Dead or Alive

Dead Horse Walking

We really don't want to beat a dead horse, but -- well, when it comes to Houston media, just about any topic could follow, but for now let's focus on the Houston Chronicle's farcical attempt to convince people that our allegedly beloved Rockets could move any day now to Louisville, Kentucky, unless we give owner Les Alexander a new arena.

When last we left the subject, the Chron was reluctantly admitting, after months of hyping Louisville's prospects, that there really wasn't any chance they would move there. The local county government had refused to participate, effectively killing any Kentucky arena deal, the paper reported. (But the Rockets could still move somewhere else, the story said, apparently referring to television markets even larger than Louisville, such as Grand Rapids, Michigan; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; or Oklahoma City.)

And that's that, we thought after reading the June 13 story.

Reading that story is something Chron sports columnist Dale Robertson apparently didn't bother to do. Two weeks later, on June 29, he came out with what was headlined "The Final Word on Rockets' Arena."

"Vote 'yes' in November, or say goodbye to the Rockets and Comets," he wrote of the proposed arena referendum, glibly ignoring the fact negotiators haven't been able to come up with a financing package. "This is our only second chance, people. It's not a maybe. It's an either-or, an us-or-them. Louisville is waiting, desperate to buy its way into the big leagues by giving the Rockets a much sweeter deal."

He went on, refusing to let facts get in the way of puckering up to Alexander's butt: "Given the leverage he appears to possess in Kentucky, Alexander is being surprisingly reasonable," he wrote. His tough-talk conclusion: "A 'yes' vote keeps the Rockets, for better or worse. A 'no' vote sends them, for better or worse, to Louisville. The end."

Well, perhaps not. Two days later the news side weighed in again: Louisville's "effort to lure the Rockets, already sputtering in the six weeks since team officials visited there, has taken an almost comic turn," a report on the Metro front said. Not only was the city's formal offer ridiculous -- Alexander wouldn't get such mandatory owner goodies like income from naming rights and personal seat licenses, for instance -- but the letter outlining the offer misspelled the name of the Rockets official involved, and it was made public although all negotiations were supposed to be private.

"In May," the story concluded, "Rockets officials visited Louisville. They have since become increasingly perplexed with that city's efforts."

Not that you would have known it from reading the Chron. And you still wouldn't know it, if you depended on Dale Robertson for your info.

Whip It Good

The mailbag brought forth two similar missives concerning Channel 2 consumer reporter Emily Akin. "This evening [June 29] Emily Akin did a puff piece on which outdoor mosquito repellents worked best," one read. "The last item evaluated was a cross between a ping-pong paddle, a fly swatter and fly paper. At the end of the piece when they cut back to her at her news desk, she used it like one to work herself up to swatting things on her desk, and her hand. All the while with a glint of a dominatrix in her eye….The look on her face said she wouldn't mind spanking someone naughty. It would make a fitting clip for any fetish collector's acquisition. Finally, a real person comes through the bright lights and pancake makeup of TV journalism."

Gee, a spanking and bug protection? Talk about full service. Now that we think about it, Channel 2 does run commercials for "Akin's Army," where she struts haughtily before a group of recruits. We could swear she's menacingly displaying one of those horsewhips that George Patton used to wave around.

We're not one to tell KPRC-TV how to do its business, but we smell a sweeps-week feature here, people.

Bad Influence

Q. What was so unusual about the photo that accompanied the Chronicle's June 28 review of the Mel Gibson Revolutionary War epic The Patriot?

A. There were people in the background holding muskets.

In case you didn't realize it, the Chron goes to great lengths to avoid showing publicity stills of movie stars holding guns. All those impressionable young minds who read Chronicle movie reviews might begin to think a sleek firearm looks cool, you know.

But we guess it's okay if the guys with the guns are in the background. And hell, it's tough to look cool these days with a musket, for crying out loud.

Speaking of the Chron's ever-so-fine fine arts coverage, for some reason we read Michael D. Clark's June 30 review of the concert by Diana Ross and some alleged Supremes.

We read this sentence: " 'Stop! In the Name of Love' still sounded like a sock hop, while 'Love Hangover (Do You Know Where You're Going To)' still wept with hopeless caution."

"Still wept with hopeless caution"? What could possibly be the meaning of these five seemingly randomly grouped words?

The song wept -- okay, it's rock criticism, we'll have to accept that. The song wept with a feeling of hopelessness -- sure, why not? But "hopeless caution"? We thought the sound-bite cliché was "cautious optimism."

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