Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Best of the in-box
By Bill Simmons
After getting an inordinate amount of interesting e-mails over the past few weeks, I wanted to include as many as possible, so I limited my responses to one paragraph only. In the words of Dr. Evil, I will call this mailbag "Mini-Mailbag." As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers:
Q: Big fan SG, but just once, try to go an entire article without mentioning Boston, the Sox, the Pats or the Celts. Just once. I dare you.
-- Andrew McCarthy, Lansdale, Pa.
SG: You're on ... I always accept challenges from anyone in the "St. Elmo's Fire" cast. Let's see how this goes.
Q: The R. Kelly Rap Opera "Trapped in the Closet" -- I would like to know if there could ever be a sports equivalent on the unintentional comedy scale? The best I could come up with would be pairing Dikembe Mutombo and Kerri Strug on the next edition of "Dancing with the Stars" -- Dikembe dancing through an inspired version of the Cha Cha Cha, and Bela Karolyi carrying an exhausted Dikembe off the dance floor while Kerri signs up for the next season of "Surreal Life."
-- Josh Garrett, Indianapolis
SG: I would go with Joe Namath trying to kiss Suzy Kolber as David from "Real World New Orleans," Brian Austin Green and Frank Stallone performed the "skee-dopple-bee" song together, only with Dikembe Mutombo and Kerri Strug ballroom dancing in the background and Tom Cruise becoming so excited that he leaps off a sofa and high-fives Rosie O'Donnell's character from "Riding the Bus With My Sister," but he ends up accidentally knocking Troy Aikman unconscious, leading to Aikman being resuscitated with smelling salts by Larry Merchant and eventually making the Aikman Face. But that's just me.
Q: Can we all agree that the slow-clap in "Lucas" was the best executed slow-clap in cinematic history?
-- David Snipes, Seoul, Korea
SG: Obviously you haven't seen "Brubaker" with Robert Redford -- that movie put the slow-clap on the map (one of the most underrated movies of the '80s). And while we're here, the funniest slow-clap ever happened when Phil Hartman returned to host "SNL" in 1996, then he wouldn't come out of his dressing room for the monologue before Tim Meadows finally convinced him to come out ... and when he finally emerged, Will Ferrell was standing there, made an emotional face, waited two beats, then started the slow-clap. Not only was it a great moment, but it carried a little extra weight because Ferrell and Hartman were on the screen together, almost like the torch was being passed. All right, I put way too much thought into this.
Q: I will not take that ESPN show, "The Top Five Reasons You Can't Blame ..." seriously until they have "The Top Five Reasons You Can't Blame ... Rowdy Roddy Piper For Smacking Jimmy Snuka With A Coconut."
-- Steve B., Wilmingtonp>
SG: I'm with you. And just for the record, here are the answers: (5) He needed to go after a bigger name after ruining Frankie Williams' career; (4) He needed a new feud after Don Muraco dispatched him in their steel-cage match at MSG; (3) Just when Snuka thought he knew the answers, Piper changed the questions; (2) Snuka was about to beat the hell out of him, so Piper needed to act quickly; and (1) the coconut was rigged so that it broke even before it hit Snuka's forehead (seriously, slow-mo it if you have the tape), so Snuka was never in any real danger.
Q: I think you missed the best example of the Shue Phenomenon (when a sibling shockingly becomes more successful than his much more famous sibling). As a huge fan of the "Chappelle Show," I think Charlie Murphy passing by comedy HoF younger brother Eddie is even bigger than Kevin Dillon. It's like if Billy Carter suddenly became President, cured AIDS, found a never-ending alternative fuel source, and stopped all war and terrorism. The Charlie Murphy phenomenon literally came out of nowhere, didn't it?
-- Dallas, Chicago
SG: Excellent point. And while we're here, I'm making a prediction for the next Shue Phenomenon candidate: Jamie Lynn Spears. That reminds me, I've been thinking about creating a William Baldwin Corollary to the Shue Phenomenon, where we think a sibling could become more famous than the already famous sibling, but instead of it happening, they flame out abruptly and you become embarrassed that you thought it would happen in the first place.
Q: I read some of the responses to your WNBA column (which I thought was fantastic) and thought, "What would make me attend a game?" Then it hit me. What if at halftime they did a drawing and any random fan had the opportunity to come down and play in the second half? Section 215, Row G Seat 9 ... C'MON DOWN!!!! I might have to buy season tickets.
-- Tim, Seattle
SG: Now we're talking! What would be better than a WNBA game filled with the usual crowd of 8,000 people, only with another 3,500 frustrated athletes hoping to get called out on the court so they could light up Sue Bird or Sheryl Swoopes. I also think they should make a rule that, during the first five minutes of the second half, all the players get to be on the floor at once -- kinda like what happens at halftime of an NBA game when two teams of third graders are playing 10 on 10, making it even more amazing when somebody goes coast-to-coast and jukes like 10 defenders just to get a shot off (since when does the crowd not respond to the obligatory 10-on-10 game?). The more the merrier, I say.
Q: In your recent mailbag where you rated the top five TV moments of your youth, you [should] have considered Madonna's performance of "Like a Virgin" in the first MTV Video Awards. Like many of my peers who were 11 or 12 at the time, I actually entered puberty during the exact moment of that performance when she started consummating her relationship with herself on stage. I think that if the Hubble telescope had been up and running at the time you could have actually seen the Earth momentarily tilt off its axis from the massive expulsion of pheromones from the Western hemisphere. Oh, my. I think I have to go now. Thanks for hearing me out.
-- Christopher Geary, San Diego
SG: Wait, this will really push it over the top for you -- my stepdad has a friend named Joel Schoenfeld who was sitting in one of the first few rows that night, and Joel swears that Madonna wasn't wearing any underwear that night. If the MTV cameras had accidentally picked that up, that would have been it -- I would have self-combusted. There would have been nothing left. Now that she's a mom and thinks she's English, it's easy to forget what an absolute trashy bimbo Madonna was back in the day. She made Paris Hilton look like Gwyneth Paltrow. And you know what? Old Madonna still does it for me. Even seeing her "Vision Quest" cameo remains exciting to this day -- it looks like she's ready to take on Louden Swain and everyone else in the bar. What a career.
Q: So I currently live with two friends from school. Last night this chick tried to seduce one of my roommates into sleeping with her but he unfortunately refused because she had already slept with us other two roommates. (I'd like to state for the record that I was first and not second.) Had she been successful, that would have been an amazing feat that deservedly could be referred to as the Triple Crown. The question is: Would the better nickname for her be Secretariat or the Yaz?
-- Jeff V., New York
SG: First, e-mails like this remind me of why I miss being in my mid-20's so much. Second, I hope you have been making fun of the roommate who followed you in the order as much as possible. And third, I like Secretariat. It's a funny nickname by itself, and in my book, the first name that makes me think of the Triple Crown. So there you go.
Q: Now I know that even as you read this, your editors are electro-shocking you, but I don't think I'm alone in my request for ESPN to advise those of us who watch "PTI" on a daily basis when Wilbon and Kornheiser won't be on the show. All they would have to do is put some sort of a disclaimer on the screen before the show starts. Seeing [some of the replacement hosts] start off the show is like seeing your starting fantasy QB go down with a broken leg in Week 1. I'd rather watch the WNBA.
-- Victor W, Bethlehem, Pa.
SG: Couldn't agree more -- reminds me of growing up with the Boston Globe when someone else wrote Gammons' Sunday notes column -- it was like finding out that Eddie Murphy had been replaced on SNL for the week with Nipsey Russell. Kornheiser and Wilbon are just that good together.
Q: Was watching "Stand by Me" again the other night -- isn't it amazing Jerry O'Connell became the biggest star of that group? What would be the sports equivalent to that? The only thing I could think of is if Jimmy King or Ray Jackson became the NBA superstar while C-Webb's career was tragically cut short, Jalen Rose became the laughingstock of the league and Juwan Howard vanished into thin air.
-- Joe P., Boston
SG: That sounds about right, although I'm not sure the words "biggest star of that group" and "Jerry O'Connell" should ever be used in the same sentence. You also could have gone with Anderson Hunt becoming the biggest UNLV star of those LJ-Anthony-Augmon teams, or even Willie Glass outshining the Mullin-Wennington-Berry-Jackson quartet at St. John's. But it would HAVE to be a college basketball analogy, since part of the charm of "Stand By Me" was that they were young actors with good futures. I just hope that me tacitly accepting the O'Connell statement and not providing even a lukewarm case for Wil Wheaton doesn't cause a genuine riot on Fark.com today.
Q: "That's OK, mom will eat it ... " So said the Macaroni Grille waitress. She was speaking about my now ex-girlfriend (I'm 27, she is 39). Would you like to hear how this ended?
-- John, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
SG: You have to admit ... no other writer on the planet gets e-mails like this.
Q: How much money could Valerie Malone have actually received from Jonesy in the "get Dylan's money from his father's ex-wife" storyline in 90210? I mean, she bought a 'Vette, lived in the Penthouse Bel-Age Hotel and bought out Rush Sanders from the After Dark? This is really bothering me.
-- Jon Elsass, Chicago
SG: Excellent questions, and there's really no answer -- that's why the show was never the same after that moment, followed by some brief resurgences over the next three years, and culminating in Brandon not even getting a two-hour episode when he finally left the show. When Valerie became rich, that was it. I'll take a leap of faith with David Silver's budding music career, Brandon leading Beverly Hills High in a "Donna Martin graduates!" chant, Steve Sanders being a world-class volleyball player, even Tori Spelling's character becoming a high-end fashion model in France. But Valerie somehow buying a 'Vette and a nightclub and living in a four-figure suite after cutting a deal for fifty grand at best? That was too much for me.
Q: Please help settle a long-standing debate a friend and I have going. How far did Zack Morris get with Kelly Kapowski?
-- Jonathan Chavez, Cambridge, Mass.
SG: I was thinking about bothering my new ESPN colleague Mario Lopez with this one (sorry, I just had to see how that looked in print) before deciding to take this one myself. I don't think Zack sealed the deal until the "College Years" ... and that show never happened. So I'm going with third base. And I mean "third base" in the context of when the show happened (the early-'90s), not what "third base" means now, which is probably something like "a threesome that isn't videotaped."
Q: Can you explain what the differences are, if any, between adult film stars and reality TV stars? I think the line has been significantly blurred over the last five years, and my buddies and I need some help differentiating the two groups.
-- Richard in Austin, TX
SG: That's a tough one. Both groups are willing to do whatever it takes to humiliate themselves on camera, as long as it keeps them in the limelight. Both groups hang out with another off the set and date mostly each other. Both groups age at an astonishingly fast rate from all the partying. Both groups think they will parlay the gig into something bigger, although they never do. Both openly have sex on camera (although reality stars pull blankets over themselves). But there's one crucial difference -- no porn star would ever do what Johnny Fairplay did to Trish on the last episode of "Kill Reality." In fact, I'm not even allowed to allude to it in this column. That's how bad it was. By the end of that show, he made Terrell Owens seem like David Robinson.
Q: Hey Bill, if you submitted your East Coast fantasy rosters to Vegas, do you think they would post odds on your league champion? If I could get +500 or better on Wyman's team, I think I'd take it. I also think I might have a gambling problem.
-- Chris M., Bowmanville, Ontario
SG: In your defense, you live in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Q: I was recently in Mexico for my honeymoon and had a private car take my wife and [me] from the airport to our resort. When we got to the car, it turned out to be a Dodge Stratus. I tried to get the driver to say "I drive a Dodge Stratus!" but he just looked at me like I was nuts. When we got to the resort, he jumped out and threw our bags out of the car and took off before I could even get my wallet out to tip him.
-- Bill H., Nashville
SG: You should have asked him to scream, "I'm a division manager! PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF ME!" And I'm with you -- nothing makes me happier on the highway than seeing a Dodge Stratus, with the possible exception of getting randomly mooned.
Q: I just read that Shannon Elizabeth has filed for divorce. Why is it that I got a thrill in knowing that she was available once again? Is it just me or do all fellas get excited when a hot female celeb splits from her main squeeze? I mean, do we genuinely believe that we suddenly have a shot with her? What is that??? Possibly an indication that I'm a sad individual.
-- Mike G, Melbourne, Australia
SG: Couldn't come with the right response to this one, so I asked my friend Jimmy, the guy who hosts a talk show on ABC, hates fantasy football and loves to cook for large groups of people, making him the most sensitive heterosexual guy I know. Here's what Jimmy thought: "It must be genetic because it starts in elementary school with a quiet crush on the prettiest girl in class. You spend days and nights praying that she'll break up with the feathered-hair Aryan jerk in your class. When she finally does, it comes with a feeling of great relief -- even though nothing actually changes for you. You still admire her from afar, treasuring and analyzing even the briefest and most casual encounter with her. You still don't talk to her. And even if she goes through every feathered-hair Aryan jerk in your class, she never gets to you. Mike sees a break-up with her husband as a first and necessary step towards sex with him. Even if another step is never taken, it's a step. I guess it's a combination of unhappiness and optimism."
Q: I've never heard anyone ever speak of this, but don't you think Forrest Gump would have gotten HIV from Jenny? Or what about Forrest Jr.? I mean, she obviously died of AIDS, with the drugs, needles, orgies and what have you. Do you think either of them got tested? Or maybe he was just so blessed it somehow avoided them. But let's not deny the fact that Forrest Gump had unprotected sex with Jenny while she had HIV.
-- Brian G., Quincy, Mass.
SG: Wait a second ... that was your biggest issue with Forrest Gump? What about the scene when he ran back and forth across the country for 18 months, and we never found out how he ate, slept or went to the bathroom? You were fine with that sequence, but you're demanding a Forrest Gump HIV test?
Q: OK, just found out the wife and I are having a baby girl. She'll be our first child. As I know you have faced this also ... what is the proper response to your friends, who have boys, when they drop the obligatory "congratulations, you got next" bomb?
-- Chris Wilson, Mississippi
SG: Just take all the jabs with a smile, even as you're silently smoldering. For instance, my buddy Sully has two young boys, and ever since I found out that the Sports Gal was pregnant, he started up with the "It better not be a girl, the Sullivan Boys are going to be stepping in!" jokes. When we found out that we were having a girl, I didn't even tell him for another two months -- I could hear him cackling like a madman, which is exactly what happened. Actually, my advice would be to lie and tell everyone you're having a boy. Let them find out when they meet the baby that there isn't a penis to be seen.
Q: I was watching "Angels in the Outfield" last night, and saw that Adrien Brody and Matthew McConaughey both had bit parts in it. I decided that if I ever saw them, I would say, "I loved you in 'Angels in the Outfield.' " Just to bring them down a notch. I was trying to think of other actors who I could get. I came up with Benicio Del Toro in "Big Top Pee-Wee," Jennifier Aniston in "Leprechaun" and Ben Stiller in "Heavyweights." Can you think of any more members of the "I Loved you in ... " Club?
-- Nick N., Newton, Mass.
SG: Off the top of my head, I would add Kevin Costner in "The Big Chill," Jon Favreau in "Rudy" (when he was like 400 pounds), Ben Affleck in "School Ties," Julia Roberts in "Satisfaction," Chris Rock in "Beverly Hills Cop 2," and Jon Stewart in "Half Baked" (which would be especially funny because he takes himself so seriously now). But the best one would be bringing up "Bosom Buddies" to Tom Hanks, only you keep talking about it ("Remember that episode where you guys dressed up in drag?") and asking him questions about the show, and finally, he would just snap and scream, "I've won two Oscars! Two! Did you not know this? Ever heard of a movie called "Saving Private Ryan"? Huh????"
Q: If David Ortiz was Korean, his name would be Wok Off
-- John M., Clemson, S.C.
Q: My boyfriend recently showed me a letter from one of your columns about Jennifer Love Hewitt written by some crazed woman. He tried to make the point that women are just jealous of her looks (he knows I hate her). I don't think this is true, I just think she is an incredibly bad actress. However, I countered by asking him what he thought of Ashton Kutcher. At which point he went on a long diatribe about how overrated, overexposed and terrible of an actor he is. So is Kutcher Jennifer's mirror image? Men like her and hate him and women are just the opposite.
-- Shelly D, Pasco, Wash.
Q: After watching the "Thursday Night Football" pregame show, is there now an equivalent to the "Jennifer Love Hewitt is a Great Actress" test for men? Imagine your response be if the Sports Gal remarked "Hey, I'll tell you who did a great job with that pregame show, that Freddie Prinze Jr." Even if you knew she was baiting you, could you control yourself?
-- Will Cornock, Roseland, N.J.
SG: Both excellent points. One problem though -- I don't think any guy truly takes Kutcher or Prinze seriously, whereas when USA Today showed a photo of Love Hewitt pursing her lips and trying to look sexy at the "Ghost Whisperer" press junket recently, I showed it to the Sports Gal with the comment "Doesn't she look great?" Twenty seconds later, she was still dropping F-bombs. That's why I think CBS is missing such a golden opportunity with Hewitt's new show -- she should play the world's most successful fashion model/nuclear physicist and date a never-ending string of good-looking rich guys. Women would watch every week just so they could be furious about it. I'm telling you, this would work.
Q: Jonathan Papelbon's nickname in college was "Paps." Please give him a new one. I didn't even think about an old guy when I heard it. I thought about feminine hygiene.
-- Bill Shearer, Jackson, Miss.
SG: You think I'm jeopardizing something that could potentially lead to a "Paps smears A-Rod, Sox advance to World Series" headline?
Q: I'm watching "Top Gun" and everything is completely plausible. That is, until they start playing volleyball. Honestly, who believes that someone 4-foot-5 would play volleyball. Even more incredible, he has Goose setting him up to spike the ball. Am I the only one who finds this ridiculous? Have I watched "Top Gun" way too many times to be analyzing the volleyball scene?
-- Matt, Boston
SG: Wait, you found this more ridiculous than Cruise playing a 5-foot-5 cornerback with Division I aspirations in "All the Right Moves?" More important, how could you say that everything up to the volleyball scene was completely plausible? This was the same movie that had Kelly McGillis playing a classified expert on Russian M.I.G.s. Hey, speaking of Cruise ...
Q: At the end of "Jerry Maguire," how is it possible that Jerry manages to attend the Monday Night Football game in Tempe, Ariz. -- which would have gone at least 15 minutes longer than the average MNF game due to Rod Tidwell's would-be neck injury -- stay until long after it's over and practically everyone has left the stadium, stick around outside while Rod talks to people and signs autographs, drive to the airport, get on a plane to Seattle, drive home, and still apparently make it by about 8:30 p.m. during the middle of Renee Zellweger's women's group? Did they edit out the scene where he hops into Doc Brown's DeLorean and flux capacitates his way to the Pacific Northwest? Why am I the only person bothered by this?
-- Doug Cantor, New York
SG: You got me thinking about this one. No Monday Night Football game ends before 9:30 p.m. on the West Coast. By the time the stadium cleared out, even with the Tidwell injury, it would have been around 11. Would have taken him about 15-20 minutes to get to the airport, and since this was pre-9/11, he probably could have made it on a midnight flight, which would get him into LAX at around 1:15-1:30. And even if he parked in the garage instead of using All-Star parking like everyone else here, he's not in his car until about 1:40 at the earliest, and there's no way he lived anywhere that was within 20 minutes of LAX. So in an absolute BEST CASE scenario in which everything went seamlessly, he's walking through the door of his house at 2 a.m. In other words ... thanks for ruining the movie for us, Doug Cantor.
Q: I had a dream last night that involved you and your column (I swear on my life it was not sexual). Is this a normal thing other readers have written in about or is this my "Why don't you take the next couple plays off" moment?
-- Jake Kohlman, Washington, DC
SG: I think it's more of a "Take it easy, Champ ... why don't you stop talking for a while?" moment.
Q: The more Seinfeld reruns I watch, the more I believe Jason Alexander as George Costanza is the ultimate One Trick Pony of the acting realm. Since Seinfeld he's had a pilot or two, some below average movie appearances, but I can't think of a single actor having a disparity as large as a "lead role in the greatest comedy TV show of all time" compared to the present "hokey Chrysler commercials with a dried-up Lee Iacocca." Thoughts?
-- Aaron L., Tallahassee, Fla.
SG: Just three and a half years ago, I broke down Seinfeld vs. Cheers in a mailbag and wrote the following: "George was the funniest TV character of all time, period ... the only sitcom character who ever made me consistently laugh out loud ... he kills me to this day." Now? I can barely watch the old re-runs because once "Curb Your Enthusiasm" took off, it became painfully clear that Alexander was just doing a Larry David impersonation the entire time (a devastating revelation after the fact), and his career has been so shamelessly derivative since that show ended, it almost makes me retroactively dislike George Costanza after the fact. I feel cheated. I loved George Costanza. Isn't there some pill we can take to make us forget everything that has happened so we can enjoy him again?
Q: Is there any better way to say that a couple is actively trying to have a baby than, "They've pulled the goalie?"
-- Bassel, Sunnyvale, Calif.
SG: Absolutely not. It's the single-best thing that hockey has done for our culture since Barry Melrose single-handedly saved the mullet.
Q: Does anything about this Tedy Bruschi-on-the-sidelines routine smell funny? Doesn't this seem like a WWE-style ploy by Belichick? What if we get to the first round of the playoffs, with the Pats on the road, and they need a lift? Wouldn't the triumphant return of Bruschi be the spark they need to get the three-peat? Couldn't the Pats hire Jim Ross for the night, just to have a "Good God, that's Tedy Bruschi's music!" moment?
-- Bart Shirley, Dallas
SG: Loved the idea, but I think you screwed up the timeline. Bruschi is eligible to be activated after Week Six. Realistically, he could scrimmage in all the closed practices without anyone knowing, and then emerge from the tunnel during that Week 9 game against the Colts at Foxboro, which, in my opinion, would be the single most exciting moment in Patriots history if it happened -- even better than both Super Bowl kicks -- as well as football's first Willis Reed moment. The Colts would be finished. D-U-N done. I'm getting the chills just thinking about it.
(Whoops, I mentioned a Boston team. Oh, well.)
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine and his Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday. You can preorder his upcoming book "Now I Can Die In Peace" on Amazon.com