Saturday, May 14, 2011

ROBIN WILLIAMS, THE COMEDIAN WHO CAN'T SAY NO:  A little trip into the meta-verse for the weekend: a very special episode of "Mork and Mindy" in which budding tv journalist Mindy is desperate to land an interview with "star of tv, movies and nightclubs" Robin Williams. She realizes that Mork happens to look a lot like this Williams fellow; hijinks ensue.

"Mork Meets Robin Williams" aired on February 19, 1981, and YouTube has it in three parts -- 12, and 3 -- the last of which includes Mork meeting Robin Williams and delivering an important message to Orson on how earthlings can, and can't, handle celebrity.

Friday, May 13, 2011

ODDS OF BEING NORMAN MAILER'D OR MAXWELL TAYLOR'D - 500:1: If the mere thought of Paul Simon's eleventh SNL appearance (3 as host, 8th as musical guest; includes one double-duty) this Saturday doesn't excite you enough in and of itself, let's set out some odds to make it interesting:
If he performs ...
Two songs. 3:1  
Three songs. 1:2
During the monologue. 4:1
In a giant turkey suit. 20:1

A song ...
Off the new album, just before Update. 1:5  
Something from the Negotiations and Love Songs compilation. 3:1
A Simon & Garfunkel song: 7:1
A Simon & Garfunkel song not on Greatest Hits. 50:1
"Here Comes The Sun." 20:1
Anything from The Capeman. 100:1
"When Numbers Get Serious." 200:1

With a special appearance by ...
MANAGEMENT REGRETS THE ERROR, WHICH IS TOTALLY NOT OUR FAULT:  As explains, they're hoping to restore the last 48h worth of posts soon.

What that means is that this is an open thread for discussion of everything we would have discussed in the past day had we been able to do so -- NBC's Thursday night lineup, the Ashton Kutcher signing, the American Idol audience's decision (a) finally to respect female competitors or (b) to choose mediocrity over rawk, and whatever grammatical/linguistic issues you're having today.  Happy Fridays.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SWINGING AT ME FOR YEARS. THEY ALWAYS SEEM TO MISS: We haven't talked about Game of Thrones lately, but this chart of character relationships provides a rather nice hook for me to check in with everyone, four episodes later. For those familiar with GRRM -- is HBO doing the series justice? And for newbies like me, are you still as engaged and intrigued as I am?
A DISNEY COMPANY FRONTING A MASTER CRAFTSMAN OF MIDDLEBROW RETREADS OF HIS OWN MIDDLEBROW ANALYSIS TO A MASS MIDDLEBROW AUDIENCE:  Y'know, I was going to slam Bill Simmons for not discussing the Lakers' classless exit beyond a single, content-free tweet -- ignored on his two NBA podcasts this week, and no column either -- but then an anonymous blogger so raised the bar on Simmons criticism as to make my offerings irrelevant:
On the TV front, Simmons spent a few years proudly reminding people of his refusal to watch shows like House, The Wire or Arrested Development. Creating a culture site when you essentially have no interest in an entire medium and celebrate your willful blindness to acclaimed work from other media means it can only operate if the intent is actually to be bad at it. In one sense, Jack Kevorkian is an incredibly flawed doctor, but if you approach him from a different frame of reference, he's a specialist with an incomparable track record. Similarly, Simmons so regularly mauls subtlety and complexity with ham-fisted prose and wads multi-faceted concepts into gut-level inanity that maybe his purpose here really is to reduce culture to a kind of gray-lighted broadcast accompanied by a undifferentiated white-noise frat obscenity — like a rocky seashore whose breaking surf gives off the soothing noise of a constant fart.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

IT'S UNCLEAR WHETHER SHE ALSO SWEEPS UP ALL THE TOAST:  Cleaning up for Penn students earned this woman $140,000 last year.
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE IDOL STOPPED SUCKING?  Now that wasn't so bad, and most of the credit goes to Lady Gaga who taught the kids an obvious, but necessary lesson -- to sell a song, don't just sing the words. Become the narrator. And she was fun; making Scotty uncomfortable was the highlight of the night.

Singing-wise while Haley's "I Who Have Nothing" was only about 80% Sparks, 80% of that performance is still pretty darn nice. Unfortunately she also had the worst performance of the night, getting swallowed up whole by Michael Jackson's "Earth Song."

The G-Rated Lambert was his normally competent self; Lauren's a bit outmatched by the competition at this point and just hasn't developed; and Scotty ... I can't root for someone who chose that song, this week. Cannot.
ALOTT5MA CASTING DIVISION: Let's talk about 2 pieces of casting news in two different fields:
  • Apparently, CBS was, at one point, pursuing Hugh Grant to fill the Charlie Sheen slot on Two and A Half Men. It's unclear if the idea's dead or just in limbo at this point (Deadline claims negotiations broke down last night over "creative differences"), but man, I might actually watch a couple of episodes with that casting. As About A Boy proved, Grant can do the "lovable asshole" thing really well, and it'd certainly be at least worth trying.
  • Woody Harrelson will play Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games. I've seen reactions both extremely positive and extremely negative to the news, and find myself somewhere in the middle. I'm not sold that Harrelson can play the menacing/creepy side that's so important to the character, even if the "dissolute drunk" part and "used to be a naive innocent" part will come easily.
IT'S JUST OCCURRED TO ME WHAT THEY'VE BEEN CHANTING FOR THE LAST FEW MINUTES: I'm going to skate towards the edges of our No Politics rule for a moment just to highlight an ad from an underdog candidate in an upcoming California special election, because if you're going for the underdog pitch this is pretty much how you have to do it.  Once the music kicks in: chills.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PUMBA! NOT IN FRONT OF THE KIDS! I kind of don't want to post this link, because so much of the fun of The Book of Mormon is the shock of recognition. But if you haven't gotten your tickets yet (despite the fact that I'm sure I told you all to hurry up and buy them after the third or fourth preview performance), you might be waiting for a long, long time. And so I give you NPR's posting of the soundtrack of The Book of Mormon, which will be released for real on May 17. Just please, if you're going to see the show anytime soon, skip Hasa Diga Eebowai for now. And Joseph Smith American Moses, and maybe Man Up. But definitely Hasa Diga Eebowai.

For those of you who have seen the show, the comment thread is open to discuss what the heck the cast is going to perform at the Tonys. My vote is a medley of I Believe (for the pure gorgeousness of the song and Andrew Rannells's voice) and Turn it Off (for the tap dancing), but what the heck is Josh Gad gonna sing?
WEST COAST AVENGERS ASSEMBLE: I'm making a hybrid business/pleasure trip over to the Left Coast starting this coming weekend, with 5 days in the Bay Area followed by 3 days in LA. An ALOTT5MA Happy Hour in LA is already in the planning stages for Friday May 20 somewhere in the LA area. If you're interested in attending, have location suggestions, or other ideas for things that should be done in LA or San Fran, chip in below. All are welcome, and based on my experiences, ThingThrowers don't bite, at least unless they are seriously provoked.
SHE STILL WANTS TO TAKE A RIDE ON A DISCO STICK: Saturday night, HBO aired what may be the only theatrical production with a storyline that makes less sense than the pre-revisions version of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. I am, of course, speaking of Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour. Admittedly, I fast forwarded through chunks of the show where she was playing less familiar songs, but as best as I could tell, the story involved Gaga and her oddly dressed companions trekking through the wilderness to attend the "Monster Ball," where after finding assistance from Jesus and his bitchin' guitar solo, Gaga defeats a giant Monster (apparently representing fame and/or the paparazzi) before being ascended to heaven, which is apparently a loud dance club. (Let's leave aside that "loud dance club that never ends" might be among my personal conceptions of hell.)

There was a bunch of fascinating stuff in the show--some enterprising religious studies major is assuredly already hard at work on their senior thesis for next year about religious imagery in the works of Lady Gaga--but it didn't make a lick of sense, and Gaga seemed to keep falling back on the same things to ramp up the audience--shouting "New York," "Monsters!," or delivering long, impassioned, yet rather unconvincing, speeches about how your dreams will come true. I admire Gaga for her utter commitment to her concept and her activism (which seems to authentically come from her convictions), but I prefer my spectacles on this level to have at least a hint of irony, and Gaga don't do irony.
IT'S LIKE ONE OF THOSE NATURE SHOWS. YOU MESS WITH THE ENVIRONMENT, SOME SPECIES GET F--KED OUT OF THEIR HABITAT:   Scav Hunt requested it, and it is born: five seasons of The Wire, summarized in five minutes of clips from The Lion King.
DR. GAWANDE, WHO ARE YOU WEARING TONIGHT? The Oscars of the magazine world (National Magazine Awards) and food world (James Beard Foundation awards) were presented Monday night. (On Saturday, the Beard awards for books, journalism and other media were also presented.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

AIN'T NUTHIN' BUT A 'Q' THANG:  They've added 3000 more words to the official Scrabble dictionary, including qin (a Chinese musical instrument), innit, grrl, vlog, punaany, and thang.
LOSE LIKE A CHAMPION:  Part of why I recoiled from Joe Buck's "That is a disgusting act" lambasting of Randy Moss's moon shot is that such language properly should be reserved for the truly reprehensible, and not the merely cheeky. Which of course is to allow me to say that I cannot remember a more classless, unsportsmanlike, reprehensible set of actions in a sports event quite like the fourth quarters of the Mavericks-Lakers game yesterday, in which Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum committed fouls so flagrant that next year's suspensions (on whatever franchises they join next) will not likely be severe enough. Moreover, Isiah Thomas is now off the hook for most classless exit.

That's the easy part; any hack sportswriter could have told you that. The hard part is that this also ought to taint their coach's legacy as well. It's Phil Jackson's job to instruct his players to maintain their sportsmanship even in the face of another elimination road game severe ass-kicking, and to remove from the court those players who can't comply. If his orders were that Santiago not be touched, then he shouldn't have been in any danger at all; especially after the Odom ejection, it was Jackson's responsibility to figure out who could, and could not complete the game properly. His failure to do so should be remembered along with the thirteen NBA championships which he will carry with him into this retirement, and it would not be wrong for the NBA to fine him as well, and levy a suspension upon his inevitable return to the hardwood.

Just as bad, of course, we're stuck with Mark Cuban's punim for at least one more round.
WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY:  If you'll go back through this blog's archives you know how much coverage we devoted to thoroughbred racing back in the day -- that "express your love for Affirmed or Alydar in haiku form" post generated a record for comments at the time -- but as this RealClearSports slideshow of Most Diminished Sports reminds us, the Kentucky Derby ain't what it once was for most of America, nor are the Penn Relays, America's Cup, the PBA Tour, Indianapolis 500 or prize fights anywhere close to where they once were in popular consciousness. Is this an irretrievable decline? Or does Barbaro-mania suggest that any of them could come back at any time -- it just takes the right star?

I did watch the Derby with the girls on Saturday; as my father did for me and Todd, we each drew slips of paper with numbers 1-20 on them to have a rooting interest for The Fastest Two Minutes In All Of Sports. But I cannot imagine taking them to a track to actually watch horse racing in person as I did several times as a kid -- the word "unsavory" comes to mind.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

KELLYCLARKSON! Oh, there were moments during tonight's Amazing Race finale (kudos to Luke's t-shirt at the map, and the incident occasioning the post title), but as Linda Holmes tweeted: "I enjoyed you, Amazing Race, but you don't know how to build a race anymore. That was an appallingly designed leg."

The tasks simply didn't provide the level of challenge which any episode of the show is supposed to provide, and especially the finale. What was the degree of difficulty? Where was the physical effort or memory test? the task that required patience?

What I treasure in this show is when it rewards skill. Tonight's ep didn't, with one exception I'll leave to below the fold. Yes, we have a winner, and it wasn't unjust, but it wasn't justified either. It just happened.

ORCHESTRAL MANOUEVRES IN THE DOCKET: The Inquirer's Peter Dobrin surveys the troubled state of the Philadelphia Orchestra, fearing the worst: "A great orchestra is a rare and perishable thing. It takes decades to make, just months to ruin."