Saturday, February 19, 2005

FOR WHOM THE COWBELL TOLLS: Blue Oyster Cult's Agents of Fortune was the very first album I ever owned and the band remains, despite all, my all-time favorite. And while I knew "Don't Fear the Reaper" really did have a cowbell -- I did not know that it was added after the fact at the insistence of an apparently insane producer:

Fact is, there is a cowbell on "Reaper." If you listen closely to it on oldies radio, you can make it out in the background. But it was an afterthought. The song was recorded without it, and was added as an overdub at the last minute. According to former BOC bassist Joe Bouchard, an unnamed producer asked his brother, drummer Albert Bouchard, to play the cowbell after the fact. "Albert thought he was crazy," Bouchard told the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press in 2000. "But he put all this tape around a cowbell and played it. It really pulled the track together."

There's more on the lingering effects of the More Cowbell SNL bit from a Washington Post story here.
MONKEY WAITERS: If you are going to be on Survivor, it is probably a good idea to learn how to make fire. And practice a bit ahead of time. But there is a lot more primitive technology available over the internet to the would-be castaway. While you probably don't need to know how to make a bone flute, knowing how to make an Inuit Thimble, a Bamboo Rice Cooker, or a Hoko Knife just might come in handy.
GOOD EATS: If you're pressed for time and need to fit in all your daily fat in just one meal, you could do worse than the Peppridge Farm Flaky Crust Chicken Pot Pie, which packs a mere 64 grams of saturated fat in its pot. The pot pie heads up the Center for Science in the Public Interest's latest food buzzkill, (they're the guys that killed all the fun in eating movie popcorn, Chinese food, and everything short of rice cakes): The Eight Worst Foods.
ALSO, MS. CASH DID NOT SPIT AND THEN GRAB HER CROTCH: From today's New York Times Corrections:
"A subheading on Tuesday with a review of a performance in Lincoln Center's American Songbook series misspelled the given name of the performer. She is Rosanne Cash, not Roseanne."
COSPLAY, WITH FLAMETHROWERS. Wave Magazine reports on the ten geekiest hobbies, including an estimate of the damage to your sex life. The usual suspects -- furries, RPGs, vampirism, Star Trek. Nothing, however, about these cats who, today, are reenacting the Battle of Iwo Jima a hundred miles west of Austin, TX.

Friday, February 18, 2005

IT'S A BOY! I am happy to announce that the ALOTT5MA family officially grows by one more blogger today.

The Pathetic Earthling joins us from Pleasant Hill, CA. He expects that he'll be posting about science fiction (but not Star Trek), Giants baseball and, of course, The Amazing Race. He keeps a copy of Robert's Rules of Order in the bathroom and is, inexplicably, preoccupied with Lynn Johnston's comic strip, For Better or For Worse.

We look forward to his contributions, and hope that you all will greet him warmly.
WHO WILL BE THE NEXT SYLVIA CHIBILITI? Go ahead -- take a few minutes and make some predictions about the 24 American Idol finalists. Here's some good background on which ones already have some professional experience.

My money, right now, is on an Anwar Robinson-Mikala Gordon final. But what I really want to know is whether Ozzie Smith's kid will do a backflip for us.
POOTIE TANG MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN MENTIONED THREE TIMES: Well, it looks like Prof. Elvis Mitchell -- whom we've always loved here -- is not appreciated by the hoitie-toities at Fair Hahvahd, where he's teaching two once-a-week courses on Thursdays this semester -- one where you have to watch Bill Cosby's films and one "designed to acquaint those daring enough to immerse themselves in the discipline of film criticism" -- in other words, Intro To Elvis.

Well, at least he now has another job to fall back on. And his Kiehl's product.
HEY, THIS IS A GREAT IDEA FOR A MOVIE: Of all the cases of life imitating art, this is among the most bizarre, and scariest: twin brother gynecologists accused of deviant behavior with patients.

There's nothing funny about the charges. It's awful.

But, seriously, did they never go to the movies? (Okay, eww, gross, because that was in turn based on a true story.)

Let this be a lesson to parents: if one of your twin children has aspirations for medicine, do whatever you can to steer the other one to becoming an actuary. Or a habadasher. Or a linguist. Anything else.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

SUPPOSED FORMER CANADIAN CITIZEN: Yes, Alanis Morissette has become a U.S. citizen, and Matt Drudge takes the opportunity to make an unfunny "Ironic" joke. However, Morissette's keeping her Canadian citizenship through dual citizenship. Tying back to earlier this week, Morissette's performance of "You Oughta Know" at the 1995 Grammys belongs on the highlight reel--she took the angry rock song that won her Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and turned it into something far more, with the lyrics turned into an angry shout over a full orchestra.

Interestingly, while Morisette also picked up the Album of the Year Grammy that year, she lost Best New Artist to the now-largely-disappeared but previously annoyingly ubiquitious Hootie and the Blowfish, and lost record and song of the year to Seal's "Kiss From A Rose." Wikipedia has a full list of winners.
THE REAL MEDIA BIAS PROBLEM: Considering that the New York Times seems to be picking up stories we blog about around these parts, I feel compelled to correct something. As Alex observed late Tuesday night, The Morning News is running a tournament to determine the best book of last year. The Times picks up the story today. In the article, the Times makes the following statement:
Mr. Guilfoile, 36, who admits he likes any book with "mutiny" in the title, and whose own first novel, "Cast of Shadows," is coming out next month, judged Ben Jones's "Rope Eater" and Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell." He called the former "great" and the latter "also terrific." Tough call. Decision for Mr. Jones, by a nose.
One little problem. "Jonathan Strange" won the match, not "The Rope Eater." God knows this isn't the sort of thing certain portions of the blogosphere will pounce on (n.b., linkage should not be construed as agreement), but this blog stands for accuracy in pop cultural snark, if nothing else!

(Edit: Gawker has pointed out yet another error, though perhaps a less substantial one.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

HIS GUILTY FEET, SADLY, REMAIN BEREFT OF RHYTHM: Not that you'd notice, but George Michael is quitting the pop music business.
MAKE IT WORK: Matt and I have been behind Project Runway since the start.

But tonight's reunion show? Hot damn. So worth missing West Wing, American Idol and Alias for. There has never been a more jaw-droppingly funny, insightful and, believe me, vicious reunion show before. From a healthy dose of unloading on Pepper to the drama that is Morgan to the reason they called it "Project Drunkway" to Vanessa Riley called on the carpet for her unconscionably ungrateful online interview, it's all there.

If you've missed anything, Bravo's re-airing all the episodes this Sunday, starting at 11am, followed by the Grand Runway Finale next Wednesday. This has the best new reality competition since The Apprentice -- only, it's better, because instead of being centered around the host's ego, it's centered around the designers' talent, and it's all been great fun.
C'MON, WHAT ABOUT "LENNY SCHWARTZ'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS"? You know that game you play where you make up the names of porno films based on real films (i.e., "Saving Private Ryan" becomes "Shaving Ryan's Privates")? Well, it seems a couple of Einsteins over at Princeton, thought a hilarious variation on the theme would be to alter the names of movies into a list of the "Top 10 Holocaust movies I've never seen but would like to" and publish the results in a weekly campus humor magazine. Among the hi-larious examples Jacob Savage and Rob Buerki, who it should be noted are members of the tribe, came up with were "Dude, Where's My Family" ("Dude, Where's My Car"), "A Week at Bergen-Belsen" ("A Weekend at Bernie's") and the classic "Exterminate the Fockers " ("Meet the Fockers"). Not suprisingly, some people around campus found the list offensive, though my main objection isn't that its insensitive, but rather that it's remarkably not funny. (Link via Romenesko.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

THE STATE OF AMERICAN LITERACY, 2005: There's so much good stuff in this short interview with Us Weekly's Mara Reinstein and Joey Bartolomeo, authors of the recently released Brad & Jen: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Golden Couple that I'd hate to spoil any of the fun for you by revealing the highlights here. (Link via Bookslut.)

Meanwhile, The Morning News is running a March Madness-brackets-style literary contest to choose the best book of 2004. Some well-known blogger are among those picking the winners of the first three rounds, with all the judges then reading the two books in the Finals and putting in their vote. Early winners include Phillip Roth and Tom Wolfe, but by reading the judge's comments, I don't see either of these powerhouses going deep into the tourney.

THE ONLY TIME ANYONE HERE WILL EVER MENTION HAROLD MINER: And one more way to waste your time today: has put together video clips of the best Dunk Contest dunks of all time.

If you haven't seen Terence Stansbury's 360 degree Statue of Liberty for a while, miss 'Nique's Human Highlight Film activity, are hungry for some pure Vinsanity, or just don't remember how Shawn Kemp looked a hundred pounds ago, here's your chance.
I'M SENDING THEM MY DOG-EARED COPY OF A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR: What do you buy as a wedding present for a schoolteacher seductress and her former jailbait, soon-to-be spouse? You can view a full list of 43-year-old Mary Kay Letourneau and 22-year-old Vili Fualaau's Macy's registry here. The Cuisinart Belgian waffle maker and Kitchenaid mixer have already been purchased, but if you hurry, you can still get them the Krups rice cooker on sale for just $79.99. (What the hell, pick one up for Roger Ebert while you're at it.)
BECAUSE HANDING OUT 'BEST PICTURE' AT 2AM EASTERN IS NO PROBLEM: Actually, I'd have no problem if they added an Oscar for Best Stunt Coordinator, but what I really want is an Oscar for Best First Film, to recognize freshman directing talent.

This year's nominees would no doubt start with Zach Braff for Garden State, Joshua Marston for Maria Full of Grace and Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess. Why not make room to recognize emerging talent during the broadcast, and cut out the damn song performances already?

(Really, who's looking forward to seeing this guy in two weeks? Only Jerry Rice can pull off the balding/dreadlocks combo.)

So, what category would you like to add?
REMEMBER THE SABBATH: Ozzy and the boys' 1971 self-titled debut Black Sabbath has topped a list of the 100 greatest British rock albums conducted by Kerrang! magazine, which I had no idea still existed. (My friends Greg and Clark, who tried to talk me into going to see Judas Priest my freshman year, used to read it before first period honors Earth Science. The three of us did end up seeing Asia at Poplar Creek the next fall, and cheered madly when they changed the lyric of "Heat of the Moment" to reflect the calendar year ["And now you find yourself in 83/The disco hotspots hold no charm for me]. but I digress.) Ozzy, in fact, with Sabbath and without shows up six times on the list, which defines rock to include Queen, the Clash, Led Zep, and the Sex Pistols, but not the Beatles, Kinks, Who, or Stones, judging by the top 25 published at the link above.
IT DON'T MATTER IF YOU'RE BLACK OR WHITE: The thrilling star-studded witness list for the much-anticipated Jacko trial has been revealed and it reads like some kind of celebrity roast from hell. Among those making the cut are: Kobe Bryant, Stevie Wonder, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Nick and Aaron Carter, Larry King, David Blaine, Jay Leno, Ed Bradley, Chris Tucker, Maury Povich, Deepak Chopra, Barry Gibb, Marlon Brando's relatives, and, of course, Corey Feldman, Macaulay Culkin and Emmanuel Lewis.
SO WHO'S THE BOOGER-EATING MORON? And yet, some upcoming movies shouldn't be anticipated.

Why? Some dingbat with an abacus at Paramount thought it would be a good idea to remake The Bad News Bears, with Academy Award winner William Robert Thornton in the Walter Matthau role and Greg Kinnear (okay, that makes sense) as the evil manager. (And the kid playing Kelly Leak looks right too. But here's Lupus.)

Richard Linklater's directing, which I understand, because (a) School of Rock worked, even though it's a kids formula movie, and (b) he needs to do studio works like this to pay for each Before Sunset he wants to make.

But why this movie? Part of what's so jolting about the original movie was how coarse the language was. To soften it for 2005 would just turn this into School of Baseball and every other "loser team gets good" movie you've ever seen, and to make it even harsher . . . what's the point? And how could you, anyway?

Remakes only make sense when the passage of time helps reveal new truths in a movie, or when there's an actor or a director who can really put a unique stamp on the original material. I just don't see it here.
MY EXCITEMENT'S GONE UP TO 11: Happy news is hidden in New York Magazine this week. Christopher Guest and his ensemble are quietly at work on a new movie. That alone is glorious news, but it's the concept that makes me even more excited--tentatively titled "For Your Consideration," the project is about the cutthroat competition for a major movie award. A few suggestions for the Guest ensemble.
  • Catherine O'Hara as an aging diva who's sick and tired of being beaten for major awards by ingenues, who decides that she must take the perfect part--a disabled retarded woman who's dying of cancer to finally win her award.
  • Parker Posey as the ingenue who "stole" the last award from O'Hara.
  • Eugene Levy as the genius director who's not made a film in 20 years because he was "blocked," whose new film doesn't quite go the way it should.
  • Fred Willard as the host of the awards show, who's been fired and this is his last chance to redeem himself.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, ELSIE SNUFFIN? While her co-stars have gone on to be corporate attorneys (not Marilyn Manson, as rumored), game show hosts, and go-to Nickelodeon directors. Danica McKellar has continued to act, with this story (courtesy of TV Tattle) explaining what she's been up to lately. Oh, and in case you'd forgotten, she also wrote a complex math proof while in college. Certainly not what you'd expect from a "child star."

Monday, February 14, 2005

BILL SIMMONS' WET DREAM: Could Battle of the Network Stars be coming back? ABC, NBC and the WB are up for the challenge.
THE NAUGHTY POST: Like you, I'm watching Supernanny, but don't you wish that the episodes would somehow break out of the formula of Observe Bad Behavior, Lecture The Parents, Teach Them About The Naughty Place And The Schedule, Watch Them Screw It Up and Jo Tries To Save The Day?

So, it's sweeps month, and I figure the following special episodes are in order:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Supernanny: We see a family gradually deteriorate as they unlearn all of Jo's lessons and regress to a Hobbesian state of nature.

Diff'rent Supernannies: Jo helps out a sassy black child.

Supernanny 90210: Jo discliplines teenagers. Welcome to the naughty room!

Celebrity Supernanny: Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain are visited by Jo. Who needs the structure more?

The Crossover Episode: You know that kid Dr. Phil identified as having 9/14 the characteristics of a serial killer? Let Jo fix him.

Any other Very Special Supernanny episodes?
THE PROMISED LAND? is reporting that a new Bruce Springsteen album, Devils and Dust, may be in stores as soon as April.
BARGAIN O' THE WEEK: If, like me, you've bought a lot of Warner Bros. TV on DVD, it's well worth checking out this offer. As I read it, as long as you buy at least one WB TV series on DVD during the rebate term, you can get the rebate for any and all series you own (provided you have the proof of purchase that's part of the packaging). For instance, I already own three seasons of "West Wing," the first seasons of "Everwood" and "Gilmore Girls," and bought "Murphy Brown" yesterday--from that, I get $50 back, effectively making "Murphy Brown" free. And there's a bunch of good stuff subject to the rebate, including "The Ben Stiller Show," "Night Court," "Nip/Tuck," "The O.C.," and "Without A Trace," in addition to the above-mentioned stuff. (And watching "Murphy Brown" now, 17 years after its debut, it's still shockingly fresh.)
"IT TAKES SEVERAL CAMERA ANGLES, SOME YOGURT, AND A MACHINE:" The New York Times explores the magic of televised faked vomiting with an effects specialist, the "vomitor," and the one vomited upon (bizarrely, the recipient of vomit is Amanda Seyfried, best known for playing "the dumb one" in "Mean Girls").
GOD SHOW ME THE WAY, BECAUSE THE DEVIL'S TRYIN' TO BREAK ME DOWN: Your complete list of Grammy winners is here, if you want to discuss.

As an awards show, it was, as always, meh, and feel free to big out the biggest disappointments of the night -- including, but not limited to the fact that Britney Spears and Zach Braff now have Grammys, but the Talking Heads and Jimi Hendrix don't.

However, as a live music showcase, it was, again, outstanding: from the Alicia Keys/Jamie Foxx duet on "Georgia On My Mind" (yeah, I was surprised too) to Green Day bringing the punk to Kanye West representing for God to the James Brown/Usher duet, there was something for everyone, and even the slightly lame moments (John Mayer, "Across the Universe", Tim McGraw's third performance) didn't seem to last very long.

Biggest props of the night, however, go to Melissa Etheridge, for her emotional tribute to Janis Joplin with Joss Stone, but mostly, just for being there.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

CARLOS SANTANA WILL WIN SEVEN GRAMMYS: And he's not even nominated tonight.

Open thread for all things Grammy. Let's be democratic and all liveblog this together, shall we?
MO CUISHLE: Matt already reviewed Million Dollar Baby, and I have very little to add to it here. This is spare, devastating storytelling which everyone ought to see. It embraces formula, but since there's no new stories to tell, it's all in the how, and M$B is utterly compelling.

More than that, I can't really say here. As I've complained before, the anti-spoiler bias is so strong in American film criticism that it's difficult to find space to talk about the movie as a whole -- not just whether you should see it, which is what opening day reviews are for -- but about how it functions as a complete artistic creation, including consideration of the ending. And I respect that enough that I don't want to get into further considerations here, but if people still want to talk about it in the Comments, I am glad to.

Grammys tonight. We'll either be liveblogging, or at the least have a thread open.