Saturday, February 24, 2007

THE ONLY PLACE WHERE RICK SANTORUM KICKED BOB CASEY'S ASS LAST YEAR: The American Association of Political Consultants has announced the winners of the 2007 Pollie Awards, handed out for the best in political communications in 2006 -- tv, radio, internet, print, direct mail, etc.

Among my favorite spots honored: the Jon Tester's "Creating a Buzz", Chris Carney's "Father", Christy Mihos' "Heads Up!" and David Strathairn's work for Kirsten Gillibrand in NY-20.
THERE'S NO CHANCE THEY BRING OUT ROB LOWE FOR ANOTHER DANCE NUMBER IS THERE? Given the strong consensus among Oscarwatchers as to the main categories tomorrow night, what is it that you're hoping to see during the Academy Awards? What would piss you off?

For what it's worth, I'm finally going to try to hook up a signal splitter so we can watch The Race and catch up to the Awards via TiVo. Also, my final Necrology prediction is Robert Altman in first, followed by James Brown over Jack Palance, unless they show Peter Boyle singing "Puttin' on the Ritz," in which case he's at least in second place.

e.t.a. Help! Splitting isn't working -- we've got a TiVo Series 2 DVR and Comcast Digital Cable, and the channels just aren't coming through when I do the split before the cable goes into the cable box. Am I missing something? Otherwise, anyone capable of burning tonight's Race for us on DVD?
YES, YOU CAN EDIT IT YOURSELF SO LONG AS IT'S A REASONABLE INTERPRETATION OF HIS BIOGRAPHY NOT FORBIDDEN BY STATUTE: This morning, Cass Sunstein discovers Wikipedia. In earlier news, Wikipedia discovered Cass Sunstein.

Friday, February 23, 2007

5 Freaky Muppet Videos - 10 Zen Monkeys (a webzine)

ELMO WHISPER IN MY EAR: Via commenter Hawkhill, "5 Freaky Muppet Videos" on YouTube. I will add, as a sixth, a personal favorite -- Norah Jones and Elmo singing "Don't Know Y".
IF YOU SEE ONLY ONE MOVIE THIS YEAR, SEE . . . : Mr. Cosmo and I are going to see our one and only movie of the 2006-07 movie season on Sunday afternoon. Given that we have seen precisely zero of the Oscar-nominated movies that will be featured in that evening's broadcast -- the sole new movie we have seen since the birth of Cosmo Baby this summer is Casino Royale, which we loved -- what should we be going to see?

Law Blog - : Bar Exam, The Movie!

MORE EXCITING THAN WATCHING THE EARTH'S TEMPERATURE GRADUALLY RISE DURING THE COURSE OF A CENTURY? The WSJ Law Blog reports that among the documentary films debuting at SxSW is A Lawyer Walks into a Bar, which chronicles the lives of six wannabe attorneys as they prepared for the California Bar Exam. Directed by the guy who did Word Wars; a/k/a "Spellbound" but with Scrabble. Interested or horrified?

Deadline Hollywood Daily » UPDATE: My 8 Spoilers On Oscar Telecast; Don’t Read If You Want To Stay Surprised

WHEN [NAME REDACTED] MET [NAME REDACTED] MET [NAME REDACTED]: Nikki Finke has Eight Spoilers for Sunday's Oscar telecast. Do not click on the link if you don't want to know if [name redacted] will hand out the Hersholt Humanitarian Award to ex-Paramount mogul Sherry Lansing and that [name redacted] will be singing [name of song redacted].
IS THERE SOME AWARDS SHOW OR SOMETHING THIS WEEKEND? Here's a bunch of movie lists to tide you over until Sunday night.
  • A bunch of sports writers at the Las Vegas Sun have put together the Oscar Madisons, honoring the best movies in a variety of sports. Hoosiers took the top hoops spot, while other winners were Raging Bull, Bull Durham, Slap Shot, Brian's Song, Caddyshack, Grand Prix, and Seabiscuit. Only complaint--no Rudy.
  • From Dirty Harry's 44 Magnum to Han Solo's Blaster, it's the Top Ten Movie Guns. I, for one, would have found room on the list for Tony Montana's Little Friend.
  • Sherman's Travel counts down Ten Offbeat Movie Locales including some obscure city in Pennsylvania at where they make boxing, AIDS and ghost movies at No. 6.
  • In a list guaranteed to start a food fight (sorry), has compiled the Ten Best Film Food Scenes. To this list I'd add the deli scene in Harry Met Sally, the pop corn climax of Real Genius, Ally Sheedy's lunch in Breakfast Club, and the subdued denouement of Big Night.
  • Maxim Magazine lists the 20 Greatest Awful Movies of All Time. Topping the list is Kurt Russell's craptastic Big Trouble in Little China. I'd of gone with Waterboy over Billy Madison in the Adam Sandler slot and this is another list I might add Real Genius to.
A LEGEND IN (CELTIC AND EVER-) GREEN: Dennis Johnson died suddenly yesterday at the age of 52. DJ won three NBA titles, including two as the point guard for the great Celtics dynasty of the 1980s, but the one dearest to my heart was his 1979 title with the Supersonics, the last and only professional title won by a team for which I rooted. DJ was traded a year later, when coach Lenny Wilkens famously called him a "cancer." DJ kept a sense of humor about it, though, even appearing in a commercial where someone reads in the Seattle Times (I think) the rumor that he is going to be traded; he responds that "they can't trade me; I'm the best player here," immediately after which someone pokes his head in and says "Dennis, coach needs to see you right away." I guess I might keep a sense of humor too if by that point I was dishing the ball to Bird, Parish, and McHale.
STICK WITH CHIPOTLE: I have never been to the infamous Hyde Park McDonald's, but it looks like the Taco Bell/KFC near my legal alma mater is giving it some competition. I think my favorite part of the news story, though, is the handy link to the NYC Government "Rodent Complaint Form."
THE CRAB IS GETTING AROUSED. SHUT IT DOWN: All I have to say about this week's 30 Rock is that I loved it so much that I want to take it out behind the middle school and get it pregnant. Tracy + Kenneth = comedy gold.
IT WAS SHOCKING, OUTRAGEOUS, INSULTING . . . AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT! 'The Producers' will be closing on Broadway on April 22, six years and three days after it debuted. This fall, 'Young Frankenstein' will move onto the same stage.

On Broadway alone, the show has grossed an estimated $283,000,000 to date. Under the right circumstances, indeed, a producer can still make more money with a hit than with a flop.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

YOU'RE EITHER IN THIS THING, OR YOU'RE NOT: I haven't finished watching this week's Grey's yet, and figure that we need a space for spoiler discussion in the comments for those delayed by TiVo or West Coastness. Just the first five minutes though, make me request that Jeffrey Dean Morgan be given some sort of role on Friday Night Lights to let him and Kyle Chandler riff off each other.
POOR RICHARD, POOR TOBY: Not the funniest Office episode ever, but we did move some plots forward with a late scene that reminded us that the show's not just a light comedy. Drinking games, basketball games, warm potato salad, some well-placed studs and a strong threat filled the half-hour. Unchain yourself so we can discuss.
NO, HE'S NEVER GOING TO SING AGAIN IF HE CAN'T MAKE US LOVE HIM: AI Results thread. Answers in the comments to not spoil the West Coasters and TiVo Nation, but I'll say as I have before -- these may not have been the absolute four worst singers (esp. on the women's side), but the four contestants eliminated were not among those who were going to win the competition.
ONE SMALL STEP FOR BLOG, ONE, WELL, KINDA SMALL STEP TOO FOR BLOGKIND: For what appears (until proven false, at least) to be the first time, the Best American Sportswriting annual (admit it, you read a piece in this every time you're at Borders) has selected for inclusion, in its 2007 edition, an amateur blog post. The post in question, Bugs Bunny, Greatest Banned Player Ever, is funny even if you're not a baseball fan (though I suppose if you're neither a baseball nor a cartoon fan it might not be up your alley). It's an examination of the epic Gas House Gorillas-Tea Totallers match in the classic "Baseball Bugs" cartoon.

BAS has run pieces, presumably paid, from and Slate before, but this story was assuredly a labor of love for, an always-insightful, sometimes-cranky blog run at not-inconsequential financial cost by a group of Seattle Mariners fans who are far smarter than the team's management. In full disclosure, the piece's author is only quasi-amateur -- he wrote for Baseball Prospectus and his first book, the The Cheater's Guide to Baseball, is coming out soon, but it's still nice to see BAS recognizing great writing no matter what the medium. Congratulations to DMZ for the honor and condolences to USS Mariner for the increased server load it will bring.
MCBENNY? Additional news about the potential Grey's spinoff--apparently, we have a leading man--and it's Taye Diggs. Seems like a most excellent choice to me.
DON'T WANNA BE: The talk on last night's Idol and again over at Sepinwall's Idol Blog is getting my dander up. Can we really call All By Myself a Celine Dion song? I still think the iconic version is the Eric Carmen one, though I might give both big toes never to hear either again.
KIWI TRAWLER CORRALS TENTACLED TITAN: Estimated weight - 990 pounds! Perhaps my fascination exaggerates the trend, but I'm starting to expect the increased rate of squid-related news reporting to land The Kraken on Colbert's Threatdown.
THIS HOUSE PREFERS "MWAHST": In all the excitement over Monday night's "That's Two" brilliance, I completely forgot to mention the other thing that had the Cosmos rolling in the aisles. Like Lily, I have a thing about the word "moist." I'm okay with "moisturizer" and "moisture," but in its unmodified form, the word is just oogies-inducing.

Am I just weird, or are there words that have the same effect on you? (Other than obscenities -- those are too easy.)
IT'S NOT THE ALL WORK AND THE NO PLAY THAT MAKES JACK THAT WAY: The conventional wisdom about Lost for the last couple of years has been that the audience needs it to start tying up some of the mysteries, and to a certain extent, I agree. A mystery isn't completely satisfying until the dunnit gets a who, and the puzzle isn't finished until all the pieces fit together. Lost isn't just a puzzle or a self-contained mystery, though -- it has elements of both, but it's also a continuing (even if finite, as Cuse and Lindelof are claiming) drama that has to survive beyond the resolution of its constituent riddles. Thus, while I agree that the show has to solve some (smaller) mysteries and pay out clues toward the eventual resolution of others, I part company with the conventional wisdom in that I think there are some questions that are better left unresolved.

To me, the biggest mistake of this season has been its focus on the Others. When they were a shadowy band of scruffy long-timers with an apparent mastery of the island and its supernatural dangers -- when they were defined by their Otherness, and by the menacing drums that often accompanied their presence -- they were a great boogeyman. We knew just enough about them, and found out just enough about them in small enough bits, to feel the adrenaline that the Lostaways felt when they were around. Now, in the clear light of day, we've seen their domestic snits, their parenting issues, their schoolboy crushes, their petty disappointments, and their office politics (there's a place for in-depth studies of dysfunctional institutions, and that place is The Wire; Lost doesn't do it very well). As a result they seem less like the Cigarette Smoking Man and more like the Stamford branch. No wonder Kate's attitude seems to be that "we can take these chumps."

To put this in high relief, the proto-Other was Ethan Rom, an infiltrating predator with superhuman strength. Ethan's replacement among the Lostaways is a slack-jawed, lovestruck teen with all the acting talent of the second banana in a junior-high-school class play. That's not a good trade.

Also, it was impossible to watch the flashbacks without being distracted by my Fuggers-influenced dislike of Bai Ling and by the fact that, even on network television, her breasts were yearning to breathe free.
ONLY IF IT'S HOSTED BY "BARRY GIBB:" NBC is moving ahead with plans for late night without Leno, and rather inexplicably, it looks like they're looking seriously at handing Jimmy Fallon Conan's desk when Conan moves up. Carson Daly is apparently not happy. So who wins in the next cycle of late-night, which will, I'm guessing, pit Conan/Fallon (NBC), Nightline/Kimmel (ABC), and Stewart/Ferguson (CBS) against one another?
A SMART MOVE? WEARING UNDERPANTS. Now, I'm not sure how much legal expertise beyond the obvious I should expect from an outside attorney talking about child custody issues for the AP article about Spears v. Federline, but I would like to think it would be something more than "Popping in and out of rehab centers is not a smart move for someone involved in a child custody battle."

What's Alan Watching?: The O.C.: Josh says goodbye

CALIFORNIA, HERE WE COME, RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM: The O.C. wraps up tonight, and Alan Sepinwall talked to creator Josh Schwartz about it:
Sepinwall: Let's go back to the genesis for a minute. I know you've said that the pitch was "'The Karate Kid' without the karate'...

Schwartz: Or "'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' minus the wacky graffiti," take your pick. The genesis of it was, I had gone in for a general meeting at McG's company when Stephanie Savage was still working for his company, now she's a full-time producer on the show. We started talking and she mentioned Orange County as sort of a world, and she said they were open to any take. One of the suggestions was, "What about extreme sports cops, '21 Jump Street'-style?" I said, "Let me come back to you with characters." I didn't know extreme sports or cops, but I had gone to USC, been around these Newport kids, being a Jewish kid from Rhode Island, and being around all those Orange County kids, I felt extremely Jewish and extremely 5'9" and not buoyant in water. But I also knew it was really a seductive place and would have loved to have dated one of those girls.

I am very much a product of my pop culture influences, and so is Stephanie, so we were going to have one toe in the 80s teen movies of my youth and also a nod to all the "Rebel Without A Cause" and Douglas Sirk '50s melodramas as well. Aside from pop culture references, we wanted it grounded in a real family that was the only normal haven in this world. The wish-fulfillment of the show wasn't being given the keys to the kingdom, but was being adopted by this family that anyone would want to be a part of.
Interview worth reading.

I CRASHED MY GRANDMA'S CAR AND NOW LANDRY DRIVES ME AROUND: At some point I'll stop gushing over Friday Night Lights, but not yet. What I noticed the most about this week -- aside from the usual attention to character growth and the unusual ability to use Tyra to service three separate plots -- was the way the show packed a lot of meaning into very small things. I liked the weirdly Hockney-ish establishing shots and the mask-like fret Coach Taylor slips on when he can't help the people he cares about, but most of all I loved Tyra's ambiguous glance at Lyla in the church parking lot, which conveyed terror, sympathy, and contempt all at once while omitting (at least to me) the most obvious choice, embarrassment.

The leg wrestling was nice too.

INDUCTION JUNCTION: Yep folks, your favorite new feature is back again. In case you missed it last week, "Induction Junction" is your weekly (or semi-weekly) look at the happenings in Halls of Fame.
  • Van Halen is still set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, but that big summer concert tour with Diamond Dave fronting the band for the first time in two decades has been postponed indefinitely. No reason, as of yet, has been given, but you VH enthusiasts can drown your sorrow or at least your chicken wings in former bassist Michael Anthony's newest addition to his line of hot sauces, Mad Anthony's XXXTra Hot Private Reserve.
  • Plans are under way to open a National Cheerleading Hall of Fame. Sites for the Hall, which hopes to open by the fall of 2008, include Dallas or Orlando. My knowledge of cheerleading is somewhat limited, but I have some ideas for the hall's inaugural class: Bambi Woods, Kristen Owen and Angela Keathley, the Fab Five, Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri, Claire Bennet, Sheri Cowart, and Natasha Lyonne. Now that would be an induction ceremony worth attending.
  • It only took 14 years for the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame to get around to inducting Mark Spitz. The Hall, which already includes such iconic Jewish athletes as Brad Ausmus, Jay Fielder (he's been inducted twice!?!), and Danny Schayes, is also adding Howard Cossell, Bonnie Bernstein, NFL referee Jerry Markbreit, and Dwight Stones, who used to kick butt on Superstars. The Hall, which is located in the Suffolk JCC in Commack, N.Y., will hold its induction ceremony on April 29.
  • The Baseball Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee will announce the results of its balloting next week, but perennial bridesmaid Ron Santo isn't getting his hopes up that this is his year. Others on the ballot this year include Gil Hodges, Roger Maris, Thurman Munson, Bobby Bonds, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Joe Torre, and newcomer (relatively speaking) Al Oliver, who hit for a .303 lifetime average and retired in 1985 with 2,743 hits, which today still is the 48th highest total in MLB history.
  • Awhile back we discussed the greatest attribute and residents of Connecticut here (scroll down to Aug. 7), and now the Nutmeg State has its very own Hall of Fame. The first three inductees were Mark Twain, Katharine Hepburn, and Igor Sikorsky, who invented the helicopter.
And that's it for this week's edition. I'll be back next week with more exciting Hall news including reports on the WWE Hall of Fame, Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

TRIPLE SALCHOW TRIPLE LOOP; TRIPLE TOE TRIPLE LOOP: The guys at PTI remind us that today marks the fifth anniversary of one of the more thrilling athletic accomplishments of this young century -- Sarah Hughes' gold medal-winning long program at the 2002 Winter Olympics, leaping her from fourth place to the top, of which she later wrote:
But the biggest decision still loomed. What should I do about the critical triple-jump combinations that I had been struggling with for two years?

At the nationals I had omitted the only one I had planned. Now for the Olympics I was hoping to perform two in the same program. Could I risk that on the biggest stage of all? If I eliminated those jumps and performed a less difficult routine, I was sure I could skate clean and probably win a bronze medal. But I wouldn't have a shot at the gold. If I kept the triple-triples in my program and botched them, I probably wouldn't get any medal at all.

Both my coach and my dad said that it would have to be my call because, ultimately, I was out there on the ice by myself. I am not a risk taker by nature. But when I stopped and thought about the Olympic moments that I remembered, they were not the ones where people played it safe and just did what they could. The greatest moments were when people put themselves on the line and then pulled it off. I wanted one of those amazing, unbelievable, edge-of-the-seat Olympic moments.

Watch it here.
NOW THIS IS A SONG TO CELEBRATE THE CONSCIOUS LIBERATION OF THE FEMALE STATE: I think it's safe to say that if you're an AI semifinalist and you are either (a) male or (b) Caucasian, you shouldn't start planning your victory speech just yet. With the exception of Gina Glocksen (the chick with the Amy Adams hair), the evening's performances went straight down racial lines. Nicole Tranquillo? Scary. Amy Krebs? Blah. Leslie Hunt? Painfully awkward. Haley Scarnato? Who? Alaina Alexander? Ouch. Antonella? The schadenfreude types should be pleased.

Stephanie Edwards, Sabrina Sloan, Jordin Sparks . . . all good. (Special note to Jordin with love from me: lose the hand motions. Now. There is no universe in which making the universal sign of "call me" should be part of your business during a performance.) Personally, I thought the performance of the night belonged to Melinda Doolittle rather than Lakisha Jones, but no matter -- they'll both be around for a good long time. I suspect that Melinda may ultimately be a bit more versatile, but time will tell.

Attention boys and white girls: you've got an awful lot of work to do. Better get cracking.
YOUR NEON LIGHTS WILL SHINE FOR YOU: There was pent-up demand for Veronica Mars coverage revealed in yesterday's posting. I haven't watched last night's episode yet (it's sitting on the TiVo, though), but perhaps we can use this item, alleging that Miss Mars herself has been offered the lead role in the inexplicably Broadway-bound musical Xanadu (based on the film and turned down by Jane Krakowski) as a jumping-off point.
ADDISON'S AILMENTS? I figure it's unnecessary to ask this audience whether you would watch a Grey's Anatomy spinoff focused on Dr. Addison Montgomery. (Of course we would, because Addison rules!) Let's ask an even trickier question, which is "where do you put it?" Seems safe to assume they wouldn't do a two-hour block on Thursdays, or waste the show on Fridays or Saturdays, right, and it would be unlikely to be compatable with Lost? My proposal? Mondays at 10. Grey's has demonstrated that you can take on CSI and win, and I don't see any reason why a spinoff, especially one with the formidible lead-in of Dancing With People You've Vaguely Heard Of (and seriously, Heather Mills?) couldn't take down the Sunglasses of Justice.
BABY, SHAVE ME ONE MORE TIME: I had this idea the other day, but was too lazy to put it together (and too many of the examples I could think of were cancer-related), but I'm glad someone has taken the time to amass a list of Eight Women Who Look Better Bald Than Britney, including Natalie Portman, Demi Moore, Sigourney Weaver and even Jane Curtin (but not Lorraine Newman, conspicuously).
BECAUSE WE CAN WALK AND CHEW GUM AT THE SAME TIME: The time has come to start talking about the intersection of AI and Project Broadway. I realize that there's some chance that I'll have a different view after AI Girls' Night Out, but has anyone noticed that in terms of pure singing chops, the Grease crowd is eating AI's lunch (and breakfast and dinner)? I've been trying to figure this one out for a few weeks -- seriously, even The Ones That I Really Don't Want Under Any Circumstances just have it all over these AI folks.

I suspect that some of you will make the argument that a successful AI contestant has to have some kind of special sauce that transcends the typical theatre voice. Maybe, but I'm thinking that more than a few of prospective Dannys and Sandys have a few tricks up their vocal sleeves, not to mention much better developed senses of showmanship and performance. I'm wondering whether the answer lies within theatre culture -- among the (many) pretensions of aspiring theatre people, is there one that insists that AI is for sellouts?

And then I have one other point. When did it become the case that throwing one's arms wide open while singing became acceptable code for "this is a happy song, and so, world, I embrace you!" See Sundance Head and Small Town Sandy for prominent examples of the genre. I don't mind the occasional flinging open of the arms, but doing it for an entire song -- well, that's just lazy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NEXT WEEK, LORELAI TALKS ABOUT MARKMAN HEARINGS: Watching tonight's Gilmore Girls reminded me of a project I've been meaning to roll out for a while--we're happy to provide legal consulting to entertainment types. Now, I don't mean that for "law" shows or movies--they usually have researchers already on staff. In fact, I believe I read somewhere that Law and Order has a couple of attorneys on staff to make sure those cases Jack McCoy cites are real New York law. But if you're writing something and want to use the law as a background, let us take a look and chip in. This will allow you to avoid bizareness like tonight's "We got a cease and desist letter, claiming prior art, claiming patent infringement!," which manages to be just close enough that the inaccuracy is all the more infuriating. Avoid embarassing blunders like your hard working attorney poring over a volume of Federal Reporter rather than, say, Moore's Federal Practice! All at reasonable rates! Contact us at the e-mail on the left!
TYPICAL: We weren't that thrilled with the first showing from the Idol men last year or the year before that, and no one brought the house down tonight either. You can't win the competition this early, but, like Chris Daughtry ("Dead or Alive", "Hemorrhage") or Bo Bice ("Drift Away", "Whipping Post"), you can generate enough good will to get you halfway through the finals based on a great first impression. No one tonight did that.

Top rank goes to the Second-Rate Timberlake Lookalike doing Second-Rate Daughtry Bo Bice by way of Elliott Yamin, or Beat Box Blake working his way through Keane, but no one was that worthy of praise. Our boy, Chris Sligh, sang his favorite band (Mute Math), but it just didn't do it for me, dawg, but the true bottom tonight had to be Paul Kim, whose blown falsetto version of "Careless Whisper" brought back memories of Juanita Barber's "What About The Children" for all-time semifinal suck. Makes you miss Ace Young.

I'm not feeling compelled to make any calls tonight.

"Ca ma an ta a fee ri"! -- Dan Fienberg has more. As does Alan Sepinwall, who notes, "I don't know how much range Chris has, but if nothing else he works within his limitations like a more self-aware version of Taylor Hicks." Also, Lisa de Moraes, who gives the full blow-by-blow of Seacrest v. Cowell v. Sligh, and describes the singers seriatim as "Scott Baio as boy-bander singing in a bar bad", "He was a Christina Aguilera backup singer? bad", "Never pick a Moody Blues song bad", "George Michael lite with bare feet bad", "Not as bad as the others", "Simperingly sweet bad", "Bravely chose Keane song and not too bad", "His hair was best part of performance bad", "Not so bad", "Who?", "Theme-park bad" and "Treacly bad".
ALL PURPOSE CYCLING THREAD: Since many of you mentioned a love of bicycling in the "who the hell are these people?" thread, I thought I would add an omnibus item about bicycling for your benefit. See the comments for my own story.
THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND THE COUNTRY; NOW HERE'S WHAT'S HAPPENING IN YOUR NECK OF THE WOODS: I can't tell you how much time I wasted today reading how everybody got here. Put me in a great mood. It also got me to look into the web sites of the people who listed their homepages. Here's a roundup of recent activity:

  • Christina teaches us the right way to crack an egg.
  • Marsha and her son's dialogue about boogers is almost a haiku.
  • Ticky makes me laugh out loud choosing the names of this year's tropical winter storms.
  • CW reads Newsweek the riot act for finally catching on to what he's already blogged about and what we know: TV these days is better than the movies.
  • Bob in SA's homepage is a dead link. Such droll commentary, Matt's uncle!
  • Carrie is writing her second book. Although its theme song is by Nada Surf, Carrie herself shares a theme with a certain little red-haired girl with no pupils. I'll bet Carrie has pupils.
  • Tosy & Cosh gives you a great hour-long playlist consisting of only five songs. It does not include "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" (which I once programmed into a juke box five times in a row; not a popular decision) or the live versions of "Dazed and Confused" or "Cowgirl in the Sand." As a bonus, T&C invents a finite, palindromic, non-unique numbering system to organize his list.
  • Mark (whose blog may or may not be named for a song from Anodyne and loads so slowly that for a split second of white-screen you may fear that Mark has nothing at all to say) in fact does have something to say about a recipe for delicious-sounding french toast.
  • We all know of injustices in the world that can push us into outrage. For Stevie, that injustice is awarding a Grammy to "My Humps."
  • Ted picks up the story of the student who sued Professor Strahilevitz in U of C Fashion Court for poor dressing (tortious sartory?).
  • Finch is all business, and has been since he last updated his page a year and a half ago.
  • Jessica wants to know why Japanese people take pictures of food. Because it's better than eating pictures, duh.
  • Jennifer has a helpful sidebar that tells you what promotional holiday it is, like "Return Shopping Carts Day." Also, she's a champion knitter, so don't mess.
  • Daniel has 24 separate thoughts about Idol, neatly divvied up into 12 thoughts each about the men and the women. Query: Is Antonella the anti-Clay?
  • Christy is knitting a baby blanket. Gold-Medal Knitter Jennifer, Christy wants me to tell you that IT IS SO ON.
  • Cagey asks some thought-provoking questions in the titles to her posts. As to the woodpecker question, my guess is yes, and some kind of mesh netting.
  • Helen just got over running the Philadelphia marathon. In fairness, she posted that on November 30. I recommend changing the post title so that it no longer reads "update."
  • Andrew links us to a robot playing 'Trane's "Giant Steps." I don't know, dog, it was a little pitchy, but you're doing your thing, it's all right.
  • Heather needs a new iPod.
  • Alan Sepinwall has professional-caliber thoughts about Heroes, which I can't read yet for TiVo-related reasons, and S60 and HIMYM, which you've already read.
  • 3under5 claims that, movie-wise, she's easy to please. In completely unrelated news, she also liked Music and Lyrics
  • Natalie went to Spain. It was a while ago, but it takes a while to get all that ham out of your system.
  • Bill likes Fishbone so much he linked to their version of Freddie's Dead. Suppressing Curtis Mayfield protection urge.
  • Jeff Martin has the opposite of my Tuesday night problem: too much TV.
  • Sean owns the title of Blog that Uses the Most Words to Keep us Updated on UCLA's Record, but it's okay, because I once virtually set him up with a cute competitive eater.
  • The last five posts on Sara's site, which promises a book recommendation every day (for those of you who read 365 books a year), go: education satire; vampires; cultural identity; race; call to comments.
  • Tony wants you to know that Bowling Green beat Michigan in hockey. Rough year for the Wolverines; Hockey Orange also beat them in bowling.
  • Finch, yes, Finch again, has a new blog in the few hours since I first posted this. He doesn't know what to write in it. Hasn't stopped us, Finch.
  • Jennifer Weiner was on TV with Martha Stewart, and looks great in the pictures, by the way.
By the way, if you want me to remove your site from this post, just let me know and it's done.
WE KEEP A'COMIN'. WE'RE THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE. THEY CAN'T WIPE US OUT; THEY CAN'T LICK US. WE'LL GO ON FOREVER, PA, 'CAUSE WE'RE THE PEOPLE: There's been a lot of chatter about lurkers on this blog lately, and like all of the other contributors to this site, I welcome lurkers but hope you become commenters.

The talk, though, has reminded me that I have no idea who most of the commenters are. I first thought about this a year or two ago when one commenter mentioned that he was a college student, and then again when a former National Spelling Bee participant weighed in, and then again from time to time when I saw places like Malaysia and United Arab Emirates on our sitemeter. So let me ask three questions: (1) where are you from; (2) how did you find us; and (3) what's the one thing we need to know about you?

Because this is the Internet, by the way, it's not a lie if we never find out about it.
GO F**K YOURSELF, SAN DIEGO: I opened up the newspaper this morning and found out that the Chargers hired Norv Turner as their new coach. Normally, I'm a guy who tends to think that my own beloved teams are the dumbest ones in pro sports -- letting Nate McMillan go; hiring and then not firing Mike Hargrove; trading away exciting players and then overspending in free agency for junkballers, one-legged DHs, and dinosaur-deniers -- but this is just inexplicable. Washington gave him seven years to build a team, and he never moved them past "mediocre underachievers." His career winning percentage is about 41%, and he left both of the teams he coached in disarray. The best thing that can be said about his career in Oakland is that he wasn't Bill Callahan or Art Shell. The happiest person in sports today must be Mike Shanahan.

As a bonus, I linked to that rarest of beasts: a Len Pasquarelli story that contains not a single awkward metaphor or forced use of a word discovered in a poor-quality thesaurus (or on the Captivate Network). Sure, the passive voice is used excessively by Pasquarelli, but that should be ignored by you.
ALSO, HE CHEATED ON 'TWENTY-ONE' AND KILLED CEDRIC DIGGORY, NOT TO MENTION THOSE OTHER MOVIES: I have been asked to post an item about Ralph Fiennes' latest adventures in the friendly skies. Done.
I HOPE IT'S GOING TO BE WHAT 'LARRY SANDERS' DID WITH TALK SHOWS. I WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT WITH LATE NIGHT SKETCH COMEDY: Whatever our recent problems with Aaron Sorkin were, last night's apparent end to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a moment for sadness, not schadenfreude. This blog was on the show's love train since the fall of 2005 and we followed its casting and other developments faithfully because, as is obvious, we're fans of Aaron Sorkin's work and believed in his ability to deliver a brainy mix of drama and comedy, creating characters in whom we believe and for whom we want to root.

So, what went wrong here? Was it mostly the shift to romance, as USA Today's Robert Bianco claims? Is Tim Goodman of the SF Chronicle right that "the premise wasn't so much flawed as doomed" because viewers didnt care enough about late night sketch comedy to see it treated seriously, or was Sorkin himself correct that the show was actually a success (to him) because it had more viewers than Sports Night? Was it just not funny enough?

The good news: Sorkin's new play, The Farnsworth Invention, opens in workshop in La Jolla tonight. Here's a nice preview.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Let's Hear It For a More Solemn Salute To the Dead -

DEAR DAN -- STOP TAKING THE FUN OUT OF MY OSCARS: A writer for the WaPo finds Awards Show Necrology applause-o-meters to be tacky, writing, "It's like a high school graduation ceremony but with dead folks. . . .What is the harm in adding a little line after the teleprompter patter: 'Please hold applause till the end'? The rest of the ceremony is competitive. Let's not extend that competition to the hereafter."

Make no mistake: we're measuring the applause and will be making our predictions. Robert Altman has to be the favorite, with Jack Palance and James Brown (Blues Brothers, Rocky IV) fighting it out for runner-up.

Battle of Philippi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BUDGET! If there were a drinking game for HBO's Rome, it would begin in our house with shouts of "budget!" every time the multitudes behind this combined HBO/BBC production were evident -- and this episode had it in spades. From more fun in the Aventine to the Battle of Philippi (rendered in much more detail than Pharsalus), this episode saw quite a bit of sweeping action, and, really, all history should be this much fun.

(Except for the Vorenii children, of whom I'm bored.)

(Also in the drinking game: every time someone reveals a strategic twist that you just know someone else will outsmart -- formerly known as the Pompey rule, and every time someone says something so anachronistic that you want to pause and check wikipedia to verify its accuracy, such as the completely weird Brutus/Cassius birthday cake talk this week.)

I haven't opened up weekly Rome threads, but this seems to be a good time to start one -- six episodes down, four remaining. What say you, citizens, of the Newer, Less Ryan Phillipe-like Octavian? What's to become of Servilia now? How many episodes until we see our friends the Ptolemys again? A Yiddish accent for the rabbi, but why? And if you were ever going to be killed, Titus Pullo is the way to go, right?
THAT'S TWO: Yes, the "A" Plot on tonight's HIMYM was kind of lame (as the Ted/Robin plots almost invariably are, in no small part because we know the ultimate ending already), we lacked a Marshall plot or great moment, and they need to get new stock footage (Lion King hasn't been in that theatre for over six months), but that was more than made up for by the complete, utter, and total awesomeness that was the Lily/Barney plotline, and most especially, the conclusion of Barney's play.

Satellite Radio Companies Agree to Merge - New York Times

SIRIUXM: Having trouble deciding between Sirius and XM for satellite radio? Stop worrying: they're planning to merge.
PANDORA WITHOUT THE DIRE CONSEQUENCES: This article neatly summarizes a service called Pandora. Here is how it works. You tell Pandora a song or an artist that you like and then it creates a "radio station" for you with similar songs. You can then refine the results by giving positive or negative feedback regarding the songs Pandora chooses for you.

I have used the service for while now and love it. I have a bossa nova oriented station that just chose a cool bossa-flavored remix of Feist's 2006 hit "Gatekeeper." Cool.

Revolving door - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BACK FROM A FAMILY TRIP IN DC, AND I HAVE BUT TWO QUESTIONS: Question one -- why is it called a "revolving" door and not a rotating door, and two -- Britney, okay, WTF?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR YOU -- AGAIN: I don't expect to be the one writing about TARStars on a weekly basis, but I did want to take a minute to say how nice it was to be reunited with so many old friends. I know that most people around here can't stand Rob and Ambuh, but I have nothing but admiration for the races they run, their understanding of what makes good reality TV (has there ever been a better narrator than Boston Rob?), and their interactions with each other -- whether it's Survivor or the Race, I have never seen Rob treat Amber with anything but affection and respect.

As for the rest of the gang, no one seems to have changed all that much -- with the exception of Drew, who seems like one of his limbs might fall off at any moment, and Eric and Danielle, who may or may not have changed since we last saw them, but I just don't remember ever having laid eyes on them before, so who cares? I still wish that Colin and Christie were around to go up against Rob and Amber, but Ian remains one of my favorite racers, and as for the others -- like I said, it's good to see old friends.
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN, AND . . . JON SECADA? Project Broadway's duets week didn't particularly move me -- the only particularly noteworthy performance was Austin and Laura's, and I don't know what the heck was going on with Derrick's voice. Only one of the bottom four was at all surprising, and I hope that her unimpressive duet this week doesn't get her eliminated. Even the group number was kind of boring -- "Hand Jive" isn't one of the highlights of the Grease catalogue. I did like one of the relatively minor differences between this show and AI: the gossipy clip segment about who gets along with whom, who's flirting with whom, and who's the person everyone else can't stand. (Smarmy Kate, we're looking at you!) Oh, and in case there was any question remaining, no one is picking their own songs.