Friday, September 19, 2014

YES, BUT NOW YOU'RE ABOUT TO SEE A STEREOTYPICALLY ANGRY JEWISH GUY:  Vulture (Margaret Lyons) Jezebel (Kara Brown), Slate (Willa Paskin), and Vox (Alex Abad-Santos) are among those deservedly flaying the NYT's Alessandra Stanley over a truly "inaccurate, tone-deaf, muddled, and racist" (Lyons) profile of our good friend, Shonda Rhimes.
AT LEAST THEY'RE NOT MAKING KENDRICK DYE HER HAIR BLONDE:  To more smoothly incorporate Into The Woods into Disney canon, they're changing a few character names--rather than just "Rapunzel's Prince" and "Cinderella's Prince,"the characters will be "Flynn Rider" and "Prince Charming" (though (a) Flynn wasn't a prince, and (b) if you're going that way, why not just go ahead and cast Zachary Levi?), and "Cinderella's Stepmother" is officially "Lady Tremaine."

ETA:  Disney now claims that was an error.
HEY HEY HEY:  Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the debut of The Cosby Show.  There's much to discuss, including the sweaters, whether we'll ever have another sitcom with the lead expressly billed above the title (all eight seasons opened with "Bill Cosby in The Cosby Show"), and which of the eight show openers was the best and the worst.  (The "interpretive dance in beach attire" of Season 5 is unquestionably the weirdest.)
WHEAT, BARLEY, AND NUCLEAR FUSION: The WSJ explores the psychographics of Grape Nuts devotees, a waning group:
Since people haven't been eating nearly as much of it as they used to, the latest Grape Nuts ad campaign, running now on MSN's Web site, is trying a new tonic: It consists of skits in which male milquetoasts get droll advice on "looking cool while driving a minivan," or "letting your in-laws move into your house." The slogan -- "That takes Grape Nuts" -- implies that the stuff enhances virility. C.W Post might have written it himself... 
"We need to bring it back to life in a relevant way," says Kelley Peters, the "insights" director who charts Grape Nuts psychographics for Ralcorp's $5 million resuscitation attempt. Her target: men 45 years old and up. "Men aspire to it," she says. "It's strong and stern, the father figure of cereals." Her marketing chief, Jennifer Marchant, points out: "It tends to break your teeth sometimes."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I HEAR THERE'S A MEAT AND CHEESE SANDWICH I OUGHT TO TRY:  So, I have about 24 hours in the City of Brotherly Love next week (Wednesday late afternoon-Thursday late afternoon) before I head to a wedding down the Shore.  I'm staying in the historic district (right near the Constitution Center), and will have a car.  What do I need to eat, see, and do, folks?
FIND THE SAINT IN THE ASSHOLE, FIND THE ASSHOLE IN THE SAINT:  Scott Tobias' five rules for making biopics about geniuses.
THE LAND OF SHEENA EASTON, SHIRLEY MANSON, AND DAVID BYRNE:  Vote yes for naming something Scottish which you like.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

THE CIRCLE WILL BE COMPLETED IF, IN TWENTY YEARS, TOM PETTY REVIEWS ONE OF MY CONCERTS:  Last night's Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Philadelphia, reviewed for the Philadelphia Inquirer by area resident John Wesley Harding:
It was instructive how many hits the 20-song set omitted: yes, "Learning to Fly" and its obverse "Free Fallin'," but no room for "I Need to Know" or "The Waiting," "Breakdown," or "You Got Lucky." Philadelphia heard precisely 12 of the hits in the 20-song set list, which perhaps isn't really enough.
NOW, IF TWO OF THIS YEAR'S FEMALE WINNERS CAN TALK, AND NOT ABOUT MEN ...  Congratulations to Alison Bechdel, documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing) and the rest of this year's John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" winners.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FRITTERIN'! FRITTERIN' AWAY!  Go. Go now and read Linda Holmes' deep dive into The Music Man's "Ya Got Trouble," and not only will you enjoy her analysis of how cultural panics never change, but you'll also find out, finally, what Bevo and Cubebs are:
And ragtime! Shameless music that will grab your son, your daughter in the arms of a jungle animal instinct
Well, it wouldn't be a classic cultural panic without a little appeal to racism about a genre of music that originated in black communities and how it's going to bring out the out-of-control, sex-having jungle animal in your nice little kids (including daughters, mentioned here for the first and only time during a rant that's been mostly about boys).
Yes, it's another song for which there is a performance by the My Little Pony players.

Monday, September 15, 2014

ORANGE MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO?  There is a Zoolander 2 script, and Will Ferrell is back.
WHILE DECLINING TO DEFEND "FRIED LASAGNA":  Oh, the war's not over. Darden's defending Olive Garden's breadsticks, and more, in a 24-slide deck.
Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982. It conveys Italian generosity and our salads have the highest loyalty rating of any menu item based on the menu satisfaction surveys we conduct.
I KNOW YOU WANT THIS:  Remember that copyright litigation between Marvin Gaye and the folks behind Blurred Lines?  Well, Pharrell and Robin Thicke's depositions have now been made public, and let's just say that they perhaps didn't go so well.  Apparently, Pharrell wrote the whole song, Thicke was stoned out of his mind, and Pharrell explains that he respects Marvin Gaye because he's an Aries.
BETTER CALL SAUL MATT: Spotted yesterday at Philly BrickFest, a rather super-cool traveling Lego festival, were these minifigs for sale ($50) as the "Albuquerque Action Squad!", labeled "Legal Defense Enthusiast, "Drug Dealing Enthusiast," and "Law Enforcement Enthusiast."

WHOSE CUISINE REIGNS SUPREME?  The AV Club ranks every cooking competition show, segregating self-contained standalone competitions from serialized, season-long fare. (A better question, perhaps: rank the Top Chef seasons?)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

THANK YOU. I JUST HAD IT STUFFED:  Our friend Carrie Rickey interviewed David Lynch at an event this weekend, and they got to the topic of surprising films in his DVD library, and she asked whether he had any from Esther Williams' collection of water ballets:
And Lynch smiled. 
He told an anecdote about the day he spied Williams in a restaurant. He strolled up to her table and said, “I’ve had a crush on you since third grade.” She thanked him, and then asked, “Why did you make Isabella Rossellini show her beaver?”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

PAGING MARILYN HAGERTY! PAGING ROBERT IRVINE! Sure, you can just read the articles about it, but it's a lot more fun to actually page through the 294-slide presentation a major investor prepared on Olive Garden's failings, and how to fix them. Some highlights:
  • "Now Olive Garden serves dishes that are astonishingly far from authentic Italian culture, such as burgers & fries, Spanish tapas, heavy cream sauces, more fried foods, stuffed cheeses, soggy pasta, and bland tomato sauce."
  • "'Buy one entrĂ©e, take one home' and other recent promotions appear to be inconsistent with Italian culture – not to mention the extreme portion size is inconsistent with authentic Italian values and creates enormous waste."
  • "If you google 'how to cook pasta', the first step of Pasta 101 is to salt the water. How does the largest Italian dining concept in the world not salt the water for pasta?"
  • "Soup preparation: We believe Darden should bring the base in and add a few ingredients in the restaurant, not cook from scratch at each individual restaurant as it currently does, since it gets little credit from customers for its 'homemade' soups."
  • "We will no longer disregard sound nutrition. Nutrition will not be the driving force, but it will now be carefully considered while greatly improving the taste and appeal of every dish.... Portion sizes may be gradually reduced, as guests will begin to equate Olive Garden’s value proposition more with quality and excellence at fair prices, than with massive quantities of barely edible fried items, excessive cheeses, and heavy cream sauces."