Friday, April 29, 2005

LIVE LONG AND BREATHE A LITTLE EASIER: It turns out that not every child molester and sexual predator is also a Trekkie, as The L.A. Times misreported this week. Ernest Miller at the Corante blog actually picked up the phone, did a little reporting and discovered that while The Times article claimed "All but one of the offenders [the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit] have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie," which would mean that 99 out of 100 pedophiles can speak Klingon, the truth is that the detective can only claim a majority of pedophiles he's caught have shown "at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest." Still not the greatest feeling for you Trekkies, I'm guessing.

The Times is now a Tribune Company paper, but the Trekkie controversy isn't the only trouble the company's papers have been having this week.
DON'T FORGET YOUR TOWEL: So, is the long-awaited movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy any good? Yeah. There are moments of both wonder (a fly-by sequence over "Earth Mark II"), Adams' droll humor (most of the "Guide" segments, which are animated in "international symbol" style), and reckless surrealism (an opening Broadway-esque number titled "So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!"). But there are two big problems--both of which stem from the source material. First, there's really no conflict in the movie. Yes, there's an evil galactic leader (John Malkovich, in a performance that could easily be an unbilled cameo), and galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox comes off as, well, kind of a dick, but neither are present enough as villains to drive the movie forward. Things happen, but they don't move a plot forward--they just meander. Second is where the humor comes from. Sure, the characters are ridiculous, but most of the humor in the book and in the movie stems from exposition. And most of that, by nature of the movie, has to go. Things are abridged (the "Deep Thought" storyline) only vaguely hinted at (the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster), or even deleted all together (the lengthy digital watches monologue, how the Babel Fish disproves the existence of God).

That said, the movie's still funny, and I'm interested in seeing how the movie's received by those who weren't fans of the various Hitchhiker mythos before the movie. However, for me, I think the radio and book versions have this one beat, despite some wonderful visual moments.
IT WAS PRETENDING TO BE OREGANO: Honestly, how can you not want to read a case titled United States vs. 328 Pounds, More or Less, of Wild American Ginseng, 347 F.Supp.2d 241 (W.D.N.C. 2004) in which "an order and warrant were issued for the arrest of ginseng?"
LIKE A RHINESTONE COWBOY: Unlike Adam, I watched The Apprentice rather than Survivor last night, and witnessed perhaps the most ridiculous moment of Trumpiness ever--more ridiculous than the time he fired two people because he felt like it, more ridiculous than the "Stacie J. is insane" incident, and yes, even more ridiculous than the "Trump comforts the firee" moment from a few weeks ago. Net Worth project manager Tana decided that the best technique for selling T-Shirts was not to construct a clever marketing strategy or a clever design, but instead (and I'm not making this up), to go to Staten Island in search of a BeDazzler to stick rhinestones on the shirts. As Miss Alli points out, this assumes that "Manhattan is out of rhinestones," which she, and I, find difficult to believe.

But that's not where it becomes truly ludicrous. Needless to say, this strategy fails, when the other team constructs a coherent marketing strategy and Tana decides to spend the day gluing rhinestones onto t-shirts rather than doing something to create sales volume. So, Tana and Alex head to the Boardroom. In my view, this is an easy call. One thought it would be a good idea to go to Staten Island in search of a BeDazzler. The other said that they should instead try to create a marketing strategy. So who's fired? Of course, it's Alex. Trump, I know you dig the gaudy, but being obsessed with the BeDazzler? Not OK.

Interestingly, for all the criticism of Trump as sexist or racist, this season's winner will either be a woman or an African-American, who are the only people left standing.
DOES THIS BRING US TO 45 PERCENT? Our good friend Charlie Glassenberg reminds us that today, April 29, is the third annual Lee Elia Day on ALOTT5MA, the day upon which we must celebrate and commemorate the greatest post-game press conference rant in professional sports history (yes, better than We Talkin' Bout Practice?), which took place on this date in 1983.

The setting is Wrigley Field. The Cubs just lost to the Dodgers 4-3 on a Lee Smith wild pitch before a recorded crowd of 9391, placing them last in the National League's East Division at 5-14. Cubs manager Lee Elia steps to the microphone:
[ ] those [ ] fans who come out here and say they're Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you rippin' every [ ] thing you do. I'll tell you one [ ] thing, I hope we get [ ] hotter than [ ], just to stuff it up them 3,000 [ ] people that show up every [ ] day, because if they're the real Chicago [ ] fans, they can kiss my [ ] ass right downtown and PRINT IT.
For the full, unexpurgated rant, complete with audio, follow the link.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

POOR, PREDICTABLE BART. ALWAYS TAKES ROCK: Never before in RPS history has so much money rested on one extension of the hand:

Takashi Hashiyama, president of Maspro Denkoh Corporation, an electronics company based outside of Nagoya, Japan, could not decide whether Christie's or Sotheby's should sell the company's art collection, which is worth more than $20 million, at next week's auctions in New York.

He did not split the collection - which includes an important C├ęzanne landscape, an early Picasso street scene and a rare van Gogh view from the artist's Paris apartment - between the two houses, as sometimes happens. Nor did he decide to abandon the auction process and sell the paintings through a private dealer.

Instead, he resorted to an ancient method of decision-making that has been time-tested on playgrounds around the world: rock breaks scissors, scissors cuts paper, paper smothers rock.

In Japan, resorting to such games of chance is not unusual. "I sometimes use such methods when I cannot make a decision," Mr. Hashiyama said in a telephone interview. "As both companies were equally good and I just could not choose one, I asked them to please decide between themselves and suggested to use such methods as rock, paper, scissors."

How did the auction houses prepare? Who won? Are eleven-year-olds worth relying on? Did anyone throw Spock?

Keep reading.
CONTINUITY THEATER: Okay, so I haven't watched ER in months, but if you thought that having the helicopter come back to take out the rest of Dr. Romano was the television equivalent of the alligator coming back for the rest of Captain Hook, then what do we make of Dr. Carter's exit arc being initiated by that old guy played by Red Buttons who kept whining to Carter when he terminally ill wife never got better? Seriously, Ruby first appeared on December 14, 1995, so this is kinda cool.

And to top that, the post-episode Hallmark ad featured the late Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole's ukelele cover of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", better known to most of us as Mark Greene's Death Music.

Now if only we could find out who beat the crap out of Mark in the bathroom, what happened to Clooney's one-mentioned son, Pratt's brother, Bob, Dr. Hicks . . .
WE CAN'T GET A FEMALE ALLIANCE TOGETHER BECAUSE CARYN SUCKS: Man, oh man. At least as far as tonight's Survivor was edited, this was the most wide open vote coming into Tribal that I can ever remember. This was the brilliance of Burnett's letting one tribe just dominate the whole pre-merge period; without having a divisive vote before, no one had to act upon any of the potential alliances they believe they were in.

And, then, boom. Tonight, it all started to come out, and at least 3/7 of the tribe was reasonably at risk in the vote. In the end . . .

Well, I'll just say this: in the next two weeks, there are people who'll be eliminated who could've used this person's vote. They sacrificed long-term interests for a momentary peace, and they will suffer as a result.
MAN, CAN'T FIND NOTHING ON THE RADIO: While waiting for normal Thursday night programming to resume, I'm pleased to present another eclectic song collection. Our theme tonight? "Unexpected Radio Hits." 10 songs that you wouldn't think would become a hit, but did. As usual, unless otherwise noted, links are to iTunes.
  1. "Brick," Ben Folds Five--This has been the very talented Folds' only big radio hit so far, and just listening to it for the first time, you get the piano and Folds' soulful wail. It's the second and third listening where the "huh?" factor comes into play, as you slowly realize that Folds is singing a song that's about a guy taking his girlfriend to have an abortion, and you realize that this is on the radio (and in my case, in Dallas, no less).
  2. "David Duchovny," Bree Sharp--The smallest radio hit on the hit, and the definition of a "novelty hit." At the peak of the "X-Files" popularity, who can resist a song that describes Duchovny as "American Heathcliff, brooding and comely," or the immortal "David Duchovny, I want you to love me, I'm gonna kill Scully!"
  3. "Sadeness, Part I," Enigma--Who knew that excerpts of the writing of the Marquis de Sade, chanted in Latin over a techno beat would work? Guess it does.
  4. "Jump Around," House of Pain--A few Irish white guys from Boston rapping over the leadoff of a bagpipe? Who knew that was a recipe for fun?
  5. "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)," US3--It's hard to believe that before Norah Jones, this was Blue Note's big hope for the future, it takes a sample from Herbie Hancock's "Cantalope Island" and then mixes it with rap lyrics that are of Vanilla Ice quality ("Jump to the jam/boogie woogie jam slam/bust the dialect/I'm the man in command!"). The truly frightening thing is how irresistable the song winds up being, with the spirited command of "Give me more of that funky horn!"
  6. "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)," Baz Luhrmann/Quindon Tarver (Amazon)--A simple drumbeat layered over a bizarre commencement speech. You can't tell if it's sincere, if it's ironic, or if it's some combination thereof.
  7. "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand," Primitive Radio Gods--Chris O'Connor layers three elements that you wouldn't think go together--a pulsing drum backbeat, his own metaphorical rap/singing of lyrics like "Moonlight spills on comic books and superstars in magazines," and an echoing B.B. King sample, passionately singing "I been downhearted, babe!" Again, it works, and you don't know why.
  8. "The Mummer's Dance," Loreena McKennitt (Amazon)--Loreena McKennitt is known for her hyper-accurate medieval music, and is probably the last person who expected this song, featuring panpipes and Arthurian lyrics like "we've been rambling all the night and sometime of the day, now returning back again, we bring a garland gay," to become a hit. But it did.
  9. "Lullaby," Shawn Mullins--Mullins, a protohippie from Atlanta, narrates in spoken word the tale of a disillusioned young girl in L.A. Then, the gravelly speaking voice abruptly shifts gears into the soaring chorus--"Everything's gonna be alright, rockabye!" Just wow.
  10. "The Freshmen," The Verve Pipe--Another one of those "second listening" issues. At first, you think of it as just a catchy tune and then you realize that it's a song about a guy whose girlfriend has killed herself. Regret and sadness don't normally sell records, especially when coupled with rage and self-loathing, but this wound up a huge radio hit.
BO KNOWS. NOW, SO DO WE: The Smoking Gun does it again: America's favorite "rocker" was once a "snorter":

One of the five remaining "American Idol" finalists was once arrested for felony cocaine possession, but had the charge dismissed last year after completing a so-called "diversion program" for first-time offenders, The Smoking Gun has learned. Harold "Bo" Bice, 29, was busted in June 2001 by Huntsville, Alabama cops and hit with the drug count, a Class C felony, according to the below warrant (Bice posted $1000 bond and was released from the Madison County Jail). He was arrested again in 2003 near Birmingham and charged with marijuana possession, public intoxication, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to the latter two misdemeanors in December 2004. The pot possession charge was dismissed after Bice's successful completion of the same diversion program that covered the prior cocaine case.
Conspiracy theory time -- does 19E/Fox use this as an excuse to boot Bo (the "we didn't know" response) and bring back the more malleable, marketable Constantine?

She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie . . .
IT'S 2 A.M., WHY AM I BLOGGING? A little music trivia for you. Name the first male artist from a pop or rock group to have his debut solo album open at No. 1 on the album charts? It's not Lennon or McCartney or Mick Jagger or Lou Reed or Morrissey or Justin Timberlake or George Michael.

The answer is Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas, whose debut solo album, "Something to Be," is this week's top seller.
YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL TO ME: Who needs Ambien when the editors of People are so obliging with their annual list of the 50 Most Beautiful People. There's Julia Roberts on the cover (yawn), Brad Pitt, Oprah, Angelina Jolie (yawn), David Beckham, Matthew McConh-0qh0-8]pgh31Yz!@0-1755TYHN...oops, sorry there, my head hit the keyboard.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

ONE SONG, GORY: Tonight's results on American Idol? As big a stunner as Nikki outlasting Tamyra and Josh Gracin eliminating Trenyce, and if it's explicable at all, it's for the same reason as the first one.

The pretty boy front man who wasted opportunity:

How do you write a song
When the chords sound wrong
Though they once sounded right and rare?
When the notes are sour
Where is the power
You once had to ignite the air?


And he could have won the whole competition. Instead, Christmas bells are ringing . . . somewhere else.

edited to add: On the other hand, I've located the people who are voting for Scott:
This show is not about finding the next big superstar. Your favorite contestant probably won't win, and will probably get a record contract anyway if they're [sic] good enough. Besides, TV is supposed to be about the entertainment value, and what's more entertaining than a fish out of water outlasting the big fish and sharks? The producers wanted Scott in the top group so he could fail, but let's give them the monster that they've created. . . . Why bother voting for someone talented when this show can be so much more fun to watch? Scott Savol outlasting Carrie Underwood or Bo Bice? Now that's good TV!
They've got a point.
BREAKING NEWS: B-LIST FORMER TEEN TV STAR REBOUNDS FROM FAILED ENGAGEMENT TO C-LIST TEEN MOVIE ACTOR WITH A-LIST FORMER TEEN MOVIE STAR: (Wherein I scoop Us Magazine.) According to a gaggle of flacks and Internet tabloids, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are dating. I have polled a select group of prominent physical scientists, and they all tell me that if you coated both Holmes and Cruise in flint and struck them together in a chamber full of pure oxygen, you would still be unable to generate a spark. Still, to Katie Holmes, I say: "Good career move! The path not chosen involves getting knocked up by oblivion-courting Heath Ledger!" To Tom Cruise, I say: "Your ham-handed PR stunt-dating to deflect attention from your increasingly eccentric behavior is a brilliant strategy! It works for Michael Jackson!"

Apologies to those of you who believe that alien-possession-based religion is not eccentric.
TREKKIE MONSTERS: Via the new and improved Obscure Store comes this really creepy LA Times story about the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Police Service:
Their work is a daily sojourn to the underworld. Gillespie has a team of 10 men and six women who spend hours in front of their computers, extracting leads, writing warrants and sifting photos for clues. The payoff is the day they get to kick down a door and take the "bad guy" away. The mood is light and the humor often off-color to ease the horror.

On one wall is a "Star Trek" poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie.

Det. Constable Warren Bulmer slips on a Klingon sash and shield they confiscated in a recent raid. "It has something to do with a fantasy world where mutants and monsters have power and where the usual rules don't apply," Bulmer reflects. "But beyond that, I can't really explain it."

May 13 can't come soon enough.
STANDING EIGHT: I've accepted the fact that few people are watching The Contender, and that it's not likely to change.

But, seriously, folks? Man, are you missing out. The boxers are all engaging characters. The human drama is real, and occasionally quite moving. And actualy boxing has never been more beautifully filmed. Mark Burnett found a way to transplant the strategy and team/individual challenges from Survivor into a new context, and it remains great television.

This show has only one drawback: the hosts. Sylvester Stallone knows nothing about boxing that didn't come from Rocky's Big Book Of Boxing Cliches. Sugar Ray Leonard's lines are overdubbed at least twice as often as Trump's ever were, and when he's not overdubbed, he's not making any sense anyway. He's the worst host of a reality competition since Alex McLeod on Joe Millionaire (or, worse: Monica Lewinsky's stint on Mr. Personality.)

Two minor reality tv notes:
  • Whew! Rupert and clan will not be appearing in The Amazing Family Race.
  • Just want to make sure we're all in agreement -- no matter what happens for the rest of the season, Survivor's Stephenie LaGrossa will not only win the 2005 ALOTT5MA Award for Reality TV Competitor of the Year (2004: Rob Mariano), but will enter the Pantheon of favorite reality tv people ever with Ruthie and Teck, Team Guido, Jeff Balis and Chris Moore, Miss J. Alexander and the rest.
LONG MAY YOU RUN: On the occasion of ABC's Monday Night Football ending its network primetime run when it moves to ESPN in 2006, New York Daily News TV critic David Bianculli examines the list of TV's Tenured 10, the 10 longest running current network series. Incidentally, taking MNF's place in the top 10, which is headed by 60 Minutes (1968), is King of the Hill.
STILL NOT OVER THE SUPER BOWL, EH? While you wouldn't know it from Adam's sunny demeanor, it turns out that Philadelphia is No. 1 on the list of America's Most Depressed Cities. Men's Health magazine conducted the survey, which put the City of Brotherly Love at the top spot based on "sales of anti-depressant drugs, suicide rates and the number of days residents reported being depressed in statistics collated by the CDC." Detroit placed second, followed by St. Petersburg and St. Louis, while Laredo, Texas, is the least depressed city.
HAVE IT CHERNENKO'S WAY: Jim Romensko discovered Typepad, and the new Obscure Store and Reading Room (with Comments!) is the result. Lead article right now is an interview with Burger King's new CEO:
WSJ: What about healthier products?

Mr. Brenneman: We're the only fast-food restaurant to offer a veggie burger. We sell three a day per restaurant and we sell over 300 Whoppers per day per restaurant....With the kids meals, you can substitute apple sauce for fries. You can substitute milk for Coke. [But] most people don't take that substitution.

You have to have those products, to take away the 'veto vote,' so if mom wants a salad, there's something for her. But you don't want too much of that on your menu because it's not what the customer wants....I just really want to offer what the customers will buy, and what they want to eat.

WSJ: Do you feel the need to change the menu to appease fast-food critics?

Mr. Brenneman: No pressure at all. You should be able to come to Burger King and get a healthy, low-calorie, low-fat meal. You can. Beyond that, I don't think it's my job to tell Americans what they should eat. We might as well go back to communism.

Because they really love their Mickey D's in Moscow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

THE REWARDS OF BEING A H!ITG! 23 movies released last year grossed $100 million dollars or more at the U.S. box office. Several people appeared in more than one of those 23--Ben Stiller gets two ("Meet The Fockers" and "Dodgeball"), as do Matt Damon ("Bourne Supremacy" and "Ocean's 12"), Will Smith ("Shark Tale"), and Brad Pitt ("Troy" and "Ocean's 12"). Two trickier ones--can you name the only woman to score multiple appearances in the 23? Can you name the only guy who did major roles in two $100 million+ movies last summer? And while you're at it, take a look at that guy's next movie and make Dan Radosh a happy man.
THE MIRA SORVINO EFFECT: For discussion--this year's uncommonly big on the "Oscar Winners With 'Huh?' Inducing Follow-Ups"--Jamie Foxx starring in an action movie from the director of "The Fast and The Furious" and "Miami Vice: The Movie" and Morgan Freeman, who has five projects coming out this year--one classy ("Edison"), one that's been shelved for ages ("An Unfinished Life"), and supporting roles in a Jet Li action flick and as the hardware guy in "Batman Begins." So who, in recent memory, has squandered their goodwill from an Oscar win most substantially?
(NOT CONSTANTINOPLE): You know, I happen to be a fan of Boston Rahb, but that doesn't mean I can't be completely giggly like a schoolboy to see his wicked smahtitude work against him. For those viewers who miss the Airport Intrigue of previous seasons, it came back tonight in a killer way, and reminded us of one of the hallmark rules of the Race: when in doubt, fly through Dubai.

Oh, the dramatic irony. Teams that think they're way ahead of the others when they're not. Others that can't find clue boxes, scales, keys, gnomes . . . while one team, God bless 'em, finish the episode at 9:36p without a Fast Forward, the earliest finish for a team since the second episode. Just an incredibly well-run leg.

And man, it's fun watching Rahb and Ambuh haul ass when they realize they've got to -- especially with a Roadblock that seemed like a Survivor challenge. At the same time, no, Gretchen, it's not as easy as it looks, but it's sure funny to watch you try. It's hard to balance between admiring their effort (especially in this episode) versus all the complaining, but, for this episode this week, okay, impressed.

By the way, and I haven't seen any spoilers, but are they just finishing the Race going back west across Europe rather than across Asia and Australia/New Zealand? That'd be cool.

Finally: I'm not one who complained much when some teams didn't win a reward for winning their legs, but, man, this [Sponsor] special prize? That's ass.
YOU DID YOUR THING: Tonight's American Idol theme -- "do something recent" -- allowed all the competitors to sing straight from their wheelhouse. Kim will confirm that when I heard the theme today, I predicted that Bo would sing the interminable "How You Remind Me" by Nickelback -- well, I was damn close.

For Carrie, that meant country; for Constantine and Bo, bar-band versions of "modern rock classics". And damned if Simon didn't nail the smartest comment of the year when he noted that once Constantine shed his "rocker" persona for a crooner, he couldn't flip back without blowing his credibility.

Vonzell was solid, but, dammit, and I'm going to hate myself for saying this, I thought that Anthony Federov's take on Celine Dion's "I Surrender" (previously aced by Miss Kelly Clarkson) was actually rather lovely and sweet. My favorite performance of the night.

But Scott, whoa, that version of "Dance With My Father" isn't helping Luther's recovery at all. That was brutal. Go. Home. Now.
NEVER SAY DIE: This NYT piece about the roundup of loose bison in suburban Pikesville, MD is pretty cute -- until you get to the ending:
But they gave their owner one headache too many. Gerald Berg, who raised the bison on his cattle farm in Stevenson, started his day by jumping on an all-terrain vehicle and chasing the escaped animals. Mr. Berg has been raising bison for about eight years, he said, but no more.

By midday, as the last of the bison were being herded into the trailer, Mr. Berg had decided their fate.

"It's out of hand," he said. "They're going to the slaughterhouse, and they're going to be buffalo burgers."

The Baltimore Sun spares its readers of that sad ending, and, to boot, its pictures are cooler.

One last note: if I'm a bison, and my last days of freedom are being spent in the Baltimore suburbs, I'm going to the Towson Town Center. They've got a Nordstrom, yo.
"WE LOVED AIRLINE FOOD:" Yes, Meredith and Gretchen are blogging after each episode of TAR with their behind-the-scenes commentary. A couple of things of note--like my high school athletics newsletter, Gretchen is particularly fond of the rhetorical device of multiple exclaimation points ("You saw it all!!! What was I doing getting up on that elephant????") and inappropriate capitalization ("AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!") Furthermore, apparently, the Rombah hate extends deep and wide, as they are referred to a "YKW" throughout, drawing a vague parallel between Rob and Lord Voldemort. Also, M&G disclose when 36-hour pitstops took place and give bits and pieces of interesting data. Thread's open for pre-show discussion. (A warning--it's possible that the most recent posting contains not-too-vaguely-concealed spoiler information about tonight's leg--read at your own peril.)

(Link via TV Tattle.)
JAR JAR HAD BETTER NOT APPEAR: For those who have already sworn they won't be seeing Revenge of the Sith in a few weeks (sorry, link isn't to a full article), this is till more evidence of George Lucas having sold out--Lucas, following in the steps of Death Cab for Cutie, Rooney, Paris Hilton, and Linda Lavin, will appear on an upcoming episode of "The O.C." Yes, Seth must choose between taking Summer to the prom or having dinner with Lucas. To steal from an old (albeit funny) SNL sketch, who are the ad geniuses who came up with this one?
IT'S ON: There are few things as cool as seeing baseball brawls reenacted in Legovision.

BatGirl's further archives are here.
RAMPING UP? Today's NYT tries to make it seem like The Amazing Race had no villains before Colin/Christie, Jonathan/Victoria or Rahb/Ambuh.

Um, hello? Team Guido? Tara and Wil? Teri and Ian?

Monday, April 25, 2005

FROM OUR SEDER TABLE TO YOURS: Another story of the past that is always worth retelling:

Back in the Middle Ages, on erev Pesach, Sir Lancelot gathered his men at the encampment.

"My knights!" he exclaimed. "It is a great honor that in two days time, King Arthur himself will be coming all the way from Camelot to visit us. We must make ready in haste! Shine your armor! Groom your horse!"

In the background, one man raised his hand. "But Lancelot," Yussel cried. "Tomorrow night begins the Passover holiday, and I will be unable to do anything to prepare for his arrival. I've got chametz to clean out, and a seder to attend."

Lancelot was unmoved. "He is coming, and you will be ready."

And so, two days later, a procession of magnificent horses led King Arthur to the encampment.

There they were, Lancelot's men -- their horses well-groomed and outfitted for a royal visit, the men clean-shaven, their armor polished so extensively that you could see your reflection off them.

All of them, that is, except one. When King Arthur reached the end of the line, there was Yussel, his horse mangy and unkempt, his armor dinged and rusty.

King Arthur turned to Lancelot, and asked: Mah nishtana halaila hazeh mikol halelot?


Via Bernie Kaplan. Possibly, just possibly apocryphal.
OUR FAVORITE OCEAN-BORNE FISH. MAMMAL. WHATEVER: If it's mid-April, then, my goodness, it must be muktuk season again:
Three men in an 18-foot aluminum boat harpooned and killed a 32-foot bowhead whale off Little Diomede Island late Tuesday, bringing the first taste of fresh muktuk and meat to the Bering Strait community since 1999.

It was an exciting night, said resident Edward Soolook. When he heard of the catch by Thomas Menadalook Jr. and his crew about midnight, 'I just started running to houses saying, 'We need help! They got a whale!' '

By early Wednesday, most of Diomede's 140 residents had gathered under a nearly full moon on the ice shelf that surrounds the two-square-mile island, Soolook said. Then, in a tradition that goes back thousands of years, they inched the estimated 16-ton whale ashore using ropes and muscle, butchered it and began hauling the catch to homes throughout town.

But always remember, kids, to protect your muktuk: "An O'Connor Road woman told Fairbanks police that when she went to get a cold beer from her freezer about 9 a.m. Thursday, she discovered her muktuk, whale meat and fish were missing, according to Welborn. Police are investigating."

Previous coverage here.
IT'S GOT LIFELESS EYES, BLACK EYES, LIKE A DOLL'S EYES. WHEN IT COMES AT YOU IT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE LIVIN' . . . UNTIL HE BITES YOU, AND THOSE BLACK EYES ROLL OVER WHITE: While South Philadelphia waits for the return of Jim Thome's bat, at least one friend from last summer has made it back across the street:
Robert Wanenchak had tossed out his spinner lure, hoping for a crappie, when he felt a strong hit.

The fish gave him a suspiciously good fight as he reeled it in. As soon as he saw the mottled body and the pointy teeth, he knew.

'I said to myself, 'My God, they're back.''

Or rather, still here.

Several of the dreaded northern snakeheads have been caught here since Wanenchak's strike on April 16. The invasive species from Asia, which has fisheries officials in at least four states in a swivet, made its local debut last July in South Philadelphia's FDR Park.

More ALOTT5MA snakehead coverage here.
I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THERE'S NO RICE COOKER ON THE LIST: We here at ALOTT5MA welcome Rahb and Ambah into married life, but that doesn't mean that we've bought them anything from their wedding registry. While the Bed Bath & Beyond registry appears to be gone, Target's is still available, so you can still buy them the "Champagne Marble Spreader Set" or the 50 quart cooler, both of which haven't yet been given.
JONESIN' FOR A CARDIAC EPISODE: While Hootie and his cast of porn shoot extras are busy on the Tender Bacon Cheddar Crisp Ranch, the King himself has been busy creating bigger and bigger belly busters for the discerning palates that make up Burger King Nation.

The latest abomination from the King, is the Ultimate Double Whopper, which consists of two patties, four slices of cheese and eight strips of bacon. The Impulsive Buy tackles the UDW today and actually comes away impressed, giving it four stars out of five.

The really big news about the UDW is according the my math its the new winner in the fast food sweepstakes of stuffing the most calories in a bun. According to this list of fast food sandwiches sorted by calories, Hardee's 2/3 LB Bacon Cheese Thickburger comes in at a mere 1,340 calories, while a normal double Whopper at BK is 1,060 calories. However, factor in the two extra slices of cheese (180 calories) and the eight slices of bacon (320 calories) and you've got 1,560 calories and 101 grams of fat.

And while were on the subject of stuffing our bellies, the folks over at ESPN's Page 2 have come up with the list of Baseball's All-Time, All-Fat Team, which features Babe Ruth, Terry "Fat Tub of Goo" Forster, and a trio of Tigers scale-tippers, Cecil Fielder, Mickey Lolich and Gates Brown.
RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS: Need to know the latest on celebrity babies? I don't. But you might. And if you do, there is a blog devoted to the subject.
THERE MUST BE ONE THING LEFT IN THIS WORLD: Ever wanted a series of comprehensive movie reviews about John Carpenter's The Thing written by people who live and work in Antarctica? Tough. Because here are four of them.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

AT THE CAR WASH, WHOA WHOA WHOA: Fans of the 1993 Phillies, tell me if you're at all surprised by this article in today's LA Times regarding allegations that Lenny Dykstra was involved with steroids and illegal gambling:
A longtime friend and business partner is suing Dykstra in Ventura County, seeking to regain an interest in their lucrative Southern California car wash business. In the suit, Lindsay Jones, 42, of Irvine, alleges that Dykstra advised him to bet thousands of dollars with a bookmaker on selected Phillie games in 1993.

Jones said in a sworn statement that his baseball wagers were a form of payment to him, made 'on the basis that Lenny would cover all losses, and I would use the winnings to live on.' . . .

The suit includes a sworn declaration from a Florida bodybuilder -- a convicted drug dealer -- who said Dykstra paid him $20,000 plus 'special perks' during their eight-year association to 'bulk up' the once-slight ballplayer. In an interview, Jeff Scott said he injected Dykstra with steroids 'more times than I can count,' and that Dykstra stepped up his steroid use in spring training of 1993 because 'it was a contract year.'

Yeah, me neither.