Saturday, July 23, 2005

FROM RUSH HOUR TO MUSH HOUR: Tonight marks the conclusion of GSN's airing of season 1 of TAR, and I figured a thread was appropriate for the occaision. I'd never seen these episodes before, and it's interesting to see how things have changed. A few more noticable things about the first season that have changed:
  • Phil plays a much less prominent physical role in the earlier season--he's not there to greet/interview at the close of the leg.
  • It seems odd to have all the teams pretty much sitting and waiting for the later teams to arrive at every pitstop.
  • Season 1 doesn't seem to have relied much on "pitstop interviews." It's much more narrative and talking to the camera during actual racing or in pauses in racing. The good thing is that it's contemporaneous commentary rather than retrospective, but also, it undermines seeing the drama between teammates.
  • Leg structure has changed dramatically--now, a flight or long-distance travel typically leads off the leg, creating an early bunch. In a lot of legs in TAR1, it'll be route marker/task in location one, then long distance travel, second task, and finally, pit stop. One important impact this has--it can minimize the helpfulness of a Fast Forward, since the Fast Forward is invariably before the long distance travel, giving a bunch opportunity. Interestingly, the late bunching potential didn't have that much impact in most cases--often, teams would have gotten so backlogged earlier in a leg (Kevin and Drew and the Guidos) that they miss the bunch opportunity.
  • Interestingly, while other reality shows, like Survivor, have become much more "alliance-centric" over the years, there's been much less chat of alliances as TAR has evolved.
  • For all the complaints about recent years featuring "unlikable" teams like Jonathan and Victoria and Colin and Christie, basically, all of the final teams in TAR1 are kind of dicks to each other and/or other teams. Kevin and Drew and Frank and Margarita spend much of their time yelling at each other, the Guidos engage in blatant deception and borderline cheating, and Rob and Brennan can be pompous assholes. (That said, I'd probably race much like Rob and Brennan did.)

Other thoughts on TAR Classic are invited.

GARBAGE OUT, GARBAGE BACK: Stuffing random artifacts from a messy coffee table or desktop into the postage-paid return envelopes provided daily by traditional junk mail houses is a tit-for-tat resistance tactic that hits the mailers' postal numbers for the price of a stamp while providing a mild moment of absurdist venting for the recipients' misanthropic main boilers. I highly recommend the practice.

There is now an Israeli company attempting to provide an on-line analog, according to the BBC. While it's unclear how ethical or effective it is in actual practice, in theory it's hard not to like the idea. Of course, the on-line version lacks the personal touch that comes from providing Capital One with a fistful of expired cat litter coupons, an unwanted take-out menu and ticket stubs from Batman Returns.
THE MOVIE WILL BE ABOVE AVERAGE: After creating Mark Wahlberg's career, getting an actual performance out of Tom Cruise (interestingly, as a self-loathing man who's made his living by creating a cult of heightened masculinity), attempting to transform Adam Sandler's tendency toward fits of rage into a commentary on the American character, and getting two Oscar nominations for writing, it wouldn't be a bad question to wonder what Paul Thomas Anderson is up to now. The Times answers the "what?" (serving as a backup director for a film starring, among others, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen, Woody Harrelson, and Lindsay Lohan), but fails to answer the "why?" The article's still worth your time, and heightens my excitement for what appears to be an interesting and quirky project.

Friday, July 22, 2005

RADIO RADIO: Radio, as I understand it, is that thing in my car through which I sometimes permit Jim Lehrer and the BBC World News to speak to me. I have no other use for it, except for occassional visits to the Church of St. John Coltrane courtesy of the fine folks at KPOO. (Tuesdays, noon to four, if memory serves.)

Actually I can listen to quite a lot of KPOO, just waiting for some cheeky DJ to get phonetic on the station ID instead of going alphabetical. I've only heard that once in five years.

Commercial radio however, makes my teeth ache. I've yet to succumb to satellite, and likely won't so long as interesting artists continue making their stuff available on-line. Commercial radio sucks so much that I'm tempted to believe it's some sort of malevolent corporate conspiracy or the product of some larger and more insidious socio-economic phenomenon. Whatever it is, I can't wait for it to become something else.

On reform-not-revolution front, I'm happy to note that some chickens Eliot Spitzer released last October appear to be coming home to roost, but I don't think that the courts or even the extraordinary Mr. Spitzer can give us our collective groove back (or the airwaves, for that matter, in the current climate of compulsive deregulation and remarkably accelerated consolidation). Money will continue to drive content (frequently right down to the lowest common denominator) whenever and wherever songs are made to be sold instead of growing out of the simple and compelling fact that something is worth singing about.

Long, long, long before file sharing was a problem for the music industry, music was a fundamental and foundational form of human sharing; sharing information, wisdom, culture, identity, understanding. It still is, and always will be, but the web is rapidly presenting us with the means to abandon corporate content filters in favor of spontaneous, viral dissemination of worthy works directly among the masses themselves. (Ourselves!)

I urge everyone who loves music to check out, and generally to learn their way around the creative commons IP format. These are fertile fields with enormous potential to enrich both our personal music collections and our collective media environment, but they're only as rich as their inputs. These spaces are being created now on an "if you build it they will come" basis, and I can't wait to see what happens when a critical mass of participants gets out there.

The more we all have to say about what music the media mediate between us, the better. The more each of us has to say about what we're individually exposed to, the better. And for my teeth, the mental environment, muses and music everywhere, the sooner, the better.
PAGING THOMAS FRANK: Yesterday, we had spirited discussion of shopping as socio-economic and cultural field trip. However, I think we've missed the location that must be deemed the essential "shopping as cultural field trip." Ladies and gentlemen--I give you the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World--the leading tourist attraction in Springfield, Missouri. Yes, it's 280,000 square feet devoted to huntin', fishin', boatin', campin', and other outdoors-y activities that end with "in'." Bass Pro has expanded the franchise to other locales, but the Springfield locale is cultural tourism and reckless surrealism at its best. Next time you're in Springfield, enjoy some fine Cashew Chicken, visit Bass Pro, and then had on down to Lambert's for a hearty dinner and some throwed rolls.
WHAT'S NEXT? PEOPLE PLAYING CATS? The latest of the ongoing flood of Disney movies slouching towards Broadway to be born appears to be Tarzan, with a score by Phil Collins (Me Tarzan, You Sussudio?) and book by David Henry Hwang, who wrote the astoundingly brilliant M. Butterfly as well as the astoundingly dreadful "updating" of the book for Rogers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.

Ordinarily this tidbit of news would hardly register on my radar screen. Although my formerly impressive theatregoing habits were decimated by the birth of Cosmo Girl a couple of years ago, I try to stay plugged into goings-on in the Broadway world. I do, however, tend to ignore the Disney musicals where possible. I was dragged to Beauty and the Beast against my will a number of years ago at my mother's request and found the experience positively painful. Even The Lion King, which is still selling out eight years after opening, thanks to the myriad Asian and European tourists who fill its seats day in and day out, is really only impressive for director Julie Taymor's creation of the African animal kingdom on stage. (Which really is quite magical, but people should feel free to go to sleep right after "Circle of Life" comes to its grand and booming conclusion.) The story itself works better as the animated musical whence it came.

But something like 80% of Broadway theatregoers are non-New Yorkers, and if tourists want to schlep to New York and shell out a hundred bucks a ticket to see a dancing teacup or a flatulent warthog "live" on stage, far be it from me to stand in their way.

So why am I paying any attention to "Tarzan! On Broadway!"? Not because I begrudge Disney another blockbuster musical, and not because I am setting my calendar to remind me of the day when tickets go on sale, but because of a blurb I saw this morning indicating that an actor named Shuler Hensley has been cast as some primate or other in the upcoming Tarzan production.

A few years ago, Hensley won pretty much every award there was to win for his portrayal of Jud Fry in the most recent revival of Oklahoma. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more riveting performance. It was painful and horrible and spellbinding and magnificent. And now he's gonna wear an ape suit in Tarzan. Sigh.
I GIVE THIS IDEA TWO THUMBS UP: Via the Romenesko letters page:
From ROGER EBERT: Re's prediction that we will eventually pay for Internet content: the obvious solution would be a simple fee of a penny a page. The technology to do this has existed for years; it would be channeled through credit cards. For most users, such a charge might come to perhaps a dollar a day, and yet the revenue would add up quickly for websites. There would be two webs: FreeWeb and PennyWeb. The beauty of this model is that you would pay for what you actually wanted on a painless daily basis, instead of having to pay large sums for annual subscriptions. Even sites that can currently command premium fees, like Wall Street Journal, might find they would make more money if everyone could drop in for a ten-cent visit.

Once microtransactions become economically viable, this will be the way to go. There's nothing wrong with paying for content to ensure its profitability, and neither the New York Times nor TVTattle need give away quality work for free.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

WHITHER SERDAR ARGIC? CNet lists the Top 10 Web fads ever. There was a time, apparently, when mankind did not believe that hamsters could dance. Many of them. In unison.
FOR THE SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT FANS OUT THERE: Former WWF announcer Lord Alfred Hayes has passed away.

Yes, every once in a while, someone associated with Vince McMahon's industry dies of natural causes.
I JUST LIKE SAYING 'MUNDUNGUS': Liesl Schillinger's review of Half-Blood Prince does a remarkable job of reviewing the book without saying a thing about what happens within it. But this is not a book that anyone need be told to read it -- they will.

As I've said for a long time on this site, the problem with contemporary reviews (film, tv, but to a less extent books) is that it's all prospective: is this worth your time and money?

Rarely, however, is there space given for the retrospective analysis: now that we've seen it, what does it all mean? In the case of HBP, I mean not merely the obvious plot questions set up by Rowling to be resolved in Book 7 (where are the []? why did [] do []? will Neville Longbottom ever get [ ]?) but the thematic questions -- what is Rowling trying to say about the war on terror? about destiny? adolescence? And do we really have to wait another two years again?

Consider this an open thread for all Harry Potter comments, including further detailed discussion of Half-Blood Prince.
AND T.J. CLOUTIER IS JUST LIKE FUZZY ZOELLER: Pro poker player Phil Ivey is often referred to as "the Tiger Woods of poker." But given that he keeps on coming close, but never winning "the big one," even though he was an early favorite. Ivey finished 20th in this year's main event, though he did win the pot-limit Omaha championship. So, I guess my question is--why isn't Ivey "the Phil Mickelson of poker?" (Or at least the Phil Mickelson of a few years ago.)
YOU DON'T SAY! The Times' Alex Kuczynski makes a startling discovery -- "a crucial part of Target's success is that it makes an effort to attract not just consumers who, by financial necessity, shop at discount superstores, but also those members of the middle- and upper-income brackets who view discount shopping as a socioeconomic field trip."

My goodness! Next week, Kuczynski goes to a Dave & Busters to discover that "the food, surprisingly, is not the main attraction."
TO ROCK A RHYME THAT'S RIGHT ON TIME:'s Mark Bechtel has a list of the 10 best trick plays in sports, including my all-time favorite, the bark like a dog distraction play, which though originated on the court, we try every year to execute in our annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl.
SOMETIMES, YOU JUST HAVE TO SAY, WHAT THE . . . Blinq provides us with a useful list today -- the all-time What Movies Dropped The F-Bomb Most? rankings, both in terms of total bomb-droppings and FPM (f-per-minute).

I do not believe there is any cross-listing between this list and yesterday's.
NO, I DON'T THINK THE PHILLIES ARE QUITE THAT POPULAR: Check out this miscaptioned photo. Now.

edited to add at 2:25pm: It's fixed. Never you mind.
GUILIANI'S KID LOOKS ON WISTFULLY: Having assumed, in the comments a few threads back, that Associate Justice-to-be Roberts dances awkwardly with White Man's Overbite, I must concede that his son gets down. I mean down. And also: the robot.

Incidentally, should Roberts be confirmed, that will bring to nine the number of pairs of justices that shared a last name. The others are the Marshalls, the Whites, the Chases, and the Harlans (thus bringing to an end the list of those I could name off the top of my head), plus the Rutledges, the Jacksons, the Johnsons, and the Lamars. Without looking, can anybody give all of their first names?
WHO WANTS TO BE THE NEXT KARL ROVE (WITHOUT THE PENDING INDICTMENT)? Philadelphia-based political consultant Ken Smukler -- a man who advised me two years ago that I ought to look into ways of developing a campaign finance law practice -- thinks he has the next great reality competition idea:
A proposed eight-part series titled "Red/Blue," which its creators aim to get on the air next summer, places 12 or 14 aspiring political consultants -- divided into two teams of liberals and conservatives -- inside a Georgetown townhouse that's wired with cameras and microphones a la "Real World" and "Big Brother." The participants engage in a series of challenges, both in and out of Washington, that test their political skills. Two hopefuls, one of each political stripe, will be eliminated each week. The last man or woman standing wins $1 million to spend on a cause or candidate in the 2006 election.

Whatever happens, I have a feeling Bob Shrum will lose.
"THE LATEST FOX SUPPOSITORY": I don't think the WaPo's Tom Shales liked 'So You Think You Can Dance'.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I KNOW THE FEELING: This blog, of course, will not be delving into the political/legal details of John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court. But I spotted something today in his written responses to questions from Sen. Feingold with which I could really identify.

Feingold asked Roberts, basically, "You wrote a law review note on the takings clause in 1978. Do you still believe what you said?" To which Roberts said that he would, of course, follow Supreme Court precedent in the area, and concluded:
I would not follow my student note; no one else has.

See, e.g., Adam C. Bonin, Protecting Protection: First and Fifth Amendment Challenges to Cryptography Regulation, 1996 U Chi Legal F 495 (1996) (because no one else has); but see the much more popular (and relevant) Matthew D. Marcotte, Advice and Consent: A Historical Argument for Substantive Senatorial Involvement in Judicial Nominations, 5 NYU J Legis & Pub Pol'y 519 (2002).
WHEN OLD PEOPLE ATTACK (OTHER OLD PEOPLE): Alan Sepinwall brings us some surreal stuff involving Mickey Rooney, Carl Reiner and Red Buttons from the Televison Critics annual summer press tour:
A startled Buttons asked, "What the hell did Mickey (just) say?"

"I don't know," Reiner replied. "I was about to ask if somebody had written it down because I want to make a sampler out of that. I want to have that on my couch."

After a Rooney anecdote about the legendary producer and director Cecil B. DeMille that only Caesar seemed to understand, Buttons asked, "By the way, Mickey, was Lincoln a nice guy?"

This didn't have the desired effect, as Rooney started discussing Civil War generals whose last names also belonged to his own relatives. As the reporters and other panelists broke down in astonished giggles, Rooney insisted, "I don't know why you're laughing. It's true!"

Buttons may have been in a pissy mood because he's the only one of the three to have never won an Emmy. He's up for his guest role on ER as 'Ruby', however.
HE'S ALSO THE FASTEST POO-FLINGER IN THE WEST: In these trying times of terrorist bombings, Supreme Court nominees who look like JC Penney mannequins circa 1982, and staying up all night to read children's books, everybody needs a dog-riding monkey cowboy. Giddyup!
YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS: The British Film Institute, not to be outlisted by its American cousin, has released its list of the 50 Films Every Child Should See before they turn 14. My five-year-old son (five and a half, he would tell you) has already seen 10 of the 50, which I think is a pretty good start, especially considering I have only watched 17 from start to finish. No doubt there could have been more Disney and Miyazaki films on the list, but overall I think the BFI did a good job of spreading the wealth. Besides some of the obvious suspects (Pinocchio, Bambi, Willy Wonka, etc.), any true childhood classics they overlooked?
KIND OF LIKE LIVING WITH THE MUGATU: James Doohan, who portrayed Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott, died early today, aged 85.

Thanks, Mr. Doohan, for being an embarrassingly large part of my childhood.
LET'S JUST SAY THAT FOR THOSE OF US SEARCHING FOR JUVENILE LITERATURE DEPICTING MAN-MONKEY LOVE, THERE'S A LOT OF BAIT-AND-SWITCH OUT THERE: Cantankerous pirate enthusiast Maddox shows us his collection of unintentionally sexual comic book covers.
THAT IS ONE MAGIC LOOGIE: offers its list of the top ten athlete cameos on tv sitcoms.
HUSH! THERE'S A WILD CENTAUR STD ITALIC JUST OVER THAT HILL! Need something cool and ├╝bergeeky to do in New York this week? Well, perhaps the Font Hunt is for you. Billed as a "typographic scavenger hunt," the idea seems to be to locate a variety of fonts existing in the wilds of Manhattan, not just in the format-font window of your computer.
NO ONE WOULD SURRENDER TO THE DREAD PIRATE KAROL: Apparently Cary Elwes has been cast as the pre-papal Karol Wojtyla in a CBS mini-series about the life of Pope John Paul II.

As you wish, my Lord.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

SO IF HE'S LUKE, WHO'S VADER? Not to become Article 3 Groupie, or distract folks from other SCOTUS news, but I have it on good authority that Justice Scalia has (yet again) become a grandfather. His son, Eugene, is apparently the proud father today of a 5 lb, 12 oz baby boy, Luke. No word on if cigars will be handed out around One First Street tomorrow.
COME FOR THE LIEUTENANT; STAY FOR THE PATROLMAN FROM THE VILLAGE PEOPLE: A warm welcome to the somewhat confused soul who arrived here at ALOTT5MA looking for S. Epatha Merkerson nude.
PORTENTS OF DOOM: 12,204 (& COUNTING) (V.G. ALL THINGS CONSIDERED): Prior to the release of the new Harry Potter book (i.e., this has nothing to do with who actually may die in HBP), the Guardian U.K. invited its readers to write up the death of a major character, using the voice of a noteworthy author. Here are the quite entertaining results.

While I really liked the Irvine Welsh parody, the winner was Mock Chaucer, which began:
At Hogwarte's, schoole of wizardrye,
Unfoldeth drede folle tragedie!
Yonge Ron Weasleye, and classmayt Pottyr:
Fallen preye to 'tvyle rottyr,
Who, throughoute Harry's sadde lyfe,
Hath been the source of muche stryfe;
Hys parente's lyves, rendyred shorte,
By naughtie manne: Voldemorte!

Included within the Helen Fielding knockoff: "Draco Malfoy wandered over, all sympathy. Rather outrageously tried to chat up yours truly over corpse of dearly departed mentor. Note to self: must not be attracted to charming, rakish but doubtless somewhat evil Slytherin types, especially DM. Been there, done that, got commemorative broomstick."
IT'S A KILLER OF A SNOOZE BUTTON: I once litigated against an opponent who refused to acknowledge any losses. The Court threw out claims; our opponent said it didn't change anything. The Court threw out evidence; our opponent said they were still entitled to introduce it. It was as if by closing their eyes and repeating their view of the world they could make it so.

Apropos of nothing, only 350 days until the Olympic Selection Committee awards New York the 2012 Summer Olympics.
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE OF A QUICKIE DIVORCE: Apparently the wise and world-weary 19-year-old Frankie Muniz has gotten engaged to a young woman named Jamie (age and last name undisclosed until some enterprising googler figures it all out) whom he met this spring in New Orleans while filming a new horror movie.

So do the young and famous just not have friends or family who warn them off against bad ideas? Have a look at this week's New York Magazine, in which it is wondered whether only crazy people seek to become famous or whether fame drives people crazy.
I'D ADD MORGANNA TO THE LIST, TOO: Forget about the debate over whether Rafael Palmeiro deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (3,000 hits? 500 home runs? Of course, he does). Bob Cook over at Flak has his list of five modern-day pioneers who deserve a spot in Cooperstown.
THE TRUTH NEVER GOT IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY: Apparently, that little book about which everybody's been talking sold almost 9 million copies in its first 24 hours in the U.S. and the U.K. It seems likely that if people were so hot and bothered to get the book right away, they were also apt to start reading it immediately (ergo, the comments thread a few posts down). My completely unconfirmable guess is that July 16, 2005 should go down in history as the day on which people read the greatest number of printed pages in the English language. What else could be close? July 17, 2005? December 8, 1941?

If you buy that hypothesis -- and maybe even if you don't -- it also stands to reason that Saturday was the day with the greatest ratio of fiction to non-fiction pages consumed (and, for that matter, the greatest ratio of juvenile to adult fiction pages). Our old friend non-fiction can be forgiven, then, for feeling a little neglected. As a little pick-me-up for Ol' Facty, then, I present, in no particular order, a list of my all-time favorite non-fiction reads:

The Coming Plague, Laurie Garrett. Garrett's thesis is that the four greatest public health disasters of the 20th Century are war (check), poverty (ho hum), rural-to-urban migration (snooze), and the opening of the Kinshasa Highway (surprise!). To prove it, she gives us the epidemiology -- and the creepy mechanics -- of AIDS, ebola (my favorite disease, if you must know), hantavirus, drug-resistant TB, and a host of other new or improved diseases. Garrett won a Pulitzer for this book, convinced just about everybody who read it, and got completely ignored by everybody in the world who could actually prevent you from catching a disease that might make you liquify from the inside and bleed out of all of your orifices. If you're looking for something literally and figuratively lighter from the same shelf, try The Medical Detectives, a collection of Berton Roueche's essays (in the New Yorker and elsewhere) answering, Encyclopedia Brown-style, burning questions like: Why is this dude orange? and How did a general contractor in the suburban U.S. catch anthrax? I was reading this on a plane when the guy next to me asked whether I was an epidemiology student. No, I said, just reading. He said he was an epidemiologist, and he and all of his friends read "The Medical Detectives" when they were studying. I did not speak to him for the rest of the flight because he was my hero.

The Grove Book of Hollywood, Christopher Silvester, ed. Is it cheating to include an anthology here? Like putting a greatest-hits CD on your top-10 list? This compulsively-readable book breaks off 5- and 10-page (and a few longer) chunks of first-person Hollywood history and gossip, from the pioneers hiding from Edison's agents through the source material for Budd Schulberg's more-true-than-you-know What Makes Sammy Run? to the making of the modern blockbusters. Okay, it's a little light from 1980 on, but you can always just read Hit and Run (a fun, if untrustworthy, hatchet job) and Hollywood Animal (haven't read it yet -- it's on my list) if you need to know that people in the '80s and '90s were as insane as in the '60s and '70s.

The Kid Stays in the Picture, Robert Evans. On a similar note, reading this book felt like the time I was 16 years old and discovered Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without proper warning about what I was getting into. Is this guy completely nuts? Well, duh. And everybody around him, too. The passages about the making of the Godfather and the Cotton Club (both excerpted at length in the Grove Book) are hilarious portraits of an entire world populated by completely insane people. A concern: Is any of this true?

Among the Lowest of the Dead, David von Drehle. von Drehle tells the story of several Florida death row inmates. I was on the fence about capital punishment until I read this book. It has an anti-death penalty bias, but there is a lot more journalism and a lot less advocacy in this book than in the Prejean and the Bedeau and Radelet books. Because he is a better writer, von Drehle also tells a more harrowing tale.

A Winner's Guide to Casino Gambling, Edwin Silberstang. I bought an early edition of this book used for 99 cents and read it through twice years before I ever stepped into a casino -- during the early years of the failed "family-friendly" Vegas experiment and almost a decade before the Swingers-fueled boom. Theoretically this book is reference, not the kind of thing that I would ordinarily recommend to somebody (if reference counted, the Orange Bible would make this list). What saves it are the chatty war stories that Silberstang sprinkles through the book. In the guise of instruction, Silberstang, an ex-card mechanic, tells preposterous stories about bad beats, fake mustaches, and riches won and lost. There are probably hundreds of better books about Las Vegas and gambling, but this one will always be dear to me.

The Antitrust Paradox, Robert Bork. The complete list of things I have in common with Robert Bork consists of: (1) school affiliations; (2) number of X and Y chromasomes; and (3) the stuff between the first and last pages of this book. Call me crazy, but it's lucidly written, convincing, and probably one of the two or three most influential law books of the postwar period. Plus, it has a first-rate set of acknowledgements.

I know, that's not five. Sue me. What just missed the list? Well, Naked, The Measure of a Mountain (my cousin's memoir of his obsession with Mt. Rainier), Cities on a Hill (Frances Fitzgerald's study of what communities are and how they are created, in which Fitzgerald studies a fundamentalist wealthy American church community, a retirement city, Rajneeshpuram, and the Castro, the latter two -- improbably -- as they implode; this book is kind of a more human counterpart to Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities). My dad's books, which, uh, I'm going to read them, I promise. Biographies of Robert Moses, John D. Rockefeller, Archibald Cox, Abe Fortas. The Constitution in the Supreme Court. What am I missing?

Monday, July 18, 2005

YOUNG MAN, THERE'S NO NEED TO FEEL DOWN: Victor Edward Willis, the original policeman from the Village People, was arrested in Daly City last week for possession of rock cocaine, drug paraphenalia and a .45 caliber handgun.
I'M WET! AND I'M STILL HYSTERICAL: In response to the AFI's recent foray into quote-list-making, presents its own list of the 100 Movie Quotes the Potty-Mouthed Hipster Shouldn't Live Without. NSFW.

One grievous omission? Helena Bonham-Carter's post-coital line in Fight Club. The one that ends with "grade school".
THE TRI-LAMS AND MU'S WILL BE PLEASED: Is 'un-cool' the new cool? Shallow Center takes issue with a recent AP 'trend' story.
NEXT STOP, NORTH HAVERBROOK: Seattle's monorail has fallen upon hard times. No word yet on whether Lyle Lanley is involved.
BURNING THE GLOBAL VILLAGE TO ROAST A PIG? Following in Alex's footsteps of alerting you to media sightings of ALOTT5MA folks, I should let you know that I have an op-ed in today's National Law Journal regarding proposed Federal Election Commission regulation of political activity on the Internet.
I HATED, HATED, HATED THIS COMMEMORATION: Thanks to Mayor Daley, today is officially Roger Ebert Day in Chicago.
FROM THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE: By request, this thread is open for discussion of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for those who have finished it.

Warning: a powerful jinx will be sent to those who gaze upon the Comments prematurely.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

LET'S ALL FEEL OLD, SHALL WE? When Al Leiter won his first Yankee debut (eighteen years ago), the players on the field included Paul Molitor, Rob Deer, Robin Yount, Dale Sveum, Rickey Henderson, Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Jay Buhner and Dave Righetti. (The second debut was, of course, today.)

How long ago was September 15, 1987? Bernie Williams was still four years away from making his major league debut.
NO WORD ON IF MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL'S JOINING THE CAST AS SPADER'S SECRETARY: In happy news for those of us seeking something suitably snarky to follow up House on Tuesday nights, brand new episodes of Boston Legal return to your TV in three short weeks. Set the TiVo now.
ONLY THREE MORE FOR A CERT GRANT: Some of our readers will likely be interested in confirming this--Antonin Scalia bobblehead certificates should be arriving shortly--mine arrived yesterday. Sadly, I'll probably be waiting till November to pickup, as I'm planning on going to one of the "big law events" at which the fine folks from The Green Bag will be handing out dolls.
WITHOUT LITA FORD, IT'S A LOAD OF CRAP: Via Karl Martino, one blogger lists The Top 12 Hottest Female Guitarists Ever.

Um, does Kelley Deal really count as a guitar player? And where's Superchunk's Laura Ballance? Tanya Donelly?
I'M DAN RYDELL, ALONGSIDE CASEY MCCALL: I've been rewatching my Sports Night DVD's recently--all of you have seen Sports Night, which is probably the best sitcom of the past decade, right?--and several things have struck me. Not just a reminder of the greatness, and a renewed wondering of exactly why no member of the cast ever got an Emmy nomination (the winners in categories where folks could/should have been nominated included Helen Hunt and John Lithgow) and how "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz" managed to beat "The Apology" for best writing for a comedy series. Also, you notice odd coincidences, such as the fact that on both Sports Night and Six Feet Under, a major plot point is Peter Krause's character's bad marriage to a woman named Lisa. And you wonder why the hell NBC didn't have the brains to bring in the Sports Night writers once Sorkin left West Wing--most of them are working on NBC shows already (Scrubs, Will and Grace), so it wouldn't have been such a big deal.

But what I hadn't realized is just how many guest stars went on to bigger and better things--Janel Moloney, Lisa Edelstein, and a brunette Teri Polo turn up in various places. H!ITG! (and successful writer in his own right) Clark Gregg turns up But the biggest surprise is Brenda Strong as villainess Sally Sasser--a face you don't recognize immediately, but a voice you will, as she's spent this season playing Mary Alice Young on Desperate Housewives, and has turned up from time to time as the late Mrs. Brown on Everwood. In both of those roles, Strong plays the model of domesticity, but Sally Sasser is a gleeful, slutty, maneater, and Strong digs into it with all of her teeth. It makes you admire her all the more for shifting gears so dramatically. (And interestingly, it adds some texture to the Lynette/Mary Alice relationship on Housewives knowing the actress' background.)