Saturday, April 24, 2004

ANOTHER REASON TO BOYCOTT THE EVIL EMPIRE: Am I the only one being driven crazy by the MSNdirect billboards? The one where you see the MSNdirect watch (terrible idea, by the way) on the wrist while the hand is holding various things (e.g. an ice cream cone)? If you are holding an ice cream cone, the watch should be upside down. This really irritates me.
BY THE TIME WE GOT TO ARIZONA, MANNING AND GALLERY WERE GONE: Did I hear Chuck D doing the theme for this weekend's NFL Draft?
'TIS NO MAN. 'TIS A REMORSELESS EATING MACHINE: Note to readers in the Salt Lake City aea: the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Chuck-A-Rama in Taylorsville is not, in fact, all-you-can-eat as carb-hater Sui Amaama learned this week when returning for an extra slice of roast beef:
"It's so embarrassing actually," said Isabelle Leota, Amaama's wife. "We went in to have dinner, we were under the impression Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat establishment."

Not so, said Jack Johanson, the restaurant chain's district manager.

"We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment," said Johanson. "Our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating."

Trivia note: the writer of the Simpsons episode in question? Conan O'Brien.

Friday, April 23, 2004

HERO TO MOST: Variety is reporting today that NYT film critic A.O. Scott, a book critic just a few years ago (and whose audition for the NYT job mostly consisted of this Scorsese essay on, is about to be named the Times' first Chief Movie Critic since Janet Maslin.

I've got no quarrel with Tony, but the cumulative fallout is devastating: apparently, our hero, Elvis Mitchell, is leaving the building as a result.

No one references quite like him, and a wise newspaper would snatch him up swiftly.
MA MA SE, MA MA SA, MA MA COO SA: Does Michael Jackson want to be finishing something -- namely, his life? Our good friend Andy Lloyd thinks the stress of the investigation is too high to get over, and too low to get under, and he sees a lot of Vicodin in Jacko's future. A lot.
PANIC ON THE STREETS OF WESTWOOD: You'll be relieved to know that the Department of Homeland Security has determined that former Smiths' frontman Morrissey is not a terrorist.

Could life ever be sane again? And what is the Grasmere, anyway?
THE 'C' WORD: While I blamed the voters for this week's AI3 voting fiasco, the WaPo's Lisa de Moraes reports that others are accusing Fox/19E of a racial conspiracy.

I'll stick with my original story.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

AHOY: With the Pennsylvania primary coming next Tuesday, April 27, my ability to blog may be restricted for a bit. Look for things to heat up here on, oh, May 1.
A BIG, BIG LOG: The Pixies are back. Here's the nicely comprehensive setlist from show #1.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

ALSO, YOU'D HAVE TO INCLUDE HALF THE CAST OF 'THE SOPRANOS': TWoP's Wing Chun and Sars get a platform on to explain the Curse of the Ziering.

Feel free to name as many Ians-In-Waiting as you see fit. If I'm Sean Hayes, I'm investing very conservatively . . .
DO I REPEAT MYSELF? VERY WELL, THEN -- I REPEAT MYSELF: From April 3, 2003, on this very blog, quoting The Hot Button's David Poland, after Rickey Smith got axed before Kim Caldwell, Goat Girl and Josh Gracin. Poland wrote:
I said it last time and I’ll say it again… the American Idol competition has an ugly racial element. This week, along with the scummy move of removing a competitor and not removing any contestants after putting the show’s viewers through the regular ringer, both black female contestants were in the bottom three. Virtually any objective analysis would put them both in the top half of the eight contestants. Last year, two black women singers – one of whom is now guesting on Fox’s Boston Public – were eliminated before clearly inferior performers.

I’m not a big fan of crying “race.” And I don’t know if there is a way to get more black people to watch the show or to get more white people to vote for people regardless of race. But while neither of these two young ladies seems likely to make the Top Two, they both seem to deserve the Top Five. And based on this week’s voting, it looks like both will be gone in the next three weeks.

I'm going to spoil away, because this is such nonsense: your bottom three was Fantasia, LaToya and Jennifer Hudson, and Hudson, despite having the best performance last night, is gone.

The idea that John, Diana or Jasmine could win this thing over Fantasia, LaToya or George is both very ridiculous and very much possible, and with all due respect to Ann Althouse, race still has a significant role to play in Idol voting. Huff's shocked look when he was told which group was the bottom three spoke volumes, and we're stuck with Conan O'Sinatra for a long, long time.
MORNING JUST ANOTHER DAY: Quickie AI3 thoughts on Manilow Night:
1. In general, a lame, safe night, because Manilow's songs are centered on melody, not on the ability to sing difficult notes. Why? Because Barry can't sing them himself.

2. Conan O'Sinatra has never sounded better than he did on "Mandy". He totally kept the song in his (significantly limited) range, and it worked for him. Still, he's not that good overall.

3. Gold star for the night went to Jennifer Hudson, who makes every song she sings sound the same (The Church of the Glory Note), and her facial expressions wig me out, but that was a right-pretty "Weekend in New England".

4. Repeat standard complaint about lameness of AI theme nights.

5. George Huff has locked up this year's Ruben Studdard Memorial Award, for his valiant efforts to start strong in the competition, then coast on charisma despite bad song selection and unmemorable singing all the way to the finals.

6. Yeah, it's going to be George and Fantasia in the end, isn't it? She got her gospel on in a serious way last night on "It's A Miracle", and I adored it.

7. If the younger performers (Diana, John, Jasmine, Leah, Goat Girl) aren't mature enough to handle the songs, or to handle the competition, don't let them in next year. Make it 18+ only, and stop with the teenyboppers.

8. Did you miss QT as much as I did? A judge who refuses to judge is useless.

Tonight's anticipated group performance of "Copacabana" could be a train wreck of epic proportions, no?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

O-)+> Your Tuesday Toss-Up Question, in light of recent discussions:

Favorite lesser Prince song?

By "lesser", I mean this -- take 1999 and Purple Rain off the board in their entireties. Take off everything released as a single, even the criminally-underappreciated-by-the-masses "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" and "Thieves In The Temple". Take your favorites out of what's left. No, you can't even name "Pop Life", because that was a single, too.

I'll nominate three: "Starfish and Coffee" off So'tT, just a great schoolyard pop song; "Still Would Stand All Time" from Graffiti Bridge, the best Prince ballad no one's ever heard; and "Jack U Off", because it's just so damn fun.

OKAY, BUT ONLY IF HE HIRES SAM TO CHECK OUT THE 90TH FLOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF CONSTRUCTION ON A WINDY DAY: This one, we should've seen coming: NBC is considering a spinoff to The Apprentice where we'd follow around Bill Rancic every week to see if he can build that skyscraper in Chicago.

Monday, April 19, 2004

IT'S ALL ABOUT WENDELL SUCKOW: Thank goodness there's still time left for you to vote on the greatest moment in American luge history.

Via the Philadelphia Daily News.
PETE MITCHELL'S WEBLOG: C'mon, people, you're supposed to tell me things like the fact that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a weblog.

It's nice that internet technology not only gives voice to the humble and voiceless like me, Isaac and Phil; but also allows a billionaire the free speech to rant about why he's cooler than Donald Trump and how the NBA refs screwed his team.

Lord knows how he'd get his message out otherwise.
REALER THAN REAL: Writes the NYT's Bill Carter today: " In the current television season, 12 of the top 20 shows are reality shows, and many of the others are either about to close down for good, like 'Friends,' or are part of multipart crime franchises, like NBC's 'Law and Order' and CBS's 'C.S.I.' "

What's the answer for scripted television? Realize what it is that reality tv does well -- it's the sense of unpredictability and authenticity you get from not using actors, but it's also that there is a clear structure in place: beginning, rich creamy middle and ending. People like knowing that you're going somewhere, and their interest is heightened by the hopes for a dramatically satisfying conclusion.

That's what you get at the end of every reality tv season, good or bad: an ending. Whether it's wrapped up to your satisfaction (The Apprentice) or not (every season of Average Joe), it's over, and you can be disappointed, but you also knew it was going to end in a few months (at most) and decided it was worth waiting for, worth following the road until the destination. And so you watched, and let's remember, the Nielsens and advertisers care about levels of viewership, not levels of happiness.

It's also what you get at the end of every Law & Order episode. After an hour, it's over. No loose threads. You know who did it, and by and large, justice was served. There's something to be said for having that whole arc contained within every episode.

It's a bad time to be writing for television -- unless, of course, you've got an in with Dick Wolf, and you think he's going to put you on staff real soon, because his right-hand man really likes your stuff . . .
I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE: The first chapter of Jennifer Weiner's next novel, Little Earthquakes (in stores this September), is now online. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

APROPOS OF NOTHING: Answer me this, because I've gone both ways on the subject.

When you've got a phone with Caller ID, do you pick up the phone and acknowledge who's calling you before that person introduces him/herself, or do you act like you don't know? And does it matter whether you're doing this from a work phone or your personal phone?

Just wondering. Is all.