Friday, August 20, 2004

JURY'S STILL OUT ON IF IT'S BETTER THAN KELSEY GRAMMER'S "MACBETH:" In our continuing effort to bring you bad reviews from around the world of entertainment, we branch out and offer you theatre reviews of the latest from New York. "Dracula: The Musical" opened last night, and the papers are already running out of "suck" puns to invoke in connection with it.

The New York Post says:

"Dracula" is dreadfully bad, but falls short of the awfulness that would lift it to the level of fun camp. . . . The book, such as it is, rarely rises above the level of cliché, except for such utterances as: "I ain't been on tenterhooks like this since that night we were waiting for the tiger to come for that tethered goat down in Sumatra!". . . This may be the first version of Dracula in which he's killed not so much by a stake to the heart as by an insipid ballad.

The Washington Post?

What "Dracula, the Musical" vividly demonstrates is that it may be time to drive a stake through the whole overexposed vampire genre. Fans and commentators have always remarked on the Count's fatal powers of attraction. Who knew that included the ability to bore you to death?

The Associated Press?
"Dracula, The Musical" is an anemic, inert attempt to make the world's most famous vampire sing. And what takes place on stage at Broadway's Belasco Theatre is enough to send the poor guy flying back to Transylvania, bat wings flapping.
The topper may be Ben Brantley in The New York Times:

[The show has] all the animation, suspense and sex appeal of a Victorian waxworks in a seaside amusement park. . . . [It] isn't simply bad, which is an aesthetic state of being that is kind of fun if you're in the right mood. (Gee, remember the ripely terrible "Dance of the Vampires"?) It is bad and boring.

Closing date not yet scheduled, but "Carrie" closed in less than a week, so buy your tickets now.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

SHE SAID SHE WANTED A GOLD MEDAL AS MUCH AS SHE WANTED TO MOTHER HER OWN CHILD: I'm not a fan of Olympic gymnastics the way I am of the winter counterpart, figure skating. I think it's because figure skating's manuevers are all done at a higher rate of speed, making the whole thing more fluid and watchable, and because the competitors tend to stick around a lot longer. Forget about Michelle Kwan's ridiculously long career -- do you realize that Elvis Stojko competed in four straight Olympics?

Finally, there's nothing organic about gymnastics -- while we all, some day, might need to get somewhere quickly, or swim there, or throw an object accurately for a distance, or lift a large weight, you and I are never going to walk up to a set of uneven bars on the street and say, hey!, let me swing myself around them for a while. Or, wow, that's a really narrow beam there -- not only am I going to walk across it, I'm going to do flips along the way!

Still, three elements made tonight's women's finals compelling viewing:

1. KHORKINA! Diva to the last drop, with legs as long as her rivals are tall, she makes this all worth watching.

2. I like all the nonsense choreography and vogue-ing during the floor exercises, especially those silly poses they make at the end of their routines. And the spirit fingers.

3. Most of all tonight, and maybe I'm a sadist, but the imbalance beam ruled. Rarely do so many talented athletes find so many interesting ways to screw up landings that they've practiced thousands of times. I'm not talking about failed-to-stick-the-landing errors; there were full flops on the floor tonight like Lasorda at the All-Star Game.

This thread is open for all Olympic discussion.
KAZURINSKY FOR SENATE: Yes, Joe Piscopo is thinking of running for Governor of New Jersey. Well, given that his recent roles include a supporting role in a post-modern adaptation of "Bartleby, The Scrivener" starring Crispin Glover and touring the country as a Frank Sinatra impersonator, it might be a step up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE: Greatest bear of the 21st century -- is it current champion Trampoline Bear or our new challenger, Drunk Bear?
CELLULOID CHIP: I haven't seen this discussed here before and I apologize if this is something well known, but it's news to me that "Amazing Race 5" isn't the first time current front runner Chip has been in front of the camera. You won't find any reference to Chip's acting in his official "TAR" bio, but there it is over at IMDB: a starring role in a short-lived CBS 1986 sitcom "Better Days" (is that him on the left?), a spot in the late-night cable classic "Hamburger the Motion Picture," opposite Dick Butkus, and the critical part of the young Muhammad Ali in 1977's "The Greatest," which starred the Champ, himself.

Incidentally, Christie, too, has done a little acting.
HEY KID, CATCH: Hard to argue with ESPN25's pick for the Best Sports Commercial of the last quarter century, which in case you didn't catch the reference is the classic Coke spot in which a plucky youngster gives manages to cheer up Mean Joe Greene with a bottle of the aforementioned cola and in return receives a game-used jersey.

Nos. 2-7, indeed, are all classics, though the Bob Uecker ("I must be in the front row") and Be Like Mike should be higher. But Yao-Yo at No. 7? That pick begins some dubious choices, which result in some classics such as "I Am Tiger Woods" and John Madden's Miller Lite spots coming in lower than they should have.

Omissions? I would have liked to have seen that Nike spot from earlier in the year in which Lance Armstrong, Brian Urlacher, Andre Agassi, and others play other sports. Otherwise I'm sure there are some great ones missing. I'm not sure if they had to have a celeb angle, but that Nike "Love Hurts" spot from a few years back was great, too. Also, check out this Armstrong spot.

Which of your favorites didn't make the list? Also any cringe-worthy spots you're glad are missing? I think we can be happy Da Coach throwing the ball through the tire and those Chunky Soups spots with NFL stars' moms didn't merit consideration.

And one last note, the Blog will again be "listless" as I take leave for a long weekend traveling to the North Woods of Wisconsin with my son to attend to Family Camp. I should be back Tuesday, though considering the forecast, I could be back sooner.
ACTUAL JOURNALISM ALERT: Yes, mostly, we don't do our own reporting around here, but to alert our faithful readers, I'll be providing actual journalism of two big events in the near future. The first is the Republican National Convention. Now, I don't have credentials to be in the building, but rest assured we'll bring you the best in political surrealism from outside the building like the fact that protestors who agree to "keep it peaceful" are getting discounts at Applebee's.

Perhaps more interesting to our readers, I will (work schedule permitting) be in attendance at TARCON 5, TWOP's gathering of avid TAR fans for viewing of the TAR finale at Madison Square Garden. Historically, TARCONs are attended by racers both current and former and have featured appearances by other significant folks, including host Phil Keoghan and Exec Producer Bertram Van Munster, as well as multiple members of TWOP staff. Potential questions to be answered include "Is Mirna actually that batshit crazy?" and "Dude, Brandon, what's with the hair?"
C'MON SUGAR, LET ME KNOW: The ever-reliable In Style is pleased to inform us of "What's Sexy Now," according to USA Today. Now some of the picks make sense--can't quibble with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt as "Sexiest Couple" or with Beyonce as "Sexiest Songbird." But how on earth is Clay Aiken the "Sexiest Singer Alive?" I'm trying to think of a less sexy human than Clay Aiken, and am having some difficulty doing so.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

BAD EGGS: What did we learn during this leg of the Race?

We learned that as obnoxious as Mirna is, that sometimes, Christie can give as good as she gets. And then Mirna and Charla can go lower, yet again. Still, even if God's on your side, sometimes a bus driver isn't, and sometimes you can get shaken down like a Philadelphia City Councilman in the late 1970s. That said, as scary as the bus situation was, there's nothing scarier than an hive of African bees, a fact fans of Bowling for Columbine already knew. Apparently, you can't send a reality show to Africa without playing cheesy Lion King-esque music in the background.

Also: this ain't Survivor, and alliances aren't all that useful, and Colin needs to pick up a copy of Cook's Illustrated, because even a dozen eggs should take no more than three minutes to cook scrambled.

Things we relearned: there's no team nicer than Chip & Kim, and, lest we forget, A Roadblock Is A Task Only Charla Can Perform.

Still, some crafty editing plays with your expectations at the end, and you don't believe the ending is real until it is. In the Comments, let's talk about it.
THREE LISTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE: August is traditionally a slow month listwise, but fear not listophiles, here are three lists to slack your thirst.
1.Congrats are in order for the fine students at SUNY-Albany, who have distinguished themselves this year as the No. 1 party school in this great nation of party schools, beating out such perennial favorites as Florida State, Wisconsin, Texas and Colorado. Incidentally, I think I speak for all my colleagues here at ALOTT5MA, when I echo the AMA's sentiment that the listings "legitimize high-risk drinking and portray alcohol as an essential part of student life." I know that when I went to school back before the rankings began in 1992, there were rumors about some of the kids drinking, but I never saw the stuff. Now the stories I could tell about the ice cream socials back at my alma mater could fill a book.

2. If those lushes from SUNY-Albany ever find themselves with a fine import and no bottle opener, then they'll appreciate this short film produced by a German brewery depicting 32 ways to open a beer. You'd think with this kind of ingenuity the Germans would have beat us to the bomb back in WWII.

3. Mornings at SUNY-Albany, I bet, include a lot of students asking God why they drank so much the night before. Should they or you, be looking for some good, old-fashioned pro-Catholic fare, the folks at The National Catholic Register and Faith and Family magazine have put together a list of the 10 Most Pro Catholic Films. Mel Gibson's Christ biopic tops the list, but should you prefer something a little less gruesome, there's "The Sound of Music" and "It's a Wonderful Life." No list of pro-Catholic films would be complete without a list of anti-Catholic films, and the NCR thankfully complies with 10 movies in need of communion. Topping the anti list is "The Order," which I have to admit at first glance I mistook for "Disorderlies," the 1987 Fat Boys vehicle. (OK, not really, but why pass up a chance Fat Boys reference?) Other anti-Catholic flicks include both the usual suspects--"Last Temptation," "Dogma," "Priest"--and some surprises like "Chocolat" and "Elizabeth." I think the listmakers forgot about Oliver Stone's "JFK," though.
ONLY THE STRONG (AND SNEAKY): CBS has unveiled the latest cast of 18 competitors for Survivor 9: Vanuatu (Ring Of Fire!). Website, article.

Once again, it's Boys v. Gurlz, which leads me to wonder: is Survivor infinitely interesting? Are the machinations of elimination and strategery such that as long as you've put together enough people who know how to talk to the camera, that the show will be entertaining? Do they need to do more gimmick seasons to, um, survive?

We've had seasons that were relatively boring -- Africa, because of the level of deprivation, and the one that the Porn Guy won, because it was just so inevitable. But the two last non-all-star seasons may have been the best, because really duplicitous people (Rob C, Johnny Fairplay) were able to dominate (and talk about it), and because Rupert just bought into the program so well.

Then again, each of the last three seasons was won by a woman who largely flew under the radar, and wasn't a key leader/strategist/deceiver/challenge winner, which makes for unsatisfying narrative resolution. (Except to the extent that Boston Rahb really did win All-Stars, but just let Ambuh take the prize.) Every time, it's the same thing: let the strategists clear all the other alpha males off the path, then wait for them to run out of allies.

Is there a next stage to Survivor strategy? Is there a way to be The Schemer and still win? Or is the game always going to be more or less the same from here on out?

You tell me. And then we'll talk Race after 11p eastern.
WE READ THE PAPERS, SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO: In an interesting display of choices in the press, both the New York Post and the New York Daily News make front page stories out of the death of 3 year old Deonte Riley. In contrast, the New York Times' sole mention of the death is a small squib buried in the Metro section. Of course, there's a bizarre angle that makes it worthy of placement on the front page--the child choked to death on a single kernel of popcorn during a movie. The "weird" angle the press seems to take is "choked to death on popcorn." My question is why these parents decided it was a good idea to take their 3 year old to see "Alien vs. Predator."

In other strange New York press coverage, the Daily News has started to refer to soon-to-be-former Gov. McGreevey as "McG" on the front page of its Internet site. Of course, there's another McG out there. No word on if this will change New Jersey state government into an incoherent series of explosions and shots of Cameron Diaz shaking her ass.
MOST OF MY HEROES DON'T APPEAR ON NO CANS: So, when Miller Beer decided to put together a Legends of Rock and Rock series of eight commemorative beer cans, do you think they could find room to honor one black person?

Seriously, how many black people have to skip on your list before you get to honoring Joe Walsh, Def Leppard and Blondie? Joe Walsh?

Monday, August 16, 2004

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING LIGHT? Elaine Dickinson be damned, the 141 Jews to play Major League Ball are set to get their due in Cooperstown next weekend.

Now every baseball fan knows about Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, as well as probably Shawn Green, Moe Berg, Steve Stone, Gabe Kapler, Mike Lieberthal, and Ken Holztman. But did you know the first player ever to take an at bat as a designated hitter, Ron Blomberg, was Jewish? And how about the stunner that Red Sox rookie Keith Youkilis, dubbed "the Greek God of Walks" in Moneyball, traces his roots back to a different region of the Mediterranean?

Holtzman, Bloomberg, and a host of other Major League Members of the Tribe (no, not the Cleveland Indians) will be on hand for the festivities, which are sold out.
BECAUSE THE BUTCHER AND CANDLESTICK MAKER WERE BUSY: Is Amy Sedaris the front-runner to take over the post-Letterman time slot? Maybe.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

WHAT WOULD GREG LOUGANIS DO? As painful as watching PTI with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless is, the true agony of sports-watching right now is Olympic synchronized diving.

When I first heard the term "synchronized diving", I thought it could be something cool -- one diver bounces high, one bounces low, they meet in mid air, do a flip, and land separately. Or there's props involved. Or one goes up to the platform to do the Triple Lindy and the other tosses up a flaming baton for the first diver to juggle while plummeting. Or one's perched on the other's shoulders and they dive together.

But no. Instead it's just "watch two people do the same dive at the same time." Yawn. It's pretty, I guess, but so what? Even at its best, it just looks very Ace and Gary, but that doesn't make it a sport. Does it?
MUCH, MUCH ADO ABOUT A******ING: Number of words written by Jessica Cutler, a/k/a "Washingtonienne", during her entire blogging career: less than 4500.

Number of words written about Jessica Cutler and her blogging career and "what it all means" in today's Washington Post Magazine: 8350.

I did, however, appreciate one euphemism in the article. Writes April Witt, of one blog entry, "But her Friday night date with the Georgetown lawyer turned out to be dreadful, Jessica reported in her blog. He wanted a kind of sex that physically hurt Jessica." Yeah, that's one way to refer to Wonkette's favorite term.

And Bill Simmons was exactly right. When you've got A.I. and Richard Jefferson combining to go 1-16 from three-point land, then maybe, just maybe, you should've gotten some more shooters on this squad.