Saturday, October 7, 2006

WHAT THE FRAK? The post title above comprises almost the entirety of my knowledge about any incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, but there have been rumblings that the people want a comment thread, and what the people want, the people get.
WE COULD ALSO USE A LIVE-VIDEO VERSION OF A GOOD JOKE TOLD BY A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH: The men of The Office found the time to do a dramatic reading of Jenna Fischer's entry in Esquire Magazine's continuing "10 Things You Don't Know About Women" series. One gets the feeling that they actually like each other on that set.

Note: I don't have anything creepy for you this weekend.
THEY WILL EVEN SELL YOU "I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU:" While I haven't bought anything from Tower Records in a good while, it's a shame that the entire chain will be liquidating. While you can usually find a new release CD cheaper down the block at Best Buy, Virgin Megastore, or Circuit City, if you want to find an obscure older album or just browse, the spacious aisles, generally knowledgable (and non-condescending) sales personnel, and astounding selection make it the place to go (at least the Village and Lincoln Center locations in NYC).

Friday, October 6, 2006

A.C. GREEN PREACHES ABSTINENCE : Time to start a YouTube weekend by staying in the NBA -- you see, back in 1987, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, coach Pat Riley and the rest of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers thought they could take the lessons of "The Super Bowl Shuffle" and "New England, The Patriots and We" to captivate the youth of America with a compelling anti-drug message set to the music of the day. You can see the results here, and Kurt Rambis does, indeed, rap.
ASSUME THE IDENTITY OF CANCELLATION: No one wins the ALOTT5MA Cancellation Pool, it seems, as, in a surprising choice, Ray Liotta/Virginia Madsen drama Smith is the first fall show to be officially axed by a network (after three airings). (No, the effective canning of Kidnapped and the Fox Thursday sitcoms doesn't count, since no formal cancellation announcement has come.)
YOU DIDN'T WANT TO REALLY WORK TODAY, DID YOU: Ah, the greatest time-filler ever as I wait by the phone for a professional golfer to call me back so I can ask him follow-up questions about his relationship with his accountant (thus is the life of a freelance writer). I digress...enjoy the 10 Best Borat Skits of All Time.

Is anyone else counting down to Nov. 3?
CAN I BORROW YOUR TOWEL? Debora Cahn, one of the bright lights of post-Sorkin West Wing (writing or co-writing, among others, Leo's funeral episode, the next-to-last episode with CJ/Danny, and the one where Josh and Donna finally kiss), has joined the fine writing staff at Grey's Anatomy. She has some thoughts on last night's episode and I expect you do as well.
ONE SINGULAR SENSATION: Far more interesting then Ben Brantley's pan of the Chorus Line revival that opened last night is that the Times has provided (without even the need for TimesSelect), Clive Barnes' review of the original production's opening in 1975.
COURTSIDE TAPAS: I can't be the only one who's intrigued by the idea of the NBA some day adding a European division.

No -- not a separate developmental league like NFL Europe -- a real group of five professional teams that would be part of the regular season schedule. It's easy to envision each North America-based team (can't forget the Raptors) having a two-week tour of the five Eurosquads (Madrid, London, Moscow, Madrid Berlin, Cologne) while the Euros alternate between home months and North American months. You know David Stern wants this . . .

Thursday, October 5, 2006

LOOK LIKE THE INNOCENT FLOWER, BUT BE THE SERPENT UNDER 'T: Oh, a plotty-plot-filled episode of The Office with an interesting parallel to this week's South Park, but mostly, it's The Scottish Play we'll be speaking of in the Comments, I imagine. Not a great episode, but a very interesting one, as the Dunder Mifflin universe becomes ever further unsettled . . .
EIGHT MEN (AND WOMEN AND CHILD) OUT: Last night's Nine, well, wow. The first 17 minutes of that show may have been the best pilot I've ever seen. The show very efficiently set up the characters (some more successfully than others), constructed the drama, then really hit the gas. The chaos in the rescue was so perfect -- each detail seeming to say that the brains behind this show have given thought to every moment of the missing 52 hours. I thought that the choice to give us so many facts without any context, putting us in the same position as the rescuers, was brilliant.

The next 43 minutes? I thought it maintained the intrigue of the first act of the show, but didn't build on it. Don't get me wrong -- I am interested in seeing how these people cope, but really, I'm more interested in how they got there than where they go now. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the rest of this season.

By the way, if we're moving toward full Salinger televised employment, why isn't Claudia first in line?
THE WONDERBALL GOES ROUND AND ROUND: And the rejiggering of the fall TV schedule begins. After the baseball hiatus, Fox will be moving Justice to Mondays at 9 pm (ahem), kicking Vanished to Fridays at 8 where it will, presumably, vanish. NBC's Kidnapped isn't faring any better -- the producers have been instructed to put their Plan B into effect, pursuant to which the storyline will wrap up after 13 episodes to prevent a repeat of last year's Reunion problem. (I'm glad to hear this -- I'm sure there are many people who skipped this season's bunch of single-plot series by virtue of having been burned by Reunion. Plan Bs are an excellent idea.) And CBS has wised up, finally giving HIMYM the Monday 8 pm slot.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO: What? I dunno. Thoughts? If the cast's behavior is any indication, it seems like the thing to do is to say something delusionally defensive or calculatedly catty.

So, here goes. *Ahem*

Catty: Anyone else think Michael Kors' bronzer must be chemically incompatible with whatever they're using in the makeup room at PR? He's often been oddly orange-tinged, but tonight it was HELLOOOOOO SKELETOR.

Defensive: Michael? I mean, Mr. Kors? I didn't mean it like that. Please don't crush my dreams of high fashion megastardom. The producers planted that slur against your can-a-tan in my room two weeks after this post started.


Did anyone believe Keith's conspiracy theory? Vincent's contentless inexplanations? Angela's mom-related recriminations? Jeffrey's mom-related rationalizations? Bradley's witness protection makeover?

Anyone find Malan's "mom tore up my drawerings" story more plausible after tonight's reflections on how parents violently project their own fears of transgressing social norms onto paranoid interpretations of their children's early interests? (Me, not so much.)

Anyone even want to touch Jay's "you're going to pick the black guy" prediction?
TONIGHT, TONIGHT, I'M WATCHING LOST TONIGHT: Isaac has taken a look backward, but tonight we look forward. Remember a year ago, when the season 2 premiere of Lost turned the entire series upside down with the oft-cited brilliant selection of "Make Your Own Kind of Music" as the backdrop for the seemingly-a-flashback-but-actually-real-island-time introduction of Desmond and the hatch? I trust you'll recognize my high praise for all things Lost when I tell you that I'll be watching to see how Season 3 begins -- Cosmo Baby's mood permitting -- in real time.

Feel free to use this thread for running commentary regarding Lostaways, Others, Shivering Guys Looking for Electromagnetic Disturbances, or anything else you feel like commenting on.
NO PRAWNS AT THIS FUNERAL! R.W. "Johnny" Apple Jr., the Times reporter so prolific and proficient as to be a master both of political journalism and food writing, has passed away.

There is so much one could say about him, and Calvin Trillin's wonderful 2003 New Yorker profile of him is a good place to start, but afterwards, you have to go to Apple's own words -- and wow, is TimesSelect helpful on some of these. But take your pick: a same-day take on September 11; an accounting of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' funeral just brimming with detail and meaning; quick reporting on the 1967 capture by the North Vietnamese of a Navy pilot named John Sydney McCain 3d; a 2003 survey of Philadelphia street food or the piece Apple wanted to have singled out -- his 1967 analysis of why Vietnam was reaching stalemate. There is much here to be remembered and appreciated.
AIN'T THAT AMERICA: I've always thought John Mellencamp has been a little under appreciated and now I find myself conflicted by his newly ubiquitous commercial for Chevy trucks. While on the one hand, in a world were "All You Need Is Love" can be used to sell credit cards (I forget for which bank, which should tell the marketers out there something), "The Weight" peddles cell-phone service, and my first love is exploited in the name of meat, it's hard to get upset about any song being appropriated by an ad. In fact, I am sure many of you were first introduced to some cool artists like Nick Drake, the Shins, or the Pernice Brothers through commercials. And after Sting made a comeback by loaning his new song to Jaguar a few years back, I can only wish Mellencamp gets the same bounce.

So, while Mark Caro at the Chicago Tribune contemplates whether the ads make Mellencamp a sell-out, I propose the singer loan some more of his diddies to Madison Ave. For instance:
  • Hertz...So Good
  • Peptol Bismol: Little Pink Tablets, good for you and me
  • Little diddy about Jack and Cola
  • Allstate: Everyone Needs A Hand To Hold On To
  • Kraft Cheese Crumbles: Crumblin' Down
  • Check It Out: Your Local Library

1. I didn't realize the Friday Night Lights pilot was directed by Peter Berg, former indie it-boy actor and part-time Alias lover/assassin.

2. Of interest to people who were interested in Adam's Prince & the Muppets post a few days back, while watching Heroes on TiVo last night I caught that it's scored by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, better known as Wendy and Lisa, and even better known as part of Prince's pre-Purple Rain Revolution (I think that's them spooning over the keyboard while singing backup in the video for 1999).

3 And speaking of Heroes, since we didn't have a separate thread, I just want to mention that I freaking loved the way that the Hiro storyline turned out to be a surprise framing device (giving us a few key clues for the season) and the way that it brought the stakes home in a way that Isaac's bad mushroom-cloud paintings couldn't even approach. Also, though I realize it's been done several times before (Threshold, Alias, Lost, etc.), I liked the repeating motif of the squiggly curve with the three lines, which showed up in Isaac's paintings, in Suresh Senior's computer code, and in both the pool and (I think) the placement of the mom's body at Officer Agent Weiss's crime scene.
WHEN REACHED FOR COMMENT, THE BEAR SAID "ROAR (HIC!)" Trampoline Bear has company--I give you Drunk Bear.
WITH MY SPEAR AND MAGIC HELMET: I believe the Catholic term for my knowledge of Opera is "invincibly ignorant," but I have to like a woman who drops $35M to back her local opera company.

So what single cultural artifact in your neck of the woods will you drop your next loose thirty-five megabucks?

Me? The Exploratorium.

(N.B.: No weasling by spreading it out over a library system or public schools or land trust. A single local entity.)

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

I'M SURE HE'D APPRECIATE MITCH ALBOM'S NEW WEEPER: Yes, there are websites trying to determine which stadium-legal objectis Eagles fans should throw at T.O.

Oh, Sunday's going to be a fun day at the Linc.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T DO IT? EVERYBODY DOES IT. I JUST DID IT AND I'M READY TO DO IT AGAIN: For your extremely superficial and likely ironic browsing pleasure, allow me to present the biblically inhibited and preternaturally prudent spectacle that is The Abstinence Outlet (dotcom, baby). Check out the bargains, and the gift items for sure, and ask yourself: shouldn't the Amazing 6" Abstinence Ruler say "you must be at least this tall to ride this ride"?

And whatever you do, don't miss the "cute crustacean that introduces the serious subject of sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) in a humorous way."

Thanks ever so much: Mimi Smartypants.
THERE WAS A TIME BEFORE 'HELLS BELLS' AND BOBBY ABREU'S FAVORITE SALSA MUSIC: And during that time, seemingly as long ago as the age of Ron Burgundy and bullpen carts, stadium organists were the ones who motivated baseball crowds -- not the rock-and-roll music or the canned sound effects. One of the best, Philadelphia's Paul Richardson, had a thirty-five year run for the Phillies. He passed away yesterday after a lengthy illness.
FREE TO BE PRETTY DARN EXCELLENT: The CW's "Evening of Smart Women Talking Fast" is looking like a darn fine fit (though once Hizzy returns, he will likely trump Veronica for me)--particular high points included reverence for Sandra Oh, Kirk's new diner, Lane's monologue about The Adult Conspiracy, excessive use of the word "frak,"Tina Majorino full time on Veronica, and Veronica's record-setting mystery-solving prowress. The bad? No Richard and Emily, and the inexplicable new credits sequence for Veronica.
FRIDAY NIGHT LUMINOSITY: The show is only half over as I am writing this, but I have to say that I am very impressed with "Friday Night Lights" so far.
IT'S COMING AROUND AGAIN! In tribute to an old and modestly amusing SNL sketch and as part of my continuining mission to locate the most useless article in Wikipedia, I give you the comprehensive history of "The Wave."
IT WILL BE FILLED WITH BATMAN/ROBIN HOOD/JESUS STUFF: As bad as Dane Cook hosting SNL was, seems like Lorne's getting it right for the month of October, which will feature hosting from Jaime Pressly, John C. Reilly, and Hugh Laurie (yay!). Interestingly, none of the three of them are selling a currently-in-theatres movie.
DIDN'T YOU PEOPLE SEE "THE BIG CHILL"? This list of the top 10 songs played at British funerals begs the questions...what song do you want your loved ones to listen to as you are put to rest?

I might have to amend my will to stipulate that my funeral open with "Remember the Mountain Bed" by Wilco and close with "Do You Realize" by The Flaming Lips, which I realize is a little cliche, but are you really going to criticize me at my own funeral?
GET WELL SOON, ROGER: Pitchfork hates the new Jet album. Hates hates hates hates hates the album. Hates it. Hates every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it.

Monday, October 2, 2006

CUE "ONE ART", BY CHARLIE MANUEL: Rumor has it that the baseball playoffs are starting on Tuesday. Who ya got -- and, while you're at it, since I'm a baseball orphan for the thirteenth straight postseason, for whom should I be cheering?
TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, AND I GLOW: The good on tonight's Studio 60? Substantial, including, but not limited to, Sarah Paulson's impression of Holly Hunter, Matthew Perry's discussion of homoeroticism, every scene in which Steven Weber appears, and Rob Reiner as a rabbi! The not-so-good? As Kim pointed out last week, the sketches on the show within a show aren't working overly well (though showing us 30-second snippets rather than full sketches mitigates that), with Pimp My Trike and the inexplicable Commedia del'Arte sketch being low points, especially given that the latter was a major plot point, and a lecture on the importance of wearing seat belts? Seriously? However, the little joys are there--the expression on Peet's face when she realizes she's holding a glass of wine, and the interesting questions raised by Simon's "handoff" of the pretty girl to Tom. What'd y'all think?
GO MOJO! You know who's having the best week ever? The people of the fine city of Odessa, Texas. Not only are they featuring prominently in Heroes, but the show based on the movie based on the book about their town has been getting generally excellent reviews.
DUDE, WHERE'S MY THEATRE: I, too, have been disappointed by the quality of films in multiplexes in recent weeks (two films starring Ashton Kutcher? The Rock doing Remember The Titans? Josh Hartnett attempting to act?), but it strikes me that shutting down your theatre temporarily in disgust is perhaps not the best method of getting there.

The attractive front-half of a photogenic airplane fell out of the pretty blue sky onto a postcard-perfect tropical island. Survivors included lithe Sawyer, a tortured con artist; pulchritudinous Boone and Shannon, tortured step-incestuous Abercrombie models; pretty Sun, a tortured housewife; chiseled Jin, her tortured kneecapper of a husband; charismatic Sayid, the most tortured Indian man in the Iraqi army; cute Opie Taylor, a tortured fugitive; radiant Claire, a tortured expectant mother; adorable Walt, a tortured boy; handsome Michael, a tortured yeller of “Waaalt”; rugged Locke, a tortured ex-paraplegic piner for kidneys, dads, and Peg Bundys; charming Hurley, a tortured Powerball prisoner; will-do-in-a-pinch Charlie Hobbit, a tortured falsetto-singer; and handsome Charlie Salinger, a dick. Also: Rose, a non-tortured cancer-sufferer with perfect diction, Arzt, a readily-liquefiable science-teaching interloper; Agent Weiss, an edible pilot; and 30-35 mutes.

The ass-half of the airplane fell to the nether regions of the island. Ass-half survivors included short-tempered Ana Lucia, a terrible cop; dour Eko, a likeably murderous, drug-dealing fake priest; petulant Nathan, a red herring; irritable Cindy, a flight attendant; and whiny pessimist Bernard, a chumpy white guy. Also, irrepressibly cheerful Libby, an insane person.

The passengers are all interconnected, and were all chosen by the island. Or it’s just a coincidence. Just about everybody was responsible for somebody’s death. But aren’t we all?

Also living on this deserted island: a French lady with heavy weapons, baby issues, and a penchant for Bobby Darin; an ex-torturing button-pusher and his stair-climbing, boat-racing apprentice; and the Others, a rag-tag band of oft-shoeless industrial minions who live in gleaming underground tubes but nonetheless run an orphanage that apparently sponsors recreational barefoot teddy-bear-dragging island hikes. Key Others: Zeke, a lobsterman; Alex, a daughter; Miss Clue, a guidance counselor; Ethan Rohm, a cousin of famous scientologists; Rene Auberjonois, an interloper; and Not Henry Gale, a punching bag. If Other-life gets too boring, Others are encouraged to wear fake beards and knit caps. For various reasons, the Others choose to let interlopers believe they live at Disneyland's California Adventure.

Already dead on this island: the real Henry Gale, the skeletal cave-dwelling survivors of an earlier flight, and some paramilitary French scientists. We must not speak of them again.

The photogenic survivors quickly rallied around the pout-and-snit leadership of Charlie Salinger, who immediately declared Soviet-style communism upon the scavenged-suitcase economy. Salinger almost single-handedly turned a unified group of 47 well-fed, enthusiastic air-crash survivors into a fractured group of 30-something, terrified, suspicious, and frequently-captured malcontents. Salinger saw his dead dad in a clearing, and later found his dad’s empty casket. This was extremely important. We must never speak of it again.

Locke walked away from his wheelchair, hunted boar with his bare hands, cured Charlie Hobbit of his heroin addiction by identifying his luggage in the tree-line, hypnotized Boone with hallucinogenic mud, stared down an island monster, built a hybrid trebuchet-backhoe, blew open a secret underground hatch with dynamite, made a working diaper genie for Claire out of sticks and sand, and then became completely confounded by the metaphysical implications of a TRS-80.

Boone survived a fall in a moving jet plane from 30,000 feet, but could not survive a fall in a stationary plane from 30 feet.

Shannon survived a fall in a moving jet plane from 30,000 feet, but could not survive her Iraqi torturer’s forbidden love. Walt magically appeared to Shannon speaking backward, but maybe he was just tired of hanging out with his imaginary ghost friends, Charlie Salinger's dad and Hurley's buddy Dave.

A monster ate the pilot, scared the living hell out of the beach dwellers, almost chased down Charlie Salinger, Opie, and Charlie Hobbit, and ate Shannon in Boone’s mud-induced dream. We must never speak of this monster again.

Some smoke chased Charlie Salinger, Opie, Hurley, Locke, and Eko. You heard me. The smoke, it stage-whispers.

Sawyer came up with irritating nicknames, disregarded his shirt-buttons, stole everybody’s medicine, gave it back, stole Sun, gave her back, stole everybody’s guns, gave them back, stole a roll in the hay from Ana Lucia, kept that, stole somebody else's name, kept that, read juvenile fiction, had temporary vision deterioration that didn’t affect his ability to aim a gun, carried around a 20-year-old piece of notebook paper that survived plane crashes and dousings, and shot a polar bear.

A polar bear, you say? Walt apparently conjured it up after seeing a polar bear in Hurley’s Spanish-language comic book, just as he conjured up and killed a rare bird after reading about it in an encyclopedia. The Others were so impressed with Walt that they shrewedly allowed Michael to build a rickety raft to rendezvous with them. Walt is the key to the whole island mystery. We must never speak of him again.

Michael built the dumbest raft known to man, ran into the woods shouting “Waaalt,” got captured in 0.1 seconds, shot some nettlesome dead-end plot problems dead, hatched a plan to lead the other losties into a trap by doth-protesting-too-much, succeeded in his harebrained plan even though nobody believed him, and was rewarded with a rusty tug (note: not a euphemism) and a half-tank of diesel. This will be a good thing until Walt conjures up a Loch Ness monster to eat them.

Claire was told by a psychic not to let her child be raised by others, promptly got kidnapped by Others, agreed to give her baby to Others, was dumb enough to let both heroin-addicted failed rock star Charlie Hobbit and knife-wielding senior nutjob Locke look after her baby, and gave her baby to a wild-eyed French woman with split ends. Claire’s baby is the key to the whole island mystery. We must never speak of the magical importance of Claire’s baby again.

Rousseau gave Sayid a set of detailed maps, about which Sayid, Charlie Salinger, Kate, Sawyer, Jin, and Sun promptly forgot when planning their attack on the Others' camp. The maps did not depict the large foot-of-Homer-Simpson statue on the shoreline just before California Adventure.

Hurley’s numbers caused all of the woe and damnation known to man. Unless it’s just a coincidence.

Libby loved Hurley. Or maybe she was duping him. She was committed to Hurley's institution. Or maybe she was faking it. She gave Desmond a boat. Or maybe it was just a loan. She only had a glass of wine, ossifer. Or maybe it was six. We must never speak of Libby again.

Opie loved a boy, then she loved her fake dad, then she loved Charlie Salinger, then she loved Sawyer, maybe, then she loved her toy airplane in a box. She saw a horse, and immediately loved it. Opie infiltrated a top secret underground medical facility run by the Others and discovered their disguises, but forgot to mention it to anybody.

Sun taught Jin to love the Black man. Jin taught Spacewoman to love the Korean man.

John Locke, it turned out, was not a free will guy at all -- he was a determinist. Kelvin was neither an empiricist like the First Baron Kelvin nor a determinist like Calvin. Rousseau was quite the noble savage, except when torturing Sayid or stealing Claire's baby, when she was more of the ordinary variety of savage. Desmond David Hume was not so much an empiricist as a drunk.

The losties quickly discovered a cave with a fresh-water source a mile inland from the beach, into which the losties quickly moved, then neglected, then forgot in favor of their porous, bug-infested makeshift beach shanties at the high-water mark under the wet tropical sky. The losties found a large, comfortable underground facility with showers, a commode, running water, a laundry machine, books, music, a projector with a somewhat-limited film library, a black-light painting of the island, and a breakfast bar. What, and leave our beach shanties? The facility had a secure door completely buried under the dirt (with a light aimed squarely at the window in that buried hatch, but we will not speak of that again) that could not be opened without the aid of antique dynamite stored in the hull of a 400-year-old ship (which, by the way, ran aground several miles inland, but we will not speak of that again). It also had a back door a few yards away guarded by what appears to be a Yale lock.

Locke and Eko discovered the pneumatic tube room. Charlie Salinger, Sawyer, and Opie discovered the pneumatic tubes in a pile at a vacant lot. The system has a few kinks.

The losties captured Henry Gale, beat him, ascertained that he was a liar and an Other, beat him some more, acted condescending and sanctimonious, then let him go. Henry Gale captured the losties and rebuked them mildly. The barbarian.

Locke turned on the magnet and the trembly white light. Desmond turned them off. Does this mean no more smoothies in the Hatch blender?

The 80s-hairstyle lady is looking for Desmond, but does not have the resources to hire competent help.

Tune in Wednesday to resolve exactly none of these mysteries.
THE THING WITH THE THING: The one missing joke in Fametracker's summary of proposed Aaron Sorkin shows is that Joshua Malina only appears in one of them (though you must give the writers credit for going entirely with actors who've previously appeared on Sorkin shows). And yes, I would absolutely watch Commercialism.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

SHOW ME THE MONEY: I only caught the first half of tonight's Race of Amazement courtesy of Andy Rooney's important thoughts on spinach, so can't provide a comprehensive summary, but the first half was darn solid, with travel shennanigans and the "no money/no begging" twist actually resulting in some clever television, especially with the Roadblock forcing teams to raise at least a set amount of money, but forcing them to take the tradeoff between moving on and getting much-needed funds. So, what'd I miss?
GOD, I HOPE I GET IT, AND BY "IT," I MEAN SUBSTANTIAL ROYALTIES: This morning's Times has a fascinating article about the ongoing struggle between the Michael Bennett estate and the original cast of A Chorus Line over who really wrote the show, which was based on the memories of those original dancers (including Emily Gilmore), and how royalties should be divided.