Friday, May 26, 2017

BUT WHERE'S BILLY BATSON?  I wanted to talk a little bit about the mess that is Beat Shazam.  There are two cores to a successful game show:

  1. The game itself has to be easily explainable and understandable.  The show actually passes this test, unlike other recent "big game" efforts like Million Second Quiz or 500 Questions.  Choose the correct name of a tune fastest, and score points.  Team with the highest number of points at the end of the main game goes on to play a bonus game with a similar format.
  2. The star of the show is the game itself and the contestants playing it.  This is where the show collapses.  Jamie Foxx is a likable screen presence, but he makes it all about him, rather than about the game or the contestants.  Add to this that he has basically negative chemistry with his co-hostess, whose function seems to be to press a button to start each song, and you've got serious problems.
Magnifying that problem is that the program is seriously padded, and much of that padding, Foxx is called upon to fill during.  Outside of the bonus game, there are 25 song clips (none exceeding about 5 seconds) in an episode, leaving the show with 30+ minutes of non-play content to fill in a 44 minute episode.  Much of this is unneeded gameplay elongation--"let's see who got it right" (long pause), "now who got it right fastest?" (long pause)--though to their credit, there's very little "we'll find out...after the break!"  The basic Name That Tune game is solid, but this is a 22 minute stretched to 44 minutes, and that's not something you want to see.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I-N-E-V-I-T-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y:  Unless y'all convince me otherwise, I don't quite see how it makes sense to do what would otherwise be a fifteenth annual Spelling Bee liveblog on the blog itself, as opposed to offering commentary on Twitter where people actually are.

Yes, there's a part of me that wants to treat the Bee as an annual Brigadoon, the one week a year that a mass audience would return again to this site (seriously, we had tens of thousands of views each day, and not just during our Special Special Guest years), but it strikes me as more stubborn than realistic to insist upon remaining with this platform.

The whole point of the Bee blog was to create a community of Bee enthusiasts to talk about some amazing kids, and ornery words, in real time. We can do that anywhere. Yeah, the 140 character limit is a pain, compared to a lot of the longform stuff I've been so proud to publish here, but if folks don't come here to participate, what's the point?  At least, that's my gut reaction as to how things would play out if we tried to centralize things here next week. Shonda, 2013:
What I love about the Bee is its celebration of intelligence.  The Bee at its best is a dance party for braininess, a nerdgasm for smarty-pants.  The Bee is home for those of us who maybe can not throw a ball or run without our inhalers.  The Bee is a place for people who like to read, who enjoy math, who love science and art and geography and words, words, words.  The Bee is for people who have plans that do not include being a Real Housewife of Anything.   The Bee is the only way our people will ever be on ESPN.   And that makes the Bee awesome.


THE NOW FUN LEAGUE is loosening its rules on post-touchdown celebrations.  Taunting is still bad, but group celebrations are now kosher.

Friday, May 19, 2017

WE (STILL) HAVE READERS, AND TAKE REQUESTS:  A regular reader asks, "Here's a general question: can we get a thread going on the blog for suggestions of baby books that won't make me insane with boredom? What are the fun ones that he will like hearing/looking at and I won't mind (too much) reading 100 times?"

One hippo, all alone ...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

BLACK HOLE SUN, WON'T YOU COME?  Chris Cornell, dead at 52.  While Nirvana and Pearl Jam were the big names of grunge, Cornell might've been the strongest singer, at least technically.  One of my favorites?  A solo track from the soundtrack of Alfonso Cuaron's modernized Great Expectations.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

WHO ARE YOU, WHAT HAVE YOU SACRIFICED?  Next Spring, NBC will present Jesus Christ Superstar: LIVE!  Who ya got for the key roles?  

Monday, May 1, 2017

EGOT WATCH:  Michael Moore is bringing a one-man play to Broadway this summer.  He already has an Oscar and an Emmy (for TV Nation), so warrants the watch notice.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

OOOOO......EEEEEE!  As Kenan Thompson approaches Darrell Hammond's record-setting SNL tenure, what's up with that?
“What Up With That” gave Thompson confidence, and it gave SNL writers an understanding of his greatest strength: his ability to act as an on-stage director, calmly and selflessly pulling the most out of the people around him amid confusion. 
“He’d make me look funny,” said Hader, who would return as the always-silent Buckingham many more times. It was a generosity multiple cast members mentioned. 
But Thompson, Hader said, had another weapon. Unlike most of the show’s actors who might have pre-performance jitters, Thompson was never nervous. Instead he’d mess with other actors seconds before they went on air, sending them onstage with a laugh and an air of confidence. He watched sketches when he had free time, offering words of encouragement when something fell flat. And onstage, Thompson didn’t compete. He facilitated.

Friday, April 14, 2017

DWAYNE JOHNSON INCREASES THE NUMBER OF GRATUITOUS BICEP FLEXES LESS THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT:  In preparation for today's eighth installment, Bloomberg goes all Nate Silver on the Fast and Furious franchise.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

FOR WANT OF A COMMA, WE HAVE THIS CASE:  And it's a doozy, as the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit endeavors to construe this Oxford comma-free statute, in which overtime protection does not apply to ...
The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.
[2011 grammar rodeo.]

Monday, February 27, 2017

I'M SO HUNGRY, I COULD EAT AT ARBY'S:  The Ringer ranks the Top 50 Fast Food Items.  I'm sure there will be much disagreement.
SO, THAT HAPPENED:  I think have this right -- Warren Beatty realized there was something wrong with the card inside the award envelope, looked carefully for a second card, and then when it wasn't there ... he punted to Faye Dunaway, who saw "La La Land" on the card and didn't look further. Hard to blame either for not knowing how to handle something almost-unprecedented.

I haven't seen many of this year's nominated films, but I have now seen the John Mulaney/Nick Kroll monologue from the Independent Spirit Awards and it's much better than any of Kimmel's bits last night.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

DON'T TAKE THE LAW INTO YOUR OWN HANDS, YOU TAKE 'EM TO COURT:  The Honorable Joseph Wapner, dead at the age of 97.

Also, I take judicial notice that this is a case of premorse.

Friday, February 17, 2017

BEER, OR TOY?  Hasbro has filed to protect the scent of Play-Doh as a trademark in the US, describing it as "A unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough."
FIRST THEY CAME FOR TAN M&MS:  And then in 2013 they were going to remove a Monopoly piece and I cried "Protect The Thimble!" and they smelted the iron instead, replacing it with a cat.

So now they are coming for the Thimble, and "potential new additions include a series of emojis, modern vehicles like a helicopter and a speedbike, and a freaking Tyrannosaurus Rex." 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

TWELFTH ANNUAL SEASON-ENDING BIG GAME POOL:  Five questions, one quietly persistent blog:
1. Winner/final score.
2. Official Game MVP.
3. Which advertiser tops the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter?
4. Predict Lady Gaga's setlist.
5. Either predict whether Luke Bryan's National Anthem performance will be over/under 2:15, or say something about the Schuyler Sisters' performance of "America the Beautiful."
Tiebreaker: pick a prop bet Get it right. The tougher the odds, the better you do.

Previous winners: 2006: Benner; 2007: me; 2008: Joseph J. Finn ; 2009: Scott; 2010: Scott again; 2011: GoldnI; 2012: Phil; 2013: Benner; 2014: Isaac Spaceman, 2015: StvMg, and 2016: Lou Wainwright. As they will tell you, the prizes are Fame and Glory within this community, but nothing financial.

My answers: New England 31-23, Chris Hogan, Anheuser-Busch because I always pick them (probably the Spuds McKenzie ad), Just Dance/Poker Face/(Something Recent That I Haven't Heard)/Born This Way/Edge of Glory, Under (and they won't be in costume, sadly), and Devonta Freeman under 54.5 rushing yards.
ANNALS OF UNORTHODOX MEDICAL RESEARCH:  Having trouble passing a kidney stone?  Ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

OKAY, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BOOTIES 'CAUSE IT'S COOOOOOLD OUT THERE TODAY: It's February 2, so it's time to talk about the movie again. Do you buy the whole Buddhist thing, or should we just quote lines for a while and generally discuss its awesomeness?

Participate in this thread, or it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

OH THIS FEUD, YEAH, THIS FEUD'S STILL ALIVE: Most of the time, which members of a band get into the Rock Hall of Fame is pretty uncontroversial (notwithstanding Axl Rose's mild fit about who got in for Guns N' Roses), but Pearl Jam will be inducted with drummers Dave Krusen (who drummed on Ten) and current drummer Matt Cameron, not either Dave Abbruzzese (who drummed for the Ten tour, Vs., and all but 2 songs on Vitalogy) or Jack Irons (who drummed from 1994-1998).