Saturday, October 2, 2010

NO, IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE TO FRIEND OPPOSING COUNSEL: I'm sure we will have more thoughts about The Social Network in the coming days, but I wanted to address three matters of particular interest to our audience--namely, how the film treats the law and lawyers.
  • From my limited experience in California federal court it seems as though California has chosen to largely abrogate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in favor of an impenetrable series of local rules, but I'm pretty sure the deposition (or series of depositions--it's not entirely clear) that serves as a framing device aren't conducted by any version of the Federal Rules I'm aware of--seems as though witnesses are being questioned primarily by their own attorneys, witnesses freely interject insults toward other parties (present in the room), and the like. It works as a matter of drama, but it sure ain't accurate.
  • Rashida Jones has a small (but significant) role in the film as the "second year associate" who's second-chairing the deposition for Zuckerberg/Facebook. In the final scene, she reveals she has a "specialty." Leaving aside the implausibility of a second year associate having a specialty at all, the specialty she references is so implausible as to make no sense at all.
  • I'm a "stay till the end" moviegoer, and for lawyers, it's worth staying till the end, not for any bonus scene, but for the disclaimer, which is one of the oddest I've read. Not only does it have the "certain events are composited" language that you see in "based on a true story" films, but it winds up with a disclaimer akin to those we see on fictional films that no association should be drawn to any real business entity or people. That's particularly hard to do here, given that the Facebook name and logo is constantly used/referenced. (Even aside from that, hard case for anyone to make for defamation, since, partially due to the PG-13 edit, the primary characters aren't shown doing much "bad.")
#163? #164? Tomorrow's possibilities, thanks to the trouncing of the Braves on Bobby Cox Day:
Giants win, Phillies win: Giants win NL West; Padres at Braves on Monday for the Wild Card.
Giants win, Braves win: Giants win NL West; Braves win Wild Card; Padres go home.
Padres win, Phillies win: Padres win NL West, Giants win Wild Card; Braves go home.
Padres win, Braves win: Three-way tie! Giants at Padres on Monday for the NL West; loser goes to Atlanta on Tuesday to see who gets the Wild Card.
Retrosheet: all previous tiebreaker games.

Friday, October 1, 2010

MENTALLY HIP HOP, SMOOTHED OUT ON THE R&B TIP WITH A POP FEEL APPEAL:  AVClub primer on the musical subgenre known as New Jack Swing. If it's your prerogative, remember the world in which Tony! Toni! Toné! had done it again.
I CANNOT POSSIBLY IMAGINE WHAT COULD GO WRONG WITH THIS:  Despite having yet to test the technology during an actual game (they'll try tomorrow during Braves-Phillies) to ensure neither the apparatus nor its system of guiding cables cannot interfere with the ball in play, Fox Sports has been granted Major League Baseball's approval to use the flying-over-the-field camera during the NLCS and World Series.

The SkyCam technology, I'm fond of noting, is the last real legacy of the XFL -- but in football, of course, it's possible to keep the camera of in-flight balls at all times.  I predict a problem.
TECHNOLOGY, RIGHTPURPOSED: I do love Microsoft's unwavering insistence that it must give people the option of trying to recall sent messages while steadfastly denying people the option of actually recalling messages. The "recall" feature in Outlook, as far as I can tell, is good for exactly two things (and don't get me wrong -- I think both are wonderful):
  • Identifying people who are below the minimal level of technological competence necessary to understand that the "recall" button has never worked for anyone ever anywhere;
  • Calling extra attention to the mistakenly sent email, while letting the recipient know what the sender is trying to hide from him/her.
With features like these, who needs viruses*?
WILL SOMEONE GUESS RIGHT PRICE ALREADY! CAN YOU NO SEE THAT IT KILLING DREW CAREY! Twitter finds its highest possible use with tweets from Drunk Hulk.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE? I DON'T BELONG HERE: We here at this blog have waited for this cultural moment for some time.

Friday, at last, we can come together to watch the true story of a man desperately in need of being popular who recognized young people as the means for his doing so, who fought against the skeptics and haters along the way who insisted he was only in it for himself.  It was all about finding a new way to relate and, in the end, every student he met was transformed by his actions.

Yes, the Tony Danza reality series Yo, Teach! debuts on A&E Friday night, and Ellen Gray's a fan.

added:  Oh.  As for that movie, Taiwan's Next Media Animation provides an overview, after the fold:
IF YOU SEEK BRITNEY: One of the reasons artists like to have their songs featured on Glee is that in addition to whatever royalty they get from the Glee cast version downloads (I'm not sure how much that winds up being for performers who do not have writing credits, though) is that it juices downloads of the original versions. Interestingly, though, even though Gleeified Britney occupies the #2, #12, #15, #16, and #20 slots on iTunes right now (with another 7 Glee songs on the Hot 200), the highest ranking original Britney song? "Toxic" at #80 ("Stronger" is at #163 and "Slave 4 U" at #167). On the other hand? Paramore's "The Only Exception" (the one non-Britney song in Tuesday's episode) might be top 10 if all versions were considered (the single version is at #47, and the album version at #25), and "Billionaire" is still at #67 (explicit) and #143 (clean), with the Glee version at #55. Is this because folks already owned the Britney songs or because people just didn't give a damn about having her original versions?
SOMEDAY, MAYBE, FRED WILL WIN THE FIGHT:  Fifty years ago tonight at 8:30pm (up against Route 66 and The Westerner), The Flintstones aired for the first time on ABC.  As many of you know, it was the first primetime animated sitcom and ... I mean, where do you even begin?  I can't imagine there's an episode I didn't see as a kid (babysitter Ann-Margrock! the Weirdly Gruesomes!), but what I really remember about the show was just about how it was the intro to the half-hour sitcom format for kids -- "no matter what, it all gets resolved by the end," puns, laugh track, pratfalls, always amusing.

No, I didn't get at the time who "Stony Curtis" (RIP) or "Gary Granite" were, how much of it was based on The Honeymooners, or how cheap the animation was -- and I still don't understand what the hell they had to do with vitamins.  I just know that I was a kid, and when I came home from school The Flintstones were on, and it was great.  Happy birthday.
WHAT IS AWESOME? Two things of note about Jeopardy's episode from Tuesday night:
  • It featured a "blogs and bloggers" category, inexplicably excluding us, and really only featuring one question that required knowledge of blogs to answer.
  • A "name the artists from lyrics" category which apparently required Alex Trebek to say "I drink Brass Monkey and I rock well, I got a castle in Brooklyn that's where I dwell," "They call me Dr. Love, I am your doctor of love, I've got the cure you're thinking of" (Trust me I'm a doctor)," and "Are you going to let it all hang out? Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin' world go round." Sadly, not as good as Pat Kiernan's recitation of "songs about the butt."
FAR BETTER THAN MR. SCHUSTER: We all knew Justin Timberlake had some flow, but apparently, so does Jimmy Fallon, as he and Timberpants take us on a journey from "Rapper's Delight" to "Empire State of Mind" (all backed up by the Roots, naturally). The short portion of "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" is a high point.
THIS IS THE NIGHT BEFORE MY WEDDING AND I'M IN THE MIDDLE OF A SWEAT CONTEST: Following up on his drama list, MZS slideshows the ten greatest comedy pilot episodes of all time.  Some very nice choices from the 1980s in particular.
NO ... HE'S NOT QUITE HALFWAY THERE .... (NO-OH! SHOULDN'T HAVE A PRAYER!):  While voting remains open, the trends have been pretty consistent.  Based on 63 voters, and with the RRHOF generally requiring 50% support to induct the top 5-7 names, the ALOTT5MA readership would only induct the Beastie Boys (57), Tom Waits (49) and Neil Diamond (42).  Bon Jovi (31) falls just shy of 50% with LL Cool J (22) and Alice Cooper (20) respectably thereafter, and no other artist has more than 20% support.

We'll be doing some more Keltner pieces over the next few weeks -- I'll take on Jewish Elvis, and there's been a request for the not-short-listed Hall and Oates. But if you voted for Donna Summer (11), Darlene Love (10), Dr. John (8), Chic (5), Donovan (5), The J. Geils Band (5), Laura Nyro (5), Joe Tex (3) or Chuck Willis (1), you've got a perfect opportunity now to convince us why you're right and we're philistines.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GEORGE HAMILTON, YOU'RE LIKE A WALKING TUMOR ... NOT EXACTLY -- IT'S A BIG DEAL WHEN YOU SPOT A TUMOR:  Comedian Greg Giraldo, 44, has died from what's being described as an accidental drug overdose.  He was best known for his appearances on the Comedy Central roasts, but also of note?  Father of three, and an alum of Harvard Law School, from which he then went to Skadden NYC. One year later, he decided he'd rather spend his life doing something other than document review:
Snowed under a mountain of documents one evening at work, Greg reached into his bottom desk drawer and found that notebook of jokes. This is insane, he thought, paging through Back Stage for the listing of clubs that sponsored open-mike nights. Later that night, and nights after, people laughed at material he'd written, which Greg figured to be about the greatest feeling in the world. He became acquainted with an important moment, the moment that happens when you're doing what you're meant to be doing. Not long after, he quit the law. Once people laugh at your jokes, he thought, there's no doing law.
I WILL ALWAYS WAG MY FINGER IN YOUR FACE: I have much less to say about tonight's Survivor than Fienberg did.  Just a strategic note: you only need individual immunity when your tribe is looking to get rid of you, and it can only protect you once.  Those who win the game do so because they end up receiving more of the jurors' votes than their competition, and that requires a different set of skills than what we saw after tonight's challenge.

Tonight's the first night which makes me wonder if I'll last the whole season.  It's not yet compelling, but I'll stick around for a bit more.

added:  Probst wasn't a fan of last night either: "Okay let’s get to it – the thing that is really bothering me today. It’s you, Naonka. I am so torn over what I saw in last night’s episode. You KNOCKED DOWN A WOMAN WITH AN ARTIFICIAL LEG! ON PURPOSE! SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE YOU KNEW THAT WOULD THROW HER OFF BALANCE SO YOU COULD STEAL A CLUE THAT SHE FOUND FIRST! Whew. That felt good. I feel better already."
THIMK PIMK: Quick question: Now that we've picked a new Idol judging panel and baseball is just about over, can we pull the plug on the Joe Buck-Kara DioGuardi-Tim McCarver breast cancer awareness ads? I'm thinking that for the fall season, maybe they should go with the equally appealing Chris Berman-Dina Lohan-Mahmoud Ahmandinejad trio.
THIS WEEK IN MY IPOD: Last Thursday, Community kicked off its season with a montage scored to the Fratellis' "Baby Fratelli," off of 2006's awesome Costello Music. Then NBC set all of its Thursday comedy promos to "Chelsea Dagger," off the same album. This is probably the best media exposure the Fratellis have ever had, and I'm glad to see it. The timing stinks, though, since they apparently broke up in April.

Commercials for It's Kind of a Funny Story (you may know it better as Boy Interrupted by Julia Roberts's Niece) are in heavy rotation, and they close with Ida Maria's "Oh My God," which tonally and lyrically is an absolutely perfect song for a movie set in an insane asylum. Do you like songs by people who sound like they're riding the crest of a nervous breakdown? This should be the second song on your playlist, behind PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me" and before the Pixies' "Hey."
WORLD'S BEST CUP OF COFFEE: In the waning days of the summer of 1963, after the minor league baseball season ended, the Houston Colt .45s* made a young right-fielder named John Paciorek** a September call-up. He rode the pine until exactly 47 years ago today, when he played his first major league game. In five plate appearances that day, Paciorek hit three singles, walked twice, and scored four runs. That was the end of his major-league career, leaving him with a career average and OBP of 1.000 (and SLG of 1.000). His career OPS+ is 495. If I were him, I would have my Baseball-Reference page framed.

*Remember when we used to name sports teams after guns and ammunition? How I hated you, 1978 Washington Bullets.

**This story would be slightly more impressive to Paciorek's grandkids if their great uncles Tom and Jim, Paciorek's two brothers, didn't have their own major-league careers -- 21 games for Jim and 18 seasons for Tom.
I'VE BEEN INCLINED TO BELIEVE IT NEVER WOULD:  Nominees for the 2011 class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Hall of Fame have been announced, and in advance (or in lieu, depending on our ambitions) of our Keltner analysis of the nominees (we've already done the Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Chic and Donna Summer), why not just put it up for a preliminary vote?

So I have.  Cast your votes via this Doodle link -- vote for as many or as few artists as you wish, and we'll see how the numbers shake out.  (Typically, artists require 50%+ support to be nominated and the top 5-7 get in, unless Jann Wenner decides otherwise.)

Defend your reasoning here -- do the Beastie Boys get in because of their whiteness, in spite of it or both?  Does the massive popularity of Bon Jovi and Neil Diamond work for them or against them?  Is it moral to vote for anyone so long as [Rush/The Replacements/Red Hot Chili Peppers] isn't on the ballot? Cast your vote(s), and rock on.
YES, EVEN WORSE THAN THE CLEOBOT: There are characters on tv whom one loves-to-hate, but then there are those who are solely worthy of hate -- not merely of the "I disagree with the choices this character makes" level but rather "this character's loathsome presence on the show, even as a foil for the protagonists, strongly detracts from my ability to enjoy the show."

And at that level, as many commented last night, is Glee's Jacob Ben-Israel, the creepy nerdy blogger with an Isro. Straight out of the pages of Der Stürmer, he seems to represent every possible negative stereotype of Jews one can ask a character to embody without any redeeming features. This sexually obsessed, sweaty, manipulative stalker is just not fun to watch, and the sooner they can drop him down the Rosalind Shays Memorial Elevator or boot his ass to Mandyville, the better.  Is there a worse character on tv?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

IS THAT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT --  ENDEARMENT?  In the real world, unlike The Good Wife, law firm managing partners work out all the issues before announcing a merger and we don't have -- but if CBS wanted to be realistic as to BigLaw it wouldn't have shelved its adaptation of Kermit Roosevelt's In the Shadow of the Law (though a pilot was filmed).  The first season still held my interest, however, because it got the culture right-enough and the show did a solid mix of the long-term political/romantic plots with the trial-of-the-week, gradually moving away from the initial wife-betrayed premise to create a universe in which not everything has to revolve around Alicia Florrick.  (Not that that's a problem, because Juliana Margulies is so damn good in this role.)

The question of season two may be how to handle this expanding universe, with Cary now working for The Smoke Monster in the Cook County DA's Office (but obviously can't be in court every week against Lockhart/Gardner), plus an election plot, new attorneys and an investigator at the firm as well as whatever develops for Alicia personally.  So this week mostly moved the pieces around the chessboard while half-assing the courtroom scenes and all-but-ignoring Christine Baranski and the Florrick kids, not a great episode but one which suggests they've got a plan.  There are worse ways to spend an hour on Tuesdays than a show with Archie Panjabi,  "Stan's Chicken Shack" and an allegedly controversial sex scene, and I look forward to what's to come -- as long as Gary Cole's ballistics expert comes back.  Please?
TYRA FAIL!  Okay, it's Aussie host Sarah Murdoch, but via the live Down Under's Next Top Model Cycle 6 finale we find out why they make sure the U.S. finale (a) is taped and (b) confirms the name of the winner of a tv screen.
WHEN YOU GONNA LOVE YOU AS MUCH AS I DO?  Mick Foley [heart] Tori Amos. A true story.
CATCH ME ON DISNEY/MA WHO IS HE?/DOWN DIRTY STINKY, GRIMY AND GRIZZLY*: I'm not much of a Britney Spears fan, and you already know my mixed feelings about Glee. So why am I so excited about tonight's Britney-themed episode? Two reasons.

First, it's also a Brittany-themed episode. I thought Heather Morris was the best thing about Glee even before she said a dumb word on the show, mostly for her wild enthusiasm as a featured dancer. Once they started giving her lines, it was great, except that the show's increasing emphasis on solos and ballads meant we got less dancing. Brittany speaking more, yay; Brittany dancing less, boo. Tonight she'll dance and sing, so yay and [tbd].

Second, I don't know this "Me Against the Music" song, but "Toxic" is, I repeat, a great song, and I kind of like "Slave 4 U" in the same Scheherazade-on-ecstasy way. And I kind of don't think there's any way to mess those up short of having Corey Monteith sing them.

*Ol' Dirty Bastard version, I know.
LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION.  WHY WOULD A GROWN MAN WHOSE SHIRT SAYS "GENIUS AT WORK" SPEND ALL OF HIS TIME WATCHING A CHILDREN'S CARTOON SHOW?  Congratulations to H:LotS/Corner/Wire/Treme creator David Simon and the twenty-two other recipients announced today of the annual John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grants.  $500,000, no strings attached, over the next five years.

Marilyn vos Savant, denied again. As always, I rely on you to tell me who these people are.
OUR BODIES GET BIGGER BUT OUR HEARTS GET TORN UP:  There is no such thing as a gratuitous link to anything involving ?uestlove.  Live from last week, The Roots with John Legend perform The Arcade Fire's "Wake Up."

Monday, September 27, 2010

UNCORK THE BOTTLES, STRAP ON YOUR GOGGLES:  Four straight NL East titles.  Four straight seasons under Charlie Manuel winning more games than the previous season.  From 48-46 and 7 GB in late July to 46-18 since, including a giddy 11-game streak in September besting all four division rivals and soundly putting away the Braves.  

Tonight, the Phillies clinched it at their home away from home, Nationals Park, in front of a boisterous Amtrak'd crowd, and who better than Roy Halladay to be there on the mound at the end?  Another CG (9th), another shutout (4th), another no-walk game (13th), and surely another Cy Young Award, his second. 

One reader of put it better than I ever could, late last year: "You follow sports hoping that one day you'll be rewarded and get to root for a team like these Phillies."  Indeed.  Our WFCs are in October, one more time, and we want it all.  Eleven to go.
IMAGINED:  Vanity Fair's David Kamp "profiles" John Lennon in advance of (what would have been) his 70th birthday next month.
I, FOR ONE, AM STILL HOPING JODIE FOSTER WILL BEAT OUT TOM SKERRITT FOR THE JOB:  The United Nations may or may not be appointing 58-year-old Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman as Earth's official contact person for visiting extraterrestrial life forms.
YOU CAN'T HIT WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE: On Saturday, a former communist snuck into a California border town and threw a hard object at 105.1 miles per hour, narrowly missing a clergyman. He threw a bunch of other hard objects too, every one at more than 100 miles an hour. One of the intended victims managed to fight the ex-communist off with a stick, nobody was hurt, and the ex-communist left, defeated.

The ex-communist was Aroldis Chapman, a Cuban emigre; the hard object was a baseball; the clergymen were of the San Diegan Padre order. So, really, the only significant things about the encounter were the 105-mile-an-hour pitch -- the fastest ever reliably recorded -- and the snare-beat consistency of all of the 100-mph pitches.

A few weeks ago, when Chapman made his MLB debut, Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing did a couple of posts looking at how velocity affects the hittability of pitches and how hitters do against 100-mile-an-hour pitches. The results of the first confirmed the obvious -- the faster the pitch, the harder it is to put your bat on it. But the interesting thing to me was that of over 550 pitches thrown at greater than 100 miles an hour in the sample period, there were zero home runs. Chapman throws so hard that he has eliminated a True Outcome.* That's scary.

*The "Three True Outcomes" -- strikeouts, walks, home runs -- are the three principal things that can happen during a plate appearance that are not affected by the defense. Since the difference between a deep fly ball and a home run is sometimes luck, some key pitching stats try to normalize the ratio between the two, but maybe that would be unfair to Chapman and Joel Zumaya.
I AM THE BEST GODDAMN DANCER IN THE AMERICAN BALLET ACADEMY. WHO THE HELL ARE YOU? Very nice riveting and nerve-wracking Mad Men, as usual, and as usual, Sepinwall has the postmortem (celebrity endorsements: Jon Hamm! Bill Simmons!). I'm only here to tell you that the mother in the waiting room was played by Susan May Pratt, Center Stage's own prima ballerina.
BING! Southwest Airlines to purchase AirTran, giving it access to Atlanta Hartsfield and DC National airports, as well as a few locations in the Caribbean.
GET THEE TO A GRANARY:  There's a certain segment of this blog's readership which may be too busy to even comment here now that Sid Meier's Civilization V is out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

WHY YOU LITTLE....: It's become far too trendy to say that The Simpsons has jumped the shark, or at least that it hasn't been good since a particular point in time (often correlated with when the speaker was in college), but I wanted to talk about several things that bugged about tonight's edition:
  • Excessive use of guest stars--there were seven special guest voices in tonight's episode. Only two (the Conchords) really added anything substantial (though Hawking and Glass had funny throwaway bits). One of the most remarkable things about The Simpsons is the massive ensemble it's created with just the five members of the voice cast, almost none of whom appeared in this episode (Krusty, Moe, Millhouse, Martin, and Grandpa are about it). Heck, even Marge and Bart don't have much to do in the episode.
  • Lazy writing--The episode introduces two completely separate storylines (Homer and Bart go to Europe and Lisa goes to arts camp), which never intersect in any way whatsoever once the characters part ways--it's almost like they wrote two fifteen minute shorts and just jammed them together into a single episode.
  • Family Guy-ification--Like South Park, the folks behind The Simpsons have tried to make clear that they're no fans of the Seth MacFarlane "remember the time..." setup to string in jokes/references. Yet, there were several instances of that exact same setup this week (pretty much all the Krusty flashbacks in particular). At its best, The Simpsons lets jokes follow from plot and from character, and doesn't just toss off lazy references.
All that said, there was a lot of funny stuff and oddball references (Marge knows the subtitles of both parts of Angels in America, visual tributes to the Conchords poster for Season 2, and a lot of nods to prior Conchords songs), but I wish the show could be what it was.
ARE YOU A BATTLEMENT? I never thought we'd see a team on the Race as dumb as Lori and Bolo, but we may well be on our way.

Season-openers of The Amazing Race tend to be a bit of a blur -- it's hard telling apart all the teams who insist they're going to be misunderestimated, even those who insist their compass skills will set them apart. I did notice The Nassoons, whose Princetonian propriety twice stalled them due to an unnecessary inclination to assist other teams in peril. I noticed that yet again that there are teams who enter the Race without mastering manual transmission.  I noticed Phil Keoghan's hairline has receded.

But most notably, I noticed that the producer structured this leg remarkably well -- a realistic set of driving challenges and two in-race challenges reliant on balance and smarts, not strength.  As far as the Express Pass is concerned, I'm intrigued but want to know more: (1) how late in the Race can it be used? (2) can it be traded? (3) will other passes be available, either when after first one is used or after every leg?

Oh, yeah.  There was this thing with a watermelon.  It's still gasp-worthy.  It may well have caused a concussion.  I'm glad she got an icepack, but hope there was a doctor involved as well.  Meanwhile, our Race is back.

(N.B. I know of only one pop/rock song to use the word "battlement" in its lyrics.)

Fienberg gives us permission to pray with sinners:  "Here's the thing you have to know: If the watermelon had somehow knocked Claire cold or broken her nose or dislodged her teeth or caused any sort of permanent or temporary damage -- God forbid, y'all -- CBS would not have made The Watermelon Incident into the centerpiece of the premiere's promotion. CBS' promotion spoiled the surprise of The Watermelon Incident, but in spoiling the surprise, it took an event that might have been too shocking to process within the context of a fun reality show and gave us permission to enjoy it, to some degree. We also wouldn't have been treated to at least five or six replays of the Watermelon Incident, replayed with a near Zapruder-ian glee: Back and to the left. Back and to the left. Back and to the left. See the way Brook runs over and has to pick up the bits of watermelon brain matter from Claire's shirt? OH THE HUMANITY!"
YOU GONNA START KNOCKIN' MY HOBBIES?  Watts thought we'd find this Netflix recommendation of interest.  She's right.