Saturday, March 31, 2007

LAZYHEAD AND SLEEPYBONES ALWAYS DISAGREE: Hey, Phillies fans, did you ever get too drunk in the stadium ("Gillick is killing me!") and pass out in your car with the transmission in neutral, the throttle all the way open, and the tachometer right at the red side of six-o-clock? This guy did.
ARRIVEDERCI, ROME: TWoP's recap of "De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)" is now up, and with that, HBO's magnificent twenty-two episode arc from the end of the Gallic Wars through Actium and its aftermath.

For those who were fans of the time when men were men, women were frequently naked and numbers were letters, let us reminisce in the comments. (The rest of you probably worship dogs and reptiles, blacken your eyes with soot like a prostitute, and dances and play the cymbals in vile Nilotic rites.) XIIIth!
NOT ONLY A LITERAL SIGN OF THE COLLAPSE OF HUMANITY, BUT AN ASSAULT: We haven't been following the fight between After Dark Films and the MPAA over advertising for their "Elisha Cuthbert gets captured and tortured" flick Captivity, because, honestly, it's not that interesting and the movie looks horrid. But now that Joss Whedon has weighed on strongly (and somewhat surprisingly) on the side of the MPAA, that's well worth discussing, and, generally, I couldn't agree with him more--as someone who's seen more than a few horror flicks, the current "torture porn" subgenre utterly repulses me.

Friday, March 30, 2007

IS THIS THE TRAIN TO DESERT MOON? Very low-grade brush with fame on the BART train home from San Francisco this afternoon. Across from me are two guys, taking the train in from SFO, one of them packing a guitar case, the other looking very very familiar. After a while, its clear that he's talking to this nice couple about the pros and cons of being a rock star:"Do I deserve this fortune? I used to wonder about that, but then I realized "deserve" has nothing to do with it. But it's what I have, so I try to do something good with it." That's nice and all -- and sincere -- but it took me 35 minutes to place the guy: light-to-medium rock; late 70s/early 80s: REO Speedwagon? Air Supply? And as he's getting off the train in Walnut Creek, of all places, it hits me that it's Dennis DeYoung of Styx. Now, damnit, I've got ten good Styx references off the top of my head, only three of them about Mr. Roboto. Cornerstone was the third album I ever owned and I missed my chance.

SURPRISINGLY LITTLE TOOTIE WAS EXPOSED: It's rare that a film combines as many of this blog's fixations as does Blades of Glory--among those featured are Will Ferrell, Jenna Fischer, GOB Bluth, Amy Poehler, figure skating, and random celebrity cameos (from both the worlds of acting and figure skating). It's not perfect--the romantic subplot feels tacked on, the figure skating is completely inaccurate, and the relationship between our two leads is woefully underdeveloped, but it's probably the funniest thing since Borat, and lord knows, we could use some good laughs. Worth your time if you are a fan of any or all of the above.
RATED 'L' FOR LUPUS: Two reasons to pick up this week's Entertainment Weekly -- a cover story on the upcoming film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and accompanying fifty-question Potter quiz ("24. How do you repel a boggart?"), and a nice A to Z glossary of all things House, M.D., where 'E', of course, stands for 'Everybody Lies'. There's also a Paul Verhoeven retrospective, but I like mine better.

One disappointing note about the Potter film, though: they've apparently axed the scene involving Neville's parents, which is one of my favorites in the whole series, which also doesn't bode well for one of my theories as to how Deathly Hallows plays out.

Saving Starbucks' Soul

COME TO THINK OF IT, THIS MAY NOT LAST TERRIBLY LONG EITHER: Coming soon to a Starbucks near you: dulce de leche-flavored lattes and frappuccinos.
CARE BEARS ALWAYS CARE FOR DRINKING AND CUTTING LOOSE: Although I would like to give the demon rum industry the benefit of the doubt, it doesn't seem deserved in the case of the latest innovation in inebriation science (and candidate for future inclusion on Isaac's co-branded blog). Maybe it's a function of my cynical temperament, or possibly the concealable, disposable, candy-colored containers and the generous addition of stimulants to the ingredient list.

It's definitely related to the fact that I've been waiting longer than I can remember to use that post title. Two points for anyone that remembers the context.
TO BOLDLY GO WHERE SOME GUYS HAVE GONE BEFORE: In Star Trek: The Early Years casting news, I can certainly buy Matt Damon as Kirk (though wouldn't Matt's heterolifemate Ben Affleck be a little better?), Gary Sinise as Bones, Daniel Dae Kim as Sulu, and James McAvoy as Scotty, but Adrien Brody as Spock just doesn't work for me. And Greg Grunberg plays a redshirt who gets offed in the first away mission (or maybe the plucky comic relief), right?
POTPOURRI FOR TWO HUNDRED, ALEX: Some odds and ends that I thought were too good to pass up:
  • Greece has banned all team sports for two weeks. This story was so great that I had to check the date to make sure it was March 30 and not April 1. In a nutshell, Greece made the decision to calm tempers after a massive brawl at a sporting event. What makes this story so awesome is that (a) apparently the most violent fans in all sports are the rabid Greek women's volleyball fans, so you hockey fans and soccer hooligans can just put it back in your purse, okay?; and (b) the participants brawled with "clubs, knives, and stones." Really? And then I guess the sun rose over the obelisk as "Also Sprach Zarathustra" swelled in the background.
  • Washington State's KingCo 4a high school sports league, which includes large schools from both inner-city Seattle and the wealthy suburbs, is considering revisions to its softball mercy rule in the wake of a 64-0 rout of Franklin by Woodinville. On the table is a proposal to shorten the current ten-run/five-inning rule to three innings if the away team is winning or three and a half if the home team is winning. I get it, but at the same time my guess is that the team that just lost its first three games 118-0 is playing because they like to play, not because they think they might win. If it were me, I might want more innings to try to learn how to get somebody around the bases.
  • Jack Donaghy Alec Baldwin is going to send an Iraq vet to college when she gets out of the Army. She'll be an older student, but she'll have the boldness of a much younger coed. The article contains a great backhanded expression of thanks: "Actors have all this money, and it's a good thing to see them do something other than for themselves and show some character and use their money wisely."
  • And on a belated note, last night's Survivor reminds us that the highlight of every year is not the letters-from-home crying montage or the festering-sore-that-won't-heal-comparison-expo, but the blindfolds-and-caller competition. You can never go wrong with blindfolded people running into obstacles at full-speed, especially if there's a bonus helping of the cute-as-a-button cheerleader tumbling suddenly off her six-foot perch for no good reason and then giggling about it afterward.
I'M HOLDING OUT FOR "JOHN WOO'S BERGDORF BLONDES:" I can't be the only one who's extremely hard pressed to think of a more bizarre match between writer/director and material than today's announcement that David O. Russell (Three Kings, I ♥ Huckabees) will write and direct an adaptation of Kristin (daughter of Al) Gore's novel Sammy's Hill, about "a young woman who tries to balance a job as a congressional aide on Capitol Hill while searching for the right guy." That said, I liked the book, and Russell is an interesting (if erratic) filmmaker, so I'll give it a shot.
HOW DID THIS NOT MAKE THE LIST? Don't forget, Sunday is April Fool's Day.

Of course, some April Fool's jokes are funnier than others.

Via Popcandy.
GO NOW: Hot dog stands, hair salons and portable toilets have always seemed to me to be the holy trinity of business were the owners can unashamedly get their inner pun on. You don't see many financial or biotech companies with names that make you groan, yet the landscape is rife with places like Weiner's Circle, Weiner Take All, Irving's for Red Hot Lovers, Curl Up and Dye, Shear Pleasure, and Supreme Cuts. Best of all, easily, are the names for Porta Potties, and according to this list compiled by New York Magazine, the Chicago area, home to UrinBiz, Oui Oui, and my favorite, LepreCAN, is the capital of john jocularity.

ESPN FLB 2007: League Office

WHEREIN MY NEXT OFFICIAL MOVE MAY BE DROPPING THE BEST STARTING PITCHER OF THE PAST HALF-CENTURY: A League With Thrown Baseballs has completed its draft; you can evaluate our work and follow the results here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

PREVIOUSLY, ON 77 HOURS OF YOUR LIFE: I was going to do a "previously" post on the Sopranos to get nice and ready for the final countdown, but Palgy83 over at the YouTubes did an impressively comprehensive one already. Everything that happened in every episode in only seven minutes.
THERE ARE TWO INTERNET CELEBRITIES STANDING BEFORE ME, BUT I ONLY HAVE ONE PICTURE: Lots of people have been able to claim, momentarily, the title of the Internet's #1 Celebrity since I invented the world wide web -- Anna Kournikova, Jason McElwain, Dancing Baby, Mahir, stoned Mac girl, Boom-Goes-the-Dynamite, Firecrotch -- but right at this moment, if you're reading what I'm reading, it comes down to two people: the excitable Gus Johnson, with support from the Sports Guy, Will Leitch, and everybody who likes last-second shots; or SnorgTees Girl, who moves gracefully with an ersatz-geeky "I Love Lamp" shirt and leaves behind a trail of mildly creepy Deadspin commenter-stalkers.
COUNT CHOCULITIS: Tonight, NBC is showing five episodes of "The Office", and, wow, there's some good ones: "Diversity Day", "Health Care", "Sexual Harassment", "The Injury" and "Gay Witch Hunt".

I have said this before: there are better episodes than "The Injury", but there are no funnier ones.
AND THE AWESOMENESS JUST EXPANDED EXPONENTIALLY: You can now download movies and tv episodes directly from to your TiVo.
OUTLINED AGAINST A BLACK-GREY DECEMBER SKY, THE THREE HORSEMEN RODE AGAIN: Roger complained that there was no post on a glorious episode of Friday Night Lights today, and, well, roger, Roger. I was busy. Also, it's hard to say much about this episode without spoiling. I guess I could say that it was beautifully acted, that all of the major players both stayed true to their characters and also rose to the occasion (and I do mean almost all of the players -- this was an episode in which everybody except Riggins and Buddy Garrity had to confront something important), and that I wish they had found ways to get Landry and Tyra (my two favorite characters) on screen together earlier in the season.

One minor quibble with the football scenes, though -- if everybody is mad at Saracen for his form on the interception (off-balance, feet not set in the mud, short-armed duck of a pass), then why were they so happy about his form on the first-half throw to Smash (jumping backward in the air, short-armed heave)? Jason is trying to teach him to set his feet, square his shoulders, and turn his hips, right?
THERE'S A REASON THEY CALL IT "SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT:" Memo to CNN--contrary to your story today, there is absolutely no uncertainity over who will or will not lose a professional wrestling match at WrestleMania. It's all scripted. Sorry to break it to you.
JUST 'CAUSE: Now that Project Broadway is but a tear-stained memory, it's time to turn our attention to America's Next Top Model. I was initially kind of skeptical of this season cycle, as no one seemed terribly compelling. After this week, however, my faith is gradually being restored.

But first let's talk about Tyra. Tyra has a dream. She has a dream that one day in Los Angeles, with its vicious designers, with its magazine editors having their lips dripping with the words of anorexia and bulimia; one day right down in Los Angeles, little plus-sized girls will be able to join hands with little skinny girls as models and sisters. And this dream involves having not one, but two full-figured models on a cycle of ANTM. (Why is two a magic number? So that these women will have someone to talk to and feel their pain?)

As for the models themselves, I am kind of partial to Renee as the token "pretty girl" in a sea of Jaels. I also don't think she's nearly as bitchy as they're trying to make her out to be. As for Natasha the mail-order bride, she's an example of how you don't have to be nasty to make great reality television. Sarah is kind of a poor man's Cynthia Nixon minus 20 pounds. And then there is Jaslene, who epitomizes why I love this show. I can't stand her as a person, and she's not particularly pretty, but as a model she knocks my socks off. Ditto Brittany, although she is both less annoying and less photogenic than Jaslene. Tyra's dream team of Diana and Whitney are both lovely, but neither of them takes a good picture -- which provides the key flaw in the dream.

And who knew that clenching one's jaw is the secret to male modeling?
ROWLF'S PROBABLY GOING TO SUE: For fans of a broad interpretation of the "fair use" doctrine, this briefly-NSFW video of Kermit the Frog covering NIN's "Hurt".

Via SadKermit; hat-tip to PopWatch.
DON'T FORGET "YOU CAN ALWAYS LIE YOUR WAY INTO A GOOD RESTAURANT": Perhaps Molly Ringwald should be teaching a course at Penn alongside Kal Penn on "Worthy Life Lessons from the John Hughes Cinematic Oeuvre."

Thanks to Marsha for the tip.
THE BALL IS TIPPED -- AND THERE YOU ARE: One blogger has compiled every "One Shining Moment" montage from the past ten years.

FYI, Finch is leading our brackets and has Florida over Georgetown; J. Davis is the top entry with The Ohio State University winning (except that Carrie has tOSU over Florida); and I'm sure someone has Georgetown or UCLA winning, but then I got bored, because my bracket stinks.
PRIVATE EYES [CLAP] ARE WATCHING YOU [CLAP CLAP]: Not sure if your restaurant is doing a good job? Hire your own anonymous food critic to spy on your staff, evaluate and advise.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Concurring Opinions: 2008 US News Rankings

TIME TO TRADE IN THE PEVSNER FOR MORE LIBRARY BOOKS: In pseudo-news of interest to many of this blog's readers (and writers), the new US News law school rankings have been leaked.

USPS - Jedi Shipping and Mailing Master

I'M BOYCOTTING UNTIL THEY ADD ONE FOR ADMIRAL ACKBAR: As part of "check out the artwork you've been waiting for" day on ALOTT5MA, here's the sheet of fifteen Star Wars-themed stamps coming in May from the USPS. Vote for your favorite, which will then become a separate stamp sheet later this year.
WHO THE HELL ARE YOU? Tonight's Lost certainly answered a lot of questions. Sadly, they weren't questions that anyone really cared about. That said, I thought the episode was excellent (and not just because of the abundance of gratuitious Kiele Sanchez bikini shots) much in the vein of last season's "Other 48 Days," and the flashbacks were (for once) useful and interesting, not just for the characters involved in the flashbacks, but for others as well. What'd the rest of you think?
AMERICA VOTED: And a TWoP reader puts it well: "Had someone told me during the audition rounds that [tonight's evictee] would go out in 10th place, I probably wouldn't have believed it. But it did happen, and I'm not surprised at all."

Oh, let's just remember the good days: how deep is your love for Chris Sligh?
I AM NOT GOING TO STRESS ABOUT THE PROMINENT CHARACTER WHO'S NOT DEPICTED, BECAUSE CLEARLY, HIS BUSINESS AT TEN DOWNING PREVENTED HIM FROM SITTING FOR A PORTRAIT: Scholastic has released Mary GrandPré's cover art for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Also depicted is the British cover, in which Harry, Hermione and Ron look to be taking a treasure bath.
IT ONLY HURTS FOR THE FIRST 8 OR 9 INCHES: So, Dr. Hizzy and the gang went a little psychedelic last night, with a few ever-popular moments of "ewww" (pretty much everything involving the catheter), something to make almost every variety of 'shipper happy (House/Cuddy! Cameron/Chase! House/Wilson! House/House's ego!). Yeah, sure, the patient of the week was kind of boring and didn't live up to "the year's most fascinating medical mystery!" hype, and, seriously, PPTH apparently has the world's least competent oncology department, but it's good to have the doctor back in the Hizzy.
¡QUÉ LÁSTIMA! ESPNdeportes: "El ex lanzador de los Filis de Filadelfia, el venezolano Ugueth Urbina, fue condenado hoy a 14 años y cuatro meses de prisión, por homicidio calificado frustrado, después de estar más de año y medio detenido. Según indicó la prensa local, Urbina, que el 16 de diciembre de 2005 fue acusado formalmente por el Ministerio Público de Venezuela, se le dictó sentencia por 'los delitos de homicidio calificado en grado de frustración, privación ilegítima de libertad y prohibición de hacerse justicia por sí mismo'."

Los Filis de 2007: minus one asesino frustrado en el bullpen (quien fue el mejor salvador venezolano en la historia de las Grandes Ligas), but plus four extra digits.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TO LEARN ALL ABOUT THOSE THINGS YOU JUST CAN BUY FOR $29.95: Who, exactly, is the market for season one of the mawkish "Silver Spoons"? It's coming this June on DVD. I can understand watching an episode or two for nostalgia's sake on TV Land if it happens to be on, but who, exactly, are these completists?
PAGING DR. FUNKE: Blue Man Group is looking for a few good Blue Men.

For a slightly different take on movie posters, EW has Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's all-time favorites.
APPARENTLY, NOT EVERYTHING CHRIS SLIGH DOES IS MAGIC: There wasn't a lot to learn on Idol's tribute to the songs of No Doubt, The Police, Donna Summer And, Um, Other Folks. Gina Glocksen's take on The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You" was great, but, dawg, if Gina couldn't rock the Chrissie Hynde, she'd need a totally new box for the producers to place her in.

Everyone else was safe and boring, except for Chris Sligh, who got outpaced by the wordiness of Gordon Sumner, and Beatbox Blake who managed to make The Cure's "Lovesong" depressing and languorous, and Sanjaya who just plain sucks, albeit with freakier hair each week. And Melinda was safe, but is never boring. When everyone's got the freedom to really do whatever s/he wants, it shouldn't be this "meh".

I don't know what you're thinking, so please start explaining in the comments. Don't tell me Sligh's going home, though, because it hurts.

e.t.a.: Totally forgot to mention this, but who knew that Gwen Stefani was the cutest Hogwarts student ever?
BECAUSE IT WOULD REALLY BE A SHAME TO CUT INTO ALL THOSE AIRINGS OF MIND OF MENCIA RERUNS: Comedy Central rejected this hi-larious pilot, which follows the exploits of a bunch of banned Major Leaguers trying to resurrect their careers playing in the independent minors for the Fresno Flood. Three Strikes, which boasts an impressive pedigree including Jon Stewart, has a great cast of characters including a hot-headed pitcher (think John Rocker, but likable), gun-toting, coke-sniffing outfielder (Rickey Henderson meets Willie Mays Hayes), an infielder caught on tape fencing Randy Johnson's jock, a ex-Korean slugger on 'roids, a weed-smoking catcher (a grown-up Engelberg), a brain-damaged mascot, red-assed manager, and an evangelical owner. The LA Times has more on Three Strikes and other pilots, like Nobody's Watching, making their way to the Web.
WHO NEEDS THE KWIK-E-MART?? This summer, as part of the publicity blitz for The Simpsons Movie, 7-11 will rebrand select stores as "Kwik-E-Marts," where you can buy Krusty O's and Squishees. No word on if Duffman will be making appearances as well.
PEANUTS, CHECK. CRACKERJACK, CHECK: Opening day is right around the corner and as they say, you can't beat fun at the old ballpark, especially if it is one of the old ballparks on this list of the top 10 ballparks. Sadly, as big a fan of going to the old ballpark as I am, I have only been to two of the old ballparks on this list--Wrigley and PacBell SBC AT&T Park.

In that spirit, I am proud to announce the Take ALOTTFMAer to the Ballpark Promotion. You provide the ticket and I will gladly accompany you to a ballgame and discuss any manner of pop culture minutia with you as we take in the game. Heck, I'll even buy the first round. Given that I live just north of Chicago, this promotion is somewhat limited to Midwestern ballparks and is subject to my schedule, but I would love to see Miller Park or the new Busch Stadium and am never opposed to a Cubs game or even that other team in town. Leave your invites in the comments.

"THE ACT OF BEING NUDE, IN AND OF ITSELF, IS NOT ENTITLED TO FIRST AMENDMENT PROTECTION:" As part of a lovely trip this morning to the glorious boondoogle that is the Alfonse D'Amato U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip I got to listen to argument in a case involving a challenge to a Long Island town's zoning ordinance for "adult businesses." Among the issues discussed were whether the terms "strippers" and "exotic dancers" were acceptably clear, given that they had not been defined. Sadly, no expert testimony was offered on the subject. This was made more amusing by the fact that the court reporter required things to be spoken slowly and repeated multiple times.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Inventory: 26 Songs that are just as good as short stories | The A.V. Club

ONE AND ONE-HALF WANDERING JEWS RETURNED TO THEIR NATURAL COASTS: The AV Club lists twenty-six "songs that are just as good as short stories".
LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (AND LADIES): Good slots still remaining for or second annual roto league, which looks to be drafting Thursday night at, sigh, 10p eastern. Email me at throwingthingsblog - a t - hotmail dot com if you're game.

edited: Assuming everyone who's asked is in, there's 1-2 slots remaining. First come, first served.
ALBERT, HOWEVER, MAY HAVE TO STAY IN WALNUT GROVE: This may have been inevitable. Half-Pint might come to Broadway. Except now she's a full pint. And she's Ma.

Next month, Melissa Gilbert and Patrick Swayze (as Charles!) will be workshopping "Prairie," a musical version of Little House on the Prairie, with the intention of bringing it to Broadway in the spring of 2008.

So far, I've got the next-to-last number of Act I, "My Friends Call Me Manny," in which Laura lays eyes on Almanzo Wilder for the first time, right before the newly erected church burns down, leaving the nascent pioneer community standing forlorn on the prairie, wondering whether they ever should have left the big woods.
GIVE ME GLAMOUR AND SEDITION: Matt's picture below prompted a few questions and suggestions about how to pick a high-definition television. My thoughts are below, and then we can open it up for discussion:
  1. I can't really tell the difference between plasma and LCD picture quality, but there is a huge difference between those and the projection TVs. When I watch a projection TV in a bright room, it seems dim, and sometimes the viewing angle can make it worse. The LCD and plasma models are much more expensive, but there's a reason beyond just the flatness. If you love TV and want the best possible TV experience, save up and get something that gives off, rather than reflects, light.
  2. When I bought my TV, there weren't any affordable (relative term when you're talking about $3000 tvs, I know) models that had better than 720p resolution. That means 720 horizontal lines of video all the time (the "i" you sometimes see means "interlaced," so 720i would mean that there are 720 lines on your TV, but you only see every other one -- the 360 odd lines alternate frames with the 360 even lines). Now you can, and should, get 1080p. That's more than four times the clarity of your old standard TV.
  3. A lot of models include a tuner and speakers, and you get charged for them. If you have a satellite or cable box -- and who gets an HDTV without having one or the other? -- then you don't need a tuner. If you plan on running your TV through your own sound system, you don't need speakers. See if you can get as high-quality a monitor for a lower price by finding a TV that doesn't have these unnecessary features.
  4. Pay attention to the peripherals. How many input slots are there? You're probably going to want at least three (we have two lines running in from our TiVo -- an HD and a standard-def line, plus a line for the DVD player; if you have or are planning to get a console video game or a Blu-Ray player, you may need more slots, and in my experience the aftermarket splitters degrade the signal). Can you replace the inputs, so that you can swap an HDMI input for a coax or component video slot? How easy is it to get the replacement parts?
  5. This is just personal preference, but I don't think burn-in is really a problem for the plasma. Native aspect ratio for non-HD tv is distracting to me (the bars on the side are so sad), so we toggle back and forth between 16:9 for HD and the justify setting for the 4:3 non-HD programming. It took about two days to get over the vertigo from the justify setting (it keeps the middle of the picture true while stretching the sides; it works a little like a fishbowl lens that has no top or bottom). Now we only notice it when it gives the unflattering appearance of sudden weight gain to the people standing off to the side.
  6. If you're wondering whether you should get HDTV, find somebody who has HDTV and watch two shows with them: a basketball or night football game, and a program involving beaches (you can cast about for a suitable nature show or Lost, but frankly, I think there is an episode of Swimsuit Destinations on the HD channel at all times). If nothing in you goes "holy crap" when you see the little droplets of rain on Eli Manning's helmet or realize that a regular TV just lacks the visual vocabulary to convey the expansiveness of the ocean, then you really don't need HDTV and should be happy to save the money.
  7. If you're still not sure whether you want it, wait. Prices keep coming down and quality keeps going up. HDTV will still be there later when you change your mind, and you won't stress about spending a lot of money for something that the new models obsoleted in the next year.
I know not everybody will agree with all of this, but those are my thoughts.
I WOULD HAVE PEGGED HIM AS A HEROES FAN: Bill Clinton's favorite show on TV? Grey's Anatomy (he also enjoys 24 and Boston Legal). Given that Al Sharpton memorably appeared on BL, maybe Clinton can be next, playing himself?
MNF IS GOING TO NEED A BIGGER BOAT: Finally yielding to common sense and football-consuming public consensus -- after only a year of everybody telling them that blowhard simpleton Joe Theismann was the worst thing about Monday Night Football and several years of being mocked for employing Theismann on Sunday Night Football -- ESPN has dropped Theismann from its MNF booth. Now there are only four most idiotic decisions left in sports -- Isiah Thomas as Knicks GM, Mike Hargrove as Mariners manager, Norv Turner as Chargers coach, and "This Is Our Country" as Chevy's heavy-rotation ad suicide.

Replacing Theismann is Ron Jaworski, a guy who's probably popular in some quarters of this blog's constituency, in part because of his pedigree but also in part because he's smart, he's not overbearing, and he never changed the pronunciation of his name in a failed attempt to beat Jim Plunkett out for an award. On the "minus" side of the ledger, Jaworski never was involved in the most memorable moment in MNF history.
WHAT THE HELL KIND OF IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL IS THIS? Next spring, actor Kal Penn will be teaching two courses in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania -- "Images of Asian Americans in the Media" and "Contemporary American Teen Films" -- to the next batch of Brewster-Keegan investment bankers in training.

[Query: Could a student submit his comparative analysis of Toshiro Takashi v. Long Duk Dong for both courses?]

Sadly for him, the nearest White Castle is not in Cherry Hill, but Staten Island.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

ON CHANNEL 7ALOTT5MA: In case you've been wondering what ALOTT5MA looks like in HD/widescreen, wonder no more:

(Wii + Wireless Internet + Internet Channel on my TV).
ANDRAE? WHERE'S ANDRAE?, OR I'M RACING, BUT I DON'T WANT TO MELT: Tonight's episode of the Race was a shout-out to the old days, when a team really could gain hours of advantage through airport strategy, while another team finds itself in the familiar position of being, what, about twenty-one hours behind the leaders?

Add to that one of my favorite roadblock types -- the "use a local implement to destroy an object at a distance", and you've got a fun little episode. Sunrise to sunset, follow the bouncing Masai past non-existent thunderstorms (yes, producers, that was b.s., albeit understandable b.s.), and an amazing display of the power of Phil Keoghan's eyebrow, to the Comments. Try not to slip on the vomit.
I'M SO HAPPY, I WANT TO RUSH RIGHT OUT AND CALL TICKETMASTER: Lest there be any doubt, let me be very clear that the producers of the always-bloated and never-interesting AI finale should learn a lesson from the Project Broadway people as to how to put together a finale.

Admittedly, I'm a sucker for this stuff -- when Mr. Cosmo wandered into the living room to see whether America got it right, he found me sitting there with tears streaming down my face, blathering something about how I'd never been so happy watching a TV show in my entire life.

A couple of surprises:
  • Juliana was Kathleen Marshall's initial pick for Sandy after Grease Academy? Really?
  • Is it just me, or does Broadway Kenickie look like he's 50 years old?

And, well, that's about it for surprises. But all in all, a magnificent ending to a wholly worthwhile enterprise. What show will David Ian next be casting on national television? I can't wait.

THAT COFFEE CUP MIGHT AS WELL HAVE A NIPPLE ON IT: In light of the fact that many of us (myself included) missed the back half of TARStars last week, it seemed like a good idea to mention that it looks like 60 Minutes will once again be running late. Check your DVR. And remember to wear your mittens -- it's cold outside.
MITTENS AND I ARE ON OUR WAY TO PENGUIN ISLAND. CAN YOU BREAK A FIFTY? From last night's SNL, a TV Funhouse cartoon the parents here will appreciate.

Also meriting a look from last night's show, Peyton Manning's United Way commercial.
YES, I WOULD DO THIS: I took Jen to see Meat Loaf in concert at the Tower Theater last night because she asked me to, and because her birthday's coming up soon. But, oy, and she would agree, it was like seeing Pete Rose in his age-45 season for the Cincinnati Reds: just because you can still pencil yourself in the lineup every night doesn't mean you can still bang out the hits like you once could. The man's voice isn't there anymore -- he sounded ten times better even in this recent Kimmel performance or last year on Idol than he did last night, and now substitutes shaking his microphone for being able to sing. It was so depressing that Jen asked if we could leave at the intermission.

At least, I figured out the secret of Mr. Loaf's appeal: it's not about him as much as it as about about the female fans who imagine themselves as the woman standing up to him in the songs. That much was clear from the packed audience.

It's just a little weird to be reminiscing about when you were barely seventeen and barely dressed when you're now almost fifty-six and wearing a Philip Rivers jersey. [Okay, and the video screen which flashed "And It Was Paridise [sic] By The Dashboard Light" didn't help.] Which is not to say that he should be singing about his prostate or the benefits of high-fiber foods, but Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young certainly found ways to evolve and thrive decade after decade.

And don't get me started on the wolf with the red roses.
"CAN YOU USE THAT IN A SENTENCE?" "I GROK SPOCK." "GROK, G - R - O - K, GROK." SF Gate brings us some early coverage of the National Spelling Bee and Fremont, California's John Doner, who will be representing the San Francisco Chronicle in Washington DC.

(And Mr. Doner got to spell "grok", too).

Just ten weeks until the Nationals, folks.