Saturday, March 18, 2006

AMERICA WILL VOTE . . .: I realized that we failed to ask this question before the final twelve began, so let's at least ask it now: who do you believe will be the final three on American Idol 5?(And, if you care to, who do you believe they should be?)

Simon says it'll be Daughtry, GreyGuy and Pickler. I'm predicting Daughtry, Paris Bennett and Katharine McPhee, because I just don't think America appreciates Mandisa as much as this household does.
TOO BAD THERE'S NO WAY TO CONVERT PREDICTIVE TALENTS INTO MONEY: Charlie went 6-2 today (see below), including Wichita's shocking win, so what's going to happen on Sunday in MascotLand?

Bradley Braves vs. Pittsburgh Panthers: How can a mere jungle cat face courage and guts itself? Easy: with big sharp teeth. Pittsburgh

UConn Huskies vs. Kentucky Wildcats: The chunky lads may need something roomy to wear to their bar mitzvahs, but their opponents are, after all, just pussies. UConn

UNC Tarheels vs. George Mason Patriots: These "Pats" will quickly find themselves in a stickier mess than Washington's army at the Battle of Long Island. UNC

Texas Longhorns vs. NC State Wolfpack: The wolves will lick/their wound tonight/(clap clap)/They got gored by Texas. Texas

Ohio St. Buckeyes vs. Georgetown Hoyas: Hoya sounds like something my Uncle Irv would say after eating too much at the seder. But, then again, a buck doesn't get you far these days. Georgetown

Villanova Wildcats vs. Arizona Wildcats: In a feline vs. feline fight, I, um, flip a coin. Arizona

WV Mountaineers vs. NW State Demons: The only place darker, smokier and more damned than a Appalachian coal mine is hell! NW State

Memphis Tigers vs. Bucknell Bison: They're on the way to/ex-tinc-ti-on/we only know the Tigers wi-i-i-in. Memphis
DON'T EVER DOUBT THE SYSTEM: By my count, Charlie Glassenberg's Mascot Matcher protocol went a ridiculous 28-4 in the first round, with a stellar record in predicting upsets including Northwestern State over Iowa, George Mason over Michigan State, Wisconsin-Milwaukee over Oklahoma, Texas A&M over Syracuse, NC State over Berkeley, Bucknell over Arkansas and Montana over Nevada. Two of the four wrong picks involved miscalculating the strength of persons indigenous to the Americas, overrating the Aztecs and underrating the Braves.

But still, 28-4? Wow. Here's his call on Saturday's octet:

Duke Blue Devils vs. George Washington Colonials: See you and your tricorn hats in hell! Duke

Florida Gators vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers: Watch out for dinosaurs, because the age of the reptiles is returning. Florida

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Wichita State Shockers: These volunteers will be taking more voltage than Ethel Rosenberg, but with less treason. Wichita State

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Washington Huskies: Sorry, puppies, this is no rolled up newspaper on your nose. It's a tomahawk. Illinois

LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies: While they may be talented in the ways of animal husbandry, these grangers are not prepared for the law of the jungle. LSU

UCLA Bruins vs. Alabama Crimson Tide: So long as the bears stay away from the tainted shellfish and stick to eating rebels, they'll be fine. UCLA

BC Eagles vs. Montana Grizzlies: Two of America's most majestic wild animals meet, tear each other to pieces, and prove once again the supremacy of fur over feathers. Montana

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Indiana Hoosiers: Oh no, his muzzle came off. Whose yer plastic surgeon? Gonzaga

Friday, March 17, 2006

SO IS OK, BUT ER IS NOT? Following up on their finding that Without A Trace is indecent, the FCC issued a slew of orders. Among the programs found indecent?
  • The Surreal Life 2--For a 10-minute sequence in which cast member Ron Jeremy throws a "pool party" filed with (pixellated) naked people.
  • The Blues: Godfathers and Sons--For use of the "F-word" and the "S-word." The "F-Word" and "S-Word" are both deemed "presumptively profane."
  • NYPD Blue--Though certain words were inappropriate, "dick" and "dickhead" are not presumptively offensive.
Found not to be indecent?
  • Alias for what appears to be one of the sex scenes between Syd and Vaughn.
  • Will and Grace for Karen adjusting Grace's bosom.
  • Two and a Half Men for a comic scene in which Charlie Sheen gets a hernia exam.
  • Oprah for the "tossed salad" discussion.
  • A political ad opposing a judge's election on the basis that he released a rapist, containing references to rape and sodomy.
  • The Amazing Race 6 for a briefly visible F*** COPS written on the side of a bus in a foreign country.
  • "Hell," "damn," "bitch," "pissed off," "up yours," and various uses of the word "ass."
  • 8 Simple Rules for a reference to a pet as being "hamsterbating."
  • Randy Moss pretending to moon someone.
I'm not quite sure what this means for line drawing, but the decision makes me almost as sad as my discovery today that Tony Hale (aka Buster Bluth) will be appearing in the "Larry The Cable Guy" movie.
REMEMBER, REMEMBER: Having seen V for Vendetta tonight and generally finding it the cinematic equivalent of being hit over the head repeatedly with a very pretty club, I rather suspect that there'll be some folks who want to talk about it. There's a lot of interesting and provocative stuff there, but it's all lost in mishmush and heavy handedness. Two particular thoughts:

1. Didn't The Constant Gardener handle a similar question ("What does one do when one can't trust their own nation any more?") with far more aplomb and come to a far more sensible answer?
2. As much as the final explosion of the movie is the "money shot," I understand why it's there, but isn't it a far more powerful message for the character NOT to pull the lever? (trying to keep the spoilage down)

A potential subject for discussion--the movie's gotten a lot of press for having a "terrorist" as a hero. Ultimately, who is the hero of this film?
MORE PROOF THAT SAMUEL L. JACKSON WILL DO ANYTHING IF YOU PAY HIM ENOUGH: Snakes On A Plane clips have hit the net. No word on if halfway through the movie, Jackson gets bitten in half by a giant snake.
ARE YOU READY FOR DUELING POWER HOURS? Lest anyone be inclined to skip the return of Prison Break on Monday night by virtue of having forgotten who everyone is since we last hung out with Michael Scofield and all those other guys several years months ago, FX will be running a seven-hour marathon on Sunday starting at noon. (Actually, it's apparently some sort of one-hour recap at noon followed by a six-episode marathon.) Gentlemen, start your TiVos!

And all this is, of course, just a prelude to the uh oh the pipe got fixed does your tattoo have a solution for that contingency, Michael? episode on Monday night, to be followed directly by the arrival at CTU of Homeland Security and subsequent hijinks following the Redemption of Lynn McGill episode of 24. I think I'll call it Raise Your Pulse Mondays on Fox.
MATCH DAY, HOSTED BY GENE RAYBURN: Somehow the medical world seems much more sweet and wholesome than the legal world or the finance world or any of the other professional realms with which I'm familiar.
GUESS CHUCK NORRIS IS NEXT: This weekend, you've got options at the movies, with four big releases playing in a theatre near you. The Times reviews on two of them are worth noting for two very different reasons. First, while Manohla Dargis generally raves about Thank You For Smoking, she notes that Katie Holmes' performance is not to par with the rest of the cast. Sound familiar, anyone? Also, if Stephen Holden is to be believed, we have our first legitimate contender for next year's Best Actor Oscar. And it's...Vin Diesel?
LET DONNA GRADUATE (SHE'S DAMN NEAR 40): The LA Times wants to know -- who are the oldest teens in pop culture history? For instance, they note:
Henry Winkler in "Happy Days"
Henry Winkler, who played the iconic greaser Arthur "Fonzie" Fonazarelli was 29 when "Happy Days" first aired in 1974. Fonzie was said to be a high school drop out, so his age was never clear, but a decent guess is somewhere between 18 and 19 in those early seasons.

Alan Ruck in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
Cameron Frye, the uptight best friend of Matthew Broderick's Ferris Bueller was in his senior year of high school, but Alan Ruck, the actor who played him, was 30 years old when the duo ditched a day of school.

Gabrielle Carteris in "Beverly Hills, 90210"

Andrea Zuckerman-Vasquez was the editor of the high school newspaper, anxious grade grubber and madly in love with Brandon Walsh. The actress Gabrielle Carteris was 29 when the show first aired.
Anyone care to add to the list?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

TWENTY ARTICLES TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE: The American Society of Magazine Editors has announced the finalists for the 2006 National Magazine Awards.

One nominee that made me smile, in the category of "best profile", was "The Crossing", Alec Wilkinson's amazing piece on transoceanic scrap rafter Poppa Neutrino. Sadly, I can't find the piece online anywhere.

And, generally, I'm thrilled for all the nominations for The Atlantic Monthly, which just does stellar work, year after year.

What's your take on the nominations? Any fantastic things you read last year which were grievously passed over?

(One side note on magazines: it's hard to imagine more dissonance between an article's text and its accompanying images as the current Vanity Fair profile on Teri Hatcher. Just saying, is all.)
WHAT? NO MASTER P? Ricki Lake will host this summer's Game Show Marathon (aka Game Shows With The Stars), in which "celebrities" will compete in The Price Is Right, Match Game, Let's Make a Deal, Family Feud, Card Sharks, Beat The Clock, and Press Your Luck for fame and glory sure to be as long standing as John O'Hurley and Kelly Monaco's. Betty White and George Foreman will serve as Match Game panelists. Your competitors are:
  • Leslie Nielsen
  • Tim Meadows
  • Lance Bass
  • Kathy Najimy
  • Paige Davis
  • Adrianne Curry

So, who ya got? Najimy has the most game show experience, I think, having been a frequent "celebrity helper" on shows like Pyramid, so I guess I'll go with her.

BECAUSE THE REMOTE-CONTROLLED SHARK IDEA WASN'T WEIRD ENOUGH: The BBC is now reporting that a cyborg-army of butterflies is also in the offing! Just think of the civilian spin-off applications that are going to shake out of this kind of work. Can an off-switch for children be far away? Or a volume nob, at least?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

WILL THAT BE SIX PALLBEARERS, NINE, OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO SUPERSIZE? Robert C. Baker, the longtime Cornell professor who invented the chicken nugget and poultry hot dogs, as well as chicken baloney, chicken steak, chicken salami, chicken chili, chicken hash, chicken pastrami and countless other poultry derivatives, has passed away.

Seriously, turkey franks? Not bad. The rest, though?
DADDY, WHAT'S THAT ON ARIEL? Folks, can we agree not to let our kids hear about what vandals did to Copenhagen's original Little Mermaid?
"DIDN'T THEY KNOW WHERE THEY WERE? THEY WERE IN THE JUNGLE, BABY", OR "YOU KNOW I DON'T LIKE BEING STUCK IN A CROWD": In an opinion filed last week, a Philadelphia judge affirmed a $140,000 verdict awarded to a woman who claimed a December 2002 ankle injury outside the then-First Union Center was caused by arena management's failure to foresee and prevent the riotous behavior sure to sweep the crowd once the cancellation of a Guns N' Roses concert was announced. PW req'd, sorry, but five paragraphs is fair use, right?
Heenan asserted that defendants Comcast Spectator and Spectrum Arena Limited Partnership should have recognized the crowd would become unruly when the rock band's Philadelphia show was canceled, as roughly a month earlier, Guns N' Roses fans in Vancouver, British Columbia, had rioted when the band called off its show in that city. Heenan had also filed suit against the band and various tour and concert promotion companies, but those defendants were either dismissed or granted nonsuits. . . .

Heenan testified that the audience became unruly and aggressive after the show was canceled, according to the opinion. She said she saw food and drinks being thrown from the upper levels and that concertgoers were beginning to run toward the exits. According to the opinion, the only security Heenan said she saw at the time consisted of two yellow-jacketed employees standing near the exits. . . .

[Comcast Spectator vice president for security Michael] Hasson also testified that arena management was aware of a possible show cancellation as early as 7:45 p.m. on the night in question. In the next hour or so, he ordered removed from the arena various objects that might be thrown by angry members of the crowd, which had been able to purchase beer during the preceding hours. Hasson testified he also had additional security personnel brought in.

Hasson, who testified he knew about the Vancouver incident in November 2002, acknowledged on the stand that he anticipated the crowd would become disruptive after the cancellation was announced, Maier wrote.

Terence Gibbs, a security expert for Heenan, testified at trial that the security staff in place that night had not been properly trained, and that teams of security personnel should have been in position to respond when the cancellation announcement was made.

Hmmm . . . if you tell drunk G n'R fans that Axl's not showing up (because he was still in NYC watching a basketball game on tv), you should expect they might get angry. Even violent. Go figure.
THE BALL IS TIPPED: For the fourth straight year (dating back to 2003), we are proud to present to the blogosphere Charlie Glassenberg's patented Mascot Matcher System Guide to the NCAA Tournament. As we have stated in the past, it's not about the point guards, the coaches or the RPI: it's all about the dudes in the costumes on the sidelines.

First off: you still have time to join our NCAA Challenge group: ALOTT5MA.

Charlie's complete guide to Thursday/Friday action follows:


Duke Blue Devils vs. Southern Jaguars: These spotted cats will be singing the blues all the way to hell! Duke

GW Colonials vs. NC Wilmington Seahawks: In a burst of musket fire, these birds will go down in a flurry of feathers. GW

Syracuse Orange vs. Texas A&M Aggies: The hardy farmhands will peel the fruit and eat it. Texas A&M

LSU Tigers vs. Iona Gaels: Forget Guinness, there is no better way to mark St. Paddy’s Day than to be devoured alive by a cat. LSU.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Southern Illinois Salukis: An inbred man of the hills can surely beat an, um, whatever it is. West Virginia

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Northwestern State Demons: Never bet against the forces of darkness. Northwestern State.

California Golden Bears vs. NC State Wolfpack: Wasn’t the Golden Bear the mascot of cereal? The wolves will hound this teddy to his grave! NC State.

Texas Longhorns vs. Penn Quakers: Consensus has been achieved at this meeting: you will be gored to death by steers. Texas


Memphis Tigers vs. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles: Sorry, but these birds have been called home by their Maker. Memphis

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Bucknell Bison: The great bison ruled the plains, now it will rule the Bay Area over these hogs. Bucknell

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Kent State Golden Flashes: Too bad those golden flashes aren’t as accurately aimed as the fire from a National Guardsman’s rifle. Pittsburgh

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Bradley Braves: A brave what, a brave loser? A brave piece of carrion for the raptors from the plains? Kansas

Indiana Hoosiers vs. San Diego State Aztecs: The Aztecs will tear out their hearts and offer it to their god. Montezuma’s Revenge, indeed. San Diego State

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Xavier Musketeers: Oh shoot, this little pooch keeps biting my leg. Oh wait, he bit it off. Now I can’t play basketball. Gonzaga

Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Alabama Crimson Tide: Isn’t crimson tide the stuff that made them ban clamming in New England last year? This March, the bivalves get even. Marquette

UCLA Bruins vs. Belmont Bruins: Who wins? Da bears! UCLA

Washington DC

UConn Huskies vs. Albany Great Danes: This game will quickly go to the dogs, as the hounds of those who dishonor The Prophet fall to the feisty fidos of the frozen north. UConn

Kentucky Wildcats vs. UAB Blazers: My professor in college drove a Blazer. It had body rust. Wildcats

Washington Huskies vs. Utah St. Aggies: The canines will dig their teeth into the sod kickers. Washington

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Air Force Falcons: The junior bird men (as Tom Lehrer would say) will be soaring off to see the Great Spirit. Illinois

Michigan State Spartans vs. George Mason Patriots: Free men of courage will always triumph over oiled Greeks from the Peloponnesus! George Mason

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Murray State Racers: The Racers will be slowed down a bit in something sticky. North Carolina

Wichita State Shockers vs. Seton Hall Pirates: Arrgh, shiver me timbers, I’ve been electrocuted. Time to keel haul meself. Arrgh! Wichita State

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Winthrop Eagles: These feathered friends will be volunteering to set up chairs for the next round. Tennessee


Villanova Wildcats vs. Monmouth Hawks: We all know who loses when birds face cats. Villanova

Arizona Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Badgers: These badgers will come out of their burrows and chase these felines straight back to the land of the cactus. Wisconsin

Nevada Wolfpack vs. Montana Grizzlies: The mighty ursine hunter can surely fight off some wild dogs. Montana

Boston College Eagles vs. Pacific Tigers: Tiger, tiger, burning bright, the eagle will gnaw on you tonight! Boston College

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Wisconsin Milwaukee Panthers: These black cats will turn the future of the Sooners as dark as night. Wisconsin Milwaukee

Florida Gators vs. South Alabama Jaguars: I always favor our native reptiles over some darn cat. Florida

Georgetown Hoyas vs. Northern Iowa Panthers: What is it with all of the cats in this tournament? Will these ones lose? Ho-ya! Georgetown

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Davidson Wildcats: Enough with the cats. Is this the NCAA Division I or a bunch of lonely old ladies? Buckeyes
JOIN THE POLAR BEAR CLUB: Since there's demand for a TAR thread--perhaps the only thing more annoying than an NEL on TAR is a "To Be Continued..." leg of the sort we had last night. While the "find the clue in the nesting dolls" task was brilliant and maddening, the roadblock was basically a "pull this stupid stunt quickly" thing, and I don't understand exactly how the teams reshuffled in their flights from Brazil to Russia, or why so many teams moved from washing the trolley to searching the dolls seemingly in mid-stream. Perhaps we could have had a little less of the "I'm afraid of water!" storyline and a little more explanation of these sorts of things. Also, is this the first time two teams have "hooked up" during the course of the Race?
OK, SO HE TRAVELS THROUGH SPACE AND TIME--IN A PHONE BOOTH? Since I failed to get on board the Battlestar Galactica horse early, I've decided, what with all the buzz, to give Sci-Fi's new Doctor Who a shot. Now, my knowledge of Doctor Who is pretty much limited to the headline above and the phrase "EX-TER-MINATE!" So, what, if anything, else do I need to know before sampling this stuff?
ALSO, LINDSAY LOHAN IS NOT A REDHEAD, AT LEAST THIS WEEK: I know Adam has already noticed this, but today's New York Times features a correction that makes you say "Wha?" The correction is:
The cover photograph in The Times Magazine on Sunday rendered colors incorrectly for the jacket, shirt and tie worn by Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor who is a possible candidate for the presidency. The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink; the tie was dark blue with stripes, not maroon.

No word yet on whether Tim Gunn feels this "made it work."
TRIED MY BEST TO QUICKLY PUT IT ON VIBRATE: When I was seeing Kill Bill, Part 2, right as the movie was nearing the final confrontation between the Bride and Bill, a phone rang in the auditorium. The person picked it up and proceeded to explain (quite loudly) to the person on the other end that he was watching Kill Bill (a fact that was repeated about 3 or 4 times for the benefit of the friend) and that it was awesome. Selected scenes were summarized. Eventually, someone (not I) snapped at the guy saying "Hey! The rest of us would like to watch it, too." This finally resulted in the phone user hanging up the phone and the rest of the movie being audible. This is one of the many reasons I lean toward supporting the new plan to jam cell phones in movie theatres. Share your favorite story of inappropriate cell phone usage in the comments.
COME ON, VAMANOS: Pop quiz -- and I didn't know that this question had an answer until Cosmo Girl and I shared a little early morning TV viewing the other day: what's Dora the Explorer's last name?

(If you must do internet research to find the answer, I won't leave you in suspense: here you go.)
BUT WILL JON FAVREAU BECOME THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPION? I always hate to link to WSJ stories because of the whole paid-subscription requirement, but there's a nice piece there this morning on the surging popularity of Ultimate Fighting and the perhaps commensurate decline of boxing.

For those, like me, whose knowledge of Ultimate Fighting comes entirely from Friends, "Ultimate Fighting is a so-called mixed martial-arts event that combines karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, boxing, wrestling and old-fashioned street fighting. The result is a sport that features many more ways for combatants -- wearing thin, fingerless gloves, not the padded boxing kind -- to effect maximum carnage." It has its own "universal 'mercy' signal" -- banging a hand on the mat to indicate pleeeeease, lemme go! And, of course, Paris Hilton is apparently a fan.
PLEASE: Damon Wayans' controversial trademark application has failed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

PREMIERE MAGAZINE'S LIST OF THE 100 GREATEST PERFORMANCES...NICE AND SLOW: I prefer my lists fast and rough, but Premiere is doing the slow tease with its April cover story on the 100 Greatest Performances, putting just ten random picks, ranging from Angela Bassett as Tina Turner at No. 95 to Tom Hanks in Big at 15.

As a bonus, though Premiere also has an alphabetical list of performances Nos. 101 to 200. Alas, Rocky, Verbal Kint, Tony Manera, Charles Foster Kane, Bluto Blutarsky, Red, and shockingly Vito Corleone didn't make the cut.

Edited after the show to add: Oh, thank God. Thank God for Katharine, Taylor, Paris, and Daughtry.
HE WILL BE REPLACED BY CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER: Mike Wallace will retire from 60 Minutes at the end of this season. Say what you will about what newsmagazines have become, but 60 Minutes and Wallace's work on it has pretty consistently been a reminder of the best that television journalism has to offer to us--not just shouting heads screaming at each other, but real, authentic, and confrontational journalism. He will be missed.
GET BUSY READING OR GET BUSY DYING: In a nationwide poll of British librarians, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird topped the list of Books Everyone Should Read Before They Die. I would say more about the list, but having read just seven of the 40 books on the list, it seems I have a little reading to do.
COMING UP AFTER THIS HEADER, A REVOLUTIONARY LIST THAT MAY CHANGE THE WAY YOU WATCH TV--FOREVER: We're back, and let's go live to ALOTT5MA field reporter, me, who is sitting in front of his computer to bring you a list you won't want to miss.

Thanks Alex, a Detroit-area TV news watcher has so had it with his local news that he penned a list of the "ten things I hate about local TV news" and posted it to Craigslist.

We asked ourselves, since we spent some time during our college years in the Detroit area, if the list rings true. "Yes," I said, "you know, it's funny, because it's true."

Thanks, Alex. You'll want to stay with us at ALOTT5MA, because coming after the break, we'll have a report on how this week's milder weather could actually kill you. And you won't want to miss the results of a groundbreaking study that says reading this blog could make you sexier. All that, plus a report on how the rise in gas prices make take a little Irish out of this week's St. Patrick's Day celebrations, after the break.

Thanks to Eric Zorn for this and the above link.
THE DHARMA INSTITUTE V. SEATTLE GRACE: So Grey's Anatomy fans are apparently deeply obsessive. This is not remotely surprising -- check out the number of comments that each posting on the writers' blog receives. (And let me reiterate herein how much I love that blog and how much it contributes to my enjoyment of the show -- I am hereby sending mental vibes to the writers and producers of every other show I watch to consider doing the same thing.) But to conclude that GA fans are television's most obsessive seems to ignore that rather significant polar bear in the corner of the room: Lost fans.

In a certain respect, Lost lends itself to fan mania more than GA does -- the mystery, the mythology, the clues, the Easter eggs. But GA has the nuanced relationships, the deep character development, the "these are my friends and I care what happens to them" element that makes its fans rehash every detail. (And, as you know, they both have the easy-on-the-eyes factor. Burke v. Jin? Kate v. Izzie? McDreamy v. Sawyer?)

Of course, this all leads to a question: which show has you more wrapped around its little finger, Lost or Grey's Anatomy? (For what it's worth, my answers to the head-to-heads posed are Jin, Izzie, and McDreamy.) Who ya got?

Monday, March 13, 2006

A DISSENTING VIEW: From the always-worth-reading Matt Zoller Seitz:

[N]o matter how many creative aces Chase pulls from his sleeve, he'll have trouble allaying my gut feeling that the show should have ended two or three or even four seasons ago. By the end of Season One, The Sopranos, which Chase never imagined would last more than a year, had already said most of what it presumably wanted to say about the Freudian fallout of dysfunctional family life and the moral relativism and warped "ethics" embraced by gangsters. Each subsequent season was to some extent re-inventing the wheel, finding new ways to say the same things about its characters and situations. 'The Sopranos' sustained itself through sex, violence and some very effective, at times Luis Bunuel-ish black humor. More a curdled social satire than a straightforward gangster story, The Sopranos is arguably the most cynical long-running series of all time, a show in which nearly every scene depicts characters being confronted with the choice between selfish expediency and a higher good, and invariably choosing Option A.

Do I hear a second?
JOHN CHANEY, TEACHER: Today's Temple retirement of Temple coach John Chaney is a day we've all expected for some time, but still may have come too soon.

Twenty-four years. Other than Flyers owner Ed Snider and some of the local announcers, I don't think there was anyone active in Philadelphia professional sports for as long as he's been. And what years they've been for this hall of fame coach:

  • Five trips to the Elite Eight, including trips as a #1 seed (1988, the Macon-Billy King game, with Tim Perry and Mike Vreeswyk), #6 (1999 - Pepe Sanchez and Mark Karcher), #7 (1993, McKie-Jones-Brunson), #10 (1991, Macon's senior year with Hodge/Kilgore) and #11 seed (2001 - Greer/Wadley), losing to four #1's and a #2 in the process.
  • Seventeen NCAA appearances in the 18 years from 1984-2001.
  • A slew of NBAers, from the aforementioned Mark Macon, Rick Brunson, Aaron McKie and Eddie Jones to Marc Jackson and Duane Causwell.
  • An absolute crusader for ensuring that schools like Temple could give second chances to worthy minority student-athletes. Chaney once wrote: "What's America afraid of? Education isn't a privilege for the privileged, it's a necessity for all - athlete and nonathlete alike. It's easy to educate the bright kids, but even a deficient student should have the opportunity to get an education. I say don't discard a youngster because he doesn't have good grades or test scores. Educate him."

Practice? Let's talk about his legendary 5:30 am practices:

At Temple, players drag their ass out of bed every morning so Chaney can holler at them in the gym, 5:30 a.m. sharp. Temple players don't showboat, not even when they grow up to become an NBA All-Star like Eddie Jones. They don't miss study hall sessions, don't get arrested for committing felonies. Chaney's players do two things: they listen when the coach speaks and they reject losing.

"Winning is an attitude. Stupid is forever."

We also need to talk about the 2-3 matchup zone he pioneered. Seth Davis writes:
Chaney may not have invented the idea of combining man-to-man principles inside a 2-3 zone, but he was certainly the first one to enjoy so much success playing that alignment exclusively. That zone also defines Chaney's career because it reflected his personality so well. He stuck with it no matter what was happening on the scoreboard. Chaney would rather lose sticking by something he believes in than win by compromising those beliefs.

And the man does not keep quiet. Can you imagine Mike Krzyzewski saying "Our boys are dying because somebody lied to us, because the president of the United States lied to us, and you all know it and nobody says anything."?

(Did you know, by the way, that growing up in South Philadelphia, John Chaney was the Public League's basketball MVP in 1951, and briefly played for the Harlem Globetrotters after college?)

John Chaney earned the right to retire when he saw fit, and to go out on his own terms. I hope that's what happened here, and that this sweaty, oft-disheveled man can finally, for once, not be so belovedly intense, and not have to put on his necktie in the first place.

So, who's next? SportsProf has some lengthy speculation, and while I'd predict it'll be former Chaney assistant Dean Demopolous, I want to advance a name not among those listed. When they hired Chaney in 1982, Temple was the first Big Five school to hire a black coach (and at the age of 50 for his first D-I job). So let them be ballsy again, because they've already got a fantastic, gutsy coach on campus -- a role model and a winner who embodies so many of the positive principles that Chaney exemplified for his long tenure. Her name is Dawn Staley.
NO JOKING NO JOKING NO JOKING BIG SADNESS. STOP: Former game show host Peter Tomarken of "Press Your Luck" fame died in a plane crash today while on a volunteer medical rescue flight.
PERHAPS THE CHOCOLATE SALTY BALLS WILL BE REPLACED WITH SCHWEDDY BALLS: Isaac Hayes has quit South Park, apparently in a snit over "Trapped In The Closet." Suffice it to say that this makes guest appearances from Tom Cruise and John Travolta even more unlikely.
DENNYCRANE DOES THE LANHAM ACT: Apparently, the owner of the trademark registration for WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM (for "reality based tv show providing solutions to real people with real problems") is upset with the producers of Boston Legal, who are using "What's Your Problem?" as a promotional slogan. So what does one do? Sue! No word on whether Denny Crane will be appearing for the defense.
PIVOTING BETWEEN DEAD MARINES AND CUTE DOLPHINS AT MARINE PARKS: Sure, Katie Courie may be interested in anchoring the CBS Evening News, but David Carr wonders why anyone would shift into what seems to be a dying job.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

OH. MY. GOD: Got yourself a gun? To the comments, folks.

edited to add: Sepinwall says what he can.
CAN YOU PREDICT ALL 63 LOSSES? A free ESPN challenge group for the NCAA Tournment has been established here. Group name: ALOTT5MA.

Fame and glory forever, a mentorship with Banana Republic . . . they're only possibilities if you join us.
HOW CAN I PICK UP THE FREAK SCENT? presents sex advice from Project Runway's Zulema Griffin, "Dirty" Diana Eng, Daniel Franco and Jay McCarroll. Warning: graphic. Especially Jay. Yeah, that's a shocker.
HIS BROTHER RUNS A PREP SCHOOL [IN PAKISTAN] FOR YOUNG BOYS. I WAS VERY IMPRESSED WITH THAT: Need to catch up on the Sopranos but don't have time to read every TWoP recap? Thankfully, Alan Sepinwall is here to help, and based on his preview as well as that from Grumpy Old Shales, 9pm can't come soon enough tonight.