Saturday, February 9, 2008

NECROLOGY WATCH: Those seeking to place wagers on the Grammy Necrology Meter for Sunday's ceremonies will have to contend with the following names: Ike Turner, Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Merv Griffin, Max Roach, Porter Wagoner, Joey Bishop, Robert Goulet, Dan Fogelberg, Don Ho and Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin Dubrow. My money's on Pavarotti to win, Sills to place, and Turner's applause to be really scattered and awkward, given that Tina's in the house.

In other awards/necrology speculation, if I'm Mel Gibson's publicist I'm moving heaven and earth to have him placed as the surprise Heath Ledger eulogist at the Oscars. I can't imagine a better move he could make to rehabilitate his image -- not that I'm rooting for him to succeed, mind you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

WEE, BEADY EYES: Two eras in American consumer culture appear to be ending -- Polaroid is getting out of the Polaroid business, abandoning instant photography to focus on digital cameras and printers, while the Wall Street Journal reports that Kentucky Fried Chicken may be moving to a "nonfried chicken platform" in the coming year.

When I was growing up, my dad would take us on Sunday mornings in the summer to the hotels where visiting baseball teams were staying. We'd flag a player checking out and preparing to board the team bus to the Vet, and Todd and I would pose with the player as my dad shot a Polaroid of us, then quickly move to get the player to sign the picture while it was still developing. There's a wall in Todd's room back at our mom's house of about 50 photos of us with various players and coaches -- Ozzie Smith, Tom Glavine, Yogi Berra, Andy Van Slyke -- and now, weirdly, that's becoming impossible. What an odd technological development -- that the ubiquity of digital and cell phone cameras have made instant printing a thing of the past.
BRETT, BANG THAT GONG: Did anybody post this yet this year? Look, folks, it's hard to keep up on all of the old fametracker features that now pop up occasionally at TwoP, but we have reached the best time of the award season: the annual moment when five clones of Karl Malden gather in the Hollywood Star Chamber to choose the winners of the year's Oscars.
THE COURT WAS ASKED TO DECIDE IF "R" "GOT DONE:" Sentences you really don't want to come across while doing Westlaw research:
This case involves infringement upon the distinctive and famous GIT-R-DONE(R) trademark used by Whitney in his comedic act and in connection with promotional merchandise sold by Whitney's licensing agent. Defendants' infringement arises out of the unauthorized use of the GIT-R-DONE(R) trademark on clothing items bearing reproductions of the famous GIT-R-DONE(R) mark (“infringing items”).

BRILLIANT(?) BUT...: A couple of cancellations of note today:
YOU, YOU'VE GOT A PRETTY CAR; I THINK I WANT TO DRIVE IT (DRIVE IT): Performers announced thus far for Sunday night's Grammy Awards presentation include:
Aretha Franklin; Tina Turner with Beyoncé Knowles; Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban; Feist; Fergie and John Legend; John Fogerty with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard; Foo Fighters (with special guest conductor John Paul Jones); Alicia Keys; Brad Paisley; Carrie Underwood; Eldar; Kid Rock; Dave Koz; Keely Smith; Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang (conducted by famed maestro John Mauceri); the Clark Sisters, Israel And New Breed, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7; the casts of "The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil" and Across The Universe; and Rihanna with a reunited the Time.

Someone bring me my mirror! I'm not sensing anything must-see or you'll-never-see-again like the 14 Minutes of FUNK from that list, but, hey, strike, so nothing else on. Amy Winehouse has been denied a visa and will not be attending, but may be performing via satellite.

[Our previous compilation of memorable Grammy performances, captured on YouTube, is here.]

Thursday, February 7, 2008

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY WE'RE HERE? I'LL TELL YOU WHY WE'RE HERE! I am assuming we need a Lost thread. Someone claims they have answers, but no one seems to want to give them up--so, who do you trust?
PRET-A-PILEDRIVER: I haven't seen this week's Project Runway, but Jenn is openly threatening us if we don't put one up, so this will have to do. Incidentally, if I were ranking the contestants left before this week from least annoying to most annoying (ignoring competence) my list would go something like this: (1) Chris; (2) Sweet Pea; (3) Blank; (4) Blank; (5) Jillian/Rami (tie); (6) Christian/Ricky (tie). For what it's worth.
KEN TREMENDOUS = FEAR: One of the weirdest bits of trivia I think I've heard recently is yesterday's revelation that Fire Joe Morgan, a hilarious (though, if you're averse to sports, sarcasm, negativity, or criticism of Joe Morgan and Tim McCarver, maybe not up your alley) blog that dissects and debunks bad sportswriting, is written mostly by Mose Schrute (with two other TV writers also on the masthead). I guess it shouldn't suprise me that a blog with posts as laugh-out-loud funny as this piece about a sportswriter who concludes that superbike racing fans are superior to "stick-and-ball sport" fans is written by people who also write shows as laugh-out-loud funny as The Office, but this makes me like both even more.

I WONDER WHAT BOB LOBLAW'S LAW BLOG WILL HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE ISSUE: Due to his contractual conflicts (he's the voice of GMC trucks) Will Arnett has pulled out of being the voice of KITT in the new Knight Rider--his replacement will be Val Kilmer.

Per Monday's post, here are the offspring of the Earthling clan.

And that photo, my friends, is the greatest gift a man could possibly want.

I believe the light that shines on you
Will shine on you forever
And though I can't guarantee
There's nothing scary hiding under your bed
I’m gonna stand guard
Like a postcard of a Golden Retriever
And never leave till I leave you
With a sweet dream in your head

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you
THEY CALL IT THAT BECAUSE THE PRODUCERS ARE 'CHALLENGED': Lord knows I love Real World/Road Rules Challenge. I think I had a half-hour conversation at a party last weekend just about how f'ed up Paradise Hotel is and how awesome Challenge is. So of course I'm enjoying this season, and I have but four things to say right now:
  • Nice decision to go to an hour-long format. Gauntlet is actually okay with a half-hour but better in full-hour. Duel drives me crazy as a half-hour show because it takes three episodes to get rid of somebody.
  • The producers have outdone themselves in laziness this season. First, they structured the whole thing wrong, in that the strong halves of teams (i.e., the juiced-up men) have an incentive to throw challenges to get rid of the weak halves (the women). Second, they didn't really even think through some of the challenges. Ball Brawl today, for example, had a completely superfluous ball. These mistakes were so obvious that the lunkheads on the show -- no rocket scientists, they -- figured it out immediately. Yikes.
  • I don't mean to get political here, but if you get a chance to re-watch this episode, ask yourself if Brooke doesn't just look like a young Hillary Clinton. The eyes, the chin-smile, that's what it is. If more people watched this show and caught the resemblance of the Democratic front-runner to the completely unhinged ersatz lesbian, it would be Obama in a walk.
  • Reliable quote machine: "The last time I saw a goodbye like that it was the last scene of Titanic. I mean, it's sweet that they like each other and everything, but ... uh, I don't even think Brooke is a real lesbian. Mmm, right ... y'know?" Oh, Coral, how I've missed you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

LET'S HEAR IT FOR MY BAND, SEXUAL CHOCOLATE: As part of his 29 reviews in 29 days for Black History Month, Odienator pens an appreciation of Coming To America. Two excerpts:
Coming to America may be the Blackest comedy ever made, and it’s little touches like McDowell’s that elevate it past the mild amusement it seems to garner from White viewers into the upper echelon of hilarity it occupies for us. It crushes us under the weight of familiarity, to the point where a musical cue or a mere image is enough to inspire raucous laughter. There are so many in-jokes that the film is like an old Negro Spiritual: everybody can hear the music, but only we can understand the code in the words....

Murphy’s Akeem is a fine creation, vulnerable, naïve and hopelessly romantic. There’s a scene late in the film where he is walking home from his first date with Lisa, and it is easily the most romantic thing Eddie has ever done. As he glides down the street, he sings Jackie Wilson’s To Be Loved in that crappy African accent he provides Akeem. Murphy sells it -— this is what it feels like to be a bruva in love... [O]ne cameo stops this film cold, turning it into a terrifying drama. That cameo is by Samuel L. Jackson, and nobody told him this was a comedy. As a shotgun-wielding robber, Jackson commands the screen and for a hot minute, you really believe it when he says he's going to shoot people. It's funny that Jackson gets his ass beat by Eddie Murphy, but before that -- Samuel "Yell" Jackson has you by the throat.
She's your quuuueeeeeeen to beeee ....

The HeldenFiles Online » Blog Archive » HBO Dumps "Inside the NFL"

A KALAS DECISION: After 31 years, HBO has canceled "Inside the NFL", with this week's Super Bowl recap being its last. Thankfully, it looks like another network will pick up the show; no one does as good a job in any sport as NFL Films does in making even an ordinary game seem epic.
WE'RE NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU TWO THOUSAND NICKLES: The presidential candidates cover Bowie (you can skip ahead to the 50 second mark).

Via Pop Candy.
SEE THE COMMERCIAL REEBOK IS AIRING IN UGANDA: Reebok is airing a clever ad with members of the insufferable 1972 Miami Dolphins enjoying a sunny afternoon in "Perfectville, Pop. 1" courtesy of Eli Manning and the New York Giants, but the shoe giant was also prepared if the Pats had triumphed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"MAHARISHI ONLY EVER DID GOOD FOR US, AND ALTHOUGH I HAVE NOT BEEN WITH HIM PHYSICALLY, I NEVER LEFT HIM": That's what George Harrison once said of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, who passed away today.
"AMERICA VOTED ..." And it sure makes a difference whether it's Seacrest saying it on Wednesday night or Blitzer on a Tuesday. Exit polls, rumors, speeches, gossip and actual results from both parties' primaries on this Super Duper Tuesday can be discussed here. So far, seems to be a good night for those who'd like to see a lot of political staffers and consultants in both parties remain employed for many weeks to come.
  • Somebody Told Me – The Killers (“Well somebody told me you had a boyfriend, who looks like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year”)
  • American Pie – Don McClean (“February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver”)
  • St. Patrick’s Day – John Mayer (”February, won't you be my valentine?”)
  • Cosmic Charlie – Grateful Dead
  • Straight Outta Time – John Hiatt (”And we still had February frozen on the phone”)
  • West Savannah – Outkast (“February 1st, 1975 it happened”)
  • Just a Friend – Biz Markie (“so we could cheat while doing pop quizzes all the time 14th of February '93”)
  • My Funny Valentine – many artists, but let’s go with Rickie Lee Jones’ tender version
  • My Bloody Valentine – Good Charlotte

PREVENTING ALL THAT TIMEY-WIMEY STUFF FROM GOING BADLY: I'd like to thank the BBC for smartly deciding that it's in their interest to minimize the delay between when new episodes of Doctor Who and Torchwood air in the UK and when they air here. Even though the new Who series hasn't yet premiered in the UK, it'll arrive on Sci-Fi in April, and the much-improved series two of Torchwood is already on BBC America. If you're not yet on board with Who, just watch "Blink,"which is one of the better hours of TV of last year.
ONE PIECE OF FOX COVERAGE THAT WON'T BE ANCHORED BY RYAN SEACREST: Clearly, the news and pop cultural story of today is likely to be the Super-Duper-Mega-Tsunami Tuesday Primaries across the country. There's something immensely satisfying about voting, be it by checking a box, punching a hole in a card (all the way through the card, folks), or even (for the last time in NY, apparently) pulling the lever and hearing the satisfying "clunk" that lets you know that your vote has been recorded--as I did this morning. We're fortunate enough here to have a wide diversity of opinion among both your bloggers and our readers, with folks supporting a variety of candidates on both sides of the table--but regardless of who you're voting for, do, as Congressman Jack Tanner reminds us--"Exercise your right to vote! Choose the one you like the most! It's your individual right to vote for the one you really like!" (See also Isaac's November 2004 post.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

BUON GIORNO, PRINCIPESSA! Our friend Edward Copeland has tallied the votes in his annual Oscar survey, this year surveying the Best and Worst of the Best Actor winners over the years. His posts relating to the worst Best Actors is here, and I'm proud to have added to the totals for the #1, #2, #3, #4 and #12 (tie - voted for Spacey) choices. Best of the Best tomorrow, and Dan Fienberg and I are both pulling for the Daniel Day-Lewis upset.

e.t.a. And here's the Best of the Best, as F! Murray! Abraham! does pretty well, but the performances that you expected to see win, win.
JUST GETTING READY, TO TAKE SUSIE FOR A RIDE: Mrs. Earthling and I are pleased to introduce Natalie Susan, sixth generation Californian, at 12:57 p.m., 8 pounds 6 ounces, 20 3/4", and displacing 3.8 liters.

All bits are accounted for, Mother and big brother are doing well. Photos and more details as events warrant.
SEE, PRINCIPAL BELDING WAS A GOOD MENTOR: Some members of the cast of Saved By The Bell: The New Class have gone on to actual substantial and productive acting careers (OK, only one member of the cast), but producing a SCOTUS clerk among their ranks is certainly worth something as well.
SECOND-OF-LY, I KNOW YOU'RE THE BIG MARRIAGE EXPERT. [SARCASTICALLY] OH, I'M SORRY, I FORGOT, YOUR WIFE IS DEAD: Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor confirm that it's looking good for an Arrested Development movie. No word yet from Franklin. If it happens, though, it's certain to be coproduced by Ron Howard and Maeby Bluth.
REMEMBRANCE OF A SIMPLER TIME: As we approach tomorrow's Extra-Super Tuesday tourney, it's worth reflecting on the loss of one of California's most enduring traditions: the initiative to regulate bear-baiting. It seems that year after year after I moved to California, every time that I voted I was asked my binding opinion on some proposal or another to regulate (ban, legalize, tax, privatize, subject to commission of experts, or require registration of talent agents with respect to) bear-baiting.

As all right-thinking California citizens, I was ambivalent. On the one hand, bear-baiting, even when it does not involve the strapping of gorillas to ponies (see the Wikipedia article above), is vicious, violent, disgusting, and inflammatory to our basest impulses. On the other hand, I know this because, as many of you know, I am an accomplished bear-baiter (not an English bear-baiter -- that practice is abominably brutal, and I can be described as nothing more than a talented amateur at that -- but American bear-baiting), and I lament the loss of the sport's traditions. I fondly remember those lazy Saturday mornings in Los Angeles, dragging a large raw salmon tied with an alarm (usually a string of aluminum soup cans) into the intersection of Sixth and Vermont (a known locus of bear congregation), then joining my fellow bear-baiters to await our prey in the blind installed in the nearby Hi-Hat tavern. What a thrill it was to hear the sound of something stumbling into our trap! Nine times out of ten it was just a bobcat or stray Volvo, and the trick was to release the intruder into the wild quietly and without injury (because bobcats and urban professionals are quick to anger when cornered). It was the other time, though, when one of our number would see a majestic brown, or grizzly, or koala, noisily ensnared in his lure and ready for combat, that I miss the most. Let's just say that those hazy LA mornings with Dandy Bowhunter Jim, Terry Two-Knife, Gary the Garrotte, Warren "Wrasslin'" Christopher, and Ol' Mauled Neverlearns were some of the best of my life.

Is it too syrupy to say that the bear-baiting initiatives were my perennial reminder to confront both sides of my humanity -- my compassionate instinct, and my yearning for the companionship of my fellow man? I guess what I mean is that ever since 9-11 permanently answered the bear-baiting question, I miss that part of the ballot. If you read on Wednesday that the result of the term-limits referendum was 50% yea, 49% nay, and 1% write-in vote for "ban or legalize bear-baiting," you'll know how I exercised my franchise.
NOW THAT'S IN GOOD COMPANY: If I don't have a message from Scarlett Johansson on my answering machine when I get home, I'm going to be very, very disappointed.

ETA: Gawker has the audio--appears it's a California-only call.
BECAUSE THROWING COMPUTER SCREENS AROUND IS JUST HAZARDOUS: With tomorrow's big parade for the Giants being the first ticker tape parade in 8 years (since the Yankees' 2000 parade), a couple of pieces of trivia:
HE'S NOT COMING BACK: Point Break Live!
AND CHARLA STILL SCREWS ME: Of all of the small gifts the writers' strike has brought us -- a few extra moments with our otherwise-neglected progeny; free time to read that overlong two-volume set of archaic fantasy known as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and February 5, 2008 Sample Ballot -- the greatest is upon us: the return of the greatest reality television program of all time: Paradise Hotel. The show returns tonight on MyNetworkTV (I can never remember if that's a network, a web site, or a figment of my imagination) at 9:00, with a TV-MA version following on Fox Reality at 1 a.m. Eastern/10 p.m. Pacific.

I know I've given this run-down before, but let's review the premise:
  • A group of twentyish singles, some attractive but most not as attractive as they fancy themselves, is checked into a hotel;
  • Contestants are encouraged to drink as frequently as possible and are given nothing whatsoever else to do;
  • Contestants need no encouragement to drink constantly and take it upon themselves to do nothing else whatsoever;
  • Some contestants are the craziest people ever to appear on television (Yahtzee!);
  • Some cast members suffer from anthropophobia, a curious and delightful afflication for a voluntary social-reality show participant;
  • Contestants are forced to pair themselves off, boy-girl;
  • Each boy-girl pair is required to share a room and sleep in the same bed after doing nothing but drinking all day;
  • Gee, we wonder what's going to happen;
  • Musical-chairs method of contestant elimination ensures that each week one person makes sole decision as to who will be voted off;
  • Each voted-off contestant is replaced by a member of the studio audience;
  • Some replacement members are as attractive and as dumb as (or more so than) original cast members, causing resentment;
  • Some replacement members are less attractive (i.e., Mets fans) and marginally smarter than original cast members, causing resentment;
  • Hey, that thing that we honestly didn't know was going to happen when we plied singles with alcohol and made them sleep in beds together? Is not happening frequently enough, so (a) more alcohol; (b) let's throw in some replacement ringers with lower moral standards; and (c) maybe we need to change this from a dating show to something else; ergo:
  • Every time the rules are explained to contestants, they change immediately;
  • No, seriously, we're just making up the rules as we go along;
  • Like, maybe we can just bring back voted-off cast members who we like, is that okay with you?;
  • The ultimate prize is not revealed to contestants, and probably not decided upon, until the end of the season, so contestants just speculate wildly;
  • Since we haven't decided yet what the prize is going to be, let's just make the show keep going on and on and on, so that contestants may wonder openly if they've been kidnapped or imprisoned pending some kind of ransom;
  • Incidentally, when the prize is awarded and one guy doesn't get any of it, he will be bitter forever, and will have an entire website devoted to how badly another contestant screwed him right up until he had to take it down because he's running for office;
  • I cannot possibly do justice to the extent to which an appearance on Paradise Hotel should disqualify a person from public office.
I have no doubt that the producers are going to screw this up by imposing consistent rules, having a set prize, and limiting the alcohol (although, technically, they tried to limit the alcohol last time and people just drank through the limits and suffered fines as a result). But at least we can hope, right?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

SEASON-ENDING BIG GAME IN GLENDALE OPEN THREAD: For your random thoughts and observations of what's happening on the gridiron and on the tv this evening. The Pool remains open until kickoff.

e.t.a. Well, that was a football game. All ads are here; Petty's set went “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin’” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”

e.t.a.2: The Budweiser "Rocky" ad wins the AdMeter, which gives the Pool win to Joseph J. Finn, who had Giants 31-28, Manning, Budweiser and "American Girl/New Stuff/Free Fallin'"; a slight winner over T. Jaxon who had a 27-23 win, Anheuser-Busch and "I Won't Back Down/(new song)/Free Fallin'/Running Down a Dream" as the setlist, but Michael Strahan as the MVP. When you feel like it, Mr. Finn, email me the post you'd like to get up here as your prize.
A LONG, LONG TIME AGO: Forty-nine years ago today, a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson flown by 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all four men. Among those who almost boarded that plane, but didn't, were Waylon Jennings and Dion DeMucci, who decided he couldn't afford the $36 cost of the plane ride to Fargo. It was Valens' first time on a small plane, winning the seat on a coin flip from Holly's guitarist, Tommy Allsup.
THE WONDER OF WESTLAW: In searching for cases today, I had occaision to search the word "nad" in Westlaw's federal cases database (looking for information about the National Advertising Division)--it's distressing just how many federal judges have, at some point, spelled "and" "nad." (Also common? "Nad" for "had.")