Friday, July 16, 2010

News Roundup, All-Star Break Version

We just completed the Midsummer Classic. I pulled these All-Star stories off the news wire. --MPF.

All-Star Game 'Counts' for Just 6% of National League
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Despite Major League Baseball's advertisements that "this time" the All-Star Game "counts," 94% of the victorious National League couldn't care about the exhibition's outcome.

"It counts, huh?" asked Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young, whose team is 17.5 games out of first place. "Counts for what? I'm pretty sure nothing changes for me."

Marlon Byrd of the Chicago Cubs concurred. "Umm, yeah, our league won. That's nice." Byrd, who drew a walk and scored from first on Brian McCann's double, said he "probably would not" notice the home field advantage of the National League in the 2010 World Series.

Nervous Relatives Checking on Yogi Berra 5 Times a Day
NEW YORK (AP) - Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, age 85, has been receiving near-constant attention from family members in recent days, his neighbors reported.

"No reason," stammered Jodi Weise, 34, granddaughter of the Yankees legend, as she shoved a copy of the New York Daily News with obituaries of Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner into her purse. "He's just, you know, my grandpa. And um, he's old. And, you know, we love him."

Other relatives insisted that bad luck does not happen in threes, and that they were going to Yankees Stadium this week "just for the game" and not any pregame ceremonies involving recent losses to the organization.

Berra, when reached for comment, said: "It's ain't over til ... fat lady .... or ... where's that duck, now? Isn't that his line?"

MLB Nicknames Stephen Strasburg 'Lebron'
WASHINGTON (AP) - Commissioner Bud Selig announced Friday that Major League Baseball had decided on "Lebron" as the nickname for Nationals phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

"Everytime I logged on to AOL, my News Alerts kept coming up with Lebron this, Lebron that. This Lebron thing is obviously very hot. And Strasburg is hot." Senior MLB officials said off the record that other nicknames Selig considered were "Twilight," "Britney," "Mad Men" and "BP."

Selig added that the nickname wasn't final, however.

"I need to figure out if it's LEBB-rin, or Leh-BRAWN. And if it's the latter, we need to translate what the bron means in French. This is America's game, after all."

Strasburg, 20, reportedly rolled his eyes when informed by Manager Jim Riggleman and quietly asked, "Can I just go pitch, please?"

Trivia Question During All-Star Game Stumps Girardi
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Trivia master and baseball commentator Tim McCarver scored another win Tuesday, when he baffled AL Manager Joe Girardi with a question about a player's living arrangements.

"It was great," said McCarver, as he basked in his minor-knowledge supremacy after stumping Girardi, who had been occupied managing in the middle of the All-Star Game. "I asked him who Cliff Lee, now with the Texas Rangers, but previously with the Seattle Mariners, rented a house from while in Seattle. Because, you know, those are both American League teams, and he was the American League manager."

When informed the answer was former Mariner and current Philadelphia Phillie Jamie Moyer, the Yankee skipper said, "Huh."

McCarver declined to ask Girardi a Moyer-related follow-up question, such as who is his famous father-in-law, because, McCarver said, "Everybody knows the answer is Digger Phelps."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why Harrison Ford Is Awesome (And the Red Eye Sucks)

Yeah, I know I've been quiet for a while. Yeah, the reason is mostly this and I definitely owe you some updates. I'm dippin' my toe back into the Internets with this piece here. Enjoy.

For our reader(s) outside Chicago, the Red Eye is a free daily newspaper aimed at stupid people. Now, that's not how they describe it: the paper's mission statement says it reaches "young, urban professionals who are short on time and long on disposable income."

To make sure the target audience doesn't have to think too hard, the articles are nice and short, mostly about bars or celebrities, with a minimum of actual news (economy, oil spill, etc). They don't use big words, and when they talk to celebrities, they don't pry too deep.

Witness this interview from January with Harrison Ford. It opens with this caveat:
If there is anything hard about interviewing Harrison Ford, it’s that the actor has amassed such a varied filmography of legendary highs (“Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones”), genre classics (“Blade Runner,” “The Fugitive”) and some pretty big stinkers (“Firewall”). There are simply too many questions to ask in a 15-minute window.
And this barn-burner of a first question:

Q: Let’s say someone tries to mug you on the street. You’ve got a light saber in one pocket and a whip in the other. Which do you go for?

A: [quiet laugh] I don’t know where to go with that. I think I would run away. As usual.

Q: What do you mean as usual?

A: Well, I mean I’m reaching deep into the depths of my soul and I’m telling you that I’m not playing a guy with a whip or a light saber if somebody’s trying to mug me on the street. It’s not a character; it’s just self-defense. Well, the character choice I would be making is ... You’re asking me, and I would tell you I would run away.

And yet, the Red Eye Guy came back to the issue later. Luckily, Ford was ready.

Q: You have a reputation of being a private guy. Why?

A: Because I am.

Q: Has anyone asked you anything that totally crossed the line?

A: Yeah.

Q: What’s the last thing?

A: Uh, it had something to do with a light saber and a whip.

And yet, if presented with intelligent questions, Ford is more than happy to offer intelligent responses. Tasha Robinson of The Onion's A.V. Club managed to both broach the issue of touchy interviews, and conduct a thoroughly readable Q-and-A.

The first exchange was:

The A.V. Club: You have a reputation for hating doing publicity interviews. Does having that out front help? Do you think it makes people approach you any differently?

Harrison Ford: I didn’t know that I had that reputation. I think that was something that—obviously you’ve done your research, but I think I was characterized that way early on in my career, and it stuck. I don’t mind doing interviews. I don’t mind answering thoughtful questions. But I’m not thrilled about answering questions like “If you were being mugged, and you had a lightsaber in one pocket and a whip in the other, which would you use?”

That line alone makes up for the over-the-top bellowing of "I ALREADY WORK AROUND THE CLOCK!" (which unfortunately, did not take off as a catchphrase quite like I'd hoped.)