Saturday, February 5, 2005

WHEN ALOTT5MA FEATURES COLLIDE: Nerd Alert meets Dead Wrestler of the Month, as the Wall Street Journal and others join diehard fans at wrestling's version of a Trekkie Convention.

Is the Million Dollar Man now granting wishes to terminally ill children? Is the Genius lending his expertise to credit counseling? Is Kamala The Ugandan Giant really just some guy named Jim Harris from Mississippi? Read and learn.
SO SHOULD I APPLY? Ellen DeGeneres has promised to help Tara Reid find the perfect man through a nationwide contest. Details here. Current front-runner? Former Britney Spears spouse Jason Alexander--hey, he's still on the rebound.

Friday, February 4, 2005

SO ARE THEY, LIKE, SCARY LITTLE?: I may have passed on my only opportunity to see "Good Vibrations" tonight by instead opting for "Little Women." I've never read Alcott's novel, though I'm a big fan of Gillian Armstrong's starry 1994 movie version, with Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, and Susan Sarandon. I was expecting a relatively "heavy" show as a result. However, what theatre-goers get instead is a schizophrenic mix. Act I plays (mostly) as a lightweight musical comedy--the girls play dress-up, Jo and Meg have an ill-fated trip to a ball, Beth convinces the crochety next-door neighbor to let her play his piano, and the girls sing and dance, with laughter and lessons ensuing.

At least for leading lady Sutton Foster, so good in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" a few years ago, Act I works out OK, but it's not what I was expecting. During the first act, Foster plays Jo as almost a variant of Millie, with the same antic clutziness that worked well in that show. However, my image of Jo is driven by Winona Ryder and Katharine Hepburn, and in Act I, Foster seems committed to playing it as far away as possible from those performances. The performance reaffirms that Foster needs a regular sitcom gig, or at least a movie part, as a goofy and charming comic. Not everyone manages as well, particularly Amy McAlexander as Amy, who's apparently been directed to be as annoying as possible in the first act.

And then Act II takes an abrupt tonal shift--it's almost like the creators said "enough with the fun!" After a moderately peppy opening number, the whole second act is full of ballads and "big voice" numbers (aside from a very brief quasi-comic patter song in which Laurie and Amy announce their engagement). Of course, you know how it ends--Beth dies, Marmee comforts Jo, who uses it as inspiration to write stories about her sisters, and Jo winds up with the Professor. The biggest problem is that (at least on stage), none of the songs are really interesting or inspiring (though Foster and Maureen McGovern as Marmee both sing quite well), and the show just ends.

It's not a "Good Vibrations"/"Dracula" level disaster by any means, but it isn't what it could be--perhaps this was an ill-founded musicalization from the beginning, but Foster's performance is well worth seeing.
PERHAPS THE ONLY REASON TO ROOT FOR THE PATS: In something that demonstrates the rare confluence of many of this blog's obsessions--football, food, gambling, and politics--here's the annual "Congressional Super Bowl Bet" report. If the Eagles win on the shoulders of Adam's boy Donovan F. McNabb, Sen. Edward Kennedy will graciously provide a gourmet meal from Boston's Legal Seafoods for Sen. Rick Santorum and 20 members of his staff. If, however, Adam Vinateri manages to kick yet another miraculous last-second field goal, Kennedy and his staff will indulge in Geno's cheese steaks courtesy of Sen. Man-on-Dog.

Kennedy and his staff apparently have previously enjoyed Primanti Bros. sandwiches from Pittsburgh courtesy of Sen. Santorum after the Pats defeated the Steelers two weeks ago. Now, much as I might like the Eagles to win, I'm unambgiously supportive of anything that causes Sen. Santorum to diminish himself.
AN OMEN FOR SUNDAY? This morning, at the sanctum sanctorum of the competitive eating universe, hometown hero Bill "El Wingador" Simmons reclaimed the Wing Bowl title, his fifth, outlasting the phenom Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas 162 wings to 161 after two regulation halves, a five minute wing-off and a grueling two minute sudden death overtime period.

Early report via this link. There was such a crowd outside that they had to open the doors at 3am, and all 20,000+ seats were filled by 5:30 in the morning.

Video is available.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

ONE LAST TIME--HE'S NOT PAUL GIAMATTI: Rob Schneider goes nuclear in defense of his upcoming film "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo." However, in his defense of his movie and his notation that writer Patrick Goldstein, who referred to the original "Deuce Bigalow" as "a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic," was not an award-winner, Schneider should have had the foresight to note that he was nominated for three Emmys for writing on "SNL" and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for (of all things) "Deuce Bigalow" (he lost the Blockbuster Award to his frequent co-star Adam Sandler). Might be better to forget his 2000 Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor, though, even though he was "defeated" by the voice of an animated Gungan.
SO, MATT, WHAT NIGHT ARE YOU GOING? Ben Brantley reviews the new musical Good Vibrations:
Even those who believe everything on this planet is here for a purpose may at first have trouble justifying the existence of "Good Vibrations," the singing headache that opened last night at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.

But audience members strong enough to sit through this rickety jukebox of a show, which manages to purge all catchiness from the surpassingly catchy hits of the Beach Boys, will discover that the production does have a reason to be, and a noble one: "Good Vibrations" sacrifices itself, night after night and with considerable anguish, to make all other musicals on Broadway look good.

And to think it could've been worse -- this is the musical that axed Justin Guarini.

(Man, we love bad musicals here -- see Matt's and Adam's takes on previous dreck.)
A IS FOR APPLE, J IS FOR JACKSONVILLE: This week, a young Philadelphia Eagles fan poured herself a seemingly routine bowl of Apple Jacks, only to discover upon gazing down at the bowl that the green Jacks had morphed together in the milk to form an Eagles logo in the bowl. In the days before the ol' InterWeb, that may have been the end of the story, but taking a cue from the Virgin Mary grilled cheese, the girl has put the bowl and dried out cereal up for sale on eBay. As of this posting, bidding was up to $155.01. (Adam, hurry, bidding ends soon!)

Perhaps the winning bidder will send the cereal along to Eagles wide receiver Todd Pinkston, who lists Apple Jacks as his favorite cereal, or safety Brian Dawkins, whose bio includes this quote: "I wish I could eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and watch as much cartoons as my son and daughter."

Also, with this post, I'd like to introduce a side blog I have started called Silly Rabbit, which, to the best of my knowledge, is the first blog devoted to breakfast cereal news and views. I'll still be blogging here just as often, doing the list thing and more, it just occurred to me yesterday that a cereal blog was a void I needed to fill. I just started it, and this post is repeated over there, but do check it out when you get a chance.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

ALSO IRRITATING ME: WHY IS THERE A "P" IN "ABSORPTION"? I realize this is going to come across like Mr. Crankypants, but I need to get a few things off my chest.

First, apologies to Adam and the great city of Philadelphia, but it's time to declare a moratorium on discussions of the heroic suffering of [insert locality here]'s sports fans. I realize I joined in a few months back, and I'm sorry. I don't know why I thought it would get better after the Red Sox win -- it's not like doomsday cults pick up and go home when the expiration date comes and goes with no rapture. Instead, the Sox win has let the self-pity multiply, so now you have three splinter cults: (a) Cubs baseball division, in which fans lay claim to the only remaining time-tested mythical suffering; (b) at-large division, in which fans in every city except New York, Boston, and Chicago apply, American-Idol-style, for the open slot as Mythical Suffering Greater Metropolitan Area #2; and (c) Boston division, in which fans continue to gloat about how their suffering used to be so meaningful. Have you ever had a friend who liked to lord his misery over others? Remember what happened? You stopped inviting him out for beers. Let's not be that guy. Also, I propose that anybody who has ever felt like he lived and died with a sports team is entitled, upon being informed that his losses just aren't as significant as somebody else's losses, to kick the teller in the jewels. If your response to somebody else's overtime playoff loss begins with "at least you're not..." then you had better be wearing a cup.

Second, speaking of suffering and sports, can we all just agree to put the NHL out of its misery, not just for this season, but forever? This would do the world three favors: (1) it would end the insanity where guys named Jaromir or Marty could demand salary parity with athletes you might actually want to pay to see (I need to know how on earth it is that six NHL players make eight-figure salaries. Don't you have to have a TV contract to pay those?); (2) it would get pro hockey fans, the most vile sports demographic north of WWE pay-per-view customers and south of the Pacers' starting lineup, out of civic arenas and back into work-release programs where they belong (Calgary Flames fans: please, for the love of God, keep your shirts on); and (3) it would allow hockey to return to the way it should be, where unpaid kids skate euro-style and quick guys who are 5'7" can dominate a game.

Third, an open letter to the NYT: Stop obsessing about blogs. Nobody is trying to take your job. Nobody is going to make you obsolete. Love, Isaac.

Feel much better now.
THE NAME GAME: Among the senders of spam in my inbox this morning were Togetherness S. Sashes, Lucidity E. Snoozes, Monologue I. Dishwater, Faceless L. Zealot, Remounted V. Backpacker, Attesting H. Endear, and Sleetier A. Matterhorn.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

IF I'M BEING PERFECTLY HONEST HERE, PAULA: Okay, I'm not exactly watching a ton of the endless audition phase of American Idol 4. But that girl in the blue hair who sang "Phantom of the Opera"? I'm a fan.
DON'T CALL ME HONEY: Just a wonderfully retro episode of The Amazing Race tonight, in which cabs, cultural confusion and negotiating obscure sections of a foreign city were the key. No b.s., just racing the way they used to do it -- with the only new feature, the Yield, fitting into the narrative most appropriately.

It was an episode in which there was no ugly behavior, but a lot of interesting behavior, and I, for one, was a fan. You? As Tony Kornheiser would ask, who ya got?
. . . ANDY ASHBY, CHARLES SHACKLEFORD, SHAWN BRADLEY . . . : Mike Tanier, on greatest legacy of frustration in professional sports.
PUT A (PITCH)FORK IN 'EM: The aughts are half-over and that can only mean one thing: Pitchfork's Top 100 Singles of the Decade's First Half. If the list is good for anything, it jogs your memory for some of those oldies from 2000-01 that are sitting in the nether regions of your Itunes.
NEXT HE'S SUING RANGER SMITH: Former New York Yankees great Yogi Berra is taking cable channel WTBS to court over bus and kiosk ads the station ran asking: What is the definition of a "Yogasm." The offending answer, which Yogi claims sullied his name, was: b) sex with Yogi Berra. (The correct answer, for those of you playing along at home was: c) what Samantha has with a guy from yoga class.

Link via TV Tattle.

Monday, January 31, 2005

THAT OTHER COMPETITION THIS WEEK: Yes, gang, while the Eagles prepare in Jacksonville, WingBowl XIII comes to Philadelphia this Friday at 6am.

As always, the official website has contestant qualifying eating attempt videos, both successful and un-.

New for 2005: if you can't attend the competitive eating extravaganza in person, play the Virtual Wing Bowl home game.

Ben Franklin, I think, would be proud.
SCRAMBLE FOR THE BALL(S): What happens when football players pile up? The Eagles' Ike Reese tells all. Too much, perhaps.

And as PTI wisely asked today, how does he know those were Vrabel's hands?
TIVO IS NOT INFALLIABLE: Leaving aside its sometimes inexplicable "suggestions," like the time it went on a kick recording episodes of "Lizzie Maguire" that it thought I would enjoy, I generally love my TiVo. However, every once in a while, it screws up a channel change, which it did tonight, tuning to channel 1 rather than channel 11 at 9, and giving me digital recording of an hour of public access crawl rather than an hour of WB schmaltz. If anyone has tonight's episode of "Everwood" on VHS or DVD, I'd appreciate you shooting me a comment or an e-mail.
AW-LAY EEK-GAY INUTE-MAY: Unless you're a trademark lawyer, you probably don't know about the rule of "immoral or scandalous" trademarks. Under U.S. law, something with immoral or scandalous content is not susceptible to trademark protection, which has led to amusing opinions in the area of phone sex--In re Boulevard Entertainment, Inc., 334 F.3d 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2003). But apparently Pig Latin gets you around the issue, as witnessed by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board discussed here, finding the mark UCK-FAY perfectly acceptable for registration in connection with use on clothing.
WHAT ABOUT FARGO NORTH, DECODER? Of the 1,696 network and cable prime time series set in actual locales, not a single show has called North Dakota its home. Alabama, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Delaware and Vermont have each had one series set within their borders, all of which begs the question of what two series were set in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho? I'm guessing Westerns, but still those seem like obscure locales. In fact, if anyone wants to be more ambitious than I am today, feel free to start a list of the 50 states in the comments with the name of a series set in each state. In fact, maybe I'll start the ball rolling...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

SEPARATED AT BIRTH? Because of raving about it from the hardcore Joss Whedon fans, I picked up a used copy of "Firefly" on DVD. It's reasonably enjoyable, though the overly-literalistic Western elements (cattle rustlers, revolvers, and a western ballad theme song) don't seem to work well with the highly realistic sci-fi elements (this is one of the few sci-fi shows that has no sound in space, as would actually be the case), and, as usual with Whedon, there's inexplicable stuff like the space prostitute who an integral part of the crew (no, I'm not making that up). However, is it just me or is Nathan Fillion a dead ringer for Peter Krause, in terms of looks, dialogue delivery, and just generally?