August 2008


Learn English or find a new line of work. That is basically what the LPGA tour is telling it’s member, or at least that is what a few of its member believes.

Golfweek reported on its website that the LPGA informed players last week that those on the tour at least two years will have to pass an oral evaluation of their ability to speak English. If they fail the evaluation, then they would be suspended from the tour.

“Why now? Athletes now have more responsibilities and we want to help their professional development,” deputy commissioner Libba Galloway told The Associated Press. “There are more fans, more media and more sponsors. We want to help our athletes as best we can succeed off the golf course as well as on it.”

For years, the tour have been dominated by foreign player, players from Mexico, Taiwan and Korea have won the last five championship, Asian players alone have won 8 of the 25 tournaments this year. It is a foreign tour despite the fact that it’s home base is in the United States. There are a 121 international players on the tour and 45 of them are from South Korea, and of the top ten Rookies this year, zero are from the U.S.

The game continues to grows in non-traditional golf countries, especially in Asia and South America, and the number of player from whom English isn’t a primary language will only increase. So you have to ask your self, is this really a practical and sensible business decision or just plain cultural chauvinism. Some have even thrown out racism, that might be a bit too far, but not out of the question.

The South Korean believe that they are being targeted, because of their numbers and success on tour. And it is very easy to see why they think that. The tour held a mandatory meeting with the South Korean last week to inform them of the rule. But I ask you, why just have a meeting with South Korean? Why not have a mandatory meeting with international players?

Angela Park, a Korean-American, said “A lot of Korean players think they are being targeted, but it’s just because there are so many of them,” she added “The LPGA could come out and say they only want 10 Koreans, but they’re not.” Truth be told. No they can’t. If the LPGA put a cap on how many Korean played on tour, they would lose so much more money then they are now from all the backlash.

After the meeting, many Korean believed that if they didn’t pass the evaluation that they would lose their tour card, not suspension. I don’t know what went on during that meeting, but I don’t think that this was a lost of translation moment. The South Korean are very smart (Yes, I did throw in an Asian stereotype) and know more English then they lead on. Look at Yao Ming, he pretty much converse in English in the locker room but he still used a translator in interview for over a year.

It isn’t a secret that a few players and tour official dislike the South Korean. In 2003, Jan Stevenson, an Australian player was quoted as saying “The Asian are killing our tour.” She continued with “If I were commissioner, I would have a quota on international players and that would include a quota on Asian players. As it is, they’re taking American money. American sponsors are picking up the bill. There should be a qualifying school for Americans and a qualifying school for international players. I say America has to come first. Sixty per cent of the tour should be American, 40% international.”

The language issue had been brought up before as a reason why the LPGA has struggle to retain funding in a volatile market. The tour believes that players who can’t sustain an English conversation can’t possibly mingle with corporate sponsors and heavy-hitters who shell out big money to play in Pro-ams before the big event.

The tour also feels that they’ve lost some very compelling stories in the past due to players inability to communicate and the media unwillingness to struggle past the language barrier. Stories such as Ji-Yai Shin’s, who won the British Open this year.  Shin lost her mother in a car crash when she was 15 and spent a year on a cod in a hospital room next to her brother and sister who were recovering from the crash. But is it really the players fault that the story was lost. I spent the last two weeks watching 30 five to ten minutes player profiles on both American and Foreign Olympic athletes. So you can’t tell me that the story got lost because of a communication issue. Especially, with such things called as … oh yeah, a translator.

I do believe that international player should learn some basic English and so do most of the players, including the ones who struggle with English, it is only in their best interest to do so. Most of the tour is set in the U.S. so learning English will make their life on tour more comfortable and easier as they’ll be able to communicate with restaurant and hotel staff. It is also in their best interest to please and chit-chat with sponsors and amateurs that pay their salaries. Everyone understand that it is not just about making that ten foot putt, but that it is also a business.

The problem that most everyone is having with is the penalty for the failure to comply to the rule. Suspension is absolutely too harsh where a fine will suffice. Another reason why the South Korean believe they are being targeted. If you can’t beat them, then find a way to get rid of them, right!

Either way, the LPGA clearly feels that being able to communicate in English is essential to their business model. “We believe it is pretty clear that effective communication in English is really fundamental to our business,” Galloway said. “It’s pretty clear businesses and organizations have the [legal] right to establish a certain set of skill requirements” for participation.

Like it or not, there doesn’t seem to be a way around it. It is comply or get lost. The new rule has stirred up some controversy, but last I heard, no one will attempt to fight it, that is until someone actually get suspended for not complying.

I’ll leave you with this, isn’t it a double standard? The tour will expect the winner to make a speech at the end of each tournament, but next year when the tour hold tournaments in Thailand, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan, will they require English speaking players to learn the native language and make a speech in that tongue? I very much doubt that.

The Olympics have literally just wrapped up, but there is no time to rest for some of worlds best tennis players, as the 2008 U.S. Open is upon us. Even yours truly, a former collegiate tennis player, managed to forget about the Open as all interest were focused on the drama, controversy, and heart break surrounding Micheal Phelps, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Lolo Jones, Tyson Gay and the rest of the American and World athletes.

Men’s Prediction

For the first time in what seemed forever, Roger Federer (2) will not be the top seeded player in the draw or the favorite to win, but don’t count out the defending champion. Federer has two Grand Slam finals and a semi to his belt this year, a record 99% of the pros would want. He will have a potentially tough match-up in the third round if he faces Radek Stepanek. Federer is 4-2 against him, and in their last match-up Stepanek came out on top. Beside that match-up, he should have an easy road all the way to the semis where he could possibly play Novak Djokovic (3). Federer has a lot to prove, as Nadal (1) has extinguished a lot of his fire and talks of him being the greatest ever fizzle out. Watch out for Federer as he proves that he is still The Man.

Staying on the bottom half of the draw, Andy Roddick (8) will have a tough first round as he face Fabrice Santoro who will slice, tap, dink, and push all the balls over, countering Roddick power, and out right frustrating the American. Roddick is 2-1 against Santoro, but Santoro did win in their last encounter. If Roddick can get past Santoro, then he would most likely face the very talented youngster Ernests Gulbis. I would not be surprise if Gulbis takes Roddick out. If Roddick gets to the quarters, then he would possibly face Novak Djokovic, that would be a really good match up. Andy Roddick has been struggling all year with both his play and injury. The high of playing in NY, should boost his adrenaline, but I don’t see him going far.

Others that could give Federer and Djokovic some trouble in the bottom half of the draw are Richard Gasquet(12) who will have a tough first round against Tommy Haas, Fernando Gonzalez (11) who just won a Silver medal in the Olympics, and Marat Safin who is always dangerous.

As of last week, the number one player in the world is Rafael Nadal, and how fitting is it for him, as he wins a Gold medal during the Olympics. Nadal’s road to the finals will be a lot tougher than Federer, a lot of the seeded players on the top half of the draw are hard court players, and hard court is Nadal least successful surface. Still, Nadal is the favorite to win. He has two Grand Slam and a Gold medal to his resume this year. He could possibly face James Blake(9)/David Nalbandian(7)/Gael Monfils(32)/Paul-Henri Mathieu(24) in the quarters. A Blake/Nadal match-up would be interesting to watch in NY. Blake’s favorite surface is hard court and he just missed medalling at the Olympics where he beat Federer. Blake is also 3-2 against Nadal.

On the other half of Nadal’s draw, David Ferrer (4), Gilles Simon (16), Stanislas Wawrinka (10), Andy Murray (6) and Juan Martin Del Potro all could contend for the semis. Simon, Murray, Del Potro have been the hottest players this summer.

My Pick: Roger Federer

Women

While the men’s draw seemed to be dominated by a select few. The women’s draw is wider than it has been in years. The top half of the draw is completely stocked with talent compare to the bottom half of the draw. Talk about unbalanced.

In the top half, you have the Williams sisters (4)(7), Anna Ivanovic (1), and Danira Safina (6), all four of these girls should be favorite to move to the finals. But it will not be easy as these girls are all in their half, Daniela Hantuchova (11), Alize Cornet (17), Nicole Vaidasova (20), Agnes Szavay (13), and Agnieszka Radswanska (9). The Williams sister could meet in the quarters, so could Ivanovic and Safina.

The bottom half of the draw does have Jelena Jankovic (2), Olympic champion Elena Dementieva (5), 2007 finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova (3), the loopy lefty Patty Snyder (15), and up-and-comer Caroline Wozniacki (21). All good player, but no where near as talented as the top half of the draw. This could be the best chance for Jankovic to get to her first Grand Slam final.

My Pick: Danira Safina

That’s right, we’ve been through the four other major networks and today we end this series. The CW has had some hard times, having to recover from the image it gained while it was the WB. They’ve got eight new TV shows airing this season. I enjoyed Reaper from last season, a show I don’t think got as much credit as it should have because of the fact it was on the CW. Hopefully, this season will begin to bring the CW back to the level of respect of NBC and the others. With that, lets see what they are offering after the jump.

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considering i have nothing really to review or talk about, but still have the desire to keep the sword sharp, i’ve decided to rewind and do the thing i didn’t do in my original introduction: a self-obsessed doctrine of my opinions. i’ve lengthened it. i’ve made it as controversial as i can, in as much as this group’s concerned. and, completely to balls end, with no reluctance, these are my Beliefs. at least Volume 1 of my Beliefs. and, luckily, they’re all numbered for easy perusal.

  1. “The Wire” is the best television show ever made. Taking into consideration what kind of lightning was caught in that bottle, I feel comfortable saying it will be the “best show ever made” indefinitely. Even when it misstepped, it was the smartest, best written narrative ever broadcast. The seasons, best to worst: 3 (stringer bell), 4 (marlo, bodies & the kids), 2 (sobotka, the greek & the docks), 1 (jimmy mcnulty & the one that started it all), 5 (proving all the pieces matter). And, worst is only relative; one can only compare “Wire” episodes and seasons to other “Wire” episodes and seasons. Otherwise, it’s no contest.
  2. Two-Face is alive, regardless of what the Nolan brothers wrote in the script and what the “Dark Knight” novelization states as Two-Face’s demise. The script is the first draft of the final cut, and many intentions fall by the wayside by the time the switch is flipped on a projector. Given the particular shots and inserts used in said final cut, the Batman franchise’s love for twists and faking out the audience, and Nolan’s dedication to representing an accurate Batman universe…Two-Face is, until further notice, alive and…not well.
  3. The makers of the “_____ Movie” franchise think hilarious jokes really begin with taking a character from a popular movie’s TRAILER and dropping a large object on them, or hitting them with a car, or re-contextualizing them in mind-numbing mimicry and impressions. Sorry, no. Results just came in, that’s not hilarity. It’s not even parody. It’s the Wrestlemania equivalent of burlesque satire. It’s the no-cal alternative to genius.
  4. There are bad movies and crap movies. Bad movies have an intention, either to entertain purely (camp) or to complete the simple goal of finishing the production. Just by wrapping, regardless of the final product, some would label that a success. Bad movies can have great dialogue, characters, scenes, style…even a great ending that leaves you with a feeling “hey, that wasn’t as bad as i thought it’d be.” Bad movies don’t have to hit all the points of what defines film art — in fact, it’s better if they don’t hit any at all — but they all HAVE to be entertaining. Otherwise, they are crap movies. Crap movies are rehashed, mundane, xerox copies of other movies that did everything better. The biggest crime a filmmaker can commit is mediocrity. If someone can say “oh, that’s just like [plug-in better movie], but not as good,” then you’ve failed. Next project. NEXT project. The least a film should be is not boring.
  5. I can’t wait for “Mercenaries 2” to come out. It looks like it’s going to be a helluva experience. Until then, “Bionic Commando: Rearmed” and “Braid” are rocking my shit. Check them out on XBOX Live.
  6. Keanu Reeves is not a good actor. Stop trying to convince us, Hollywood. Either you start making a bunch of Bill & Ted sequels or you assassinate that guy. Seriously.
  7. Will Ferrell has been losing his golden edge. Why does it feel that “Semi-Pro” and “Step Brothers” are only ghosts of that arrogant spirit of Ferrell’s comedy, and “Blades of Glory” is an oft-overlooked gem? Story, that’s why. There’s no point in having 90-120 minutes of silly, nonsensical frat comedy, if it has no real story skeleton to follow. Just because a movie has some great parts does not make it a good movie (i.e. “Dewey Cox,” “Pineapple Express,” “The Incredible Hulk”). Since when are the parts more important than the whole? Yet, “Blades of Glory” is panned by critics, when it’s one of the funniest, best paced and shot comedies Ferrell’s ever done.
  8. If i were going to do a comedy, i’d want it to be like “In Bruges,” down to the tone of the whole piece.
  9. Network television cannot hold a candle to cable TV, particularly HBO. There is no way in the foreseeable future that a genius character piece, say, with deliberate pacing, is going to get green lit for ad-space broadcast. There’s great stuff, sure, but it’s 95% plot-driven week-to-week bite-size morsels. Possible outcome: filler episodes, bad episodes, bad plot twists, bad character arcs, etc. Still, give me serial and i can be happy (i.e. ❤ you “Lost”), but don’t think you’re “The Wire” or the TV equivalent of “There Will Be Blood” in my heart. You’re good going down, but our relationship is on a progress report basis. I might have to eventually cheat on you with a co-worker; might not. Biggest offenders, failing me since 1983: Benson, A-Team, 227, Macgyver, Living Single, Ghost Writer, St. Elsewhere, New York Undercover, 24, Dr. Quinn, Grace Under Fire, Home Improvement…nah nah, i’m joking. Some of those fit the bill, but mainly i just wanted to list shows i could think of.
  10. I love boobies. i’m not going to lie. i could play with them all day.

that’ll do for now. as a first chapter in my doctrine, i think we’re off to a good start.

Next Time: back to reviews and maybe a little exploration of one of the best eras for movies, the 1970s.

Reality Television. For starters, that name is a complete misnomer. The reality is completely fabricated, and simulated. Simply because “real” people are involved, not celebrities, it becomes reality. Bullshit. You think those people on Survivor are in that much dire peril? Yeah, right, whenever anyone on that show gets remotely in trouble, they cart them out so fast it makes your head spin.

Who survives?  Who gives a fuck?

Who survives? Who gives a fuck?

Basically, reality TV is really complicated season long game shows. And we’re eating it up. Why? Because you don’t have to think, plus there’s an element of living vicariously involved. Especially with the high stakes. You can win a ton of cash for partaking in this crap, so that’s a big appeal for sure. But not all of it’s the game show types. There’s the more traditional stuff, the more “educational” type stuff that’s always been around. You know, like cooking shows, home improvement shows, etc. They’ve simply twisted them a bit, given them a hook, and mass produced them. Or stolen them from the U.K. Whichever. I don’t mind those so much (in fact I really like MythBusters). I save my vitriol for the glorified game shows.

I also have a hard time liking these shows because of the saturation. Really good shows have died a quick death these past six years because the American viewing public wanted more reality TV. One comes immediately mind in the recent past: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Sure, it probably had more issues than simply a clamor for more reality TV, but I have to believe that if networks weren’t so obsessed with pandering to the least common denominator TV viewer, they’d have given shows like this more of a chance.

Heck, S60 coined a great term for reality TV that I use often now: Illiterate Programming. I have a feeling they knew what they were up against and Sorkin wrote as many shots in against reality TV as he could. There sure were a lot of shots taken, and I loved every one of them.

I hate reality TV. Hate it. Survivor? Let’s have a before island show, and an after island show.  Don’t put any damn cameras on the island, put these people on the island by themselves.  See who actually survives. Fear Factor? No comment. Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, except he’s not really a Millionaire, fooled you? Suck it.  And those are the “classics.”  Some of the more recent ones are even more IQ reducing.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand mindless entertainment.  I understand the appeal, the psychology behind it, all of that.  But I’m sorry, fuck Reality TV and the horse it rode in on.

I wonder if Stephen King gloats that he called this so so many years ago with “The Running Man”? I bet he does. And more power to him.

PS:  I cheated a bit.  I actually wrote this for some other site and simply updated it.  But I wanted to contribute this week, and I saw some new Illiterate Programming ad last night that really irked me.

PPS:  Later today at www.bartraeke.com I’m going to be a shameless fundraiser…for myself.  Well, for my soon to be arriving baby.  If you’re feeling charitable, stop by and check it out.  😉

DOh Bluths, you had so much potential, only to be cut down in your prime.

Oh Bluths, you had so much potential, only to be cut down in your prime.

Another day, another preview. We’re coming down to the end here with only Fox and the CW left to preview. And this time around, we’ll see what Fox has to offer. I can’t even begin to imagine what Fox is going to offer. I’m not usually a fan of Fox because the show is either terrible and sticks around for too long, like Prison Break. Wouldn’t that end once they escape prison? Or the show is great and Fox cancels it, like Arrested Development. Lets take a look and see which category these shows are going to fall into.

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I apologize in advance for my unprofessionalism, but I will disclaim that this will take two posts.

I just had the privilege of watching the “Pilot” for “Fringe”, FOX’s new serial sci-fi drama, spearheaded by J.J. Abrams, the brainchild behind cult favorite series “Alias” and ABC’s ratings-saver “Lost”. I won’t go into the logistics behind said “Pilot”, but if you care to see it for yourself, check out the leaked copy on your preferred Bittorrent tracker or streaming online from TV piracy giant Sidereel.com.

I’ll do my best to review the online “pilot” without posting any spoilers. And you have to understand that I’m essentially flying by the seat of my pants. I had had an entirely different plan set out for how I was going to address Abrams’s new series. But if you want to be completely surprised by the premiere on September 9th, I’d advise to skip the rest of this post, because I’ll be reviewing a couple specific aspects of the show.

The opener was surprising at best, because the way the series has been advertised, both online and on in TV spots, it was implied that it was not going to differentiate itself greatly from the hit series “Lost”. This viewer, when first confronted with the concept of a new Abrams series, saw it as very much an analogue for the ratings-fledgling previous series, sort of as a replacement for a show that has garnered a lot of poor reviews for asking a lot of questions that didn’t look like they were going to be answered. If you put them in court, you might say they were badgering the witness. And a lot of people got pissed off in a big hurry.

Now that I vented a little bit, here’s what I think.

The cinematography is something to behold. The show, at least in the first half, looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I had read reviews that called the show a mix between Lost, the X-Files and the Twilight Zone. Upon first viewing, the thematic motif of the show proves this statement EXTREMELY true. It’s easy to see elements from all three shows in the “Pilot”. The first twenty minutes especially have a certain aesthetic that will at once draw you in and in the next moment make your skin crawl. It’s impressive really.

As far as writing, I was astonished. It’s not like “Lost” at all. It seems more like “House” than anything. It seems like every episode will be addressing a particular “case” a la “X Files” with each episode contributing to an overarcing storyline. If there is a just and loving God, that storyline will go somewhere. Shit, ignore that. That comment was intended for a later post. But the “cases” themselves won’t be simple or conventional problems, but rather, pseudoscientific and/or metaphysical theories and concepts. Or, “Fringe science”.

Get it? See where this is going?

If it sounds simple, it truly isn’t. It’s hard to really judge a show by its pilot, just go back to your favorite show and watch the pilot, and see how uncharacteristic, and, for a lack of a better word, shitty, it was. Every show has to start somewhere, and I don’t pretend to know where the series is going. But, as an Abrams show, it’s going to go somewhere deep. According to interviews, each episode will have “clues” and/or “glyphs” leading to the next episode. Also, including viral marketing campaigns, ARGs and suggestive catchphrases like “Find The Pattern”, it’s hard to conclude that this isn’t another formulaic “Lost” analogue, essentially a crossword with one word constantly missing for the audience to be perpetually salivating for.

But from what I saw of the “Pilot”, it looks fresh, and entertaining. And it looks unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. And in my quasi-professional opinion, that’s the best compliment I can afford any show.

More To Come.

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