Saturday, February 26, 2011

WHAT ARE THEY GONNA SAY ABOUT HIM? WHAT ARE THEY GONNA SAY? THAT HE WAS A KIND MAN? THAT HE WAS A WISE MAN? THAT HE HAD PLANS, MAN? THAT HE HAD WISDOM?  Top pick for this year's Oscar Necrology include Dennis Hopper, Lynn Redgrave, Tony Curtis, Jill Clayburgh, Pete Postlethwaite, Leslie Nielsen, Patricia Neal, Blake Edwards and Gloria Stuart. (Lena Horne is receiving a separate tribute.)  Place your bets, and we'll see you here tomorrow night for the live chat.

Friday, February 25, 2011

ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO:  A simple question -- is a preposition an awful word to end a sentence with?  Or is it never the proper word with which to end a sentence?  We start, again, with the Chicago Manual of Style:
That old rule was long ago abandoned by most usage manuals and grammar police. In my own writing, I no longer try to avoid ending with a preposition. That said, when I am editing a manuscript and come across a sentence that clearly has been structured to avoid the ending preposition, I do try to leave it alone. It is possible that the author is elderly or conservative, probably is meticulous, and would be upset by the interference. Only if the result is very awkward do I suggest ending with a preposition.
The Guardian and Observer style guide calls such a rule a "fallacy" promoted by "English teachers unduly influenced by Latin."  The Oxford Dictionaries concur, insisting that "Ending a sentence with a preposition is a perfectly natural part of the structure of modern English," and providing examples of when it's appropriate:
in some passive expressions:
√ The dress had not even been paid for.
X Paid for the dress had not even been.

√ The match was rained off.
X Rained off was the match.

in relative clauses and questions that include verbs with linked adverbs or prepositions:
√ What did you put that there for?
X For what [reason] did you put that there?

√ They must be convinced of the commitment they are taking on.
X Of the commitment they are taking on they must be convinced.
The Jack Lynch guide from Rutgers suggests that "if you want to keep the crusty old-timers happy, try to avoid ending written sentences (and clauses) with prepositions," but that "if a sentence is more graceful with a final preposition, let it stand" -- suggesting “He gave the public what it longed for” as an example. Lynch argues that He gave the public that for which it longed "doesn't look like English," and "A sentence becomes unnecessarily obscure when it's filled with from whoms and with whiches."

And yet I must object. Yes, it's cool to end a sentence with eight prepositions in a row ("Mom, why did you bring that book I don't like to be read to out of about Down Under up for?"), but I learned my grammar by diagramming sentences.  Prepositions connect some object to the rest of the sentence, and they can't do that if the object is someplace other than following it.  So let's be clear: I am one of the crusty old-timers who you're writing for ... err,  for whom you're writing.  So get it right.

Poll Results:  Sentences can end with a preposition sparingly (52%), whenever you feel like it (39%), or never (7%).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BELVEDERED:  Yes, there are places that tonight's 30 Rock went that few television shows will go, a close runner-up to the season two explanation that you can't have a Lemon party without Old Dick. "Bagel-y" as an adjective? In a week in which the ability of women to be hired as writers is very much in the air, this episode was firing on all cylinders and gave Jack Donaghy yet another worthy adversary.  Kick. Ass.
IT WAS HARD TO SAY WHERE THE MOUNTAIN DEW COMMERCIAL ENDED AND THE MOVIE BEGAN: Matt Zoller Seitz and Andrew O'Hehir discuss the performances nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress. Find out what nominated film was "like the best movie James L. Brooks never made" and which performance was described by O'Hehir as being like a "gargoyle." Below the fold, both men on Colin Firth:

ALSO, YES, TWILIGHT AND I AM NUMBER FOUR ARE LARGELY THE SAME THING, THOUGH THE LATTER HAS BETTER SPECIAL EFFECTS: The AV Club has an interesting (and surprisingly persuasive) piece today asking a question I hadn't thought to ask--aren't Community and Glee pretty much the same show? Admittedly, we haven't been subjected to Annie Edison singing "Don't Rain on My Parade," nor do I expect we're going to see the Sue Sylvester paintball game in the near future, but both shows certainly share a central premise (mismatched "losers" as surrogate family) and an exceedingly elastic standard of reality.
SET PHASERS TO LOVE ME: If Adam is going to claim ALOTT5MA Fave status by fiat for Cameron Diaz, I think we need to take a cue from the good folks of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and ask: Isn't there a better way? So let's convene a convention, put the parliament to parlaying, and duma this up for Mister Donald Glover. His resume:
  • Took his miscast role as stunted jock Troy Barnes and steered it right into absurd enthusiastically nerdy man-child-man Troy Barnes
  • Wrote for 30 Rock's great first season, where Wiki tells us he came up with most of Tracy Jordan's lines ("That's racist. I'm not on crack. I'm straight up mentally ill"). (Caveat: Wiki also used to say repeatedly that Glover's dad was Danny Glover, so it may be lying to us.)
  • Mounted a campaign to be the new Spider-Man that was both funny and intriguing without ever being annoying
  • Raps under the name Childish Gambino, which is funny no matter how good or bad the rapping is
  • Last night held an impromptu open bar for his Twitter followers while trying to get one of them a date
  • Is the first auto-complete option Google gives you when you type "Donald," meaning that the Internets love him more than they love Trump, Sutherland, Sterling, and Driver
Look, I think we use the word "fave" far too often, and perhaps the bar is set too low. I don't really need your validation to love Donald Glover. I'm just curious, though -- isn't he among that small group of people (NPH, Heather Morris, James Franco) who lack detractors in these parts?
PLEASE DON'T BURP ON ME, FART ON ME OR FLICK A BOOGER ON ME:  Last night's Top Chef: All Stars raises the eternal question -- should elimination judging incorporate some consideration of a chef's previous output, or should it be based solely on the food prepared for that challenge? It was a slow-motion meltdown, crushing at the end, and I'm not that happy about it today.
BEAUTIFUL AURELIA, I'VE COME HERE WITH A VIEW OF ASKING YOU TO MARRIAGE ME: Yes, of course, building off yesterday's question I'd like your favorites from Firth, and I will impose no artificial limit on the number of commenters who point to a certain BBC production.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

HE'S PLAYING TEXTBOOK, BUT HE'S PLAYING WITH ME:  Oh, my. There's something to be said for watching a plan being executed on Survivor ... but that's only in one tribe.  In the other tribe, the gap between perceived control and actual control is going to grow increasingly awesome as time passes.  Dramatic irony, you are my friend.

BUT THEN MY HOMEWORK WAS NEVER QUITE LIKE THIS: In an apparent effort to win a How Many ALOTT5MA Faves Can You Fit In One Film contest, witness Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segal and Phyllis Smith from "The Office" in the very NSFW trailer for this summer's Bad Teacher, scripted by the writers of several of more of the (good) cringe-inspiring episodes of "The Office".
I AM JUST AN ORDINARY CITIZEN WHO RELIES ON THE TIMES CROSSWORD FOR STIMULATION: This is not the site for cogent, well-thought out discussion about recent events in the Middle East. It is, however, the site for hot debate about spelling related to recent events in the Middle East, which leads me to the question--how do you spell the last name of the beleaguered "Leader and Guide of the Revolution" of Libya (seriously, per Wiki, that's his title)? The Daily Caller summarizes various spellings, including "Gaddafi" (BBC and Reuters), "Gadhafi" (CNN, AP, and MSNBC), and "Qaddafi" (NYT). The New York Post uses "Khadafy," so apparently, that's an option too. My head hurts.

Relatedly, best time I ever had in Model UN in college? Being the delegate from Libya in a committee where the topics were "proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" and "the destabilizing effects of religious fundamentalism."
GO DIRECTLY TO FAIL:  Monopoly Live?  Do. Not. Want.
IN THOSE MOMENTS WHERE YOU'RE NOT QUITE SURE IF THE UNDEAD ARE REALLY DEAD-DEAD, DON'T GET ALL STINGY WITH YOUR BULLETS:  Name your favorite non-Social Network film of Jesse Eisenberg's.  (For me: with all apologies to occasional ALOTT5MA reader Rhett Reese, it's The Squid and the Whale, a painful and personal film I'm glad I saw once, and am pretty sure I'll keep it to once.)

We will be Covering-It-Live the Oscars on Sunday night, fyi.
SPOCK-A NAGILA:  Two Jewish-themed documentaries-in-progress worthy of your preview: Roberta Grossman's Hava Nagila, What Is It? on the history of that beloved folk song, and my friend Katie Halper's Another Camp Is Possible. The latter regards Camp Kinderland in the Berkshires, founded by Jewish leftists of the 1920s and carrying on its cultural (and political) vibes to this day, but it's the first video you'll need to click on to see Harry Belafonte.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ALSO, BEEFEATER HAS DECLARED THAT IT IS "GINS AND TONIC", NOT "GIN AND TONICS": Toyota declares that the plural of Prius is Prii.
IN A WORLD WHERE THE BILLBOARD TOP TEN INCLUDES 'WHITE PEOPLE AIN'T SH*T' BY SUPERCHUNK: You may like the New Pornographers or you may hate them (actually, you may not hate them -- I forbid you to hate them), but you cannot deny that they have fun making their usually ridiculous videos. So here's Moves, with Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Horatio Sanz, Wyatt Cenak, John Oliver, Donald Glover, John Hodgman, and Ted Leo (!), among others.

Quickly ETA to add:Ted Leo posted the Billboard charts on his blog. "'Get Fudged' - T Pup ft. Dorff Da Golfa." Hipster Little Mermaid approves.
I NOTICED SOME LOVELY TWEENS DOWN BY THE KIDS' CLUB ... MAYBE WE CAN FIND A NICE SPOT NEAR THEM BY THE POOL AND SEND OVER A COUPLE OF VIRGIN MAI TAIS. THEY MAY BE INTERESTED IN TWO SOPHISTICATED MEN LIKE US: Robyn Bahr asks a damn good question -- what happens on Modern Family as the kids grow up? For how long can Manny Delgado be an old soul in a tween body?  (They're already looking to recast Lily to have speaking lines.)

*I just read last week that two of Elmore Leonard's few rules of writing fiction are that you should never say that something happened suddenly and you should never say that all hell broke loose.
THE BEARDIES! The 2011 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists have been announced. Michael Klein rounds up the Philadelphia-area nominees (KZD!), and Bravo notes that there are five Top Chef alums, including Yukon Cornelius, in the running.
YOU ARE INVITED:  We welcome new competitors to join us for the fourth season of ALOTT5MA rotisserie baseball. For the first time, we will be forming two leagues instead of one and employing a relegation system.

Last season we had 16 teams in one massively competitive head-to-head league; 14 owners are returning for 2011. Depending on how many new owners we have, either the top 10 or top 12 finishers from 2010 will form the ALOTT5MA Premier League, with the remaining 2-4 plus all new entrants forming ALOTT5MAAAball, or whatever other name y'all decide. The top four finishers from that league will move up to the Premiership for 2012, with the bottom four finishers from the Premiership moving down to the other league.  All of us are committed to making this work; no one's going to quit based on transferring leagues.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I DARE YOU NOT TO LOOK: The generally reliable Joe's Place has what it believes to be a reliable list spoiling who 20/24 of the American Idol semifinalists are. All I'll say here is that your attention to prior pimpage was not in vain.
BUT WHAT WORD WILL DIANE WARREN RHYME WITH "ISCANDAR"?  Raise your hand and fire up the wave motion gun if you're even mildly interested in having Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects, scripting an English language live-action Star Blazers movie.
ALOTT5MA TRAVEL AND LOGISTICS DIVISION: Two travel-related requests from me that I suspect you fine ThingThrowers will be able to help out with:
  • I'm going for a long weekend to Atlanta the first weekend of March. Somehow, I've managed to never visit the city before. Anything I should make sure to do, see, and/or eat while I'm down there? I know we have several folks in the Atlanta area.
  • In the fall, I'm headed to northeastern Canada on a family trip, which will hit Quebec City, PEI, Halifax, Sydney, and Bar Harbor before ending in Boston. Any advance reading or viewing suggestions? (While I've never read Anne of Green Gables, I've seen the CBC series.)
TO ISAAC, THESE MAY BE FIGHTING WORDS:  Humble Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has set down his marker: "Yeah, we'll win 100 games," he said. "I really plan on going after, who is it, Seattle won [116 in 2001]. We'll get somewhere hopefully in that range, but that requires, after being lucky enough to stay healthy, having everybody doing their job on the mound, in the field and in the box." Indeed, former GM of both franchises Pat Gillick concurs with the optimism, saying, "This team is better, on paper. On paper."
HAIL TO THE CHIEF, HE'S THE ONE WE ALL SAY "HAIL" TO:  The American President or Dave?  Explain your reasoning; show all work.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

QANTAS. QANTAS NEVER CRASHED:  Why is this season of The Amazing Race different from all other seasons?  Not the all-star aspect, not even the HD, the absence of the traditional airport meet-and-greet or the increased use of establishing shots and the split-screen -- it's that this season immediately seems more mentally challenging at this stage than those which have preceded it, and the teams seem to have already upped the strategic/alliance game from what we're used to seeing. I prefer my Race when it's a mental challenge rather than the gross eating or scary stunts challenges which predominated for a while, so that's good.

As for what was bad, Fienberg's right, as we shall discuss.