Friday, November 30, 2012

NBC HAS SOLVED ITS MARIA PROBLEM:  For a planned December 2013 live broadcast of The Sound of Music, the Smash producing team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron has cast Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp.
HELLO:  As Alan Sepinwall noted on the Twitter, Mandy Patinkin turns 60 today. Here's him singing Bali Ha'i, Swanee/Mammy, and Something's Coming (the latter two from Letterman), and some acting he did with Christopher Guest that one time.
HE'S A SYMBOL, AND THE SYMBOL LIVES ON:  Fantastic interview with director Christopher Nolan in Film Comment on the completion of his Batman trilogy. A taste:
With my co-writers David Goyer and my brother [Jonathan Nolan], we decided early on that the greatest villains in movies, the people who most get under our skin, are the people who speak the truth. So with Ra’s Al Ghul, we wanted everything he said to be true in some way. So, he’s looking at the world from a very honest perspective that he truly believes. And we applied the same thing to The Joker and Bane in the third one. Everything they say is sincere. And in terms of their ideology, it’s really about ends justifying means.... I think truly threatening villains are the ones who have a coherent ideology behind what they’re saying. The challenge in applying that to The Joker was to have part of the ideology be anarchic and a lack of ideology in a sense. But it’s a very specific, laid-out lack of ideology, so it becomes, paradoxically, an ideology in itself.
NASHVILLE: A guest post from our friend, singer/songwritier Paul Tabachneck:
* * *
I mentioned to Adam that I'd love for us to talk some about Nashville, which I started watching with low expectations, but have been pleasantly surprised by. Callie Khouri and Co. have done the rare turn of paying rapt attention to the craft of songwriting, and it has become the beating, bleeding heart of this program. This show could have been awful — instead, it feels to me like a good idea turned great.

The reason "Smash" worked, when it worked, was that its' original material was written the way a musical would be — music and lyrics written by one duo across the board, with the exception of the Ryan Tedder debacle (which the show acknowledged as such). When the show was in Marilyn mode, it was sublime, because the musical-in-the-musical felt real. The route this show has taken to finding original music has been much more intricate, and one could argue that it had to be, to get it right.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

TEST HER AGE LIKE SHE'S A DOMINICAN SHORTSTOP: I haven't seen much of X-Factor this season beyond the absolutely insane Lyric 145 riff on Mary Poppins from earlier this season, but, okay, this Carly Rose Sonenclar performance of "Rolling in the Deep" from last night is just ridiculously assured for a thirteen-year-old. Yeah, 13. Born in 1999. In the UK, the show has launched One Direction, Leona Lewis, and Jedward already; Sonenclar seems destined to be its first US star.
EXIT POLLS: First 48 HOF votes in, here's where we are:
Would induct (75%+): Bagwell (44 votes), Clemens (44), Biggio (42), Piazza (42), Bonds (41), Raines (36).
Just short: McGwire (33), Schilling (28).
Receiving some consideration, and remaining on the ballot: E Martinez (18), Sosa (14), Trammell (13), Walker (10), Murphy (7), Palmeiro (6), Morris (5), Wells (3).
Explain your one vote: Conine, Lofton, Mattingly, McGriff, L Smith, Rondell White, B Williams.
The average voter selected 8.125 candidates, which is remarkably high. One-third of all voters used all ten slots. Six voters skipped both Bonds and Clemens (with five of them omitting McGwire as well); three voters skipped Piazza but otherwise supported the other five we'd induct. (Strategic voting?)

Query for the Schilling abstainers: is it "I don't think he's worthy" or "even if he may be worthy, he's not First Ballot material"? Polls remain open.

updated, Friday 11am: I'll leave the poll open, but the results haven't much changed with twenty more votes in, other than a burst of increased support for Alan Trammell bringing him close to Edgar-level. Given this data, I might as a voter consider throwing a vote Kenny Lofton's way to keep him in future consideration and strategically skip voting for someone like Raines who likely isn't getting in this year, but isn't falling off the ballot either.
THE BOXES NEVER REACH MY HOUSE: From the long-dormant ALOTT5MA Samurai-I-Am-Urai Desk comes word of a San Francisco woman securing the arrest of a local package thief using a samurai training sword and a half-can of bear spray.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

VOTING SHALL BE BASED UPON THE PLAYER'S RECORD, PLAYING ABILITY, INTEGRITY, SPORTSMANSHIP, CHARACTER, AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TEAM(S) ON WHICH THE PLAYER PLAYED: The National Baseball Hall of Fame has released its 2013 ballot for modern players. Its thirty-seven names include some of the biggest stars in baseball history, and some of its more disgraced names. This will be a hell of a debate, and we should continue to have it here.

I have set up a Doodle poll for the ALOTT5MA community to vote. Please vote for no more than ten names, because that's what the BBWAA does. I have long believed that players accused/admitted of PED usage should be voted into the Hall if their accomplishments so merit, and with their Hall plaques "teaching the controversy" where appropriate. My 2013 ballot reflects this:
Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, E. Martinez, McGwire, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Wells.
The toughest decision for me was the tenth slot, between David Wells, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro, and in that case I did go for the "who wouldn't have made it but-for-usage?" tiebreaker, as best I could. The others, to me, are pretty clear, though I did give Dale Murphy a second thought because this is his fifteenth, and final year on the regular ballot. Ultimately, though, he didn't excel for quite long enough for my tastes. (Our discussion of the 2011 ballot2011 Doodle results.)
THEY DO OVERLOOK THAT HE WAS THE BOMB IN PHANTOMS:We speculated about EW's Entertainer of the Year a couple of weeks ago and turns out we were all wrong.  For reinventing his career (as embodied by his direction of and performance in Argo), your Entertainer of the Year?  Ben Affleck.

ETA:  The full list includes a number of folks we speculated about--Channing Tatum, Joss Whedon, Jennifer Lawrence, Seth MacFarlane--a few we should have expected--the cast of Homeland, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt--and an interesting surprise choice in Kerry Washington.
AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO PLAY THIS GAME?  It's "A New Day" in Baltimore, with as many steps forward as backward as the Carcetti administration begins. First, the line which made me happier than just about anything I've seen on The Wire:
Detective Freamon, you have carte blanche in picking your squad. In fact, you can pick your supervisor, for all I care. Motherfucker, as far as I'm concerned, you are the Major Crimes Unit. It's morning in Baltimore, Lester. Wake up and smell the coffee.
With that, the lights get turned on, the miniatures put away, and Real Police get to start policing. Just thrilling to see Freamon put the pieces together on Lex's murder and the vacants. Meanwhile, Good Carcetti starts throwing his mayoral weight around against stats-driven policing, and Omar brings the drama to Prop Joe as only Omar can.

And then there's everything else. It's difficult to figure out which kid is most doomed: Dukie and Namond from being phased out of their protected classrooms, Randy for snitching, or Michael for having chosen to align himself with Marlo's crew and defending Randy (and seeking the One Ring). Bunny's classroom no more, and Prez's may not be for much longer (between the anticipated test scores and the budget cuts), but they're making whatever impact they can.

Meanwhile Bubbs is still getting beat up because Herc is the worst fuck-up ever, Carcetti's already being squeezed between the ministers and the school budget deficit, Prop Joe is between a shovel and a spade, and, worst of all, next week is this season's George Pelecanos episode. May god have mercy on the City of Baltimore.
DRYLAND IS NOT A MYTH! I'VE SEEN IT!  As part of its continuing effort to be the butt of every joke imaginable, SyFy has announced it is developing a weekly TV series based on Kevin Costner's notorious flop Waterworld.
I'M NOT BEING DEFENSIVE! YOU'RE THE ONE WHO'S BEING DEFENSIVE!  On December 15, Martin Short will return to host SNL the first time since 1996. Paul McCartney will be the musical guest, and I'm sure he'll be having some wonderful ... songs for the season. (Jamie Foxx/Ne-Yo on December 8, and Foxx hasn't hosted since 2000.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

THE MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN SPORTS IN THE PAST FORTY YEARS: Tom Boswell pays tribute to the late Marvin Miller.

I dug up the first NYT article I could find on Miller, a January 18, 1968 column by Bob Lipsyte. Reading it now makes clear just how much Miller changed the world:
A SPECTER is haunting the capitals of sport—the specter of unionism. Athletes are groping seriously toward some kind of representation more effective than the present players' associations, and established unions, such as the Teamsters, have shown enormous interest in putting locals in the locker room. ...

Player leaders feel that owners have generally acted like lords of the manor and treated their athletes as petitioners. This is true, but owners must also be appreciated as among the last frontier spirits left in American business—especially those whose family-owned clubs were formed in other eras and held together by pure orneriness and benevolent despotism. Now, when America has entered upon a gold-plated age of sports, these old owners aren't about to cut bright young labor lawyers into the bonanza.
FROM THE EIGHT DAYS OF GIFT-GIVING ADVICE DESK:  Two weeks ago we talked about what we're reading now, but reader Cecilia couldn't help but wonder: "I just love the book posts where everyone gathers together to geek out over what books they're oping to receive, planning to give as gifts, and intending to read as one year ends and the next begins. Could we do that soon, please?"

Monday, November 26, 2012

DOWN TO ONE MAN: Way back when Kirk Cameron had a crisis of faith over a chaste scene-within-a-scene, Alan Thicke famously told him, "Son, if Growing Pains is too blue for you, maybe you're in the wrong business." Thicke presumably would not have exactly the same advice for Angus T. Jones, the titular half-man from Two-and-a-Half Men, whose show surely is bluer than Growing Pains (from what little I've seen from the bumpers at the end of DVRed episodes of Big Bang Theory). But it's still a little jarring to see a TV star who less than a year ago signed a $300K-per-episode renewal declare that his show is filth and demand that he be allowed out of the business.  Congratulations on the reverse-Biehl, Angus T. 

I have no reason to doubt his sincerity, I don't begrudge the man his right to practice his faith however he thinks he must, and, even if I think it's a decision he may live to regret, there are far worse excesses a rich nineteen-year-old can indulge in than binge-piety.  We arrive at our destination from different directions, Angus T. Jones and I, but I think I speak for both of us when I say:  Can this please, pretty please, finally kill that damned (however you interpret that word) show? 
TOWN VS. FROWN: When Walking Dead premiered, I was excited -- a show that ran past the 90-minute/250-page mark might give some thought to the question that crops up at the end of every short zombie piece: what next? But The Walking Dead took its time getting there. Its first season was about the need to find moments of pre-apocalyptic normalcy in a post-apocalyptic world, and its second was about learning to let go of the notion of pre-apocalpytic normalcy (and pre-apocalyptic morality) altogether. So it's only in this, the third season, where we get down into what post-apocalyptic normalcy really is.
HIS VIBE IS MORE SKEEVY ENGLISH STREET URCHIN THAN POWERFUL CRIMINAL MASTERMIND:  TV critic Eric Deegans has a list of the four Worst Mistakes Currently Airing on the Best TV Shows.
IT'S SOOOO AMAZING! YOU SPIN THIS THING ON THE GROUND AND IT GOES ROUND AND ROUND. I COULD WATCH IT ALL DAY:  With Cyber Monday** upon us and the eight days of Hanukkah fast approaching, can we collaborate on good gift ideas for kids?

Two I'd like to recommend: ThinkGeek as a general resource for brainy kids (and grownup) stuff, and (as taught to me by the elder Spacechild) the card game Monopoly Deal, which is just endless strategic fun to excite a child's inner Machiavelli. 

** A friend asked on social media this morning: do we still use the term cyber in any other context other than today's online sales? It wasn't that long ago that some of us edited an entire legal volume titled The Law of Cyberspace.
APPARENTLY, IT INVOLVES METH, A BUG, AND SOME FRIED CHICKEN:  An idea we've been kicking around ALOTT5MA HQ: would you be interested in a sequel to Wire Wednesdays, in which those of us slackers who've never watched a Breaking Bad episode would unite to do so in 2013? Would you be more or less likely to do so if we accelerated the pace to two episodes/week, in order to catch up in time for the start of the final season next summer?

[Wire Wednesdays are tentatively scheduled to end on February 20, 2013.]