury or no knee injury. But Bush still has the commercials (the guy has done so very little in the pros to deserve all this attention Subway and Fat-head give him - it is such a classic example of the triumph of hype over substance) and we still get lots of close-ups of him, even when he's sitting on the sideline again after yet another injury. Thomas and leading Saints receiver Lance Moore were both undrafted free agents. So many mistakes are made in the first round of drafts (and not just the Bears - the Meacham guy was a first-round pick of the Saints a couple years ago but is barely their fourth-best receiver at this point, rating behind Moore, Marques Colston and Devery Henderson). The more I see late-round draft picks and guys who weren't even drafted thriving, the more I think Jerry Angelo should always trade down in drafts (sacrificing early round positioning for extra picks later on). Easier said than done, though - fewer and fewer teams are looking to move up.

    * The defensive line needed to step up, and led by Adams, Ogunleye and Alex Brown, it did just that. Brown chipped in a huge sack (and should have had another one but for the dubious defensive holding call against Cory Graham) and a huge tackle for loss. Speaking of Graham, the young man tackles. Guys who venture into his territory end up on the ground.

    * Say what you will about Jerry Angelo, at least he doesn't do incredibly stupid things like trading a second- and fifth-round draft pick for Jeremy Shockey. Although Shockey has the best tattoo in all of sports on his upper right arm (an American flag billowing around a bald eagle), he is yet another guy who does not approach fulfilling the hype. That trade will haunt the Saints. And after Thursday's win, maybe the Bears are haunting the Vikings a little bit.

    -

    Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. Except when the Bears have a Thursday night game. Then he brings you a special edition of SportsMonday which we call BearFriday. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:02 AM | Permalink

    Over/Under

    Is it an SAT question? A study in probability? No, it's time to go through the wild card scenarios! Below are the teams that are (barely) eligible, and what needs to happen for each team to make the playoffs.

    Team: Philadelphia
    Record: 7-5-1
    What They Have To Do:

    - Learn not to tie.
    - Boo Santa Claus just a little more furiously.
    - Regain title of "America's Fattest City."

    Team:New Orleans
    Record: 7-7
    What They Have To Do:

    -Remind rest of America that their government's negligence destroyed their city. Now, America "owes them one."
    - Send "Girl Gone Wild" from French Quarter to the team offices of the remaining three opponents.
    - Confuse other teams' quarterbacks by leaving confusing phone messages with thick Cajun accents.

    Team: Miami
    Record: 8-5
    What They Have To Do:

    - Remind other teams that Miami is the place to be during the off-season.
    - Start Miami Vice revival. Fashion-conscious players spend more time searching for white suits with pink undershirts than studying their playbooks.
    - Remind rest of America that global warming will totally wipe out Miami, and since New Orleans is in the NFC, America can "owe them one too."

    Team: Indianapolis
    Record: 8-5
    What They Have To Do:

    - Remind the rest of America of their slim entertainment choices; there's the Colts and the Indy 500. Ask for pity.
    - Like other irresponsible homeowners, the Colts used a subprime mortgage to build their new stadium. Remind the rest of America that they need the playoff ticket revenue to meet the mortgage payments.
    - If they don't make the playoffs, players will join Dick Durbin in asking President Bush to get George Ryan out of their state pronto.

    Team: Atlanta
    Record: 8-5
    What They Have To Do:

    - Remind the rest of America that Atlanta's nickname is HOTlanta. Pledge to prove it by turning the opening game of the playoffs into Ladies Night.
    - Remind league officials that Michael Vick's dogs know where they live.
    - Assure players on other playoff teams that, like the Braves, they just want to make the playoffs, they don't want to win them.

    Team: Chicago
    Record: 8-6
    What They Have To Do:

    - Remind the rest of America that teams from Chicago are more than willing to take a dive in the playoffs if the price is right.
    - Threaten the rest of America with the prospect of Sen. Rod Blagojevich if they don't cooperate.
    - Remind the rest of America that if the price is right, they can be appointed Bears quarterback.

    *

    OverHyped Game of the Week: Giants at Cowboys
    Storyline: In a Thunderdome rip-off, Plaxico Burress and Pac-Man Jones enter a nightclub. Only one player and his entourage leave.

    Reality: Always bet on the one willing to pull the trigger, even it was due to pure stupidity.

    Prediction: Giants Minus 3 Points, Over 46 Points Scored

    UnderHyped Game of the Week: Bucs at Falcons
    Storyline: Seriously, people, this game is going to be good! To prove it we've hired TV pitchman Billy Mays to be the color commentator. You know it's got to be good!

    Reality: This game will be so tight from start to finish that Mays will have no time to ironically call "Vince from Sham-Wow" a "two bit hack."

    Prediction: Atlanta Minus 3 Points, Over 44.5 Points Scored.

    -

    Last week's picks: 5-1
    For the season: 35-21-4

    -

    Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. He also is a spark plug in floor hockey. You can reach him here.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 AM | Permalink

    What I Watched Last Night: Svengoolie

    All in all, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night than watching Svengoolie on WCIU-TV/Channel 26. Being pinned under a car that's fallen off a bumper jack is one. Having your legs chewed off by a shark is another. Last Saturday night's feature presentation of the 1960 film Brides of Dracula came pretty close though, because as it turns out, Brides of Dracula is perhaps one of the most boring, plodding horror movies ever invented. Movies like this might have inspired ABC to create the afternoon goth/vampire soap opera Dark Shadows in 1966, but as feature films go, this is the sort of horror-movie mess you get when you let the British go wild with sophisticated movie-making equipment.

    Do you know what you get when that happens? You get actors in full living color using 89 of the movie's 90 minutes talking you to death, that's what. Sure, the background scenery is impeccably awesome, but when you blow the whole budget on furniture and clothes, the best Dracula you're going to get is Peter Cushing, who was no Bela Lugosi. Neither was Christopher Lee, who shows up in a ton of movies just like this, too. Lee is scary the same way a tweaker is scary when he can't find his stash, but Cushing is so un-scary that I keep getting him confused him with the singing Von Trapp father in The Sound of Music. Worse, you get Dracula-bait women who might as well have been sleepwalking when they showed up for work, too.

    And to think we still wonder why the American movie-going public was so ready for Freddie Krueger.

    I'm not complaining as much as I otherwise could about Brides of Dracula because until very recently, I was prepared begin an Internet petition drive begging PBS to have a pledge night to expand the Svengoolie movie library because, really, how many times a year can anyone be expected to sit through Tarantula? It had even occurred to me that Svengoolie host Rich Koz has really been dead for the past 12 years and Channel 26 has just been running his old shows on a perpetual loop. Like we'd know.

    Still, "new movie" doesn't necessarily translate into "better movie." That's why on nights like these you need a diversion. A really big diversion. That's why I spent most of my time coming up with The Svengoolie Drinking Game of Death instead of paying much attention to Brides of Dracula. It's called The Drinking Game of Death because - aw hell, it's not that hard to figure out why.

    Of course, neither I nor The Beachwood Reporter advocate the misuse or abuse of alcohol, so The Svengoolie Drinking Game of Death is intended or entertainment purposes only. You could always swap alcohol for some sort green leafy product, but neither I nor The Beachwood Reporter would advocate anything like that outside the presence of a licensed, professional Rastafarian.

    ***

    THE SVENGOOLIE DRINKING GAME OF DEATH

    Everyone drinks once if:

    * The scene opens with a full moon.
    * It's foggy outside.
    * It's dark outside.
    * There's a hot babe in the scene.
    * The hot babe in the scene is a blonde.
    * The hot babe in the scene screams.
    * The hot babe in the scene faints.
    * The hot babe in the scene falls down while running away from something.
    * There's a mob scene involving villagers.
    * Massive amounts of electricity are presented in dramatic fashion.
    * A wolf howls.
    * There's a bat. Or a giant octopus.
    * A guy is wearing a hat. Extra drink if it's a fez hat.
    * There's a scientist in the scene. Extra drink if it's a woman scientist.
    * The monster runs like Mike Ditka walks.
    * You hear climactic music.
    * You hear foreboding music.
    * Someone pulls a gun.
    * Someone pulls a gun on a creature bigger than your house.
    * Two or more guys have a drink together.
    * Someone gets strangled. Extra drink if the strangler is a monster.
    * Someone refers to someone else as "the doctor." Extra drink if it happens in a lab with a lot of beakers and test tubes in the background.
    * "The doctor" ends up being someone wearing white lab clothing that makes him look like a dentist.

    Everyone drinks twice if:

    * The hot babe in the scene is not a blonde.
    * The hot babe in the scene is wearing a swimsuit.
    * The hot babe in the scene is in bed. Extra drink if she's in lingerie. Two extra drinks if you can tell the turkey's done.
    * The hot babe in the scene gets carried off by a monster or some other ne'er-do-well.
    * Someone is wearing a monocle.
    * A conversation occurs between two guys you suspect might be gay because they've been paying absolutely no attention to the hot babe standing right next to them. Two extra drinks if the two call it a night and exit the room together and leave a perfectly good hot babe going to waste.

    Everyone drinks three times if:

    * A photo of Svengoolie ends up in the scene somehow.
    * The movie is an Ed Wood production.
    * Joan Crawford shows up for some reason.

    Enjoy.

    -

    See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

    -

    COMMENTS:
    1. From Jerry Victory:

    Just read your article and I have to say although it was humorous, I, being a longtime Svengoolie fanatic must bring up a couple of points.

    * A true Svengoolie fan watches this show because of SVENGOOLIE. Rich Koz is a comic genius who creates bits and song parodies that are truly clever, ingenious and funny. And he does this weekly on a budget of about a buck twenty five.

    * If you actually watched the movie on Saturday night you should have realized that Peter Cushing played Professor Abraham Van Helsing - not Count Dracula. In fact, other than the title and the opening narration, Count Dracula does not appear at all in this movie.

    The Svengoolie Drinking game does sound like a fun way to spend a Saturday night. Thanks for the idea.

    2. Buckner replies:

    Jerry:

    I congratulate you on being an astute observer and Svengoolie/Rich Koz fan. I won't split hairs over who I might be a bigger fan of. I'm just happy I can separate the two, and the fact that Rich's budget has been given a raise from a buck two eighty-five.

    As I mentioned in my article, I was not paying much attention to the movie, so I'm glad there are astute fellows like you picking up the slack for the rest of us. Still, your keen observance pretty much rests my case: How good can a Dracula movie be without a Dracula of any sort showing up in the entire thing?

    On the other hand, at least we didn't get stuck with Tarantula again.

    Scott

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week

    1 Go ahead, tape me. Make your day.

    -

    2. Talk dirty to me, baby.

    3. Bleeping Children's Hospital.

    4. Somebody get Sneed on the phone.

    5. It's the source of all my power.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

    December 11, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    I'll be building this column as I go this morning (and afternoon), right before your eyes. You'll have to scroll through it for updates and additional items at the bottom. There's a reason we didn't set this up as a blog, which may not serve us well today, but believe me it's served our purposes otherwise.

    Hating Rod
    Who is the biggest Blago hater in the land right about now?

    I take a shot at it here, using a 10-point scale with one being "he's still kind of a lovable goofball" and 10 being "I'd like to tear off his head and puke into his dead skull." You can add your own names to the list.

    Holy Defiler!
    Blago tried to sell out Cub fans and sick children.

    Insanity Watch
    Fox's Good Day Chicago is picking up on the "Is Blago Insane?" meme right now, wondering if he has a personality disorder.

    Junior
    U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. opened his press conference yesterday with this:

    "The next time I introduce legislation I hope all of you show up."

    This reminded me of something he said when I profiled him in 2005 for Chicago magazine. At the time, Jackson was getting a lot of media attention for his broadsides against Mayor Daley's corruption-soaked City Hall, leading to speculation that he was planning a mayor challenge. The attention bothered him in the way that it bothered him that reporters only seemed to call him when they needed a comment on a racial issue. Jackson has been - as far as I can tell - a clean, hard-working congressman. That doesn't get covered.

    My sense is that Jackson will be proven innocent, though there's not much value in speculating. Someone else may have been trying to broker a deal, or conversations may have been presented to the governor in a particular way, or the governor may have been fantasizing.

    I have been surprised at how vigorously Jackson has campaigned for the Senate seat. Now that's come back to bite him because it lends an aura to the allegations that are hard to escape. He's already shown us that he wants the job really, really, really bad.

    But if he comes out of this provably clean - and he hasn't been charged with anything and prosecutors say he is not a target of their investigation - he deserves a fair chance at that seat.

    *

    Jackson also told me that the reason why he hadn't moved up into House leadership was because it was "too expensive." I confess I didn't get it at first, so I had to ask him what he meant. He meant that you have to raise prodigious amounts of campaign funds for yourself and others to be considered for leadership posts, and he just didn't want to spend his time doing that.

    Chicago Way
    Mary Mitchell just made a good point on Good Day Chicago. Of the governor, she said, "He dared speak what is going on every single day in this state."

    In a sense, that's true. You can argue that U.S. Senate seats aren't sold to the highest bidder every day in Illinois, but in a sense they are. Wasn't the media speculating all along that Blagojevich would make the choice that benefited him the most politically? Wasn't Emil Jones just the latest in a long line of Illinois pols to bequeath his public office to his kid? Don't you think Barack Obama endorsed Daley for mayor with the express purpose of gaining the mayor's fundraising support and clout for his presidential campaign?

    I'm not making the tired, old and wrong argument that Patrick Fitzgerald is criminalizing politics. I'm saying that our politics is already criminal. Blagojevich merely made the same mistake - if the allegations are true - that we've seen our less artful aldermen make while folks like Eddie Burke become enormously wealthy and socially respected.

    The Obama aspect of this case is what has made it such an international sensation, but the more serious (alleged) crimes, one might suppose, include shaking down a children's hospital and what we're sure to see in a superceding indictment including the real stuff the feds have been investigating for all these years.

    Obamalot
    Suddenly the media has discovered the political culture of our state after shutting their ears, eyes and mouths during the presidential campaign. Obama isn't implicated in this and I have no reason to think he will be. But when Obama propagandist Mary Mitchell, to name just one of many examples, says that this is how politicians gain power in Illinois, isn't she leaving someone out?

    After all, as people are seemingly now just discovering, Obama helped Blagojevich plot strategy on his way to the governor's mansion, which included positioning the mediocre hack of a son-in-law to a Chicago ward heeler as a progressive reformer, and they both share two vital fixers in common: Tony Rezko and Emil Jones.

    UPDATE 10:42 A.M.: I've been asked about this in an e-mail. This is from Ryan Lizza's must-read from July - when being from Chicago's political culture was perversely a badge of honor for Obama because it meant he knew how to play the game - in The New Yorker, "Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama":

    That year, [Obama] gained his first high-level experience in a statewide campaign when he advised the victorious gubernatorial candidate Rod Blagojevich, another politician with a funny name and a message of reform. Rahm Emanuel, a congressman from Chicago and a friend of Obama's, told me that he, Obama, David Wilhelm, who was Blagojevich's campaign co-chair, and another Blagojevich aide were the top strategists of Blagojevich's victory. He and Obama "participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor," Emanuel said. "We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two." A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel's account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obama's role. "There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them," Wilhelm said, and he disputed the notion that Obama was "an architect or one of the principal strategists."

    And no, having been absurdly and offensively spun by Wilhelm myself, I don't believe Wilhelm's after-the-fact revision countering what Emanuel said and the governor's spokesman confirmed for a second.

    UPDATE 11:11 A.M.: Is it unreasonable to wonder if Rezko could be a danger to Obama? Not at all.

    Lego Blago
    A reader writes: "Anyone who looks like a giant Lego person should not have been trusted in the first place."

    UPDATE: 10:53 A.M.: A reader writes: "Speaking of Lego Blago . . . "

    I was picturing blockier hair.

    TO BE CONTINUED
    It is 9:55 a.m. as I write this. I will now depart for coffee and donuts at 7-11 and return shortly to pick this back up again. I'll be here all day, send me your quips and comments.

    UPDATE: In case anyone cares, I prefer the French Vanilla, but whatever coffee I choose from the impressive variety offered, I get the 20 oz. and put two French Vanilla creams in it and two Splendas. I also tend to go for the twisty donut thing because it's 89 cents. I used to get the apple fritter, but it's something like $1.39 now, and that's just not right.

    UPDATE: 12:25 P.M.: A reader writes: "I prefer the hazelnut creamer with hazelnut coffee . . . with either the chocolate or plain old fashioned glazed donut. YUM!

    Free Rod
    That's the t-shirt I just saw in the window of Propaganda, the t-shirt store. Um, I don't think that one's gonna work guys. But I would like to revive the Gov. Baloneyvich nickname I came up with all by myself early in this site's history.

    Rezko Watch
    "Will Rezko or Tapes Prove More Damaging in Case Against Ill. Gov?"

    The ABA Journal's Debra Cassens Weiss takes a look.

    Turow's Tune
    As Debra notes, news outlets are reporting that a footnote in the affidavit against Blagojevich seems to confirm that Rezko is cooperating with authorities. Scott Turow made the same point on TV last night, but Turow also said something that really bugged me.

    Speaking about the state's sleazy political culture, Turow said there was an "equally durable tradition of reform-minded people getting into office."

    Really? Name them. Reformers are the exceptions to the rule here, and even our version of "reformer" is pretty weak. I mean, geez, among the names Turow mentioned was Jim Thompson. Case closed.

    Book Deal
    Mike Knezovich, one of the brains behind Reading With Scissors, suggests (inspired by his wife) that Blago's memoir be titled The Audacity of a Dope.

    He notes that that Blagosphere is having a field day, and that Blagojevich put the "oy" in government.

    Merry XXXmas
    This isn't Blago-related, but it's too good to pass up today.

    A faithful Beachwood reader sends in this two-paragraph item from the Tribune:

    Geneva

    Prankster Plays Reindeer Games

    A Geneva family reported that someone keeps entering its back yard to rearrange its animated lighted reindeer into graphic positions.



    The latest incident at the East Mallory Drive residence took place about 9 p.m. Saturday, and now the reindeer will no longer operate. It was the third such incident.

    Trib Tout
    A couple of readers tell me they saw a TV commercial this morning for the Tribune showing clips of Patrick Fitzgerald praising them for holding off on printing a story (or stories) at Fitzgerald's request, followed by "Subscribe to the Tribune."

    Now edited by Patrick Fitzgerald.

    *

    That's just a joke. I have no particular reason to think the Tribune erred in its decision to acquiesce to Fitzgerald; I simply do not have the facts. But geez, using it as an advertisement? Beyond tacky. Totally inappropriate.

    *

    UPDATE 12:56 P.M.: Oh my God, I just saw the Trib ad with Fitzgerald, that is so wrong! It's only one step removed from Tony Peraica, and there's a serious ethical issue in basically marketing yourself as being in league with a public official.

    UPDATE 1:16 P.M.: A reader writes:

    "After Fitzgerald made those comments at his news conference praising the Tribune for its cooperation, I believe Sam Zell leaned over to Lee Abrams and declared, 'This is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing.' Hence, the ad."

    Culture Wars
    My uncle is a former state legislator in Minnesota. He just sent me this note:

    "You could not make it up like this. . . .unbelievable for a Minnesotan."

    I remember once describing to him not so much how the illegal side of things worked here, but the day-to-day normalities of Illinois's political culture. He was aghast. "You mean I could've made money doing that?" he said of one particular way of doing business. Not that he would have. I'm proud to say he was an honorable public servant.

    Fiscal Fallout
    I just saw a Bloomberg TV report saying that, because of Blagojevich's arrest, Standard & Poor's might cut the state's credit rating, and that the state's sale of $1.4 billion in municipal notes scheduled for today has been postponed.

    Nice going, Rod!

    Fiscal Fiasco
    This just in: NEW SURVEY FINDS BAD ECONOMY HAS MANY CONSIDERING CHANGES TO INSURANCE POLICIES.

    That's just what Patti Blagojevich is thinking.

    Poll Positions
    * "84% of Illinois Voters Say Blagojevich Should Resign."

    Apparently 16% of Illinoisans weren't home to answer the phone.

    Programming Note
    I'm really enjoying this; I'm almost manic.Keep those comments coming!

    Train Set
    A reader excerpts an e-mail conversation with a co-worker:

    "Fun El Conductor (have I ever told you about him?) Anyhow, when we got to Lake, he said 'Have a nice Day. We need a new governor!'"

    WikiBlago
    From Blago's Wikipedia page:

    "Through his father-in-law's connections, Blagojevich clerked for Chicago Alderman Edward Vrdolyak. Blagojevich then took a job as Cook County Assistant State's Attorney (assistant prosecutor) under State's Attorney Richard M. Daley, specializing in domestic abuse crimes and felony weapons cases.

    "He voted for Ronald Reagan for President in the 1980s."

    *

    And then Mell clouted him into Dan Rostenkowski's old congressional seat, after which he ran for governor as (sort of) a reformer. I'm proud to say that at the time - in writing - I called Blagojevich an empty suit with no discernible achievements who had been a mediocre backbencher in both Springfield and Washington. Not all of my media colleagues - dazzled by the man's charm on a rope line - agreed. Some thought he was a prodigious, Clinton-like political talent. And they know who they are, though reading some of them today makes me think they've forgotten.

    Facebook Blago
    1,679 supporters.

    And the G is interviewing every one of 'em!

    *

    My favorite part:

    Employer: State of Illinois
    Position: Governor
    Time Period: January 2003 - Present
    Description: Getting things done for people.

    UPDATE 1;27 P.M.: I think that Facebook link is broken now. But check out these.

    Waiting for Webb
    The Dan Webb Watch.

    Political Standard
    A reader writes:

    "When people ask me what I expect from my elected representative, I always say 'That they not make me puke.'

    On the surface, a very reasonable request. Yet time after time my high ethical standards prove my undoing."

    Rush Bowl
    Leave it to Bobby Rush to devote himself to the most important issues facing taxpayers.

    [T]he bill - being co-sponsored by Reps. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, and Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican - will prohibit the marketing, promotion, and advertising of a postseason game as a 'national championship' football game, unless it is the result of a playoff system. Violations of the prohibition will be treated as violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act as an unfair or deceptive act or practice."

    Transparent Transition
    "President-elect Barack Obama's Transition today launched 'Open for Questions,' a Digg-style feature allowing citizens to submit questions, and to vote on one another's questions, bringing favored inquiries to the top of the list," Ben Smith reports at Politico.

    "It was suggested when it launched that the tool would bring uncomfortable questions to the fore, but the results so far are the opposite: Obama's supporters appear to be using - and abusing - a tool allowing them to "flag" questions as "inappropriate" to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama's website."

    All Blago All The Time
    I just saw an interview with golfer Corey Pavin, who was just named captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for 2010. The first question he was asked was how he was appointed. His answer: "Well, there are all sorts of bribes out there."

    Patti's World
    Now Inside Edition is reporting on Patti Blagojevich, and just compared her to Carmela Soprano. I wonder if we'll get to the advertised segment on "The Obama Girls."

    Red Light District
    From Tim Howe:

    "I was, unfortunately, appearing before a Red Light Violation Administrative Hearing Officer last night in Rosemont. The AHO was giving his canned opening speech to the assembled victims, er, violators, and describing the legislation that allows municipalities to hold these little kangaroo courts. I'm paraphrasing, but he said that the law was 'passed by the legislature [pause] and signed by the governor.' Cue the chuckling from the crowd. But then get this: he looks up, all perturbed, and asks (in that smarmy way that your homeroom teacher might have) 'does someone want to share what they think is funny?' What a tool, he had no clue.

    "And then of course he fined me $100 (but at least didn't make me pick up all the garbage)."

    The Fairy Tale
    John Kass just [3:20 P.M.] said this on Neil Cavuto [hey, I watch 'em all]:

    "[The national media] convinced themselves to believe in a fairy tale - that Chicago is Camelot, that Barack Obama was found as an infant by Mrs. Daley, floating in a basket in the Chicago River. He came up with help in this culture of the Chicago Machine. The people around him, like Rahm Emanuel . . . Rahm Emanuel is identified in the Beltway as a Clinton guy, but he's really a Daley guy . . . David Axelrod, he's a Daley guy. You have Machine people all over, and they all ignored it.

    "I'm not saying Barack Obama is corrupt in any way here, let's be clear . . . but the national media has basically ignored Chicago. They cleave to this notion of Barack Obama as the Mr. Tumnus of American politics, the gentle faun . . . well guess what, this is Chicago."

    Ongoing Investigation
    L.A. TIMES: Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [chief of staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]?

    OBAMA: Let me stop you there because . . . it's an ongoing investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that's the fact that I didn't discuss this issue with the governor at all.

    TV Pilot
    From Tim Willette:

    "An idea for a TV show occurred to me as I overheard my coworkers talking about the upcoming Survivor finale: Senate Survivor.

    Faulting Voters
    There's a lot of talk about why Illinois is so corrupt and what can be done about it, and inevitably it ends with some variation of "It's up to the voters, they keep electing these schmucks."

    Yes and no.

    I'm not here to defend the electorate. For the most part, they are clueless. But . . . think about the ballot you look at every election. You are usually given the choice between one Machine candidate or two in any given race. What are voters supposed to do when they have to decide between, say, Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka?

    So the answer to me is structural. I've never believed in term limits, but the last couple of years I've started to come around to the idea. Appointments to vacant seats should be replaced with special elections (Daley has appointed something like a third or more of the city council). It should be easier for candidates to get their names on ballots. Campaign finance reform is a must; as the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform likes to argue, nearly every major scandal seems to have campaign finance at its root. Election fraud - like funding ghost candidates to scare off opposition or split opposition vote - should be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. And, of course, the media could do a better job - and one of the ways would be to lead the charge for an overhaul of the state's Freedom of Information laws and for those laws to be vigorously enforced. It would be nice to see a real reform candidate with a real reform agenda who understands that reform begins with the very system itself.

    *

    While I'm not sure whether any of these issues are Constitutional, perhaps they could have been taken up at that Constitutional Convention the Combine made sure didn't happen.

    The Mighty Quinn
    Pat Quinn said today that he wants to make the appointment to Obama's Senate seat should Blago resign or be impeached; let's see if Quinn's campaign fund sees a bump in the next couple of days.

    Media Mess
    "Tribune Co. Subpoeaned in Blagojevich Probe."

    Pardon Me
    Reader: Is Senator Dick Durbin's quick call for Blago's resignation truly a call for the opportunity to have 2 Illinois governors to be pardoned at once?

    Me: Maybe he'll call for a blanket pardon for all governors past and future.

    Reader: They should tack on Ryan's remaining time to Blago.

    *

    As has been noted in many other places, this would seem to make a commutation of Ryan's sentence very difficult. Georgie is probably up at night sticking shanks in his Blago doll.

    Blago for President?
    You read it here first.

    Change Agent
    It's true that Obama did not support Blago in the 2002 primary; he switched over in the general election. In the primary he backed Roland Burris.

    Roland Burris?

    *

    From Wikipedia:

    During the primary, state Senator Barack Obama backed former Attorney General Burris, but supported Blagojevich after he won the primary, serving as a "top adviser" for the general election.[18] Future Obama senior adviser David Axelrod had previously worked with Blagojevich on Congressional campaigns, but did not consider Blagojevich ready to be governor and declined to work for him on this campaign.[18] According to Rahm Emanuel, Emanuel, Obama, Blagojevich's campaign co-chair David Wilhelm, and another Blagojevich staffer "were the top strategists of Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial victory," meeting weekly to outline campaign strategies.[18] Wilhelm has said that Emanuel overstated Obama's role in the sessions, and Emanuel said in December 2008 that Wilhelm was correct and he had been wrong in his earlier 2008 recollection to The New Yorker.[18] By all accounts, Blagojevich and Barack Obama have been estranged for years.[19][20]

    Blagojevich was endorsed by many Democratic leaders (with the notable exception of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who claimed it was a conflict of interest since her office was investigating Blagojevich),[25] including then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who endorsed the governor in early 2005 and spoke on his behalf at the August 2006 Illinois State Fair.[18]

    Chalk 'Em Up
    At the Beachwood Inn, you put your name on the chalkboard if you want to get in line to play pool. No quarters on the pool table. And you can't have your name on the board if you are already playing.

    These names appeared on the board when I was there last week:

    * Zbigniew Brzezinski
    * Billy Squier
    * Marshall Tucker
    * Lamont Cranston
    * Bill Bixby

    Okay, I put them there. But still.

    -

    That's all for today. We've got the Bears tonight on Ch. 50 and a new Celebrity Rehab on VH-1. See you tomorrow.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Tip Line #5.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

    Everybody knows that when a friend buys your ticket to a game, you are obligated to buy him at least two beers. And unless you truly despise the home team, it's also courteous to root for them even if you normally wouldn't.

    So I'll be rooting for the Bears tonight, because I'll be there on someone else's dime. Let the record show that a Bears win is against my self-interest, given that my fantasy football opponent has Matt Forte. Regardless, I'm what a co-worker calls a "football mercenary;" you pay me, I root for your team.

    In fact, I might actually go the extra mile and bring a sign. Look for one of these in Section 320:

    * Sorry Saints, Blago already fixed the game!

    * Our Guv More Corrupt Than Your Guv

    * Easy Saints Prefer Nuns

    * Lovie for Govie!

    * Sportin' an Orton!

    * Hey Brees, your turkey's done!

    * Hey Bush, your girlfriend is a better porn actress than you are a running back!

    * We used to *#&$^ guys like Shockey in prison!

    * Practice? We're Talking About Practice?

    * Sean is no Payton!

    * Sean is no Grossman!

    * Hey Deuce: Just say NO!

    * Our Ditka was better than your Ditka

    -

    Saints at Bears
    Storyline: It'll only seem cold and windy, especially after you look at Section 320. There you will find the writer of the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid Report and his friend, staying warm with Old Styles and crappy Hooters wings.

    Reality: Since one of my friend's nicknames is "Mr. Cliche Man," let me say that even though sometimes you win some, and sometimes you lose some, history tends to repeat itself. Therefore, the Saints will be left saying "That's the way the cookie crumbles." And we'll be drunk as skunks.

    Prediction: Bears Minus 3 Points, Under 46 Points Scored.

    -

    Sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 50%
    Recommended sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 30%

    -

    Fantasy Fix: Case in point: Eli Manning.

    -

    Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. You can send him love letters and hate mail and he will respond graciously.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:25 AM | Permalink

    What I Watched Last Night: Cutlery Corner

    I can't think of anyone who looks forward to being awake during that early morning purgatory that bridges Friday night and Saturday morning - or Saturday night and Sunday morning - unless there's some sort activity that calls for a bunch of clothing to be strewn recklessly about someone's bedroom floor. However, occasions do arise when you end up spending Purgatory Time by yourself with whatever home shopping program WCPX-TV/Channel 38 likes to air in the wee weekend hours for the benefit of insomniacs and drunks with a hankering to buy stuff.

    I didn't find myself stuck on Cutlery Corner at 3 a.m. last Saturday because it was the most awesome thing on TV. It was because the voice of the fellow hawking all manner of recreational bladery was a dead ringer for that down-by-the-river-guy on SNL. Which was fine by me because you never know when Billy Mays is going spring up and convince you to buy stuff by shouting at you.

    At one point, the camera pulled back to reveal that the segment's host looked amazingly like actor Peter Jurasik when he was playing Sid the Snitch on Hill Street Blues.

    Down-by-the-river-guy had a female co-hawker, too. She was as personable and perky as anyone promoting lethal weaponry just before sunrise could be, but she also struck me as someone who might have been wondering whether she was too hasty in making that career decision earlier in the week to leave the nunnery.

    Forrest Gump once said something about stupid is as stupid does, so I was curious to see how far Cutlery Corner might stretch the envelope of stupid. After an hour and a half, I got the distinct impression that the envelope can be stretched pretty far even for people with absolutely nothing constructive to do at 3 a.m., so I went to bed. Within the previous 90 minutes though, I found plenty of stupid being promoted.

    At one point, van-down-by-the-river guy decides to get everyone into the holiday shopping spirit by singing a little Christmas ditty: " . . . Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you poke your little head out tonight?" Sure, go ahead. Poke your little head out, so we can slice it it clean off with - I kid you not - a huge-ass ninja samurai sword for $49.95!

    Believe me, if you've ever seen what a herd of deer can do to your evergreens, a big honkin' $49.95 ninja samurai sword is a reasonable investment.

    Just when I was thinking the fun was done, van-down-by-the-river guy drags out something he refers to as "the gang murderer . . . popular among bikers" - a $19.95 utensil that celebrates the creative thinking behind combining a skinning knife with a set of brass knuckles.

    Still, the added bonus of a sheath with a locking top seemed sort of unnecessary because if I was a gnarly murdering biker dude trying to make a decision whether I should disembowel that guy at the end of the bar for eyeballing my woman too much with one end of my knife or just bash his face in with the other end, the last thing I want to do is waste precious seconds of anti-social anger fumbling around with a locked sheath.

    While I'm not much of a knife collector, I think I'll check back with Channel 38 during the early hours this weekend anyway. I've been thinking I might be in the market for a good Medieval crossbow.

    -

    See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

    December 10, 2008

    Fantasy Fix

    Shawn Marion started slow this year, but suddenly he's seeing more action than Rod Blagojevich at a Senate seat auction.

    Marion was once called the NBA's best athlete and all-around player, and delivering in every stat category made him a perennial first-round pick in most fantasy basketball drafts. But entering his 11th season after an injury year, working in a different system, and showing evidence of a statistical drop-off over the last three seasons, I saw plenty of reasons to avoid him in this year's first round.

    Still, I knew there were more than enough Marion-lovers out there to make up for my hesitation. In Yahoo! leagues, his draft position averaged 9.1, making him a definite first-rounder. Through the first dozen or so games this year, Marion was looking pretty bad, with three DNPs and a handful of single-digit scoring nights, and his stats across the broad showed little participation in offense or defense. Yet, in the last 10 games, and in the last four in particular, in which he's had two double-doubles, he's looked like the Marion of old. His 2008-09 line this far:

    12.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.5 STLs, 1.4 BLKs

    This is nowhere near his averages in the first half of this decade, but he's definitely come alive - and that's exactly why you should trade him. Now. Run for the hills. Sell, sell, sell, to borrow the phrase etched over the doorway of the Illinois governor's office.

    Marion can't keep up the pace he's been on lately. Also, it's looking more and more like Dwyane Wade is taking over all scoring responsibilities for the Miami Heat, and that the Heat is destined to ride a wave of many high-scoring, poor-defense games this season. Consider him possible trade bait for another top 20 player with high PPG, like David West, Pau Gasol or even Baron Davis.

    Speaking of trades, one of our fantasy experts is doing exactly that:

    * Fantasy Basketball Cafe has a column about rules to mind when you are making fantasy trades. Trading is definitely tough in any kind of fantasy sports league because there is a lot of anxiety about getting fooled and looking like a fool to the rest of the league. But unless you are sitting pretty in first place, you always need to think about getting better. The FBC columnist is a pretty cautious type, but personally I love trading - especially in what you might call the second quarter of the season (from Game 20 or so to the All-Star Game). My favorite type of trade is sell high/buy low, and I think Marion is in exactly that kind of spot right now.

    * NBA Fantasy Lab hints that if you don't have a top point guard, you might as well dump assists for players with talent to give in multiple categories. The argument there is that after the top PGs, the lower tiers are really assist-specific players without much else to offer, so why not bolster other categories. Ironically, I read this a day after I lost one of my head-to-head match-ups in which assists were the deciding factor. It may work, but it depends on who's available. Fantasy Lab does have some good suggestions for who you might seek out when you jettison your pass-happy PGs.

    * NBA Skinny says not to worry about LeBron James, who has seen a dip in playing time and almost everything else except free throws while the Cleveland Cavaliers have been on a major run. The Cavs are going great, but count on James to take over again as the BNA season moves toward its second half. The Skinny also likes Mike Miller and Rodney Stuckney as up-and-comers.

    Fantasy Football Round-Up
    So, I was wrong to suggest last week that my first-place team was heading into its first playoff match-up, because of course first-place teams usually get a bye week to open the post-season. Still, I was not terribly encouraged by what my guys would have done had the week meant something. I have yet to figure out a way to deal with good players on great teams who clinch and then play it safe for the final weeks of the regular season - which are the key playoff weeks in the fantasy football world.

    Case in point: Eli Manning.

    Manning has had a very solid year driving the New York Giants along an easy path to the post-season. He should end the season better in almost every stat category than he did in 2007, particularly in TDs to INTs ratio: 20 to 8 so far this year, 23 to 20 total for 2007. Yet, the Giants have clinched and Manning's stat slowdown began last week, with a paltry 123 passing yards and 1 TD - nothing negative, but certainly not enough. This week, Manning faces a tough Dallas defense, so I'm fearing the worst, perhaps a sub-100-yards passing game, which is fantasy death.

    I don't really have any pick-up options either; the only QB available in my 2-QB league is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has had his moments, but also has 6 TDs to 9 INTs. Well, it looks like Jamarcus Russell is available, but I might as well leave the position empty if I'm willing to sink that low. I guess Manning's my man.

    What do the experts say?

    * Pick-Ups of the Week features a hot QB pick: Shaun Hill. But he's long gone in my league. If you're a Fantasy Fix regular, you know we recommended him weeks ago, but if he's there for the taking in your league, go get him.

    * The Talented Mr. Roto says to pick up the Giants' back-up RBs Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, because you know, Manning won't be throwing, and apparently Brandon Jacobs won't be running much either. He also likes two Raiders this week: WR Johnnie Lee Higgins and TE Zach Miller. That makes me wonder if I should actually consider picking up Russell at QB. Does he really have a chance against New England's pass defense?

    * The Bleacher Report highlights the monster night (actually monster fourth quarter) that RB DeAngelo Willams had for Carolina against Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football: 186 rushing yards (99 of which came in the final quarter), 2 TDs. Williams is just the kind of guy who could make a playoff run for a fantasy owner who squeaked into the post-season play - and ruin it for a supposed higher-ranked fantasy club that has to face his squad. Uh-oh, I just check my playoff match-up, and guess who my guys are going up against this week . . .

    -

    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    The reporting and commentary about Rod Blagojevich's arrest is so voluminous that it's hard for even a junkie like me to wrap my head and hands around. As near as I can tell, the Tribune's online coverage has been fantastic, and I have nothing but good things to say about what Fox Chicago has done. Not only did I find Jack Conaty, Dane Placko, Larry Yellen and Patrick Elwood the most knowledgeable and compelling, but I believe they had Patrick Collins - the former right-hand man to Patrick Fitzgerald who prosecuted George Ryan - on first when he was still fresh. (Collins, who is terrific, made appearances on at least two other stations yesterday, and by the time he was on Chicago Tonight last night there was nothing new to glean from him.)

    Fox is just all over this story. This morning they had John Kass and Jay Stewart on Good Day Chicago, and Fox reported that Jesse Jackson Jr. is the mystery Candidate 5. I know that's been speculated on, and maybe others had reported by then, but it was the first reporting I had seen on it that was sourced.

    Anyway, there are so many threads to chew on I'm not sure where to start, so I'm just going to go with a running commentary I've been keeping of my own observations and those that contributors and readers have sent in. You can get the facts of the case and the conventional wisdom and speculation (along with the cheap jokes!) elsewhere. I'm just one person!

    We do have Blago offerings in each of our sections today except Sports, so be sure to go read Blago Rock, Blago TV, Blago Books, Blago's Extortion Ring, and Blago's Defense Options.

    And, on a programming note, Sam Zell will be interviewed - by Maria Bartiromo I think - on CNBC today at 2 p.m. CST.

    *

    "He shouldn't have been lead out in handcuffs, but in a straitjacket!"

    - Some TV guy last night

    *

    John Kass said this morning that a special election should not be held for Obama's seat; instead, Gov. Pat Quinn should make the appointment and, in the name of bipartisan reform, he should name Peter Fitzgerald.

    *

    I'm always for special elections instead of appointments. But wouldn't this put the seat into play for a Republican? I'm not being partisan, I'm just wondering why the Democratic powers that be would allow it. Now, Lynn Sweet said last night that the seat would be a lock for a Democrat. I'm not so sure. Think about it: Could Valerie Jarrett run a campaign? Has Jesse Jr. been compromised? Is Tammy Duckworth viable? No Emil Jones, that's for sure. Giannoulias? He'd have the bank account. On the other side of the ledger, Mark Kirk lurks . . .

    *

    Blagojevich reportedly showed up for work this morning for "business as usual."

    Yes. The first thing he did was call up Sam Zell and see how the firing of McCormick was going.

    *

    Blago accomplished one goal: He can now command large speaking fees.

    *

    "If he was really a Cub fan, he should off demanded Zell get Hendry to get rid of Soriano."

    - Marty Gangler

    *

    Pat Quinn's press conference yesterday was brutal. He couldn't answer the question about who was in charge.

    *

    Why wouldn't Sam Zell agree to a business deal with the governor that tramples on editorial integrity? He's stated a number of times that he sees a newspaper as only a business with no special status whatsoever in terms of the public interest.

    Of course, if he did go along with Blago's deal and it was exposed, the Tribune would surely lose customers because a newspaper has to have credibility. See where business interests and journalism ethics intersect?

    *

    Fitzgerald said he couldn't sleep knowing that John McCormick could lose his job as the Tribune's deputy editorial page editor. That means Fitzgerald believed it was a possibility, and the complaint infers that Zell was willing to play ball. The Tribune's statement on this isn't enough, but to be fair we also don't know if what was represented to Blago was done so just to tell him what he wanted to hear.

    *

    A very good question just came over the transom:

    "Everyone's saying that Obama looks great in the Blago indictment because according to Blago on the tapes, they weren't willing to give him anything but appreciation for appointing Valerie Jarrett. But how is it possible for Obama and his people to know nothing about Blago looking for favors/money in exchange for the Senate seat, if Blago had sufficient communication with him/them to know they wouldn't give him anything? And if such a conversation took place with any of Obama's people, why didn't they report it directly to the feds? Just saying."

    *

    A former magazine intern recalls for me a conversation with Blago regarding a profile that was in the works. True story.

    BLAGO: You know, I really hate that photo you guys had taken and I really don't want to see it run.

    INTERN: Governor, I'm sorry, but we offered to take another photo and your office declined. If we choose to run these photos I can't do anything about it.

    BLAGO: See, I don't think you understand me. If you can make sure that photo doesn't run, I can make sure you get whatever you need whenever you need it. Think about it and call me back.

    Dude tried to bribe an intern

    *

    I'm reminded that state workers are required to take mandatory ethics training or risk losing their jobs or being fined,

    *

    A reader says:

    "This is beyond exciting. It's almost more exciting than election night. Different kind of exciting. Now I'm passing from the 'Oh my God! Will you have a look at that' phase into, 'Oh my Lord. How did this happen?' Pretty freakin' bizarre. Just yesterday he was doing that 'What do I have to hide' thing!!

    "Only in this city/state would progressives help to elect a man such as this. It's terrible but it's just riveting. If I thank God for anything, it's for Patrick Fitzgerald. I want to pay fealty to that guy."

    *

    Some of the folks on Rich Miller's Capitol Fax Blog were using the term Fitzmas yesterday.

    *

    A reader says:

    "Maybe Bank of America was going to be his next squeeze: Give me half a million or I pull all the state's business."

    *

    From Julia Gray:

    1. Who is going to take care of Blago's hair in the pokey?

    2. My favorite part is the withdrawing money from sick children at Children's Memorial Hospital. Hey, hey gotta pay for All-Kids somehow, right?

    *

    A reader says:

    "Blagojevich was clearly going through a manic episode. It doesn't excuse the conduct, but nonetheless. Last night while making dinner I saw footage of him on Chicago Tonight, and I thought to myself, 'Hmm. That guy is nuts. Possibly literally unhinged'."

    *

    I used to work for John McCormick when he was the bureau chief for Newsweek here and he's one of the most gracious men you'll ever meet. It's a badge of honor, John. Some pundits are saying you now have more job security than any journalist in America.

    *

    From Kevin B. O'Reilly:

    Patti better learn to fake a serious illness and quick if she hopes to get Lura Lynn-style sympathy from Blago's favorite columnist, Sneed, in order to get Rod sprung early. Maybe one of the kids could come down with something?

    *

    Watching Barack Obama with Joe Biden and Al Gore yesterday, I couldn't help but think of the common thread: Joe Cari.

    *

    Continuing his pattern in the campaign of unilaterally declaring certain topics off-limits, Obama said yesterday that it would not be "appropriate" for him to comment on Blago's arrest. Just like it wasn't "appropriate" for him to comment on Dick Durbin's request that George Ryan get his sentence commuted.

    No one asked him why.

    UPDATE NOON: Obama has now called on Blagojevich to resign.

    *

    It's like he wanted to get caught!

    *

    My favorite part of the arrest is how Blago was told to come quietly.

    *

    After his court appearance, Blago tried to schmooze with one of the prosecutors, reported Drew Griffin of CNN. Griffin didn't say it, but kind of indicated through tone and telekinesis that everybody thought this was the behavior of a crazy man.

    *

    A reader says they counted 18 variations of the F-word in the complaint. Reminiscent of this.

    UPDATE 12:08 P.M.: A reader suggests this is a better fit.

    *

    Inevitable story I haven't seen yet though I haven't had a chance to review all the papers yet: How will this affect the Olympic bid?

    *

    A reader points out that John Harris, also arrested yesterday, is Daley's former budget director and could pose a threat to the mayor. Harris was also first deputy at Aviation. Think airport contracts.

    *

    From Natasha Julius:

    Does anyone else have this funny feeling Pat Quinn will never become acting governor? Maybe it's because he's the only Illinois politician who doesn't make me want to vomit on a daily basis, but I just feel like somehow the powers that be aren't going to let someone who seems dangerously like an actual public servant serve the public at that level.

    I'm sure I'm being totally naive here and Pat Quinn is secretly married to Todd Stroger, but there are fleeting moments where I feel this odd warm and fuzzy sensation when I listen to him. I think it's what they used to call "trust" in the old days, but then I know that's can't be right because President Giddeyup outlawed trust back in '02. Still, I can't help feeling that if I were sitting next to Pat Quinn in a bar and I needed to use the restroom, I might just leave my purse in his care. Mostly because he'd be too busy trying to convince all the other drunks that we didn't really land on the moon, but still. I mean, like, you leave your purse with George Ryan and you know all the cash is going to be gone when you get back, right? And Blago? Damn, you'd come back and everything would seem fine and then the next morning your credit card company would call you and say someone ran up $10,000 worth of charges at, like, the Sharper Image and PetCo and an off-shore gambling outfit in Antigua, and they finally cut off the card when the kiddie porn started showing up. And then the next week after you'd spend every waking hour trying to expunge your credit report he'd call and ask if you wanted to go out to dinner and act all oblivious and you'd be all, "you were in charge of my purse, so . . . " and he'd be like, "I don't know what you're talking about, but why'd you leave your purse with some guy you just met in a bar anyway, slutty?" And you wouldn't really have much to say to that because, seriously, he's right except for the slutty part, because, like it or not, your decision to leave him in charge of your material assets was a tacit endorsement of his reckless lifestyle. Right, voters of Illinois? You dig?

    *

    Is Blago Insane?

    *

    Public Official 1A

    *

    As one commenter points out, looks like NBC chose the wrong week to shut down Division Street!

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Unimpeachable.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    Blago's Defense Options

    The Beachwood has learned that Rod Blagojevich's legal team is considering the following defenses.

    *

    I didn't do it.

    *

    That's not me on the phone. It's my twin brother.

    *

    The glove doesn't fit.

    *

    My hair made me do it.

    *

    It's Mike Madigan's fault.

    *

    Couldn't afford call girls to get caught with instead.

    *

    I needed money for the divorce settlement.

    *

    I bet the entire state budget on the Cubs to win the World Series and some very bad men have been threatening me.

    *

    Wasn't making ends meet selling Amway on the side.

    *

    "Because I'm just really fucking stupid, okay?"

    *

    It's not illegal when the governor does it.

    *

    I knew an all-Twinkie diet was a bad idea.

    *

    Kendrick ordered the Code Red.

    *

    He believed all of the callers were actually Miami talk radio hosts.

    *

    Zambrano told me to do it.

    *

    I was conducting my own investigation.

    - Scott Buckner, Tim Willette, Rick Kaempfer, Steve Rhodes

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    Blago's Extortion Ring

    As we all know by now, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused in a federal complaint of trying to strong-arm the Tribune Co. into firing a couple of editorial writers in exchange for his help on the sale of Wrigley Field. What not even Patrick Fitzgerald knows is that the Beachwood wiretaps have picked up additional conversations about other things the governor tried to extort from Tribune. Here they are for the first time.

    *

    Fire the statue of that McCormick guy outside the front door, too.

    *

    Get "Nancy" and "Andy Capp" back in the comics.

    *

    A counter-editorial from Tom Skilling saying what a nice guy Blago is.

    *

    One of those bitchin' stones from the side of the Tower. They're totally real, right?

    *

    An Ask Amy column about hair care.

    *

    A CD box set of Orion Samuelson farm reports.

    *

    A special Elvis section every January 8 and August 16.

    *

    A fair shot at the right field job in spring training.

    *

    No more of this color-on-the-front page shit.

    *

    A job for Patti with RedEye.

    *

    Greg Kot's job.

    *

    Permission to use Elvis1 as his online user name.

    *

    Bring back Q.

    *

    Swap the State of Illinois building with Tribune Tower.

    *

    Donuts with the governor's seal in icing delivered with his morning paper

    *

    A week of three-way columns with Eric Zorn and Mary Schmich.

    *

    Trade Pat Quinn for Randy Michaels.

    *

    Stop rejecting his reviews for Metromix.

    - Scott Buckner, Natasha Julius, Rick Kaempfer, Steve Rhodes

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

    Blago Rock

    1. I Fought The Law

    Shaking down donors for another run
    I fought the law and the law won
    I fought the law and the law won

    Microphone planted in my hair bun
    I fought the law and the law won
    I fought the law and the law won

    I had a Senate seat to fill
    That was worth its weight in gold
    Didn't want to give it to Candidate 1
    Unless she did what she was told

    Planted an item in the column of Sneed
    I fought the law and the law won
    I fought the law and the law won

    A pathological liar with insatiable greed
    I fought the law and the law won
    I fought the law and the law won

    I told Sam Zell what he'd have to do
    If he wanted to sell Wrigley Field
    I bumped my head when I was a kid
    And apparently it hasn't healed

    The children's hospital would not play ball
    I fought the law and the law won
    I fought the law and the law won

    And they think I'm the one with gall
    I fought the law and the law won
    I fought the law and the law won

    I got arrested and it feels so bad
    Guess my race is run
    I was gonna be president in 2016
    I fought the law and the law won
    I fought the law and the law won

    *

    2. The Blago Boat Song

    Blago. Bla-a-a-go
    Feds have come, and they at your front door
    Blago. Bla-a-a-go
    Feds have come, and they at your front door

    Want to know, will you implicate Obama,
    (Feds have come, and they at your front door)
    No pay for play Blago, even if you wanna,
    (Feds have come, and they at your front door)
    The heat was on, but you still went for broke,
    (Feds have come, and they at your front door)
    Thanks for making us a national joke,
    (Feds have come, and they at your front door)

    Blago. Bla-a-a-go
    Feds have come, and they at your front door.

    *

    3. Sweet Home Blago

    Come on
    Valerie, don't you wanna go
    Come on
    Oh baby don't you wanna go
    To Obama's old seat
    Sweet new home for Blago

    Come on
    Jesse, don't you wanna go
    Hidehey
    Baby don't you wanna go
    To Obama's old seat
    Sweet new home for Blago

    Well, one and one is two
    Six and two is eight
    Come on baby pony up the freight
    Hidehey
    Baby don't you wanna go
    To Obama's old seat
    Sweet new home for Blago

    Come on
    Emil, don't you wanna go
    To Obama's old seat
    Sweet new home for Blago

    Six and three is nine
    Nine and nine is eighteen
    It can be yours if you show me the green
    Hidehey
    Baby don't you wanna go
    To Obama's old seat
    Sweet new home for Blago

    Oh come on
    Luis, don't you wanna go
    Come on
    Baby don't you wanna go
    To Obama's
    Sweet new home for Blago

    *

    4. The Stairway to Oxford

    Theres a gov'nor who's sure
    All that glitters is gold
    And he's buying a stairway to Oxford
    When he gets there he knows
    That he'll recognize his foes
    That he'll have to be their girlfriend
    Ooh, ooh, and he's buying a stairway to Oxford

    There's a mirror on the wall
    And he wants to be sure
    'cause you know sometimes hair doesn't go right
    In a tree by the brook
    There sits another crook,
    Sometimes all of our friends are convicted.
    Ooh, it makes me wonder,
    Ooh, it makes me wonder.

    There's a feeling I get
    When I look to my left
    And see old Rosty at Gene & Georgetti's
    In my thoughts I have seen
    Presidential seals through the trees,
    And the voices of those who stand mocking
    Ooh, it makes me wonder,
    Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

    And its whispered that soon
    If we all call the tune
    Then Fitzgerald will lead us to reason.
    And a new day will dawn
    For those who stand long
    And Jay Stewart will echo with laughter.

    If there's an agent in your hedgerow
    Dont be alarmed now,
    Its just a spring clean for Fitzgerald
    Yes, there are two paths you can go by
    But in the long run
    There's still time to change the plea you're on.
    And it makes me wonder.

    Your head is humming and it won't go
    In case you don't know,
    George Ryan's calling you to join him,
    Dear Blago, can you hear the wind blow,
    And did you know
    You get 12 cents an hour in the laundry

    And as we wind on down the road
    Our shadows taller than our soul.
    There walks a First Lady lady we all know
    Who learned from dad and Rezko
    How ev'rything can turn to gold.
    And if you listen very hard
    The tune will come to you at last.
    When all are one and one is all
    To be a rat or take the fall

    And he's buying a stairway to Oxford

    *

    5. Suspicious Minds

    - sung by Blago looking in the mirror

    We're caught in a trap
    I can't walk out
    Because I love you too much baby

    Why can't you see
    What you're doing to me
    When you don't believe a word I say?

    We can't go on together
    With suspicious minds
    And we can't build our dreams
    On suspicious minds

    So, if an old friend I know
    Drops by to say hello
    Would I still see suspicion in their eyes?

    Here we go again
    Asking where I've been
    You can't see these tears are real
    I'm crying

    We can't go on together
    With suspicious minds
    And be can't build our dreams
    On suspicious minds

    Oh let our love survive
    Or dry the tears from your eyes
    Let's don't let a good thing die

    When honey, you know
    I've never lied to you
    Mmm yeah, yeah

    *

    6. Sweet Home Illinois

    Big indictments keep on turning
    Sendin' another pol to the pen
    Singing songs about the Combine
    I miss Illinois once again
    I don't think it's a sin

    Well, I heard the goo-goos sing about her
    Well, I heard the BGA put her down
    Well, I hope Jay Stewart will remember
    The Combine don't need him around anyhow

    Sweet home Illinois
    Where the bills are never due
    Sweet home Illinois
    Tell me again, who sent you?

    In Springfield they hate the gov'nor
    And they hate Emil Jones too
    George Ryan did not bother them
    And they think Pat Quinn is a fool
    Yes they do

    Sweet home Illinois
    It's always the same old crew
    Sweet Home Illinois
    Michael Madigan too
    Here I come Illinois

    Now Springfield has got the Combine
    And they've been known to pick a pocket or two
    Lord they piss me off so much
    Especially when my taxes are due
    Now how about you?

    Sweet home Illinois
    Where the ethics are few
    Sweet Home Illinois
    Cellini's there too

    Sweet home Illinois
    Oh sweet home baby
    Where they call prison "going to school"
    And the governor's a fool
    Sweet Home Illinois
    Lordy
    Lord, I'm coming home to you

    *

    7. Your [Bleep]ing Heart

    Your [bleep]ing heart
    will make you weep
    You'll cry and cry
    and try to [bleep]ing sleep
    But sleep won't come
    the whole God [bleep]ing night through
    Your [bleep]ing heart
    Will tell on you

    When tears come down
    like [bleep]ing rain
    You'll toss around
    and [bleep]ing [bleep] up my name

    [bleep] them!

    You're gonna [bleep bleep bleeeeeep] floor [bleeeeeeeep]
    Your [bleep]ing heart
    Will [bleep]ing [bleep] on [bleep bleeeeeeep bleep]ing [Senate Candidate 5]

    - Rick Kaempfer, Tim Willette, Steve Rhodes

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

    December 9, 2008

    Blago Books

    Unless Rod Blagojevich has a sudden moment of sanity and confesses, it will probably be at least a year - and probably two - before he actually sees the inside of a prison cell. Nonetheless, we here at the Beachwood Blago Books Affairs Desk would like to offer up some jailhouse reading for the gov.

    1. The Man Who Emptied Death Row: Governor George Ryan and the Politics of Crime. By James Merriner.

    At least Ryan emptied Death Row and kept the wheels of government turning. Your clumsy schemes, Mr. Blagojevich, are a disgrace to corrupt politicians everywhere. In prison, you'll be Ryan's bitch.

    2. Big Jim Thompson. By Robert E. Hartley.

    I know Big Jim Thompson, sir, and you are no Big Jim Thompson.

    *

    Thompson, by the way, once said "This should serve to put Chicago on notice that we are fed up with corruption in this town and we're going to end it."

    And, "I'm going to kick ass until we get rid of the crooks."

    That's when he was a prosecutor. See how that worked out?

    3. Helpless, Hopeless. By Dan Walker.

    "Dan Walker is almost certainly the only former Illinois governor whose memoir includes an eyewitness account of his prison cellmate being gang-raped," the Sun-Times wrote.

    "That was a searing experience because you watch that, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it," Walker said. "Absolutely nothing. The guards would not interfere. You were helpless and hopeless watching that happen."

    4. Psychology for Dummies. By Adam Cash.

    What makes you tick?

    5. The Prison Cookbook. By Jamie Oliver.

    "The tasty treats include corned beef stew, Mars bar melts, Dairylea cheesecake and tuna and pepper sauce mash."

    6. Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America. By James Merriner.

    "[In prison], Rosty worked seven and a half hours a day at landscaping and other chores at a starting pay of twelve cents an hour. He joined 135 other inmates who slept in four-man cubicles with no doors. Chicagoans joked that Rosty had reserved a suite for himself - one for his bed, three for his ego."

    7. My Fall From Grace. By Jim Laski.

    "Convicted former City Clerk Jim Laski said Monday he worked through Mayor Daley's top lieutenants to get Hired Truck business for the lifelong friend who betrayed him and, therefore, believes the mayor knows a lot more about the scandal than he has publicly admitted.

    "Free after spending eleven months in a West Virginia federal prison and six months at a Chicago halfway house, Laski is pointing fingers at the mayor in a tell-all book and in-depth interview."

    8. What's a Governor? By Nancy Harris.

    Spanish title: Que es un gobernador?

    9. Foundations of Democracy: Authority, Privacy, Responsibility, and Justice. By Joseph S. Jackson.

    Student Text. High School Level.

    10. Boss. By Mike Royko.

    "In his Chicago, even a man's birthday could be put to a political use. 'Chicago ain't ready for reform yet,' Alderman Bauler said when Daley was elected in 1955. And in 1970, ready or not, it wasn't getting any.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    Blago TV

    1. Is Everything A Lie Down Here?

    -

    2. What Kind Of Bullshit Is This Really?

    -

    3. A $1,500 Check To An 8-Year-Old?

    -

    4. Even A 2-Year-Old Knew

    -

    5. The Worst Person On Earth


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:14 PM | Permalink

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    BREAKING: "Source: Feds Take Gov. Blagojevich Into Custody

    Do you think they could stop and pick up Sam Zell on the way?

    Maybe the worst punishment for both Blagojevich and George Ryan would be to force them to share a cell.

    The hits will keep coming!

    UPDATE 9:15 A.M.: Mike Flannery just said on-air that if the allegations are true, Rod Blagojevich is the stupidest politician he has ever met. Why? Because even as everyone knew he was under federal investigation, he allegedly continued to wheel and deal up to just a few days ago, trying to sell Obama's Senate seat to possible replacements and trying to get the Tribune Company to fire some editorial writers in exchange for cooperation on Wrigley Field. The Trib has the complaint on its website, I hear.

    Carlos Hernandez Gomez on CLTV is reminding viewers that legislators have honestly questioned Blagojevich's sanity; apparently the court papers say that Blagojevich thought that if he was indicted as a sitting U.S. Senator instead of a governor, he could remake his image and run for president in 2016.

    I'm just going to live-blog this the rest of the morning.

    9:21 A.M.: Fox News Chicago is reporting that Blagojevich singled out Tribune deputy editorial page editor John McCormick as a guy he wanted fired in exchange for helping out Tribune Co. on Wrigley Field.

    9:22 A.M.: Channels 2, 5, and 9 are back to regular programming!

    9:24 A.M.: Blago chief of staff John Harris also arrested.

    9:26 A.M.: Excerpt viaTalking Points Memo on Blagojevich trying to market Obama's Senate seat, which is the part that has (quite rightly) most captured the national media's imagination:

    Regarding the Senate seat, the charges allege that Blagojevich, Harris and others have engaged and are engaging in efforts to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, to benefit Blagojevich and his family through corruptly using Blagojevich's sole authority to appoint a successor to the unexpired term of the President-elect's former Senate seat, which he resigned effective November 16. The affidavit details numerous conversations about the Senate seat between November 3 and December 5. In these conversations, Blagojevich repeatedly discussed the attributes of potential candidates, including their abilities to benefit the people of Illinois, and the financial and political benefits he and his wife could receive if he appointed various of the possible candidates.

    Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being "stuck" as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife's employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office.

    In the earliest intercepted conversation about the Senate seat described in the affidavit, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A on November 3 that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he will take it for himself: "if . . . they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it." Later that day, speaking to Advisor A, Blagojevich said: "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain." He added later that the seat "is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

    9:29 A.M.: From Natasha Julius:

    You know right now Patrick Fitzgerald is scouring a thesaurus trying to figure out a suitable synonym for "low-water mark in public service."

    "Your honor, I know I said George Ryan was the worst governor ever, but this guy truly is the NADIR. He's the ABSOLUTE ZERO of public service. I got pages of these, your honor, just give me a minute . . . "

    *

    "If George Ryan is the low-water mark, you can't even find this guy with a DIVINING ROD. Get it, your honor? I'll be here all week."

    PS. How long before some lesser blogger barfs out a Jailhouse Rock joke?

    9:32 A.M: Not unsurprisingly, state GOP chief Andy McKenna is calling for Blago to resign. Jack Conaty on Fox says if that doesn't happen, he is "relatively certain" impeachment proceedings will commence.

    9:38 A.M.: "Governor Sunshine."

    9:44 A.M.: From Natasha Julius:

    Conversely, how many Midwest Wing staffers do you think are currently employed finding novel ways to say, "Really, I barely knew the guy . . . ?

    9:47 A.M.: Jack Conaty says that Blagojevich apparently reached out to Rahm Emanuel to ask for "things" in exchange for Obama's Senate seat.

    9:48 A.M.: "It appears to be a case of stupidity, greed and fear," Jack Conaty says.

    The fear, as I gather, was in having enough money to mount a defense.

    9:49 A.M.: From Margaret Burke:

    I was leaving a Jewel parking lot when the news came on that they had just pinched Himself. I almost drove into a post.

    For once, I agree with Mike Flannery - Blago has to be absolutely the dumbest politician going. We sure can elect them, can't we?!

    This gives me hope, though - maybe I'll see the hat trick (Ryan, Blago, Daley) in my lifetime.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Live and Memorex.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

    Reviewing the Reviews

    "It's a little-known fact that the Virgin Mary was fond of creamed spinach," Paul Collins writes an essay titled "The Oddball Know-It-All" in the New York Times Book Review. "And did you know that sauerbraten was invented by Charlemagne? That the geneticist Gregor Mendel spent much of his time developing a recipe for fried eggs? Or that "people who use considerable red pepper in their foods are almost immune to atomic radiation"?

    "If you're nodding in recognition, you're a lucky owner of George Leonard Herter's farrago Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices - one of the greatest oddball masterpieces in this or any other language. A surly sage, gun-toting Minnesotan and All-American crank - the kind of guy who would take his own sandwiches to Disneyland because the restaurants were No Damned Good - Herter wrote books on such disparate topics as candy making, marriage advice, African safaris and household cleaning."

    Who knew?

    Well, these guys did.

    I can't even find a Wikipedia entry for him, though. I think he damn well deserves one, don't you?

    Economic Indicators
    "[Th]e Baltic Dry Index, a widely used measure of shipping costs, has fallen 89 percent this year," Paul Krugman writes in The New York Review of Books.

    Loving Lolita
    "It's been fifty years since Vladimir Nabokov's little girl first endured - and manipulated - the desire of her overaged suitor, Humbert, and yet Lolita is more present as a pop-culture reference than ever," Meghan Pleticha writes on Nerve. "She's been a trendy bar, a children's bed and countless newspaper headlines referencing any sexual woman under eighteen. But a new book asserts that as a character and an idea, Lolita was not the one-dimensional notion she's become over decades of simplification."

    Pleticha interviews the author of Chasing Lolita: How Popular Culture Corrupted Nabokov's Little Girl All Over Again.

    Happiness Is . . . Happy Friends
    "We found that social networks have clusters of happy and unhappy people within them that reach out to three degrees of separation," the authors of Social Networks and Happiness write. "A person's happiness is related to the happiness of their friends, their friends' friends, and their friends' friends' friends - that is, to people well beyond their social horizon. We found that happy people tend to be located in the center of their social networks and to be located in large clusters of other happy people. And we found that each additional happy friend increases a person's probability of being happy by about 9%."

    Rear View
    John Wilson of Books & Culture includes The Butt, by Will Self, on his year-ender list, writing that "this phantasmagoric satire, set in a fictitious land that has aspects of Australia and Iraq and other disparate places, is so bracing, so loaded with verbal energy, so inventive in its engagement with all matter of human folly, so gloriously excessive, it stands head and above the usual run of novels. Like many good satiric books, it leaves you with a strange mixture of exhilaration and bleakness."

    Trillion Dollar Treachery
    The Economist includes these two books on its year-end list.

    * The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. By Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes.

    "With the patience of auditors and the passion of polemicists, two academics, one a Nobel prize-winning economist and the other a public-finance expert at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, take an unflinching look at the hidden cost of invading Iraq."

    * The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash.By Charles R. Morris.

    "The first big book on the credit crunch saw the crisis coming three years ago. Freak-out-onomics for I-told-you-sos."

    The Fake Universe
    Those photos of various happenings in deep space are awe-inspiring, but they're also phony.

    "With plumes of gas and stardust reaching up like the fingers of Adam and a purple sun winking back, the 'Pillars of Creation' has the high ecclesiastical wattage of a Michelangelo. But this late-20th-century masterpiece wasn't painted by human hands. It is a digital image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Eagle nebula, a celestial swarm 7,000 light-years from Earth," George Johnson writes in the New York Times Book Review.

    "Reproduced on calendars and book jackets and in coffee-table books, 'Pillars of Creation' belongs among the iconic images of modern times - right up there with the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima and Ansel Adams's 'Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park.' More than an artifact of technology, 'Pillars of Creation' is a work of art. As John D. Barrow, a professor of mathematical sciences at Cambridge University, writes in COSMIC IMAGERY: Key Images in the History of Science, pulling such an arresting canvas from the digital signals beamed by Hubble required aesthetic choices much like those that went into the great landscape paintings of the American West.

    "There is no reason, for example, why the plumes had to be shown standing up. There are no directions in space. More important, the scientists processing the bit stream chose the color palette partly for dazzling effect."

    Is your disullisionment complete?

    Besides, the Pillars have been blown apart.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:18 AM | Permalink

    December 8, 2008

    Facebook Ethics

    Like many other media organizations, the Tribune Co. is grappling with ethical issues raised by the use of Facebook and other forms of social media by its employees, or, as the case may be, it's "citizen contributors." This anonymous, optional survey recently went out to all Triblocal workers and gives you an idea of what concerns the company has. (One can't help but wonder if this, in part, is what prompted it.) But also note the question about discussing the Tribune in online forums; plans to hire more Triblocal reporters; and the question about whether reporters should also work as marketers.

    *

    This survey is designed to address specific ethics concerns about the print edition of Triblocal and Triblocal.com. Some of the survey questions are multiple choice and others require a brief essay. If you have additional comments please include them in the "Additional Comments on Triblocal Ethics" section at the conclusion of the Ethics Committee Survey.

    A. Social Networking Web sites, including Facebook

    I. Political Postings
    Are political affiliations as broadcasted on Facebook more sensitive than any other affiliations on the site and others like it?

    A. Yes
    B. No

    Should reporters be allowed to broadcast political affiliations on these sites (i.e. Liberal or Conservative in the "Political Views" section on Facebook)? Why or why not?

    Should Facebook pages be allowed to display partisan positions if only a limited population (i.e. people that you approve of) can see it?

    Is it appropriate to post photos that show you wearing political paraphernalia or with someone who is wearing political paraphernalia?

    Do you think it is appropriate to post photos or be tagged in photos that show you in a political atmosphere, if you are not covering the event, like at an Obama or McCain rally?

    II. Professional relationships/friendships
    Is it okay to become on-line friends with people you interact with in an official capacity, such as city officials, school/park district personnel and employees of public relations firms? If a reporter is friends with them already, should they un-friend them or give them access to a limited profile view?

    III. General Facebook Etiquette for Reporters
    What do you believe is acceptable social networking behavior that doesn't compromise your position as a reporter?

    As a reporter, should you discuss Tribune happenings, such as layoffs or the redesign, in an open non-Tribune on-line forum?

    Do you think the ethics policy should contain clear guidelines about the type of personal information that can be posted on a social networking site?

    Would enforcing a zero-tolerance policy regarding social networking sites make you think twice about working here? For example, if our ethics policy stated you could not belong to political groups on Facebook? Would that cause you to rethink your employment?

    Would you change information you have posted on Facebook if you knew the people you interviewed for stories were reading it?

    B. Reporters and personal blogging
    Is there a conflict of interest if a reporter also keeps a blog? (circle one)

    A. Yes, they shouldn't have them.
    B. Yes, but as long as the blog does not cover the same topics as they report on, it is OK.
    C. No, there is no problem with blogging on any topic as a reporter.

    Should Triblocal reporters be allowed to blog on topics that aren't political in nature?

    C. Reporting, working in your own community
    As Triblocal prepares to hire more than a dozen new reporters, what precautions should be made for reporters that might work in the same area that they live? What procedures can be put in place in order to make sure there is no conflict of interest? Should Triblocal set up a system that calls for another reporter to step in and cover a sensitive issue, or where bias might exist? How would you design that system?

    D. Marketing and Promoting Triblocal
    Are there any conflicts of interest with being a reporter for Triblocal and marketing/promoting Triblocal? What are they?

    E. Identifying and Distinguishing between contributors
    Is the way we identify submissions from public relations firms adequate?

    Should we consider changing the "citizen contributor" attribution to provide more information to our readers? Is there a better way, for example, to identify a parent who has written a story about their son or daughter or should contributors be identified by city if they specialize on one or two cities in particular?

    Should we work to reduce the number of stories without bylines? How would we do that?

    F. Additional Comments on Triblocal Ethics
    (Please list your ethics questions below)

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:36 PM | Permalink

    What I Watched Last Night: The Secret Millionaire / Part 2

    (Part 1.)

    Over the years, we've learned to expect certain things from reality-based TV. That's why I kept waiting for the uber-rich in the two-part premiere of Fox-TV's The Secret Millionaire to turn out to be the love spawn of Leona Helmsley and Ebeneezer Scrooge. The TV landscape is loaded with enough people transformed by wealth and privilege into spoiled, insufferable pricks that you'd expect this show's secret millionaires to wake up on Day Three yelling, "Screw the poor! I'm not going to spend one more goddamn night feeling things scurry across my legs in my sleep!"

    That's why the Episode 2's secret millionaires, Todd Graves and wife Gwen, are such miserable disappointments. They're so . . . nice . . . and . . . friendly . . . and . . . decent . . . and . . . well . . . normal. Their home is no more outwardly ostentatious than anything you'd find on the market for under $700,000 in far west suburban Wayne. And if counting their many blessings wasn't enough, these two have been giving away an eyebrow-raising chunk of their income long before this show came ringing their doorbell.

    Jesus H. Christ. What's rich-people reality TV coming to these days?

    Todd, 36, is the self-made $60 million man behind Raising Cane's, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, chain of 76 joints in 13 states that sells chicken fingers. When Todd's not leaving chickens to figure out how they're supposed to start the car or enjoy a cup of coffee without their fingers, he's attending black tie dinners with the governor, dropping four or five grand on dinner "without even thinking about it," and private-jetting with his wife and kids all over God's green earth to "stay in all the best places all over the world." Gwen's a millionaire, too. She once owned a McDonald's franchise, but sold it for a huge bag of loot. "It's kinda neat being a millionaire in my own right," she said. We're sure it is.

    Todd and Gwen's own little slice of Hell's half-acre was Buras, Louisiana. If Buras wasn't a big tourist destination before August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made sure it wouldn't be one anytime soon, either. Todd and Gwen actually fared better than Greg and Cole Ruzicka in Episode 1 because they didn't need to actually hunt for a crapshack to blow seven days worth of rent on because their lodging had already been picked out for them: a dingy, dirt-encrusted, gawdawful stanky-in-the-humidity RV that probably led a wonderful middle-class life as a weekend retreat 20 years ago at a Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park campground in Indiana. RVs aren't famous for surviving Category 3 hurricanes, so the fact that this one even existed made me suspect it was towed in special from somewhere far, far away.

    Todd and Gwen spent half an eternity staring at the thing from their very clean and shiny SUV, but they were eventually drawn out by the quiet charm of the rusty, dented water heater sitting in what passed for the front yard, the table made out of a giant wooden cable spool turned on its side, and a canopy hanging off the side of the RV with - true to Deep South tradition - a string of Christmas lights someone left up. They didn't say it outright, but I think Todd and Gwen were probably just happy the nasty ol' thing had electricity.

    Years of fine dining and having people to do your grocery shopping aren't much of an advantage when you're left to fend for yourself on $107 for a week. Having to drive halfway across the state to find a grocery store still standing after a killer hurricane is an inconvenience, but nowhere near the inconvenience it is to those who are dirt poor all year 'round in Buras without a car, or gas to put in the car if it didn't go floating off to the next parish three years ago. So Todd and Gwen luck out again. "I have no reality on how much things cost," says Todd, who runs up the food bill to $90.60 and has to have the cashier put back enough to leave them $31 for the rest of the week instead of $17.

    Neither one are much on cooking skills, either. Gwen burns a bunch of bread on the RV's stove and Todd displays his knack for turning a small kettle grill into a device for sending War and Peace" by smoke signal. Because their expenses were pretty much covered as long as the Queen of England or Donald Trump didn't go dropping in unannounced, Todd and Gwen don't have to find jobs, so they spend their week using their friendly nature to work their way into the lives of the locals with the pretense of planning to film a documentary. To be fair, either a lot of the week ended up on the cutting room floor or I missed a whole lot in the 30 seconds it took for me to make a sandwich because Raising Cane's website says Todd and Gwen were offered jobs working in a restaurant and picking oranges and satsumas. I have no clue what a satsuma is, but evidently a number of them were picked.

    During their week, Todd and Gwen took a cotton to some incredibly dedicated, community-minded individuals:

    * Rev. Ted Turner, who has been living in a trailer and working since Katrina to rebuild what was left of the town volunteer center - largely alone and with rudimentary carpentry skills learned from his father. Asked why he chose to rebuild his community instead of hitting the road to somewhere less hurricane-prone, Ted kind of shrugged and said, "It's not a hard thing to answer. It's home." Todd spends much time power-nailing stuff and bonding with Rev. Ted.

    * Elaine and Michael Cox, who returned to hurricane ruin to hear a calling to build The Gathering Place, a community center dedicated to keeping youngsters on the straight and narrow. Instead of rebuilding their own home first as most sensible people would do in this instance, Elaine and Michael moved into a FEMA trailer (and continued live in it three years later) so they could focus on the center. Todd and Gwen spend time donating some of their own sweat equity.

    * Cyril Crutchfield, a football coach at South Plaquemine High School. As Todd makes a point of saying during Wednesday's episode, football is serious business in The South. The show didn't say whether there's much book learning going on at the three neighboring high school buildings decimated by Katrina, but there was no reason why someone couldn't take the players from those schools and turn them into a single powerhouse football team not easily fucked with. Cyril Crutchfield was that sort of someone. The field may not have any grass left on it, but it's got a scoreboard and bleachers, so there's no reason dreams of winning the state championship can't come true.

    Again, to be completely fair, Cyril Crutchfield does more than just coach a football team. As Raising Cane's website puts it, "Coach Crutchfield's commitment is so strong that to this day he still lives in a small trailer on the school grounds because his schedule has not allowed him to start repairs on his own home, some three years after the hurricane. He wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning to drive the school bus, spends a full day in class and then sees to it that his athletes attend study hall while he drives students home on the bus. Then Crutchfield returns to coach his team at practice. After practice, he drives the team members home before he returns to his own home to begin work on the next day's lesson plans and the football team practice preparation."

    And we bitch about our day.

    Naturally, when Todd and Gwen come clean, the folks they hornswaggled display the look of mid-grade disappointment you'd see from the girl next door if you 10-stepped your way to her doorstep after all this time to make amends by revealing that you were the one who backed over her family's arthritic old dog in the driveway 30 years ago and kept going. I'm not sure a check for fifty grand would forgive something like that, but it seems to go a long way when it comes to little white lies in Buras, Louisiana.

    In the end, Todd and Gwen were more decisive than the Ruzickas in figuring out how to divide the wealth. Not to minimize the generosity of Greg and Cole Ruzicka in the previous episode or detract from whatever honor they felt giving away their own money, but Todd and Gwen seemed to zone in more intently on the requirement that the secret millionaires give away at least $100,000 of their own cash. Greg Ruzicka waved adios to $125,000 of his own cash; Todd and Gwen pissed away more than $300,000 of theirs. On the other hand, Greg had to live with vermin and didn't have a millionaire wife backing up his stash.

    On the third hand, maybe Todd and Gwen decided to simplify things by dealing with everyone in lots of $100,000 so they could enjoy a final night in their stanky-skanky RV without having to agonize over too many things. I don't know. But when all was said and done, Rev. Turner was gifted with a check for $100,000, various sporting goods, and all the fixins for a righteous BBQ pit to make life more comfortable for his volunteers; Elaine and Michael Cox received a check for $100,000 to fund their dream of keeping kids off whatever's left of the mean, aimless streets of Buras; and Coach Crutchfield received a $100,000 so the task of turning out rompin' stompin' athletes, honor students, and plain ol' average students alike can continue long after he gets sick and tired of driving that damn school bus.

    Coming up Wednesday: The king of urban custom-car culture discovers nobody in Watts can afford a car.

    -

    See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    LATE UPDATE: See the end of the column for an internal Sun-Times memo and a Tribune Co. press release about TribCo's bankruptcy filing.

    *

    Maybe Chicago is the center of the world right now. And not just because GQ (ugh) and Lonely Planet have named us their favorites.

    Consider:

    * The sit-in by workers at Republic Windows and Doors is more than one of the first labor actions of the new economic era; it's already a national symbol of the economic times.

    * In a further sign of overextended debt and an industry even dumber than automakers, the Tribune Co. is considering filing for bankruptcy protection. A wave of other media companies - including the Sun-Times Media Group - could follow.

    * We have our own entrant in hedge fund madness.

    * Our mayor is selling off our assets in order to balance his budget.

    And somehow it seems fitting that it's almost certain we're going to send our second consecutive governor to jail even while our political power structure now occupies the White House. (The cherry on top is Todd Stroger addressing the Council of Governmental Ethics Laws this morning).

    In other words, America is playing itself out right here in Chicago. In many ways, we have a front-row seat.

    Slick Luis
    "When U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez was looking to buy in the sizzling Bucktown real estate market, he teamed up with a developer and longtime political donor who sold him a plot of land and built him a new home," the Tribune reports in the latest installment of its "Neighborhoods For Sale" series.

    "And when the congressman decided not to move into the home, the developer, Krzysztof Karbowski, was there to buy it back.

    "Gutierrez walked away with nearly $200,000."

    Trib Turmoil
    "Tribune is in danger of falling below the cash flow required under its agreement with its bondholders, but it is not clear how seriously Tribune is thinking about seeking bankruptcy protection," the New York Times reports.

    The Sun-Times notes that "The reports could be part of a negotiating strategy with Wall Street lenders."

    That's my suspicion, but I have nothing but instinct to base that on.

    UPDATE 1:20 P.M.: TRIB FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

    *

    By the way, I'm not linking to the S-T story because the paper's website has frozen my browser nearly every time I've gone to it for the last week. Is anyone else having this problem? I use Firefox on an iBookG4.

    Lyric Laundry
    So a bunch of TV folks singing for charity ended their night with Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry." What fun!

    It just goes to show that you can sing along and still not really think about the words.

    The Political Odds
    Who will replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate? Who will replace Rahm Emanuel in the U.S. House? Will Richard M. Daley ever got to prison, and if so, will he get his prison sentence commuted? Find out in The Political Odds.

    Bear Report
    "[T]he Jaguars simply weren't good enough on Sunday to make the game matter," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. "We'll know so much more about the genuineness of [the Bears'] playoff aspirations in only a few more days."

    Smoke Joke
    So Barack Obama still hasn't quite quit smoking yet, the Sun-Times reports.

    Coming Tuesday: What Does Obama Smoke? The Inside Story.

    How he holds his cigarette. How he blows out his smoke. How to smoke what he smokes how he smokes when he smokes.

    Plus, an interactive map of an Obama smoking tour of Chicago. His favorite places to smoke!

    Movie Tone
    Roger Ebert has compiled his Top 10 list for 2008, except that this year it's a Top 20 list. But most interesting is this:

    "Looking back over the list, I think most moviegoers will have heard of only about 11, because distribution has reached such a dismal state. I wrote to a reader about Shotgun Stories, 'I don't know if it will play in your town.' She wrote back, 'How about my state?'

    "This is a time when home video, Netflix and the good movie channels come to the rescue. My theory that you should see a movie on a big screen is sound, but utopian."

    Outback Payback
    "I went to Australia, despite my dislike of Luhrmann's oeuvre, because I felt his new movie shouldn't have to apologise for what it is - an oversized, rollicking, self-consciously absurd spin on outback mythology," writes our very own Rod Heath of Lithgow, Australia, at Ferdy on Films. "There was opportunity there to look at how far the cinema culture has come from the moronic Man from Snowy River (1982) and the other exercises in two-dimensional historicism. And yet I felt finally sickened by Australia, a film which tries far, far too hard, and proves that rather than having an ironic glint in its eye and a magician's touch to its spectacle, it's pure, unadorned, interminable, elephantine kitsch."

    News Bites
    "Bush at Army-Navy Game."

    Both teams lose.

    "Sarkozy meets Dalai Lama."

    So I'm on the first tee with him . . .

    "Don't shoplift for Christmas."

    By then it'll be too late. Start now.

    Angry Republic Workers

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Not Safe For Work.

    -

    UPDATE/MEMO 6 P.M.: The publisher of the Sun-Times weighs in on the Tribune Co.'s bankruptcy filing.

    *

    December 8, 2008


    Dear Sun-Times Media Group colleagues:

    Today the Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune and other print and broadcast outlets, announced that it filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. There may be some confusion as to what this means for them, and for us. I hope this note will answer some of your questions.

    The Tribune Co. has voluntarily filed to reorganize its business. Such a filing offers a way for a company to work with its creditors and vendors while management continues to run day-to-day business operations - in other words, it can give a company facing a tough financial situation some breathing room. In a press release today, the Tribune Co. said it filed because of "a precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy coupled with a credit crisis that makes it extremely difficult to support out debt."

    This does not mean the company or its newspapers or broadcast outlets are going out of business. The purpose of a Chapter 11 filing typically is to allow a company to reorganize with the goal of emerging as a viable, profitable business. The Tribune Co. said today that there will be no interruption to its day-to-day operations, including publishing its newspapers. It also said that its Chicago Cubs franchise, including Wrigley Field, is not included in the Chapter 11 filing and that it will continue its previously announced efforts to sell the team.

    We do not expect this filing to affect our distribution agreement with the Tribune. As you know, we signed a long-term contract with Chicago Tribune Co. last year to handle most of our Chicago Sun-Times and suburban newspaper delivery. Chicago Tribune Co. is bound by a legal contract to distribute most of our newspapers, and we expect that to continue without interruption.

    Sun-Times Media Group, as you well know, has faced difficult financial challenges in recent years, including the current tough print advertising environment. We continue to work toward stabilizing our operations and managing our costs during what has emerged as the most financially challenging period in the news industry's history. We are committed to remaining the Chicago area's best source of news and information, and we must stay focused on that goal. We are launching our second major wave of cost reductions early next year as part of the expense reduction plan of $45 million to $55 million we announced to our shareholders in November. Our goal, as we have previously said, is to be cash flow neutral while preparing for a future economic rebound.

    One of the great aspects about Chicago is that it has been served by two major dailies for years. We believe it is good for readers and advertisers for Chicago to continue to be a two-newspaper town, with our strong suburban titles delivering the local news and information our suburban customers want. The Chicago Tribune is a good competitor and we look forward to competing with them in the future.

    Cyrus Freidheim

    UPDATE: 6:30 P.M.: Here is the Tribune Co.'s press release from earlier today.

    TRIBUNE COMPANY PRESS RELEASE
    December 8, 2008

    Tribune Company to Voluntarily Restructure Debt Under Chapter 11
    * Publishing, Interactive and Broadcasting Businesses to Continue Operations
    * Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field Not Part of Chapter 11 Filing;
    Monetization Efforts to Continue

    CHICAGO, Dec. 8, 2008 -- Tribune Company today announced that it is voluntarily restructuring its debt obligations under the protection of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company will continue to operate its media businesses during the restructuring, including publishing its newspapers and running its television stations and interactive properties without interruption, and has sufficient cash to do so.

    The Chicago Cubs franchise, including Wrigley Field, is not included in the Chapter 11 filing. Efforts to monetize the Cubs and its related assets will continue.

    "Over the last year, we have made significant progress internally on transitioning Tribune into an entrepreneurial company that pursues innovation and stronger ways of serving our customers," said Sam Zell, chairman and CEO of Tribune. "Unfortunately, at the same time, factors beyond our control have created a perfect storm - a precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy coupled with credit crisis that makes it extremely difficult to support our debt.

    "We believe that this restructuring will bring the level of our debt in line with current economic realities, and will take pressure off our operations, so we can continue to work toward our vision of creating a sustainable, cutting-edge media company that is valued by our readers, viewers, and advertisers, and plays a vital role in the communities we serve. This restructuring focuses on our debt, not on our operations."

    The company filed today for Court approval of various, customary First-Day Motions, including: maintaining employee payroll and health benefits; the fulfillment of certain pre-filing obligations; the continuation of the Tribune's cash management system; the ability to honor all customer programs. The company anticipates its First-Day Motions will be approved in the next few days.

    While the company has sufficient cash to continue operations, to supplement its cash availability in the event of even more significant declines in its operating results, the company has negotiated an agreement with Barclays to maintain post-filing its existing securitization facility. Barclays has also agreed to provide a letter of credit facility. The company expects to submit these agreements to the Court for approval as part of its First Day Motions.

    Since going private last year, Tribune has re-paid approximately $1 billion of its senior credit facility.
    During this time, the company has been rewriting the business model for its media assets with the goal of
    building a sustainable, innovative, competitive company that provides relevant products for its customers and communities.

    For further information on Tribune Company's Chapter 11 filing, please visit Tribune.com or
    http://chapter11.epiqsystems.com/tribune.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

    Desired Depth Fishing!

    Any editorial comment or mention that you may give this press release would be greatly appreciated.

    INTRODUCING THE DESIRED DEPTH FISHER FISHING SYSTEM
    NEW HAMPSHIRE MAN INVENTS ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY TIME-SAVING FISHING GEAR

    CORNISH, NH - Whether fishing from shorelines of fresh or salt-water or trolling lakes and rivers the Desired Depth Fisher Multi-Tool Fishing System brings new meaning to fishing all the while helping to reduce fish line pollution. The design greatly reduces the loss of yards and yards of fish line compared to traditional fishing methods, when snagged. Only the loss of a short line to the hook or sinker results in lost line when snagged, which is not a common occurrence. Furthermore, the recovery time from a lost hook or sinker is roughly fifteen to thirty seconds. The D.D. Fisher Fishing System is the only product that addresses fish line pollution, directly benefiting our environment and waterways.

    Before the D.D. Fisher, Mr. Brasseur would say, "I saw the fish on the fish finder but I can't get the bait to them; there must be a better way!" Hence the development of the D.D.Fisher fishing system. This system took ten years of designing, building, testing and modifying before the D.D. arrived to the system it is today. Brasseur perfected the performance of the D.D. Fisher by developing three new products. He also added numerous accessory products, which are key elements for success. The three patent pending products are the E-Z Slide Trolling Sinker, The Bar Casting Sinker and the Wood and Rock Deflector used in combination with the D.D. Fisher is the most snag resistant to date.

    The D.D. Fisher multi-tool fishing system can be rigged to fish three different methods; tolling, casting or slip bobbing. The principle idea of the D.D. is to present the bait at a controlled depth so that it continuously remains at the fish's level thus improving your chances of catching fish. Mr. Brasseur sells his products as a starter kit, including an informative DVD in which Brasseur demonstrates each part of the system. He shares advice on how to get the most out of this new fishing system and shows many different species of fish being caught. Furthermore, the D.D. will allow you to fish in places you thought were impossible due to rock and wood debris.

    Sounds almost unbelievable all the things the D.D. Fisher fishing system can do. The proof can be seen by going to: www.ddfisher.net which contains a live fish catching video, the product information and the store that shows all of the products that make it so unique and so adaptable (thus the multi-tool). The bottom line is that nothing fishes like the D.D. Fisher fishing system or does it better period.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    Well, what's it gonna be, defensive line? Lovie (and defensive coordinator Bob Babich, I suppose, but really, this is all on the defensive-minded head coach) cannot be counted on to come up with a blitz package that creates any sort of consistent pressure when the front four can't do it. In fact, there isn't another coach in the league who is less likely to come up with that sort of scheme. So it will all come down to Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye at the ends (and Mark Anderson every once in a while) and some combination of Israel Idonije, Anthony Adams, Marcus Hamilton and Tommie Harris (listed in order of effectiveness against the Jaguars) in the middle this Thursday against New Orleans. Of course, when we say New Orleans, we mostly mean all-world quarterback Drew Brees (still on track, after Sunday's pulsating victory over Atlanta, to break Dan Marino's record for passing yardage in a single season). If the line can generate some pressure on Brees, especially early, the Bears will give themselves their best chance to win. If not, there will be a shootout . . . which the Bears might just win . . . if they can find a cure for the dropsy disease that has afflicted them of late. And if they can find a wide receiver other than Devin Hester who can create consistent space between himself and defensive backs.

    There are reasons for optimism. Lovie takes it easy on his guys in the pre-season and the regular season with these late-season games in mind. The simple idea is that the Bears will have more left in their tank down the stretch. It is also that guys will be less likely to get hur,t and for the third time in the last four seasons the Bears head into the season's final few games with decidedly fewer injuries than average. Unfortunately the reasons for pessimism are more compelling. And No. 1 on that list is the fact that in their last three big games, against Minnesota, Green Bay and Tennessee, the line has been found lacking - very lacking.

    We're looking forward again today - distasteful as it may be as opposed to conducting the usual post-game post-mortem - because the Jaguars simply weren't good enough on Sunday to make the game matter. Actually, Jacksonville's defense was good enough to say the home team's offense accomplished something by scoring 23 points (to 10 for the Jaguars). Except 23 points almost certainly won't be enough against New Orleans. And of those 23 points, seven resulted from the early interception that gave the Bears the ball at the Jaguar 5 and three more from Devin Hester busting out an actual impact return and putting the offense in business inside the 25.

    I felt as though the lead had to be about the future, but there is still plenty of day-after news:

    * There was no sign of the 'Cane or Cajun offensive set on Sunday. Those are the ones that feature direct snaps to either Hester (the former Miami Hurricane) or Matt Forte (who played his college ball at Tulane in Louisiana) that the Bears copied from the Dolphins. Side note: there were a few reports during the past few weeks that the Bears had been working on plays out of these formations since training camp, i.e. that they decided it might be a good idea to use them at the same time the Dolphins, who busted it out immediately this fall, did. Sure you did, Bears. Sure. Anyway, the Bears not using this stuff on Sunday is a good thing - because those formations require that Kyle Orton head to the sideline. And whatever the Bears might do in the last quarter of the season to try to shake things up, it absolutely should not involve Orton sitting out even one play.

    * Did the Bears run one sweep on Sunday? I don't think so. If Forte can't run outside effectively - and there has been more evidence in support of that assessment this season than against - the Bears need to give the ball to someone who can, at least a couple times a game. Garrett Wolfe was a possibility before Sunday but he went out early with, what, a pulled hamstring? Even better would be Hester. If he can line up in the backfield in the modified Wildcat formation, surely he can do so behind Kyle Orton and take a pitch or three. How about some sort of two-back set with Forte, at least for a few plays, serving as the lead blocker? Get on it, Ron Turner.

    * For a long time Sunday, it looked like the Vikings might just do it. They might just blow their game with winless Detroit and not only fall back into a tie with the Bears atop the NFC North but also put themselves in prime position to lose the second tiebreaker (divisional record - the teams split their games but if the Vikings had lost, the Bears would have finished a game ahead in the division with a win over the Packers in two weeks). But Minnesota didn't quite choke itself to death, taking advantage of the dubious presence of the Williamses at defensive tackle and a few other factors to pull out an embarrassingly close decision (20-16). A judge in Minnesota ruled last week that Kevin and Pat Williams should be allowed to play despite the existence of a collectively bargained NFL policy stating that if players were caught with the substance that the Williams' were caught with in their urine (a diuretic that can mask steroid use), the players would be suspended. But the judge felt the need to stop the NFL from suspending the players involved, at least for a week. What do we know about this judge's football allegiances? Anyway, if the Bears only win two of their last three, the Vikings will have to lose all three for the Bears to win the division (the third tiebreaker is conference record - the Vikings are 6-3 in the NFC and the Bears are 5-5).

    * When the Cowboys lost to the Steelers in improbable fashion Sunday afternoon (after leading 13-3 in the fourth quarter) and the Redskins went down against the Ravens in the evening, visions of an unlikely Bears wild card run danced about in my head - briefly. The loser of Monday night's NFC South showdown - Carolina versus Tampa Bay, will be in the driver's seat for the first wild card at 9-4. Then there are the other teams (besides Dallas) with five losses: Philadelphia and Atlanta (both wild cards could very well come from the NFC South - I guarantee no one predicted that would happen before the season). The bottom line is, the Bears will have a shot at a wild card if they run the table and finish 10-6. But if they do that, I'll still bet the Vikings lose two of their last three and the Bears win the division. If the Bears finish 9-7, they are a long, long shot for post-season action.

    * Mr. Hester, you are . . . an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, at least partially hidden by flying chunks of Soldier Field turf. Several big gains in the passing game for the wide receiver formerly known as ridiculous, at least two of which led to points, and one bright, shining punt return that did the same, were more than offset by two muffed punts and one drop in particular (on a third-down play in the third quarter that had big-gainer written all over it). Over on the radio in the first half, Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer were calling for patience with Hester, in particular with his efforts at wide receiver. But that was before the two muffed punts. Two! And oh by the way, we're officially done with calling for Hester to return to kickoff return duties - right everybody?

    * Yet another embarrassing game for the Chicago Park District, the folks who are responsible for the field in Soldier Fielf. Analyst Dan Dierdorf, who along with play-by-play man Greg Gumbel made numerous references to substandard turf marring yet another Bear game, also made mention of a recent re-sod, a re-sod that was clearly ineffective. Of course, there has been at least one re-sod per season at Soldier Field for the past six years or so and none of them have resulted in turf even close to worthy of high-level professional sporting competition. The fields where the kids play football in my neighborhood, at Revere and Welles Park, are better than Soldier Field. And those fields suck. They are better than Soldier Field because at least the many patches that feature more dirt than grass give kids better traction. When teams re-sod late in the season, the grass never puts down significant roots and it will not hold. Hey CPD (this means you superintendent Tim Mitchell), one option is calling in Roger Bossard, the longtime White Sox groundskeeper who took bulldozers to the playing surface at Wrigley recently, rehabbing a field that desperately needed it and earning universal acclaim. Announce the Bears will pay whatever Mr. Bossard believes is appropriate to engage his services and to field respectable turf next time around. The other option is to switch to field turf; the latest in plastic grass now installed at all the finest fields where groundskeepers can't seem to maintain a decent playing surface.

    This Bears team would be better off playing on the fake stuff. We'll know so much more about the genuineness of its playoff aspirations in only a few more days.

    -

    Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 AM | Permalink

    December 6, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    It's getting downright biblical out there. The Weekend Desk is on-hand to monitor the developments.

    Exodus
    America's troubles deepened this week with news that we face a massive downturn in the previously thriving cheap plastic women sector. Fortunately, the crisis has yet to impact related industries such as tactless douche bags.

    Judges
    We'd let you write your own punch line on this one, but it'd be awfully hard to improve on the original.

    Lamentations
    Yes, yes, yes. The Weekend Desk is excited by the prospect of Change and its attendant pageantry like everyone else. But let's face it. Our job is about to get much more difficult.

    Acts
    Or perhaps not, as president-elect Obama used his weekly radio address to announce an ambitious scheme to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure using Ron Huberman's magical pony. Hub for Transportation Secretary, anyone?

    Revelations
    Finally this week, now that the Big Three Horsemen - Conquest, War and Pestilence - have ridden up to Capitol Hill, lawmakers anxiously await visits from the following dark characters:

    A. Merger
    B. Concession
    C. Incompetence
    D. Sandy Levin


    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    December 5, 2008

    What I Watched Last Night: The Secret Millionaire / Part 1

    There's a point in the Christmas-time film Trading Places where Billy Ray Valentine turns to Louis Winthorp III and says, "You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people." That's sort of the idea behind each hour-long episode of Fox-TV's new reality-based program, The Secret Millionaire, which premiered this week with back-to-back episodes

    I say it's sort of the idea because here the rich people get turned into poor people on purpose. And after a week, they get turned back into rich people.

    The mission, according to the program's intro (which captures all the glitz and glamor of being a Carrington for anyone who might have missed Dynasty 20 years ago) is for everyday multi-millionaires to voluntarily trade their lives of splendor for one that sends them into some of the worst neighborhoods to live just like the poor, the desperate, and the downtrodden who inhabit them. Relieved of anything they could easily hock at a pawn shop (or be relieved of at gunpoint), they're dressed in whatever's appropriate for the surroundings and dropped off with $100 or so in cash to live on for a week. In that time, they have to meet any number of genuinely needy people to give away at least $100,000 of their own money to - but under no circumstances can they tell anyone that they have more money than God.

    At week's end, they re-appear as the rich people they are to let everyone know they've been lied to in return for a huge chunk of change that'll make an actual difference in their lives. "The mission is to change lives. Will they survive?" the show asks. When your existence appears to be built around keeping Harry Winston and the whole luxury car industry afloat, that's a good question that might possibly translate into some pretty good TV.

    Aw, hell. You know damn well it's going to be pretty good TV.

    In the first installment, we meet gazillionaire California law firm founder Greg Ruzicka, a self-described "anxiety-ridden, driven, intense" fellow who earned his first million at age 32 and has managed since then to earn more millions than there are stars in the sky. In his spare time, he amasses an impressive collection of Aston Martins, private jets, homes in Newport Beach and Maui, and blahblahblahblahblah. His law firm specializes in bankruptcy and foreclosure, so business is - gee, surprise - "incredibly good right now." Greg doesn't say whether he feasts upon the blood of banks or the common citizenry losing its shirt, but when you're able to lease a castle in Ireland for your son's 15th birthday party and jet in everyone on the guest list, it probably doesn't matter which leprechaun owns that pot of gold at the end of your rainbow.

    The primary benefactor of that pot of gold is Greg's son Cole, a likable 22-year-old who spends a good part of his day playing guitar, surfing, and skateboarding. He comments that his dad's so rich, he's not even going to bother trying to match him. It's not that Cole's a slacker short on ambition; it's just that his dad's in a filthy-rich league of his own and trying to match it would be like trying to outdo Jesus by turning jugs of water into jugs of crack instead of wine.

    "Not everyone has had the blessings he's had," Greg says of Cole, so you know what that means. Yup! The kid's going to be going along for the ride to Hellhole City, USA - which for the Ruzicka boys lies a short yacht-ride down the California coast to Imperial Beach, a place where nobody can seem to make up their mind whether the beach should be used as a garbage dump or a sewage dump. In the meantime, a chunk of its residents live below wherever the poverty line is drawn for communities with ruined economies.

    Flush with $150 in cash, the Ruzickas wander into town looking bedraggled enough to fit in with the aluminum-can collecting crowd (after a few days without his razor, Greg is well on his way to resembling Mr. Gower, the druggist from It's A Wonderful Life) but not reeky enough where everyone who encounters them makes sure they stay upwind. Housing choices are pretty slim for newcomers of their ilk, so the boys settle on a roach/termite/silverfish-infested crap hole that'll set them back $57 a day - paid in advance each morning, of course. "As long as you pay every day, you can stay," says the manager. "It's not the Taj Mahal." No shit, Sherlock.

    Sensing impending financial doom with less than $100 left, Greg announces they must find jobs. Cole dives right into the swing of the whole jobless/homeless thing by seeing no point in setting an alarm clock for the next morning. A notice for construction work available sends them on the road to a fulfilling career demolishing drywall once Greg gets done spending three hours trying to figure out how to put on a dust mask and keep a hard hat on his head.

    In their travels, they become partial to three potential targets to inherit some unexpected good fortune:

    * Linda, the construction demolition manager. She broke her back in several places after touching a live electrical wire and fell off a roof. Uninsured, found herself homeless for a year after her medical bills bankrupted her. She's now just getting back on her feet, and spends a part of her weekend mornings working at the same church soup kitchen that helped her survive. She might look like someone crossed a coal miner with a biker chick who has seen too many miles, but a hard life hasn't squeezed all the decency and goodness out of her.

    * Kathy, a woman who runs a boarding house for homeless women and children out of her home. She once openly ridiculed the homeless, but now she spends her Social Security checks supporting them. "God has a sense of humor," Kathy says.

    * Emily Rose, a little girl undergoing chemo treatments for bone cancer. Her parents, not surprisingly, work for small companies that offer no insurance benefits, so they rely on spare-change donations from cans placed on the counters of various neighborhood businesses.

    Deciding how to dole out at least $100,000 of your own cash is apparently not as easy as it sounds, as Greg and Cole are seen spending what seems to be an entire night making lists of potential recipients and checking them twice because, well, a hundred grand only goes so far and you can't help everyone who needs it. But they get through it and show up in tailored suits and a Mercedes minivan to let everyone in on the big lie and present them with a nice personal check. I wouldn't have thought the super-rich actually write personal checks these days, but I'm not super rich, so what do I know? What I do know, though, is that if you tell someone like Linda that you've spent a whole week lying to her, you shouldn't be too surprised if she actually does shank you in the gut with a broken beer bottle instead of just looking like she'd want to.

    In the end, Linda got $25,000 and Kathy and Emily Rose's parents each got $50,000. As you might expect, the reactions to being handed a check for that much cash out of the blue ranged from a lot of speechless and tears to Linda expending a lot of effort trying to give the check back. What I didn't expect, though, is that the Ruzickas (and Todd and Gwen Graves, in the following episode) seemed to genuinely find a lot of pleasure in giving their own money away to complete strangers they'd never have any reason to meet otherwise.

    And let me tell you, if you don't get at least a little choked up at least once in the last 10 minutes of the show, there's definitely something seriously amiss with you.

    -

    Up next in Part 2: Louisiana's chicken-finger king goes trailering in Katrina Country.

    -

    See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:46 PM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

    In the battle of Nature vs. Nurture, Nature took a bigger beating than the Bears. In court documents, Urlacher's baby momma contends that Urlacher confuses his son by painting his son's fingernails and dressing him in pink pull-ups.

    Normally, such an allegation leaves the battle of Nature vs. Nurture a draw, until you find out the confusion that is the Bears' defensive scheme. If left in Chicago's scheme for three years, even the Marlboro Man would drop his trail-worn boots for Gucci shoes. You be the judge:

    * In team huddles, the defense is to chant "1-2-3 Care Bears!"

    * Defensive personnel package names: "Rainbow Bright," "Strawberry Shortcake", and "My Little Pony."

    * Plays are diagrammed using empty plastic tea cups. Lovie's favorite doll, Mr. Meansley, signifies the crowd.

    * To help motivate the squad at halftime, defensive coordinator Bob Babich rips the head off a Barbie. But he puts it right back because Lovie would be very, very disappointed with such behavior.

    * When explaining a defensive concept, Lovie rhetorically asks "WWZED"? (What Would Zac Efron Do?)

    * No tackling in Madden practice either.

    * Videotape sessions include lessons learned from Dora the Explorer.

    -

    Jaguars at Bears
    Storyline: Both teams expected to compete for their division's title. Both teams made poopsies in their pants.

    Reality: In the case of Chicago, their pink pull-up diapers are fresher.

    Prediction: Chicago Minus 7 Points, Under 41 Points Scored

    -

    Sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 40%
    Recommended sugar in the Blue & Orange Kool-Aid: 25%

    -

    Over/Under: The Super Bowl match-up is already set.

    -

    Fantasy Fix: What a first-place team looks like.

    -

    Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. You can send him love letters and hate mail and he will respond graciously.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:43 PM | Permalink

    The [Friday] Papers

    Wyma wore a wire.

    [UPDATE 12/8: Or did he?]

    No wonder Rod Blagojevich is already laying the groundwork for a pardon. It's almost a foregone conclusion that he's going to jail.

    "Federal investigators recently made covert tape recordings of Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the most dramatic step yet in their corruption investigation of him and his administration," the Tribune is reporting in an exclusive.

    "As part of this undercover effort, one of the governor's closest confidants and former aides cooperated with investigators, and that assistance helped lead to recordings of the governor and others, sources said.

    "The cooperation of John Wyma, 42, one of the state's most influential lobbyists, is the most stunning evidence yet that Blagojevich's once-tight inner circle appears to be collapsing under the pressure of myriad pay-to-play inquiries.

    "Wyma, Blagojevich's chief of staff when he was in Congress, has long been one of the few advisers trusted by Blagojevich and kept in the loop on matters of policy and politics."

    Can we just start the transition now?

    The Mayor's Meter Management
    "As expected, the full City Council signed off on Mayor Daley's plan to lease the city's parking meters to an assortment of private interests led by Morgan Stanley," Mick Dumke reports at Clout City. "Since word of the deal first emerged - a whole three days ago - the dramatic fee hikes that will result have pissed off people around the city. But as annoying, and potentially burdensome, as they are, they're not half the story."

    And after you read what Mick politely describes as "a few other points worth reiterating," please try to curb your instinct to run outside and take a sledgehammer to the parking meter nearest you.

    Or, on the other hand, go for it.

    Council Follies
    * The vote was 40-5 in favor of the mayor's deal. The No votes came from Toni Preckwinkle, Scott Waguespack, Billy Ocasio, Leslie Hairston, and Rey Colon.

    * "Preckwinkle and Hairston said they did not have enough time to consider the measure, which Daley aides presented to aldermen Tuesday. Giving such quick approval makes aldermen 'partners in our own marginalization,' Preckwinkle said."

    * Dick Mell called the deal "a once-in-a-lifetime shot to grab this pool of money."

    Really? I wasn't aware that the offer expired at midnight Thursday.

    * Brendan Reilly "said many drivers abuse low rates by feeding meters four times to cover their entire workday."

    So now they'll have to "abuse" high rates?

    * Reilly also said "For those people who chose to drive downtown and avail themselves of these metered parking spaces, we're happy to have you, but you need to pay a fair-market rate."

    Agreed. What's the fair-market rate for a downtown meter on Sunday when you've got dozens of available spots to choose from?

    Status Update
    By John Kuczaj at 3 p.m. Thursday:

    "John is hoping the Mayor of Chicago will sell the Michigan Avenue planters next."

    Potato Principle
    "The politicians are crooks!" Diane Hamernik of Wood Dale tells John Kass. "They nickel-and-dime everyone to death and you don't notice. That's how they get away with it."

    Bless Hamernik's heart. She's fighting the Toll Authority over 30 cents. It is the principle. And she's doing it for all of us.

    CORRECTION 4:19 P.M.: It wasn't Diane Hamernik, the subject of Kass's column, who said "The politicians are crooks . . . ", it was Kass's mother. Apologies to everyone involved!

    People, Please!
    Aren't you tired of everyone trying to screw you? Is this really the way we want to live?

    *

    Thanks, Consumer World!

    *

    I was recently waiting for AAA to come help me with a car problem when I ducked into Lucia's on North and Honore to get a soda. I grabbed a 12-oz. Diet Coke out of the refrigerator, went to the counter, and the lady said "$1.10."

    What?

    "$1.10."

    For a can of Coke?

    "How do you sleep at night?" I asked.

    "This is a restaurant, not a liquor store," she said.

    Wha?

    "Okay, I'll just go down to the liquor store then," I said, as I put the can back.

    The liquor store is on the same block, and they charged me $1.19 for a 16-oz. Diet Coke. I was happy to pay it.

    Even an economy - as we are now seeing for the umpteenth time - has to have principles.

    *

    Small businesses in particular should learn the value of the lifetime customer.

    *

    I was also recently at the Lavazza Cafe on Ohio Street downtown and watched the entire staff chat in front of me for about 10 minutes before I asked, "Um, am I gonna get my coffee any time soon?"

    They weren't even apologetic.

    Be consumers, people. It's just like being a citizen.

    *

    Hamernik is right. It's not about the money. It's about dignity and humanity.

    Shower Boy
    "Mayor Daley's $163,656-a-year budget director abruptly resigned Thursday, leaving a giant void as Chicago struggles to survive its worst financial crisis in recent history," the Sun-Times reports.

    I'd like to say good riddance to Bennett Johnson III, but what's the difference? He'll just be replaced by another tool. Here's what I mean.

    "Johnson made headlines in February when he installed a $5,400 shower in his City Hall office just weeks after pushing through a budget that raised taxes fines and fees by $293 million, including the largest property tax increase in Chicago history."

    Said Johnson: "People just don't get where I come from. In the private sector, you get private showers and private gym memberships. It's just what I'm used to. That's why I didn't think it was such a big deal."

    Burge Buckshot
    The Fraternal Order of Police continues to burnish its well-earned reputation in Chicago. Bravo.

    Big 3 B.S.
    So this time the Big 3 CEOs drove to Washington to beg Congress for money instead of flying private jets. Should they get brownie points for better managing their stagecraft? Besides, they should have just flown commercial like normal people.

    *

    Inside the Bailout: A Beachwood Exclusive.

    Literally
    I can't remember if I put this on the site or just sent it around via e-mail, and I'm actually too lazy (long week) to do a search and find out right now. This is one of at least three "literal videos" out there that I've seen, and easily the best. In fact, it's brilliant.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Worth every penny.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week

    1. RIP, Bratz. I, for one, am going to miss all four of these anime-eyed Pussycat Dolls that inspired their very own American Psychological Association Task Force to investigate their effects on young girls.

    And who can forget Bratz: The Movie, with Jon Voight's Oscar-worthy performance as Principal Dimly? Or those killjoys,
    the National Child's Labor Committee, who claim that Bratz are manufactured in a Chinese sweatshop where women work a 94.5 hour work for $.52 an hour. And perky little Karaoke Jade Bratz, who dropped something that sounded a lot like the F-bomb*, to the consternation of parents everywhere. Next: Little Miss Trailer Trash.

    *

    -

    2. Speaking of dolls, the fashion world is eager to play Barbie with Michelle Obama, second-guessing her duds for the January inaugural. This is soooooo sexist - I mean, doesn't anybody care what Barack will wear? I have a suggestion if he decides not to go black tie.

    3. Wondering what to bring to your office potluck? It takes balls to serve something like this.

    And how about a side of Dancer, Prancer and Blitzen?

    4. Bail out the Big 3? Oh, why not. And, to quote John McCain, I know just how to do it: Buy them a year's supply of lottery tickets.

    5. It's official: Spencer Pratt says he did not drug Heidi Montag into marrying him. And why the hell do I know who Heidi and Spencer are when I've never watched their lamebrained show? I accidentally learned about them while reading loftier subject matter, like Gordon Ramsay's extramarital affairs.



    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 AM | Permalink

    The Periodical Table: Sex, Craps, Mickey Rourke and the Great American Meltdown

    An occasional look through the magazines laying around Beachwood HQ.

    Teen Scream
    Sociologist Mike Males pretty much rules. Every journalist in America ought to get a lecture from him to find out why nearly everything they write about teens, for example, is wrong. The great thing about Males is that A) he bases his conclusions on hard facts and B) he doesn't perceive teenagers as irrational aliens.

    In the New Yorker, Males responds to an article about teenage pregnancy with a letter to the editor that opens this way:

    "Margaret Talbot, in writing about teen-age pregnancy, focuses on sex and abstinence education, religion and media messages ('Red Sex, Blue Sex,' November 3rd).

    "The main reason that the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among comparable nations, however, is that youth here suffer the highest rate of poverty."

    As usual, he has the research to back him up, which, curiously enough, is far more dependable than the ready-made narratives of journalists projecting their own family problems on their readers.

    Electoral Math
    Christopher Browne of Brooklyn - and the editors of the Times magazine - doesn't take into account that the voting-age population grew by an estimated 10 million people between 2004 and 2008. Just sayin'.

    (For example, consider: Al Gore won 50,999,897 votes in 2000; John McCain won 59,778,537 votes in 2008. The important numbers are per capita.)

    Dice Man
    "For the gambler, dice have long been the best machine with which to turn a small amount of energy into a large amount of uncertainty," Mattathias Schwartz writes in Harper's. "For the philosopher, there is no handier piece of rhetoric with which to evoke the foggy relations between God and universe, universe and man, or man and his own affairs. And so as I watched two members of the Golden Touch Craps team construct a dice pit in a windowless conference room of the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, I could not help but feel as though I were witnessing the creation of a universe, a green, felt-covered, racetrack-shaped cosmos where the dice are subject to the will of man and the men, therefore, are gods."

    I can't afford to gamble much anymore, but when I am in Vegas, craps is my game.

    And like many others, I once found myself at a table with Dennis Rodman. He was on a hot streak and we were all doing quite well until he rolled a six. That was his point. "Give me a Pippen! Give me a Pippen!" he screamed. Scottie Pippen's number was 33.

    Rodman crapped out and it was over. Good times, though.

    Mickey's Slip
    "By the late 1980s, in [Mickey] Rourke's second act, he was a famous leading man in a string of bad movies that continued through the '90s," Pat Jordan writes in the Times magazine. "What makes Rourke's choices astounding is knowing what movies he is said to have turned down: 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, Pulp Fiction, Platoon, Rain Man, The Silence of the Lambs, Top Gun, Tombstone."

    Wow. And you think you have regrets . . .

    Freak Show
    "Two teams of extrasolar planet-hunters report that they have achieved a long-sought milestone: obtaining the first undisputed images of planets orbiting stars beyond the solar system," Science News reports.

    I don't know how we live each day knowing that there's a huge unknowable universe out there. It freaks me out, man.

    Celebrity Rehab
    "Wonderland charges forty-eight thousand dollars a month for a shared room and fifty-eight thousand dollars for a single room, and does not take insurance," the New Yorker reports.

    Got Milk?
    "Milk is a rowdy anthem of triumph, brought to an abrupt halt by Milk's personal tragedies and the unfathomable moral chaos of Dan White," David Denby writes.

    White served only five years in prison; he committed suicide two years after he was released.

    Anatomy of a Meltdown
    "It is now evident that self-regulation failed."

    As it has throughout human history.

    But even the regulators who were in place failed; John Cassidy's much-talked about account of how our economy fell off a cliff does not flatter Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who seemed mostly in the dark about both the roots and scope of the crisis. Alan Greenspan, too, is a stunning combination of naïvete, stubborness, and ideological rigidity.

    *

    "Well, we did it again," Henry Blodget writes in The Atlantic. "Only eight years after the last big financial boom ended in disaster, we're now in the migraine hangover of an even bigger one - a global housing and debt bubble whose bursting has wiped out tens of trillions of dollars of wealth and brought the world to the edge of a second Great Depression.

    "Millions have lost their houses. Millions more have lost their retirement savings. Tens of millions have had their portfolios smashed. And the carnage in the "real economy" has only just begun.

    "What the hell happened? After decades of increasing financial sophistication, weren't we supposed to be done with these things? Weren't we supposed to know better?

    "Yes, of course. Every time this happens, we think it will be the last time. But it never will be."

    Blodget's article is titled "Why Wall Street Always Blows It," but he says we're all to blame.

    I'm not, though. I mean, I didn't do anything wrong. So I'm not sure what he means by "we," but I suspect he means dumb typical American drones. In other words, "the people."

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 AM | Permalink

    December 4, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    A profile in audacity. Is the case finally closed?

    Kenya Or Bust
    "Back in 2006, Obama visited Kenya and railed about wholesale political corruption there that robbed the people of their right to honest government," John Kass writes.

    "Then, he was campaigning for president of the United States as a reformer, though he forgot to mention that if elected, he'd bring half of Chicago's Daley Machine to the White House."

    Scorecard
    In case you're keeping score at home, Lisa Madigan and the Lake County sheriff have now weighed in against commuting George Ryan's sentence.

    Comments
    1. From Kevin B. O'Reilly:

    Didn't Durbin have his staffers do a search of the entire federal prison rolls to identify all the 70-plus-year-old nonviolent offenders who have served only a fraction of their sentences and have ailing spouses at home? I mean, I assume Ryan's the only one who fit the bill. That's the way it happened, right? Right?

    2. From Brian Rhodes:

    I just heard that President Bush is going to pardon both the White Sox and the Cubs for their performances in last year's playoffs.

    Compare and Contrast
    The city is offering a six-week parking ticket amnesty in which you get 50 percent off your fines, which is less of a break on your penalty than George Ryan would be getting if he is let out of prison one year into a six-and-a-half year sentence.

    Meter Madness
    "During a 3-1/2 hour hearing, Finance Committee members complained about everything from rates that sock it to motorists and a requirement that meters be fed seven days a week, including holidays, to allowing the private operator to write parking tickets as frequently as every two hours at two-hour meters," the Sun-Times reports.

    And then committee members approved the 75-year deal with only one dissenting vote. So what was the point?

    *

    The lone dissenting vote, by the way, was cast by Ald. Ray Suarez (31st). Apparently he drew the short straw this time that Billy Ocasio drew last time.

    *

    Ray Suarez?

    Meter Mania
    And on the seventh day, Chicago motorists had to feed meters too. And holidays. Welcome to the world of Chicago Parking Meters LLC!

    Something in the company's press release jumped out at me, though:

    "The City retains all power and authority to set rates and periods of stay and operation for all of the parking meters in the System."

    Huh? Then what's this all about?

    Mega Meter
    "A council committee gave preliminary approval to Daley's plan Wednesday, with alderman complaining they had just 72 hours to consider the deal."

    Believe me, that's 72 hours more than the mayor had to give them to get his deal passed. Why even call the meetings anymore?

    *

    "Why is every billion-dollar deal an 'emergency'?" the Tribune editorial page asks today.

    Because we're at war?

    *

    "If we did not have this, this budget would be way out of whack," Daley said.

    Shouldn't that be your problem, Mr. Mayor?

    *

    Does Daley Hate Drivers?

    *

    I'd rather the city just send me a bill every year - call it a driving surtax - instead of making me go through the hassle of feeding meters and dodging permit parking zones and fighting with the bureaucracy over one stupid thing or another every year.

    Or fix the CTA so I can drive that much less.

    *

    I'm pretty sure I heard on Chicago Tonight last night that some aldermen were handed the text of the deal just minutes before debate started.

    The show also showed video of Ald. Ike Carothers asking city officials to break down the Goldbergian ownership chart presented to the finance committee and identify at least one human being involved in the deal.

    And Ed Burke asked, "Does the Law Department want us to do business with entities that, No. 1, we can't figure out?"

    Yes. Yes they do. That's the point.

    *

    "Private investors from Australia and Spain paid the City of Chicago $1.83 billion for a 99-year lease on a toll bridge three years ago. The State of Indiana took in $3.8 billion for its main toll route. Governors in New York and Florida, desperate for cash, are considering similar deals," the Boston Globe reports this week.

    "Now, as Massachusetts ponders leasing the turnpike and the Big Dig tunnels to the highest bidder, questions are being raised about whether an abundant short-term gain would outweigh the long-term loss of one of the state's most valuable assets with the likelihood of frequent, incremental toll increases for decades to come."

    Music Media
    "Pitchfork Media, the hipper-than-thou music site, may still consider itself too cool to bother reviewing the occasional over-hyped indie rock album," Ad Age reports. "But the Chicago-based indie empire has opted to let the folks at Fader Media into its exclusive club, via a new strategic content and ad sales partnership."

    Lovie Less
    The Trib notes today that the Bears are 9-10 in December under Lovie Smith.

    Odetta
    "Odetta, the classically trained folk, blues and gospel singer who used her powerfully rich and dusky voice to champion African American music and civil rights issues for more than half a century starting in the folk revival of the 1950s, has died. She was 77," the Los Angeles Times reports.

    "She was said to have influenced the emergence of artists as varied as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin and Tracy Chapman.

    "'The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta,' Dylan once said. 'From Odetta, I went to Harry Belafonte, the Kingston Trio, little by little uncovering more as I went along'."

    1. WATER BOY

    -

    2. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Shine a light.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    Inside The Big 3 Bailout

    The Big 3 automakers this week released some details about how they would restructure themselves should the federal government grant them a humongous bailout. For example, GM said that Pontiac would become a niche brand, and Saab would likely be sold. Ford said it would double the number of its flex fuel vehicles by 2010. And Chrysler said it would produce a fully functional electric car, also by 2010. The Beachwood Bureau of Fading Industries, however, has obtained documents that show the automakers have far more drastic changes in the works.

    GM
    * Will actually put the Canyonero into production.

    * Will sue to collect royalties from Bruce Springsteen for "Cadillac Ranch."

    * Will hire Michael Moore to make another documentary about them; this time it will be called Congress & Me.

    * Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will trade in his private Japanese jet for one made in America.

    * Workers will now be paid by redefined "hours" that equal 90 minutes.

    * Will partner with ComEd on its electric car, the Chevrolet Volt. Illinois ratepayers will subsidize its development.

    * Will give away a Buick to every American over 65.

    * Wagoner will ask President Bush to help out before he leaves office. "You think you could create one more war that whips up irrational nationalistic fervor? You know, for old times sake? Those wars really sell American cars."

    * Saturns will be retrofitted to replace NASA's aging shuttle fleet.

    * Promises to hire "Vince from Sham-Wow" as Vice President of Sales.

    Ford
    * Inspired by its founder's invention of automobile mass production, Ford will reproduce federal bailout money on a high-speed, digital conveyor belt, thus reducing manufacturing costs while increasing revenues.

    * Ford CEO Alan Mulally will write an open letter to the American people urging them to buy his cars. He will use the "abusive husband approach" by starting the letter by saying "Come on baby, you know I didn't mean to manufacture all those crappy, fuel inefficient vehicles."

    * Ford in touch with Russian morticians who worked on Stalin's corpse to see if they can "do something like that" with founder Henry Ford if they dig him up and charge admission to see him.

    * Barring that, Ford will relent and start hiring Jews.

    * New pitchman: Gerald Ford.

    * First gimmick: Ford will "pardon" management and claim our national nightmare is over. Plus, 0 percent financing for the remainder of his term.

    * Promises to no longer employ one lobbyist per gallon.

    * Mulally agrees to work for $1.25 a year - so he has some change left over after buying a cheeseburger.

    * Will market new subprime vehicles suitable for living in.

    * Promises to hire "Vince from Sham-Wow" as Vice President of Sales.

    Chrysler
    * Fortunately, CEO Bob Nardelli has just come into some money thanks to a carmaker in Nigeria he knows.

    * Nardelli agrees to work for $1 a year. Canadian.

    * Will rename company "Toyota."

    * Will bank future on new Monster Truck Division.

    * Will kidnap Lee Iacocca; family pays Chrysler not to give him back.

    * Will launch the Bailout Wagon. After "purchase" of the car, someone else pays for it. Comes in two colors: Green and dark green.

    * Auto executives cooperate on the development of an energy-efficient vehicle, dubbed "The Golden Parachute." Powered by easy-to-manufacture paper banknotes, the car takes off cleanly, provides a cushiony ride, and rides quietly to a heavily forested, though undisclosed, destination.

    * Will ask Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to have Car Savior Week so Big 3 chairmen can use winnings to pay back bailout money.

    * Will unveil their newest alternative energy vehicle, the C-car. This car requires no gasoline at all. It runs on U.S. currency.

    * Promises to hire "Vince from Sham-Wow" as Vice President of Sales

    - Scott Buckner, Eric Emery, Marilyn Ferdinand, Marty Gangler, Rick Kaempfer, Brian Rhodes, Steve Rhodes

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:56 AM | Permalink

    Over/Under

    On June 30th, I wrote an e-mail to two friends stating that the Minnesota Vikings would win their division. After the Vikings 34-14 drubbing of the Bears, my crazy prediction might come true. As a public service, I thought I'd let you all in on other predictions I made on that day.

    * Barack Obama will win the presidency and name Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. He will proceed to send her on very long diplomatic trips to faraway places, some not even on this planet.

    * Problems in the subprime mortgage market will ripple throughout the economy, eventually leading the Big Three automakers to seek a bailout from the federal government. The CEOs will arrive in Washington via private plane.

    * After a poor holiday shopping season, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will close at -242.08 in early January. The NFL will force the Tennessee Titans out of the playoffs in the national economic interest and order the following playoff match-ups: the Packers vs. the Jets; the Steelers vs. the automakers; the Colts vs. the Giants; and the Patriots vs. the NFC Pro Bowl team. The Giants and Jets will then play in the Super Bowl. The Lingerie Bowl Championship will be held at halftime.

    * Fox News partners with TMZ to create two new shows: TMZ-Clinton, which will report on everything conspiratorial within 30 miles of Bill Clinton; and The O Files, which will document every way possible in the universe that Barack Obama could still be a socialist, terrorist, or space alien.

    * Keith Olbermann will continue to make it about him.

    * The NFL will partner with Dr. Drew to create two new reality TV shows. My guess: The Wall of Williams. and Plaxico's BFF.

    * John McCain will lead an effort in the Senate to revoke Alaska's statehood. Sarah Palin will move to Arizona and run for McCain's Senate seat.

    * After faltering late in the season, Bears fans will turn to the Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, and White Sox, only to watch those teams falter late in the season.

    OverHyped Game of the Week: Eagles at Giants
    Storyline: In a surprise comment, the normally self-righteous Fox analyst Joe Buck states "if I had a nickel every time I shot my own thigh after stowing my handgun in the band of my sweatpants . . . "

    Reality: How many ways do you really have to explain that a guy is a fucking idiot?

    Prediction: New York Giants Minus 7.5 Points, Under 45.5 Points Scored

    *

    UnderHyped Game of the Week: Cowboys at Steelers
    Storyline: During ESPN's Countdown, Chris Berman drones on about the greats that played for the Cowboys and the Steelers. You soon realize that his normally cliche introduction is an incantation and Chris Berman reveals himself to be an evil necromancer. The incantation replaces Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger with infamous QBs Babe Laufenberg and Bubby Brister.

    Reality: Even if you lined meup in running back, this game still wouldn't stink.

    Prediction: Steelers Minus 3 Points, Under 41.5 Points Scored

    *

    Last week's picks: 1-1
    For the season: 30-20-4

    -

    Eric Emery grew up in small-town Illinois but has an irrational love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Every week he writes The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report and Over/Under. He also is a spark plug in floor hockey. You can reach him here.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:48 AM | Permalink

    Angry Gamers Besiege Mutual Fund!

    ANGRY GAMERS SET SIGHTS ON GROUP WARNING OF CONTENT

    Mutual Fund Company Claiming Video Games Are Too Violent Besieged By Hateful Emails And Calls From Gamers

    A mutual fund company named The Timothy Plan has found itself the target of angry gamers after doing extensive research on the level of violence found in video games expected to be in high demand this Christmas. Since releasing a matrix that ranks each game based on violent and sexual content, the group has received countless hateful e-mails and phone calls.

    angrygamer2.jpgTimothy Plan president Art Ally sees it as vindication of his company's work.

    "What we've been saying," Ally says, "is that games with this level of violence and sex depiction definitely have a negative effect on people and based on the e-mails we're getting, our research appears to have been validated."

    Ally's group sent out a press release on their findings earlier this week and has been deluged with angry gamers ever since. In fact, says Stephen Ally, requests for more information from the group's website have even shut down the web server at the time of this writing.

    "The amount of requests for the information (the research report) we are offering has far exceeded the allowed bandwidth from our web hosting company causing the server to overload. The Timothy Plan in the process of expanding availability of the document," he said.

    *

    THE FOLLOWING IS THE PRESS RELEASE FROM THE TIMOTHY PLAN:

    Video Games as Gifts for Christmas hoping to share "Peace on Earth & Good Will To Men"? PARENTS BEWARE!

    MAITLAND, Fl. - For shoppers buying video games on Black Friday, the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season, and beyond, it could wind up being a black day indeed.

    Violent video games have become increasingly more popular as graphics and improvements in technology have improved over the years. Studies have shown that aggressive attitudes and even actions can be increased after playing violent games for as little as 20 minutes. Yet, video games have emerged as one of the most popular forms of entertainment for children, with over 70% living in a home with at least one video game player and 33% of children have one in their bedroom.

    Art Ally, president of the Timothy Plan family of mutual funds, contends that "many, if not most, parents who buy their kids video games really don't know the extent of sex and violence embedded in them. From drug use, prostitution, murder and mayhem to vulgar profanity and blasphemy these games have become a powerfully negative influence on our kids."

    Ally is offering concerned parents a complimentary report detailing the myriad of shocking gaming choices now available in the marketplace. At Timothy Plan's web site, you can download and print a report detailing what Ally describes as "some of the most violent and offensive video games ever to be available in my lifetime".

    "I believe, if parents would take a moment to look at the report we've created, their game selections would be quite different", he continues.

    The Timothy Plan family of funds conducts proprietary research on publicly traded companies based on their moral integrity. They then apply that information to maintain a "Do Not Buy List" for their family of morally responsible mutual funds. They do not invest in companies that are involved in abortion, pornography, anti-family entertainment, alternative lifestyles, as well as alcohol, tobacco and gambling.

    Timothy's research process for the funds' Anti-Family Entertainment screen, includes (but is not limited to) gathering information on popular video games and, with Christmas and the gift giving season approaching, they are offering this information to anyone concerned about the content of the video games they may consider buying as gifts for their children.

    ABOUT ART ALLY:
    Arthur D. Ally, who launched the Timothy Plan in 1994, is founder and President of the company, the nation's leading Biblically based, pro-life, pro-family mutual fund group. The Timothy Plan utilizes stringent moral screening criteria designed to avoid investing shareholders' money in any company that has a pattern of contributing to the cultural pollution of society.

    Ally is also general partner of Timothy Partners Ltd. (the fund's sponsor/advisor) and past president of Covenant Financial Management Inc. (CFM), a financial planning firm he founded in 1990 prior to establishing The Timothy Plan.

    Ally is a former certified financial planner and former certified public accountant (CPA) with over twenty seven years experience in the investment industry.

    Prior to forming CFM, Ally spent eight years with Shearson Lehman Brothers as vice president, branch manager and financial consultant and five years with Prudential Bache in the same capacity. Throughout his career in the investment industry, Ally has developed an area of expertise in money management selection through which he has helped individuals, retirement plans and non-profit organizations define their investment objectives and conduct searches for professional money managers.

    That "money management selection" expertise is ingrained in Ally's personal philosophy and that of the company, i.e., the "real key to good investment performance is good investment management." It is the overriding reason why no funds are added to The Timothy Plan - the firm presently has nine different funds - until the company has identified and retained a top-tier money management firm that specializes in that fund's asset category.

    A much sought-after conference speaker, Ally has presented seminars and workshops for Christian conventions throughout the United States, has taught investment, financial and estate planning classes at the University of Central Florida.

    Community and professional involvement includes National Association of Christian Financial Consultants (past president), Liberty Counsel of Florida (director) and teaching Sunday school at New Life Fellowship Baptist Church of Winter Springs, Florida.

    A graduate of Cleveland State University with a degree in accounting and finance, he and his wife, Bonnie, have been married since 1961 and have three children and seven grandchildren.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

    December 3, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    More news from the Pardon, Clemency and Commutation Desk. And then The Bureau of Parking Meter Affairs Division will weigh in.

    * "See how easily redemption is won in Illinois? Durbin has become high priest of the secular liturgy: All Ryan has to do is demonstrate emotion, squirt some tears for the cameras and express some unspecified sorrow for unspecified crimes. And presto. Redemption," John Kass writes.

    "So if Bush grants Durbin's wish, Ryan will surely make a statement of vague regret for the children who died as a result of the corruption on Ryan's watch. Then it'll be off to Gibson's on Rush, or LuxBar, where George will have a steak with Combine master Big Jim Thompson. They might even save a choice seat for Senator Water Boy. 'What a stand-up guy,' Big Jim will say.

    "And all the guys will raise a glass and thank Durbin for making sure President-elect Barack Obama didn't have to deal with this mess, and Ryan will nod and wave, fork in hand, eyes crinkling with pleasure, smiling through a mouthful of meat."

    You know it's true.

    * The Devils in Durbin's Details.

    * "If you're saying, Brown, you wouldn't support commuting Ryan's sentence even if he issued a signed itemized confession, including all the stuff for which he wasn't charged, there's probably some truth in that," Mark Brown writes. "But it would be a nice place to start."

    That's an excellent idea. I hereby pledge to support commuting Ryan's sentence if he reveals to the public - and to federal prosecutors - exactly what he did every step of the way. A full, detailed confession that names names. Then release him from jail so he can continue his work reforming or eliminating the death penalty worldwide.

    * Funny how it's the Republicans who think Ryan should stay in jail and serve his time.

    * Ald. Ed Smith (28th) is in the game. He also has written a letter to President Bush urging that Ryan's sentence be commuted. He also wants former alderman Larry Bloom pardoned, as well as a guy named Willie Dunsmore, who is probably the only one who deserves it.

    * "If we realized how graft paralyzes so much of the world, how the rusty gears of so many foreign governments turn only when greased with a liberal application of baksheesh, then we would react with greater horror at its constant if contained presence," Neil Steinberg writes today.

    Um, wouldn't this make us less sensitive to graft in our own town?

    ("I would have voted for Daley, warts and all. I always did. The corruption doesn't bother me - what city doesn't have corruption?" Steinberg, Feb. 28, 2007)

    * Conrad Black also wants out of jail early. And he wants the Sun-Times Media Group to pay for it.

    * Finally, some details on the Downstate man already granted a pardon by President Bush.

    Parking Meter Madness
    Let's face it, privatization is another word for back-door tax increase.

    I mean, yes, it's great that the city - make that, Mayor Daley - will receive an upfront payment of $1.2 billion from selling its parking meters to the new Chicago Parking Meter LLC ("aka two Morgan Stanley funds and a parking company," Whet Moser notes).

    But who do you think Chicago Parking Meter LLC will recoup that money from?

    After all, the plan is to charge $6.50 an hour for a metered spot in the Loop by 2013. And even more maddening, $2 an hour for a metered spot in your neighborhood by that date. Of course, you could always park on the side streets - unless you don't have the right sticker. Better to just stay home.

    (I understand the possible environmental benefits, but the CTA sucks and, meanwhile, the police department is getting SUVs.)

    These kind of deals always make folks wonder: If X could be so lucrative for another company, why doesn't the city just do it and make the money themselves?

    In part, because the mayor and the city council fear the reprisals of boosting the cost of whatever public asset they are selling off. Also, in larger part, because they see wads of green flashing before their eyes. Who cares about 2013 and beyond? Look at that dough!

    So don't expect resistance (ha!) from the city council, even though the same squeaky voices are already complaining that they aren't getting enough time to review the deal. The mayor wants approval on Thursday. Isn't 24 hours enough?

    *

    "Aldermen have given quick and overwhelming approval to all of Daley's groundbreaking privatization efforts in recent years, eagerly accepting enormous checks for long-term leases of the Chicago Skyway toll road ($1.83 billion), downtown parking garages ($563 million) and Midway International Airport ($2.5 billion)," the Tribune reports.

    "That big money for City Hall has meant higher costs for the public. Under private operators, it costs 50 percent more to drive on the Skyway and almost 40 percent more to leave your car for an hour at Millennium Park's garage."

    I don't even know why the mayor bothers to ask for city council approval anymore. What do they have to do with anything?

    *

    "Daley dodged questions Tuesday about what other assets the city could rent for cash: 'We're not going to be telling you this now'."

    I forgot: have we sold our souls yet, or are we just renting them out?

    *

    Both the city and the new company will be able to write tickets (though the city will apparently keep the money). So if you have a complaint, you will now be doubly frustrated.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Like comfort food.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix

    In some leagues, fantasy football playoffs are already underway. Wanna see what a first place team looks like? Here's my guys, who finished the regular season 10-3 and alone in first place in my 10-team league:

    * QB Eli Manning. Started as my No. 2 behind the doomed Jon Kitna.

    * QB Tyler Thigpen. Picked up in Week 8 after the J.T. O'Sullivan experiment failed miserably.

    * WR Andre Johnson. Made me look foolish early on, but found himself.

    * WR Anquan Boldin. Had my eye on Larry Fitzgerald in the draft and missed him. Big payoff, even considering injury time.

    * RB Ronnie Brown. A gamble pick, which I probably ranked too high. Started strong, finished just average.

    * RB Ryan Grant. Major disappointment the first half of season, but has come on strong since, excepting last week.

    * TE Tony Gonzalez. Delivered big time. Only got better as Kansas City experienced QB and RB issues.

    * W/T Santana Moss. We had a WR/TE flex position this year. Moss was my most consistent player, but very inconsistent at that.

    * W/R Steven Jackson. Had a few stellar weeks, but injuries often kept him out of my lineup.

    * W/R Julius Jones. Got him in a trade for WR Lance Moore because I under-used Moore. Still, a very dumb trade.

    * K Neil Rackers.

    Bench
    * RB Jerious Norwood. All-around strong year getting Michael Turner's sloppy seconds for a good Atlanta team.

    * WR Braylon Edwards. Terrible, unfulfilled promise, just like the rest of Cleveland Browns)

    * RB Mewelde Moore. Great pick-up when Willie Parker got hurt. Subbed for Jackson on my team.

    * RB Darren Sproles. Had his moments, then faded.

    * WR Roy Williams. Never did much, even after he was traded to Dallas.

    Norwood actually started for me more weeks than Jones did, and I'll start him again in the playoffs. Now, the playoff conundrum: Good fantasy teams have good players from good real teams, but good real teams are more likely to rest and protect their good players in the final weeks of the NFL regular season, making your good fantasy team not so good anymore. I'm particular worried about Manning taking it easy. My teams have been bounced in the first round of the play-offs three years running - will I break the pattern? We'll find out next week. In the meantime, fresh advice from the roto experts:

    * NFL Skinny has a weather report warning fantasy teams owners not too get too freaked out about bad weather conditions affecting player performance - well, unless it's a lot of snow or wind. Seemed to me bad weather affected performance in one game last week: Denver at NY Jets, where players on the home team seemed to be slipping around a lot more in the rain.

    * Yahoo! Pickups of the Week lists some good buys for playoff teams still looking for a little extra boost. Minnesota's No. 2 RB Chester Taylor's a strong buy because he's facing Detroit, and if his mop-up duty against the Bears last week is any indication, he could get a ton of late yards after Adrian Peterson rests early on what will conservatively be at least a 150-yard day.

    * Fantasy FanHouse focuses on NFC South players this week, and they suggest I don't start Norwood against a New Orleans defense that is 19th against the run and 24th against the pass. Do they know something I don't? The beauty of Norwood is that he catches passes, runs and returns kicks. He usually benefits whether or not Turner has a monster day.

    Hoopsville
    Dwyane Wade is flat out rolling after an off year, so good in the first month of the season and especially in the last week that he's now the No. 1-ranked player in most Yahoo! leagues. He's leading the league with 28.7 points per game, averaging about 8 assists per game and has the nice benefit of 31 blocks in 18 games from the point guard/shooting guard slot.

    Meanwhile, if you are looking for help in some specific stat areas, take a look at these guys:

    For 3-point help
    * Rasual Butler. SG/SF, 3.0 threes per game, only 3 percent-owned in Yahoo!.

    * Maurice Evans. SG/SF, 2.7 TPG, only 9 percent-owned.

    For blocks
    * Ronny Turiaf. PF/C, 2.3 blocks per game, only 8 percent-owned, though you'll have to make room for his 2.6 points per game.

    * Kendrick Perkins. PF/C, 2.0 BPG, only 58 percent-owned.

    For steals
    * Mario Chalmers. PG, 2.1 steals per game, 43 percent-owned.

    * Russell Westbrook. PG, 1.8 SPG, 41 percent owned.

    And, here's what the experts have to say this week:

    * NBA Skinny says injuries to starters on their respective teams have elevated the fantasy value of Luther Head and Brook Lopez. Head delivers a little bit of everything, including three-pointers and steals. Lopez' rookie season is going extremely well so far, with 9.7 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 1.6 block per game.

    * Bleacher Report has even more love to add to the pile of love that D.J. Augustin has been getting since the pre-season. Yet, he somehow has been exceeding the hype over the last week, rivaling another rookie point guard by the name of Derrick Rose.

    * CBS Sportsline says it's a good week to start Augustin (duh), but here's another surprising name they like as a starter this week: Greg Oden. He finally had a good game recently, but looks awfully far from living up to his already-delayed promise, while guys like Augustin and Rose are getting off to great starts.

    -

    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    December 2, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Where do you start with Dick Durbin?

    Maybe with Andy McKenna, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party.

    "This issue is not one of party, but of bringing real change to Illinois by the way we conduct business," McKenna said in a statement.

    "A commutation of Governor Ryan's sentence sends the wrong message to not only those who betray the public trust but also to the honest, hardworking men and women of Illinois who expect public corruption will be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

    This is a no-brainer. It's not even close. What in the world is Dick Durbin thinking?

    It's always dangerous for journalists to play armchair psychologist, but could this have something to do with his compassionate feelings toward, mainly it seems, Lura Lynn Ryan?

    "Friends say Durbin, 64, is quieter and more reflective these days. His staff says he has reminded them to stop and remember what's most important in life . . .

    "In the weeks since his daughter's death, Durbin has received thousands of condolence cards and e-mail messages. He has heard from people he has not seen in decades - even from the student teacher in Christine's kindergarten class who wrote that she still remembered his little girl.

    "And he has been struck by the number of people who can identify with his loss.

    "'There is a fraternity of grief in America, of people who are still grieving deaths in their family,' he said. 'This very public event with my daughter allows them to sit down and write a card that says, 'You don't know me, but this is what I went through, and I know what you're going through.' "

    Or is that giving Durbin too much credit?

    Durbin is well-respected by the press corps. I've been skeptical ever since I watched him spin a group of high school students while answering a question about his opposition to gay marriage. That was seven years ago, and everything I've seen from him since has been intelligent and knowledgeable, but also hyper-partisan and, at times, dirty.

    But on the possible commutation of George Ryan's sentence, Durbin hasn't been the least bit smart. His logic is bumbling.

    For example, Durbin said on Monday that "I would speak out for justice in any case brought to my attention."

    So George Ryan's incarceration is the biggest injustice he is currently aware of?

    "He explained his decision in the context of spending his entire public life trying to correct government injustices of one sort or another that have been brought to his attention by members of the public," Mark Brown writes today. "He chalked up the Ryan clemency bid as just one more example of that.

    "When pressed, though, Durbin said he couldn't remember ever seeking clemency on behalf of anybody else. And he also backpedaled from the notion that Ryan was the victim of any injustice."

    So what is it then? Feeling sorry for Lura Lynn?

    Ah, the sainted Lura Lynn. How quickly they forget.

    "Former Gov. George Ryan's defense rested its case Thursday but not before one of the most volatile clashes yet erupted as prosecutors in the public corruption trial accused the defense of using Ryan's wife in a 'desperate, orchestrated' effort to taint the jury," the Sun-Times reported in February 2006.

    "On Wednesday, hours after her husband said he wouldn't take the stand, Lura Lynn Ryan submitted to a series of television interviews, appearing on every local newscast sounding off on issues banned from the courtroom and making virtually the same remarks in each broadcast."

    Here's my favorite part:

    "On TV, Mrs. Ryan accused prosecutors of bringing charges against her husband in retaliation for his clearing Death Row. However, the feds started investigating Ryan years before that 2003 decision.

    She said she backed Ryan's decision not to testify because the courtroom was an unfair playing field and prosecutors didn't have a case."

    And then there was this:

    ""There's so many counts against George, one of them might stick. I just don't know which one.'

    "Mrs. Ryan was asked to leave the courtroom during some testimony because Ryan's lawyers, at the start of the trial, said they might call her as their witness. They never did.

    "On one of those occasions, a trial observer lay a consoling hand on her shoulder saying: 'It's so unfair that you have to wait out here.'

    "Lura Lynn Ryan looked at her and spat: 'It's bullshit!'"

    And then there is the Willis family.

    "She felt her husband should not be blamed as though he were driving the truck that caused the accident," the Sun-Times reported in September 2006.

    "'If George Ryan had hit those people, I'm sorry, that would be different,' she said."

    You can debate whether Ryan was responsible for the Willis deaths, but one thing we know for sure is that Ryan quashed an investigation into the accident to protect him politically. Nice.

    Then again, Ryan once told Rev. Duane Willis to "get a life."

    And it was just a few days ago that Lura Lynn said this:

    "When asked if there were anything George Ryan would change, Lura Lynn Ryan said neither she nor her husband has any regrets.

    "'His conscience is as clear as his mind,' she said. 'If he had it to do over - and I've heard him say this - he would govern the same way as he did before."

    Really?

    "His serious and pervasive criminal conduct spanned his 12 years in office as secretary of state and governor," his prosecutors remind us today. "The evidence, which the court of appeals characterized as 'overwhelming,' revealed that Ryan repeatedly used his governmental offices improperly to steer state leases and contracts to his friends, and that he used an army of government workers to sell fundraising tickets to finance his campaign fund, which he then used as his personal piggy bank. As secretary of state, he authorized the dismantling of the important inspector general's function at a time when investigations were in the midst of exposing his corrupt fundraising apparatus and its effect on the licensing process. He lied on his tax returns on multiple occasions, and as governor, he lied repeatedly to the FBI and created a sham paper trail to conceal vacation benefits he received from a state lease recipient."

    As Brown writes, we should all strive to be merciful and compassionate.

    "But we also ought to have some standards as to when we show mercy, and the line doesn't start with crooked politicians."

    *

    - The [George Ryan] Papers.

    - Dick's Folly.

    - My Darling Clemency.

    - 10 Questions for Dick Durbin. Some of these have now been asked; I'll follow-up later today.

    *

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Justice applied.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    BookNotes: Studs vs. Solomon

    1. Deborah Solomon vs. Studs Terkel.

    From an interview of Studs Terkel by the Reader's Michael Lenehan.

    *

    TERKEL: For example, you said that you cut your questions out and you make it sort of a soliloquy. Well that's what I do, you see. I keep the question in when it's necessary, as a transition moment, or when a humorous or whimsical aspect can be revealed in an exchange. But generally speaking, I shift things around. An interview is not written in stone. You can adjust the sequences. But never altering the words - the words are the words of the person, that's clear.

    LENEHAN: But you're the guy who set the form, Studs. I think it will be useful; writers are going to be interested to know what your rules are. So, for example, I would take a paragraph from the end and put it at the beginning, if that made the story go better.

    TERKEL: Right. That's right.

    LENEHAN: I would take a sentence from the end of the paragraph and put it in the beginning if that made it clearer.

    TERKEL: Right.

    LENEHAN: I would change the order of words in a sentence, if that made it easier to read or understand.

    TERKEL: That's right.

    LENEHAN: Because I take certain liberties with an interview, in order to make the story flow and everything clear, I usually find that I want to show the edited version to my speaker - to get him or her to sign off on it, and to be sure that I didn't make any mistakes.

    TERKEL: Or distort anything.

    LENEHAN: Do you do that?

    TERKEL: Some, yes. I don't do it ordinarily, no. They just let it go. But now and then someone wants to see it, I send it.

    LENEHAN: Do you think readers understand the extent to which we have to massage an interview to get it to come out the way it does?

    TERKEL: I think the reader doesn't think in those terms - doesn't go so far as to think in terms of what you did.

    *

    ""Cut and paste" is the term most writers would give to the sort of liberal editing described above," Lenehan writes. "It's a dirty term to some, but I would speculate that the technique is used by almost every writer who deals with extended quotations. (By extended I mean more than a paragraph of 100 words or so.) The deal, though it usually goes unspoken, is this: all these words came out of the subject's mouth - but not necessarily in this order and a lot has been left on the cutting-room floor.

    "Sometimes, I confess, it goes even farther than that. Sometimes I add a word, or in rare cases even a short, direct sentence, when no amount of rearranging can make the meaning and the voice come out right. I have my scruples: if a small number of judicious additions, rendered as simply and straightforwardly as possible, will not make the copy flow while saying to readers what the subject was trying to say to me, I'll abandon the project or change the form of the piece (or passage) so it's presented in my own voice rather than the subject's. And I don't do this without the subject's permission. She'll read the whole text and I will point out the additions. 'You didn't really say this in so many words,' I'll say, 'but I think it's what you meant. Is it OK with you?'"

    -

    From a public editor's column about New York Times Sunday Magazine "Questions For" writer Deborah Solomon.

    *

    "Her sharp, challenging questions elicit pithy, surprising answers - a disloyal comment about an employer, a confession to a Diet Coke habit, what's in Jack Black's iPod.

    "That is the illusion of Solomon's column. The reality is something else: the 700 or so words each week are boiled down from interviews that sometimes last more than an hour and run 10,000 words. Though presented in a way that suggests a verbatim transcript, the order of the interview is sometimes altered, and the wording of questions is changed - for clarity or context, editors say. At least three interviews have been conducted by e-mail because the subjects couldn't speak English or had other speech difficulties. And, Solomon told me, 'Very early on, I might have inserted a question retroactively, so the interview would flow better,' a practice she said she no longer uses.

    "'Questions For' came under fire recently when a reporter for New York Press, a free alternative weekly, interviewed two high-profile journalists - Amy Dickinson, the advice columnist who followed Ann Landers at The Chicago Tribune, and Ira Glass, creator of the public radio program This American Life - who said their published interviews with Solomon contained questions she never asked.

    "While the vast majority of Solomon's interview subjects have never complained, these are not the first who have. Last year, The Times Magazine published an angry letter from NBC's Tim Russert, who said that the portrayal of his interview with her was 'misleading, callous and hurtful.'

    "Afterward, Marzorati said, a new policy was put in place, requiring that Solomon give the tapes of her interviews to her editor or a magazine researcher, in case a subject raised an objection. It was then, Solomon said, that she also stopped inserting retroactive questions.

    "Dickinson's interview came in July 2003, before the new policy, and was not recorded. It starts with Dickinson saying that her column would be 'funnier and snappier and might be more fun to read' than Ann Landers. Solomon then says, 'How immodest of you! Isn't it bad manners to brag? Some of us found Ann Landers hilarious.'

    "Dickinson said Solomon never said those words to her. If she had, Dickinson said, she would have bristled, instead of replying, as the interview had it, 'I always found the entertainment value came more from the questions than the answers.'

    "'I was correctly quoted," Dickinson said, 'but what totally jumped out, the questions were not the same.'

    "Solomon said she felt that Dickinson was being 'boastful,' and, 'I'm sure I said as much.'

    "The Glass interview was published last March, after the new safeguards were in place. Glass, who was just starting a television version of This American Life on Showtime, was stung by this printed exchange with Solomon: 'Q: What do you think of the network? A: I don't meet many people who are talking about shows on Showtime.'

    "He did not deny saying it, but he said he was sure it came during a long conversation about how the network marketed itself. 'I don't believe she asked me that question,' he said. 'If she did, it certainly didn't precede that answer.'"

    -

    Comments?

    1. From Kevin O'Reilly:

    I think a distinction can be drawn here. Studs rearranged folks' words to help them tell their stories better, while Solomon rearranges their words and inserts new questions in a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am style designed to embarrass and distort.

    What do you think?

    REPLY: I agree that the distinction you see here is important. But Studs also said that he shifted the sequence of what people said and, even more disturbing, approved of (and seemed to imply that he also used) Lenehan's technique of moving paragraphs and sentences and words to help tell a story "better." My suspicion is that this is not so much motivated by telling a story more authentically, but by the desire to create novelistic "narrative" out of non-fiction because, you know, it's just better than real life. In this way, writers end up boxing their subjects into familiar archetypes, for example, or seeing their subjects only through the novelistic lens instead of the rougher, more contradictory way that real life operates. (This explains, in part, the mythologizing of someone like Barack Obama, for example, and the central insight of David Axelrod's strategy in creating a biographical narrative with ready-to-go hooks to pitch to the press, erasing and rubbing out the parts that didn't fit.)

    I'm also strongly against showing a piece of journalism to a subject before publication; this is a fundamental tenet I don't like to see violated. I was also always taught - and still believe - that you don't submit your questions to your subject in advance, and yet that's just what writers do in various instances, including in the political arena, both wittingly and when they use e-mail queries.

    In Solomon's case, it's just sort of unbelievable to me - I know it shouldn't be at this point - that she was doing what she was doing without any idea that it was unethical. Even with the new guidelines for her in place, I now read her pieces with doubt.

    Finally, the thing is this: It's just not necessary; if you can't accurately convey what someone is telling you without using altering techniques, then maybe you should consider another line of work. And the point of it all isn't storytelling anyway. It's journalism.

    KEVIN'S REPLY: I agree with your comments, and also with Hoyt's summary of the NYT guidelines for Q-and-As, which approximate what I do. I certainly hold Studs to a different standard as he was doing oral history, not journalism as such. I do think folks should explain what their editing standards are if they're doing anything radically different from a more or less verbatim transcript of the discussion.

    REPLY: Yes, I should have mentioned that if you tell readers what you are doing, that makes a big difference. For example, when we do our Mystery Debate Theaters, we tell readers that they will be reading a transcript edited for length, clarity and comedy. And I agree that operating in different venues, such as oral histories, makes a difference too - as long as it's clear to readers. Maybe the real problem with Solomon, then, was that all these years we thought we were reading a real exchange, the way it actually happened. Readers might not have that same kind of expectation when reading Studs; readers may presume he's boiled down hours of tape and so on, and made certain kinds of alterations.

    -

    2. From the University of Chicago Press:

    "VICTIM OR URBAN GUERILLA?
    "It was a story so bizarre it defied belief: in April 1974, twenty year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst robbed a San Francisco bank in the company of members of the Symbionese Liberation Army - who had kidnapped her just nine weeks earlier.

    "Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America by William Graebner is the first substantial reconsideration of the story in more than twenty-five years. Read an excerpt and listen to an interview."

    *

    "THE ART OF NESTS
    "Green architecture? Birds and insects are the original architects, contractors, and builders. See paintings from Architecture by Birds and Insects: A Natural Art by Peggy Macnamara."

    -

    3." In Ann Arbor, left-wing politics managed to thrive alongside growing football fervor," Jonathan Chait writes in his New York Times review of War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest. "At halftime of the 1970 Rose Bowl, the Michigan marching band formed a peace sign. In 1971, two-thirds of the football team signed an anti­war petition. The theme for the homecoming parade that year was 'Bring All the Troops Home Now'; at halftime, the P.A. announcer called for a full withdrawal of American troops and an end to aid for Vietnam."

    -

    4. The New York Times' most notable 100 books of the year.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:51 AM | Permalink

    December 1, 2008

    Scott Buckner's 2008 Beachwood Gift Guide

    Really, there's no Christmas gift worse than a shirt. Nothing says you don't have an original thought in your head like giving one, and nothing says your girlfriend or wife is ready to dump you like getting one. Little plastic reindeers that poop whatever little candies you've loaded into them when you tug on their tail won't really endear you to anyone either, so in the spirit of Cyber Monday marking the official start of the online Christmas shopping season today, I've found some inexpensive gift suggestions for anyone with the ridiculous notion that nothing says you care like a lumberjack flannel from Kohl's.

    *

    Item: Weener Kleener Soap
    Price: $6.95, from Baron Bob
    Why: Because no man's sausage can be clean enough. This also proves that anyone with a bright idea can still make it in America. You'd think the folks at Irish Spring - with millions of R&D dollars at their disposal - would have come up with stimulating personal hygiene for under seven bucks by inventing a round bar of soap with a hole in the middle a long time ago. But they didn't.

    *

    Item: Sonic Bomb Clock
    Price: $39.99, from Think Geek
    Why: If the bed that dumps George Jetson out of bed and disappears into the floor hasn't been invented yet, it never will. That's why the Sonic Bomb Clock is as close to The Jetsons as it gets for that certain someone who can't seem to drag their ass out of bed in the morning.

    According to the folks at Think Geek, "The Sonic Bomb Clock has an adjustable volume alarm with a maximum loudness of 113 decibels (just for reference, a jackhammer is about 100 decibels!). And the bed shaker does just that. Slip it under your mattress and your ears will bleed and your bed will shake, and there is no way you will oversleep. Or, you could turn the sound alarm off and tape the bed shaker to your office chair. You'll be vibrated awake without disturbing the drones."

    *

    Item: Magic Fingers
    Price: $79.99 delivered, from Magic Fingers
    Why: On the other hand, if you want to go with something more upscale that shakes the bed and is a true American icon, Magic Fingers would be it. For decades, nothing was a beacon to budget-motel traffic along trans-American highways like big lighted signs saying, "Air Conditioning, TV, Pool, Magic Fingers." Any dumb motel owner could draw traffic with pool and cool during the blazing summer months, but the true visionaries got traffic all year long by wiring up their beds to a Magic Fingers. You dropped in a quarter, waited for the unmistakable "clink," and off you floated to bed-vibrating nirvana.

    Now you can re-create the same cheap-motel experience long enjoyed by traveling salesmen and cheap prostitutes alike with the home version of Magic Fingers. It's hard to tell from the corporate website whether this is the original Magic Fingers company, but if it is, it shows how a company can survive by overhauling its marketing strategy. The modern version doesn't include the iconic bedside quarter machine, but there's a pre-set 59-minute cycle, a programmable clock timer, and it installs in minutes. Yet it's portable, which means you don't have to go out of your way looking for a mom and pop motel along Route 66 or U.S. 30 with the last surviving machine in the entire United States still in service.

    Hook one up to a Sleep Number bed and there's no telling what might happen. SheDaisy might even show up.

    *

    Item: Christmas in the Air
    Price: $9.99, from Prank Place
    Why: Sooner or later, everyone runs out of kids to sucker into pulling their finger, and few of us have the internal resources needed to belch or fart an entire Christmas carol. That's why a CD that includes "Jingle Belch," "O Can of Beans," and "Belchers We Have Heard on High" is considerably more entertaining than that singing fish your white trash brother-in-law has hanging on the wall of his basement bar.

    *

    Item: Electric Paper Plane Launcher Educational Aid
    Price: $15.95, from Online Science Mall
    Why: Nothing rocks like educational stuff that's fun and dangerous. The last time a parent bought their kid a chemistry set to blow up the house with was 1958, so it's about time someone came up with a more inventive way than a Red Ryder BB gun for a kid to shoot someone's eye out.

    OSM's copy for the launcher states, "This kit was designed at Middlesex University by specialists who teach teachers. Each kit is thoroughly researched and encourages young people to stretch their skills and thinking." Then again, each issue of Penthouse is a thoroughly-researched educational aid that encourages young people to stretch their skills and thinking, but it's hard to argue with this sort of marketing logic.

    OSM goes on to say, "Kit contains everything you need to learn how spinning motors and plastic discs are used to launch a paper plane at up to 31 mph (50km/h). An ideal kit for exploring paper plane designs." As it happens, this is the exact setup that allows anyone to step inside an amusement park batting cage and get clocked in the head with a fastball from the pitching machine.

    Still, it's pretty awesome, and involves less hassle than building a catapult to launch squishy rotten pumpkins off your apartment balcony.

    *

    Item: Bacon of the Month Club
    Price: $12.50 per month to $18.75 per month; from Grateful Palate
    Why: Why annoy someone you love by sending them a bag of fruit 12 times a year when there's a whole world of artisan bacon out there waiting to be appreciated? According to the folks at Grateful Palate, this has been going on for 10 years. Who knew?

    Not only that, but you get a tricked-out bacon-themed T-shirt, a toy pig, a pen, a monthly recipe, and a comic strip. And a pig nose, which is worth the price all by itself.

    *

    Item: The 7-Foot Upside-Down Pre-Lit Christmas Tree
    Price: $599.95, from Hammacher Schlemmer
    Why: At first, this seems to be what might happen if you put engineering students or a large corporate committee in charge of Christmas decorations. You'd end up with an artificial bush wired for light hanging upside down with a $600 price tag hanging off it.

    According to Schlemmer, the tree is actually steeped in tradition that began in central Europe, a place where people drink an awful lot. "Evoking a 12th century Central European tradition of hanging a tree from the ceiling at Christmas, this unique 7' pre-lit fir is inverted to ensure a smaller footprint for less-spacious areas, and allowing more room for the accumulation of presents underneath. Originally designed for specialty stores to display delicate ornaments using a minimum of floor space, the unusual tapering shape allows the tree to stand in places that do not accommodate a traditional holiday tree, such as between two armchairs or in a corner."

    You might have to wait until next Christmas for the neighborhood to brand you as those nutjobs who hang their tree upside down, though; the Schlemmer website advises, "Due to the popularity of this item, we are unexpectedly sold out. Please contact customer service at 1-800-321-1484 regarding future product availability."

    *

    Item: Glue Cologne Spray, Paint Cologne Spray, Vinyl Cologne Spray
    Price:$19.99 each (1-oz. bottle), from Perpetual Kid
    Why: Back in the day - before cable TV and the Internet and home video games - we spent a good bit of time building plastic scale models. Model cars, model boats, model planes - we built and painted them all. And once we were done, we carted them out to the alley and blew them up with firecrackers or doused them with a can of dad's lighter fluid and set them on fire.

    I was a teenager during the 1970s, so trust me when I say the awesome feeling we got had nothing to do with any sense of accomplishment from gluing together a shoebox full of plastic pieces. The awesome feeling came from gluing and spray-painting with the windows shut and a bunch of rags crammed under the door.

    Some of our lazy friends skipped the model-building altogether and went straight to gluing and painting nothing at all, which tended to turn our lazy friends into drooling, brain-damaged friends. So model glue and paint companies formulated the awesome smell of toxic chemicals out of their recipes, and virtually overnight hundreds of thousands of kids left a once-thriving model car industry to a fight over whatever tiny pool of kids was left over from the collapse of the model rocketry hobby 20 years earlier.

    This is why anyone between the ages of 40 and 65 will certainly appreciate a gift of Glue Cologne Spray or Paint Cologne Spray, although I'm not sure how many of them would be silly enough to actually use it as cologne. One little spritz - even if it's onto an old rag at the bottom of a paper bag for old time's sake - will bring back all sorts of fond memories. It's non-toxic, so it won't interfere with the recovery of any huffers in the family.

    Or if you happen to know someone who has lovingly restored a 1977 Gremlin or a 1968 Ford Galaxy 500, a bottle of Vinyl Cologne Spray will make their year because neither Auto Zone or Pep Boys stocks anything that restores that new-car vinyl seat smell.

    For those without substance abuse problems, there are sprays in Crayon, Play-Doh, Orange Cream Pop, Vanilla Cake Batter, and a few others.

    *

    Item: Porn For Women
    Price: $12, from Uncommon Goods
    Why: The Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative has put together a 96-page book full of everything that women swear turns them on, like in-shape men vacuuming and doing all manner of housework while whispering sweet dirty nothings like, "Have another piece of cake. I don't like you looking so thin."

    Actually, I think they missed the boat by turning this project into a book instead of a DVD. There's no nudity either, which shows what can happen when you put women in charge of porn.

    *

    Item: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
    Price: $11.16 (paperback), from Amazon Books
    Why: Barack Obama is our nation's president-elect, so you know what's going to happen the second he takes the oath of office, don't you? Yup, the unburied dead are going to come back to life and start trying to claw their way into your house to eat you and your children.

    This is the complete survival guide. You've got about two weeks between Christmas Day and Inauguration Day to read up.

    *

    Item: 2009 Bubble Calendar
    Price: $29.99, from Perpetual Kid
    Why: Why? Because everyone loves to pop bubble wrap, and there's no Advent Year calendar with chocolates behind the little door for each day, that's why.

    *

    Item: Planned Parenthood Gift Certificate
    Price: $25 to $100, from Planned Parenthood of Indiana
    Why: If you're still troubled that your unemployed niece in Hammond has had a raging gyno infection festering since last March or that your barfly nephew in Bloomington with infomercial-grade health insurance that doesn't cover STD testing insists on sleeping with every crack whore in the city, you can turn to the folks at Planned Parenthood of Indiana this gift-giving season.

    According to reports from the 94,875,987 news outlets in the country that glommed onto the story last week, the certificates can be used for everything from birth control to $58 examinations that include breast exams and pap tests. Men can find them useful, too. "They can be seen for sexually transmitted disease screenings, HIV tests and general prostate exams and those kinds of things," PPI vice president Chrystal Struben-Hall was quoted as saying in one online news account carried by CNN.

    The certificates can also be used to defray the cost of abortions, but the folks at Planned Parenthood would rather remind everyone that a single $100 gift certificate covers a whole shitload of condoms and birth control pills at one of their offices.

    *

    Happy Holidays!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    What I Watched Last Night

    I'm not sure what anyone might say about a local TV station that promotes a music awards show that already happened a month ago. But those folks might say WPWR-TV/Channel 50's Wednesday night presentation of the World Magic Awards came as close to bitchin' entertainment as bitchin' entertainment gets since Lawrence Welk isn't around to kick it out anymore.

    The two-hour extravaganza was led by congenial actor and world-of-magic ambassador Neil Patrick Harris in front of an audience packed with absolutely nobody famous. Harris scored points early among those accustomed to awful Academy Awards opening numbers with a monologue that lasted about as long as it takes two flies to mate. But the program may have made award-show history by being the first where the even janitor knew the winners of the 14 categories ahead of time. The award itself was a black obelisk topped by a big crystal ball, which made me think they were part of a shipment hijacked from the World Fortune Teller Awards.

    But that's not to say the World Magic Awards was an affair as unremarkable as a Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year banquet at the town VFW, as everyone in the audience was decked out like it was prom night, at least. I missed any announcement of where the show was being held, but I suspect it might have originated from an upper-tier Indian casino, since the last ordinary person in Los Angeles or Las Vegas to wear a tux for a night on the town left town in 1967.

    If you figured an awards program showcasing the amazing talents of 14 magicians had to include some show-stopping music, you'd have figured right. Nothing wows a show like an orchestra sounding like terrorists kidnapped the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, fed it nothing but meth for a week-and-a-half, and then dropped the whole band off at the front door five minutes before the show. Still, it was good to know where frenetic guitar god Steve Vai is making the rent these days.

    All in all, stuff disappeared, hot-babe assistants were levitated and chained up like they were on a cover of True Crime magazine, snakes and black panthers crawled out of boxes, and things were set on fire in remarkable fashion. Here's a roundup of some extra-notable moments:

    * Dan Sperry was the overwhelming winner of the "Christ, Get A Load Of THIS Fucking Freakshow!" category by showing what happens when a guy decides to deliberately cross Alice Cooper with Edward Scissorhands and do his whole magic act mouthing words to the audience without actually speaking. Mamas, sometimes it is better to let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

    * As you might expect, no magic show would be complete without an homage to master illusionist Harry Houdini. But you'd think that, in the 100 or so years since the guy died from a burst appendix, the magic industry could have come up with at least one new hero to worship. Jeez, Jimi Hendrix was a rock guitar god who did all sorts of truly astounding things few mortals have been able to equal, but we've managed to move on already.

    * Several once-really-famous actors were enlisted as presenters to prove once and for all that, no, they're not dead. The producers thought some of us might need extra help with Ernie Hudson, so begins his speech with, "In my role as a ghostbuster . . . "

    Later, Corbin Bernsen makes his presentation speech really pissed off at whoever made his looks and hair disappear.

    * The most unexpected magical moment of the show was a lengthy appeal for Feed the Children, featuring a taped voiceover by Sir Roger Moore. As a kid during the 1960s, I remember having to cart around a little bright-orange cardboard coin box to trick or treating for UNICEF, so hunger in distant lands seems to be a highly stubborn problem.

    This season's trouble spot is Kenya, where we're told a child dies every five minutes. It pretty hard on a kid when he spends his day dying every five minutes, so you'd think someone would find the fastest jet available and fly Hans Klok - a highly-skilled Magician Of The Year winner with the ability to make an oncoming airplane vanish into thin air - to Kenya to make food appear out of thin air.

    * Magic can be a funny business too, so the show booked weisenheimer Amazing Johnathan - a guy who seems to be held in the same dim regard the comedian industry has for Gallagher - as Best Comedy Magic winner. Maybe there's little patience for a guy who serves as a warning that Jack Black might actually wake up one day, decide to give up acting, and start working on a card routine involving sharp knives and live ammunition. I don't know. But for me - and maybe my sense of humor isn't as refined as it ought to be at my age - Johnathan is funny in the same sense that John Daly might be funny if he got really good at drinking and magic instead of drinking and professional golf.

    Honorable mention to Johnathan for abandoning the typical Vegas showgirl/hooker-looking assistant in favor of someone who might be mistaken for Marilyn Monroe had she lived long enough to see her career tank, pork out, and end up in a roach-ridden dive bar all hopped up on helium and Singapore Slings.

    -

    See what else we've been watching! Submissions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    I know it was a long weekend, but I still have a lot of things to tend to this morning, so we'll be back with a full Beachwood tomorrow. We do have new material that was posted over the holiday and, of course, Jim Coffman's SportsMonday, which dissects the Bears' loss to the Vikings last night. Let me just say that, unlike Jim, I cannot defend Lovie Smith's decision to go for it on fourth down. Kick the field goal. It's early and the game's dynamic hasn't shown itself yet.

    "I felt we needed a touchdown in that situation," Smith said.

    You obviously felt wrong. You didn't need a touchdown in that situation, you just wanted one.

    And, obviously, like every Monday morning quarterback - and let's face it, every Sunday night quarterback because we all knew it was wrong in real time - I'm astounded at the play-calling. Opening the first-and-goal series from the one with a play-action pass was a good idea; running into the heart of a defense whose strength is stopping the rush up the middle was just stubborn. Giving the ball to a fullback signed to the active roster the day before the game was just stupid.

    The [Thanksgiving Weekend] Papers
    Dear readers, as it turns out, Weekend Desk Editor Natasha Julius is on a super secret assignment in Michigan so super secret I didn't even know about it. (Memo to Natasha: Let GM die - except for the Camaro.)

    We do have a video today, though. I'm in it for the horses freaked out by the parade logo.

    CM Punk at Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade

    -

    The [Black Friday] Papers
    Before we get to today's special edition of The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week . . . You know, the Beachwood staff does and does for you people. Here's what we have:

    * God Gave Rock and Roll To You. This is our way of giving thanks.

    * A Beachwood Thanksgiving Poem For Children On The Subject Of Gluttony. Audio version.

    * Home for the Holidays: The Sequel. Claudia Hunter returns with an update. Go back and read her whole series from last year, it's both frightening and hilarious. We provide the links.

    * The Turkey Bowl. Brought to you by our very own Dan O'Shea and his Fantasy Fix column.

    * The Lone Daley Dissenter. Is Billy Ocasio showing gumption?

    * The [Thanksgiving] Papers.

    * Turkey-shaped Jell-O Mold.

    * Beware fake Black Friday news.

    * Reading With Scissors, featuring Classic Gouda-style Cheese and The Biggest, Baddest Toilet Seat in the World.

    * The Sound Opinions Turkey Shoot. "Jim, Greg and some listeners carve up the year's biggest musical turkeys."

    * Watch for Natasha Julius's fabulous Weekend Desk Report on Saturday.

    * And now . . . Stephanie B. Goldberg brings you a very special edition of . . .

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week
    Today I get to be Martha Stewart and share my helpful household hints.

    1. This year's in-drink is the Pisco Sour, made with the fabled Peruvian brandy, sugar syrup, Angostura bitters (I always wondered what they were good for) and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir well and pour over the nearest Bush. Here's looking at you, kid.

    2. For Thanksgiving, I served the house specialty - Turkey a La Sarah Palin. It's stuffed with Wingnuts and basted in oil, which was an absolute steal. A big holiday dinner is always a challenge, but I was lucky to have a little help in the kitchen.

    3. What's on your Black Friday shopping list? I was thinking of buying Woolworth's, but I don't think I could handle the payroll. Then I thought of picking up Ann Taylor or Chico's as a stocking stuffer, but those two haven't gone the way of Linens 'n Things yet. Still, I wouldn't sit on those gift cards if you know what I mean.

    4. How about a little holiday pampering? Lucky magazine had a swell tip for healing chapped lips by massaging them with Visine but darned if they didn't take it off their website. Maybe somebody tipped them off that the vasoconstrictor that's the active ingredient in Visine can be fatal. But you'll leave a good-looking corpse!

    5. Speaking of pampering, we girls of a certain age can't wait for the FDA to approve Vavelta, the UK's answer to Restylane. The good news is that it cancels out pockmarks. (Good for you, F. Murray Abraham.) The bad news is that this clear liquid filler is - oh, how do I put this delicately? - cultured from infants' foreskins. Somebody pour me a Pisco Sour.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Give thanks.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    Don't hate Lovie for going for it on fourth-and-one. Dislike (and maybe hate just a little) Ron Turner for the play call on third-and-one, but the decision to go for it on fourth down at the one-yard line with the Bears leading 7-3 in the second quarter was definitely defensible. As for third down . . . hey Mr. Offensive Coordinator? Most of us Bears fans figured out a while ago that the fullback dive up the middle behind quick and smart but in no way overpowering center Olin Kreutz is not an effective play. So why do you keep running it? Especially with starting fullback Jason McKie out with an injury? Against a team with perhaps the best defensive tackle tandem in the league? My guess is you froze up a bit on this one . . . you didn't want to watch another ineffective Forte sweep but the pass on first down hadn't worked, and you knew the Vikings would be ready for a Forte run between the tackles. The play clock was about to start running down so you panicked and called the most basic play imaginable, the fullback dive, which failed, of course.

    Fascinating, too, that the back-up fullback who received the handoff on the play in question, Jason Davis, played for you during your previous incarnation as head coach at Illinois. Davis is a player who did not distinguish himself during his college career and almost certainly will not distinguish himself in the pros. Do us a favor and don't do him any more favors, okay Ron?

    After that ill-advised play, fourth down loomed. Arguing in favor of a field goal was the fact that Robbie Gould might make a thousand 18-yard field goals in a row if you asked him to. He would have kicked this one through and the Bears would have led 10-3. Arguing against: Not only did the Bears have a great chance to gain a short yard and score a touchdown, in so doing they had a great chance to go up two scores (an 11-point lead!). So they went for it. And they gave the ball to their most reliable player behind the better half of their offensive line (the right side) fortified by third tackle and first-round rookie Chris Williams. After the snap, the initial blocks were there. The problem was the play was too slow in developing and the Vikings had speedy players coming down the line in pursuit. They grabbed ahold of Forte before he could get to the goal line and that was that.

    There was one other argument against a field goal, of course, and that was that even if the Bears didn't make it on fourth down, the Viking offense would be forced to take possession at their own one. To that point, the Bears defense had given up significant yards to Viking superback Adrian Peterson but had also made more than enough big plays. There was every reason to believe they could at least hold Minnesota deep in its own territory and maintain field position superiority. And an immediate big play, perhaps even resulting in the wonderful defensive cataclysm known as a safety, was right there for the taking. Then Charles Tillman lost his mind.

    I suppose after years in the Tampa 2 defensive scheme, with safeties situated far, far from the line of scrimmage and focused first and foremost on preventing deep completions, part of Tillman's brain just assumes he has deep help no matter what. Still, his apparent loss of focus on the next play, while covering the deep threat he should have known better than anyone (former teammate Bernard Berrian) was just inexcusable. Tillman was in position to - at the very least - seriously contest any sort of completion to Berrian on the first play after Forte was stuffed. But then he was distracted by a receiver running a shorter route in front of him, guessed that was where Gus Frerotte was going, and cheated toward it and away from Berrian. Frerotte's pass was good enough that Berrian might have caught it no matter what Tillman did. But who knows what might have happened if Tillman had been properly focused on staying stride for stride with his former teammate.

    The 99-yard touchdown was demoralizing and the Bears seemed to be feeling it on the next Viking drive, which was capped off by a far-too-easy Chester Taylor touchdown and a 17-7 lead at the half. The Bears had to hope the halftime break would turn things back around. And for a while it looked like it would.

    But what could Kyle Orton possibly have been thinking when he threw his first interception after the Bears pulled within three in the third quarter? The Monsters were on their way right back into the ballgame before Orton suffered absolute brain lock and threw it right to Darren Sharper for the pick that put the Vikings in perfect position to stretch their lead back out to ten (24-14). And they soon did exactly that.

    More than anything though, the specifics of that interception led to further appreciation of the 205 Orton passes (without an interception) that preceded it. Sharper's pick demonstrated just one of the many things that can go wrong when a quarterback unleashes a pass - I'm thinking Orton just didn't see Sharper lurking back there in the deep zone, waiting to make a play on exactly the sort of pass that came his way. That sort of thing could have happened, but didn't, during the quarterback's previous 10-score plus efforts. It was a very impressive streak.

    The biggest shame of it all was that before the interception (and the two more that followed), Orton came out ready to lacerate the Viking defense at the start of the second half. Bear receivers dropped two catchable balls early to set up a third-and-10, but Orton shrugged it off and found Rashied Davis (who had his worst game in a while for the Bears, dropping several catchable balls) for more than enough for a fresh set of downs. Another Maynard (nice game Brad!) deep punt followed, Gus Frerotte threw his interception, etc. etc.

    *

    Meanwhile, I thought Adewale Oguynleye's late hit on Gus Frerotte, the one that amazingly wasn't flagged and therefore did not lead to the Vikings earning an automatic first down inside the 10 early on (instead they kicked the field goal that made it 7-3), escaped scrutiny because it was so late. The referee focused on the quarterback as referees always do, until a beat or two after he released the ball. Then he was looking somewhere else when Ogunleye lowered the boom.

    A note to Floppy Frerotte, who remarkably returned to the Viking lineup immediately the next time Minnesota had the ball despite his having lay on the turf for an extended period after Ogunleye's hit: if you're going to fraudulently claim grievous injury, take your act to the soccer pitch.

    *

    A few of those Adrian Peterson runs (not so much the 59-yarder early . . . more the, what were they, about 9 and 12 yards in the second and third quarters)? Those were positively Payton-esque. The best Payton runs almost never resulted in touchdowns. They featured Walter bouncing off defender after defender, almost seeking out contact as he pinballed down the field for yet another first down. Peterson was an even bigger Payton Sunday.

    *

    Gus Frerotte was who we thought he was (never gets old!) early in the third. At that point, despite his line fastidiously picking up a big Bear Blitz, Frerotte heaved a pass into double coverage that Danieal Manning tipped and Kevin Payne intercepted and returned inside the ten that resulted in a score that pulled the Bears within 17-14.

    *

    Let's talk a little about the situation with Devin Hester. There have been plenty of voices in town calling for the Bears to scale back their experiment with the young man at wide receiver. The thinking goes that Hester is such a good returner, the Bears need to continue to focus on that aspect of his game first and foremost. He needs to be out there on kicks and punts and if that means he's not out there on offense as much, well, so be it.

    There are several problems with this theory: Hester showed again how much of a game-changer he can be as a receiver on the first touchdown of Sunday's game. His receiving career is still infantile and it still has a great deal of promise, despite some disheartening drops Sunday. And we always have to remember there is a reason Hester was right there on the verge of setting records for career return touchdowns after only two seasons in the NFL. The reason is that return excellence never lasts. Great returners always flame out quickly, plain and simple.

    And oh by the way, shouldn't Danieal Manning continue to do what he's doing on kickoffs? He's better than Hester at that task at this point (and he might be better on punts too - especially after Hester took that short line drive punt in the middle of the second half with room to run wherever . . . and went straight sideways before being tackled for no gain).

    I'm confident Hester will continue to improve at wide receiver next Sunday, when the Bears open a three-game homestand. And if he can help the Bears win all three games, I'll bet the loss to the Vikings will become but a distant memory.

    -

    Jim Coffman brings you the city's best weekend sports roundup every Monday because he loves you. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:49 AM | Permalink

    MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
    TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
    POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
    SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

    BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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