Saturday, June 12, 2010

LIKE THE WAR OF 1812, ONLY WITHOUT THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS: So the reason why it's okay to have a match in an international competition end in a tie is ... ?

[Yes, I certainly understand that within the confines of the rules of the World Cup, a tie against England is a dandy outcome, even if it means that they keep Madonna's accent and we've got at least one more year of Russell Brand. I just don't like that a ninety minute tie is an option at all; I find it unsatisfying. There ought to be some way -- even if not a shootout -- to provide more resolution or incentivize winning in regulation. And I accept that there's a perfectly logical answer for this, and I'm just a silly yankee-come-lately for even asking such a question.]

In other news: Great Moments In History, If A Vuvuzela Were There.

Friday, June 11, 2010

YES, THE BIG TEN HAS TWELVE TEAMS, AND THE BIG XII HAS X: Continuing Conference Musical Chairs Coverage -- Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are likely to become teams #12-15 in the Pacific 10, Nebraska is officially the Big Ten's twelfth, and Texas A&M is unsure whether to become the Pacific 10's #16 or the SEC's #13. I will note, as I did on Twitter earlier today, that Austin, Texas is actually about 250 miles closer to the Atlantic Ocean than it is to the Pacific, and has a shorter drive to the furthest Ivy (Dartmouth) than its furthest new rival, the University of Washington.

Potential Big XII orphans Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State are weighing their options (Big East?), while Boise State has left the WAC for the Mountain West, becoming the tenth team in a conference with Utah, BYU, TCU and others. And at least for the moment, Notre Dame wants to stay put.
MMM ... BUTTERBEER: The NYT, NPR, and Orlando Sentinel visit the about-to-open Wizarding World of Harry Potter down in Orlando.
MADIBA'S CUP: A generation ago, apartheid was the brutal, crippling reality for millions of black South Africans. Last week, it was a historical term in the third round of the National Spelling Bee that a kid had never heard before, sandwiched in-between words like "apparatchik" and "perestroika".

As a teen, apartheid seemed like it would never end -- that it just was, and America was powerless to change the situation -- though increasingly artists were trying to make the plight of South Africans visible -- whether through Peter Gabriel's "Biko" and Artists United Against Apartheid's "Sun City," films like Cry Freedom (yeah, I know, another "white guy as the hero of a black man's story" movie like Glory and Mississippi Burning, but still) and of course Paul Simon's transcendent Graceland.

But political pressure worked, and on February 12, 1990, after more than 10,000 days in captivity, prisoner #46664 Nelson Mandela was freed from prison and the edifices of apartheid began to crumble in a remarkably peaceful transition to majority rule. Four years later, he was elected President of South Africa. And despite the poverty and AIDS and badges and incidents of past discrimination which remain apartheid's continuing legacy, today South Africa is free, and today we are here. All in a generation -- days of miracle and wonder, indeed.

Welcome to the 2010 World Cup.
LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. I'M FROM BUENOS AIRES, AND I SAY KILL 'EM ALL! Yes! Someone other than me who understands that Starshp Troopers was a freakin' brilliant satire. (Would you like to know more?)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

MAYBE SHE MEANT TO THROW A LEMON PARTY: Our friend sconstant, in scanning the latest news regarding sex-for-tix convict Susan Finkelstein (sentenced today to 1yr probation + 100h community service on the attempted prostitution charge), noted a curious reference in this DN article on Finkelstein, now several months old but linked today from the front page of
All she wanted was some "cheap World Series tickets" to see the Phillies last year, but instead Susan Finkelstein got arrested for prostitution.

And then she watched as her story became an international water-cooler joke....

It's been no Swiss picnic for the Temple University graduate.
What, you might ask, is a "Swiss picnic"? According to UrbanDictionary, it's something you should not look up on UrbanDictionary while at work. Seriously. Anyone know of a different meaning for the term which the author may have intended?
SCHADENFREUDE VS. CLUELESSNESS: More amusing sports news: USC's sanctions (including a two-year bowl ban, loss of scholarships, forfeiture games, and, I'm inferring, loss of a national championship) for paying lack of institutional control involving Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo (plus, uh, violations of rules involving women's tennis), or Michael Jordan's Hitler mustache?
I'M GRUMBY, DAMMIT: 22 fictional characters with obscure or hidden names.
CUE CHELSEA DAGGER: Congratulations to the Hawks, now Kaner can get a decent haircut. Loved JR getting choked up during the post game. There's a long list of great players who donned the Chicago sweater and never got to hoist the Cup. That's one improbably long championship drought done. Pressure is on you Cubs.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

THE THING IS, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LINK TO THE INTERVIEW: M.C. Gainey talks about his pre-Friendly "goon of the week" character roles in the 1980s.
CLEARLY, THERE ARE NOT MANY MATH MAJORS INVOLVED:Following this whole college conference shuffling thing from a distance, how confusing is it if the Big 10 suddenly has 12 teams, and, assuming it continues to exist, the Big 12 would be looking for a 12th? (And isn't the logical move for the Big 12, assuming only Nebraska leaves, to move Oklahoma State to the North Division and slot TCU in the South?)
"HOW MY HAIR LOOK, MIKE?" "YOU LOOK GOOD, GIRL": Jamie Hector, whose murderous glare you know from his stint as Marlo Stanfield on The Wire, is hosting a paintball tournament as a benefit for his charity, which benefits arts programs for inner-city kids. A bunch of Wire alums will team up to play the tournament winners.

First, I can't think of too many things more likely to cause me to soil my pants than Marlo and (actual scary person) Snoop trying to shoot me with any kind of gun at all, not to mention Omar whistling toward me. Second, if I were in this thing, I'd probably spend a couple of days practicing all of the murder/death lines I'd have to remember in case I got lucky enough to lock in on, or unlucky enough to be locked in on, one of the cast members. "For Joe." "It ain't have to be like that!" "Well, get on with it, motherf..."
EAT YOUR HEART OUT, NATIONAL ENQUIRER: Gawker Media is stepping it up with its comprehensive investigative journalism on a pressing issue of our day--"Is that Barack Obama in the video for one-hit wonder Tag Team's Whoomp! (There It Is)?" I smell Pulitzer!
IT'S ABOUT THE JOURNEY, NOT THE DESTINATION: There are two self-evident truths about Glee. The first is that it is frequently incredibly entertaining. The second is that it is maddeningly inconsistent. Last night's finale epitomized both of those things at once. The musical numbers--particularly the bad-ass Journey medley (and that's the last time that phrase will ever be written) where they wisely didn't have Cory Monteith attempt to carry all the male vocals, and Jonathan Groff ripping through "Bohemian Rhapsody"--were damn fine. On the other hand, the plot twists, while not wig-rippingly ludicrous on their face, failed to hold up to even a moment's worth of scrutiny. Let's see here:
  • An adoption closing within 2 days of a child's birth to an adoptive parent who had never before expressed interest in adoption?
  • Quinn back in school (and singing her bit of "To Sir, With Love" very nicely) the day after giving birth?
  • What exact voting method led to the results we were shown, given what we know about how Sue and Josh Groban apparently voted?
  • No mention that some of these kids are (I would assume) graduating?
  • When did SectionalsRegionals become a cross-state thing (we had a team from Indiana as well as the two from Ohio)?
  • What, exactly, prompted Quinn's mother's change of heart? (And where exactly is Quinn living at the end of the episode? Still with Mercedes? With her mom? Moving in with adoptive baby mama?)
  • Whatever happened to the "ballad rule" that we had an entire episode about earlier this year?
But all that said, it's been an interesting (if maddening) season, and while I'm not persuaded that this show needs John Stamos (I thought Tom Cavanaugh, who can sing and has more quirk, would have played better in that role), I'm looking forward to the two more seasons Fox has greenlit and learning more important things about marine life.
OH, OH OH OHH OHH, OR OOOOOOOO-ASIS? EW's PopWatch is taking a survey: what is the best stadium-concert sing-along song?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

WALKER, INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIAGNOSTICIAN: No, Philadelphia did not get the array of guests for the Team CoCo tour like what Matt saw in Radio City. That said, when visiting Upper Darby, PA, there's one woman you'd sure like to have around:

AND HAPPY BRYCEGIVING: Washington D.C. is going to set some kind of local record (at least modern local record; don't know how big the crowds were for the Senators) for number of people to see a baseball game today, for what Dan Steinberg is calling Strasmas. That's shorthand for the major-league birth of the Baby Baseball Jesus, Stephen Strasburg, who throws so hard that his pitches are measured in mach, and who, while still wearing diapers, once struck out Wade Boggs while throwing beach balls from second base. We haven't seen as anticipated a debut as this since Sidd Finch.

Since there probably will be some people at Nationals Park (named for famed temperance advocate Carrie Nationals, much revered in the District) who have never seen a baseball game, here are some etiquette tips from experienced fans around the league (with video): (All via Deadspin, I suppose I should mention.)
THEY'RE STILL TRYING TO GET RIGHTS TO HUMAN CENTIPEDE: Tonight's actual lineup on Animal Planet:
  • 5 PM--Tiger Attacks Zookeeper
  • 6 PM--The Moaning Cowboy ("A rodeo unexpectedly turns into a horrifying musical")
  • 7 PM--World's Worst Venom
  • 8 PM--The Man Who Injects Venom
  • 9 PM--Human Spider
  • 10 PM--Human Bird
And if you're looking for quality television, at this very moment, they're airing Gator Tricks Gone Bad.
VUVUZELA 101: We've searched our collective wisdom at ALOTT5MA HQ regarding the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and quite frankly we don't have much -- so it's time for your hive mind to spring into action. Tell us how to set our jingoistic expectations appropriately, what to watch for, which news sources we ought to follow and everything else we need to know to prepare for and enjoy the next month of football.
BETCHA THEY'RE NO LONGER COLLECTING ASHTRAYS: Annie is returning to Broadway in 2012, with a revised script "to modernize the show" in order "to sharpen the storytelling" and "really make this revival for current audiences." Still, the Great Depression setting will remain, so don't look for CSI technologies in analyzing Annie's locket or Warbucks singing the praises of Gray's Papaya and the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in "N.Y.C." But you may have some ideas.

Related: Our long-running discussion of the superiority of the 1999 Rob Marshall made-for-tv version to the 1982 John Huston film. Below the fold, a compare-and-contrast:

Monday, June 7, 2010

WHOCARESWHODUNIT? As Adam noted a few weeks back, I have a thing for a bunch of shows that I don't blog about regularly here--Castle, NCIS, Psych, Monk, White Collar, and to a much lesser degree NCIS: LA. In overall style, they're rather different, but what they boil down to is procedurals with a twist--we really don't care whodunit in most episodes, but are watching it to spend time with the characters and enjoy the chemistry--sometimes romantic (Castle), sometimes bromantic (Psych, White Collar), and sometimes a little of both (NCIS offers the McGee/Tony bromance as well as the Tony/Ziva romance). The mysteries are frequently half-thought out, usually easily solvable by applying the Law & Order principle ("most famous guest star did it," typical on Castle and Psych) or the ever popular mystery novel resolution of introducing a new character in the final minutes who's the mastermind (NCIS's staple). Some, following in the footsteps of Columbo (or, more recently, Monk and Criminal Intent), show us who did it from the outset.

Of course, your enjoyment of these shows depends largely on how much you tolerate the show's particular quirk--Nathan Fillion being snarky, James Roday tossing out 80s pop culture references like there's no tomorrow, or Matthew Bomer pulling out Blue Steel--but I can deal with all of those. These shows aren't great (though they sometimes have really good moments--the Dana Delany two-parter on Castle was pretty riveting, and last season's Psych finale was a solid homage to Hitchcock), but they're solid brain candy--and sometimes, that's all you want. (The Good Guys is looking like it may also work in that vein, which is a particularly nice thing in the summer.)
NOW ENRICHED WITH MIDICHLORIDIANS:After a good night's sleep in your Tauntaun sleeping bag, don't you want to wake up and enjoy some nice Star Wars pancakes? (Also available--Star Wars cookie cutters.)
GOOD ENOUGH: Twenty-five years ago today, a little film named The Goonies was released. Thousands have descended upon the Oregon town in which it was filmed to celebrate. Yes, somewhere in Astoria, someone's doing the Truffle Shuffle today.
A/K/A "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!": Congratulations to Beyoncé Knowles, Ali Larter and the creative team behind Obsessed for their win at the MTV Movie Awards last night for Best Fight. I haven't seen fit to talk about this film before, but if you're ever in the mood for a gleefully trashy, formulaic interracial remake of Fatal Attraction -- with Stringer Bell in the Michael Douglas role -- by all means, catch this film during its infinite replays on cable. It is a hoot.

[Apparently, either Twilight or Anna Kendrick won every other award presented.]

Sunday, June 6, 2010

WHAT, WAS TIM GUNN NOT WILLING TO DO THIS ONE? I have not watched the History Channel's new foray into competitive reality, Top Shot (or, as I prefer to call it, America's Next Top Sniper--next week, Miss Tyra gives MAKEOVERS!), but perhaps the most awesome thing about it is the biography of the host, former Survivor competitor Colby Donaldson, on the show's website. According to the bio, Donaldson is an "actor and adventurer," known for his "record-breaking" effort on Survivor (I assume this is meant to refer to the big streak of immunity challenges he won, but could also refer to his repeated appearances as a form of famewhoredom or to the record-breaking stupidity in the final tribal council of the Australia season), who is a "self taught welder and metal fabricator" in addition to his acting talents. That, my friends, is what it takes to host a reality show today.
IT JUST MAKES YOU DENNY'S WITH THREE TYPES OF SYRUP: You know what the Internet has confirmed for me today? is a freakin' great website. Lists of eleven, done occasionally -- 11 Chain Restaurants with the Least Authentic Food, 11 Old School WWF Wrestlers with the Worst Side Jobs ... just explore the archives; you'll find something.
A HAPPY PHOTO FINISH: If Matt's going to conjure up images of Jonah Hill being fully naked, then I suppose we've transitioned sufficiently from the Bee to discuss the American Dad scene involving a male horse's needs which has prompted a tentative $25,000 (that's it?) FCC fine.

I think the April 1995 S1 episode of Friends with the barely hidden oral sex joke was the last time I was honestly shocked by a boundary-pushing on a network tv show. and having a show like HIMYM air at 8pm pretty much kills the notion that the "adult" stuff only comes later in the evening. It really is Anything Goes time, and these fines are a joke compared with the Howard Stern days ...