Thursday, December 30, 2004
I now return you to your regularly-scheduled traffic jam, courtesy of the President of Synagogue. Anyone? Is this on?
We are so hung up on blue states and red states that our only hope may lie in the primary color that has been left off the map. We need something -- or someone -- yellow, and also absorbent and porous enough to soak up the ill will and scrub away the lingering bad feelings. Now more than ever, the country needs SpongeBob SquarePants.I wrote this one off to post-election angst along with (possibly) a heady dose of whatever drug makes people enjoy "SpongeBob" (I, for one, don't get it). However, the weirdness returns today, when Virginia Heffernan asks whether "Jack & Bobby"s Grace McAllister could cut it as a real college professor. The piece is good, but one note struck me as off--Heffernan writes:
Oh, why are television's humanities professors so banal? The late, lamented belle-lettrist Asher Fleming of "Gilmore Girls" is a possible exception, but only because he was sleeping with Paris Geller (played by Liza Weil), the greatest comic character currently on television.
Now, I love "Gilmore Girls" as much as any straight man does, but referring to (the admittedly quite amusing) Paris as "the greatest comic character currently on television" seems a stretch. How about any character with the last name "Bluth" or "Funke?" Or Dr. Perry Cox from "Scrubs?" Or even Lorelai Gilmore herself? Who's on your list for great comic characters currently on television?
(And as great as Liza Weil is as Paris, let's not forget that she can also be an excellent dramatic actress, as her single great scene with John Spencer on The West Wing demonstrates.)
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Jason Schwartzman (pass expires 2008) earned his pass for "Rushmore." And what have you done for me lately? "Slackers?" "Simone?" "Spun?" A sitcom co-starring Molly Shannon? None match. Schwartzman's showing a bit of a sign of rebound lately, with "I Heart Huckabees," and upcoming movie choices like "Bewitched" and Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" showing some promise. I'm hoping he can make a rebound.
Julia Stiles (pass expires 2009) earned her pass for "10 Things I Hate About You." Stiles is a little different from Schwartzman--rather than making almost nothing in subsequent years, she's been constantly in action. Her problem is a lack of selectiveness. While there are highs (Michael Alymareda's "Hamlet," David Mamet's "State and Main," Tim Blake Nelson's "O"), they've been mixed with lows ("Save the Last Dance," "A Guy Thing," "Down To You," "The Prince & Me"), movies in which she's been good but the movie hasn't ("Mona Lisa Smile"), and the two "Bourne" movies, where you get the feeling she got largely left on the cutting room floor. A smart script will help her, but she needs to avoid crappy romcoms and chick flicks.
But in his image as "That guy from 'Law & Order,'" it's Orbach's other work that gets lost. His filmography is littered with memorable roles, from a bit part as a baseball manager in "Brewster's Millions" to Baby's father in "Dirty Dancing" to singing and dancing candelabra Lumiere in "Beauty and the Beast." Orbach's Broadway work is often forgotten as well. Did you know he not only originated the role of Billy "Mr. Razzle Dazzle" Flynn in "Chicago," but also originated the role of Julian Marsh in "42nd Street," and even played Sky Masterson in "Guys and Dolls."
I'm sure tonight's "L&O" will pay tribute in some way, and I expect the franchise will, in some way, commemorate his passing, but I pay my own humble tribute here.
BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY: Shaun Of The Dead. For obvious reasons. Also a strong contender for Movie Of The Year and Best Zombie Movie Ever. I want my ZOMBAID t-shirt, like, now. Zombaid, the zombie game shows, the hundred little ways in which people were zombified before the "outbreak" occurred and the compromise by which the protagonist's externalized cro-magnon / zombie impulses are retained but exiled to the shed so that he may have an adult relationship were all extremely freaking brilliant. A movie to live by. See it with someone you love.
BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY NOT FEATURING HORDES OF FLESH-HUNGRY UNDEAD: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Also obvious. Really just brilliant. The missing letter in the "Lacuna" logo on the company truck? Brilliant! As this film has been adequately fawned-over elsewhere, I'll say no more. Not to be missed.
BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY WITH NO SCI-FI PREMISE WHATSOEVER: Sideways. Though I've never been to a winery where anyone, uh... pours, yeah, quite like Sandra Oh, the whole film was touching, hysterical and true to life in a way that most (all? counter-example? comments? Beuhler?) in this genre are not. Some might argue that they've never felt like Miles (Giamatti) or known anyone like Jack (Church), but I have and I do (or I do and I have) and this is one of the best romantic comedies ever made (despite a conspicuous lack of space aliens).
All told, a good year for a tired genre.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
All the other Philadelphia sports stars of my formative years were decidedly unemotional types -- Mike Schmidt, Julius Erving, Steve Carlton, Randall Cunningham and Ron Jaworski were all players who directed their energies towards the field. They all had a certain kind of asceticism to their game -- for them, it wasn't about displaying emotion, or playing to the crowd. They did their jobs, and did it well, but they were all more admired than beloved.
Not so Reggie White. The Minister of Defense was larger than life -- on the field and off. His game was intense, with a power/speed combination few have ever had on the defense line, and a battery of moves to skirt offensive linemen that was just stunning to watch. That swim move? Wow. He had nine straight seasons with double-digit sacks to start his NFL career, retiring number one all-time despite spending his first two seasons in the USFL. (Bruce Smith ultimately totaled two more sacks, but needed three more years to do so.)
But it was off the field that he galvanized a city. He showed us his sweat, his fury, his emotion. His heart. Randall Cunningham was exciting to watch, but it was Reggie and that defense we loved, never more so than that 1991 season in which Randall went down, and the defense rose to #1 against the run, #1 against the pass, #1 overall, bringing the "house of pain" to Houston and obliterating all that lay before it.
And when his teammate Jerome Brown died in an offseason car wreck, it was Reggie who comforted us.
Sure, he had his controversies -- whether deciding as a free agent to go "where God told him" (which happened to be the city offering the largest contract), his three separate retirements or his outrageous remarks before the Wisconsin legislature in 1998, which made John Rocker seem mild. Even today, I cannot defend any of what he said, but can only accept the sincerity of his commitment towards bettering the urban poor, that he did not simply abuse the language of religion in order to further political or personal ends. As he would have us do, I suppose, I detest the sins of that speech, but still loved the sinner and hoped he would change.
Five straight seasons with ten-plus wins in Philadelphia, then a Super Bowl ring in Green Bay. Thirteen Pro Bowl selections. I can't believe he's gone.
Just before I moved to Chicago for law school in 1994, Reggie came back to Philadelphia for his first game as a Packer. No one booed. They welcomed him back with the kind of open arms and loud cheers that this city never extends to anyone who leaves. Except Reggie.
SI's Peter King has more.
Friday, December 24, 2004
It is hereby ordered that no criticism of the film Fat Albert evermore appear on this blog.
Yes, I know, it's gotten some harsh reviews. Okay, most of them.
But if there's any living American comedian who's earned a lifetime pass on his creative works on account of the combination of his good work and good deeds, it's William H. Cosby, Jr., Ed.D.
(Okay, fine, criticize his political activism if you dare, but this is a kid's movie we're talking about.)
I'm still awfully fond of the old Fat Albert cartoons. And the Brown Hornet. And Picture Pages, picture pages, open up your picture pages . . . and then there's The Cosby Show.
I've got a soft spot for the guy. So, too, does the WaPo's Desson Thomson. So until there's a Leonard: Part VII, save your haterade for those who deserve it, and leave Bill alone.
Who gets your free lifetime pass?
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Well, she's been located, alright. Maybe twice.
The American Pie curse continues . . . .
Two of Chicago's best known rockers -- Billy Corgan and Dennis DeYoung -- will team up for the first time to sing a Christmas song live on WGN-Channel 9's morning newscast during the 8 a.m. hour Thursday.I believe WGN's news is broadcast is on the nationwide superstation feed, so just remember that's Central Time.
Word is that if the pairing is successful, an entire series of washed-up Chicago-area '70s rockers will be teamed with washed-up Chicago-area '90s rockers for duets. Look for Peter Cetera and Liz Phair, Kevin Cronin and Nash Kato, and others coming to your morning news in 2005.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Let me ask you this: did you find that car challenge fair? All this, and the merits of male shirtlessness and oddly-placed bunches, are open to your commentary.
Speaking of which: so, what other living American performing artists deserve the honor? My list starts with Woody Allen, Richard Pryor and Robert Altman. Yours?
Monday, December 20, 2004
But those are the runners-up. Arrested Development is the best show on network television. Therefore, my own ALOTT5MA Foregone Conclusion of Next Year is that it will be cancelled. Let's review the math. Tonight's episode of Arrested Development featured (a) incest jokes (2); (b) a joke about a "colored man" (blue); (c) double entendres about sex, oral sex (2), infidelity (many), and anal sex; (d) the ingestion of drugs; (e) a wicked stab at fundamentalist Christians; and (f) for the second straight week, a plot point featuring the public exposure of male character's genitals. At a time when Michael Powell's FCC, prompted by exactly nine complaints (apparently from people who weren't actually watching the show), is investigating NBC's coverage of that gay burlesque show known as the Olympic opening ceremonies, we probably have to thank the confluence of two factors for the fact that AD hasn't been fined into oblivion: (1) nobody is watching it; and (2) Rupert Murdoch owns Fox. Anyway, there is more comedy in the editing and reaction shots of this show than there has been the entire season of, say, Joey, so get it while it lasts. But I'm preaching to the choir, right?
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Saddest Celebrity Death: Spalding Gray
Best-Orchestrated Celebrity Comeback: Prince
Favorite Recurring Joke On 'Pardon The Interruption': Trampoline Bear
Least Favorite Recurring Joke On 'Pardon The Interruption': Beano Cook.
Reality TV Competitor of the Year: Rob Mariano, Survivor All-Stars
The and then nothing turned itself inside-out Award for Indulgent, Non-Essential Television Programming: VH-1's Best Week Ever
Television Program That Most Ought To Hire Several of the Bloggers Here: VH-1's Best Week Ever
Saddest Involuntary Departure from the Blogosphere: The late Doug Pappas, who'd be having a field day analyzing the Washington Nationals situation right now.
Saddest Voluntary Departure from the Blogosphere: Alex Balk, The Minor Fall, The Major Lift
Best LawProf Addition to the Blogosphere: Ann Althouse
Best Question That No One Is Quite Ready To Ask Yet: Is Nancy Reagan dating again?
Reality TV Host of the Year: Tyra Banks is, again, a runner-up (too much Tyra's Mom!), Phil Keoghan gets enough praise, and Jeff Probst, apparently, is getting all that he needs right now.
So, this year, we single out Ralph Garman of SpikeTV's Joe Schmo 2, who, in the role of Last Chance for Love host Derek Newcastle, had to manage a fake British accent, two duped competitors, a major scenario shift and a wayward trained falcon, and did it all with great class, style, humor, and, given all the nonsense, the straightest face possible.
Congratulations to all the winners and their families. Complaints can be registered at the usual location.
The woman wrote an entire book about how much she enjoys getting, as the South Park kids might say, F'ed in the A, and how transformative it is to render oneself a nullity, blah blah blah, and that kind of conscious self-exploitation deserves credit.
I agree in toto, and Ms. Bentley can contact us to pick up her trophy.
Turning to our next category, this week's EW does not contain Lohanboobies on the cover, but it's nonetheless time to give some awards out to one of this blog's favorite magazines. The Best New Feature In EW is hard to give out, because the magazine hasn't introduced a whole lot of good new features this year, but one stands out--What Would Have Happened. This sidebar feature in the TV section asks creators of late lamented cult classics how the shows would have turned out. They've covered shows like "John Doe," "Popular," and "Cupid." It's a clever idea with a good, solid series of show selections. The only other real contender I can think of is the now-regular appearance of Great American Pop Culture Quiz.
Unfortunately, where there is a best, there must also be a Worst New Feature in EW, and the fact that it takes the place of Pop Culture Quiz is just strike one against The Pop of King, perhaps the worst new column of this year. Stephen King's rambles about "why aren't there any good movies anymore?," "why don't I get any respect?," and "I loved this pop cultural thing!," give a unique combination of being utterly self-aggrandizing and boring.
One last note on this week's EW--is it just me, or does the picture of ALOTT5MAA nominee Tara Reid on page 60 look creepily like fired "Apprentice" candidate Jen Massey?
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Let's take you back to Wednesday, July 28, 2004, in the middle of the Democratic National Convention. Late during the headlines, and I'm paraphrasing here, we saw the following during the first segment:
[Stewart:] Of course, the highlight of last night's convention speeches was the keynote address by Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, who inspired the crowd when he said the following about the American dream:
[Obama Video:] It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
[Stewart:] Well, that skinny kid with a funny name happens to be with here with us tonight. [dramatic pause] Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Doodle von Taintstain!
[Out walks a talk, skinny white guy, probably an intern on the show. Applause, laughter.]
[Stewart:] Actually, I understand that his family's name was originally pronounced "von tahnt-steen". We'll be back.
I look forward to seeing everyone else's nominees.
Chrismukkah: Born (at least arguably) from "The O.C."
Festivus: Born from "Seinfeld."
Chrismukkah: Features the "Yarmulclaus"
Festivus: Features the metal pole of Festivus.
Chrismukkah: Features Mischa Barton's inability to act.
Festivus: Features Jerry Stiller screaming.
Chrismukkah: Features beautiful people punching each other.
Festivus: Features the "feats of strength."
Edge: Festivus, because it's not over till you pin him.
Chrismukkah: Wide-ranging merchandising
Festivus: Was a Ben & Jerry's flavor
Edge: Chrismukkah. (Were it a summer holiday, maybe Festivus would have a shot.)
Chrismukkah: "Oy! Humbug!"
Festivus: "I've got some problems with you!"
Chrismukkah: 59,600 Google hits
Festivus: 113,000 Google hits
I think that gives the slight edge to Festivus, but I'm open to discussions. (Thanks to this transcript of last season's O.C. Chrismukkah episode for much of the information I rely on.)
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
But we do have a winner, and I don't think anyone who saw this challenge would contest its difficulty, or its entertainment value. The Amazing Race 5. Episode Four. Pushkin, Russia. One kilogram of caviar. And the bodies started dropping. Never before have so many tv viewers learned so much about the need to replenish electrolytes so quickly.
Great challenge. Great television. ALOTT5MA winner. Tell me I'm wrong.
Also, to clarify, as far as I know, the "Cherry Jones" who is ODB's mother, is not the same as noted stage and film actress Cherry Jones, the Soderbergh/Shaymalan regular whose performance in the massively underrated "Cradle Will Rock" should have been award nominated.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
But mostly, that our hatred of Jonathan knows no bounds, and that Phil Keoghan rules. You?
Monday, December 13, 2004
Certainly, the nominees this year were legion. Janet Jackson was the presumptive favorite, of course. Soon, the Dean Scream followed, and other events like the Red Sox comeback, Rick James' passing, Howard Stern leaving broadcast radio and "Hey Ya!" not winning the Grammy for Record of the Year tried and failed to raise the shock-meter. Even in the world of fiction, learning that The Village was really set in a hamlet and seeing Aleksandr slap Carrie wasn't going to top Janet's escapade.
But then something did, on the night of May 2, 2004. If you were watching The Sopranos ("Unidentified Black Males") that night, you remember where you were when Meadow's boyfriend, Finn DeTrolio, stumbled on the construction site in the wee small hours of the morning only to find Vito "Wide Guy" Spatafore in a nearby pickup truck in a way we've never seen him before. And a nation of millions rewound their TiVos and watched it again. And again.
(previous winners in this category include OJ Simpson's Bronco chase; Dr. Kimberly Mancini pulls off the wig; the Pine Tar game; "Wu Tang Is For The Children"; and the death of Dana Plato.)
What did I forget?
Leaving aside the circumstantial evidence of guilt and lack of remorse so clear that it became sort of an E! News Extra primer on "Anatomy of a Case," this one was in the books before it started. The rule is simple. If you have no personal stake and you've heard about the case, the jury will vote for the death penalty. It is a near-scientific certainty that if you have been identified on the cover of Us Magazine as a capital defendant, you should feel free to take up smoking and fatty foods. There are two decent explanations for this. First, protestations to the contrary aside, juries may be affected by the media coverage or by people who have been affected by the media coverage. Second, the things that make a case sexy to the media are the same things that make it revolting to a jury.
I can think of only two occasionally successful exceptions to this rule: (1) you had a co-defendant worse than you are (Nichols; Malvo); or (2) you got a jury to hang the first time (Menendez brothers). Corollary to (2): Juries generally don't give the death penalty while acquitting (Simpson).
Anything I'm missing?
Also, just got the EW with Lohanboobies on the cover, and I should note that they, too, are jumping on the Modest Mouse bandwagon, naming it their the CD of the year (or at least the Listen 2 This insert's CD of the year). Just get the thing already.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Fan storms stage during Scott Stapp concert and nails him to a crucifix, shouting "You broke up Creed!"
Fan storms stage during Trey Anastasio concert, steals his weed, and shouts "You broke up Phish!"
Fan storms stage during Natalie Merchant concert and force-feeds her non-vegan foods, shouting "You broke up 10,000 Maniacs!"
Further "Fan storms stage during (artist) concert and (does ridiculous thing), shouting 'You broke up (artist's former band)!'" jokes are invited in the comments.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Friday, December 10, 2004
And now, we turn to another category--Most Painfully Overexposed Female "Celebrity." This award is designed to award the person about whom we've learned far more than we need--be it in interviews, photography, or even through literary achievement--particularly in proportion to any actual achievement or talent (which is why Lindsay Lohan is not on the list). The nominees are:
Toni Bentley--I've not read her book, but this Salon interview more than qualifies her for the category, as did her incessant publicity junket for the book, covered by every "alternative" magazine and website in America. Minus points for using a "butt double" on the cover of her book by stealing the opening shot of "Lost In Translation."
Jessica Cutler--AKA "The Washingtonienne," whose blog caused a stir in Washington when she disclosed more than you or I might like to know about her nighttime activities. Wonkette straddled and rode the story throughout.
Paris Hilton--Gawker archives chronicle Hilton's series of tabloid adventures, ranging from hooking up with apparently every B and C list actor in America and the release of her film debut "One Night In Paris."
Tara Reid--E! Online eloquently summarizes the basis for her nomination, though Reid does buy a little goodwill as a result of her recurring role on "Scrubs" earlier this year.
Anna Nicole Smith--Basically a "lifetime achievement" nomination, but worthy of a nomination for that incident at the American Music Awards.
There are folks who came close (Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Mischa Barton), but these are my five. Vote and say what I missed.
Thursday, December 9, 2004
Tell us about a movie you saw in the theaters where it was really inappropriate for parents to have brought their children.
My first one is Most Disappeared Celebrity of 2004, given to the formerly famous person who has most completely vanished from the public's consciousness. Past winners include Matthew McConaughey, Joe Pesci, Dana Carvey and 2003's winner, Rupert Everett, who quickly moved from Leading Man to Host Of Primetime Lingerie Special.
For this year, as I've previously hinted, I can find no more worthy celebrity than Winona Ryder, who has gone from Gen X goddess to leading lady to convicted criminal to . . . who? oh yeah, her. With the shoplifting. She still in jail?
The last movie she was in that anyone saw was the failed Adam Sandler vehicle, Mr. Deeds, and before that you have to go back almost five years to when she had any significant work -- Autumn in New York (a/k/a Sweet November But With Two Other People) and Girl, Interrupted (a/k/a It's Like Prozac Nation, Except That It Made It To Theaters and, boy, did I come close to giving this award to Christina Ricci).
You don't think of her as an actress any more, and barely even think of her as a personality. Go ahead: do you still remember everyone she dated?
There was once a time that Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder were equals. Today, he's still a mega-star, and the tattoo that once read "Winona Forever" on his arm has been edited to read "Wino Forever". He's long moved on, and so has America.
Goodbye, Winona, and wherever you've gone, please give Natasha Lyonne our best.
All of this is a roundabout way to say that The Onion's best albums of 2004 are up, and Modest Mouse, along with Kanye West, are the only artists to show up on at least three of the six critics lists.
Bravo--"Celebrity Poker Showdown," "Queer Eye for The Straight Guy," "Project Runway"
Comedy Central--"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," "South Park," "Chappelle's Show"
MTV--"Pimp My Ride," "The Real World: Philly," "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County"
The N--"Degrassi: The Next Generation," "My So-Called Life" repeats, "Daria" repeats
VH1--"Best Week Ever," "I Love The 90s," "Totally Obsessed"
Vote and share what you think I missed in the comments.
Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Well, prominent Tribune columnist (and blogger) Eric Zorn has responded to my musings with his own theory, and it make sense to me. In a nutshell, Zorn says the note allows Keller more freedom in her narrative. If notes like this are what it takes to get more gripping stories in the Tribune, then I'm all for it, and as a writer myself I was fascinated with the inside baseball the note provided, but on some level I think these kind of notes speak to the general mistrust of journalists these days. Reading the note was a little like seeing a "making of" featurette; fascinating on one level, but on another knowing too much of the process spoils a little of the magic.
Tuesday, December 7, 2004
But back in 2000, the same Rockies signed free agent reliever Bobby Chouinard in the middle of the season, despite the fact that he had been arrested the prior Christmas (and subsequently released by his then-team, the D'backs) for spousal abuse -- Chouinard had been charged with hitting his wife and holding a loaded gun to her head while she begged for her life. Chouinard pled guilty following the 2000 season, agreeing to serve a year's worth of jail time spread out over four offseasons, and the Rockies welcomed him back the following season.
Seems to me the only "values" at stake here was the $19,000,000 pricetag remaining for Neagle's services, and some opportunism on the part of Rockies ownership.
I liked that the fact that the detour choice of deliberate v. take-a-chance had a different calculus than last week at IKEA, and appreciated the tiny glimpse into Jonathan's possible humanity, but other than watching Hellboy being even more of a wuss, there wasn't much there there. Still, my brother spent a few weeks in Senegal, so it was good seeing a bit of Goree Island and Dakar, but what did this episode do for you?
1. I've never heard "Here We Go Again" by Ray Charles and Norah Jones on the radio--what is it doing in Record of the Year, snubbing "Breakaway," "Redneck Woman," and "This Love?"
2. Green Day's "American Idiot" got a surprising (to me) amount of love for the Grammys, which tend to be relatively conservative in taste.
3. A very strong Best New Artist field this year, with nominees running from country (Gretchen Wilson) to white girl neo-soul (Joss Stone).
4. Interesting to see Modest Mouse get quite a few category nominations, but not a Best New Artist nod--apparently Los Lonely Boys edged them out.
5. Is it possible for there to be two more different songs than melancholy "You Will Be My Ain True Love" and the foot-stomping "Redneck Woman" competing in the same category?
6. Steve Martin, David Sedaris, and Bill Clinton square off in Spoken Word, and Jon Stewart and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog square off in Comedy Album--eclectic.
7. The "Original Song From A Movie" field doesn't give us much in the way of clues for the Oscars, since 4 of the 5 nominees are from last calendar year, but "Accidentally In Love" may well get an Oscar nod as a result.
8. Interestingly, the only nomination connected with Ashlee Simpson's megaselling "Autobiography" is for engineering/production. Draw your own conclusions.
Share your thoughts below.
Of course, if Anne Hathaway is to believed, Le Tigre is back. Since our culture likes to sexualize and infantilize at the same time – are you listening, Debra Lafave, aka Teacher of the Year? – the style is apparently to wear the shirt two sizes too tight. Or, if the ads currently running on Gawker and the less brainy, more superiorer Defamer are any indication (look to the vertical ads at the far right), more than two sizes too tight and without pants. I have to say, if I knew that clothing so stiflingly square and sexless was gateway wear to threesomes, I might have started a bit preppier.
Then again, maybe anything can look sexy if you bunch it around the midsection of a lasciviously tousled model and hint (or pretty much demonstrate) that there's nothing underneath. Except this. Go ahead, Brooks Brothers, the ball is in your court.
Monday, December 6, 2004
"To report this story, Tribune reporter Julia Keller interviewed the nine survivors of the Milestone collapse, and their friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues; and the friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues of the victims of the Milestone collapse; over a seven-month period, beginning a week after the tornado."By the end, though, after passages like this...
"Scenes that were not witnessed by the reporter were assembled through multiple interviews with people who were present, both named in the story and not named. When thoughts and emotions are presented, those thoughts and emotions come directly from the reporters' interviews. Descriptions of the activities and thoughts of people who died in the collapse were compiled through interviews with those who were present, or those to whom the deceased had confided their thoughts and emotions."...I was expecting to see a paragraph describing how Keller eventually took all of her notes and sat down at a computer and began to write the stories by interspersing direct quotations with her own narrative of the events to arrive at a rough draft, which she then sent to her editor for editing, after which she had a bagel and a cup of coffee before getting a revised copy of her story back from the editor, etc., etc.
Anyone have any theories about why the Trib would go into such detail about the reporting process in this case? Is this a pre-emptive strike against any criticisms? Is it an attempt to impress readers or potential prize judges gone a few steps too far? Is it there for legal reasons?
Sunday, December 5, 2004
So let's open it up. Is frequent bunching a good thing for building the drama? A bad thing for deterring risk and not rewarding consistent success? Or just a bad-but-necessary thing?
Saturday, December 4, 2004
Just saying. Is all.
Two downers--the beautiful song "The Blower's Daughter" in the trailer and the film isn't Oscar-eligible because it's not original to the film, and I'm left wondering how on earth Mike Nichols will go from this well-made "downer" of a film to his next project--"Monty Python's Spamalot."
Some, like Jose Lima, give the gift that keeps on giving, while others, like Denny Neagle, drive around in their Escalades and return with a Hummer.
Pitchers and catchers report in less than eighty days.
Friday, December 3, 2004
- Today's Times has an intriguing look back at how if not for the almost accidental actions of the essay's author, then a Columbia Records employee, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," recently annointed the title of greatest song of all-time by Rolling Stone, might have never been released as a single. (Yes, you have to register.)
- H&R Block isn't the only company cashing in on Ken Jennings' Final Jeopardy flameout this week. Today, FedEx ran a print ad featuring KenJen at the Jeopardy podium with the tag line "There?s only one time FedEx has ever been the wrong answer."
- Boondocks has the final word on the Ron Artest melee.
- Just finished A.J. Jacobs' very funny new work, The Know-It-All, in which Jacobs, an editor at Esquire, recounts his quest to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from a-ak to Zyweic. Ignore what the Times had to say about it and read it for yourself.
- She's no princess on a steeple, but there are NSFW shots of Queen Amidala on strip pole from this weekend's big release, "Closer," circulating out there if you're the kind of pervert who is in to looking at nekkid pictures of beautiful young starlets.
Thursday, December 2, 2004
AFP:"U2's 'Bomb' blows away competition in US"
USA Today: "U2's 'Atomic Bomb' blows its rivals away"
Reuters: "U2's 'Bomb' Explodes at No. 1 on U.S. Charts"
Houston Chronicle: "U2's 'Bomb' lays waste to competition in album sales"
E!: "U2 Bombs the Charts"
VH1: "U2's Atomic Bomb Explodes Onto Albums Chart, Taking #1 Spot"
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
The episode was co-written by Josh Singer, a Philadelphia area native, and the local press has already noted his references in the episode to our National Constitution Center and a Pennsylvania Governor named Ed.
But here's the one that made me smile. Back in late June, Josh visited the Joe Hoeffel for Senate campaign for a week to learn more about on-the-ground politics, in preparation for this season's electoral plotlines. The campaign gave him pretty much complete access, as I recall, to whatever meetings and events he wanted to sit in on.
A few weeks after Josh left, we had a 67-county statewide bus tour to take Joe across the Commonwealth. The theme Joe himself chose for that tour -- and what served as the closing passage for every speech he'd give from then until November 2 -- was the old Sam Cooke soul standard "A Change Is Gonna Come".
And that's the song James Taylor sang to close off the episode.
(Well, I thought it was cool.)
There's having a good agent, and then there's having The Force on your side.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
I'd also like to submit this, based on the first three episodes--this season's challenges are better, but the players are far less interesting. I'm still having trouble discerning between "dating/models," "engaged/models," "formerly dating/models," and "models/models," but the challenges and general race structure have been even better than last season--lots of self-navigation, clever challenges, and a minimal premium placed on finagling flight updates.
Finally, tonight's episode demonstrates why being first to a roadblock may not be the best thing. This week, the first team could easily have been fooled by the clue into thinking it was a physically "easy" task, and, as we saw, it clearly was not. Further, the later teams had a number of search spots eliminated for them, making the task (theoretically) easier.
Further commentary is a spoiler, so take a detour over to the comments.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
As for the flight, two lessons. The Notebook stinks regardless of what time you're watching it or whether or not you're watching it on a plane. Dodgeball is perhaps funnier still on second viewing, even at midnight on the airport tarmac in New Orleans as you wait for refueling.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
If I ever did the Race, Lord knows I'd learn to drive a stick shift before leaving. One of tonight's teams didn't, and it was not helpful. Also, there's nothing quite as fun as a series of ass-over-teakettle falls, and this episode had them in abundance. And something many of us have been waiting for -- an actual team penalty for rules violations, but it may not be the one you expected.
Beyond that, we're getting into spoiler territory, so let's all make a left turn for the Comments, and take it from there.
By the way, if any of this arouses your prurient interest, or might possibly do so for your Chrismukkah-needy loved ones, I do highly recommend Positively Fifth Street. Anybody have any suggestions for other book gifts, and descriptions of the target demographic? This one's already on the list.
Sadly, I'll be in transit to Texas this evening for my family's annual tryptophan-fest, so will have to wait on TAR, and will probably not be blogging over the long holiday weekend. I wish all our readers a happy Thanksgiving--enjoy your turkey, your football, and parade-watching.
Monday, November 22, 2004
On the safe side, Newton, Mass., was the tops, with San Jose taking the title for cities over 500,000 and Appleton, Wisc., being the safest metro region.
Sadly, it probably won't be his worst movie of 2005.
The jurors have been asked to consider the following criteria in making their selections:
A statement, phrase or brief exchange of dialogue spoken in an American film.* (Lyrics from songs are not eligible.)
Movie Quotes that viewers use in their own lives and situations; circulating through popular culture, they become part of the national lexicon.
Movie Quotes that viewers use to evoke the memory of a treasured film, thus ensuring and enlivening its historical legacy.
I'll just ask that you number your comments so we can keep track of how far we've gone, and feel free to copy ones over from that thread so that we've got it all in one place (and can forward it to the appropriate cultural authorities. I'll start it with these two:
1. Paul Moore: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room.
Jane Craig: No. It's awful.
2. I don't wanna sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't wanna sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or ... process anything sold, bought ... or processed, or repair anything sold, bought or processed, ya know, as a career, I don't wanna do that. So uh, my father's in the army ... he wants me to join ... but I can't work for that corporation. Umm, so, what I've been doing lately is kickboxing.
We can either fill half this list with Lebowski quotes, or show restraint and use none of them. It's up to you.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Saturday, November 20, 2004
I'm sure Adam and Kingsley will have high fun with this one, though, given that there's a lengthy chase sequence through the streets and rooftops of Philadelphia which is assuredly riddled with both geographical inaccuracies and "Hey, it's that place!" moments. Heck, even I wondered how Kruger and Bartha managed to get from Independence Hall to the 9th Street Italian Market in mere seconds on foot.
For those looking for a more intellectual variant on this (and similar works/crazes like "The Da Vinci Code"), check out The Eight, which weaves together the French Revolution, the late 70s oil crisis, and a mystical chess set into a coherent story with one "Holy crap!" reveal 2/3 of the way through the book.
It's one of the ugliest such incidents I've ever seen. Artest has some mental health issues that need addressing, and maybe this will force him to do so.
And yet again, another town's sports fans behave worse than Philadelphia's, but we're the only ones with a reputation.
(Also, I didn't notice, but did Darko Milicic even get off the bench for this?)
Friday, November 19, 2004
The film nails Van Allsburg's illustration style, at least when there aren't people on screen, and the film looks great. However, Zemeckis should have learned in making Who Framed Roger Rabbit? a lesson he hasn't--the screenplay should drive the technology, not vice versa. Here, it seems like they came up with the technology and the look and then tried to stretch Van Allsburg's short and touching story into something far longer. I think the film might have worked better as a short, just telling the heart of the book rather than the ridiculous plot contrivances that have been introduced.
And yes, while I wouldn't have noticed it before reading the review, Santa's sack does look suspiciously like an airborne scrotum.
If you can, check out this week's episode, which re-airs on UPN tonight at 9p. It features two of the hardest challenges you'll ever see in a reality show, far more difficult than the Phillipine cliff-rope-climb on TAR5 or a Survivor hands-on-the-idol challenge. Trust me. It's good tv.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Inexplicable finalists include "Good night you princes of Maine, you kings of New England," from "Cider House Rules,""Help me! Help me!," from "The Fly," and "Damn!," from "Friday." I will give them points for not excluding profanity, as John McLane's "Yippee-Kai-Yay, Motherf****r!" has a well-deserved spot on the list of finalists, as does "Sometimes, you gotta say 'What the f**k.'" from "Risky Business."
Trivia (to be answered in the comments)--two performers score perfect in the finals, getting recognition as sole actor, writer, director, and producer for a quote. Can you name them without cheating? Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen both almost make it, but they're not the two.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
What film? This one, of course.