Saturday, August 13, 2011

NO, BABY!  Just when I was ready to abandon ALOTT5MA Unnecessary Remakes Week, Mike Myers has signed up to do a fourth Austin Powers film. I guess it's time for him to travel to ... the 80s? I just have trouble imagining anything featuring Mike Myers as being funny or relevant; his era seems over.

Friday, August 12, 2011

WHAT, ARE YOU MAD? I'M NOT MADE OF AIRPORTS: So Elle Decor, formerly known as Nothing Better to Do Than Set This Here Money On Fire Monthly, finally cracked that reclusive nut Gwyneth Paltrow and asked her what 10 things she can't live without* (their dangling preposition, not mine). Paltrow, that woman-of-the-people, included on her list such things as "the Antonio Lupi Baia bathtub in my bedroom." Hey, imagine a 99-foot plank, hovering a millimeter above the ground, suspended by ropes affixed to a pair of two-foot-high poles. That's about what it would look like if you graphed "percentage of people with bathtubs in their bedrooms" against "percentile income distribution." Hack off the left rope and you have the same graph, except with "Antonio Lupi Baia bathtub in the bedroom."

Just out of curiosity, let's play Player A/Player B and see if you can guess which one is me and which one is Paltrow. Gwyneth and Isaac, what eight things can't you live without?

Player A: Hand-painted wallpaper for one wall of living room in the second-favorite home I own
Player B: Oxygen

Player A: Flowers, single-variety seasonal arrangements
Player B: Food

Player A: Large-scale one-of-a-kind print by famous photographer
Player B: Shelter

Player A: Charles Edwards star lanterns, three, used as decoration and not lighting
Player B: Light

Player A: $10,000 bathtub for use in bedroom when bored with $10,000 bathtub in bathroom
Player B: Clothing

Player A: Holy books from different religions, used as pretext to point out how I had a bookshelf custom-built so that the tops of religious books are all at the same height because nothing promotes world unity like spending a lot of money on symbolic gestures that the famous people I invite to my home can appreciate
Player B: Human interaction

Player A: Clothbound Penguin Classics for sore muscles.
Player B: What? Pass

Player A: YUBZ retro headset and YUBZ retro bluetooth rotary dial and YUBZ retro telegraph operator
Player B: That's pretty much it for me

*Note: only 8 things listed; apparently the other thing Paltrow can't live without is base-8 notation.
GONNA TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, GONNA TRAIN IT GOOD. AIN'T NO BRAGGIN', BREATHES FIRE LIKE IT SHOULD!  We couldn't let ALOTT5MA Unnecessary Remakes Week end without checking in on How To Train Your Dragon: The Musical.  Here, indeed, be dragons.
HOW TO WRITE A POST THAT PRACTICALLY NOBODY READS: Write about a thousand words comparing a show that practically nobody likes to a show that practically nobody watches, and then make the post title an obscure line from a band that practically nobody has ever heard of, and then make sure that the line doesn't actually relate to the post, because the line from that song that actually relates to the post might arguably possibly be a spoiler. That ought to do it.
THIS IS THE GREATEST CASE OF FALSE ADVERTISING I'VE SEEN SINCE I SUED THE MOVIE "THE NEVER-ENDING STORY": The NY Times investigates the shocking revelation that Zabar's "lobster salad" actually contains no lobster.
ALOTT5MA FRIDAY PLAYLIST: The jukebox is open for your suggestions this week, and inspired by a recent Sound Opinions episode let's just go with Favorite Male/Female duets.  I'll start with Prince and Sheena Easton, "U Got The Look," because I always did wonder about home field advantage and ground rules in a World Series of Love.
IT'S A TRUTH SO PURE IT CAN KILL YOU DEAD/A TASTE OF HEAVEN MIXED WITH HELL INSIDE OF MY HEAD: Am I right that there currently are only two half-hour dramas on television? Both Louie and Entourage have elements of comedy, but neither employs as many laugh lines as, say, The West Wing, and both usually, or at least frequently, are built principally around a dramatic (as opposed to comedic) plot. Louie sometimes does a purely sit-com plotline (smoking pot with a neighbor; going on a date with a masturbation opponent), and Entourage always has at least one gaggy secondary or tertiary plot, but at the core, the former is about a fundamentally lonely and discontent man and the latter is about an ambitious and self-destructive actor. The two are even superficially similar, centered around men (and masculinity) in the entertainment business almost entirely cut off from meaningful relationships with adult women.

But surprise. I'm not going to shit all over Entourage right now. I've said a million times that it is a puerile adolescent boy's fantasy, but Doug Ellin and company seem to be trying to grow the show up in this final season. Ellin seems to be tentatively testing the notion of attaching consequences to its characters' conduct, and I don't understand why more people aren't crediting the weirdly genius idea of using Andrew Dice Clay as shorthand for the failure and impending desperate obsolescence that the boys haven't yet had to deal with (excepting Drama's first couple of seasons). No, the show won't be complete until the moment we see a grown woman doing something other than shopping, ball-busting, or undressing, but one at least shouldn't criticize it for moving in the right direction.

All of which is a long way of saying that Entourage deserves slightly better than a comparison to its half-hour drama-mate, which, by doing whatever the hell Louis C.K. (and not network executives) wants, is reshaping the boundaries of broadcastable television. I suspect that FX paired up tonight's episodes because one (the one about God and masturbation) was kind of a clunker. But holy crap, that second episode, "Eddie," was one of the most brutal, clear-eyed, and sad things I've seen on television this year. It's as if Louis C.K. had read all of the first-season reviews about how Louie peeks into the aggression and unhappiness endemic among comedians and decided to kick the door wide open. Even the lone funny part (other than the bookend scenes of Louis C.K.'s stand-up), Eddie's bit at the open mic place, was grotesque, with the bad-comic montage, the yellowy lights, the drug sweat, and Eddie's offhand belligerence. Try to imagine watching this episode two years ago, or in, say, 1998 (when the debate was Friends or Seinfeld), or 1987. How alien would it have seemed?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

AMONG YOUSE THUGS: So, will soccer become a major sport in America? A British GQ writer hung out with Philadelphia's Sons of Ben [HT: @dhm] to explore the nature of American soccer fandom:
But the fans, he thinks, are different from the base of young working-class men who traditionally have made up English football crowds. "I find them a bit studenty, to be honest," [Reuters reporter Simon Evans] says, "They're very active online and like to argue the toss with Liverpool fans or whatever. You get a lot of Anglophiles interested in it, like people from New Jersey who are really into New Order and support Man City. But the fakeness will be lost as the league grows up."

...Don Garber, the league's commissioner, is also worried about the swearing. In fact, having originally praised the Sons of Ben's valour in campaigning for a team, during a recent Q&A with MLS fans he said he was worried about a "lunatic fringe" among MLS supporters, and about the "dynamic" of travelling fans. He singled Philadelphia out twice, citing their habit of shouting "You suck asshole" when the opposition keeper takes a goal kick, and the fact that fans had to be escorted into PPL Park. "There are two things I worry about," he said. "One is that we're going to have a terrorist attack in an MLS stadium. The second is that we're going to have a riot in a stadium."
ISN'T IT A LOVELY NIGHT: Because I get all my Decemberists news from Colin Meloy's Twitter feed, and because nobody in his right mind would tweet that a dear friend has cancer, I didn't know that Decemberists keyboardist Jenny Conlee had taken some time off while being treated for breast cancer. But a couple of nights ago, she was back on stage with the band. You know what's great about Jenny Conlee? Every single fucking thing. So great news for Decemberists fans that she's recovering, and best of luck to her.
NO DAY BUT A DAY IN 1991: From the ALOTT5MA Questionably Necessary Remakes Desk--less than 3 years after the original Broadway production closed, an off-Broadway revival of Rent opens today, directed by Michael Greif, who directed the original production, with some rethinking (Mark no longer has glasses and a scarf!). Watch the cast do "Seasons Of Love."
PRIZE FIGHT: This week on Slate's Hang Up and Listen podcast, one of the questions posed was a historical/predictive one. If baseball, horse racing, and boxing were the "big three" of American sports 50-60 years ago, which of today's "big three" (baseball, football, basketball) was least likely to still be a major sport for our grandchildren?

And I think the answer is obviously football, primarily because of the injury factor. If they can't reduce the risk of chronic brain trauma yielding permanent damage, parents will stop encouraging their kids to play and fans may gradually walk away. One big incident can start pushing away faster than you can say Duk Koo Kim.  (Soccer's the obvious replacement sport, though it too has issues with sub-concussive brain trauma, but we've now been waiting 30+ years for it to reach major league status in America.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

HE REPRESENTED THE FRIGHTENED OR FUNNY NINE-YEAR-OLD IN EVERYBODY, MOST ESPECIALLY THE MALE: Some here will love this GQ profile of Jerry Lewis, now 85, even if he doesn't talk about the damn clown movie. History is reviewed, jokes are told, comedy is theorized, potentially unnecessary remakes are indeed discussed, and Milton Berle's penis makes an appearance.
QUICKER THAN THE HUMAN EYE:  In honor of ALOTT5MA Unnecessary Remakes Week -- it just doesn't stop, does it? -- Academy Award nominee Eddie Murphy signed up today to provide the lead vocal performance in a live action/animated remake of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series Hong Kong Phooey.
IT'S THE FUTURE, AND KICKBOXING STILL ISN'T A MAJOR SPORT:  As (unofficial) ALOTT5MA Unnecessary Remakes Week continues, let's clarify what Cameron Crowe has said about a Say Anything sequel. Indeed, at TCA last week Crowe did confess:
It’s the only thing that I’ve written that I would consider doing that with. “I’ve thought about it from time to time and talked about it with John Cusack once and just said this is the only story that I kind of think there might be another chapter to that at some point.
But as Crowe's own website points out, in 2005 he dismissed the possibility:
I used to think for a while that it would be the one movie I’d do a sequel to, because there was more to be said about Lloyd. Then I went to see High Fidelity, and I thought, “You know what, that movie says a lot of the things that I would probably want to say in a sequel to Say Anything…, so congratulations, it exists.
And in the comments to that post, Crowe added: "I have to admit, it's a powerful thing to read the reactions to mentioning that I still think about those characters. I was always so inspired that Francois Truffaut kept returning to Antoine Doinel. If I ever did return to Lloyd, it would probably be a reflection on optimism... what survives, what doesn't, what happens when a great and true love arrives so early in your life... maybe it'll be a short story, or maybe it will have all ended with that ding."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


[Also from our Broadway Desk: lead casting is complete for the upcoming Evita revival on Broadway: Elena Roger, who starred in the recent London revival, as Evita; Michael Cerveris as Juan Peron; and Ricky Martin as Che Guevara the narrator, Che, who has nothing to do with any historical figure.]
ROBBLE ROBBLE  Did you know that back in the McDonaldland day, Grimace was much more mobile  and the Hamburglar was known as the "Lone Jogger"?  Below the fold, via Flavorwire, one of the creepier ads I've seen lately:

INSTANT KARMA:  Today's Boston Globe:
On Thursday, a group of Buddhists traveled to Gloucester and purchased 534 lobsters, about 600 pounds worth, from a wholesaler and dumped them back into the sea in a prayer ceremony in which the crustaceans’ bands were cut and blessed water was sprayed on them.

Freedom. But it may have been short-lived.

Yesterday, lobstermen from the fishing vessel Degelyse said they had traveled to the site of the ceremony, laid their traps, and hauled up exactly 534 lobsters...
[HT: The Awl.]
WHY I'M GLAD I'M NOT A WIZARD, BY A MUGGLE: At incredibly Jewish day camp today, one Jewish son of this non-Jew went looking for his ruach -- either his spirit or a traditional crescent-shaped pastry, don't ask me -- at a camp-created recreation of that holiest of Jewish places, Hogwarts. Children locating their Jewish identity were rewarded with essentially unwashable Sharpie tattoos of spectacles and the Devil's brand lightning-bolt scars. The kid was ecstatic. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it's much better to be a muggle than to be a wizard. Consider the plight of the magically inclined:

Monday, August 8, 2011

I CARRIED A WATERMELON:  The Footloose remake must be testing through the roof, because Kenny Ortega has been signed to direct a film remake of Dirty Dancing.
ALOTT5MA GRAMMAR RODEO NATIONAL PASTIME EDITION: Do you accept as legitimate the assertion that the past tense of the verb "fly" is always "flew" except in the context of baseball and softball?  When you read a sentence like "Ryan Braun flied out to right, allowing Hart to tag and go to third," does that sound correct, merely tolerable, or downright wrong to you?
CUTE AND FUZZY BUNNIES I/S/O GIRLS WITH GREEN EYES: The crew at The House Next Door has been spending this summer remembering the movies of the summer of 1986, many of which have their fans here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

PROBABLE CAUSE EXISTED BECAUSE THE TRUNK WAS RATTLIN' LIKE TWO MIDGETS IN THE BACK SEAT RASSLIN': Rapper Big Boi was booked earlier today on drug charges based on his possession of ecstacy and Viagra.
POP CULTURE CO-DEPENDENCY: On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, the assembled panel played a game of "How Should Entourage End?" Unsurprisingly, most members of the panel proposed an ending involving the fiery death of Vinnie Chase, which, given the threat/promise that we're going to get an Entourage movie, seems unlikely. Two points for discussion spinning out of that:
  1. As part of the discussion, several of the panelists noted that despite their loathing of what Entourage has become, they have nonetheless watched every or almost every episode of the series. Are there other pop-cultural touchstones that you just can't seem to quit, no matter your efforts?
  2. As you might have heard, ABC has announced that Desperate Housewives will end its run at the end of this season (though depending on how their new Sunday programming fares, I can see this being a Seventh Heaven situation, where a new season is greenlit after the "final" one, possibly with one or two fewer Housewives). That's one of those shows that I just can't seem to quit, even though it hasn't been terribly good since Season 2 or 3, despite bright spots here and there (the Dana Delany arc in particular, and giving Nathan Fillion a job). It's early still, but we need to play a game of "How Should Desperate Housewives End?,"a game which I fully expect will generate a lot of fiery deaths for Susan Mayer.
WHEREVER YOU GO, WHATEVER YOU DO, I WILL BE RIGHT HERE WAITING FOR POO:  Richard Marx does an ad for a Sacramento colon-cleansing firm.

(Post title via Buzzfeed commenter.)
THE DARK AND GOLD KNIGHTS:  Led by Ben Roethlisberger, kick returner Hines Ward, kicker Luke Ravenstahl, and coach Bill Cowher, the Gotham Rogues took on the Rapid City Monuments in a football game yesterday -- or, rather, they were filming The Dark Knight Returns Rises before 10,000 extras at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. Article contains potential spoilers regarding what happens in superhero movies when thousands of people are gathered in a public space.