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.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
That's sorta how I feel about having this otherwise well-constructed race ending on the luck of an EZ Pass and the finding of a cab. Seriously, yo, make them travel on foot to the last task in NYC -- don't do this nonsense lengthy cab ride to the 'burbs (where you don't have to do any additional task) because you're afraid of the ending being spoiled. LAME.
There was a moment where I finally felt like airport strategery mattered in the race. Sigh. And no Guido Edit for that third place team?