Saturday, March 10, 2012

HOW ARE YOU GONNA TEACH WOLVES TO FOLLOW ROAD SIGNS? Mental Floss has the real story of Andrew Jackson's big block (actually, a giant wheel) of cheese.
A BETTER TRADE THAN WHATEVER DAN SNYDER HAS ORCHESTRATED: I haven't watched Person of Interest with any regularity, largely due to a murderous timeslot, but they hyped this week's episode so much and the commercials suggested the show finally found the sense of humor that has helped other CBS procedurals break out, and with ABC in rerun mode, I decided to DVR it, and while I still admire the show's clever transitions and visual style, I still find it fundamentally broken. The problem isn't in the concept or the writing, but in the lead casting--Jim Caviezel (who I've liked in some things, most notably Frequency) is so wooden and bland as the action hero that it stops the show dead (Michael Emerson and Taraji P. Henson, on the other hand, are perfectly fine). Imagine the show just slightly tweaked, with someone with a little more edge playing Reese or an equivalent role--say, a Josh Holloway, or, if they really wanted a "movie star," Christian Slater--and I think you'd have a show that'd be much better than the one we've got.

Friday, March 9, 2012

THEY STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT THEY'RE LOOKING FOR: 25 years ago today, The Joshua Tree arrived in record stores worldwide, and has since sold 25 million copies worldwide, propelled by one of the best opening sets of tracks in rock history ("Where the Streets Have No Name"/"Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"/"With Or Without You"), and giving U2 their only US number one hits for the latter two tracks. Despite some darn fine albums later on (Achtung Baby and All You Can't Leave Behind, in particular), Joshua Tree remains the band's pinnacle, and despite being 25 years old, still sounds fairly fresh and modern--it's an achievement that renders it a pretty essential part of a record collection.
WHY DID CINDERELLA GET KICKED OFF THE SOFTBALL TEAM?  You know what we haven't done here in over a year? Bad Joke Day.  So let 'em rip: knock-knock jokes, walks-into-a-bar jokes, lightbulb jokes, whatever you've got.  It's Friday.
BECAUSE OF ONE LITTLE RULE -- THE HEIR MUST BE MALE -- BOTH THE TITLE AND FORTUNE MUST BE MINE THROUGH ENTAIL: The Fresh Prince of Downton Abbey.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

58 PROBLEMS:  New Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, in no way trying to be inflammatory or anything in an interview with 610 WIP:
The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball. The Philly fans tend to know the game a little better, being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played. 
SHE SAID, LIKE, YOU SHOULD READ THIS:  Post-doc fellow Jessica Love explores the linguistics of the quotative like.
HER BRAINS THEY RATTLE AND HER BONES THEY SHAKE:  Two more questions for Bruce Week here on the blog:

  • Via kd bart: Name a song you wish he played more often on tour.  
  • And from me: Construct an encore for this tour.  (Mine: given the horns they're touring with, how about Detroit Medley/Ramrod/Light of Day?)
GET ON WITH THE FASCINATION:  Well, it's not quite the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but our flappy-headed Neighbours to the North have awarded the rock band Rush their highest government honour, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, which is their equivalent of the Kennedy Center Honors in the states. They join such previous winners as Bryan Adams, William Shatner, Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland, and The Guess Who. [HT: AV Club.]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

MY HOUSEKEEPER. BUT SHE'S LIKE A MEMBER OF OUR FAMILY: We don't blog about Survivor every week, but this week's episode occasions two obvious questions: (1) dumbest move in Survivor history? (2) most loathsome competitor?

added: AVClub: "Forget about Russell. Russell is a gentle flower in comparison to the evil Colton has up his sleeve, because at least Russell seemed like he knew it was a game. Colton, on the other hand, gives every indication this is how he lives his life. It’s enough to put a chill down your spine."
GIMME GIMME GIMME AN OSCAR BEFORE MIDNIGHT: Lasse Hallström has been nominated for two Oscars for directing My Life As A Dog and The Cider House Rules and has directed a number of other films of note (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, Dear John, and this weekend's Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), but did you know that he also directed basically every ABBA video?
AH, PERRY THE PLATYPUS. YOUR TIMING IS IMPECCABLE. AND BY "IMPECCABLE," I MEAN COMPLETELY PECCABLE!  The Parents Television Council has a problem with Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz appearing clad in only his tighty-whiteys.

The writer explains, "When I was a child, I grew up watching shows like Tom And Jerry and Donald Duck. Not creepy old men in their underwear," but as Alex noted to me via email, Tom and Jerry had racist and extraordinarily violent cartoons, and Mr. Duck was not exactly known to be a pants-wearer himself.
AN OUTSTANDING EXAMPLE SO THAT THOSE IN THE DARKNESS CAN SEE THE POWER OF THE LIGHT: A twentieth-anniversary DVD re-release occasions a tribute to Spike Lee's Malcolm X from the AV Club's Noel Murray, and if there's a worse set of Oscar snubs than what Scent of a Woman did to this film, I'm not aware of it.

This film proves the wisdom of the Roger Ebert quote, “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” This is an epic and elegiac work, anchored by a remarkable Denzel Washington performance (even by his own standards). If only for the pilgrimage to Mecca, with images so rarely seen in American film, dayenu. And then we get the "Change is Gonna Come" sequence, and his favorite dolly shot trick just works perfectly in setting Malcolm X as a man at peace with the ending he now foresees.  Oh, do I love this movie.

One other question: Malcolm X caps -- great marketing device, or greatest marketing device in the history of modern film?
THERE'S DEAD ON BOTH SIDES: Damn.

You can't say we didn't see it coming in this week's episode of The Wire, "The Cost." In retrospect, all they had to do was claim that [are we beyond spoiler protection here?] was several days short of retirement/promotion to complete the cliche grand slam of Foreshadowing That An Officer Will Die, but, still damn.

Three main plots this week -- the pieces coming together for the police through its informants and surveillance work, the Omar detente (via Prop Joe, claiming he never met Omar before), and Bubbles' struggles for sobriety -- and there's still room for so much more: the politics of Baltimore, both in judicial elections and that snippet of a Clay Davis rally; D'Angelo's home improvement; McNulty's visitation schedule; and Maury Levy, the most no-bullshit lawyer in Baltimore. "Is that what you want me to tell him? That I asked you to sign and you wouldn't?"

This episode made me truly appreciate just how deep and rich this show's universe is. Just, wow. And, of course, damn. That was inevitable in a show this real, but it doesn't make it not hurt.

Let's parley in the comments.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SPIN OFF THE TOP AND EAT IT, THEN BREAK THE OTHER HALF IN HALF AND MAKE A MINI DOUBLE-STUF:  One hundred years ago today, the National Biscuit Company's bakery in the Chelsea section of Manhattan sold its first Oreos, to folks across the river in Hoboken for thirty cents a pound. Further awesomeness was not to come until 1983 when Oreo began supplying its cookies to ice cream manufacturers, though Steve Herrell may have gotten there first.

Your favorite Oreo snacking method?
MAJOR LEAGUE YABBOS:  Oh, for fuck's sake: Animal House: the Musical?
HOLD TIGHT TO YOUR ANGER, AND DON'T FALL TO YOUR FEARS:  Early impressions of Wrecking Ball?  I'll start with this: I was not impressed with the title track when it was debuted on the last tour -- felt more like a novelty than anything else -- but in its new incarnation, it's an intense, moving rocker.  What I've heard so far across the album suggests Bruce's best work since The Rising, at least, and possibly better. I look forward to this next week of intense listening and re-listening.

Monday, March 5, 2012

THE KING STAY THE KING: It's March, and that means brackets of all kinds, and today Grantland brings us a 32-entrant tournament of Wire characters. I assume that the point of the tourney is "best Wire character," and not "who would win?", since (spoiler alert) a nonzero number of the characters most assuredly did not win.

Most brutal bracket: Ports Region, with a surfeit of bosses and the strongest #8 seed, Prez. Best first-round matchup: Clay Davis vs. Bubbles. Worst mismatches, in every possible sense: Overall #1 seed Omar vs. Ziggy; Stringer vs. Herc. Last in: Brother Mouzone, Ziggy. First out: Slim Charles, Carver, Randy, Namond. I can only assume that Serge ("Boris") won the Greeks' conference tournament, leaving his confederates on the outside looking in.

Incidentally, Grantland said something about the tournament only playing out on Grantland's Facebook page, which -- isn't the Facebook backlash here yet? Or are we waiting for it to finish the IPO before we crater it?
NOW WITH 100% LESS NUDITY: With its erratic quality in recent years and an overly busy timeslot (TAR and Once Upon A Time take priority), I don't regularly watch The Simpsons any more, but sometimes, they pull out something amazing, like last night's Game of Thrones-inspired couch gag, which is well worth your time.
HE ALSO HAS THE POWER TO RECOGNIZE ANY SONG WITHIN FIVE SECONDS:  DC Comics is reviving Billy Batson's superhero alter ego under the name Shazam, abandoning "Captain Marvel" as a nom de guerre.
THE RAGAMUFFIN GUNNER IS RETURNIN' HOME LIKE A HUNGRY RUNWAY: In advance of tomorrow's Wrecking Ball album drop, tell me what Springsteen song you think is most enhanced by the live version.  I'm not asking "what's the best Springsteen live song," but rather "which song has the largest Value Over Recorded Version," or some superior acronym you'll come up with.

Related: excluding all songs from The Rising to the present (because then we'd all say "Empty Sky" or "You're Missing," right?), what song have you heard quite enough of live and have no need to see again?  For me, it's "Cover Me," a song off Born in the U.S.A. whose appeal I never, ever have appreciated.  That and "Adam Raised A Cain."
ANOTHER BUDDY RYAN INNOVATION OTHER TEAMS HAVE FAILED TO SURPASS: Updates you probably already knew, to two sports stories we've been following:

  • The New Orleans Saints and Washington (football club) have admitted to maintaining a bounty pool under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to reward players for inflicting game-ending injuries on their rivals. The NFL is still figuring out the proper discipline, but, yeah, this too does not make me feel better about being a football fan.
  • MLB did add the additional wild card teams, with the twist being that because of scheduling concerns the 2012 Divisional Series will give the seeded team home games 3-4-5, rather than 1-2-5.  As previously stated, this is one of the rare instances where adding playoff teams makes things fairer, because it gives some real advantage to winning one's division.