Friday, January 30, 2009

U.S.-Muslim relations, 20 or 30 years ago

The president said this week he wants to restore U.S.-Muslim relations to the level that existed "20 or 30 years ago." This column shows why he surely didn't mean that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Northwestern 77, Indiana 75

Indiana at Northwestern
Jan. 28, 2009 - tipoff 7:30
Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston

Both teams had a lot at stake in this game. Northwestern is in a serious run for its first-ever NCAA tournament bid. Indiana, 0-6 Big Ten before the game, was fighting for its first Big Ten win of the season--unheard of for the once-proud basketball power. Thanks to a significant contingent of local Indiana fans, the game is typically a sellout, but that was not the case last night. (Announced 5126 out of 8117 seats--that sounds awfully low.) Somehow my seats ended up among a sea of Indiana fans. I ordered them from the Northwestern ticket office. How did NU know? I didn't click "IU." Strange. The arena is has half as many seats as a normal basketball arena. We had center court, Row BBB, near the top of the house. The single-lettered rows do not go to Z, thank G-d. It would be more accurate to say we were in Row 33 than Row 54. Pretty high, but not as bad as seats in Bloomington, Indiana's Assembly Hall. Come to think of it, I don't think it's possible to have seats as bad as in Bloomington's Assembly Hall. The main seating bowl has about 45 rows, and the last 10 or 20 rows need to deal with the balcony overhang. The balcony has about 10 rows and is much too high. The place is a 60's-era dump in dire need of being replaced. As for Welsh-Ryan Arena, I really can't complain other than the fact that most rows are bleachers rather than individual seats. (Northwestern calls individual seats "Purple Preferred" and reserves those for season tickets.) And the scoreboard obviously hasn't changed since I was a kid. It's crying out for a video board, but Northwestern probably just doesn't want to commit the money. It's using the same lame graphics on its tired LED board that probably went up about 25 years ago. It's Lite-Brite!

Could either team find an inside game? I think the only inside shots were off rebounds or breakaway baskets. If either team can perfect an inside game, it's on to something. Dozens of three-point field goal attempts, many successful. The team that committed the fewest mistakes won, and surprisingly, that turned out to be Northwestern. I was sad for IU and happy for Northwestern. Maybe the Wildcats are on to something. It would be nice to have a strong basketball team in Evanston. Every other school in the Big Ten except for Penn State has had a strong men's basketball team within the last decade. It just couldn't be that hard. It requires a financial commitment to recruiting and coaching. Yes, Northwestern is a small school and the only private school in the Big Ten. Still, it should be able to manage a couple of blue-chip recruits a year. That's all it takes.

Lost Jan. 28

Wednesdays 9pm ET/PT
Bad Robot
ABC Studios
Jan. 28 episode

So the teenagers with the guns are members of The Others, before Juliette's time. Oh, now I get it. Now it all is starting to make sense!

Charles Whitmore was on the island? Get OUT of here! And Desmond's and Penny's baby is named Charlie--for his grandfather or for Desmond's friend Charlie? I can guess.

Danny Farraday, Charles Whitmore, Ben's father--it seems like everyone worked for Dharma Initiative at one time or another. Even the actor who played the Chinese consul from the fourth season of 24 also played Dr. Candle (the guy who did all the videos).

Hmmm. Looks like the U.S. Army really did put an H-bomb on the island. But how did The Others succeed in taking out 18 military men? That I don't understand. I guess we'll never find out.

This season, we don't need flashbacks. We just wait for another flash in real time.

Did anyone miss Jack? Since the whole episode took place on the island, there was no sign of the Oceanic Six.

24 1-2pm (spoilers)

Mondays 9pm ET/PT
Imagine Television
Real Time Productions
Twentieth Century Fox Television
Jan. 26 episode: 1-2pm

I'm still trying to keep all the characters straight. I just can't get over the serious breach of protocol of a Secret Service assignee having just one Secret Service agent. Agents always work at least in pairs, probably to prevent a situation just like this one, in which one agent decides to do the exact opposite of his mission. Agent Gedge is working for the Conspiracy and is to murder Henry Taylor, the First Man--the president's husband. The Conspiracy already succeeded in killing off Roger Taylor, the First Son, and Samantha Roth (played by the lovely Carly Pope, last seen in the WB's show Popular), Roger's girlfriend. Is that paralytic Gedge slipped Henry intended to cause permanent damage? Will he live to explain everything? What a gripping cliffhanger! I'm really excited.

The CIP module reminds me of that movie Sneakers (Phil Alden Robinson, 1992 - I knew it was long ago because River Phoenix was in it). The movie featured a guy who invented a universal decoder, and that's what the CIP module sounds like. It's already been used to cause a runway incursion and now, a midair collision of a very full flight and a private jet. Just for added effect, this was within clear view of the Oval Office. More wanton destruction of human life. I can certainly understand the president's reluctance to give into the terrorist Dubaku's demands. Would a president really knowingly take a cellphone call from a terrorist, even with the situation she was in? I didn't understand that; it seemed more like a tv effect. I mean, no one gets through to the president.

So Chloe O'Bryan, Bill Buchanan, Tony Almeida, and now Jack Bauer are running this rogue CTU operation with a laptop, a few cellphones and a GMC van? Oh come on! That makes almost no sense at all. Back in Los Angeles, CTU was a serious operation employing dozens of people. And now we're down to a pair of field agents and two behind the scenes? (Sadly, computer geek Edgar Stiles is dead. They need him.) I find that very hard to believe.

Dubaku planned on double-crossing Almeida! That's just not going to happen!

I did not see the trailer for next week; it does not follow the online presentation of the episode. I am sure it will be very exciting.

The presentation at is excellent. Some commercial breaks didn't even have the single commercial to which I've become accustomed while watching episodes online. The clock flashed on the screen and came right back.

24 4th season - 2005

Imagine Television
Fox Television Studios

This post is not for children.
This post includes many spoilers and assumes either the reader watched "Day 4" of 24 or doesn't care about the end being ruined. If this is not true, please move on to the next post. This post also includes a spoiler from the Fox broadcast of 24 earlier this week.

Terrorists' wanton lack of respect for human life really struck me in this particular season. It's interesting how the death of a handful of characters I see on a tv screen--especially if those characters are innocent women and children--can have as strong an effect as, say, "271 die in airborne collision" from this week's episode. In one sequence, the terrorists, led by the madman Habib Marwan, planned to shoot down Air Force One in hopes of recovering the nuclear football. This, in turn, would give them the launch codes to launch a nuclear attack against an American city. The plot began with a fighter pilot assigned to a B-117A Stealth fighter sortie that evening. Finishing an encounter with his girlfriend, he receives a call on her cellphone (which he found odd) from his wife. His wife and children are being held hostage. His assignment is to smuggle an impostor, Mitch Anderson, into the Air Force base where he was to report for duty. If he does not, the terrorists would wipe out his family. He does as he was told. Then they kill his family (off-screen, obviously since there were children), and the impostor shoots him. Just awful. I wish he had thought this through. For one thing, he knew that the on-base security included biometrics. For the two of them to walk up to the door while he put his finger on the pass panel for the impostor to walk in just didn't make sense. After killing the pilot, the impostor amputated his finger and used it to enter the secure area. Someone tells Anderson the flight was to be postponed 12 hours due to a mechanical problem, so he shoots that guy, too. Anderson does succeed in shooting down Air Force One, severely wounding the president. The vice president takes over in his place. The terrorists are able to recover one page of the nuclear football and launch one missile, which the Counter Terrorist Unit and the Air Force manage to blow up midair in the show's final hour. Unfortunately CTU was too late in discovering the plot to prevent the loss of Air Force One. The Air Force did shoot down Mitch Anderson's bomber.

Another example was an extended sequence in the final episodes of the season. After the terrorists launch the missile armed with the nuclear warhead, CTU discovers a possible lead on Habib Marwan's location. They hope to reach him before the missile reached its target. The lead--a couple working for Marwan--just finished an amorous encounter and were about to leave their apartment complex for the rendezvous with Marwan when Mandy (the stunning Jewish actress Mia Kirshner) notices a helicopter landing a block away. Realizing she needs to make a clean getaway, she shoots her boyfriend. She then shoots and kills a CTU field agent before taking Tony Almeida, another CTU agent, hostage. While she has Almeida, she walks into her next-door neighbors' apartment and shoots two of them. Then somehow she forces another pair of them to leave, hoping CTU will think the pair is actually herself and Almeida.* They go to their car, which blows up as soon as they enter it. So she killed six people in the space of a couple of hours. Her attempted escape, with Almeida in tow, ultimately fails. In exchange for a full pardon, including the attempted murder of President David Palmer in an earlier season, she reveals Marwan's escape location--the helipad atop Global Center. (I cannot find that building or company in Los Angeles.) Marwan hurls himself off the side of the building rather than be captured, but CTU is able to recover data from his cellphone that reveals the missile's flight path. If the missile had hit its intended target, Los Angeles, the loss of life could have been in the millions. But I was more shocked by the pilot's family being wiped out and Mandy's shooting spree.

*Can anyone explain how she forced these innocent people to leave and enter their vehicle without going to police?

Stop me before I send another to De-Friend mode

I'm on a roll.

It happened again.

Granted, this was my fault. A friend sent me a Facebook Group invite for "No Dibs," a group he started. We are both against putting furniture out to lay "dibs" to cleared parking spaces on Chicago streets. We believe it is selfish and un-neighborly. It is also illegal. That is not an opinion; that is Chicago law, that putting private property in the public way is an obstruction.

As a side note, I drove to said friend's home Jan. 16, about 15 minutes before candle-lighting. There was no time to spare in terms of searching for a parking space. His block usually has a number of spots available, even at peak times like late at night or just before shabbos. But on Jan. 16, all the spots were taken--either cars or dibs furniture. I had to park around the corner and drag all my shabbos stuff to his place, even though there were several parking spaces available right in front. Taking furniture off the street and parking there incurs the risk of vandalism to one's vehicle and/or physical attack. What nice neighbors! So not a good idea.

So my friend started a Facebook Group, and in the Group credo or introduction, he used language that wasn't very nice, such as "greedy jerks" to refer to people who to participate in this practice. Now, this would include many of my friends, and with that in mind, I should have suggested to my friend that he reword the introduction to make it "pareve" rather than provocative. Instead, I sent the Group invitation to three dozen people. I guess I should have considered myself lucky that only one person responded in kind, i.e., rather rudely. He wrote on my Facebook Wall--visible to all my Friends--if I didn't like this particular tradition, I should leave the city. He added that if I take his folding chairs from his parking space, "See what you get." That sounded like a physical threat. On top of that, he De-Friended me, which prevented me from writing on his Wall in response. (Clever. I respect him for that move.) I asked him about this series of events and asked him to reconsider his De-Friend action. He responded very nicely and said he regretted the language he used, but stood by his De-Friend move. So we moved the conversation to a civil tone and departed as friends. So to speak. But not Friends.

At least he's not vegetarian. Then he would really be angry. =)

10 "Chick flick clichés" not in new chick flick

Not bad--especially acted out among male trio--rather amusing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The unkindest cut of all: the De-Friend

I must be a Facebook softie. I will "confirm" people who request me as a Friend even if I barely know them or don't know them at all--if they are Friends of Friends. I practically have a minyan of People I Don't Know in New York. (I set up a separate "Friends Folder" for them called "People I Don't Know.") I have kept in my Friends cache people I don't particularly care for and people with whom I have significant disagreements. I keep in my Friends cache a woman whom I added because I thought she was someone completely different--a former synagogue member who had moved out of town. It turns out she is not that person at all but has exactly the same name. Why De-Friend her and hurt her feelings?

So it was with great sadness that I discovered someone whom I like and respect De-Friended me last weekend. I had made a Grave Error and realized it way too late--after I had already posted it. I violated what I realize now is a very hard and fast rule:

Rule #1 for dealing with vegetarians:
1. Do not ever mention in conversation a proud vegetarian's vegetarianism unless supporting her 100 percent. This applies especially to proselytizing vegetarians. If a vegetarian is proud enough of her fake meat dish that she mentions it in her Facebook status, HOLD BACK AND DON'T RESPOND. It was so tempting (okay, too tempting) to mention that I find fake meat dishes grossly unappetizing and that if she doesn't eat chicken, then there's more for me. =) And I did add the smiley to show I wasn't being nasty. Unfortunately, she didn't see it that way. Thinking later about my post, I expected her to send me a note saying, "Hey, Ken, I didn't appreciate your snide, snarky comments about my veggie chicken dish. Even though it is gross, and I grimace every time I take a bite, I'm doing my part to further animal rights worldwide. So keep your rude comments to yourself, smart-ass." Okay, the second sentence is probably overdoing it. But I expected her to retort in kind, not to De-Friend me. Isn't that the Nuclear Option? I sent her a message, not a Friend request, apologizing. No response. Now I'm even more upset because I can't follow her wedding progress if I'm no longer her Friend. I'll try to add her as a Friend as her wedding date draws closer. Maybe she'll be in a forgiving mood.

Sprint - the most advanced wireless carrier

Has anyone else had this problem? I logged on to my account at to see my account balance. No luck. It's especially frustrating when I log on and there's no evidence that I logged on. There's still a pair of username/password sign-on boxes sitting there. So I called. She asks me my favorite hobby. Is she interested in dating? No, that's a challenge question. I have no idea what I said. So she says she sent me a text message to my phone, and she wants me to read the code to her. Never received it. Wasted 20 cents sending my own test message from Came through immediately. So 15 minutes later, she did set up my account so I can see my balance online. Isn't that the most basic information for online account management? Why was that so difficult? And she said my balance didn't show because I have a credit balance. What a lame excuse. Memo to Sprint: cute logo. Fix your website.

After Carter passes, we won't be able to criticize

Another phone call about President Jimmy Carter on the Michael Medved show:

Ron in Brooklyn, New York, you’re on the Medved Show.

Thank you for taking my call. I’m disagreeing with you on what you said back on the 9th of January. The Useless One…

No, no no, I said worthless. The Worthless One. Worse than useless.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Let’s get the full scope of the insult. There are people who are useless who are not necessarily worthless. But worthless means totally with no redeeming characteristics. That’s Jimmy Carter.

Could you elaborate?

Yeah, I think he’s one of the worst presidents we’ve ever had—certainly one of the worst three. He destroyed the United States, he created two new federal departments we’re still paying the price for, he created the Islamic radical movement as we know it by pulling the rug out from under the Shah of Iran and installing the mullahs in Iran, he decimated the military, he gave all kinds of advantages to the Soviets, and he wrecked the U.S. economy, and he was a sanctimonious, officious, know-it-all, miserable prig. And that’s p-r-i-g; I’m using approved language. So what was good about Jimmy Carter?

Well, I was going to just say one thing.


And that is he stood for Christ.


He stood for Christ. After the secular ’60’s.

He stood for Christ? As a supporter of abortion? I think he gave Christians a bad name! Jimmy Carter’s a huge supporter of abortion. Are you?


So how does he stand for Christ? He stands for his own messianic pretensions. He’s a miserable, miserable human being. And a disgusting excuse and a blight on humanity. And I’m saying all this now while he’s alive because if something, G-d forbid, happens to ex-President Carter, I know I’m going to have to watch my mouth. Okay? Ron, part of what I’m doing is pre-emptive. Okay? I’m trying to allow the full scope of this man’s wretchedness to become clearly known because when he is remembered, after he is gone, I will not be allowed to do so. You can’t do it. We’ll take that day off. I’m not suggesting it should be a national holiday, but I am suggesting I’m going to have to be very, very careful. This is going to be very hard. How am I going to be able to keep quiet on Carter? It’s Disagreement Day. If you have a thought on that, you can give me a call.

"The Cubs will be divine in '09!"

Guess who said that?

Mr. Cub? Mr. Eternal Optimist?

Correct. He's had a rhyme for each year since the '70's. I think it will be harder from 2012-19. I hope the Cubs will have a World Series championship by then.

I can't stand Ernie Banks. This is why.

He is turning 78 this month. He has been Mr. Cub, the Cubs' goodwill ambassador, for longer than he was ever a Cubs player. Most Cubs fans are like me: born after 1965 or so, with no memory of his playing days. We only know Banks in his current persona. I'm not even sure there's game film from his era. Okay, there's a little. But not much.

Banks never criticizes. I couldn't stand the late Harry Caray either. I do give him credit, though. Every time the Cubs would hold a press conference to introduce a new manager, Caray would ask, "What are you going to do about starting pitching?" Banks never says anything bad about management. I agree with one of my friends who said it certainly was difficult to be an African-American star athlete in Chicago during his playing era, the 50's and 60's. But now that two of Chicago's beloved icons in other sports are/were black--the late Walter Payton and Michael Jordan--the situation is different. Instead of just smiling and showing up at the annual Cubs convention, Banks could lobby the city to ease up on the Cubs and allow more night games. Something? Anything?

He's an elder statesman. He's retired. He can do what he wants. All true. But Banks takes a decent salary from the Cubs. It's time he earned it.

DeScribe and Y-Love's new video "Change"

Um, I don't know about the sleeveless sweater vest and tie. But I'm not the rapper.

Cubs' 1984 season: Silver anniversary

If I recall correctly, the Cubs were eight outs away from winning the NLCS in Game 5 in San Diego (best of five series back then). Starting pitcher Scott Sanderson walked through the dugout, asking teammates if they had extra World Series tickets from their allotment they would sell him.

In the 24 seasons since then, the Cubs have gotten that close once: in 2003, when they were six outs away. And that was a home game.

An axiom of Cubs lore is that 1969 and 1984 were great seasons. The 1969 team had a huge lead on Aug. 1. It disappeared as the Miracle Mets went on a tear to take the National League East in the division's inaugural year. That doesn't sound like a great season to me. The Cubs reached the postseason in 1984 for the first time since 1945. So? The pennant drought continues. I vividly remember a handful of fans carrying a banner through the main grandstand in 1984. The banner read "39 Years of Suffering are Over" or something to that effect. It did mention "39 years of suffering." If only they knew. Now it's been 63 seasons. Nothing has changed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Now we're getting somewhere: Cubs sold

The Tribune Co.'s sale of the Chicago Cubs to the Ricketts family should be cause for celebration by Cubs fans worldwide. It's time to make progress on two major obstacles possibly keeping the Cubs from winning a World Series: Wrigley Field's night-game limit and its cramped, overcrowded, antiquated main grandstand.

Wrigley Field is a geyser of cash that comes up short. Limiting the Cubs' home schedule to just 30 night games is no way to bring the Cubs to its national following of fans. (Most teams play about 55 of 81 home games at night. The 30-game limit is due to Chicago law specific to Wrigley Field.) Tom Ricketts must get to work immediately on convincing Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) to tell the City Council and Hizzoner Da Mare Richard M. Daley that the time for limiting night games has passed, and that the ban on Friday-Saturday night games is absurd.

The other problem is the aging grandstand. Oh, it looks lovely on television. Attending a game and sitting there is another experience entirely. Thousands of seats are limited-view due to the skyboxes overhead that block fans from seeing fly balls. The men's rooms are beyond disgusting: communal troughs instead of individual urinals. The overcrowded concourses make post-game fans' departure resemble a cattle call. And the Cubs miss out on thousands of dollars of concessions revenue every game because there is not enough space to sell food or Cubs gear. It must irritate the Cubs no end to see unauthorized vendors outside the park profit from fans who can't spend enough money inside Wrigley Field.

So the main grandstand needs to go. It will be replaced by a modern edifice with wide walkways, clear sight-lines, spacious gift shoppes, numerous food options, luxury suites, a club level....and clean restrooms. Please.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"24" 12pm-1pm

Mondays 9pm ET/PT
Real Time Productions
Imagine Entertainment
Fox Television Studios

This was a tough episode. Don't you hate it when innocent people are too trusting? When they don't take the appropriate and necessary precautions? When the president's husband (!) trusts Gedge, a corrupt Secret Service agent who is willing to murder his assigned protectee to cover up the conspiracy? And now the conspiracy is after Samantha Roth, played by the lovely Carly Pope, who starred in Popular about 10 years ago. I'm trying to figure out when this conspiracy that killed the president's son, father and now would-be daughter-in-law is going to meet up with the Bauer-Almeida-Emerson operation.

So Sean at FBI is sleeping with Erika at FBI, and Janis Gold (Janeane Garofolo, in a surprise dramatic role) probably knows about it. And Larry Moss likes Agent Renee Walker, whom Bauer pretended to shoot dead. Trying to figure out what will happen when the van with Bauer, Almeida, Emerson and Matobo reaches Dubaku. Also what's next for the CIP device? I'm afraid to ask!

Lost cont'd.

Lost 2-hr. premiere 01-21-09

Wednesdays 9pm ET/PT
Season premiere
Bad Robot/Touchstone Television

This was a much better pair of episodes than I expected. As he said toward the end of last season in a conversation with Kate near a runway at LAX, Jack thinks the Oceanic Six need to return to the island to save the lives of the survivors still living there. Hell, I would never go back, but that's me and apparently a minority opinion. Ben Linus wants them all to return. Kate is in because someone thinks Aaron isn't really her son. Well, duh. Anyone could have figured that out at the Oceanic Six initial news conference. Can't figure out Sun's or Sayid's motives for return. Hurley would rather be incarcerated than return to the island, and I can't say I blame him.

Meanwhile (back at the Hall of Justice*), the island's time frame is switching back and forth. What a great twist that Dr. Danny was part of the Dharma Initiative! And Ethan almost killing John Locke--classic Lost. "Hey, Charlie shot you six times back in Season One!" The Others' reaction to coming across survivors was typical, too--shoot or amputate first and ask questions later. Who was shooting the flaming arrows? That was a first.

Is Sawyer now to be known as James?

Does anyone remember the name of Danny Farraday's team? I'm terrible with character names. The redhead and the psychic. Oh, the redhead is Charlotte. Classy of Danny to keep his tie on in the jungle. And Ana-Lucia told Hurley someone said hi. Who was it? Oh, Libby--the second woman Michael murdered in the course of freeing Linus from Flight 815 survivors' custody. And the kids Ana-Lucia promised to reunite with their parents: are they still with the Others? Is Richard in charge now that Locke is dead?

*Sorry--Superfriends reference. A college roommate and I liked to do that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stop signs....the bane continues

Coming home from a meeting with an Israel expert in the Loop Friday afternoon, my commute reminded me once again how the usage of stop signs in Chicago has gone so horribly wrong. There are a number of streets that go under train tracks--either light rail (CTA elevated) or heavy rail (Metra). On some of these streets, like Pratt Boulevard and Morse Avenue, the underpass has two stop signs: one just before the underpass, and one at the end of the underpass, about 20 feet from the first. Who has time to stop twice? The stop signs are there to "protect" streets that run alongside the tracks. Maybe the stop signs those streets have for the major through street might be sufficient? But no. Through traffic must screech to a halt on the off-chance that someone might be coming from the side streets--which already have stop signs. Outrageous.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jimmy Carter, the Worthless One: best ex-president?

This is a timely response to one of my Friends who thinks Jimmy Carter is a great ex-president.

From the Michael Medved Show Jan. 15:

Hello, Michael, I listen to you every day. Can you explain why you despise Jimmy Carter? President Carter was president during a terrible time. I don't think you can blame him for the awful, immoral '70's any more than you can blame President Bush for the issues of the last decade. President Carter has shown his true character in his actions since his presidency. I respect him for that. I didn't vote for Bush, but I would never disrespect him the way I feel you do President Carter. He certainly is not responsible for the abundance of abortion of the '70's. Thanks. I usually appreciate your opinions.

Medved: He is certainly one of the two or three worst presidents we have ever suffered through. He is an insufferable, sanctimonious idiot. I agree. He has shown his true character. I despise him for that. Okay, let me try to respond to this. It is precisely because of his behavior since he left the presidency that I particularly despise and abominate Jimmy Carter. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for attacking his own country. For attacking one of his successors, George Walker Bush. It is a long tradition in American life that even if an ex-president hates the guts of a current president, he keeps quiet about it. Because an ex-president--I mean, part of what you do--you are receiving public money--you are being paid a great deal of public money--for being a dignified ex-president. Harry Truman--let me give you an example--hated Richard Nixon. Despised him. Just despised him. And why? Because Richard Nixon made Harry Truman look bad on the issue of Alger Hiss. This was a high State Department official during the Truman Administration who, it turns out, was a Soviet spy. And he was. And Nixon was right about that, and Truman was wrong. But he never attacked him after Richard Nixon became Vice-President and then President. He was quiet about it! He was decent about it. President Carter has not been decent. He has also consistently supported and excused Islamic terrorism, Latin American dictators like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales in Bolivia, going around--who asked him, in our government?--to go around certifying the elections of leftist creeps all around the world. Jimmy Carter has become a sanctimonious, American-hating cartoon. And a bad cartoon. And I'm tired of it. And yes, I will continue to call him The Worthless One. Not because he was totally worthless as president. No one is. I mean, every president, by accident, sometimes does something right. But as an ex-president? I think Jimmy Carter is just about completely worthless and a disgrace to the country and a disgrace to the human race.

The Super Bowl and the frum community

There's a longstanding myth in the frum community that one group holds its annual event during the Super Bowl. For the past several years, I've looked in the frum bulletins, searching for advertisements for this mysterious event, held by a group that would have the chutzpah to compete with the Super Bowl. I never found it. I once mentioned my frustration with my fruitless search to a wise friend. "Oh, someone tried that once, and it was a disaster," she told me. "All the men were hanging out at the hotel bar, watching the game." I keep looking, and she's right--there are no frum events, meetings, fundraisers or dinners scheduled during the Super Bowl. Bears or no Bears.

An invitation to an upsherinish (hair-cutting ceremony for a three-year-old boy who has never had a haircut) arrived in my mailbox. I was all excited. I've attended a few upsherinishim but never actually been formally invited before. I was all excited because I truly like and admire the little boy's parents. Imagine my surprise when I saw the date and time: Feb. 1, 5pm CST. T-26 minutes to kickoff.


If I didn't already have plans to watch the game, I could briefly say mazel tov and leave. That would be a bit rude. I do have plans, and I'm afraid I'll need to send my regrets. I feel bad. Did the parents check a calendar? Maybe they don't own a tv. That's fine. I know plenty of families like that. But even these families understand the Super Bowl is the biggest tv event of the year and that some no-tv families do visit friends to watch the game. In this couple's case, I suspect most of their invitees outside their immediate friend/family circle do own tv's and do plan to watch the game, if for no other reason than the party excuse.

I'll miss the food. I hope I can catch their second son's upsherinish, which should be in a year or so.

Dibs: I'm not going to take it anymore

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 0701 hrs, West Rogers Park. I'm late for shacharis at Agudah Israel of West Rogers Park. Not my normal davening house, but there's a bris milah immediately following davening--the nephew of friends of mine. So I want to attend. The parking trick at KINS* when the north parking lot is full is to park on North Shore just east of California, which requires coming down Washtenaw from Pratt since North Shore is one-way westbound. I sit behind a school bus loading children at the school on Washtenaw. Why is a school bus boarding kids at a school in the morning? Odd. Finally I turn on North Shore. No spots east of California, but a beautiful spot just west of KINS--and there is dibs furniture in the space. A pair of folding chairs. I shoveled this spot, and now I own it, say the chairs.

NOTE: placing dibs furniture to hold public parking spaces for personal use is illegal in Chicago. It is also tolerated in Chicago, and the mayor condones the practice. It is selfish and un-neighborly in my humble opinion. According to law, placing personal belongings on public property makes them hefker--ownerless. Anyone is free to pick them up.

I am fed up. I turn on Mozart and find an open, dibs-free spot a few spaces down from North Shore. I exit the vehicle through the passenger door (my door doesn't open due to snowbank) and walk to KINS. On my way, I glare at those folding chairs and imagine depositing them next to the KINS garbage bins. Does the space "owner" realize how selfish he is?

Mazel tov! The boy's name is Yosef Shragga Knopf. Moshe's New York Kosher catered the breakfast. Fred Eckhouse Photography. Outstanding.

*the large shul building in which Agudah Israel is located.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chicago 2, St. Louis 1 (OT)

Look who sneaked past St. Louis Saturday night. This was the Blackhawks' first win against the Blues this season. Great game-winner, Martin Havlat!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to make people upset

Shuls--synagogues--should have standards.

They should.

Obviously every shul is different, and shuls have different levels of observance. But it would be nice if all shuls abided by a certain standard we could all live with. Too much to ask, I realize. And I'm coming from a certain perspective. I wish shuls in the U.S. followed the South African model--which is different due in part to a much smaller Jewish population. In the Republic, everyone attends orthodox shuls regardless of their own observance levels in the home.

I read a Twitter post about a fundraiser/show at the Vic Theater in Lakeview on Feb. 13 and 14 benefiting Emanuel Congregation, Chicago Montessori, and Kawasaki disease, which I assume has nothing to do with motorcycles. I didn't mention how odd it was for the synagogue to be included with the other two--the non-profits are all so disparate it would seem there should be three separate fundraisers. I did ask the woman who posted, though, whose Twitter page can be accessed here, about a synagogue fundraiser being held on a Friday night, which I considered grossly inappropriate. She replied, rather tersely I thought, that there were other organizations; there was a Saturday night option; and people have their own levels of observance. That's all true. To avoid any appearance of raising money on the holy Sabbath, however, the synagogue should only participate on Feb. 14. Furthermore, regardless of how Reform the synagogue is, does it really want to ignore all aspects of Sabbath observance to the point of raising money on a Friday night? This reminds me of something a former Reform rabbi said about his synagogue. At one time--no way to know if this is still true--his synagogue served shrimp as a snack between Yom Kippur services. Which is worse--food that is the furthest from kosher in a synagogue, or that it was served on a fast day, the holiest day of the year? UGH! (If you don't believe this story, I can give you the name of the rabbi, who is now observant and lives in Rogers Park.)

I'm sure this concern never occurred to most members of Emanuel Congregation. In fact, the synagogue did encourage its members to attend the show on Saturday night to avoid the Sabbath. So good for the synagogue.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shuls in Rogers Park, Lincolnwood vandalized

The Chicagoland Jewish community is abuzz with the news that Palestinian sympathizers vandalized five shuls over the holy Sabbath last weekend. Some vandals broke plate-glass windows, and others spray-painted "Death to Israel" on shuls' front doors. Jewish organizations, including schools, are taking extra security precautions. After all, Hamas targets children. The Hamas rocket launcher operators and suicide bombers are heroes to these vandals. There's no reason they would hesitate to target Jewish children.

This seems like a great time to start packing heat.

But no.

We can't do that.

Not in Chicago, we can't.

We can act like the vandals and antisemites expect us to act--frozen with fear. We can check our backs as we walk down California Avenue. We can wave to the cop cars conspicuously parked at various locations around the neighborhood. We can walk in groups. Some of us will stop going to shul; I remember someone telling me that she stopped going because "I don't want to be killed." And that was several years ago. It doesn't stop.

This is all window dressing. Without guns inside and outside our homes, we are giving up our best defense--our best way of defending ourselves against extreme violence. If the vandals, who most likely live in Rogers Park or nearby, knew that we were a well-armed community, they wouldn't be so quick to throw bricks through our synagogue windows or spray-paint synagogue doors. They would worry about getting shot. I have heard (but cannot verify) that some shuls practice a bit of civil disobedience--one guy in the shul wears a gun during services. And he's not a cop. He's just a member--a "minyanaire" regular, maybe a shul officer--who is always there and always carrying. He helps protect the shul. Meanwhile, willingly or not, he is giving Hizzoner Da Mare the finger. Mayor Richard M. Daley, Mr. Anti-Gun himself, who has 24-hr. protection--two cops on him at all times, thanks to the taxpayers of the City. Da Mare, who doesn't think the people should be permitted to defend themselves.

The National Rifle Association's lawsuit against the city to overturn its handgun ban should go to trial sometime this year, with a decision, I hope, by summer. Other cities, like Evanston, have capitulated and rewritten their handgun bans. Mayor Daley wants to spend millions of dollars the city doesn't have to fight this case in court. Why? It would make great television for the parents of a murdered child, c'v', to ask him that question. A child killed for the crime of being Jewish. I hope we never, ever have that opportunity.

24 8am-12n

Imagine Entertainment
Real Time Productions
20th Century Fox
Mondays 9pm ET/PT
Episodes 1-4: 8am-12n
Running time: approx 1:24

Carlos Bernard gained some weight.

A good friend of mine never doubted Carlos Bernard's loyalty to CTU because of his Cubs coffee mug. He turned out to be right this time, too, I think. He's Deep Cover? A film with Laurence Fishburne from the previous Bush Administration--around 1991 or so. We've seen this sort of thing before--I distinctly remember someone submitting to pretty serious torture in a previous 24 season to avoid giving up who he was working for. (Can't remember that part.)

Anyone else catch Popular alumna Carly Pope as deceased First Son's ex-girlfriend Samantha Roth? And Janeane Garofalo as an FBI agent--seriously?

I'm trying to figure out the connection between Roger Taylor's murder, his friend's murder, and the vast governmental conspiracy.

The runway incursion and near-crash of two aircraft reminds me of Die Hard II, in which terrorists guided a landing aircraft to a crash by giving inaccurate landing information. Also the clandestine meeting of First Husband Henry Taylor and Samantha at the Tidal Basin reminded me of the murder of the congressman by Jon Voight & Co. that started the surveillance classic Enemy of the State.

This was a gripping opening. I hope the next 20 hours play out just as well.

The Spirit *1/2

The Spirit
Oddlot Entertainment
Running Time: 1:43

A disappointing Frank Miller graphic novel followup to Sin City. The visuals in this film are equally stunning. Eva Mendes is just as beautiful as Jessica Alba (well, almost). Gabriel Macht does not come close to Sin City's Bruce Willis or Mickey Rourke as the hero. Samuel L. Jackson does a nice turn as the BMF,* but come on--he's played that role several times before. Scarlett Johansson, Jaime King, and one other actress (Sarah Paulson?) complete the requisite bevy of pulchritude for a film noir. I'm not counting Paz Vega as an exotic dancer. The whole film came across as rather bizarre without much rhyme or reason. I felt like the audience was supposed to enjoy the CG effects of rain, snow, helicopters and bullets. Not surprising it is down to one daily screening at first-run theatres. And Edgar from 24, Louis Lombardi, as a cloning experiment gone wild--not a good plot move. Character names are interesting. Isn't Sand Saref, Eva Mendes' character's name, a font? Great joke about a cat too.

*badass. You know. Jackson even called himself that at an awards show.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Valkryie ***

MGM/United Artists
Running time: 2:02

I read in the Chicago Tribune that the director miscast Tom Cruise as head conspirator Col. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg in the plot to assassinate the German leader on 07-20-44. I think Cruise did a fine job. I liked the film. I'm curious if this is accurate: the movie strongly suggested (SPOILER! but history) that if the Wolf's Lair meeting had been in the fortified bunker, as scheduled, the air pressure would have killed everyone in the room once the bomb went off. Instead, due to the heat of the day, planners moved the meeting to a nearby room with open windows. Unfortunately, the German leader survived the briefcase bomb and was not seriously hurt.

I'm unaware if the conspirators committed war crimes related to the German war machine before the assassination plot that failed and for which they paid with their lives. For that attempt, they deserve to be remembered as heroes. At the film's conclusion, an inscription on the German Resistance Memorial appeared on the screen:

German Resistance Memorial Plaque 07-20-53

You did not bear the shame.
You fought back.
You gave the great,
Forever tireless
Sign of change,
Sacrificing your glowing life
For freedom,
Justice, and honor.

Incidentally, Michael Sheen, who played David Frost in Frost/Nixon, appeared as a conspirator in Valkryie.

Howard Street, Crawford Avenue to Skokie Boulevard

Just out of range of Ald. Bernie Stone's stop-sign trigger fingers, there lies a major street that cuts through a residential neighborhood for a mile. Between Crawford/Pulaski Avenue and Skokie Boulevard, there are 13 side streets. Yet between the traffic lights at Crawford/Pulaski and Skokie, there are no stop signs or lights. It's just a pleasant ride in a 35mph zone.
No stop signs? But it's residential! People need to be able to cross the street!
Lyon Park borders Howard Street! We need a stop sign or a traffic light! For the children!
If we don't put in some type of traffic control, why, people will just fly down Howard at 60mph!
In Chicago, all those arguments would ring true, and Howard Street would probably have at least a half-dozen stop signs in that one-mile stretch. The difference is that this part of Howard is in Skokie. Skokie has a few stupid stop signs of its own, including a slew near Church Street protecting a series of walking/bike paths. They make the streets more dangerous because most drivers don't bother stopping for them. But Skokie draws the line somewhere, and it declined to impede traffic on Howard, a major street that correctly should not have stop signs. So between Crawford/Pulaski and Skokie Boulevard, traffic continues to flow, people manage to turn left and cross the street, and everyone is happy. See? It really works.

Stop signs: the debate continues

A couple of friends begged me to go on the stop-sign warpath again. So here we go.

There are a number of members of Young Israel of West Rogers Park who love the new stop sign on Touhy at Washtenaw, right next to the shul. I asked one of them, "J.D.," "What if there were stop signs on Touhy at Campbell, Francisco and Albany?" That would mean Touhy Avenue would have traffic controls--either a stop sign or traffic light--at every intersection from Western to Kedzie, a one-mile stretch:
Campbell: No current stop sign.
Rockwell: traffic light.
Washtenaw: new stop sign (installed at the alderman's direction in November, 2008.)
California: traffic light.
Francisco: residents have begged the alderman for a stop sign here for years. Francisco does not run through here; there is a townhome development entrance on the north side of this intersection. No current stop sign.
Sacramento: traffic light.
Albany: a stop sign was here for about a month, in January, 2008. Bowing to pressure, the alderman ended up removing it either because people were disobeying it, or it was causing accidents. Albany is where eastbound traffic narrows from two lanes to one.
Kedzie: traffic light.

J.D. said he thought stop signs at the three intersections that currently have none would be "overkill," in his words. Well, that's the whole point. Every neighborhood resident has his own "favorite stop sign," whether it exists or not. If it doesn't yet exist, you can be sure there are some busybodies who have plenty of time to start petitions and lobby the alderman to install a stop sign. With the new stop sign at Washtenaw, the residents near Campbell, Francisco and Albany will have fresh ammunition for their arguments for their own stop signs. To you, a new stop sign may be just a few seconds a day. But as I previously mentioned, the cumulative effect of a single stop sign is thousands of dollars in wasted time, fuel, and vehicular wear-and-tear. Furthermore, a new stop sign rarely stands alone. More often than not, nearby intersections suffer the bane of the four-way stop as well.

Roland Burris on gun control

In any given issue, it's likely that people on both sides of the issue can agree on one principle: we can't stand hypocrites. I support the right of law-abiding citizens to pack heat in their homes and on the street. Roland Burris thinks only cops and Roland Burris should be able to bear arms. To wit, from Eric Zorn's blog post in today's Chicago Tribune:

Burris in 1993 as he organized Chicago's first Gun Turn-In Day:

"The main goal, of course, is to get the guns out of the hands of the citizens."

Burris in 1994, admitting that even though he urged people to turn in guns, he kept his own. He later gave it up. The controversy occurred during his bid for governor, which he lost:

"It's a little, small thing. I just have it here for safety. If I ban them, I'm going to be the first one to burn mine."

* * *

[Me again.] What a disgusting excuse for a politician. The main goal, Burris said, is to get the guns out of the hands of the citizens, except for me, because I have it here for safety. Well, that's the whole point, Mr. Political Creep. We want to pack heat for safety, too. What is the difference between safety for you and safety for me? You're a politician and I'm not, apparently.

I hope no one else saw U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) and Roland Tombstone "I am the junior senator from Illinois" Burris on Face the Nation this morning. Once Burris is seated, we will have two sleazy, pathetic excuses of senators we will spend the next two to six years apologizing for.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

What does one say to a former Facebook Friend?

This is getting serious. I have been taken off Friends lists by four different people whose first names start with "J." Granted, I didn't know them well, but it's still somewhat disheartening, insulting, and can be the source of hurt feelings. So if I run into one of these "de-Frienders" socially again, what do I say? After all, it is possible I'll see them at a party. We have FOAF's in common (Friends of a Friend). "Hi, 'Joyce' (not her real name), nice to see you again. Oh, yes, we have met before. We were Friends on Facebook once. Then you dropped me like a rotten tomato."

I could say to myself, I hope it's not personal. Of course it's personal. It's Facebook, for heaven's sake. Like getting dumped only not so bad? I wonder if a number of Facebook members did year-end scrubs--looked through their Friends list and said, "I have no idea who this is," or, "I'm not going to see him again," or, "I don't care for this guy at all." Not sure. Any ideas?

Frost/Nixon ***½

Universal Studios
Moving Image
Running time: 1:50

I thoroughly enjoyed this film based on the play of the same name, which premiered in London in advance of its Broadway run. Frank Langella totally apes President Nixon. I can't speak for Michael Sheen's David Frost, as I have no idea who David Frost is. I don't remember any of the Nixon Administration, Watergate or its aftermath, so the film was something of a history lesson for me. (I also have not read Nixon's or Kissinger's memoirs. That's several thousand pages I just might not get to.) Frost and Nixon had their own agendas and went head-to-head in their series of interview tapings. If Nixon's San Clemente, Calif. home--the Western White House during his terms in office--was accurately portrayed in the film, it must have been quite a breathtaking abode. The outdoor scenes supposedly set there are quite stunning. Unfortunately, the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace is in Yorba Linda, about 44 miles northeast of La Casa Pacifica. I don't know if the former Nixon home is open to the public.

In this article about the president spending time in San Clemente: "wetbacks"? Ouch!,9171,902697-3,00.html

Cardinals 30 , Falcons 24

The Arizona Cardinals had not won a playoff game since 1988, when they played in St. Louis. They had not hosted a playoff game at home since 1947, when they were in Chicago.

That's amazing. Forty-one seasons without a playoff home game. And it's not so hard in the NFL. Look, even Detroit hosted playoff games during that span. (Although not this decade, I'm afraid.)

Vikings barely sell out home playoff game

This story had me scratching my head for a number of reasons.
1. The Vikings hadn't even made the playoffs since 2001 or so, let alone played a home playoff game in that time.
2. Complain about the harsh Minneapolis weather? It's 70 degrees in there. Oh, the parking is awful? Wow.
3. Vikings fans seem to be pretty dedicated. I would think they would want to show up to support their team.
4. The Vikings won their division, giving them the #4 seed. They weren't favored against the Eagles, but they had a decent chance of winning the game.

What really had me wondering was the complaints from Vikings fans about the 26-year-old Metrodome being such a dump and a bad place to watch a game. And then people laugh at me for calling 92-year-old Wrigley Field similar names!

Shooting the breeze with Israeli soldiers

A light moment near Eilat (?) Jan. 1.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

NFL Wild Card: home teams are 'dogs!

This is pretty amazing: oddsmakers have made the lower-seeded road team the favourite in each NFL Wild Card game this weekend. Is this a first for all four games?

Atlanta (-2) at Phoenix
Indianapolis (-1½) at San Diego
Baltimore (-3½) at Miami
Philadelphia (-3) at Minneapolis

BTW I like changing the names of teams' names to cities instead of states. Just because. More accurate.

Detroit Red Wings 6, Chicago Blackhawks 4

Nine hours after leaving Andersonville early Thursday morning, I parked on Argyle Street to meet my friend for the game viewing party we were to attend in Lakeview. What a beautiful place these guys had! It was on Waveland Avenue, just across the street from Wrigley Field Gates J and K, which are bleacher entrances. The Waveland Avenue circus atmosphere before and after Cubs games was in full force today. I saw the fighter jets roar overhead after the national anthems, and I could hear the crowd after the (too few) Blackhawks goals. I walked right past the NHL refrigeration truck that controlled the ice temperature.

When are the Blackhawks going to beat the Red Wings? Sometime this season, please? They seem to have "two-goal-lead-itis." They had a two-goal lead Dec. 6, too, and that one was in the third period. Today's only lasted until the second. The Red Wings are a far superior team; they're 4-0 against the Blackhawks so far this season. The Hawks need to figure out how to reach the Wings' level of play.

The NHL worked hard to dress up that dump Wrigley Field as much as possible for the Winter Classic today. One nice addition was the two video screens the NHL installed for the fans' benefit. Could the Cubs possibly do the same? Nah....more fun to keep fans in the dark!

From my vantage point across from that bleacher entrance, I could see the queue for the men's room. This reminded me again how disgusting the men's rooms at Wrigley Field are. There aren't enough of them, and they have troughs instead of individual stalls. What a horrid health code violation! I firmly believe once the Cubs receive permission from the city to renovate the ballpark, they should completely raze the main grandstand and rebuild it. Fans need modern amenities and conveniences, such as: clean restrooms, wide concourses, more concession stands, decent gift shoppes, comfortable seats with cupholders and decent, unobstructed views, and seat numbering systems that actually make sense. The main grandstand was never designed to hold 35,000 people 81 times a year. That's what the Cubs demand of it, and it's not holding up its part of the bargain. Not at all. (Actually, the Cubs added the upper deck 22 years after the ballpark opened, so it's not surprising they don't work together well.) "Disgusting" is not the same as "charming." Please.

I love hearing Red Wings fans crowing about their city. None of them live in Detroit. They live in East Side suburbs. None of them ever set foot in Detroit unless they're visiting MGM Grand or attending a game (Lions, Tigers and Wings, oh my!). They're terrified of their crime-ridden city. Two entire generations of Detroit-area suburbanites have lived outside of Detroit their whole lives--since 1967. Very sad.

NYE in Lakeview

As a matter of principle, I don't pay for parking unless it's absolutely unavoidable. When I want to park in Lakeview, if I don't have a guaranteed space (HA!), then I park in Uptown or Andersonville and take a bus down. On New Year's Eve, I gingerly drove down Broadway and parked when I was far enough south that there was only one space available in an entire block. This was just south of Argyle - sort of an Uptown/Andersonville border.

The party I attended was very nice. Credit to the host, who left for Israel the day after the party! Very impressive because I'd be pulling a Pack-Up All Nighter. The kosher brie was outstanding. I do enjoy watching the Times Square Ball Drop on television. Unfortunately Dick Clark does not look good. Is he going to keep doing this until he goes on to olam haba (the next world)? Other than this annual gig, I think he has been off tv for about 20 years. The Chicago fireworks looked pretty, but nothing new. The midnight surprise was a motorcycle stunt at The Mirage in Las Vegas. It was nice of Fox to wait until 12:15am CST for the jump - after the Chicago fireworks were over! Robbie Knievel, Evil's son, was to ride his motorcycle over the famous volcano in front of The Mirage. In advance of the jump, the announcer showed several deadly scenarios should the stunt not go as planned. One of them was rider incineration if he falls into the erupting volcano. I read on Twitter that this was not possible as his jump was near, but not over, the volcano. It was still an impressive jump, but I feel a little cheated, and the announcer was lying to the viewers if Knievel did not really jump over the volcano.

Knievel was emulating his father's famous jump over the fountains in the driveway at Caesars Palace 41 years ago - New Year's 1968, I guess. The Mirage and Caesars are next-door neighbors.

Was it very cold Wednesday night in Chicago? Either my tolerance for cold weather is not what it once was, or it was colder than I thought. I believe it was 12 degrees when I left the party to catch a bus back to my vehicle. I was not dressed for that. I should have worn my Very Heavy Winter Coat. In the car on the way home, I think I counted 10 Chicago cop cars on the road, including one lying in wait near Pete and Sac. I've never seen a speed trap there despite having driven by that intersection at least 100 times.

Lincoln Avenue between Peterson Avenue and McCormick Boulevard is like a war zone. Good luck keeping your vehicle in one piece as you navigate the numerous potholes that broke out last week on the already-horrible pavement.

NYE drinking perk: Chicago offers free cta rides, but Las Vegas has a drive you-and-your-car service--free!

Can Criss Angel's show at Luxor be saved?

The author of one of the blogs I subscribe to, Richard Abowitz (Movable Buffet, at, has mentioned numerous times that the show Criss Angel: Believe, which opened at Luxor Las Vegas a month or two ago, (1) has suffered horrible reviews and has yet to receive a positive review; (2) is offering deep discounts on seats and may include complimentary tickets to local residents; and (3) is going to undergo extensive revisions to the show.

If you go, buy the cheap tickets. You'll be able to move down.

Two facts stick in my mind:
1. Criss Angel is an extremely talented magician and entertainer. His show on A&E was very successful, if I recall correctly.
2. Cirque du Soleil has five shows on the Las Vegas Strip in addition to Criss Angel: Believe. They are all very successful. O just celebrated 10 years at Bellagio.

This leads me to conclude that surely Angel and Cirque can put their heads together and figure out how to stage a popular magic show. Luxor executives would like to be happy they signed Angel to a 10-year contract. Angel would like to avoid being an embarrassment to himself and his fans. Cirque doesn't want to close a show. There must be a happy solution.

On that link to the Believe page on Luxor's website: Holly Madison is Criss Angel's girlfriend. It's fine for her to be quoted as offering her opinion of his show. But Luxor should say, for disclosure purposes, "Miss Madison is in a romantic relationship with Criss Angel." That may mean her opinion isn't worth much. (It isn't.) But it should be up to the site viewers to make that determination. Luxor shouldn't keep such information secret, as though Madison's opinion were balanced.