Saturday, December 11, 2004

YES, BUT DO THE SNOZZBERRIES TASTE LIKE SNOZZBERRIES? We've wondered for more than a year whether Johnny Depp could fill Willy Wonka's shoes. Well, here's the first trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, director Tim Burton's summer 2005 release. You tell us.

Friday, December 10, 2004

TMI. WAY TMI: Well, based on the voting in the earlier thread, the winner of my first ALOTT5MA Award is (drum roll!) Comedy Central (applause!). If a representative of Comedy Central contacts us (e-mail address is on the left), we'll make arrangements to get you your statue, which I'm sure will be every bit as lovely and valuable as a Golden Raspberry statue and which an ALOTT5MA representative would be happy to present to you on "The Daily Show," especially if you offer us one of those sweet correspondent gigs.

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

THAT WASN'T THE KIND OF "EXPERIENCE" I WAS LOOKING FOR: Now, really, I can’t be the only one wondering how “Apprentice” candidate Jennifer managed to tout her management expertise based on law firm experience when her law firm experience was at the late Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, a firm which collapsed due to utter financial mismanagement, and more recently at Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells, which has had financial mismanagement problems of its own. In any event, I think the outcome of next week's live finale is already clear.
A/K/A "WELCOME TO THE UA RIVERVIEW": Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney wants to make it illegal for parents to bring their screaming kids to evening movies.

Tell us about a movie you saw in the theaters where it was really inappropriate for parents to have brought their children.
AND FOR THAT MATTER, THAT DIMAGGIO GUY HASN'T DONE MUCH LATELY: It is the traditional end-of-year awards time here at ALOTT5MA, and each of the five of us will, as befits his fancy, be nominating and/or presenting in whatever categories he sees fit.

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.
WHEN WE KILL ALL THE LAWYERS, THEY'RE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST: Our legally-inclined readers may want to vote in Legal Affairs' "Top 20 Legal Thinkers in America" poll here, which includes people I've taken classes from (Derrick Bell and Stephen Gillers), people to whom I've cited in publications (Bruce Ackerman and Cass Sunstein), people whose blogs I read regularly (Eugene Volokh) and occasionally (Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit and Larry Lessig), and the rather inexplicable (John Grisham). I haven't voted yet (you choose 5 from the list), but I think I'm going to go with Ackerman, Lessig, Bell, Lawrence Tribe, and Richard Posner, not all of whom I agree with, but all whom are worth reading. Discussion is invited.
LATE TO THE PARTY: When I used to work in an office, the editor in the adjoining cube was, for lack of a better description, a hipster when it came to new music. This was a boon to me, as he re-invigorated my ossifying music tastes, introducing me to many great bands such as the Shins, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, and the Avalanches. There was one CD he'd play though, whose odd syncopation would somehow constantly cut through the office's white noise and irritate me, Modest Mouse's "The Moon & Antarctica." So, when Modest Mouse released "Good News For People Who Love Bad News" to widespread acclaim earlier this year, I ignored, reminded solely of having to ask Scott to turn the volume down on his computer. Finally, I picked it up at the local library (which has turned into my property-tax funded personal version of Napster), and if this isn't the best CD released in 2004 not by a faded country legend, I don't know what is.

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.
THIS SHOW WILL NOT BE HOSTED BY BRUCE VILANCH: Adam may have been semi-joking in the comments to this thread when he made reference to the "2004 ALOTT5MA Awards," but I'll take it and run with it. Categories are to be created by whim and desire (and, as always, your suggestions are invited), and winners will be determined in a way that in no way involves the fine folks at Ernst & Young. I offer you the following first category and nominations--in the category of Cable Television Network Offering Most Significant Contribution to Pop Culture, my nominees (along with a list of selected programs that give rise to the nomination) are:

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

WE'RE NOT THAT KIND OF BLOG: Looking at our site meter, I feel compelled to tell you that this blog is currently the number 5 Google hit for people searching for "Denny Neagle hooker picture." We also remain the only hit for those who, for some reason, are searching for "Gary Cherone Wanksterous Extreme."
STORM STORY: Earlier this week I questioned the extraordinary "About the Series" note that accompanied Julia Keller's compelling three-part series in the Chicago Tribune about a tornado that ripped apart town of Utica, Ill.

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

ROCKY MOUNTAIN VALUES: Okay, let me get this straight. Denny Neagle is arrested for an illegal-but-consensual act -- not yet convicted -- and the Rockies terminate his contract.

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.
THE BATTLE OF WILL VS. MAY: I don't have much to say about this episode. Yet, anyway. Sure, there was the standard haggling with African taxi drivers (did anyone from this season watch last season?), but nothing too unique, save the fact that the first clue in Senegal was, in fact, a clue -- a puzzle that needed solving. Thank goodness.

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?
OH, MY NOSE: Marcia Brady taking the pigskin in the proboscis is just one of The 100 Most Memorable TV Moments, yet another five-night countdown show, this time from TV Land and TV Guide. The show began Monday and only moments 100-61 are supposed to be up, but being the hacking genius that I am (replacing a single digit in the URL), I can link you to the top 20 here. I won't spoil the results in case you want to be surprised, but overall the list is intriguing, perhaps just because of the odd juxtaposition between fictional moments Ross and Rachel's first kiss (No. 66), reality moments (Clay v. Ruben at No. 80) and news/sports moments (John Dean's Watergate testimony at No. 86/Christian Laettner's shot vs. Kentucky at No. 92). It's TV Land, so the guess is there will be plenty of chances to catch it.
SADLY, NO NODS FOR HUCKAPOO: As promised, here are the 47th Grammy Award nominations. A few preliminary thoughts:

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.
DON'T LOOK BACK: Look forward instead to this Sunday's announcement of The New York Times Book Review's Top 10 Books of the Year. Gawker has the leaked list here, and I won't comment further, lest you wish not to be spoiled.
LE TIGRE IS THE NEW UGG: Remember a couple of years ago when all of a sudden Burberry plaid was all over the umbrellas and necks, then shapely asses, of the stylish trendsetters? I remember thinking, "you cannot make me think Burberry plaid is sexy." Now the new old thing is Le Tigre polo shirts. Remember Le Tigre from when you were in middle school in the early 1980s? It was kind of like Garanimals for the 14-year olds who had made it to second base but hadn't yet taken up cocaine and whose parents were experimenting with non-American luxury cars.

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

TOO MUCH INFORMATION? First, I recommend you read Julia Keller's remarkable series about the events leading up to and the aftermath of the deadly tornado that swept through the town of Utica, Ill., last spring. But almost as remarkable as the story itself is the 431-word "About the Series" note that is accompanying it. At the beginning it seems as if the note is meant to show us the great lengths Keller went to to get the story:
"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?

LIMBURGER LINES: We had some fun here a couple weeks back with the AFI's list of great movie quotes, so I wanted to point to this British list of the 10 Cheesiest Film Quotes. Titanic's "I'm the king of the world" tops the list and Patrick Swayze is the only actor to appear twice, getting nods for "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" from Dirty Dancing and "Ditto" from Ghost. It should be noted that none of the top 10 pre-date "Top Gun," which must mean the movies were pretty cheese free prior to 1985, right?
C'MON "BEST POLKA ALBUM:" Grammy nominations arrive tomorrow. I open this thread for predictions and discussion. Don't forget the odd eligibility year--October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004. A few guesses of what may come up--Ray Charles' last album "Genius Loves Company" in the Album of the Year category, Evanescence's "My Immortal," the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started/Let's Get Retarded," and something by Maroon 5 (most likely "This Love") in the Record of the Year category. I also expect to see Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman" in the Song of the Year category, with that single and her album nominated throughout the country categories. Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" also seems likely to rack up the nods, including a possible songwriting nod for Avril Lavigne. Best New Artist should be an interesting race, with my expectation that it'll be a fight between "Jesus Walks" rapper Kanye West and neo-hippie rockers Maroon 5. What am I missing? Let me know.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

EAT, SLEEP AND MINGLE: There has been much discussion you may have been missing in last week's TAR comments thread regarding the amount of bunching on the show, and it deserves a separate post.

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?
"KING TUT WAS NOT A HONKY:" In today's Times, Steve Martin sets straight some misunderstandings about King Tut and "King Tut." As usual with his short humor/opinion pieces, it's well worth your time.