Saturday, December 16, 2006

NOODLING AROUND: I recently had two "Hey, It's that Guy" moments. My best friend and his wife welcomed there first baby into this world, Nicolas Ray. So, of course, I dug up my favorite quote from "The Sure Thing":

Gib: Elliot? You're gonna name the kid Elliot? No, you can't name the kid Elliot. Elliot is a fat kid with glasses who eats paste. You're not gonna name the kid Elliot. You gotta give him a real name. Give him a name. Like Nick.

Allison: Nick?

Gib: Yeah, Nick. Nick's a real name. Nick's your buddy. Nick's the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn't mind if you puke in his car, Nick.

And realized "The Sure Thing" herself was Nicollette Sheridan. I know the Desparate Housewives thing is about having sexy forty year olds, but there's one that sure didn't improve so much.

Secondly, did anyone realize that Mr. Noodle played Agent Barney Coopersmith's partner in My Blue Heaven? Took me months of catching bits of Elmo's World to finally place him.
THEY'LL GLADLY GIVE YOU THE 'QUIVALENT OF AN INTELLECTUAL REACHAROUND: According to Drudge (who, for all his flaws, is usually right on stuff like this) Time's Person of the Year is not Internet poll fave Stephen Colbert, or a domestic political figure like George W. Bush or Nancy Pelosi, or even international crazy people of the year like Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Hugo Chavez. No, the Person of The Year is "You." The basis? According to Drudge, it's "the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet content such as 'blogs', video-file sharing site YouTube and social network MySpace." Allow us to be the first to congratulate You on such an esteemed accomplishment. Can I list this on my resume now?
A CATALYST FOR MY CLAUSOMETER: I’d been having some trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. It wasn’t anything in particular; it was simply a matter of having too many things to do in December. The Christmas Muse would not come near me; she’d just walk past my vacancy sign. For the first time in recent years my wife Amy wrote our family newsletter to include with our Christmas cards.

It was more of the same last night at our church’s annual Christmas children’s dinner. Santa gave the kids presents, but I went home with a headache. After the boys went to bed, I finally got a chance to read The Inquirer and noticed that the Bryn Mawr Film Institute was having a special kid’s matinee showing of Elf the next morning at 11:00. Amy and I agreed that I would take the boys if they did a good job practicing the piano in the morning.

The lads did their part practicing. We arrived at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, a throwback theater, a real grande dame from the days when the cinema was king. Slowly the theater filled with kids, hundreds of kids. There is something so enthralling about watching a funny movie with an audience like that. During the scene where Buddy (the Will Ferrell character) exposes the fake Santa at Gimbels, the audience squealed with heartfelt glee.

And then came my favorite scene. Santa’s sleigh, which runs on Christmas spirit, has just crashed in Central Park since there wasn’t enough Christmas spirit to make it go. The sleigh’s “Clausometer” was at zero and things looked bleak for that night’s delivery of toys. Jovie (the Zooey Deschanel character) starts to sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Gradually the crowd gathered outside Central Park joins in. Soon Santa’s sleigh is flying high, its Clausometer surging from zero to 100.

I felt my son Aidan’s slender fingers grab my arm, his face aglow. I could feel his elbow thumping against the armrest, keeping time with the music. His enchantment was all consuming.

At the end of the movie, all of the kids stood up and cheered. And, well, so did I. We exited the theater, my big boys and me, into the bright lights of Bryn Mawr. Arm in arm, we skipped down the sidewalk to a store where I bought them Pokemon cards. As the afternoon wore on, I found myself whistling the tune to “Sleigh Ride.”

So bring it on, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year’s! I am ready for you now because a buddy named Buddy and my two big boys gave me a glimpse of what really matters.

DON'CHA WISH YOU COULD WEAR CROCS WHILE SIPPING CRYSTAL LIGHT ON THE GO ON YOUR WAY TO TRADER JOE'S? Ad Age magazine, in a 14-page spread, reviews 2006's fifty biggest successes in consumer marketing. On Burt's Bees, for example:
THE BUZZ around Burt’s Bees keeps growing. Sales reached $100 million in 2005 and have been rising at more than 20% annually. That places it in good company in the natural personal-care niche, thanks mainly to PR and novel distribution. Besides the usual natural-food and drug stores, Burt’s is also in book stores and other specialty outlets. College students in a Harris Interactive poll earlier this year ranked Burt’s behind only Ben & Jerry’s and Newman’s Own among top socially responsible brands. “People are getting much more concerned about what they put in and on their bodies, and how it affects the environment.” says Mike Indursky, 45, chief marketing and strategic officer."
Yes, there really is a Burt.
AND YOU (AND YOU) (AND YOU), YOU'RE GOING TO LOVE HER: PopWatch assembles a bevy of past and present Jennifer Hudson performances on YouTube, including two this week ("One Night Only", "I Am Changing") from the Today show.

edited to add: The WaPo's Robin Givhan profiles J-Hud.

Friday, December 15, 2006

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, TRAMPOLINE BEAR? Time to present a pair of returning ALOTT5MA Awards, also presented in 2004 and 2005: Favorite and Least Favorite Recurring Jokes on 'Pardon the Interruption'.

Favorite goes to two words that have been a staple on PTI since the beginning, but perhaps never used as well as this year: "your boy". It is now impossible for Tony or Mike to express a preference for anyone without its being used against them later on, whether it's Tony's fondness for Bill Parcells or Wilbon's for all things Chicago, including Rex Grossman. It's an elbow to the ribs from friend to friend, and it always works. Especially if it relates to Larry Brown.

Least favorite is The Hateful Dan Le Batard, because he actually is hateful on the show -- playing up the role of a preening asshole on tv when he's actually a really thoughtful columnist in print. Just read this piece of his on Cuba from January 2006 and try to square that with the doofus he portrays on the small screen. You can't. It's always a lesser show when one of the Bald Brothers is off, but it's never worse than when Le Batard shows up.
YOU ARE THE F---ING END, YOU KNOW: Sorry to say that Ahmet Ertegun died yesterday. Ertegun, a co-founder and, with Jerry Wexler, the principal creative and business force behind Atlantic Records, was part of a generation of major music executives (think Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss of A&M and Berry Gordy of Motown) who were, and had to be, both music lovers with impeccable taste and shrewd businessmen. Atlantic's forte from the earliest days was R&B, and until the early 70s, I would say, it was probably as closely associated with the best of that genre as was Motown or Stax. (Maybe somebody older than I am can confirm that.) It branched out into other pop territory in the late 1960s and 1970s, famously signing Led Zeppelin (and distributing Bad Company and Cream as well). I have fond memories of the green and red Atlantic label with the "A" and the swirly thing on my Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II albums spinning around on my inherited turntable. It's hard for me to believe, by the way, that Ertegun didn't know that "Whole Lotta Love" ripped off Willie Dixon or that "Lemon Song" stole from Robert Johnson (to cite just two examples from Led Zeppelin II).

Atlantic released "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs"; it didn't discover the Rolling Stones but it issued their seminal 1970s albums (under the Rolling Stones Records imprint). Ertegun was chiefly responsible for all of that. Ertegun also produced records for fun, under the pseudonym "A. Nugetre," a fact I learned about the time that I bought the Honeydrippers EP. He was a titan of the music industry.
DAKOTA FANNING CONQUERS THE WORLD: The Times' A.O. Scott raves about a movie arriving in theatres today, but it's not the one you might expect. While he's got much love for Jennifer Hudson, he kind of pans Dreamgirls (not that it matters, since all NYC showings are sold out until Monday). Both, however, are certainly better off than 20th Century Fox, whose attempt to make a new LOTR doesn't even merit more than a few measly column-inches well inside the Arts section.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


This was better.

And to count all the ways publicly would be to spoil it, you oughta know, so just take off your sandals and grab a double fudge brownie, as the party is parties are about to begin in the comments.
THE HOBOES GAVE THIS AWARD: While SNL reject Rob Riggle has drawn a lot praise from the local press here in NYC, it seems obvious to me that the ALOTT5MAy for Outstanding New Correspondent On The Daily Show must go to John Hodgman. Not only has he been wonderful as TDS's "resident expert," but his other work is all hysterical as well--from his performance as "PC Guy," to the 700 Hobo Names, and the book, featuring the lengthy discussion of how Hobo Joe Junkpan led the Great Hobo Revolt during the Great Depression. I mean, who the heck else could get away with this?
DO NOT DISRESPECT THE INDUSTRY: The season of the annual ALOTT5MA Awards begins, as it always does, with the award for Reality TV Host/Judge of the Year, which in previous years has gone to Reality TV Host/Judge of the Year. Past winners include Robert K. Oermann of Nashville Star (2003), Ralph Garman (as Derek Newcastle) for Joe Schmo 2 (2004), and Project Runway's Tim Gunn (2005).

Many worthy contenders this year, and let's start with the new folks:

We are left with two finalists. Could they both please step forward. I have two judges left in this post, but I will only conclude with one name, and that one name represents the person who is ALOTT5MA's best reality tv judge/host of 2006.

First, we have the man who may be the Albert Pujols of reality tv, Tim Gunn, for seasons two and three of Project Runway. When you think about all the fun stuff with Santino and Andrae in which he acknowledged his growing cult and his classy handling of the Keith and Jeffrey Sebelia situations in season three, this is a judge with enormous insight, as well as true caring about both the designers and the integrity of the competition.

And then we have Tyra Banks. I know what you're thinking: that silly model show? Who cares? But as with Tim Gunn and fashion, Tyra makes you care about modeling, forces the viewer (and the contestants) to see modeling as industry, and one which requires hard work and versatility. She is over-the-top and overly serious, for sure, but it makes for good television. Ritual is a good thing on these shows, as much in her set-ups at the end of each episode as Probst's "you all want to know what you're playing for, right?" (and five other set phrases) or Phil Keoghan's "I'm sorry to tell you you have been eliminated from the Race." What could have been a dumb show about looking at pretty girls instead forces you to really think about who is a successful model and why.

No actual top models have emerged from the show, but nor are any Runway finalists currently dominating their industry. You just have to consider the shows on their own, regardless of what comes after.

In the end, it comes down to one bit from each show -- Tim Gunn's What Happened to Andrae? versus Tyra's rousing gospel number, She Don't Want To Be Here, Send Her Home. So who will it be -- the one who everyone already adores, or the famous, hard-working Inglewood native who just turned 33 but who doesn't have the respect that perhaps she deserves . . .

It's Tyra.

YOUNG YOU-KNOW-WHO: Their spelling is atrocious, but Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, a Death Eater and an Australian, respectively, have named their son after Voldemort.

Evil incarnate is so cute when it's sleeping.
SECONDHAND NEWS: Nerve debunks the 40 Best Celebrity Rumors, which run the gambit from Mikey exploding to Rod Stewart swallowing. An alarming number of the rumors have to do with posteriors, be it JLo insuring hers, Courtney Cox bleaching hers, or Richard Gere setting up a Habitrail in his.
BUT HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A MONKEY WITH FOUR ASSES? Please excuse me if I'm getting out too far ahead of the ALOTT5MA year-end awards (for the second time -- I already called the Foregone Conclusion), and sorry if someone else was going to cover this one, but congratulations to Deadspin -- you've just won the official Alott5myTM in the category of Best Internet Blog Post about a Beautiful Seven-Legged Hermaphroditic Roadkill Deer. You could not improve on this story if you wrote it with paste and sprinkled glitter all over it.
THIS IS OUR COUNTRY: Watched the filler clip-show from ANTM: British Invasion, the repurposing of Britain's Next Top Model, and I can recall few times when I have been so relieved to be an American. I would like to give the British the benefit of the doubt here and say that they may be too sophisticated to cotton to this kind of competitive reality show, but really, they came up with the hit I'm A Celebrity -- Get Me Out of Here and have fully embraced the seamier, nudier aspects of Big Brother, so no dice.

I have two principal gripes. First, everybody associated with the show is remarkably homely. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think of Britain as a land of unattractive people. You could put together a long list of really beautiful British women, starting with Kate Beckinsale and ending with Liz Hurley before the deadly combination of Pam Anderson and osmosis infected her with trampititis C. I just think that pop culture teaches us that the British ideal of beauty is a bigger tent, meaning that they can forgive a face that is, shall we say, unconventional, especially if it is wedged between large breasts and stringy blonde hair. This is a roundabout way of saying that I question the wisdom of casting a Top Model show with women who range from far less to not quite as attractive as Lucy Davis (and before you rip me a new one because you love Lucy Davis, yes, she was a great Dawn and I'm not saying she's ugly; please just ask yourself how quickly you would bounce her from ANTM). To compound the selection issues, all of the judges are equally unattractive, and they've even managed to import a weird-looking botoxed American "former supermodel" of whom I have never heard. In short, this show has just been designated Exhibit A in my defense of Pretty for British Syndrome.

Second, I recognize that not all successful fashion models are actually attractive. Google "belgian models" if you don't believe me. At least, though, they have three things that every working model actually needs: good skin, height, and unhealthy thinness. Not, as BNTM would have us believe, whiteheads, smallishness, and giant breasts. This is like casting Apprentice entirely with people you found in line for the bathroom at Six Flags (actually, it's like casting BNTM with people you found in line for the bathroom at Six Flags). It's enough to make a guy stop complaining about ANTM ridiculousness like Lluvy, Michelle the Wrestler, or Coryn. America the comparatively beautiful, indeed.

I should mention that this post is Spacewoman-approved.
LIVEBLOGGING THE GLOBE NOMINATIONS BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT: The Globe nominations seemed like as good a reason as any to buy a 99 cent CNN pipeline daypass. Some highlights from the pre-morning show batch of nominees:

Warren Beatty is getting the lifetime award. Hm. Rosario Dawson is the first presenter. Nominees for best actress in a supporting role on TV include both the yay! (Katherine Heigl) and the huh? (Sarah Paulson). This would seem to be the year of Helen Mirren, who is nominated twice for best actress in a made-for-tv movie or miniseries. Jessica Biel informs us that among the nominees for best actor in a supporting role on tv are both Jeremy Piven and MASI OKA! Matthew Perry (presenter #3) is nominated as best actor in a miniseries or made-for-tv movie. Best supporting actor in a movie nominees include Murphy for Dreamgirls, Pitt for Babel, both Nicholson and Wahlberg for Departed, and, um, Ben Affleck. Nominee Matthew Perry takes the mike and greets everyone with a very deadpan "Good morning, I love you all." The only news of note from Perry is that Apocalypto is up for best foreign language film (not to be confused with an actual foreign film) and Jennifer Hudson is up for Dreamgirls (see Adam's prior post on the subject).

I am now having fun watching the behind-the-scenes chatter as everyone awaits the 8:38 am arrival of the morning shows' live feed. More shortly.

Six minutes later, I'm back! Ok. Much more to type after the big categories.

Best actor, TV drama: McDreamy, Amy Spanger's husband for Dexter, Hugh Laurie, Bill Paxton for Big Love! And, of course, the Globes' favorite boy, Kiefer. We are missing Matthew Perry here. Bummer. Best actress, TV drama is a little weirder: Evangeline Lilly is apparently not only beautiful, but can also act. Who knew? Ellen Pompeo but not Sandra Oh? The Arquette in Medium, Edie Falco, and Kyra Sedgwick finish off the list. Best actress in a TV comedy bores me. Blah blah Housewives (so very 2004), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mary-Louise Parker, and hey, there's America Ferrara!

The movie nominations are kind of wasted on me, as I've seen all of one or maybe two new movies this year. Cruz, Dench, Gyllenhaal, Mirren, Winslet, Bening, Collette, Beyonce, Streep, and Zellweger. Other than Beyonce, it feels kind of usual suspects to me, but others will have actual thoughts on the subject.

Now back to something I know -- best TV series, drama! Love this list: 24, Big Love, Grey's, Heroes, Lost. I am a fan of each and every one of these shows. Glad to see Big Love getting a little respect! And the Sorkin backlash is here in full force. (Sarah Paulson is really the only nominee? Seriously? Sarah Paulson?)

Jessica Biel gets a big laugh as she announces the full title of the movie for which Sacha Baron Cohen is nominated for best comedic or musical actor. Other comedy nominees are the Dread Pirate Depp, Aaron Eckhart for that movie produced by David O. Sacks, some guy I can neither spell nor pronounce for a movie I've never heard of called Kinky Boots, and Will Ferrell for a non-Elf movie. Best TV comedies are Desperate Housewives, Entourage, The Office, Ugly Betty, and Weeds. (I'm okay here - I wouldn't expect the Hollywood Foreign Press to dig Swarlos.) Laugh #2 for the Borat title, as it joins Prada, Dreamgirls, Little Miss Sunshine, and that David O. Sacks movie for best comedy or musical.

Matthew Perry doesn't announce any love for anyone this time. The funny tv actors are Alec Baldwin, Zach Braff, Steve Carell, Jason Lee, and Tony Shalhoub. Clint Eastwood directed two WWII movies this year and is nominated for both of them. Ditto Frears, the Babel director, and Scorscese. A big year for double nominees: Leo's got two of 'em for Blood Diamond and Departed, joined by Peter O'Toole, Will Smith the Serious Actor, and Forrest Whitaker. (Aren't we missing some people from The Departed here?) And Your Dramatic Films are Babel, Bobby, The Departed, Little Children, and The Queen.
ONE NIGHT ONLY: Jen and I saw Dreamgirls last night at a sneak preview screening.

Yes, it is All That.

Yes, Jennifer Hudson is that good.

Yes, she nails The Song, and The Glory Note Of All Glory Notes, and you will applaud with the rest of your audience when you see it.

No, it's not a "supporting" performance by any stretch.

No, we have no idea where she goes from here, career-wise. Is Jaye Davidson, of all things, the best analogy? Brilliant performance in a role that requires skills that Hollywood isn't often looking for?

Yes, Eddie Murphy deserves a nomination too, even if early on, I kept thinking about SNL-era Eddie and not James "Thunder" Early. Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx are also pretty darn good, especially in the second act. And readers of this blog will enjoy a brief cameo by John Lithgow and The Office's John Krasinski, plus an early one by a former child star that I won't spoil, but led to a significant portion of our audience shouting his name when he appeared.

Much credit, as well, to writer-director Bill Condon. It is not easy to take something designed for the stage and translate it to the screen without the people-bursting-into-song thing feeling artificial, but he pulls it off well. The costumes and art direction are fabulously appropriate.

is how you adapt a musical into a great piece of film entertainment. Go see it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

BEFORE YOU FALL ON YOUR SWORD, SHOULDN'T YOU BE GOOD AND SURE WHO YOU'RE DOING IT FOR? I'm having a little trouble with this week's sepukku elimination on Top Chef, but only because the self-selected eliminee did not actually wait for the judges to pronounce the name of the party who's place was presumptively being taken on the chopping block. Around here we thought it was even odds that Brother Bluto would get the ax for an episode in which he once again managed to be remarkably unremarkable, albeit without being affirmatively bad.

Did any one else think Cliff "Sangria Man" Crooks was reprising his role as the immunity saboteur this week? Four dishes? Nothing coming out of the kitchen? The "team leader" appointed after Cliff had already made, swayed or modified a significant number of the major menu decisions? How much worse if the team members shopping at the other store had followed his instructions and failed to purchase the steak and lobster? Am I being too hard on him?

Also, a cocktail that incorporates cream and lime juice?? A mistake like that calls out for some kind of sanction, even in the Quickfire. It's not exactly a Snickers Bar with a Chee-to on it, and yet, as a taste experience, I'd rather have a Snickers Bar with a Chee-to on it. ...or just cut to the chase and make something nice with cottage cheese, if you're determined to incorporate curdled milk. Sheesh.
WHAT'S NEXT? MORE COWBELL BRAND ACETAMINOPHEN? Just in time for the holidays, Darren Rovell reports in his CNBC Sports Biz blog (scroll down) that there's a new brand of golf ball making its debut on the link that nobody will be able to resist.

Link via Deadspin.
CARELL CAN GET ONE OF THESE TO GO ALONGSIDE HIS DUNDIE: The WGA TV Awards nominations seem generally on-key. Sure, I'd substitute How I Met Your Mother for Curb Your Enthusiasm in the"Comedy Series" category, substitute "Slap Bet" for one of the Desperate Housewives nominations for particular episodes, and swap "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" (the Grey's Super Bowl episode) for the Stephen King nominee, but they got things right like nominating "Casino Night," "Two For The Road" (the one where Ana Lucia dies), and 30 Rock. However, is The Colbert Report reading as too "natural" and not scripted enough for the WGA? Nominating SNL and Real Time With Bill Maher over Colbert is just wrong.
IT'S NOT OVER TILL YOU PIN ME! As we enter into the ALOTT5MA Awards Season, let's take a moment to do something our good friend Alan Sepinwall did today and celebrate Festivus with the airing of grievances about pop cultural icons. Among those who have some 'splainin to do are Lindsay Lohan, Fergie, and James Blunt. Who are you disappointed with?
HOLY CRAP: Peter Boyle is dead.
I MAY START A WRITE-IN CAMPAIGN FOR MOLLY PITCHER. ALSO, BRUCE WILLIS: The list of nominees for the inaugural class of The New Jersey Hall of Fame is now available, including such notables among the initial twenty-five as Cape May's Harriet Tubman, Camden's Walt Whitman and the respective wizards of Menlo and Asbury Park.

If you're interested, you can vote, and anyone who votes is eligible to win the "Ultimate New Jersey Fantasy Package". Of course, only in New Jersey would first place be "Meet Joe Torre prior to a Yankee game, including a tour of the stadium, close-up seating during batting practice, & tickets to the game for 4 people" -- i.e., an event that takes place entire outside of New Jersey!

Go ahead and name a truer "New Jersey Fantasy Package".

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

TOP FIVE SHORTEST LIVED MUSICALS: High Fidelity will close on Broadway this coming Sunday, playing fewer regular performances (14) than it did previews (18). Sure, the show's gotten overshadowed this year by a pair of commercial juggernauts (Mary Poppins and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which broke Wicked's 100 week stretch with the title "highest grossing show on Broadway") and a pair of critical darlings (Spring Awakening and Grey Gardens), but I was hopeful it would survive. I'll probably try and see it before closing, most likely either Friday or Sunday matinee, though.
'TIS THE SEASON: I've written a few times about the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness, and I'm thrilled to report that we've now placed more than forty families in permanent housing. If you're interested in learning more, click on the house in the upper-left hand corner.

All of us here have organizations we're supporting this season, and we hope you'll consider donating what you can to each. Here's the first few:
  • Bob: "For those of you who have had a loved one suffer from cancer, please consider giving to the Pan Mass Challenge, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I have supported this organization myself, both by giving and by riding my bike nearly 100 miles on a hot day in August. Thanks very much in advance for considering this worthy charity."
  • Kim: "Every so often, Mr. Cosmopolitan and I look around our apartment and remember what it used to look like before we decided to procreate. Those memories are getting hazier, as the sea of child-related paraphernalia grows deeper and more permanent. While said sea of stuff causes a lot of frustration (and is the main reason why we are not hosting the New York ALOTT5MA Chrismukkah gathering), we are deeply grateful that Cosmo Girl and Cosmo Baby are fortunate enough to have everything they could possibly ever need -- and then some. But not every new baby is as lucky. This year, we are donating to Newborns in Need, a charity that provides the essentials to newborn babies whose families are not in a position to do so themselves. Donations go to hospitals and shelters all over the country and include such items as snuggly clothing, shampoo, pacifiers, formula and bottles, sheets and blankets, and so forth. See here for information on how to donate (including Paypal). Newborns in Need strives to ensure that no baby will lack for basic essentials -- I hope that you'll join us in helping them out."
  • Phil: "Around the Throckmorton Manse our current favorite charity is the ground-up agglomeration of educational contribution opportunities at Donors Choose. Teachers upload descriptions of projects of all shapes and sizes for which they're seeking funding -- literally from a classroom bookshelf for the paperback lending libarary to a junior prom for a class of 100 -- and browsing donors pick worthy efforts to fund in whole or in part. In our limited experience your contribution will inevitably net you an educator's heartfelt gratitude, a large number of gracious but conspicuously punctuated thank-you notes in the looping hand characteristic of the north american middle school female, and a corresponding number of polaroids of north american middle school males making a characteristic effort to appear above-it-all. Good people. Great projects. On a micro-grassroots-pick-your-flavor platform."
  • Kingsley: "Want to save as many lives as possible? Give to Oxfam. They've got some unique giving opportunities this year, and few groups do more to fight global poverty."

More to come from our other bloggers, as soon as they email 'em to me. In addition, commenter LB is raising funds for the March of Dimes, in memory of her son, and we hope you'll give generously to all these worthy organizations.

Feel free to suggest more in the comments.

I'VE HAD IT WITH THESE M*****F*****G TROPHIES ON THIS M*****F*****G PLANE! In addition to liquids or gels beyond those in 3 ounce or smaller bottles which fit into a quart-sized ziploc bag, apparently, the TSA is sensitive to the grave security threat posed by the Heisman Trophy. Well, it certainly could be used as a weapon.
TED EVELYN MOSBY! If we had only gotten to see Ted's fabulous Jewfro -- dayenu. If Barney had only employed mind over body to help himself stop overflowing with awesome to quite that degree -- dayenu. If Marshall had only failed to find his way outside -- dayenu. If the big guy upstairs had only been the big guy upstairs -- dayenu. If Marshall had only enjoyed his Christmas gift to himself -- dayenu. But most of all, if Marshall and Barney had only sung Silent Night -- dayenu. (Tell me you didn't laugh out loud when Barney kicked in with the harmony!)

Why, CBS, for the love of God, WHY?
GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE: Bob Ryan of the Globe expresses admiration for AI, but also explains why few GMs really want him.
TiVo Bleg: Mrs Earthling and I find that our TiVo uses the telephone whenever it sees fit. We'd prefer that it only call between, say 1 am and 5 am. But it is not obvious from the menu where we can restrict its phone privileges. Has anyone out there in ALOTT5MA-land felt the need to address this problem and/or found a useful resolution to this problem?

Monday, December 11, 2006

BEST CDS OF 2006: The staff members of WXPN and The Philadelphia Inquirer recently listed their picks for the top CDs of 2006.

I have not yet thought this through systematically, but I have certainly enjoyed a great deal the 2006 releases by Gnarls Barkely, Corrine Bailey Rae, Slo Mo, Neko Case, Madeleine Peyroux, and Rodrigo y Gabriela.
YOU'RE BACK WITH US, LEATHER: The NBA is bringing back the cowhide.
DEARLY BELOVED, WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY 2 GET THROUGH THIS THING CALLED "HALFTIME". ELECTRIC WORD "HALFTIME" -- IT SEEMS FOREVER, AND THAT'S A MIGHTY LONG TIME -- BUT I'M HERE 2 TELL U, THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE -- THE POST-GAME SHOW: Prince is your Super Bowl halftime performer, and while it's too early to officially open our annual predictions contest (which Benner won last year), I imagine that won't stop anyone from jumping in early with a setlist call.
THE BLOODIEST DATE IN CAMBRIDGE-NEW HAVEN HISTORY SINCE NOVEMBER 23, 1968 (ALTERNATE TITLE: 'I'LL CUT YA THROAT IF YA EVER STEP FOOT IN CONNECTICUT'): Only weeks after the New Yorker's decision to take sides in the Harvard-Yale rivalry by publishing a decidedly pro-Yale cartoon, the feud is escalating to dangerous levels. There is now a violent, degrading, disgusting, and thoroughly accurate Yale-penned rap song about Harvard that can only be described* as "gangster."

It is, of course, only the second-nastiest song in the Yale-Harvard rivalry, since Yale partisan Cole Porter ('13) earlier wrote: "bingo/that's the lingo/Harvard's team cannot prevail." Ooo, burn.

*It can only be described that way because Yale-approved spell-checkers don't recognize "gangsta."

Edited to add: It's worth going to the band's web page and checking the biographies just to get a glimpse of bandmember Mateus's picture in bed with a stuffed panda. As I said, "gangster."
THE WIRE -- SEASON 4 FINALE: Alan Sepinwall does a terrific job of recapping the season finale for The Wire here. I'll just add that I found the entire season to be truly amazing television.
ALL INFERENCES DRAWN IN FAVOR OF THE NON-MIXING PARTY: Enjoy some legally themed cocktails at your upcoming firm or office holiday party. If you're so inspired, present your own cocktails here. "FRCP 1" is, of course, straight shots of vodka, which shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive point of intoxication. (Via Above The Law.)
THROW THE ACADEMY DOWN THE WELL: Could Borat be next year's version of the Three 6 Mafia? The Wacky Kazakhstaki's version of his homeland's national anthem, "O Kazakhstan" is among the 56 songs eligible for the Academy Award's Best Song statue. And with no Randy Newman songs in the mix, its a pretty open field, though you have to guess an original from Dreamgirls will end up winning.

In other Boart news, Borat made the esteemed AFI list of the top 10 films of 2006, which also includes two other films I actually saw in the theater (Happy Feet and Inside Man). Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima redux, Letters from Iwo Jima, also makes the list and it also topped the LA film critics' list, giving it serious Oscar mojo. And of note on the AFI's TV list is the inclusion of both Heroes and The Office, two shows that I know have big followings round these parts.

And while we are on the subject of lists and such, I wanted to point out that my good friend Peter Orner's stunning debut novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, got mentioned twice in this Salon roundup of notable authors choosing their favorite reads of 2006. Steve Almond said if it was up to him, Orner "would have won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. The novel is that astonishing," while Stephen Elliot was no less effusive, saying, "It's not just the best book I read this year, it's one of my five favorite novels of all time." Even if your name is not Steve or Stephen, you'll find it a rich and compelling read.
I DO, HOWEVER, TIP MY UROLOGIST: Something I'm still not used to even having lived in NYC for 7 years now is the whole concept of "holiday tipping." In some cases, it makes a lot of sense--I do give a gift to my assistant, and leave a tip for my maid service on the last cleaning before the holidays. But I draw the line at things like tipping the newspaper guy and the mailman. What's a particular problem for me is the question of whether the "tip" is a reward for good performance in the year past or a bribe to ensure appropriate future performance. For instance, my paper delivery screws up on average of once a week, where no paper is delivered to my door (though, interestingly, that status has improved over the past few weeks). Does that warrant a tip?
WITH HARVEY FIERSTEIN AS THE HEAT MISER: No, I'm not even kidding -- a new live-action The Year Without A Santa Claus two-hour movie debuts tonight on NBC. John Goodman plays Santa.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

4 CONTINENTS, 13 COUNTRIES. . . You remember how in Purple Rain, Morris Day couldn't believe that after all those rock-funk battles, Prince and the Revolution ended up winning the competition based on a ballad of all things?

That's sorta how I feel about having this otherwise well-constructed race ending on the luck of an EZ Pass and the finding of a cab. Seriously, yo, make them travel on foot to the last task in NYC -- don't do this nonsense lengthy cab ride to the 'burbs (where you don't have to do any additional task) because you're afraid of the ending being spoiled. LAME.

There was a moment where I finally felt like airport strategery mattered in the race. Sigh. And no Guido Edit for that third place team?
SHE IS NOT A CHOREOANIMATOR: Mariah Carey has indicated that she, or at least the entity that holds her publicity rights, will attempt to prevent porn star adult film actress Mary Carey from obtaining a trademark registration for the MARY CAREY name.