Saturday, February 23, 2013

THAT GONIF WAS BORN WITH HIS HAND IN SOMEONE ELSE'S POCKET:  Call it typecasting, I suppose, but it's nice to know that the actor who played Maury Levy on The Wire has also toured as Monsieur Thénardier in Les Mis and as Max Bialystock in The Producers.

Friday, February 22, 2013

THREE SIX MAFIA, ONEWe talk a lot about Oscar crimes, but as angry as we might get about Crash, can't we all agree that "It Goes Like It Goes (Theme From Norma Rae)" beating "Rainbow Connection" for Best Original Song in 1979 is at the top of the list?  (The following year's winner?  "Fame."  Deserving in a vacuum, but should it have beaten "9 to 5" and "On The Road Again?")
CAN YOU SMELLLLLL.... WHAT THE ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO (STYLEBOOK) .... IS COOKING?  We're okay with just calling him Dwayne Johnson at this point?

[IMDb suggests it was "The Rock" through 2005, then "Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson" in 2006-07, and "Dwayne Johnson" from 2008-, except for 2010's Tooth Fairy, for which he went with the 06-07 formulation.]
I COULD WRITE SHORTER SERMONS BUT WHEN I GET STARTED I'M TOO LAZY TO STOP:  There's been general consensus over what folks expect to see in the major categories, but what would you like to see at Sunday night's Academy Awards?

I hope Tony Kushner does win for his Lincoln screenplay; it's genius. I want a film other than Brave to win for Best Animated, because Pixar shouldn't get to win just by showing up and, c'mon, bear? I'd like Americans to vaguely remember Jean Dujardin when he shows up to present Best Actress, because it was only last year that he won. And I kinda don't want Jennifer Lawrence to win for Silver Linings Playbook, because one sassy speech plus looking like Jennifer Lawrence does not, by itself, constitute great acting. And as much as I'd like Hugh Jackman to be 3/4 to EGOT, I am very much looking forward to Daniel Day-Lewis's third career win, because I cannot imagine anyone else pulling off that kind of interpretation of such an iconic American.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

PAGING BUCK HENRY, TOM HANKS, MR. STEVE MARTIN ET AL: Justin Timberlake will join The Five-Timers Club on March 9.  (The original Tom Hanks skit is here; yes, that is Young Conan as the doorman.)

added: And JT will be in residence with Jimmy Fallon the following week, performing every night.
STILL NO LOVE FOR ALAN SMITHEE: Mental Floss reminds us that "not actually existing" (or "being a Hungarian sheepdog") is not an obstacle to being nominated for or winning an Academy Award.
FROM THE MODERN ETHICS DESK:  Under what circumstances would you file a complaint about a cab driver?

Non-hypothetical situation: a driver who violates two provisions of 52 Pa. Code § 1021.11 ("Driver requirements"):
(b)(10) Maintaining cash capable of providing change for a $20 bill.
(f) Direct route. Unless directed otherwise by a fare-paying customer, a taxicab driver shall select and use the most direct route consistent with prevailing road and traffic conditions from the point of pick-up to the passenger's point of destination.
(These and other Passengers' Rights are all posted in the back of each taxi, with a phone number listed to call if they are not respected by the driver.)  It was a cold and crappy night, and the driver (I wasn't paying attention) took a circuitous route that involved a whole lot of South Street on a Friday night (when Pine or Bainbridge move much faster), and was not able to give change for a $20 for a $12 fare + tip, suggesting that I go into a nearby bar to obtain change for him.

Now, I understand the Isaac position on this: being a cab driver (or any service industry job) is not a luxurious profession, that "if you want to save money, take the bus" and so the marginal dollar should always go to the driver, rather than you ... so if not under these circumstances,  when would you call the relevant regulatory agency to complain about a licensed driver?
FACT IS, WE WENT TO WAR, AND NOW THERE AIN'T NO GOING BACK. I MEAN, SHIT, IT'S WHAT WAR IS, YOU KNOW? ONCE YOU IN IT, YOU IN IT. IF IT'S A LIE, THEN WE FIGHT ON THAT LIE: In thinking about season five of The Wire, one can't help initially being impressed about how it all came together -- however bullshit the setups were between both McNulty's and Templeton's big lies, it was damn satisfying in the last 2 1/2 hours seeing how all the other characters reacted when they learned the truth, and the decisions it forced each to make.

But still, it didn't work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

GUESS THE GOVERNMENT IS FULL OF RED SOX FANS:  The United States Patent and Trademark Office has now ruled that "the term EVIL EMPIRE, when used in connection with baseball, refers to...the Yankees."  (Bonus points for multiple Star Wars references and a discussion of whether "evil empire" is a bad thing or not.)
SHIT IS LIKE A WAR, AIN'T IT? EASY TO GET IN, HELL TO GET OUT: When a tv series wraps up five seasons as masterfully as The Wire does in "-30-" (Sepinwall, AVClub, THND), I almost feel compelled to let fly a hail of "OMG, that was awesome!" bullet points, or send you to Alan's post-finale interview with David Simon ("There are a lot of cheap victories in TV. When we had a victory, we really relished it. I think The Wire is affirming of people's basic humanity, and an argument that even though it may be futile to rebel, it's the only alternative if you want to salvage anything that remotely resembles human dignity") (or the AV Club's) and leave it at that. Thank you to everyone who compelled me (and the rest of us) to finally watch this series; it was so, so worth it.

But this is my last Wire recap, so I better work it. When we started this project over a year ago, I predicted:
NO ARREST IS EASIER:  While I'm finishing up my recap of the last episode, take a peek at this February 7, 1994 Baltimore Sun article by David Simon:
In 1992, 18,779 arrests costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in police work and court time resulted in 956 adult offenders going to prison for any time at all....Nevertheless, much of the Baltimore Police Department's effort in the war on drugs remains geared to arresting street-level violators. The rate of drug arrests in Baltimore remained nearly three times the national average for cities of comparable size in 1991, the last year in which such statistics are available.

Why? Many reasons, say veteran commanders and officers, not the least of which is the simple, overriding fact that no arrest is easier than a street-level lock-up for drugs....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SAY HELLO TO THESE!  I had somehow missed that Kristin Wiig will be in at least some of the new Arrested Development episodes, but now that who she's playing has leaked, I'm even more excited. 
CLOTHED IN IMMENSE POWER! YOU WILL PROCURE ME THESE VOTES:  Oscar trivia that's news to me—if he wins for Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis would become the first actor/actress ever to win an Oscar for a performance in a Spielberg film.

The obvious question is who, if anyone, should've been first: I'll submit Ralph Fiennes for Schindler's List (lost to Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive), but that's about it -- I considered Tom Hanks for SPR, but while Benigni won there (and not undeservedly), Edward Norton's superior American History X performance was also in the category. I've never actually seen The Color Purple, so ... has the Academy gotten this right so far?
I'M YOUR MAN, MAYBE, BABY:  CanCon Warning! Our Juno Awards Desk (HT: Randy) has alerted us that the nominees for the best in Canadian Music have been announced this morning, and your nominees for Artist of the Year include Carly Rae Jepsen, Justin Bieber, Deadmau5, and Leonard Cohen.** Also receiving nominations in various categories? Kathleen Edwards, Japandroids, Michael Bublé, Rush, and Nickelback. This year's inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame is k.d. lang, and yes I consciously rewrote this sentence to avoid capitalization issues.

** This is not as large an age gap as the Best Actress gap between Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhané Wallis.
I'M JUST A KID THAT'S FOUR, EACH DAY I GROW SOME MORE:  Ten reasons why Caillou sucks, plus Drew Magary's takedown of Max & Ruby.
STRAY ROUNDS:  One trivia question as we prepare to wrap up The Wire tomorrow: list every time that a Baltimore police officer has discharged his weapon during the course of the series' five seasons.

Monday, February 18, 2013

THE TONE IS EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE:  Sarah Bunting has eight problems with Silver Linings Playbook, which I largely share.
IT'S NOT GOOD, BUT MANY PEOPLE DO DIE: A Good Day To Die Hard is every bit as awful as you've heard, continuing the effort to turn John McClane into some sort of superhero rather than an everyman who is forced into an extraordinary situation.  I would have rather watched Die Hungry.  (Coincidentally, The Ben Stiller Show: The Complete Series is $9.99 at Best Buy this week.)
JUST LIKE RIDING A WIRE FENCE:  LBJ's custom Haggar slacks. Jackson's giant wheel of cheese. The typo in the Lincoln Memorial from the carving of his second inaugural. John Tyler's living grandchildren. We have accumulated a lot of Presidential ephemera and trivia over the years; share your favorites.