Saturday, March 17, 2012

FOR OUR NEIGHBOURS TO THE NORTH AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL READERS: If you're not seeing or able to post comments here, Google explains why, and how to fix it. [HT: Randy.]
EPH YOU: Other than the New York Yankees, is there a team that makes more Americans happy to see lose than the Duke Blue Devils?

Friday, March 16, 2012

FIRST TIPOFF WAS THAT "JUKT MICRONICS" WAS LISTED AS A SUPPLIER: Mike Daisey is an incredibly popular monologist, whose most recent one-man show--The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs--dealt with both his love of Apple products and his visits to China to see where many Apple products are made and his claims of outrages perpetrated by Apple against its workers there. Daisey's monologue was heavily excerpted in and served as the basis for a very popular episode of This American Life earlier this year. After further fact-checking and review, TAL has issued a lengthy retraction/apology and will devote this week's entire episode to detailing the errors and explaining how they were misled. Interestingly, Daisey has issued a statement saying he "stand[s] by his work" despite admitting that he "uses a combination of fact, memoir and dramatic license" in it.

ETA: Both the audio stream and the transcript are now available, and man, even in Ira Glass' typically soothing voice, it's pretty damn brutal.
GOTTA SET IT STRAIGHT, THIS WATERGATE: Some enterprising soul has cut All The President's Men into a music video for the Beastie Boys' Sabotage, which is well worth your time.

ETA: Neglected to provide attribution to Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo for the pointer.
THAT'S MY FAMILY, KAY. THAT'S NOT ME:  Forty years ago this weekend, Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather opened in five New York City theaters.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

THAT OTHER SPORT: As you may recall from last year, due to the large volume of interest we have split into two rotisserie baseball leagues -- ALOTT5MA Premier League and ALOTT5MAAAAball. Each year, the top four teams from AAA ball get moved up to the Premiership, and the bottom four from the Premiership are relegated down.

Due to certain owners opting not to return, there are 3-5 slots available in the AAA Division, our entry-level league.  Prior experience is not required, but certainly is welcome.  The draft is scheduled for next Thursday, March 22, at 8:30pm EDT.  If you're interested, let us know, here, now, and we will arbitrarily figure out how to handle it.
ANURA OLMSTEADIUM: There's a new frog in town. And it needs a name.
SIXTY-THREE LOSSES TO GO:  Our annual ESPN NCAA Men's Division I basketball bracket challenge group remains open until the first tip-off today.

Those of us who've otherwise replaced in-season college basketball viewing with other pursuits could use some context for this year's tournament -- so, please, give us your predictions.  (To give you an idea of how out of it I've become, it wasn't until around Groundhog Day that I realized "Fab Melo" wasn't a nickname honoring the talents of a player from the same school as Carmelo Anthony, but in fact a guy named Fabricio de Melo.)
GRIECO!  Apparently, the 21 Jump Street movie doesn't suck. I don't know that I'd have been interested otherwise in seeing Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in a buddy cop comedy -- regardless of its provenance and whether it's in fact the male version of Never Been Kissed-- but now I'm intrigued.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

CANDYGRAM FOR MONGO!  A competitor on The History Channel's Full Metal Jousting has been disqualified for punching a horse in the face.  Video here.

Coincidental: Following the third on-set death of a horse, HBO has ceased all future production of Luck.  The show had begun filming its second season.
WE'RE THE TIFFANY NETWORK, AND WE GOT IT GOING ON: CBS has renewed seemingly everything it airs, including The Good Wife, but 6 shows remain on the bubble there:

  • A Gifted Man--Especially since 3 of the principal cast members (though not, surprisingly, Patrick Wilson) already have pilots for next year, an almost certain goner.

  • CSI: NY/CSI: Miami--Will depend on drama development, though I'll be shocked if both survive, with the survivor getting a Friday slot (potentially split with Good Wife, which reruns poorly, skews inexplicably old, and hasn't delivered big in prime timeslots for CBS).

  • Rules of Engagement--Has already reached the magic number for syndication, but performs decently wherever it's stuck. Toss-up.

  • Rob--No one seems to particularly like it, but it's done OK out of Big Bang Theory. That said, CBS has a pretty robust comedy pilot slate, with Partners, Untitled Louis C.K. Project, and Super Fun Night all seeming like better fits with Big Bang than this. Expect it's a goner.

  • Unforgettable--It's not performed measurably better than Good Wife did and has been the weak link in a night that CBS otherwise utterly dominates (at least in overall viewers), courtesy of NCIS. Either it's gone or it's shunted off to another night, with the primo launch spot given to a bright star, male-skewing, CBS drama pilot. (The Dennis Quaid/Michael Chiklis one would seem a logical fit.)

No formal renewal of 60 Minutes, but you have to assume that's a done deal. With so much returning, it's going to be interesting to see how CBS plays--they've been known for bold scheduling moves with hits (Big Bang to Thursdays being the last big one), and I wouldn't be shocked to see the NCIS twins split up next year.

YES, SENSEI: With an eye towards Javier Bardem's bleached appearance as a villain in the next Bond film, Vulture slideshows Great Blonde Villains in Film History, assessing them both on commitment to evil and commitment to blonde-ness.
I WOULDN'T WIPE MY ASS WITH A BALTIMORE LAWYER. NO OFFENSE:  So that's what it looks like -- for better and for worse -- when Baltimore police leadership gets engaged.  In this week's Wire, "The Hunt" (Sepinwall, Ariano), we see the aftermath of Kima's shooting from both sides -- mostly from the police trying to (a) find the shooters and (b) at least get some "dope on the table" to show the Barksdale organization that they're fighting back. Lester and the team show off just how far their surveillance has taken them, and it's a really satisfying moment when Lester gets to introduce himself to leadership and explain where he had been assigned.

But, of course, Avon and Stringer are at least a half-step ahead, and they've got plans for Savino, Little Man, and Wee-Bey ... and, of course, Wee-Bey has plans for his fish, in a scene where we're not quite sure why Dee has the dread that he does, but he does.

The one detail which police missed, sadly, was Bubbs. Both in terms of Detective Holley assuming ill motives when he saw Bubbs paging Kima with a 911, and then with McNulty in no way recognizing why Bubbs hadn't been down in the projects for awhile when he dispatches him there for some truly quality observational work. This does not bode well for his new-found sobriety.
PAGING SARAH VOWELL:  Acceding to local pressure, the Gettysburg Museum & Visitors Center will no longer sell bobblehead dolls with John Wilkes Booth brandishing the Derringer he used to kill Lincoln.

Said manufacturer Matt Powers, of BobbleHead, LLC, a veritable Nathan Thurm of the industry:
I don't think of this as painting John Wilkes Booth in either a glorifying or negative way. We make it for people that are into Civil War memorabilia. It's supposed to be a gag gift.... I don't think we'd do Hitler. I think it'd sell, but it would offend people. We've made probably over a million bobbleheads and this is the first time it ever happened. So why change course? We've done Osama bin Laden.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS; YOU KNOW IT TO BE TRUE:  Remember how we debated the proper order in which to watch the Star Wars films, generally agreeing on Release Order (IV-VI, then I-III) rather than Episode Order (I-VI)?  Rod Hilton has a better idea:
If you’re watching the original trilogy first, then after the Empire is destroyed and everyone is celebrating, Luke looks over at his mentors, Ben Kenobi and Yoda, and suddenly they are joined by… some random creepy looking teenager who needs a haircut. Placing Hayden Christensen in the ending of Jedi, since he’s not in ANY of the other films, turns an ending that should be celebratory into one that is confusing for the viewer. The fact that Christensen looks like he’s undressing someone with his eyes doesn’t help.

So neither order really works. What to do?

How can you ensure that a viewing keeps the Vader reveal a surprise, while introducing young Anakin before the end of Return of the Jedi?

Simple, watch them in this order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI.

SUCK IT, MARCOTTE:  Very few changes in the T14 for US News and World Report's annual ranking of America's law schools -- except that for the first time since the rankings began in 1990 the T14 is now a T15, with Texas now tied for 14th -- and it remains nonsense that the school in Morningside Heights remains above Chicago and NYU.

Okay, so I linked to last year's rankings.  Let's try again, and UT is out of the T14; Stanford ahead of Harvard for the first time since 2007; big leaps for Washington and Arizona State.
I'M GONNA GLIDE DOWN OVER MULHOLLAND: The NYT explains what to do in case you find yourself free-falling in an elevator.
UNLESS THEY SOME SMART-ASS PAWNS: The European Chess Union has finally solved the pressing problem of horny competitors being distracted during tournament play by implementing a dress code restricting the amount of cleavage that can be displayed during matches.
P-R-E-C-O-C-I-O-U-S: Three Spelling Bee updates, because it's starting to round the corner into That Time Of Year:

Monday, March 12, 2012

BARSOOM FOREVER! Despite the massive negative publicity, I generally enjoyed John Carter. As one would expect from a Pixar alum, the movie looks pretty damn gorgeous, and because of the insistence on doing (very expensive) location shooting, there was a scope and grandeur to some of the vistas that can very easily be lost in today's age of green screen and soundstage shooting. Admittedly, the plot fails to make a lick of sense, in particular, the mechanics of teleportation and the motivation of the villains beyond "WANT POWER!," remain quite nebulous, and the physics aren't exactly based on any science known to anyone. Vulture has a fascinating article discussing why the movie flopped, which, interestingly, seems to be driven by a director with too much confidence in his own source material being given control--Stanton (a long-time lover of the Burroughs books) apparently vetoed marketing material that would introduce John Carter as a character, assuming that everyone already knew who Carter was, which seems a foolhardy decision. Your thoughts on the film, its marketing, or other matters are welcome.
KAT MCPHEE SMASH PUNY IVY? Look, I'm quite excited for The Avengers, and not just because they filmed part of a major action sequence outside my office building (in the most recent trailer, sure looks like Hulk is smashing my office), but I'm not sure I'm in for a marathon of all 5 prior Marvel Universe films (Thor, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and the Ed Norton Hulk) leading up to a midnight showing of Avengers, which select AMC theatres will apparently be offering.
BACK TO THE DRAWING GRID: Back after a decade's hibernation, there will be a new SimCity in 2013.
WORST. TEAMMATE. EVER.  Look, that's the obvious reaction when learning of the Div III women's hoopster who ditched her team on the eve of the Sweet Sixteen to go to Cancun for Spring Break in her senior year, but my friend Sam Smith (no, not that Sam Smith) has a better question: given how almost every human resources professional uses Google and social networking to screen job applicants, will this (and should this) impair her hiring prospects for her entire career?  Would you refuse to hire someone who demonstrated such disloyalty, or would you at least give her a chance to explain herself?