By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

Thoughts while wondering why nobody ever played pool in the back room of "Cheers" ...

Shaquille O'Neal
Shaq's performance in "Kazaam" was trumped by his effort in "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Shaq's appearance in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was his best work since "Kazaam."

If I were ever playing against Jack Wagner in a celebrity golf tournament, I'd call him "Frisco" a few times just to get under his skin.

When you're discussing the Unanswerable Questions In Life, "Should I take a hit when I have a 13 and the dealer has a two showing?" is right up there with "Is it OK to read while you're getting a haircut?", "Why does John Cougar dress like a gas station attendant?", "Why do treadmills only go uphill and not downhill?" and "Do dogs have souls?"

John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp

I wish I could buy stock in things like "Bill Parcells will be coaching Drew Bledsoe in Tampa Bay next year."

We're three months into the NFL season ... and I'm still not tired of watching Matt Millen freak out in his luxury box after a botched Lions play and doing the "angry 180-degree spin off-camera" thing.

When it comes right down to it, Michael and Bruce Buffer are the Sly and Frank Stallone of ringside announcing.

The greatest TV show of all-time would be a "Weakest Link: Celebrity Edition" featuring former heavyweight boxing champions from the past three decades.

I can't believe that ABC had the guts to remake "Brian's So--"
Brian's Song
New-and-improved "Brian's Song"

(Wait a second, what? ABC is owned by Disney, which also owns ESPN and pays my contract? Ummmm ... great idea, guys! The original movie sucked anyway! It's about time they gave this another whirl! Kudos all around!)

There's nothing worse in life than losing a game of bar pool to somebody who brought their own pool cue.

Is anyone else outraged that DJ Jazzy Jeff wasn't cast as Bundini Brown in the new "Ali" movie?

I must be doing well because Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy took a shot at me in his column last week. You know how every city has a bitter sports columnist who stopped liking sports about 10 years ago, so they just start ripping everybody and trying to make everyone else miserable? Well, I finally made Shaughnessy's list. Big day. Can I put this on a résumé?

Santa Claus
Santa Claus and friends

Watching "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" last week reminded me of one indisputable fact: Santa Claus was a damned bigot.

I'm not sure what this means, but I think I'm more attracted to the Fat Renée Zellweger than the Skinny Renée Zellweger.

Hey, did you notice that the Red Sox picked up Tony Clark (and his $7 million contract) off waivers last week? Dan Duquette is like a blackjack player who's down $700 and realizes that he has to leave the casino in 20 minutes, so he starts making $100 bets. Can't the Massachusetts State Police place him under house arrest until the Red Sox sale is completed?

Let's be honest: MJ saying, "I'll come back and play with the Wizards" ranks right up there with Francis Ford Coppola saying the words, "I'll cast Sofia."

Tony Banks
Stephen Dunn/Allsport
Tony Banks

Considering Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl last year, I'm fully prepared for anything that Tony Banks and the Redskins are capable of right now.

Heard on TBS last at 1:45 Sunday morning: "I have three rules in life. Always get at least 12 hours of sleep. Never play cards with someone who has the same first name as a city. And never get involved with a woman who has a tattoo of a dagger on her arm. Stick with those three and everything else is cream cheese."

(Was there a greater quote from a coach in the history of sports movies than that one? And if you don't know what movie that's from ... well, you need to stay in the house more.)

Every time I see a picture of the daughter of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, I'm always amazed that there isn't an arm sticking out of her forehead.

Instead of choosing two baseball teams to contract, Bud Selig should set up some sort of "Press Your Luck" game show round-robin with the owners of the Marlins, Devil Rays, Expos and Twins, just for the "Whammy" factor. Much better TV.

(And while we're at it, once they contract two teams, they shouldn't have a straightforward dispersal draft. Why not steal an idea from the NBA and have a lottery for the first seven picks, with all non-playoff teams being eligible? Would that be the most exciting lottery in the history of sports, or am I crazy?)

All right, I'll ask: What in God's name happened to Teri Hatcher?

Kevin Harlan would have been the greatest WWF announcer of all-time ... and frankly, there's still time.

Speaking of the WWF, even Clark Griswold's kids haven't changed as often as the WWF storylines over the past three months -- you need to watch three shows a week and keep a scorecard just to be able to follow everything. It's bad enough that wrestling is fake; don't make us work at following it, too. Jeez.

Aaron Brooks
Aaron Brooks

It would be fun to watch Aaron Brooks play craps, if only for those moments when he keeps throwing the dice into three people.

Every time Moochie "Fletch" Norris decides to let his cornrows out and play a Rockets game with that giant mushroom afro, DirecTV representatives should call everyone with the "NBA Season Ticket" package to alert them. I feel very strongly about this. When Moochie's going au natural, I need to know.

If there's a more dated music video than "The Super Bowl Shuffle," I haven't seen it.

Between those retro uniforms and enough glasses of wine on Thanksgiving, I could swear I watched Too Tall Jones sack Craig Morton during the Broncos-Cowboys game.

Moochie Norris
Moochie Norris

My favorite recurring TV moment is whenever TNT's Jim Huber delivers one of those deep, ultra-serious, Jack Whitaker-esque monologues during "Inside the NBA," then he finishes and the camera swings back to Ernie, Kenny and Chuck ... who have absolutely no idea what to say. Always kills me. I love that show.

(A close second for "Favorite recurring TV moments": Bryant Gumbel's over-the-top performance on HBO's "Real Sports," especially when he scribbles down notes after every feature ends, or when he calls Bryan Burwell "B-Squared." Can you imagine seeing Bryan Burwell on the street and saying, "Hey, B-Squared!" Would he respond to this? Would he start running in the other direction? Hmmmm ...)

I wish you could buy "The ability to sleep on an airplane" on eBay.

Walter Payton
Walter Payton

You can't convince me that Walter Payton isn't involved in this Bears renaissance somehow, like a reverse "Curse of the Bambino" or something.

The fact that the Celtics passed on Jamaal Tinsley and Tony Parker because 84-year-old Red Auerbach wanted Joe Forte is driving me insane. I'm not sure you want Red operating the remote control for the TV at this point, much less making draft picks.

If I were ever hired for a Chunky Soup commercial, there's no way my mother would ever allow an actress to play her.

When does Rick Adelman have to give Adolf Hitler his hair back?

Which of these things will happen first: The mysterious release of a black market sex tape starring Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Jordan trading himself to a contender (as predicted in this space six weeks ago), Michael Jackson getting photographed with the kid from "Harry Potter," or Rudy Martzke's first "NBC Execs Confused By Weak Winter Olympics Ratings" column?

There's comedy, there's high comedy, there's transcendent comedy ... and then there's every game show appearance by Bill Shatner.

You know, the success of a stripper on stage is directly proportional to how much she involves the pole.

Today's burning question: Whenever football reporters try to explain why a team has turned things around, invariably they mention how the coach revamped his defense and placed an emphasis on speed and quickness. So here's my question... doesn't everybody emphasize speed and quickness in football? Have you ever heard somebody say, "The key for us has been that our defense is bulky and slow?"

You can always determine a good breakfast place by the quality of its toast.

I always thought that if Horatio Sanz could become a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," anything was possible ... but if Mike Binder can get his own TV show on HBO, I mean, anything is possible.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady

The strangest part of the Bledsoe-Tom Brady QB controversy has been watching Bledsoe handle the press since he was demoted to backup QB, mainly because he has that glazed, demoralized demeanor of a hostage in a hostage video:

"The Patriots are treating me very well... I am very pleased that we are winning ... I look forward to getting Tom ready for the Jets game this week... I am eating three meals and getting six hours of sleep every day ... Please don't worry about me ... I look forward to coming home ..."

Nobody -- repeat, nobody -- has a worse agent than Matt LeBlanc.

My favorite sports injury is "plantar fasciitis." Can you imagine Jerry Stackhouse going back to his compound and telling his posse, "Guys, bad news ... I have plantar fasciitis"? Could there be cameras on hand next time this happens?

Britney Spears
The new Britney Spears

Hey, does it make me a bad person that I look back nostalgically at the Britney Spears "Oops, I did it again" Era, the same way like I look back nostalgically at the "Natalie Portman in 'Beautiful Girls' " era?

It's not officially a trip to Dunkin' Donuts until the guy mopping the floor accidentally brushes the mop against your feet.

For Christmas, I'm asking Santa for a "Bizarro ESPN Classic" channel that features shows like: "SportsCentury and Beyond: Rusty Hilger" ... "NBA's Greatest Games: Miami 65, New York 56" ... "The Best of the Jim Rome Show" ... "SportsCentury Flashback: Fred Taylor's Groin" ... "Games That Ended Prematurely Because Somebody Died" ... "The Michael Irvin Show" ... "Greatest Magic Johnson Comebacks" ... "Inside Schwartz" ... "NHL Instant Classic: Columbus at Minnesota" ... "The Season: Ryan Leaf" ... "Pardon the Interruption" (with your hosts Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis) ... and "Vintage NBA: Paul Mokeski."

Finally, happy (belated) birthday to my father, a diehard Celtics fan who almost needed to be hospitalized after seeing the box score of Tinsley's 23-assist game last week. Hang in there, Pops.

Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.