Saturday, January 21, 2006

I FORGOT MY PANTS: For those of you who, for some reason, have had a pressing desire to ride the New York City subway without pants, now you have a reason and opportunity to, as part of ImprovEverywhere's annual "No Pants" event.

Friday, January 20, 2006

LET'S GET THE FIRST ONE FROM THE PRODUCERS OVER THE LOUDSPEAKER: Toss-up -- which reality performer with inexplicable staying power is worse at his craft: AI4's Scott Savol as a singer, or DancingStars' Master P as a dancer?
AS LITIGIOUS AS HE WANTS TO BE: Did Fiddy steal part of the lyrics to "In Da Club" from Luther Campbell? That's what the person who now holds Campbell's copyrights claims. Apparently, the repeated chant of "Go, go, go shorty, it's your birthday" is the problematic portion, which seems like a perfect application of the "scenes a faire" doctrine.

Edit: TMFTML suggests another potential lawsuit against Fiddy.
THINK OF THE HAPPIEST THINGS; IT'S THE SAME AS HAVING WINGS: Eric Berlin chimes in with a list of the most useless items in the SkyMall catalog. Sadly, he left out Thank goodness, he included their solution to one of life's pressing concerns -- if I want to have a coffeetable and an aquarium in my house but don't have a lot of room, what should I do?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

ALAS, THE KRAUT KING DIDN'T EVEN MAKE THE LIST: According to the folks behind the Q score, the M&M's are our most beloved spokes-creatures, topping the list of the ten most likable creatures, which includes Poppin' Fresh, the Geico Gecko, and Trix Rabbit. Least loved? That distinction belongs to the Poochie-like Maxaroni, who shills for Stouffer's.
HUNKIE COOPER WAS ROBBED: Fear not list fans, I'm still out there looking for lists of note and interest (there's always a post year-end lull). And speaking of lulls, here it is: the Arena Football League's 20 Greatests Players of All-Time. (For those of you too lazy to click on the link, Kurt Warner is No. 12 on the list.)
IT'S A ROCK-A-HULA ROCK-A-HULA ROCK-A-HULA ROCK-A-HULA LUAU LUAU LUAU LUAU! Grease 2 is on the ABC Family Channel tonight at 8. Let there be reproduction.
NO WORD ON THE TIME OF DEATH: "Wicked" Wilson Pickett has died.
TAINTED LOVE: In case you missed it the other night, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart and Ed Helms in a classic discussion on Washington D.C.'s "taint."
SHE DOES, HOWEVER, KIND OF LOOK LIKE MERYL STREEP: In something of a let down, in this NYT story about her weekend home in upstate New York, we discover that Susan Orlean did not, in fact, leave her husband for John Laroche, is no longer addicted to orchid dust, and apparently has learned how it feels to care about something passionately.
JUMP IN UNDER THE WATERFALL AND CLIMB THE RAINBOW TREE: That Steve Martin would be extending his record for hosting SNL the most times is old news. The more interesting news is that the musical guest for Martin's 14th hosting gig will be none other than Prince. Interestingly, both have won awards for their work connected with the other person's field. Steve Martin has a Grammy (for his banjo playing on "Earl Scruggs and Friends") and Prince has an Oscar (for his score for "Purple Rain"). Also, Prince is allegedly a fan of Fred Armisen's "The Prince Show," so we could see some very odd stuff.
MOM ALWAYS SAID, "DON'T PLAY WITH BALLS IN THE HOUSE": Sorry to go so low-brow on you, but that was the first thing that popped into my head upon reading that Greg and Peter Brady will be portraying gay lovers on an upcoming episode of "That '70s Show."

I guess, "Greg, I wish I knew how to quit you," works well, too.

Link via TV Tattle.
JAMES, JACK, AND JOHN ON A ROUTINE EXPEDITION MET THE GREATEST EARTHQUAKE EVER KNOWN: The comments regarding last night's episode of Lost raise a more macro level question about the show. In the unexpected world where Lost proved to be both a critical and a popular phenomenon, thus eliminating any concern about ratings or cancellation anytime in the foreseeable future, what do you do if you're JJ and the Island Band, busy planning the show's arcs for the season? They pretty much have to slow things down and dole the big events out sparingly, lest they be left with nothing to write about after this season or next.

My own view is that the show's manymanymany fans could easily accept the on-island plot moving at a slow pace if the flashbacks were diverse and interesting. And similarly, not every flashback needs to be "OH MY GOD, LOCKE'S IN A WHEELCHAIR" if the on-island plot for that episode is compelling on a standalone basis. (For example, the Michael flashback earlier this season was entirely useless, but the main plot -- the first Waltless raft episode -- was suitably interesting.) The flawed episodes (and there aren't many) come when you've got a relatively uneventful on-island story combined with an unenlightening flashback.

I do think we're all a little bit spoiled by the quality of this show. If someone had told me three months ago that we'd see Zeke again and get some real hints as to his origins and the number of people accompanying him but that this would be viewed as a loser of an episode, I wouldn't have believed it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

THERE'S ENTIRELY TOO MUCH TOOTIE BEING EXPOSED: I will have much to say about women's figure skating as the Olympics approach, about the sport's internal battle between boundary-breaking athleticism and retro notions of femininity and "grace", as the name Slutskaya will be uttered repeatedly here and without titters.

Tonight, however, we focus on the sport's more feminine side, as it was the subject of a tremendously entertaining Project Runway challenge, designing an outfit for new U.S. figure skating champion Sasha Cohen. Honestly, I thought the outfits at the end were the least interesting of any of the rounds so far, but this was still an episode full of laughs (on the ice) and an increasingly interesting fleshing out of the intragroup dynamics. The winning outfit? Way too sexy for skating judges, I thought, but darn cool.

We're getting to a point that reminds me of the midway point of America's Next Top Model 2, at which all the remaining competitors (save one, Kara) are talented enough to win this, and it's just a question of not-screwing-up enough times in a row to make it to Olympus Fashion Week. But like I keep saying, the difference between this show and all the other Who Wants To Be The Next [X]? shows is that you really can't coast at any time -- if you screw up badly enough, there's no cumulative good will around to keep you to the next challenge. I am pumped for the rest of the season.
THIS MUSIC IS QUITE DEPRESSING: Boy, was I glad when we got to minute 34 of Lost and something actually happened. I was starting to get worried that all we were going to learn was that (a) Locke and Kate know how to follow tracks, (b) Michael is a little psycho on the subject of finding Walt, (c) Jack works too hard, and (d) Jack and his father don't get along.

Still not so much in the way of plot advancement in minutes 34 and thereafter, so let me take a crack at it: (a) Was that some kind of force field protecting Zeke? (b) If you want to raise an army, isn't Sayid the guy you want to talk to? (c) (and this one is the showstopper, in my view) Remember the two quotes about curiosity? The first one appears here.

I have no observations about the flashback except that there wasn't any there there. Oh, and Jin was quite cute with the hat.
CORNROWS? WE TALKIN' 'BOUT CORNROWS? The many hairstyles of Allen Iverson have been catalogued.
EXPANDING THE HORIZONS, EXPANDING THE PARAMETERS, EXPANDING THE RHYMES OF SUCKER M.C. AMATEURS: There are two hip-hop concert films I'm looking forward to this season -- the Beastie Boys "Awesome, I F***in' Shot That!, a 2004 MSG concert indeed filmed by fifty random fans handed camcorders by the band, and Dave Chappelle's Block Party, a 2004 Bed-Stuy street concert notable because (a) it features Kanye West, the Roots and a reunited-for-the-first-time-since-1997 Fugees, and (b) it was directed by Michael Gondry, who did Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I'm intrigued to see what he'll bring to the project.
STILL GETS WORSE MILEAGE THAN A GEO: I was going to post about how irritating it is that our hybrid choices are limited to some SUVs and the equivalent of a 1989 Mazda 323, but a little research reveals that Lexus has the mother of all hybrids coming this spring. (There's also an Accord hybrid coming soon.) According to Lexus, it will have the power of a 4.5-liter V-8 and the mileage of a 2.4-liter compact sedan. In other words, the power of a regular Lexus with the gas mileage of a Honda Civic. It won't be cheap -- probably dealer-invoicing at close to $60,000, but I'm betting it will be awesome.

It would have been nice, by the way, to see a faltering American auto industry getting ahead of the demand curve with a cool-looking luxury hybrid model.
RUBEN STUDDARD, ON THE OTHER HAND, IS MORE THAN WILLING TO SHARE HIS VAST REPERTOIRE WITH THE FLEDGLING AI WANNABES: There's very little to say about American Idol during the audition weeks, except to note that "Constance Frye" was a diet-coke-out-the-nose kind of moment. But never fear, there's always something to discuss during this fallow period, starting with Kelly Clarkson's decision not to let AI contestants perform her songs on this season's competition. I totally get the Grammy-nominated Clarkson's desire to move beyond her proletarian beginnings, but talk about dissing the momma who birthed you.
THERE'LL BE A "PARIS, I WISH I COULD QUIT YOU" JOKE: TV Guide's "Ask Ausiello" has the equivalent of a couple of TV blind items regarding future plot developments on Gilmore Girls that seem ripe for guessing around here:
  • There will be a wedding in March or April that involves people who do not live in Stars Hollow. (My guess is either the Huntsburger daughter getting married or yet another appearance by the infamous Jess.)
  • "One of our favorite Gilmore girls is about to discover that she has a lot in common with Michelle Williams' character in Brokeback Mountain." (If this isn't a Paris/Doyle plot, I think I'll be shocked.)
BLOGGING BLIND: Occasionally, the spoilers get it right. I would have had no problem being spoiled as to the 24 premiere this week, given that 24 isn't a show I normally watch. But reading through all of the TV columns of which I am an avaricious consumer, I noticed that no one was giving anything away about the premiere except for "WATCH IT. ESPECIALLY THE FIRST FIFTEEN MINUTES." With advocacy like that, I figured I'd watch the first fifteen minutes and see if it compelled me to continue. So now, having watched not just the first fifteen minutes, but rather four hours over the span of 26 hours, I can confirm that yes, this season of 24 seems to be quite compelling.

(My problem with 24 was always that the episodes I happened to watch tended to be the ones where nothing much was happening. 15 minutes spent watching Jack drive/fly/run someplace with a determined look on his face and the like. Plus, especially during the early seasons, there was something of a divide between 24 people and Alias people, and I was adamantly in the latter camp.)

While I've seen enough 24 over the years to have been suitably shocked by the events of the first fifteen minutes, I will confess that I need a bit of background assistance before feeling suitably prepared to blog about the show. (And the thought of reading 500 pages of overlong TWoP coverage kind of makes me want to cry.) Those who have watched Season 4, please help me out in the comments.
  • What's the back story on Jack and Audrey?
  • Do we like Bill Buchanan? How and when did he become the head of CTU? (That is, before Samwise Gamgee showed up and took over the joint.)
  • How long has Logan been a character? And has Walt always been eeeeevil? Where does Walt fit into everything?
  • More generally, who besides Mrs. Logan and Lyn Gamgee is a new character this season? Edgar? Spencer? Others?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

THE TAKEOVER; THE BREAK'S OVER: A lifesaver to many of us in the hinterlands, the mini-market chain Trader Joe's will be invading Manhattan in just a few months.

A list of all the Trader Joe's products I find essential would take an essay, but let me single out one -- that frozen marinated rack of lamb kicks ass, and comes out perfectly every time.
HOLD ON A SECOND, I NEED TO WATCH THAT "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW" AD: Today's NYT reports that video advertisements may be coming soon to your cell phone. Does that fill you with joy?
LIVING THE DREAM: Gawker reports that the wry and often devastingly accurate Opinionista, whose writings about life as a Biglaw associate and sharp-witted girl in the city rendered her a must-read for many (myself included), has chosen to out herself as Melissa Lafsky, formerly an associate at Littler Mendelson, quitting her day job as a lawyer and pursuing a job as a writer. Her first work will allegedly be a novel based on characters from her life (let's hope it's more Julie and Julia than The Washingtonenne). Just to note, I (and as far as I know, all others around here) will be remaining in our jobs while still continuing to provide you with witty and trenchant pop cultural commentary.
REASON WHY NOT NUMBER 1: It appears that ABC's much-promoted and much-maligned (though I actually kind of liked it) Emily's Reasons Why Not will never appear again, airing only one episode. Also officially at an end today? Fox sitcoms That 70s Show and Malcolm in The Middle, and the marriage of Project Runway contestant and inveterate famewhore Wendy Pepper.
SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA, BRIAN DUNKLEMAN SULKS IN A CORNER: American Idol 5 debuts tonight with the first of a hundred zillion tryout shows before we get to the good stuff. (I get tired of seeing people who don't understand that they can't sing after about the first hour's worth, except for the insane guy who did ODB's "Got Your Money" last year. And how many twins will we have to see?).

Should you watch it? Will you?
FISH AND VISITORS STINK IN THREE DAYS: Today would have been Ben Franklin's 300th Birthday, and Philadelphia is celebrating the tercentenary with a series of events. The Inq has a package here.

Inventor, raconteur, university and hospital builder, publisher, statesman, ladies' man and more . . . is there a contemporary figure who comes close to the breadth and significance of his accomplishments?

Monday, January 16, 2006

THEY'RE GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME: These are, quite simply, the best store-bought cookies I've had in a long, long time. This provokes a discussion topic--what is your go-to cookie? Me, I'm a Nutter Butter man, but have a soft spot for Golden Oreos (the ones with white cookie/chocolate icing).
CAN YOU DIG IT, CC? Okay, Mayor Ray Nagin may be a little addled from the tragedy which befell his city, so I can forgive him quite a bit. But conjuring up Parliament needs no excuse.
ENOUGH WITH THE SERIOUS REFLECTION: Mr. Cosmopolitan was just observing to me that MLK Day never feels like a real holiday, because it's the only national holiday that wasn't a holiday during his youth. Which is a fair point -- when most of us were kids, we had that long uninterrupted stretch between New Year's Day and Presidents' Weekend with nary a day off from school.

What would you propose as the next national holiday to be officially decreed by the Day-Off-From-Work powers that be? And what do you think is the most likely one to be so recognized? Personally, I think August is long overdue for a national holiday -- Elvis Day, anyone? August is a great time for PB&Banana sandwiches.
OKAY, I JUST MADE THAT UP. THERE IS NO EIGHT-YEAR-OLD GIRL: Thank you, Geena Davis, for making me smile during her Golden Globe acceptance speech, helping me overcome the sense of grievous injustice stemming from the Best Supporting Actress -- Film category.

The comments thread is open for all Golden Globe thoughts during the evening.
MORE SERIOUS REFLECTION: Just to add on to Bob's post, today is as good a day as any to recall that when my parents got married 40 years ago, their marriage was illegal in a number of states (including Virginia), socially unacceptable in many circles, and noticeably unusual just about everywhere.
NO MORE BACKWARD THINKING, TIME FOR THINKING AHEAD: In honor of Martin Luther King Day, the local station I listen to most often (WDAS-FM) has been playing solely songs that focus on civil rights and/or racial relations. Which calls to mind the question, what is the best song with that subject? Among the songs the station has played this morning, my personal favorite happens to be "Wake Up Everybody" by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

The song that might well be at the top of my list would be Stevie Wonder's powerful allegorical tune "Superstition."

"When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way"
VERONICA CORNINGSTONE'S LEGACY: After dominating TV news for decades, male anchors are now in the minority nationwide, according to a study by the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Ball State University.

The data reveals that only 42.8% of local news anchors are male, compared with 79.0% of weathercasters and 92.8% of sports anchors.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

IT'S GREAT TO BE RICK RUBIN! Or so the WaPo's J. Freedom du Lac believes:
"We put everything we have into it all the time, whatever it takes," [Rubin] says. "If we're going to do it, let's aim for greatness. Because, honestly, the physical act of documenting the ideas that you have is not fun. So if it's not going to be great, I'd much rather go swimming. Really. I might rather go swimming anyway. But at least aiming for greatness is a good foil for not being in the water."
A piece worth reading about a truly essential part of hip hop history.
SHAMELESS TROLLING: Sometimes it pays off. On this lazy sunday it has paid off for me with a little more rap-related humor. Have a chuckle over the searing parodic power and adequate photoshop skills that are Weekend At Biggie's, which comes to you courtesy of Straight Bangin' and Oh Word. where did I leave my red vines?