Saturday, October 30, 2010
For some forty years, he has made his life's work illuminating the way in which power functions -- through Johnson and NYC's Robert Moses (The Power Broker) -- and I cannot begin to express how indebted to him we all are. If there's anyone here who has not read all four of Caro's books yet, please stop reading this blog, buy them, read them and come back here in a few months when you're done. Seriously.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
“I know how hard I worked for this,” Conan told the NBC executives. “It was promised to me. I had a shitty lead-in.” His tone was soft, but the words were clipped. Graboff knew this was Conan in the raw, speaking from the heart. ...One nice detail: part of what informs O'Brien's suspicions is the Leno-in-the-closet story that Carter broke in his first telling of the Late Night Wars. This VF excerpt also gets into the making of O'Brien's public statement, which we discussed back in January with reference to another Carter excerpt (from the last book).
Conan listened to Gaspin, still with a faraway look in his eye. Finally he did have something he really wanted to say, something that was all but burning a hole in his chest. “What does Jay have on you?” Conan asked, his voice still low, his tone still even. “What does this guy have on you people? What the hell is it about Jay?”
Neither of the NBC executives had an answer and cast their heads down. Conan thought they were working at looking sympathetic, following some lesson that had been taught at corporate school.
(If you can answer that one, then move on to the bonus round: what malformed person designed the Delta seat backs -- fence-post upright with a sack of rice bolted right where your head should go?)
HT to Gawker for reminding me of the Lohan video.
This is the great grand-daddy -- the all-singing, all-dancing, Shai-Hulud of ear-worms.
Ladies and Gentlemen, a 1982 performance of Human Sexual Response's utterly gobsmacking song, Land Of The Glass Pinecones:
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I saw “West Side Story” when I was 16 years old, and I have two vivid memories of the show. One, I didn’t believe for a minute that the dancers were anything like the teenage hoods I knew from the street corner, and secondly, I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the song “Maria.” It was a perfect love song. Sondheim was less enamored with the lyric he wrote for Bernstein. He describes it as having a kind of “overall wetness” — “a wetness, I regret to say, which persists throughout all the romantic lyrics in the show.” Sondheim’s rule, taught to him by his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, is that the book and composer are better served by lyrics that are “plainer and flatter.” It is the music that is meant to lift words to the level of poetry.Simon explained to Playboy back in 1984, as it turns out: "It was about [then-girlfriend Peggy Harper, later his first wife], whom I was living with at the time: Sail on, silver girl ... / Your time has come to shine was half a joke, because she was upset one day when she had found two or three gray hairs on her head."
Sondheim’s regret about “Maria” reminded me of my own reluctance to add a third verse to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I thought of the song as a simple two-verse hymn, but our producer argued that the song wanted to be bigger and more dramatic. I reluctantly agreed and wrote the “Sail on silvergirl” verse there in the recording studio. I never felt it truly belonged. Audiences disagreed with both Sondheim and me. “Maria” is beloved, and “Sail on silvergirl” is the well-known and highly anticipated third verse of “Bridge.” Sometimes it’s good to be “wet.”
[Another interesting (and true) quote from that fascinating interview: "I don't think that Simon and Garfunkel as a live act compares to Simon and Garfunkel as a studio act. In terms of performing, I've never really been comfortable being a professional entertainer. For me, it's a secondary form of creativity. I'm not a creative performer. I'm a reproducer onstage of what I've already created. I guess everyone who goes on the stage is exhibitionistic, but there are limits to what I'll do to make a crowd respond."]
That any of our sensible and intelligent readership might have checked out Black Sheep a few weeks ago, whether on my feeble recommendation or because someone switched DVDs on you at the video store when you weren’t looking, seems not too terribly probable. Anyone that did, as much as or as little as they might have enjoyed themselves, was probably left asking: “What if…?”
What if the makers of Black Sheep hadn’t resorted to camp?
What if they hadn’t played it for laughs?
What if they’d set out to make a really horrifying film instead of just a "scary movie"?
What if they didn’t stop with creature shop prostheses and splatter but went all out and got real intimate and viscous and pointy and Cronenbergy about things? (I’ve lost my copy of the ALOTT5MA Manual of Style, so maybe that should be “Cronenbergian”. Not “Cronenbergesque” though. No. No indeed.)
And what if they’d set it in Ireland with cows instead of New Zealand with sheep?
In that (those) event(s), the movie in question would have been the deadly well done and so far under-appreciated if by no means groundbreaking 2005 Irish Film Board effort Isolation, the story of a near-broke Irish rancher who rents his operation out to a not-ready-for-prime-time geneticist, thereby putting himself, his stock, his large animal veterinarian, and a pair of caravan gypsy fugitives squatting near his property in peril of being consumed by the mutant offspring of tough economic times and secrets man was not meant to know. It's dark, tense, drippy, and sticky, with cringe and jump-factors that will remind you (if you like this genre of film) why you like this genre of film. It's the 28 Days Later to Black Sheep's Dead Alive, if that means anything to you. If it doesn't, likely best you stay away.
In closing, let’s be clear that I’m not recommending this movie. Not because I didn't like it, but because it’s just not the sort of thing one recommends (without the excuse of a semi-scientific algorithm that automatically generates recommendations from previously expressed preferences submitted willingly by the recommendee, thereby insuring that it’s their own silly fault).
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Your safe ways to enjoy drive-by eggings: video, sample-annotated lyrics. Also, some good news -- MCA (Adam Yauch) has recovered from his cancer scare, and the Beastie Boys will have a new album in Spring 2011.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads the national anthem: The poet and activist would need no musical accompaniment or fireworks, he just gets up at a podium - cup of coffee in hand optional - and dramatically reads the anthem. Put images of other great beat poets on the big screen. Instead of a deafening squadron of F-18s, a single dove flies overhead.
ETA: Some fine Brits have restyled the Mad Men characters into Mr. Men.
- All songs will be original and will have to cover a wide range of genres, "everything from dance tracks to love ballads."
- No viewer voting--like Bravo's other reality competition shows, elimination will be entirely judge-based. No Sanjayas.
- Your head judge? Kara DioGuardi (filling the Tom Collichio role, it seems). Filling the Padma Lakshmi/Heidi Klum host/judge role will be Jewel. Remaining judges will apparently be a rotating cast of famous folks.
Monday, October 25, 2010
For more on cock rings, see this Mr. Show featured video.
N.B. The ALOTT5MA Style Guide, 5th Edition does not note any preference between "cock ring," "cock-ring" and "cockring".
Sunday, October 24, 2010
And this remains a damn good Phillies team, and sadly one which we're likely to never see reconstituted in this form again. Jayson Werth is likely gone, and his replacement will not match him in moxie and bearditude. But that's it -- all the other core players will be back.
Yes, I'm disappointed about this result. I'm disappointed in the weakness of our bench, a question for which "Ross Gload" ws not an answer. I'm disappointed in how sloppy the fielding was this series. I'm disappointed in the failure to drive in runs when the situations presented themselves. And I'm prematurely disappointed in the Philadelphia fanbase for what's going to be a long winter of turning Ryan Howard into the next Donovan McNabb, designated for Azazel to take on all the team's collective sins. Make no mistake: it will be ugly, and it is unearned.
Making the playoffs requires having a talented team. Winning in the playoffs requires them to be playing at the height of their talents come October. In 2008, the Phillies did; in 2010 they didn't, and many months will now be spent ascribing excessive meaning as to why, until pitchers and catchers report and hope begins anew.
In the meantime, I'm going to try to enjoy whatever baseball we've got left.