Saturday, October 31, 2009

YOU KILLED THE ZOMBIE FLANDERS! (HE WAS A ZOMBIE?): A Halloween special: someone ranks all twenty Treehouse of Horror episodes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

MEXICAN HALLOWEEN -- TRICK OR BLANK? All four comedies on NBC last night were pretty good, I thought -- sometimes in a one-linery way, but sometimes more than that. Abid's Batman on Community ran a little long, I thought, but Winger's flirtation with Grey's Anatomy's rebound Rose, who can really work a dimple, was nicely played. At the other bookend, I know some of our friends hate the pander-to-the-middle plotline on 30 Rock, but I'm amused by all the meta. And over at the mockumentaries, I always enjoy the episodes where Jim and Michael's relationship is inverted, and last night I didn't even have to miss the way the show often writes Jim as the voice of reason dead-panningly shooting down Michael's brainstormed bad ideas, because Parks & Recreation gave us exactly the same dynamic with Officer Dave, Leslie, and Andy's good cop/insane cop/insane FBI agent routine. Also, I still smile every time I see the Fremulon vanity card.
I WAS GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH HIM. COMFORTABLE ENOUGH THAT I HAD TO ASK ABOUT THE SECRET: I'm only about two hundred pages into the tome, but I do want to confirm that Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball is really, really good. This is the part of Simmons I respect most -- the NBA geek who's willing to do the homework and dive into the history (seriously: his history of the NBA from 1946-1984 is fantastic), the avid fan (okay, a little too much on the Celtics) who shares his passion, the provocateur who doesn't want to stop reminding you just how bad Rick Barry's toupee was (1:45 in). My only complaint thus far is that there isn't more -- the book ought to come with a DVD full of clips, or access to a website with all the video compiled, because you want to see exactly what Simmons is writing about sometimes. Still, text-wise you can sample five excerpts here.

All that being said, and even with everything Simmons does to get fans excited about this NBA season, there's remarkable consensus about five of the six divisions, with only five teams out of 30 perceived as having a realistic chance of making the Finals. Neither of the other two major professional sports leagues are so predictable, nor are college football or basketball, and it leads to a regular season which now constantly fails to engage me. The league's current combination of guaranteed contracts, weighted lottery and salary cap have led to a situation where to become great you must seek awfulness first, and being in the middle just stinks. Annually. I don't know whether Simmons' book will address this, but I look forward to the next 500 pages of finding out.
OTHER THAN REENACT "THE HANGOVER": We ask this question regularly, but since I'm going there next week I shall pose it anew -- what are you recommending right now for folks to do for dining and entertainment in Las Vegas?
GRAMMAR RODEO: Marriage is terrific until alcohol, psychology and tongue interfere -- except when a statute says otherwise. Yep, those were the eight submissions which garnered the most "I know that, why don't you?" votes in Humiliation VII: More Than Words, so Carrie, LB, Christy in Philly, Kevbo Nobo, Stevie, Robin, Different Meghan and Deena, take a bow.

On the other hand, when traveling, it is never embarrassing to accommodate whomever is continuously laying documents atop you. Which sucks. (Eh, not as good.) But Matt, Abby G, Mary, Marsha, Maret, Carmichael Harold and especially Emily W, you have nothing to be humiliated about. We share your shame.

Claiming perfect scores this time around: KCosmo, kt, The Other Kate, Ali, KR, Philomena and Joan H. (Interesting pattern.) Average: 32.4; median 33.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

STEAL FIRST, SAC BUNT, SAC BUNT, SAC FLY FOR THE SCORE. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? It was, perhaps, inevitable that we wouldn't be into the double digits on comments about Game 1 of the World Series before somebody teed off on the execrable Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. But that's a rite of fall, every bit as important to our national identity as trick-or-treating, standard time, and turkey on Thanksgiving. What's new this year is that Fox brought Ozzie Guillen onto the broadcast team.

I'm fairly certain that one fact explains this hiring decision (as well as McCarver's continued employment): Fox lacks the money to send armies of trained monkeys to your homes to ring the doorbell and fling poo in your eyes when you answer, so the far cheaper alternative, no less poo-flingier, is to inflict the maximum amount of Ozzie Guillen.

I may be unqualified to say this, since I only caught the last half-inning, and therefore saw no more of Guillen than that he was there. That alone was jarring. For him to be standing on the field in a suit, somebody at Fox presumably had to take the official position that Guillen's presence had at least a theoretical possibility of enhancing one's enjoyment or understanding of the World Series. This is inconceivable.

What evidence is there that Ozzie Guillen understands baseball? Well, he played it. Of course, he played it incredibly badly. In 16 years, Guillen posted an OPS of .626 (never exceeding the appropriate .666 for a full season). He had twelve seasons with an on base percentage under .300. In his best offensive season, Guillen was 15% worse than average; over his full 16 seasons, he was 32% worse than the average offensive player. Those numbers are very, very bad. They could reflect either a lack of talent or an inability to understand that getting on base -- and not making an out -- is a positive thing. Whether the former had anything to do with his offensive failures, Guillen has adopted the latter as his fundamental managing philosophy. He has not been the worst manager in baseball over his tenure (ahem: Hargrove), but he is certainly among those most hostile to any understanding of the game that feeds him. And before anybody says "but he managed a team to a World Series title," if he made any positive contributions to that team -- that is, if they won because of him rather than despite him -- it must have been in the chemistry/intangible department (and therefore not helpful to a broadcast team), because he is openly and adamantly committed to counterproductive in-game strategies.

So, okay, sometimes it's nice to have these lovable ex-player doofuses on the broadcasts, not to explain the game but just to give some of the flavor and color, right? Well, Ozzie Guillen is the guy who banished a guy to the minors for refusing to throw at an opposing player, and the one who called someone a "fag" and then explained that he couldn't be homophobic because he had tickets to a Madonna concert. Cuddly!

To sum up: Fox hired a jerk who doesn't understand baseball to stand around bantering with a bunch of like-minded ignoramuses. Is there any possible way that that was a rational business decision?
COMPLETE LEE: There's not much to say about Game One of the World Series -- Cliff Lee was brilliant with both his arms -- a complete-game six hitter with no walks and ten strikeouts from the left, and from the right you've got the choice of the nonchalant pop-up, the behind-the-back-grab or the tag on Posada. Chase Utley took care of the rest.

In thinking about tonight, the anticipation level about Pedro Martinez returning to the Bronx is just ridiculous, and I'm trying to figure out what other visting-athlete-at-venue matchups have this level of tension and drama attached to them. Reggie Miller at Madison Square Garden comes to mind first, and this Sunday conveniently features the return of That Fun-Loving Gunslinger Who's Just Having Fun Out There to Lambeau Field. I suppose Bill Simmons would want me to highlight Wayne Gretzky's return to Edmonton, but it's hard to think of other combinations which are on this level -- which is why I have y'all. Time to visit Daddy.
DOCTORS HAVE COME FROM DISTANT CITIES, JUST TO SEE MEE: After a decade's hiatus, Lilith Fair is coming back in 2010. Suggest a lineup you'd like to see.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TOP MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL: Disappointing several, I'm sure, tonight's Top Chef did not wind up doing a kosher challenge, but instead took a detour that was initially less severe than last year's Zooey Deschanel challenge, but when you think about it, may actually have been harder. Look at the CraftSteak Vegas menu. Once you remove the forbidden items, there's not exactly a whole lot left to work with--and that's what made the challenge interesting--the cheftestants spending the night planning their elaborate meat-focused menus, and then having to throw it completely out the window and play it by ear. Also worthy of discussion are tonight's results, which leave us wondering both how much and how little influence the producers had and raise the eternal question of whether a strong performance over a series of episodes outweighs a weak performance in one challenge. That, however, is for the comments.
I EMPOWER MY CHEERIOS TO LIVE IN FEAR BY CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT OF IRRATIONAL, RANDOM TERROR: Sometimes I get oddly fixated on marginal details and bit players. Nate McMillan was my favorite basketball player of all time, and I hold the NFL's Patrick Jeffers and MLB's Chris Snelling in unjustifiably high regard. I was, for a period, obsessed with Cynthia Hopkins and Donald Saaf, two sidekicks in Dan Zanes's kid-music band. I'm a Cheese Wagstaff fan, a Mr. Ellsworth fan, a Naomi Esterbrook fan. There is a direct correlation between my appreciation of a TV show and the quality of its reaction shots. I don't care about everything at the edge of the frame, but I care irrationally much about a little of it.

So I'm writing to talk about what I think is the third-best* thing about Glee, a show that, as I've said, frustrates me endlessly. That would be Brittany, who, as played by Heather Elizabeth Morris, is the mostly-mute, near moodless (except in musical numbers), almost crosseyed cheerleader with the blonde bangs and topknot. Morris's role on the show is principally "featured dancer," and she throws herself into the production numbers with hair-whipping, leg-snapping abandon, commanding notice even though she often appears only as a yellow blur behind the steppier (to borrow an SYTYCD term) leads. That's a nice contrast to the gum-snapping, affectless Brittany in non-musical scenes. I have no idea whether that juxtaposition is intentional or just another continuity error in a show that makes no effort at continuity, but I choose to interpret it as signaling a rich inner life coaxed out only by suitably jubilant music (a thought that nicely dovetails with Morris's YouTube channel, which alternates between choreographed clip-reel fare, goofy digicam lip-synchs, and general dancer tomfoolery; please note that as stalkery as it may seem that I know of that channel, I found it only via IMDB while researching this post). Since, for me, Glee works dramatically only when it is centered around the joy -- not the craft or metaphorical significance -- of music, I'd much rather catch a glimpse of Morris and Chris Colfer cracking up in the background as an overexuberant Morris stumbles than a dozen production numbers where Lea Michele leans forward, hands clasped, enunciating depressingly about her unrequited love.

*The best, of course, is Jane Lynch. The second-best is J. Bowman's studious chronology of the happenings at William McKinley.
GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BAD NEWS: Near-genocide, ruthless pursuit, occupation, oppression, bigotry, unceasing attrition, suicide, factionalization, treason, terrorism, mutiny. Poverty, divorce, dementia, disloyalty, attempted rape, manslaughter, settling. Those are some of the high points of Battlestar Galactica and Friday Night Lights, one great series that we've put to rest and another that I've eulogized three times before its continual (thanks, Maret) resurrection.

BSG's The Plan came out on Blu-Ray/DVD/8-track hi-fi yesterday, and FNL's fourth season begins tonight on DirecTV. My understanding is that Coach Taylor leads the Base Star High Toasters to State, but I may be getting that wrong.
AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW ME, THAT'S NOT REALLY MY THING: I normally ignore all the OMG THIS IS THE BEST TOP [20/10/4/however many people are left] EVAH!!! twaddle from people like my BFF Nigel Lythgoe and whoever's left in the dawg pound over on that singing show. I ignore it because, really, what's the upside for Nigel to say anything else? You know, this is an ok top 20, but it really kind of pales in comparison to the stars we had back in season 2. Not gonna happen. In this particular case, though, I dunno, maybe it will end up being true. Thinking about last night's SYTYCD, there really wasn't that much to complain about. There were precisely zero truly sucky numbers, and more than a smattering that were downright good. Buckle up -- we've got a lot to cover.

Let's start with Cat Deeley, all Veronica Laked up à la Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential. I am actually a little concerned about Cat. In both the Monday night Ice Capades episode and last night's two-fer, she came across as decidedly more self-conscious than usual -- as if she's playing the role of Cat Deeley, Warm Fuzzy SYTYCD Host and Den Mother, instead of just being Cat Deeley, Warm Fuzzy SYTYCD Host and Den Mother. The beauty of this show, as I have said approximately three kabillion times, is that it's the reality equivalent of Cheers -- you walk in, and everybody knows your name, pours you a beer, and offers you a stool at the bar. We don't need Cat to wink at the camera or to remind us that the cue to shout "jidges" is coming in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go!

Offsetting all of Cat's unusual non-geek-goddess-style awkwardness last night was the supreme fabulosity of brand-new permanent judge Adam Shankman. Nigel, please put away the Paula chair and focus on the guy sitting two seats to your left, for he is solid SYTYCD gold. We here at ALOTT5MA SYTYCD HQ have always worshipped Shankman. He's knowledgeable, he's funny, he can dance his ass off, he brought the film version of Hairspray to Cosmo Girl, and he's just so darned cute! Between the aooga and the similarity of the musicality -- I'm charmed. (Can you tell??)

So that's it for today. Oh wait, darn it, I knew I forgot something. There was dancing, too!

Channing and Phillip (Jason Gilkerson / jive). Jive must be a lot harder than I think it is, because the jidges always complain a lot about the quality of the jiving. I thought this was cute but not terribly noteworthy. Phillip was better than Channing, although I may just have been distracted by the fact that her outfit did nothing to help her thighs. (N.B. Phillip is our favorite babysitter's good friend.)

Ashleigh and Jakob (Tyce Diorio / sultry Broadway). I am oddly intrigued by what kind of four-year-long illness Ashleigh had. I also thought she danced this well. Yes, Jakob is a miles better dancer than Ashleigh is, but (a) I was annoyed by the weight of the sledgehammer the judges used to beat Jakob's talent into our heads, and (b) I found all of his leaps and spins, gorgeous though they were, to be too light and airy for the supposed "sultriness" of the number. The jidges like to tell people to get down and dirty, and this seemed to be a situation where that comment would have been appropriate.

Ariana and Peter (Tabitha and Napoleon / robot hip hop). I enjoyed this, although I have to admit that I was so busy realizing that Peter is the tap guy who vanished without a trace in Vegas in Season 5 that I wasn't watching as closely as I should have been. I thought it was fun, and pleasantly non-literal for T&N, who I refuse to call NappyTabs.

Noelle Melanie and Russell (Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin foxtrot). I adore Russell. I thought he was amazing in Vegas, and have been looking forward to seeing him in the top 20. There's a certain star quality in his performance level that's unusual in the show's hiphoppers. I want him to be great, and so I was a little concerned when he and Noelle drew foxtrot. I have to assume that switching partners at the last minute didn't help him, but getting one of the pros in the eleventh hour sure beats getting some kid who didn't make the top 20 initially airlifted in with a day-and-a-half to rehearse. I agree with . . . Mary? . . . that he got a little steppy in parts, but the parts that were great were great.

Bianca and Victor (Travis Wall contemporary). Last season we saw Travis choreograph one amazing partner dance and one jazzercizey group number. This dance proved that the Jeanine / Jason necklace number from last season wasn't a fluke. It was lovely, and Bianca and Victor danced it beautifully and connectedly. I get Adam's comments about Bianca's shoulders and toes, but of all the tappers, Bianca's the one I'm hoping manages to stick around for the long haul.

Karen and Kevin (Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin cha cha). Two useless comments: (1) is there a difference between a cha cha and a cha cha cha? (2) Dancers named Karen and Kevin sound much more suburban married couple than the usual names on this show. More substantively: I hated the music, hated the costuming (if you actually want anyone to pay attention to the male half of a partnership, you can't dress a black guy in all-black while peacocking up his partner), and had trouble paying attention to the dancing because of the things I hated. Maybe I'll watch it again tonight on mute. Shankman obviously liked it, though. Aooga!

Ellenore and Ryan (Sonya Tayeh contemporary jazz). I have a big huge soft spot in my heart for Sonya because of Season 4's "The Garden," but I am the first to admit that she is wildly inconsistent. The top 3 girls superheroes dance from last season, for example, was just terrible. This dance was more of the Sonya I like, although I felt like it didn't go as far as it could have. (I did like Nigel's comment about how it's hard to critique a Sonya dance because you have no idea what she told the dancers to do.) As for the dancers: I have high, high hopes for Ryan. I didn't get a single whiff of ballroom from him. Ellenore, who incidentally has a beautiful speaking voice, initially gave me pause with her "this might be one of the best dances ever on SYTYCD" thing and so I spent the whole time waiting for her to fall on her head or something.

Billy Bell Brandon and Pauline (Jason Gilkerson smooth waltz). I think this was handled poorly. I would have had Pauline dance with Gilkerson (cf. Melanie and Russell) and then brought in Brandon immediately thereafter so that he could have the same amount of time as everyone else to get up to speed for the following week. That being said, it was a charming enough waltz, especially given that Brandon was told "hey, you're now in the top 20 and you have a day and a half to get your head around the situation and get your smooth waltz into gear with a brand-new partner."

Kathryn and Legacy (Dave Scott caveman hip hop). Loved this. Especially the eating of the fleas. I did not have high hopes for Legacy (and still don't), but he danced the hell out of this one. And I had no idea until I reread Isaac's preview post that this cave chick was the cryer from Vegas. We've seen a lot of contemporary dancers struggle with hip hop over the last couple of seasons, and this felt a lot more like seasons 2 and 3 when people actually managed to pull it off successfully.

Molleeeee and Nathan (Doriana Sanchez disco). I don't care if Doriana sets her choreography to Gloria Estefan and calls it Mexican wrestling disco, I don't care if she sets it to klezmer music and calls it hora disco. It's the same high-impact aerobics that she's been doing on the show for years now, and it must go. And not only that, but Janette and Brandon have done what can be done with Doriana's stylings and to see Molleee and Nathan do it at about 50% of the tempo and energy just didn't do anything for me. They're cute as buttons, though, as Shankman appropriately noted, and their average age is approximately 12. Giving these two moppets disco was the equivalent of getting a first-round bye.

As for the results: I almost don't want to talk about them because I'm angry at the jidges for threatening to take krumpy boy away from me. And Russell was obviously angry too, and danced his solo angry. Which is sort of the point of krumping, right? And it was awesome. So maybe the jidges do know what they're doing -- if they knew they were going to send Brandon back home again after his day and a half in the sun, then why not remind America why Russell's here? I didn't really care about the girls' outcome one way or the other, except to say that they probably got it right.

One last last thing, since I didn't post about Monday's show. The small-group routines were fine, except that they suffered from suboptimal filming. (They filmed them like results-show group numbers, with lots of wide angles that didn't give the viewer much chance to see what the dancers were actually doing.) But the full top-20 dance was one of Wade Robson's best. No zombies, but just enough of Wade's signature moves to make it obviously and undeniably his. (As Mr. Cosmo put it: just like we say that a dance is very Fosse now, before long we'll be talking about how Robson a dance was.)

YOU'VE GOT TO KEEP 'EM SEPERATED: Previously on the game of Humiliation: the screen, the palate, your childhood, the map, the basic skills of life, illness and malady.

This week, we take Lou W.'s suggestion and go to a realm which occupies this blog for a week every spring: words. Specifically, a word you have trouble remembering how to spell correctly, a phrase or idiom you often employ improperly, or some grammar rule you still haven't mastered. The more embarrassing your battle with the English language, the better. We'll take your best responses for all intensive purposes and vote starting this afternoon.

added: Voting time! Top 39 answers on the board, because I'm interested in how this data shakes out.
THE SUDOBOMBER: Did Eugene Varshavsky cheat his way to third place at the National Sudoku Championships? Is he the same guy who allegedly cheated at the 2006 World Chess Championships -- also in Philadelphia, also wearing a mysterious hoodie? Puzzlemaster Will Shortz talks to NPR about the allegations, which are detailed in second-place finisher Thomas Snyder's blog posts.
WEDNESDAY MORNING, THREE A.M. (FLOGGING A FRIEND VERSION): There is a new video out from my buddies over at The Website Is Down, who you probably don't remember as the minds behind the Sales Guy v. Web Dude video (here's a promo, but do check out the full version at the main site if you haven't already) that took last year's Webby Award for Best Viral Video. As you probably have not heard, this is roughly equivalent to winning The Nobel Prize of The Internet.

You will remember.

And you shall hear.

All shall love them and despair!

Please, if you have a laugh over this as well as a spare moment, do whatever you can to see that the funny these folks are neglecting their day jobs to provide to us is carried virally to the very ends of the internet. If they win another Webby I promise to extend my reality-show posting moratorium into 2010.

Thanks. Lo siento por todo.

ETA: Some vids are NSFW in a casual potty mouth / bit map quality genital graffiti sort of way.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CITY ON THE EVE OF FOREVER: One title is nice; two titles makes a team immortal.

As I suggested last year, there was something weird and a little unsatisfying about the Phillies road to the title -- Milwaukee, Los Angeles ... Tampa Bay?

162 + 4 + 5 games later, here we are, and we've got what we wanted. Thhhhuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh Yankees. Twenty-six titles, at least three first ballot Hall-of-Famers, but I don't think anyone in this town is scared. It's not like the Sixers entering the 2001 Finals against the Lakers and just knowing it was a matter of time before we were overwhelmed by superior talent. This Phillies team has proven too much over the past three years, scored so many runs, and done it with joy. It has been a hell of a ride. As one reader of put it, "You follow sports hoping that one day you'll be rewarded and get to root for a team like these Phillies."

I have long resisted efforts to assign character too much weight in evaluating sports teams, because it really is about talent v. talent, not narrative v. narrative, and deserve's got nothing to do with it. So let's leave issues of payroll, Mystique and Aura to the side. I believe our offense can score runs against anyone. I believe in Charlie Manuel and his authentic prairie gibberism. And I believe in Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, who has a visit scheduled with Daddy on Thursday. The rest is detail.

I love this team, and I am hopeful for and confident about the games to come. I am left with three words which guided us last year, and which give us hope anew: why can't us? Indeed, why can't us again? Phillies in 5.
ROLL AWAY, RIVER OF DREAMS, YOU'RE ONLY #2 NOW: What do you get when you mix together My Little Pony, Ziggy Stardust, a cheesy 80s school picture, the Purple Rain font, and Microsoft Publisher? The new Adam Lambert album cover, that's what. This is artistically indefensible and, I suspect, commercially suicidal.
LOOK AT YOU, FIGURING THINGS OUT FOR YOURSELF: While I haven't watched the 21 dancers dancing episode of SYTYCD yet, I did make time to watch Jon Hamm's Emmy submission on Sunday night. A great, great episode of Mad Men -- surely one of the best hours we've seen from this amazing show. The Joan fights back! Roger! Betty! But mostly Don . . . and Dick.

When I enjoy a character, I find it hard to single out acting versus writing versus directing -- I'm more of a holistic experience TV viewer. But not this time. Taking away nothing from either the writing (great as always) or the direction (I'll offer up kudos for the business with dropping the cigarette, even if it turns out that it was Hamm's idea), all I can say is this: great balls of fire, the man from St. Louis can act. There's no overarching physicality in the difference between Don and Dick, but one moment you're watching Don, and then all of a sudden it's Dick. I can't put my finger on exactly why I know who's who, but there can be no doubt, and it was a joy to watch, subject matter notwithstanding.

Oh, and p.s., did anyone besides me do a little oh, that's how they're going to get rid of the character! victory dance when Vietnam was mentioned?
YOUR TOP 20: With KCosmo off preparing for her confirmation hearing, I dashed off a quick cheater's guide to SYTYCD's new top 21 and then some:
  • New Permanent Judge Adam Shankman: Yay, enthusiasm without shrieking.
  • Open Invitation to Paula Abdul: Boo, incoherence.
  • Absent Contestant Paula von Oeffen: Yay, absence; boo malcontentedness. Do not invite her back next season, please.
  • Dropout Billy Bell: Left the show because of illness. Shankman's heart is a lonely hunter.
  • Replacement Brandon Dumlao: A hip-hopper with no pimpage at all. BuddyTV just has a picture of Russell Ferguson next to his name. When you can't tell the crew-cutted Filipino from the black guy with dredlocks, you need to get out of the cul-de-sac more often.
  • Russell Ferguson: Krumper with suspicious flexibility and ability to point toes. The stylists don't seem to know what to do with his dreds.
  • Bianca Revels, Phillip Atmore, Peter Sabasino: They've got feet. Feet can dance. Do you want to see them dance? You do? All right, then they will dance for you. It would be funny, and tap-appropriate, if every time Atmore pulled a face either Revels or Sabasino yanked him off the stage with a cane.
  • Pauline Mata: The Nancy Kerrigan of dance.
  • Nathan Trasoros: He looks a little like my brother, which goes a long way. I can't help but think he's manipulating the judges with his aw-shucksness and his rosy cheeks.
  • Kathryn McCormick: I cannot imagine a result from week to week -- safe, bottom three, elimination -- that will not cause her to cry. A digression: if you have the same reaction to every event, then what's the point of cultivating different experiences? I hasten to add that hers is a face made for TV.
  • Channing Cooke, Kevin Huntley: She looks like Veronica Mars; when he smiles he's a dead ringer for Tupac. I wish they had paired them up so that she could solve his murder.
  • Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello. Ashleigh has a misspelled name, orange skin, and pink lipstick; she pulls giant faces with her giant face. Nigel will not stop attributing his own love of Ryan's arms to the nearest woman.
  • Noelle Marsh and Mollee Gray. BFFs whose bond was forged over a surfeit of Ls. Gray was the star of Vegas Week, the TV producer's ideal of the sassy teen dance prodigy. Marsh was introduced in the cut-down episode as Gray's sidekick, a la Single White Female. I guess the way I would describe the differences between these two is that Gray is Cheer Camp and Marsh is Cheer Camp Instructor.
  • Ariana DuBose, Ellenore Scott, Jakob Karr, Victor Smalley: So little pimpage here. Smalley seems dumb as a box of hammers.
  • Karen Hauer: The Latin dancer not named Di Lello. That three-person Latin dance featuring a husband, a wife, and Hauer was excellently awkward. You could almost see Ryan saying "I will now dry hump Karen perfunctorily from a safe distance before I return to my angry-looking wife." And Hauer was like, "well, I'm going to gyrate out here by myself for a while, so when you get a chance, don't forget to drop by and rub the palms of your hands suggestively down my sides."
  • Legacy Perez: I love his solos, but he really sucked all through Vegas Week, both in choreography and in attitude. I didn't see who he partnered with, but I'm guessing that when she made her ticket to LA, she didn't cancel her subscriptions.

Monday, October 26, 2009

PROFITEROLE! Coming to your tv screens in 2010 -- Top Chef: Just Desserts.
COUNTERPOINT: We do not yet celebrate, because we have been here before. Forty times, actually, and twenty-six of those times we got what we came for. For those of you who don't have unemployed financial wizards littering the streets to do the math for you, 26-14 is a 65% winning percentage, which would be good for 105 wins in the regular season. Ergo: we are better in the World Series than everyone else is in the regular season.

We have seven starters whose OPS is greater than .850. Our shortstop is so beloved that our engineers are working on infecting him with a terrifying new degenerative disease so that it can be named after him.

Every Yankee team that has won a pennant has been underrated. Every Yankee team that has failed to win a pennant was robbed or cheated by the anti-Yankee establishment. Every Yankee deserves to win the MVP every year (except whiny choke-artist Alex Rodriguez, who has not done a single thing right during his entire Yankee career). Every fan of a team that is not the Yankees (or, we grudgingly admit, the hated Red Sox) is incapable of understanding what it is like to be a real baseball fan.

In some English dialects, our nickname means "person who is masturbated" (the Yankor is ESPN).

More young Asians wear our hats than wear clean underwear.

We built our right field fence to whiffle ball specs. Some think this was an accident, but in fact it was designed to be the greatest distance of which C.C. Sabathia is capable of walking without a meal break.

We are so successful that we plated our entire stadium with enough gold to make necklaces for every New Jersey auto detailer that we no longer want attending our games. Our stadium is so in demand that people pay us thousands of dollars for the privilege of not being able to afford seats. We use this to finance our unusual free-agent bidding strategy, in which we put two representatives into every auction to continue bidding against each other even after every other team has dropped out.

When we celebrate, we generally do not fall off of taxicabs. Perhaps we can just chalk that up to experience celebrating. We look forward to conquering the Philadelphia Philadelphies and their quaintly enthusiastic supporters.
OUR QUARTERLY PAGE SIX: Via our regulars in the comments, calliek got married last week and Gretchen is now pregnant -- to which we say wh-hoo! and a hearty mazel tov. We couldn't help but wonder, of course, whether there's even more news of recent vintage that y'all would like to share. Go for it, gang.
A VERB, AN OMISSION AND AN INCLUSION: Eagle-eyed readers will spot three details in this NYT wedding announcement yesterday which sparked much discussion at the ALOTT5MA Weddings and Celebrations Desk. Especially that last one, which falls under the category of really? you had to go there?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

DO IT FOR THE SUBURBS! That's my kind of TAR leg -- clues that were clues, tasks that required mental acuity and patience (or at least long division skills) ... aw, screw it. All we're going to end up talking about is one character's Flo-ish breakdown towards the end, her teammate's efforts to restore her confidence and another team's intervention in same -- which I saw as awesome, funny and not-outcome-determinative, but others understandably may see as a total dick move. YMMV.

Also, Miss Alli's recap of last week is now up: "It turns out that when you get to the 124th floor of the building, you walk out onto sort of a patio, and you get your clue. And THAT IS ALL. Seriously? I mean, I realize you can’t jump off of everything or rappel down everything, but 'walk out onto a balcony' is not a task."

With strong female characters, Hollywood suffers from a fear of failure

"I CALL THEM 'GIRL-POWER' MOVIES. THEY'RE THE MOVIES I DREAM ABOUT FOR MY FEMINIST FUTURE. AND THE FACT THAT PEOPLE DIDN'T GO TO SEE THESE MOVIES MAKES ME WANT TO WEEP": The WaPo's Ann Hornaday with a Sunday thinkpiece on why films with female protagonists aren't doing terribly well, whether it's Hollywood's fault or our own, and whether the only place we'll be seeing strong female dramatic roles will be on television in the future. No, things aren't looking good for Amelia this weekend.
PREMORSE FOR ANGELFIRE? The once-massively-popular free site-building resource Geocities will disappear today and join the land of the defunct. (HT: @JosephFinn.)