Friday, June 24, 2011

NOT UNLIKE GAZELLES CHASING LIONS: Jeff Sullivan, the funniest baseball writer presently writing about baseball, gives the finger to the National League, to people who trot out the same silly rationalizations for why the National League is supposedly better, and, for good measure, to Mariners designated "hitters."

Not quite as funny as Baseball Players and their Representative Volcanoes, but it demands less working knowledge of both baseball and volcanoes.
RED AND YELLOW AND PINK AND GREEN, PURPLE, AND ORANGE, AND BLUE: A sad day for those of us who grew up in the Delaware Valley -- Patricia Merbreier, known to all of us as "Mrs. Noah" of children's tv, has passed away. Starting in 1967, Captain Noah and His Magical Ark aired for 27 years -- at times daily, sometimes on Saturdays only.  It was the quintessential local morning kid's show, the kind which simply does not exist anymore.

As Glen Weldon tweeted today, as the puppeteer for and co-star of her husband's show "Mrs. Noah did everything Captain Noah did, only crammed under a table & w/a puppet on her arm. RIP, you classy old broad."

JUST ONE MORE QUESTION: After a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease, Peter Falk has died at age 83. Unfortunately, the only version of the final scene of Princess Bride I could find on YouTube has cheesy music placed after his final line, but damn if Falk's delivery of that final line isn't absolutely perfect.
STYLE GUIDE QUESTION (CLARK GABLE DIVISION, NOT THE GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION WING):  When gentlemen wear polo or other short-sleeved shirts to work during summer business casual days, is it appropriate to have a visible undershirt? Does it depend on one's level of hirsuteness?
ALOTT5MA FRIDAY PLAYLIST:  In honor of the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, suggest a song with a saxophone solo for your fellow readers to enjoy. I've got two below the fold, one Clarence and one non-.

FOR US, 'TIS A LIFE OF HARD KNOCKS: Will Smith and Jay-Z are negotiating with Academy Award-winning screenwriter Emma Thompson to pen the Willow Smith-starring Annie re-remake whose casting we've previously discussed.  (Any objection to her also playing Miss Hannigan?)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

KATIE, I LOVE THE WAY YOU LAUGH, AND I LOVE THE WAY YOUR HAIR SMELLS, AND I LOVE IT THAT SOMETIMES FOR NO REASON YOU'RE LATE FOR SHUL ... With Elizabeth Banks and Paul Rudd offering to work for "essentially nothing," a Wet Hot American Summer sequel stands closer to fruition. (Still not heard from: Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper -- are they busy?)  Meanwhile (HT: Leslie), how about an art show currently in LA filled with works inspired by the film?
WHO'S PLAYING LOHAN? So--Aaron Sorkin and John Krasinski are teaming up for an HBO miniseries that looks at Hollywood history through the famed Chateau Marmont. It's an interesting place for Krasinski to try and go, given that he's had trouble finding something that has worked for him beyond Jim Halpert.
IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED THAT A STARLET, ONCE IN POSSESSION OF FAME, MUST BE IN WANT OF A PERIOD PIECE TO STAR IN TO DEMONSTRATE LEGITIMACY: The Help is arguably that period piece for Emma Stone (aka, the only member of the Zombieland cast to not yet have an Oscar nomination), but what do we think of her as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?
PIXAR HAS NOW FOUND ITS REDNECK JAR-JAR BINKS. SUCH A PROUD MOMENT:  The NYT's A.O. Scott did not so much care for Cars 2: "Perhaps after the exquisite silences in Wall-E and Up, the Pixar team wanted to open up the valves, kick up some dust and make some pop culture noise, leaving the poetry to someone else. Or maybe the company was tired of turning out one masterpiece after another and decided to coast for a while."

(So, hmm. Take the girls to see the Penguins instead tomorrow night?)
WAYBACK MACHINE: [X] years ago today on the blog:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SADLY, BUT NOT UNEXPECTEDLY, MY FAVORITE SEASON TWO CONTESTANT IS NOT AMONG THEM:  If I told you that fifteen different Idol alumni were on the various Billboard charts this week, how many would you have to name until guessing Chris Sligh? (This song is on the Christian Songs and Christian Adult Contemporary charts.)
"AT SOME POINT, LITIGATION MUST COME TO AN END. THAT POINT HAS NOW BEEN REACHED":  America's favorite twin rowers have heeded Judge Alex Kozinski's words and will not appeal the Ninth Circuit's dismissal of their attempt to back out of their settlement with Mark Zuckerberg.
SCHOOL SUPPLIES, COOL SUPPLIES: At some point in the last year or so, Spacewoman and I had the following exchange: "When was the last time you saw a Pee-Chee?" "What?" "Didn't you use Pee-Chees when you were in school?" "Didn't I use whats?" It seemed weird that she didn't know what I was talking about, but I chalked it up to the weird cultural impoverishment of Rhode Island and forgot about it. Then this weekend, when following up on Spacewoman's accurate complaint that references in Super 8 (set in 1979) to the Rubik's Cube (first sold in the US in the 80s) were anachronistic, I ran across a nice little blog post about Pee-Chees. As it turns out, the problem wasn't Rhode Island cultural impoverishment; it was entire East Coast cultural impoverishment. Pee-Chees may have been an exclusively West Coast phenomenon.

So, first, is this right? Are there East Coasters out there who know about and used Pee-Chees?

And if not, then please let me back up.
APPARENTLY, THEY DID NOT HAVE SELECTIONS FROM LES MIS: A Five-Year Engagement, the new film from the Forgetting Sarah Marshall team, is shooting in Michigan, with Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, and Alison Brie leading the cast. Apparently, earlier this week, the cast and friends crashed a local karaoke bar and courtesy of an enterprising soul with a cell phone, we have Brie and Blunt dueting on "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and Segel and special guest John Krasinski pairing for a spin through Joe Cocker's version of "A Little Help From My Friends." (Via Vulture, though they missed the Brie/Blunt one.)
DAVID DANCED BEFORE THE LORD WITH ALL HIS MIGHT ... LEAPING AND DANCING BEFORE THE LORD: Footloose, the unnecessary remake trailer. Skinny ties! Angry warehouse solo dance!
PHILADELPHIA, GET TO KNOW US!  The animators at Taiwan's Next Media Animation are not helping on the tourism front.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BABY, YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR: Normally, when a Pixar movie's coming out in 3 short days, we'd be in full excitement mode, but it seems like not just us, but everyone is unexcited about Cars 2. In fact, as of right now, it's the first Pixar movie since Bug's Life that I'm unlikely to see in theatres. Why doesn't it seem to be getting traction? A few thoughts:
  • While it's sold tons of merchandise (particularly to young boys), no one really seemed to actually like the original Cars, which felt less like a Pixar movie than something created just to sell merchandise and appeal to young boys. The characters and story didn't really seem compelling enough to support the first film, much less a sequel.
  • The ad campaign has made the film seem far less like a heart-driven Pixar film than a Dreamworks style pop-culture parody. Now, I've quite enjoyed many of the Dreamworks flicks, but this looks far more like Shark Tale than Kung Fu Panda.
  • Excessive Larry The Cable Guy in trailers. I get why he was cast as Mater--the voice works--but that character as a central one wears thin very quickly.
Is anyone particularly excited? Because frankly, I'm far more likely to see Bad Teacher this weekend rather than this one. It'll make big bank, though, because so much of the kids stuff out there or coming looks even worse (Mr. Popper's Penguins, Zookeeper).
SOLUTION: STOP BELIEVIN': Something has been popping up in the reviews of the finale of The Killing that echoes a complaint that came up in a similar form with the ends of Lost and The Sopranos and in a different form with the long delay between Books 4 and 5 of the Game of Thrones series. The complaint, asserted by tons of people (including some of our friends) is "Show X has broken its contract with viewers by [failing to deliver the promised resolution/leaving mysteries y and z unsolved/failing to deliver what the consumer expected]."
I AM THE DRAGON'S DAUGHTER, AND I SWEAR TO YOU THAT THOSE WHO WOULD HARM YOU WILL DIE SCREAMING:  A bold statement from Matt Zoller Seitz, but I think he's right: "This was the best first season of a cable series, and surely the best first season finale, since "Deadwood" back in 2004."

As someone who came into Game of Thrones as a complete novice (and generally anti-fantasy at that), I was blown away by this season. No, I didn't quite follow who everyone was (thank you, Internet recappers), and I do rue the amount of spoilers that did leak into my consciousness over the past few months, but this was just damn gripping television.

(Heck, why limit himself to cable-only? Season one of Lost comes close, but not showing us the next scene of what's in the hatch was a regrettable error.)
A TUESDAY BONUS FROM THE GRAMMAR AND LINGUISTICS DESK:  The Language Log fills in the blank -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain _________ Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
NOMONEYBALL: To understand the complicated problem that is the Los Angeles Dodgers, imagine that you want to buy Microsoft in its entirety. You surely don't have enough money to buy Microsoft, and no bank in its right mind would loan you the money. But why should that stop you? Why not just have Microsoft take out a loan for the purchase price, then give that money to you? You are the owner, after all. And then Microsoft just has to make enough money over the term of the loan it took out to pay off the purchase price. This is how Frank and Jamie McCourt bought the Dodgers. There is nothing inherently wrong with this -- companies are bought this way (more or less) every day. It's even how Ted Turner bought the Braves. The trick is convincing a bank that Microsoft-plus-you will be profitable enough (presumably, though not necessarily, so much more profitable than Microsoft-without-you) that Microsoft can pay its debt to the bank while returning some profit to you. That was the idea behind the McCourts buying the Dodgers without using any significant amount of their own money.

The idea probably wasn't that the McCourts would cause the Dodgers to take on even more massive debt, shed assets, and use the proceeds of the debt to pay the McCourts' lavish personal expenses. And then make sure that the family's salaries and the family's kids' salaries and the family's half-dozen mortgages and personal staffs' salaries are paid, even though the team isn't paying its bank debt and might not even be able to make payroll for the players -- the ones who play baseball, which is what the Dodgers supposedly do. And then hold a big divorce party, where the only thing that the two sides can agree on is the signing of a huge television contract where a quarter of the $385 million that Fox was going to loan (not give, loan) the Dodgers up-front goes not to the Dodgers, but to the McCourts personally, because the Dodgers have better things to do with $93 million than pay banks and players -- Frank and Jamie need their $65,000 a month (each) allowance (that's a real number, by the way).

Monday, June 20, 2011

SURVIVORS: There aren't a lot of former reality competitors I need to see again, but having Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca on the next season of The Amazing Race could be pretty sweet.  However, Coach and Ozzy back on the island?  Naah.
YOU SHOULD GET SOME SLEEP. IT'S GOING TO BE A LONG WAR: A long war, maybe, but a short episode of Game of Thrones. I did the math after last week, and thought, wow, there's a lot of ground to cover this week. I'd guess that the formula was 75% of the book in the first nine episodes. So if this episode seemed a little rushed, I suppose they can't all be "Baelor." A large spoilery thought after the jump:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

FROM THE COASTLINE TO THE CITY, ALL THE LITTLE PRETTIES RAISE THEIR HANDS: Bruce Springsteen's statement on last night's passing of Clarence Clemons:
Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.
Joe Posnanski writes here of "Rosalita"; the New Yorker's David Remnick adds: "Clemons will be irreplaceable; Sonny Rollins could step in for him and never be able to provide the same sense of personality and camaraderie. His horn gave the band its sound of highway loneliness, its magnificent heart."

Below the fold: "Jungleland," from the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ, in September 1978. RIP, Big Man, and thank you, thank you, thank you: