Saturday, December 23, 2006

THE LAST POST (FROM ME) OF THE YEAR: On a lark, and in response to Charles Isherwood's rapturous review, I first checked out samples of, and then bought on iTunes, a copy of Striking 12: The New GrooveLily Musical. Sort of a "Ben Folds Five goes musical theatre" experience, Striking 12 is written and performed by GrooveLily, an electric violin/keyboard/drum trio with the help of Rachel Sheinkin (who wrote the book for Spelling Bee), and tells the parallel story of Hans Christian Andersen's "Little Match Girl" and a bitter, overworked, 30-something New Yorker on New Year's Eve and the woman selling "full spectrum holiday lights" who comes to his door. And it's a delight.

For Chrismukkah and New Year's, my gift to you is to check it out. Full versions of several of the songs (I suggest "Last Day of The Year" and "Give The Drummer Some") are available for free at GrooveLily's website and Striking 12 continues to perform live in NYC through New Year's Eve. I'm already on the road (and will likely have very limited access to the web till after the New Year), so have missed it for the year, but will try next year. For those of you who might still be in the fair city, check it out. Merry Chrismukkah and a Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 22, 2006

ALLIWANTFORCHRISMUKKAHISASADSONYSOCKPUPPET.COM: The thing about the internets is, that you can't always see who it is in there at the other ends of the internet tubes. You don't really know who it is sending you the messages, you know, through the tubes. And some people -- bad people, well, they'll try to take advantage of that, on the internets. Trick you, you see. Trick you, with the internets. Some of them, sometimes, are very tricky indeed.

Other times they're totally obvious and an embarrassment to everyone involved.

Ho ho ho.

Cookies and milk have been left out for GameGirlAdvance.

**Edited to add the funniest comment I've found about the whole thing, by a poster over at SomethingAwful: "Someone crit failed their memetics roll."
WITH A COMPASS IN THE STOCK: When I was 9 years old, I wanted a Big Trak more than I had wanted anything in my entire life. It was then at the high end of reasonable of my parents Christmas budget (with five kids, the oldest then 17, it was certainly finite) and told Mom that it could be to the exclusion of any other present (including for my birthday, which follows six weeks later). But there were none to be had. Mom -- having prepared me for disappointment (but with the notion I could probably get one in February, if need be) -- apparently found one at Toys R Us on her last pass on December 23rd.

It was the greatest moment in my young life. And from this video, you can see why.

So, 27 years on. Thanks, Mom.

On this Christmas and tail-end of Hannukah weekend, readers are encouraged to relate their single greatest present --- and link to any YouTube goodness to go with it. And yes, I know you love your families and your kids and your good health. But that's fighting the hypothetical.
DO NOT PUT HIS CLOTHES IN THE LAUNDRY: Following up on Adam's earlier posting, it's time to present the ALOTT5MA Award for Reality TV Villain of The Year. Yes, you have villains of a scripted nature like the Iron Enforcer (anyone believe that bit wasn't previously set up?), but it's the ones who capture. You also have the family villains--The Fogal Family from Treasure Hunters makes a run, following in the footsteps of the Weavers from TAR: The Season That Shall Not Be Mentioned. and I'm sure there are folks who'd argue for Kevin Covais or Kellie Pickler from AI. But of course, our finalists both come from Project Runway. The runner-up is, naturally, Santino Rice, who loses some "evil points" for his dead-on Tim Gunn impression, but gains massive points for looking like General Zod. But the winner, without question? Vincent Libretti. And if you need to ask why, just watch these 45 seconds on YouTube.
GLOBAL WARMING'S ELWOOD BLUES: Pretty much every year, we like to kick off our "best in film" review by citing to the Village Voice Critics Poll (2002, 2003, 2005), but since the Voice isn't what the Voice was, we move over with the critics to the indieWIRE Critics Poll for 2006, which was dominated by a Romanian film, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, which I had never heard of before.

So, as always, let's just go to their comments for some fun:

The most important film of the year, by any standard, featured a sweet, kind of chunky dude in a bad suit giving a PowerPoint presentation. I think that says it all. --Andrew O'Hehir

Does it bug anybody that people are falling out of their chairs over a movie whose thesis is that QE2 and Tony Blair are just nice, harried, slightly neurotic people doing their jobs the best they can? --Matthew Wilder

I'm still awaiting the chance to see "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" back to back. The great Japanese film critic Shigehiko Hasumi writes me that he likes both films but prefers the former. I prefer the latter, perhaps for the same reason -- it tells me a story I haven't already heard. --Jonathan Rosenbaum

From "Borat," a line of dialogue that just about sums up the year of Mark Foley and Ted Haggard: "Are you telling me that the man who tried to put a rubber fist up my anus is a homosexual?" --Noel Murray

Given how indispensable digital effects have become, it's pleasing to note the defiantly low-tech nature of some of the year's multiplex champs. While much of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" was slick, noisy bombast, the real fun stuff--Jack Sparrow's fruit skewer, the duel on the mill wheel--testified to the old-fashioned pleasures of a well-choreographed stunt. The parkour-enhanced chase scene in "Casino Royale" was 2006's most thrilling action sequence for the same reasons. And of course, there was the epic battle between Borat and his producer Azamat, a scene so simple in its means, so relentless in its execution, and so potent in its impact, you could almost smell the testes. No piece of CGI could elicit the same awe. --Jason Anderson

What does it say about our world that you can lose "American Idol" and win an Academy Award for doing basically the same thing? -- Matt Singer

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's "Little Miss Sunshine" was far from 2006's worst film, but it was the most depressing. If "indie" has come to mean regurgitating '80s Hollywood comedies like "National Lampoon's Vacation" and cosmetic attempts at edge like having an old man snort heroin and read porn, it's better off dying. --Steve Erickson

Right now, I guess the best film I saw in 2006 was The Departed, though I wouldn't pretend it's anything more than a hell of a piece of entertainment, and not Meaningful.
YES, THE OTHER SASHA COHEN: One of my favorite ALOTT5MA Awards to consider each year is the one for Best Reality Competition Challenger, which went in 2004 to TAR5's Caviar Challenge and in 2005 to Survivor 10's Tom and Ian on the Buoys.

Nominees in 2006 include TAR9's "statute with extra pieces", "messenger or maiden" in Tokyo and the final task of getting the flags in order; American Idol 5's week where they had to sing something by Queen and not come off as complete douchebags; and ANTM6's "runway twirl"and ANTM7's "celebrity couple photoshoot", which was the coolest to watch, but not necessarily the hardest to compete in.

One early favorite, Tuesday Night Book Club's "read and discuss Good In Bed", was disqualified on the basis of the fact that we never saw any of the women reading the book. And almost anything from Treasure Hunters could be nominated, but it became really difficult to trust the producers to believe the contestants weren't occasionally getting other hints -- though seriously, yo, those were some ridiculously tough and cool challenges.

Two runners-up, both from Project Runway: season two's "design a figure skating outfit for Sasha Cohen" and season 3's "rip off the walls" opener. Either of them was worthy of winning this thing, but I like to be contrarian, though if you want to believe that Sasha Cohen finally wins a gold medal through this award, I won't complain.

Instead, this award goes, collectively, to the challenges from "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?", a show whose concept was too weird and stupid to actually work -- except that it did -- mostly by having hidden moral challenges in almost every task: change into your secret costume in public and run across a park (but don't miss the girl screaming for mommy!); sending the superheroes to a local cafe to grab lunch for the crew (but don't reveal your secret identity!); etc. Want to have fun? Watch episode three, where they think they're walking on a balance beam over a 20 foot drop betwen buildings to rescue a damsel-in-distress, when they're actually right on the ground.

Producers and writers are the hidden heroes of reality tv -- as we saw with The Scholar, a great concept can be ruined by lousy challenges, but a weird (even laughable) concept can be redeemed by well-designed ones. I had no interest in this show until Matt and TPE pushed me to watch, and quality like this is truly heroic.
MEASURE IN HIT SINGLES: We received an e-mail today that raised an interesting question--what was the last musical theatre song to become a successful radio hit? Our correspondent suggested "One Night In Bangkok" from 1984. That may well be right, though "Seasons of Love" became a big download when Rent: The Motion Picture arrived, and, even in the absence of a radio hit, the Wicked OCR has gone Platinum. Of course, this doesn't count the many shows (Mamma Mia!, Lion King, Jersey Boys, Tarzan) which have a score comprised mostly or entirely of pre-existing pop hits. Am I missing something?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

TAPPED FOR THE SUPREME COURT: Supreme Court: The Gathering Cards.

Via Above the Law.
LOGROLLING: On the occasion of its fortieth anniversary, an appreciation of the Yule Log.

This, with TiVo and -- some day soon -- an big screen HDTV, I swear I'm going to start smoking pot.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SHIRAZ? It's been a pretty bad few years for the traditional sitcom, with new comedies finding it hardpressed to get ratings and audience traction. That's why TBS's My Boys is such an unexpected pleasure. Yes, it's a blatant SATC knockoff (only with sports metaphors for relationships rather than a "relationship column"), but how can you not love a show that features the group of friends engaging in their annual "decathlon of board games" with disastrous results and a running joke about the silliness of wine tasting? It's a surprisingly funny, pleasant, and insightful, and Jim Gaffigan again makes you wonder why he's never had a big hit sitcom. Episodes can be watched for free here.
I DON'T HAVE TIME TO SIT FOR AN INTERVIEW, DAMMIT! Jack Bauer took a moment to tell the fine folks at Esquire What He's Learned, and it's worth a minute or two of your realtime.
AND SNAPE IS GOOD, I JUST KNOW IT! Yes, Book 7 has a title, and it certainly indicates that we are going to go darker still than Half-Blood Prince.
AMERICA WON: Editor & Publisher, of all people, reports on the guest star-filled Stephen Colbert v. Decemberists "Rock & Awe" guitar shred-off battle last night. Contains spoilers.
PRAISING WITH A FAINT DAMN? Our ALOTT5MA Award for Best Award Given To ALOTT5MA goes to Dan Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer. When asked by Glen Macnow and Big Daddy Graham to list the Ten Best Philly Blogs for their Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists, Dan said the following in ranking us #5 among "the ones to read when I'm far away and longing for the sights, sounds, smells, and sweet and sourness of Philadelphia":
Some of the contributors are from other cities, but most are from here, a group of over-educated wiseasses devoted to such popular cultural confections as American Idol and Lost. A recent post: "Weezer's abstemious Rivers Cuomo is back at Harvard."
Also making the cut are Philadelphia Will Do, WXPN program director Bruce Warren's music blog, PhillyFuture's "PhillyWire" and at #1, the ultra-deserving Attytood, from the Daily News' unstoppable Will Bunch, and we are honored to be listed in their presence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A BRIEF THOUGHT ABOUT A MOVIE I HAVEN'T SEEN YET: Based on the reviews, isn't it clear that what Sylvester Stallone is doing with Rocky Balboa is the exact same thing as what Kevin Smith did with Clerks II? After years of failure at doing anything else, just take your most popular characters, bring them back to where they started, and make a warm, nostalgic movie that both seeks to resurrect the thrills of the original while overtly questioning (and ultimately justifying) why these characters were worth rooting for one more time, given their age. (Only, in Stallone's case, presumably with fewer dick jokes.)
I'M STILL WAITING FOR CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS 2: I hadn't realized this until recently, but it is clear that the ALOTT5MAy for Movie That Has A Bunch Of People We Like That None Of Us Will Ever See must go to the movie that features Leo Bloom, G(a)linda the Good, The Penguin, Charlotte York MacDougal Goldenblatt (not all of us hate her as much as Isaac does), Maeby Funke, Ferecito, and Hugo "Hurley" Reyes--yes, I speak of Deck The Halls.
WHEN BING MET BOWIE: There have been lots of lists relating to Christmas songs this last week, but rather than highlighting those lists, I thought I'd share a few interesting stories regarding those songs of the season:
  • The Washington Post tells the story behind David Bowie and Bing Crosby's 1977 duet of "Little Drummer Boy," with lots of interesting details including the fact that Bowie so hated the original song, a team of composers and writers to scramble and quickly write Bowie's "Peace on Earth" counterpart.
  • You can find 135 (at last count) covers of Wham's "Last Christmas" at this site. MTV News gets the scoop, but turn down your volume before clicking on this link.
  • Maybe Judith Regan was right. There appears to be a Jewish conspiracy to write and compose some of the most awesome Christmas songs of all time.
  • Entertainment Weekly has an intriguing look behind "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which I never realized was so melancholy, but in its original incarnation was about as cherry as "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
I DON'T WRESTLE -- I BEAT BITCHES UP: As some on this blog know, I love just about everything about pro football except for the cruel force of fantasy destructiveness called "L[D]T," who ruined my fantasy season last year by deciding to run straight into the line and fall down for two or three late-season games and who then ruined it this year by making the opposite decision (that's not exactly true -- I also hate Eli Manning, mostly because I think you would need to be a total moron, for both football and quality-of-life reasons, to be disappointed to have been drafted as San Diego's QB of the future). I also harbor a self-destructive love for professional baseball, specifically for a team that in the last five years has chosen an organizational philosophy best described as "antagonism to rational thought."

My third favorite professional sport, however, gets this year's ALOTT5MmyTM for Best Professional Sport Not Played in College, Whether at Intercollegiate or Club Level: the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. If you can run, jump, swim, lift, climb, pull, hang, and balance, you're a third of the way there. If you can do all of that in a swimsuit, in the mud, blindfolded, suspended 30 feet in the air, while carrying your body weight, and tied to someone you strongly dislike, only one third to go. If you can do all of that on three hours' sleep after drinking yourself silly, shaving a racing stripe down the middle of your head, hooking up with somebody half of your friends have slept with in the last six months, concealing your hernia, and avoiding gainful employment for years on end, my friend, you are a professional athlete. This is one of the most inscrutably entertaining shows on television, giving us the thrill of victory (Alton's challenge dominance; Coral's declaration that "I eat babies") and the agony of defeat (Tanya throwing Beth's clothes into the pool; Julie unsuccessfully trying to unhook Veronica's safety harness and send her plunging to her death) and the warm fuzzy feeling of utter confusion (sheltered Svetlana suddenly showing up with a full arm tattoo).

So congratulations, RW/RR Challenge. As for Ultimate Fighting Championship, Perfect 10 Model Boxing (now with breakout star, Parvati Shallow), and World's Strongest Man, it was an honor just to be nominated.
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: Because I was born in 1970, I played with Micronauts and Shogun Warriors, but my brother, who is five years younger than me, was an enthusiastic inductee into the cult of the Transformers. I imagine, then, that he's already seen this trailer.

Just who is the target audience for this? No Optimus Prime? I suspect you've lost this guy (greatest Halloween costume ever, as I'm sure he'd tell you). Then again, it's a Michael Bay movie, and is the car-go-boom-ooh-pretty crowd really going to be enthusiastic about a race (batch? sku?) of alien robots who differ from other alien robots only in the sense that they are capable of occasionally taking the form of race cars or tractor-trailers (i.e., robots in disguise)?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

IT STRIKES ME AS CLOSE TO PERFECT: The NYT's Tony Scott really, really likes Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima:
It is, unapologetically and even humbly, true to the durable tenets of the war-movie tradition, but it is also utterly original, even radical in its methods and insights.

In December 2004, with “Million Dollar Baby,” Mr. Eastwood almost nonchalantly took a tried and true template — the boxing picture — and struck from it the best American movie of the year. To my amazement, though hardly to my surprise, he has done it again; “Letters From Iwo Jima” might just be the best Japanese movie of the year as well.
On Rocky Balboa, screening everywhere tomorrow, Stephen Holden seems embarrassed by how much he likes it, Salon likes it on the meta-level and the Trib's Michael Wilmington says it "comes close to a knockout."
THE ANSWER IS DENVER: One of the first posts ever on this blog, back when this was a solo proprietorship handing out five soft pretzels for a dollar, was an appreciation of Allen Iverson, and lord knows I've returned to that well a few times -- and that link doesn't include times where I just referred to him as "A.I.", which Google's just going to confuse with that pop singing show.

Anyway, it's over. As one of Bill Simmons' readers put it last week, "If he plays 42 minutes in a game, he complains about the six minutes on the bench. He simply loves the game of basketball more than any other player in the league."

Forget the Eagles SB run and other playoff attempts; forget '76-'78, '83, '93 and even 1980 for the Phillies. I never had as much sustained fun as a sports fan as the Sixers' playoff run in 2001, attending six of the home playoff games (including the Toronto and Milwaukee Game Sevens, and the unbelievable Reggie-AI battle in Indiana Game 2), and I've never seen an entire city as in love with a sports team, and its leader, as that one.

I may have told this story before: I actually missed most of game one of the Lakers series because I was traveling with Jen in Portland on her first-ever book tour. (We did catch the fourth quarter and overtime.) The next day, we flew to LA for her next event, and we happened to be staying at the same hotel as the victorious Sixers. I spent about an hour that afternoon just sitting in a small lobby of the RegBevWil, reading the paper, surrounded by about six of the players and their kids. I just wanted to absorb it all, and didn't want to ruin my ability to be there by declaring my fandom and interjecting myself in the scene. (And then, back in Philadelphia, I went to the game where we booed Destiny's Child.)

I keep circling around Iverson, so let me get to the point: the key to understanding Philadelphia fans is that what we appreciate, more than anything else, is stuff that looks like effort. It explains why Scott Rolen was never loved like Lenny Dykstra, and Brian Westbrook gets far more dap than Ricky Watters ever did. And no one gave more effort, and made it show here, than Allen Iverson. No one played hurt more, threw his body around more, willed his teams to win more. I lived in Chicago during the second Jordan run -- but, I'm telling you, Iverson was more gripping to watch.

I'm not sad today, because he's finally free of Billy King's nonsense and this team's mediocrity, and I hope he wins the ring he deserves in Denver. No matter what, we've got great memories -- here's one set of Top 10 Plays, a montage of crossover moves, and, sure, watch him talk about practice.

Thanks, A.I.
A MODERN-DAY TOM AND JERRY: I like to think that Joseph Barbera, who was a little anti-technology in defense of the old ways of animating (his objections always sounded to me a little like the pro-vinyl, anti-CD rants you used to hear), would have found a place in his heart for Tony and Paul, a couple of kids who married a low-tech sensibility with their mid-tech toys (namely a digital camera and Final Cut Pro). Actually, they're definitely more Harryhausen than Hanna-Barbera, but I couldn't think of an intro. Anyway, this video, courtesy of YouTube's featured list, shows an epic donnybrook between Tony and Paul that translates those flip-book animations you used to draw in your paperbacks into real space. This is just the kind of thing that makes me think that we, collectively, and excluding me personally, should be the person of the year.
I'M STILL A PC, BUT MAYBE I'LL CHANGE: All too often, it's hard to obtain quality customer service. That's why I have to give Apple its due credit. My iPod has been malfunctioning, even after following the suggested steps on the website for resetting and restoring the iPod. I made a Genius Bar appointment for 9 AM this morning at the SoHo store yesterday evening. I walked into the almost empty store, and within 15 minutes (and at a minimal fee), they diagnosed the iPod's problem (corrupt operating system/hard drive), and gave me a brand spankin' new replacement, ready for me to sync with my PC this evening when I return home. No line, no hassle, just a fast diagnosis and immediate replacement. That's good stuff, especially compared to the nightmare that was my ill-fated trip to Toys R Us on Sunday afternoon.
JAMAICA, OOOO I WANT TO TAKE YA: Do not click on this link for a promo of the next episode of The Office if you want to know who went to the "all-inclusive" with Michael Scott.

Slightly related, I wanted so bad to have this quote from Stanley on our family holiday cards this year, but ultimately went with something more generic:
"I wake up every morning in a bed that's too small, drive my daughter to a school that's too expensive, and then I go to work to a job for which I get paid too little, but on pretzel day? Well, I like pretzel day."

Monday, December 18, 2006

OVERFLOWING WITH AWESOME: While CBS isn't giving HIMYM the post-Super Bowl slot, you can't say they're not promoting it well. Not only is last week's Christmas-themed episode making a return engagement on Wednesday night, but Christmas evening, three episodes surround Two And A Half Men (all, somewhat inexplicably, from Season 1, rather than "Slap Bet" or "Swarley") in something that'll be legen....dary.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX? It depends who's answering the question -- Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake (see also NSFW version), or Stephen Colbert.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY STOPETTE: During WWTBAM-mania, NBC brought back a heavily retooled revival of 21, so, with Deal or No Deal and 1 vs. 100 both doing boffo ratings, I suppose bringing back What's My Line? was the next logical step. Sadly, instead of a witty panel, we get Penn Jillette and a series of morons on Identity. The problem, of course, is that the show is ridiculously padded. We have 12 "identities" to guess in an hour, and no interplay with any of the "identities," so we must resort to painful padding from Penn and really bad pun lines from the "identities" when they are chosen. The secret of WML was the interplay between the panel members and the panel and the guests (especially the "mystery guests"), and not the guessing game. Also, somehow "Is that your identity?" lacks the ring of "Final answer?" Will be interesting to see how it does.
PLUSHY! It gives me great pleasure to award the ALOTT5MA Award for Olympian Achievement In Guest Posting to one of our loyal commentators, Gretchen, who brought a keen eye and much wisdom to her extensive live coverage of the Olympic figure skating competition.

You can review her commentary as follows: men's short program, men's free skate, ice dancing - original, ice dancing - finals, ladies' short program, pre-finals thoughts on Sasha Cohen and the ladies' long program. Relive the drama of the Games -- and once again, thanks, Gretchen!
"I'M DOING MY BEST TO EXPOSE YOU TO THE REAL ME": The Boston Globe's Joanna Weiss, no stranger to these parts, speaks with Richard Hatch in prison, where he may remain until October 2009.
RUT ROH: Joseph Barbera, the second half of the ridiculously profilic Hanna-Barbera animation studio, has passed away at the age of 95. Bill Hanna died in 2001.

You want legacy? Yogi Bear. The Flintstones. The Jetsons. Scooby Doo. Josie and the Pussycats. Super Friends. The Smurfs. Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound. And a lot of repetitive, derivative and/or endearing crap that we can get into as well.
NO, IT WASN'T A PEPPERCORN: You may think Grammy fave John Mayer is a tool (and that position would be less than entirely unjustified), but you have to give him credit for coming up with an innovative piece of consideration in exchange for the rights to "Your Body Is A Wonderland" being used on The Office.
A RECAP FROM SATURDAY NIGHT'S PREVIEW OF 'ROCKY BALBOA' AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN: I missed this while avoiding mass media yesterday, but apparently there was something of a donnybrook during the Knicks-Nuggets game at MSG on Saturday night. The refs ejected 10 players, and it's a funny list, including:
  • Carmelo Anthony. He's the league's leading scorer. Too bad; he seems like such a nice guy.
  • Nate Robinson. He's 5'7", and he went rolling into the stands with J.R. Smith, who stands 6'6". Don't feel sorry for Robinson, though -- he was a standout Washington Huskies cornerback before quitting the team, he's built like a bomb shelter, and from the video it looked like he did just fine.
  • Channing Frye. Really? From what I remember of him when he was at Arizona, saying that Frye was just ejected is like saying "Shawn Bradley just sucker-punched me" or "I was just mixing it up with Mr. Rogers."
Shockingly, I did not see Isiah Thomas in harm's way, even though NPR reported this morning that he was apparently responsible for the brawl because he instructed his team to foul the Nuggets hard.
DUE TO A CONTRACTUAL IMPASSE, IN THE RESULTS/REUNION SHOW THE PART OF OZZY WILL BE PLAYED BY A YOUNG JOEY LAWRENCE: What a weird Survivor finale, beginning with the greatest penultimate tribal council in Survivor history and ending with a reunion in which nobody looked at all like they looked on the island. Rebecca and Candice looked like they had aged 15 years; Johnathan went the other direction; Flicka found the middle ground between roller derby and business casual; Ozzy looked like a poorly-made rubber puppet of himself; and island siren Parvati's puffy face looked like she had just gone 10 rounds without headgear in one of her 3-round foxy boxing matches. And did a guy who listed his occupation as "fashion director" really wear a flannel shirt to the final tribal council?

And what stereotypes did Ozzy and Yul think they were disproving, anyway?

I don't think I'm giving anything away, by the way, when I say that it was both a thoroughly satisfying final four and final result, and it would have been even if the votes at the end were flipped.
TO REDEEM THE WORK OF FOOLS: Congratulations on winning Time's Person of the Year Award, but now you've got some work to do. I had already been planning on annointing a Thank Goodness for YouTube category in the ALOTT5MA Awards, and now, I'll just let y'all help sort out which video somehow best justifies or highlights what the technology now allows.

(As a side note, when I looked back at the comments we submitted before the FEC in June 2005, there's no mention of regulatory issues surrounding YouTube because it didn't even go public until barely more than a year ago -- our first YouTube link here was on 1/6/06.)

No more than three nominees per commenter. Mine are Julie Chen's "But First", Brokeback to the Future and the SexyBack video for The Office, all of which demonstrate what editing software, free worldwide distribution and the human imagination can harness.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

THE IBEN HJEJLE AWARD: As a regular theatre-goer, I've seen my share of flops on Broadway (Sweet Smell of Success, Thou Shalt Not, Seussical: The Musical!), though I've missed more than a few (the recent undeadly trilogy of vampire musicals, which apparently both bit and sucked, Taboo, Urban Cowboy)--but I don't know if I've ever seen a show that's closing as prematurely as High Fidelity is. Yes, the show's not perfect--it grossly simplifies the book and movie ("Rob produces records" and "Rob meets each of his exes to resolve his issues" are gone), and the score's attempts to ape famous musical styles are a bit painful (particularly the Marvin Gaye-styled number at the end of the show and a Springsteen fantasy sequence)--but it's charming and entertaining, with a score that tries (for once) to meld musical theatre and pop music styles. It's also incredibly nice to see a musical that's resolutely set in the here and now (something Broadway hasn't had since Rent first opened) and that's not meta-theatrical (yes, it was funny in The Producers and Urinetown, but do we really need more?).

Apparently, the show's been massively retooled since the preview run in Boston, where it garnered negative buzz. Having seen it, had they waited six months, gotten a smaller house rather than the cavernous Imperial (the Jacobs, right across the street, is open), and carefully marketed (a show with a counterpoint song titled "I Slept With Someone Who Slept With Lyle Lovett"/"I Slept With Someone Who Handled Kurt Cobain's Intervention" is perhaps not going to appeal to your standard Wednesday matinee audience), this could have had a decent run. Sadly, we're not going to get that, as it closes tonight.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO? Usually, geography tests are impossibly easy -- not so the San Francisco Chronicle's annual version.

e.g., 27. Nearly half the people in Asia get their water from four rivers that originate near a sacred and unclimbed mountain in Tibet. Name it.

This year features a Kazakh-bonus round.
THEY CAN REENACT THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE AND STILL NOT URINATE IN THE BAND ROOM: Nobel Laureate Dr. George Smoot (Physics, 2006) has the Cal Band recreate the Big Bang.

Unfortunately, no trees were harmed in the creation of this video.
HERE WE ARE IN THE ROOM FULL OF STRANGERS: It's hard to believe it, but Justin Timberlake has been on SNL enough to now have recurring characters -- Maurice Gibb and "Dancing Mascot Guy" are already back, and we're just a half-hour into the show.

We're half-way through the new season. Is it a comeback, or still plummeting? (For me, other than the Baldwin episode ("Bobby McFerrin raped my grandmother," it's been pretty crappy.)