Saturday, September 18, 2010

I DON'T WANT MY FIDELITY TO BE TO THE TRUTH; I WANT IT TO BE TO STORYTELLING: EW-and-elsewhere's Mark Harris talks to Aaron Sorkin, David Fincher and all the other principals (but mostly Sorkin) for a big New York magazine thinkpiece on The Social Network.

added: Per the recommendations of many, this week's New Yorker profile of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Lavish stars on your favorite films in the zombie and lycanthrope genres, then give tentative thumbs-up to a few Shaun The Sheep videos (watched mostly out of nostalgia for the far superior adventures of Wallace & Gromit, perhaps) and Netflix may find the minerals to predict that you will also enjoy this un-rated 2006 indy splatterfest from (where else?) New Zealand.

It's campy. It's gorey. It's utterly preposterous. And it's satisfying in all they ways that the typical "SyFy Original Movie" fails to be. The writing is passable. The acting is passable. The special effects come out of an actual creature shop instead of a C-List CGI mill. The premise is Mansquito-quality genius and inspiration, but it's executed with all the craft and care that can be mustered given the limited funding and audience for this kind of endeavor.

All that remains to be said, really, is "Thanks."

Friday, September 17, 2010

I EXPECT THIS WILL BE MORE FEARSOME THAN LIONS OR PANTHERS: Based on its intriguing trailer, I was probably going to see Super 8 anyway, but that it will apparently star Kyle Chandler makes it even more interesting.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT'S SOME PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TRY AND GET AN EMMY NEXT YEAR! With last night's announcement that Emma Stone will host SNL on October 23, seems that we have our first five hosts locked down--Amy Poehler, Bryan Cranston, Jane Lynch, Stone, and Jon Hamm, starting next week. That's 17 hosting slots left to fill--I'm sure we can do it.
WHERE'S MECHAGODZILLA WHEN YOU NEED HIM? Based on a comparison of video making the rounds of last night's "Brooklyn Tornado" and prior footage, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that Brooklyn was apparently attacked by a giant monster last night.
HE'S JUST A POOR BOY FROM A POOR FAMILY: Sacha Baron Cohen has been signed to star as Freddie Mercury in a Queen biopic being scripted by Peter Morgan of Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Last King of Scotland fame.
DEREK CHEATER: There's wily gamesmanship, I suppose, and then there's outright lying:
Derek Jeter sold it like a professional, darting away from an inside pitch during the seventh inning on Wednesday, then shaking his arm in apparent pain while walking to first base.

Only later, after home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale had believed Jeter's self-described "acting" job and ejected Rays manager Joe Maddon in the process, did the Yankees' captain come clean about the performance he'd put on for the crowd at Tropicana Field.

"It hit the bat," Jeter said. "He told me to go to first. I'm not going to tell him, 'I'm not going to go to first,' you know? My job is to get on base."

As of right now, Jeter's only doing his job 33.0% of the time, and August is the only month this year he hasn't done it worse than the preceding month.

[Look: if you're going to cheat, don't brag about it. Is that such a hard standard to meet?]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"ONE OF THE BEST FILMS I'VE EVER SEEN AT A FESTIVAL ... PRETTY MUCH FLAWLESS": It'll be a few months before the rest of us get to see the film adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer-winning play Rabbit Hole, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, but Cinematical's Scott Weinberg just caught it in Toronto and writes, "As poignant as a bittersweet love letter and as personal as a film can possibly be, 'Rabbit Hole' represents career highs for practically everyone involved. I can't remember the last time a 'little drama movie' left me overflowing with this sort of affection, but 'Rabbit Hole' is a very unique and special film."
SOMETHING TO BE JOYFUL FOR: So you're -G-T winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer/star of Broadway's In the Heights, and you're getting married. What, pray tell, will you do to make the reception special? This:
OUT FIELD: This Saturday, Pride St. Louis is bringing a group of 200-or-so LGBT fans to the ballpark, and they'd like to know whether the Cardinals' "Kiss Cam" scoreboard segment will feature any same-sex couples:
The request to feature same-sex couples on the Kiss Cam at Busch Stadium grew out of an incident that occurred Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams hosted the Arizona Cardinals. During the Kiss Cam feature, two men dressed in Arizona jerseys were among the couples shown. The crowd laughed and booed when the two men tried to shoo away the cameras. But there were gay men in the crowd who said it was offensive that the Rams organization would choose to embarrass Arizona fans by portraying them as a gay couple.
[For that matter, I've never seen an interracial couple (same- or opposite-sex) on the Phillies' "Kiss Cam".]

Related, as I asked five years ago: "Why does [the Phillie Phanatic] have to do this limp-wristed, gay-bashing thing all the time to mock opposing players for allegedly being effeminate? Suppose one in every twenty boys at each game will, at some point in his life, believe that he is gay. Wouldn't it be nice for that kid not to grow up thinking that he won't be made fun of for it? Why does the Phanatic have to play the same role as the homophobic schoolyard bully?"
MEASURE TWICE, CUT LIKE A RAZORBLADE ONCE: Two things completely unrelated other than that they're both in today's NYT:
THIS MAKES THEM CRY ALMOST AS MUCH AS THE DOLPHINS: On October 21 in Columbia, SC, a 20 foot long and 12 foot tall monument to Hootie and the Blowfish will open. Interestingly, according to the article, the Blowfish celebrate their 25th anniversary next year, which would technically render them Hall of Fame eligible, and Cracked Rear View remains the 16th biggest-selling album of all time in the USA, sandwiched between The Beatles: 1967-1970 and Elton John's Greatest Hits.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WHY CAN'T THE ACTORS LEARN TO SPEAK? I really don't know anything about longtime NBC newsman Edwin Newman, whose death a month ago was announced today, other than that on the evening of February 25, 1984, he starred in one of the funniest SNL skits from that era.
HE INVENTED THE LYRE AND GAVE IT TO APOLLO; APOLLO GAVE HIM THE CADUCEUS IN RETURN: Such was the third Double Jeopardy! answer provided yesterday to Roger Craig, a graduate student of computer science from Newark, Delaware, en route to his setting a new one-day record of $77,000 won on the show. [Of the 60 answers on the boards, he answered 39 correctly, 4 incorrectly, with five second-round answers not revealed.]

You can see both boards here, and video of Final Jeopardy! here. As the latter link notes, he's just 72 games away from tying Ken Jennings' consecutive wins streak.
FIRE UP THE COLORTINI: In addition to Sh*t My Ghost Dad Lawyer Says, tonight is a big night in reality tv: Top Chef DC and That "Talent" Show end; Top Chef Desserts and Survivor: Season of the Hair Helmet debut. Meanwhile, on ANTM15, it's Esther the Busty Jewess vs. The One Who Goes To Princeton, and lord knows that makes rooting interests hard for a certain viewer I know.

In re Survivor, Dan Fienberg basically confirms with Probst that the winter season will be Boston Rob v. Russell.
STICK TO A NUMB STARE/STRIP TO YOUR UNDERWEAR: There's some controversy over in the NFL this week, after Ines Sainz, a female reporter doing a piece from the Jets' practice field and locker room, was the target of cat-calls and juvenile pranks. Some NFL players, including the shy and retiring Clinton Portis, have used this to revisit a variant of the no-girls-in-the-locker-room argument (Portis, paraphrased: "If I see an attractive woman, I am incapable of acting like an adult"); some sportscasters have gone the measure-the-hemline route (Sainz is not exactly discouraging this on her current tour of the talk shows), as if even a hypothetically inappropriately dressed reporter should justify grown men acting like prisoners in a bad TV movie where the hot lawyer has to walk a gauntlet of hooting felons to have a discussion with her client. Grow up a little.

That said, I do not want anyone -- man or woman -- interviewing me while I'm getting dressed. Period. I know reporters have deadlines, and they need to get their postgame interviews up right away, etc. Too bad. At my gym, there is a person who always tries to strike up casual conversations in the locker room, and I just want to tell him, "please be quiet while I devote all of my attention to my underpants." When I'm getting dressed, that's my private time. I don't like any intrusion on that time -- from my kids, from my wife, from the voluble crazy person at my gym, or from a professional reporter just doing his or her job.

So now you know why I'm not a professional athlete.
VICE SQUAD: Those neo-Calvinists at Calvin College extended, then rescinded, an invitation for the New Pornographers to play on campus. Why? The college explains, in a press release so earnest that it's comical, that although it is clear that neither the New Pornographers nor Calvin College endorse, promote, or engage in pornography, the band's name could lead some to associate the band mistakenly with pornography, which might lead to some people mistakenly believing that Calvin College is endorsing a band that promotes pornography. This is known as the transitive property of mistaken pornographic associations. My two cents: (1) I'm having a hard time thinking of a single literal reference to sex in the band's catalog; and (2) John Calvin would never have approved of inviting the band in the first place, not because of the mistaken pornography connection, but because rock and roll seems definitionally an indication that one has not been elected to salvation.

On a related (note: not related) note, in the race to sequence the entire genome of the cocoa tree -- a critical precursor to the drug chocolate -- Hershey's and M&M/Mars have tied.
LEO BLOOM'S DREAM COME TRUE: Have you ever wanted to be a Broadway producer? The much-postponed Broadway revival of Godspell is offering the general public a chance to invest and technically get a producer credit. I love the score of Godspell, but the revival, which in early development had Diana DeGarmo attached to it, does not seem to me to be the best investment decision.
LIKE "RIGHT NOW, DAVID WISHES HE HAD HIS OLD JOB BACK": Great Music Crit Moments on "Beavis and Butt-Head," The Seven Worst U.S. Number One Singles of the 1990s ("Informer," "Have You Ever Loved A Woman?"), Things Meat Loaf Would Do For Love and many other joyful time-wasters fill Pitchfork's random assortment of other music/culture lists of the 1990s.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MAYBE THIS FINALLY FREES HIM UP TO PLAY MATT SANTOS AGAIN: There are few shows I'm anticipating more this fall than Jimmy Smits vehicle Outlaw, not because I think it's going to be any good--in fact, quite the opposite--it seems the most worthy of mockery, especially among the ALOTT5MA audience, and Alan's review confirms that it's going to be well worth viewing just for the unintentional comedy of it. It premieres/previews tomorrow at 10. Set your DVRs now.
THIS WEEK IN FOOTBALL-RELATED BRAIN TRAUMA: Andy Reid defends his curious-at-best-and-possibly-barbaric handling of the Kolb and Bradley concussions; across the river at Penn, early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy were revealed in the brain autopsy of a 21-year-old Penn linebacker who killed himself this spring despite having no previous history of depression or diagnosed concussions.
CAN'T LEAVE RAP ALONE, THE GAME NEEDS ME: They're performing at Yankee Stadium tonight, so NYMag evaluates whether Jay-Z or Eminem is the Greatest Living Rapper, and the results are not terribly close.

Monday, September 13, 2010

AN ICONIC, PROFANE SONG ABOUT THE LAZY JERK HE WORKED WITH AT KINKO'S: The WaPo profiles Superchunk on the eve of their first album and tour in eight years.

NPR is streaming Majesty Shredding here, and the video for "Digging for Something" is below the fold:
HE'S A GENIUS. HE'S GOT ALL THESE PLANS TO MEET HIS GOALS THAT ALWAYS WORK ON PAPER, BUT HIS SUCCESS RECORD ISN'T SO HOT: Why Sideshow Bob = Billy Beane, and twenty-nine other baseball teams and their Simpsons equivalents. And then I remembered that someone else did this (better) five years ago. Oh, times have changed:
Tampa Bay Devil Rays - Hans Moleman
- Whenever they're on TV, you can virtually guarantee that they're hopelessly overmatched and that something bad is going to happen to them. You could start feeling bad for them, but then you remember that you don't care.

Tampa Bay Rays: Professor John Frink
- In recent years, Tampa has been one of the sharpest franchises in baseball. The Rays won a pennant despite playing in the toughest division in baseball's superior league. Now enjoying their third straight winning season, they should return to the playoffs for the second time this year, despite having one of the lowest payrolls. In that regard, they're a good match for the smartest man in Springfield.

That said, it's hard for me to think of the franchise without recalling its first bungling decade of existence when it couldn't do anything right. That also makes the Rays a good fit for Frink, who can't remember to carry the one, even when it means warding off elementary chaos theory that tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving.

Philadelphia Phillies - Milhouse Van Houten
- Lack of adequate vision (blind without his glasses, hanging on to Jim Thome). Perpetual sidekick to a more successful leader who constantly takes advantage of their weaknesses. Striving for a goal (Lisa's affection, the playoffs) that looks unattainable in their current state, and nobody really takes them seriously.

Philadelphia Phillies: Rainier Wolfcastle
- Wolfcastle is the big, powerful movie star. The Phillies are the big, powerful offensive team. Okay, their homers are down this year, but they led the league in HR by a ton last year, and the year before, and came in second the year before that. That's a good comp for the strongest man on The Simpsons.
No matter what year it is, the Yankees remain C. Montgomery Burns, and the Padres are Dr. Julius Hibbert.
ADVERTISING (AS CONCEIVED ON MADISON AVENUE), LOOKS (LIKE THOSE FOUND IN HOLLYWOOD) AND CHOPS (PREFERABLY OF THE TYPE THAT WILL SEPARATE A VAMPIRE'S HEAD FROM ITS SHOULDERS) A MUST: I've always said that a haircut does not count as character development, no matter what my television tells me. Yet here comes the summer of 2010:
  • Mad Men's Sally Draper gives herself a do-it-yourself asymmetrical thing, signifying that she's acting out amid her parents' cold war.
  • Entourage's Vince gets a cheap-looking and unhip cut, signifying the Britneyesque commencement of a Britneyesque meltdown.
  • True Blood's Tara trades her 90sish braids for a full-on 90sish Alfre Woodard haircloud, signifying rebirth and freedom (from rapey vampires and orgy-promoting woman-bulls).
HE HAS SOME STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT APPLEBEE'S: Kyle Chandler sits down with colossal Friday Night Lights dork Diablo Cody for questions about FNL (no spoilers for the upcoming season), including such revelations as which of the actors can and cannot play football, whether Julie was "kind of a bitch" to Saracen, and how he got hired.
I'M SORRY, BUT THE PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE: 25 years ago today, Super Mario Bros. arrived in Japan (it arrived on US shores a month later, with the launch of the NES). Until 2009, when it was unseated by Wii Sports, it remained the best-selling video game of all time, and has spawned 13 Super Mario sequels over at least 7 different consoles, not to mention an abundance of spinoffs. Let's listen to the theme song.
DRAPER, DRAPER, FALLING, FALLING // DRAPER, DRAPER, FALLING TO THE GROUND (2X): Have we come to a consensus that those are the words to the Mad Men theme music?

[Sepinwall has the recap; I just wanted to get that off my chest. But, sure, we can talk about Peggy v. Joan and the merits of voiceovers and Mountain Dew.]

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Natural City is a movie that dares to ask – recognizing and accepting the obvious: that not all ninja assassins are cyborgs – what impact there might be on the trite oedipal configurations of the average Korean police officer (ca. 2080) if all cyborgs suddenly became ninja assassins.

If you love all things Blade Runner, still like The Matrix, previously confessed to enjoying Korean creature feature The Host, and recently grudgingly declined to dislike Surrogates and/or I, Robot (despite some not insubstantial provocation, on either and/or both counts), Netflix may suggest – just as a “best guess,” mind you – that you could experience as many as 3.75 stars worth of subjective personal enjoyment during the 113 minutes of this 2003 Korean science fiction movie.

In response, after sitting through Natural City in the small hours of a recent insomniac episode, allow me to offer my own “best guess” that data-mining algorithms have not yet come into their own as predictors of aesthetic preferences, at least as regards video entertainment.