RIP Harvey Korman & Sydney Pollack

First blog post in a while, and it’s a downer.

The great Harvey Korman has passed away.

You may remember him from Mel Brooks’ classics like Blazing Saddles (as Hedley Lamarr) and History of the World, Part 1 (as Count DeMoney), or from The Carol Burnett Show.

And it was a few days ago that director/actor Sydney Pollack left us.  I’ll remember him best as Dustin Hoffman’s exasperated agent in Tootsie (which he also directed), but he was probably more successful as a director (The Way We Were, Out of Africa, The Firm).

Wherever they are now, it’s a much funnier and more interesting place with those guys there.

It happened.

I’m driving home tonight after running an errand in Shannon’s car.  She has different presets on her radio (and very different musical tastes, for the most part) and I go flipping through the buttons.

I stop when I hear Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel The Noize,” because it’s a rock anthem from my youth.

And then I realize that the little message on the radio says “Adult Hits.”

I guess that’s the moment you realize that you’re not a kid anymore.

Shocking upsets: A big reason I watch boxing.

Not because “I’m a bad man” and would love to punch somebody in the face. (I’m a lover, not a fighter.)

Tonight, I was flipping through the channels and saw that there was a fight on Showtime. Figured I’d check it out, as Saturday evening usually has the worst programming of any night of the week.

The main event (it was actually a co-feature, although the second fight was the less interesting one) was a match for the WBC super lightweight championship, held by 34-year-old Junior Witter of England. His opponent was an 24-year-old American named Tim Bradley, who really didn’t deserve a title shot based on his resume.

So what happened in the fight, which aired from Nottingham, England? It wasn’t a crushing knockout or dominating performance, but Bradley left U.S. soil a contender and will return a champion.

Witter seemed content to be on the defensive almost the whole time, barely throwing 10 punches a round. Bradley danced with him for the first five/six rounds, but seemed to have more energy and bounce in his step.

In the second half of the fight, Bradley got a very surprising knockdown on a big ol’ overhead right hand, which gave him momentum that carried him in dominating the rest of the fight.

And just when you thought boxing’s sometimes biased/corrupt?/ridiculous judging was going to ruin it (one apparently blind judge scored it 115-113 in favor of Witter), the other two got it right and Bradley won the belt.

Honestly, Bradley doesn’t appear to be an incredibly skilled fighter based on the sloppy fight that both of these guys put on, but he’s a world champion. Nice story, seems like a good guy.

Review: Iron Man

I’m not going to rehash the plot or give out spoilers.

Kicked butt for the following reasons:

–Great casting for most of the major roles, especially Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man (although pretty much any actress could have done what Gwyneth Paltrow did with the role of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s assistant-and-kind-of-love interest)

–Crisp direction by Jon Favreau

–Pretty good, snappy dialogue with plenty of foreshadowing for future storylines/sequels

–Cool effects and action/battle scenes

–And a scene after the credits promising more cool stuff in other movies and sequels

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Harleys

Fantasy baseball update

You might remember me saying I have two teams in two different leagues.  As of this moment, I’m in 12th place in my 14-team league (the money/CBS Sportsline league) and in 9th place in my 12-team league (the Yahoo league for pride).

Why do I stink so badly?

I always claim my problems are injuries and slumps (and a heaping helping of bad luck).

The problems facing my CBS team:

–Next to last in HR, last in RBI, last in Slugging (but hey, first in Steals)

–My pitching isn’t all that bad, close to the middle in most categories

–Injuries to Phil Hughes (who was pitching badly) and Dontrelle Willis

–Ichiro Suzuki only batting .281 (he’s normally about 50 points higher)

–Delmon Young only hitting .252, 0 homers (I just traded him–so watch for him to improve immediately)

–Nick Swisher only batting .205, 3 homers (expected big things from him)

–Khalil Greene only batting .204, 1 homer (never a big average guy, but where’s the power?)

–Rafael Betancourt with a 5.52 ERA (bullpen “ace” got chance to be the closer, bombed)

–Justin Verlander with a 1-4 record and 5.92 ERA (top 20 starting pitcher? Yikes.)

–Manny Delcarmen with a 6.92 ERA (set-up guy extraordinaire has been anything but)

–Francisco Liriano with a 16.88 ERA and 3.56 WHIP (didn’t quite come back from Tommy John surgery as quickly as hoped)

The problems facing my Yahoo team:

–J.R. Towles only batting .164 (not hitting his weight, a bad sign)

–Robinson Cano only batting .182 (always a slow starter, but jeez)

–see Nick Swisher, above

–Jeff Francoeur hitting .263, only 3 homers (big power guy was predicted to get to 30–better hurry up)

–Troy Tulowitzki only hitting .152, 1 homer (horrific slump for a Colorado Rockie, now on disabled list)

–Adam Jones only hitting .228 (superstud prospect struggling)

–see Rafael Betancourt, above

–Jered Weaver has a 5.59 ERA (young Anaheim ace has been yucky)

–C.C. Sabathia has a 6.55 ERA (Cleveland ace has been hammered)

–not one pitcher with more than 2 wins

If you’ve read this and have any kind of clue as to how to fix this, drop me a line.

The sun peeks through the clouds. (Gig news.)

Starting Monday, I’ll be on a two-month, contract-to-hire deal with an online advertising firm in Plano.  Which means my commute is 8.3 miles–no highways, no toll roads, no having to fill up the gas tank every week.

But the big story is that it’s a full-time gig (for two months, at least) that will allow me to work at a young-but-growing company during its brand development and develop creative ideas for marketing their services.

Rock and roll!

Crohn’s research

[Reprinted without permission from Insight, the University of Liverpool Spring 2008 alumni magazine–many thanks to cousin Natasha for taking the trouble to mail me the whole mag]

“Scientists have discovered how a bacterium, known to cause illness in cattle, may cause Crohn’s disease in humans.

Crohn’s, affecting one in 800 people in the UK, is a condition that causes chronic intestinal inflammation, leading to pain, bleeding and diarrhoea.

The team found that the bacterium called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, which makes its way into the body’s system via cows’ milk and other dairy products, releases a molecule that prevents a type of white blood cell from killing E.coli bacteria found in the body. E.coli is known to be present within Crohn’s disease tissue in increased numbers.

Professor Jon Rhodes, from the School of Clinical Sciences, said: “Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been found within Crohn’s disease tissue but there has been much controversy concerning its role in the disease. We have now shown that these Mycobacteria release a complex molecule containing a sugar called mannose. This molecule prevents a type of white blood cell, called mycrophages, from killing internalised E.coli.”

The team is beginning clinical trials to assess whether an antibiotic combination can be used to target the bacteria contained in white blood cells as a possible treatment for Crohn’s disease.”


Interesting, since I’m also lactose intolerant. Hopefully, they’ll be able to find a treatment (if not a cure) in the next 10-20 years. That would, to use some highly medical terminology, rock.

Boxing: De la Hoya/Forbes

Last night, “The Golden Boy” Oscar de la Hoya took on Steve Forbes, best known to casual fans as a participant on “The Contender.”

Although Oscar won pretty easily, this was an interesting fight for several reasons:

1) It was the first of Oscar’s final three planned bouts.  He’s 35 or so, and although many think he could have/should have retired a couple years ago, he’s maximizing his opportunities to earn money like the brilliant businessman he is.

2) Forbes was a “tuneup” for a likely rematch with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and brought a similar style and size so Oscar could practice his strategy for that fight.

3) This match was held in California, not far from Oscar’s East L.A. roots.  It was broadcast on HBO (and not pay-per-view), AND Oscar made sure there were plenty of affordable seats (by boxing standards) so his Mexican fans could be in attendance.

I’ve got to say, Oscar is a smart, smart dude.  He wants to be a billionaire, and with the way he’s running things in his boxing career and his management/promotions career, there’s no stopping him.

Although I’m not sure he can beat Mayweather.