Saturday, March 24, 2007

GUYS, WE'RE GOING IN CIRCLES HERE: I have had a lot of cases involving a lot of lawyers who schedule a lot of conference calls to say a lot of the same dumb stuff over and over. So this YouTube conference call cracked me up. Keep the volume down, unless your office is really open about ball-licking.
TAKE OUR FORTUNE (TAKE A TURN), TAKE OUR FORTUNE: The Times pretty accurately describes the manic Vegas sports book scene during The Tournament: "When the final buzzer sounded, the Rams had lost by 5 points, covering the spread and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Grown men hugged. An air horn sounded. A disheveled young man in mesh shorts and a faded 'Borat' T-shirt jumped onto a table and yelled, 'Thank you, Jesus!'"

Last Saturday morning at Mandalay Bay, the Ohio State fans went from (a) freaking out about whether they could come back from a mammoth deficit to beat Xavier to (b) joy at the game-trying three in regulation to (c) greed towards the end at overtime, with victory itself finally in hand, with understandably intense fan interest from everyone involved as to whether the Buckeyes would extend their seven point lead to cover the eight-point spread. They did, then they didn't thanks to an uncontested Musketeer layup with 12 seconds left, and the shouts of foul him! as a Buckeye dribbled out the remaining clock with a seven-point lead were deafening. And entertaining. (I had no money on the game.)
A LEAGUE WITH THROWN BASEBALLS: So, I kinda dropped the [laced spheroid] in setting up a rotisserie league for us, but it's not too late. I've created a free ML universe, roto-style 4x4 league on ESPN, and hopefully we can live-draft this Thursday night (against Grey's), because then, afterwards, we run into all sorts of trouble with people's weekend plans, Passover travel, etc. And they've gotten rid of the multi-list draft format, so it really behooves us to find a way to do this live.

So please email me at throwingthingsblog - a t - hotmail dot com if you're interested, and I can send you the official invite. And post here to encourage others.
TIGERS WAITING TO BE TAMED: You wouldn't think that Coldplay's "Clocks" would still be good if the piano in the chorus were replaced by Cuban horns and acoustic guitars. But somehow, it works.
A WOUND THAT MAY HARM NOT JUST THE COURT, BUT THE NATION: Justice Stephen Breyer appears on NPR's Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! this weekend. Spoilers here.
NO WORD ON IF HE ORDERED SUNTORY: The high point of tonight's 85th Annual New York Intellectual Property Lawyers Association Dinner (colloquially known as "The Patent Prom") was not the hordes of drunken attorneys in the Waldorf=Astoria (yes, that's correct), the chance to do the black tie thing, or the nice bottle of red shared at the table. No, it was spying (and then respectfully not bothering) Bill Murray sitting at the old oak bar at the Bull and Bear as a group of us had pre-dinner cocktails.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Joe Sixpack | The Hall of Foam: The 20 bartenders I wish could pour for me | Daily News | 03/23/2007

WHEN LIQUOR IN A MUG CAN WARM YOU LIKE A HUG: The Philadelphia Daily News' "Joe Sixpack" lists his twenty favorite fictional bartenders. How about Adriana La Cerva? Madam Rosmerta?
McDREAMHOUSE? OUCH: Much as I love the denizens of Seattle Grace, this is pretty funny.
OH MY NOSE! Maureen McCormick was a coke addict. The last bit of my childhood innocence just died. Though this goes a long way toward explaining that marriage to Wally.
$284,208 BUYS AN AWFUL LOT OF LAURIE BERKNER CDS: Just in case anyone was wondering who was buying all those $1200 strollers.
PRESUMABLY ROBERT ALTMAN HAD A MUCH DIFFERENT ON-SET DEMEANOR: Director David O. Russell does not ♥ Lily Tomlin. (NSFW, unless perhaps you work on the set of a Tarantino film.)

And here's another clip. Man, I am so not going to hire Tomlin to endorse my line of frozen peas.
MISSED YOUR MIDTERMS AND FLUNKED SHAMPOO: What is this world coming to? Harvard's Class of 2007 will be subjected to the musings of some misfit dropout at Commencement this year. At least Columbia's senior class gets to hear from someone who managed to get his act together and graduate from college.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Top Ten Basketball Commercials « EYECONIC

NO, MARS: Without "Is It The Shoes?", these are not the ten best basketball commercials of all time, but it's still worth a look.

Via 700 Level, which also notes the absence of Li'l Penny ("Secret Service couldn't guard me!") and A.I. Can I add "I Am Not A Role Model"?
HE'S GREAT IF YOU HAVE A BURGLAR, BUT IF YOU DON'T, HE JUST MIGHT EAT YOUR KIDS: Chris Rock surveys the presidential field. (From SNL)

While we're on the topic of the race, can I clarify something? You know that I favor determining whether films rely on the cliche of the "magical negro", and like a few others here, I'm a fan of our friend from the Laird Bell Quadrangle, Barack Obama. But LA Times cultural columnist David Ehrenstein really misses the boat by trying to put the two together.

Starbucks Gossip: Starbucks barista: We're not your friends (but your tips are appreciated)

DO NOT CORRECT ME: A Starbucks barista vents.
WHO KNEW THAT ONE COULD GET ONE'S 15 MINUTES JUST BY BEING OBSESSED WITH SOMEONE ELSE'S 15 MINUTES? When I was eleven or twelve, I had those Tiger Beat magazine posters of people like Scott Baio and John Stamos hanging in my room. I did not launch national media tours to provide exegesis of my crushes.

Sometimes I think 2007 is kind of icky.
ANTHONY ANDERSON, JAY HERNANDEZ, REGGIE THEUS, DICK BUTKUS, AGENT ZERO, SR.: Everybody who likes basketball and random silliness loves Gilbert Arenas's blog, but you know it's something really special when he boasts that his dad had a small part on TNBC's Hang Time.
THE RIGGEDEST GAME IN TOWN: Blackjack, to me, is like a powerful mood-enhancer. I love to sit at a friendly table, drinking inconsistently-mixed bloody mary after bloody mary, chatting with strangers and watching the numbers come out. It takes a lot at a blackjack table to make me mad, but I know one thing that would do it quickly: finding out that my table only pays 6:5 on a "blackjack," a natural 21.

Generally, I have been tolerant, if not entirely accepting, of the house-favoring modifications that Strip casinos have made to blackjack since I started gambling. I'm okay with more decks and automatic shufflers (though I avoid the latter to give myself a natural break in the gambling rhythm), since it seems to me that all they do is prevent card-counting, and I lack the higher math skills (a) to count cards; and (b) to know whether I'm even right about what they do to the odds. I am opposed to the dealer hitting the soft-17 (a 17 where an ace counts as an 11) and try to avoid it but sometimes will just suck it up. Those changes, though, are at the fringes of the game. Blackjack has very few fundamental rules, and the 3:2 payout on a blackjack is one of them. Changing this is like telling me that a committee of judges will award from zero to six points for a touchdown, depending upon degree of difficulty and artistic merit, or that batters may choose the base to which they intend to run first.

In other words, I'm more likely to get a pedicure in Vegas now than to play the 6:5 tables at the Flamingo.
I TRIED TO KISS MY NEIGHBOR LAST NIGHT, AND SHE'S AT LEAST 35 YEARS OLD: Alan has a love letter to the last few episodes of Friday Night Lights up over at (which, incidentally, to me sounds like it's the web site for the commercial wing of the state of New Jersey), but I had mixed feelings about last night's episode. I hold this show to an extremely high standard, and whenever I don't think it is absolutely perfect, I am disappointed. Not fair, I know. So on the one hand, there was great stuff last night: Kyle Chandler's eyes doing all the work as Coach Taylor, confronted with the notion that his daughter is in love with his quarterback, goes from lack of understanding to realization to tentative acceptance to sadness that he is going to lose his little girl eventually (and coupled with Tyra's glance at Lyla a few weeks back, I can't think of another show that more efficiently and effectively conveys such ranges of conflicting emotion, much less wordlessly); and on a different note, the drunken bonding on the football field (even if the football part was a bit remedial). On the other hand, the episode as a whole felt like a nervous plea from the producers to the powers that be, as if they had to demonstrate to the network that they are capable of delivering too-tidy, too-easy 42-minute resolutions to problems-of-the-week.

In other words, while I don't want this to be the next Freaks and Geeks, a transcendent show that gets a single season and then disappears in a haze of fanboy melancholy, I also don't want it to be the smart girl who plays dumb just to get the boy.
AN INCONVENIENT JOKE: Is it wrong that my immediate response to the news coverage of Al Gore proclaiming that "the planet has a fever" was that the only prescription for such a fever was more cowbell?
PANOPTICON: Anyone else a bit troubled by the concept of a citizen-run Megan's Law for illegally-parked cars in NYC? The site in question is here.
I GUESS WE SHOULD HAVE SAID THAT WE LOVED HER: I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- you can't get too worked up on the specific order of people being eliminated from American Idol, as long as the all people who can win the competition outlast all the people who can't. In other words, Stephanie can leave before Sanjaya, and that's regrettable but acceptable, as long as Sanjaya and Phil leave before Chris Sligh, Melinda, LaKisha and Jordin, etc.

We lost a talented singer last night, but not The Next American Idol.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

TWO GIANT HAMSTERS TURNING A SECRET WHEEL IN OUR UNDERGROUND LAIR: Thank God I don't have to wait any longer for the answer to that particular question. I have spent literally every Lockeback episode for the last two seasons with every muscle in my body tensed during the flashbacks, awaiting the shock. And now I have exhaled.

We can rehash at great length in the comments.

Features : Radar Online

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON'S JOHNSON: Radar Online ranks the ten horniest Presidents.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: One of the advantages of being a blogger here is that you get to occasionally tap into the collective ALOTT5MA hivemind. So here we go: I would like to start dragging Mr. Cosmo to some sort of bar trivia event upon occasion. To my knowledge, Quizzo (which I've never done, anyway) doesn't exist in Manhattan. Where are we supposed to do this? (Weekends preferred, although I'll do it during the week if that's how it works.)
DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO: As opposed to the tepidly disputed issue of where Jack got his tattoos, tonight's Lost will purportedly resolve the sole burning backstory mystery remaining. As I've mentioned here before, I find Locke-centric episodes painfully depressing to watch, in a way that should be considered high praise to whoever concocted John Locke and his sad little pre-island existence. I hope that the payoff will have been worth the wait.

Executive Producer Damon Lindelof claims that the last five seconds of tonight's episode are his favorite five seconds of the season. Make sure your DVR is set to pick up any spillover.
THIS BUD'S FOR YOU: The blogiverse is awash with talk that David Letterman's longtime foil Larry "Bud" Melman has died at the age of 85. Apparently a tribute was planned for last night's show before Dave fell ill. And speaking of last night's show, you can see a clip of Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle expressing their endless love for each other.

Hat tip to Pop Candy.

edited by Adam, 6:45 pm: CBS has confirmed the sad news in a press release:

David Letterman, host of the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN, issued a statement today on the death of Calvert DeForest, who made numerous appearances on both the LATE SHOW and “Late Night with David Letterman.”

“Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself - a genuine, modest and nice man,” said Letterman. “To our staff and to our viewers, he was a beloved and valued part of our show, and we will miss him.”

DeForest passed away on Monday, March 19 at age 85. His debut on “Late Night,” as Larry Bud Melman, came in 1982, and was followed by dozens of appearances as various characters on the NBC show and on the LATE SHOW, which Letterman has hosted on CBS since 1993.

Given Letterman's health, the show will be in reruns for the remainder of the week. Find some classic Melman bits on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE FUN OF PRESIDENT BUSH; HE'S TOLD ME HE'S SEEN 'THE WATERBOY' TWENTY-EIGHT TIMES": Pressed into service because of a David Letterman stomach flu, Adam Sandler is doing a rather good job as The Late Show's guest host tonight. "It's a change for me," he explained. "I'm usually the one answering the questions, and it's usually the same question: are you playing a retarded guy again?"

He just noted that his wife had been shooting a lot of home videos of himself with their daughter Sadie (10 months), but he explained to her that since he's now making $20 million a film, it was going to start to get expensive. Now, he said, "She's still getting good footage, but it's Rob Schneider holding the baby."

I am not a Sandler fan, but he's getting some quality help from the writing staff, and this is fun. West Coasters, set your TiVos.
INDUCTION JUNCTION: After all of last week's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame fun, the ol' induction had to take a little time to decompress. (On a positive note, at trivia night at Harry's in Arlington Heights last Thursday, Team Choo-Choo Dante was able to win the first-round current events tie-breaker by naming all five inductees. Sadly, we lost the final round, which was football movies, by writing "Unnecessary" as opposed to "Necessary Roughness." Damn you Sinbad.) Anyway, the IJ, as the cool kids say is back, so let's get on with the links.
  • Rumors is that Jann Wenner rigged this year's Rock Hall vote so that Grandmaster Flash and not the Dave Clark Five made the cut. The Hall, of course, denies the fix was in.
  • I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the passing of WWE Hall-of-Famer Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd, who quit playing pro football in his prime because he was making more money on the pro wrestling circuit.
  • Jackson Browne, already a Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer, is now also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Browne will be inducted this year along with Don Black, Michael Masser, Irving Burgie, Bobby Weinstein, and Teddy Randazzo. Everyone is familiar with Browne's big hits, but the other inductees boast some intriguing credentials, too. Black wrote "Ben" for Michael Jackson, "To Sir With Love" for Lulu, numerous Bond themes including, and "Born Free." He also collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on Sunset Blvd. and Aspects of Love. Masser penned "The Greatest Love of All," "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love," and co-wrote "Theme from Mahogany." Burgie is the King of Calypso, having composed standards like "Day-o" and "Jamaica Farewell." And Weinstein and Randazzo wrote a number of hits for Little Anthony & the Imperials.
    Perhaps more interesting than who did get in, is who missed the cut. I mean, I'm sure Masser is a nice guy and all and "I believe the children are the future" certainly is an oft-quoted lyric, but if I had a vote I might have gone with the guy who wrote "Hallelujah," or the guy who wrote "Waterloo Sunset," or the guy who wrote "Perfect Day," or the guy who wrote "Mama Tried," or the guy who wrote "The Weight," or the guys who wrote "Stairway to Heaven," or the guy who wrote "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," of the guy who wrote "Peace Train." And you thought the Rock Hall made some dubious choices over the years.
  • Steve Bartkowski, whose football card was inescapable in my youth, leads off this year's Georgia Sports Hall of Fame class. Bartkowski, was the No. 1 overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 1975. Despite his two Pro Bowl appearances, I'm guessing the Falcons would have been better off with No. 2 overall pick Randy White or No. 4 overall pick Walter Payton, members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bartkowski, though, is a previous inductee of the National Polish-American Hall of Fame.
  • And speaking of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick quarterbacks who never lived up to the hype, Jim Plunkett (yes, I realize he won the Super Bowl with the Raiders, but this is a guy that was supposed to win four or five Super Bowls) will be inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame this year.
  • The National Fitness Hall of Fame held its induction ceremony practically in my own backyard this weekend (had I only known). Oh, to have witnessed the touching moment when master of ceremonies Tony Little inducted Lou Ferrigno.
  • There won't be any changes to the Baseball Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee/We Hate Ron Santo Club...yet.
  • Four of the 141 voters for the National Soccer Hall of Fame didn't think Mia Hamm, she of the two Olympic Gold Medals, two FIFA World Championships, world-record 158 international goals (50 more than the previous record) and countless other accomplishments, deserved to be in this year's class. Luckily 97.1% of the vote was more than enough for enshrinement and, in fact, a new Hall record.
  • In the "With Friends Like These" department, Bobby Knight is leading the push to get Dick Vitale named to the Basketball Hall of Fame. This year's class, borrowing a page from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which announces its classes the day before the Super Bowl, will be unveiled during the Final Four.
  • And finally in Small Hall news, this press release speaks for itself: "An owl who motivate an autistic child to begin speaking and the man who founded the world's foremost owl conservation organization were inducted into the World Owl Hall of Fame at the Festival of the Owls in Houston, Minnesota on March 2." Sadly Woodsy, who was expected to be in attendance, checked himself into littering rehab days before the ceremony.
RYAN SEACREST FOR PRESIDENT! AI is at its absolute best when they bring in guest coaches who really know what they're doing. Initially I was skeptical of the Peter Noone / Lulu thing, but the proof was in the (Yorkshire?) pudding. Haley and Sanjaya offered up surprisingly unsucky personal bests; Blake, Chris, Sligh, and Jordin were all excellent; and every last person performed with confidence and conviction. That's good coaching.

My least favorite performances were Stephanie's and Lakisha's, neither of which really wowed me for some reason. Phil and Gina were fine, but paled in comparison to many of the others. ("Paint It Black" is not an easy song to perform believably.) As for the heiress apparent: technically, Melinda was stupendous, as always, but "As Long As He Needs Me" is supposed to have a kind of desperate passion to it that just wasn't there. I was expecting more. (Don't get me wrong, I'm sitting here hitting redial for Contestant 11 to make sure that a lovely but kinda boring performance doesn't cause people to do something silly like not vote for her.)

Maybe this will be the week when Sanjaya's exuberant fans chill out a little bit and let the guy go home on a high note. Otherwise, I'm thinking that Phil or Stephanie or perhaps Gina are likely to have some trouble.

Note to producers: Stick with the guests who know how to coach the contestants, not necessarily the ones who have had legendary performing careers. I'll put Noone and Lulu in the same category as Barry Manilow for all-time best special guest mentor.

Hall & Oates to headline city�s July Fourth festivities | Inquirer | 03/20/2007

THIS IS A POST [CLAP] YOU'RE GOING TO LIKE [CLAP CLAP]: Local favorites Hall & Oates to headline Philadelphia's Fourth of July festivities; also performing that weekend will be Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan.
AS A PRELUDE TO FUTURE 'DEAD WRESTLER OF THE MONTH' POSTS: Sports Illustrated is reporting that eleven pro wrestlers have been named as additional beneficiaries of an alleged illegal steroid distribution network, including 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio Jr. (little Rey?), Randy Orton, Edge, Shane "The Hurricane" Helms, and the late Eddie Guerrero.

I know, you're just too shocked to comment. Because we've never been down this road before.
A LITTLE OLD PLACE WHERE WE CAN GET TOGETHER: NYC's beloved Shake Shack (fast food from restaurant guru Danny Meyer), which I really ought to try some night, has reopened (because it's outdoors, it's seasonal). No word on if a Chrysler as big as a whale was spotted in the area.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, TRY AGAIN AND GO TO JAIL: It's a tale notable both for its incredibly stupid criminal (a man who tries, in full view of the public, to slip a date-rape drug into a woman's drink, is foiled, tries again with a different drug that causes the drink to fizz like a sitcom science experiment, and then complains to the bar about the defective drink) and its intrepid heroes (two perceptive and decisive bartenders who twice rescue the intended victim and get the criminal arrested). If you're in San Francisco, lift a pint at Noe's Bar and leave a giant tip.
DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE UNICORN: Interesting article in today's NYT about fights between director Julie Taymor and the studio on the upcoming surreal Beatles musical Across The Universe, which studio head and sometime-director Joe Roth is apparently recutting the film to take out about 30 minutes, over Taymor's strenuous objections. This leads to an interesting question--has there ever been a film that a later "director's cut" actually improved? For instance, the first time I saw Blade Runner was the Ridley Scott "director's cut," and I found it almost completely incomprehensible. Also, giving a director "final cut" is frequently a bad idea--for instance, I recall reading somewhere a while back (can't find the link now, sorry)--that while Robert DeNiro was given final cut on Good Shepherd in the U.S., the studio was likely going to recut and shorten the film overseas, which would have improved it.
I'M HENRY THE EIGHTH, I AM: Tonight on Idol, the guest judges are Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits) and Lulu, and the theme is Songs of the British Invasion. One columnist makes his recommendations. I'd like to see Chris Sligh tackle "House of the Rising Sun", and if LaKisha's ready to unleash the diva, "To Sir With Love" is certainly available.
AMONG OTHER THINGS, I SAW BOTH 'GONE WITH THE WIND' AND 'HOOP DREAMS' THERE: Carrie Rickey is collecting thoughts and memories on the impending sale of Philadelphia's beloved Ritz Theaters to the Landmark chain.

Monday, March 19, 2007

WHAT IF THE SLIPPER DIDN'T FIT? So, what happened to all the Cinderellas in this year's NCAA Tournament? Why are there no seeds lower than #7 in the Sweet 16, why did seeds 1-5 go 20-0 in round one, and how come only two double-digit seeds even won a game? I have a theory, and I feel like having it vetted.

So, pressure from the tournament selection committee led to the major conference teams scheduling more of the mid-majors during their non-conference schedule during the past few years, knowing that they wouldn't be punished for such losses and wouldn't be rewarded for cheap wins against the St. Leos and Canisiuses of the world.

But what that means is that there's more information out there about these teams, and it's easier to evaluate their seeds properly: Butler beat Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee and Gonzaga this year; tiny Winthrop had UNC, Maryland, Texas A&M and Wisconsin on their schedule.

In previous years, Butler might have gotten a double-digit seed because there was no real metric to tell how good they were, and could've won a pair of games as a deep underdog. But now that Butler can be seeded accurately as a #5 given the teams they've faced, they can surprise no one anymore. And Winthrop lost all four of those games, but was close in a few, so, one could tell that they possibly could win one game, but not likely more.

Go back a decade to that 1996-97 Tennessee-Chattanooga team that made it to the Sweet 16 with a #13 seed -- they had faced no team with an RPI higher than 73 during the season, so no one had any way to know how good they could be. You can't say that any more about the mid-majors.

We've gained more accurate seeding and deserved respect for the mid-majors. Gone, though, is much of the element of surprise, and for a now-casual college basketball fan like me, that's a price I'm not crazy about paying. Ironically, the better a job the NCAA does in seeding the tournament, the less fun the tournament becomes.
ALOTT5MA TECH NEEDS SUPPORT: Since I haven't don't hardcore computer programming since, y'know, Logo Turtle Graphics , I could use some advice as to how to correct our template to get the links to individual posts to come out correctly -- you may have noticed since the switch to NewBlogger that the post number is repeated twice. Anyway, here's the HTML in question which needs fixing:
[a href="javascript:HaloScan("]');" target="_self"][script type="text/javascript"]postCount('[$BlogItemNumber$]'); [/script]
[/a]// [a href="javascript:HaloScanTB("]');" target="_self"][script type="text/javascript"]postCountTB('[$BlogItemNumber$]'); [/script]
Hosannas and glory to whoever can help us fix it. Also, if you haven't played with it yet, that search function up top works fairly well.

e.t.a. Both Doug and DonBoy arrived at the same solution -- eliminating an extraneous #[$BlogItemNumber$], and I think it's working. Thanks.
ARE WE THE INSIDE TREE OR THE OUTSIDE TREE? Watching HIMYM is like hanging out with a friend you've known your whole life. More so, I think, than Friends itself ever was. Welcome back from hiatus, old friend!
GREAT MUPPETY ODIN: As the closest thing to a Whedon aficionado around these parts, i felt somewhat obliged to pick up the first issue of Buffy: The Series: Season 7: The Comic Book (and not just because of the excess of colons!). Note that while I've seen a few episodes here and there from later seasons ("Hush," "Once More With Feeling"), my Buffy knowledge is largely constrained to Season 1 and general summaries of events later on. A few (generally spoiler-free) thoughts:
  • Though this is billed as "Season 8," the scope and amount of special effects involved in just this first issue (giant demons! ultra high-tech command center! techno-slayer army!) show that this could never have worked on TV.
  • You have to admire the mixture of action and snappy dialogue, where we can have a massive (and exciting) fight sequence side by side with semi-obscure Marvel comics references.
  • The political analogy (Buffy and her army of slayers are viewed as a terrorist cell by the U.S. government) is interesting, but I'm worried it could get heavy handed as this progresses.
  • I'm undecided as to whether what happens to Dawn in the book is a clever tribute and reversal of one of Buffy's most-loved storylines from Season 2, or a shameless ripoff and repetition of that storyline. (Related--what happened to Willow? Is she busy teaching elementary school in NYC?)
  • I'm sure the final page reveal of who this "season" will apparently have as its "Big Bad" was shocking and exciting to those who knew the character well, I had to look her up in Wikipedia to understand, and how did we get there from her first season episode? I'm confused.

Anyone else reading or planning to?

WHAT ABOUT ME? As you know we love our lists round these parts. Perhaps that's why I find the concept of Meosphere pretty cool. Basically it's a site to store your personal lists, be they countries you've visited, airports you've been to (Isaac, I am sure will be all over that one), restaurants you've eaten at, episodes of Frasier you've seen, golf courses you've played in Kansas, Celtic artists you have seen live, Craftsman Truck Series races you've seen, or what have you. The previous examples are all lists that have already been created at the site so you can just check off your answers, but you can also create your own lists, be they foods you've had stuck in your teeth, lines you've stood in at DCA, illnesses you hope never to contract, movies you've fallen asleep during, or excuses for not going to the gym.
ANY FOOL CAN MAKE A RULE, AND ANY FOOL WILL MIND IT: Another open memo to our US Airways customers at Reagan National Airport:

We at US Airways need you to understand that we are nothing if not responsive to the suggestions of our customers, at least when we are not encouraging the airport police to arrest you. On Friday, many of you, both before and after your near-arrests, openly questioned our pro-anarchy policies. So it is to our great disappointment, thorough displeasure, and severe dyspepsia that we continued to hear similar comments as late as Sunday. Let us clear the record: By Sunday morning, in response to your complaints, we did adopt a set of inviolable rules, which we set forth below:
  1. All passengers must arrive at the airport two hours before departure. If you are not at the airport two hours before departure, you simply will not make your flight. We told you, again and again, get here two hours before departure. We even offered to brand it, backward, on your foreheads, so that it would be legible when you looked in the mirror first thing in the morning: TWO HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE. Remember those words.
  2. All eligible passengers are encouraged to use the self-service kiosks. A few of you are not eligible, including anybody with bags to check and anybody who has made changes to his or her ticket, e.g., all 100,000 people who we rebooked this weekend. For those passengers who would prefer to use the kiosks rather than standing in line for a live agent, we encourage you to not have been rebooked.
  3. Kiosk eligibility rules will not be posted or explained in advance. If you stand in line for a half-hour for a kiosk, are unable to find your reservation in a kiosk for no stated reason (leaving you unsure whether you are even booked on a flight), and then later are able to use our One-Line Processing™ to speak to an agent, the agent may, in his or her discretion, explain kiosk eligibility to you so that you understand exactly how you erred.
  4. To prevent inconvenience and, more importantly, the appearance of inconvenience resulting from technicians visibly working on the kiosks, no kiosk repairs will be performed during periods of high airport use. We assure you, we will repair the half of the kiosks that currently are not functioning as soon as there is no demand for kiosks.
  5. We heard complaints about all of the different lines on Friday – ticketing counter lines, in-terminal customer service lines, baggage-check lines, gate-check lines – many opening and closing at different times, so that your ability to be processed depended upon which line you happened to choose and where you happened to be when that line was functional. We have solved this inequity by adopting our new One-Line Processing™ system. Now, whatever it is that you want – check-in, baggage-check, rebooking – can, and must, be done in a single line. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to the One-Line Processing™ system. If you can still make your flight but you are behind an entire seventy-person tour group of Mandarin-speaking dirt-specialists who have already missed their flights and need to rebook to every three-gate airport in America within a day’s drive of an interstate highway, connecting through Charlotte, where the next available flight is two days from now, YOU WILL WAIT YOUR TURN. They got here twenty seconds before you did.
  6. Current wait time in our One-Line Processing™ system is five-to-seven hours. We are aware that this will make those of you who showed up, as advised, TWO HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE (or for that matter, two times as long as that (like Spaceman), or for that matter, five-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half hours before departure) unable to board your flights. We assure you that we had not intended wait time to exceed four hours (though, in all candor, we did expect it to be about that), but a shocking number of you did not arrive earlier than twice the recommended time before your flights, which necessitated rebookings, which slowed the line down, which compounded the failures to make scheduled departures, which necessitated an even greater number of rebookings, until it became clear that our One-Line Processing™ system was really a cocoon in which your caterpillars of potential departure could molt into butterflies of certain rebooking. That was a beautiful thing.
  7. Some of you have realized that, while we have only nine agents working outside the security checkpoint, within the secured area there are scores of US Airways agents who can assist you – many, many more than there were Friday night, when most of you were inside the security checkpoint, incidentally. Fortunately for the integrity of our One-Line Processing™ system, the TSA will not permit passage through the security checkpoint without a boarding pass. In other words, to get a boarding pass in under five-to-seven hours, you must get into the secured area, but you cannot get into the secured area unless you have a boarding pass. We call this a “Catch-US-Airways.”
  8. Our flights will leave on time, or reasonably close to it. They will do so even if they are half-full, notwithstanding the hundreds or thousands of caterpillars and butterflies outside the security checkpoint longing to board them. This likely will enable us to achieve a rare, seemingly paradoxical, state where, in perpetuity, present capacity far exceeds present demand but future demand far exceeds future capacity.
  9. Where unavoidable, seats will be filled by standby passengers, though we do not understand how there can possibly be standby passengers given all that we have done to prevent people from entering the terminal. In any event, this rule will ensure that the best way to get on a flight is to find yourself unable to book it in advance. This is another “Catch-US Airways.”
  10. Incidentally, there appeared to be some question as to how we could possibly have stranded 100,000 passengers over the weekend, as reported in the Associated Press, when we generally do not process that many passengers in a weekend. The answer is that our One-Line Processing™ system has enabled us to transcend weather-resultant delays and begin stranding subsequent passengers (or repeat-stranding prior ones) with delay-resultant delays. We have applied for a process patent on delay-resultant delays, so if you are a competing airline considering imposing delay-resultant delays, please contact US Airways Licensing.
  11. US Airways Licensing can be reached at the 1-800 number formerly used for US Airways Customer Service. The new 1-800 number for US Airways Customer Service will be available only on the new Inconvenience Tickets.
  12. We have formally discontinued our practice of issuing Inconvenience Tickets.
  13. We have not discontinued our practice of requiring an Inconvenience Ticket to accept a complaint.
  14. If you wish to appeal this practice, please call our new 1-800 US Airways Customer Service Line.
  15. While we expect you to follow these rules, we expect that our agents will too. We have a strict Uniform Code of US Airways Agent Justice to enforce such compliance. We are aware of one rogue agent at DCA (who some of you deemed “Helpful Lady,” “The Nice and Sane One,” or “The Angel of Mercy,” and who insisted upon a hug from every noncompliant customer she assisted) who continually canvassed the line, plucked from it a handful of people who still could make their flights, and prevented, in some instances, the occurrence of the caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation that we love so much. We assure you that we will not fire The Angel of Mercy. Pursuant to the UCUSAAJ, as soon as we can arrange a fair and expedient show trial, we will execute her.
  16. There are still a few kinks in our One-Line Processing™ system, and dozens of you (perhaps those assisted by The Angel of Mercy) may end up with unexpired boarding passes. In such circumstances, we will penalize you – including passenger Spaceman – with selection for additional security screening, which we intend as a symbolic gesture toward delay-parity between you and the butterflies remaining in the rebooking line. We understand, however, that the TSA security screeners are the most efficient, most professional, and second-friendliest (behind The Angel of Mercy) air-travel-affiliated persons that you will encounter during your travel experience. Regretfully, TSA screeners are not employed by US Airways, so we have been unable to correct this error.
  17. In the extremely unlikely event of successful boarding, you MUST comply with the instructions on your boarding pass. Passenger Spaceman points out that his seat, 15e, was already occupied by a gentleman (in running shorts; we will shortly be promulgating a dress code to put an end to that) with an equally-valid boarding card. We recommended that the two passengers take turns sitting on each other’s laps, but a second rogue employee, flight attendant Just Trying To Make It Through Today, disregarded our suggestion and ensured that passenger Spaceman was given another seat (though we successfully prevailed upon her to make him wait until after we processed all of the standby passengers).
  18. You have heard that too many cooks spoil the broth? Despite days of foreknowledge of catastrophic system failure, we will have only one supervisor on duty today. You may see him conversing with the nine agents we have outside the security checkpoint or with the dozens inside the secured area. He is forbidden by our understanding of collective-bargaining agreements, the details of which we admit are somewhat foggy, since we haven’t read them, from assisting passengers in any way. In fact, it is a matter of pride for US Airways that we have maintained an unblemished record throughout this long weekend of not offering a single representative to provide any information at all to stranded passengers other than curt get-in-line/get-out-of-line instructions, which we guarantee are not counterproductive at least an undetermined percentage of the time.
  19. DO NOT ask about the luggage you checked with us on Friday. We swear, if you ask us one more time about the luggage, WE WILL EAT YOUR FAMILY.
It is because of these rules that we can join you in congratulating us on achieving an entirely satisfactory and fulfilling conclusion to your travel experience (which, in passenger Spaceman’s case, required only $330 in hotel charges, $250 in emergency clothing expenses (coat, jeans, shirt, two pairs underwear, two pairs socks), $25 in taxi and Metro charges, $50-75 in meals and water, $40 in additional airport parking charges, nine-and-a-half hours standing in lines at DCA (not counting non-line airport time), repudiation of our instructions to get out of the line on Friday night (which would have prevented rebooking) but to stay in it on Sunday afternoon (which would have prevented boarding), and the theoretical assistance of our dedicated US Airways staff). We are proud to have shared with you this glorious weekend, we thank you for flying US Airways, and we promise to provide you the same level of service the next time you fly with us!

Warmest Regards,
Omarosa Tobacco Industry McCarrot Top
Vice-President, Customer Service/Licensing
US Airways

Sunday, March 18, 2007

TUPAC, FIND ME A CLUE: Rats and rat terriers represented on this week's episode of TARstars, but unfortunately, extending my recording time by thirty minutes still wasn't enough to capture the last fifteen minutes, so I have no idea who was eliminated.

One Race maxim was re-proven this week: when in doubt, choose the task that makes for better television, and commerce-with-the-locals always makes for better tv.
HE'S GOING TO LICK HER. HE'S GOING TO LICK HER! Not a whole lot of doubt in this household (or, apparently, the judges') as to how Project Broadway is supposed to turn out. I was concerned that they weren't going to give us the sanity check of seeing each of the possible couples together. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and my conviction as to the right result was, if anything, reinforced after seeing the duets.

Thinking about the final four, there are two finalists who have progressed over the course of the competition, and two who are basically at the same point now as when they started. And as we all know, these shows are all about the journey. (And about the backstory videos, apparently -- did anyone not tear up during one particular person's saga?)

Assuming that this turns out the way it's supposed to: who's coming with the Cosmopolitans to see Grease this summer?
I WONDER WHAT MILLI VANILLI THINK? I happened to learn recently that the distinctive lead vocal on the song "December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)" was not Frankie Valli (he does come in on the second verse). Instead it was drummer Gerri Polci. The song is credited to the band The Four Seasons, so this is preumably a no harm, no foul situation.

The only similar situation I know of is that the first verse of Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" is sung by Jim Gilstrap. Are there other examples of songs that are sung by unexpected parties?
CULT OF WESSONALITY: It has become difficult in Las Vegas to come across a restaurant in a casino which doesn't have a celebrity chef's name attached, be it Wolfgang Puck's five locations, San Francisco's Michael Mina's (who?) four, French god-chef Joël Robuchon's pair at the MGM Grand, Thomas Keller (where Matt and I had a fine dinner back in August), Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Emeril Lagasse, Nobu Matshisa or Todd English's beloved Olives at the Bellagio. And that's just off the top of my head.

And, typically, they deliver. My latest addition to the list is Tom Colicchio's craftsteak, and the Top Chef judge's kitchen runs smoothly. Started off with a half-dozen oysters, included three from beloved Wellfleet, and then an expertly-grilled ribeye, medium-rare (as always) with a side of soft polenta with blue cheese crumbles.** And they nailed the crème brûlée; the custard was still cool while the top torched right. Simple, effective presentations relying on solid ingredients, just as you'd hope.

Which is all a roundabout way to ask: which celebrity chefs do you trust most? Whose name, attached to a restaurant other than his main location, would you rely upon to deliver no matter how long it's been since he's actually been there?

** Two side notes: (1) why would anyone ever order a cut of steak other than ribeye? The ribbons of fat are the whole point of eating steak; I don't get the people who order strip steak, with the same taste in every bite; and (2) fyi, the only better ribeye out there is the one at Philadelphia's Barclay Prime, with the high-heat charred crust and top-quality Gachot & Gachot meat.
"DEAR ISAAC": Heh. Airlines are now assigning employees to the task of writing customers with apology letters to explain what went wrong with their flights.