Friday, September 23, 2005

FOR THOSE FOR WHOM TWOP JUST ISN'T ENOUGH: Wanna waste some more time ruminating about what the heck was going on in the Lost season premiere? Check out The Fuselage, the self-proclaimed "official site of the creative team behind Lost."

The threaded message board is chock full of speculation and all sorts of observations that I haven't seen elsewhere. My favorite: when Sayid finally told Danielle the translation of what Nadia had written on the back of her photo (in Solitary, episode 1:9), it was "you'll find me in the next life, if not in this one." Sound familiar, anyone?

Various members of the cast and writing/production staff answer questions with some frequency, which is refreshing. (Terry O'Quinn seems to be particularly hooked. Perhaps he'd like to become a denizen of ALOTT5MA.)

I continue to hope -- and I'm feeling better about my hope these days -- that JJ and the gang have learned this all-important lesson from Alias: finish what you've started. There are countless plot threads from the first couple of seasons that have just been left flapping in the breeze forever (Sark and the green test tubes of goo, anyone?). It would pretty much suck if one morning JJ decided "hm, these numbers, can't really figure out any good way to wrap up that story line, so let's just let it alone and maybe no one will notice." I hope, I hope.
GUESS I'M NOT YET OFFICIALLY A "HIPSTER BLOGGER:" Gawker has comments now? And we're not yet invited? This is the dorkiest thing people will be lusting after since Gmail accounts.
RICH ENOUGH FOR THE RICH HALL OF FAME: Bill Gates is still this country's wealthiest person according to Forbes' new list of the 400 richest Americans. Warren Buffet finished in the place postion and Gates' old running partner, Paul Allen finished in the show place.

The youngest people on the list are Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who at $11 billion apeice(!), are tied for 16th overall. The five richest celebrities on the list were George Lucas ($3.5 billion), Donald Trump ($2.7 billion), Steven Speilberg ($2.7 billion), Oprah Winfrey ($1.4 billion), and Martha Stewart ($970 million).
DO OPRAH'S VIEWERS WANT TO HEAR ABOUT A COLORFUL MIXTURE OF SPIT, SNOT, URINE, VOMIT, AND BLOOD? So Oprah's back in the live author biz. And she's started off with a doozy -- none of this "tales of women overcoming adversity" business that was so prevalent back in the early days. At least it ain't Faulkner.

As you may have noticed, I tend to find the addict memoir subgenre rather engrossing. (If anyone's interested, Wasted is an excellent member of the group.) I haven't read A Million Little Pieces yet, but I suspect that many of the Ladies Who Read are going to be mopey for a while.
KNEW EVERY STEP RIGHT OFF THE BAT, SAID "I CAN DO THAT": So with six dancers remaining and only one episode to go, So You Think You Can Dance is getting down to the nitty gritty -- four people who actually can dance and two who, while they certainly can dance better than the vast majority of the population, are outclassed by the top four.

On Wednesday, we saw the trouble with the couples-facing-elimination concept. Ashle and Melissa had fallen into the bottom two rather than the seriously inferior Kamilah because Kamilah had had the good fortune to be paired with Nick, who the judges (correctly) believe to be uneliminatable. So Melissa danced her last while Kamilah and her monumentally over-dramatic outpourings made it to the final six.

As for the guys, I was actually kind of surprised by the outcome: Jamile had made it through several weeks on the hot seat by virtue of being up against guys whose time was at least arguably due (Allen and Ryan, for example). Obviously Jamile's got a solid fan base, but I had thought that Artem's general smoothness and constantly exposed chest (still love the crack Nigel made about how Ashle was the only person who'd exposed more skin than Artem) might galvanize the teenybopper fan base into action. But Jamile's fans are apparently plentiful, and thus Artem is off to the gulag.

Which left us with six:

Jamile and Kamilah: This wasn't a lucky draw for either of them: the worst remaining guy and the worst remaining girl. Both dancers are the worst remaining of their gender. They did luck out on their dance selections, I thought, drawing hip hop and American jive -- incidentally, are there other versions of jive that I'm not aware of? Like Guatemalan jive? -- but neither performance was particularly impressive. Neither of these two deserves to make it to the final four.

Blake and Ashle: It's killing me (and Blake as well, apparently) that Blake hasn't drawn hip hop from the hopper yet. Smooth waltz and Argentine tango were at least a change from week after week of Blake Doing His Lyrical Thing. I think Blake is a brilliant dancer, but these two dances didn't really move me. And I'm never moved by Ashle -- she's technically fabulous, but I never get a sense of emotion from her.

Nick and Melody: What a lucky break for these two, drawing each other as partners and then drawing Broadway and disco as their dances. I myself did a little (wildly uncoordinated) happy dance in my living room when I heard the opening thumps of All That Jazz and realized that we were going to see Melody and the Leg doing some Fosse. Nick, of course, is a chameleon who can dance anything except the quickstep, so there was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be fantastic. And it was. Their disco routine was vibrant and fun as well. If these two don't sail into the final four, I'll be quite annoyed.

So the composition of the final four seems pretty obvious to me, but what next? Seems to me that the final two ought to be Blake and Nick, and we've certainly had foreshadowing of a Blake/Nick danceoff, but it's anyone's guess as to what Nigel has in mind. I'd like to see the final four be asked to dance the same dance styles -- and the same choreography, to boot -- so that we're actually comparing apples to apples.

(Between Dancing with the Stars and SYTYCD, I suddenly know a whole lot more about various dances than I did a mere few months ago. Who knew that America would learn the difference between a samba and a rhumba, not to mention the facial expressions required for an effective paso doble?)
CONGRATULATIONS, MATT AND LUNA: Both of whom correctly picked FOX's "Head Cases" as the first show to be cancelled in our 2005 His Father Is The District Attorney! Memorial Dead Pool.

Congratulations as well as Adam Goldberg, who's got this "intriguing concept poorly executed" thing down to a science.
ON THE BASIS OF 'DIRTY LOVE', I AM NOT CERTAIN THAT ANYONE INVOLVED HAS EVER SEEN A MOVIE, OR KNOWS WHAT ONE IS: Ebert gives zero stars to the new Jenny McCarthy/Carmen Electra movie.
HEY, CRABMAN! Sorry, with the new Big Firm job just a couple of weeks old, I'm pretty pooped. But Mrs. Earthling and I did make time to watch My Name is Earl, the other night, which was brilliant. Give it a whirl if you missed it. Jason Lee is terrific and I think Tim Goodman's comparison to the tone of Raising Arizona isn't far off. Anyway, not much to add, but one of the more promising premires of this television season.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

AKA THE "SORRY, REBA" AWARD: Effective this season, the Tony Awards have a new category--"Actor/Actress Recreating A Role." A performer who is contracted to appear in a show for at least six months, and who are submitted by producers, may be considered for a Tony award. It's apparently a genderless category, which could lead to some interesting competitors. Contenders this season (besides Rosie O'Donnell, and, if eligible, Harvey Fierstein), depending on the length of their contract, could include Brooke Shields (as Roxie in "Chicago"), Huey Lewis (as Billy Flynn in "Chicago"), and Ben Vereen (as the Wizard in "Wicked").
WELL, IT MIGHT BE A BETTER CAREER CHOICE THAN JERSEY GIRL WAS: Can someone explain to me why Kevin Smith thought it would be a good idea to appear as himself on Joey? Anyone? I mean, I can understand DeGrassi, and Veronica Mars, but Joey?
TA-DA! Between a level of team sickness not seen since the Africa season and an Immunity result that could not have been more telegraphed had someone said, "See you in another life," I can't say that tonight's Survivor: Amanita Is The Name makes me optimistic for the remainder of the season.

Honestly? I already feel realitied-out. Haven't seen Top Model yet, nor either edition of The Apprentice. Choices will have to be made.
STEVE CARELL DOESN'T CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE: Given that he's hosting and Kanye West is musical guesting on the SNL season premiere, how much you want to bet that the joke is made? October 8 will feature Jon "Napoleon Dynamite" Heder hosting with musical guest TBD (Jamiroquai does have a new album out.) October 22 brings Catherine Zeta-Jones out to host while shilling Legend of Zorro, with music from Franz Ferdinand. Halloween show, October 29, features host Lance Armstrong and musical guest Sheryl Crow. Interestingly, all of the hosts are first-timers, though I wouldn't be shocked to see there be some cameos from big stars here and there. No word on when Tina Fey will return to the Update anchor desk and who (if anyone) will sit beside Amy Poehler until she does.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


So I'm still pretty new to this blogging-a-show-before-everyone's-watched-it thing. A few thoughts out here, then we'll move it into the comments.

  • First things first: this show uses music like nobody's business. I will never hear "Make Your Own Kind of Music" in quite the same way again.
  • The opening sequence rocked. I'm not sure how it will impact the rest of the season (not to mention all future seasons), but it rocked.
  • After those first few minutes, the rest of the episode was fairly rote. Yeah, yeah, yeah, get back to the important stuff. The world needs fewer Jack flashbacks (although the "I'm intense" comment got a big laugh). And, um, can we have the sun rise already? This episode was really frigging dark. Literally.
  • But man, do we love Locke or what? I am a particular fan of that great light-up-the-interminable-night smile he has when someone standing behind him says something that resonates with him. Hurley got one, Kate got one, and I think one other person got one.
  • And really, there are a whole lot of questions that need some answering -- you can't expect all of them to be answered at once in a single season premiere, can you? So bring on your numbers questions, your raft questions, your Others and Walt questions yearning to breathe free. All in good time.

See ya in the comments, where we shall spoil freely.

Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away

Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing.
As we danced in the night,
Remember how the stars stole the night away

Ba de ya - Say, do you remember?
Ba de ya - Dancing in September
Ba de ya - Never was a cloudy day

Earth Wind and Fire has made quite a comeback into the public consciousness in the past few years, and it's all thanks to ALOTT5MA fave Verdine "Sexual Chocolate!" White.
"DAD, WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE AROUND FOR THE 2005 SEASON? IT MUST HAVE BEEN SO COOL." Will Bunch presents science fiction for Phillies fans.
WHO WANTS TO (HEAR) DIKEMBE? Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo is speaking at Yale today.
"OH BUT NO" MAY STILL BE AVAILABLE: Saw the best vanity license plate I've seen in a long time walking down Houston Street to the subway this morning--PA plate, nondescript car, and the plate read simply "UHH NO." Makes you wonder exactly who drives that car.
MAKE SURE TO CALL SCOOTER BEFORE THE INDICTMENT: For everyone who's ever wanted angry discussions of the political affiliations of the characters on Gilmore Girls, you now have a place to discuss it. Certainly, Lorelai and Rory's political leanings have been well-established, and Richard and Emily's at least hinted at, but what I want to know is the political affiliation of Taylor.
TELEVISION'S MOST IMPORTANT HATCH SINCE RICHARD: This thread is open for pre-Lost premiere speculation.
THERE WAS FRANKIE LYMON, BOBBY FULLER, MITCH RYDER (THEY WERE ROCKIN'): So who is on the ballot for the 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class? According to this article:
J.Geils Band, John Mellencamp, the Patti Smith Group, Chic, Joe Tex, Miles Davis, Cat Stevens, Blondie, the Paul Butterfield Band, the Dave Clark Five and the Sir Douglas Quintet will all have a chance to make it into the hall of fame, located in Cleveland.

This year also marks the eighth chance for Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd gets their seventh chance, and the Sex Pistols and the Stooges all of which are on try number five.

Missing from the nomination list again this year include bands like Rush, Van Halen, Yes, Genesis, ELO, Joan Jett, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Heart, Deep Purple, Pat Benatar, and Duran Duran.

To me, Cougar is the Jim Thome of the Rock Hall -- lots of hits over a prolonged period, certainly well-liked, but I just can't think of him as one of the greats of his era.

And Sabbath belongs in, duh, but other than that . . . dunno . . . Blondie? I like the not-nominated list a lot more than the nominees.
WHERE SPRITE CANS ARE CONSIDERED CONTRABAND: Lil' Kim will be spending a lil' time in Center City Philadelphia on her perjury conviction.
NOW, ULLA WATCH: The trailer for The Producers: The Musical has arrived. Having been lucky enough to see Broderick and Lane twice, I can attest that they're an excellent pairing, and Stroman has already proven an able stage director and film choreographer, but something about the footage in the trailer seems just a bit off to me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I AM ONLY COMFORTED BY THE FACT THAT WILE E. COYOTE DID NOT WIN EITHER: Yet again, the MacArthur Foundation fails to recognize any of the contributors here as a 'genius'.
THUS INCREASING THE PASTRY SELECTION AT CONTINENTAL BREAKFASTS ACROSS NUNAVUT: Following up on last April's story which kept you all in suspense, I am pleased to announce that Canada and Denmark have come to a truce -- but no resolution -- over Hans Island.
WELL, THANK GOODNESS SHE'S NOT RESORTING TO CHEAP RATINGS PLOYS: Tyra Banks lets talk show audience look at her breasts.
DEPARTMENT OF WHY BUY THE COW WHEN THE MILK IS FREE: I'm not sure if it was genius or stupidity, but among the commercials during the Chicago broadcast of Arrested Development last night was one for a certain azul-hued marshmallow-tossing trio.
THE ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND ALEX? Michael Chabon, John Grisham, Stephen King, genius Jonathan Lethem, David Eggers and a list of other authors are auctioning off the right to have your name appear in their upcoming books. Proceeds from the auction go to First Amendment Project, which is "a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition. Ironically, Eggers, whose auction is currently fetching just $1026 or about a ninth of what Grisham is going for, includes this caveat in his auction: "The name/s have to be tasteful and be undisruptive to the narrative. I reserve the right to refuse using a name I find offensive." For you would be bidders, Daniel Radosh has drawn up a list of potentially offensive names including Jewy Fagboy, I.P. Freely, and Neal Pollack.

Should anybody wish to have their name included in an upcoming blog post, please begin the bidding in the comments. Proceeds will go toward my phone bill.
THE NON-MARSHALL PLAN: Federated Department Stores, owners of a heap of department stores, has decided to redub Chicago's venerated Marshall Field's as Macy's, a move which I predict will make lists like this for years to come.
THE AMERICAN PUBLIC'S MADE A HUGE MISTAKE: Or so George Oscar Bluth, Jr. might say upon discovering that last night wasn't pretty for FOX. More Americans wanted to watch "7th Heaven" than "Arrested Development" and "Kitchen Confidential," which says something profoundly sad about something. In worse news for them, while "Prison Break" had gotten off to a solid start in the preseason, it finished 4th in its timeslot last night, losing to not just "Monday Night Football," but also to "Las Vegas" and CBS's comedies.

"Just Legal" is looking like an early contender in the cancellation pool, given that its premiere finished in dead last, losing a massive percentage of its "7th Heaven" lead-in, though "Surface" is looking like it may survive, despite apparently losing viewers to "How I Met Your Mother" in the second half hour.
Me: I am so upset that they're going to bowdlerize Kitchen Confidential. You can't make a network television show about a heroin-addict chef and his misogynistic illiterate kitchen crew.

Spacewoman: I love Bradley Cooper. Willage!


Me: Crap, I kind of like this.

Spacewoman: Oh, I'm not paying attention.

So it's not the greatest show I've ever seen (not even the best show I watched tonight -- Steve Holt! indeed). But it has a great ensemble cast who grew up in quality TV. In addition to the charismatic Cooper, there's Bonnie Somerville, rejoining co-creator Darren Star, with whom she worked on the late lamented Grosse Pointe, one of my favorite shows of the last 10 years. There's John Francis Daley, Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks, an even better show. There's Xander from Buffy, which I understand had some fans. You've even got John Cho (Harold sans Kumar, or MILF Guy if you prefer) and, for eye candy, James "Jamie" King. For good measure, Fred Savage directs.

And it's pretty well put together. They threw most of the autobiographical stuff out of the book, but they didn't emasculate Bourdain. He yells, he is a recovering addict, he completely loses control of his staff, but it works pretty well. And they shoot it single-camera on location, so it looks pretty good. Crap -- after I complained about the idea to all those people, I actually like it.

Monday, September 19, 2005

SURE, BUT WHAT'S NEXT? The folks at TVgasm are freaked out by Julie Chen.
"A THOROUGHLY ENTERTAINING POST-FEMINIST WHODUNIT": Because author Jennifer Weiner was kind enough to flag this site for the readers of Vanity Fair, I suppose I ought to mention that her new book, GOODNIGHT NOBODY, is in stores Tuesday.

Chapter One can be sampled here. Laurie Muchnick of New York Newsday stated in her review: "I've read all four of Weiner's novels this summer and couldn't have been happier the whole time, but I think the new one, 'Goodnight Nobody,' is the best of the lot. . . .All right, I'll say it: I couldn't put it down."

And from the Charlotte Observer: "Weiner artfully combines mystery and chick lit for an entertaining, suspense-filled swing through suburbia . . . Weiner's first attempt at mystery writing is an all-around success -- from the nonconformist heroine to the story line that keeps you guessing right up to the end."

Jen will be touring the Northeast this week, followed by an October swing across the West Coast and Midwest. Drop by and say 'hi'.
PROVING THAT STRESS CAUSES HAIR LOSS: You know how far the brilliant folks at Arrested Development will go for a simple 20 second joke? This far.
STAN, TAMMY, VINCE, AND WILMA: And then there were four. With Rita bearing down on the Florida Keys right now, the National Hurricane Center is running out of names on its list for this year's Atlantic storm season. (Sorry, Quentin, Ursula, Xavier, Yolanda and Zach, the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are skipped because not enough names start with those letters.) Should a storm 22nd storm occur, it will be dubbed Alpha and subsequent storms will take their names from the Greek alphabet, though clearly the NHC could have come up with a more creative solution such as trying to sell the naming rights. Screw stadiums and bowl games. Corporate America, I've seen the future and it's the Poulan Weed Eater Hurricane or The Tostitos Tropical Depression.
"IT WAS LIKE LIVING YOUR LIFE IN A PENTHOUSE FORUM LETTER:" The Boston Globe has a fascinating profile of ALOTT5MA fave James Spader today, which suggests how Spader's own inner self may be driving parts of the character of Alan Shore.
NEVERMIND OR NEVER MIND...? Which musical wake-up call is the most overrated album of all time: Nirvana's or the Sex Pistols'? Or do you think Sgt. Pepper's, Pet Sounds, or The Joshua Tree deserves the title of Most Overrated Album in the World? You can help whittle down BBC Music 6's list of the 10 albums that don't live up to the hype by voting for your choice. I voted for the Beatles, not because I don't love Pepper's, but relative to the group's other work, it does not measure up.

Which album do you think should be on the list?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

DRINK WHEN YOU SEE THE MEN FROM ERNST & YOUNG: Open thread for Emmy discussion and/or drinking game suggestions. Among others:
  • Drink every time a network other than HBO wins an award in the movie/mini-series category.
  • Drink every time a category does not include the best possible nominee (e.g., the absence of Lauren Graham in Best Actress--Comedy)
  • Drink every time CBS promotes its Monday comedy lineup, either as a whole or for an individual show.
  • Drink every time Marc Cherry or J.J. Abrams is thanked. Drink twice if either win an award.
GUESTS OF THE ALOTT5MA CHICAGO BUREAU STAY AT THE FOUR SEASONS: Oh, if it was only so. But should you come to the Windy City, you may want to stay at the Four Seasons right there on Boul Mich, as it has just been named the best U.S. Hotel according to something called Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, a subscription newsletter for upscale travelers.

I've been to a wedding there and interviewed a few people in suites, but for my money (not that I usually have to spend it given my wife is a meeting and event planner), I prefer the Ritz or even the newish Sofitel, which has the advantage of being on ths same block as Tempo.

So, on the opening Sunday of my fantasy season (we were too lame to find a draft date before the start of the NFL season), why not throw out there a few of your favorite urban hotels.
ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR: Raise ye a tankard of grog for tomorrow be Talk Like a Pirate Day.