Saturday, December 2, 2006

ALSO, THERE SHOULD BE A FLUX CAPACITOR: Today's tip for Hollywood executives--if you're going to make a time travel movie, I certainly admire some sort of explanation of the physics involved and "wormholes" that helps make it sound borderline plausible. But spending the first two-thirds of the film waiting for time travel to occur does not exactly make for an entertaining film, especially when much of that time is spent in a mixture of creepy voyeurism and incomprehensible techno-babble. Also, please make sure your villain has a comprehensible motivation, rather "I'm a patriot! It is my destiny to blow up this boat!"

Friday, December 1, 2006

IS THERE ANY BETTER WAY TO START THE WEEKEND THAN A GOOD PETER FALK JOKE? With TV Land this week announcing its list of the 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases, Cracked fires back with its own list of TV's Greatest Off-Screen Quotes and Catchphrases including William Shatner's very own Sandy Koufax moment: "I don't give a good goddamn about your production schedule, Roddenberry. The Vulcan and I don't kill Klingons on Yom Kippur!"
HAPPY LIFE DAY! In a time of year when we remember our favorite holiday movies and holiday specials, and how things can go wrong between them (Grinch holiday special? Brilliant. Grinch film? Intolerable.), it's time to take a moment to remember those holiday specials that have not become perennials, and one in particular. And, yes, most of it is on YouTube, including the opening, featuring a multi-minute scene entirely in Wookiee, without subtitles.
SO MAYBE IT'LL COMMEMORATE A NEW HOLIDAY--ALOTT5MA DAY: Due to scheduling difficulties relating to the holiday season, the planned NYC ALOTT5MA gathering to celebrate year's end and related celebrations has been postponed till early in the New Year, but will happen (we promise). One possible concept is to gather first for a Watson Adventures thing, followed by drinks and/or dinner to allow folks to have a grand time in a relaxed environment (and the MOMA one, which includes admission that can be used for an additional hour after the hunt is complete, looks to be a pretty good deal).
WELL, YES, I DID CALL YOU A DISGUSTING RAT, BUT IN MY DEFENSE, I MEANT IT: I'm going to spoil in this Survivor post, but I'll vamp a bit so you have some time to quit reading.

We haven't blogged Survivor in a while, and I'm not sure why. I think it's been a great season with really compelling characters and thought-provoking subtext. In particular, race. I thought it was a little annoying at the beginning of the season when so many people -- frankly, mostly (but not completely) white people, which I found amusing -- thought that the segregation idea was the most offensive thing since Marge Schott. What has been interesting, though, is how that played out after they junked the segregated tribes. As it turned out, the tribe that was the most focused on racial identity and unity was the white tribe, with two separated groups of contestants from that tribe openly worrying that the other races were going to stick together, then two of them making a bold (risky, stupid) split from their mixed-race tribe to get back together with their old friends. The question of how much of this was driven by personality, friendship, or strategy rather than race seems to me beyond the point -- the insoluble conundrum is how much race affected those other calculations. In the long run, I think that the experiment has been fascinating, and the fact that it is also discomfiting is part of what makes it good TV.

Second, the racial angle opened the show up to some characters we wouldn't otherwise get to see. For example, any other season, a smart but nerdy guy who can't stop himself from talking about mass vs. surface area or the idea of rational self-interest would be marked as an outsider and dismissed quickly, but because of the way that the tribes were fractured and forced into alliances, he emerged as a dominant and unusual reality player.

Third, and here's the spoiler, I think Candice was fundamentally a good person who made two huge errors in judgment. The first was falling for that jackass, and the second was letting the first error lead her to the idiotic move of jumping from one tribe to another. I don't think she really deserved the exiles, which after the first week seemed unjustifiedly mean-spirited (as opposed to strategic), and which probably got to her emotionally more than they would have to any other player. I was glad to see she was positive when leaving, because I really thought she could have been more damaged by the process than anybody since Deb.
DOES ANYONE ELSE REMEMBER THE RIF (READING IS FUNDAMENTAL) PSA WITH ED ASNER? When you haven't read a single book on the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2006, it's hard to make a witty blog posting title (I did, however, check one out of the library and read reviews of a couple of the others).

And if 10 weren't enough, here is the paper's 100 Notable Books.

So, ALOTT5MAians what were your the highlights of your 2006 reading list. I'll put out Alison Bechdel's amazing graphic novel/memoir Fun Home for starters. (NYT review)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

THURSDAYS, 8PM TO 10PM: Thank you, NBC, for putting together a mighty nice comedy block, even if I don't quite have the time or stamina to make it through the whole thing. I know that Isaac's more the Scrubs guy than I am, and I hope he'll have something to say, but I have to note that there may be no other live action show that packs more gags and laughs into a single half-hour than J.D. and the gang. Also, quite frankly, I'll follow Elizabeth Banks to any venture she pursues, so, yay.

On Office: not a great one, because I'm a little tired of the whole "Michael gets everyone together in the conference room and does something ridiculous while Stanley works on his crossword" shtick, but, y'know what? Kevin saves every episode. Also, Creed.
A PROUD CITIZEN OF STARBUCKS NATION: So, after years of my wondering why they hadn't yet gone down this road, we finally have hot breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks. This isn't exactly new news, to be sure -- they've been in New York for a few months and other places far longer -- but I wanted to wait to post about it until I'd had a bit of opportunity to sample the wares. Two breakfasts in, I am happy to add Starbucks as a full-service breakfast provider option. (The turkey bacon on the low(er)-fat sandwich is a little overly peppery for my taste, but it's probably a better daily choice than the ham, egg, and fontina cheese on a bagel.) This doesn't bode well for my foodie credentials, but I don't need a whole lot of gourmet in an egg sandwich -- so long as I don't feel like I'm drinking a bucket of oil with my breakfast.

We haven't had a Starbucks discussion in a while, so this seems as good a time as any to open the floor for a little Friday chat. Two topics:
  1. What do you think of Starbucks' entry into the hot breakfast sandwiches realm? And what of the sandwiches themselves?
  2. We've discussed at some length which beverages draw the ALOTT5MA crowd to Starbucks in the summertime, but are you as frequent a customer come the cooler weather? Are you a maple latte person or a peppermint mocha person? (Me, I'm still ordering my customary grande iced decaf in a venti cup much of the time, due both to the unseasonably warm weather on the East Coast and the tendency toward perpetual warmth in my office. But as winter beckons, it's time for the venti decaf skim misto to make more frequent appearances.)
IT'S, LIKE, REALLY GOOD, EXCEPT FOR THE PART WHERE SHE KILLS HERSELF. THAT WAS KINDA SAD: Following up on our earlier coverage of Ms. Lohan's remembrance of Robert Altman (and just call her "Lindsay L.," mmmkay?), Gawker proudly presents Britney Spears' analysis (and I use that term exceedingly losely) of Sophocles' Antigone from her high school spiral notebook.
I WAS HOPING FOR "MASTER OF THE HOUSE:" If something based on this does not appear on HIMYM in the near future, I will be deeply and abidingly disappointed. I picture a "Barney doesn't want to go to the theatre" plot, but after the gang drags him to the show, he can't stop singing.
AND WHO GETS TO DESIGN HIS AVATAR? Early next month Judge Posner will be interviewed in Second Life.
BECAUSE PEOPLE REALLY WANT ANOTHER EPISODE OF CRIMINAL MINDS EVERY WEEK: CBS has cancelled Tucci/Feuerstein vehicle 3 lbs., which, despite our love for Feuerstein, we never blogged about, to be replaced by yet another "rotating crime dramas" slot. Anyone want to weigh in on whether this was a particular loss? Perhaps the cancellation was the result of a lack of unnecessary and inexplicable critical love, like this piece from Alessandra Stanley, claiming that 30 Rock and Studio 60 are "at their best . . . unequaled by anything else on network television."
AUTOMATIC? CHECK. SYSTEMATIC? PERHAPS. HYDROMATIC? DOUBTFUL: NBC's Who Wants To Star In Grease? will debut on NBC on Sunday, January 7, though unlike the UK version ("How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?"), we don't get the delightful (So) Graham Norton as a host or even Ant & Dec; we get Billy Bush. Ugh.

Judges will be two-time Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall, "Grease" co-creator Jim Jacobs, and "renowned theater producer David Ian". Ian also judged the UK edition, prompting comments from TWoP posters like, "David Ian is such an awful, dubious skeeve. His Mystic Tan is cringe inducing. God knows, I never expected someone would make Andrew Lloyd Webber seem comparatively human and sensible" and "He grosses me out so much, especially because he seems to think Maria should be a cross between Christina Aguilera and Kate Moss. She's an ex-nun! In a dirndl!"

The Apprentice: To Live And Dye in LA and Crossing Jordan to follow on Sundays, with Friday Night Lights being moved to Wednesdays at 8p.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'M STILL WAITING FOR THE HUCKAPOO-THEMED CSI: Law and Order may be "ripped from the headlines," but based on the preview for next week's Boston Legal, it's moving on to "ripped from our good friend Daniel Radosh," as one of next week's plotlines is apparently based on Prussian Blue (everybody's favorite girl band with a twist, and it's not that they're pretending to be lesbians).
I HAD TO PROVE THAT I COULD MAKE IT ALONE: You would think today's NFL player would be listening to the new releases by Jay-Z, Akon, or The Game on their iPods, but who knew some many of today's players had downloaded the recent rerelease of the Beach Boys' timeless opus Pet Sounds? How else can you explain the recent spate of NFL players quoting Brian Wilson? To wit:
  • Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick apologizing for flipping off Falcons' fans last Sunday: "I don't know where it came from, but the people who know me know that's not me and that's not my character."
  • Cleveland wide receiver Braylon Edwards apologizing for having a hissy fit on the sidelines during last Sunday's Browns' game: "I embarrassed myself to some extent. That's not my character. That's not me. Nobody knows me as that type of guy."
  • New York Jets running back Leon Washington apologizing for giving the double bird on his rookie football card: "That's not me. That's not my character. ... The people that have dealt with me before and the people that know me, know that I don't want to create that type of image."
  • Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Khalif Barnes apologizing after a recent drunk driving arrest: People that really know me know that that's not me."
MADAM, I'M WOWED: It will be very hard to top Demetri Martin when we give out ALOTT5MA Award for Interview Response of the Year. From the AV Club:
AVC: You're about to film a stand-up special for Comedy Central. What can we expect from that? If possible, can you put your answer in the form of a palindrome?

DM: Wow. O.K.
A still animal sits afoot. Tones I ring.
I sing (i.e. ride it, nuts open). On or off, I riff.
Uh… I, to lasses, say, "Oh aha, hah, all!"
It's tops. It is a Tao, bro, to my baby demo.
Can one poet arise so rosy?
As "D" I star. Comedy, baby. My my, a show.
Oh say "my my," baby.
Democrats? I'd say so. (Roses irate.)
Open, on a comedy baby motorboat. As "it"
I spot still a "ha hah!" ahoy. Assess a lot.
I huff, I riff, or on one post untied, I reign.
I sign. I rise, not too fast.
I slam. In all, it's a K.O. wow.
(Apparently, he's done this sort of thing before.)
SO IF YOU BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS, CHILDREN, LIKE YOUR UNCLE BILLY DOES, THEN BUY THIS FESTERING TURD OF A RECORD: Given the fact that it's been invoked in two separate threads for entirely different reasons today, it's worth noting that I really liked Love Actually when it was released three years ago, and think it holds up exceptionally well as one of the new members of the romantic comedy pantheon. (How do I know it's in the pantheon? Just look at the sheer volume of its IMDB quote list -- you'd think it had "Lord" and "Rings" in the title.)

It is manipulative as hell, and doesn't say anything really new about love, but there's nothing wrong with manipulation done right -- though, as I asked back then, "Does Colin Firth have it in his contract that he has to have a scene in every movie where he's moving determinedly through the streets in pursuit of love?"

When you catch it midway on cable, it's hard to change the channel, and I like it even more now that I understand that the guy in the porn subplot is the "Jim" in the UK's The Office. Does anyone not like the movie?
I WON'T EVEN WISH FOR SNOW: Sure, Mariah Carey has had 17 songs go to #1 on the U.S. Hot 100, 13 Platinum albums (including 2 Diamond albums), and 5 Grammy Awards, but isn't there a strong argument that in 30 years, her best-remembered accomplishment will be writing "All I Want For Christmas Is You?"
MAYBE THERE'S SOMETHING IN HIS FRUIT SALAD: Greg, lead singer of The Wiggles, will be hanging up his sweaty yellow shirt for some time due to an unexplained ailment that is causing him to have dizzy spells. While early reports indicate that one of the Wiggles many understudies (the band has Wiggles franchises throughout the world) will take over the reins, here are my suggestions for possible replacements:
  1. Sammy Hagar--It's never too early to market Tequila to the kids.
  2. Daniel Craig--It worked for the James Bond franchise.
  3. Dick Sargent's corpse--Might creep the kids out a little, but reanimating corpse technology has progressed greatly since The Weekend at Bernie's days.
  4. Sarah Chalke--Becky 2 might be available if this is Scrubs' last season.
  5. Russel Crowe--He's Australian, can sing, and A Good Year really bombed.
Who do you think should take the wheel of the Big Red Car?
COMING TOMORROW, ASCAP'S LIST OF THE TWO MOST PLAYED CHANUKAH SONGS: ASCAP has compiled a list of the Top 25 most performed holiday songs for the past five years, based on performance data tracked by radio airplay, just in time for me to sit in a Starbucks this morning under a speaker blaring holiday music at Spinal Tap-esque volume (come back, Norah Jones, all is forgiven. As an aside, my daughter and I sat next to Harold Ramis in said coffee shop--I know, but this is Highland Park, Ill., not Malibu).

The most interesting aspect of the list is that it includes the most popular performer for each of the standards. While you expect to see Nat King Cole's version of "The Christmas Song" and Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" (sorry Billy Idol), I was surprised The Pretenders' "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Eurythmics' "Winter Wonderland" and The Boss' "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" were so popular.

Link via Eric Zorn.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, 'I'M A GOOGLEHEAD' IS WHAT YOU'LL SAY: This post will be of interest only to the parents of young kids who listen to Laurie Berkner songs, but I've finally figured it out. The only way the "Googlehead" song makes sense is if it's set at a NarAnon meeting and the word "googlehead" is a euphemism for "OxyContin addict."
DON'T PASS THE COURVOISIER: Cognac, along with yachts, iPods, and Jet Skis, are no longer to be shipped to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Korean News Service has proceeded to praise the "patriotic iron will" of Kim Jong Il, "the genuine leader of our nation, creator of happiness and defender of justice."
HEY, YOUR CAREER IS OVER -- IS THAT THE TWIST? In its beloved annual feature (here's our 2002 and 2005 posts), Film Threat lists the fifty people with the coldest careers in Hollywood, and suggests how to un-freeze their careers. Here's a few:
2. Jennifer Aniston
We’ll be there for you, as the films start to bomb. Chin up, 2006 was a horrible year for you at the box office and the tabloids, but “The Break-Up” did own the top spot for a week during the summer. That’s something, right?
Anti-Freeze: Get a new haircut. It’s always worked for you in the past

16. Haley Joel Osment
I see DUI arrest. At least no one was hurt, but Haley, buddy, Brad Renfro’s life, as exciting as it may seem, is not the one to emulate.
Anti-Freeze: Find that Lipnicki kid and join forces to oust Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller from the buddy comedy upper-echelon.

32. Steve Martin/Robin Williams/Adam Sandler
Martin went from genius to remake-aholic; Williams manages to bring the same performance despite portraying every type of character ever conceived in any genre, live-action or animation; and Sandler is two-note – either the quiet, lovable schlub or the loud-mouthed lovable schlub. Why does this bother us? Because you were all funny until you got so comfortable with life, and we miss your greatness.
Anti-Freeze: A celebrity sex tape entitled “Hairy, Screamy and Frosty.”
IT'S A NICE DAY FOR A WHITE . . . CHRISTMAS? Billy Idol completely screws up our planned Keltnerization. This. Changes. Everything.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

IT'S NEVER LUPUS: So again Dr. Hizzy makes us ask -- where are the lawyers in all the scenes where there ought to be lawyers?

The redeeming factor of this episode is that we've finally got some advancement on the David Morse front, but seriously, where are the lawyers?
AMERICANS UNDER THE INFLUENCE: This month's Atlantic tackles the 100 Most Influential Americans, with good old Honest Abe heading the list, followed by George, Tom, and FDR. Alexander Hamilton is the first non-president at 5, while others of interest include Ronald Reagan (17), Walt Disney (26), Einstein (32), Jackie Robinson (35), Bill Gates (54, and one of three living people on the list. A list of the most influential living Americans is here.), Elvis (66), Babe Ruth (75), Hemingway (85), Ralph Nader (96), and Nixon (99).

Among those not making the list--JFK and RFK, Nikola Tesla, George Washington Carver, James Naismith, Bob Dylan, Andrew Jackson, Malcolm X, Robert Johnson, Charles Lindbergh, Enrico Fermi, Philo Farnsworth, Lucille Ball, Ray Kroc, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Pete Rozelle, Muhammad Ali, Rosa Parks, John Phillips Souza, Aaron Copland, and Marilyn Monroe.
THE PARTY OF THE SECOND PART (the "SPERM DONOR") a/k/a K-FED: Details of Britney's pre-nup leaking? As determined by the date of his termination, Fed-Ex's services (escort, personal and misc.) to Spears Corp. over the duration of his contract are allegedly valued at less than $500/day .
ROBERT ALTMAN'S BODY ISN'T EVEN COLD YET: Premiere Magazine looks to slay some of cinema's sacred cows in its list of the 20 Most Overrated Films of All Time. Some of the targets are easy pickings (Titanic, American Beauty, Forrest Gump), but give the mag credit for including classics like Jules and Jim, The Wizard of Oz, 2001, and Nashville (that is not to say I agree with the picks).

To the list, I'd add A Fish Called Wanda, The Aviator, and Dances With Wolves.
BUT FOR CARRIE AND SAMANTHA, LINDSAY WOULD HAVE TAKEN THE SPEARS PURITY PATH: Note to Darren Star and other television show creators: you have a responsibility to avoid polluting the impressionable minds of our nation's young stars of stage and screen. For shame!
KRAMER VS. KRAMER: National Lampoon has cleverly mashed up Michael Richards' recent woes with some classic Seinfeld bits to create a lost episode of the sitcom. (NSFW!!) This has to be included as an extra on the Season 8 DVD release.

Link via Hypertext.
I'M NOT DRUNK! I'M STRAIGHT UP MENTALLY ILL! No, Tracy Morgan, that is not a defense to your second DUI arrest in recent months. (Nor is "I'm Brian Fellow!")
DO THEY STILL MAKE WOODEN CHRISTMAS TREES? NPR just ran a great piece on the Charlie Brown Christmas special (which airs tonight). The article focuses upon pianist Vince Guaraldi who composed the evocative soundtrack for the special. You may well get a kick out of reading about the initial objections of the network with respect to that music. You can also hear the piece via streaming audio by clicking "Listen" up top.

(Courtesy of our blog buddy Russ)
SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, SAVE JACK BAUER'S FILES TO BACKUP STORAGE MEDIA: I don't know, after this week, I find Sylar a little less intimidating. And I much, much, much prefer (a) papa Suresh to petulant kid Suresh; (b) longhaired not-the-droids-you're-looking-for to pixie same; and (c) stripper Niki to blackjack-dealer Niki. You?
SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF A LEO: Although last night's Studio 60 was, IMHO, pretty decent, it magnified one of the problems the show has. By increasing the prominence of Darius and Lucy and by elevating Suzanne to Matt's assistant (and wow, there's some unnecessarily catty commentary about her over at TWOP), we're up to at least 3 Charlie/Donna/Jeremy regular/recurring characters (arguably, you can add Dylan to the list as well), and a bunch of Josh/Sam characters (those who are smart, good at their job, and mean well, but invariably screw things up)--Matt, Danny, Simon, Jordan. So what's missing? The mentor figure. There's no Jed, no Leo, no Isaac, to be the voice of reason and calm and bring everyone together. It's not Jack (who's more in the vein of a Hoynes), it's not Harriet (who's some weird combination of CJ, Dana, and Sorkin's own psychological issues), and Cal isn't developed enough to make it work. The closest we've come, oddly, is Simon, and because his character has no control over anyone else, he can't function as "the boss" effectively. Mark McKinney's character last night might be an effort to fix that, but I'm not sure he's enough.
HALLS ARE HALLS, ALL OVER THE WORLD: Two recent articles on HOF voting caught my eye -- Peter King on how the Football Hall of Fame voters have been dealing with wide receivers and Bob Ryan on why he will not vote for Mark McGwire for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I admire the thoughts King expressed. Like me regarding the Rock and Roll HOF, he is fundamentally a small hall guy, but I like the way that he has an open mind regarding the receivers currently under consideration. I am also in complete agreement with Ryan as he so eloquently describes the reasons for his no vote on McGwire.

Monday, November 27, 2006

THEY COULD HAVE A SEPARATE CEREMONY FOR MCGWIRE AND CANSECO--THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INJECTION: Excuse the lapse into Leno-esque humor, but this year's Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is out and besides mortal locks Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, it features a number of admitted and suspected steroidal freaks, including the Bash Brothers, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, Wally Joyner, and Dante Bichette.

While a number of worthy candidates return, including Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven, Tommy John, Andre Dawson, Goose Gossage, Jim Rice, and Alan Trammell, a very interesting first-time, non-chemically enhanced candidate is Harold Baines, who with the election of Ripken and Gwynn, is poised to be the eligible player with the most career hits (2,866--39th overall) not in the Hall (Pete Rose, of course, leads the list, with Rickey Henderson, Craig Biggio, and Rafael Palmeiro, all ahead of Baines). Baines would also be the eligible player with the most RBI (1,628-23rd overall) not in the Hall. There's no doubt Baines is a product of longevity, but according to Baseball Reference, his career compares favorably with Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Tony Perez and Billy Williams. If I had a vote, Baines would join Cal and Tony on the podium in Cooperstown, but then if I had my way, they'd be joined by the six others mentioned above (Morris, etc.), plus Ronnie Santo as a veteran's pick.

Who gets your vote?
GOOD A) GRIEF; B) NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK; OR C) NIGHT, JOHN BOY: TV LAND is counting down the top 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases over five nights starting Monday, Dec. 11. The full list of quotes and catchphrases, ranging from Dwayne's "Hey, hey, hey" to Fat Albert's "Hey, hey, hey," without rankings, is available here.

Which will be No. 1 (the episode descriptions offer some clues) and which quotes and catchphrases should be on the list?
TWO CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF A COUNTRY SONG ... ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE, NO LESS: Rick Moody will interview Stephin Merritt tonight at the 92nd Street Y. Afterwards, a selection of songs may be played upon the Ukelele. Still later, on the other side of town, there will be Tentacles.
OH, YOU MEANT THROW THE POTTERY: This leg of The Race Is Amazing, Even If The Teams Aren't was all about race karma in its many forms -- what is your obligation towards accurate flight information? towards a team whose car has broken down? do you yield the team you don't like, the biggest threat, or no one?

And if you see an all-female team that seems to be surrounded by a potentially threatening group of young men in the middle of nowhere, Morocco, late at night, aren't you obligated to stick around and make sure they're safe? Grab your amulet, and try not to get lost on your way to the Comments.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A DB5 WITH LEFT HAND DRIVE? I realize we've already had a Casino Royale thread, but I just got back from watching it and figured other folks may have gotten a chance and wanted to reopen the discussion. Expanded post and spoilers in the comments.