Saturday, February 3, 2007

FOILED: So, I headed out again with the remnants of the Hoeffel '04 campaign for our shot at glory in Quizzo Bowl 3. If only we had a former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire stud on our team, we could have placed better than our 6th place (out of 50+ teams), and though we aced the entire "Chicago or Indianapolis?" round ("which was founded on the White River in 1821?"; "which is the home of Kiwanis International?"; "which hosted the first controlled nuclear reaction?"), we could have used some help on the following, each of which we got wrong:
  • Which bombshell's image was painted on the first nuclear bomb tested after WW2?
  • In what country was Mata Hari executed?
  • What team has won the most NFL championships? (note: not Super Bowls)
  • Indianapolis is the second-largest state capital city, based on population. What's first?
  • What artist, who would have turned 113 today, painted "The Problem We All Live With"?
No Googling, because it's not like we were allowed to. Hardest one I got right (IMHO) -- which of these Philadelphia institutions opened first: Bookbinder's, McGillin's Olde Ale House, Pat's Steaks or Gimbels Department Store?
ALSO, LUIS ZENDEJAS DESERVED IT: Philadelphia has had coaches like Billy Cunningham and Dallas Green who have actually won championships here, but none of them remain as beloved as James Earl "Buddy" Ryan, master of the 46 defense and head coach of the 1986-90 Philadelphia Eagles. The New York Times catches up with him on his Kentucky farm.
SEE YOU LATER, DECORATORS? We haven't had a thread about the debut of Top Design yet, so now that I've finally had a chance to see it, well, let's see how well it fits the requirements for a Bravo reality competition:
  • Allows us to enter the world of high-quality people being allowed to demonstrate high-end work to impress us: Yes.
  • High-class production values: Yes.
  • First elimination is clearly based on "who's going to make for good television?" and not "who did the worst job at this challenge?" Yes.
  • Does a decent job explaining what it is these people are doing so well: Eh.
  • Has a confident lead host-judge who conveys mastery of this sphere and doesn't sound like a Muppet every time he speaks: Hells no.
Will I watch again? Yes. Am I enraptured the way we were from the start of Runway? Not quite.

Friday, February 2, 2007

THE BALD BLOGGERHOOD: Kornheiser and Wilbon will be liveblogging the game (and commercials) on Sunday. As always, we'll have an open thread here.
IF YOU LIKED 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN...: This trailer confirms that Judd Apatow's Knocked Up is going to be the funniest movie of 2007.
THIS ALLOWS THEM TO SUIT IN AN UPWARD DIRECTION: The folks behind HIMYM have signed a deal that keeps them in the employ of Fox TV (HIMYM's production company) through 2010. The article also notes that unlike CBS's other, more ratings successful sitcoms, HIMYM has "buzz," indicating that contrary to what some folks we're not talking about might like to think, we're important out here in blogland.
SO WHICH ONE OF THE TWO AMERICAS IS OUR COUNTRY? Not every political candidate can have a rockin' theme song--apparently, at least for the moment, John Edwards is using the much maligned in these parts "Our Country" as his entrance music. Still, I suppose it's a step up from the 1988 Dukakis theme music. (If I had more fluency in professional wrestling, there's assuredly a joke here, which you're invited to insert in the comments.)

edited by Adam: According to Jerome Armstrong, today's other song choices were Chris Dodd -- "Get Ready", by The Four Tops The Temptations; Hillary Clinton - "Right Here Right Now", by Jesus Jones; Wesley Clark -- "I Won't Back Down", cover by Johnny Cash. No music for Barack Obama or Dennis Kucinich, from what I've gathered so far.
OKAY, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BOOTIES 'CAUSE IT'S COOOOOOLD OUT THERE TODAY: It's February 2, so it's time to talk about the movie again. Do you buy the whole Buddhist thing, or should we just quote lines for a while and generally discuss its awesomeness? Participate in this thread, or it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life. Also: no shadow.
THE ANNUAL SEASON-ENDING BIG GAME POOL: It is time, yet again, to register your predictions as to four key questions regarding Sunday's festivities:
  1. Final score.
  2. Game MVP
  3. Company responsible for the commercial receiving the highest rating in Monday's USA Today Ad Meter survey. (Dan Rubin has your prep material and links.)
  4. Assuming he does three songs, predict the three-song setlist that Prince will perform during the halftime show.
My predictions: Colts 34-20; Peyton Manning; Anheuser-Busch; and "Let's Go Crazy"/"Get On The Boat"/"Baby I'm A Star". On the last one, I just have a feeling he's playing something off '3121'.

Your prize, as always, is Fame and Glory Forever. Benner, how's that working out from last year?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

DUDE, NOW SHE'S CALLIE O'MALLEY: This was a rather extraordinarily acted Grey's we saw tonight. I have to hand it to Ellen Pompeo: tonight's episode included the most impressive acting performance we've ever seen from our lovably (and now explicably!) flawed title character. Kate Burton brought out the best in her, not to mention the best (or was it the worst?) in Ellis herself. Nicely done.
EPIPHERY: Philadelphia's Ralph Archbold may be out of a job, while tonight's Office didn't hit any high notes but a lot of wonderful lower ones -- the continuity fairy bringing back Kevin's poker glasses, Angela's poster and a certain cooking appliance; art appreciation; and, hoo boy, a whole lot of pixellation. But where was Andy?
  1. In high school, I was president of the David Letterman Fan Club, an officially recognized student group. Our only activity was to meet once and awhile after school in the library to watch a video tape of a recent episode. I have no memory of the club ever doing anything beyond that.
  2. The NY Daily News has a lame list of Dave's Top 10 Shows that includes only a single episode from the far, far superior NBC era (the Sonny and Cher reunion).
  3. Entertainment Weekly's Whitney Pastorek recalls her brush with fame and how she subsequently got banned from the audience.
  4. Bill Murray is tonight's guest, just as he was 25 years ago. Cue the Olivia Newton John music.
  5. It's nice that Dave's hometown of Indianapolis will at least have one thing celebrate this week.
  6. Dave's first post-9/11 show was quite simply captivating.
  7. I still can't phantom why people voluntarily watch Jay Leno rather than him.
  8. Two words: Chris Elliot.
  9. YouTube appears to be down right now, so I can't link to some of the great musical performances from the show over the years, but the one that always stands out is a shy and shaggy haired Michael Stipe belting out "South Central Rain" from 1983.
  10. Who knows what other surprises are in store for tonight? Gruff-but-lovable Gus, anyone?
I AM NOW CHOPPING OFF PHYLLIS'S HEAD WITH A CHAINSAW: A couple of weeks ago, Spacewoman asked TV for more Ed Helms, and TV has obliged: Ed Helms has been promoted from recurring guest to Office regular. If you're looking for any additional tea leaves to read, there is no mention of Rashida Jones in the article.

It will be quite a week -- on July 13, the weekend before, Order of the Phoenix hits theaters. Our lengthy discussion of Half-Blood Prince from two years ago is here.
THIRD RATE VIDEO GAME: Who wouldn't want to drop a few quarters into Watergate Caper? I'm just waiting for the inevitable nextgen remake.
WHAT'S NEXT -- ARE THEY NO LONGER COMING OUT WITH NEW VERSIONS OF 'LEMONADE STAND'? The WaPo notes the near-death of the floppy disk, in both 5 1/4" or 3 1/2" formats. "Then, of course, the CD-ROM came. And these days you can store your MP3s, video files, Web pages, anything on the Web, in a CD or a USB thumb drive. Goodbye, Floppy. Oh, you can visit a few, if you want, probably stored in the same place as other relics, the eight-track and VHS. It will be next to the Apple IIc, sitting right atop your Super NES."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

YOU'RE THE ONE GOING FOR $100,000, YOU TELL ME WHERE THE FISH IS vs. TONIGHT'S MEAL IS ENTIRELY FRESH ISLAND PRODUCE, PLUS A LARGE JAR OF BABY EELS THAT I BROUGHT FROM HOME: Thankfully, no crises or recriminations took center stage to spoil the fun on the finale of Top Chef 2 (leave that to Food & Wine), and the editors still managed to maintain a sense of interpersonal drama. Ilan just had to get in a couple of nasties about Marcel, of course, but it's not like he hit him with a beer bottle or anything.

Hereabouts, watching those two meals go down while munching on a mundane bowl of shells in parmesan pesto created a sad sort of dissonance. To answer Adam's question from the earlier post, a meal prepared by any of this year's contestants would be happily received as long as I didn't have to listen to them rehash the competition while I ate.

With that, the floor is open for further, more specifically-spoileriffic discussion.
ELDRICK RAMONE: In a bid to broaden our demographic appeal, here is a list of the top 25 punk albums of all time and the 12 greatest achievements in Tiger Woods' career.

And we haven't had a quiz in a long time so, guess which list each of these belongs on:
  1. 12 Major Championships
  2. Double Nickels on the Dime
  3. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
  4. Seven PGA Tour Victories in a Row
  5. Tiger Slam
  6. Dookie

ONANISM ALTRUISM: Purely as a service for those male readers out there whose mental masturbatory Rolodexes may need updating (I think its time to perhaps to prune Sally Field, Kathleen Turner, Kristy McNichol, and Olivia Newton-John...on second thought, no need to be hasty about Buddy Lawrence there), I present the 2007 edition of's Top 99 Most Desirable Women. Beyonce took top honors (after finishing No. 50 last year), which no doubt will take some of the sting away from the Dreamgirls Best Picture snub.
ONE MORE REASON JAN LIKES THEIR CLOTHES: The bad news? Timothy M. Gunn is leaving Parsons and joining Liz Claiborne as "Chief Creative Officer." The good news? It'll keep him on Project Runway.

Update: Unsurprisingly, Gunn's farewell memo is nothing short of wholly classy.
THE MAN WHO MADE MR. COSMO GET MISTY: Just finished watching both the Birmingham and LA auditions, and I really only have one question: did anyone not cry when Sherman Pore sang "You Belong to Me"?
SHE DIDN'T SAY THAT, DID SHE? Molly Ivins, a proud graduate of Smith College, has lost her fight against breast cancer at the age of 62. The fearless columnist returned to the Pioneer Valley to speak at the Class Day ceremonies preceding the 1994 graduation of many of us in ALOTT5MA-land, both bloggers and readers, and I'll let Russ take it from there:
Ivins told a pretty salty story (esp. when you consider all the old blueblood grandmas in the audience). When she was covering the Texas legislature ("the leg," she calls it), she covered passage of an anti-sodomy bill (probably the law overturned in Lawrence, I now realize). Afterwards, apparently there was a lot of (literal) back-slapping among the right-wing good ole boys behind the measure. One of her fellow progressive journalists, watching them all shake hands and pat each others' backs etc., turned to her and said, "Hey, I thought it was illegal for a prick to touch an asshole in this state."

Video of her telling the story is over here (contains bawdy language, and the story starts about halfway in), and an archive of some of her recent work is here. From the NYT obit:

After Patrick J. Buchanan, as a conservative candidate for president, declared at the 1992 Republican National Convention that America was engaged in a cultural war, she said his speech “probably sounded better in the original German.”

“There are two kinds of humor,” she told People magazine. One was the kind “that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity,” she said. “The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule. That’s what I do.”

The Texas Observer has a lengthy tribute as well. One has to love a woman who autographed her books with the note, Raise more hell!
BECAUSE IT IS, KINDA, THE WHOLE POINT OF THE SHOW: In all the conversations we've had about Top Chef 2, one question we've never asked is this (I think): which of the chefs, this season, based on what we've seen, would you most like to have cook for you? For me, I think it's Ilan or Elia, though I wouldn't mind going to Marcel's place once. Once.

Finals are tonight. Predictions are welcome here, as would be your running commentary. Phil, I believe, will wrap up a great season of recaps with the post-game show.
NUMBER ONE IN THE HOOD, G: Over-reaction is not funny if what they're over-reacting to is the perceived threat of terrorism. Over-reaction is not funny if what they're over-reacting to is the perceived threat of terrorism. Over-reaction is not funny if what they're over-reacting to is the perceived threat of terrorism. Over-reaction is not funny if what they're over-reacting to is...
"two trouble-making, 1980s-graphic-like characters called "mooninites," named Ignignokt and Err -- who were pictured on the suspicious devices. They are known for making the obscene hand gesture depicted on the devices."
Or is it? It kind of is, seems to me. "Omigawd it was like Space-Invaders for real and they were so vulgar!!"

Hat tip: Atrios.
HAMMER TIME: The Super Bowl hype is switching into overdrive (here's a cool story here about how they do that), though not without a few glitches. And, you may not be aware of this, but those commercials that air in between the action, garner considerable attention also. MSNBC counts down the top 10 Super Bowl commercials of all-time and more interestingly, also lists the 10 worst Super Bowl ads.
DAD?! MOM?! Anyone besides me get a couple of nostalgic whiffs of Alias when watching this week's Heroes?

I'm glad that Boy Wonder has finally been revealed as a member of Team Mutation -- even if his Eriq-LaSalle-in-Coming-to-America hair and shave-it-or-bleach-it upper lip are really getting on my nerves. I'm unimpressed so far with the introduction of the Invisible Man, but thought that the fakeout in the hallway was a nice touch. I continue to love the sense of humor in the subtitling of Hiro's communications. (The "gasp" wasn't as funny as last week's subdued "whoosh", but still -- pretty funny.) I'm bored with Not-Detective Weiss's parlor tricks with the wife -- she didn't accidentally think about her little secret even once during all those giggly "guess what I'm thinking" games? And I'd like an explanation as to exactly which power led to Sylar's nifty trick.

Lots more one-off ruminations brewing, but I'll leave them for the comments.
MUSICAL COMEDY, THE TWO MOST GLORIOUS WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: I am pleased to report to what are apparently the many fans of Project Broadway* around here that next week's episode will give us the opportunity to come on along and listen to the lullabies of old Broadway. Because, really, do we expect Andrew Lloyd Webber to comment on Boy Band Danny's rendition of a Justin Timberlake song?

*thanks to frequent commenter Jenn for the nomenclature suggestion
PAGING DENIS LEARY: Now that cancer has been cured, we can all move on to more important causes like preserving the iconic 76 ball.

Cancer link via Heaneyland, because it's not like that's the kind of interesting news one would find in other places.
DON'T WANNA BE AN AMERICAN IDIOT: New Jersey cares. That's why they're planing on taking the word "idiot" out of their constitution. It currently appears in a provision barring "idiots and insane persons" from voting.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

NO LEARNING! NO HUGGING! And no more backstory! I want my Old, Original Cranky Dr. House back, and I want him back next week. No more sympathy -- from him, or for him. Got it?
WHAT'S NEXT, WAL-MART? I am decidedly not offended by the idea of "big box" stores coming into Manhattan. (Come on, Target! We're waitin'!) But TJ Maxx taking over the former Tower Records at Lincoln Center? That's just wrong.
WOO HOO WOO HOO: Tonight's challenge, dear friends--explain what the heck KT Tunstall is talking about in "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree." I think I lose track of things at about the point the "Big Black Horse" (symbol? metaphor?) asks the singer if she will marry him. I just can't get there. Is it because my heart's forsaken me?
ARE THEY SAVING TRAVOLTA FOR THE FINALE? While I'm a little annoyed that Billy Bush's teleprompter writers coined nicknames for the 12 14 I Wanna Be a Greaser finalists, thereby taking some of the fun out of my job, I was pleased with the overall talent level of the 12 finalists who'd actually gotten to the finals in the ordinary course. (The two who were brought back after-the-fact, Emotional Sandy and Second-Chance/Man Tears Danny, seemed woefully amateurish compared to the others.) This shouldn't be surprising. At this point, America is doing all the choosing, and the stakes are rather higher than with American Idol: the teenyboppers doing the voting are unlikely to be the majority of audience members for a Broadway production, so the winners actually have to be kind of good in order to appeal to the standard Broadway audience. (Granted, Grease is pretty much criticproof, but it's not like a thirteen year old girl in Des Moines who's been fanatically voting for Bellhop Danny or Boy Band Danny is likely to support the franchise by flying to NYC to see a show versus buying the AI winner's first album at her local whatever-record-store-still-exists or off of iTunes.)

Anyway. Not much to say about the actual performances except that two of my least favorite performances were among the judges' favorites: Baby Sandy (aka Elisabeth Shue Sandy), whose "I Love Rock and Roll" seemed more angry than sexy, and Ambitious Danny (aka Flailing Danny), whose "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" must have played better live than on TV. I particularly liked Spiritual Sandy -- she sang that "Beautiful Girl" song that the AI folks seem to like -- as well as Serious Sandy. As for the Dannys, I have to say that Hot Danny (aka I Was a Teenage Geek But Now I Am Hot Danny) gives me the oogies -- he's just a little too, well, oogy for me. Wholesome Danny and Slacker Danny were my favorites among the guys.

Anybody watching this one, or is this another show like So You Think You Can Dance regarding which I draft posts for my own amusement?

Monday, January 29, 2007

AND, I COULD BE WRONG, BUT IT SORT OF READS IN PLACES LIKE YOU DIDN'T MAKE ANY CHOICES. AT ALL: The Wall Street Journal's Kate Kelly wonders whether Katie Holmes can ever find work as an actress again. "Publicity works both ways," notes the guy whose company tracks 'Q ratings'. "It helps build careers, and helps pull them down."
BIBIDDI-BOBBIDI-BOO: A question spurred by both the ad that aired during HIMYM tonight and the ad on the pay phone bank right outside my apartment building--was anyone over the age of 6 demanding Cinderella III? With respect to "fairy tale sequels," I'll take only two as being necessary: Into The Woods and Buttercup's Baby (which had better arrive as promised in 2009).
HE IS SMART ENOUGH, AND PEOPLE DO LIKE HIM: Given today's news that Al Franken is leaving Air America to pursue a possible Senate run, I'm really going to empty out the YouTube Early 1980s Solid Gold Archive tonight -- this clip speaks for itself.
LAST NIGHT I HAD THE STRANGEST DREAM: Maybe it's just that I never really gave it much thought, but who knew that the guy who sang the 1980s hit "Break My Stride" was a dork looked like this?
I SUPPOSE IT'S BETTER THAN HAVING "JUICY" WRITTEN ACROSS THE REAR END: My legal area doesn't often make its way to Page A1 of the Times, but when it does, it's usually fascinating, as is the case with this article, about the various litigation relating to U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 1139254, which I'm willing to bet most of you are familiar with.
TELL ME LIES, TELL ME LIES, TELL ME SWEET LITTLE LIES: So ex-President Baltar is back on Galactica and President Roslin may have announced amnesty for the quisling crowd at least one guy too early. A slight comment (spoilers, most likely) in the post.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

BECAUSE, REALLY, WHO DOESN'T WANT TO SEE A BABOON HAVE SEX WITH A ROMAN WOMAN? If I'm the only one watching Rome, just let me know by keeping the Comments quiet. Otherwise, much afoot in the Antony-Brutus-Octavian world, with Cicero reminding us all that there's a reason people say "don't kill the messenger". And if you're into gratuitous male nudity, historical accuracy or that good Macedonian hemp, well, that's nobody's business but the Turks, right?
ALSO FEATURING ONE OF THE HIGH POINTS OF WESLEY SNIPES' CAREER: Yes, Marty Scorsese is almost certainly going to win his Oscar this year, but let's take a moment to remember that 20 years ago, he was responsible for this.
GIVE ME TWO MORE BILLABLE HOURS, AND YOU WON'T BE DENIED: The new U2 video for "Window in the Skies" is a triumph of modern editing technology and intellectual property lawyering. J. Freedom du Lac has more, and an expanding list of all the artists contained in the video exists here.
BLOW UP I-95? Via Dan Rubin, a long read for a weekend afternoon for the Philadelphians among us -- an essay by Matt Blanchard explaining why I-95 was built hugging the valuable waterfront, and how we might reconnect the city to the river. (My favorite idea remains returning to the original plan and covering over I-95 between Arch and Pine, allowing for parks and other development to link Old City to Penn's Landing.)
THE GRAB SHROUD: L.M. Boyd, collector of useless information, and author of "The Grab Bag", has died at the age of 79.