Friday, January 25, 2013

I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE MAJOR PART OF THE WORK OF A PRESIDENT IS TO INCREASE THE GATE RECEIPTS OF EXPOSITIONS AND FAIRS AND BRING TOURISTS TO TOWN: The Washington Nationals will announce tomorrow that William Howard Taft ("Bill"/"Big Chief") will join the Rushmore Four of George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy as the newest Racing President. Not Kennedy, not Reagan, not Van Buren, not Bartlet. Damn.
FINALLY, A CREED CONCERT PEOPLE WILL SEE WILLINGLY:  Folks, Creed Bratton is going on tour:
An American actor and musician, a former member of The Grass Roots with hits like "Let's Live for Today" and "Midnight Confessions". Nowadays, he is best known for playing a fictional version of himself on the American adaptation of the hit television show "The Office" on NBC. Creed's show is a musical journey. He'll play a selection of songs from his beginnings in folk with the "Young Californians", complete with his comic tales of hitch hiking through Europe and Africa in the 60's. Also a candid account of his insane time with the The Grass Roots. The often touching yet still funny stories of his down and out days before he made it on "The Office". All the while playing songs from his six solo albums and perhaps even a Grass Root tune thrown in. You'll laugh you'll cry and wet your seat. Creed Bratton is an enigma to himself…. even though he'll deny it. HE expects to be sued by all of "The Office" cast members after this tour.
WE JUST WANT TO SEE HOW YOU END UP:  That's what the off screen camera crew on The Office said when we heard from them for the first time earlier this season (in the context of Jim and Pam asking about why the crew stuck around Scranton so long), and it's also a pretty accurate reason of why the remaining audience is watching.  We haven't talked about the show in a while, and 90% of last night's episode followed the standard pattern of an amusing cold open basically unrelated to the episode's plot and the remainder of the episode returning to wells of diminishing revenue (Dwight is a Jackass, Andy/Erin/Pete love triangle, basically anything to do with Nellie, even if pairing her with Toby is kind of inspired). 

That said, the final few minutes of the episode, in which Pam finally has a breakdown about Jim being in Philly and we see the camera crew for the first time were tonally jarring, really well performed by Krasinski (getting to play against his nice guy image for once) and Fischer, and made me wonder if The Office might actually have a downbeat ending.  It was particularly shattering after a 30 Rock in which things moved rapidly towards an implausibly happy ending for everyone.  We'll see where they go with this (the cast and producers' statements indicate that this is a big milestone on the way to the end), but I'm in it to the end.
WOMEN WHO TRY TO DO THINGS SURE DO GET KILLED A LOT:  Do we have to go back to The Larry Sanders Show to find a tv comedy with as satisfying, and funny of a final season as 30 Rock's? My goodness am I going to miss this joke factory (with occasional character development), and my expectations are now pretty stratospheric for the final landing.

Remember in the poker episode, when Jack said of Kenneth: "In five years we'll all either be working for him ... or be dead by his hand"? Look where we are now.

added: Poniewozik reminds me of one of my favorite lines from last night, Kenneth's “No, sir, it’s a magical, ruth-filled business!”

added: Dot Com supercut!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Here's his very first Letterman appearance, performing "Excitable Boy" and "The Overdraft" with a long talk with Dave in the middle as to the autobiographical nature of the former; and from his last, "Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner". And, because I always link to it, his appearance on a particularly cursed episode of The Larry Sanders Show.
SO DOES THIS MEAN RAMBALDI WAS A JEDI?  Multiple reports now claim that Star Wars: Episode 7 will be directed by J.J. Abrams, with Ben Affleck having been the other finalist.  Abrams' filmography is admittedly not all that long, but is pretty darn impressive for what it is.  I'm certainly intrigued, though what this means for the great Star Wars/Star Trek conflict remains uncertain.
HE CAN TURN INVISIBLE IF HE TRIES REALLY HARD:  Neil Diamond turns 72 today. In August 2008, he told a Hartford audience:
“This is my job... Someone much greater than me gave me that job. He said, ‘You, you with that stupid look on your face — go out and sing until I tell you to stop.’ I haven’t heard the word yet so I’m just going to keep doing it.”
from the archives: It was once Neil Diamond Week on Idol, during which Paula Abdul started reviewing performances which hadn't happened yet.

(Worse Diamond atrocity: "Heartlight" or The Jazz Singer? Possible tiebreaker: for only one of the two did he don blackface.)
SAFDIE DANCE:  Having spent some time yesterday at 1515 Arch Street, I'm glad to know that there is indeed a colorfully named Tumblr dedicated to Brutalist architecture.  Its 2012 Top Ten posts is a nice survey of the style's highlights, but really, nothing beats Habitat 67.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FROM THE ALOTT5MA FAKE SAMOAN GIRLFRIEND DESK:  For whatever it's worth, newly released phone records and flower delivery receipts seem to confirm that Manti Te'o was really stupid regarding, and largely not complicit in, all the mishegoss.

In related news, the Cleveland Cavaliers last night introduced the Manti Te'o Kiss Cam, and on April 12 the San Jose Giants will host Lennay Kekau Night, with catfish on the menu and all ticketed fans being allowed to bring one imaginary (or real) significant other to the game for free.

updated Thursday: Oh, come on, really? It was Ronaiah Tuiasosospo on the phone the whole time, disguising his voice as a woman's.
FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS FOR A PILLOW? IT DOES SEEM A LITTLE HIGH, DOESN'T IT:  Book Riot presents sixteen great movie scenes set in libraries.
EXCEPT ISAAC NEEDS THE FLASH TO CONFIRM WHETHER ANYONE'S SPITTING IN HIS FOOD:  Some NYC restaurateurs are banning diners from taking pictures of their dishes because, as David Bouley put it, “It’s hard to build a memorable evening when flashes are flying every six minutes.” Still, they're trying to be accommodating -- Bouley has invited some diners into the kitchen to photograph their courses immediately after plating and “is setting up a computer system so that diners can get digital images of what they’ve eaten before they even get the check.”
I'M A MURDER POLICE. I WORK MURDERS:  Remember when we weren't sure if Bunk was Good Police, given the conflict between the "fuck" scene and the drunk guy who has to burn his clothing to hide evidence of infidelity? This week's episode, "The Dickensian Aspect," (Sepinwall, THND, AV Club, Dickens) confirms yet again that The Bunk is on the side of the righteous, and he may be the last person left (well, Carver and Greggs have been quiet) working his cases completely right.

And that led him back to Randy, Poor Randy, who we see months later in his foster home hardened even further, victimizing others lest he be on the bottom of the pile again. Between that and the Nicky Sobotka shout-out (literally: he shouted out), it's sad yet unsurprising to see where these former featured characters have ended up.

Meanwhile: Omar limpin', but Omar comin'; Templeton does actual reporting; Marlo looks out for Marlo; McNulty and Carcetti continue to suck, even if they're doing it for the right reasons.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

IMMA LET YOU FINISH, BUT "CRIME, BOY, I DON'T KNOW" IS WHEN I DECIDED TO KICK YOUR ASS:  From the "Why Didn't I Think Of This Earlier" beat?  The Kanye West Wing.  Watch the Oval, ladies and gents.

(Via Joshua Malina on Twitter, naturally.)
THAT WAS JUST A DREAM:  "Losing My Religion," remixed and processed so that all the minor notes are now majors. It is very wrong, yet undeniably catchy.
DJACKIE UNCHAINED:  Between the trailers for the upcoming 42 (doors slammed! epithets hurled! Harrison Ford, exerting effort?) and the recent deaths of Stan Musial and Earl Weaver, like some others I couldn't help but wonder: what real-life baseball stories should be the subject of movies? (Other than Moe Berg's.)
DJANGO MISCATEGORIZED:  A separate note: under no circumstances should Christoph Waltz have been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category; he is clearly the co-lead of the film, and he, not Foxx, carries most of it. According to Joe Reid, who has compiled a solid list of 14 Supporting Noms That Were Actually Leads (see, esp., Martin Landau in Crimes and Misdemeanors), "Waltz was actually being campaigned as a lead in Django Unchained until the critics groups (who should know better) started tipping their hand that he might stand a better shot as a supporting contender."

One that I think Reid gets wrong, however, is Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. Yes, he's in the movie quite a bit, but it's not a movie about him or one which he carries—it's about Holly Hunter and her choices, and [SPOILER FOR A MOVIE THAT'S NOW 25 YEARS OLD]
I LIKE THE WAY YOU DIE, BOY:  As summaries go, it's hard to top Tony Scott's quip that Lincoln and Django Unchained weren't so far apart after all: "You could almost imagine the two films, or at least their heroes, figuring in the kind of good-natured, racial-stereotype humor that used to be a staple of stand-up comedy (and was memorably parodied on “The Simpsons”): 'white guys abolish slavery like this' (pass constitutional amendment); 'but black guys, they abolish slavery like this' (blow up plantation)."

I finally had a chance to view the latter yesterday afternoon, which felt thematically appropriate, and while it's not upper-tier Tarantino (and inferior to Inglorious Basterds) it certainly falls into the category of "if you were thinking of seeing it, you probably should see it at some point." The performances are all great, especially Samuel L. Jackson's (we'll get to Waltz in a second post); blood explodes and appears in many interesting places and angles; and for all the bullshit that you get from Tarantino, the movie nevertheless makes the brutality of slavery vivid in a way as to make the fantasyland of Gone With The Wind feel even more ridiculous in retrospect. It's not a great movie, but it's certainly a fun one.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

HARBOWL:  Ok, let's beat the meme to the punch: favorite brother-on-brother battles, in history or popular culture?  I'll start with Cain v. Abel, Michael v. Fredo, and Randolph v. Mortimer.