Saturday, September 17, 2005

YOU MIGHT WANT TO IXNAY ON THE IGNALSAY: So I just watched the premiere of Threshold. I might not sleep anytime soon.

Yeah, as Matt pointed out a while ago, it's a Lost knockoff of sorts -- insofar as any new show with a supernatural WTF-is-going-on-around-here bent is a Lost knockoff. (It's even got William Mapother playing pretty much the same role he played on Lost, which is quite amusing.) But it is freeeeeeaky. And rather gripping.

Quickie Premise: The aliens are coming! The aliens are coming! Oh, wait, they're here . . . maybe. A contingency-planning specialist who had written the official protocol for such an event -- the Threshold Protocol (doesn't that sounds like a Robert Ludlum title?) -- is brought to Washington, along with the rest of the team she'd recommended in her report, to figure out what the heck is going on. What's going on? There's a lot of talk of fractal this and triple DNA helix that, but it can be summarized as follows: so far, nothing's boding so well for the future of the human race. A not-unusual premise, to be sure, but if the two-hour premiere is any indication, the execution ought to be worth watching.

The cast is rather impressive for Friday nights on CBS: Carla Gugino (of Karen Sisco and Spy Kids fame), Charles S. Dutton (of, you know, Charles S. Dutton fame), Robert Patrick Benedict (Richard from Felicity and that guy whose ear Sydney spontaneously pierced on Alias), Peter Dinklage (the not-particularly-tall actor from The Station Agent), and, in possibly my favorite bit of casting for the year, Brent Spiner (known to the world, of course, as Commander Data and to somewhat fewer of us as William Daniels' successor as John Adams).

I'm going to go watch something fluffy and light now.
PERHAPS IT'S BEING BOUGHT BY SMALL TOWN GIRLS, IN THIS LONELY WORLD: OK, it's not exactly shocking that Kanye West, the Black Eyed Peas, and Green Day occupy the top 3 slots on the iTunes "Top Songs" list today. But can anyone explain exactly why Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is number 55, right between Papa Roach and David Gray?
WAY, WAY BEFORE NIRVANA: Apparently, no artist or band that released their first album in 1980 is worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This should open up the field for prior nominees who missed the voting threshold (Black Sabbath, Skynyrd, and John Mellencamp), and the new additions to the ballot--Cat Stevens, Blondie, and Miles Davis. I'm not sure who exactly has been snubbed, though Huey Lewis & The News put out their first album in 1980.
NO PARODY LEFT BEHIND: Katrina: The Gathering.
MY PREDICTION? PAIN: I have no way of knowing if it's accurate, but we've got a potentially tragic spoiler for Rocky VI -- yes, Rocky VI -- on our hands.
PRE-EMMYS OPEN THREAD: All thoughts on what you'd like to see and what you expect to see at tomorrow night's awards are welcome here.

All major nominees here. For handicapping, see, e.g., Tim Goodman and the Gold Derby folks.

Me? As big a fan as I am of Locke, I do want another Denny Crane win. And I don't want to see West Wing win a damn thing until the show's really back to its old standards.

Friday, September 16, 2005

SURE, DUDE, BUT THEY'RE VEELAS: New Goblet of Fire trailer online.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE NHL HAS BEGUN: The Montreal Canadiens have adopted former Expos mascot Youppi! as their own.

Now, I didn't know hockey teams had mascots, but if the second-winningest franchise in North American sports history needs one to put asses in seats, then I'd say les Habitants might be in trouble.

(Okay, I checked: some teams do have mascots, and they're really lame.)
I'M SHOCKED, SHOCKED: Coke? Really? I'd-a never guessed it.
WE WOULD FRIGGIN' LOVE IT TOO: Hey Joss, you listening? Lauren Graham wants the part. I'll take Lauren Graham swinging the magic lasso over pretty much anyone else -- including Rachel Bilson.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades, by James M. Kilts, CEO and President, The Gillette Company, The Onion (2/18/04)
Gillette ups the ante, unveils 5-blade razor, Reuters (9/14/05)

FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY, HUMBERT HUMBERT'S EXPLOITS WERE FIRST PUBLISHED. JUST A COINCIDENCE: "Slightly more than half of American teenagers ages 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex, with females and males reporting similar levels of experience, according to the most comprehensive national survey of sexual behaviors ever released by the federal government."
"PREMATURE EVACUATIONS," OR LOVE AMONG THE RUINS? There is much to note about Survivor Guatemala: Season of the Trickster Owl, but I need to be a little bit vague for those who have not yet seen it:
  • Casting this season seemed to be based upon taking a look at the Labor Department's "fastest growing occupations" list and flipping it upside down: magician's assistant? doorman? ex-NFL quarterback? zookeeper? barfly? fishmonger? water ski instructor? (Note: I only made up one of them.) What ever happened to lawyer, barista and Mentor To Troubled Young People?
  • Dehydration, people! Like, common sense? First time I can remember there being a reward challenge in Ep#1, but, hot damn, that was some grueling stuff.
  • I am glad that they brought back the people they brought back; am surprised they have no "protection" at all.
  • I admire Hogeboom's bluff, but if we're going to have an ex-NFL journeyman QB on the show, why not John Fourcade? Jeff George?
  • This is the first season where there were man-made physical structures already available, right?

Will this be a third straight great season? That's up to the players, and the narrative their strategery creates.

GIMME A $5 "FREDDIE"/"SURFACE" EXACTA: In case you want to put real money on the cancellation pool, there's a place for you. Interestingly, shortest odds right now are "Ghost Whisperer" and "Love, Inc." at 3:1, with "War At Home" looking promising from a betting standpoint at 30:1. Then again, according to those odds, Goran Visnjic will be the next James Bond, so take it for what it's worth.
GRAB YOUR TORCHES, HEAD BACK TO CAMP: Jeff Probst is thinking about leaving his hosting gig on Survivor. Of course, this begs the question--who should replace him? Do you go with a former contestant (Rupert, sadly, would seem to be CBS' natural choice)? Or an established reality TV personality (Tom Bergeron? Phil Keoghan?)? Or do you go outside the box completely? Your suggestions are invited.
AND THERE AIN'T NO ROAD JUST LIKE IT, ANYWHERE I FOUND: Chicagoans have voted for the Seven Wonders of Chicago, and the results are in.

An ever-increasing number of years after the three I spent living in Chicago, I still get a little misty when I think about driving north on Lake Shore Drive heading into town. The Chicago lakefront is everything that an urban waterfront should be, and everything that Manhattan inexplicably lacks.

Many thanks to the good people of Rafiburg (a small but significant suburb of Chicagoland) for the link.
THESE COME IN THREES, TOO: We'd be remiss if in addition to Spawn of Spears and Child of Fey, we didn't congratulate Heidi Klum and Seal on their new baby boy, Henry. No word on whether Klum will be able to attend the Emmys to represent Project Runway in its quest for gold.
IS SHE A WOMAN YET? The Spears spawn has arrived. Early reports indicate that Britney's baby boy has been named Preston Michael Spears Federline.

Now I can stop being forced to see pictures of Britney's exposed tummy in every magazine in civilization, a development for which I am profoundly grateful.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN VOTE: The most impressive thing about So You Think You Can Dance has been that America has gotten the vote right week after week after week. Apparently this let-the-judges-select-the-bottom-two/three thing works. Rah.

Excluding Jamile, who really ought to be going home next week, we're left with a group of talented dancers without specific flaws, and it will become a question of style and performance and who the voters like better. This week's female vote presents an interesting quandary along those lines: Ashle v. my hometown girl Melissa. I find them fairly indistinguishable from talent and versatility perspectives. So it's a question of whether you like your 20-year-old blondes boppy and chirpy (Melissa) or grounded and sophisticated (Ashle). (I swear there's no "y" at the end of her name.)

And thank GOD that Melody was finally partnered with someone who deserved to still be on the show. You could see the unmitigated relief on her face when Blake drew her name from the hat. After weeks of subpar partners, Melody finally got to just dance without having to figure out how to get a hip hopper or a breakdancer to adequately fumble their way through a lyrical routine. I've been meaning to mention this for weeks, but Melody is to dancing what Sasha Cohen is to figure skating -- all grace and long lines. (Minus the choking, however.)
DOES IT COME WITH A HOOKER FOR THE CARPOOL LANE? You now have a chance to win Larry David's hybrid car.
FRANKLY SPEAKING: In news sure to make some people around here unhappy (and not just for political reasons), Anthony Weiner will not be going further in his race for NYC Mayor. But, hey, Adam Schiff got re-elected.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'M JUST SAYING, IS ALL: I cannot believe I moved the seventh season of the Vai Sikahema Football League to ESPN's servers; they're awful:
I want to apologize to you for the problems we've had and assure you that we are doing everything in our power to solve them and provide an experience that the best, most passionate sports fans on the Web deserve.

Our aim is to have our Fantasy Football application operating normally for this Sunday's games. We will be updating you on our progress and resolution.

Again we appreciate that you are playing Fantasy Football with us and we will do everything possible to make this a terrific experience for you this season.

Everything possible? How about giving us a refund and setting up our team on Sportsline for us?
IN THE HIZZY: Yay, House is back, and LL Cool J rocks, but, seriously, didn't we declare a moratorium on having tv shows/movies end with Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" as a means of conveying characters' sadness and torment?

There was the West Wing episode with the bodega shooting, the O.C. first seaosn finale, this, and I'm sure there's others. Enough. Remember when Green Day's "Time of Your Life" was overused like this?

Also, and I can't believe I'm saying it, but the Backstreet Boys video for "Just Want You To Know" is totally worth a few moments of your time.
A NEW AND IMPROVED LORELAI: For those of you who haven't already checked your TiVos, tonight we find out whether Luke says yes (um, duh), how Rory's planning on keeping herself occupied in the poolhouse, how Logan (now a series regular -- eeeeee!) will handle having a girlfriend who's more of a troublemaker than he is, how Paris will cope with Rory's absence from Yale, and most interestingly (as always), how Emily and Lorelai will deal with each other given the new circumstances.

Gilmore Girls is coming off an A+ season last year -- here's hoping that Amy Sherman-Palladino can keep it up.

Monday, September 12, 2005

WE HAD TO DESTORY THE LEVEE TO SAVE IT: In honor of the resignation of Brownie (he of the heck of a job), it's a list of the 25 stupidest quotes about the Katrina catastrophe.

And speaking of the hurricane, the other night I saw a commercial for this product and I didn't know quite how to react.
THIS HUMAN FORM WHERE I WAS BORN, I NOW REPENT: Philemina and I were privileged to take in Grizzly Man yesterday, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in some recreational pondering at the void. In it, Timothy Treadwell cuts a Col. Kurtz figure, plunging into his particular heart of darkness with a pair of camcorders and a manic intensity that leaves The Crocodile Hunter looking staid, sober and professional by comparison. Director Werner Herzog assembles Treadwell's videotape into a self-consciously awkward and redeemingly honest portrayal of a life and life's work that is at once quest confession and crusade, thereby illuminating an unhappy man otherwise all too easily dimissed as mad or misguided. Certainly Treadwell was both, but instructively so, and I was left to wonder how often seemingly lost souls leave such compelling chronicles of their search for absolution/oblivion/peace.
NO WORD ON IF SHE'S MEAN: Tina Fey has given birth to a 5 pound, 5 ounce baby girl.
AND NOW, THE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING TV MOVIE OR MINISERIES NOT ON HBO: Since there are entirely too many categories to hand out on Sunday's broadcast, the Emmys handed out the Creative Arts Awards yesterday. ABC had a good night, with 10 awards, with Desperate Housewives and Lost both picking up major awards. For Housewives, awards included oustanding casting (comedy), editing (single-camera comedy), main title theme music, and guest actress (Yay! Mrs. Landingham!). Lost picked up trophies for outstanding casting (drama), editing (drama), dramatic underscore, and visual effects. TAR also picked up an Emmy for the Amazing Editors. Interestingly, Scrubs, which is well-known for using a single-camera, picked up a win for multi-camera editing for the episode in which J.D. hallucinates that he's on a sitcom. Finally, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, sadly, beat out Project Greenlight, Queer Eye, Antiques Roadshow, and Penn & Teller: B.S.! for "Outstanding Reality Program."
BEST OF THE BRITS: The Beatles "A Day in the Life" has been named the Greatest British Song of All Time in yet another poll of the greatest British songs of all time, this one conducted by Q Magazine. Life, was followed by the Kinks' 'sublime "Waterloo Sunset," Oasis' "Wonderwall" (which topped this earlier poll), the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen," and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (which was the only song in Q's top five to appear in this poll of the best songs of each of the last five decades, as well as the Virgin Radio poll, which may make it the consensus greatest British song of all time, though I prefer this version).
MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE HELD "FATHER OF THE PRIDE" UNTIL NOW: In happy news, Roy Horn is walking under his own power and without aid of a walker (and seeing "Avenue Q" in Vegas while he's at it), less than two years after the unpleasant incident with his white tiger Montecore.
OFFENSE PUTS ASSES IN SEATS, BUT DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: I attended a preview screening of Curtis Hanson's In Her Shoes Sunday night. Let me tell you about it.

In Her Shoes tells the story of Simon Stein (Mark Feuerstein), an intelligent, caring lawyer from the gritty streets of Philadelphia, and how his kindness, wit and animal-like erotic charge helped two sisters patch long-seated grievances. His empathetic demeanor and Semitic good looks form the anchor of this moving dramedy. When he is on the screen, you are transfixed; when he is not, you ask, Where's Simon? Is he okay? Is he having any emotional epiphanies without me?

Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine are all in the movie as well, and they're pretty good too. Also worth noting is first-time actress Jennifer Weiner, who adds important local realism with her jaunty gait behind Collette and Brooke Smith in Philadelphia's Italian Market.
Seriously, I'm kvelling. This is an exceptional movie which perfectly captures the emotional depth and humor of Jen's book, and both Hanson and screenwriter Susannah Grant did a phenomenal job in turning a great book into a great movie. You will enjoy, come October 7.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART" BETTER BE IN THE TOP 10: Blender Magazine, which takes delight at tweaking the Baby Boomer-skewing Rolling Stone, will once again mock Jann Wenner's baby by counting down the 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born (provided you are 25 or under) in its next issue. The list is a direct response to RS's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time last year, in which Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" (no relation) topped the list. Blender's list is headed by an obscure R&B artist named Michael Jackson who had some hits in the '80s before becoming embroiled in legal troubles. His "Billie Jean" is followed by Outkast's lament about the former name of the Arizona Diamondbacks home field, "B.O.B." and Guns N' Roses' cover of the Sheryl Crow song "Sweet Child O' Mine," a song which forever convinced the band the key to their success was dropping the consonants off its prepositions.
DARTH VADER IS LUKE'S FATHER: A warning for sensitive viewers--the TiVo/TV Guide descriptions of this week's and next week's episodes of Gilmore Girls contain substantial spoilers, including the answer given to last season's season-ending cliffhanger proposal, so be wary. I'm often too much of a spoiler whore for my own good (I peeked in the novelization to confirm whether the rumors of deaths in Serenity are true, and if so, who the victims are), but I know certain folks are wary.

Also, don't forget to set your TiVo's to appropriate things to the new season--if you prefer Boston Legal to L&O:SVU, make sure Boston Legal is higher in your Season Pass list, and make sure to resolve the West Wing and Simpsons conflict, as that starts in two weeks. Also, be careful with your Lost season passes if you also plan to watch Apprentice: Martha or Top Model--ABC is airing a recap/preview special at 8 PM next Wednesday before the new season starts.
"YOU KNOW WHAT? I DID WIN." The Times catches up with Project Runway runner-up and ALOTT5MA fave Kara Saun, who has been keeping quite busy since the show.
WERE THEIR EYES WATCHING GOD? Roger Ebert's Great Movies series tackles one of my favorites today, Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The movie did not win an Oscar from among its three nominations -- Martin Landau lost to Denzel Washington (Glory) for Best Supporting Actor; Oliver Stone (Born on the Fourth of July) took his second Best Director statue over Woody Allen, who also lost Best Original Screenplay to Tom Schulman for Dead Poets Society. At least on that one, Woody was in good company -- other "losers" in category were Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing), Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape) and Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally . . . ).

C&M remains the masterwork of Allen's post-Annie/Manhattan period, a film which defies easy categorization. A comedy about the absence of God? A tragedy about infidelity and temptation? A sly preview of "Law & Order", with Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach in key supporting roles?

I'm fond of Ebert's summary: "The evil are rewarded, the blameless are punished, and the rabbi goes blind." Now, that's a movie.