Words Are Real Hard
KNXV-TV Channel 15, dutifully participating in the colossal hype given to Bank One Ballpark last week, ran a quick story on opening day about the equitable ratio of women's to men's toilets at the facility.

Unless the Flash's eyes were dazzled by the beauty of anchor Robin Sewell, the legend over her shoulder read "Potty Parody." A guess: They meant to say "Parity." The parody, of course, was of journalism.

Later that week, a Channel 15 reporter earnestly assured parents that if they keep lines of communication open about sex, the kids will be less likely to go "somewheres else" for advice on the subject. The Flash, who will probably be tuning somewheres else for news in the future, suggests a new slogan for News 15: "Less Grammar. More Fluff."

Pay Ball!
The Flash hates to rain on Phoenix's Major League parade, but must dutifully report pertinent arcana wherever it is found.

A item on the ESPN SportsZone Web site takes Jerry Colangelo to task for spending $79 million on long-term contracts for immortal shortstop Jay Bell and immortal third sacker baseman Matt Williams, both 32, and both, thanks to JC, baseball's highest-paid players at their respective positions.

The SportsZone piece, by David Schoenfield, analyzed shortstop performances as players age, and determined that only one shortstop in MLB history, the immortal Eddie Joost, hit at least .285 and 15 homers at age 36, which Bell will be in the final year of his contract. The number of shortstops accomplishing these not outlandish feats declines precipitously after age 32.

In the field, Bell is already a shortstop of limited range and, the piece postulates, "in a couple of years, he will probably lack the range to play shortstop."

He can't move to third. Williams is ensconced there. Can't go to first. The Lee kid's there.

Among third basemen, meanwhile, only one, the exceedingly immortal Mike Schmidt, hit at least 25 dingers and had a .450 slugging percentage at age 37, which is how old Williams will be in the final year of his contract. And Schoenfield notes that third-baggers with good sticks were also very selective hitters who drew lots of walks. That's not Williams.

The gist of Schoenfield's piece is that after a couple of years, the Diamondbanks will face very long odds of getting more than middling numbers out of Williams and Bell.

"Most likely, when Matt Williams is 36, he'll be hitting .230 with an extremely low on-base percentage," Schoenfield concludes.

"But he'll be getting paid $9 million [a year]. And Jerry Colangelo will be wondering why his team is in last place.

"Hey, it's his money. He can spend it as foolishly as he wants."
Actually, very little of the money that went into the Diamondbanks and Bank One Ballpark was Colangelo's. He merely controls it.

Crisply Done
Quentin Crisp, the celebrated 90-year-old author and raconteur, missed his entrance cue at the Phoenix History Museum on Friday.

He'd gotten himself locked inside his hotel suite. The hotel security guard had to remove the door from its hinges before Crisp--groundbreaking author of The Naked Civil Servant, actor in films (The Bride; Philadelphia; To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and, most notably, Orlando), talk-show favorite and darling of the New York literati--could take the stage.

Luckily, many of the nearly 200 people who went to hear Crisp speak were late themselves, having spent the early evening battling baseball traffic. The crowd applauded Crisp--who walked onstage carrying a beer--but a few minutes into his discourse, they were ready to storm off in a huff.

"I think AIDS is just a passing fad," Crisp announced to the crowd, a good half of whom were gay men. "A man came up to me at a restaurant the other day and wanted to show me his lesions. I think people must want to have AIDS."

By the end of the evening, however, he'd redeemed himself with his trademark ramblings on fame ("If you stand still long enough in New York, someone will come up and ask you to be in a motion picture."), sex ("It's a mistake."), and Tallulah Bankhead ("A cinematographer asked if he could photograph her through gauze to make her appear younger, and she replied, 'Better use linoleum.'").

Although Crisp skipped the first half of the program entirely (he'd been asked to speak for 20 minutes or so about his new book and about his concept of style before his usual Q-and-A routine) and stopped the show to ask a man in the front row to explain cloning to him, Crisp received a standing ovation when he was through.

The next morning, after a hotel janitor rescued Crisp from his room ("He had to fling himself against my door before it would open!"), he was escorted to the Arizona Books Festival and wedged behind a table stacked with his latest autobiography. Someone went off to fetch him a glass of water. "I'd rather have scotch," he declared. "No ice." An admirer went home and got him a bottle of Dewar's.

Such is Crisp's effect on people. He asks for a cocktail at a book fair, and a grown woman drives across town to fetch him one. He insults a roomful of people, and they stay to cheer.

When he was taken to hear Betty Buckley sing at Grady Gammage Auditorium, he glared at the famous hall from the street and said, "Perhaps someone dared Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright to design a building shaped like this."

At the airport, where he set off the metal detector with his nickel-plated lipstick case, Crisp admitted that he'd had a nice time in Phoenix and that he'd come back "if you could only arrange to have some hotel doors that open up without the help of a lot of other people."

He'd otherwise liked the hotel he'd stayed in, he said, though he discouraged his hosts from going back there. "There was a policeman in the lobby all weekend," he whispered. "I suspect there's a murderer loose in that building."

If there is, he's in lockdown.

Oh, Danny Boy. Oh, Oh, Oh ...
Arizona's most celebrated Republican moralist, former vice president Dan Quayle, seems to have several positions on the importance of presidential infidelity. While insisting he's a politician of consistency in his positions, Quayle meandered when asked questions on the subject on a recent episode of NBC's Meet the Press.

Yes, Quayle said, future presidential candidates will be asked whether they've had sexual affairs outside marriage. No, Quayle said, it's not a legitimate question to be asked of presidential candidates. Yes, Quayle said, infidelity has a bearing on a president's performance--but then quickly volunteered that if someone had an affair 20 years ago, it should be ignored. "No!" Quayle then volunteered, he'd never had an affair.

However, Quayle was briefly in the news in an embarrassing episode involving "another woman" when he was in Congress long before becoming veep. He and two male friends accompanied a onetime Playboy model-turned-Washington lobbyist for a weekend at a Florida resort. When the foursome's girl-and-three-guys fun-in-the-sun escape was discovered, Quayle and the others claimed they simply spent the weekend "playing bridge."

And just as another celebrated Arizona political figure, J. Fife Symington III, pooh-poohed public opinion polls, Quayle waved off a Meet the Press question about a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that 60 percent of Americans wouldn't vote for him as president, and that 42 percent of Republicans don't favor him, either.

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