Saturday, August 11, 2007

THANK GOODNESS NO ONE HAS TOLD HIM ABOUT THE MEWS YET: Mark Bittman, the NYT's Minimalist, has maximized my problem of getting reservations at some of my favorite previously-under-the-radar Outer Cape establishments, including the beloved Wicked Oyster. I hate when that happens.
AND ALL THE WORLD WILL LOVE YOU JUST AS LONG... AS LONG AS YOU ARE: This year should provide some exceptionally good viewing of the Perseid Meteor shower late Sunday night/early Monday morning.
I PUT ANOTHER NOTCH IN MY SLIPSTICK CASE: I'm delighted (but of course not surprised) that there exists the Oughtred Society, dedicated to the history and preservation of the sliderule.

Noted via Steve Jackson Games.
HE DID NOT INHERIT THE TWINS FROM HIS GRANDFATHER: He's 23, but is there a player in the Major Leagues who looks younger than Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum? I'd card that boy if he wanted to see Red Dawn.
A DREAM UNTHREATENED BY THE MORNING LIGHT COULD BLOW THIS SOUL RIGHT THROUGH THE ROOF OF THE NIGHT: For absolutely no good reason, I have the song "Learning to Fly" stuck in my head. More specifically, the chorus (to the extent that any Pink Floyd song can be said to have a chorus), with that ridiculous "tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I" line. (Actually, the whole song pretty much blows.)

So here's a little weekend timewaster for any of you looking for something to waste your time: what other songs sound like they were written by people who weren't doing so well in their ESL class?

P.S. No one gets to nominate Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait," as it's just too easy for I.

Friday, August 10, 2007

SHE POINTED AT THE BLACK CLOUD IN THE SKY, SAID "THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LEARN TO FLY": For someone who named this blog for an early Superchunk song, I don't really blog about them that much -- but recording no new albums in six years will lead to results like that. (That said, they played outdoors in Brooklyn last month, and some of it's on YouTube.).

So we have to rely on appreciations, like Noel Murray's piece on the AV Club this week inducting their 1994 album Foolish into their Hall Of Fame. "Had more young bands copied Superchunk's honest emotion, smart wordplay, and taut, energetic performance," Murray writes, "The last decade of indie-punk might not have been so insufferable."

Here's the videos for Foolish songs "The First Part" and "Driveway to Driveway", plus a live performance of "Water Wings", the best rock song ever written about Icarus. It's not my favorite Superchunk album, but it's half of a great one.
STILL, BETTER THAN BOAT TRIP: We all know that it's been a long, hard slog for Cuba Gooding, Jr. since that Oscar win for Jerry Maguire, but hanging out at notorious NYU bar "Down The Hatch?" That's low. (Note, however, that in prior litigation, the owners of Down the Hatch claimed it "attracts an upscale 21- to 30-year-old crowd.")
TODAY'S TIP FOR SOCIAL SITUATION: When at a Karaoke bar, no matter how intoxicated you may be:
  1. Unless you are, in fact, Chris Martin (in which case, what the hell are you doing at a Karaoke bar), you should probably avoid an attempt to sing Coldplay.
  2. Even if a person does try to sing Coldplay, no matter how badly they may fail, attempting to beat the tar out of them is probably a bad idea.

Minor Enterprise: For One Magical Evening, The Great Potato Caper Lives Again - Deadspin

PERFECTLY FINE GROIN INJURY: I don't normally link to Deadspin's weekly review of This Week In Minor League Baseball Promotions, but when it involves Awful Night in Altoona, a bobblehead for the catcher who once threw a potato into left field to distract a runner and a ballpark appearance from Bob Vance -- of Vance Refrigeration? -- I can make an exception.
AND I STILL FIND IT SO HARD TO SAY WHAT I NEED TO SAY, BUT I'M QUITE SURE THAT YOU'LL TELL ME JUST HOW I SHOULD FEEL TODAY: Mancunian legend and Factory Records co-founder Tony Wilson succumbed to cancer today at age 57. The words impresario/entrepreneur seem to scratch the surface of his influence, for both signing bands like Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays and promoting the whole punk and Manchester scenes. If you've seen Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People (and you should have, because it's brilliant), it's that guy, the one whose legendary Ha├žienda club failed because all the ravers kept taking ecstasy and didn't buy any alcohol.

Whether or not Wilson ever actually said this line from the film, it still seems appropriate to quote here: "And tonight something equally epoch-making is taking place. See? They're applauding the DJ. Not the music, not the musician, not the creator, but the medium. This is it. The birth of rave culture. The beatification of the beat. The dance age. This is the moment when even the white man starts dancing. Welcome to Manchester."

The Happy Mondays and Stone Roses never really took over the world or changed anything, but it was fun while it lasted. Here's "Step On," by Happy Mondays.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What makes Southern sweet tea so special? - By Jeffrey Klineman - Slate Magazine

SO WHAT IF THERE ARE 59 GRAMS OF SUGAR IN CHICK-FIL-A'S LARGE? Slate.com, in praise of sweet tea.

YouTube - Ghostride the Volvo

ALL THEY'LL HAVE LEFT IS FAIRYLAND: If the A's move from Oakland to Fremont, we may never see these guys ghostride their Volvo again.
A MOMENT OF SCHIZOPHRENIA: Happy happy happy dance. Sad lack of dancing tonight dance.
NEXT, SHE'LL HAVE HER FIRST BOUT OF "EXHAUSTION:" Dear Gwyneth, the spray-tan in orange and vaguely detatched/stoned look didn't wind up working out so well for Lindsay. Maybe you need to reconsider. (Seriously, she looks much better in the picture just a bit down that page.)
BACON. IT'S THE CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP OF MEATS: And good enough for a win on tonight's Top Chef, thanks to the enthusiasm of Ted Allen ("If you want to make people happy, give them bacon.") and guest judge Govind Armstrong. Props to grits. Props to shrimps. Props variously, to Taquitos, Soft Tacos and Quesadillas but not to Cuban Sandwiches, Milkshakes or Teriyaki Chicken. And so it goes.

Speaking of Teriyaki Chicken, while out for some late night wings in Koreatown awhile ago -- yeah, okay, so not teriyaki exactly, but whatever -- our troop of merry adventurers had absolutely no luck running into Tony Bourdain, wicked drunk or otherwise. We did have some wicked wings though. They were real spicy and kind of pickled with a long burn and a strange sort of fermented taste to them. We liked them, and asked the server what they put on them to get all the funky flavors in there beneath the heat. His response: "Those make me go to the bathroom very hard." At which point we abandoned the wings and just ate the fries. Now that I know what to avoid though, there may be further forays in search of late night yakitori, wicked drunkeness and Tony Bourdain on Manhattan. Matt's worries aside, I don't think he's going to cut any of us.

In other news,

(1) Howie is like, such an asshole. He's, like, a bigger asshole every week. Wah wah wah. ...and yet I don't hate him like I hated, oh, everyone this time last season for shanking and shiving each other so transparently at the judges' table. It did feel right that his teammates told him to his face that he'd gone over the line in trying to serve others up, but what's with the crying and moaning? Who are you, Joey Pickles?? And how much did I love CJ calling Joey "Joey Pickles"? SO MUCH.

(2) When the reality show host tells you, with the camera rolling, that you have the night off to play, you do not have the night off to play. You signed up to be messed with like this, so no crying allowed. Nonetheless, Casey, Hung, Tre and Sara N. looked genuinely furious when the limo pulled up in front of those roach coaches.

(3) Casey and Sara N., furthermore, were alarmed in a way I did not understand about being made to work in their club clothes. Any speculation out there about the underlying dynamics of gender in the workplace (and/or women's roles in professional vs. social settings) that might have been driving that discomfort? We've had the "would they ever say that about a male chef" question already, so I figure headier gender issues are fair game.

Finally, for crying out loud, as if we didn't learn this last year, let's just let ice cream be ice cream already. Dale had it dialed and won a much needed but little-covered night off. I think all we got of his dinner conversation with Chef Armstrong was, "mm... this is really good".

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

IT'S NOT YOUR HOUSE ANY MORE, AND I'M BETTER THAN YOU: Adam's Lauryn Hill post reminds me to note the strangeness of a relatively lengthy piece about how Lil' Wayne has passed Jay-Z in the "world's greatest rapper" sweepstakes appearing alongside a piece on the plague of adulterated olive oil in this week's New Yorker. What's next, The Atlantic on the upcoming Natasha Bedingfield album?
ANY TIME A STRANGER HANDS YOU MEAT, SOUNDS LIKE LUNCH: While watching Monday night's Zimmern & Bourdain: New York special on my DVR (featuring, inter alia, Geoduck), am I the only one struck by the fact that Tony Bourdain is quite possibly the only chef (and certainly the only chef with a national television program) who I honestly believe could kick my ass? Sure, Gordon Ramsay can yell and scream like a raving nutter, but Bourdain looks like he wouldn't hesitate to shiv you given the chance.

Lauryn Hill - Music - Review - New York Times

THE REEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL: L-Boogie is back on tour, and Jon Pareles is impressed -- "[S]he is a hugely gifted musician with larger social ideals, and the kind of performance she gave on Monday night needed no compromises at all."

(The smartest piece I've ever seen on Hill remains the Jimi Izrael essay excerpted here.)
UH, THIS IS MY FIRST TIME ON THE TRAIN: One of two things happened on tonight's So You Think You Can Dance, and I'm honestly not sure which it was. Either the judges decided to be equal opportunity pimpers, so that the selection of the final four dancers would wholly be America's choice, or else the choreographers heeded Nigel's admonition to make the dances more complicated and I am insufficiently knowledgeable to fully appreciate the additional level of difficulty. (Or both.) In general, I thought that all six partnered dances were great, but I didn't feel like they warranted the degree of effusion that they were receiving. More specifically:

Lacey and Pasha: I loved the heep hop. I thought it was a really good use of Pasha's semi-latent dorkiness and Lacey's hypertheatricality, plus they just danced it well. As for the smooth waltz -- well, as always, I pity the fool who gets stuck with a waltz of any texture on this show. Fallaway slip pivot double reverse spin overspin or not, it just doesn't show as well to the non-expert (hi!) as some of the showier dance styles, even within the ballroom realm.

Lauren and Danny: So was it just me, or was there no "alien" in the alien dance? All I saw was a whole lot of running around for no discernable purpose. I enjoyed the parts that were standard-issue Mia Michaels Glorious Dance of Unspeakable Joy, but given that I've been looking forward to the week in which Danny would be ripped apart to his emotional core by Mia as the climax of the redemption arc that would send him soaring into the finals, this was kind of anticlimactic. And then there's the disco. I've never been a particular fan of disco on this show, and I have been totally over Doriana Sanchez for at least a season and a half. Are there no other disco choreographers on the planet? It was fine, and I'm sure it was unusually difficult, but I didn't find it memorable.

Sabra and Neil: I am of mixed minds on Le Jazz Workplace. On the one hand, it was wildly creative and interesting and oh my God did Sabra really fly up in the air like that? But I can't help thinking that the entire routine was really small. Small controlled movements, small body positions -- just small. I know this was the point, but I wasn't all that moved. And as for the paso doble: first of all, I totally agree with Debbie Allen that we've had enough paso doble to last a while. And other than the Wow of the ending (which was a pretty serious wow), I wasn't getting a whole lot of cape from Sabra. In a dance as to which the sole purpose is Matador and Cape, I expect some cape from my cape.

(This is as good a time as any to note that Cat Deeley has been clothed in one smashing dress after another -- it's not hard when one is eight feet tall and spectacularly beautiful, I suspect -- but that I liked her a smidge better when she didn't try to imitate her own accent every week.)

Among the guys, the only one who I believe without reservation must be in the finale is Danny, whose dancing is purer and more moving than anyone else in the competition except possibly Sabra's. Both Neil and Pasha have pros and cons -- Pasha tends to look dopey when dancing outside his comfort zone, and Neil is simply a somewhat less talented version of Nick Lazzarini, Travis Wall, and, for that matter, Danny Tidwell. I don't have a strong preference as between those two, so long as Danny makes it.

Then there are the girls. All along I have been a Lauren detractor, but I have to admit that she's upped her game over the last three weeks or so. Lacey, on the other hand, has been one of my favorites from the beginning, but of late has been fairly static and unexciting. And then there's Sabra, resplendent vivid Sabra, who didn't knock my socks off this week, but who has been a consistent sock-knocker once she managed to stop being dropped by Dominic every damn week. I hope that it's Lacey and Sabra in the final, but I could see Lauren sneaking in.

So here we are. Who ya got? (And who's got a tickler in their calendar reminding them to order their tour tickets on Saturday morning?)

Dustin Hoffman

I THINK YOU'RE THE MOST ATTRACTIVE OF ALL MY PARENTS' FRIENDS: Dustin Hoffman turned 70 today. At some point during the past few years, he somehow turned from Great Actor Who Doesn't Work A Lot to, instead, Guy Who's Competing With De Niro With The Most Shameless Pissing Away Of Legacy Through Overexposure In Crappy Films.

Benjamin Braddock? Great, often misunderstood role. (As I see it, the trick to the movie is that they're all fools; he's no hero at all.) Loved Tootsie, though I know many here don't. Rain Man, I don't think I can sit through again -- is it a gimmick, or is it Great Acting? So when I think about Perceived Talent versus Actual Talent, I start to wonder why his reputation seems to exceed contemporaries like Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall.

So explain it to me, folks.
AT FIRST, SHE SAID "NO, NO, NO:" Amy Winehouse has been hospitalized for "exhaustion." No word on whether she'll be spending 10 weeks to have everyone think she's on the mend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

RECLAIMING "SUPER FREAK" FROM MC HAMMER, DAVID CHAPPELLE, AND ABIGAIL BRESLIN: AOL's Spinner picks the 25 Best Opening Lyrics, with Rick James' "She's a very kinky girl" landing in the top spot. It's actually a very well-done list, but with just 25 there are so many great ones missing, such as these 25:
  • "I've heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the lord."
  • "I may not always love you..."
  • "In the days we sweated out on the streets of a runaway American dream"
  • "I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel"
  • "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"
  • "Guess who just got back today"
  • "Tonight you're mine, completely"
  • "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me"
  • "The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee"
  • "Once upon a time, dressed so fine..."
  • "Hello (hello, hello), is there anybody in there?"
  • "I hurt myself today to see if I still feel pain"
  • "Many is the time I've been mistaken"
  • "That's great, it starts with an earthquake"
  • "I pulled into Nazareth, I was a feelin' 'bout half-past dead."
  • "I once had a girl or should I say she once had me"
  • "Tumble out of bed and I stumble to the kitchen"
  • "Write you a letter tomorrow, tonight I can't hold a pen"
  • "There's a port in a western bay, where they serve 100 ships a day"
  • "Left a good job in the city"
  • "Met her in a bar down in old Soho"
  • "I can't believe the news today"
  • "I'm your only friend, I'm not your only friend, but I'm a little glowing friend, but really I'm not actually your friend"
  • "Half a mile from the county fair and the rain kept falling down"
  • "Well, they tell me of a pie up in the sky, waiting for me when I die"
Got any more to add?
BLAME IT ON SANRIO or DAN KAHAN'S BANGKOK BUREAU OF PROFESSIONAL INDISCRETION DISINCENTIVISATION: Police officers in Thailand caught out at misdemeanor misbehavior are to be "disciplined" internally through an innovative administrative sanction: Hello Kitty armbands!

Cruel and unusual strategies like that might even keep me from blogging during lunch.

Tip o' the nightstick to FP Passport.
THE ENTIRE DEBATE WILL BE IN IAMBIC PENTAMETER: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson has challenged Kanye West to a "debate" concerning whose forthcoming CD is better, in the august forum of Meet The Press 106 & Park. Who ya got?
I BLAME SOCIETY: I think we've had a "what's missing from iTunes" thread before, but I have to raise this again. I understand why the Beatles have taken the stand they've taken, and while I'm confused by the weird Led Zeppelin gaps (no "Travelin' Riverside Blues"? Travesty!), I am infuriated by the omission of the Repo Man soundtrack. Sure, some of the important pieces (Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized"; Circle Jerks' "When the Shit Hits the Fan") are available elsewhere, but to my knowledge, this is the only place to get the Burning Sensations' cover of the Modern Lovers' "Pablo Picasso" ("girls would turn the color of an avocado/when he cruised down the street in his El Dorado"), which marries the spoken lyric to the muscular groove better than Jonathan Richman's lyric ever did. To quote Otto, "that's bullshit."
I'M WAITING FOR KEVIN SMITH TO WEIGH IN: There are many classic geeky arguments--Kirk vs. Picard, Imperial Star Destroyer vs. Starship Enterprise, Buffy vs. Faith, whether or not Deckard is a replicant, Marvel vs. DC, Aliens vs. Predator--but I've found the sina qua non of all geeky arguments. Mario vs. Sonic, who would win in a variety of track and field events?
MY EYES GREW HEAVY AND MY LIPS THEY COULD NOT SPEAK: Raise a glass of summer wine this velvet morning to the iconic Lee Hazlewood, who died Saturday at the age of 78.

Monday, August 6, 2007

OH, IT IS BRO-OUGHT: For all the chatter these interminable last couple of weeks about Bonds: Do You Love Him Or Hate Him, it's nice to get a little reminder now and then about legends that are equally-firmly and less-contentiously written. As far as I know, nobody doesn't like Greg Maddux, so here's a story about Maddux vs. Bonds that Deadspin encapsulates much better than I ever could.
ANDRAE IS NOT, IN FACT, AT RED LOBSTER: New York Magazine has a lengthy cover story discussing what's happened to former Bravo reality stars, with an emphasis on Project Runway and Top Chef alums. It also answers a number of questions--why did Jay turn down his Runway prize money? How much influence do producers have over eliminations? It's well worth your time.
SCORE ONE FOR THE GIRLS: I just caught a quick glimpse of a blurb on the Captivate Network reporting that Sara Gilbert has just had a baby girl. I would find this entirely unnoteworthy except that it appears that Ms. Gilbert has impeccable taste in baby girls' names. I can't find a link yet, but I'm sure people will let me know when they do.
LF WRITER (TANK), DIRECTOR (PRIEST), CAST (DPS) (LVL 55+), THEN GTG: So, is a production company saying that they're committed to spending in excess of $100M to a 2009 release of World of Warcraft: The Motion Picture a stroke of genius or sheer idiocy? 2 million accounts in the U.S. at $10 a ticket only gets you to $20 million, folks. And anyway, didn't Trey Parker and Matt Stone already cover this?
MY EXTERNS ARE TERRIBLE AT FACT-CHECKING: Over a week has gone by, and it's still bugging me, so there's something I need to get off my chest. It started two Wednesdays ago, when Alan Sepinwall ran a correction, noting that he mistakenly wrote that CBS's upcoming Moonlight would star Bon Scott (instead of the confusingly-similarly-named Alex O'Laughlin), the former frontman for AC/DC, who has been dead for 27 years and who, even when alive, had such a profoundly unactorly mumble that until 1980 Angus Young just guessed that the song was called "Doy, TDs, Dunder, Cheat." After Alan cleared the air, it occurred to me that I need to set the record straight about a few of my own mistakes:
  • As Alan himself pointed out, a few weeks ago I mistakenly wrote that Garret Dillahunt played Slippery Dan or Bummer Dan on Deadwood. Actually, he played only Fitz, Knife-Toting Manny, and Fresh-Talking Fanny.
  • I also wrote at about the same time that Tobey Maguire played "television's Seabiscuit." I meant to refer to a puppet-theater version of Equus.
  • A few months ago, I wrote, to the dismay of a spirited Bon Jovi partisan, that Bon Jovi's first hit was a cover of a Del Shannon song. False. It was the Manhattan Transfer.
  • In a post about the Detroit Tigers, I referred to "second baseman Edward Teach, the Dread Pirate Blackbeard." His name, as it turns out, is Carlos Guillen. Teach was a privateer, not a pirate, and to my knowledge he is no longer playing in the major leagues.
  • In my post about celebutard legal woes, I mistakenly said that Nicole Ritchie would be serving four days in Azkaban.
  • My reference to "some Chinaman" in the thought piece about uses of pykrete in World War II should have read "Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme."
  • This one's not my fault, but just to be absolutely clear, I was booing Mother Teresa, that bitch.
NEVER-NEVERLAND CRACKS DOWN ON SOFTWARE PIRACY; HOUSING STARTS DOWN IN BRIGADOON: There are local newspapers (the San Francisco Chronicle), and there are local newspapers (the Oakland Tribune, also known as The Chronological Encyclopedia of Trash-Pickup Issues and Commute-Impeding Traffic Accidents), and then there are local newspapers. I'm referring to The Montclarion, a "nondaily" newspaper of indeterminate frequency focused on the hills and foothills of Oakland, which greeted us this weekend with an above-the-fold story about, I kid you not, political intrigue in Fairyland.

Look, if a whole week (or perhaps biweek or semiweek) went by and the only news you could think of happened in Fairyland, maybe you're too local.