Saturday, August 5, 2006

HE WAITED HIS WHOLE DAMNED LIFE, TO TAKE THAT FLIGHT: En route to a well deserved placed in Canton, Ohio, John Madden took an airplane flight for the first time in 27 years.

I just hope this isn't the end of the Madden Cruiser.

Noted from comments: Reading comprehension is hard! Madden just walked onto the plane, he didn't fly on it. The Pathetic Earthling regrets the error.

Friday, August 4, 2006

IN MY LIFE, THERE'S BEEN HEARTACHE AND PAIN: I don't know what your visions of hell include, but mine do encompass a new Clay Aiken covers album with such "hits" as Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings", Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is"; Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)"; Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" and Bad English's "When I See You Smile".

Go ahead. Suggest another song that'll make it even worse. (Or, I guess, that's his audience.)
MY NAME'S LITTLE CLETUS, AND I'M HERE TO TELL YOU A FEW THINGS ABOUT CHILD LABOR LAWS, OKAY? I am not much a fan of the genre, but I ought to let you know that the new horror film 'The Descent' is getting some awfully nice reviews, including this rave from Ebert fill-in Jim Emerson:
"The Descent" -- what a great title. This British horror-thriller recalls grueling, adrenaline-pumping classics like "Deliverance," "Jaws," "Alien" and "Dead Calm." It's that good. Finally, a scary movie with teeth, not just blood and entrails -- a savage and gripping piece of work that jangles your nerves without leaving your brain hanging. And so, for a change, you emerge feeling energized and exhilarated rather than enervated, or merely queasy. . . .

This is the fresh, exciting summer movie I've been wanting for months. Or for years, it seems.

My film priority this weekend, however, is a return date with Will Ferrell. You?
BECAUSE DOCTORS AND LAWYERS DESERVE EQUAL TV TIME: Two pieces of news that combine the legal and the television, which strikes me as particularly appropriate for our audience (both via TV Tattle, natch):
  • CBS will promote Shark (it's like House, but with lawyers and James Woods!) on water coolers in law firms throughout America. Not quite as clever as ABC's Desperate Housewives drycleaning bags, but still, an interesting technique.
  • Everwood creator Greg Berlanti's next series (an ABC midseason possibility, perhaps during Grey's time off?) will be "a drama set in a law firm where a thirty-something attorney begins having larger-than-life visions that compel him to do out-of-the-ordinary things." Risky, given that the somewhat similar Wonderfalls disappeared after four episodes on Fox, but I've got faith.
YIPPEE-KAI-YAY: So, are you interested in Live Free or Die Hard, which will apparently be taking on Transformers next July 4? I'll say this--I'd be a heck of a lot more interested if it were directed by someone other than the hackish Len Wiseman, whose Underworld managed to make almost no sense whatsoever. Allegedly, McClane's son plays a major role in this one, and according to this spoiler-ridden review of the script, is a super-hacker. That review suggests Ashton Kutcher, and IMDB has Justin Long attached, I assume for that part. Suggestions for who should play it?

Edited to Add (via Sepinwall)--I guess we can be thankful we never got Die Hard 12.
"IT ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE A POSTHUMOUS HONOR. NOT FOR A MAN WHO WOULD BE JUST 44 YEARS OLD": Eagles legend Reggie White (who apparently played in Wisconsin for a few years as well) is being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tomorrow. We've got team coverage from today, and I'll just link back to my reaction to his untimely death in 2004.
PORN STAR, OR EXCELLENT MARINARA? Barefoot Contessa? Or Ron Jeremey? You look at the photo. You guess whether it's a porn star or a celebrity chef. (Pretty much NSFW).

Thursday, August 3, 2006

UNFORGIVABLE CURSES: The Mel Gibson situation raises this question -- what, exactly, do you have to do to end your Hollywood career? What kind of scandal is so bad that it'll actually finish you off?

Because accidentally killing someone isn't enough (or is it?), and usually, you can get away with rape and other sex-related offenses unless you're not generally seen as sexual, in which case your career might never fully recover. You can be Hollywood's Angel of Death or direct a film in which people are killed on your set, and your career can still thrive. And drug convictions only seem to be a plus.

Is the real answer "as long as someone thinks they can make money off of you, you're still in the game", or are there things one can still do that are bad enough to get kicked off the lot forever?
MORE THAN CURIOUSLY STRONG: Has anybody noticed that the Starbucks Peppermint After-Coffee Mints are like thermonuclear war in your mouth? Two of these mints -- which are about the size of the head of a carpet tack -- on your tongue at the same time is almost unbearable. Today I was trying to pour one into my mouth while driving, and I accidentally got a full whiff of the whole tin with my nose, and it was like boring through my sinuses with a 3/8-inch drill bit -- the last time I had that feeling I was inhaling over a bowl of Chinese spicy mustard. Just a public service, I guess.

By the way, is there a word to describe particularly strong peppermint? Since Peppermint is actually a cold feeling, "hot" and "spicy" don't really work.

Yeah, it's a slow news day for ALOTT5MA.
COME ON PRETTY BABY KISS ME DEADLY: Is it just me, or is the elimination episode format for Rock Star deeply, deeply flawed? You get a reprise of the most popular performance, a ton of repetitive rerun footage, and then performances by the three least-interesting performers left (I suppose it's similar to the SYTYCD format, so if you prefer dancetasticism to rockulatricality, feel free to translate accordingly). Wouldn't it make a better television show to cut down on the repetition and let the top two each perform a song of their choice in a sing-off for some kind of reward (say first choice of songs the following week, or an extra helping of eyeliner)? That would give the audience an extra incentive to vote and watch.

Also, I don't disagree that the eliminated contestant had no chance and should have gone in the next couple of weeks, but it seems to me that there was one far more deserving candidate. My opinion, and hopefully yours, in the comments.
I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: Setting aside the fact that the target of the first-ever disqualification from Project Runway was telegraphed from many miles away, it was kind of a bummer. Who wants the big villain being DQ'ed this early in the season? And for harboring illicit pattern books? Makes one quiver in one's boots. But once he'd bitten the dust, there was no doubt as to who would be auf'd out of the final two -- no way that both of those talented designers were heading home the same week, no matter how frumpy the design may have been. As for the winner: definitely the best design of the week, and the first sign we've seen that collaboration actually reaps benefits. The winner chose . . . wisely.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

HARRY, CARRIE AND GARP: So The Wife and I, along with Phil and Philomena Throckmorton, just got back from the Stephen King/John Irving/J.K. Rowling joint event in NYC tonight. Wow. Fun. King read "The Revenge of Lard Ass Hogan", with which most of you (I hope) are familiar via Stand By Me; Irving the Christmas Pageant debate from A Prayer for Owen Meany; and Rowling, interestingly enough, went for the flashback scene in Half-Blood Prince in which Dumbledore meets Tom Riddle in the orphanage.

What you want to know is whether Rowling spilled anything about Book Seven, and the answer is, not really, but . . . (a) Aunt Petunia will matter a bit more in the book, and (b) much to the sadness of many assembled, she made clear that Dumbledore is really dead and will not "pull a Gandalf", as she put it.

Rowling clearly feels a great deal of responsibility about the final book and was tight-lipped about Snape's true calling or any other details. So here's my question for you: what would you want to ask Rowling that she might actually feel comfortable answering at this point?
GUARANTEED TO LOOSEN UP THE BUTTONS ON MY REMOTE TO CHANGE THE CHANNEL: In an attempt to make TV critics even more ticked off at the CW than they already are (renewing 7th Heaven and One Tree Hill, canning Everwood), the CW's first announced mid-season replacement is The Search For The Next Pussycat Doll. CW president Dawn Ostroff, who I used to respect for her firm backing of Veronica Mars, claims "At its core, this show goes beyond just finding a new Pussycat Doll; it's about female empowerment, self-discovery and personal transformation." In the words of Jon Stewart--"Whaaaaa?"
ALL THINGS JUST KEEP GETTING CANCELLED: So, Queer Eye has been cancelled. Do you care? Do you think any of the formerly Fab Five have a chance at a career post show? I'm sure Jai will go back to being a respected Broadway fill-in and Ted will continue to write for Esquire, as he's done for a number of years, but the other three will fade into obscurity. Also, for discussion--what killed Queer Eye more--the massive overexposure the show experienced in its first year, or the advent of Project Runway as a new "signature show" for Bravo?
EGO NUNCO PRONUNCIARI MENDAGIO! SED EGO SUM HOMO INDOMITUS: Show of hands -- does Mel Gibson's full apology impress you, and is there a chance you'll ever forgive him? Do you believe he's sincere?
TRAGICALLY, GAZEBO-BOY FOUND HIS POWERS USELESS IN CONFRONTING THE TERMITE MEN: So I caught most the premier of Sci-Fi's Who Wants to Be a Superhero and, all told, it wasn't bad. It's usual Reality TV fare - interpersonal drama followed by competition followed by elimination. Stan Lee, as host and judge, let it be known would not try to test the purported powers of the cast -- MoneyWoman, Fat Momma, Major Victory, usw. -- but could only test their character.

The first test was to walk around in street clothes until paged -- the characters had to find a place to change into their costumes away of curious onlookers (outhouses and utility areas did the trick) and bolt for a finish line. Of course, the real test was to notice the hard-to-miss 9 year old girl crying for her lost Mommy, and take her to conspicuous security kiosk. Of the 10 contestants, five bolted straight past, apparently oblivious, four helped out and one saw her, ignored her, and then lied to Stan Lee about it.

The editing was cool, with comic book-style overlays of the parting shots.

I'll give the second episode a go -- if they can do well disguised moral challenges to test, as Stan Lee says, what's inside -- it might just be fun.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

THAT'S ME IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Solid week again on RockStar: Apparently, It's Cheaper To License Nirvana Songs In Bulk, with Ryan delivering the kind of performance on "Losing My Religion" on grand piano that makes you want to thank Philo T. Farnsworth again for inventing television. It was that good, and I will be sure to throw up the YouTube link when available. (I think I was alone in digging his "Fortunate Son", but the boy can bring the intense.)

The rest played mostly according to form: Dilana (doing Bad Company this week, of all things) would win this contest if it ended today, with only Storm ("Changes") consistently matching her level of theatricality and performance (and in possession of the most expressive eyes I've seen on a singer in some time). Among the guys, Magni was solid ("Clocks") but Lukas really disappointing with his back-to-the-crowd read of "Celebrity Skin".

Back of the pack -- Zayra ("867-5309") should be kept around only for trainwreck value, and Patrice, Josh and Jill need to go home, because they're just not winning this thing. Which leaves Dana (i.e., McPhee's nutty cousin) and Toby, who can fake it just fine, but aren't really rawkers that can front this band.

(Note to Toby: "Pennyroyal Tea" is a song about an abortifacient, written as a metaphor for Cobain's own heroin addiction. "I'm a liar and a thief"/"I'm anemic royalty" is not a love song for the girls in the front row.)

Overall, this is a much more fun show than Idol was this season, and I hope y'all are tuning in. Edited to add that Alan Sepinwall tuned in as well.
MR. SCHNEEBLY? Your fake trailer of the day. I never tire of this stuff.
WE'RE ALL SO BUSY TRYING TO BEAT THE OTHER FELLOW IN MAKING THINGS GO FASTER AND LOOK SHINIER AND COST LESS THAT CHRISTMAS AND I ARE SORT OF GETTING LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Totally burying the lede, the Philadelphia Inquirer today reports that as part of Macy's takeover of Philadelphia's landmark John Wanamaker department store, "There will be no Christmas light show this year."

They already axed the tree and the dancing fountains, but did they really have to completely junk this magical show in its 50th anniversary year?

Monday, July 31, 2006

MY AIM IS TRUE: I can't be the only one ticked that Elvis Costello's version of "Beautiful," so memorably featured on an episode of House earlier this year (one repeated Sunday night on USA), is unavailable for purchase or download anywhere, right?
YOU'VE FOUND [PAUSE] THE SIXTH ARTIFACT: Treasure Hunters is still weird-but-good, but the preview for next week should be quite interesting -- the building across the street from the ledge-walk appears to be none other than than Philadephia's City Hall. Also, anyone care to actually tie the Rosicrucians to the Founders?
SEEN ANY RADIO STARS LATELY? MTV turns 25 at midnight tonight, and VH-1 Classic will be reairing the first twenty-four hours starting at that time.

Putting aside the videos, and assuming for brevity's sake that few here still watch it regularly (true?), shall we talk about other good things that MTV has done over the years? For me, that list starts with Pedro Zamora, Remote Control and Cornholio, but as always, your mileage will vary, though I doubt you'll hail Randee of the Redwoods. Doodle, doodle dee, wubba wubba wubba.
PERFECT TO TAKE WITH YOU TO RED LOBSTER: Who doesn't need a Tim Gunn bobblehead? Carry on.
WHEN I GROW UP, I WANNA BE IN THE BETTY FORD CENTER: Mel Gibson's headed for rehab. No word on whether Gibson admits to "Freak-out behavior both chronic and recent."
RIDING: To support cancer research I will be going on the longest bike ride of my life on Saturday as part of the Pan-Mass Challenge. I want to tell you a little about the ride and to ask for your support.

The Pan-Mass Challenge benefits the Dana Farber Cancer Insitute, the leading cancer research center in Massachusetts. My father, who passed away in 2004, was treated there. Almost 4,600 people, including about 200 cancer survivors, will be riding across Massachusetts on the 5th and 6th, riding distances ranging from about 100 miles to over 200 miles. You can learn more or make an e-gift here.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

IT'S HIS SHOW, I TAKE MY ORDERS FROM HIM: Because of our policy of not providing links to questionable copyright situations, I won't provide the link, but there are ways of finding the pilot to Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip on the web, and, yes, it's as good as you'd hoped, with directorial choices and editing that enhanced the already excellent script. The true surprise is just how effective Steven Weber is playing a dangerous bad-ass in a suit. You also have to give them credit for casting--Judd Hirsch may well get an Emmy next year as guest actor, Broadway diva Donna Murphy looks like she will have a recurring role, and young actress Merrit Weaver is memorable as what appears to be one of Sorkin's eternally popular tertiary characters. I'm looking forward to watching it on a real TV, where I'll be better able to appreciate Tommy Schlamme's exquisite Steadicam work.
AND THOSE SILLY NUMBERS? MEANINGLESS: This is the kind of thing that occasionally gets me worried as to whether JJ and the Boys really have a grand unified theory as to what the hell is going on on Lost. Granted, sometimes a washer/dryer is really just a machine that washes clothes, but when you're making a show that inspires frame-by-frame analysis, you've got something of a responsibility not to carelessly muck things up, you know?