Saturday, April 28, 2012


Friday, April 27, 2012

SO THEY JUMPED UP ON THE TABLE AND SHOUTED "ANARCHY":  Let me get this straight: if you sit down at the outside tables at Copa on South Street, order some food, and then someone in your party crosses the street and brings over a cheesesteak from Ishkabibble's (home of the Gremlin) -- and please take judicial notice of the facts that (a) Copa also offers cheesesteaks and (b) if you don't like Copa's cheesesteaks, Jim's across the street is where you should go -- and Copa then kicks you out for bringing in outside food, it's apparently completely legal to leave without paying for the $27 worth of food you ordered? 

(If you're NFL veteran Raheem Brock, apparently.)
IF IT WERE NOT ASSIZE-TIME, I WOULD NOT TAKE SUCH LANGUAGE FROM YOU ;): Lots of things I regret not finishing in my life, but today that regret is focused on article I didn't finish on the probative value of emoticons. :(
TORAH TZIVA LANU MOSHE:  Pretty damn awesome A-hed in today's WSJ on the fears (and consequences) of dropping a heavy Torah, including a discussion of the (yes, it's real) 40-day rule.
ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO: The New Yorker's Mary Norris explains their whole thing about the diaeresis:
The fact is that, absent the two dots, most people would not trip over the “coop” in “cooperate” or the “reel” in “reelect” (though they might pronounce the “zoo” in “zoological,” a potential application of the diaeresis that we get no credit for resisting). And yet we use the diaeresis for the same reason that we use the hyphen: to keep the cow out of co-workers. 
Basically, we have three options for these kinds of words: “cooperate,” “co-operate,” and “coƶperate.” Back when the magazine was just getting started, someone decided that the first misread and the second was ridiculous, and adopted the diaeresis as the most elegant solution with the broadest application. The diaeresis is the single thing that readers of the letter-writing variety complain about most.
There's a poll on the right-hand side, for old time's sake.
TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT, HAZEL. I DO MY SURPRISE CAMEO, IT GOES VIRAL…I TAKE MEDICINE FOR IT. NEXT STOP HOLLYWOOD…FLORIDA TO GET THE CAR FROM MY MOM, NEXT STOP CALIFORNIA…PIZZA KITCHEN TO TELL MY OLD BOSS NADINE TO SUCK IT. NEXT STOP TINSELTOWN…BECAUSE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS ARE REALLY CHEAP THIS TIME OF YEAR: I don't ask for 30 Rock to contain character development or narrative arcs. I just want it to be funny, I want the gags to work. And last night's live episode worked (EDT/PDT differences here), and since all I want to do is list my favorite gags in lieu of a fuller recap, let's just do that in the comments.  Okay, one: Nazi Doctor Spaceman. ("I know it's live! I want them to know.")

updated: WaPo has EDT v PDT clips.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

BIGGEST BLOW TO HAWAIIAN TOURISM SINCE THE BRADY BOYS DISCOVERED A TABOO TIKI DOLL:  Apparently dissatisfied with any of the suggestions to make the exhibition game more competitive, the NFL is on the verge of killing the Pro Bowl.  Good riddance.
FROM THE ALOTT5MA TRAVEL AND LEISURE DESK:  Commenter lisased just asked:
The husband and I are taking the kids to Philly for Memorial Day weekend. It's our first trip to the city; we are already planning on visiting Independence Hall and the Please Touch Museum and eating some cheesesteaks. Any other recommendations? Specifically, (1) the best brewpub around and (2) any place/event that might distract an 11-year-old bookworm and an 8-year-old ball of energy.
(1) Brewpubs ... Craig Laban's list here is a good place to start. Khyber Pass has the advantages of being (a) kid-friendly and (b) right near all the historic stuff, so I'd go with that. Also: bacon-grease popcorn.

(2) All the museums have good stuff for kids that age; an additional one I'd recommend is the Rosenbach Museum and Library, which has a wealth of Maurice Sendak stuff and other kid-friendly book exhibits. (Also: same block as the Winthorpe/Valentine house in Trading Places, as well as Jimmy Smits' in the much-missed Sh*t My Ghost Lawyer Dad Says.)  For the eight-year-old ball of energy, Smith Playhouse.
I WAKE UP EVERY MORNING IN A BED THAT’S TOO SMALL, DRIVE MY DAUGHTER TO A SCHOOL THAT’S TOO EXPENSIVE, AND THEN I GO TO WORK TO A JOB FOR WHICH I GET PAID TOO LITTLE, BUT ON PRETZEL DAY ... WELL, I LIKE PRETZEL DAY:  And today, friends, is National Pretzel Day, and if you're in the Philadelphia area there are free soft pretzels available all over the place.

[I somehow snagged a card entitling me to a free pretzel every day in May; I can see the pros and cons of this.]

related: French's would like people to use mustard in more places.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WHY YOUR MEEKMOUSE DOESN'T IN SPACESHIP: Unlike some others (Spacewoman, Sepinwall), I thought that New Girl was pretty consistently good right out of the gate, with a solid core of Nick/Winston reacting poorly to Jess's manic pixieness, with some virtuoso douchebaggery from Schmidt. With one exception (Schmidt joins a drum circle), I think it's been consistently funny. But kudos to whatever deranged minds created the Nadia character and her response to Schmidt's polite "how do you like America?" conversation-filler. I'm a sucker for people just listing absurd things, but that was a tour-de-force of deadpan lunacy for Rebecca Reid: "Wilma Vawawawa ... Alan. J. Greenspan ... ice skating for fun not for to save life ...." Probably the funniest half-minute of television this season. And yet, a note of disappointment. I know that, from the pilot itself, the show was planning a Nick-Jess romance. But why? The characters have reached a pretty great dynamic as friends, sweet and tart, and Nick always seems more big-brotherly to Jess than anything else. Plus, with Schmidt partnered off with CeCe and Winston sappily in love, Nick and Jess's separate dating lives have provided a wealth of both stories and outside contact, from well-used guest stars to funny one-scene players. The escalation at the end of the episode seemed abrupt and unnecessary, both from a character and a show standpoint, and threatens to upset the ecosystem that Nick and Winston work so hard to protect. It seems to be a fundamental tenet of the TV writer religion that will-they-or-won't-they-but-really-when-will-they is an essential ingredient of any comedy, but I'm with Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld -- I don't see the point of it.
EVEN FURTHER DOWN IN THE HOLE:  Because of last night's Pennsylvania primary election and its aftermath, today's Wire Wednesday has been postponed. To stay on schedule, next week we'll handle two episodes -- "Hard Cases" and "Undertow".

In lieu of a substantive post, then, this question: if you resolved to be a part of Wire Wednesdays as a New Years resolution, how many episodes have you seen so far?  Are you way ahead of pace, at pace, or are you still in The Pits?
XOXO, MARILYN: Your new Smash showrunner for next season?  Joshua Safran, who's been running Gossip Girl for the past few years. The bad news is that this certainly suggests that they're quite serious about increasing the Karen/Ivy drama, even though both the characters have become pretty unlikable.  The good news is that Gossip Girl has not hesitated to pretty unceremoniously dump characters who have become useless (Vanessa) or annoying (Jenny) and manages to use New York well (seriously, a driving plot point in this week's episode was a character's desire to change her positioning on New York's Approval Matrix).  Also, Gossip Girl has continued to (kind of) work despite the fact that pretty much every character (save Dorota, who's awesome) is kind of despicable at this point.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

YES, BUT WHO WILL BE THE FIRST TO USE GOTYE TO ATTACK HIS OPPONENT AS BEING JUST "SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW?" So, you're running for Prime Minister of France and you want to cut a campaign video about your love of Paris?  What do you use as the soundtrack?  Well, Kanye West and Jay-Z's "N****s In Paris," of course.  (Warning, video embedded on that page is unbleeped, but does not autoplay.)
YOU KNOW YOU'VE GOT MY SYMPATHY BUT DON'T SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT THAT THING AT ME: Mad Men is not a show that adheres strictly to the principle of Chekov's Gun. Some guns go unfired (Joan's husband's tour in Vietnam did not end in either of the two ways we thought it would, at least not yet); others miss or fire blanks (Pete rushing in to tattle to Bert Cooper about Don's past). And even when they don't get fired, I get the feeling that Matthew Weiner likes his show to wave the guns around a bit in Act 2 anyway, just to terrify us (cue snippet of Don, brylcream evaporating, making a panicky call to Peggy this last episode, which might have reminded us of another call to Peggy after another road trip that ended badly -- the one with Bobbie Barrett). But I thought it would be helpful to start a catalogue of the Chekov's Guns that the show is stockpiling this season:
  • Pete's literal gun (again)
  • Don and Megan's balcony
  • Don's fever-induced nightmare/hallucination/fantasy
  • Jane's druggy statement to Roger that "I knew you didn't fall in love" (when mentioning that she wasn't even going to ask if he cheated on her)
  • Peggy and Ken's pact to take the other if either leaves
  • Michael's possible dementia, which may or may not be an affectation
Anything else?
DINNER WILL MAKE US ALL FEEL BETTER. // WILL IT?  Oh, Smash, I wish I knew how to quit you. Because it hasn't gotten better in the two months since I last wrote about it, and the only question is whether Debra Messing's Julia has surpassed her son Leo as the most self-absorbed, unlikable character on the show. (Okay, Ellis remains in the running, but seriously: next time Leo runs away from home have him keep running, all the way to China to find his sister.)  Does anyone doubt that Rebecca's peanut allergy is the latest Chekhov's gun of the season, and the only question is whether Karen or Ivy benefits as a result?  Why am I still watching? (For completely batshit non sequiturs like the Bollywood number? Perhaps.)
BLOOD ON THE RUNWAY:  I've missed at least the past five cycles, but, really, can you have an America's Next Top Model after firing noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker and runway diva coach extraordinaire Miss J. Alexander? (Okay, no one's going to miss Jay Manuel, also axed.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

YOU REALLY BLEW THE LID OFF OF "NOOKIE": The Venn diagram showing the overlap between Jason Segel fans and Broadcast News fans likely approaches a single, unified circle, so enjoy this NPR interview in which the former discusses how the latter reflects his preferred approach to rom-coms.
BARBARIANS AT THE GATES: Don't have much time today, so I'll just say "leave it to the Lannisters to behave in a way that makes it look like Tywin is in the good half of the family." MIA: Theon/Balon/Yara, Bran, Cersei, Jon & the Rangers. Episodes since Rickon Stark sighting: 3?
IN ROUND ONE, THE CONTESTANTS BUILD A FENCE TO HERD STRAYING CATTLE:  If transaction costs are zero, why would it take so long for this now-viral footage from the UK's prisoner's dilemma-based game show Golden Balls to make it to the States, given that the show went off the air three years ago?  Still, sign up Jeff Probst or Penn Jillette to host, and let's get this on a network by September.
DISPLACED PERSONS:  I don't have much to say yet about last men's Mad Men other than that I will pay good money for a Bert Cooper five-dollar bill, and that whatever hesitation I had after the first three hours of the season is gone: this is the show we know and love, and Matthew Weiner knows what he's doing with this season.
WHY CAN'T THEY JUST LET ME LIVE?  Exactly three years ago today, we bemoaned beloved r&b singer-slash-folklorist Anoop Desai's ouster from American Idol, and we couldn't help but wonder:
Predict Desai's ultimate level of success -- or answer this question: three years from now, Anoop Desai will be ....
And as much as we appreciated such answers as "wildly popular teacher of 11th Grade English and American Studies and Choir at Phillips Exeter" (Daniel) and "an associate at Cravath" (Ella) as well as various a capella destinations, the correct answer seems to be closer to Bob's ("about 1,000,000 miles from the pop success that Ne-Yo has enjoyed") or Watchman's ("Who?").  Anoop is still plugging away, and has not given up on making a career in the industry.

It doesn't look like any of the non-finalists have made much of a career from that season -- not Hokey Gokey (a/k/a Robert Downey Jr Jr), neither Allison Iraheta nor Matt Giraud nor Megan Joy (caw! caw!), and Lil Rounds remains on the outside of the industry, looking in.  Man, that was a great season.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

WHO NEEDS A COMPUTER ANYWAY?  Oh, God bless the Internet: the complete 1989 Matt Groening-illustrated Student's Guide To Buying A Macintosh, which will evoke strong memories for readers of a certain age.