Saturday, February 24, 2007
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.
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?
Friday, February 23, 2007
Deadline Hollywood Daily » UPDATE: My 8 Spoilers On Oscar Telecast; Don’t Read If You Want To Stay Surprised
- 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), Chow.com 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.
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
BAS has run pieces, presumably paid, from ESPN.com and Slate before, but this story was assuredly a labor of love for USSMariner.com, 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.
Am I just weird, or are there words that have the same effect on you? (Other than obscenities -- those are too easy.)
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.
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'...Interview worth reading.
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.
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.
- 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.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
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.
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.
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
Top rank goes to the Second-Rate Timberlake Lookalike doing Second-Rate
I'm not feeling compelled to make any calls tonight.
e.t.a.: "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".
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
(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?
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.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
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.