From this point forward, I'm kicking off The Links with an old column from the past six years. Today's link from the archives is for everyone who enjoys JackO on my podcasts: His Oscar-winning performance in my 2004 NBA Draft Diary.
Speaking of the B.S. Report, we unleashed my biggest podcast ever Wednesday -- 80 minutes of football talk with Aaron Schatz from "Football Outsiders," Cousin Sal with playoff lines and four of my friends who root for teams playing in the wild-card round.
Anyway, get ready to waste an unfathomable amount of time. I had time over the holiday break to put together a "Sports Guy Collection" on YouTube. This video playlist is broken down into seven categories: Boston, boxing, hoops, random stuff, music, comedy and unintentional comedy. It's a work in progress but there are about 120 clips right now. Check it out when you have a chance.
By the way, one of my New Year's resolutions is to figure out how to post stuff on YouTube. I even bought one of those DVD/VCR machines last week that allows me to transfer my video tapes to DVD -- press one button and it dubs it right over -- with the eventual goal of throwing some of my stuff on YouTube. And I have some killer stuff: Old Letterman episodes, old Boston games, some Bird highlight videos that were made when he retired, the transcendent "Wide World of Sports 25th Anniversary Show," even the dunk video that I made with my buddy Bish that's a solid 99 out of 100 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to transfer these DVDs into hard drive MPEGs so I can post them. Is there a specific program I should buy? What's the easiest way to proceed? If it's an easy answer or an easy program to purchase, let me know.
For now, we'll have to rely solely on clips that were already on YouTube. The work-in-progress "Sports Guy Collection" already has some beauties that haven't received links from me before, including ...
1. The greatest "SNL" commercial ever, which just finally made it to YouTube. Stevie Wonder and John Newcombe for Canon camera. This was part of a spectacular 1982 episode that I rehashed in an August 2005 mailbag while answering the question, "What is the all-time best performance by a guest host in an 'SNL' skit?" (Scroll down to the bottom of the mailbag for the extended answer, but it's Stevie in the "Stevie Wonder Experience" sketch). In that same show, Stevie belted out a remarkable version of "Overjoyed," which was the show's single greatest musical moment until Paul Simon sang "The Boxer" to kick off the post-9/11 show. If NBC was smart, it would just rerun that entire show this week in lieu of a newer rerun that has been shown five times already.
2. I thought this was particularly incredible: Did you know a Patriots fan sitting in the stands filmed Adam Vinatieri's game-tying field goal from the Snow Bowl? Can't believe I hadn't seen that one before.
3. Greg M. in Maplewood, Minn., writes, "This old Barbara Walters/Sly Stallone interview absolutely kills me. It's got everything -- Sly and Babs on a motorcycle, Sly's mullet while painting, the revelation that in school he was voted 'Most Likely To End Up In The Electric Chair,' the Brigitte Nielsen saga (complete with a Gastineau appearance)."
(Note: I implore you to click on that link if only to see Sly's hair. Repeat: I implore you.)
4. I had been waiting for this Jim Carrey clip to pop up for two years, so we're running it even though it has some weird foreign narrator talking over the dead spots: It's Carrey's breakthrough performance in one of HBO's "Young Comedians" specials in the mid-'80s. (I specifically remember watching this and thinking, "This guy is going to be really, really famous some day.") Anyway, you have to check it out just for his Brezhnev, Eastwood and Bronson impressions and his impression of Michael Landon smiling, my single favorite impression ever done. And that's a strong statement.
5. A compilation of every "Norm entering the bar" joke from the first season of "Cheers." Thanks to Jason in Dallas for the link.
7. Aaron in Baltimore writes, "Check out this minute-plus clip of Shia LaBeouf's 'no no no!' lines from ... every movie ever. This is 'the next Tom Hanks?' And can we add his name to the list of guys with names that should be hot chicks? If he's not already near the top of it? Thanks."
Here are some other clips that didn't make the Sports Guy Collection cut, but you might enjoy checking them out, anyway:
1. Watch out for bad language in this one, but I'd never heard this Eddie Murphy standup routine before on Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes. Made me laugh.
2. Pat from Reno, Nev., writes, "Was feeling a little hung over this morning, and then this clip made everything feel better. Basketball at its greatest -- the best-ever player and the funniest player, some of the best trash talking ever, and even the all-time worst commentator thrown in to really top it off. Enjoy."
(Note: Can you imagine Barkley and MJ trying to do this now? They would have both been ejected the moment they frowned at one another.)
3. Finally, a higher-quality clip of the infamous Gordon-Jump-as-a-child-molester episode of "Diff'rent Strokes." Poor Dudley.
4. David in West Lafayette, Ind., writes, "I got bored and was looking up old ESPN commercials and discovered this. So when 'Scrubs' is finally put out of its misery, Zach Braff can make some extra cash by being a creepy college student in ESPN commercials once again before he goes on to make 'Garden State 2: Beta House.' "
Some other links I enjoyed over the holidays:
• If you haven't checked it out, please head over to "Straight Cash Homey" on Page 2 for one of the greatest ideas we've ever had: Pictures of people wearing lame sports jerseys in public, along with captions mocking the logic behind those jerseys. I love this idea and feel like it should gain steam in 2008 as more and more people send in photos.
• OK, this Huffington Post piece about the model who "claimed" to have an affair with Tony Parker is a must-read. You have to read it. I demand that you read it.
• Stephen in Portland, Ore.: "I don't know if you saw this but apparently John Edwards is using 'Ouuuuuur Country' for his presidential campaign song. Sorry, John, you just lost any possibility of me considering voting for you."
• Kevin in Wisconsin wants us to know David Akers wears his wedding ring on the field during games. I need more info on this, but it looks like we have a leading candidate for the 2008 Doug Christie Award.
• Just out of principle, I have to link to any article that explains why Rasheed Wallace decided to nickname Primo Brezec, "Gangsta."
• Bill G. in Katonah, N.Y., wonders, "I read this article and thought it was real interesting. Do you think this could ever happen in America? I think the Knicks fans should do this or have your readers ban together and help buy an NBA team for you to manage. The actual site is http://www.myfootballclub.co.uk. You need to make this work and I feel one of your readers is crazy enough to start something like this. Good luck." Um, I think I'd need more than luck to pull off that one.
• Al Norton unveiled his "Year In Television" review for his "Two Tivos To Paradise" column. I continue to be infuriated that there's no way to catch up on Season 1 of "Mad Men." Way to strike while the iron was hot, AMC.
• Check out this Chicago Tribune article about Scottie Pippen wondering why he can't be an NBA head coach. I have to say, he has a pretty good case except for the part that he's desperately broke and needs the money. He was one of the smartest players of his generation, he won six rings and he received his Basketball Ph.D. playing with MJ. Why does someone like P.J. Carlesimo or Bob Hill get three chances when Scottie hasn't gotten one?
• Adam Carolla's listeners launched an unofficial "Carolla Show" message board two weeks ago that's really well done.
• This YouTube clip that Mike in Minny sent along deserves its own section: It's a 1995 "SportsCenter" piece about the lottery teams trying to figure out whether they should gamble on Kevin Garnett. If you're not riveted by this (especially the Isiah Thomas part), I'm giving you a full refund for this week's links. ESPN.com should launch a section of old "SportsCenter" features and clips that could be a cross between YouTube and ESPN Classic. If there was a link every day along the lines of this incredible-to-watch-after-the-fact KG piece, wouldn't you click on it?
• This gets my vote for the greatest URL of 2007: http://heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com/. Funny site, too.
• I liked this gimmick column from Gene Collier in Pittsburgh: He tries to figure out the most inane sports phrase of 2007. A little disappointed that "... in the National Football League" wasn't included in some form, though.
• Richard Sandomir kills Bryant Gumbel's play-by-play performance on the NFL Network by sticking to the facts. I might have this column framed.
• Remember the inmates who pulled a "Shawshank" two weeks ago by escaping through a hole that was covered by posters? Well, the "Shawshank" parallels took a dark turn: One of the guards who was in charge of that cell block committed suicide. This is getting creepy.
• Pax from Berkeley, Calif., writes, "The pieces are officially in place for Pedif Isle: Check out this New York Magazine feature. I think that the chances of the Hollywood writer's strike ending would exponentially increase if you and Corolla decide to adapt this into a TV series."
• Two "Karate Kid" links for you:
1. Andrew in San Diego: "Since you live in L.A., I was wondering if you and the Sports Gal ever make it out to Golf N'Stuff to re-enact the date from "The Karate Kid"? Well, if you haven't, I suggest you do. Now, the place has changed some, like the water slide has been removed, but it's still worth the trip. Check out the link for the site."
2. Tom M. in Indiana: "After rereading your 'Karate Kid' column, I found the final fight from the second movie. Is there any reason everyone from the village was prevented from crossing the ankle-deep, four-foot-wide creek to help Daniel-San when he looked in danger of losing. I think Mr. Miyagi wanted Daniel-San to die. He could have saved him by crossing the water but instead pulled out the drum thing. I think Miyagi was as uncomfortable with their relationship as the viewers."
• Rob in Reno got me with this one: "I know you're a YouTube junkie. How many times have you been 'Rickrolled'? And what's your favorite (or least favorite) fake video that turned out to be a 'Rickroll'? Also, here's a video of Kobe chewing out his teammates on the sidelines."
• Zach in Pasadena, Calif., writes, "Chris Paul was on the NPR show 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me' earlier this year, and his segment was re-aired this week. He was gregarious and he dominated the quiz. Many guests only get one question right. He got all three."
• Finally, we're about to hit the third month of the writers' strike. The late-night hosts returned this week for a fascinating night of TV: Letterman had his writers with him, thanks to an incredibly shortsighted loophole (we'll get to this in a second), only his show wasn't that funny; Leno's monologue was really good and almost seemed like it had been written (even though nobody is supposed to be writing anything scripted); Kimmel's first act was smooth and Regis-esque, although he was the angriest about the WGA (and he is, we'll get to this in a second); and a rattled Conan, as everyone predicted, was mugging so shamelessly that I couldn't take it and flipped channels after a few minutes.
Here's the big issue: Right before the New Year, the writers for Letterman's show and Craig Ferguson's show struck a deal with Worldwide Pants (the company Letterman owns) that was considered a victory by the WGA because Worldwide Pants became the first Hollywood "studio" to "agree" to all their conditions.
I worked on Kimmel's show for 18 months, I still pay WGA dues, and I have 10 unemployed friends from Kimmel's show who might not be returning to work until the spring, so if anyone should sympathize with the writer's strike, it's me. And for the life of me, I can't figure out how this Worldwide Pants deal didn't just completely undermine the strike. Let's try to summarize the WGA's logic with my thoughts in parentheses.
A. The WP deal proves the WGA's demands aren't unreasonable, and they can make a similar deal with bigger studios.
(Actually, it just proves Letterman wanted to get his shows back on the air, Letterman was in a unique position to do so, and Letterman was smart enough to understand coming back with writers would give him an advantage over the writerless Leno, especially when most A-list and B-list celebs are afraid to cross a picket line to appear on a talk show. Letterman just bought himself a significant competitive advantage for the duration of this strike.)
(Parentheses to the parentheses: The San Fran Chronicle's excellent TV critic, Tim Goodman, wrote that it could be a disadvantage since Letterman wouldn't be operating with a degree of difficulty like the other guys. I completely disagree. Maybe it will be admirable to watch the non-Letterman hosts operating without a safety net for a few shows -- or in Conan's case, absorbing because it's such a train wreck -- but, ultimately, their shows will seem sloppy and disjointed compared to Letterman's show. You know why I know this? During the last prolonged writer's strike in 1988, Letterman came back without writers for a few weeks. It was fun for about five shows. After that, it wasn't so much fun. When you're putting on four or five shows per week, if you want those shows to be anything other than "watchable and occasionally funny," you need writers. This is Letterman's best chance to gain viewers since he had his heart problems a few years ago. He'll be at the top of his game, he'll have the best guests, and he'll have his writers with him. Sounds like an advantage to me.)
B. Getting Letterman and Ferguson on TV will force the hands of the other networks to get their late-night guys back on, which means more strike-related progress will be made since every little step counts.
(Actually, the studios have no incentive to settle until they have to start figuring out the summer movie schedule for 2009. Even though this was always the case, the WGA chose to strike in November and allowed the networks to extricate themselves from every bad development deal and half-assed pilot they had. Check out Alec Baldwin's recent piece on the Huffington Post. Hollywood LOVES this strike -- the execs are using it as an opportunity to completely re-invent the TV infrastructure. Imagine if the NBA had a chance to dump every bad player's contract, avoid paying any front-office employees, disband its five worst franchises with no repercussions and fix everything that's wrong about the league, and on top of that, they could get by on reruns, D-League games and documentaries for the next nine months without antagonizing their fans, getting crushed financially or suffering catastrophic dips in ratings or attendance. Would they do it? Of course, they would. Why didn't the WGA leaders see this in October when they were threatening to strike? I don't know.)
C. Letterman's visibility will build momentum for the WGA because he'll be railing against the studios every night for a large audience.
(Nobody outside of L.A. or Manhattan cares about the strike. Why would they care if Letterman is upset? That didn't stop the pro-strike people from claiming Letterman's return was a huge victory for the WGA, like in this particularly moronic piece. This Deadline Hollywood Daily piece was more balanced and delved into the building unrest with the Guild members.)
Any defenders of the WP deal failed to answer one question last week: How could the Letterman/Ferguson writers cash paychecks while every other late-night writer (and WGA writer, for that matter) went broke on a picket line? If they had said, "We'll go back to work, but we're pooling together our salaries and splitting them with every other striking late night writer," I could see it. But reading the coverage last week, those writers looked like the rich people on the Titanic who grabbed the first few life rafts. Guys, we're gonna save ourselves, don't worry, we're sending for help, you'll be fine!
The Letterman guys obviously felt guilty because, they made an announcement Wednesday that they're donating a percentage of their salaries to the Strike Fund and the Actors Fund. Maybe they realized, by not pooling their paychecks, they were inadvertently making the case for the other side: Not only were they doing what was best for themselves, but they didn't want to give away money when they were under no real obligation to do so (even if it was the right thing to do). Um, isn't that the exact same logic the studios are using with Internet revenue?
One more thing: The WGA ordered pickets for the Kimmel/Leno/Conan/Colbert/Stewart shows this month, although they made it clear they would be picketing the networks and not the hosts (whatever that means). This is why Kimmel and Leno were so upset Wednesday night. The wealthiest of the late-night hosts is fortunate enough to own his own show, which enabled him to come back with his own writers, a WGA seal of approval and a huge competitive advantage. His competitors don't own their own shows, so if they didn't come back to work, the rest of their employees wouldn't have gotten paid -- as Leno pointed out last night, 19 people had put another 160 employees out of work -- and in Jimmy's case, his show could have been in danger of being canceled if he didn't return. Now they have to put on watered-down shows and scramble for guests, and even though they supported the strike, they're getting picketed as well.
And this makes sense ... how? You got me.