Tuesday, December 30, 2014

ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO TUESDAY YEAR-END CHRIS TRAEGER FAREWELL EDITION:  Notable smart person Steven Pinker talks a lot about grammar with The Atlantic:
Porch: What do you think about the flagrant misuse of the word “literally”? Does it literally make your head explode? 
Pinker: [Laughs.] It’s understandable why people do it. We are always in search of superlatives, of ways of impressing upon our hearer that something that happened is noteworthy or even extraordinary. And the words we use to signal that eventually lose their meaning. 
Porch: Like “awesome.” 
Pinker: “Awesome” is a recent example. In the UK, “brilliant” is used for the most banal observations. Before that, words like “terrific,” meaning inspiring terror, “wonderful,” inspiring wonder, “fabulous,” worthy of fable. We see the fossils of dead superlatives that our ancestors overused the way we overuse “awesome.” “Literally” is a victim of a similar type of inflation. The figurative use doesn’t mean the language is deteriorating. Hyperbole has probably been around as long as language has been around.... 
Porch: Does the comma go inside the closed quotation mark or outside?
Pinker: If I ruled the world, it would go outside.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

WE DON'T LIVE IN THIS COURTROOM:  In honor of Denzel Washington's 60th birthday this Sunday, The Root lists his top ten movies, but since it doesn't include Devil in a Blue Dress it is wrong.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I CAN SEE A BETTER TIME WHEN ALL OUR DREAMS COME TRUE: How "Fairytale of New York" came to be.

[This year's UK Christmas #1: Yet Another X-Factor Winner, with Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson's pretty completely fantastic "Uptown Funk" in second.]

Monday, December 22, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

SO BABY PLEEAAAAASE:  This adorable video of a bunch of people waiting for the Tube singing Erasure's "Respect" led to TPE wondering: what songs would inspire that kind of mass singing at an American subway stop?

[I think we're looking for the Venn diagram of "well-known," "not too wordy," and "has some interesting harmonies or high notes that people will want to attempt," I think.]

A few early suggestions:

  • "You've Lost That Loving Feeling"
  • "Lean On Me"
  • "I Want It That Way"
  • Most of the Grease soundtrack, but especially "You're the One That I Want"
  • "Take On Me"
DON'T KNOW WHERE, DON'T KNOW WHEN:  Vox has gif'd all the cameos in Stephen Colbert's last big musical number. Below the fold, my friend Anthony Wright catalogs a fuller list of names:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NO, "WATCHING THE BOTTLES GATHER RAIN" IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE BILLING ENTRY:  Former Blind Melon guitarist Rogers Stevens is now a labor associate at a law firm in Philly.
NOW PLAYING IN THE LOUNGE TONIGHT (AND EVERY NIGHT)--BUCKNER & GARCIA: Level 257, a Pac-Man-themed restaurant, will be opening in Schaumburg, Ill., early next year. Hopefully the menu will consist of more than just cherries, strawberries, and peaches.
LET ME BE YOUR STAAAAAR!  NBC can cancel Smash, but they can't stop fictional musical Bombshell from making it to Broadway as a one-night only concert event.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CHRISTOPHER LEE?  A redditor asks: "A war has broken out between actors. Each actor has an army composed of every character that they have ever portrayed. Whose army would win?"

["Cartoons and when the actors voice was used will count (i.e. Liam Neeson has Aslan). Also each character has any equipment they need to be effective. (Jedi have lightsabers, Han Solo has the Falcon, etc. etc.)"]

Related: the every-president knife fight.
WRONG MOVE, YOU'RE DEAD:  Grantland goes deep with a boy band approval matrix and comprehensive history and q&a. Much discussion of Another Bad Creation, 'N Sync, 98 Degrees, Dru Hill, and others:
Bell Biv DeVoe is, as a case study, the most interesting boy band that’s ever been. The group was made up of holdovers from New Edition, and that’s not crazy, but none of the three were ever really the star in N.E. (it was always either Ralph or Bobby or, later, Johnny), and that’s definitely crazy. I’m saying, “Poison” is the greatest song by any boy band ever. When has that ever happened in history? When has a team lost its three best individual players and then gone on to even greater success? Bell Biv DeVoe is like if LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh all left Miami, then Mario Chalmers, Birdman, and Udonis Haslem rattled off four or five rings in a row.
 Turk Dance is included.
ABE POLLIN WAS THE FIRST, RIGHT?  J.K. Rowling has confirmed that the existence of at least one Jewish Wizard, Ravenclaw's Anthony Goldstein.
ACA-WHO?  ACA-YOU! Our special "making music with the mouth" correspondent Saray returns with an advance look at The Sing-Off, which makes its return tonight:

Our long national nightmare is over.  The Sing-Off returns to NBC tonight, one-night-only style, post-Michael Buble Christmas special, for vocal percussion and puns galore.  Our dapper doofus of a host, Nick Lachey, returns, along with judges Shawn Stockman and Jewel.  Replacing Ben Folds (unavailable for the taping this year, SIGH) is Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy.  Since one of his group's songs was one of the most-covered collegiate a cappella songs last year (My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark), this maybe makes some sense?

For those of you who are new to ALOTT5MA, in my spare time from intellectual property law, I produce the Finals of both the ICCA and the ICHSA, and I'm a reviewer for RARB, the Recorded A Cappella Review Board.  I'm here to give you a short preview of the groups you'll see on this year's Sing-Off this Wednesday night!

Here are your competitors this year: a.squared, The Exchange, San Fran6, Timothy's Gift, Traces, and the Vanderbilt Melodores.  Notably, two of these groups are all-female.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SOCKS?!  EIGHT PAIR. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!  Twenty-five years ago tonight, Hanukkah Harry saved Christmas.
"LUKE, THAT'S NOT QUITE MY TEMPO!" OR "YEAH, MR. YODA!  YEAH, THE FORCE!"  Jason Reitman is directing a live-read of the Empire Strikes Back script, with Aaron Paul as Luke and J.K. Simmons as Vader.
SOMETHING WHOLLY PREDICTABLE, AND IN THE END THAT'S WRONG: The Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct six performers in 2015: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Bill Withers.  Ringo Starr will be admitted through the former "side men" side door, and 1950s R&B vocal group The "5'' Royales are added as "early influencers."

N.W.A., Chic, Nine Inch Nails, and other ALOTT5MA favorites on this year's ballot remain on the outside.

Monday, December 15, 2014

THE NATION IS SAD:  Will Leitch pens a tribute to Stephen Colbert, as his final week of The Colbert Report begins:
There is a gentleness to Colbert, the real one, the quiet South Carolina native who still teaches Sunday school and regularly quotes scripture, that is more unique in television than his wit or even his improv talent. Colbert is seen by those who don’t understand him solely as a cutting satirist, and sometimes he is, but that misses much of the point: Colbert, at his core, is a kind humanist. Watch his contribution to the It Gets Better campaign. Don’t tell me you don’t see some Mister Rogers in there. 
WHAT DO YOU GET A WOOKIEE FOR CHRISTMAS?  The Star Wars Holiday Special is not that franchise's only contribution to this season--don't forget about the Star Wars Christmas Album, which featured songs from Tony winner Maury Yeston and the debut of Jon Bon Jovi!
I MADE YOU OUT OF CLAY!  Slate suggests how to "fix" Dreidel.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

THE ONLY TRUE CURRENCY IN THIS BANKRUPT WORLD IS WHAT WE SHARE WITH SOMEONE ELSE WHEN WE'RE UNCOOL:  Moving, thoughtful TCM tribute to the Hollywood names who passed away in 2014. (HT: Finn.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

من خطرناک هستم:  Here's a delightful -- if occasionally frightening -- story about bootleg video in Iran in the 1980s:
Watching movies, Iranian and foreign, as well as American television, had been a favorite pastime among the middle class before the revolution. As a young girl I had loved watching The Six Million Dollar Man, the American series that ran throughout the mid-1970s and which in the years before the revolution re-ran on Iranian television constantly, dubbed into Persian. When Khomeini came to power and Western media was banned, Iranians’ love for it didn’t disappear — the ban just caused many people to turn to theblack market, and to young video-men like Masoud.

Read the rest.  No indication of how to say "You can be my wingman anytime" in Farsi, however.
JUDICIAL HOLDINGS DESK: As part of a post-trial opinion concerning alleged misuse of the Beastie Boys' music by Monster Energy drink, Judge Engelmayer of the Southern District of New York analogizes the five Beastie songs that appeared in the video ("So Whatcha Want," "Pass the Mic," "Sabotage," "Looking Down The Barrel of A Gun," and "Make Some Noise") to Beatles songs, noting (in a footnote) "Had Phillips chosen as the video’s soundtrack songs by The Beatles
that were comparably prominent within that band’s body of work, he might have chosen 'Love
Me Do,' 'Yesterday,' 'Let It Be,' 'Here, There and Everywhere,' and 'Hey Jude.'"  Is Judge Engelmayer correct?  Discuss.

Disclaimer:  I have, in the past, worked with counsel to the Beasties in this matter, but not on this matter or any other Beastie matter.
SLEEPING BAGS WERE ONLY THE BEGINNING:  Ladies and gentlemen, the Potauntaun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

PIXAR'S HERMAN'S HEAD:  A new trailer for Inside Out is available.
DOES THIS MEAN A JONAH HILL RAP SONG? At the end of 22 Jump Street, we were offered a (joking) peek at the future of the franchise.  However, Sony's real plans (revealed due to the massive hack of Sony Pictures computers) are even more bonkers, and involve crossing over Jump Street with another franchise.
WAIT. SOMEONE SAW THE JUDGE? Nominations for the Screen Actor Guild Awards have been announced; if you've been following the awards beat there aren't many surprises other than the complete shutting-out of Selma, while Jake Gyllenhaal and Jennifer Aniston have been recognized.

[Golden Globe nominations tomorrow.]
ALOTT5MA ANDEAN TRADE PREFERENCE ACT DESK:  In January, General Mills will roll out a new Cheerios + Ancient Grains cereal, with "small amounts of quinoa, Kamut wheat and spelt along with the traditional oats."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SONGS FOR MUMBLIN' LOVERS:  Next spring, Bob Dylan will release Shadows In The Night, an album made up of 10 covers of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra.  No word on what The Sinatra Group thinks.

Monday, December 8, 2014

BOO:  The Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame has elected no one from this year's Golden Era (1947-72) ballot, with Dick Allen and Tony Oliva falling one vote short, Jim Kaat two.

Our voting for the main ballot worked out as follows:
Would Induct (75%+): Randy Johnson (60/62 votes), Pedro Martinez (59), Jeff Bagwell (53), Craig Biggio (47)
Painfully Short of Induction: John Smoltz (46), Mike Piazza (45), Tim Raines (42)
The Problems: Roger Clemens (33), Barry Bonds (32)
Beloved, and Hopefully Patient: Curt Schilling (26), Mike Mussina (23), Alan Trammell (24), Edgar Martinez (19).
Remaining on the Ballot: Larry Walker (9), Mark McGwire (7), Jeff Kent (4)
Would Fall Off The Ballot (under 5%): Nomah! (3), Don Mattingly (3), Gary Sheffield (3).
ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN' IN THE COURTROOM: The fight between John Fogerty and his former band over who can use "Creedence Clearwater" where and when has returned to federal court.
MY ANACONDA DON'T? MY ANACONDA DO?  Spoilers on what happened on Discovery's Eaten Alive special, which aired last night.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

EXPURGATION DESK:  Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)" has been getting a lot of radio play.  What's odd to me is that I've heard at least three different versions of how to censor the song--most notably the early lyric in which she proclaims "Then I go to ___ clubs, watching freaky people getting it on."  The original version, which I've heard on some radio stations, is "sex clubs."  Less common, but out there, is "strip clubs."  The typical expurgation is "sick clubs."  Oddly, never is the "freaky people getting it on" lyric censored.  Any rhyme or reason here?
WE'RE GONNA SHOOT IN MINNEAPOLIS IN THE WINTER:  NPR interviews journalist Alan Light about his new book on the making of Purple Rain, including this tidbit:
Prince had this big bodyguard, this guy Big Chick who you might remember had a big Santa Claus beard and was with him everywhere. And the first time he heard them play that in rehearsal, he ran in I think to Alan Leeds' office and said, "You gotta hear the song the boss wrote last night. Isn't this song so good? Willie Nelson's gonna cover it." So the fact that it came from that very American place, almost a sort of a country and western song... And Prince, what inspired him to write "Purple Rain" was that when they were touring on the 1999 tour, he was following Bob Seger into a lot of arenas, and was really interested in why was Bob Seger such a big star, especially in the Midwest. And Matt Fink, the keyboard player, remembers that he was talking to Prince and said, "Well, it's these big ballads that Bob Seger writes. It's these songs like 'We've Got Tonight' and 'Turn The Page.' And that's what people love." And Prince went out to try to write that kind of arena-rock power ballad that resulted in "Purple Rain."

Friday, December 5, 2014

SHOULDN'T THEY REPLACE THE GRAMOPHONE WITH A COMPUTER?  The Grammys have now announced their nominations in all categories save Album of the Year, and a few observations:
  • The Album race is going to be interesting, since so many of the singles honored in the Record/Song category don't have an eligible accompanying album ("Shake It Off," "All About That Bass") or are from albums that didn't make much of a splash ("Chandelier," "Fancy")
  • Beyonce didn't crack the record/song categories, but seems a safe bet for album, right?
  • Despite being the top selling album of the year, recognition for Frozen thus far limited to soundtrack categories.  No nomination for Menzel.
  • The big winner from the nominations?  Sam Smith, who's up for Record, Song, New Artist, Pop Solo Performance, and Pop Vocal Album, with a decent shot at getting into the Album of the Year category.
  • For those looking for guidance on the Original Song Oscar, the Grammys are of little help, nominating 3 songs that were eligible last year alongside "Everything Is Awesome" and a song from the Glen Campbell documentary.
  • EGOT Watch--Donald Glover (Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album), James Franco (Best Spoken Word), Sarah Silverman (Best Comedy Album), Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig cast recording, with a win bringing him to EGT), and the Lonely Island (Best Song Written For Visual Media).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

STRANGER AND STRANGER:  Two big pieces of Marvel casting news today.  First, as much rumored, Benedict Cumberbatch will be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.  Second, Krysten Ritter will play retired superheroine turned PI Jessica Jones, opposite Mike Colter (The Good Wife's Lemond Bishop) as Luke Cage.
UGG. AND UGG:  In anticipation of tonight's live broadcast, can I just confirm with everyone that ... Peter Pan just isn't that good of a musical in the first place?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DIME-STORE HIMBO DESK:  EW's Entertainer of the Year is Jimmy Fallon.
WERE IT NOT ASSIZE-TIME ; )  On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Elonis v United States which should -- hopefully -- give us some guidance on the probative value of emoticons.

Elonis sent a message to an AUSA: "I am rapidly approaching the date of my release.  Accordingly, I would like to begin researching the ordinances of the municipality in which you reside.  I simply do not wish to run afoul of any of them when I set fire to a cross in your yard. :-p"  Elonis has appealed the effort by prosecutors to use this threat -- such as it is -- to add an additional condition to his probation, and argues that the emoticon showed he wasn't being serious.

To me, it seems that "I will kill you!" is different than "I will kill you ;)"  and might be different still than "I will kill you, Mr President =|:^| }}}}}"  Yes, there's a law review article in here somewhere, and I've got a stack of notes I've been collecting on this very point but never quite gotten around to getting it to paper.




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DON'T FORGET THE ROBOT:  With this photo essay of the American Mall in 1989, you can go to the mall, today!
NOW I GET WHAT I WANT:  The Atlantic's Kevin O'Keeffe argues for "Since U Been Gone" as the best pop song of the past decade:
There have been strong pop songs to come after “Since U Been Gone,” of course. "TiK ToK" was just as influential on the party rock sound that continues to dominate airwaves. "Bad Romance" and other early Lady Gaga tracks were the signs of a promising new artist with something new to say. "Call Me Maybe" and "Shake It Off" stretched catchy hooks to their extreme, becoming viral phenomena along the way. And Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” was equally successful at mixing formats and genres to produce a unique sound on pop radio. 
But as far as I can tell, none of those tracks have quite the effect on a bar full of people, or a dance floor, or a karaoke room, as “Since U Been Gone” does. And those places are where pop music matters the most. The energy is frantic; everyone knows all the words. The joy of hearing it is made even better knowing that Clarkson, the first and arguably only true American Idol, fulfilled a nation’s hope in her with one perfect song.
[From 12/26/05 (comments lost to blessed memory): "In the Kelly Clarkson hit "Since U Been Gone," when she sings that "Thanks to you now I get what I want," does 'get' mean 'understand' or 'obtain'? Your detailed responses are welcome."]
HICCUP:  Sorry about the unintentional holiday hiatus; my hard drive crashed and burned Wednesday night, and I'm still in the process of recovery.  Posting from me may remain sporadic for the next few days, but here's something I'm wondering about, given a recent discussion several of us had last night on the Twitters re: Prince's Batman soundtrack -- what's a piece of pop culture you continue to regard as deeply underrated?

[N.B. to several here: "Adnan Syed's claims of innocence" does not constitute "a piece of pop culture."]

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WELCOME TO NEW YORK: Taylor Swift received two write-in votes for Governor of New York.  Other candidates receiving votes included Howard Stern, Stephen Colbert, Beyonce, Derek Jeter, Jason Kidd, Leslie Knope, Serial host Sarah Koenig, Stephenie Meyer, C. Montgomery Burns, Mick Foley, and Joe Quimby.

Monday, November 24, 2014

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 new ballot for modern players. Its thirty-four names are hella impressive, between the new names (Pedro, Unit, Smoltz, Sheffield) and the holdovers from past ballots (Bagwell, Biggio, Mussina, Schilling, and PEDers). And voters only get to select ten of them.

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, remembering that anyone who falls below 5% will be dropped from next year's ballot, so vote strategically if you must. 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 2015 ballot reflects this:
Bagwell, Biggio, Johnson, Kent, P Martinez, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Smoltz.
It is impossible to limit yourself to ten votes and not vote strategically. In my case, that again meant leaving the eminently-worthy (with an asterisk) Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens off the ballot, out of a belief they weren't going to be inducted this year regardless. This made room for my continued votes for Kent, Mussina, Raines, and Schilling, to ensure each receives due consideration both this year and going forward. I could have easily added Sheffield or Edgar Martinez to my ballot as well.

(Our discussion of the 2011 ballot2011 Doodle results; 2012 discussion; 2012 Doodle results; 2013 discussion; 2013 Doodle results.)
A LESS LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR, AWAY:  Want to see the first trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens?  Rather than attaching it to a specific movie, it'll make its debut before all movies starting next Friday at 8 Regal theatres spread throughout the US.  Of course, I fully expect this'll be little more than a teaser with a hint of new footage.  Related--the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer is actually much more impressive in a big theatre with a multi-track sound system, where you can hear the effort that's gone into the arrangement and mixing of "Cups."

ETA:  The trailer is apparently 88 seconds, per an adorable handwritten note from JJ Abrams posted on Twitter.  As noted, it'll be attached to everything at those theatres, so you don't have to go see The Penguins of Madagascar unless you really want to.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

FORMER DIME-STORE MIMBO MAKES GOOD:  A Fallon/Krasinski/Merchant-produced Lip Sync Battle: The Series will hit Spike TV this spring.  [It is v. difficult to pick between Merchant, JGL, Paul Rudd, and Emma Stone as the best competitor to date.]
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PIZZA, MAN:  How bad are the Philadelphia 76ers?  So bad that Papa John's Pizza has had to change its "Sixers Win, You Win" promo, where Philly area orders got a 50% discount the day after a Sixers win, to "Sixers Score More Than 90 Points, You Win."
ALOTT5MA FOREIGN CAR DESK: So I am about halfway through Season 2 of the sublime The Americans when I noticed something.  With the exception of a single Citroen driven by some Russians and the Mercedes driven by a Congressional aide, I do not believe I have seen a single imported car driven by anyone within the narrative.  And it's all big body sedans, too.  Impalas and Crown Victorias and such.

Now, it's a lot of government cars, of course, but it is also possible I haven't seen a single vintage import on the street.  No Porsche 914s, no Honda Civic CVCCs, no Suburu Brats. The director's eye for the 1980s is simply too good for this to be an oversight.  And I think it's a great choice.

[N.B.: A spoiler-free thread, please, but any comments on the raw 80s-ness (and, indeed, early 80s-ness) of the show are welcomed.  Est? Intellivision? The same donut phone my sister had?]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LIVE FROM NEW YORK It's the remainder of the 2014 schedule:
11/22: Cameron Diaz (4th time)/Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
12/6: James Franco (3x)/Nicki Minaj
12/13: Martin Freeman (rookie)/Charli 10-110 XCX
12/20: Amy Adams (2x)/One Direction
Other Martins who have hosted the show: Steve, Sheen, Strother, Pamela Sue, Billy, Short, Lawrence. Also, if you haven't seen it yet, last week's Match'd is one of the best basic-premise-executed-perfectly skits they've done in awhile.
THE PITCH IS BACK:  Pitch Perfect 2, first trailer. More of the same, plus unfortunate pratfall.
MIKE NICHOLS (1931-2014): How can you capture Mike Nichols' legacy easily? It's a series of dayenus: If he had only been half of Nichols and May, which helped redefine what sketch comedy would do, it would have been enough for us; if he had only directed The Graduate and not any of the other 20+ films he directed for screen and tv, my goodness, what a generation-defining, innovative, great film.

And yet there was also Carnal Knowledge. And Primary Colors. And Working Girl, a modern feminist fairy tale done right. And everything he did for the stage, including seven Tony Awards for Best Directing across a 41-year-span as well as introducing Whoopi Goldberg to the world through her amazing one-woman show.

This anecdote from Mark Harris' recounting of the making of The Graduate remains my favorite Nichols story:
When he had decided to make The Graduate three and a half years earlier, Nichols thought he knew exactly what his satirical targets were. ''I said some fairly pretentious things about capitalism and material objects, about the boy drowning in material things and saving himself in the only possible way, which was through madness,'' he recalls. But the deeper he got into the shoot and the more intensely he pushed Hoffman past what the actor thought he could withstand, the more Nichols realized that something painful and personal was at stake, and always had been, in his attraction to the story.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

EAT LEAD, COBRA:  Much ado about this Barbie the Computer Engineer book going around the internets.  Reminded me of one of the greatest pranks in consumer history -- folks who swapped the voice chips between Talking Barbie and GI Joe -- and reverse-shoplifted them back into inventory.


ALOTT5MA PIZZA ECONOMICS DESK:  Occasional commenter Ted noted on Facebook this morning that he wondered just how much of Pizza Hut's revenue comes from folks who, about every three years, basically say "fuck it, I guess we're stuck with Pizza Hut."  I'm guessing it's well north of 10%.

If Tp  - the mean time between when someone will order Pizza Hut based strictly out of desperation -for a given household in America is 1,000 days, and there are about 120M households in America, you've got a daily orders arising from sheer soul-resigning Calvinist predetermination of, say, $1M a day ($8 customer/order/day).  So $365MM.  Yum Brands revenue in 2013 was $11.3 billion.  As a lot of revenue for Yum is overseas and Pizza Hut is just one of there three big brands, this sort of pizza ordering is clearly well in excess of 10% of their American revenue stream.

So, who has that job?  Who is in charge trying to drop Tp from 1,000 days to 750?  
ZIP CODE, FARGO NORTH DAKOTA:  People has an interview with one of the many professionals that man the Butterball Hotline.  This, of course, requires the appropriate clip.  (Also, just me, or has The Newsroom actually gotten really good, in large part because Maggie is no longer the dumbest person imaginable?)
ALOTT5MA CULTURAL SENSITIVITY DESK, TIMES HAVE CHANGED EDITION:  I went with the girls and my dad last weekend to see a regional production of Anything Goes (still here this weekend), and while it had many charms—including local newscaster Rick Williams hamming it up as Moonface Martin, and the sheer joy of having every tap dance in a ten-mile radius rounded up for the title number—the Chinese passengers from Cole Porter's original remain horrific ethnic cartoons, really cringe-worthy stereotypes from a bygone era which ought to remain gone.

The problem, of course, being that these characters (and having the male leads pose as them) are integral to how the last-act mechanics of the farce play out, so they can't be removed entirely, and the beloved 2011 Sutton Foster revival didn't fix it.

I don't have an answer to this; has anyone seen a satisfactory dramaturgical solution?  Or should we just appreciate the great parts, and try to ignore (and explain to our kids) the rest? [Related: Groff!]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE ANSWER IS "NO":  Sure, it was quite overplayed, but Magic's "Rude" is a terrific little tune - with the added advantage that unlike so much of pop song-writing these days, it has a little story buried within.  It's inspired many terrific covers -- I think Walk Off the Earth's is by far superior to the original -- and is deserving of a long life as a bit of the Anglo-Australia-American-Canadian pop songbook.

But I am trying to understand how anyone thinks that it mixes at all well as a dance tune.  I don't think Jim Croce's Operator would work as a roof-raising club anthem, nor Don McLean's Vincent, nor Jimmy Buffett's Miss You So Badly.  I know I'm not the intended audience, but this is a little incongruous, no?


ALOTT5MA's RULE AGAINST PERPITUTIES DESK wants to point out that if you mean to have your body cryonicgenically frozen after death, Hong Kong may be the place to do it.
ALOTT5MA CULTURAL SENSITIVITY DESK:  When Peter Pan Live! airs, it'll have several new songs--mostly trunk songs with new/revised lyrics.  Also, the lyrics to "Ugg-A-Wugg" have been tweaked-- the new version "replaces lyrics such as "ugg-a-wugg" and "gugg-a-bluck" with traditional Native American terms that have been approved by Native American consultant Jerod Tate."
AW, LUCY, NOT THE FOOTBALL AGAIN:  On the plus side, the trailer for next year's forthcoming Peanuts Movie does make nice use of "Linus and Lucy."  On the minus side, the 2.5D animation continues to kind of creep me out.
WELL, TONIGHT THANK GOD IT'S HIM, INSTEAD OF YOU: With all the calamities which have recently occurred, Gawker legitimately wonders if someone's trying to kill Bono.

Monday, November 17, 2014

DON'T YOU HAVE AN ENGLAND TO RUN?  Thanks to one of you, I have a birthday present to ourselves to give, because short of NPH eating fermented whale meat after singing a Billy Joel song during an a capella singing competition in order to qualify himself for EGOT, nothing really says ALOTT5MA like a new-to-me hatin' on Love Actually:
Everything in this movie is fucking insane. That's not how press conferences work. That's not how diplomacy works. That's not how prime ministers work. NOTHING IS HOW ANYTHING WORKS. That's not how weddings work, that's not how audio recording works, that's not how saxophones work, that's not how hair works, that's not how business meetings work, that's not how art works, that's not how grief works, that's not how primary school Christmas concerts work, that's not how airports work, that's not how music charts work, that's not how fat works, and none of it is how "love works."
SEVEN IMMEDIATE REACTIONS TO THE NEW #BANDAID30 SINGLE:  To which you can listen here, annotated here:

  • That is one front-loaded first stanza in terms of contemporary talent.
  • Why so sad, Sam Smith?
  • I like that they changed Bono's line. I don't like what they changed it to.
  • As long as you're changing lyrics, this isn't a hunger crisis and we're not trying to Feeeeed the wooorrrrld, so why not use "heal the world"?
  • There are three fewer members of Kool and the Gang than in the original.
  • Indeed, would it have killed them to invite Sting? George Michael? (Were they that busy, what with the inevitably doomed seafaring musical and whatever Michael's working on?)
  • Band Aid 20 is worse.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US:  Somewhat incomprehensibly and stubbornly, this blog turns twelve years old today. So thank you, Grantland's Katie Baker (and long-time lurker, who knew?), for this:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

WELL TONIGHT WE'RE REACHING OUT, AND TOUCHING YOU:  Sir Bob Geldof has called in Britain's finest to record a new "Do They Know It's Christmas" today, 30 years after the original, to raise funds for Ebola relief. Per Geldof: "It really doesn't matter if you don't like this song, it really doesn't matter if you hate all the artists. What you have to do is buy this thing."
BETTY BOTTER BOUGHT SOME BUTTER, BUT SHE SAID, "THIS BUTTER'S BITTER!":  It's been so long since I've spent time on the East Coast, I forgot this was a thing.  But here's why butter comes in thick, short cubes in the West, but long, narrow cubes back East.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SAD AND BLUE, NOT SHINY AND NEW:  Like a Virgin, Madonna's second album, was released thirty years ago today, and its three lead singles (the title track, "Material Girl," and "Dress You Up") remain pop canon. Christgau:
If a woman wants to sell herself as a sex fantasy I'll take a free ride--as long as the fantasy of it remains out front, so I don't start confusing image with everyday life. But already she's so sure of herself she's asking men and women both to get the hots for the calculating bitch who sells the fantasy even while she bids for the sincerity market where long-term superstars ply their trade. And to make the music less mechanical (just like Bowie, right?), she's hired Nile Rodgers, who I won't blame for making it less catchy. B
Topping the charts this week: "Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)," by Billy Ocean.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

HE'LL GO INTO THOSE HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASIUMS IN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE AND BLOW THEM ALL AWAY.... AND SOUND SMARTER AND MORE HONEST THAN ANY REPUBLICAN THEY'VE EVER SEEN. BECAUSE HE IS:  Sepinwall et al slideshow twenty-two fan favorite characters added late in their tv series' runs, a list to which I'd add Jon Stewart as "Jon Stewart" on The Larry Sanders Show, and Drs. Luka Kovač and Rocket Romano on ER.
THE FISH THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Due to fears of overfishing, starting on Thursday commercial cod fishing will be banned for six months in an area stretching from P-town to the Canadian border. Hope you invested in Frozen Fish Stick futures.
"OF COURSE, IT WAS VERY UGLY"  Purdue's Gene Keady finally opens up about that combover.

Monday, November 10, 2014

KENAN WOULDN'T HAVE HAD THIS PROBLEM:  NYT Correction of the Year?
TWO AWFUL TASTES FOR WHICH, I'M SURE, THERE'S A MARKET. BECAUSE AMERICA:  Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew is being tested.
I THINK SOMEONE'S MISSING THE POINT OF BEING "PIZZA HUT:"  Pizza Hut is going upscale, with a new menu that will feature sriracha sauce, balsamic vinegar drizzles, pretzel crusts, and fresh spinach.

Friday, November 7, 2014

HE MUST HAVE BUNS, HON: Next month, Discovery Channel is going to show a dude getting eaten alive by an anaconda while wearing a "snake-proof" suit, boldly GoProing where no man has GoProed (GonePro?) before.

One question: how does he plan on getting out?
YOU CAN'T HANDLE THIS IDEA:  Apparently assuming that Peter Pan: Live! will be a success, NBC is considering broadening the franchise to plays with A Few Good Men: Live!  So, who do you cast?
THE TWO BEST THINGS YOU'LL WATCH TODAY: If you haven't seen it yet, set aside 11+ minutes for "Too Many Cooks" (the less said the better).

And then follow with the most inspired accidental synchronization since Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz...Taylor Swift and the 1988 Crystal Light Aerobics Championships.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO OENOPHILIA CORNER:  My dad plays craps at The Borgata in Atlantic City every week. Thank goodness he's not a wine drinker:
"I asked the waitress if she could recommend something decent because I don't have experience with wine," Lentini said. "She pointed to a bottle on the menu. I didn't have my glasses. I asked how much and she said, 'Thirty-seven fifty.'" 
..."It was okay. It was good," Lentini said of the wine. "It wasn't great. It wasn't terrible. It was fine." 
When dinner was over, the check was handed to the host, who was sitting opposite Lentini at the round table, Lentini said."[The host] was sitting across from me and he handed the bill to person next to him, who handed it to the next person until it got to me," he said. "I showed the gentleman next to me and we were shocked. We couldn't believe it." 
The total bill was $4,700.61, including tax. The bottle of wine, Screaming Eagle, Oakville 2011 -- cost $3,750.  "I thought the wine was $37.50," Lentini said. 
Lentini said he called the waitress over and said there was a problem. He said he explained that he never would have ordered such expensive wine, and repeated that when he asked about the price, the waitress said "thirty-seven fifty," not "three-thousand, seven-hundred-and-fifty....
TURNS OUT BOGDAN KNEW A LOT MORE ABOUT HEISENBERG THAN HE WAS LETTING ON:  The actor who played Bogdan Wolynetz, the car wash owner, is in real life Dr Marius Stan, a research scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.

If you on campus at the University of Chicago on November 18, Dr Stan is giving a talk at I-House.

ETA: Of course, this likely makes him one of those rare people with a finite Erdos-Bacon Number.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP (IF INEFFECTIVELY):  Phil Rudd, drummer for AC/DC, has been arrested in New Zealand for attempting to contract a murder-for-hire.

Monday, November 3, 2014

NO, NOT HOMEBOYS IN OUTER SPACE:  To say too much would spoil this delightful piece, in which (in an alternate universe) the most unlikely of television shows becomes a seventeen season-long cultural juggernaut.
DON'T DRIVE LIKE MY BROTHER:  Damn. Tom Magliozzi has passed away at age 77, due to Alzheimer's-related complications.
REENACT ALL THREE ITERATIONS OF RUN LOLA RUN! Watts will be in Berlin (the one in Germany, not the one in Connecticut with all the chain restaurants) from 11/12 - 11/14. What should she, a not-fluent German speaker, be seeing/doing/eating?
AND NOW YOU'RE OLDER STILL:  New York republishes a now twenty-year old profile of then-MTV late night host Jon Stewart, from 1994:
Here in the '90s, when everybody except Chevy Chase has a talk show, Jon Stewart brings three all-important qualities to MTV’s entry in the chat wars: He’s funny. He’s not afraid tackle tough issues with guests like the 7-year-old Olsen twins from Full House. And he has an abundance of body hair. “They have to shave my neck during the hour between taping,” Stewart says. “Is that something I shouldn’t have shared?” 
This is the man who should have been Conan. In fact, Stewart made it to the finals of NBC’s Replace Dave Sweepstakes, only to have Lorne Michaels choose O’Brien, who’d spent as much time in front of a television camera as Doris Duke... 
The modest success of Stewart hasn’t gone unnoticed at NBC, where execs also considered Stewart as a successor to Bob Costas on Later. Says a Lorne Michaels staffer, “Jon would make a good replacement for somebody — you fill in the name.”

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NOT JUST THE CITY OF MURALS ANYMORE:  On top of Philadelphia's impending Joe Frazier statue—because real boxing champions deserve at least as much love as fictional ones—comes word that two true local heroes will soon be honored in bronze: William "Wild Bill" Guarnere and the recently deceased Edward "Babe" Heffron, both of Easy Company legend.

[In 2001, both men were profiled by Philadelphia Magazine as they visited the Band of Brothers filming.]

Friday, October 31, 2014

BINGE: So I guess I should start listening to Serial?
HOGGY WARTY HOGWARTS!  Spurred by last night's Harry Potter thread, the comments on Sepinwall's review of last night's Parenthood have become a spirited discussion of which Hogwarts House the various characters would be sorted into.  This gives us an opportunity to sort other pop culture figures into their appropriate houses.  Don't forget to justify your answer!
BOO:  Tell us how Halloween is going for you. Favorite candies? How many Elsas are in your neighborhood?  And do you like scary movies?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THAT PLACE WHERE WE WENT THAT TIME:  How do we feel about Seth Rogen attempting Sorkinese as Steve Wozniak in the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic opposite Christian Bale as Jobs?  I will say that for the mess that the Ashton Kutcher version was, Josh Gad was actually quite good as Woz.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

GIGANTES!  GIGANTES!  GIGANTES!:  3 World Series in 5 years really is more than any fan of any team could hope for in a lifetime.  But, man, that was fun.  The Royals were terrific and to have the World Series down to a single swing of the bat is all a fan of this game should want.

Sorry that this is, likely, Pablo Sandoval's last game as a Giant, but fat guys always can find a home as a designated not-fielder in the American League.  I'll miss him.  And wish him well.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

JACKIE ROBINSON, JAMES BROWN, KING T'CHALLA: Marvel Studios has announced Phase 3 of its cinematic universe, taking us through 2019.
BECAUSE HE PUTS AN ADDICTIVE CHEMICAL IN HIS CHICKEN THAT MAKES YOU CRAVE IT FORTNIGHTLY, SMARTASS:  How KFC cooks its chicken.
POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC DESK:  No, I'm pretty sure that San Francisco winning the World Series is not caused by Taylor Swift putting out a new album, but it's an interesting theory.  Maybe if Lorde releases a new album next year, that'll work for the Royals.
WHEN THE SONG WAS DONE, JOEL TURNED TO THE AUDIENCE AND SAID, “AND THEN WE GOT DIVORCED”:  It's critical reappraisal week for Billy Joel -- Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker, and David Brusie gives Glass Houses another listen in the AV Club. From the former:
[H]e had thirty-three Top Forty hits. That’s an awful lot—about twice as many as Springsteen, the Eagles, or Fleetwood Mac. Some were schmalz, others were novelties, but a crate of them are songs that have embedded themselves in the great American jukebox and aren’t going away anytime soon. If you hate them, fine. A lot of people, even some rock snobs, love them still. I’m tired of “Piano Man,” too, but “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” gets me every time. “Summer, Highland Falls” is for real. As for derivative, Joel won’t deny it; he loved the Beatles, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and Smokey Robinson, so why not try to sound like them? At his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, in 1999, he was introduced by Ray Charles. Joel said, “I know I’ve been referred to as derivative. Well, I’m damn guilty. I’m derivative as hell.” He said that if the Hall of Fame disqualified candidates on the basis of being derivative, “there wouldn’t be any white people here.” 

Monday, October 27, 2014

CHOOSE YOUR OWN VARIETY SHOW:  NBC has given a 10 episode, on-air commitment to a variety show hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.  The show's based on a British format including comedy sketches, audience members playing games and stunts, and variety acts.  It sounds like a glorious mess.
SNOT ROCKET: It turns out that Madison Bumgarner is good at baseball.  Eight strikes outs is cool, yes.  25 first pitch strikes against 31 batters faced?  That's insane.
I WILL TELL YOU FROM MY CAST IRON CHAIR:  Ok, maybe I'm just being crotchety, but even if it's being done ironically and for grownups only, can't we decide as a society that the cultural "redemption" of convicted rapist Mike Tyson need not involve his starring in a Scooby Doo-style cartoon show?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

(NON-PROFIT) CORPORATION GAMES:  Philadelphia's WXPN 88.5 FM had its listeners vote on the 88 worst songs of all time, and counted them down this afternoon.

Top ten below the fold, and I'd argue that two of them aren't bad songs at all -- Justin Bieber's "Baby" and Rebecca Black's "Friday -- but rather reflect unfortunate fuddy-duddy bias against well-crafted teen pop. "You Light Up My Life," on the other hand, is an abomination.

THEY DID NOT, HOWEVER, TAKE THE BASS LINE OUT:  We've got an emoji-filled "Hard Knock Life" video from the new Annie as well, which exists sonically somewhere between the original and Jay-Z, with two notable changes in the lyrics: from "smidge/orphange" to "bit/foster kid," and from "make her drink a mickey finn" to "send her to the looney bin". First they came for Beau Brummell, now Mickey ...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

MORE THAN THE MOON:  So, we now have a 4 minute featurette for Into The Woods, which gives us a little bit of singing (a chunk of "I Wish/Prologue" and a piece of Streep singing "Stay With Me") and continues to suggest that if nothing else, the orchestrations are going to sound great.  Does it calm your fears or enhance them?

Related:  Emma Stone has said she was approached to play Cinderella, but turned down the role because of vocal range.
KISSING SANTA'S ASS:  On November 6, 2014, the USPS will be issuing four Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer forever stamps—Rudolph, Santa, Bumble, and Isaac Spaceman's favorite character:
Then we meet Hermey the Elf. Some of you – the ones in the Vai Sikahema Football League – know my undying love for Hermey, but for those of you who don’t, he’s the overly-theatrical elf with the calculatedly-insouciant twist of longish blond hair (the same haircut as all of the girl elves; all of the other boy elves are bald), the lisping twitter, the ineptitude at manual labor, and the singular ambition to work with orthodontia. And he sounds like Rip Taylor, for crying out loud. Anyway, he works in a factory, and his boss is an irredeemable dick. Boss Elf rips Hermey a new one for not working quickly enough (note: he’s applying red paint, and this is the Eisenhower era, so Hermey is basically eating lead chips, I think), then rips Hermey another new one for wanting to be a dentist, then rips Hermey another one for all of the ones he had to rip him, basically... 
So Rudolph runs away, and he meets up with Hermey, and Hermey does a little dance and tells Rudolph that they should be misfits together, and it’s exactly as gay as you think it would be. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

100% LESS BEAU BRUMMELLY, AND THE LOVELY BOYLAN SISTERS ARE NOWHERE TO BE FOUND:  Now online is the music video for Sia's remake of "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile" from the new Annie film soundtrack, with Quvenzhané Wallis and multiple adorable orphans frolicking through the streets of N.Y.C.

[No sign of Mr. Eko/Simon Adebisi, who joined the cast as "Nash".]
STILL COUNTS FOR THE HEGOT QUEST:  According to the Hollywood Reporter, NPH was the producers' fourth choice for hosting the Oscars next year, after first having approached Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, and, whoa, interesting!, Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER?  EW has an extended look at Into The Woods this week, including 4 covers and a first look at both Meryl Streep's Act II Witch and Johnny Depp in Wolf makeup.  Ready your outrage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TRIPLE AXEL, TRIPLE LOOP? TRIPLE AXEL TRIPLE LOOP!  Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist in 1984 and the lead television analyst in figure skating coverage for the past 20-plus years, has been dumped by NBC and replaced with the duo of Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski.
PUT YOUR TINY HAND IN MINE:  Katie Halper reviews "Blurred Lines," "Every Breath You Take," and seven other songs which are more "misogynist, pervy, douchy and rape-y" than you may realize.
SMOOTH, SMOOTH SAX:  You may not recognize Raphael Ravenscroft (who died earlier this week) by name, but I'll guarantee you you'll recognize his work

Monday, October 20, 2014

THAT KIND OF LUXE JUST AIN'T FOR THEM:  At least two San Francisco radio stations have said they won't be playing Lorde's "Royals" until the conclusion of the World Series.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

IT IMPROVES ANYTHING:  After being reminded of the Greatest Movie Twist of Our Time, it's time to ask how TV shows can be improved with the addition of one simple thing:  SECRET DWARF HOOKER!
  • Two and A Half Men--It's widely reported that the final season of the show will revolve around Alan and Walden attempting to adopt a child.  Well, turns out it's not a child.  It's a SECRET DWARF HOOKER (who looks oddly like Charlie Sheen).
  • Two Broke Girls--It's revealed that Han is actually a SECRET DWARF HOOKER.  He murders all the other characters.  The show ends.
  • Bad Judge--It turns out the child who Bad Judge has taken under her wing? Actually a SECRET DWARF HOOKER!  (Also applicable to About A Boy SECRET DWARF HOOKER.)
  • The Mysteries of Laura--Her hell raising kids?  Not actually kids, but SECRET DWARF HOOKERS!
  • Reign--Who needs Hunky Nostradamus when you've got SECRET DWARF HOOKER posing as one of the Ladies In Waiting?
  • Once Upon A Time--He's not Grumpy.  He's SECRET DWARF HOOKER!
  • The Blacklist--Red takes on his most fearsome enemy.  SECRET DWARF HOOKER!
  • NCIS: Secret Dwarf Hooker--Self Explanatory.
  • Nashville--An adorable moppet tries to seize the throne of Nashville from Rayna and Juliette while holding a deadly secret.  You guessed it--SECRET DWARF HOOKER!
  • American Horror Story: Secret Dwarf Hooker--Let's not give Ryan Murphy any ideas, OK?
ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO SUNDAY SPECIAL:  While historically I've ceded NYTBR criticism to others, today's Paperback Row presents a special case.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

SAVING YOU A FEW BUCKS: Did you want to know what the ludicrous supernatural/romantic twist is in the new Nicholas Sparks movie out tomorrow?  The Dissolve has you covered, and while it's no "Secret Ghost Mom," it's still pretty schmaltzy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SLOW, BUT SURE, PROGRESS TOWARD EGOT:  Your 2015 Oscar host?  Mr. Neil Patrick Harris.  He's got a shot to be at EG-T next year, if Hedwig wins the musical show album category at the Grammys.

ETA:  Harris announces the news via video.
THE FUNK OF 40,000 YEARS: With an estimated $140M that won't be spent on exotic animal maintenance, Michael Jackson tops this year's Forbes list of the best-earning dead celebrities, ahead of his one-time father-in-law Elvis Presley, Charles Schulz, one-time BFF Elizabeth Taylor, and Bob Marley.
THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE:  Preferred "Bang Bang"--Jessie/Ariana/Nicki, or Marshall/Ted/Barney?
ONLY IF THERE'S AN ARMISTICE IN THE CUPCAKE WARS:  Lego is exploring some kind of master builder reality tv competition show.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

IS FRED ARMISEN FREE?  The November 1 SNL will be hosted by Chris Rock, musical guest Prince.  It's Rock's second time back since his cast stint, and he'll be the third returning cast member to host this season. (Among my wish list: Robert Downey Jr, who hasn't hosted since 1996; the junior Senator from Minnesota; and a Poehler/Fey/Dratch/Rudolph reunion week.)

As for Prince, it's his third time. In 1981, he performed "Party Up" (and cursed: "Fightin' war is such a fuckin' bore" at 1:10); in 2006, "Fury" and "Beautiful, Loved and Blessed," both from 3121.
NOT SO FANTASTIC:  Apparently at least partially due to the ongoing cold war between Marvel/Disney and Fox over the divided film rights for the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, Marvel is bringing to a close the adventures of Reed Richards and family, at least in comic book form.  The two prior FF movies were admittedly a mess (with the exception of Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis), but the upcoming reboot has promise (Josh Trank's Chronicle was a very interesting and different take on the superhero thing) and for years, the Four were the leaders of the Marvel Universe.
"AT THE COUNT OF 3," HE SAYS, "I HOPE I CAN DISAPPEAR":  Current results from your Rock Hall voting, while not producing any OMG Of Course universally-agreed-upon inductees, still show some patterns:
Yes, You Must Induct
Lou Reed (35/43 votes)
N.W.A. (33)

Significant Support
Nine Inch Nails (28)
Green Day (25)
The Smiths (25)
Stevie Ray Vaughan (24)

They've Got Their Adherents
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (18)
Kraftwerk (17)
And the Also Receiving Consideration crew: Chic (5), Sting (4), The Spinners (2), Paul Butterfield Blues Band (2), The Marvelettes (1), War (1), Bill Withers (1).

I'm pretty sure that everyone in those top two groups eventually gets in, except for The Smiths, insofar as this is an America-based institution and they've never even had a top-50 album here and commercial impact has to matter some. (In general, of course, the Hall has big problem in not finding a way to recognize influential-but-not-commercial acts of the post-Founding era.)

I will try to work up a Keltner or two in the coming weeks, especially since I'm a little surprised that Nine Inch Nails didn't place a little higher. Intuitively, their (well, his) case is really strong to me; I'd like to see if it holds up under analysis.

Monday, October 13, 2014

FOR A DOLLAR?  I'd say this new Burger King ad ripping off Billy Eichner's shtick gets 0.9 Coultons on the Yeah, That's Totally A Ripoff scale.
IT'S EITHER THAT OR WE TALK ABOUT THE GENOCIDES IN WHICH WE ARE COMPLICIT:  It's Columbus Day: tell us about something you've discovered recently, even if someone else actually found it first.

[I've finally started watching Gilmore Girls with Lucy.  Fun stuff.  Yes, that's right: I've never seen it before.]
BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!  Boom Clap or Boom Boom Clap (Boom De Clap De Clap)?  (Disqualified:  Boom Boom Pow and Bang! Pow! Boom!)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

MR. VICE PRESIDENT, YOU STILL HAVE A MINUTE-TWENTY: There is nothing but sadness to convey upon hearing the news that Jan Hooks has passed away from a long illness at age 57. She was, as Alan Sepinwall properly notes, one of the best "glue" performers on the show, lacking breakout characters herself but ridiculously versatile as a straight man, celebrity-of-the-week, or whatever else was needed. Watch her against Jon Lovitz's Devil on "The People's Court" -- her delivery "I am a barfly" is just perfect. Or, gosh, her Sinead O'Connor versus Hartman's Sinatra, Bette Davis' video will, any many more.
YOU'RE GOING TO GET WHAT YOU DESERVE: The 2015 ballot for the Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Hall of Fame includes five first-time nominees: Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, the Smiths, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bill Withers, and Sting, the first two in their rookie year of eligibility. (First albums: 1989.)

Joining them on the ballot are returning nominees N.W.A., Lou Reed, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kraftwerk, Chic, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Marvelettes, the Spinners, War, and Bill Withers.

[Among the excluded: The Cure, New Order, Sonic Youth, Warren Zevon, Bon Jovi, anything metal or prog, and every woman who played post-WWII non-country popular music not named Joan Jett or in Chic, such as, um, Janet Jackson (if you're nasty), who has never been on the ballot despite being eligible since 2007.]

Do we have a Doodle ballot?  Of course.  

[My tentative ballot: NIN, SRV, NWA, Lou Reed, Kraftwerk. On the fence on Sting and the Smiths.]
HEY, HEY WHAT CAN I SAY?:  This attempt by SPIN to rank every single Led Zeppelin song is worth a gander -- it's not a slideshow.  First, it's largely right: Over the Hills and Far Away is indeed their best song and most of the stuff on Presence -- an album I'm sure I never listed to straight through -- is way down the list.   I quibble about ever separating Heartbreaker from Livin' Lovin' Maid -- two songs that are as inseparable as Pink Floyd's Brain Damage and Eclipse from Dark Side of the Moon.

The only misplaced one is Your Time is Gonna Come which readily ranks among the Top Ten -- and I don't think that's even nostalgia from a really great date, the memory of which is fused with a trip to the Laserium at the Morrison Planetarium in 1988.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Requiring passes for rides with long waits could ease frustration, said John Gerner, founder of Leisure Business Advisors in Richmond, Va. "If visitors have to wait more than an hour, It almost doesn't matter how good the ride is – they're upset," Gerner said. 
On the other hand, Disney risks angering guests who don't snatch up FastPasses reservations before they run out. "You're essentially making people reserve in advance and are taking away this really long line at the scene," Gerner said. "The trade-off is that people willing to wait six hours don't get to do so."
[When we did the ride at California Adventure in late June, I'd say the wait was 45m-1h both times in the late morning, and the kids were a bit antsy the second time but believed that it was worth it.]
ABSOLUTELY BONKERS APENUTS:  According to our own Amy Watts, writing for the Baltimore Sun, the audience deeply appreciated Alfonso Ribeiro's breaking out the Carlton Dance for DWTS this week, a crowd pop perhaps only exceeded on television last night as that received when Finally, The Rock Has Come Back ... To Brooklyn.
I AM LOOKING FOR A 'DARE TO BE GREAT' SITUATION: I'm totally fine with Cameron Crowe wanting to spike a tv adaptation/sequel to Say Anything, but perhaps then shouldn't Crowe be returning to 20th Century Fox TV the money they've paid him for those adaptation rights over the years?
IT WAS NOT ACCOMPANIED WITH A PROFANE TIRADE AGAINST JOHNNY MARR:  Morrissey has admitted he has undergone treatment for cancer, issuing the most Morrissey-esque statement on the matter possible--"If I die, then I die. And if I don't, then I don't."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

PUTTING THEIR TWO SHOES DOWN:  Amazon Prime has added a perfectly reasonable disclaimer to its Tom and Jerry cartoons, and some people don't get it:
"Tom & Jerry" shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While not representing the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these shorts are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.

PARENTHETICAL OF THE YEAR NOMINEE:  Congratulations, NJ.com, for your article today relating NY Football Giants defensive back Antrell Rolle's comments on how devout teammate Prince Amukamara's off-season marriage, ending his life of celibacy-by-choice, changed him on the field:
"There are a lot of things different about Prince. For one, he's married, so he's (enjoying some things that he wasn't experiencing before he's married). For a man, that could definitely help him out. For a man ... I'm just being honest ... it's helping him out. He walks around with a little more swagger, which is something that we need, which is something that we love," Rolle said.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BEST KEVIN SMITH FILM PROMOTION EVER:  35,000 walruses have suddenly beached themselves on the Alaskan shoreline.
TENDER AGE IN BLOOM:  With Fall upon us, it's homecoming season (at least in the South), and we look at the uniquely Texan tradition of the Homecoming Mum.
THREE RIVERS, OR ONE BAY? PRIMANTI'S, OR THAT GUY WHO BEAT IRON CHEF SAKAI?  Because last night was clearly not enough drama and shouldn't have happened, let's ask again: Pittsburgh, or San Francisco?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FAIRYLAND VS. THE SCHLITTERBAHN:  Oakland v. Kansas City, winner take all tonight. Who ya got?

Monday, September 29, 2014

I FEEL LIKE IT WANTS TO BE MACARONI AND CHEESE, AND IT WANTS TO BE CAKE. IT JUST DOESN'T KNOW WHICH ONE IT IS YET:  Some gentile Buzzfeed staffers try traditional Jewish foods for the first time.
I WILL DROWN MY SORROWS IN A BOWL OF COCOA PEBBLES:  This past weekend, the CW broadcast the last block of Saturday Morning cartoons on network television.  This weekend, there will be none.

Looking back on the included Saturday network schedules, I'm shocked and appalled that I ever would have watched "Godzilla" instead of yet another Bugs Bunny re-run.


FINALLY, UNLIMITED BREADSTICKS:  Governor Pat Quinn is pleased to announce that finally, an Olive Garden has arrived within the city limits of Chicago.  No word on if he's taking sides in the ongoing proxy fight over management.
RANDOM AMUSING STUFF BECAUSE I'M TOO SWAMPED TO CREATE A PROPER POST:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

BID KID ADIEU:  SI ranks the ten best exits in sports history, though, no Pete Sampras?
YINZER OF THE WEEK: R.I.P, Raymond Alan "Big Al" Brownley:
...His fondness of spaghetti Westerns was only surpassed by his love of bacon, beer and butter pecan ice cream. He fondly reminisced about good friends, good drinks and good times at the Tri-Valley Sportsmens Club in Burgettstown. He was a long-time member of the Elks Club in McKees Rocks where he frequently bartended and generously donated his tips to charity. Quite a teller of tales, Big Al's elaborate stories often were punctuated with the phrase, "And that's when I kicked his ass." He enjoyed outlaw country music: Waylon, Willie, Hank, Johnny. He was also on a first-name basis with the Four Horsemen of liquor: Jack, Jim, Johnnie and Jose. 
Big Al had strong beliefs in which he never waivered: dog shit makes the best garden fertilizer; Heinz ketchup does not belong on a hotdog; and PennDOT should be embarrassed of the never-ending construction, detours and potholes on Route 28....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WE HAVE TO GO BACK:  Andy Greenwald, on the 10th anniversary of Lost's debut:
Lost bridged the Internet divide between the time Before Twitter (B.T.) and After Twitter (F.M.L.). It helped to normalize the idea that television can be watched intimately with millions of people not currently seated on your couch and that episodes don’t end when the credits roll — they stretch and bleed into the rest of the week through a dizzying scrim of chat windows, status updates, and ill-advised Googling. ... The truth is, Lost diehards — and I count myself among them — would never have been satisfied with the show’s ending, no matter what form it took, because it pulled the plug on our endless, joyous speculating. If we’re being honest, none of us ever wanted to be found.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NECROPHILIAC, SERIAL-KILLING FUR MONSTERS OF THE SEA: Vox explains otters. (I'm not a fan of their jug bands, either.)
GLORIOUS RULER'S TOUR OF REALM:  For those not observing Rosh Hashanah, or at least if you don't have dinner plans Wednesday night, as part of Matt's visit to Philadelphia we will convene a Quizzo team at the Black Sheep Pub,  247 S 17th St., for Johnny Goodtimes' weekly visit at 8:15pm. Look for the table self-identifying as "LeSean A'Tova."

Monday, September 22, 2014

42 LINES ABOUT 84 PROPHETS:  What are you doing tomorrow?  I'll tell you what you should be doing -- and that is buying (and hopefully reading) Gutenberg's Apprentice, a novel by my cousin Alix Christie.  It is an historical novel about the creation and financing of the creation of movable type and the printing of the 42-line Bible.

The national book tour comes through San Francisco on Thursday at Arion Press at the San Francisco Presidio.  
IT WAS A TEENAGE WEDDING, AND THE OLD FOLKS WISHED THEM WELL:  The Dissolve's editors attempt to compile a list of the fifty greatest uses of pop music in movie history, with many, many clips.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

IT WAS A BRIGHT COLD DAY IN APRIL, AND THE CLOCKS WERE STRIKING THIRTEEN:  I was born in February 1970, so 1984 is almost certainly my sweet spot for influential pop music but -- my goodness -- what an insane list of enduring pop music can be found here, in Rolling Stones collection of "100 Best Singles of 1984: Pop Music's Best Year".

There aren't 10 songs here I couldn't have identified by name and artist if they'd come on the radio on any random afternoon in the last fifteen years.   Much as I still enjoy them, I'm sorry I was so obstinately listening to only Blue Oyster Cult and Scorpions and Emerson Lake and Palmer at the time.  That said -- at the risk of brushing up against the Rule -- my own politics notwithstanding, I must say that Nena's 99 Luftballoons remains one of my all time favorite songs

(I'll risk the argument with Adam about the relatively overrated Prince here (important for his era? My goodness, yes.  But 3 in the top 8?  And all of them above A-Ha?  Really?).  And that's setting aside the DQ here of not having your videos available on YouTube.
SKILLS THAT MAKE ME A NIGHTMARE FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Vox helpfully maps the deaths perpetrated by Liam Neeson on-screen by body count, location, and method.

Friday, September 19, 2014

YES, BUT NOW YOU'RE ABOUT TO SEE A STEREOTYPICALLY ANGRY JEWISH GUY:  Vulture (Margaret Lyons) Jezebel (Kara Brown), Slate (Willa Paskin), and Vox (Alex Abad-Santos) are among those deservedly flaying the NYT's Alessandra Stanley over a truly "inaccurate, tone-deaf, muddled, and racist" (Lyons) profile of our good friend, Shonda Rhimes.
AT LEAST THEY'RE NOT MAKING KENDRICK DYE HER HAIR BLONDE:  To more smoothly incorporate Into The Woods into Disney canon, they're changing a few character names--rather than just "Rapunzel's Prince" and "Cinderella's Prince,"the characters will be "Flynn Rider" and "Prince Charming" (though (a) Flynn wasn't a prince, and (b) if you're going that way, why not just go ahead and cast Zachary Levi?), and "Cinderella's Stepmother" is officially "Lady Tremaine."

ETA:  Disney now claims that was an error.
HEY HEY HEY:  Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the debut of The Cosby Show.  There's much to discuss, including the sweaters, whether we'll ever have another sitcom with the lead expressly billed above the title (all eight seasons opened with "Bill Cosby in The Cosby Show"), and which of the eight show openers was the best and the worst.  (The "interpretive dance in beach attire" of Season 5 is unquestionably the weirdest.)
WHEAT, BARLEY, AND NUCLEAR FUSION: The WSJ explores the psychographics of Grape Nuts devotees, a waning group:
Since people haven't been eating nearly as much of it as they used to, the latest Grape Nuts ad campaign, running now on MSN's Web site, is trying a new tonic: It consists of skits in which male milquetoasts get droll advice on "looking cool while driving a minivan," or "letting your in-laws move into your house." The slogan -- "That takes Grape Nuts" -- implies that the stuff enhances virility. C.W Post might have written it himself... 
"We need to bring it back to life in a relevant way," says Kelley Peters, the "insights" director who charts Grape Nuts psychographics for Ralcorp's $5 million resuscitation attempt. Her target: men 45 years old and up. "Men aspire to it," she says. "It's strong and stern, the father figure of cereals." Her marketing chief, Jennifer Marchant, points out: "It tends to break your teeth sometimes."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I HEAR THERE'S A MEAT AND CHEESE SANDWICH I OUGHT TO TRY:  So, I have about 24 hours in the City of Brotherly Love next week (Wednesday late afternoon-Thursday late afternoon) before I head to a wedding down the Shore.  I'm staying in the historic district (right near the Constitution Center), and will have a car.  What do I need to eat, see, and do, folks?
FIND THE SAINT IN THE ASSHOLE, FIND THE ASSHOLE IN THE SAINT:  Scott Tobias' five rules for making biopics about geniuses.
THE LAND OF SHEENA EASTON, SHIRLEY MANSON, AND DAVID BYRNE:  Vote yes for naming something Scottish which you like.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

THE CIRCLE WILL BE COMPLETED IF, IN TWENTY YEARS, TOM PETTY REVIEWS ONE OF MY CONCERTS:  Last night's Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Philadelphia, reviewed for the Philadelphia Inquirer by area resident John Wesley Harding:
It was instructive how many hits the 20-song set omitted: yes, "Learning to Fly" and its obverse "Free Fallin'," but no room for "I Need to Know" or "The Waiting," "Breakdown," or "You Got Lucky." Philadelphia heard precisely 12 of the hits in the 20-song set list, which perhaps isn't really enough.