Friday, October 21, 2005

The day the music died

Allow me to make a few observations from last night’s “Apprentice.”

- At the beginning of the episode, Trump’s secretary calls the house to inform the contestants where to meet up that day, but she prefaces this information by saying, “Mr. Trump is very busy, but he’s still going to meet you this morning.” Apparently, Mr. Trump is extremely busy with matters that do not involve the successful television series starring him. Ya’ know, the one that he helped create, and the one that made him famous again. He doesn’t have time for “The Apprentice,” not when there are deals to be made. I mean, why did the secretary even say this? Are the contestants supposed to feel guilty about the fact that Donald Trump is going to appear in front of them, even though they stopped the regular routine of their everyday lives to be on Donald Trump’s show? No kidding Donald Trump is busy, you idiot. He still has a show to do.

- I thoroughly enjoyed it when Trump is leaving his office, and he turns to his secretary and says, “I’m going to Sony. I’ll be back later. Hold my calls.” Who writes this stuff? Something tells me that in real life, when “The Apprentice” isn’t being filmed, Donald Trump’s secretary has no clue where he is 99% of the time, nor does she care, because she’s busy playing Tetris. I also like how it’s never something small with Trump, like, “I’m going to the deli, be back in a minute.” No, it’s the casual, “I’m going to Sony to negotiate a mega-deal with writer/director/producer Jon Favreau. If the guys from the shop call to say they’ve fixed the helicopter, call me on my Verizon cell phone. Other than that, hold my calls.”

- Everything the girl’s team does is hilariously inefficient. I never thought anything would top the Hamburger Helper-type giant hand that they inexplicably created for Dairy Queen last week, but the float they made last night for Favreau’s new movie was amazing. It was just a smorgasbord of crap, glued together on top of a giant float. And by the way, as bad as the floats were, there is no way in hell that the contestants created those things themselves. For one thing, the “highlights” of both teams during the creation of these masterpieces involved a) the guys sweeping, b) the guys yelling at Marcus, and c) the girls yelling at each other. I didn’t see anyone putting together a float. And furthermore, who on either team has the carpentry skills to create a nice-sized, single-family house, scaled down to represent the specific house in the movie? Marcus? Jen? I don’t think so.

- Glad to see Christy go. Her face looks like a box. Except a box that produces the most annoying sound in the world.

- I have a hunch that when Season One “Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic gets called back to make another appearance on the show, he gets really pissed. He’s probably like, “Geez! What the hell? Can I do my freakin’ JOB here? What is George doing this week anyway that he can’t go, that old bastard?” I also think that the only interactions Bill has actually had with Trump since he won the job are his appearances on the show afterwards, and those “interactions” include statements like, “I agree,” and the occasional awkward laughter. All in all, I’ll bet he wishes Kwame had won.

- And finally. The first time I saw R Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet,” I was speechless. Literally. I couldn’t speak. My mouth was left wide open. There were no words to describe what had just happened. I had never before witnessed something so magnificently terrible in my entire life. I never thought I’d feel that way again. Then I saw the guy’s team create a song with Wyclef Jean. Now, for starters, my friend Lisa makes an excellent point regarding the utter randomness of this reward. Where did this even come from? Whose idea was it to have the winning team create a song with Wyclef? Remember the old rewards, when everyone would simply go out to a nice dinner, or maybe go golfing on one of Trump’s “beautiful, beautiful golf courses?” What happened to that? The rewards get more ridiculous every week, and this was the culmination of that trend. There was absolutely no rhyme (pun intended) or reason to this whatsoever. I mean, there is no way that ONE of those guys even knew who Wyclef was, and those of us that are familiar with him are aware that he hasn’t put out a decent album since 1996. It was almost like they wrote down the names of a bunch of African American musical artists who were popular in the ‘90’s, put them in a hat, and Wyclef came out. Who lost out, Digable Planets? My guess is that the producers wanted to add a little “flava’” to the show, and Wyclef was the only one willing to sell out so drastically. As for the song itself, wow. Wow, wow, wow. That recording actually set society back at least 20 years. It’s not humanly possible to find several whiter white guys willing to record a “hip-hip/R&B” song. One of them was even doing the running man while they were recording. I think it was the extremely short one, but I’m not sure. They should have just gone all out and had them wear big chains and army fatigues. But my favorite dialogue was this:

White “Apprentice” guy #1: (Trying to rhyme) In the club, I like to…watch the girls twirl?

Wyclef: (Silent, with a confused look on his face.)

White “Apprentice” guy #2: Wait, wait. WHEN I’m in the club, I like to watch the girls twirl.

Wyclef: Yeah, yeah. I like that!

Holy crap. An added bonus was Marcus’ part of the song, which consisted of him yelling “YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS,” so as to imply that, if I were to hear this song on the radio, I would say to myself, “Yeah, I know who this is. This must be the male contestants of ‘The Apprentice’ recording their new song with Wyclef.” Also, let it be known that, when these guys ARE in the club, they also like to “freak it.” Apparently, for six extremely white guys with Yale/Harvard/Duke degrees, who vary in height from 4’6” to 6’, they are in the club a lot. Freakin’ it, and also watching girls twirl, whatever that means. Anyway, if you haven’t heard this song yet, find it. It’s quite possibly the worst thing ever created. Or you can have my wife sing it for you on voicemail, like she did for me this morning. Thanks, babe.

As for next week, Carolyn is apparently taking over because Trump won’t be there. He is very busy. Please hold his calls.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tiki Barber: Under appreciated and overexposed

His team has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise in the early going of the NFL season, their most recent loss to the Cowboys notwithstanding. Of course, he himself is a huge reason why, as his stellar play has made things much easier for second-year quarterback Eli Manning. In fact, he already has four touchdowns in five games. “He” is Tiki Barber, and “he” has agreed to sit down with yours truly for an exclusive interview. And for his generosity in doing this, there is only one condition: I must admit that this is not a real interview, and that it is completely made up in my own demented head. So there. I admit it. After all, that’s why Tiki and I get along so well – we know how to compromise.

Me: Tiki, three years ago it seemed as though your career would mirror that of Rodney Hampton, but now people are claiming that you just may be the best Giants’ running back since O.J. Simpson. How does that feel?

Tiki: I think you mean O.J. Anderson. And he wasn’t even that good. I think I’ve already proven that I’m better than him.

Me: Okay then. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think many Giants’ fans have taken you for granted until recently. Have you gotten better, or have we – and by “we” I mean the universe – simply become more appreciative of your abilities?

Tiki: Well, I think it’s probably a combination of both. I mean, I’ve always felt that I was a big part of this team, but there are a lot of stars in New York - guys like Jeremy Shockey and Michael Strahan for example. So to an extent, I probably flew under the radar a little bit. But at the same time, I also feel like I’ve really stepped up my game over the past couple of seasons. I feel stronger than I ever have, and our offensive system under Tom Coughlin suits me perfectly.

Me: Plus, you saw a doctor.

Tiki: A doctor? I don’t what you’re talking about.

Me: Ya’ know, to cure your fumble-itis.

Tiki: Ooooohhh. Ha ha! You’re lucky I have a sense of humor, because I could bench press you with one arm tied behind my back if I wanted to. No – I didn’t have to see a doctor about that, but I have worked really hard over the past couple of years to cut down on my chances of fumbling the football. It was a problem for a little while in the past, but I hope that I’ve remedied it, so to speak.

Me: Fair enough. But I know that you have seen at least one doctor – to get Lasik surgery – because I hear you on the radio everyday doing commercials about it. And I see you on television doing Visa commercials. And I see you on the YES Network sometimes doing a football show. You’re also in approximately 1,000 magazine ads. My wife claims she heard you’re supposed to be the next host of “The Swan,” and last year during the holidays, I went to the Monmouth Mall to sit on Santa’s lap, and I could have SWORN it was you. Seriously Tiki, you are everywhere these days. Are you already preparing for life after football?

Tiki: Wow. Even I haven’t heard that rumor about “The Swan,” which isn’t true by the way. At least I don’t think it is – I’ll have to check with my agent. Anyway, one thing I wanted to make sure of when I entered the league was that I’d make myself available for as many things as possible. Football is my career, but it’s not my life. And I don’t think it’s a secret that I enjoy being on camera, so being able to do that now will probably open some doors for me after my playing career is over. But that said, there is nothing that takes away from my focus with regards to preparing to play football every week. It’s not like I’m missing workouts so I can make a cameo in “Entourage.” Although that would be nice.

Me: Let’s talk about your teammates. A while back you went public with your frustration with Michael Strahan for not being more accommodating to the Giant organization during his contract negotiation period. Do you two still hate each other, or by asking this question, have I uncovered a great story of two rich athletes resolving their differences, resulting in the two of you becoming the bestest of friends? Because if that’s the case, I’d like to have the rights to it, before ESPN gets a hold of it, and has Chris Connelly narrate it on SportsCenter over some sappy piano music.

Tiki: First of all, we never hated each other. And that whole situation was overblown. Plus it was like, three years ago. Michael and I are cool. We’re not “bestest” friends, but there is no conflict between us. He’s a great player, and we both want to win, and that’s all I care about.

Me: Oh well, there goes my Pulitzer. Okay, next question. Does Jeremy Shockey crush Miller High Life cans on his forehead in the locker room, and give wedgies to the equipment managers, because that’s my impression of him.

Tiki: Actually, yeah – he does do that.

Me: Who is your favorite teammate named “Plaxico.”

Tiki: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I’d probably have to say Plaxico Burress.

Me: Okay, one more. Eli Manning. Explain.

Tiki: What about him?

Me: Ummm, describe him in one word or less.

Tiki: What’s less than one word? Okay, whatever. I’ll go with…poised.

Me: I was thinking “unflappable.”

Tiki: That works too.

Me: Yeah, I love that word. It’s like, no matter how hard people try to flap him, they can’t, because he’s unflappable, ya’ know? Wait – have YOU ever flapped him?

Tiki: I don’t even know what that means.

Me: Me neither. And now that word has lost all meaning to me. We should have stuck with “poised.” Anyway, it’s time to wrap this thing up. Thanks for stopping by Tiki. This may not mean much coming from me, but I consider you to be the greatest Giants’ running back of all-time. On behalf of the universe, I’m sorry we’ve taken you for granted this long.

Tiki: That’s okay. I’m just trying to help this team win - I’m not looking for attention. But listen – I gotta go cause I’m filming a series of infomercials this afternoon for a new kind of computer monitor that doubles as a toaster oven. It can cook a baked potato in three minutes…three minutes!

Me: Nice.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Championship dreams now six feet under

I wanted to sit down and write something important about the 2005 New York Yankees. About how, as a fan, it was darn near impossible to fall in love with this team. About how they teased us into thinking they were tough and resilient, but in the end, they were just underachievers. About how they managed to sleepwalk through various parts of the season, and then somehow expected to “turn it on” when it mattered, although ultimately they couldn’t. About how I refused to believe in the death of a dynasty after Game Seven in 2001, but now I’m convinced.

But whatever. Who cares, right? The problems surrounding this team aren’t under the surface somewhere – they’re staring us all in the face. So I refuse to be one of the eight million people with a keyboard who is going to wax poetic about what, exactly, is wrong with a team whose payroll exceeds the next highest team by $100 million. Instead, I’m going to hand out individual epitaphs for every relevant 2005 Yankee. Because in the end, they all played dead.

***Note: In the upcoming issue of The Courier, these comments appear on tombstones, which make them a little bit funnier. I hope. This blogger site, unfortunately, does not a have a feature for "graphically-produced fake tombstones," so I apologize.***

Jason Giambi: To all of you who left me for dead, look at me now!

Robinson Cano: Am I poised, or do I just not care? You decide.

Derek Jeter: It’s harder being clutch when everyone else isn’t.

Alex Rodriguez: Most Valuable Player, Los Angeles Angels.

Hideki Matsui: In Japan, “Godzilla” means “ground out to second base.”

Bernie Williams: See ya!

Gary Sheffield: I was wrong - Derek IS the leader. Talk to him.

Jorge Posada: If it weren’t for April, May, June, July, and August, I would have had a really good year.

Bubba Crosby: New York Yankees’ center fielder. Yep.

Ruben Sierra: Productive off the bench. Except for the “productive” part.

Tino Martinez: We’ll always have April.

Randy Johnson: Yeah, 2005? Sorry about that.

Mike Mussina: Momma always said, “Life is like a box of Mike Mussina. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Chein Ming Wang: Kevin Brown makes HOW much?!

Shawn Chacon: Ace.

Jaret Wright: There’s no “I” in “Disabled List.” Oh wait – yeah there is.

Aaron Small: Diamond in the rough.

Tanyon Sturtze: Wait – you DON’T want me to give up any runs? My bad.

Tom Gordon: The reason Mo gets a two-inning save when it matters.

Mariano Rivera: Don’t look at ME.

Joe Torre: Alright Donnie, think you can handle this?

2005 New York Yankees: The new Atlanta Braves. Only richer!