Saturday, June 7, 2008
McKay was the opposite of the SportsCenter/Screamin' A. era, a soft-spoken gentleman averse to hype and drawn to storytelling, who always knew it was the athletes, not he, who was the star. And he was the right man for that awful time in Munich, 1972, when his "They're all gone" was all he could say, and all anyone could say. ESPN is describing him tonight as "the Walter Cronkite of sports," and that sounds right to me.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Pitchfork reports, however: "The audience was respectfully enthusiastic, but when Superchunk broke out 'Precision Auto' and nobody went especially apeshit, I wondered if most of them were too young to care much about Superchunk." It is very much a song worthy of that reaction. Kids these days ...
- "An impossible birth to make one possible:" Contrasting Pregnancies on Angel
- From Academic to Addict: The Supernatural Substance Abuse of Willow Rosenberg
- "We play parts:" Saffron, Gender Stereotypes, and the Image of Domesticity in Firefly
- Gazing at Male Vampires: Angel's and Spike's Bodies as Spectacle
That's a long way of introducing this list of The 25 Best Animated Movies (it's click-through, but not as annoying as the Entertainment Weekly lists), which does a pretty good job of hitting the genres high notes. Still the list criminally underrates Toy Story 2, which is the animated version of Godfather 2. Also, I know its heresy, but I find Snow White somewhat unwatchable. And though Pixar is well-represented with Toy Story and Toy Story 2, plus Incredibles, Nemo, and Ratatouille, but I'd find a place for Monsters Inc. on the list, too. I'm glad Hayao Miyazaki gets his props, but My Neighbor Totoro needs to make the cut, too.
Any other favorites miss the cut?
Spoiler alert: I'm telling you who's not making it through this round of SYTYCD:
- That pageant girl who thinks she's all that
- The 45-year-old clinically-depressed '90s hip-hopper
- The girl who just fired her agency, and also some of the other professionals
- Everyone who was told "you were my favorite ... of the ..." in the audition rounds
- One or more members of every pair that depends upon each other for daily moral support
- The debilitatingly-injured (except Nigel) or possibly social-diseased
- Lippy tappers
- Selfish tappers
- Soccer balls
When we were in Vegas in 2002, waiting for our table at Red Square (any decor which includes Gustav Klutsis is okay by me) and too cheap to kill time on Mandalay's sawbuck blackjack, we wandered over to Rum Jungle.
Now, I am led to understand that this had been (or perhaps was and still is) a happening place, but we are wont to eat with the blue hairs, so at 5:30pm on a Thursday night, they were still pulling the chairs down from the tables. While I promptly ordered something uninspired (a Long Island, perhaps), Karen inquired. And was offered up a Dark and Stormy.
I am aware that this is the official beverage of the Bermuda and for you East Coasters, this might not seem so exotic. But for us, it was a revelation.
It's a simple beverage: dark rum, ginger beer, and lime. I know that Gosling's is the official rum of Bermuda, but I've not seen that around here. So we make do.
A pint glass, filled with ice;
One jigger of Meyer's Dark Rum;
Juice of half a lime, one slice of lime;
Stewart's Ginger Beer.
Add the rum, then the juice of the lime, then fill to the rim with ginger beer, cut the lime slice, rub the rim and enjoy.
Once I'm off the vicodin from tomorrow's oral surgery, I'll be looking forward to a summer of dark and stormies. Or is that darks and stormy?
Comments are of course welcome with suggestions for improving or perfecting the dark and stormy and any of your own anecdotes about same.
* * *
N.B.: This discussion of the dark and stormy kicks off our summer cocktail series and asks for input from you, my fellow bloggers, our routine commentors, and our many lurkers. On an occasional basis, we'll ask those interested to submit: a favorite drink recipe along with an anecdote (amusing, poignant, maudlin, or otherwise) about you and that drink. Fire it to the contact email, claim a drink, and we'll put up a schedule.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I've credited Leitch's blog, Deadspin, 14 times on this site (for seven-legged hermaphroditic deer, meta-blog commentary, and homicidal child-hating Atlanta Falcons mascots, among other things), and that doesn't count the number of times I linked to Deadspin (innumerable) or just failed to credit it (supernumerable). Leitch, for better or for worse, either transformed Internet sports coverage or was just the first guy to do on a mass scale what is now so common -- bring the barstool into the Interwebs, where people can consider and discuss sports the way they do in real life, i.e., with insults, alcohol, and sex jokes. He made a well-respected author go bonkers, exposed an entire subculture of people who thought that a thoroughbred horse was not just a real person but a saint, gave us wall-to-wall coverage of the Zapruderish dissection of the momentary exposure of a USC Song Girl's tush during a football game, and linked to us every year when we covered the Spelling Bee.
He also, perhaps most impressively (and Bissinger notwithstanding), largely kept himself free of the oily film that covers a lot of both sports bloggers and Gawker Media employees. Leitch's own posts were sometimes sophomoric, but he never adopted the jubilantly crude persona of some of his contributors (Daulerio and Big Daddy Drew, and I want to emphasize that I read and like both of them) or of the sites that spun off of the Deadspin comments (Kissing Suzy Kolber, With Leather; again, I read and like those). Nor did he seem to embrace either the self-promotional predilections of some Gawker editors (Gould) or the mercilessness of others (Lisanti, Cohen). Best of all, because Deadspin frequently celebrated, unironically, the feats of its subjects (and in particular the feats of Leitch's favorites, the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Buzzsaw), it never seemed as relentlessly negative as some of the other Gawker sites.
Deadspin is as much Leitch as Wonkette was Cox, and you can see what happened to Wonkette after she left. While I'm afraid for where it will go without him to pull it toward Midwestern amiability (notwithstanding its content), I certainly wish him well.
- The Twisty
- Silent Movie Panic*
- Single Lohan**
- Sexy Fart Walk***
- Argument with a Sock Puppet****
- Mary Decker Slaney*****
- Double Lohan******
- Nap Time
*Stagger around the stage and then pretend you can't pay the rent, maybe with your hand to your brow or your chest thrust out with both hands off to the side and a little behind you
**Kick leg way up in the air while facing audience. If you're college-dancer good, your leg will come right back down. If you're crazy-good, your leg will get stuck up there and you'll have to vamp a while with one foot pointing at the rigging.
***Walk sexy, but wave your hands artistically behind your caboose.
****Let most of your body take a breather, but do some crazy hand motions like gymnasts or street drunks.
*****Fall hard with one knee forward. Audience may think you fell, but you were just, choreographically speaking, evoking the spirit of falling.
******Standing jump-split, facing the audience. The male equivalent of this move is called the Lee Roth and is performed in buttless leather chaps. In answer to the obvious question of why the female version is not performed in buttless leather chaps: (a) network television; (b) high school contestants; (c) Utah auditions.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Here's the February 2004 This American Life on which you can hear some of Whitacre's recordings and more on this fascinating story. In Soderbergh's hands, this could be awesome.
A woman works assiduously for ten years toward her goal, only to watch it seemingly crumble before her eyes – a prize that is hers by rights, apparently stolen away by the fates. Offered the chance to achieve quick resolution, she delays action, and huddles with her inner circle. Ultimately she falls into an inertial rut, seeming to cut off her nose to spite her proverbial face.
I speak, of course, about Sex and the City: The Movie. Taking advantage of the babysitting services of a home-from-college neighbor whom we have missed dearly this past year, Mrs. Russ and I stole away on Saturday night to wash the (for us) sour taste of Indiana Jones from our mouths and to relax with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. My own verdict (and, as a heterosexual married man, I realize I’m not the target demographic) is that the movie was flawed but fun. Compared to last week’s fare, this was a fresh and fruity Cosmopolitan. (If the show had originated in 2008 instead of 1998, would it be a mojito?)
The good: With a couple of exceptions, the movie remained true to the characters and told a decent story. I felt like the arc that the characters had experienced in the four years since we last saw them was believable, and the world of the movie was the S&tC world we knew, not a thinned-out, denatured version of that world (see, e.g., X-Files: Fight the Future). I also was pleased to see that they were able to work in some of the minor characters – Harry, Stanford, Enid, Magda, and so on. And I think that both the beginning and (very) end of the movie worked extremely well. They also got in some great lines – Samantha’s extrapolation of the crayon metaphor jumps to mind, but there were others too.
The bad: Before we get to my main gripes, some nits. First, it’s too bad that some of the minor characters mentioned above (HARRY!) didn’t get more screen time. Second, the movie was too long, with almost all of the excess devoted to downbeat segments that may have had something to say, but were inconsistent with the overall tone of the show. Third, in a well-meaning effort to enhance diversity, the movie winds up falling into the “magical Negro” trap. And fourth, some of the characters were caricatured. In particular, Samantha was flattened a bit – “Have we mentioned that I’m the one who loves SEX?” But my biggest complaint (which I’m sure isn’t mine alone) was this: The two main conflicts that drive the plot seemed extremely forced to me. I don’t want to say too much in the body here, but I’d love to know what the women here think about both. My view as a guy – and I am not excusing the behavior of the two men involved – is that this is a movie in part about what differentiates adulthood from youth, and both Carrie and Miranda make foolish, childish, black-and-white decisions that are permitted to fester for far too long. In some ways, this is just a plot device – the decisions do drive the plot, and the idea is to show these two characters growing – but to the extent this is true I’m not sure the plot is any more plausible than an episode of "Three’s Company". It also doesn’t help that Samantha’s conflict doesn’t have much resonance (except on what I’ll call the feminism point, which seems tacked on rather than organic, but tell me if I’m wrong), and that Charlotte has no conflict to speak of (unless “(wo)man vs. sphincter” is to be added to the traditional categories).
The ugly: A week or two ago, commenter Will stated that “[it is] [h]ard to take anything seriously that seriously promotes the idea that SJP is attractive or desirable in any way.” But I’m not at all sure that either the show or the movie does this. Carrie is not made out to be particularly attractive, either physically or otherwise. She struggles with love, with her friends, and (sometimes) with work. She is portrayed as a sort of everywoman – a point made nicely by the closing montage. At some level, the message of the show and the movie is that we don’t have to be gorgeous and we don’t even necessarily need to be living out a great romance – we just need friends who will feed us oatmeal in bed when we’re at our lowest. I suspect this is why the movie has been sold out in major metropolitan areas, and why the show was and remains so popular.
So, those are my thoughts. But I couldn’t help but wonder… what did you all think?
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Any chance that Doralee might have to take a speed test? Please? (Sorry, no Kudisch/Sutton version available on youtube.)
- Michael will appear in upcoming Will Smith blockbuster Hancock as alcoholic superhero Hancock's PR agent.
- GOB will, I assume, continue to appear on 30 Rock, and will soon be the father of a child (hopefully not named Steve Holt!)
- George Michael has become a big star.
- Maeby is playing the daughter of Alicia Silverstone and Horatio Sanz (???) on upcoming sitcom Bad Mother's Handbook.
- Buster will have recurring roles on Chuck and Samantha Who? in the fall
- Tobias has a voice role in Kung Fu Panda
- Lucille is one of the lead adults on 90210.
This is not the time to link to random transcripts or Hulu scenes from the show. I can't stress this enough.
FOR PEOPLE WHO ONLY NEED A BEAT. In junior high, I had the opportunity to take an elective on the history of rock and roll. I figured the class would begin with an analysis of a group like Bill Haley and the Comets. Imagine my surprise when instead the first class focused upon a guy I had scarcely even heard of at the time – Bo Diddley. Why were we studying a guy who had had only one Top 40 hit in his entire life (1957’s “Say Man”, which hit #20)? It was then that I learned about his importance in music history. Bo Diddley died yesterday at the age of 79. His passing saddens me.
Diddley played a key role in the creation of rock and roll, particularly its transition from the blues. He pioneered the use of more insistent, powerful rhythms and a hard-edged guitar sound.
Perhaps most importantly, Bo Diddley crafted the beat that bore his name. In its simplest form, the Bo Diddley beat can be counted out as a two-bar phrase:
"One and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and..."
Many of his compositions, such as "Hey Bo Diddley" (CLICK ON THIS LINK!) and "Who Do You Love?" have no chord changes. As a result, the beat produces the thrill, rather than having the excitement arise from the melody or harmonic tension.
A blog on allmusic.com summarizes his considerable influence:
That oversized, swaggering beat quickly became widely imitated, with Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and Ronnie Hawkins’ version of “Who Do You Love” being the first inkling of the tidal wave of Diddley-inspired rocking to follow. As the ’60s rolled on, band after band rode Bo’s train: the Rolling Stones’ recorded “Mona” and gave Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want To Make Love To You” a Bo Beat, the Pretty Things took their name from one of his singles, the Who’s “Magic Bus” was fueled by Diddley, the Yardbirds covered Bo’s “Here ‘Tis” and “I’m A Man” picking up on the wild modernity of his recordings, while Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band tapped into his flat-out weirdness in their cover of “Diddy Wah Diddy.” … the Clash had Bo open for them on an American tour, while two Georges – Michael and Thorogood – brought the Bo Diddley beat into ’80s with their hits “Faith” and “Bad to the Bone,” while the man himself was part of a Nike ad campaign in the early ’90s, around the time Paul McCartney revived “Crackin’ Up” ….
Diddley was renowned for his creative guitar work. He created many special effects on the electric guitar and other innovations in tone and attack. Bo Diddley’s guitar work and music influenced the “chugging” and riffing that has since defined hard rock and metal.
In 1987, Bo Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the late 1980's he teamed with Bo Jackson in Nike’s infamous “Bo Knows” commercials featuring his pithy line "Bo, you don't know Diddley!"
Possibly the best of his many compilations CDs is this one.
The Jesus & Mary Chain have a song called “Bo Diddley is Jesus.” That pretty much sums it up.
Setting aside all the little confessionals in which the fifteen competitors declared their affection for pink and their cosmic bonds with Reese Witherspoon, the first day on set was a doozy and a half. No coddling here -- just a whole lot of singing and dancing and bending and snapping and holding really long notes. And, for a nice change of pace, America's got nothing to do with the outcome -- no tweenies will be getting index finger sprain from dialing for Max Crumm.
Monday, June 2, 2008
[Note: I had no idea Isaac would be writing on a similar theme simultaneously. Still, in the interest of equal time and positivity, here's six minutes of Ron Hextall highlights, Randall Cunningham to Jimmie Giles on MNF and Fred Barnett for 95 yards, and Iverson over Lue.]
Deadspin. Forgive me, Buzz Bissinger.
M. Night Shyamalan says he knows exactly when his relationship with Hollywood started to sour.I'm pretty firmly on the record that "Unbreakable" is a fantastic movie marred by a ten-minutes-premature ending, and "Signs" was a decent thriller ruined by a disappointing ending (which nevertheless made a ton of money.) As for "The Sixth Sense," it deserves its status as modern masterpiece. Its ending works because everything before it works, especially the air of sadness and dread, and the outstanding, restrained acting from Willis, Collette and Osment.
In 2000, he was on a conference call with executives from Walt Disney Studios discussing “Unbreakable,” the follow-up to his phenomenally successful movie “The Sixth Sense.” He wanted to market “Unbreakable” as a comic-book movie — the tale of an unlikely superhero — but Disney executives insisted on portraying it as a spooky thriller, like “The Sixth Sense.”
“I remember the moment that it happened, exactly where I was sitting at the table, the speakerphone,” he recalled in an interview from his office in a converted farmhouse near Philadelphia. “That moment may have been the biggest mistake that I have to undo over 10 years so the little old lady doesn’t go, ‘Oh, he’s the guy who makes the scary movies with a twist."
["The Village" and "Lady in the Water," however, yuck. And while the budgets are interesting, that's not my problem.]
What I'd like to see is simple: Shyamalan directing someone else's script. He is a great visual stylist -- and (with a significant assist from composer James Newton Howard) a fantastic creator and sustainer of mood -- who is fallen by his own dumbass script decisions. (Really: "Those We Don't Speak Of"?) If someone were to take away some of that decisionmaking from him and allow Shyamalan to focus on what he does well, I think some fantastic films could result.
Implicit in all this is my assumption that "The Happening," not yet screened for critics, will suck. Anyone predicting otherwise?
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The year is '08 and the pool party was greatOkay. No search was sought or allowed, and I don't quite have 99 problems, but seriously? The officer believed we were doing 75 in the speed machine known as the 2005 Honda Odyssey minivan, along with the pace of traffic, when I saw the state highway patrolman behind me. So I moved from the left to the center lane and slowed down. Still, he followed me into the lane, and I guess I didn't pay him his propers, because a minute later, the berries were flashing and that was it. A speeding ticket. For the offense against the laws of the Commonwealth of allegedly doing 70 mph on I-95 in a 55 mph zone. The penalty sought is $168.00.
In my rear view mirror is the stateys I hate
I got two choices y'all, pull over the minivan or
bounce on the double put the pedal to the floor
Now I ain't trying to see no highway chase with Jake
Plus I got a few dollars I can fight the case
So I... pull over to the side of the road
And I heard "Son do you know why I'm stopping you for?"
"Cause I'm young and I'm Tribe and I spell 'tremolo'?
Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don't know?
Am I under arrest or should I guess some mo?"
"Well you was doing seventy in a fifty fo'
License and registration and step out of the car
Are you carrying a Bar membership on you? I know a lot of you are."
I ain't stepping out of sh*t all my papers legit ...
In all events, here we are with the wrong guy running the political wing of the fleet, the wrong guy running Galactica, and the wrong guy looking for the missing base ship. A couple of notes for your consideration:
* Is that what Tigh was doing when the lights were off? Really?
* If so, couldn't have Adama put someone less crazy in charge like, say, Captain Thrace?
* And if the council was going to put something else in charge, couldn't they have picked someone less crazy like, say, Colonel Tigh?
* By the way, that four-barreled derringer is actual firearm, chambered in the delightful .357 magnum, not a stage prop. Good thing Lee was never actually in danger (or was he?)