Saturday, January 21, 2012

WARDEN OF THE AFC NORTH:  NFL conference championship previews by way of Game of Thrones, AFC and NFC editions.
FIGHT THE REAL ENEMY:  The Daily Beast compiles eight SNL musical performances allegedly worse than that one last week by that person that everyone's hatin' on who I basically know nothing about other than that she's got haters.

(Related: Ian Spanic reminds us that Spanic Boys really exist; the most obscure musical guests in SNL history.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

THIS MAY POKE A HOLE IN ARISTOTLE'S LAW OF IDENTITY: When is Fausto Carmona not Fausto Carmona?
I PREFER YOU/ALL NIGHT LONG: As you probably know, Etta James died this morning. She had been sick for some time, and had seemed to be in poor health for years, so it may not be a surprise, but it's sad all the same. Most of the headlines seem to mention "At Last," but I remember her less for that song, soulful classic though it deservedly is, and more for her bouncy, proto-funky R&B stuff, like I Prefer You. Rest in peace.
ISIS CAME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR GLO-COAT: Mad Men + Archer = Sterling Archer Draper Pryce. Questionably SFW. (HT: Tara Ariano.)
WHAT PART OF "LIFETIME APPOINTMENT" DON'T YOU GET, SIR? I recognize that I'm straddling a line here, but I figured folks needed to see that retired Justice John Paul Stevens appeared on The Colbert Report last night, and the nonagenarian was charming and game.
A SPECIAL REQUEST FOR THE ALOTT5MA FRIDAY PLAYLIST:  Frequent commenter (and longtime friend of many here) Jenn is wondering: can you suggests some songs to be loaded onto an iPod playlist for her upcoming wedding reception?

I'll note that we've already done Songs That Compel You To Dance, and note that our general rule that "there's no event that can't be improved with Morris Day and the Time" is definitely in effect here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PERTAINING TO CONCLUSIONS FOR OVER 160 YEARS: According to Random House, "conclusory" has been a word since approximately 1840-1850. State court judges in the United States began using the word in 1908. In re Canakos, 111 N.Y.S. 601, 601 (Sup. Ct. App. Term 1908). Federal judges began using it in 1942. Guth v. Groves, 44 F. Supp. 851, 853 (S.D.N.Y. 1942). Now judges use it all the time -- in 943 cases reported in 2012 alone (according to a Lexis search), or in over 78 cases per work day, excluding court holidays. Because judges use the word "conclusory" when they define or make law, lawyers also have to use the word, though they don't need much coaxing. Lawyers use "conclusory" like bakers use flour.

Microsoft Word is the dominant word processing software used by lawyers. Microsoft Word has had spell-check since at least 1995.

According to Lexis, there are more than 3000 reported decisions* in which Microsoft is a party and the word "conclusory" appears in the text of the decision.

So why does Microsoft spell-check still stubbornly refuse to accept "conclusory" as a word?
PREMORSE DESK:  In honor of Betty White's 90th birthday this week, The Daily Beast slideshows a bunch of nonagenarian actors just to remind you they, too, aren't dead yet, and Mental Floss has audio of a radio play White did back in 1930.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

FROM THE SHOTGUN SHACK TO THE SUPERDOME: New BRUUUUUUUUCE! single. Album, tour to follow this year.
MAN, WHO DRINKS A CHERRY COKE? We're all in agreement that Coca-Cola Freestyle is awesome, correct?
  • Josh Radnor, One Big Blissful Thing: Never heard of, wanted to try ayahuasca, then got high enough to accidentally agree to publish this

  • Mike Doughty, The Book of Drugs: Editor loves Soul Coughing; was brutally savaged in book for saying so
  • Rob Lowe, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: Delivery vehicle for interior glossy photos of Rob Lowe
  • Jenny McCarthy, Louder than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism: Terrorist plot to start rubella epidemic in Malibu
  • Nicole Polizzi, A Shore Thing: Tapping niche of embarrassing gifts from uncles and aunts who want to seem hip to 12-14 year-old nieces
  • Soleil Moon Frye, Happy Chaos: Looking for dirt on that creepy Henry guy
  • Tina Fey, Bossypants: Boss said had to put out at least one well-written book in 2011
  • Shania Twain, From This Moment On: Thought this was a book of prophecies

*Playing both sides of this conjugation here.

COME ON IN, GUYS:  Three reality items.
  • TLC will be re-airing the BBC3 series Undercover Princes and Undercover Princesses this winter. Both are, basically, Coming to America (Only It's In England): The Reality Show, and Wikipedia (I peeked) indicates that the royals in search of twue wuv in question hail from Africa, South Asia, and Europe, and it's more of a "follow them around" then a structured show with symbolic roses and whatnot. And that's a shame; we're enough removed in time from Joe Millionaire that a show which tries to pull it off in reverse should work.
  • Dalton Ross has the full scoop on format changes for the new Survivor season, and I like all of them -- no Redemption Island; tribes separated by gender but living on one beach; more complicated hidden immunity idol rules; and some contestant-run challenges. Of course, as always, it depends on the cast -- which, phew, includes no returning players.
  • Some singing show comes back tonight for its eleventh season. I cannot imagine paying attention until Hollywood Week, and even then, I feel like I've seen everything the show can do (and certainly with these non-judging judges). Unless there's remarkable talent, I think my Season Pass will be short-lived.
UNRELIABLE NARRATOR PROBLEM: Does anyone particularly want to buy the memoir of Josh Radnor's "spiritual awakening" (which naturally involves "drinking an indigenous plant medicine called ayahuasca with a shaman in Brazil")? Anyone?
Y'ALL CAN'T BE PLAYING NO CHECKERS ON NO CHESSBOARD: I have a feeling that one's opinion of The Wire's third episode, "The Buys," will rest upon whether D'Angelo's explanation of the rules of chess (and the drug trade) struck you as intelligent and gripping, or a bit anvil-heavy and too-clever-by half ...
Now, the king, he move one space any direction he damn choose, 'cause he's the king. Like this, this, this, a'ight? But he ain't got no hustle. But the rest of these motherfuckers on the team, they got his back. And they run so deep, he really ain't gotta do shit....
It wasn't just in that scene where I felt like the writers were underlining things a bit too heavily -- Stringer Bell's explanation of the new product; the unsuitability of some of the police officers at the scene of the raid; the frustrations of police bureaucracy.
These right here, these are the pawns. They like the soldiers. They move like this, one space forward only. Except when they fight, then it's like this. And they like the front lines, they be out in the field.
We get it, D. You're a pawn, hell, McNulty's a pawn too, and you both don't understand why the drug trade has to be so violent. ("Everything else in this country gets sold without people shooting each other behind it.") But Bubbles remains awesome.  And I still don't remember the names of 2/3 of the pawns.  I am still very much into the show, but I can't say that this episode lived up to its reputation.

administrative note: We've discussed whether folks are enjoying episodes so quickly that a deviation from the one-per-week recap format is justified.  I remain open to your suggestions.
CRAP. WHAT IF I FORGET THE BOOT ORDER OF SURVIVOR: HEROES V. VILLAINS?  This blog, of course, takes no official position on the Stop Online Privacy Act and Protect IP Act, which promise to [ruin]/[save] the Internet as we know it by [kowtowing to]/[protecting the legitimate interests of] content creators such as [Edge]/[The Edge] by granting them [unprecedented and unjustified]/[necessary] powers to thwart the [free flow]/[theft] of their intellectual property.

Wikipedia has gone black for this 24h period in protest, however, and on that we as a blog have two roles to play: (1) please catalog here all the Wiki searches you're doing today before forgetting that you can't do them today, and (2) let us help you.  Our hive mind isn't quite as large as The Entire Internet's, but we can half-ass a reasonable-sounding answer just as well as anyone else.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

WHY, IT'S MORE THAN WUNDERBAR!. Although Victor Garber seems destined never to return to Glee, we do have some theatrically nifty parental casting news. Joining Jeff Goldblum (as to whom I say "??") as 0ne of Rachel's dads is none other than Brian Stokes Mitchell, whose bombast in recent years seems quite directionally appropriate for this season's (not to mention tonight's episode's, in particular) whiplash.
SPOILER ALERT: ANNE BOLEYN SHOULD NOT BUY ANY GREEN BANANAS: Linda Holmes laments that fiction by women does get reviewed, but women are rarely given the literary it-person superstar full monty.* I don't read enough book reviews to comment on that, but I will venture one prediction: the biggest literary it-person superstar full monties this year will go to Suzanne Collins (in the J.K. Rowling mass market lowbrow division for commercial domination) and Hillary Mantel (in the highbrow division).

As to the latter, consider this. Mantel's Wolf Hall, a sprawling, funny, sad novel about Thomas Cromwell's rise and Thomas More's decline, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. The sequel, which presumably will cover the rest of Cromwell's life, is now due in May. I would say that Wolf Hall was the best book I read in the last five years, except that a few months ago, Amazon released A Place of Greater Safety, Mantel's incredible 2007 novel about the French Revolution, for the Kindle, and that may, may have been even better -- even funnier, sadder, and more sprawling than Wolf Hall.

Two swallows do not a summer make, I am told, and the 2012 results may not look, in the aggregate, much different from the 2011 numbers. All I'm saying is that my prediction is that the biggest it-person superstars this year are not going to be Brooklynites with ironic neck-beards.

*That's a verbatim quote, but the quotation marks are killing my HTML, so please don't accuse me of failing to quote and attribute.
PLAY THE BLUES: An article in Wednesday's NYT on the Spider-Man producers' countersuit against original director Julie Taymor occasions a return to the ALOTT5MA Style Desk:
Bono, who worked with Ms. Taymor to develop “Spider-Man” for several years and had once called her “my close friend,” wrote an e-mail last Jan. 7 criticizing her for “shooting ideas down before taking time to understand them,” according to the producers’ lawsuit. (Bono wrote the score of the musical with his band mate the Edge.)
Isn't it "The Edge"? Or, perhaps, "Edge"?  In the pleadings (a rollicking read), the producers' attorneys (from K&E) mostly use the former. Referring to him as "the Edge" just seems the wrong.
THE KING STAY THE KING:  Quick reminder that tomorrow is Wire Wednesday; do watch "The Buys" and be prepared to discuss.
THE GREATEST:  Muhammad Ali turns 70 today.

When ESPN did their SportsCentury list of the top 100 athletes of the 20th Century, Ali came in third behind Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth. I think you can make a legitimate case for six of the athletes in the top seven (which also includes Gretzky, Owens, and Thorpe), but I still think they got it wrong. (At a minimum, it shouldn't have been Jordan, who did not do to his sport's record books or overall popularity what Ruth or Gretzky did, and who carried none of the burdens of Ali, Owens, or Thorpe.)
THE PUPPY-BASKET OF LATE-NIGHT TALK-SHOW HOSTS:  The AV Club's Steve Hyden pens an appreciation of Jimmy Fallon:
Jimmy Fallon isn’t the funniest man in late-night; that’s still a toss-up between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But Fallon doesn’t try to compete for that distinction. His greatest, most unique gift as a late-night personality is that he doesn’t have to be funny to be entertaining. There are episodes of Late Night where I’m pretty sure I never laughed out loud once. I don’t know if I can recall a single Fallon one-liner off the top of my head. Nobody is going to accuse Fallon of being a comic genius. This is a good thing. Not being saddled with that baggage seems to make Fallon a lot more relaxed than his peers. Compared with the sweat-drenched desperation that’s so obviously apparent in Jay Leno or even the all-time favorite of comedy nerdom, O’Brien—the compulsive need to always be funny that’s alienating when the comedy isn’t working—Fallon is appealing in the manner of the popular kid in school. Yes, his good looks and confidence might make you hate him at first, but after a while, it’s just nice to be around someone who’s comfortable in his own skin.

Monday, January 16, 2012

BECAUSE YOU KNOW JUST WHAT TO SAY: Lionel Richie's "Hello," the motion picture supercut.
THE O.D.B. COULDN'T POSSIBLY HAVE COMMITTED ALL THOSE CRIMES. COOLIO DID SOME OF THAT SHIT:  Chris Rock's insistent words in "No Sex in the Champagne Room" may not have quite been correct.  Russell Jones' FBI file has been FOIAed and released, and apparently Wu-Tang was not exclusively for the children: in 1999, the FBI was contemplating indicting all 36 chambers of the Clan under RICO for crimes it allegedly committed as an organization.
THERE WILL BE PEACE 4 THOSE WHO LOVE GOD A LOT: Graffiti Bridge is airing on the Encore channel today, and I couldn't help but wonder: is there a movie with a more skewed ratio of Quality of Soundtrack: Quality of Film? If we can establish the metric where this film represents 1.0 GBs and The Graduate is 0 GBs (film and soundtrack are equally good), is Trainspotting at 0.2 GBs?  Does any film exceed 1.0 GBs?