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posted: Feb. 14, 2006  |  Feedback

What marquee event from the '80s has you less excited this week: The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the Winter Olympics or the Slam Dunk Contest? For me, it's a three-way tie. Everyone keeps e-mailing me about the Winter Olympics; honestly, I haven't watched more than 45 minutes of it. How can anyone expect us to watch tape-delayed sporting events in 2006? Am I supposed to avoid the Internet and ESPN all day, then show up at 8 p.m. every night and say, "Come on NBC, take me for a ride?" Would you watch the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl on a 10-hour tape delay if you knew the result ahead of time? Don't get me started.

One thing I did see: On Monday night's show, the pairs figure skating contest wrapped up with a Chinese team gunning for the gold, only the girl ended up wiping out on one of those toss-in-the-air thingies ... I mean, she REALLY wiped out. When it happened, it had LT-Theismann potential. So she hobbled around for a few minutes, then it seemed like she was done, and suddenly, she sucked it up, skated back out there and finished the routine to a standing ovation. Not only was that cool to watch, it was the type of moment that made the Olympics such a must-see event back in the day. And if it happened live, I would have been going crazy. On tape? I shrugged my shoulders and tuned the channel to "The Colbert Report."

Anyway, I wanted to pass along a few e-mails from the past two weeks:

From Mitch Levy in New York: "You have to write a story about 'Grizzly Man.' It's supposed to be a serious documentary about a guy who lives in Alaska every summer with the bears (who eventually eat him). It's hilarious at every level from the absolute wing-nut bear lover, to the pretentious German filmmaker, and the wacky casts of friends that get interviewed and tell nonsensical stories about him. The message boards at imdb.com are a fight between the naturalists who think it was a beautiful movie and those who think this was better than 'Spinal Tap.'"

Mitch, I'm with you: It's the first documentary since "American Movie" that ranks a perfect 100 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale. First of all, it's directed by Werner Herzog, who (incredibly) decided to narrate the movie even though he sounds like he's auditioning for a Hans & Frans sketch. Second, the Grizzly Man guy is an absolute maniac and can't be described even remotely. You just have to see him in action. He's surpassed Mark Byars (from "Paradise Lost") and Mark Borchardt for me, and I never thought I would say that. Third, there are so many ridiculously funny moments (like when Grizzly Man claims that he lost out to Woody Harrelson as Coach's replacement on "Cheers," or when he's playing with the bear poop) that you can't even believe it's happening as it's happening. I kept thinking that this was like the "Blair Witch Project," some sort of elaborate hoax by the creators of "Mr. Show." But it's not. And fourth, this is the first movie that I can remember that glorifies someone who's completely insane. I mean, COMPLETELY. Utterly and totally.

(You have to rent this movie -- it's disturbing, hilarious, creepy, haunting, you name it. I won't even spoil the ending for you. Just see it.)

Matt from Michigan asks: "OK, just so I'm clear on something .. during your chat on 2/3, when asked how many Pistons should be Eastern Conference All-Star reserves, you wrote, 'I think all 5 should make it. Seriously.' Five days later, in your 'NBA Big Picture' article, you wrote, 'And while we're on the subject, the Pistons are only two games ahead of the Spurs and Mavs right now -- anyone who claims that they deserve more than three guys on the All-Star team needs to settle down.' Got it. Makes sense to me!"

All right, Matt, here's the explanation: When I did the chat, the Pistons were 39-6 and on pace for a historic season. After the chat, they blew two straight ... suddenly they were just two games ahead of the Mavs and Spurs. If you're not having a historic season, then you don't deserve four All-Stars, much less five. It's that simple. Ben Wallace is not more valuable to the Pistons than Michael Redd is to the Bucks. He's just not.

Tom A from Kansas writes: "Have you ever noticed ... that this season's Bachelor ... can only speak ... about five words at a time? I almost hate to point this out to you, this will now drive you completely insane. I noticed it last night and it nearly drove me to want to go hunting with Cheney. And is it just me or does this year's Bachelor bring absolutely nothing to the table? He seems like the most boring guy in the world. At least Robin's brother last year was goofy. Finally, when Susan got booted from the show do you think she asked Chris Harrison for his agent's name? Sorry for all the Bachelor questions, but most guys don't admit to watching this garbage."

Well, I'll admit it: There hasn't been a good "Bachelor" in like three years, not since the one with Andrew Firestone ... but this one has been working because of the talent level (some genuinely pretty girls) and the craziness level (probably a 9 out of 10). It's like they finally figured out the formula. I enjoyed this season for five reasons:

1. It kills me when the other girls turn on one of their own because "she's in it for the wrong reasons." Wait, what are the right reasons? You're on a freaking reality TV show looking for a husband!!!!!!!!! You're making out with someone while cameras are rolling! You're falling in love with someone after spending like 45 minutes with him! The hypocrisy is fantastic.

2. Poor Travis (the Bachelor) keeps trying to talk himself into Sarah because she's sweet and because they're both from Nashville ... only she's not nearly as cute as the other girls. So he's using all those code words like, "We have a great friendship" and "With Sarah, I'm interested to see if there can be a romantic connection as well," when the bottom line is that she's not nearly as hot as the other girls and he's really thinking about things like, "Is there enough money in my checking account to buy her a ring AND a boob job?" and "Um, could somebody dim the lights for me before we start making out?" Somehow she made the final two, and even better, he's probably going to pick her ... leading to the inevitable "Post-Bachelor" show when they reveal they broke up because they realized they made for better friends than anything, followed by his moving to Los Angeles and sleeping with every wanna-be model and actress in a 50-mile vicinity. I'm not even predicting this scenario, I'm guaranteeing it.

3. The best-looking/sweetest girl was Sarah B. from Winnipeg, who quickly won me over because I love all Canadians. And she had Travis in the palm of her hand ... right up until the home visit, when he found out (A) how small Winnipeg is, and (B) that she lived at home. This was hysterically funny for some reason -- the Winnipeg/home combo was right up there with her confessing that she had recurring genital warts, or that she used to date OJ. He couldn't vote her off fast enough. This show kills me.

4. He voted off Susan the Aspiring Actress Monday night, but not before she became the greatest Bachelor contestant ever: Not only did she admit she was moving to L.A. right after the show finished taping, not only did her mom come right out and say, "She's in this for the wrong reasons, she just wants the visibility of the show," but on last night's show, when stupid Travis finally confronted her about it, she argued that she came onto the show for the right reasons and that increasing her visibility was the last reason she would ever have come on the show. Really? That was the last reason? You're an aspiring actress and never thought, "Wow, if I win this thing, it could help my acting career?"

5. By the fifth episode, Travis broke Jesse Palmer's record for "Most times using the word 'amazing.'" Now he's like Wilt in the 1961-62 season ... we're reaching heights that nobody ever imagined. It's been amazing.

(And yes, I hate myself for watching this show. In my defense, I have three "take one for the team" shows with the Sports Gal: this one, the surprisingly watchable "How I Met Your Mother," and the just-canceled "Love Monkey," which could have been decent if they didn't resort to every possible cliché on the planet. After Bachelor ends, we're down to one "take one for the team" show ... which means I might have to start watching "Grey's Anatomy" to pad my numbers. Shoot me now.)

Finally, Liz from Milwaukee asks: "For your next book recommendation, will you please recommend one of Ralph Wiley's books. I saw a couple on Amazon and always enjoyed reading him on Page 2. I'd like to pick out a book from him, but have no idea which one. Thanks."

It's my pleasure. My favorite Wiley book was "Why Black People Tend To Shout," which I first read in college and really enjoyed. It still holds up. But the recent collection of definitive Wiley columns called "Classic Wiley" has his best pieces from the past 25 years, including some of his best boxing essays, the famous Doc and Darryl piece from Sports Illustrated, and his 2002 ESPN.com column about O.J. Simpson that remains one of the best O.J.-related pieces ever written. I re-read this book two weekends ago and forgot how much I missed Ralph's perspective on things. For instance, what would he have written about Kobe's 81-point game? Or the steroids scandal last year? Say what you want about Ralph, but he was always interesting, and when he played it straight, his sportswriting was as good as anything we ever ran on this Web site. Plus, he was one of the Remaining 20. I miss reading him.

Another good thing about those books: "Why Black People Tend to Shout" AND "Classic Wiley" are in stock on Amazon.com as we speak.




Bill_Simmons
Bill
Simmons
February 2006
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