Saturday, August 23, 2008

WOLVERINES! Living far away from my high school, I somehow missed that a few enterprising students a couple of years apparently thought "You know what would be cool? Remaking Red Dawn and setting it in our neighborhood." Details here, and yes, you can watch a trailer online (note that while it says 10 minutes, the actual video is only about 3 minutes long).
YOU STAY CLASSY, CUBA: Here's one way to lose an Olympic medal.
MR. SILVER, WE APOLOGIZE FOR CALLING YOU TO THE STAND ONE MORE TIME: Covering our part of today's news, Joe Biden has been portrayed twice on Saturday Night Live -- by Kevin Nealon in 1991, as part of sketch on the Thomas confirmation hearings, and by presumptive VP nominee impersonator Jason Sudeikis (Floyd!) last year at Hillary's Halloween Party (Hulu).

Friday, August 22, 2008

CITIUS, ALTIUS, HUMIDIUS EQUINIUS: Hey! There's water polo to discuss! And thus we once again bring you Mr. Cosmopolitan, this time posting from somewhere in the middle of a maze of moving boxes currently inhabiting the Cosmopolitan living room.
A stunning few days of developments since our last water polo update. On the women’s side, Team USA fell just short of capturing the gold medal, falling to the Netherlands 9-8. Team USA fell behind 4-0 in the first quarter, but rallied to tie 5-5 at the half. After trailing again in the third quarter, the US knotted things at 7-7 entering the fourth, but did not have enough left in the tank to stop steamroller Danielle De Bruijn, who scored seven goals. The silver represents a wholly satisfactory outcome for the women, and makes the US the only team to medal in all three Olympics featuring women’s water polo.

On the men’s side, pool play [hyuk -- ed.] ended with Team USA unexpectedly winning its group after Serbia “lost” to Italy 12-11. Having been defeated by Croatia in pool play, Serbia could not win the group and receive a bye to the semi-finals. It therefore intentionally tanked [hyuk deux -- ed.] against Italy in order to face Spain and the US on its way to the gold medal game, rather than the more highly-ranked Montenegro and Hungary teams. So after blowing out Spain 9-5 in the quarterfinals, Serbia met the US earlier today in the semis.

From the "careful what you wish for" annals, the US came out and played the game of the tournament thus far, defeating Serbia 10-5 behind sound defense and three more goals by Tony Azevedo. US goalie Moses Merrill played out of his mind, saving 16 of 21 shots, including a few spectacular saves that appeared to demoralize the Serbs. Portions of the game will be shown in *prime time* sometime tonight, so let’s all do our part (not just the women) in keeping those ratings up!

On Sunday, the US men will face two-time defending Olympic champion Hungary for the gold medal. If the defense stays strong, there is a real chance for the US men to capture their first gold medal since the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, in which three US club teams swept the medals. [No wonder there's a St. Louis water polo thing -- ed.]
DIGITALLY COMPRESSED DIALOGUE: As a break from constantly checking your phone for text messages, here's another piece from The Onion. Needless to say, yes, I would watch that show, though the premise as pitched creates a problem with the framing device used in the final season (and who are the other "cast members" pictured?).
PHELPS' HAPPY HARBOR: Well, there are worse places he could end up.
OY THE AGONY! OOH THE SHAME! TO MAKE YOUR PRIVATES PUBLIC FOR A GAME? I know what you're thinking: I'd love to see more women's table tennis on tv, but not enough other people are interested. The International Table Tennis Federation has heard your pleas, and rapidly went back and forth before coming up with the solution you'd probably expect. Because table tennis, after all, is just beach volleyball where you're not standing on the (bigger) court (which isn't made of sand), so what the ITTF wants is for its women's table tennis players to show more skin. "We are trying to push the players to use skirts and also nicer shirts, not the shirts that are made for men, but ones with more curves," International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) vice president Claude Bergeret said.

Meet fashion trend-setter Naomi Natsumoto. And needless to say, nothing's been asked of the male players.

[More women's ping pong awesomeness from elsewhere on NBC.]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

GFTJ: This blog has been criticized (by the voices in my head) for not paying enough parochial interest in the Jewish athletes in the Games. So gaze upon the JTA's complete list of Members of the Tribe in the Games, including American swimming medalists Dara Torres, Jason Lesak and Garrett Weber-Gale as well as Shahar "Shakka" Zubari (שחר צוברי), who just took the bronze in windsurfing for Israel's first medal in these Games.

(Only in Ha'aretz will you see the headline "Two Jews and a black man help Phelps fulfill Olympic dream".)

Meanwhile, Israel's Irina "Ira" Risenson has qualified for the rhythmic gymnastics finals, and you can preview her ribbon, jump rope, clubs, ball and hoop routines for their athletic merit. (The team, however, failed to qualify, and a "3 Hoops 4 Clubs" routine sounds more like a viral Internet video than legitimate sport.)

Open thread for Thursday night, which will include the men's beach volleyball finals, women's platform diving finals, and much Athletics.

updated: Also for tonight, via Scott: IOC forced to investigate Chinese gymnast He Kexin's age, because bloggers are crafty.

updated II: Okay, I erred: yesterday was just the first of two days of qualifying events for the rhythmic gymnastics finals; both Risenson (9th) and 17-year old Neta Rivkin (11th) are still in the hunt for those ten slots.
EVERY TIME RICHIE MIMES "HELLO" LIKE IT'S THE MOST SINCERE HELLO EVER OFFERED IN THE HISTORY OF HELLOS: Longtime readers of this site will recall what happened when two Macalester students tried to reproduce the sculpture of Lionel Richie's head from the "Hello" video.

But I'm sure you wondered, as with monkeys typing Hamlet: what would happen if a classroom full of blindfolded British art students made the attempt? What if your medium was Starburst candies? And what if Lionel Richie tried to sing the song while sucking down helium?

[Click here to watch the original video, because Prof. Richie's a creepier stalker than you might remember. No, the actress isn't blind in real life. Also, there's a real continuity issue others have noted: how did she know how to sculpt him accurately unless she was already familiar with his face?]
NEW SONG FU: Paul & Storm, Jonathan Coulton, other special guests, and 13 fresh-faced challengers are back in a new fit of good-natured gladiatorial self-promotion over at Quick Stop Entertainment.

First challenge this time around, simple and straight-forward, is to write a tune about the moon. Moon Song Fu? Yes. Moon Song Fu. *Your joke HERE -- possible topics: martial arts, take-out food, influence of Universalist Church on U.S. print and broadcast media.*

Paul & Storm have responded with a ditty about being eaten by a girlfriend (in a bad way), and Coulton's got something distant and plaintive about pearls and permanence and how there's always a ... okay, he kind of lost me. Nonetheless I'm teetering on the brink of bestowing the infamous ALLOT5MA-fave-by-fiat upon him. It's very tempting, but with great power comes great responsibility, and with trivial and arbitrary internet prerogatives comes precarious exposure to the temptations of pseudonymous self-indulgence. You know, frequent hyphenation, polysyllabic sprees, self-referential asides... ellipses...

Big ups to newcomers The Rifftones for their retro-smoothie about the moon's malevolent influence on dipsomania and dating, "Moon Shine:"
The moon is a sadist who makes us do evil
likes us to suffer and laughs when we fall
He whispers that alcohol makes us immortal
then shines with delight when we lose it all
Moonshine... Moonshine... Moonshine...

If you're having a slow day, dig through and give thoughts on your favorites. Don't forget to vote.

Hat-tip: ALLOT5MA-fave Jonathon Coulton. Heh heh.
TRAMPS LIKE US: Back to the Bird's Nest, where Amy has an update on the track:
Well, it's been kind of a mixed bag for Team USA over at the Bird's Nest. Our sprinters have done well but my overly optimistic hope of a surge of US runners dominating or at least medaling in the distance events has proven... a little wrong. But! It's not over yet!

The Good:
Shalane Flanagan's bronze in the 10,000 meters despite food poisoning a few days before. Fantastic and gutty. Also, her post-race interview on NBC was just so cute.

Nick Symmonds ran a gutty front-runner pre-esque (Prefontaine for the non track nerds and yes, I know Pre didn't really run the 800 but still...) 800 semifinal to easily qualify for the finals. For a late kicker this showed some versatility and guts. Eugene is proud of him already.

The Bad:
Bernard Lagat getting boxed in during the semis of the 1500 and failing to make the finals. He was boxed in by competitors and his time wasn't enough and so, the US' hopes for a gold there were crushed.

The Disappointing:
Kara Goucher's 10th place finish in the 10k. She described it as disappointing herself but its made her hungry for the 5k, so let's hope she goes for it there.

Lopez Lomong not making it to the 1500 finals. He ran well, but I just wanted to see some kind of miracle or surprise out of him. But, he'll be back!

The Tragic:
Deena Kastor breaking her foot 16 minutes into the marathon. With the way that race unfolded I really believe she could have medaled. And she broke my heart. Can you imagine running 150 miles per week for months and months only to have it crushed (literally) at mile 5? I can't imagine. Of course Deena handled it with grace and class. I literally gasped when she dropped out of the race causing my entire family to make fun of me for being so interested in "watching paint dry in Beijing."

The Still To Come:
  • Nick Symmonds runs in the 800 final-- we'll see.
  • The men's 5000-- I think Lagat's stronger in this event and will want to redeem himself, I hope. Matt Tegencamp also did well by winning his semi heat today and could take a medal.
  • Women's 1500- Rowbury could make it happen, she looked loose and strong during prelims.
  • The women's 5000-- Shalane and Kara will be back along with Jen Rhines and I think at least one American woman will medal. My bet's on Goucher-- she looked the freshest during prelims.
  • Men's Marathon-- I'm still holding out for Ryan Hall. It could happen. You never know.
updated: Those who've been following this morning's relay results know that we have even more to discuss. In addition, the US women's basketball team beat Russia this morning to advance to the gold medal game; Becky Hammon went 1-6 (including 0-4 from beyond the arc) for the South Ossetia Strikers, totalling 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal in twenty-four okay-maybe-not-traitorous minutes. (And, um, how did we lose softball?)
EVERYBODY'S ALL-AMERICAN: At first, I thought Mark Spitz was just being a dick. Now, as he's yet again talking trash about Michael Phelps, he's just a pathetic man whose best days are, indeed, thirty-six years behind him.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DEDICATED TO THE STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA. KEEP REACHING FOR THAT RAINBOW: Drag Week on Project Runway. Three truly super bests. Two boring worsts and one that was just a mess. (Blayne, not Jarrell. What was Jarrell doing in the bottom three? Bronzer Boy made a pride parade Voltron outfit and it was falling apart.)

And, of course, Chris won. As good as the top three were, he came back and stole the Project Runway show right out from under this seasons' contestants (without deploying human hair anywhere in his doubly mirror-domed Valkyrie outfit, except possibly in that great golden wig). I'm sure you can't buy all the components at Mood, and that it took more than thirty-six hours to plan and execute, but for my jeebus-we-pay-how-much-per-month-for-this? basic cable dollar he can bring all the monkey house Tim can handle once a season for as long as the show stays on air. Glorious.

The elimination was dead-on. No defense. Who in the world thinks Cirque > Showgirls > Drag in over-the-top garish glitzplosions of great glittery bigness? No one, no matter how instinctively high their taste level.
LIKE RAP STARS, GYMNASTIC CHAMPIONS NEED ONLY ONE NAME: With the artistic gynmastic competitions completed, Taylor provides a recap before we move onto Almudena Cid and other ladies of rhythm:
The gymnastics portion of the Olympics are over, and this is how the final medal count stands: China: fourteen, nine of them gold, USA: ten, everybody else: two or one.. Poland, Ukraine? You are now tied with Uzbekistan.

Welcome to the next era in gymnastics, where USA is still an excellent, top-notch, powerful, adjective-prolific team, but it is not a juggernaut. That would be China. Whether or not half the Chinese women's team was eligible, it's impossible to deny that the People's Republic has taken over the gymnastics world. Will it continue at worlds next year? What about London 2012? Maybe if Bela and Co. scream loud and hard enough, there will be more stringent guidelines for proving age (Can you see it? British officials denying the visas of next generation of questionably prepubescent Chinese gymnasts.). Meanwhile, I heard nothing about the ages of the Chinese men, and again, they were an unstoppable train in every competition: team, all-around, and events.

At the same time, the superpowers of gymnastics are pulling away from the rest of the pack, team-wise. Individuals from countries like Russia and Romania shine and individual specialists shine even more -- I'm thinking Sandra Izbasa, who was shaky on beam during all-around, but gold-medal worthy on the floor event final. Is this a function of the new scoring system, that specialization is rewarded?

This is the first Olympics with the new scoring system in place, but it's been there for almost two years at international, medal-viable competitions, including the world championships in Germany last year. Why all the outrage now? Did Bela seize on the large audience that NBC primetime sports can provide to make a forum for his longstanding grievences? Why did it seem to reward the artistic part of gymnastics one night and deny it the next. It's most likely its just an uninterested system being all things and all evils to all people. Oh yeah, they're modifying it slightly next year too, just to keep everybody on their toes.

The women of the USA Gymnastics team were at least a better sport than the commentators. Thanks Tim, for registering your barely contained biased outrage on Nastia's behalf while she was graciously accepting her silver medal, a feat that 99.998 percent of people will never accomplish. She wuz robbed!, he and Elfi grumble over the national anthem. (Side note: Sacramone wuz robbed! robbed! of bronze.) I can set aside the laughable, cheesy statements of Al -- and of course they have to keep up a good banter between the three, but when I watch a whole broadcast and learn nothing significant about the sport or the routines of the athletes I'm watching, or when even as an ardent team US supporter I feel bad for the way Tim is backhandedly complimenting the Chinese team, something's wrong. I watched the all around final on the NBC website, without the soundtrack of Al, Tim, and Elfi. It was glorious.

While Shawn and Nastia were battling it out for one and two, the surprise of the all-around competition for me was Ksenia Semenova from Russia. She came in fourth by only a few tenths (and was less than two points behind Liukin). She has a similiar style to Nastia and is only 15. With a few more elements, especially to her floor routine and she will be in serious contention as a champion all-arounder for the next couple of years, maybe even to the next Olympics.

The most moving part, strangely enough, was the medal ceremony for the all-around. Watching the three top women in gymnastics was a study in contrast. A huge sunny smile from Yang Yilin that quickly disappered into blankness. And was that disappointment or pride or both on Shawn Johnson's face? (I'm still not buying the Shawn-Nastia BFF story.) The best, though, was the real, honest to god "I can't believe I did this" moment from Nastia Liukin. Go team.
Also, from Taylor's corner of the ALOTT5MA Repressive Regime Desk, evidence that the Chinese may not have a Takings Clause in their laws, and doesn't have much tolerance of elderly citizens who claim otherwise. Comments open for all of Wednesday's events, including the men's 200m dash, the women's 400m hurdles, BMX racing and the women's beach volleyball final.
THE RACE AS "THERAPY YOU CAN'T PAY FOR": One of our regular commenters, Maret, will be blogging The Amazing Race for the LA Times. She interviewed the competitors just before they shipped off on their racearoundtheworld, and offers her preview here.

Thing I like? Team Comic Book Guys said they practiced for the Race by, among other things, "doing things like convincing everyone in a line to let them go first." Of course, the things I'd do to prepare are (a) learn to ride a bike already, and (b) learn to drive stick. Basics, really.
BECAUSE WE'RE NOT AT HIGH ENOUGH RISK FOR A HEART ATTACK: Everybody loves fresh hot glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and most folks would agree that bacon cheeseburgers are delicious. But how about bacon cheeseburger on Krispy Kreme? (Via Eater, which also delivers a hot rumor of everyone's favorite chicken and sweet tea vendor coming to Manhattan.)
THE BITCH OF WATCHING: It's now been revealed that the Fall Musical at West Beverly High this year (directed by Brenda Walsh) will be Tony winner Spring Awakening. Personally, I'm hoping for a controversial full cast rendition of the big Act II showstopper "Totally F**ked."
THE HUNT FOR THE NEXT 'CRAVEABLE': Do you remember, like, a year ago, when we talked about IHOP taking over Applebee's and Bill discussed his dreams for the former? ("Steve Jobs buys IHOP, changes name to iHop, and reduces the number of items. Even though the pancakes are smaller and more expensive, no one minds because they're tastier and shiny. No one can explain why a shiny pancake is a good thing, but people are standing in line to get one.")

Well, today's NYT sits down with Applebee's new CEO to talk about distinguishing the brand from TGI Friday's, Chili's et al, now that she's already tweaked IHOP with additions like cream-cheese stuffed French toast: “Don’t get me started on the mozzarella stick. Can we get rid of them entirely? Probably not. All I know is we can do better in appetizers. Maybe it’s a panko breaded calamari. Maybe a baked wing.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ESPN Eyes 2014, 2016 Games -

BILL SIMMONS, TEAM HANDBALL CORRESPONDENT: ESPN/ABC is planning to bid on tv rights for the 2014-16 Olympic Games, pledging to broadcast all the events live, regardless of time zone. While either Chicago or Rio de Janeiro in 2016 would provide a convenient time zone, the winter games slated for Sochi, Russia in 2014 will be eight hours ahead of East Coast time.

This is an open thread for Tuesday's events. The coverage of the women's 110m hurdles was odd, no?
MISS SCARLET IN THE BILLIARD ROOM WITH THE ROPE: Does the concept of a reworked "hipper" version of Clue (the board game, not the film), with no lead pipe, no Colonel Mustard or Professor Plum, and replacement rooms, fill you with joy or dread? (And don't get me started on the revisions made to Life, like the elimination of most benefits of insurance, making college less lucrative in the long run, and the elimination of "REVENGE! Sue For Damages!"
IT'S A STREET IN THE STRANGE WORLD, MAYBE IT'S THE THIRD WORLD, MAYBE IT'S HIS FIRST TIME AROUND: More recent visitors to the site might not realize that as much as we talk about Michael "Swimkata" Phelps here, other obsessions drive us even harder. Namely, The Amazing Race.

We've waited seven months since last we raced from the Republic of China to Alaska, and now we have our teams for the thirteenth season, including Team Superbad and Sorry, I Cheated. Only two all-male teams, one parent-child team, married hippie apiarists and only one competitor who lists his occupation as "Comic-Con Treasurer". Will any team capture our interest like Team I Wasn't A Supportive Father When You Were Growing Up, And I'm Not About To Start Now did last year? The AP has more on the upcoming season, which begins airing on Sunday, September 28, at 8pm.
IT CAN'T BE WORSE THAN PIERCE BROSNAN'S EFFORT: OK, does the prospect of Sing-Along Mamma Mia! make you ask how you can resist it or provoke feelings of revulsion? Personally, the songs are still just as catchy as they ever were, and at least the female performers in the film did a credible job, but the direction was listless and showed limited ability to move a camera or cut wisely (see also Stroman, Susan) and the plot makes little or no sense--I think I'll pass on the opportunity.
WHAT WOULD YODA DO? Just a quick update. As you probably recall from my earlier missive, following a run of bad luck a few weeks ago I had to drop out of the Pan-Mass Challenge (the long bike ride to support cancer research) about 3/4ths of the way through the ride due to a knee injury.

I followed the advice of my physician and consumed copious amounts of ibuprofen, applied ice frequently, and, hardest of all, I rested. I also followed the advice of my friend and frequent commenter Jim Bell and took steps to improve my luck. I rubbed the belly of the Buddha that sits outside my Cape house. I sought four-leaf clovers. I eschewed black cats and ladders.

Then, yesterday, I had my wife Amy drive me back to where I got injured and I finished riding the final 52 miles to Provincetown. Amy and my sons Aidan (11) and Liam (9) rode the final mile with me! It felt really good to finish (at long last).

Last night Amy and I went out to celebrate at what had been my father’s favorite restaurant, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Provincetown called Front Street. My parents had been regulars there for many years. As we arrived, Amy piped up to the hostess “we’re here to celebrate Bob finishing the Pan-Mass Challenge, which he rode in honor of his father David Elwood.” The hostess smiled in recognition and told us a few stories about how much she had enjoyed the company of my parents. Amy ordered a bottle of Champagne, which tasted oh so good. It was a truly remarkable meal.

It had been dusk when we entered the dark restaurant. During dinner the sun had set. As we walked out my eyes adjusted to the night sky. Then, this being Provincetown and this being Carnival week here, a well built guy walked past us wearing a lime green g-string, matching high heels, and nothing else. He winked. Life is good.

Thanks to your extraordinary generosity, I have raised $6,000 for the PMC, but I am still just shy of my goal. Please click here to make a contribution (this website looks best if you use Internet Explorer; also, please add a note to my guestbook there.) I believe Matt's kind offer to match contributions by "Thing Throwers" is not quite fully subscribed yet.

I AM NO PHILANDERER/BUT YOU, SIR, ARE A SLANDERER: More from the intersection of politics and culture: McSwy's presents Edwards! The Musical.
I WONDER IF HE'LL TRY TO SHOEHORN ARLEN SPECTER INTO THIS ONE, TOO: My feelings for the current President aside, both the trailer and the posters for Oliver Stone's W. have me convinced that this is just going to be a sledgehammer of a mess, an entire film pitched at the level of subtlety of Rodney Dangerfield's role in Natural Born Killers. Tell me if there's a reason to be optimistic that this will be an insightful film.

(Say what you will about his JFK or Nixon as truthtelling, but at least both work as mature, complex filmmaking. W seems like a Farrelly Brothers production.)
ABBREVIATE NOV. & DEC. IF YOU NEED TO: Why The Internet Exists, Vol. CDLIX: Cake Wrecks, a compendium of bad things that have happened in the world of cake decoration.

Apparently, there's a longer version on the 'tubes somewhere, but can't run it down.

ETA: Here we go, via LiveLeak via BoingBoing.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Help me Robot Chicken, you're my only hope.
CHUNG-CHUNG: I've never been a regular watcher of L&O: Criminal Intent, but I decided to DVR Sunday's episode, marking Chris Noth's departure as Det. Mike Logan, and that was a fitting send-off. First, the confession that touches off Logan's final case is given to him by an aging priest because he used to be Lennie Briscoe's partner. In a franchise that prides itself on being purely episodic, it's a nice callback. Second, as has always been the case, Logan's hotheadedness and borderline contempt for authority figures come back to bite him in the ass. Logan/Briscoe was probably the best Original Recipe cop pairing, and seeing Noth walk away is bittersweet.
THE WATER DOESN'T KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE: So Dara Torres has a $3M, two book deal (memoir for Mother's Day 2009, then a fitness book), and endorsement deals with a Japanese car manufacturer and her swimwear supplier ... but surely, you can think creatively about other endorsement (pain reliever?) and media opportunities (swim coach at Fictional West Beverly High?) the twelve-time medalist ought to be pursuing.
MICHAEL PHELPS' SWIMKATA! Thanks to Bill and KR, I now need to link to the trailers for Kurt Thomas' Gymkata and Mitch Gaylord's American Anthem, which Roger Ebert basically describes as Purple Rain + floor exercises.

("His name: Kurt Thomas. His title: Three-time world gymnastics champion. His assignment: A secret mission for the United States government. His only weapon: himself. And that's all he needs...")
AND CHRISTOPHER WALKEN AS HAN SOLO: Even though J.J. Abrams has directed an episode of The Office, I'm not sure if I can picture Jenna Fischer as Sydney Bristow, which apparently nearly happened. (Also--Harrison Ford turning down "Meathead" on All In The Family? Rosie O'Donnell as Elaine Benes?)
OR HE COULD CO-STAR WITH JAKE GYLLENHALL IN 'AQUAMAN 2': So Michael Phelps wants to keep swimming in the public eye between now and the London 2012 Games. Our occasional acquaintance Dan Steinberg noted this quote:
I want to raise the bar in the sport of swimming more. You know, it's come a long way. I've heard about 70,000 people at Ravens Stadium staying after the preseason game to watch the relay on the big screen, to the 100 fly being on the Jumbotron at the Cincinnati Reds game. You know, four years ago, there's no way that would ever happen. I think the sport of swimming has come a long way so far and I think it can go even farther, and that's where I hope to take it, even farther.
Can it go farther? If so, how? Do you have some other path you'd recommend for Phelps? Or in the words of Josiah Bartlet, what's next?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

BATTLE FROZEN MELON: Had this blog existed just slightly before it actually did, you would have seen a lot of posts about the original Iron Chef back in the day. For sure, Ron Siegel would have been dubbed an ALOTT5MA Fave, the phrase "Delacroix of French cooking" would have been dropped liberally, and I would have raved about the night Jen and I found seats at the sushi bar right in front of Chef Morimoto during the week his eponymous restaurant opened in Philadelphia. (I still remember the sashimi sampler he sliced up for us.) And then, to be sure, we'd have bemoaned the crappy William Shatner-hosted attempt at an American remake.

Anyway, we've never really blogged about the show here, but tonight gives me an opportunity. Why? Jose Garces -- beloved Philadelphia chef at the helm of Amada (tapas), Tinto (Basque tapas) and now Distrito (Mexican) -- has entered Kitchen Stadium to do battle with Bobby Flay. There's a lot of melons and a lot of liquid nitrogen in the room. Things get grilled, charred, pureed and anti-griddled. Do set your TiVos and watch.

Television - Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America? -

SAY IT AIN'T SO, MICHIKO KAKUTANI! Is it possible to write a lengthy think-piece on Jon Stewart that says absolutely nothing new or interesting? Apparently.
EVERYONE'S FAVORITE AQUATIC OLYMPIC EVENT INVOLVING A BALL: This just in from roving water polo correspondent Mr. Cosmopolitan:
The USA men’s water polo team continued its overachieving ways yesterday [yesterday, at least, by NBC's standards -- ed.], pulling off a stunning upset over the world's number one team, Croatia, by the score of 7-5. Previously, the men had beaten China 8-4, beaten Italy 12-11, and lost to Serbia 2-4. While the win over Croatia is probably the biggest single-game win for U.S. water polo in a couple of decades, it will go down as a Pujols-Lidge footnote [yeah, I don't get that either, although five'll get you ten it's a Cardinals reference -- ed.] unless we beat Germany on Monday. Although currently tied for the lead in Group B with Serbia and Croatia, because of how the head-to-head wins and losses have broken down, a loss to Germany would leave the U.S. out of the medal round. On the other hand, it’s barely possible (if Serbia loses to China – ha!) that the U.S. could win its group, and thus get a bye to the semi-finals.

This scenario is actually a lot like the way this team is playing -- lots of upside, but frightening downside. Essentially (and look at the game scores), the U.S. men are playing to the level of their competition. While beating and hanging tight with two of the best teams in the world, the U.S. has been struggling against middling competition. So the good news is the U.S. men have the ability to beat the best in the world, and the bad news is that they sometimes lose focus against weaker teams. The U.S. matches up well with Germany, though, and Serbia and Croatia have pounded Germany by a total of 12 goals. So set your DVRs and hope for the best.

A quick note on the women: although they have won their group and thus advance automatically to the semi-finals, the U.S. women have been less than impressive in group play. They beat China 12-11, tied Italy 9-9, and then beat Russia 12-7. They’ll play the winner of Australia/China on Tuesday.
THIS IS BEING GLIB: How did we manage to miss that one of the characters on the new 90210 will be a Scientologist, and is rumored to be harboring a deep secret that would not be OK with Scientology? We're only a few weeks away now!
A MOVIE WHICH PROVES THERE'S NOTHING TIVO CAN'T DO: Tropic Thunder is the funniest thing Ben Stiller has done since Zoolander -- a long time, indeed, but quite worth it. Does the whole thing cohere? No. I still have no idea when the actors realized that it wasn't still a movie, or why Downey's face magically seemed lighter in the main late sequence, and still don't understand why (between this and Pineapple Express) Asian Drug Lords became this year's all-purpose menace ... but none of it matters, because the gags are good. Really good. Not just the Tom Cruise stuff -- which, yeah, is that good, but especially the Downey.

I will agree with Our Friend Dan Fienberg that the film doesn't say anything new, and that there's a darker, more challenging movie that could have been made with this premise. And as The Wife noted, there's not one real female role in the film. But, end of the day, it's funny enough. More than. If you go for broad humor, that is. And Downey.

[Speaking of which, I take Dave Itzkoff's thinkpiece on gross humor as an implicit correction, insofar as it refers to an incident in There's Something About Mary as "the protagonist’s genitals caught in the zipper of his pants".]

I realize that I haven't really described any of the gags. I shouldn't. You know the setup. You know who's in the movie. If you thought you might want to see the movie, then, yes, see the movie. And let me not spoil a single thing here.
BIGGER! BETTER! FASTER! MORE! In addition to standard ALOTT5MA blogging, Daniel Radosh has asked that I assist on filling in over at his place for the next couple of weeks while he's on vacation. Daniel has given us valuable content like ridicule of comic strips, more than you ever needed to know about Huckapoo, and (I believe) coining of the immortal neologism "Lohanboobies." I haven't put anything up yet, but a few of my cohorts have (and I have some stuff I'm working on)--come on over there if you haven't already.