Monday, November 24, 2014

VOTING SHALL BE BASED UPON THE PLAYER'S RECORD, PLAYING ABILITY, INTEGRITY, SPORTSMANSHIP, CHARACTER, AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TEAM(S) ON WHICH THE PLAYER PLAYED: The National Baseball Hall of Fame has released its new ballot for modern players. Its thirty-four names are hella impressive, between the new names (Pedro, Unit, Smoltz, Sheffield) and the holdovers from past ballots (Bagwell, Biggio, Mussina, Schilling, and PEDers). And voters only get to select ten of them.

I have set up a Doodle poll for the ALOTT5MA community to vote. Please vote for no more than ten names, because that's what the BBWAA does, remembering that anyone who falls below 5% will be dropped from next year's ballot, so vote strategically if you must. I have long believed that players accused/admitted of PED usage should be voted into the Hall if their accomplishments so merit, and with their Hall plaques "teaching the controversy" where appropriate. My 2015 ballot reflects this:
Bagwell, Biggio, Johnson, Kent, P Martinez, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Smoltz.
It is impossible to limit yourself to ten votes and not vote strategically. In my case, that again meant leaving the eminently-worthy (with an asterisk) Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens off the ballot, out of a belief they weren't going to be inducted this year regardless. This made room for my continued votes for Kent, Mussina, Raines, and Schilling, to ensure each receives due consideration both this year and going forward. I could have easily added Sheffield or Edgar Martinez to my ballot as well.

(Our discussion of the 2011 ballot2011 Doodle results; 2012 discussion; 2012 Doodle results; 2013 discussion; 2013 Doodle results.)
A LESS LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR, AWAY:  Want to see the first trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens?  Rather than attaching it to a specific movie, it'll make its debut before all movies starting next Friday at 8 Regal theatres spread throughout the US.  Of course, I fully expect this'll be little more than a teaser with a hint of new footage.  Related--the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer is actually much more impressive in a big theatre with a multi-track sound system, where you can hear the effort that's gone into the arrangement and mixing of "Cups."

ETA:  The trailer is apparently 88 seconds, per an adorable handwritten note from JJ Abrams posted on Twitter.  As noted, it'll be attached to everything at those theatres, so you don't have to go see The Penguins of Madagascar unless you really want to.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

FORMER DIME-STORE MIMBO MAKES GOOD:  A Fallon/Krasinski/Merchant-produced Lip Sync Battle: The Series will hit Spike TV this spring.  [It is v. difficult to pick between Merchant, JGL, Paul Rudd, and Emma Stone as the best competitor to date.]
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PIZZA, MAN:  How bad are the Philadelphia 76ers?  So bad that Papa John's Pizza has had to change its "Sixers Win, You Win" promo, where Philly area orders got a 50% discount the day after a Sixers win, to "Sixers Score More Than 90 Points, You Win."
ALOTT5MA FOREIGN CAR DESK: So I am about halfway through Season 2 of the sublime The Americans when I noticed something.  With the exception of a single Citroen driven by some Russians and the Mercedes driven by a Congressional aide, I do not believe I have seen a single imported car driven by anyone within the narrative.  And it's all big body sedans, too.  Impalas and Crown Victorias and such.

Now, it's a lot of government cars, of course, but it is also possible I haven't seen a single vintage import on the street.  No Porsche 914s, no Honda Civic CVCCs, no Suburu Brats. The director's eye for the 1980s is simply too good for this to be an oversight.  And I think it's a great choice.

[N.B.: A spoiler-free thread, please, but any comments on the raw 80s-ness (and, indeed, early 80s-ness) of the show are welcomed.  Est? Intellivision? The same donut phone my sister had?]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LIVE FROM NEW YORK It's the remainder of the 2014 schedule:
11/22: Cameron Diaz (4th time)/Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
12/6: James Franco (3x)/Nicki Minaj
12/13: Martin Freeman (rookie)/Charli 10-110 XCX
12/20: Amy Adams (2x)/One Direction
Other Martins who have hosted the show: Steve, Sheen, Strother, Pamela Sue, Billy, Short, Lawrence. Also, if you haven't seen it yet, last week's Match'd is one of the best basic-premise-executed-perfectly skits they've done in awhile.
THE PITCH IS BACK:  Pitch Perfect 2, first trailer. More of the same, plus unfortunate pratfall.
MIKE NICHOLS (1931-2014): How can you capture Mike Nichols' legacy easily? It's a series of dayenus: If he had only been half of Nichols and May, which helped redefine what sketch comedy would do, it would have been enough for us; if he had only directed The Graduate and not any of the other 20+ films he directed for screen and tv, my goodness, what a generation-defining, innovative, great film.

And yet there was also Carnal Knowledge. And Primary Colors. And Working Girl, a modern feminist fairy tale done right. And everything he did for the stage, including seven Tony Awards for Best Directing across a 41-year-span as well as introducing Whoopi Goldberg to the world through her amazing one-woman show.

This anecdote from Mark Harris' recounting of the making of The Graduate remains my favorite Nichols story:
When he had decided to make The Graduate three and a half years earlier, Nichols thought he knew exactly what his satirical targets were. ''I said some fairly pretentious things about capitalism and material objects, about the boy drowning in material things and saving himself in the only possible way, which was through madness,'' he recalls. But the deeper he got into the shoot and the more intensely he pushed Hoffman past what the actor thought he could withstand, the more Nichols realized that something painful and personal was at stake, and always had been, in his attraction to the story.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

EAT LEAD, COBRA:  Much ado about this Barbie the Computer Engineer book going around the internets.  Reminded me of one of the greatest pranks in consumer history -- folks who swapped the voice chips between Talking Barbie and GI Joe -- and reverse-shoplifted them back into inventory.


ALOTT5MA PIZZA ECONOMICS DESK:  Occasional commenter Ted noted on Facebook this morning that he wondered just how much of Pizza Hut's revenue comes from folks who, about every three years, basically say "fuck it, I guess we're stuck with Pizza Hut."  I'm guessing it's well north of 10%.

If Tp  - the mean time between when someone will order Pizza Hut based strictly out of desperation -for a given household in America is 1,000 days, and there are about 120M households in America, you've got a daily orders arising from sheer soul-resigning Calvinist predetermination of, say, $1M a day ($8 customer/order/day).  So $365MM.  Yum Brands revenue in 2013 was $11.3 billion.  As a lot of revenue for Yum is overseas and Pizza Hut is just one of there three big brands, this sort of pizza ordering is clearly well in excess of 10% of their American revenue stream.

So, who has that job?  Who is in charge trying to drop Tp from 1,000 days to 750?  
ZIP CODE, FARGO NORTH DAKOTA:  People has an interview with one of the many professionals that man the Butterball Hotline.  This, of course, requires the appropriate clip.  (Also, just me, or has The Newsroom actually gotten really good, in large part because Maggie is no longer the dumbest person imaginable?)
ALOTT5MA CULTURAL SENSITIVITY DESK, TIMES HAVE CHANGED EDITION:  I went with the girls and my dad last weekend to see a regional production of Anything Goes (still here this weekend), and while it had many charms—including local newscaster Rick Williams hamming it up as Moonface Martin, and the sheer joy of having every tap dance in a ten-mile radius rounded up for the title number—the Chinese passengers from Cole Porter's original remain horrific ethnic cartoons, really cringe-worthy stereotypes from a bygone era which ought to remain gone.

The problem, of course, being that these characters (and having the male leads pose as them) are integral to how the last-act mechanics of the farce play out, so they can't be removed entirely, and the beloved 2011 Sutton Foster revival didn't fix it.

I don't have an answer to this; has anyone seen a satisfactory dramaturgical solution?  Or should we just appreciate the great parts, and try to ignore (and explain to our kids) the rest? [Related: Groff!]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE ANSWER IS "NO":  Sure, it was quite overplayed, but Magic's "Rude" is a terrific little tune - with the added advantage that unlike so much of pop song-writing these days, it has a little story buried within.  It's inspired many terrific covers -- I think Walk Off the Earth's is by far superior to the original -- and is deserving of a long life as a bit of the Anglo-Australia-American-Canadian pop songbook.

But I am trying to understand how anyone thinks that it mixes at all well as a dance tune.  I don't think Jim Croce's Operator would work as a roof-raising club anthem, nor Don McLean's Vincent, nor Jimmy Buffett's Miss You So Badly.  I know I'm not the intended audience, but this is a little incongruous, no?


ALOTT5MA's RULE AGAINST PERPITUTIES DESK wants to point out that if you mean to have your body cryonicgenically frozen after death, Hong Kong may be the place to do it.
ALOTT5MA CULTURAL SENSITIVITY DESK:  When Peter Pan Live! airs, it'll have several new songs--mostly trunk songs with new/revised lyrics.  Also, the lyrics to "Ugg-A-Wugg" have been tweaked-- the new version "replaces lyrics such as "ugg-a-wugg" and "gugg-a-bluck" with traditional Native American terms that have been approved by Native American consultant Jerod Tate."
AW, LUCY, NOT THE FOOTBALL AGAIN:  On the plus side, the trailer for next year's forthcoming Peanuts Movie does make nice use of "Linus and Lucy."  On the minus side, the 2.5D animation continues to kind of creep me out.
WELL, TONIGHT THANK GOD IT'S HIM, INSTEAD OF YOU: With all the calamities which have recently occurred, Gawker legitimately wonders if someone's trying to kill Bono.

Monday, November 17, 2014

DON'T YOU HAVE AN ENGLAND TO RUN?  Thanks to one of you, I have a birthday present to ourselves to give, because short of NPH eating fermented whale meat after singing a Billy Joel song during an a capella singing competition in order to qualify himself for EGOT, nothing really says ALOTT5MA like a new-to-me hatin' on Love Actually:
Everything in this movie is fucking insane. That's not how press conferences work. That's not how diplomacy works. That's not how prime ministers work. NOTHING IS HOW ANYTHING WORKS. That's not how weddings work, that's not how audio recording works, that's not how saxophones work, that's not how hair works, that's not how business meetings work, that's not how art works, that's not how grief works, that's not how primary school Christmas concerts work, that's not how airports work, that's not how music charts work, that's not how fat works, and none of it is how "love works."
SEVEN IMMEDIATE REACTIONS TO THE NEW #BANDAID30 SINGLE:  To which you can listen here, annotated here:

  • That is one front-loaded first stanza in terms of contemporary talent.
  • Why so sad, Sam Smith?
  • I like that they changed Bono's line. I don't like what they changed it to.
  • As long as you're changing lyrics, this isn't a hunger crisis and we're not trying to Feeeeed the wooorrrrld, so why not use "heal the world"?
  • There are three fewer members of Kool and the Gang than in the original.
  • Indeed, would it have killed them to invite Sting? George Michael? (Were they that busy, what with the inevitably doomed seafaring musical and whatever Michael's working on?)
  • Band Aid 20 is worse.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US:  Somewhat incomprehensibly and stubbornly, this blog turns twelve years old today. So thank you, Grantland's Katie Baker (and long-time lurker, who knew?), for this: