Saturday, August 28, 2004

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS GOOD TV: The fall TV season is upon us this week, with this week marking NBC's premieres of Father of the Pride on Tuesday and Hawaii on Wednesday. Honestly, it's difficult to care less about either of those (although I'm ticked that I have to choose between "Scrubs" and "Amazing Race" on Tuesday night this week due to rescheduling), but I bring you a preview of one of this season's most anticipated shows, at least for me--"Jack and Bobby"--courtesy of "EW," which enclosed a DVD of the pilot with this week's issue.

"Jack and Bobby" is about present day brothers Jack and Bobby McAllister, who are being raised by their addled single mother (Christine Lahti). If it were just that, it would probably be a boring and fairly pedestrian WB show. The twist is what makes it work. One of the brothers (it's revealed which one at the end of the pilot) is elected President in 2040, and intercut with the "present day" materials is "documentary" material discussing the McAllister presidency and McAllister's rise to power made up of interviews with both aged versions of characters we know in the "present day" and those that we don't yet know (including an appearance by David Paymer).

The pilot's damn solid, but my concern is whether it can carry forward for any length of time. We know by the end of the pilot (at least in broad outlines) what happens to both of the brothers as well as at least one of the other characters we've met for the rest of their lives. Given that, the question of whether there's any suspense in the plotting going forward is an obvious one. However, the show has a top-notch creative team, led by Greg Berlanti, who created "Everwood," Vanessa Taylor, who's worked with Berlanti on "Everwood" and wrote two of the episodes in the astoundingly good first season of "Alias," and underrated legal thriller writer Brad Meltzer. What the documentary segments reveal is that the creative team has developed a complete history for all these characters and for America--tiny details drop hints about what is to come, like the fact that a character is referred to as a "former first lady" and that a Vice-President served from "2040-2046." The question is whether that detail and though will come across on TV in an interesting and entertaining manner. Check out the pilot when it premieres two weeks from tomorrow--I will be doing so, and adding it to my TiVo season pass list.

Friday, August 27, 2004

THE WONDERS OF PUBLICLY AVAILABLE INFORMATION: The fine folks over at The Smoking Gun have revealed that Paris Hilton has an application for a logo for use on a variety of goods, and Defamer has a moderately obscene interpretation. But what they don't tell you is equally interesting. According to the wonders of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Ms. Hilton has an abundance of trademark-related plans. In addition to the "PH" logo mark, Ms. Hilton has also applied to register trademarks PARIS HILTON (Application 1, Application 2) and THAT'S HOT for use on fragrances, a wide variety of clothing and accessories, household and kitchen utensils, games, playthings, gymnastic and sporting articles, decorations, and the nebulously described "entertainment services."

Hilton is at least smart enough to give her mailing address as a c/o of her Daddy's corporate offices or her lawyer. In contrast, Omarosa Manigault Stallworth provides a PO box for her mailing address on the trademark application for OMAROSA for use in connection with "Clothing, namely, belts, boots, coats, denim jackets, denim jeans, denim shirts, footwear, gloves, hats, headwear, hosiery, jackets, jeans, jerseys, jogging suits, jump suits, lingerie, neckties, neckwear, overalls, pants, polo shirts, pullovers, scarves, shirts, shoes, shorts, sleepwear, socks, sport shirts, sweat pants, sweat shirts, sweat shorts, sweaters, t-shirts, tank tops, ties, turtlenecks, underwear, vests, visors, warm-up suits, and wind resistant jackets," and "Entertainment services, namely, producing musical audio and video recordings; conducting, hosting, organizing, planning and producing beauty pagents, concerts, parties, special events, social events, and talent shows; an on-going television program; and an on-going radio program." No explanation as to why she thinks anyone would buy OMAROSA-branded products. If I'm going to buy clothing endorsed by a psychotic character from reality TV, I'd buy MIRNA.
TAR5 WEEKEND QUESTION: So, which team is going to win this thing, anyway?

Post your prediction in the Comments. Explain your reasoning. Show all work.

Worth noting: in all four Races to-date, at least two teams have arrived in the final city at the same time. It came down to (1) cabbie smarts -- as in, not overly-directing them (with a third team having been lapped by a day already); (2) cabbie smarts and a literal footrace; (3) cabbie luck, as in finding one first in downtown Seattle on a weekend; and (4) cabbie smarts -- as in, getting an absolute address from someone on the plane and overly-directing the driver to a route marker (with a third team having screwed up the final airport maneuver).

Which all argues against Colin & Christie, whose cabbie karma is at a real low right now. But still . . .
DEEP-FRIED PARSLEY, SAGE, ROSEMARY AND THYME ON A STICK: If you're going to the Minnesota State Fair, the good folks at Health Partners have put together a list of the Top 10 State Fair Foods to avoid should you want to not have a massive coronary on the midway. Then again, what fun is a fair without stuffing your piehole with battered fried Twinkies, footlong Corn Dogs, and battered fried Corn on the Cob in the other? And just look at some of the items they missed: all the Chocolate Milk you can drink for $1, Scotch Eggs (hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs, deep fried), and Walleye on a Stick.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

TO DISTRACT YOU FROM THE UNSETTLING SEXUAL TENSION BETWEEN MICHAEL AND LINDSAY BLUTH: America's funniest sitcom, Arrested Development, revels in its likeably unredeemable characters, truly outlandish plot twists, and discomfortingly unconventional jokes. Like the brilliant, lamented "Freaks and Geeks, AD often builds humor into wildly awkward situations, like one character's teenaged lust for his cousin. Well, if a little incest is funny, what about a lot of incest? Jason Bateman's love interest next season will apparently be played by Justine Bateman.

Link from Isaac Spacewoman, and for the record I'm posting this at 8:22 p.m., so we scooped TVTattle.
"NOW HE'S ALL SUAV-AY DE-BONER:" TAR fans should make sure to watch the Insider Videos over at this week in particular. Watch Nicole be a very pretty ugly American. Watch the Twinkies deliver surprisingly cogent and apparently accurate analysis of other teams. Wonder when the teams were on a bus, as shown in one of the clips. Consider whether Chip might have had a little more money at leg's end had he not supersized his dinner in Dubai. And, yes, listen to Chip make the headline statement about Colin.
THE GUY WHO SAID "ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING" HAS LEFT THE BUILDING: Al Dvorin, though not the first to coin the phrase, was the one who made it a catchphrase. The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn (scroll down a little) sheds some more light on the phrase's evolution.
GOOD HEAVENS MISS SAKAMOTO: Who better to pick the Top 10 Science-Fiction Films than a bunch of scientists? The Guardian polled 56 "eminent international scientists" from fields as diverse as quantum physics and zoology and they picked "Blade Runner" as the top Sci-Fi flick, followed by "2001: A Space Odyssey," the original Star Wars Trilogy, "Alien," and the original "Solaris."
I BLAME THE PARENTS: In a nation where women buy just 7 percent of all electric guitars, is it any surprise that we have no great female guitar players?
We live in a culture where the electric guitar, at least when it's played at full and distorted blaze, is considered unladylike. The logic of this is just as circular as the role model problem -- girls don't see women play the guitar, which stigmatizes the instrument a bit, further discouraging girls from taking up guitar, and so on. But it's not just unladylike because girls, as they grow up, get the hint. It's unladylike because the electric guitar is traditionally an almost cartoonishly macho instrument. The paradigmatic rock pose belongs to Chuck Berry: legs apart, the instrument pointed straight at the crowd, turned upward a little. Symbols don't get more phallic. To Camille Paglia, a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, this isn't just because a guitar is longer than it is wide.

David Segal investigates.
A SANDWICH IS JUST A SANDWICH...: But, these suckers, well, they're meals, and then some. Maxim moves away from the usual cheesecake to chronicle America's Top 10 Meat Hogs. I mean, chicken fingers, fries, and fried cheese with marinara all on a bun? That there is good eats. Anyone want to overnight me a Fat Darrell? And I've had a jones to try the Beef on Weck since seeing in on a PBS special a few years back. Any of you try one of these? Or how about recommending a local specialty they missed (especially if you are in the Chicago area)?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

HOW ABOUT A NICE, HOT CUP OF STFU? So, how much should you tip your barista? Apparently, there's some disagreement.
ALSO, AMY CARTER IS TRYING TO OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE: Is it wrong that the first thing I thought of after seeing this article about Margaret Thatcher's son being arrested for involvement in a coup to overthrow the government of Equitorial Guinea was the headline "Jenna and Barbara Bush Involved In Plot To Seize Control Of Local Bar?" Sadly, the classic article from The Onion--"Supreme Court Overturns Car"--is no longer online. Otherwise, I'd link to it.
I'M A LOSER, BABY: You can have your U.S. Women's Softball Team, Paul Hamm, and Michael Phelps. This clever blog celebrates the Mexican Equestrian Team, São Tomé and Príncipe's Fumilay Fonseca, Aruba's Isnaro Faro, and all the others who have finished "DFL" at this year's Olympic Games.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

HAKUNA MATATA: Not much racing in the Race this week -- instead, this was the week where all the action was intra-team, not inter-team, as the absence of Team HiLo let everyone focus on his or her real worst enemy -- the teammate.

We saw that greed kills, that community policing works in Tanzania, that the same cab ride can cost $9-$44 depending on the driver, that we may have another TaraWil on our hands and that, thank goodness, there is such a thing as good karma in the world.

One word of racing advice: if you're at a detour, and you know you have to wait in line to do your thing, why not try the other detour option?

Monday, August 23, 2004

"IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN MY WIFE AND MIAMI VICE, I'D CHOOSE MIAMI VICE:" Want to feel refreshingly normal for a change? Then it's time to check out VH1's new series "Totally Obsessed." Hosted by the very funny Fred Willard (why doesn't this man have a sitcom, people?), "Totally Obsessed" provides you, the viewer, with the profiles of the slightly disturbing. It's almost like the real life version of "Sick, Sad, World" from "Daria," except with much more implied snark. The pilot's most disturbing stories? A man so obsessed with Miami Vice that he asked Phillip Michael Thomas (who he'd never met) to be the best man at his wedding (disturbingly, Thomas accepted), and an elderly couple who's raising "Kevin," a Cabbage Patch Kid, as their son. Cruel? Perhaps. Funny? Sure is.
BURNING OLYMPIC QUESTIONS: Take your pick from the midpoint of the Games:
1. Should Paul Hamm have to return his tarnished medal? Should he do it anyway?

2. Is there anything wrong with a pair of runners enjoying the last five meters of their semifinal with some good-natured taunting and gloating?

3. D'oh! American shooter Matt Emmons pulls a Chris-Webber-has-no-more-time-outs level choke with gold on the line. What would you say to console him?

4. Which Olympic week do you like better -- swimming week or track week?

5. Favorite Olympic team: Iraqi men's soccer or American softball?

This thread is open.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

'FLO AND I DIDN'T GET ALONG': In today's NYT Travel section, TAR3 champion Zach Behr tells us what he's learned about global travel.