Saturday, February 6, 2010

UP, UP IN THE AIR! The AMC movie chain will be spreading out its traditional "Best Picture Showcase Saturday" over two weekends to accommodate the supersized set of nominees, and is soliciting viewer voting as to which four films should accompany Avatar on Saturday, February 27.

I wonder if it makes sense to schedule the violent films together -- Avatar, The Hurt Locker, District 9 and Inglorious Basterds -- with perhaps A Serious Man thrown in the middle as a palate cleanser just because I think that's what Hashem would want.

Friday, February 5, 2010

WHAT IS THE JIM ROOKER-FELDMAN DOCTRINE? An interesting question for this community:
Let's say you're on 'Jeopardy!' and you're absolutely routing your two opponents. You have $40,000 going into the final round, while one of your opponents has, let's say, $15,000. You're guaranteed to move onto the next day, but the final category comes up and it has something to do with baseball, which is your favorite sport. How much — if anything — do you risk?

It's at this point where most people usually tell me that they'd risk just enough to ensure that they would win even if they got the question wrong.

And it's at this point that my response to those people is always the same: "You'd be crazy to leave free money on the table. I'd bet the whole thing."

The person then responds by calling me an idiot while I try to back up my reasoning.

To help you out, the link includes the last ten baseball-specific Final Jeopardy! questions, which just served to convince me that I should play this one conservatively -- because if you can't go 10/10 on them it's not worth the risk.

SNOWPOCALYPSE NOW: Oddly, even though NYC is north of Philly and DC, it's apparently going to miss the brunt of the major storm that's hitting those two cities shortly. Given that a substantial portion of our readership is in that mid-Atlantic area, it's time for an open thread for how you're dealing with the forthcoming storm, the status of supermarket and Wawa shelves, and how this yet against proves the infallibility of Punxsutawney Phil.
BRING BACK HIDY AND HOWDY! Meet your 2010 Vancouver Olympic mascots: Quatchi, "a young sasquatch from the mysterious forests of Canada;" Miga, a "sea bear" who likes salmon jerky and BC rolls; and Sumi, a hot cocoa drinking "animal spirit [who] wears the hat of the orca whale, flies with the wings of the mighty thunderbird and runs on the strong furry legs of the black bear."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

HECK, HE'S TWO YEARS TOO YOUNG TO BE RECEIVING ADVICE FROM TAYLOR SWIFT: I'm just going to say this whole college football recruiting thing has gotten out of hand:
David Sills, a highly-touted youth quarterback, made a verbal commitment tonight to accept a college football scholarship from USC.

Sills is not even in high school yet. He is a seventh-grader at Red Lion Christian Academy in Bear.

Red Lion high school varsity coach Eric Day confirmed the decision by Sills tonight, also confirming that USC coach Lane Kiffin made the scholarship tonight to the 13-year-old Sills.

...Sills will be able to sign a letter of intent in February 2015, unless of course NCAA regulations have changed by then.
Sills was already being profiled by SI when he was 11.
RAZZMATAZZ: The Office and 30 Rock were depressing for different reasons tonight -- the former for that poignant David Wallace sequence, the latter because I wish Jan Hooks never had to age (though she's only 11 years older than Jane Krakowski) and because the show's simply seen better days. So I'm looking forward to what comes next with the Dunder-Mifflin/Sabre merger, but it's been a long time since Tina Fey's show has tasted a rainbow.

N.B. The referenced Diff'rent Strokes episode "Where There's Smoke" is online in its entirety.
BOY, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY: I love how this list of five players who had very bad Super Bowl weeks starts with rather benign incidents like Thurman Thomas losing his helmet in 1992 and Jeremy Stevens doing a little trash talking in 2006, but really takes a turn toward the ugly with Eugene Robinson's arrest for soliciting a prostitute the night before the 1999 game (on the same day he got an award for his morals and character) and Stanley Wilson's coke binge the night before the 1989 Super Bowl. At least no Super Bowl player has ever thrown a trident at someone leading up to the game.
MAYBE IF BAT BOY IS ON THE JURY:Apparently, The National Enquirer has submitted its coverage of the John Edwards affair to the Pulitzer Prize board for consideration. Unsurprisingly, media-types are jumping mad about it. We're still waiting for our Pulitzer over here, but we're not holding our breath.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

THERE'S ONLY ONE WORSE THING THAN A NICKNAME THAT IS CUTE, AND IT'S ONE THAT'S CUDDLY: Hot Stove action -- THT's Chris Jaffe ranks MLB franchises on the quality of their nicknames, while Larry Grannilo assesses their stadium statuary (and, on that basis, Rob Neyer suggests what statues various stadiums should add).

Isaac will be amused that his Mariners placed first in one list, and last in the other.
THEY MOVED THE WHOLE HOUSE: I don't know when or how this happened, but the dependably brilliant The House Next Door -- which I read obsessively for weeks at a time, then completely and utterly forget about, only to remember a month or so later that I've forgotten about it, repeat ad infinitum -- is now "the online blog of Slant Magazine." And Todd VanDerWerff (an occasional commenter here), who generates episodic television reviews as rich and insightful as anything you can find on the Internet, has moved his Lost column from THND over to the LA Times.

Maybe there isn't overlap in their coverage areas, but really, what unit of measurement would you pick to calculate the upgrade from Richard Rushfield to Todd VanDerWerff?
NUDGED: So Philadelphia has started enforcing its new strictest-in-the-nation food labeling laws, and indeed when I walked into my local Dunkin' Donuts this morning (as I occasionally do) I initially ordered my regular sour cream donut, then recognized that it was almost twice the calories of some of the other donuts and did in fact choose a different one instead. And my question is -- for the New Yorkers among us familiar with its city's similar law and others with such experience -- is this going to last? Do you start ignoring the information at a certain point?

[And, seriously, check out that second link and underlying study, comparing the calories-per-transaction for Starbucks in NYC under the labeling law with Philadelphia and Boston. Neat stuff.]
HE GIVES HIS LIFE FOR HIS PREDICTION: Closing the loop from yesterday's news, I can confirm that Nantucket's Quentin the Quahog squirted to the left upon his opening at noon yesterday, confirming Punxsutawney Phil's prediction of six more weeks of winter. “Unfortunately, he agreed with the groundhog, but you can’t possibly trust a groundhog,” said Nantucket harbormaster Dave Franzuto, who proceed to eat Quentin raw.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

TWO OF US RIDING NOWHERE: Before I say word one about Lost, I have to warn you: We're at a point in this show where you can't write about it or discuss it without spoilers. If good television unfolds like a novel, this show is more Harry Potter than All the King's Men -- a series of novels intended to be treated as separate units with their own beginnings, middles, and ends while spanning a greater unified arc. To the series so far -- The Island; The Hatch; The Others; The Wrinkle in Time; we add -- here's where the spoilers start, since giving this volume a name will reveal its premise --
IF DAUGHTRY ISN'T BROUGHT IN TO RECORD HUEY LEWIS' LINES, THIS EVENT IS FAIL: I have my doubts about the "We Are The World" remake, but asking Lil Wayne to do Bob Dylan's lines is genius. Justin Bieber to take on Michael Jackson's opening lines, though?

Full list of performers here, including Barbra Streisand, Freda Payne, Brian Wilson, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole and also a bevvy of one-named artists under the age of 60 including Akon, Brandy, Mya,, Pink, Usher and holy crap is there really a rapper named "Nipsey Hussle"? Because that's awesome.

Among the absent: Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and Ra-Ra-Ah-Ah-Ah, Roma, Ro-Ma-Ma, Gaga, Ooh La La.
THE BOSS ISN'T ALWAYS RIGHT, BUT HE'S ALWAYS THE BOSS: Your 2010 Academy Award nominees have been announced.

Surprises? Films getting the "bonus slots" for Best Picture include The Blind Side, A Serious Man, District 9 and Up, but not Invictus or Crazy Heart; Maggie Gyllenhaal gets her first nomination in best supporting for Crazy Heart, a slot most figured would go to Julianne Moore (A Single Man) or one of the women from Inglorious Basterds. No screenplay nom for Avatar. More commentary to follow.
OKAY, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BOOTIES, 'CAUSE ... NAH, FORGET IT, HERE'S THE DEAL -- ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE: While we're on the topic of events repeating themselves, it's no coincidence (it's never a coincidence, or at least it hasn't been since Season 2) that Lost is premiering on Groundhog Day. Since we're scant hours from the final act of that often thrilling, often confounding show, I wanted to bump up something I posted over a year ago, about how last season's finale essentially re-staged versions of scenes from the first four season finales.

As I said to Adam, I'm out of the Lost prediction business, which does nothing but distract me from giving in to the show. It's up to you to decide (or, more accurately, to speculate recklessly) whether the characters' unknowing repetition of prior events was a clue or just a stylistic parlor trick. As if that makes it any different from the numbers, the polar bears, the sickness, or anything else.
OKAY, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BOOTIES 'CAUSE IT'S COOOOOOLD OUT THERE TODAY: It's February 2, so it's time to talk about the movie again. Do you buy the whole Buddhist thing, or should we just quote lines for a while and generally discuss its awesomeness? Participate in this thread, or it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.

Monday, February 1, 2010

THE FUN NEVER ENDS: It could well be, as this video suggests, that there's a pattern to Andy Samberg's digital shorts.
WILL THE MEDUSA SPIDER CLAIM ANOTHER VICTIM? I've crafted a Lost final season predictions pool for your entertainment and submissions. Twelve questions; closest responses to Darlton's revelations receive fame and glory for as long as we remember that this happened. Good luck, and namaste.

added: 22 entrants as of 9am Tuesday. Still plenty of time.
AMERICA'S FAVORITE LIVING LITERARY RECLUSE: Doubtfully inspired by the death of J.D. Salinger last week, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson granted what is believed to be his first interview in 21 years to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In the far reaching discussion, he reveals his plans for a C&H comeback, a massive new marketing deal with Pepsi, and the much rumored C&H movie (James Cameron is said to be in talks to direct). Watterson also confirms what us comic fans have long suspected: He never retired at all, but instead has been helming The Lockhorns since 1995.

Welcome to the Hanso Island Resort and Adventure Spa! Our staff is on call to facilitate your comfort 24 hours a day, but especially when you’re sleeping and defenseless. If you’d prefer to explore our facilities on your own, we hope this guidebook will be helpful.

You’re on island time now! Your watch won't work here. Relax and let the island set your schedule. You’ll get up when the sun rises. You’ll eat when the airdrop gets here. You’ll sleep when you’ve been clubbed with a blunt object.

Visitors of all ages will love our deviously complicated hatch maze. If you lose your bearings, you can always check the secret black-light map. Just look for the spot on the ceiling where our caretaker blew his brains out, then turn on the black light by waiting 107 minutes before keying in the disaster-aversion sequence.

Feeling amorous? Upgrade to our Honeymoon Cage, where an intimate night under the stars is followed by a fine bear-cracker meal from an electro-shock machine and a beating from the staff. Amenities include a closed-circuit video feed directly to your other boyfriend.

Did you know our whole island is a living zoo? You never know when you’ll run into a hungry polar bear or branded shark or smoke monster. The first two can and will feed themselves, but if you’d like to feed the smoke monster, it eats human frailty.

We have hundreds of exotic hiking trails. Beginners especially love Murder Valley, Abduction Ridge, Unstable Explosive Loop, and Earbleed Perambulation. More experienced hikers may wish to try Attrition Deathpath and Tormenting Whisper Dead Girlfriend Incline.

Parents: You’ll love our Kids Club! Our counselors will lead your children in crafts, hikes, and insurrection. Underattended children will be enrolled in the Kids’ Club.

If a crazed physicist, apparition, smoke monster, paramilitarist, or future incarnation of yourself tells you to leave, please proceed in an orderly fashion to the nearest submarine, tanker, or wormhole. We’re sure you’ll come back. We mean it: we’re sure you’ll come back.

Our resort is as legendary for its natural healing properties as for its unnatural killing efficiency. In the unlikely event that you both need and are allowed access to first-aid, our sterile facilities are located in a hole in the ground, where we coerce reluctant bystanders into impromptu surgery.

Feel like exploring the area? A smaller equally deadly island is a short blindfolded boat ride away. Or you can sail into the wide blue ocean, domain of sniper fire, marauding child-stealers, and brain-exploding nosebleeds.

If you just can’t get enough of the Hanso Island Resort, try one of our package deals!

  • Loyalty Rewards Program: We know that it’s hard to go back to the real world once you’ve been here. If you manage to leave, you’ll understand what we mean. So we’ll throw in the return flight for free! Come back to remember why you left in the first place!

  • The Family Package: Mom and dad worked here. Your secret brother and sister spent time here. You were born here. You gave birth in one of our state-of-the-art holes in the ground. You misplaced your father’s corpse here. Come home -- you're family.

  • In-Kind Discounts: Feeling kidnapped? We want you to feel wanted.
This week’s schedule of activities:


  • Yoga on the beach: sunrise

  • One-way swimming: noon

  • High-impact torturing: check weekly schedule

  • Running from flaming arrows: sunset to sunrise
Superficial book club: Tuesdays at lunch. Wikpedia the great works by Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Kelvin, and Burke.

Underground scavenger hunt every Wednesday! Find: A salty sea captain’s costume; a nuclear bomb; an Egyptian temple; your own dessicated time-traveled corpses; a donkey wheel; Juliet.

Thursday is date night!

  • Singles Mixer: Small Conference Room A. We remind you to use caution when hooking up, since you are probably related.

  • Widowed Lovers Mixer: Ballroom C.
Saturday, 6:00 – 11:00 a.m.: Jack will tell everybody the story of his dumb tattoo.

Sunday: Nondenominational services and ritual sacrifice at the three-toed foot of Anubis.


Enjoy your stay -- or else!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

THINK I GIVE A DAMN ABOUT A ... : Our second annual Grammys livecast is underway over, and archived below the fold; winners here.
VERILY, IT TIED THE ROOM TOGETHER: Act 1, scene 2, as performed by Brandon Hardesty: