S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 18 May 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 


Hit & Run CCXXVIII

 
[]

We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that Indiana University's investigation into choleric motivational speaker Bobby Knight has vindicated the chubby paranoid has-been of charges (lodged by ex-players Richard Mandeville and Neil Reed) that he once emerged from a locker room toilet brandishing an evacuation-stained scrap of Charmin at his team. Our suspicion: It wasn't doody, but chocolate. No sodden wad = no smoking gun.

 

Nevertheless, the smoking gun videotape of Knight's head-snapping attack on Reed — which we have been reviewing with Zapruder-like religiosity all week — presents a genuine dilemma. On the one hand, the very fact that Reed allowed Knight to get such an easy purchase on his jugular makes it clear he wasn't playing heads-up ball. On the other, this tape is the most compelling evidence yet that the bold asswiper really is a psychotic bully whose transformation into a demented mediocrity has involved such courtly and off-courtly antics as terrorizing old biddies, choking, head-butting, and kicking players, hitting and kicking coaches and fans, allegedly choking restaurant patrons, fracturing his son's nose, accidentally shooting a friend while hunting, hitting policemen in U.S. protectorates and escaping extradition, and shooting blanks at reporters. Then again, who's to say he won't pull another great motivating tool out of his ass?

 

All of which makes us sympathize with the Man Behind the Vision, IU president Myles Brand. Caught in the middle of the venerable battle of sportswriters versus jocks — a struggle between anal retentives and anal explosives in which only the shit wins — Brand has devised a clever variation on the Zero Tolerance Policy, the 0.01 Tolerance Policy.

 

But hold the phone. Contrarian coaches deserve contrarian sportswriting, and so, instead of cowering before the finks and weaklings who prey upon faded glory, we celebrate IU's embrace of this champion of recruiting feasance, rape counseling, freelance chiropractic, and racial harmony. Which isn't to say we don't sympathize with the boredom and aggravation of the beat writers who are tired of playing the same role of snipers to Knight's bunker mentality. We'd just like to sit a little closer to the action.

 

[]

Roman Catholics have long been accustomed to consuming, in addition to the weekly Eucharist, a steady diet of horse apples in the form of official statements from inside the Swiss-guarded walls of Vatican city. But this week's announcement that the Third Secret of Fatima — revealed (along with bets on World War II's outcome and the fall of the USSR) in 1917 by the Virgin Mary to three Portuguese children, and concealed ever since — is nothing more than a replay of a failed assassination attempt two decades old must surely rank as the most indigestable, anticlimactic fib ever foisted on a gullible congregation. This is the apocalyptic secret that made Pope Benedict XV weep and faint, the awful vision of humanity's future that the Cardinals have kept locked away for decades (in violation of Our Lady's explicit instructions that the secret should be revealed in 1960), the Hal Lindsey-esque bitter truth that the Vatican feared would panic the general population? At the very least, this official explanation rivals the Warren Commission Report for opening up more questions than it answers. For starters, if Pope John Paul II knew he was going to be shot, what 12 Monkeys sequence of plot twists led him to expose himself to his assassin, and only build the bulletproof Popemobile after getting plugged? Why is this secret so absurdly out of proportion to the earth-shaking predictions that preceded it? And given the long history of mortal intrigue in the Vatican (possibly including the death of the current Pope's predecessor — the ill-starred John Paul I, who mysteriously went to heaven a mere 34 days into his reign), since when does an attempt on a pope's life rank as news? We ain't buying it. The Virgin Mary still has a horrible message she's trying to send us. Our guess as to the real secret: "Jesus miniseries will give CBS a heavenly ratings boost over ABC's Millionaire!"

 

[]

After a lumbering ten-year run, the sickly beast that is Beverly Hills 90210 is finally being put down. While less kind observers gossip about feisty Brenda's fiery-to-the-end hijinx, we prefer to marvel once again at the brilliance of Aaron Spelling's facility for inventing not merely hits but entire genres. The Mod Squad's vision of a hipped-up Establishment can be credited for both Room 222 and a decade's worth of with-it cop shows (including Spelling's own Starsky and Hutch). The double-featured Love Boat and Fantasy Island proved that the public has a perpetual appetite for B-list celebrities in tasty combinations. Hart to Hart established the template for pallid Thin Man retreads that Moonlighting used to inflict Bruce Willis on an innocent world, and so on and on, into TV history and beyond. 90210 invented the modern teen drama by artfully combining the tough lessons of an after school special with lots of eye candy. Now, in the spirit of those specials, it is time to reflect on what we've all learned. Without 90210, we may never have been privy to such cinematic triumphs as 8 Seconds and Calendar Girl. And these are only the most obvious children of the fertile Beverly Hills womb. Without the successful niche marketing of 90210, we may never have had the WB, thereby leaving us with no knowledge of that fiery little hellcat Felicity. Also, let us not forget the many lessons we learned from the show. Tough issues like drug abuse and gun violence were tackled with the earnestness of a Dateline special and the pleasant aesthetic of a John Hughes movie. Yes, like the creepy older son of the day-care provider, 90210 has truly touched us all.

 

[]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation denies any link between Sunday's gathering of "750,000" moms both famous and nameless and a mysteriously well-timed glitch in the FBI's database of felons. Well, if they say so... With the computers down from Thursday to Sunday, gun sales were halted around the nation, and the Million Mom March coincided with an unplanned but highly convenient cease-fire. We don't like ending up on borderline-retard Wayne LaPierre's side of any issue, but from our bi-curious position on the gun issue (we don't own any rods, but we're willing to try anything once), we feel a certain emptiness at not having at least had the opportunity to take a shot at Rosie O'Donnell from across the Mall. And it's more than disappointing that Second Amendment Sisters and other creative thinkers in the gun lobby have not made more of a stink about this odd coincidence. Maybe the Bureau was just looking out for the safety of American motherhood during a high-profile photo opp (though one that President Clinton only felt compelled to address through a pre-recorded message). Nice effort, Mr. Freeh, but our moms can defend themselves, thank you.

 

[]

It's summer blockbuster season, and Hollywood mandarins hoping to score another taste-busting hit like that Mary Pie thing are letting one or two low-budget, lame-laugh comedies slip into theaters. (That's two, if you recall David Arquette's Ready to Rumble. You mean you don't?) DreamWorks SKG comes out with Road Trip,* an acne-age laugher, featuring Canadian comedy artiste Tom Green and following a group of college buddies as they travel the great American laffscape in a school bus. We continue to wish Mr. Green nothing but success, roaring audiences and a speedy recovery, and the trailer's promise of pranks with mice, snakes and such has our comedy meters running. Still, did Road Trip really have to highlight a money shot/sight gag involving a boney white kid who apparently can't perform with a sister who is roughly the size of a Botero? Later in the clip, the guys titter over the size of the big girl's leopard-print underwear. It's about as tasteful as a side of fatback. Granted, a certain level of general humiliation must be maintained in these sorts of affairs, but don't black women (not to mention chubby chasers) constitute a real segment of the movie-going public? At the very least you'd expect Tom Green to steer clear of projects involving erectile dysfunction jokes. Was this the kind of artistic freedom Messrs. Spielberg, Katzenbaum and Geffen envisioned when they helped with Katzenberg's defection from the empire of the rat? (Disney, that is, not Cuba). And how will all this hold up against San Francisco's "Fat Ordinance"? "Are there any guys out there that are just normal?" screams another exasperated prank victim (or actually that may have been fabled critic Janet Maslin, reduced to public transportation in her post-Times penury) toward the end of the trailer. Don't look here. Blame Canada.

*No animals were harmed in the making of this film. Just humiliated.

 

[]

Alert reader John Mihelic wrote in to correct us on our claim, made in last week's Hit & Run, that the nation of Sierra Leone directed the "spaghetti westerns" of the 1960s. The actual director of these films was Sergio Leone. Suck regrets the error, and we'd particularly like to thank Mr. Mihelic for the patience with which he explained the various categories of Leones when our new fact checker called him for confirmation:

Hi, this is Barney Dunne. I'm a fact checker at Suck.com, and I'm calling about that error you wrote us about?

Uh-huh.

 
Yeah, we really apologize for that. We're gonna fix that up right away. I was just hoping you might be able to help us with making the correction?

All right.

 
Well first, which films did Sierra Leone direct?

It wasn't Sierra. It was Sergio Leone. S-E-R-G-I-O.

 
Oh, OK, so who is Sierra Leone?

That's just a country in Africa. Get it?

 
Oh, wait a second. No, I don't.

Sierra Leone is not a person who directed films. It's a country. Sergio Leone is a film director. He just died recently. And all the spaghetti westerns, which are the original Clint Eastwood movies, the ones that made his reputation as an actor, were directed by an Italian guy named Sergio Leone. That's why they're called spaghetti westerns.

 
So Sierra Leone is in Africa?

It's an African country, yes.

 
So, well, what does Sierra Leone have to do with Clint Eastwood? I don't understand.

Well, in the column, the reference was made to spaghetti westerns made by, or made in, Sierra Leone. They weren't made in Sierra Leone; they were made by an Italian director named Sergio Leone.

 
[Fretful sighing sounds]

Somebody fucked up and didn't know the difference between Sierra Leone the country and Sergio Leone the film director.

 
Um, but, I thought you said Sierra Leone didn't make those films.

No, he couldn't. There isn't anybody — Sierra Leone is a country.

 
But that's where the films were made?

No, they weren't. They were made in Italy. They weren't made in Sierra Leone; that's West Africa. Doesn't look anything like the American West. The other ones were shot — I think they were shot in Spain. But in any case they were made by an Italian and that's why they're called spaghetti westerns.

 
Whew. And... So, what does spaghetti have to do with Africa? I don't understand.

Nothing. It has nothing to do with Africa. The person writing the column obviously didn't know that Sierra Leone was not the same as Sergio Leone. Sergio Leone is a guy.

 
And Sierra Leone is not a guy?

It's a country.

 
So, which films did Sierra Leone direct?

Sierra Leone did not direct any films. Sergio Leone did.

 
But I thought you just said Sierra Leone didn't make these films.

Sierra Leone couldn't. You want to know the difference between Sierra and Sergio? Write them down: S-I-E-R-R-A.

 
OK. Hold on: S-I-E-R-R-A. OK.

OK, Sergio is capital S-E-R-G-I-O.

 
... capital S — OK, so "Sierra" doesn't take a capital S?

Sierra is... Well yeah, it would. It was the name of a country, so it would have a capital.

 
OK, terrific. So, Sierra Leone is, that's where the westerns were made, not who made them.

No, they weren't even made there. That's the...

 
I'm sorry. I'm really lost now. Where were they made if they weren't made in Sierra Leone?

They were made in Italy. By an Italian director. That's why they're called spaghetti westerns.

 
OK, how do you think the correction should read?

Uh, let me see: "We mistook Sierra Leone for Sergio Leone the film director."

 
Do you think we should say, "Due to a copy editing error..."?

Yeah, blame it on somebody, sure. But whoever wrote it — Was that you who wrote it?

 
No, no, but I'm in a lot of trouble about it because I didn't catch it. We don't usually know who wrote them. A lot of time people just sort of send stuff to us.

OK, just say that the writer made the error. You see, clearly what happened here is: The writer was working fast, and didn't really know what he or she was talking about when it came to films, but had heard something about spaghetti westerns, and heard that they were made by a guy named Leone, and so saw Sierra Leone and thought, "Oh that must be the guy who made the films." But since it's obviously a country and not a guy, [the writer] thought they were made there. But none of that is true. It's just somebody picking bullshit out of the air.

 
So for our purposes, then, we probably shouldn't even mention the films that Sierra Leone directed.

There aren't any. That's what makes you look stupid. It's like saying Ireland —

 
Wait, I'm sorry, I don't know that there's any need for name-calling.

Well, huh. OK, we'll start over. Sierra Leone is a country in Africa. No films — well, they may make films there but you're not referring to the film business. You're referring to what's happening in Africa. Sergio Leone is a film director who recently died. Sergio Leone has nothing to do with Sierra Leone.

 
Well, the article also made reference to the fact that Americans like to hike and camp in Sierra Leone and visit its national parks. Is that accurate?

I don't know that. Sierra Leone, because it's in West Africa, is just hotter than hell. It's known as the "white man's graveyard." It's a place where 120 degrees is not uncommon. It's not the kind of place where you'd hike and fish. I don't know where that one came from. That one didn't really trigger me like the other one did. I wouldn't even refer to Sierra Leone as a good place for hiking. Because it's just not known for that. I'd leave that one out.

 
So, spaghetti westerns were those films with titles like A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, right?

Yeah.

 
So White Man's Graveyard is one of those films?

No, "white man's graveyard" is the name that was given to west Africa as a place where white men often die of tropical diseases. "White man's graveyard" is just a name like "the dark continent." That kind of name.

 
Right. It's surprising they'd choose to make films there, since it's so hot.

Wait a minute. Nobody's talking about making films there. That's really the mistake that was made in the original column.

 
Oh, OK. That's the one we're gonna fix right up! OK, well thank you, I really appreciate your help.

What was your name again?

 
Barney Dunne.

Where are you, Barney?

 
I'm in San Francisco. I'm a fact checker.

A fact checker for Suck?

 
Yeah.

OK, how long you been doing this, Barney?

 
Just a couple weeks. Yeah, I'm sorry; it really looks bad. It's bad for me when something like this happens, 'cause I just started. But we're trying to do a better job, so...

Well, it's not really your fault. It's the fault of the person who wrote it. It may be your problem, because you're supposed to check these things. But it's not really your fault, because those are old movies, and the movie director is now dead. How old are you?

 
I'm 21. I'm an intern.

So those movies were made probably before you were born. So it's not something you'd normally know about. But whoever wrote this thing was clearly flying low and not paying much attention.

 
Huh. Well, we'll get right on it. Thanks for your help!

Sure.

 
 
courtesy of theSucksters