Friday, April 20, 2007

MILE HIGH, TWO MILES DUMB: I usually try not to post about TV three times in a row -- I like to promote the fiction that I think about something other than television at least 33% of the time -- but I did want to mention this awesome season of the granddaddy of reality TV shows, MTV's The Real World. RW:Denver seems like it's about half-over, so let's see how the housemates have done so far:
  • Colie: Tulanian/Jersey-Girl Katrina-shill. Slept/fell in love with housemate Alex first night. Continued to throw herself drunkenly, slurringly at him the rest of the season, except for (a) when she had mono; (b) when she was in love with Crispin Glover's hippie doppelganger, an Outward-Bound dropout; (c) when she was in love with her ex-boyfriend, with whom she previously and subsequently yammered on about not having a relationship; and (d) when she was mad at Alex about the Jen thing (see below). Wore an incongruous bikini while trying to break up a fight between Tyrie and Davis.
  • Jen: Trashy Raiders cheerleader (is there any other kind?); not as hot as she clearly thinks she is. Professed her loyalty to her new friend Colie on the first night. Betrayed that loyalty by sleeping with Alex on the second night. Told Alex he disgusted her and that she'd never sleep with him again. Slept with him again. Slept with John, a bouncer. Slept with some guy visiting another roommate. Told her boyfriend that she slept with Alex once, but that was it. Busted, admitted that she slept with him twice, but that was it. Busted, admitted that she fooled around with the guy visiting a roommate, but that was it. Busted, admitted that she slept with the guy, but that was it. Busted, was about to admit that she slept with the bouncer, but the boyfriend cut her off and said, look, I get the picture. Got insanely, violently drunk every single night. When Tyrie went to the drunk tank, said, essentially, "what's the big deal? I'm there all the time. The baloney sandwich sucks." Off-camera, stalked Spacepeople on Oakland-LA flight.
  • Alex: College man-whore. Slept with different roommates on the first two nights of the season; led on the first roommate and did an encore with the second. Brought home a really trashy girl and had loud sex in the middle of the house, then kicked her out. Wears pink shirts with the collar up, like a real-world version of the evil rich kids in teen movies. Is hilariously scared of Jen's boyfriend.
  • Tyrie: Angry Black man. Inexplicably managed to remain charming and likeable despite twice getting insanely enraged for no particular reason and once drunkenly peeing in public twenty feet from cops who he knew were there to observe him and thirty feet from his own bathroom in his own house. Cried on the way home from jail. Was really cute with the Outward Bound kids.
  • Davis: Gay Christian. Antagonized Tyrie (who is twice his size), inexplicably survived after using the N-word in a drunken fight, set record for playing the "I want to go home" card, biggest gossip/backstabber in the history of reality television. Keeps flirting with insane Brooke, but by "flirting" I mean "pawing and sleeping naked."
  • Brooke: Deranged person. Threw a gale-force tantrum when someone told her to wash her own dishes. Faked a broken ankle so transparently that she wore a brace with pumps. Freaked out when she heard that Davis said something catty about her looks. Wrecked Davis's room, rock-star style, because he explained that what he said was that she has a double-chin when she looks down. Cried because a guy asked her to go bowling on a second date.
  • Stephen: Kind of a dick, but also kind of boring. They can't all be deranged.
So there it is, the best cast since Las Vegas, except dumber and with fewer redeeming qualities. Good TV.

The Daily Record - NEWS - 20 YEARS OF THE SIMPSONS

RELAX. WHAT IS MIND? NO MATTER. WHAT IS MATTER? NEVER MIND: The very first "Simpsons" short, "Good Night", aired on "The Tracey Ullman Show" twenty years ago, yesterday.
SCHROEDINGER, ERWIN, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS: As Schroedinger's Cat has come up in some comment threads recently, I was reminded of the best rhyming explanation of this puzzling feline problem extant.
I'M GOING TO BE SO RICH MY GRANDKIDS ARE GOING TO PLAY LACROSSE: So with a strong Survivor and yet another excellent 30 Rock, last night was a good night for TV, even with an Office repeat. I loved every bit of Tracy Jordan this episode, even when it was other people reacting to him ("who told Tracy about anagrams?"; "I'm on my grind? Is that a thing?"). I loved the whole Cleveland-as-City-of-Light thing (and that was Tina Fey singing, right?). I loved the offhand gags (Frank's Hot Babies skit, "by the hammer of Thor!"). I even loved the brief Jenna appearance ("we're just like Sex and the City. I'm Samantha, you're Charlotte, and you're the woman who watches the show at home"). How on earth did this show get renewed?
3-DIMENSIONAL NOSELESSNESS: Superman Returns was pretty bad, but the visual experience of the live action IMAX 3D version was at least interesting. For that reason alone, you can certainly sign me up for Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix 3D with the last twenty minutes done in 3D. Buy your tickets now, ladies and gents.
YOU'D HAVE TO BE STUPID NOT TO FIND IT AFTER THE FIRST THREE CLUES: There's rampant disinterest in this season of Survivor, and I understand why. I haven't found it as boring as others, but I concede that until the last part of last night's episode, the highlights of this season were the hammock snapping with Boo in it and Michelle perkily tumbling sideways off the platform in the blindfold challenge. There haven't been challenge monsters like Tom and Ozzy, compelling story arcs like Stephenie and Bobby Jon's epic futility, lovably spastic contestants like Elisabeth, Bobby Jon, or Ian.

Last night's episode, however, demonstrated that even without great personalities or high drama, the editors sometimes can really bring it. Since it was so clear from the wonderful, chaotic pre-council scheming what was going to happen, the editors just focused on telling the hubristic story of spectacularly botched strategery through the faces of the participants themselves, and it was hilarious. It went immediately to my top three funniest Survivor moments, along with the first caller-and-blindfold challenge (after which Colby doused Jerri Manthey with a leftover bucket of water) and the first season's pre-merge tribal exchange program (Dr. Sean: "we have sticks at our camp too ... we don't eat 'em").
SOMEONE AT THIS TABLE IS GOING TO BE PUT ON NOTICE: Sure, tonight's White House Correspondent's Dinner will not feature Stephen Colbert. It will, however, feature the most bizarre assemblage of table guests in history. Sitting at People's table (and how does People get a table and we don't?) will be Sanjaya Malakar (and his mother), Zac Efron, Tim Gunn, Valerie Bertinelli, Eddie Izzard, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. No word on who will be told to "make it work."
OTHERS MAY HATE HIM, BUT THOSE WHO HATE HIM DON'T WIN UNLESS HE HATES THEM BACK: Depending on your math, it's been since 2002 (Red Dragon) or back to 1995 (Nixon) since Anthony Hopkins toplined a movie worth seeing. Apparently, the drought ends today with Fracture, which has been well-reviewed all over the place. Legal-suspense-thriller, co-starring Ryan Gosling and directed by the guy who did Primal Fear.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

YES, I CAN SPELL "SHTEYNGART": The Free Library of Philadelphia will be hosting the first annual Philadelphia Book Festival this weekend. It's all free, and the list of authors and performers includes a number of ALOTT5MA faves, such as Patti Smith, R.L. Stine, Alexander McCall Smith, Mark Bowden, Terry McMillan, Francine Prose, Julie (of "& Julia" fame) Powell and the beloved ThrowingWife, who will be moderating a panel on memoirs with Ms. Powell, Darcey Steinke and Elizabeth Gilbert. Should be a great weekend, and the weather may have finally stopped sucking.

reality blurred + Jeff Probst says Survivor China will be filmed on islands

WHO WILL DEFEND QUEMOY AND MATSU FROM MARK BURNETT? Survivor XV will be filmed on an island group off the coast of China. Will a tribal council settle the status of the Spratly Islands?
NO MYTH: In a list Michael Penn might love, the New York Public Library has picked the Greatest Love Stories of All Time, with Heathcliff and Catherine's amour in Wuthering Heights topping the romance roster, followed by Anna Karenina, Romeo & Juliet, Casablanca, and Midsummer Night's Dream.

What's your favorite love story? Mine is It's a Wonderful Life (just watch the scene with when George goes over to Mary's after his brother's wedding). And remember, be proud of your choice, because love means never having to say you're sorry.
MY NAME IS SPOILER: If you want to know what's happening on most of NBC's shows between now and season's end, the network spills (some) in the episode descriptions here. A scratch-and-sniff "Earl"? Vincent "Eat Vincent Spano First! "Spano on L&O:SVU? An outing to Lake Scranton? If you don't click on the link, it's new to you!
DESMOND DOESN'T WANT TUNA WITH GREAT TASTE. HE WANTS TUNA THAT TASTES GREAT: No Lost post from Kim means you get a lame one from the B-team here. All I'll say about this episode is that (a) 10-years-ago Desmond looked about 10 years older than he supposedly was; (b) his ex-fiancee looked about fifteen, meaning that he was dating her since she was nine; and (c) you could almost hear Cuse and Lindelof asking themselves, how many times do you think we need to show Charlie dying before the "kill Charlie" demographic is satisfied?
IT WAS INEVITABLE AFTER THEY DISCONTINUED MR. PIBB: Fresh off the news that she's working again, apparently McAdams no longer loves Gosling. No word on whether Parnell and Samberg continue to love the cupcakes, especially the frosting.
THIS DOES NOT STOP THE BEAT: The trailer for Hairspray: The Movie Musical is now up, and they're clearly going for a HSM-esque vibe (surely sensible from a marketing point of view). Two interesting choices they've made:
  • Travolta is barely in the trailer, and I don't believe you hear him sing a note. Especially since he's one of the leads, has top billing, and is coming off a highly successful flick pitched to a similar demo in Wild Hogs, seems like rather an odd choice.
  • Almost a third of the trailer seems to be full screen credit names. Do they honestly believe James Marsden, Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley, and Allison Janney are going to sell tons of tickets on their own? (OK, Janney's certainly a plus.)

Also, for some reason, we get Motormouth Maybelle (rather than Tracy) leading the ensemble in "You Can't Stop The Beat" as music for the trailer. The good news is that Michelle Pfeffer looks like she's going to work out well, and Christopher Walken doing "Timeless To Me" should be a blast. I'll still see it, but something has to be done to calm doubts about Travolta.

OLIVER "SPEARCHUCKER" JONES AND AIR BUD GOLDEN RECEIVER ARE CALLING THEIR AGENTS TO COMPLAIN: Jim Reineking sorts through the Stan Gables and Bobby Bouchers of the world to come up with the fictional football player mock draft. It's also been noted that Billy Dee Williams' character in Brian's Song was probably worth a pick as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

THE ORIGINAL MR. F: Since I'll be leaving for my grand tour of the world's first class flight cabins this weekend, now seems as good a time as any to provide an update as to which books I have ordered for my travels. I undoubtedly overordered, but I like to have options. The list was compiled using the following criteria:
  • Recommended by one or more Throwers of Things
  • Paperback (sadly, this was the death knell -- at this time, anyway -- for Abundance)
  • Not unduly depressing (My Sister's Keeper bit the dust here)
  • Not said to require excessive investment of brainpower before getting interesting (Blind Assassin, I'm talking to you)
  • Available for same-day-in-Manhattan delivery from B&N (because I just got around to ordering tonight) (this one knocked off Carter Beats the Devil)
  • Otherwise captured my interest upon reading the Amazon reviews (B&N's reviews and user comments always suck. I can't figure out why. But they have the same-day Manhattan delivery, so I usually floomph around on Amazon and then order from B&N if I need books quickly)

And so here's the list:

  • The Magician's Assistant, by Ann Patchett
  • Snow Flower Secret Fan, by Lisa See
  • Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore
  • Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, by George Chauncey
  • Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game and How It Got That Way, by Philip E. Orbanes
  • The 21 Balloons, by William Pene du Bois (this one is kind of a cheat, because no one actually recommended it, but I found out tonight that Mr. Cosmo had never read it, and so I ordered it for him -- except I think I'm likely to sneak it into my suitcase and hand it over to him when I get back)

Thank you all for your help! I'll report in after I've actually read something.

NIGHTMARE. NATIONAL. LONG. OVER?: East Coasters know the Idol results. I won't spoil here. To the comments!
NOTES ON NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY: Can we get rid of the annoying husband and his voiceover (as well as, y'know, the whole pregnancy premise of the show), and turn this into a female-fronted, L.A.-centric variation on Sex And The City with Jennifer Westfeldt and Rachael Harris? The brief scenes of Lauren at her job were extremely funny and sharp, while the domestic stuff was a complete and total bore. Better still, let's just give Westfeldt and Harris a different show (maybe with the half of the cast of The Class that could make for a funny show).

Veal to Love, Without the Guilt - New York Times

WELL, I THINK THE VEAL MIGHT'VE DIED OF LONELINESS: Average American veal consumption has fallen from its four pounds/person/year peak in the 1950s and 60s to a half-pound per-person, per-year today. (Rest assured, such a drop-off is not my fault.)

Still, humanely-raised veal is on the rise.

The 14 greatest TV eateries - TV Squad

TRY THE FISH: Arnold's tops the TV Squad's list of the 14 best TV eateries, a follow-up to the previous list of the best TV watering holes. How the Pizza Place from Two Guys... beat out Rob's Diner, where if you know the right person you can get a sweet bootleg of a live Doobie Brothers gig, I do not know. Also sadly missing is Professor P. J. Cornucopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium and Great American Steakery.

Six endings worth emulating -

IT'S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE: With MSNBC making a list of five shows that should just hang it up, Robert Bianco of the USA Today has a list of six elegant ways shows have bid adieu, including everything from Newhart's classic surprise ending, Sex in the City's give the people what they want, and M*A*S*H's big, big finish.
CHRONOIMPAIRMENT ALERT: Given the unanimous adulation around here a few days ago for Audrey Niffenegger's beyond-stunning debut novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, I thought this crowd would be pleased to hear that headline casting of the film version is complete. Eric Bana -- known for playing an array of incredible roles -- is to be Henry, and Rachel McAdams will be Clare.

This has the potential to be a four-hankie flick.
HE WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE, BUT I FEEL CONFIDENT THAT MR. ADAY WOULD NOT DO THAT: Following up on previous stories, including one of this blog's first entries in November 2002, Rabbi Fred Neulander is still in jail, his final state appeal being denied, and from more recent postings Meat Loaf, sadly, still can't sing. Also, Gov. Jon Corzine, first mentioned in this space for his rebuffed efforts to have the Senate honor Bruce Springsteen on the 30th anniversary of Born to Run, was going 91 mph at the time of his crash.

I completely forgot to do this yesterday, so let me just note that according to (reg req'd), your five-year-old [blogger] "is well past the temper tantrum stage (most of the time, at least). But he's not exactly obedient, either. In fact, he refuses to come in for dinner when you call him, ignores your requests to pick up his socks, and teasingly rolls the soccer ball around on the kitchen floor despite your rule against playing ball in the house." Rather than punish, we should "try to catch him being good and encourage him when he is. Remember, disciplining your kindergartner doesn't mean controlling him — it means teaching him to control himself." Also, if we see Duncan teasing others, "Although it upsets you to hear taunts escape your child's lips, keep your cool and resist the urge to cut him down to size. Remember, he's probably looking for a reaction."

And, finally, picking up on a story from four years ago today, I regret to inform you that global warming may have a deleterious effect on the ability of future native Alaskan generations to eat their muktuk.
YOU'RE SO VAIN: Warren Beatty as Richard Nixon? Seems strange, but I could see it working--Beatty can certainly play self-destructive (see, e.g., Bulworth) and this strikes me as exactly the sort of project that might lure him out of retirement (he hasn't done anything in six years, since the diastrous Town & Country). An interesting question--Beatty's career consists of only about 20 roles, and in my lifetime, he's only 8 films (two of which have been unmitigated disasters)--is there another unquestioned "Hollywood Legend" with as scant a filmography?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

MISS CENTER-OF-THE-UNIVERSE: I really, really don't want to know what Miss Cambodia planned on wearing.
JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL, TAKE THE WHEEL JESUS: I'm guessing Simon Cowell will really regret having the camera catch him roll his eyes after Chris Richardson offered his prayers and support to the Virginia Tech community ...

... (now that I'm done watching) so thank goodness someone in the booth forced that awkward nod to Blacksburg by Cowell at the show's end. I thought all four men were weak, Sanjaya especially (almost a Corey "Against All Odds"-level of badness, while looking like the Cavs' Anderson Varejao), but Jordin just ruled it on "Broken Wing", perhaps the best performance of the finals so far.

Still, I'm a bit bored by this season. Can we watch the consolation-bracket Idol instead, with Sabrina Sloan, Opera Girl Rachel Zevita, Leslie Hunt, Gina Glocksen, Stephanie Edwards, Jared Cotter, Brandon Rogers, and that Canadian ringer who was in Les Mis?
GRANT HILL IS NATURE'S CUTEST AND MOST EFFICIENT KILLER: This is kind of hard to explain, but Miss Gossip at the Fanhouse has photographic evidence that makes a pretty good case that Grant Hill is a polar bear.

Rolling Stone Rock and Roll Daily » Blog Archive » Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Songs With a Secret

I TRIED TO INTERPRET BUT I HAD TO GIVE UP: I hate to shatter the illusions of you Cyndi Lauper fans who have been holding on to the idea all these years that "She-Bop" is "charming and innocent song about a girl dancing around," but its really about, how can I say this gently, errr, dancing with yourself.

Rolling Stone has the lowdown on the truth behind the myths in its list of the top 25 Songs With a Secret. Sadly they decline to tackle the vexing hidden agenda behind Gordon Lightfoot's cryptic "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
FREAKY MONDAY: I'm new to The Bachelor, and perhaps I'm not long for it, but Spacewoman likes it and I enjoyed both heckling the participants and reading Sports Gal's recaps (joke format: "Bill says ___.") So I tuned in last night, expecting to live-blog it. Approximately 0:00 in, I threw in the towel, realizing I had nothing in particular to say other than "do all triathletes have abs that stick out past their chests? just looks weird to me."

Over the course of the next hour of predictably numbing cattiness, inconclusive proof or disproof of Asian fetishism (why did he ditch the cute, enthusiastic Amanda but keep the homely tuneless one and the boring ambivalent one?), gratuitous mud-wrestling, and jettisoning of the unevenly-botoxed Playmate and the sorority recruiter with no eyebrows (no, really!), I did have one cogent thought. Bachelor Andy is like the malevolent real-life version of the Tom Hanks character in Big. He walks like a child, bouncing on his toes and swaying stiffly from side to side. He reacts to his weird situation -- being ensconced in an adolescent fantasy, except with the expectation that he act with unadolescent maturity -- like a child, with ill-timed goofy grins and a stony you-caught-me-peeking-at-your-bikini rictus. He makes decisions like a kid who knows his maturity is being judged -- one for me (Chesty McBoobie, from South Carolina) and one for you (the deep one who won't stop talking about my dead uncle and her dead boyfriend). And he says really weird things that sound like what a clueless 12-year-old might think an adult in his situation might say: "women and fast cars are sexy." Half-right, slugger! So I really hope this all ends with him shriveling up in his suit and shuffling home while an appropriate Bachelorette stand-in for Elizabeth Perkins is left to ponder her inadvertent pedophilia.
NEXT, A MATHEMATICAL BREAKDOWN OF "H.O.V.A.": Mims' "This Is Why I'm Hot" on the charts right now. Hence, The Village Voice provides a mathematical breakdown (with Venn Diagrams!), beginning with the tautological statement "I'm hot because I'm fly, you ain't because you're not."


NON-WANKER OF THE DAY: Happy anniversary to my friend Duncan "Atrios" Black, whose Eschaton blog debuted five years ago today.
GIVE ME A FULCRUM LONG ENOUGH: So, Mrs. Earthling and I are moving to a new house (just six miles away, no other lifestyle changes are involved), and we've frantically packing ahead of this Saturday's move. The best part of moving, of course, is lingering over old pictures, books and bits of miscellaneous crap. Highlights so far:

- My pile of old Traveller books. Traveller being the granddaddy of science fiction roleplaying games. Also, old Car Wars stuff, which included a submission from me to the Autoduel Quarterly, my first sale (and but one of three bits of nonlegal writing I've earned money for) at the age of 14. I earned $5, but never cashed the check, since I thought the check was cooler than the cash.

- $15 in Eastern Caribbean Dollars from a sailing trip to Dominica and Guadouple in 1998; also, about $4.50 in loose pre-1964 dimes and quarters.

- An autographed photo of Chancellor Helmut Kohl; also, one of King Fahd.

- Maureen McHugh's China Mountain Zhang, a lovely science fiction novel from 1992 or so. Of all the things in this novel -- about a 22nd century dominated by the People's Republic of China -- I found most frightening was the fact that mandatory hour-long political meetings on Mars were held during the one hour on Mars which lasts 1 hour 39 1/2 minutes.

- A can of Diet Coke from 1987, the purchase of which would send AUS$0.05 to the first defence of Australia's America's Cup Victory.

- Seibold & Walsh's Monkey Business.

- A bookcase I built in 7th grade woodshop.

- A factory set of Schabak-brand 1:600 scale Boeings, 727, 737, 757, 767, 747-100 and 747-200, in the original Boeing factory livery. Craphound I am not, but I found these in a garbage bin when my first law firm moved to a difference office. I think I could get about $100 for it on Ebay.

Remark on any old crap you've found around the house of late. Or remark on my crap because I have a whole big lot of it.
DOES WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN: As bizarre as the upcoming "Spider-Man Week" in New York is (seriously, the tagline used on posters is "We're Bringing Spidey Back," which invariably creates Timberlakian associations for me), it's topped by the announcement of Spider-Man, The Musical finally moving forward--directed by Julie Taymor, with music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, and featuring a "Geek Chorus" that "meet[s] to ritualistically retell the greatest Spider-Man stories."

Monday, April 16, 2007

DICK & JANE GO TO THE FEC: I'm briefly going to unite the disparate chambers of my blogging brain with a few celebrity tidbits from the new FEC presidential filings. Here's what I'm gleaning: among Obama's $2000+ donors are Eddie Murphy, Tom Hanks, Vidal Sassoon, Jennifer Aniston, Angela Bassett, Toni ("ouch!") Bentley, Mark Burnett, Hill Harper, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Maines, Barry Manilow, Leonard Nimoy, Adrian "I grew up in a cardboard box!" Pasdar, Barbra Streisand, Audrey Wells and Gene Wilder, while author Ayelet Waldman pried herself away from her husband long enough on 3/31/07 to give $4600.

Famous Folks For Hillary include Michael Douglas, Gigi Levangie Grazer, Brian Grazer, Don Henley, Christine Lahti, Barry Manilow, Rodney and Holly Robinson-Peete, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, and Elizabeth Taylor.

Don Henley wants to explore John Edwards' Two Americas as well, as do Seth Green, Barry Manilow (again!), Brett Ratner, Darren Star, the Spielbergs, Barbra Streisand, and Brian Robbins.

Chris Dodd's fans include Michael Douglas, Mister Steve Martin, Barbra Streisand, Dick Ebersol, Elisabeth Shue and insult comic Jeffrey Ross.

Screenwriter Paul Haggis has a complex scenario with twenty-five overlapping characters that leads to a Dennis Kucinich win, as does former Baywatch star Alexandra Paul. A "Howard Mandel" in Los Angeles has given Joe Biden $3300, plus $1000 to Obama. (** Except there's two Howard Mandels in Beverly Hills who give generously to Dems; the other is an OB/GYN. So it's unclear whether this is this is the one who asks women to open their briefcases for a living, or the one . . . )

Adam Sandler gave Rudy Giuliani $2100, and John O'Hurley is also chanting "Ru-dy!" to the tune of $2300, while both Pat Boone and "Body by" Jake Steinfeld has pumped up Mitt Romney's coffers. More as I find it, but if you want to find it yourself, the NYT site seems to have the most flexible search engine.

update: Mark Ruffalo gave Kucinich $1000. And Matt has more in the Comments.

update again: Via a friend and other sources -- add Jackson Browne, Steven Bochco, Tommy Schlamme and Susan Sarandon to the Obama list, with Tracey Ullman giving $250 before yelling "go home!"; Marla Maples gave $1000 to Clinton, and Casey Kasem dedicated $250 to Dennis Kucinich. Lorne Michaels sent John McCain $1000, and you can insert your own "straight talk" joke here.

Coaches: Dean Smith dipped into the four corners of his pockets to find $4400 for John Edwards; Barry Switzer gave $2000 to Bill Richardson and still went for it on 5th and 1.

Ben & Jerry's Flavor World

OF COURSE, THIS PROBABLY MEANS I'LL BE PUT ON NOTICE: Disappointed though I was that Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream was sold out at my local Whole Foods, the other new Ben & Jerry's flavors were available, and holy crap is Cinnamon Buns (caramel ice cream with cinnamon bun dought & a caramel streusel swirl) the bomb-diggity. Just saying.
'CAUSE I'M A BLONDE, B-L . . . I DON'T KNOW! Having now watched almost two full BQ-infused seasons of TAR, it is time for me to publicly proclaim my ongoing befuddlement.

It seems to me that if there were footage available to paint Dustin and Kandice as superficial Mean Girls, the producers would have used it by now. There isn't a reality TV reason in the world to edit a nasty team so that their true colors remain under wraps forever. For two seasons, I have been impressed not only by the BQs' racing skills (much of the time), but also by their composure under pressure and their ability to treat each other with fairness and respect even under the most trying of circumstances, not to mention their lack of gratuitous sniping at other teams.

So why does every other team consistently despise them and claim that they're devious and underhanded? Can it really just be because they're blonde and pretty? It's not like the Race has ever been hurting for physically attractive competitors -- see Derek & Drew, Rob & Ambuh (with an asterisk, because everyone certainly did hate them), Lena & Kristy, the Double-Ds, Kris (arguably the most beautiful Racer ever) & John, Brandon & Nicole, Reichen, Christie, Oswald, and so forth. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
YOU'RE THE MAN NOW, DOG! Today marks the announcement of the Pulitzer Prizes, which recognize mostly reporting and books few have ever or will ever read published or produced between January 1 and December 31, 2006. A few of note this year:
  • Drama (after a "no award" last year) goes to Rabbit Hole, a surprisingly comic play about grief and finding your way after the death of a loved one (with a little quantum physics mixed in) that ran on Broadway last spring and is rapidly becoming a regional staple, over three plays I've never heard of (no nominations for Spring Awakening or Grey Gardens). (Interestingly, Playbill reports that the jury was overruled by the Pulitzer Board--the jury apparently wanted to give it to another play and not even nominate Rabbit Hole.)
  • Public Service goes to Wall Street Journal for its articles on stock option backdating.
  • Fiction goes to Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
  • The Looming Tower wins "General Nonfiction" over Fiasco.
  • Well-deserved "Special Citations" (aka "lifetime achievement awards") to Ray Bradbury and John Coltrane.
A THOROUGH EXAMINATION OF MALE HYPERMASCULINITY, WITH NO DEPICTIONS OF FEMALE NUDITY: A recap of this week's Entourage: In the A-plot (or was it the B-plot?), nothing happened. In the B-plot (or was it the A-plot?), nothing happened. In the C-plot, nothing happened.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

IT'S A MOVIE. IT'S FICTION: And The Sopranos gets as close to my family's conversations as it ever will, but most of the talk this week was about legacy and the possibility of change. How will I be remembered, and is there anything left I can do to alter that path? Sydney Pollack joins the director-cameo list, and the Humanitas Prize becomes the second award to give J.T. trouble. Visit Sepinwall, and then let's talk.

e.t.a.: And Sepinwall interviews a central cast member from this episode about what happened.
LET'S JUST CALL THIS AN ELIMINATION ROUND: Although this week's reality Race kinda sucked, new Fox series Drive most assuredly did not. Seems to have everything a thingthrowe could want--writing from Tim Minear (Angel, Wonderfalls, Firefly), an ecelectic ensemble cast led by Captain Tightpants himself, Race clues that are actually challenging (though the first clue was rather obvious) and plot twists and development a-plenty (even flashbacks that are actually informative!). This looks like it'll be well worth watching for the four episodes that Fox runs before all Minear-run shows are cancelled.
HONG KONG, PHOOEY: Just a lame, lame leg as our TARstars go and racearoundtheworld. Even if you love airport intrigue, this was airport intrigue on what Manny Farber would call the "termite art" level, at least based on my understanding of the term from David Denby's review of Zodiac. Which would be great if the details mattered, but they really didn't.

Also, can we please have a fast-forward where multiple teams can compete at once? or, at least, one in which the skill involved is more advanced than "sit still"? I do give Charla credit for her work in this episode -- not an easy physical detour for her, yet she seemed to handle it deftly. Also, kudos to the sound effects editor on that scene.

But everything else about the episode? Sucked.

YouTube - Billy's Balls 2

LIKE ROBERT HORRY, ONLY BETTER: Assuming no camera tricks were used in its making, this Billy Marks video reflects the greatest sporting accomplishment in history. Via Deadspin.
IT'S EITHER THIS OR A STATE OF ISRAEL BOND: So, I was down in Miami this weekend for the bar mitzvah of my mom's cousin's younger son -- my mom's cousin and her husband having left the Philadelphia area for Sunny Florida 20+ years ago, and I've met the honoree only about 3-4 times before this weekend.

But he strikes me as a bright, thoughtful kid with a sense of humor who's occasionally harassed by his 16-year-old brother, and it occurred to me that rather than just gifting him with a cash equivalent or the like, that I might be able to assemble for him some kind of Survival Kit and Guide Book For Remaining A Mensch In Your Teenage Years, a collection of books and DVDs that might help him keep his bearings and mature over time. Like, I think every teenage Jewish boy needs a copy of Woody Allen's Without Feathers. Maybe John Edgar Wideman's Brothers and Keepers, but thirteen may be too young for that. And he should see School Ties. What else?
THAT'S A BOLD STATEMENT: During my trip to Miami this weekend, I read a good deal of interesting stuff (though not the Jan Crawford Greenburg book on Supreme Court nominations, which was way too cursory and repetitive for my tastes, though I appreciated its take on the Souter nomination), but nothing fascinated me as much as printing out The House Next Door's lengthy conversation titled "My Tarantino Problem, and Yours" between Matt Zoller Seitz and Keith Uhlich. Here's an excerpt from Matt's take (he's the one with the problem) which will tell you if you need to read the whole thing:
I would love to be able to argue with Tarantino’s presentation of violence, his attitude toward violence. But I really couldn’t tell you what it is, after all these years.

That’s what bothered me even the first time I saw Pulp Fiction, although at the time I discounted those misgivings, and I shouldn’t have. When Marvin gets shot in the car, by accident, it’s very much like the rest of Pulp Fiction, and the rest of Tarantino’s work, in that it’s comical, and the sense of humor is superficially very Scorsesean. It’s bloody, savage violence, and the callousness with which characters address -- or just as often don’t address -- the violence is the source of tension and excitement in the movie. But where Tarantino differs from Scorsese is that while Scorsese sometimes succumbs to a savage impulse, he always has an attitude about it, namely that people who behave this way are monsters -- they’re missing something. It doesn’t mean they have no human qualities or that they don’t have interesting characteristics, but it does mean that we should not get too comfortable with them. Scorsese never allowed us to get too comfortable with the characters in GoodFellas, which to this day remains one of the primary influences on all of Tarantino� It’s bloody, savage violence, and the callousness with which characters address -- or just as often don’t address -- the violence is the source of tension and excitement in the movie. But where Tarantino differs from Scorsese is that while Scorsese sometimes succumbs to a savage impulse, he always has an attitude about it, namely that people who behave this way are monsters -- they’re missing something. It doesn’t mean they have no human qualities or that they don’t have interesting characteristics, but it does mean that we should not get too comfortable with them. Scorsese never allowed us to get too comfortable with the characters in GoodFellas, which to this day remains one of the primary influences on all of Tarantino’s work. But Tarantino’s missing something about Scorsese. In GoodFellas the disjunction between the excitement of the filmmaking and the protagonist’s dry, kind of bored, retrospective narration told you all you needed to know about Scorsese’s attitude toward the material, which was, “Yes, it’s an exciting life, but these people are sociopaths, and their lives are all about power and getting what you want when you want it, damn the consequences.”

In contrast, Pulp Fiction is centered on a couple of guys who kill people for a living, and it’s presented, more so than any other film about assassins that I can recall, as a morally neutral skill or trade, like being a plumber or a golf pro. I am not an especially moralistic critic -- I don’t think the purpose of movies is to educate us on the proper way to live -- but I object to that.