Saturday, April 14, 2012

LITTLE MAN BY THE WINDOW STOOD: It's very hard to talk about Cabin In The Woods without getting spoilery, and the movie is much improved if you go in as unspoiled as possible. I'll just say that if you're thinking you want to see it, you probably should, that the performances (particularly those by Whitford and Jenkins) are darn fine, and that the movie, in addition to being both a darn fine horror film and a critique of horror film, raises questions about issues both low (reality television) and high (free will).  I know a number of y'all have seen it and want to talk about it, and the comments here are a spoiler zone, so enter at your own peril, OK?
ADORABLY TERRIFYING; TERRIFYINGLY ADORABLE: Have you ever thought that what's missing in your life is a band of children (including what looks like a three-year-old drummer standing on a chair) doing a very credible Rammstein cover? I am 90% certain that I saw these kids open up for Mercyful [sic] Fate at the Moore Theater in 1984. (@NekoCase)
INCLUDING BOTH WINDSOR AND WINDSOR LOCKS:  Incredibly cool: the entire Amtrak route network, simplified to the format of a subway map.
BRAVEHEART WAS ROBBED**:  A survey at Britain's National Army Museum has named George Washington as the greatest enemy commander ever to face the British, besting such finalists as Michael Collins, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and Erwin Rommel.

** Okay, survey was for 17th century to the present only. I didn't have a better title.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

THE REST OF THE STORY:  I feel like most folks moved on once she arrived in NYC, but you should know that the Grand Forks (ND) Herald's restaurant critic Marilyn Hagerty did enjoy her trip to Le Bernadin but also generally appreciated the Texas Roadhouse chain upon returning home, though "the dinner rolls that came with our meal were not baked long enough to be browned."  (At Texas Roadhouse, not Le Bernadin.)
EASY READER:  A question for e-reader owners: other than books which aren't available electronically for your device, for what books to do you still purchase the hard copy rather than download?  Reason I'm asking is that with Robert Caro's LBJ IV on the near horizon, I'm torn between two instincts—continuing my hardcover set of this historic series, versus saving myself the schlep of a 736 page, 2.8 pound tome.

related: Esquire's Chris Jones, on Robert Caro. "It's not just Caro's single-mindedness that makes repeating The Years of Lyndon Johnson a modern impossibility. The world outside his office has changed in the nearly four decades since he began. Publishers might like to pretend that they're different from other manufacturers, or at least that they're farms rather than factories, but they're not. Books like Caro's don't make corporate sense anymore, if they ever did."  (HT: @KenTremendous)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

SO ESTRANGED: Guns N' Roses was an easy induction for the Rock Hall of Fame, but frontman (and only remaining member from the glory days) Axl Rose has not only said he won't be attending, but in an open letter, objects to being inducted at all.  The basis for his objection is not that he doesn't think he's worthy or awesome, but is apparently that either (a) the Guns N' Roses to be inducted should specifically exclude the bandmates he's currently feuding with and include current members or (b) that he should be the sole inductee.  Both positions are fairly ludicrous, since the other members of GN'R co-wrote much of the classic material and shaped its sound and pretty much no one (aside from Axl) seems to particularly like the current incarnation of the band.  Will be interesting to see how they handle this one.

ETA:  Apparently, contrary to Axl's wish, he will be inducted in absentia, with former lead guitarist Slash accepting on behalf of the band.
TRUST THE CRITICS OVER AT HITFIX: I believe tonight's premiere of Don't Trust The B--- In Apartment 23 marks the last regular season debut of the year, and courtesy of ABC making the first two episodes available on Hulu, we can already tell it's got some potential.  Yes, not every element works (the pervy neighbor across the street is too pervy and not funny, and they're going to have to find a way to make Liza Lapira's character be more than one joke), but the central pairing of Krysten Ritter (gothy manic pixie dream girl type from Gilmore Girls, Breaking Bad, and elsewhere) and Dreama Walker (naive blonde who's had arcs on Gossip Girl and Good Wife) has really good chemistry, and James van der Beek is doing some excellent self-parody, particularly in the second episode, where he attempts to teach an acting class at NYU in part because he hates James Franco so much.  I don't know if it'll last--it's much raunchier than Modern Family and lacks the heartwarming ending that show invariably builds to--but it's worth checking out and makes me a little less upset Happy Endings wrapped its season early.
A TRAIL OF REESE'S PIECES LEADING TO A NEW MEXICO LANDFILL:  The AV Club's "Flops" series covers one of the most reviled video games of all time, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600.  Yes, I owned it. Yes, it was that bad, the exact opposite of Activision's Decathlon across every metric of awesomeness.
YOU LOOK LIKE YOU COULD USE A GOOD CUP OF COFFEE: As Tara Ariano points out in her recap of this week's episode of The Wire, "Collateral Damage," (and here's Sepinwall), much of what's going on, police-wise, is a giant game of Not It! when it comes to jurisdiction over the thirteen Jane Does found dead in the cargo container, plus McNulty's discovery in the water.

On the other hand, you've got two people who can be described "not the run-of-the-mill kind of asshole," but "the special kind of asshole" -- McNulty ("the most swollen asshole in American law enforcement") and Valchek, both who whom are eager to pursue their personal vendettas through their official positions. Actually, three (perhaps) - corrections officer Tilghman, who has a thing about the Barksdale Organization.

And then there's The Greek, who is as close to Keyzer Soze as we've seen in a villain in quite some time. Lurking in plain sight in the diner, then utterly ruthless when he chooses to be. And unlike the Barksdales, we don't (yet) get any sense of a home life, friendships, a love of parley, or anything to humanize him as one part of The Game. I don't think we've seen anyone as one-dimensional as him before.

In the meantime, think about what we do get to see, that another crime drama might not show us for quite some time: we know who The Greek is. We know exactly what happened to the women on the boat. We know that the investigation into their murders will likely lead to a dead end.  And yet the investigation is just getting started.

Returning this week: Wee-Bey's love of fish. Lester Freamon. Carver, Traffic Cop.  And on your food & beverage tab?  Beer with raw eggs, hardshell crabs, in-prison KFC, whatever Daniels didn't eat at dinner, and fourteen shots of Jameson, about five more than McNulty could handle.  At least his clothes remained intact.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NOT CATCHING A PAYCHECK: So, director/co-screenwriter Gary Ross, citing overly short prep time, will not be returning to Catching Fire.  With Lionsgate already having announced a release date of Thanksgiving 2013, and a hard start required in August due to Jennifer Lawrence's committment to X-Men First Class 2, there no way to push things back, and there's a finished script from Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy allegedly ready to go.  It's less than surprising, given that Ross has directed 3 films in 15 years (and easily could have had his pick of paycheck projects after the success of Seabiscuit).  I'd be intrigued to see them hand some reins over to Steven Soderbergh, who directed parts of the second unit for Hunger Games, but expect that they'll hand the reins over to a fairly bland journeyman who's shown ability to bring things in on time and under budget, which could be unfortunate.  There've been some interesting suggestions--Patty Jenkins (canned from Thor 2), Kathryn Bigelow (who can certainly do the action and psychological stuff), and Alfonso Cuaron (who elevated the Potter franchise).  Hopefully, they'll come up with someone interesting that gives us a film as solid as the first one was.
GO (MODESTO) NUTS!: So, the Little Earthling and I are planning a short road trip this summer to catch a few minor league games in the Central Valley. Most likely the Fresno Grizzlies, Visalia Rawhide and Modesto Nuts.

I see this clever baseball road trip planner on ESPN but either Chrome is incompatible with it or it's yet to be populated with minor league schedule data. Yes, of course, I can probably plan this by hand if I just do Central California, but I'd like to plot a few other itineraries as well to see if something else might be worth a Mariners-Aqua Sox-Rainiers trip or an Arizona-Albuquerque one.

To wit, can anyone out there point me to a itinerary planner that works? It must include minor league teams to be useful.
BUSINESS IS NOT RISING: Planet Money's Adam Davidson explores the economics of the matzoh business.

related: NYT says "matzo," NGram suggests "matzah" is dominant.

related: Carrying on a conversation from Twitter: Manischewitz candy fruit slices—it's all about the red ones, right?
THERE'S FAR TOO MUCH TO TAKE IN HERE, MORE TO FIND THAN CAN EVER BE FOUND:  Over the weekend, Disney's The Lion King surpassed Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera to become the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time despite running for almost a decade less time.  The reasons? Higher average ticket price ($155.09 vs. $98.97), slightly larger theater—resulting in a $2M v. $1.2M weekly revenue stream.

I saw The Lion King on tour in March 2010, and was wowed. I have never seen Phantom in any format, and am not sure why I have that gap.
I know a decent number of the folks here have been to Ireland -  I even thought there was already a post on things to do when visiting, but I can't find it - and since some friends and I are going to the Emerald Isle at the end of August and I thought I'd ask for advice. We'll be in Dublin Friday through at least lunch Sunday, then we have no set itinerary until our flights out the follow Friday. Any suggestions of must-visit sights, great places to stay outside of Dublin or anything else would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, April 9, 2012

THE NEGATIVE REVIEWS WRITE THEMSELVES:  Steve Carell is in talks to play the dad in Lisa Cholodenko's upcoming film adaptation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
AND WE WILL NEVER GET TO SEE THE HIGH-STAKES FIZZBIN TABLES: Behold the concept art for the original winner of the plan to revitalize downtown Las Vegas - a full size dry-docked replica of the USS Enterprise. I will never look at the Fremont Street experience again with anything but regret.
THAT WASN'T VERY LADYLIKE: Reintroductions having been made, last night's Game of Thrones dived right into the plot. Stannis's pair of first moves -- one marshal, the other romantic -- seem ill-advised and uncomfortable; Theon's corresponding moves are received even more humiliatingly. Tyrion's first move is astute and satisfying. Dany can't move at all. The Night's Watch sends out a call for men, but it looks like most of what they're getting is political traitors, children, and criminals so foul that they have to travel in a cage, plus two children of murdered noblemen. Sam and Jon just can't follow orders. All that plus some sexposition apparently designed to be more stomach-churning than titillating.

Missing in action: Joffrey, Sansa, Robb, Caitlin, Jaime, and Renly.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

THAT'S IT:  Our Twitter feed suggests that any Mad Men conversation can't wait until tomorrow. So a few preliminary bullets from me, below the fold:

GUMP. SPARXX. RAY DUDLEY. TRAMMELL. SMITH:  I guess America has a new favorite Bubba.

[This concludes your ALOTT5MA Golf (Non-Miniature Division) Coverage for 2012.]
OCCUPEEP D.C.  The winners of the sixth annual Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest.
I'M GOING TO INVADE WESTERN EUROPE AGAIN - ON PRINCIPLE: Odd fact of the day - the same fellow who directed the tedious film The Red Balloon also created the tedious board game Risk.