Saturday, June 24, 2006

COME ON! This week's EW is the annual "Must List Issue," which, sadly, indicates that the worst issue of the year, the "Photo Issue," is in the near future. One of the more interesting tidbits in the issue comes in the profile of Rainn Wilson, which reveals that he was a finalist for the role of GOB on Arrested Development. That's one of those casting concepts that's so close to being right that it's painfully wrong. Wilson's GOB would have probably been creepy and leering without the endearing overgrown manchild edge that Will Arnett brought to the part.

In other Office news, Jenna Fischer played on Celebrity Poker Showdown this week, and the most interesting tidbit is even though their on-screen characters are less than the best of friends, Angela Kinsey is a good friend off-screen and came down to New Orleans to provide support. (Also, bring back Phil Gordon. Phil Hellmuth may be a better poker player, but his rapport with Dave is lacking.)
ALWAYS A BABY TO ME... Sorry that Mrs. Earthling, the Little Earthling and I missed this. But now you are on notice: Baby Loves Disco - coming to an urban hot-spot near you.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE INTO A CAR, WHY NOT DO IT IN SOME STYLE? Something spurred by seeing the trailer for Monster House for the umpteenth time last night. Is there another filmmaker currently working who's been more of a disappointment in recent years than Robert Zemeckis? The 1984-1997 filmography is pretty darn excellent (Romancing The Stone, three Back To The Future movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump (which can certainly be criticized, but could have, in lesser hands, been completely intolerable--cf. I Am Sam), and Contact), with only one big miss (Death Becomes Her). Since then, we've had "give me an Oscar again!" (Cast Away), an incomprehensible ghost story (What Lies Beneath), and pretty without plot (The Polar Express). So, what went wrong and can Zemeckis fix it with his upcoming credits (a "performance capture" version of Beowulf and a film version of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections)?
SOMEONE'S GOT IT IN FOR ME, THEY'RE PLANTING STORIES IN THE PRESS: If we're going to reference Jacko once this week, ma nishtana ha'laila hazeh, apparently we're going to have to do it twice. He's apparently going to be appearing with Bob Dylan at a concert in Ireland this weekend, which begs the question: and what should they be singing?
IT'S THOSE GOSH-DARNED PROVINCIAL NEW YORKERS AGAIN: I find it funny that Robert Duvall is being cited as an authority on the authenticity of Deadwood and The Sopranos, apparently based on the facts that he (a) summered in Montana as a child and (b) appeared in the Godfather movies. This strikes me as remarkably similar to the "Are you a doctor? No, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night!" line of commercials.

Friday, June 23, 2006

EULOGY BY REV. CAMDEN: Aaron Spelling has died. There is much to be said about his lengthy filmography, which includes TV classics like The Mod Squad, SWAT, Starsky & Hutch, Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Melrose Place, 90210, and 7th Heaven. How will you remember Spelling, who, for better or for worse, has left an indelible stamp on television?
IT'S A FINE LINE BETWEEN CLEVER AND STUPID: In our recent discussions about turnoffs in online personal ads there appeared to be a consensus that listing a book or film that was "mawkishly sentimental" in an online personal was a major negative. I suppose that at the various ends of the spectrum we can all agree about what is and isn't mawkishly sentimental. But where do you draw the line? For me, the easiest way to express the difference is to compare pre-1980 Stevie Wonder to his songs since then. The former are almost without exception sublime. The latter are, well, mawkish. So where do you draw the line?
I SEE DEAD PEOPLE: So whose side are you taking in the battle between M. Night Shyamalan and Disney? My view is that Shyamalan has made one excellent film (Sixth Sense) and three films with interesting ideas but deep and abiding flaws in them (Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village), but seems that he's gotten a little bit arrogant to me.
THE POP SINGER'S GOLDEN GLOW OF STARDOM HAD BEEN DIMMING, BUT THIS WAS THE MOMENT WHEN IT DROPPED BELOW THE HORIZON: We never did have a thread about last week's Britney Spears interview on NBC's Dateline, but the WaPo's Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion analyst Robin Givhan today gives us an excuse to start one:
In the world of celebrities, physical perfection -- or the appearance of it -- is a requirement of the job. But Spears wore her do-it-yourself raggedness with rigorous intent. If the point of the interview was to curry sympathy and concern from viewers, then Spears reached for a costume to make her pitch. Here were the inarticulate mewlings of a starlet who has plummeted from her pedestal -- a free fall without the safety net of a stylist. See what the paparazzi have done to me? See what the rumors have wrought?

This may have been the worst celebrity interview decision since Jacko said yes to Martin Bashir, for what it's worth.
I MIGHT HAVE REPLACED KRUSH GROOVE WITH REMAINS OF THE DAY: From 8 Mile to Scarface, /film lists the top 10 hip hop films, and no, Disorderlies did not make the cut.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

NEXT WEEK WE HAVE KANSAS-STYLE MIDDLE SCHOOL ONE-LEGGED HIP HOP: So how many different genres of hip hop are there, anyway? While one of my favorite aspects of SYTYCD has always been the opportunity to see and learn about an array of dance styles, I was left a little cold by this week's crumping / old school East Coast / whatever the heck the other one was combination of hip hop performances. Or maybe it's just that I didn't like those two women who were choreographing the non-crump stuff. Whatever. I have new respect for Shane Sparks, Dan Karaty, and Brian Friedman's choreography. I also violently disliked the Heidi/Ryan "pop" routine and found it interesting that the same choreographer put together both that dance and the utterly gorgeous Natalie/Musa contemporary dance. Natalie, incidentally, seems to be the only female dancer on the show with any sex appeal whatsoever. And, of course, the pimping of Donyelle and Benji continues -- which isn't entirely unreasonable, as they are appealing both separately and together. (And yes, if I'd watched last night's performances in a timely fashion, I would surely have included Nigel's sincere and lovely comments to Donyelle in my body image post of earlier today.)

Thought that both America and the judges made the right decision, although I was kind of expecting them to send Aleksandra home for that utterly deflating defeatist attitude during the results show. I do think that she and Dmitry have the potential to be a much better partnership than either of them managed to achieve with their previous partners.
ARRRR, THERE BE SOME FELLERS FROM PENZANCE TODAY THAT BE MIGHTY ANGRY: Not to mention Samuel Dalembert, Captain Carl, and the singing portrait from Spongebob, who were all left off Volvo's list of the greatest pirates of all time. (The list is part of a Volvo promotional tie in with Pirates of the Caribbean 2.)
THERE COMES A TIME WHEN WE HEED A CERTAIN CALL: Upon realizing that I only knew maybe ten videos from the 100 Most Awesome Music Videos list, I had to go find a better feeder for '80s nostalgia. Have fun. Make sure to watch "We Are the World" while you're there, to ensure that the bubbles of nostalgia actually seep out of your pores. And I posit the following hypothesis: Bruce Springsteen made that song the gargantuan hit that it was. (Remember the day when every radio station played it at the same time?)
A SLEDGEHAMMER TO YOUR VOCAL CORDS: So it's apparently Body Issues Day. Katharine McPhee has come clean to People Magazine about her bulimia -- she credits American Idol with having saved her life, because she wouldn't have sought treatment but for having made it past auditions onto the show. Which strikes me as nice and all, but a little weird: if you're trying to overcome an eating disorder, is going on an incredibly stressful live national television show really the optimal way to do it?

In other news, Evangeline Lilly has covered all of the mirrors in her house because she can't handle the pressure about her appearance. Wah.
FAMETRACKER, YOU ARE "ON NOTICE:" Is Stephen Colbert too famous for his own good? Fametracker thinks he just might be.
VISTORS TO THE BLOG RECEIVE LOVELY PARTING GIFTS: Former Jeopardy! mega-champ Ken Jennings has a blog on which he's offering his view on the world, including a bit of non-lawyer legal analysis. Ken even gives the Conspirators a shout-out. Ken's writing is crisp, clean, and even wry, making me look forward to his book all the more.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TUCKER QUAYLE? That's a question I can't answer, but Cate Edwards (daughter of John and Elizabeth) has started a resource for "New York City trendsetters and tastemakers" called "Urbanista" which looks like it might actually be useful for purposes other than forming a Gawker Stalker Map of "places where you can see Cate Edwards." (Via Gawker, natch.)
UNLESS, OF COURSE, YOU ACTUALLY ARE RACHEL MCADAMS--THEN, IT'S OK: Today's online dating tip--the odds of me responding to your profile plummet, through the floor, should I observe that you profess your love for The Notebook in your profile. (Various Dan Brown books, also frequently mentioned, are a minus, but not necessarily a deal-breaker.)
YES, AND CASS SUNSTEIN WRITES FOR DEFAMER: Those of us here are apparently not the only lawyers concerned with popular culture, as Erwin Chemerinsky (or at least someone who can accurately impersonate him, including spelling his name correctly) is posting comments over at Perez Hilton.
WHAT ABOUT THE 'TRACKING BALL REMOVAL KIT' FROM TOTAL RECALL? In advance of some ex-SNLer's film, VH1 presents a list of its 10 Favorite Movie Gizmos Of All Time. Surely, you can improve upon it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

THE MOST SINCERE HELLO EVER OFFERED IN THE HISTORY OF HELLOS: In a truly classic enabling of time-wasting, Pitchfork Media presents its compilation of the 100 most awesome music videos currently available on YouTube.

There are plenty of the oft-seen-and-awesome ("Rockit", "Material Girl", "Gossip Folks") and plenty of videos that you probably haven't seen yet but ought to, like Elton John's "This Train Don't Stop Anymore", The Roots' "What They Do" and Nas' "One Mic".

And the descriptions are, per Pitchfork's normal standards, top-notch. I don't even need to say what video each of these are for, do I?
The guys playing air keys had to be in on the joke, but Steve Perry looks like he's auditioning for On the Waterfront.

How to fight off your abusive pimp the Pat Benatar way: Get all your girlfriends behind you in their ragdresses and shake your boobies at him.

This was the first Prince video to really showcase what he was all about, performance-wise, even if the song only really took off with a re-release after "Little Red Corvette" established him as the biggest thing since oxygen. Exactly what you would expect: neon, keyboards, quasi-lesbianism, poofy hair, poofier shirts, lotsa purple, flash bulbs, dry ice, pencil moustaches. Everyone was, understandably, wigged out about nuclear war in the early 1980s; the best artists made that paranoia danceable.

Almost everyone knows the story by now, and if you don't, I'm certainly not going to ruin it for you. Watching the director's commentary on the DVD, you get the feeling that Kelly discovered the word "cliffhanger" in the dictionary one day and suddenly knew what he had to do.

Take a look. Tell us what else we need to be sure to watch.
ALSO, CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN WHY THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS HAVE THREE SONGS IN THE TOP 100: Some thoughts while browsing iTunes this evening:
  • Was anyone demanding Paula Cole: Postcards From East Oceanside: Greatest Hits? Doesn't This Fire provide you with all about 4 of the Paula Cole songs you need? ("Tiger," "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone," "Me," and "I Don't Want To Wait," if you cared to know.)
  • Now, I downloaded it, but can someone explain the allure of "Hips Don't Lie" to me? I can understand the allure of the video, watching Shakira shake her truthful body parts, but that song? Just bad.
  • I feel bad about liking it, but Christina Aguilera's new single, "Ain't No Other Man?" That's some good stuff--mixing the jazz and funk almost as well as Outkast has done.
  • Why are people downloading Paris Hilton's single? Currently number 5 on iTunes? This is not going to get her to go away any faster, folks.
  • No, Taylor Hicks, you do not make me particularly proud.
SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS KNOW THE WORDS TO 'JUSTIFY MY LOVE': As this list's large South Side baseball-fan constituency probably already knows, yesterday White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen -- a fervent ignoramus and one of my favorite candidates for most loathsome person active in baseball (an incomplete list would also include Kenny Rogers and Carl Everett) -- used an ugly slur to refer to a reporter with whom he shockingly disagreed. I won't repeat the slur here, but here's a hint: it starts with "f," ends with "ag," and has "I am a complete douchebag" all over the middle part. But the middle part is silent.

Guillen's "how can I be a homophobe?" defense, however, is amusing:
Guillen also told Couch that he has gay friends, attends WNBA games, went to a Madonna concert and plans to go to the Gay Games in Chicago.
Yep, that's pretty gay.
APPARENTLY NEITHER PILOT WAS NAMED SHIRLEY OR PLAYED BASKETBALL FOR THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS: From the Chicago Tribune's cover story today on the NTSB hearings looking into a crash of Southwest Airlines jet that skidded off the runway at Midway airport in December:
As the plane was on its final approach, Oliver told the captain: "We're all counting on you."

Sutherland laughed again and Oliver added: "Picked the wrong day to stop sniffin' glue," an apparent allusion to the 1980 film comedy "Airplane!"

Thank goodness an editor added the word "apparent" to the story, because we can't sure the pilot wasn't in fact confessing that he indeed chose the wrong day to begin a glue habit.
FEATURING SAGE COMMENTARY FROM DONAL LOGUE: So what do you think belongs on the list of the "50 Greatest Game Shows Of All Time?" Sure, the top 5 or so are easy (Match Game, The Price Is Right, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Press Your Luck), but what about the more obscure? Will the scandals knock Twenty One off the list? Will fan fave Whew! make the list? What about Win Ben Stein's Money, which I'd argue winning is among the top achievements possible for a game show contestant? Or Supermarket Sweep, with the most ludicrous bonus round ever? Who ya got?
DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU: So you thought the Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira goodbyes were painful? Those were positively poignant compared to Connie Chung's adieu to "Weekends with Maury and Connie." Oww-ww-ww-ww-ww-ww. I'd put it on a level with Marla Hooch's rendition of "It Had To Be You" from A League of Their Own, minus all of the funny.

(Thanks to Joanna Weiss at Viewer Discretion for the eardrum pain.)
MIDWEEK DOORPRIZE: Any ALOTT5MA reader who has any interest in seeing The Drowsy Chaperone on Friday night, please let me know in the comments. I have a couple of tickets that will go to waste unless someone wants them.
WELL, I'M GOIN' OUT TONIGHT, I'M GONNA ROCK THAT JOINT: In advance of the full review of last night's exuberant, boogie-woogieing, thoroughly entertaining but certainly political Springsteen show in Camden (from either me or Adam C.), here's your setlist, and you can listen to the Inq's Dan DeLuca review the show and see some pictures here.
I GOT SHOT. DIAGNOSTICALLY BORING. BIG FAT TONGUE, ON THE OTHER HAND, ENDLESSLY ENTERTAINING: Just how much of that House finale was real? Alan Sepinwall gets the answer from the source.
CORN SYRUP, SUGAR SYRUP, EGG WHITES AND VANILLA: Yet again, the Massachusetts legislature is forced to reckon with a looming social crisis on how to protect our children from immoral influences: should Marshmallow Fluff sales be sharply curtailed in its schools, or should the Fluffernutter be declared the Commonwealth's official sandwich?
HIS GAME IS LIKE THE PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM. THERE IS NO ANSWER: Congratulations to ALOTT5MA fave Shaquille O'Neal, the black, basketball-playing Nietzsche, on winning his fourth NBA title.

Is the Miami Heat the first major professional sports team to win a title with a non-plural nickname? (Answer: only if hockey's no longer a major sport. Both the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning have won Lord Stanley's Cup.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

FOR . . .YOU . . .THE . . .HUNT . . .IS . . . OVER. So Mrs. Earthling and I took in NBC's adventure race show "Treasure Hunters" Sunday night. TAR it is not. But it's not bad, and we're going to give Hour 3 a shot next week.

The premise is, of course, very TAR-ish. Ten teams of three race is solve puzzles and get clues to their next destination and, ultimately, to win some prize worth millions (no doubt two millions), by solving clues to race to destinations to obtain more clues. Five teams started on a boat off of Maui and have to work their way off the boat to a staged airplane wreck. There, they have to find a box and figure out how to open it. The key, however, is in two pieces in an screwtop staff, so it takes a moment to work the problem. The second group, starting from Backwater, Alaska, has to solve a puzzle to figure out their destination. At the end of hour one, both teams are on their way to Lincoln, Nebraska.

Okay, the premise of two groups of teams not knowing about one another was kind of cool and, but for the logistics and expense, could have been a fun theme through the whole season. Why is there another camera crew with another reality show poking around Peten, Guatemala? But they gave that up at the end of the first hour, with both teams racing to run square into one another. Fair enough, but the editing has none of TAR's subtle touch (recall the shot through the rearview mirror of the sign for Munich, or Charla and Myrna passing the clue box with a quick focus by the camera man). So there was no build up, just smash into a crescendo of revelation. Kinda boring.

Still, the puzzles are as good or better than any mental puzzles on TAR. At the end of Hour 2, when the teams are trying to open up various strong boxes on top of Mt. Rushmore, they have to figure out the combination with some reasonable clues, and that it is the order of presidents on Mt. Rushmore Washington (1), Jefferson (3), TR (26), Lincoln (16). Lots of folks got bogged down going 1-3-16-26.

The casting is pretty good -- with a team of Air Force officers, some CIA analysts, a group of Miss USA competitors, some mullet-dragging rednecks, and a group of self-described "geniuses" who nearly lost because they decided that it was "too easy" if their clue meant the destination was Mt. Rushmore and not Mt. Theodore Roosevelt, some 36 miles away.

Don't know if they're going to run a repeat premier, but it's not bad. Except for the host. Who sucks.
ALL THIS, AND MONKEYFISHING TOO: One of the first movers onto the World Wide Web, Slate Magazine is celebrating its tenth anniversary this week, and to commemorate they are committing Onan's transgression in a way rarely seen online.

Still, we ought to say a few words about the site. Cheeky, often funny, and if nothing else they introduced the world to the most excellent jurisprudential writing of Dahlia Lithwick. (Also, Randy Cohen played an indirect role in setting up me with Jen, so that's cool too.)

How often do you read Slate these days, and how much does the site matter?

Monday, June 19, 2006

I GUESS YOU COULD SAY WE'RE A SLOPPY ROCK & ROLL BAND THAT TRIES TO STRADDLE THE LINE BETWEEN COMEDY AND TRAGEDY: If everyone is going to be talking about the new best-of plus two album from The Replacements, I suppose we ought to as well. I didn't really know about them at the time, but once I hit college and was able to get into them, wow. They understood something essential and primitive about the fun and promise of rock & roll, and they translated it into a heck of a lot of great music.

We start and end today on the same theme: massive talent + drug abuse = too many questions about what might have been.
AND SIP THE CRIS SOMETHING ELSE AND GET PISSY PISSY: Jay-Z launches Cristal boycott. In short, the head of Cristal said he wasn't crazy about the attention given to his product by the hip-hop community; as a result, Jigga will be denying Cristal said attention in the future.
SUMMON THE HEROES: We're only halfway through 2006, and already there's controversy surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The issue: NBC has asked the IOC to schedule the swimming finals during Beijing's morning hours instead of the customary afternoon slot, so that American viewers will be able to watch the events live in primetime -- thereby juicing NBC's ratings, which traditionally get slaughtered when the Olympics take place on the other side of the planet and thus must be aired on heavy-duty delay. The Chairman of Australia's Seven Network is bummed ("the IOC cares more about the North American TV viewer than billions of viewers throughout Europe and Asia"), the swimmers will presumably be bummed ("it's the natural body cycle to be at its best in the afternoon after a day of preparation," sayeth the 1992 and 1996 1500m gold medalist Kieren Perkins), and so forth.

But then there's this: according to a recent AP article, the bulk of the IOC's revenues, which in turn go to the host cities and various international federations and national Olympic committees, come from the sale of TV rights. And 60% of those TV rights funds come from the United States. So -- not to sound too American-flag-wavy or anything -- if the IOC decides that making NBC happy is an economically rational thing to do, I'm not exactly adding my name to the bummed list.
DON'T STAND BETWEEN A MAN AND HIS FRAPPUCCINO: A play, in one act. Setting: a Starbucks inside a Barnes and Noble on the Upper West Side this weekend, staffed by a single barista. Your faithful blogger was the person behind customer in line.

Customer: I'd like a piece of cheesecake.
Barista: We have (insert ridiculous number) of varieties of cheesecake. Which kind would you like?
Customer: (hemming and hawing)
Barista: (description of various types of cheesecakes)
Customer: I'll just take a plain slice.
Barista: (fetches slice in laborious manner) Anything else?
Customer: Yes, a cup of tea.
Barista: What kind of tea?
Customer: I just don't know.
Barista: (enumeration of various types of tea)
Customer: Earl Grey.
Barista: (prepares cup of tea) Anything else?
Customer: I think I'd like a latte.
(At this point, faithful blogger begins eyerolling.)
Barista: What size?
Customer: A large.
(An extensive colloquy about Starbucks sizing follows. Faithful blogger moves from eyerolling to add impatient foot-tapping.)
Customer: A tall, then.
Barista: And what kind of milk?
Customer: I just don't know...

(Faithful blogger decides to move to more productive endeavors, such as beating his head against the wall.)

THEY'RE GOING TO BE LEGENDARY AND FILLED WITH AWESOMENESS: Best news in this interview with HIMYM's Josh Radnor? DVD commentary has been recorded, so we can look forward to a set of DVD's. Another interesting trivial tidbit? There's a very long shot in "Mary The Paralegal" which was done that way not so much for visual purposes as to prevent network folks from cutting one of the show's more risque jokes.
SAYING "HE DIRECTED TWO EPISODES OF JOEY" WAS NOT THE CHALLENGED STATEMENT: Yes, it is possible to defame David Schwimmer. No word on if he remains a "public figure" for purposes of New York Times v. Sullivan analysis, though.
"THE CRUELEST THING I THINK I'VE EVER HEARD": Twenty years ago today, Maryland basketball star Len Bias died from a cocaine overdose two days after being drafted #2 overall by the Boston Celtics.

I remember the day sharply because it was also the day I graduated from middle school, and I heard the news on the radio while my father was driving us to the Moshulu for a celebratory lunch. Nothing scared away our generation from drugs quite like this death.

The Washington Post has much to say. Here's Wilbon:

It's an overwhelming American Tragedy for those of us of a certain age.

On the occasion of what would have been Bias's 40th birthday, 2 1/2 years ago, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who played with Bias on summer barnstorming tours and against him while at Duke, said: "For people of my parents' generation, they mark time by when President Kennedy was assassinated. For me, and I think for many people who are about this age, I mark time by the death of Len Bias."

That's why Mourning knew exactly what he was doing -- washing a car at a summer job with a dealership -- when the news came over the radio. Bird, eager to see his new teammate, put it better than anybody when he called it "the cruelest thing I've ever heard."
Also, see this de-Insidered Bill Simmons essay from a few years ago.
OUR LYRICS ARE OUR CHILDREN, MAN. NO WAY: Did the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new single "Dani California" rip off Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance"? Listen and decide.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

OR DOES IT ACTUALLY STAND FOR JAY? I've been reading the Life Cycles section of the Jewish Exponent for many many years. (When you're from a city where Jewish geography is so ridiculously much a part of the landscape, you really have no excuse to avoid reading who's gotten engaged to whom, who's gotten married to whom, and who's procreating with whom.) I rarely encounter news of anyone I know anymore, being too old to know most of the engaged/newlywed couples and too young to start checking out the obituaries. But it shouldn't surprise anyone here when I tell you that I read the Exponent's baby announcements religiously (sorry, I crack myself up sometimes) just for the names. And this week, I had an honest-to-God belly laugh without the merest iota of snark:

"Carol and Harris Vederman of Bethesda, Md., announce the birth of their daughter, Cecelia J., on April 25. [Shoutouts to grandparents omitted.] Cecelia is named in loving memory of her paternal great-grandmother Cecelia Hyman, and, through which her mother and father met in 2003." I love it.

(To paraphrase one of my favorite Adamisms: -- bringing together the unchosen Chosen People.)

SOUNDS A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN "COOKIES ARE A SOMETIMES FOOD": What's in store for the 37th season of Sesame Street? The first new female muppet since Zoe Monster; guest stars T.R. Knight (perhaps explaining the blue hair), Matt Lauer, and Jamie Foxx, among others; a new parody segment entitled "Dinner Theatre," in which we will encounter Man of La Muncha and Veg Side Story; and, of course, new segments of "Global Grover," which will, as always, make me sigh with relief over the invention of the DVR and its skipping capabilities.
LIKELY TO BE A FIASCO, AND A HORRENDOUS ONE, BUT ON A SCALE BETTER DESCRIBED AS TEENSY OR WEENSY: Sadly, neither Tom Shales nor Alan Sepinwall nor Ellen Gray found NBC's attempt to rip off simultaneously from The Amazing Race, National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code to be worth our time, with Variety adding that Treasure Hunters may have the "most confusing set of rules for a reality show since the first season of The Mole."

But, yes, I'll still probably give tonight a try, unless there's something better on. It's summer. My standards are low.
WHEN YOU ARE A MAN, SOMETIMES YOU WEAR STRETCHY PANTS IN YOUR ROOM. IT'S FOR FUN: So despite Matt's warning, we went to see Nacho Libre last night. It is not a great movie, though it's certainly funny in parts.

Jack Black has this Belushi-like talent of being able to draw a laugh just from moving his eyebrows . . . but in this movie, you feel like it's more Black Being Black than having anything to do with his character. He indeed does break character a lot, and so while you enjoy it at the time (esp. in a pre-fight scene), you feel kinda dirty about it afterwards given how often it happens. And the other characters just aren't that interesting, not fleshed out at all, and as a result so many formulaic elements that you'd expect to see (the lesson learned early on that helps Black win The Big Fight, etc.) never materialize.

Speaking of formula: this movie tracks School of Rock in a lot of ways, only not nearly as good: the forbidden craft, the children in-the-know, the never-more-than-platonic love interest, etc. It's time for Black to move on.

Best trailer, btw? Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. God willing, Will Ferrell is back.
GIVE ME YOUR ANSWER, FILL IN A FORM: Today, both Roger Ebert and a certain Liverpudlian turn 64 years old.

At what point, if any, did the former's present output surpass the latter's in your eyes? By way of reference, it's been sixteen years since "My Brave Face"; within the next few years, Ebert would review "Highlander 2: The Quickening" and "Body of Evidence", among other greats. And Sir Paul, I'll note, hasn't compiled his reviews of all the 100 Films Most Inspiring To Middle-Aged White Men in one handy place.