Saturday, February 11, 2012
Think about what it takes to have a voice so gifted to make one's rendition of the National Anthem the definitive one, to have scores of American Idol contestants' efforts compared to her heights, a catalog of hits so deep that had her career ended before "I Will Always Love You" she would still be thought of as the premier R&B singer of her generation.
What tremendous talents. What a damn shame.
added: Sasha Frere-Jones. "With the weird blend of investment and helplessness that typifies kin, we’ve watched Whitney Houston die in front of us, slowly and unmistakably, for more than a decade.... Considering how many times Houston confronted her own addiction in public, her end confirms that the pull of addiction can be stronger than the pull of dignity."
When one considers the personnel behind the Amalur product, the strength shouldn't be surprising at all. Salvatore for lore. McFarlane for looks. Morrowind/Oblivion and EverQuest vets for quests and world building. Yes, that should work. And yet, since I first heard about Schilling's 38 Studios, maybe 18 months ago, I have been braced for disappointment rather than tingling with anticipation. Somehow, the idea that a notoriously serious and successful person from the notoriously serious world of baseball had a long-standing and yes, serious, interest in fantasy gaming, one of my guilty pleasures, and was diving in with some of his millions to create the games he'd always wanted to play as a fan ... well, it seemed like great PR, and so it had to be too good to be true. Right? Wrong, apparently. And it's hard to quantify how gratifying it is to be wrong. 3d6+3, at least.
Really, this could not come at a better time. Many RPG-dependent escapists are hitting the long tail of potential returns from further investment of time in Skyrim, and as the highs become progressively lower and the minutes spent in game searching for overlooked side quests or investigating theories about leveling mechanics feel more and more completely wasted, we're nervously eying The Old Republic and wondering if we can really afford to go back to an MMO (the hard stuff) for a fresh fix. A well-made, relatively wide-open RPG from a new market entrant is just the thing to keep the neurons humming.
Friday, February 10, 2012
- Blue Caps
- Blue Crabs
- Sand Gnats
- Famous Flames
The odd numbered answers are the Hall of Famers, having been given that honor years after their more recognizable front men (Bill Haley, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, James Brown, Hank Ballard, and Smokey Robinson, respectably) were enshrined. Finally there's a ray of hope for the Waves, Beaters and Cruisers.
Still, it's Friday. We do Friday playlists here on occasion. Recommend something among the nominees that we ought to hear.
added trivia: Fifty years ago in the Grammys, Record & Song of the Year both went to "Moon River" (beating, among others, Dave Brubeck's "Take Five"; Philly Pops leader Peter Nero was the Best New Artist; Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall was Album of the Year; and Leonard Bernstein's Peter and the Wolf won Best Children's Recording. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying won Best Cast Album (and it can again in 2012); Nichols and May won for Best Comedy Recording; and there was only one award each in the Country & Western, Rhythm & Blues, and Rock genres, the latter two of which was won by Ray Charles for "Hit the Road Jack," and Chubby Checker for "Let's Twist Again."
Thursday, February 9, 2012
The course's first half, as described by Dawson, is concerned with "the political economy of television in the post-network, post-TiVo universe." Students study the changes taking place within the television industry during the ‘90s that made the market ripe for the reign of reality television....And from that course website:
The course's other endeavor – to entrench students in a real-stakes game of "Survivor" – explains the crowded mid-size lecture hall. For the first half of the class, Dawson's castaways were divided into four tribes, named for the professor's favorite "Survivor" seasons, and as tribes, students were expected to compete against each other for immunity. Immunity challenges, or weekly group quizzes, bring both tangible and academic rewards, from Starbucks coffee and hot chocolate to the ultimate prize – a pass on Dawson's midterm exam. Dawson even buried a Hidden Immunity Idol, a "Survivor" standby, on campus, and leaks clues via Twitter. And any students who abuse computer privileges in class are sent to Exile Island.
Learning Objectives. After taking this class, students will be equipped to:I may have added one of the items.
- Critically analyze popular reality TV programs and formats
- Explain the relationship between the reality TV boom of the last decade and broader developments within the American and global media industries
- Participate in debates on the impact of reality TV on American culture
- Backstab, lie, cheat, bamboozle, and hornswoggle
A man was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and paid the tragic price. But as should be clear, Arbuckle’s demise, like many star scandals, had much more to do with American anxieties about class and gender than any actual wrongdoing. Arbuckle became the figurehead for all that was dangerous about Hollywood — the unbridled wealth, the unchecked vice — and no jury could acquit him of being an overweight, asexualized man.
I mention this because their next such event will be Thursday, May 31, and the featured film will be ALOTT5MA favorite Sharktopus. Who's up for a get-together?
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
No word on who gets the Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker roles, and I can't imagine anyone here has a suggestion. [Also, if you're turning Cage films into musicals, shouldn't Peggy Sue Got Married and Face/Off come first?]
It is a good time to give the show its mid-term report card, though, and I'm going with a solid B. A show about a girl who's just about too cute for words could be insufferable, but that's not what New Girl has turned out to be. Instead, it's mostly a show about how a couple of real guys and a cartoon douchebag react to having an alien pixie fairy dropped into their ramshackle bachelor loft. By giving Nick (the writers' room's surrogate, if not the audience's) license to ask Jess, "how do you survive?" and then shove her in the right direction, the show usually can clap a stopper over any risk of excessive Jessness fouling the brew (a la Dharma & Greg or Phoebe from Friends). I'm not wild about episodes (like last night's) that suggest that Jess's intrusive pep is effective, but as long as the show acknowledges as often as not that Jess's childishness is an impairment, there's plenty of room in that structure for good comedy.
It's fun watching the show figuring itself out -- Tracy's even more antagonistic than he ends up being (and, at the time, his entourage was more thuggish than lovable), Pete and Josh have larger roles (and they're still trying to figure out a place for Rachel Dratch), but hot damn is Jack Donaghy fully formed from the first moment. There are far worse ways to spend an hour each night than to watch the show that ended up winning the war with Studio 60. Also, here's a compilation of Liz Lemon flashbacks.
This episode didn't hit the dramatic (or comic) heights of some of its predecessors, but damn I enjoy each hour in this world.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
But Lin had a great game the other night. More importantly he had a stirring game. It is rare to see giant, jaded, tattooed, bearded NBA players bouncing in giddy excitement and surprise at the performance of one of their teammates. For one game, Jeremy Lin, the NBA's most collegiate player, infected the pro game with collegiate enthusiasm. Try not to smile at Lin's highlights and the reactions of his teammates and Knicks fans.
Monday, February 6, 2012
- "Show Don't Tell"--Possibly the most common knock on Studio 60 was that it spent an infinite time with characters telling us how brilliant and edgy the comedy writing on the show was, but when we saw the sketches themselves, they were far from brilliant. (Though Simon Helberg's Nicolas Cage impression was kinda funny.) Smash attempts to overcome this in two ways. First, we're incessantly reminded that the musical we're seeing is a work in progress with problems still being worked on, so we don't have the inflated expectations issue, at least thus far. Second, they've smartly brought in pros (Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) to write the songs and hired legit stage talent and choreographers, so when we see a fully staged number (especially the baseball one from the pilot) it works.
- "Inside Baseball"--Yes, there's a lot in the show that's very cookie-cutter--plucky girl from the midwest v. chorus girl for a starring role! A sleazy director trying to use the casting couch! "Spider-Man" jokes! But are people outside of NYC going to get who Michael Reidel is, much less why people are so neurotic about what he writes? Yes, folks who know theatre will eat it up, but that's not exactly a mass audience.
You can also almost see the network notes being put into action--Megan Hilty's introduction includes a loving pan up her (quite impressive) figure, for instance--but I'm interested to see if this can become a mainstream hit, though I can see NBC being quite happy if it does a solid audience of high-income viewers and keeps up with the acclaim given how deep the hole they're in is.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
I have no objection to any of the the inductees. But Cris Carter belongs in too. FWIW, Michael Strahan, Jonathan Ogden, and Warren Sapp join the ballot next year.