Saturday, January 22, 2011
Meet Hubert Blackman, a college student from New York City, who on December 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm sought to experience the heights of Las Vegas private entertainment as only one can at the Stratosphere Hotel. He arranged with a local business to have a woman visit him to perform a dance for $155 and, for an extra $120, a sex act. As his pro se federal complaint alleges (thank you, 28 U.S.C. § 1332) and his interview with the press spells out in further detail, the gravamen of the complaint is that he thought he had contracted for an hour's worth of services, but the woman left after a half hour.
Blackman called the local business to demand a refund; they said no despite his protests that he was incapable of entering into an informed agreement on account of drunkitude. He then called the police; they explained to him that what he did remained illegal in Clark County and suggested he call the Better Business Bureau. He, instead, filed the complaint alleging "I just need medical treatment on mental condition: psycotic disorder" because "A excort had did an illegal sex act on me during her paid service to me [and] the excort had broke the law," and in his prayer for relief sought as follows: "I would like the court to close the business. I also would like to get my $275 payment back and a $1.8 million verdict for the tragic event that happened."
Others here, no doubt, can comment on the possibility for class action relief with regards to such complaints and the propriety of coupon settlements thereof; many here can criticize the grammar and spelling. I just want to know what kind of person is smart enough to file a federal complaint (faster process, if less plaintiff-friendly), but dumb enough to talk to the press about this one. (That said, isn't it worth it for the defendant to refund the money rather than defend this case?)
Friday, January 21, 2011
But if you listen to everyone else, oy vey: "Many respected sources have required that practically all singular nouns, including those ending with a sibilant sound, have possessive forms with an extra s after the apostrophe, says Wikipedia, citing The Economist and the MLA. But there are exceptions. Our anonymous British friends who don't put a period after Mr. say this: "Although singular in other respects, the United States, the United Nations, the Philippines, etc, have a plural possessive apostrophe: eg, Who will be the United States' next president?" Also? "Try to avoid using Lloyd's (the insurance market) as a possessive; it poses an insoluble problem."
Insoluble? A few sources suggest that Biblical and classical names are an exception -- Jesus', Socrates', Ramses'. Then there's one person who says "when a word of 3 syllables or longer ends in s, you just put the apostrophe for the possessive, unless that makes the sentence sound ambiguous" -- Laertes', but Claudius's.
But we here at ALOTT5MA don't believe in insoluble situations. We believe in answers. So when we ponder why all of Anthony Hopkins's recent films have sucked, should we just say Hopkins'? Is Richard Dreyfuss' career on the rebound, or Richard Dreyfuss's? And how can we praise sufficiently Pythagoras' contributions to our understanding of right triangles? The floor is yours.
added, January 28: Final poll results:
- Add an apostrophe ("Dickens' novels") -- 71 (47%)
- Add apostrophe + s ("Dickens's novels") -- 29 (19%)
- Usually add apostrophe + s, but with exceptions -- 48 (32%)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
On the other hand, you can't fault most of the execution. Gloria's plaintive "I sended ... come back" was perfectly delivered, and the show really pushed the boundaries of what you can imply with the blocking as the kids opened the door and again with Luke's comment about it. So even though I thought the plotting was lazy, the Cam-Mitchell plot was grating, and Manny's absence was regrettable, the other two stories made me laugh pretty hard.
Another thought as I was typing this: the popularity of this show is a bit strange, because the show's viewpoint is so narrowly dialed into a narrow demographic -- the well-to-do West LA professional. Cam and Mitchell's status obsession, their repeated use of Lily to promote their own interests, the preschool application story that Sepinwall hated so much, and the Jay-Gloria relationship, to name a few examples, are all things that I associate so much with daily LA life and that I see far less of where I live now. Are those things really relatable outside of LA?
- 30 Rock--the music and the quick cuts between the characters, coupled with the NYC backdrops, immediately make the show's tone and setting clear, and put you in an appropriately manic mode.
- The Office and Parks and Recreation--Both establish that while we're in a small universe, we're in a small universe that's not without charm and quirk (or, apparently, Hutts), and where people have ambition beyond that world (even if that ambition fails). (And looking forward to see how they tweak the Parks and Rec credits to reflect this season's cast changes.)
- Parenthood--This (which oddly doesn't seem to be available on YouTube) may actually be my favorite opening sequence on TV right now, with its mixture of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" and real childhood photos of the adult cast through the years evoking the show's tone just right.
There are a bunch of other solid ones on NBC (and its cable sister networks) now--Chuck, Friday Night Lights, Psych, Royal Pains--where the theme music and title sequence combine to effectively establish tone and character, along with a number of classic NBC ones (Hill Street Blues, ER, Friends, Cheers). It's an art we're losing, and one I wish we weren't.
ETA: What didn't go so well: Ratings down 13% from last year's premiere. Ratings, of course, correlate to expected quality, not actual quality.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
You know how we say "if you're going on Survivor, learn to start a fire without a flint" and "if you're going on The Amazing Race, learn to drive stick"? If you're going on Top Chef, have a Restaurant Wars concept ready. Because that was brilliant.
I was explaining to people the other night, but I might've got it a bit wrong – this is just the end of something for U2. And that's what we're playing these concerts – and we're throwing a party for ourselves and you. It's no big deal, it's just – we have to go away and ... and dream it all up again.Dream it all up again, disappear for a while, and two years later came Achtung Baby, a reinvention of U2's sound that was both a radical shift from the blues-based Rattle & Hum (produced by Jimmy Iovine), utterly contemporary in its seeking a more dance-based rhythm (given the contemporaneous Manchester thing) and yet ultimately something that felt very much like the same band.
American Idol, too, needed to dream it all up again. After three straight seasons of increasing bloat and stuck with older white boys with guitars winning -- each defensible on its own merits, but troubling as a whole -- the show last year finally started to decline in the ratings and in our own interest here. Given Simon Cowell's leaving, it was a perfect opportunity to rethink the show and rethink it they have.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
- Anderson Cooper will pre-record the voice of "The Book" in the upcoming Daniel Radcliffe-led revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, which was played by Walter Cronkite in the last revival.
- While Billie Joe Armstrong takes a week's vacation from his limited engagement in American Idiot, Melissa Etheridge (who's already halfway to EGOT--1993 and 1995 Grammys for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female and an Oscar for "I Need To Wake Up") will play the role of St. Jimmy, which is a traditionally male part.
For those too young to remember (or who weren't into Family Ties), this was as Very Special as episodes get. Alex's "best friend" Greg (I use the quotes because I don't believe we had ever seen him before) is killed in a car accident on a drive Alex himself had opted out of, and we transition from Alex's comic denial-of-grief into 40 minutes of stark drama (staged on a black set, ala Our Town) before an unseen therapist who unpacks all of Alex's insecurities and the pressure of always being seen as the one who had all the answers. (Or, alternatively, it hasn't aged well, but this plus HIMYM was a nice one-two punch last night.) Much, much hugging and learning and Emmy-winning ensues.
So here's my question: what's a tv episode you haven't seen in a damn long time which you would be delighted to come across again?
Monday, January 17, 2011
- Referring to I Love You Philip Morris as “Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. Sort of the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists then. Probably? My lawyers helped me with the wording of that joke. They’re not here.”
- “I love this next presenter; he’s so cool. He’s the star of Iron Man, Two Girls And A Guy, Wonder Boys …I’m sorry are these porn films? Kiss Kiss Bang Bang? Bowfinger? Up The Academy? Come on! He has done all of those films, but many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as The Betty Ford Clinic and the Los Angeles County Jail. Robert Downey, Jr.”
- His final line of the night: “And thank you to God. For making me an atheist.”
Sunday, January 16, 2011
** Credit: Matt's twitter feed.
- Desperate Housewives--Enjoying the Huffman/Williams plotline, if just for giving Lynette something to do other than bitch about her kids, and Longoria is selling the "switched at birth" plotline as best she can, but someone needs to find a storyline for Susan or send her off to Mandyville ASAP. The Bree plotline is meh, but I understand the need for male beefcake.
- Brothers & Sisters--Look, I know you've had budget cutbacks (Emily Van Camp and Patricia Wettig are gone) and cast shifts (Calista Flockhart and Giles Marini didn't want to do every episode), but the abrupt writeouts/disappearances/reappearances are too much. The show's at its best when the characters are clashing over stakes that matter and/or political issues, rather than the umpteenth "William had a secret!" storyline.
- Hawaii Five-0--Like its timeslot competitor, Castle, it's taking some time to balance the elements (procedural, family, and mythology). Based on recent episodes, they're bagging the family stuff altogether and adding more mythology. That seems like a decent idea, since Alex O'Loughlin and Taryn Manning lacked the Fillion/Quinn/Sullivan chemistry that works so well on Castle. Still, an entertaining way to spend 44 minutes.
- NCIS: Los Angeles--For a show that debuted with a massive audience and has held on to it, it's surprising just how much tinkering has gone on. Some are subtle (pushing Chris O'Donnell more and more to the background) and some not (writing out two of the original six cast members, adding 3 new cast members). For once, though, all the tinkering has worked well, and we're getting legitimately fun banter, bromantic (O'Donnell and Cool J), quasi-romantic (Ruah and Olsen), and geektastic (Foa and Felice Smith).
- No Ordinary Family--The mythology stuff is way too drawn out and boring, but it's nice to see a superhero show that's not so relentlessly dark. Kay Panabaker has actually proven to be the strongest story-generator, in part because her mind-reading power is easier to hang story hooks on than super-strength, super-speed, or super-brains. The sidekicks (Reeser and Malco) remain the most fun part of the show, but it's a good time as a whole.
- Better With You--Remains an adequate sitcom where the cast is much better than the material it's given. Right now, seems noteworthy primarily because they're using the traditional "hide a pregnancy" methods (laundry baskets, couches, counters, shooting from the chest up) to disguise the fact that JoAnna Garcia isn't pregnant, even though her character is.