Sunday, December 31, 2006
Happy New Year -- or, if you prefer, Happy New Year's -- everybody.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
So, who's in the running this year? The list includes The Colbert Report's "Countdown to Guitarmageddon" and Colbert's "White House Correspondents Dinner" speech (our first C-SPAN nominee in this category); South Park's "Cartoon Wars Part II" and "The Return of Chef"; HIMYM's "Slap Bet"; and a long list of episodes of The Office -- including but not limited to "Booze Cruise", "Grief Counseling", "Conflict Resolution" and "Valentine's Day".
(**Notes: Glengarry Glen Claus fell just before the nomination period. And the Rules Committee doesn't know what to do with a super-sized Office episode like "Casino Night".)
The winner, however, is the episode of The Office which Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson submitted for their Emmy bids: "The Injury", written by Mindy Kaling (who plays Kelly). A Foreman Grill. A frantic drive for help. Country Crock. A squirt bottle. The rules of "shotgun". Something odd about Dwight. And an important lesson about respect for the disabled. It is not the best episode of The Office (that would be "Valentine's Day" or "Casino Night"), but I have no trouble calling it the funniest.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
(Oh, and to answer the necessary followup: Me.)
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Feel free to post answers in the comments.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Moments later a ref misinterpreted 'Sheed's jollity as sarcastic complaint and assessed him a technical.
After posing for photographs in late 2005, the once Elusive Architeuthis recently took the bait and came aboard a Japanese research vessel for a detailed post mortem. For 2007, we'll definitely have to update its heretofore standard adjectival modifier. Effusive... collusive... obtrusive... hmm... As with most things tentacled, compelling coverage has been available throughout from Brokentype.
Watch out Bigfoot. We're coming for you next.
Monday, December 25, 2006
10. In 1999, Atlanta's Chipper Jones won the National League MVP, becoming the most recent switch hitter to win the award. Who is the last switch hitter to win the American League MVP?
11. These are all quotes from Shakespeare. What plays are they from? (a) "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse," (b) "True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings." (c) "An honest tale speeds best being plainly told." (d) "I am not in the giving vein today." (e) "Conscience is but a word that cowards use."
12. Who is Tracy Marrow? Who is O'Shea Jackson? Who is Noel Paul Stokey? Who is John Veliotes? Who is Calvin Broadus?
This was cooler when Googling wasn't even an option and this stuff would stump you all day, but cool it remains (answers tomorrow).
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Recent show have featured songs of the season by Citizen Cope, Ruth Brown, Ottmar Liebert, El Vez, Bare Naked Ladies, Madeleine Peyroux, Winton Marsalis, They Might Be Giants and more... See here for more information and for a stream of last year's show.
Here are ten holiday songs that I love.
1. This Christmas - Donny Hathaway. Pure exuberance from the immensely talented soul singer. “And this Christmas will be/ A very special Christmas, for me.”
2. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - Joe Pass. From the excellent CD Six String Santa by the renowned jazz guitarist. Pass has a wonderful tone and technique, but what makes this version of the familiar tune really come alive is the sparkling way that he and his quartet play with the rhythm. The disc is on sale for the princely sum of $4.99 at amazon.com, a small price to pay for a disc that will make you smile.
3. Linus and Lucy - Vince Guaraldi. This is the most up-tempo track from the transcendent A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is often regarded as the best Christmas CD of all time. My sons dance around the living room every time we play this. Listen to the clever changes in meter, the lively percussion, and the swooping piano lines.
4. May Christmas Bring You Happiness - Luther Vandross. “May the happiness that you’ve been looking for/ Finally find its way to your front door.”
6. Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas? - The Staples Singers. If you love the infectious groove of the Staples Singers big hit “I'll Take You There,” then you will almost certainly love this song. The lyrics begin with a list of things that have caused people to forget about the true meaning of Christmas (“too busy fighting wars,” “too busy buying toys”) and then turn things around with a powerful chorus urging everyone to put the “merry” back in Christmas. The words and music make you believe that this is a truly attainable goal, and, more profoundly, a meaningful chance for peace, racial harmony, and prosperity for all. Good stuff.
7. O Little Town of
9. It Doesn’t Have to be That Way – Jim Croce. Loneliness during the holidays is a common theme among Christmas songs. Croce's tender tale gets all of the nuances just right. If you have ever been lonely at this time of year (and who hasn't), give this song a listen. I think you will find that it rings true.
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Shawn Colvin. Possibly my favorite version of this Christmas classic, Colvin’s song simply touches my heart.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
For Chrismukkah and New Year's, my gift to you is to check it out. Full versions of several of the songs (I suggest "Last Day of The Year" and "Give The Drummer Some") are available for free at GrooveLily's website and Striking 12 continues to perform live in NYC through New Year's Eve. I'm already on the road (and will likely have very limited access to the web till after the New Year), so have missed it for the year, but will try next year. For those of you who might still be in the fair city, check it out. Merry Chrismukkah and a Happy New Year to all!
Friday, December 22, 2006
Other times they're totally obvious and an embarrassment to everyone involved.
Ho ho ho.
Cookies and milk have been left out for GameGirlAdvance.
**Edited to add the funniest comment I've found about the whole thing, by a poster over at SomethingAwful: "Someone crit failed their memetics roll."
It was the greatest moment in my young life. And from this video, you can see why.
So, 27 years on. Thanks, Mom.
On this Christmas and tail-end of Hannukah weekend, readers are encouraged to relate their single greatest present --- and link to any YouTube goodness to go with it. And yes, I know you love your families and your kids and your good health. But that's fighting the hypothetical.
So, as always, let's just go to their comments for some fun:
Right now, I guess the best film I saw in 2006 was The Departed, though I wouldn't pretend it's anything more than a hell of a piece of entertainment, and not Meaningful.
The most important film of the year, by any standard, featured a sweet, kind of chunky dude in a bad suit giving a PowerPoint presentation. I think that says it all. --Andrew O'Hehir
Does it bug anybody that people are falling out of their chairs over a movie whose thesis is that QE2 and Tony Blair are just nice, harried, slightly neurotic people doing their jobs the best they can? --Matthew Wilder
I'm still awaiting the chance to see "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" back to back. The great Japanese film critic Shigehiko Hasumi writes me that he likes both films but prefers the former. I prefer the latter, perhaps for the same reason -- it tells me a story I haven't already heard. --Jonathan Rosenbaum
From "Borat," a line of dialogue that just about sums up the year of Mark Foley and Ted Haggard: "Are you telling me that the man who tried to put a rubber fist up my anus is a homosexual?" --Noel Murray
Given how indispensable digital effects have become, it's pleasing to note the defiantly low-tech nature of some of the year's multiplex champs. While much of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" was slick, noisy bombast, the real fun stuff--Jack Sparrow's fruit skewer, the duel on the mill wheel--testified to the old-fashioned pleasures of a well-choreographed stunt. The parkour-enhanced chase scene in "Casino Royale" was 2006's most thrilling action sequence for the same reasons. And of course, there was the epic battle between Borat and his producer Azamat, a scene so simple in its means, so relentless in its execution, and so potent in its impact, you could almost smell the testes. No piece of CGI could elicit the same awe. --Jason Anderson
What does it say about our world that you can lose "American Idol" and win an Academy Award for doing basically the same thing? -- Matt Singer
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's "Little Miss Sunshine" was far from 2006's worst film, but it was the most depressing. If "indie" has come to mean regurgitating '80s Hollywood comedies like "National Lampoon's Vacation" and cosmetic attempts at edge like having an old man snort heroin and read porn, it's better off dying. --Steve Erickson
Nominees in 2006 include TAR9's "statute with extra pieces", "messenger or maiden" in Tokyo and the final task of getting the flags in order; American Idol 5's week where they had to sing something by Queen and not come off as complete douchebags; and ANTM6's "runway twirl"and ANTM7's "celebrity couple photoshoot", which was the coolest to watch, but not necessarily the hardest to compete in.
One early favorite, Tuesday Night Book Club's "read and discuss Good In Bed", was disqualified on the basis of the fact that we never saw any of the women reading the book. And almost anything from Treasure Hunters could be nominated, but it became really difficult to trust the producers to believe the contestants weren't occasionally getting other hints -- though seriously, yo, those were some ridiculously tough and cool challenges.
Two runners-up, both from Project Runway: season two's "design a figure skating outfit for Sasha Cohen" and season 3's "rip off the walls" opener. Either of them was worthy of winning this thing, but I like to be contrarian, though if you want to believe that Sasha Cohen finally wins a gold medal through this award, I won't complain.
Instead, this award goes, collectively, to the challenges from "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?", a show whose concept was too weird and stupid to actually work -- except that it did -- mostly by having hidden moral challenges in almost every task: change into your secret costume in public and run across a park (but don't miss the girl screaming for mommy!); sending the superheroes to a local cafe to grab lunch for the crew (but don't reveal your secret identity!); etc. Want to have fun? Watch episode three, where they think they're walking on a balance beam over a 20 foot drop betwen buildings to rescue a damsel-in-distress, when they're actually right on the ground.
Producers and writers are the hidden heroes of reality tv -- as we saw with The Scholar, a great concept can be ruined by lousy challenges, but a weird (even laughable) concept can be redeemed by well-designed ones. I had no interest in this show until Matt and TPE pushed me to watch, and quality like this is truly heroic.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Some of the contributors are from other cities, but most are from here, a group of over-educated wiseasses devoted to such popular cultural confections as American Idol and Lost. A recent post: "Weezer's abstemious Rivers Cuomo is back at Harvard."Also making the cut are Philadelphia Will Do, WXPN program director Bruce Warren's music blog, PhillyFuture's "PhillyWire" and at #1, the ultra-deserving Attytood, from the Daily News' unstoppable Will Bunch, and we are honored to be listed in their presence.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
- The Washington Post tells the story behind David Bowie and Bing Crosby's 1977 duet of "Little Drummer Boy," with lots of interesting details including the fact that Bowie so hated the original song, a team of composers and writers to scramble and quickly write Bowie's "Peace on Earth" counterpart.
- You can find 135 (at last count) covers of Wham's "Last Christmas" at this site. MTV News gets the scoop, but turn down your volume before clicking on this link.
- Maybe Judith Regan was right. There appears to be a Jewish conspiracy to write and compose some of the most awesome Christmas songs of all time.
- Entertainment Weekly has an intriguing look behind "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which I never realized was so melancholy, but in its original incarnation was about as cherry as "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
My third favorite professional sport, however, gets this year's ALOTT5MmyTM for Best Professional Sport Not Played in College, Whether at Intercollegiate or Club Level: the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. If you can run, jump, swim, lift, climb, pull, hang, and balance, you're a third of the way there. If you can do all of that in a swimsuit, in the mud, blindfolded, suspended 30 feet in the air, while carrying your body weight, and tied to someone you strongly dislike, only one third to go. If you can do all of that on three hours' sleep after drinking yourself silly, shaving a racing stripe down the middle of your head, hooking up with somebody half of your friends have slept with in the last six months, concealing your hernia, and avoiding gainful employment for years on end, my friend, you are a professional athlete. This is one of the most inscrutably entertaining shows on television, giving us the thrill of victory (Alton's challenge dominance; Coral's declaration that "I eat babies") and the agony of defeat (Tanya throwing Beth's clothes into the pool; Julie unsuccessfully trying to unhook Veronica's safety harness and send her plunging to her death) and the warm fuzzy feeling of utter confusion (sheltered Svetlana suddenly showing up with a full arm tattoo).
So congratulations, RW/RR Challenge. As for Ultimate Fighting Championship, Perfect 10 Model Boxing (now with breakout star, Parvati Shallow), and World's Strongest Man, it was an honor just to be nominated.
Just who is the target audience for this? No Optimus Prime? I suspect you've lost this guy (greatest Halloween costume ever, as I'm sure he'd tell you). Then again, it's a Michael Bay movie, and is the car-go-boom-ooh-pretty crowd really going to be enthusiastic about a race (batch? sku?) of alien robots who differ from other alien robots only in the sense that they are capable of occasionally taking the form of race cars or tractor-trailers (i.e., robots in disguise)?
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
It is, unapologetically and even humbly, true to the durable tenets of the war-movie tradition, but it is also utterly original, even radical in its methods and insights.On Rocky Balboa, screening everywhere tomorrow, Stephen Holden seems embarrassed by how much he likes it, Salon likes it on the meta-level and the Trib's Michael Wilmington says it "comes close to a knockout."
In December 2004, with “Million Dollar Baby,” Mr. Eastwood almost nonchalantly took a tried and true template — the boxing picture — and struck from it the best American movie of the year. To my amazement, though hardly to my surprise, he has done it again; “Letters From Iwo Jima” might just be the best Japanese movie of the year as well.
Anyway, it's over. As one of Bill Simmons' readers put it last week, "If he plays 42 minutes in a game, he complains about the six minutes on the bench. He simply loves the game of basketball more than any other player in the league."
Forget the Eagles SB run and other playoff attempts; forget '76-'78, '83, '93 and even 1980 for the Phillies. I never had as much sustained fun as a sports fan as the Sixers' playoff run in 2001, attending six of the home playoff games (including the Toronto and Milwaukee Game Sevens, and the unbelievable Reggie-AI battle in Indiana Game 2), and I've never seen an entire city as in love with a sports team, and its leader, as that one.
I may have told this story before: I actually missed most of game one of the Lakers series because I was traveling with Jen in Portland on her first-ever book tour. (We did catch the fourth quarter and overtime.) The next day, we flew to LA for her next event, and we happened to be staying at the same hotel as the victorious Sixers. I spent about an hour that afternoon just sitting in a small lobby of the RegBevWil, reading the paper, surrounded by about six of the players and their kids. I just wanted to absorb it all, and didn't want to ruin my ability to be there by declaring my fandom and interjecting myself in the scene. (And then, back in Philadelphia, I went to the game where we booed Destiny's Child.)
I keep circling around Iverson, so let me get to the point: the key to understanding Philadelphia fans is that what we appreciate, more than anything else, is stuff that looks like effort. It explains why Scott Rolen was never loved like Lenny Dykstra, and Brian Westbrook gets far more dap than Ricky Watters ever did. And no one gave more effort, and made it show here, than Allen Iverson. No one played hurt more, threw his body around more, willed his teams to win more. I lived in Chicago during the second Jordan run -- but, I'm telling you, Iverson was more gripping to watch.
I'm not sad today, because he's finally free of Billy King's nonsense and this team's mediocrity, and I hope he wins the ring he deserves in Denver. No matter what, we've got great memories -- here's one set of Top 10 Plays, a montage of crossover moves, and, sure, watch him talk about practice.
Slightly related, I wanted so bad to have this quote from Stanley on our family holiday cards this year, but ultimately went with something more generic:
"I wake up every morning in a bed that's too small, drive my daughter to a school that's too expensive, and then I go to work to a job for which I get paid too little, but on pretzel day? Well, I like pretzel day."
Monday, December 18, 2006
You can review her commentary as follows: men's short program, men's free skate, ice dancing - original, ice dancing - finals, ladies' short program, pre-finals thoughts on Sasha Cohen and the ladies' long program. Relive the drama of the Games -- and once again, thanks, Gretchen!
You want legacy? Yogi Bear. The Flintstones. The Jetsons. Scooby Doo. Josie and the Pussycats. Super Friends. The Smurfs. Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound. And a lot of repetitive, derivative and/or endearing crap that we can get into as well.
- Carmelo Anthony. He's the league's leading scorer. Too bad; he seems like such a nice guy.
- Nate Robinson. He's 5'7", and he went rolling into the stands with J.R. Smith, who stands 6'6". Don't feel sorry for Robinson, though -- he was a standout Washington Huskies cornerback before quitting the team, he's built like a bomb shelter, and from the video it looked like he did just fine.
- Channing Frye. Really? From what I remember of him when he was at Arizona, saying that Frye was just ejected is like saying "Shawn Bradley just sucker-punched me" or "I was just mixing it up with Mr. Rogers."
And what stereotypes did Ozzy and Yul think they were disproving, anyway?
I don't think I'm giving anything away, by the way, when I say that it was both a thoroughly satisfying final four and final result, and it would have been even if the votes at the end were flipped.
(As a side note, when I looked back at the comments we submitted before the FEC in June 2005, there's no mention of regulatory issues surrounding YouTube because it didn't even go public until barely more than a year ago -- our first YouTube link here was on 1/6/06.)
No more than three nominees per commenter. Mine are Julie Chen's "But First", Brokeback to the Future and the SexyBack video for The Office, all of which demonstrate what editing software, free worldwide distribution and the human imagination can harness.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Apparently, the show's been massively retooled since the preview run in Boston, where it garnered negative buzz. Having seen it, had they waited six months, gotten a smaller house rather than the cavernous Imperial (the Jacobs, right across the street, is open), and carefully marketed (a show with a counterpoint song titled "I Slept With Someone Who Slept With Lyle Lovett"/"I Slept With Someone Who Handled Kurt Cobain's Intervention" is perhaps not going to appeal to your standard Wednesday matinee audience), this could have had a decent run. Sadly, we're not going to get that, as it closes tonight.
e.g., 27. Nearly half the people in Asia get their water from four rivers that originate near a sacred and unclimbed mountain in Tibet. Name it.
This year features a Kazakh-bonus round.
We're half-way through the new season. Is it a comeback, or still plummeting? (For me, other than the Baldwin episode ("Bobby McFerrin raped my grandmother," it's been pretty crappy.)
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Gib: Elliot? You're gonna name the kid Elliot? No, you can't name the kid Elliot. Elliot is a fat kid with glasses who eats paste. You're not gonna name the kid Elliot. You gotta give him a real name. Give him a name. Like Nick.
Gib: Yeah, Nick. Nick's a real name. Nick's your buddy. Nick's the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn't mind if you puke in his car, Nick.
And realized "The Sure Thing" herself was Nicollette Sheridan. I know the Desparate Housewives thing is about having sexy forty year olds, but there's one that sure didn't improve so much.
Secondly, did anyone realize that Mr. Noodle played Agent Barney Coopersmith's partner in My Blue Heaven? Took me months of catching bits of Elmo's World to finally place him.
It was more of the same last night at our church’s annual Christmas children’s dinner. Santa gave the kids presents, but I went home with a headache. After the boys went to bed, I finally got a chance to read The Inquirer and noticed that the Bryn Mawr Film Institute was having a special kid’s matinee showing of Elf the next morning at 11:00. Amy and I agreed that I would take the boys if they did a good job practicing the piano in the morning.
The lads did their part practicing. We arrived at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, a throwback theater, a real grande dame from the days when the cinema was king. Slowly the theater filled with kids, hundreds of kids. There is something so enthralling about watching a funny movie with an audience like that. During the scene where Buddy (the Will Ferrell character) exposes the fake Santa at Gimbels, the audience squealed with heartfelt glee.
And then came my favorite scene. Santa’s sleigh, which runs on Christmas spirit, has just crashed in
I felt my son Aidan’s slender fingers grab my arm, his face aglow. I could feel his elbow thumping against the armrest, keeping time with the music. His enchantment was all consuming.
At the end of the movie, all of the kids stood up and cheered. And, well, so did I. We exited the theater, my big boys and me, into the bright lights of Bryn Mawr. Arm in arm, we skipped down the sidewalk to a store where I bought them Pokemon cards. As the afternoon wore on, I found myself whistling the tune to “Sleigh Ride.”
So bring it on, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year’s! I am ready for you now because a buddy named Buddy and my two big boys gave me a glimpse of what really matters.
THE BUZZ around Burt’s Bees keeps growing. Sales reached $100 million in 2005 and have been rising at more than 20% annually. That places it in good company in the natural personal-care niche, thanks mainly to PR and novel distribution. Besides the usual natural-food and drug stores, Burt’s is also in book stores and other specialty outlets. College students in a Harris Interactive poll earlier this year ranked Burt’s behind only Ben & Jerry’s and Newman’s Own among top socially responsible brands. “People are getting much more concerned about what they put in and on their bodies, and how it affects the environment.” says Mike Indursky, 45, chief marketing and strategic officer."Yes, there really is a Burt.
edited to add: The WaPo's Robin Givhan profiles J-Hud.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Favorite goes to two words that have been a staple on PTI since the beginning, but perhaps never used as well as this year: "your boy". It is now impossible for Tony or Mike to express a preference for anyone without its being used against them later on, whether it's Tony's fondness for Bill Parcells or Wilbon's for all things Chicago, including Rex Grossman. It's an elbow to the ribs from friend to friend, and it always works. Especially if it relates to Larry Brown.
Least favorite is The Hateful Dan Le Batard, because he actually is hateful on the show -- playing up the role of a preening asshole on tv when he's actually a really thoughtful columnist in print. Just read this piece of his on Cuba from January 2006 and try to square that with the doofus he portrays on the small screen. You can't. It's always a lesser show when one of the Bald Brothers is off, but it's never worse than when Le Batard shows up.
Atlantic released "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs"; it didn't discover the Rolling Stones but it issued their seminal 1970s albums (under the Rolling Stones Records imprint). Ertegun was chiefly responsible for all of that. Ertegun also produced records for fun, under the pseudonym "A. Nugetre," a fact I learned about the time that I bought the Honeydrippers EP. He was a titan of the music industry.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
This was better.
And to count all the ways publicly would be to spoil it, you oughta know, so just take off your sandals and grab a double fudge brownie, as the
Many worthy contenders this year, and let's start with the new folks:
- I had high hopes for Jason Newsted and Gilby Clarke this year on RockStar:SuperNova, and when Newsted was allowed to talk later in the season he seemed smart, but he was increasingly drowned out by editors interested only in letting us know what a horndog Tommy Lee was.
- Stan Lee brought the grouchiness to Who Wants To Be A Superhero?, but I wish I could have seen more of him in person, and less video.
- Dr. Jacque Bailly and the National Spelling Bee Judges get an honorable mention for resolving the "hechsher" thing properly.
- He's more "jury and executioner" than "judge", but ever since the South Park episode on him Jen and I have been digging Dog, the Bounty Hunter. Just saying.
- Were a single episode enough to win this, Anthony Bourdain would have won this for Top Chef. And while Tom Colicchio is solid in the "I'm not Tim Gunn" role on the show, he's still only a second-tier guy.
- And if it could come down to a single line, it would be that of Elle fashion news director Anne Slowey, on PR2 Emmett's design for Sasha Cohen: ''There's entirely too much tootie being exposed.''
We are left with two finalists. Could they both please step forward. I have two judges left in this post, but I will only conclude with one name, and that one name represents the person who is ALOTT5MA's best reality tv judge/host of 2006.
First, we have the man who may be the Albert Pujols of reality tv, Tim Gunn, for seasons two and three of Project Runway. When you think about all the fun stuff with Santino and Andrae in which he acknowledged his growing cult and his classy handling of the Keith and Jeffrey Sebelia situations in season three, this is a judge with enormous insight, as well as true caring about both the designers and the integrity of the competition.
And then we have Tyra Banks. I know what you're thinking: that silly model show? Who cares? But as with Tim Gunn and fashion, Tyra makes you care about modeling, forces the viewer (and the contestants) to see modeling as industry, and one which requires hard work and versatility. She is over-the-top and overly serious, for sure, but it makes for good television. Ritual is a good thing on these shows, as much in her set-ups at the end of each episode as Probst's "you all want to know what you're playing for, right?" (and five other set phrases) or Phil Keoghan's "I'm sorry to tell you you have been eliminated from the Race." What could have been a dumb show about looking at pretty girls instead forces you to really think about who is a successful model and why.
No actual top models have emerged from the show, but nor are any Runway finalists currently dominating their industry. You just have to consider the shows on their own, regardless of what comes after.
In the end, it comes down to one bit from each show -- Tim Gunn's What Happened to Andrae? versus Tyra's rousing gospel number, She Don't Want To Be Here, Send Her Home. So who will it be -- the one who everyone already adores, or the famous, hard-working Inglewood native who just turned 33 but who doesn't have the respect that perhaps she deserves . . .
I have two principal gripes. First, everybody associated with the show is remarkably homely. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think of Britain as a land of unattractive people. You could put together a long list of really beautiful British women, starting with Kate Beckinsale and ending with Liz Hurley before the deadly combination of Pam Anderson and osmosis infected her with trampititis C. I just think that pop culture teaches us that the British ideal of beauty is a bigger tent, meaning that they can forgive a face that is, shall we say, unconventional, especially if it is wedged between large breasts and stringy blonde hair. This is a roundabout way of saying that I question the wisdom of casting a Top Model show with women who range from far less to not quite as attractive as Lucy Davis (and before you rip me a new one because you love Lucy Davis, yes, she was a great Dawn and I'm not saying she's ugly; please just ask yourself how quickly you would bounce her from ANTM). To compound the selection issues, all of the judges are equally unattractive, and they've even managed to import a weird-looking botoxed American "former supermodel" of whom I have never heard. In short, this show has just been designated Exhibit A in my defense of Pretty for British Syndrome.
Second, I recognize that not all successful fashion models are actually attractive. Google "belgian models" if you don't believe me. At least, though, they have three things that every working model actually needs: good skin, height, and unhealthy thinness. Not, as BNTM would have us believe, whiteheads, smallishness, and giant breasts. This is like casting Apprentice entirely with people you found in line for the bathroom at Six Flags (actually, it's like casting BNTM with people you found in line for the bathroom at Six Flags). It's enough to make a guy stop complaining about ANTM ridiculousness like Lluvy, Michelle the Wrestler, or Coryn. America the comparatively beautiful, indeed.
I should mention that this post is Spacewoman-approved.
Warren Beatty is getting the lifetime award. Hm. Rosario Dawson is the first presenter. Nominees for best actress in a supporting role on TV include both the yay! (Katherine Heigl) and the huh? (Sarah Paulson). This would seem to be the year of Helen Mirren, who is nominated twice for best actress in a made-for-tv movie or miniseries. Jessica Biel informs us that among the nominees for best actor in a supporting role on tv are both Jeremy Piven and MASI OKA! Matthew Perry (presenter #3) is nominated as best actor in a miniseries or made-for-tv movie. Best supporting actor in a movie nominees include Murphy for Dreamgirls, Pitt for Babel, both Nicholson and Wahlberg for Departed, and, um, Ben Affleck. Nominee Matthew Perry takes the mike and greets everyone with a very deadpan "Good morning, I love you all." The only news of note from Perry is that Apocalypto is up for best foreign language film (not to be confused with an actual foreign film) and Jennifer Hudson is up for Dreamgirls (see Adam's prior post on the subject).
I am now having fun watching the behind-the-scenes chatter as everyone awaits the 8:38 am arrival of the morning shows' live feed. More shortly.
Six minutes later, I'm back! Ok. Much more to type after the big categories.
Best actor, TV drama: McDreamy, Amy Spanger's husband for Dexter, Hugh Laurie, Bill Paxton for Big Love! And, of course, the Globes' favorite boy, Kiefer. We are missing Matthew Perry here. Bummer. Best actress, TV drama is a little weirder: Evangeline Lilly is apparently not only beautiful, but can also act. Who knew? Ellen Pompeo but not Sandra Oh? The Arquette in Medium, Edie Falco, and Kyra Sedgwick finish off the list. Best actress in a TV comedy bores me. Blah blah Housewives (so very 2004), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mary-Louise Parker, and hey, there's America Ferrara!
The movie nominations are kind of wasted on me, as I've seen all of one or maybe two new movies this year. Cruz, Dench, Gyllenhaal, Mirren, Winslet, Bening, Collette, Beyonce, Streep, and Zellweger. Other than Beyonce, it feels kind of usual suspects to me, but others will have actual thoughts on the subject.
Now back to something I know -- best TV series, drama! Love this list: 24, Big Love, Grey's, Heroes, Lost. I am a fan of each and every one of these shows. Glad to see Big Love getting a little respect! And the Sorkin backlash is here in full force. (Sarah Paulson is really the only nominee? Seriously? Sarah Paulson?)
Jessica Biel gets a big laugh as she announces the full title of the movie for which Sacha Baron Cohen is nominated for best comedic or musical actor. Other comedy nominees are the Dread Pirate Depp, Aaron Eckhart for that movie produced by David O. Sacks, some guy I can neither spell nor pronounce for a movie I've never heard of called Kinky Boots, and Will Ferrell for a non-Elf movie. Best TV comedies are Desperate Housewives, Entourage, The Office, Ugly Betty, and Weeds. (I'm okay here - I wouldn't expect the Hollywood Foreign Press to dig Swarlos.) Laugh #2 for the Borat title, as it joins Prada, Dreamgirls, Little Miss Sunshine, and that David O. Sacks movie for best comedy or musical.
Matthew Perry doesn't announce any love for anyone this time. The funny tv actors are Alec Baldwin, Zach Braff, Steve Carell, Jason Lee, and Tony Shalhoub. Clint Eastwood directed two WWII movies this year and is nominated for both of them. Ditto Frears, the Babel director, and Scorscese. A big year for double nominees: Leo's got two of 'em for Blood Diamond and Departed, joined by Peter O'Toole, Will Smith the Serious Actor, and Forrest Whitaker. (Aren't we missing some people from The Departed here?) And Your Dramatic Films are Babel, Bobby, The Departed, Little Children, and The Queen.
Yes, it is All That.
Yes, Jennifer Hudson is that good.
Yes, she nails The Song, and The Glory Note Of All Glory Notes, and you will applaud with the rest of your audience when you see it.
No, it's not a "supporting" performance by any stretch.
No, we have no idea where she goes from here, career-wise. Is Jaye Davidson, of all things, the best analogy? Brilliant performance in a role that requires skills that Hollywood isn't often looking for?
Yes, Eddie Murphy deserves a nomination too, even if early on, I kept thinking about SNL-era Eddie and not James "Thunder" Early. Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx are also pretty darn good, especially in the second act. And readers of this blog will enjoy a brief cameo by John Lithgow and The Office's John Krasinski, plus an early one by a former child star that I won't spoil, but led to a significant portion of our audience shouting his name when he appeared.
Much credit, as well, to writer-director Bill Condon. It is not easy to take something designed for the stage and translate it to the screen without the people-bursting-into-song thing feeling artificial, but he pulls it off well. The costumes and art direction are fabulously appropriate.
This is how you adapt a musical into a great piece of film entertainment. Go see it.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Did any one else think Cliff "Sangria Man" Crooks was reprising his role as the immunity saboteur this week? Four dishes? Nothing coming out of the kitchen? The "team leader" appointed after Cliff had already made, swayed or modified a significant number of the major menu decisions? How much worse if the team members shopping at the other store had followed his instructions and failed to purchase the steak and lobster? Am I being too hard on him?
Also, a cocktail that incorporates cream and lime juice?? A mistake like that calls out for some kind of sanction, even in the Quickfire. It's not exactly a Snickers Bar with a Chee-to on it, and yet, as a taste experience, I'd rather have a Snickers Bar with a Chee-to on it. ...or just cut to the chase and make something nice with cottage cheese, if you're determined to incorporate curdled milk. Sheesh.
If you're interested, you can vote, and anyone who votes is eligible to win the "Ultimate New Jersey Fantasy Package". Of course, only in New Jersey would first place be "Meet Joe Torre prior to a Yankee game, including a tour of the stadium, close-up seating during batting practice, & tickets to the game for 4 people" -- i.e., an event that takes place entire outside of New Jersey!
Go ahead and name a truer "New Jersey Fantasy Package".
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
All of us here have organizations we're supporting this season, and we hope you'll consider donating what you can to each. Here's the first few:
- Bob: "For those of you who have had a loved one suffer from cancer, please consider giving to the Pan Mass Challenge, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I have supported this organization myself, both by giving and by riding my bike nearly 100 miles on a hot day in August. Thanks very much in advance for considering this worthy charity."
- Kim: "Every so often, Mr. Cosmopolitan and I look around our apartment and remember what it used to look like before we decided to procreate. Those memories are getting hazier, as the sea of child-related paraphernalia grows deeper and more permanent. While said sea of stuff causes a lot of frustration (and is the main reason why we are not hosting the New York ALOTT5MA Chrismukkah gathering), we are deeply grateful that Cosmo Girl and Cosmo Baby are fortunate enough to have everything they could possibly ever need -- and then some. But not every new baby is as lucky. This year, we are donating to Newborns in Need, a charity that provides the essentials to newborn babies whose families are not in a position to do so themselves. Donations go to hospitals and shelters all over the country and include such items as snuggly clothing, shampoo, pacifiers, formula and bottles, sheets and blankets, and so forth. See here for information on how to donate (including Paypal). Newborns in Need strives to ensure that no baby will lack for basic essentials -- I hope that you'll join us in helping them out."
- Phil: "Around the Throckmorton Manse our current favorite charity is the ground-up agglomeration of educational contribution opportunities at Donors Choose. Teachers upload descriptions of projects of all shapes and sizes for which they're seeking funding -- literally from a classroom bookshelf for the paperback lending libarary to a junior prom for a class of 100 -- and browsing donors pick worthy efforts to fund in whole or in part. In our limited experience your contribution will inevitably net you an educator's heartfelt gratitude, a large number of gracious but conspicuously punctuated thank-you notes in the looping hand characteristic of the north american middle school female, and a corresponding number of polaroids of north american middle school males making a characteristic effort to appear above-it-all. Good people. Great projects. On a micro-grassroots-pick-your-flavor platform."
- Kingsley: "Want to save as many lives as possible? Give to Oxfam. They've got some unique giving opportunities this year, and few groups do more to fight global poverty."
More to come from our other bloggers, as soon as they email 'em to me. In addition, commenter LB is raising funds for the March of Dimes, in memory of her son, and we hope you'll give generously to all these worthy organizations.
Feel free to suggest more in the comments.
Why, CBS, for the love of God, WHY?
Monday, December 11, 2006
I have not yet thought this through systematically, but I have certainly enjoyed a great deal the 2006 releases by Gnarls Barkely, Corrine Bailey Rae, Slo Mo, Neko Case, Madeleine Peyroux, and Rodrigo y Gabriela.
It is, of course, only the second-nastiest song in the Yale-Harvard rivalry, since Yale partisan Cole Porter ('13) earlier wrote: "bingo/that's the lingo/Harvard's team cannot prevail." Ooo, burn.
*It can only be described that way because Yale-approved spell-checkers don't recognize "gangsta."
Edited to add: It's worth going to the band's web page and checking the biographies just to get a glimpse of bandmember Mateus's picture in bed with a stuffed panda. As I said, "gangster."
In other Boart news, Borat made the esteemed AFI list of the top 10 films of 2006, which also includes two other films I actually saw in the theater (Happy Feet and Inside Man). Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima redux, Letters from Iwo Jima, also makes the list and it also topped the LA film critics' list, giving it serious Oscar mojo. And of note on the AFI's TV list is the inclusion of both Heroes and The Office, two shows that I know have big followings round these parts.
And while we are on the subject of lists and such, I wanted to point out that my good friend Peter Orner's stunning debut novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, got mentioned twice in this Salon roundup of notable authors choosing their favorite reads of 2006. Steve Almond said if it was up to him, Orner "would have won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. The novel is that astonishing," while Stephen Elliot was no less effusive, saying, "It's not just the best book I read this year, it's one of my five favorite novels of all time." Even if your name is not Steve or Stephen, you'll find it a rich and compelling read.