Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Turn it off!: The 50 worst announcers in sports today - Y! Sports Blogs - Yahoo! Sports

THAT'S HOOOOOORRIBLE: Remember Alex's post on the 50 greatest announcers in sports history? Via Deadspin, here's one halfway decent take on the 50 worst announcers in sports today. (But for real? You can't include Gus Johnson anywhere near such lists.)
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: This is the day that comes four times a year when I'm reminded that bureacracy, had it not stumbled upward out of the primordial ooze on its own, would have been invented by Franz Kafka anyway. The occasion for this quarterly reflection is the filing of employment tax forms, which in California consist of a Form DE6 and a Form DE88. To make this as fraught as possible with possibilities for error, California requires that the DE88 be sent to a PO box number ending in 6 and that the DE6 be sent to a PO box number ending in 88.

Also, you can buy blank W-2 forms that can be used with a typewriter, or you can avoid that completely and use either government-sponsored or government-approved third-party forms that can be printed on standard 8.5 x 11" paper (note: you have to use the right fillable forms if you're using the government-sponsored option, and watch out for the fillable forms that the government helpfully provides that cannot be used because why would you expect that you could actually use the government-provided fillable form?). But if you use the online forms, beware, because the employee's copies of the W-2 must be perforated for easy separation and must not be cut with scissors, which rules out standard 8.5 x 11" paper.
THE ANNUAL SEASON-ENDING BIG GAME POOL: We're changing things up a little for our fourth go at this, which last year was won by Joseph J. Finn (2007: me; 2006: Benner). Since an Anheuser-Busch spot has topped the USA Today Ad Meter for each of the last ten years, we are retiring that question in place of a narrower one suggested by Matt.

As with last year, there are two prizes -- first, of course, Fame and Glory Forever ("forever" being until next year's pool), and second is that the winner has the non-assignable right to make a post of his or her choosing (relevant to the site's subject matter) on the blog at a mutually agreed-upon time. With that in mind, it's first-come, first served for you to make predictions as to the following:

  1. Winner/final score.
  2. Official Game MVP.
  3. Which movie ad/trailer will get the top score on the USA Today Ad Meter? (Between Ad Age and Variety, I'm seeing reports of reporting commercials for "GI Joe," "Transformers II," "Star Trek," "Monsters v. Aliens,""Angels and Demons," "Land of the Lost," Pixar's "Up" and "The Fourth-Most Fastest and Furious-est", with not-yet-purchased-but-still-possibles for "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," "Watchmen," "Fighting," and "State of Play.")
  4. Springsteen's setlist, being reported as four songs squeezed into twelve minutes. (You can use "New Song" as a placeholder, but you'll lose any tiebreaker to someone who gets it right. Folks who made predictions back in August can grandfather them in, but if and when leaks the answer based on soundcheck, this category is closed.)
I'm going with Cardinals 27-16, because while I think Arizona's an inferior team, their strengths match up well against Pittsburgh's weaknesses. Larry Fitzgerald for MVP, "Up" for the AdMeter, and the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, Viagra-taking, history-making, legendary E Street Band will be entertaining us with "State Trooper"/"The Ghost of Tom Joad"/"Lost in the Flood"/"Dream Baby Dream" "Light of Day"/"Life Itself"/"Hungry Heart"/"Born To Run".
TWO GIRLS FOR EVERY BOY: Wise choice by Idol to shorten up the auditions this year, because wow, do they ever run together. It's like one three-week-long run of melisma sung by every destitute blind orphan who ever shopped at American Apparel.

So after seven hours of audition footage (watched in approximately three hours of real time, because when a guy walks out in an iPod costume you know you can skip the next three minutes), there are maybe eight or ten I can remember, almost all of them women. Sure, I remember the blind guy because he was inspiring (because he sang without his piano! Not because he's blind!), because he was memorably dull, because his A&F-model brother was too much of a dick to teach him how to use conditioner, and because Seacrest tried to high-five him. And I remember the Osmond because he was an Osmond, was memorably dull, and apparently is one of 13 kids of the -- well, I'll call him the high-strung Osmond. Is that euphemistic enough? If those two get through to the finals, watch them split the Archuleta's moms-and-tweens demo.

Meanwhile, the women were a lot more memorable. I don't give the pixie orphan much of a shot, but the single mom Carmen Kass doppelganger with the one-sleeve tattoo and the Jolie Holland-meets-Tori Amos delivery made the kind of noises you don't usually hear on this show. And I remember not being irritated by the auditions of the ringer who used to be signed to A&M, the sorority girl who they made come back to sing in makeup, the South Asian single mom who they compared to Amy Winehouse (without all the open sores and racism), the teen with the huge smile and crippling poverty, and the one punky woman who had to quit her all-girl band (which, per her MySpace, according to some site I read, included two guys). And while the women who sing thoughtful versions of religious songs always put me to sleep and get the fast-forward treatment during the season, I'll accept that the nine-foot-tall girl from Samoa had a pretty good voice.

Now I'm looking forward to Hollywood week, because there's nothing like people who don't know each other staying up all night to arrange a capella manglings of trashy '80s pop. And I mean that in a good way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

THIS IS PART OF THE STIMULUS PACKAGE, RIGHT? America's strategic chicken wing supply is running low, and at the worst possible time with Wing Bowl 17 tomorrow morning in Philadelphia.

This year's gimmick: local competitors only; none of the competitive eaters from the national circuit, which provides room for folks like Dave "The Acidic Jew" Spector, who ate ten lemons in less than five minutes, playing the saxophone after each; and Doug "Obi Wing" Petock, who ate melons (including skin and rinds) while being punched in the stomach.

Related: The Colonel (eyes: wee, beady) wants you to know that "KFC employs a dedicated, trained cook in each of the kitchens of the chain's 5,300-plus restaurants nationwide" responsible for hand-breading the chicken using the secret blend of herbs and spices -- including, of course, an addictive chemical that makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass.
ARE KNICKS FANS REALLY THIS DESPERATE TO GET RID OF THEIR MARBURY JERSEYS? The NBA announced its list of its best-selling jerseys since the start of the 2008-09 season and along with expected names like Kobe, KG, and King James, a pair of unheralded Knicks, Nate Robinson and David Lee, have cracked the top 15. Also somewhat inexpilicable, the league announced that jersey sales at the NBA Store and were up 10 percent in December compared to 2007. Considering a sweeeeeet Robisnon replica jersey costs the same as a hot dog and beer at the garden, I guess this makes sense, even in these trying times.
THE ISLAND OF BUGSY MALONE: Sorry I'm so late in posting, but it was a very clever episode of Lost, I think, playing with our expectations of how the plot will work, moving some things quicker than we thought they would move, and giving us a short break from Ben and Jack's Jake-and-Elwood-Let's-Get-the-Band-Back-Together tour, which I hope will help sustain interest in doings on the mainland.

Rather than get all spoilery, I'll just make some observations about time and aging. Something funky is going on with the aging of the others. We know Richard hasn't aged, and we know that another Other has (though I think 50 years is a slight stretch). We also know that in the past, most of the Others are much younger than Richard, but in the present, they're about his age -- are they the same people? If so, shouldn't Juliet know some of them? Also, if nobody on the island can have children, why is it populated entirely with people who, other than Richard, appear to be about 18 years old?

And did I miss it, or did Locke forget something?
ANY GIVEN WEDNESDAY: There were some seemingly Top Chefs in the bottom three this week and an elimination that, in retrospect, was long telegraphed by the producers’ repeated failure to invite us to bond with the chef being asked to pack the knives and go. While it was briefly interesting to see some turnabout there, especially for the Grinning Fin, nothing had the feeling of a shake-up or real change in momentum.

The challenges turned about as well, reverting from the relative purity of Restaurant Wars to a nightmare frenzy of product placement (Oats!) and tepid, awkward <*Non-Infringing Designation of Season-Ending American Football Championship Game*> (Seahawks!!) hype.

For the latter there was a lot of work to do on screen, so I blame concept rather than editing for the fact that I barely understood what was happening. Between explaining the rules, contractually permissible/obligated display of the helmets, relating the teams notionally to regional cuisine, re-introducing the past contestants, and then comprehensibly presenting the prep, cooking, judging, and studio audience response for seven separate head-to-head cook offs, I’m imagining some late nights in the booth and at least one threatened resignation. It was an ambitious format, to say the least. It was also a failure on multiple levels. Try it with teams of two chefs at the start of the season, when the league hasn’t been pared down to conference champions and mention of franchises associated with cities emblematic of various American culinary traditions -- some of which have inevitably finished far, far out of contention -- doesn’t seem like a complete non-sequitur. Sourdough and salmon aside, Forty-Niners and Seahawks helmets aren’t doing it for anybody right now.

Speaking of non-sequiturs, it seems that what is doing it for everybody right now is the Bacon Explosion. It’s the new black, or at least the new Turducken; sort of a processed swine ballotine with enough calories from fat to send an entire Cub Scout troop on an emergency field trip to the cardiac catheterization lab. It even made the New York Times (love the post title). At the web recipe’s recommended volume, it can’t be safe to eat one of these things with fewer than ten diners participating. That’s not to say it isn’t possible, or that I’m not going to try, just that it isn’t safe.

Also: Go Steelers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ABC Said to Consider ‘Kimmel’ in ‘Nightline’s’ Slot -

HEY, KIMMEL, HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES? As in, how would you like to kick "Nightline" off the air, move to 11:35p and take on Letterman and O'Brien directly this fall? [Still only at the "in discussion" stage.]

For what it's worth, I can't remember the last time I watched "Nightline," or even when on the show ended up mattering. As I wrote over three years ago when Ted Koppel left, "As Peter Lassally had to explain to David Letterman in convincing him to reject NBC's late offer of taking over Leno's 'Tonight Show' a year later, the show Koppel began simply doesn't exist anymore. Oh, sure, there's going to be a half-hour news show on ABC after the late local news (until the Next Big Talk Show Host becomes available, at least) . . . but it won't be 'Nightline'."

ChordStrike: The 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time

KISS OFF: I enjoyed this list of the 100 Greatest Debut Albums of all time, but I found it slightly Ludacris (No. 73) that a certain Band (No. 58) from Milwaukee would rank No. 86, behind so many Pretenders (No. 60). If I was making a New Order (No. 20), even though it might Clash (No. 38) with Stooges (No. 59) who argue their music lacked Heart (No. 63), the Violent Femmes eponymous debut would have to make the top 10.

Via Pop Candy.
NO, NOT THE ELECTRONICA DUO:The United States Postal Service apparently wants to cut a day of mail delivery from the current 6-day-a-week delivery plan. (Interestingly, the article suggests that the day to be cut might not be Saturday, but instead, Tuesday.) Two questions for discussion--first, do you care and does this matter to you? Second, what day would you want cut? I'm sure a lot of folks will argue against Saturday, since that's when they get certain weekly magazines (EW, in particular, arrives in most mailboxes on Saturdays).
QDAY, SNOWY WEATHER EDITION: What with (a) the comment thread on Adam's children's publishing awards post having turned into quite a useful discussion on younger kids' chapter books and (b) Carmichael Harold's excellent how-to-busk guide (see? impart useful and interesting knowledge and you get to plug your band!), I am reminded just how often the ThingThrowers manage to show me things I didn't know before.

Most recently I owe a thanks to TPE and the other fans of Battlestar Galactica around here who persuaded me to sit down and commit to 53 back episodes of this incredibly enjoyable show -- we Cosmos are one episode away from wrapping up Season 2.0, with 2.5 arriving from NetFlix any day now! But I have to admit that the single most useful bit of knowledge I have gleaned from this blog during its 6+ years of existence, bar none, is the recipe for Maggie's Dad's Margaritas. (We've started keeping frozen limeade around the house for margarita emergencies -- oddly, it's the only ingredient that is hard to come by in Manhattan supermarkets.)

I'm sure we've had this conversation before, but it's as good a random subject as any for a snowy get-no-work-done kind of a day -- what's become a part of your life courtesy of the ALOTT5MA community of pop cultural consumers?
In the Billy Joel debate raging below this entry, I piped up just enough to note that when I play "Only The Good Die Young" in the subways and at tip-driven performances, the money that folds tends to land in my jar/case. The Pathetic Earthling asked me to elaborate on what the top tip-garnering songs are, so here's my take on busking in New York.

I'm a singer-songwriter trying to make something of my career out here -- because of that, I work a little bit differently than other buskers. The basic goal for me is to resonate with people a little deeper than the average busker, to communicate to them that I'm not just doing this because I'm down on my luck (because I'm not), I want to entertain and to continue entertaining them after they catch their train. I also want them to take my card or flyer, come out to my show, buy my CD off iTunes. I have some taboos:

"Brown-Eyed Girl" is a NO-NO. Also, "Here Comes The Sun." Also, any of the first 10 songs you think of when you think of Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. I'm not knocking any of these songs -- in fact, I like all of these songs (although it was only a few years ago that my friend Robin Hitchcock -- not the famous one, but she's going to rule the world someday -- converted me to liking Springsteen), but every dude who learned a few chords to get laid in college plays these songs without much effort, so you tend to hear them a lot in these situations. People are a lot less likely to tip for "All Along The Watchtower," because it's white effing noise to them. The key is to get further under the skin.

If you're a Van Morrison fan, you grow a love-hate relationship with "BEG." It's so commonly known that it outshines a lot of his other work, and that is just not fair. "Crazy Love," however, lies just under the surface. It's juuuust under-appreciated enough that you never hear it. By that same token, I do Tracy Chapman's "Baby Can I Hold You" -- again, not her biggest hit, but from the first two notes of the melody -- people's heads always turn at the first "sorry," and their hands are in their purses by the end of the first chorus. "Ask," by the Smiths, is a song no one knows the name of but EVERYBODY that listens to them loves that song. Plus, it flirts with literally every person in the room. "Alison" will get you tips, but "Riot Act" or "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" will get you FANS, and those people will not only pay, they'll take a card and a flyer.

As a child of the 80s but a teen of the 90s, I find that a nice sampling of under-the-radar stuff from the '90s helps grease the wheels as well. By example: Freedy Johnston's "Bad Reputation." It wasn't huge, but you know that song when you hear it.

Generally, songs from the 80's are unexpected in the context of solo acoustic performers. It's unjust, because there are a lot of amazing songs from that time, hidden under thick layers of automation and production. "Missing You," by John Waite, has been covered a lot (David Wilcox, Alison Krauss, Tina Turner off the top of my head), but always sounds fresh because of its unique structure. "I Think We're Alone Now" (I know, but ask a kid from the 80s who Tommy James is) and the theme from "Fame" -- I slow both of those down to ballads and comPLETEly change the tone and experience, and people get thrown by it. Playing on their expectations by throwing out an earnest cover of "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles never fails -- because, as my friend Jacob Clifton (of TWoP fame, for those keeping track) put it, "girls want to swoon and boys want to cry." Also, because I'm a big burly bald dude with a goatee, the sudden jolt of non-threatening sweetness goes a long way to making the more timid people feel safe approaching my guitar case.

That's a big part, too -- playing with expectations. I have a version of "Such Great Heights" by the Postal Service that is poppy and folky at the same time, and never fails to win big.

The most commonly known songs that I play are "All My Loving" by the Beatles, and "Only The Good Die Young" by Billy Joel. I do these when I feel the room slipping away, when my instincts have failed me. There isn't a person alive who doesn't like one of those two songs. They're both ridiculously well-known and well-liked songs, that fall by the wayside because of all of the other hits by those artists. I don't even think "All My Loving" made the 1's compilation, but every woman loves that song, and every man wants you to know that he can sing the harmony.

Plus, I have originals. If you sing a song about having a crush or falling in love, you'll resonate. If you sing a song about hating your job, that works, too. If you sing a sad song, you really have to know that you're playing to that room that Jacob referred to. It's all instinct.

In summary:

There's no top ten list. Sure, the first paragraph of taboos is probably the most commonly played stuff in the subways -- that doesn't mean it works, that just means it's what people are most capable of playing. In my experience, though, the more thought and originality you put into your choices, the more dollars you get -- really, it's kind of like strategizing for "American Idol" that way: Simon's constant piece of advice, other than the not-really-constructive "sing better," is that you have to be remembered after everything else that happens on any given night.

Hopefully, you'll remember this, and come catch me and my new backing band, the Awkward Situation, at the National Underground on Houston and Allen, Saturday nights from 7 to 9 -- or come check me out at

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT ME, YOU'D BETTER LOOK HARD AND LOOK TWICE: Occasioned by today's release of Working on a Dream (reviews, anyone?), Noel Murray surveys the cover art of Bruce Springsteen's albums.
PERFECT FOR A NIGHT OUT WITH LARRY LESSIG: Yes, there is open source cola and open source beer.
RABBIT AT REST: John Updike, creator of Rabbit Angstrom and the Witches of Eastwick, winner of two Pulitzers (for Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest), and one of the few American authors who'd wind up getting mentioned as a contender for a Nobel Prize has died at 76.
ISN'T IT ICONIC, DON'T YOU THINK: Reader and frequent commenter Carmichael Harold alerted us to a wicked interesting item on pop music on Joe Posnanski's blog. Joe Posnanski is best known as a baseball writer. Both I and Carmichael Harold would suggest that his blog is well worth reading regularly.

In the item that caught Carmichael's eye, Posnanski starts by discussing how the inductions of artists into Rock and Roll HOF do not make a ton of sense, a position I agree with wholeheartedly. Posnanski notes that enshrining a form of music meant to be rebellious is rather an odd undertaking. He suggests that the Hall would work better as a repository of "iconic" songs rather than artists.

Posnanski writes:
I see an iconic song as meaning: “a song that represents a set of beliefs or a way of life.” So, I see these songs being the ones that best represent the times we live in, and the emotions of our time.

He and a few of his compatriots (including Bill James) put together a list of about 50 of the most iconic songs in their view. Posnanski is encouraging his readers to discuss those songs and to vote for a slate of the ten most iconic songs. The only major limitation to the rules is that there can only be 1 song per artist. He updates his original list here.

Posnanski's group went with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" as the Beatles' most iconic song, a song which was number 114 on the other list we discussed recently.

I'm not a wild fan of all of Posnanski's group's choices, but it's at least a decent list. So, bearing in mind Posnanski's definition of the term "iconic," what are your choices for the most iconic pop songs?
AS LONG AS THOSE FAIRY BOOKS DIDN'T WIN, I'M HAPPY: For the third straight year (2007, 2008), we are delighted to have regular commenter Christy, who lives in NYC and works in children's publishing, review the annual awards for the best in the field:
The 2009 Youth Media Awards were announced this morning from the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Before getting to the big winners, I have to say that what has struck me more than anything this year is that the awards seem to be putting a lot of effort into trying to utilize web tools and yet aren't quite hitting the mark. For instance, I tried several times over the course of the day to find a comprehensive list of this year's winners. I finally found one! Here are the winners.

If you missed the live webcast, the Twitter feed didn't help very much. In addition to experiencing delays for some reason, it didn't really embrace the spirit of Twitter as I understand it, eschewing short, self-contained updates in favor of long sentences spread out over several tweets. The wall posts on the awards' Facebook page was the simplest way to get a quick glance at the winners earlier today. But now that I have found a better list, and with the caveat that I'm not speaking for my employer, I will quit griping and move on to the winners!

The John Newbery Medal for 2009 goes to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book. He blogged about getting the news (and trying not to swear). What do you all think of this choice, given the controversies surrounding the medal this year? After a year of speculation over the relevance of this highest children's book honor, with some arguing that literary merit alone should inform the choice, and others wondering whether it would also make sense to consider whether children would enjoy the book, the 2009 medal goes to an author with a strong following in both kids' and adult literature, with a very genre sensibility and a big movie version of one of his most famous children's books on the way.

And furthermore... a Brit. The rules stipulate that the book has to be originally published in the United States and the author must be either a United States citizen or resident. Gaiman is the latter. Along those same lines, the Printz winner for excellence in young adult fiction, Melina Marchetta for Jellicoe Road, as well as one of the Printz honor authors, is Australian. It seems the awards are organically becoming more and more international. Maybe it's time to consider lifting that particular restriction?

Beth Krommes won the Caldecott Medal for The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, a very unusual choice in all black, white and yellow. Word has it that, like the Newbery winner last year, stores and distributors were unprepared for this win. Collectors will have trouble finding first editions.

I can probably copy and paste my paragraph from last year about the Theodore Seuss Geisel award for the most distinguished American book for beginning readers. The gold again went to ALOTT5MA favorite Mo Willems, this time for Are You Ready to Play Outside? The honor books again stretch the definition of beginning readers.

The Coretta Scott King Awards feature a little switcheroo, with Kadir Nelson winning the gold as an author and an honor as an illustrator for We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, and Floyd Cooper winning the illustrator gold for The Blacker the Berry (beautiful title!), whose author, Joyce Carol Thomas, received an honor.

There are many honors and other awards worth discussing in the provided lists, but I'll close by mentioning that Laurie Halse Anderson won a lifetime achievement award, despite that her most recent and arguably most literary novel, Chains, didn't win anything at ALA this morning (although it has won many other awards and honors). Laurie had a funny blog post about hearing her news, too.

So, what do you think? What have you read? What have you loved? What have you never even heard of?
HONEY, I'M HOME! I am deeply, deeply freaked out by the privacy concerns raised by this Wired article on the integration of GPS technology into everyday devices:
The location-aware future—good, bad, and sleazy—is here. Thanks to the iPhone 3G and, to a lesser extent, Google's Android phone, millions of people are now walking around with a gizmo in their pocket that not only knows where they are but also plugs into the Internet to share that info, merge it with online databases, and find out what—and who—is in the immediate vicinity. That old saw about how someday you'll walk past a Starbucks and your phone will receive a digital coupon for half off on a Frappuccino? Yeah, that can happen now.

Simply put, location changes everything. This one input—our coordinates—has the potential to change all the outputs. Where we shop, who we talk to, what we read, what we search for, where we go—they all change once we merge location and the Web....

To test whether I was being paranoid, I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone. Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map. At home I searched the Flickr map, and score—a shot from today. I clicked through to the user's photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior—a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives.
Five years from now when this stuff is mundane, let's try to remember this was not inevitable.

Monday, January 26, 2009

WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN: I'm not paid the big bucks by television networks to come up with programming, but can someone explain to me why on God's green earth both NBC and ABC seem absolutely committed to refusing to put anything even remotely interesting on against CSI: Miami? (And this problem will get even worse next year, when NBC relinquishes the slot to Leno.) Sure, I can understand that NBC's been stung by three straight costly failures in the slot (Studio 60, Journeyman, and My Own Worst Enemy), but it seems to me that a risky programming move with counterprogramming there could work as well as ABC's use of Grey's to blunt the Office/CSI combo on Thursdays--what about moving Brothers & Sisters there? Or having given Dirty Sexy Money or Eli Stone a shot in the timeslot?
NED SCHNEEBLY! CBS has announced the competitors for The 14th Most Amazingest Race Ever, including wee stuntmen, Southwest flight attendants, an HLS '96, the show's first deaf contestant and, yes, screenwriter/actor/director Mike White and his gay activist father.

The world is watching/travel safe/go! on Sunday, February 15, at 8pm EST.
SITE ADMINISTRATION UPDATE: We are aware that comments are still disappearing and reappearing in Haloscan. We are working diligently to wait for somebody else to fix the problem.
WHEN A SCANT BUT UNREMOVABLE OBJECT MEETS AN UNCLOTHABLE FORCE, NOBODY WINS: You'd probably have to look a long time to find a weirder dispute involving dumber people than this. The 2009 Lingerie Bowl, that venerable (five years is venerable, right?) American tradition, has been cancelled because of a dispute with the event's host. The Caliente Resort, a clothing-optional resort, has refused to require clothing for the big day. In other words, the Lingerie Bowl, a thing that exists only to display almost-nude women, is upset by the potential attendance of fully-nude people. This is, of course, an inevitable decision -- you can't televise a lingerie event with a bunch of naked people milling about -- but what did the organizers think was going to happen when they signed up with a nudist resort?

And meanwhile, who are the lingerie specialists who oppose nudity? That seems like one of the more subtly defined fronts in the culture war.

Finally, the author of the article: Emily Nipps. No comment.
IF HE PUKES, YOU DIE: We haven't talked yet this year about Big Love, a show on which I blow hot and cold, and that may be because the Big Dig has rerouted itself through KCosmo's TV and blogging time. I did want to mention something that I've been noticing increasingly, though: the way that Bill Paxton plays Bill Henrickson with such thinly-disguised malevolence.

Henrickson is, outwardly, not a villain. He's a God-fearing man with few overt vices, more practiced in the art of self-denial than of self-indulgence (though not without exception), and attentive to the dutiful discharge of the full range of his familial obligations. There is nothing interesting about Bill outside the way that Paxton shows us what Bill tries to hide. Henrickson bares his teeth when he talks; his anger flashes in his alert eyes even when Bill is smiling. And his conduct, expecially with Ana, shows that while Bill talks a big game about celestial rewards, he has baser appetites that he is unwilling or unable to suppress. When I watch Paxton's Bill Henrickson, I can never forget Paxton's other iconic role, his Chet Donnelly, the physical embodiment of appetite, though I often also register Vincent Donofrio's Edgar from Men In Black, a slick, gooey monster poorly hidden behind the rubbery skin of an actual human. Or am I just being too hard on the old four-timer?

The other thing I had to say about last night's episode was that "why are you massaging that bird’s anus with a Q-Tip?" marked the first time I've ever had to interrupt a sit-up in progress to laugh.
SUNDAYSUNDAYSUNDAY: I'm guessing that the death of a single Monster Truck promoter will cause more changes in the industry than the unending death toll of young men involved in professional wrestling has to date.
"THE ANDREW WYETH OF CONTEMPORARY POP MUSIC": Let's just say that Ron Rosenbaum doesn't like Billy Joel:
He was terrible, he is terrible, he always will be terrible. Anodyne, sappy, superficial, derivative, fraudulently rebellious. Joel's famous song 'It's Still Rock and Roll to Me'? Please. It never was rock 'n' roll. ...

I think I've identified the qualities in B.J.'s work that distinguish his badness from other kinds of badness: It exhibits unearned contempt. Both a self-righteous contempt for others and the self-approbation and self-congratulation that is contempt's backside, so to speak. Most frequently a contempt for the supposed phoniness or inauthenticity of other people as opposed to the rock-solid authenticity of our B.J.
Yeah, he said it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: After only 2 weeks of release, Paul Blart: Mall Cop has grossed more than Slumdog Millionaire has in two months. Paul Blart seems likely to gross north of $100M by the time all is said and done.
AMERICA'S SECOND FAVORITE GUILD (AFTER THIS ONE): I'd figured that the Oscars were a largely foregone conclusion this year, but tonight's SAG awards create some interesting drama, especially since actors are the largest Academy voting bloc--Sean Penn, rather than Mickey Rourke, won Best Actor, and Meryl Streep took Best Actress. Complicating matters is that Kate Winslet's Reader performance was nominated (and won) in the supporting actress category for SAG, but is in the lead category at the Oscars. (Other movie awards generally went as anticipated--Heath Ledger for Supporting Actor, and Slumdog for "best ensemble.")

TV Awards generally lacked surprise, with 30 Rock and John Adams sweeping in Comedy and Mini-Series/Movie, but spread the love around on the drama side, with Mad Men taking "best ensemble," Hugh Laurie taking best actor, and Sally Field taking best actress.
MAKING THE SIMPLE LIFE FAR MORE COMPLEX: Remember the vocal track of "Runnin' With The Devil"--one enterprising young person has stuck that into Microsoft Songsmith (which creates music backing tracks based on sung vocals), and the product is this vaguely swingish version.

e.t.a. I can't let Matt post this without including a link to the David Lee Roth "Runnin' With The Devil" Soundboard. -- Adam
PRIMANTI'S -- HOME EDITION: Reader request, from D'Arcy:
Every year my husband and I host a SuperBowl party. Five years ago, we started a tradition of serving food, usually a dessert, from the regions of the teams. I know it was five years ago because I was trying to make Boston Creme Pie Trifle and some kind of Carolina banana chocolate pudding thing with a four week old baby to care for, while my husband played football in the snow, but that's another story. Last year we decided to start doing food from the host region as well.

So, anyone have any suggestions for desserts and/or food suitable to serve a small crowd that is typical of Pittsburgh (or Pennsylvania in general), Tampa (or Florida in general - I'm thinking probably citrus) or Arizona?
I'd suggest either something black-and-gold or Iron Chef: Battle Heinz Products for the city of Three Rivers, but beyond that ... ?
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE: An enterprising soul has ranked all 185 of the original Beatles songs in a worst-to-first countdown, together with his reasons for each ranking. An index of the rankings is here.

I find the essays accompanying each song generally insightful. I particularly appreciate the way that the author (JBev) has embedded links to each of the songs on youtube.

I am not wildly at odds with his rankings of the less successful songs (is "Yer Blues" anyone's favorite Beatles song?), but as the list progresses I disagree with the author's views more often. "I'll Cry Instead" is ranked too low (at #161) in my view (my introduction to the Beatles was listening countless times to my parents' LP of "Something New, Something New"). At #21, "Yes It Is" is ranked way too high in my view (it's ahead of "Blackbird", "Yesterday", and "Ticket to Ride").

Although I would agonize over the decision, I would have the song ranked #7 on this list ranked #1 on my list. My reasons are similar to those in the author's essay about that song.