We're down to the Final 5 for the Intern Contest, which is taken nearly as long to finish as the Big Dig. There have been a number of surprises along the way, including the oustings of Matt Luckham in Round 4 and Chuck Bell in Round 5, the shocking death of Round 6 celebrity judge Pope John Paul II, and the Sports Gal randomly deciding last week, "If you pick a girl to be your intern, I'm divorcing you and taking half your money under California state law."
Yes, the stakes have never been higher. After the Pope's death, I turned to the one man who could fill such a gaping void: my former boss, Jimmy Kimmel. You know him as the star of "Win Ben Stein's Money" and "The Man Show," as well as the creator of "Crank Yankers" and an aspiring actor who was tragically left on the cutting room floor of such classics like "Road Trip" and "Like Mike." Since January, 2002, he has been hosting his own show on ABC, where he made his mark by redefining the boundaries of nepotism and becoming the first late night show to survive with a hard-core news show (and topics like "The Holocaust: A Look Back") as his lead-in. Just two weeks ago, he shattered the record for "Most career appearances by David Alan Grier on a single late night show," a tribute both to him and his staff.
Over the weekend, Jimmy found time between Costco trips to come up with a question for Round Six. Here it is:
Once upon a time, before I was forced to keep abreast of what was going on in what they call "the world," my home page was espn.com. I loved this website, read it 70 or 80 times a day, and became particularly fond of a young writer named Bill. One day, after a year of reading Bill's column religiously, I was delighted to find my name mentioned. I called Bill, we fell in love, and eventually he came to Los Angeles to work for me (by "work for me", I mean "constantly recount the names of cast members from The White Shadow and try to talk me into buying season tickets to the Clippers") and help me build the kind of talk show empire not seen since the heydays of Carson and Dees.
After little more than a year of empire-building, ESPN.com lured Bill back into their web. An enormous sum of cash and hollow promises of greater glory, combined with the opportunity to write 50,000-word analyses of important films like "Youngblood", "Varsity Blues" and last year's direct-to-video "Junior Varsity Blues" in his underwear were too difficult for Bill to resist. He announced his plan to leave my little talk show. At the time, his desire to return to his readers felt sincere, but I realize now that I was nothing more than a stepping stone to Bill. With his big, ugly ambition foot, he stepped on me -- crushing my heart -- and one of my testicles along the way. Our friendship now is limited to the occasional email. Bill never calls, rarely comes to the show, and his appearances at my house to watch football on Sundays are as infrequent as a Barbara Bush beer bong. I suppose that it's fitting that it happened this way -- that our relationship has returned to the impersonal, computer-generated correspondence that it once was. Hakuna Matata I guess. The last email I got from Bill was an angry note lambasting me for not letting him know Michael McDonald was on the show. And now he wants my help with his intern contest.
Sure Bill, I'll help. I'll keep giving. And you keep taking. But don't be surprised if, after all this, the winner of your little contest winds up working not for Simmons Enterprises -- but rather at a certain late night talk show -- leaving you with no choice but to beg the runner-up for forgiveness. Leaving you alone -- like you left me alone.
In the immortal words of your beloved Michael McDonald ...
"I keep forgettin' we're not in love anymore
I keep forgettin' things will never be the same again
I keep forgettin' how you made that so clear
With that off my chest, here's your challenge ...
1. Identify, rank, and explain your picks for the three greatest names in sports history.
2. Identify, rank, and explain your picks for the three greatest nicknames in sports history
3. Make a running diary of any episode of any syndicated "Judge" show. (I'm partial to Thursday's episode of Judge Joe Brown, described thusly: A Houston, Texas woman claims her "sometime" boyfriend left his furniture with her, but when she saw him at his sister's funeral with another woman, the furniture was promptly sold.)
(Note: You can do one of the three, two of the three, or even all three of the three.)
THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 6: 1-3
THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 6 (ELIMINATED): 1-2
FINALIST NO. 1
Name: Matt Bank
College: Dartmouth College, 2004
Residence: New York, NY
Current Job: Structured finance paralegal
My TiVo's on the fritz again. Occasionally it completely forgets which channels are which and I'm left with a library of "30-Minute Meals" episodes instead of something awesome and male. There's no disappointment like coming home and finding my roommate's girlfriend on the couch giggling as Rachael Ray perkily whips up some quasi-food with arugula and gorgonzola:
Me: If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen breaking liquor bottles over my head.
Her: You're going to the kitchen? Can you get me a Diet Coke?
Anyway, instead of "Judge Joe Brown" today, TiVo TiVo-ed a blank screen and the sound of someone getting scored for "artistic expression". I blame the A/V cords and the Chi-Chi's salsa I spilled on it two months ago.
Despite no running diary, I have a couple persistent thoughts when I watch the show:
1. If you've been seeing someone for two weeks, already they've borrowed and crashed your car, refused to pay for repairs, kicked your dog, stolen cash from your purse, and you've slept with their brother, what exactly did you see in each other?
2. Maybe I could be a bailiff.
3. Why the post-case reactions? It just makes you realize these people are now going home to co-inhabit the world I live in and continue to be stupid lunatics.
4. Isn't this guy in "Deadly Rhapsody" with Ice-T?
Speaking of which, is there a more benign rap nickname than Ice-T? Ma$e--homophonic to a concoction used by females for self-defense--is saved by the $, but I'm supposed to be intimidated by a semi-sweet summertime beverage?
Quality nicknames should accomplish one of four things: being really friggin' cool; utilizing alliteration or rhyming; pointing out a peculiar country of origin; or describing some kind of unavoidable physical deformity. Some examples:
Really friggin' cool:
George "Ice Man" Gervin -- If I played anything in the '70s--from shooting guard for the Spurs to bassist for the Grateful Dead--I would've wanted to be called Ice Man. It means you're eight times more confident than everyone else in the room.
Wayne Gretzky, "The Great One" -- The venerability of the name itself ends the debate over who's the best ever. You don't even get to discuss it.
"Pistol" Pete Maravich -- His instructional videos I had growing up taught me how to throw trick passes that I still use unsuccessfully in pickup games to this day.
Vinny Pazienza, "The Pazmanian Devil" -- Career record of 50-10 with 30 knockouts.
Christian Okoye, "The Nigerian Nightmare" -- Sounds like a machete-based massacre during some political upheaval, but he was quite the powerhouse.
Al Hrabosky, "The Mad Hungarian" -- 90 mph heater, Eastern Euro descent.
Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch -- Why were his legs crazy? Did he have polio or something? You just don't get nicknames like this anymore without polio.
Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown -- From a brusquer era. What if Jim Abbott were called "Hacked-Off Jim" or "The Stump Man"? I'm not sure we could get away with that.
The three best ever?
3. Three Finger
2. The Pazmanian Devil
1. Ice Man: Its aura haunts me like Rachael Ray haunts my TiVo.
Now, if you'll excuse me, my sautéed eggplant is ready.
FINALIST NO. 2
Name: Kevin Cott
College: University of Georgia, 2002
Residence: Atlanta, GA
Current Job: law school student
Light-hearted, anecdotal intros were fine for the round of twenty-five, but now that the gloves have come off, those days are gone. So let's get right down to business.
Greatest sports names:
3. Mustafa Shakur -- I would sell my soul to be able to pull this name off.
2. Ultimate Warrior -- It takes devotion to legally change your name to your wrestling persona. Plus, I like to imagine the conversations -- "No, seriously, call me Warrior."
1. Joe Montana -- It's simple, but that's what I like about it. Other than Larry Bird, no athlete in my lifetime has possessed a more mythical aura than Montana. But the name is what clinches it, lending itself perfectly to his image of a quiet-cool gunslinger (and this coming from an Elway guy).
Greatest sports nicknames:
3. Human Highlight Film -- This one's personal. After finding out that he isn't a first ballot hall-of-famer (which is a joke), 'Nique can at least take solace in making my list.
2. He Hate Me -- Sheer genius. It's the only thing that thrived in the worst league of all-time.
1. Chocolate Thunder -- Put simply, if nicknames were mustaches, Chocolate Thunder would be Tom Selleck's.
Finally, with the rare combination of both: Nobody Loves You Like Your Mamadou N'diaye.
I recorded multiple judge shows, but after seeing the Texas Justice opening, my search was over.
2:00 -- Show begins with Judge Larry Joe Doherty doing a bunch of "Texas" things, like riding a horse, wearing a cowboy hat while banging his gavel, and posing with the state flag. At the end of the montage is an inexplicable close-up of a bull. I can't believe this is real.
2:02 -- First case: two Springer clones are arguing over unpaid rent. Neither has a redeemable quality to speak of.
2:03 -- The unquestioned star of Texas Justice is the bailiff. He's got a look straight out of Shaft, and the camera constantly cuts back to him while he gives a "these fools must be crazy" headshake.
2:08 -- Did I mention that Judge Larry Joe has on a country-western themed robe? Well, he does.
2:10 -- Call me crazy, but I'm starting to think that the headshaking shot of Shaft is on loop.
2:12 -- Larry Joe just used the word "mitigate" and was so proud of himself that he repeated it, this time slower and with a self-satisfied smile.
2:14 -- Plaintiff wins in a thriller. Like the O.J. case, I'll always remember where I was.
2:16 -- Second case: two large women are suing over a salon equipment deal gone sour. I know how that feels!
2:17 -- YES!!! Shaft just gave the ole' one eye to the plaintiff.
2:23 -- I've lost all interest in scenes not involving Shaft.
2:28 -- Somebody just won, but I wasn't paying attention.
2:30 -- A perfect ending. Shaft is standing between both litigants, who claim they have no hard feelings. Shaft then says, "Why don't ya'll just hug, you know, shed a tear ... or somethin'."
This is why I went to law school.
FINALIST NO. 3
Name: Theresa MacDonald
College: American University, 2004
Residence: Washington, DC
Current Job: Unemployed
Don't crap on my dessert plate and tell me it's custard!
For those of you who missed the Tuesday installment of Judge Judy and don't want to be social lepers for the rest of the week, let me fill you in. You can thank me later.
5:00 pm -- Teaser for today's episode: "How long can one man live with his mother?" From the looks of the guy, apparently 30 years.
"The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final." Should really say, "The people are real. The cases are real. The occupations are embellished."
5:01 pm -- A mother suing her 28-year-old "deejay" son and his 24-year-old "market manager" wife. This guy looks (and talks) like The Simpsons' Cletus, the Slack-jawed Yokel. If this guy's a deejay, then I'm a death metal drummer.
5:04 pm -- Cletus and fam lived rent-free in a house on his mother's property for seven years. (Meaning the fat wife lived there since she was 17. She says she left for a brief period, probably to go eat babies, but she came back in time to set the bathroom on fire, which is the conflict that brings us to court today.)
5:05 pm -- Oooh, Wifey admits that she's actually the "assistant" manager at the supermarket. I TOLD YOU!
5:06 pm -- One thing that always puzzles me about judge shows is what people choose to wear, KNOWING that this is probably the only time they'll ever appear on national television. Cletus didn't even shave for the event.
5:07 pm -- Some folk'll never eat a skunk, but then again some folk'll ...
5:09 pm -- Everyone's yelling at the same time. I think Judy's getting soft. Four years ago, she would've dismissed this case right now, then followed everybody home and murdered their children. But she lets them all yell for a bit before telling them to shut up. I'm disappointed.
5:10 pm -- Oooh, an Advil commercial with Buffy's mom in it. Good to see she's doing okay; her fictitious death was pretty tough on me.
5:11 pm -- Domino's has a cheeseburger pizza. For fat people who don't like to decide.
5:13 pm -- Judy's trying to illustrate some point and tells Cletus, "I want you to face left." He turns right. This man is doing nothing to counter southern stereotypes. He does for South Carolina what Mikalah Gordon did for the tri-state area.
5:14 pm -- Judy starts referring to the wife as "Missy MooMoo." Apparently she also realizes how much water displacement this woman would cause.
5:16 pm -- I can't believe this couple procreated.
5:18 pm -- Cletus doesn't want to pay up because he thinks the burned-down bathroom could've been "fixed by some paint." I'm thinking lots of problems in his childhood were fixed by some paint. Lead paint.
Biggest shocker: That this couple had a bathroom with curtains (that apparently caught fire). I didn't know outhouses had curtains.
5:20 pm -- Judy rules in favor of mother. Cletus and MooMoo are pissed.
I'm sad that I'm out of words, because the next case involves a smug dude who borrowed his neighbor's vacuum to vacuum up raw eggs. Without ruining it for those who TiVo-ed, let's just say Judy gets the guy to admit that he turns his underwear inside-out instead of doing laundry.
THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 6: 1-3
THE FINALISTS -- ROUND 6 (ELIMINATED): 1-2