Criticism. Essay. Fiction. Science. Weather.
Bill O'Reilly is feuding
with Keith Olbermann. He doesn't want to even hear that name on his show. Unfortunately for Bill, it's a call-in show and there are those who enjoy getting under O'Reilly's skin. All that adds up to one minute of solid comic-gold. Have a listen:
There are two layers of enjoyment to this brilliant comedic soufflé. The first, and most visceral, reaction is listening to O'Reilly, who has officially become a delightful parody of himself. As soon as the caller mentions Olbermann's name, O'Reilly hangs up on him and sets off on a tirade, the gist of which is that various law enforcement agencies will hunt down and punish the caller. That's a decent premise for a farce, but O'Reilly's performance seals the deal. He makes masterful use of the pause
. One can almost hear him inventing, on the spot, the means to threaten someone for mentioning a name on a call-in show, but these thoughtful pauses also develop a menacingly measured delivery. "If you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number. And we're gonna turn it over to Fox Security. And you'll be getting a little visit." Those hitches in O'Reilly's delivery make it all seem so rational and orderly. Almost sane.
Indeed, to underscore how serious this all is, when one of O'Reilly's lackeys
tries to make light of the situation, Bill cuts her off with a curt, "No, maybe Mike's gonna get in big trouble. Because we're not gonna play around." O'Reilly loses a little steam at the end of the segment, when he vaguely warns shock jocks not to "whatever," but that's not before he delivers a brilliantly measured threat involving my "LO-cal authorities" and gets his minion
to admit that all his blustering is "fair." A solid performance all around.
The more substantial and rewarding element of this comedy, is the orchestration behind it. Mike Stark is the man with the plan and he is happily taunting O'Reilly into what he calls "false and empty threats." As a piece of performance art, this operation is a brilliant riff on O'Reilly and his imitators. Stark's brand of public humiliation and provocation has found its ideal mark in O'Reilly, who is such a bully and a blowhard himself. As brilliant as I think O'Reilly's performance is, I tip my hat to Stark and the others calling in
to drop the KO-bomb. They are O'Reilly's muses and when he accepts his awards I trust he will thank them all. In the meantime, Stark's website
has been swamped with traffic as he continues to dance the bully dance with O'Reilly. This already winning relationship could ascend to new heights this week. Believe it.
Well, you can forget about China. The economy may be growing as quickly as the obesity rate in the States, but the people of the People's Republic
just aren't very good at baseball. In the World Baseball Classic, an international tournament that Major League Baseball would really like you to watch and get excited about, China
, part of "Pool A," was handed two straight losses, one on the first day of the tournament, and one on the second. The first loss came to Japan, as the Chinese were mercy-ruled in an embarrassing and vaguely amusing 18-2
rout. The next night, they managed to go the distance in a somewhat more reasonable game against Korea. They were beaten 10-1
Chinese manager Jim Lefebvre isn't discouraged though. "We came out a little flat as far as hitting was concerned," he told the media after Friday's loss. "When you don't get a lot of hits, it always looks like the team is down."
And also when the opposing team scores in the double-digits. In two consecutive games. But Lefebvre reminds that baseball is relatively new to China. "If our kids can sit and learn from this, and they are learning, we're going to get better." It seems that the main goal is to suck less by the time the '08 Olympics arrive
The announcers on American television also repeated this point several times; they had little to do except make excuses for the lopsided outing. While nobody said it, one thought seemed to be on the tip of everybody's tongues: someday
, China will dominate at this as well.
Well, I would it were true. I saw those games. It is very difficult to imagine the Chinese team playing successfully on a level of global competition, even in the next four or five World Baseball Classics, if the WBC -- which is already plagued by missing talent (Hideki Matsui, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Randy Johnson, and many others) and March Madness -- survives that long. I can't see a Chinese team posing a threat
to countries like Japan, the United States, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic, where baseball has thrived for multiple generations. But I hope I'm wrong, because if this thing is going to stick around -- if it's going to be as much fun as it should be -- it will be because of surprises, big and small.