Saturday, March 19, 2005

INCONCEIVABLE! MascotMatcher 2005 took something of a beating last night, and I'd understand if you'd want to blame the system.

Don't. The system's fine. The data, however, was flawed. The computer was still working off the assumption that the Orangemen had not been gelded; that the Jayhawks had not broken up, and, of course, that Sen. Landrieu had already done all she could for the Acadians this week by selling out the Alaskan wilderness.

For today, however, we've got it all worked out:
Illinois Fighting Illini v. Nevada Wolf Pack: While an actual pack of wolves (wolfpack) might be a danger, a mere Wolf Pack (as in a conveniently packaged selection of wolves) is no threat to the combative natives from the Land of Lincoln. In this Whitman's Sampler of our lupine friends, there's no map to tell you if you're getting a timber wolf, a throat wolf, Winston Wolf, or Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House. That's why they can't win. Fighting Illini.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers v. Boston College Eagles: Cold and cheese-headed, these cats will hurled off the heights by Ignatius of Loyola's own majestic raports. Eagles.

UAB Blazers v. Arizona Wildcats: a savage feline versus a sports utility vehicle? In the age of $2+ a gallon gas, better off at the "kiss and ride." Wildcats.

Washington Huskies v. Pacific Tigers: Overfed and oversized youth would normally be at a disadvantge, but Pacific Tigers aren't a team, they're a mutual fund. I rate them "strong sell." The big n'tall boys will grow into their weight. Huskies.

Texas Tech Red Raiders v. Gonzaga Bulldogs: Poochie died on the way back to his home planet, and these dogs will die by the tomahawk in the acrid flats of New Mexico. Red Raiders.

West Virginia Mountaineers v. Wake Forest Demon Deacons: The minions of evil (with their supporting minyans, not evil) will have no trouble with these hillbillies/"sons of the soil" and their attractive cousins/wives. Demon Deacons.

Utah Runnin' Utes v. Oklahoma Sooners: Go back where you came from, Okies, Austin is Injun country! Tom Joad's busy touring with Springsteen, so good luck farming in the dust. Runnin' Utes.

Kentucky Wildcats v. Cincinati Bearcats: While a wildcat is fierce, how can it beat the combined claws and stealth of the cat and the skills of a husky, hairy gay gentleman? Bearcats.

Spartans-Catamounts awaits.

Friday, March 18, 2005

HE TRIED WILMA FLINTSTONE, BUT YOU CAN'T SUBTRACT FROM ZERO: Artist Michael Paulus presents the skeletal systems of noted cartoon characters.
IF THAT'S A CONFESSION, THEN MY ASS IS A BANJO: Slate's David Edelstein is to be commended for trying to compile a list of the worst movie twists ever, but when he leaves out my suggestion of the worst one of all, well, I can gripe to him, but that's still no reason not to share it with you. As I emailed him originally:

Just Cause (1995), starring Sean Connery, Larry Fishburne and Blair Underwood. Connery plays an anti-death penalty law professor trying to get an innocent black man (Underwood) off death row, accused of raping and murdering a child. Connery hates capital punishment so much that he claims he wouldn't even want it for a guy who raped and murdered his wife and daughter. Fuse that plot with the fact that the key witness is Ed Harris as a Hannibal Lecter wannabe, and you're at two-thirds of a merely crappy liberal formula movie, just like The Life of David Gale

Underwood gets freed, thanks to Ed Harris' testimony. But then, it turns out that he really did kill that girl. And that Connery's wife (Kate Capshaw), when she was a young assistant DA, had Underwood arrested on trumped-up charges to boost her resume, and during his incarceration the sheriffs castrated him. Yes, and no one noticed, and there was no Section 1983 litigation.

That abuse turned him into a rapist and murderer (even without the operating equipment). So now that he's free, we've got Cape Fear -- Underwood's revenge on Connery's family in an isolated cabin in the Everglades, with Connery forced to kill Underwood to defend his family from the evil, guilty, castrated black man, because, as the movie makes clear, we really do need to execute these evil Negroes to prevent them from hurting our white families, and capital punishment is awesome, and it's apparently okay to beat confessions out of black people because they're all guilty anyway. Reactionary, racist, awful.

See this link for more HaterAde: ("During the climax, which sees [Capshaw] and her prepubescent daughter sexually menaced by a sweaty, gun-and-knife-wielding, foul-mouthed, bug-eyed [Underwood], did it occur to anyone involved that the setup is so inherently racist that even D.W. Griffith might have thought twice about staging it?").

Did anyone else see this garbage? And is there a worse twist that Edelstein omitted?
THESE SHOWS NEED TO GO TO THE NAUGHTY STOOL: In the wake of the New York Times' truth-squadding on "Wife Swap," (and man, did I feel bad punching "Wife Swap" into the search function at the Times website to get the link) Salon picks up the ball, finding a wide variety of casting calls seeking participants for Fox's "Trading Spouses." Among others, Fox is looking for "families who love TV," "families who are rappers," and (I kid you not) "families with students who are involved in speech and/or debate." Apply now, and yes, you too can lose all dignity on national TV.
I AM INCAPABLE OF THAT EMOTION: Hey, I'm all for kinky nude photos. I'm all for kinky nude photos of large women. I am not sure I am all for kinky nude photos of large women taken by Leonard Nimoy. (Item 3)

N.B.: Worksafe. Just a press release.
REMEMBER, I SAID FOOLPROOF: Well, MascotMatcher 2005 got off to a 7-for-7 start in yesterday's games, so let's see what the analysis says for today:

West Region
Louisville Cardinals (#4) v. Louisiana-Lafayette Rajun Cajuns (#13): I favor the angry Acadians over the migratory songbirds. Ragin' Cajuns.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (#5) v. George Washington Colonials (#12): With redcoats, they're fine. Against maize-hued garments, they're utterly befuddled, and it's too late to send for Baron von Steuben. A dollar says I'm right. Yellow Jackets.

Southeast Region
Syracuse Orange (#4) v. Vermont Catamounts (#13):
The name change can't fool MascotMatcher (tm) -- it's still Dutchmen vs. felines from the land of Howard Dean. Scream all you want, kitties, but Austin is your Iowa caucus and it's not the Mainstream Media's fault. Orange.

Michigan State Spartans (#5) v. Old Dominion Monarchs (#12): The austere warriors of ancient times have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one. Spartans live to exercise in the nude another day, while the ODU rests with the ODB. Spartans.

Midwest Region
Southern Illinois Salukis (#7) v. St. Mary's Gaels (#10):
I think that I caught Salukis from drinking bad water one time. No doubt the men of the British Isles will wisely stick to whiskey. Gaels.

East Region
Kansas Jayhawks (#3) v. Bucknell Bison (#14):
Poor rebranded buffalo, Shonen Knife were right: "He's on the way to extinction / We only want what's best for him." Beware the raptor! Jayhawks.

Florida Gators (#4) v. Ohio Bobcats (#13): Here kitty, kitty. Death awaits you in the swamp! Gators.

Villanova Wildcats (#5) v. New Mexico Lobos (#12): Mister, we could use a man like Sheriff Lobo again. But it's too late for him this year; his friends are cat food. Wildcats.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (#8) v Iowa State Cyclones (#9): A storm of great magnitude, a burrowing rodent. Insert Caddyshack joke here. Cyclones.

For exhibition purposes only; please, no wagering.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

PLAY THE BLUES, EDGE! In honor of St. Patrick's Day, and of their recent induction into that place that's supposed to be in Philadelphia, not Cleveland, I present the following excerpt from Eric Waggoner and Bob Mehr's essay in Kill Your Idols (DeRogatis and Carrillo, eds.), on U2's The Joshua Tree:

Its landscape is peopled exclusively with sufferers and self-flagellants, wailing endless jeremiads to the slate-gray sky. We "turn away to face the cold enduring chill" (as opposed, one assumes, to the warm enduring heat); rivers, wells, and bottles "run dry" with such alarming frequency that one wonders why we don't move to well-irrigated Salt Lake City, if we like the goddamned desert so much; we're forever running through alleys, streets, storms, valleys, mountains, deserts, plains and fields in an effort to escape fire, rain, demons, locust winds, darkness, heat, cold, dust and thunder. The Joshua Tree is the Godzilla v. Mothra of rock albums. All is cinder, rubble, and death from above. . . .

There are seventy-two instances of first-person pronouns on The Joshua Tree (the next most prominent poetic element, water imagery, clocks in a distant twenty-six times; fire comes in third, with nineteen appearances); I stand with the sons of Cain, I lie on a bed of nails, I have climbed the highest mounts, I'm thirsty, I'm cold, I'm bare-assed naked, I, I, I, me, me, me. Bono, honey, come down off the cross. We can use the wood.

Count 'em here.
Chiwetel Ejiofor's presence, along with that of Daniel Sunjata in a smaller, similar role in the film's comic half, is perhaps the biggest shock in 'Melinda and Melinda.' In the fifth decade of his career as a New York filmmaker, Mr. Allen has written not one but two black characters into a movie, without sensationalism or stereotyping. Better late than never, I suppose."

Can you really hate a movie that includes Natalie from 'Sports Night', Brooke Smith and the acting debut of CNN American Morning and NYT op-ed page regular Andy Borowitz?

Well, it is a Woody Allen movie released since 1996, so, yeah, probably. (Anything Else did not make me laugh, once.)
STEWIE'S NEW DIABOLICAL PLAN: In what's either a stroke of genius or perhaps the dumbest idea ever, depending on your feelings about the show, "Family Guy: LIVE!" is coming to New York and Los Angeles in April. Apparently, they're going to charge people $40 a head to sit in an auditorium and listen to the cast read "Family Guy" scripts. Since (IMHO), what makes "Family Guy" really work at all are the random visual jokes and things like a dog talking, I really don't see how this'll work, but, hey, if people want to pay...
THE WORD YOU'RE LOOKING FOR IS 'OUBLIETTE': Fresh off his recent literacy campaign, noted Belvedere, Ohio resident Jame Gumb invites you to his new weblog.

Else, you'll get the hose again.
PAGING RICHARD POSNER, BUT WE'LL SETTLE FOR ERIC: As long as we're on such a law and economics kick, we might as well note this German website on which prospective employees try to underbid each other for menial jobs.

That's right: whoever's willing to work for the least amount of money gets the job. Lord knows what that would do for this employment market.
WELL, AT LEAST HE'S IN A MORE ATTRACTIVE BUILDING NOW: The Sun-Times' Phil Rosenthal, one of the better tv critics out there, is making that walk along the Chicago River to cover The People Who Cover TV for the Trib.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

GREAT MOMENTS IN UNCIVIL LITIGATION: A practice pointer from from the ALOTT5MA legal staff -- if you're taking a deposition and you disapprove of opposing counsel's tactics, you should find a way to rebut such conduct other than saying to the offending lawyer "I'll f*cking kick your ass. I'll do it right here in front of all these attorneys, okay?", no matter how badly it's going.

Especially if you're still on the record. (PDF of motion for sanctions, deposition)

I have confirmation, fyi, that this is real and legitimate.
SIGN ME UP FOR MOTHERBOY XXXI: It's apparently trendy this week to write about "Arrested Development," and why buck a trend, especially when it's in support of one of the few actually watchable sitcoms remaining on TV today? Jonathan Chait examines the political implications of the show, tacitly arguing that GOB is a stand-in for George W. Bush. Better still, TWoP's Wing Chun has a hysterical interview with GOB's portrayer, the very funny Will Arnett, which touches not merely on "AD"s brilliance, but on Arnett's marriage to Amy Poehler, Arnett's appearance as an evil pedophile on L&O:SVU, how he got fired from CBS sitcom "Still Standing," and his "TAR" love. The only strike is a positive mention of Horatio Sanz--it's good readin'.

Furthemore, it's frightening how many posters in last night's TWOP thread for "TAR" draw parallels between Susan and Patrick and Buster and Lucille. Draw your own conclusion.
THE 2005 MASCOT MATCHER SYSTEM GUIDE TO THURSDAY'S GAMES: Once you get past the #1/#16 games, figuring out your NCAA pool can be difficult.

Based on voluminous research over the past fifteen years, however, Charlie Glassenberg and I have the answer. Don't look at the records. Don't look at the RPI. Don't look at the point guards, or the coaches, or "veteran experience".

Just look at the kid in the costume trying to excite the crowd.

If you follow the mascots, you will follow victory. We have long demonstrated the awesome power of cyan supernatural forces, men with guns and large cats over birds and unarmed men, as well as our obligations for continued reparations to our aggrieved Native American friends. Here's your foolproof guide to Thursday's key games:

West Region
Washington Huskies (#1) v. Montana Grizzlies (#16): In the long tradition of dog vs. bear, this round goes to the dogs. Huskies.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (#2) v. Chattanooga Moccasins (#15): The robbers of souls and Satan's support vs. shoes with thin soles and poor support? Not even a contest. Demon Deacons.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (#6) v. UCLA Bruins (#11): Ethnic stereotype come to Tucson, get big heap victory, feast on bear. How! Red Raiders.

Southeast Region
Oklahoma Sooners (#3) v Niagara Purple Eagles (#14): Um, it's purple mountains. Let's get our national symbols colored right. It doesn't matter, for these discolored birds will meet their end sooner rather than later. They've been dyed; now they're dead. Sooners.

Utah Runnin' Utes (#6) vs. Texas El-Paso Miners (#11): These miners have dug themselves into a hole, and that canary is looking a bit woozy. Besides, the ore belonged to the Utes before we stole their land; the blue sky mining company won't come to UTEP's rescue, and the sugar refining company won't save them. Scalp 'em! Runnin' Utes.

Midwest Region
Illinois Fighting Illini (#1) v. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (#16): Illini fighting mad that Gov. Blagojevich has failed to approve any Native American gaming facilities in Land of Lincoln. Seek vengeance, not peace pipe, and have been innoculated from any disease the white man might bring. Good knight. Illini.

Boston College Eagles (#4) v. Pennsylvania Quakers (#13): Our national symbol, denounced by Benjamin Franklin as a "bird of bad moral character," will surely give the pacifists from the university he founded the peace of the grave. There's just not enough time to form consensus in every huddle, especially when they're all so quiet, and bringing in Ramsey Clark to coach a basketball team was just a mistake. Eagles.

Join our pool, and good luck.
THREE GREEN THUMBS-UP: I'm thrilled that TiVo and Comcast have made a deal that will allow TiVo to set a Season Pass for 'solvent' and only spread this great technology further.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

THE BATTLE FOR NOT-BEING-LAST: Both American Idol 4 and The Amazing Race 7 seemed to revolve around the same theme this week: how to make sure you stay in the running.

For the singers, that meant playing it safe, across the board. In a deeply meh hour, no one hit it out of the park, and even the good singers (a/k/a Nadia and Bo) felt very artificial to me in their stage presence.

For the racers, however, Not Finishing Last involved a kind of ballsy exploitation of the Unpublished Amazing Rules that has never been attempted before, and I'm interested in your thoughts on the maneuever(s).

Eating disorders, we saw, can be taught by parents. Also, for whatever reason, black men kick ass on Race Eating Challenges.

Finally, we were reminded of one more piece of Good Racing Strategery: when you have time to get directions before you leave, do so. And then, umm, try to follow them, because the road from Chile to Argentina does not usually take you to the ocean.
REBELS WITH WAY TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS: Today's Times gives a portion of the front page to this story, which asks how New Yorkers cope with little annoyances like the fact that Domino's Pizza no longer sells a "small" pizza, but instead, a "medium," and a man who refuses to write "United Kingdom" on his letters to people in London to express his views on Scottish and Welsh independence.

And, of course, the Times also offers us dating tips from hawks Pale Male and Lola--apparently, female hawks respond well to gifts of dead pigeons and rats. I think I learned at a fairly young age that these sort of gifts are not effective on a cross-species basis.
BEING GOOD ISN'T ALWAYS EASY, NO MATTER HOW HARD SHE TRIES: Spoilers for tonight's American Idol round of twelve are available here. And if there were more cliched, obvious choices for what Mikalah or Scott would sing within the genre, I don't quite know what they would be.

Monday, March 14, 2005

SOONER, THEN YOU THINK: While Charlie and I are inputting the final punch cards into the ENIAC wannabe we call the patented Mascot Matcher computer, these preliminary results are available as you start to work on your NCAA brackets:

SE 6 v. 11: Utah Runnin' Utes vs. Texas El-Paso Miners: These miners have dug themselves into a hole, and that canary is looking a bit woozy. Besides, the ore belonged to the Utes before we stole their land; the blue sky mining company won't come to UTEP's rescue, and the sugar refining company won't save them. Scalp 'em! Runnin' Utes.

SE 5 v. 12: Michigan State Spartans vs. Old Dominion Monarchs: The austere warriors of ancient times have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one. Spartans live to exercise in the nude another day.

I'm kinda bummin' that there are no Commodores, Musketeers or Jaspers to process this year. But remember: this method is foolproof.
YOU WEEP FOR THE BIG SHOW, AND YOU CURSE MY MEN. YOU HAVE THAT LUXURY: You would think by now, almost some fifteen years later, that no more comedic gold could be mined from the lodes of A Few Good Men, Basic Instinct and Braveheart parodies, and certainly not by Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr's as he tries to draw interest to WrestleMania 21. And you would be wrong.
THERE ARE ONLY THREE AGES FOR WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD -- BABE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND MISS DAISY: The NYT's Alessandra Stanley reports on tv's expansion of the DA zone for mature actresses.

Left unmentioned is the fact that all of these older women seem married to their work; none, so far as I can tell, get to have romantic lives. Wouldn't you love to see Law and Order's S. Epatha Merkerson get some already?
EXCI-DIDDLEY-ITING NEWS: I'm sure many of our readers read Talking Points Memo, one of my favorite political blogs for being smart and rational while only rarely descending into the shrillness that plagues some other liberal blogs. But even those who don't regularly read should tune in later this week, as regular poster Joshua Micah Marshall takes time off to get married (and congrats are in order to Josh) and turns the reins over to Harry Shearer. Yes, the voice of Monty Burns and Ned Flanders will be blogging.
WITH SPECIAL APPEARANCES FROM CLUBBER LANG, SONNY CORLEONE AND DENNYCRANE: Episode 3 of The Contender? Even better than the first two. Reality tv stripped of all the superfluousness of "was this challenge rigged?" and "too much bunching!" and the strategery down to the bare essentials of competition: two men, five rounds of boxing, one man wins.

Between a surprisingly moving Reward and a classic Burnett edit that stacks the deck brilliantly, I'm telling you, this is the episode that will suck you in and make you forgive them for screwing up a game of dodgeball in the process. It reairs on CNBC all week long, and I urge you to watch.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

DOING BACKFLIPS TO CELEBRATE: Following in the footsteps of Frenchie Davis and Corey Clark, word comes this afternoon that Mario Vasquez has left American Idol 4, replaced by Osbourne Earl "Nikko" Smith II.

Let the baseless speculation begin.
CAN A HUMBLE SPARTAN DETHRONE THE MONARCHS? We are all set with your ALOTT5MA NCAA Tournament Pick'em Group, where you'll be able to match wits for free with the hosts here as well as our patented Mascot Matcher system, now in its 15th year of operation.

Group number is 37503; password is muktuk. Welcome aboard!

edited to add: Need help? Here's Tony Kornheiser's annotated bracket.
JERRY RICE HAS MORE FOOTBALL IN HIM: And, no doubt, ER has more rivetting trips to African wastelands in it. Ladies and gentlemen, two more seasons of ER.
ACQUIRED TASTES: By disposition and practice, I am a slob. I prefer my jeans three-days unwashed and a Giants cap to a quick shower. By and large, if an article of clothing cannot be purchased online, with enough slop in its design to fit, unseen, I don't care to own it.

Nevertheless, when I must wear a suit, I attempt to do it right. I am particular to Joseph Abboud, as he is the only mass-market tailor who can fit my bulk and budget. Still, some day I mean to go to Savile Row in London and have my suits made by a bespoke tailor.

And here's just the blog to get me started.
HAVE IT YOUR WAY: And to clear up the other topics on which this has come up, this thread is now open for discussion of your worst fast food and franchise restaurant experiences.

I'll start off by noting that the KFC on South Street is routinely out of chicken breasts. Still, is there anything worse than the Hyde Park McDonald's?

(Also, for all the discussion of the woes of the I-95 Maryland House, you do realize there are multiple exits with nearby Waffle Houses, don't you?)
SIX NEW RECIPIES FOR DRINKING EGGS: Sylvester Stallone launched his new lifestyle magazine, Sly, last week.