Monday, October 31, 2005

Becky Says ...

"Help! I'm trapped in a strange parallel pixelated universe because of some weird Blogger glitch! But I digress. Craigie is once again under the old Monday deadline gun, but click to RF later to read about his adventures with Paul Drake, a trip to a mad scientist's shop in Venice, and notes on Steve Martin's 'Shopgirl.' Now excuse me while I resist looking into the light."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Story of the Week 2

"Polygamous Community Defies State Crackdown" by Timothy Egan of The New York Times

The winning nominator, Mike Hudson, says:


Wow indeed. As we close in on the spookiest time of year, it's fitting that we read about a slice of the U.S. that exists almost wholly outside our mainstream society. Even more fascinating is that no government entity has just swept in and arrested everybody. Just goes to show that this country can be pretty damn tolerant of folks with extremist views sometimes. Try setting up this sort of community in Saudi Arabia or Myanmar. It wouldn't be pretty.

The other nominees were:

Frey (1)
Frey (2)
Hudson (2)

Congratulations to all the nominees. There are some great stories in here. I hope all you Rocket Fever readers will click over to them today. Have something to say about any of them? Post it!


I'm very much enjoying our ongoing debate on baseball announcers, which can be found under my post "Skinning the Fox."

Stay Tuned!

Check back here in a few hours to learn who our second SOTW winner will be!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Talk About Timing

Michael Ramirez, the Los Angeles Times' editorial cartoonist, hit this one on the head, huh?

Skinning the Fox

I'd first like to offer my congratulations to the 2005 Chicago White Sox, and thank them for winning the World Series before their Northside rivals did. Even though it was a sweep, this was an amazing series. Each game was a little drama in itself. The Official White Sox of Rocket Fever? Third baseman Joe Crede.


But on to today's rant: Fox's coverage of said World Series. While I very much enjoy the broadcast team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, I've developed serious problems with how the game is presented. Focus groups must have told Fox that baseball is boring, because it shows so little action on the field. If the ball isn't in play or about to be in play, we're shown shots of the crowd (mostly women -- more focus group work), the dugout, the stadium, the city, locals in a Chicago bar. Anything but the men on the field.

It's maddeningly similar to watching an MTV video, with constant cuts and motion on the screen. As a baseball fan, I want to watch all the intricacies being played out on the grass, not a tight shot on some trophy wife's eyes. Some of the little slices of life Fox captures in the crowd are so perfect that they must have been shot minutes before only to be edited in to the live stream. Hell, why don't they just film actors days before? They'd at least be more attractive.

Finally, I really hate the in-game interviews with the manager or coach. It never serves to inform the viewer, and it only makes me nervous to see these guys taking time from thinking about baseball. More than once during these playoffs, the interview (thankfully, they're taped between innings) interrupts something important happening on the field. Bah!

I know some of you will tell me that Fox needs to do everything it can to boost ratings and attract more young people and women. To that, I answer: I have no answer, and just want to watch some baseball.

When does basketball season start?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


With the deadline gun still firmly pressed against my temple, there's not much of interest to report. But I am excited about all the Charlie Parker I burned off neighbor Ben Callet last weekend. Listening to him is sort of like getting back to the Original Word of so much of the music I love.

What's everyone else listening to right now? Post it!


By the way, thanks to my sophisticated surveillance technology, I'm aware there's readers out there who never post. Will I have to start naming names? C'mon, don't let Morgan Lewis monopolize the conversation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here's to Tuesday

Sorry for skipping out on Monday, Rocketeers. I'm in the middle of a mild deadline frenzy with a freelance thing as my trip to Miami Beach looms (more on that later). But I have a responsibility to my readers, and I won't fail you again.

The weekend was fairly quiet, save for one of the best baseball games I've ever seen. Game Two had it all: inclement weather, lead changes, good pitching, great at-bats, a saucy Joe Buck, close plays at the plate, and dramatic home runs. Too bad I'll miss tonight's game as I work the late shift.

In other news, Village Voice Media, which owns L.A. Weekly (my employer) is being bought by another alternative weekly chain, New Times. There's obviously lots of concerns about what new direction the paper will take and whether there will be any "redundancies," to borrow a term from "The Office." I'm just taking a wait-and-see on this one. Not much I can do about it for the time.


The corner of Commonwealth and Ambrose is abuzz with a few upcoming visits to our fair burg: cousin Caitlin will jet in from Arizona for Thanksgiving, my parents will follow her a week later, and then Slash -- the ever-dangerous duo of Sara Lepro and Christine Moran -- wing into town from Cleveland. I'd better actually learn something about this town so I can show these jokers around.


RF poll: What'd everyone have for breakfast this morning? (I had a cup of tea and some toast.) Post it!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Another Reason To Love Bushie

The only time streets in this town should be closed is if Catherine Zeta needs to get somewhere on the double. Hell, I'd carry her.

Story of the Week 1

Minister's sermon: Give up hip-hop, by Stan Donaldson of the Detroit Free Press

The nominator, Hayley "Sister" Gaines, says:

This article raises questions about the media's responsibility in the demise of the world. From Columbine to homosexuality and OJ to Oklahoma, are lewd lyrics, half naked women, and gold teeth to blame for the D's blight? Should we look toward smooth beats, thumping bass lines, and low-slung jeans as the source of all our problems? In a series of sermons that shed light on the innate presence of Satan in hip-hop, the Reverend G. Craige Lewis expounds on the Fallen Angel's influence on urban blight. Very enlightening.

This story gets the inaugural nod because it sits at the crossroads of three intriguing issues: race, religion, music. Lewis is stirring up intense debate within the black community because he has credibility as a black minister who's advancing a position that strikes at the heart of modern black culture. He's gaining popularity at the same time Bill Cosby is touring the nation's poor black communities on a talking tour after his outburst against certain elements of black youth culture. It all makes for good reading, fascinating conversation, and Rocket Fever's first Story of the Week.


For this first time only, here are the other nominators' stories:


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lightning in Bottles

The Lansing State Journal continues to astound me with its revolutionary illustrations. You may remember seeing this one during MSU-U of M week. The latest, which accompanies a story about underage drinking, is rife with symbolism. What is the artist, Becky Shink, trying to say? First, consider the pairing of beers. Any Michigan Stater knows that Labatt Blue flows as freely as the Red Cedar in East Lansing. I don't know that I've ever ordered any other beer at the Barrel. But what to make of the Busch? It never seemed to be that popular on campus, and it even hits me as being a bit too classy for MSU students.

We then notice that the Busch is in a dominant position over the Labatt. Is this a subtle comment on the class aspects of binge drinking? Or is Shink taking us down a darker, more sexually oriented path? Indeed, the hand cuffs at first glance refer to the story's law-enforcement aspects, but isn't it just as possible that this is some sort of S&M (MSU ... S&M and U) reference? We all know that alcohol allows us to shed our inhibitions and become different people.

The stark white background, while allowing for a simple image on the news page, gives the illustration overtones of death. The color of death, white, envelopes the darker messengers of our final days. Notice that Shink didn't pick a Miller High Life bottle -- the transparency would allow us to see into the bottle, to see the inner message. Shink is hiding the illustration's real meaning within those dark messengers, made all the more stark against the shocking white background.

Indeed, if we are ever to truly dive into this image's murky depths, we will have to dive into these bottles. At a rate of five or more a few times a week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Somewhere...a Schmidt (or two) weeps

There's Always Next Year

This about says it all about the Lions.

Now I LOVE Google ...

... but this is a bit much.


Reports are in that Jackie Rexrode is back to his bouncing self. Huzzah!


Please spend some time reading this series of columns by the LAT's Steve Lopez. Now that I've started my meager volunteer work down on Skid Row, his notes on life there -- one of the worst few square miles in this country -- has particular resonance with me. Anyone who appreciates excellent journalism should give this attention.


Be sure to click in Friday to learn who our first SOTW winner will be! The committee is hard at work, doling out bribes and undercutting one another for the inaugural honor. Sparks are flyin'!


Me in the Civic Center subway station, Sunday, Oct. 9.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Operation Eden

Picked this blog up from Joy. Outstanding, moving stuff.

When Will the Sun Return?

Sun has fallen into the ocean. In its place are the angry, oppressive Clouds. I will embark upon a spirit quest tonight after work to learn why Sun is angry and how to make him happy again. I will also eat peyote learn my adult name, and it will be Prancing Woodchuck, because I will see a woodchuck that prances.


For those of you not up on Gaines family news, Sister has returned to the Mitt and is now firmly embedded in Royal Oak. The West bids her well in her new venture.


Further, it seems Joy and Scott Sarnacke are safe and relatively sound in Nashville. Praise the Lord and pass the grits.


We all wish Jackson Rexrode, the Official Baby of Rocket Fever, a speedy recovery from his sickie time.


Finally, a dispatch from the Gaines Loves Hypocrisy in All Its Forms Dept.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Izzo Says ...

"Craig and the Commonwealth Family had a pretty quiet weekend, punctuated by a heartbreaking loss by my football counterparts and an amazing USC-Notre Dame game. While the college and pro football seasons are letting old CG down, he's thrilled that basketball is on the way. So am I. This team is shaping up to be my strongest since the 2000 championship team. By the way, if you're wondering why I'm in desert combat fatigues it's only because WE'RE GOING TO ROOT OUT OUR ENEMIES FROM EVERY FOXHOLE AND CAVE THEY'RE IN AND PUT THEIR HEADS ON STICKS. MSU BASKETBALL WILL TAKE NO PRISONERS AND SHOW NO MERCY THIS SEASON. MY ENEMIES ARE IN THEIR CAVES, PLAYING WITH THEIR DOLLS AND DRINKING THEIR APPLE JUICE. I WILL DESTROY THEM ALL. Now let's all have a good week and make the Spartan family proud."

Photo by Lansing State Journal

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Jenny T. talks !!!Poker & Sex!!! With Hud(sons)

Among the cooler people on Earth (read: the celeb scene in LA) is the cast of "Out of Practice" MONDAY's @ 9:30p only on CBS!

They (meaning m'cuzin Sivert) had Huddy and Mrs. Huddy over 'ta Paramount Stage 25 the other day where such hits as "Cheers" and "Frasier" were filmed to witness the latest smash success -- "Key Ingredients" Ep. 7. Written By: Sivert Glarum and Michael Jamin.

We're talking Stocker Channing, Henry Winkler (best!), Paula Marshall and the striking Jenny "Ha, Ha, Ha. Hee, hee, hee" Tilly. Also know as World Series of Poker champ. Also known as rad.

After the show, which was a story in itself, Siv invites us over 'ta 'Mingles'. The drinking hole the cast of "Frasier" set up in Kit Hepburn's former dressing room and the place where some red head used to gag. Don't remember who.

These folks are bovs on best. So friendly. Whole cast drinking, smoking Fidels and chatting while the two rubes just sat and enjoyed the company. Tills spent much of the night whoooing all the fellers with tales of her poker prowess. And I spent the whole night thinking, "I wonder what's happening with the Delphi bankruptcy."

Hats off to all those folks. And to all'y'all. Watch that dammmm show! It's funny! And the people are flippin' best.

Highlight: staggering through the Beamers and Porsches to the Vibe @ 1:30a through the Paramount lot, by the watertower, by the big studios, nice LA moon lighting the way as Becky recounted meeting the dog that is featured on the show. We may be in the finest city ever conceived by man.

PS-- Jennifer didn't talk sex with us. That was made up.

New Feature!

I'm proud to announce a new feature at Rocket Fever: the Story of the Week. I've assembled a blue chip panel of readers to send me Story of the Week (SOTW) nominations. I'll post the winner each Friday. As I just wrote in an e-mail to the committee, "An SOTW should inform, titillate, and inspire discussion among Rocket Fever readers."

The SOTW is just another example of the exciting content Rocket Fever readers have come to expect on a daily basis. The RF team continually strives to bring you the very best in time-wasting blog drivel.


Me, descending the elevator at the Civic Center subway stop in downtown L.A., Sunday, Oct. 9.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Blog

Attention S'newsers and S'news followers: Click on over to Money For Cookie Day.

Joe Block: Pure Magic

Who was Joe Block's final mystery celebrity?

Covelli "Coco" Crisp, the starting center fielder for your Cleveland Indians! Crisp is an L.A. native. Not sure how he ran into Joe, but I'm sure it had something to do with the celebrity magnet implanted in Joe's chest. Amazing. JB writes:

He was buying shots and I was winning pitchers by answering trivia. Then abruptly and immediately I had to get to the airport. Sad.

I had a bueno time. I must return soon. I’ll just choose a better flight. I’m beat.

Damn right you'll have to return soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Rebecky and I caught the Basquiat show at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art on Sunday. Uh, art. I always thought the artist created his own moral universe, y'know?

Yeah, I don't know shit-one about art. I need to take Ryan and Naz to these things to explain them to me.

It was fun, though, to listen to the Latina in front of me talking about her homies and home girls and how this guy she was seeing wasn't respecting his daughter and whatnot.


A very entertaining e-mail discussion it taking place among the old S'newsers. I just told Katie that it makes me feel 21 again.


Still working on this new Rocket Fever feature. Stay tuned!


Becky, standing on the star of greatness.


Joe Block text messaged me this morning that he hung out with another celeb last night. Details to follow!

Monday, October 10, 2005

This Weekend Brought to You By:

Stella Artois beer ("Drink two pitchers of it in less than 30 minutes!") and Carl's Jr.

This, for those in the unknow, is Joe Block, State News alumnus, baseball broadcaster extroardinaire, lover of Los Angeles, and all-time weekend warrior. Joe dropped into LAX from beautiful Jacksonville, Fla., at sometime 'round midnight Friday. He arrived at the APT sometime after 1. We headed to Ye Rustic, site of Joe's previous encounter with Kiefer Sutherland (ask Mike), 15 minutes later. We then closed the place down with ruthless efficiency, dispatching with two pitchers of rich, smooth Stella in less than a half hour. In this time, Joe learned that our waitress used to tap-dance in Oklahoma, announced my presence to the entire bar, and showed us exactly where his Kiefer encounter took place (see above and below).

The night continued back at the APT, where we listened to iTunes and Mike and Joe battle-rapped late into the night. We treated the neighbors to quite a show. Mind you, at this point Joe had been awake for close to 24 hours. And he was tossing lines like Eminem in "8 Mile." What a spectacle.

The next day, with a handful of hours of sleep under our belts, we ventured into the streets of Los Angeles. We drove Joe through Hollywood, where he jabbered on about the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame. The party landed at the Newsroom Cafe in West L.A., home to the world's greatest chicken burger. Halfway into lunch, our salty waitress told us that Lindsey Lohan -- who had bashed into a Newsroom busboy's cars not a few days ago -- was back and enjoying lunch. The wait staff wasn't exactly enjoying all the paparazzi commotion, but our server handled it like a pro. We passed LL on the way out and were pleased to note she looked much healthier than we'd seen in recent shots.

The movable feast next headed up to Malibu, where we got some coffee and pastries at a bakery ("I love bakeries," Joe told a sweet young thing at the establishment. "Giggle giggle giggle," she responded). As we enjoyed our victuals at the bench outside the bakery -- taking time to place a piece of frosting on Mike's head (see above) -- Joe nearly choked on his carrot cake after spotting Alicia Silverstone. She was walking around the complex hand-in-hand with some guy sporting impressive hair and a scarf. I never got a glance at her face, but Joe's amazement was proof enough for me.

After sufficiently impressing upon Joe that SoCal was calling his name, we headed back to Los Feliz to send Joe off to his buddy's wedding in Pomona. We were bursting with pride that this whole barrel of fun was had in less than 24 hours, proving two things: L.A. is the place to be, and Joe Block is a champion. Hurry on back, Joe, y'hear?


Coming up: Becky and I see Basquiat at the contemporary art museum!

Joe Block Says ...

"Click back later to read all about what may be the best weekend of my life: beers, sports, celebs, me, Hud, Gaines, blue sky, endless possibility."

Friday, October 07, 2005

PS: California is the best state ever

I'm gonna live forever!

Speaking of Best of L.A.

The L.A. Weekly's Best of L.A. bash at grand Union Station was a more than pleasant time. Conversation topics included the weather in Colorado, colorful characters at work, how L.A. isn't what it seems, and stop-action animantion Barbie films. Plus, two In 'N Out cheese burgs and a Pink's dog went down the gullet. And: Budweiser Select tastes like ... an O.K. Budweiser.


T-minus 12.5 hours and counting for Joe Block's three-point landing on Western soil.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Block Party

Becky and I had a lovely evening Tuesday with the Ryan-Naz Duo. We sipped drinks and ate tasty morsels at Musso & Frank, and then capped the evening at what became an instant favorite, Boardner's. Ryan accurately draws a parallel to Stober's in Lansing, although I think this place sells less mead and is a tad cleaner. There's also a neat little porch out back that Brett Michaels used to puke on.


But the real buzz in town is about the imminent arrival of the eminent Joe Block, the True Voice of Our National Pastime. Block will breeze into town for a few hours for a friend's wedding in Pomona. We will receive the gift of his presence Friday night and all day Saturday. So, Kiefer, if you're out there ...


Just stumbled upon this little site. I haven't checked it out yet, but thought some of the L-Town Irregulars may be interested.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Rocket Fever Omnibus Post of 2005

I'm slowly recovering from Black Saturday. Let's all get through this together.


Got the day off today! Becky and I went to the Y and played some hoops. She beat me at 21, then I played these two little kids in 21. The game was going great, until the little Latin kid Jason Richardsoned me right in the face. Little effer almost broke my glasses. I won that game.

Once Beck gets back from the hair salon we're going to the UCLA Museum and then Musso and Frank for martinis.


Becky Amos sent me some David Cross CDs!


Why do sports continue to torment me?


Beth Jones sent me this. I'm sure many of you have seen it. Too much.


For the two of you out there who remember Takeo Kamugai from MSU, he's back in Japan after getting a master's in England. He reports: "Now I am a correspondent for Platts, an energy wire
service of the McGraw Hill companies in Tokyo. I cover domestic and international energy related news from Tokyo. It is quite exciting to cover the energy industry these days; I do not think you need explanation for that. However, I get exhausted sometime as I am competing with international players such as Reuters, Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Nikkei."


Look at this handsome devil.


Look for news of an exciting new feature at Rocket Fever in the coming days ...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Quiet Desperation

Of all that will be said and written about MSU's failure this weekend, none will slice so close to the truth as a voice mail to me from Craig Henry Schmidt on Sunday: A single, dark sigh.

I mentally sat shiva for the rest of the weekend, mourning this and the Indians' blowing their playoff chances. I really need to learn to not take this stuff so hard.