Saturday, May 8, 2004

YOUSEF IS A PUNK ROCKER: Okay, so maybe Ozzfest, Bahrain is still a few years out.
#72 -- RESURRECT GREGORY HINES: An annual favorite here, the 2004 University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt list is now available online. (PDF) They're on the streets as we speak.

Let us know your favorites in the Comments.

Friday, May 7, 2004

EUROBLOG: Figured I'd open up to the waiting and willing audience. I'm travelling to London and Paris on vacation for much of the last half of the month (starting this time next week). Fret not, as I'll try and blog from the road with the wonders of modern technology. But, audience members, you're invited to share your thoughts on what the cool kids are doing in London and Paris these days in comments.
THE NAME REMAINS THE SAME: For the eighth straight year, Emily is the most popular name for young girls coming into the world, while Jacob is the top boys name for the fourth consecutive year. Rounding out the top 10 for girls are: Emma, Madison, Hannah, Olivia, Abigail, Alexis, Ashley, Elizabeth, and Samantha. For boys, Nos. 2-10 are: Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Andrew, Joseph, Ethan, Daniel, Christopher, and Anthony.

editor's note: The new SSA data is available via this link.
I'LL SEE YOUR "O.C." AND RAISE YOU "90210": Even if you won't have reruns of "The O.C." to tide you over this summer, at least you have Celebrity Poker Showdown 2. Sadly, no all "West Wing" table this time, and (as always), a few inexplicable selections (Mena Suvari, both of the Masterson brothers, and professional tennis player James Blake), but some of the selections for players (Lauren Graham, Andy Richter, Jon Favreau, Matthew Perry, Sara Rue) are top-notch.

Of course, nothing will top next week's "Jeopardy Power Players" tournament, which will finally answer the question that's been burning in my mind--"Where in the world is Ashleigh Banfield? And is she smarter than Ari Fleischer?" (My guesses for who wins big--Anderson Cooper and Al Franken.)
YOUR FAITH WAS STRONG, BUT YOU NEEDED PROOF: I love The O.C., and the O.C. loves the Seger.

I didn't get into the show until 2/3 through the season, but, damn, that's some fine-tasting candy. Just a great prime-time soap, one that that treated its teen plots and adult plots with equal care and infused the whole enterprise with great characters, real emotion and rare intelligence. It allowed you to ignore the fact that most of the "high school students" looked at least 25 -- certainly, at a minimum, older than Steve Sanders looked throughout the first six seasons of 90210.

But, especially, kudos to honcho Josh Schwartz for the finale. Plenty of shows have ended their seasons with characters in peril, but I can't think of any that left every single character feeling sad, lonely and stuck, taking away from each of them a connection held dear.

And then, add on top of that Jeff Buckley's cover of "Hallelujah", the one song guaranteed to provoke an emotional reaction from every Gen-Xer (that and Nirvana's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?", right?), and you've got A+ television.

Someone tell me why they're not airing reruns all summer long. (I mean, I understand the whole concept that cable and the success of the original Survivor destroyed traditional notions as to what the summer tv schedule could look like, but, c'mon, please?)

Thursday, May 6, 2004

I TOO HAVE SHAME: Since we're admitting things here: I am a 33-year old heterosexual male who, through the twin magic of TiVo and Noggin, sometime this weekend will finish watching every single episode of TNBC latecomer Just Deal.

Come, friends, share your darkest secrets too.
SEATTLE'S BEST: Among the list of Washington state's Biggest Deadbeat Parents are two names near and dear to our own Isaac Spaceman: former Seahawk RB Chris Warren, more than $103K in arrears, and former Sonic/Rocket/Spur/King/Sixer/Magic/Maverick/Hornet baller Vernon "Mad Max" Maxwell, $35K in the hole, a man who in 1995 took leave from the Rockets due to “personal problems.”

Two weeks later he admitted, “That was just something I made up. I’m on vacation. I’m drinking brews, playing golf, and getting paid.”

Hey, Alex, this list thing is kinda fun!
MORE, OR LESS, SHAMEFUL THAN BUYING THE NEW ISSUE OF PLAYBOY: Bored and looking for reading material, yes, I actually picked up a copy of Us (aka "The Magazine For Those Who Think Entertainment Weekly Has Too Many Words"), with its provocative cover story on "Teens Gone Wild!" and a provocative look at the weighty question on everyone's mind: "Is Mary-Kate Too Skinny?" And if you ever wanted to know what Rachel Bilson's favorite things are, we get a two-page spread on that question. I attempted to make up for my sin by also purchasing the new issue of The New Republic--the bran muffin of magazines--the one you don't read because you really want to, but because you really feel like you ought to, and it's filling. Yet, somehow, I feel compelled to expiate my sins here.

And, oh, yeah, there was a series of pictures of Cameron Diaz shooting some movie down in Florida. Might be of interest to some folks.
WHAT ARE THREE THINGS YOU WON'T FIND HERE? Yet, people come to this site searching for them on Google:

Wacky things that go on in Poland

"Clay Aiken Kim Locke breasts" (I really don't want to know what this guy was looking for.)

Pictures of Jordan and Taylor Hanson smoking (though the query may just have sought references to Jordan and Taylor Hanson as "smoking")

Also, in case you can't get enough of Gawker and Wonkette (and I know I can't), check out Defamer, Gawker's new L.A. affiliate.
EMPTY CHAIRS AT EMPTY TABLES: With "Friends" and "Frasier" closing up shop, the Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan pauses today to ponder whether the couch at Central Perk or Martin's battered old chair deserve a spot in the TV Furniture Hall of Fame (reg. req.). [Note: The online version repeats No. 2, Lucy and Ricky's twins beds, while omitting Archie Bunker's chair.] Overall, the ten inductees on the list are pretty solid (neither aforementioned item made the cut), but I would replace the Kramdens' kitchen table and the sofa sleeper JJ and Michael shared on "Good Times," with the Simpsons' couch and Norm's bar stool on "Cheers."
A WORD FROM PAT TILLMAN'S BROTHER: I don't know what to say about this, except that I don't expect to see it in Sports Illustrated, or on, or in any video clips of John McCain. Here's Pat Tillman's brother at Monday's memorial service:
Pat isn't with God. He's f---ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f---ing dead.

Link via

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

WHEN YOU'RE SMILING: No, I don't have a problem with tonight's AI results, and I'm not going to claim racism. George Huff had been largely unmemorable since his enthusiastic "Lean On Me" in the wild card round, and coasted on his charisma ever since. He's a nice singer, but not a distinctive one.

Anyway, anyone who chooses to sing "Against All Odds" cannot later come to me looking for mercy.
TEENAGE WASTELAND: Teen People is out with its "25 Hottest Stars Under 25", which is often confused with Dwarf People's "25 Hottest Stars Under 2-Foot-5." Most of the names you'd expect to see there (Lindsay, Hillary, Christina, Beyonce, Justin, Mary-Kate and Ashley, Avril) are there, save Amanda, which coupled with the Red Wings being unceremoniously ousted by the Calgary Flames, means someone must be having a tough week.
DRATCH! In case you missed it, perhaps the funniest SNL sketch of this mediocre season aired Saturday night. Was it meant to be this funny? No. But as David Bianculli explains, once Rachel Dratch lost it during the "Debbie Downer" skit, there was a chain reaction breakdown so profound that even Jimmy Fallon became amusing. You can watch it all via this link.

My favorite breakdown ever on the show? Phil Hartman during one of the Frankenstein/Tonto/Tarzan sketches, on, like, a talk show, and he just couldn't stop cracking up while saying "Fire bad! Fire bad!" He lost it, Lovitz lost it, it was awesome.

Man, I miss him.
CATCHES THIEVES JUST LIKE FLY BALLS: From the "Yes, Nothing Is Sacred" Department comes the news that Major League Baseball will allow its bases, pitching rubbers, and on-deck circles to be emblazoned with the Spider-Man 2 logo for games the weekend of June 11-13. No word yet on whether the left field wall in Boston will be referred to as the Green Goblin or if Kansas City pitcher Darrell May will adopt the nickname "Aunt" for those games.
SO THAT'S WHO WAS REPLAYING THE "WARDROBE MALFUNCTION": Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted on last night's Larry King Live that he loves TiVo. In fact, the transcript indicates that he explained to Larry that "TiVo would change your whole way of viewing television." Well, looks like he has an alternative job offer if things don't work out in DC for him. Powell also notes that he TiVo's Larry King Live every night. Better, and snarkier, minds than I are invited to suggest what other programs Powell might be recording in the comments.
STILL NO WORD FROM JIM VERRAROS: I'm not a big AI fan, but I am a theatre geek. (Yes, there are heterosexual male theatre geeks out there.) So I feel compelled to note Playbill's report that AI contestant Vanessa Olivarez will be playing the lead in the Toronto production of the hysterical Hairspray. I know Adam has suggested that Clay should just go on ahead and play Mark in "Rent" rather than deal with his "real career," but what other "stars" do you want to see on stage?

However, even John Stevens as "The Beast" in Beauty and the Beast may well be better than "Prymate," the play that opens tonight on Broadway (the last opening of the season), which has been playing to less than 10% of capacity so far, and, according to Newsday, features the best gorilla orgasm sound ever heard on Broadway. I'm wondering what the second best one is. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

THE ONE WHERE THEY PLAY POND HOCKEY AND THEN DRINK MOLSONS IN THE TIM HORTON'S PARKING LOT: Say what you will about Canadians, but the country has produced more than its fair amount of comedic talent over the years (and that's not counting Celine Dion). So, when The Toronto Star asks its readers to pick the greatest sitcom of all time, you have to pay attention to the results. And the winner, with 23% of the vote, not surprisingly, was "Seinfeld" followed by "Friends" at 15% and "The Simpsons" at 14%. Nary a Canadian sitcom made the top 10, not even "contemporary Canuck gems Corner Gas and Trailer Park Boys."

Speaking of "Friends," some of you industry insiders might be aware that the series finale is set to air this week. Everyone from Omaha to Minneapolis has been making list of the best episodes in the shows 10-year run. In my opinion, the show doesn't really loan itself well to this kind of examination. Everyone has a favorite "Seinfeld" or "Simpsons" or "Cheers," but for some reason, I can't say the same thing is true with "Friends." Most of the lists of the favorite episodes seem more to be just the episodes where important milestones happened in the lives of the characters, rather than true 30-minute comedic gems. I guess, in a way, that was kind of the charm of the show.

And speaking of finales, it would seem with both "Friends" and "Frasier" leaving the building this month, some TV critic would have made a list of the greatest series finales of all time. I haven't seen one, so I'll throw it open to the Comments Crowd. I'll start with the obvs. picks: "Newhart," "St. Elsewhere," "Mary Tyler Moore," and "Cheers," Now what are some of your favorites, or in the case of, say, the heavy-handed "M*A*S*H" and the disappointing "Seinfeld" swan songs, your least favorites?

Update: MSNBC looks at eight memorable finales and you can vote for your favorite. Right now "M*A*S*H" is in the lead, followed by "Newhart."
ONLY FIFTY YEARS AFTER BROWN V. BOARD OF ED.: Word came in over the transom this morning that Cracker Barrel had settled outstanding claims of widespread discrimination against it filed on behalf of black diners in about 50 locations, on charges similar to the infamous Denny's "Now Serving Black People, Because The Courts Say We Have To" (tm - Wife) lawsuits.

According to a company spokesperson, the settlement "moves Cracker Barrel forward in a direction we were already moving."

Yes, that's right, they were working on it. Equal treatment of paying customers was a long-term goal of theirs, and they were headed in that direction, trying to be a little less racist every day. But they've had a lot of priorities, rolling out their new line of Fancy Fixins and all, so they were happy to have this little reminder from the DOJ to move up this 'action item' on the agenda.

The good news is that they now expect to remove the separate drinking fountains by late 2006, not the originally-planned 2010. Yippee!
AI'GHT: I'm a sucker for Big Band night on American Idol -- Kelly Clarkson's performance of "Stuff Like That There" from season one still stands out for me as the best performance in the three-year history of the series. And tonight . . . was good.

They're at an interesting point this season, because there are no bad singers left -- unlike season one (Nikki) and two (Gracin), everyone left in the round of five is at least consistent and competent, and no one sang badly tonight.

I thought La Toya shone, especially on "Don't Rain On My Parade". It was odd for me -- I kept hearing Barbra Streisand's immaculately crisp phrasing in the back of my head, but it didn't make me think any less of tonight's performance. Her personality carried her through.

On the rest, my feelings haven't changed much. The D.I.A.N.A. bot is competent but soulless; George Huff gets by more on charisma than chops, mellifluous though he may be; Disney's Jasmine Trias (tm - TWoP) bores the heck out of me; and Fantasia, dawg, Fantasia's still my girl, even if La Toya was better tonight.

But no one was bad. So it's up to that "democracy" thing to sort this sucker out.
WHERE DO WE GO? To those of you who have followed me over here from A List A Day, I'd like to reassure you that just because I have a new blogdress, I'll still be doing that list thing you've come to love (along with commenting on other stuff without having to make half-hearted attempts to tie those posts into lists). And to those of you who have ignored the many links to my original blog from this blog because you hate lists, well, tough.

Anyway, on to the list thing, specifically the news erstwhile Guns N' Roses' guitarist Slash is responsible for the greatest guitar riff of all time, according to readers of the UK's Total Guitar magazine (tag line: The Revolution Will Be Amplified). Slash's ax work on GNR's meteorological opus "Sweet Child O' Mine" topped the list, followed by Nirvana's "Teen Spirit" and Led Zep's "Whole Lotta Love." There are some surprises in the top 20, mainly the inclusion of relatively uncannonized songs by Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, and Rage Against the Machine, which left no room for classics like "Satisfaction," "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Crimson and Clover," "Helter Skelter," and "Purple Haze."

Monday, May 3, 2004

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?: Well, for my first post at this, my new blog home (and thanks, Adam, for welcoming both Alex and I with open arms), time to address an American cultural institution. Yes, it's time to talk about "Saturday Night Live." Honestly, despite this week greeting the best "SNL"-related movies in ages with "Mean Girls," the show has slid down the pipes in recent years. It's almost season-end time, so it's time to ask the important questions: Who will stay? Who should stay? Who will go? Who should go? Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? My thoughts:

Fred Armisen: Should stay. Will stay. Yes, the "Ferecito" sketch grew tiresome, but Armisen, unlike some folks, knows when to call it quits (note we've been pretty minimal on that front this year). Also, Armisen has a dynamite sense of the absurd in his characters--he's perfect as "that guy in the background of a sketch doing something bizarre." Or witness his turn in the "Gigli" sketch as a mentally challenged person playing opposite Ben Affleck. Note perfect.

Rachel Dratch: Should go. Will go. Dratch has solid range, playing a little bit of everything, but honestly, she's done as much as she really can on the show, and doesn't have a "signature" part. She'll be perfect as a younger Joan Cusack-type and will have a solid sitcom/movie career as a character actress.

Jimmy Fallon: Should go. Will go. Fallon's fratboy schtick is funny. I'll give him that. But he needs to get back to his roots and lose the one note. First time I saw him do comedy was as opening act for Fiona Apple before her infamous meltdown at Roseland a few years back. Now, he relies on stock characters and allegedly funny Bah-stan accents that just aren't workable. He has range, even dramatic skills, as his role in "Almost Famous" demonstrates, but SNL is not the right place for him anymore.

Tina Fey: Should go. Will stay. Tina is the savior of SNL according to the media. Her snarky wit helped reinvigorate the show, and she revels in having a brain, unllike Fallon, who revels in not having one. She's now an in-demand screenwriter and actress with the success of "Mean Girls," though I think she needs to work on story structure. What reason is there for her to stay when she can make better money and hone her craft elsewhere? But I expect she will stay, largely out of misguided loyalty, just do "Update" for a year or so while Lorne grooms her successor, and then leave in a blaze of glory.

Will Forte: Should go. Will stay. "The Falconer?" Not funny, though I admit its utter absurdity has a certain charm. Now, name another memorable Will Forte sketch. Bet you can't (the closest I can come is the "Will Forte Sex Tape" sketch a few months back). Exactly why he should go, but will stay.

Darrell Hammond: Should go. Will stay. Hammond has solid political impressions, but that's it. And honestly, how many more times can we see him shout "Welcome to HARD-BALL!" amusingly? It's worn a little thin. But, given SNL's need for a political impressionist in this season, he's likely to stay at least through the end of the year.

Seth Meyers: Should go. Will stay. Honestly, name something memorable that he's done. However, he's the John Kerry impersonator, and even though his impression lacks anything of substance (or humor), they need one through at least the end of the year.

Finesse Mitchell: Honestly, I can't think of anything he's done that makes him worth judging.

Chris Parnell: Should go. Will go. The nonentity of the cast right now. Did you know this is his SIXTH season on "SNL?" Aside from Joe Lieberman, I just don't remember anything of interest.

Amy Poehler: Should stay. Will go. Poehler's already started to build a movie career, and is likely to run away. Sadly, her touch of the surreal will be sorely missed, as will her overcaffinated (and dead-on) Kelly Ripa impression. Honestly, she'll do well, but she could easily do a few more years before she grows tiresome.

Jeff Richards: Should go. Will go. "Drunk Girl"=Not funny.

Maya Rudolph: Should go. Will go. Rudolph can hit it, but needs to learn that the Donatella Versace character really isn't that funny any more (and actually may never have been funny). I'm not sure that she has much going on in the future, because her sketches seem largely confined to her shouting, but we'll see.

Horatio Sanz: Should go. Will go. If you cannot keep a straight face during an unfunny sketch, you must go. Also, he wears out his welcome quickly--see, e.g., Gene Shalit. "I'm fat and Hispanic and stoned!" is not a joke, Horatio.

Kenan Thompson: Should go. Will go. The Carol Moseley Braun jokes were bad enough. Combine that with "Good Burger," and I designate him for axing.

Share your thoughts, as always.
PHILADELPHIA, NEW YORK, CHICAGO (AP): In an acquisition poised to rival AOL's purchase of TimeWarnerTurner for the incompatibility of its parts and Seagram's purchase of Universal Pictures for the potential for mixing refreshing beverages with mediocre popular culture, the owners of the Throwing Things weblog have purchased all assets of Live from Five Minutes Ago, including all future rights to the intellectual production (if any) of Matthew Marcotte, its founder, through a hostile takeover maneuver.

Crafty lawyer that he was, Marcotte had inserted a 'poison pill' as part of his stock agreement -- namely, that anyone who took him over also would be forced to acquire the assets of Alex Gordon's popular A List A Day weblog, in the hopes that the combined volume of pop culture nonsense would sabotage any future acquisitions. Throwing Things founder Adam Bonin was heard to make loud harumphing sounds, before agreeing to the terms.

The newly-merged website, to be titled A List Of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago (for a day or two, anyway), will be hosted at, with the other sites maintaining their vast archives on their original Web pages.

According to Marcotte, "The merger will create a combined entity with a net worth of approximately 0.0000001% of the planning upcoming initial public offering of Google. Oddly, this will still make all of us instant billionaires."

"It's closer to a cabal than a conspiracy," said Bonin. "Well, it's certainly not a capital-c Conspiracy, because none of us are libertarian law professors. Also, none of us are smart enough to do that thing where everyone posts in different colors."

"My hope is can inject the same kind of energy and excitement into this combined blog that cousin Oliver brought to the Brady household," Gordon says.

The move greatly increases the site's diversity. Whereas before Throwing Things solely focused on the cultural tastes of overeducated urban liberal males in their early 30s, the new site will provide the much-needed perspective of groups previously underrepresented in the blogosphere: overeducated urban liberal males in their mid 20s and mid 30s.

What will the new site look like? More of the same, but all in one place. Alex will still do the lists; Matt will continue to survey the culture with his trenchant eye, as will Adam, plus his sidekicks Isaac and Phil will . . . what is it exactly they do, again?

[On a personal note, I just want to say how happy I am about all this. Alex and Matt are two bloggers whose work I've always enjoyed, and I think we're going to have a lot of fun here together. -- Adam]

Sunday, May 2, 2004

SYNCHRONICITY: I swear, I was just trying to make a joke when I titled last week's Sopranos post AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN GOTTEN TO THE FINN-CENTERED EPISODE YET.

Because, now, we did. And they've really captured how college students talk when they're trying really hard to sound what-they-think-is-smart. Meadow's explanation of learned behaviors from the old country, where all authority was corrupt . . . priceless.

As for Vito Spatafore . . . um, yeah.