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Wedding Day 

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to leave for the red planet, but if they won’t volunteer let’s instead send two ASIMOs, plus one AIBO, Sony’s robot puppy. It couldn’t get any cuter, and this might be a project we could actually afford.

—Margaret Wertheim

Hey Now, You’re an All-Star

On my way into the Century City Plaza Hotel with a bunch of Brazilian journalists in town for the NBA Jam Session and All-Star game, we walk right into Kobe Bryant holding his baby girl in his arms, his wife Vanessa and a couple of security guys.

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“Ah, it’s the media,” he says.

The Brazilians reach for their video cameras.

“Don’t you dare think about it!” Kobe snaps.

The tension is thick. I try to calm down the situation.

“How’s the finger, Kobe?”

“It’s cool,” he responds. The security guys rush him into the hotel and his face says it all: He is not enjoying any of this.

We enter the hotel and head for the California Level, where several NBA stars are scheduled to give a press conference. Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets follows us into the elevator. The Brazilian crew gets some shots and asks for autographs in broken English and Portuguese; 7'5" Yao responds in Mandarin. I want to ask him some questions too, but he can hardly see me — my face is in his mid-section and if I don’t watch it he might squash my 5'6" frame.

At the press conference, Yao and the international players — Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands), Andrei Kirilenko (Russia), Jamal Magloire (Canada) and Peja Stojakovic (Serbia) — seem a bit more humble compared to their American-born counterparts. The $100-million-paycheck-$90-million-endorsement players look bored and annoyed as reporters jam mics, tape recorders and video cameras into their faces to ask the same tired questions about Shaq and Kobe not getting along. “Weather” seems to be the No. 1 answer to what the players like most about L.A. Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia ’76ers sums it all up best: “I like everything about L.A. — L.A. is LA LA LAND.”

Then Shaquille O’Neal is asked what he’d write if he could be a columnist for a day. “I’d write what I see,” he says. “I’d be honest. I’d probably get fired, but I’d write what I saw.”

So here it is: Basketball, like everything else, has become too corporate. No surprise. But here’s a thought: Perhaps the NBA could take a lesson from the game’s founding roots, and by that I mean getting inspiration from the short and dark Mayan Indians who were ballin’ in Chiapas, Mexico, long before any of this commercial madness. Back then the game had religious significance and you played like your life depended on winning — nothing else mattered. Now the game is about the selling of souls. And by the way, the nicest athlete during the entire NBA weekend was Dante Hall of the Kansas City Chiefs, a football player.

—Ben Quiñones


FRONT AND CENTER: Sex-themed plays performed in L.A. in the past year

Vagina Monologues
Penis Monologues
Puppetry of the Penis
Cock Tales
Dick Dialogues
The (Magnificent) Ass Show
Pieces (of Ass)
The Ass of Life
Sex: Real People Talk About What
They Really Do
Sex Is My Specialty
Hot and Bothered
Ten Tricks
Orgasms
What’s Wrong With Getting Laid?
Menopause the Musical

—Miriam Jacobson

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