Saturday, December 23, 2006
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
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."
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.
So, as always, let's just go to their comments for some fun:
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.
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
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.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
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
- 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."
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.
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 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.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."
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
- 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."
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.
(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
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.
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.
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.)