Saturday, January 19, 2013

NEVER HIT AND RUN, ALWAYS RUN AND HIT:  Earl Weaver has died.  His days as a manager had pretty much wrapped up by the time I was old enough to follow baseball, but Earl Weaver Baseball is one of the first computer games that I can remember playing on my first PC, and damn if it didn't pave the way for pretty much every sports game since, and that's more than enough to warrant remembering him.
YOU OTHER BROTHERS CAN'T DENY:  Linda Holmes reviews Glee's history of ripping off other people's arrangements, prompted by this week's (as Linda calls it) res ipsa oy theft of Jonathan Coulton's "Baby Got Back" cover.

Friday, January 18, 2013

LOOK THE PART, BE THE PART:  Robert Chew, who played Proposition Joe Stewart on The Wire, has passed away. (See updates below the fold.)  In addition to originating that character and working on other David Simon shows, Chew had a significant behind the scenes role for Season 4:
The task of workshopping the roles with the four actors fell to Burns and a familiar Wire face, actor Robert Chew, who plays the indelible Proposition Joe in the series. Since 1993, Chew has worked with the youth theater program at Baltimore's Arena Players, the United States' oldest still-active African-American community theater company; he's currently its music director. And Chew saw his job as to help the actors find their roles inside themselves.

DITZ:  Stefan Fatsis, the author of the books Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic (and the Friday sports correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered), is virulently opposed to any proposed changes in Scrabble tile value for multiple reasons, including this one:
Big but still-reasonable values for some tiles, especially the X and Z, are good because they improve the odds of comebacks, make tile positioning a compelling strategic consideration, and give players with lesser word knowledge a slightly better chance against those who are booked up.... Scrabble players understand that the game’s inequities are on the margins, and that figuring them out is a crucial part of learning to play well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

THE LEFTOVERS MIRACULOUSLY LASTED FOR EIGHT DAYS:  This year, for only the second time ever in the history of evers,** Hanukkah will start before Thanksgiving, and it will never happen again.

** In an addendum, the author explains that it also happened in 1888 because, prior to 1942, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November, not the fourth.
SEEMS TO BE THE EASIEST WORD:  James Poniewozik, on tonight's spectacle aimed at getting all of us to figure out where OWN is on our digital cable systems:
[N]othing I could imagine Armstrong saying, meets any non-laughable moral definition of “sorry.” Sorry is not a famous, powerful man deciding belatedly to do the right thing in order to limit his losses.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SINCE 1975, NO OTHER NOTRE DAME PLAYER HAS CARRIED OFF A HOAX LIKE THIS:  Manti Te'o, wow. Tremendous reporting by Deadspin, which I'm assuming will hold up.

on the other hand: Especially given the vehemence of Notre Dame's efforts to defend him, I am not willing to dismiss the possibility that a gullible Te'o fell in love with someone he met online, told lies about having met in person out of embarrassment, and then got scammed on the whole death thing when she decided to hurt him, or just as a way to end it, or ... well, we'll see.
MR. D, R.I.P. A small bout of premorse today, as Conrad Bain -- Mr. Drummond -- died on Monday, age 89.
BUT HOW DO I GET FROM HERE TO THE REAL WORLD?  In a show that has provided us no end to its list of sad moments, two more occurred in this week's David Mills-penned season five Wire episode, "React Quotes" (Sepinwall, AV Club). First, the titular question from Dukie to Cutty, with both unable to provide an answer to take him away from a corner life for which he's not suited (the answer is: "ask Prezbo!"); and secondly, heartbreakingly, Bubbles' disappointment that he didn't test HIV-positive, that he did not in fact have a lifetime burden punishing him for his prior failings. (Could Walon be more heroic?)

From what I can tell, most of the contemporaneous conversation around this episode dealt with the meeting of the two fabulists, McNulty and Templeton: which one knew the other was bullshitting at that Baltimore Sun meeting? I thought it was pretty obvious that McNulty knew Templeton was lying, based on his barely-stifled grinning; on the other hand, I thought Templeton thought he was lucky, not catching a corrupt cop, when McNulty confirmed his "12" offering. Your mileage may vary.

In other news, Herc remains thoroughly corrupt, it's all business to the Greeks, Clay Davis knows how to extend an expletive, and Omar can fly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ACT ONE:  Dug out of the SNL dress rehearsal archives in connection with this week's Doppelgängers episode, fantastic 2011 video of Fred Armisen's Ira Glass impression. Armisen may have reached the end of his recommended lifespan at 30 Rockefeller, but what a talented guy. Any chance he could bring back his Prince or David Paterson, one more time?
IT'S MISS CHANANDALER BONG: In today's "yep, feeling old" news, Vulture points out that today marks the 15th Anniversary of the debut of Friends' "The One With The Embryos," best known as the one with Ross' elaborate trivia game, which remains a great showcase for the cast, filled with both funny jokes and small character moments.

Monday, January 14, 2013

SLOW MOTION JEDI:  It's not Episode VII, but allegedly, Zack Snyder (300, Man of Steel, Watchmen, The Owls of Ga'Hoole) is going to work on a movie set in the Star Wars universe, which'll be a take on The Seven Samurai, only with Jedi.  Not clear about when this will release or how it fits into the Star Wars timeline (it makes a whole lot more sense as an "Old Republic" movie than after Return of the Jedi, but who knows?).  Excited?  Scared?  Excited and scared?
I HATE YOU, C AND V:  A man uses Ngrams to figure out what tiles are under- and overvalued in Scrabble/Words With Friends, confirming that Z's and X's are a lot easier to use than Q's and J's, but (as several commenters note) the rankings are deeply flawed because they undervalue the importance in the game of a letter's frequency in two- and three-letter words. Seriously, can we just make "ca" and "av" into real words, and come up with definitions later?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if I were a young actor today I would quit before I started. If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don’t think I could survive it emotionally. I would only hope that someone who loved me, really loved me, would put their arm around me and lead me away to safety. Sarah Tobias would never have danced before her rapists in The Accused. Clarice would never have shared the awful screaming of the lambs to Dr. Lecter. Another actress might surely have taken my place, opened her soul to create those characters, surrendered her vulnerabilities. But would she have survived the paparazzi peering into her windows, the online harassment, the public humiliations, without overdosing in a hotel room or sticking her face with needles until she became unrecognizable even to herself?
There's many places we could start our discussion of Foster's remarks tonight; the ending is one:
I'm I may never going to be up on this stage again. On any stage, for that matter. Change, you've gotta love it. I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved: the greatest job in the world. It's just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. And maybe it won't be as sparkly. Maybe it won't open on three thousand screens. Maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall: Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood, deeply, and to be not so very lonely.
added, AM:  This should go without saying, but I worry we forget these things: thirty-two years ago, a man tried to kill the President of the United States because he was obsessed with Jodie Foster. I imagine that deeply shapes the way one feels about one's fame.

added, PM: At the suggestion of Sam Adams, I replayed the tape and have corrected the transcript above. It wasn't quite announcing her retirement from acting.
GET OUT OF OUR HEADS:  It's rare that a section of newspaper is as closely aligned with this blog as this morning's NYT Sunday Styles, featuring: