Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Pure Opinion

Beach Blanket Blandness: MTV Portrays Laguna Beach Students as A-List Losers

AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR, the incessant blogbuzz around the election caused my head to explode. While it was being rebuilt, my wife took over some of my "duties" and took an up close and personal look at MTV's "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County." Now like the Asian Flu, the show is back for a second season because, well... because in America anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Here's a look back which will be, because teenagers live a life of enervation and repetition, just like a look ahead.

Contributor's note: Of course I was mad. I was the one who had to clean up all that gunk and brain matter when his head exploded. As the reassembly nears its final stages, he wrote out in a shaking hand, "Post, please. You must post, something...anything." So here is something. -- Mrs. VdL

GrouppicI watch "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County"on MTV with the same mixture of horror and fascination you feel when you�re driving by a bad car crash. You don't want to gawk, but you can't help it.

I recognize the beaches. I recognize downtown. I recognize the Surf and Sand Resort. But I don't recognize any of these characters. Because these teenagers have to be characters. They can't be real high school kids. At least I hope and pray that they're not.

Right Idea. Wrong Lawyer

"...firms "risk becoming poster children
for attorney greed at a time when the
profession is already under attack

Tobacco lawyers to Mass.: we'll sue for the whole $2 billion

Law firms Brown Rudnick Berlack & Israels and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein now say they'll sue the state of Massachusetts for the whole $2 billion they say they're entitled to -- a 25 percent contingency share of the state's $8 billion tobacco-settlement booty -- rather than accept the measly $775 million they've been awarded in arbitration. The Associated Press says the firms "risk becoming poster children for attorney greed at a time when the profession is already under attack for high damage awards. 'This lawsuit is about greed and it's about selfishness. They should be ashamed of themselves,' said former Maine Attorney General James Tierney, who worked with attorneys general from around the country to help negotiate the $246 billion master settlement." ("Law firms go to court to make Massachusetts pay full tobacco legal fee", AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 3; Steve Bailey, "Pigs at the trough", Boston Globe, Oct. 10) For earlier coverage of the Massachusetts fees, see May 19; Jan. 2-3, 2002; Aug. 13-14, 2001; Dec. 22, 1999.


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 8, 2003 1:53 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Salon $191,250 Closer to Breaking Even

One of the last staggering dinosaurs of the era lurched about $200K closer to solvency today when it dropped Michael O'Donnell, the grossly overpaid chief executive. O'Donnell said he felt "it was time to move on," to the relief of his family who were terrified he was about to "spend more time with them."

In a SF Gate article:Salon chief calling it quits after 7 years we are informed:

O'Donnell earned an annual salary of $191,250, with his contract entitling him to nine months of severance pay if he left for "a good reason," according to filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission. O'Donnell declined to discuss his financial arrangements.

David Talbot, Salon's chairman, editor in chief and new chief executive, said the "richly deserved" severance package was "mutually agreeable."

Well, we agree. Although we think that the 54 surviving employees might be muttering, "Where's the Kool-Aid?"

Still, this is arguably the best step Salon has taken since making itself into a pay site where items such as the bulk of Joe Conason's Journal and its carping revisionism are safely hidden behind a begging screen.

Unfortunately for the struggling site, David Talbot remains at the helm to treat us to such car-sized sauropod coprolites as this morning's effort at transforming the quasi-quisling Joseph Wilson into "A true American hero."

[Clue to Talbot from a recent post somewhere in the blogsphere: "Dave, it's about the book deal. It is always about the book deal."

Evidently as long as there are silly silicon millionaires willing to dump pocket change into Salon's always lint-ridden pockets, Talbot's annual quarter-mil plus is secure.

It's good that the investors are all men and not "Mothers Who Think."

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 10, 2003 8:46 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Only Game in Town

Player groups can achieve incredible success
in ways you wouldn't expect, and that helps
keep real life fresh and interesting.

Gamespot always has great reviews of fascinating new games, but this week Greg Kasavin takes you to whole new levels in his brilliant review of Real Life

Real life is densely populated and features a wide variety of places to explore and activities to engage in.Real life isn't above reproach. In one of the stranger design decisions in the game, for some reason you have no choice in determining your character's initial starting location, appearance, or gender, which are chosen for you seemingly at random.

However, over the course of your character's life, you have tremendous opportunity to customize and define a truly unique appearance for yourself--not only can you fine-tune your hairstyle and hair color, but you can also purchase and wear a seemingly infinite variety of clothing and influence your body type using various in-game mechanisms. For example, if your character exercises frequently, you will appear fit and muscular. You may also choose from a huge variety of tattoos and body piercings, and later you can even pay for cosmetic surgery, though this is expensive and there's a small chance that the operation will backfire.

At any rate, real life offers a truly remarkable amount of variety in determining your character's outward appearance, and this depth isn't only skin deep. The only problem is you're relegated to playing as a human character, though the game does randomly choose one of several different races for you (which have little bearing on gameplay and mostly just affect appearances and your standing with certain factions)

Easily one of the most appealing and insightful reviews of a game in recent memory. Read it all. It might even make you want to play.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 19, 2003 8:43 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
DRIVE-BY: Wrapping Up the News of the Day


Wildfire Burns 200 to 250 Homes in Southern Arizona Mountain Hamlet

TUCSON, Ariz. June 19
A wildfire driven by winds up to 60 mph roared through a southern Arizona mountain community Thursday, burning 200 to 250 homes, a fire official said.

It took less than an hour for the fire to tear through an area of Summerhaven with about 500 homes, burning some and sparing others, said Larry Humphrey, commander of the team directing the fight against the fire.


Michigan Gov. Granholm Urges Healing After Surveying Riot-Torn City of Benton Harbor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. June 19
Gov. Jennifer Granholm urged healing and reconciliation Thursday after surveying the damage from two nights of rioting and meeting with leaders in this city plagued by poverty and racial tensions.

"The state must wrap its arms around this community," Granholm said.

Posted by Van der Leun at Jun 19, 2003 8:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink