Saturday, July 28, 2007

FREE ARMIN TANZARIAN! Having now witnessed it, it's time for a Simpsons Movie spoiler thread. Sure, it's no South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, but very few things are. Kudos to the entire team for making a movie that's filled with a lot of laughs, and quite a bit more heart than you might expect (I join Alan in giving kudos to Julie Kavner in particular). Sure, there's some lazy storytelling--a couple of characters disappear after the first act and don't return, and the character turn of one member of the Simpson clan in the final act seems a bit abrupt--but still, a good time for all who've loved the show.

With a purr, death comes on little cat feet - The Boston Globe

NO, HE IS NOT HERE FOR CUTIE: Meet Oscar, the death cat of Rhode Island.
MASTER OF PUPPETS IS PULLING MY STRINGS: The greatest cover band since The Beach Balls... it's Harptallica.

Friday, July 27, 2007

CLEARING MY CACHE: I'm heading to the Michigan shore for a week of family fun, thus the relative silence (that and the fact that I still haven't gotten past p. 60 of Goblet of Fire). Here's a bunch of things I have been hanging on to for too long:
  • The Onion's AV Club choo-, choo-, chooses 15 Simpsons episodes that defined their era (it frightens me a little to think about the fact that I watched the premiere of the show when I was a senior in college and I will be taking my five and seven year old to the movie next week.)
  • And speaking of Simpsons, VH1's Best Week Ever picks the 10 best Simpsons endings. My five-year-old daughter drew me a picture of spider-pig with Homer and Marge tonight and forced me to go to Burger King so we could get talking figurines of Lisa, Chief Wiggum, and Krusty (alas, no Ralph), so Fox marketing folks, you've done your job well.
  • Here's a list Barney would love...Modern Drunkard's 10 greatest alcohol advertising icons of all time. Duff Man was robbed.
  • Some fella picks the 10 greatest fictional bands and leaves off the Party Posse and the Be Sharps.
  • And I am running out of clever Simpsons references, so I will leave you with the New York Post's top 100 cover songs, EW's top 25 love songs and Blender's list of wacky cover versions.
  • One last may have read that Oprah tops the list of the highest paid TV stars (she made a cool $240 million last year), but how about the fact that Judge Judy clears $30 million a year?
"IF WE WERE DOING THE EDGY GREASE ALL IN BLACK WITH THREE CHAIRS, PEOPLE WOULD SAY IT'S RADICAL": There's a long piece in New York Magazine about last summer's ThingThrower favorite Grease: You're the One that I Want (although I must point out, with due credit to ThingThrower Jenn, that "Project Broadway" kicks the snot out of "GTO"). Sounds like director Kathleen Marshall and leads/winners Laura Osnes and Max Crumm are expecting a passel of negative reviews (which I have to assume will be an accurate prediction, all things considered) and that Laura and Max are undergoing the proper period of adjustment to living in Manhattan. (My favorite quote from the article: "Each had learned, separately, that Broadway stars do not invite people out for drinks at Chevys or Applebee’s.")

(Incidentally, I still don't have tickets. I will hopefully not make the same mistake when tickets for the SYTYCD tour go on sale.)
POPCULT SIMILE OF THE WEEK: In his column harping on his old reliable theory on the correlation between the price of a plain slice of pizza in Midtown Manhattan and the price of a single subway ride (seriously, the exact same basic column ran in January 2002, July 2002, and June 2005), Clyde Haberman notes that "the $2 fare seems as shaky as Lindsay Lohan’s hold on sobriety."

In related bizarre theories, at least one columnist claims that Lohan's DUI arrest and related shennanigans will actually boost the box office of I Know Who Killed Me, her stripper thriller which arrives in theatres (unscreened for critics) today. Of course, I rather expect another film will be soaking up much attention this weekend (I'm sure a spoiler thread will go up after someone here has seen it).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

SOMETHING ELSE TO SINK INTO THE COUCH WITH: With most of us having finished Deathly Hallows and (for some) with long days on the beach ahead, seems like an opportune time to have yet another of our "what are you readin'?" threads. Fortunately, just before Hallows hit, I ordered and received much bounty from Amazon, including the new Stephen Carter novel, one of the much-acclaimed Inspector Rebus novels (inspired by my trip to Edinburgh), the much-buzzed Chambermaid (aka The Devil Wears Federal Judicial Robes And Sits On The Third Circuit), and best of all, I Love You Beth Cooper, which tells the story of the aftermath of Denis Cooverman, valdectorian and debate team captain, making the title proclamation to the head cheerleader in his graduation address. It's kind of a cross between Mean Girls, an 80s John Hughes comedy, and Judd Apatow--thus making it the perfect warmup for Superbad (YouTube video contains NSFW content). Plus it has an awesome "soundtrack" referenced in the book and available on iTunes. I suspect you fellow ThingThrowers will quite enjoy. What do you have to suggest?
NO, WE ARE NOT HOMOSEXUAL, BUT WE ARE WILLING TO LEARN: Stripes is on one of the HBO channels right now (it's the mud wrestling scene) -- not many movies are scored so perfectly. I'd put Stripes on a par with Star Wars and perhaps Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A List Of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago

NO, I'M NOT FINISHED YET: But seeing as our first Deathly Hallows thread already has 120 comments and has slid down the page, I'm guessing y'all could use a second.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

ALL THE AGENTS AND THE SUPERHUMAN CREW: Between Weeds, Grey's, and Supernatural, Jeffrey Dean Morgan has built quite a career out of prematurely dying. He'll continue that by playing The Comedian in the upcoming Watchmen. Also in the cast--Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach), Matthew Goode (Ozymandias), Billy Crudup (Jonathan Osterman/Dr. Manhattan), Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl), and Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre).
WHEN YOU OVEREGG THE PUDDING: Keep on waiting, waiting, waiting on the world to change . . . oh, I'm sorry, was I singing? When you hear a song ten times, it does tend to stick in one's head. I didn't really need to hear Wade's ramblings on the war, but I did like the concept of choreographed solos. I hope they stick with it, and that the dancers listen to the jidges' comments about making a common choreography their own.

This week's outcome, to me, is a no-brainer. Half of that outcome is long overdue -- as I've noted previously, certain long-term partnerships have protected certain dancers much longer than was warranted based on individual talent (alas, poor Hok, how I miss you already) -- and the other half, while a shame, is the right decision this week.

One unexpected standout for me: I had assumed that I'd climb my soapbox tonight to plead with America to finally send Lauren home this week, but man did she dance her ass off, both in the Sparks routine and in the solo. And as best I can tell, this competition is the girls' to lose, unless Mia really does get the chance to tear Danny down and rebuild him from scratch.

More importantly: tour dates! tour dates! Why is there no Manhattan show?? Do I have to set foot on Long Island for this? Now Boardwalk Hall, there's an idea.
WHEN REACHED FOR COMMENT, CHIEF WIGGUM DECLINED TO SPEAK TO US: Not content with voicing at least 19 characters in The Simpsons Movie, Hank Azaria is joining the Sorkin Family Players. He'll be playing RCA head David Sarnoff in Sorkin's The Farnsworth Invention, which opens November 14 at the Music Box Theatre. Interestingly, the press release lists both a composer of original music and a choreographer (though not a choreoanimator).
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS: I turn off the TV.

Tom, I have a some questions from a viewer in New York: Who is this smarmy asshole? Why am I not watching a quickfire and an elimination round? What idiot came up with this tedious filleristical substitute for a Top Chef entertainment formula that I've (almost) reliably come to enjoy? And FFS, is that a laugh track!?!! Oh. My. God.

I object. I object. I object. Listen, Bravo, reality TV is cheap to make. You do not, under any circumstances, get to do a clip show. Bunch of freaking punks.

Here's another note: If and when I want to relive zany moments from the last two seasons, I'll go to your freaking website.
THE BALLAD OF BARRY LAMAR BONDS: Insofar as we remain a blog that occasionally talks about sports, our effective silence on the Bonds/755 thing is a bit odd. This Joe Sheehan column on Baseball Prospectus today should be a good icebreaker:

Were [Selig] the commissioner of baseball rather than the owners’ representative in their ongoing leverage games with the MLBPA, Selig might have taken this opportunity to shift the focus from allegations to facts, from speculation to celebration, from off the field to on it. Barry Bonds may not be a sympathetic character, but he has done what Betancourt, Franklin, Rincon, and Mota haven’t —urinated in a cup for four years and not been suspended.

Rather than issue a press release that effectively threw Bonds under the bus, and backed entirely by the available facts, Selig could have stood up and said, “We have the toughest testing program in professional sports, one that has not only caught a number of steroid users, but has also served to all but eradicate the use of PEDs in our game. Barry Bonds is one of baseball’s greatest players. I can do nothing about the opinions of others, but I can stand by our testing program. I wish Bonds all the best as he pursues what may be our game’s most cherished individual record, and I look forward to being in attendance when he makes history.”

This would have changed the narrative. This would have put the nominal commissioner of baseball in a position as the game’s cheerleader, its greatest fan, its biggest supporter. It’s the kind of thing David Stern or Paul Tagliabue would have done. A true commissioner should be a source of positive public relations, but time and time again, Selig has shown that he will denigrate the game and its players in the interests of the 30 men for whom he works. His actions here are no different from his actions in the labor wars of 1994 and 2002, when the man who inspired the term “anti-marketing” tore down baseball and baseball players as part of a labor relations strategy.

Is anyone ready to cheer for #755 and 756?

YOU MIGHT WIN HER YET: Picking up after your dog becomes anything but fussy with the new Sha-Poopie. No word on what Peter Griffin thinks of the product or whether he's bought one for Brian yet.
FINALLY, A PLACE FOR MY SCHOLARLY WORK ON THE SEMIOTICS OF "H.O.V.A.:" In case you've ever thought "Gosh, I enjoy this blog, but I wish it had more footnotes," have we got a journal for you. The Journal Of Popular Culture, edited by a professor at Michigan State, publishes six times a year. Recent articles include:
  • Discourses of Sexual Morality in Sex in the City and Queer as Folk
  • Do You Love Mother, Norman?: Peyton Place as the Genesis of Psycho
  • Star-Light, Star-Bright, Star Damn Near White: Mixed Race Superstars
  • He's Gotta Be Stong, and He's Gotta Be Fast, and He's Gotta Be Larger Than Life: Investigating the Engendered Superhero Body
  • Tricksters and the Marketing of Breakfast Cereals
  • Spears' Space: The Play of Innocence and Experience in the Bare Midriff Fashion
  • From Quixote to Caractacus: Influence, Intertextuality, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • The Third Reich in Alternate History: Aspects of a Genre-Specific Depictions of Nazism
  • Hoods and the Woods: Rap Music as Environmental Literature

Subscription information is available at the above site.

In less serious publication news, The Weekly World News, home of Bat Boy and Ed Anger, is shutting down.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

IT IS BY FAR THE MOST HILARIOUS JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE–STARRING, KWANZAA-REFERENCING, COLOR ME BADD–PARODYING, “PUT YOUR JUNK IN THAT BOX”–INSTRUCTING SHORT VIDEO YOU WILL EVER SEE: Adam Sternbergh, of the much beloved-and-missed, considers for New York Magazine whether cuddly/goofy/weird SNLer Andy Samberg can make "The Leap" this summer:

Samberg’s comic sensibility -- a cross between goofy innocence (kick in the groin!) and oddball non sequiturs (kick a Viking in the groin!) -- turns out to be tailor-made for popularity on the Internet. And Samberg has been held up as Exhibit A in every argument about the viral power of the Web. (In the weeks after “Lazy Sunday” hit, YouTube’s traffic increased by 83 percent.) In that sense, casting him in a major studio comedy right now makes perfect sense. He’s hot! He’s big on the Web! The kids love him! But in another sense, being big on the Internet and being big at the multiplex have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The beauty of producing comedy on the Web is that you can do pretty much whatever the hell you want. And you might find a hundred, or a thousand, or a hundred thousand people who share your weird obsession with monkeys or homoerotic pirates. But your jokes will find their audience, if there’s an audience out there to be found.

A studio comedy, however, has to make a lot of people laugh, starting with small, randomly selected groups of people sitting in test screenings. This is why studio executives tend to champion jokes that everyone’s seen before (think of every movie trailer where someone gets bonked in the head), while comedians tend to be drawn to jokes no one has ever seen before ...

And between the Internet and the neighborhood cineplex, the calculus of just how many people have to find you funny changes dramatically. On YouTube, a million viewers is a phenomenon. On pay cable, a million viewers is a critical darling, like Curb Your Enthusiasm. On a network, a million viewers is a disaster. With a movie, it might end your career. “Comedy’s weird, because it’s the only job where the definition is a matter of opinion,” says Samberg. “If you’re a plumber, and you show up and fix someone’s toilet, then that’s proof that you are a plumber. But if you make a comedy, and people don’t think it’s funny, then in their world, it’s disproving your existence. You’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m an entertainer.’ And they’re like, ‘Really? Because I’m not entertained.’ ”
We shall see if the folks responsible for the Natalie Portman rap can handle 90+ minutes, because genre parody alone probably won't be enough.

edited to add, Weds 9pm: That no one here has commented on this post suggests that Mr. Samberg may not, in fact, be ready for Friday nights at the movies.

Our Hit List: Ten Fictional Characters Who Must Die -- Vulture -- Entertainment & Culture Blog -- New York Magazine

IN SRI LANKA, ALL NINE MEMBERS OF THE ASIAN DAWN: Well now, who'da thought that there would be polygamists creepier than Roman Grant, Frank Henrikson, and the ladies of Little House on Juniper Creek? These last couple of episodes of Big Love (the Anna and Ginger episodes) have been quite marvelous -- a dramatic improvement over what was already quite a good show. The depth of the dramatis personae is increasing every week, the acting is excellent (props to Ginnifer Goodwin for a couple weeks of fabulous work) and I will admit once again that I was dead wrong to suspect that the writers had prematurely exposited at the end of season one. Big Love was always HBO-worthy based on subject matter alone, but it's really becoming a desirable wife all by itself.
WHEN THE SUN SHINES, WE'LL SHINE TOGETHER: In an act of product placement certainly less crass than Sir Mix-A-Lot explaining how he "likes backpacks and I cannot lie" for Target, you can now buy your own Rihanna Umbrella.
RIDING MY LIFE AWAY: On August 4th and 5th, I will be biking nearly 200 miles across Massachusetts as part of the Pan-Mass Challenge to raise money for cancer research for Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I am riding in memory of my father David Elwood, who was treated at the Dana-Farber before he died suddenly of cancer in 2004.

Many of you have been kind enough to support this effort in the past and, believe me, I deeply appreciate your generosity. To find out more or to make a contribution go here (you can even see my picture!). I will provide some more information in the comments below. THANKS!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Orlando Sentinel - At CBS party, previews of "CSI," "Without a Trace," "Cold Case," "The Amazing Race" and more by Hal Boedeker

I'M SORRY TO TELL YOU, THAT YOU'RE THE LAST TEAM TO ARRIVE. [MEANINGFUL PAUSE] THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT . . . When TAR returns, there will be no non-elimination legs.
COME ON DOWN: Drew Carey, you are the new host of The Price Is Right. Please provide us the actual retail price of this case of Buzz Beer without going over.
IN HONOR OF PATTY AND MILDRED HILL: In the category of "Really Odd Coincidences," today marks the birthday of all of the following individuals:
  • Daniel Radcliffe (18)
  • Nomar Garciaparra, Monica Lewinsky, and Omar Epps (all 34)
  • Marlon Wayans (35)
  • Former EW columnist and wannabe gadfly Joel Stein and Allison Krauss (36)
  • Charisma Carpenter (37)
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Marianne Pearl (both 40)
  • Woody Harrelson (46)
  • Don Imus (67)
  • SCOTUS Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (71)

I'm hard-pressed to think of a more eclectic group of people to invite over to share some cake.

SO THAT'S WHY HE MADE SURE THEY DIDN'T WIN TARSTARS: One of the twists in Bahstan Rahb's upcoming reality show Tontine has been revealed, and it's a doozy. Let's just say that the title is more accurate than we might have expected (and no, we're not crossing the line into Series 7 just yet). :: Celebrating the Absurdity of Professional Sports

BECAUSE "THE WHAMMER" IS THE FIRST NAME ON THE LIST, I HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT: Josh Bacott reviews the best names in sports movies.
THE CINCINNATI CODE: I find that now that John from Cincinnati has given me a mystery -- what in tarnation was John saying with his sermon a week ago -- I'm more interested, more invested. Some of the meaning was more or less apparent last week (see Sepinwall for details), but this week gave us a few more clues:
  • Joe is a doubting Thomas: This one isn't new. The biblical story is that Thomas didn't believe in Jesus's resurrection until he saw him alive and was allowed to touch Jesus's wounds. In JFC, John, near death, makes Joe heal him by touching his wounds. Joe doesn't believe it, but by the end of last week's episode seems to be coming around.
  • On the wall, the man at the wall makes a man on the wall from the circle and line: Meyer Dickstein draws a stick figure with circles and lines in the wet concrete they're laying as the foundation for the shuffleboard court
  • The man at the wall makes a word on the wall from the circle and line. The word on the wall hears my father: This one I'm not so sure about. Meyer Dickstein, using only lines and a half-circle, writes his initials -- "MD" -- mentioning that "it's not like I'm a doctor or anything." That could be a reference to Dr. Smith, who looks disquieted while John stands in the distance, unseen by everybody except Steady Freddie and maybe Smith. This suggests that Smith's misgivings may soon be allayed.
  • The zeroes and ones make the word in Cass's camera: Cass is moved to tears by the drumming -- the hands and sticks on round drums -- on the footage she shot
  • In Cass's camera, Butchie knows Kai has kept the faith: Kai hid Butchie's boards before he could sell them, hoping that he'd clean up enough to need them back
That's all I've got. With the "Shaun will soon be gone" line this week, I'm a little worried about what "in Cass's camera, the wave lifts them up" is going to mean.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I WAS HOPING HOLLY HUNTER WAS GOING TO PLAY MONKEY WOMAN: Three things coming up that the ALOTT5MAsphere is likely to be interested in putting on their TiVo or other DVR list and that might slip by otherwise:
  • New TNT series Saving Grace, which has a meh to bad premise (it's Touched By An Angel crossed with The Closer!), but generates interest off a cast featuring the always good Holy Hunter and supporting turns from Laura San Giacomo and Tom Irwin (Graham Chase!), premieres tomorrow night at 10.
  • New FX series Damages, which allegedly, will do for lawyer shows what The Shield did for cop shows, with Glenn Close as a morally-compromised partner at a Milberg Weiss-esque firm investigating Ted Danson as a Ken Lay-esque CEO, premieres on Tuesday at 10.
  • After an ALOTT5MA-award winning first season, Sci-Fi's Who Wants To Be a Superhero returns on Thursday night with ten new heroes, ranging from Hygena, who's going to bring a whole new meaning to cleaning up this city, to Mr. Mitzvah, whose vulnerability to non-kosher foods means he'd better worry about the episode where they have to fight giant lobsters.

All have potential to be fixtures around here, and you may want to check them out.