Saturday, May 12, 2007

LOOKS LIKE THEY'VE REPLACED LAST YEAR'S "SUCK UP TO J.J." STRATEGY: ABC hasn't announced a schedule yet, but they've said what they're picking up--the sitcoms sound mediocre or worse (seriously, they're picking up "The Geico Cavemen Sitcom?"), and I could do without "Women's Murder Club," which sounds like generic CBS procedural #437, but there's plenty of interesting stuff--two new Berlanti shows (one with Peter Krause and the other with SpyDaddy!), Bryan Fuller's "Pushing Daisies" (with Kristin Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz, and Chi McBride), which sounds like it has certain resemblances to "A Dirty Job," and the Joshua Malina/Dylan McDermott/Michael Vartan drama, which I know automatically generates a substantial audience around here. And yes, "Private Practice" got picked up. (Also apparently returning are "Notes From The Underbelly" and inexplicable hit "October Road.")

Friday, May 11, 2007

HALFWAY-ISH DISNEY WORLD REPORT: Things that are awesome:
  • Treatment of daughter on birthday throughout the Magic Kingdom. Received special call from Goofy (Are you Lucy, from Philadelphia?) on checking in at Disney City Hall.
  • random run-ins with characters outside of Official Greeting Opportunities -- Lucy just happened to wander into Aurora yesterday within minutes of entering the Magic Kingdom
  • It's A Small World. Still.
  • Fastpass. Why doesn't everyone use it?
  • Splash Mountain, the ride.
  • Disney's Philharmagic 3-D smell-and-water-o-vision movie. Why aren't all films done in that format?
  • Robot Lincoln.
  • The stamp-and-tag collecting program at Epcot's world showcase, because otherwise, I don't know what Lucy would have gotten out of it.
  • Marrakesh lunch and entertainment
  • Princess breakfast -- food good, visits from Jasmine, Belle, Mary Poppins and Aurora even better
  • Hoop-De-Doo!
  • That Pluto (who Lucy still calls "Poodle") can sign his name.
  • Seeing daughter ask for ketchup at the Whispering Canyon Lodge
  • Running into a middle school's run-through of Annie's greatest hits at Epcot.

Things that are less than awesome:

  • Four-year-old daughter's reactions during Splash Mountain ("I don't ever want to remember this!"), "scary" parts of Philharmagic.
  • Somewhat lackadaisical service at some restauarants
  • Splash Mountain's reliance on Song of the South characters as its narrative, since no one knows who Br'er Anyone is anymore.
  • I get the sense they're still not sure what to do with the non-World Showcase parts of Epcot.
  • Robot LBJ and Robot William Howard Taft not built proportionately.
  • Excessive promotion of Vacation Club plan, including voicemail message in room.
  • My stamina. Two more days!

As you can see, awesome remains in the lead.

THE BRIEF QUESTION ABOUT THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD: For anybody out there who's read The Brief History of the Dead, wouldn't the book have been better if the epigraph were at the end? Just seems like letting the reader unravel that part of the mystery would have been nice.

eta: Did anybody read this book?
WE CALL THIS FULL HEARTS: Not only has NBC picked up Friday Night Lights for a full 22 episodes next season, but they've also confirmed that production will stay put in the Austin area rather than moving to Louisana or someplace else to cut costs. NBC'll be running the show on Sunday nights over the summer, which should be a nice time to catch up.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

VOLDEMORT! VOLDEMORT! Tonight's Office had its moments, to be sure, but it struck me that this was more a bridge to get us to next week's finale than something designed to stand alone. Sure, lessons were learned--that Michael doesn't know who Amanda Bynes is, that everybody loves Beach Day, and that sometimes, you just need to tell it like it is. And, we learned that Jenna Fischer got another episode to add to her Emmy reel. So, what's next? Who's getting the job in corporate? Could Pam be getting a rather unexpected promotion? How exactly did they finally find Andy? Talk amongst yourselves on the shores of Lake Scranton.
COLD CASE FILE: MADELINE: The following summarizes my research in the evidence collected in the odd case of the appendicitis cluster in a Parisian girls' boarding school in 1939. While the evidence has been poorly-preserved and is incomplete, I believe that it reasonably supports the thoughts below.
  • Fact: The boarding school was "old" and "covered in vines," indicating insufficient funds for routine upkeep, even though matriculants appeared, from well-tailored clothes and gifts of "toys and candy and [a] dollhouse," to be affluent.
  • Fact: Matriculants slept in an axially-oriented room with "two straight lines" of beds along the long (assumed east and west) walls of the room. Double-doors opening upon a second-story hallway or landing occupied the center of the assumed north wall of the room. A curtained window opening to a balustrade occupied the center of the assumed south wall of the room. See graphics inscribed "and went to bed" (first) and "Little Madeline sat in bed ...."
  • Fact: The matriculant initially diagnosed with "an appendix," (subj. name "Madeline," aliases unk., blonde, approx. 40" tall per description as "the smallest one") occupies the bed at the assumed northeast corner of the sleeping quarters. See graphic inscribed "Little Madeline sat in bed ...."
  • Fact: During "Madeline's" time in the hospital, the empty bed is at the southwest corner of the sleeping quarters. The northeast corner bed, formerly occupied by "Madeline," remains occupied (by brunette, approx. 40-44" tall). See graphic inscribed "and went to bed" (second).
  • Fact: Matriculants again rearrange their quarters, vacating subj. "Madeline's" northeast corner bed and reoccupying formerly vacant southwest corner bed. This rearrangement required complicity of more than one matriculant, since new occupant of southwest corner bed (blonde) is not former occupant of northeast corner bed (brunette). See graphic inscribed "And all the little girls cried, 'Boohoo.'" Assumption: This change was an attempt to escape detection by correcting prior error.
  • Fact: As described above, alleged doctor's (subj. name "Dr. Cohn") diagnosis of subject Madeline was "an appendix." As most persons are born with appendixes, this is not a known medical diagnosis. It is akin to diagnosing a person with "a muscle" or "some skin." Assumption: "Dr. Cohn" was not actual medical personnel.
  • Assumption: Headmistress (Subj. name "Miss Clavel") is an unreliable witness. She twice describes waking "in the middle of [the] night," though graphic evidence demonstrates that these events occurred at only approximately 9:55 p.m. See graphics inscribed "In the middle of one night ..." and "In the middle of the night ...." Although Miss Clavel claims to have acted posthaste in both instances, documentary evidence shows an unexplained three-hour gap between Miss Clavel's first awakening and Dr. Cohn's attendance at the boarding school. See graphic inscribed "'Nurse,' he said, 'it's an appendix!'" Documentary evidence demonstrates that before running "fast and faster" upon awakening a second time, Miss Clavel first paused to attend to her appearance. See graphic inscribed "And afraid of a disaster." Subj. Clavel's credibility is further impaired by her failure to notice (or, at least, to acknowledge) the aforementioned bed-shuffling and her refusal to provide information in response to follow-up questions, insisting that "that's all there is -- there isn't any more."
  • Assumption: Other textual details may be unreliable as a result of compromised investigating personnel. The file is written in uneven meter and inexact rhyme, likely in an attempt to create the appearance of translation from an original French account. Investigating author Bemelmans, however, was American. Note also the Americanized spelling of "Madeline."
  • Fact: After the initial appendix removal, remaining matriculants demanded removal of their appendixes.
Conclusion: Though the evidence is inconclusive, it is consistent with my working hypothesis that subjs. Clavel and Cohn, possibly in conspiracy with subj. Madeline, ran a black-market organ-sale ring to service substantial debt incurred by failing boarding school. Recommend reinterview of surviving witnesses and investigation of potential proto-Petainisme angle.
THERE IS NO PARETO OPTIMAL SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM: A perennial favorite around here, the 2007 University of Chicago ScavHunt is underway. The list is, as usual, filled with goodies. A few high points:
  • #20--A playable copy of Where on the El is Carmen Sandiego? in a medium of your choice. Make sure to include a suitable analog to the trusty Fodor's.
  • #47--Trepanation Barbie(TM)
  • #79--The GOB-stacle course! Ride a Segway! Wield the sword of destiny! Show us your Hot Cops routine! Eat a frozen banana! Dramatically hurl a letter into the sea, from when it came! Shot lighter fluid from your sleeves! Demonstrate to the Dean of Love that he's a chicken! Cut an album with Franklin! 100 pennies! And if you've got the wrong music, well, you've made a huge mistake.
  • #83--Send Phoenix, Edgeworth, and Von Karma to the Law School to raise an OBJECTION!
  • #255--The Black Hills are neither black nor hills. Discuss, with the appropriate backdrop.
  • #285--Man, this lecture class is so boring. If only a giant pitcher would burst in to distribute fruit punch!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. THIS IS WHERE I COME FROM: Tonight's Lost was yet another with a few answers ("who was that corpse in the bus?" "Where was Ben born?"), and a whole lot of questions, such as when the Dharma folks got chemical weapons, who or what "Jacob" is, and why young Ben bears a striking resemblance to Harry Potter. We also had a whole lot of pushing the idea of Craphole Island as hell or an afterlife. Was it all worth it for that final moment, what certainly had me shouting "holy crap!" at the television?
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Blogging will be sparse from both myself and Ms. Cosmopolitan over the next few days, as we've taken our families down to The Happiest Place On Earth (no, not Tijuana) to allow a pair of four-year-olds to celebrate their fourth birthdays with all their Princess friends.

Still, I saw what the Idol results were, and, well, yeah, okay. I'm peace with that.
INSTEAD, HE JUST STARES AT SOMEONE ELSE'S FOOD FOR 30 MINUTES: This year's sweepstakes for "most bizarre cameo" already may have an unquestioned winner. Larry David will appear as himself on an upcoming episode of Hannah Montana, when he can't get a table at a restaurant while Hannah Montana can. Somehow, I expect this will send him into a sulking frenzy.
WHEN THE TERRORISTS COME, THEY WILL BE ARMED WITH CIGARETTES AND FIRECRACKERS*: If you watch the news or just have it piped in through your tin-foil hat, you know that Griffith Park is burning. For those of you who don't know LA very well, Griffith Park is maybe the second-largest urban park in America (behind one in San Diego, according to Wikipedia, but Griffith Park is right in the middle of the city, not in the sticks) and is home to the Griffith Park Observatory (apparently safe, though completely, terrifyingly, surrounded by flames), the LA Zoo (from the pictures, it looks like the flames are right there), the Greek Theater, the Museum of the West, the Travel Town train museum, and countless golf courses, hiking trails, and places where large family reunions share lawns with men sunning themselves in very short shorts. Approximately 600 817 acres are burned, which would translate to over 2/3 about 97% of Central Park, and it's only 40% 50% contained. It's safe to say that this fire is threatening a huge portion of LA's cultural resources, including some of the best places to bring kids.

The police had a burn-injured "person of interest" in custody (speculation on the radio this morning was that it was either a homeless person or a golfer; who can tell the difference?) but they cleared him after citing him for smoking in a no-burn zone. Even if it's not his fault, this is a good opportunity for me to re-beat a dead horse: throwing a used cigarette on the pavement is littering, and throwing one on the grass is actually dangerous. If you must smoke, use an ashtray, and if you can't use an ashtray (or you don't want your car to smell like cigarettes), don't smoke.

*The last time the Hollywood Hills were on fire a couple of months ago, it was a couple of kids playing with lady fingers. - The 15 Best Songs That Are Totally About Masturbation

THIS IS THE SECOND TIME I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO REFERENCE "SHE-BOP" IN THE LAST MONTH: The folks over at Cracked had no trouble interpreting Cyndi Lauper's song or for that matter 14 other odes to onanism by the likes of the Divinyls, Billy Idol, Elvis Costello, the Vapors, and Billy Bragg in their list of the best 15 songs that are totally about masturbation.
PAGING BRYAN GARNER: An important question for the ALOTT5MAsphere. When referring to a collection of cases dealing with an issue, which is the appropriate construction?
  • "caselaw" (e.g., "the caselaw in this district requires this court to grant summary judgment")
  • "case law" (e.g., "under prevailing case law, a plaintiff must prove the following elements")


A Sweet So Sour: Kool-Aid Dills - New York Times

STILL GRAPPLING WITH THE PICKLE MATRIX: And now, a culinary invention probably not foreseen by the fifteen contestants slated for Top Chef 3 -- the NYT reports today that marinating pickles in Kool-Aid is all the rage.
THE TORAH MAY HAVE BEEN RIGHT ABOUT NOT EATING PELICAN, BUT . . . makes its case for skipping Deuteronomy 14:8.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

WHO KNEW THAT BARRY GIBB SOUNDED LIKE DARRELL HAMMOND CHANNELING SEAN CONNERY? How can you mend a broken hour of Idol? Beatbox Blake was gimmicky, Melinda and LaKisha radiated Adult Contemporary (emphasis on the adult), and Jordin was good, but not spectacular. I agree with Dan Fienberg -- the Barry Gibb Hour was just a wretched way to sift down from four Idols to three.

070507snl.pdf (application/pdf Object)

TAPED FROM NEW YORK: It's New York Magazine's March 1995 account from one of the worst years of SNL history -- yes, the Janeane Garofalo/Chris Elliott 1994-95 disaster, after Phil Hartman left, when Myers, Sandler, Nealon and Farley were lingering around well past their expiration date, and before Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond and Cheri Oteri righted the ship. Good, depressing read -- you just feel so bad for Garofalo's predicament.
THE RACE FOR THAT ANGEL HOLDING THE BALL: GoldDerby has interesting info about who's submitting what episodes in what category for the Emmys. A few tidbits:

  • Both Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan are trying "Lead Actor" for 30 Rock.
  • Men In Trees and Ugly Betty will both play in the comedy category.
  • Felicity Huffman is going with the "Supermarket Hostage" episode and not one from the recent "Nearly Having Affair With Cokehead Chef" arc.
  • No submissions for anyone on HIMYM except Neil Patrick Harris, who's going with the episode where Barney moves in with Lily.
  • No submissions for B.J. Novak or Rashida Jones, but Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Melora Hardin are all in.

ETA: The forums have other goodies, including:

  • Lauren Graham is going to try her hand in Drama this time (huh?) and is submitting "Farewell, My Pet," the one with the dog funeral. This strikes me as a moronic move, both because the comedy category is less competitive (gets her out of the way of Falco in particular) and she has better material (i.e., last week's karaoke).
  • Sally Field and Calista Flockhart are the "leads" of Brothers And Sisters--Rachel Griffiths is supporting.
  • Connie Britton is playing "lead" as well, with "I Think We Should Have Sex."

Bantam Dell Publishing Group: Logorrhea by John Klima, editor

MAY BOOK CLUB: I thought Logorrhea, a book of short stories in which every story is based championship Spelling Bee words, might be of interest to a few of y'all as we count down the days until the Big Event.
REMIND ME NEVER TO ASK FOR "COOL GUY TIPS:" Sure, there was no Canadian pop music video, presence of Bob Barker, slapping, or reference to Swarles Barkley on last night's HIMYM, but just something sweet and funny, with Barney yet again suggesting that maybe, just maybe, he actually has a soul in the back of the Winne-bang-o. Don't forget to bring your traditional native american headdress to the comments. Failing that, just bring a hat.
TALKING 'BOUT ISSUES, TALKING 'BOUT REAL IMPORTANT ISSUES: Barry Gibb Night ahead on Idol, and USA Today has the complete scoop on who's singing what (and why). Blake will not be repeating "How Deep Is Your Love", in case you were wondering.

Now that we've got the final four we've wanted, what do we want to see happen? As for me, as much as I enjoy Blake in this competition, I just can't imagine his becoming The Next American Pop Superstar, so maybe it's time for him to go. I feel the same way about him as I did about Melrose from cycle 7 of Top Model, where you have someone who's clearly excelling in the competitions within a reality show, but is unsuited for the real-world demands of the top prize.

Your predictions, hopes and fears are all welcome, as always, as well as comments as to whether you can look at Barry Gibb the same way once you've seen his talk show.

Monday, May 7, 2007

IRONICALLY, TOM HANKS' LOFT IN PHILADELPHIA LIES OUTSIDE THE GAYBORHOOD: The PA chapter of the American Family Association is calling on "traditional family dollars" to boycott Philadelphia so long as the City continues to promote gay tourism -- at which we happen to do a darn good job.
WE'RE GETTING OFF THIS ISLAND, IF IT IS AN ISLAND: ABC has officially announced a rather odd-ball pickup for Lost. Key terms:
  • Show to run three more seasons (2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010) and then conclude.
  • Each season to run 16 episodes, rather than the normal 22-24 episodes most shows do in a season.
  • Each 16 episode "season" will run uninterrupted, followed by a hiatus of some length. (Likely, new episodes January-May non-stop, similar to what we've seen the second half of this season.)
  • No word on cast status, but Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse both get hearty paydays and development deals.

The finite calendar (even if it's a kind of long one) will be helpful in moving things along. This'll take the show to 120 episodes. At three days on the Island per episode, that (interestingly) is right around a year of "Island Time." I somehow expect that's not a coincidence.

AN ANGRY SPELLER: Utah's Kunal Sah, the thirteen-year old speller we first introduced you to two months ago, yesterday received the full Times treatment over his parent's deportation woes:
“What I want to do is win the nationals, and, if I do, then there is a chance that my mom and dad will have a better chance of coming back,” Kunal said, sitting on his bed in a room stuffed to the ceiling with sprachgefühl, a word he was stumped by in a spelling bee last year. It means things that are linguistically appropriate or intuitive. Everything in Kunal’s room, from his dictionaries to his spelling trophies, is linguistically appropriate. “The anger is pushing me,” he said. “The anger is just telling me that yes, this year I have to win.”
ABC will once again broadcast the finals live in prime time -- Thursday, May 31 -- from 8-10pm. That this happens to be the same slot as the premiere of "Pirate Master" means that, for yet another Thursday night in our house, Mark Burnett gets skipped on a show we'd otherwise watch. And, yes, live-blogging will return for our fifth straight year of covering all the drama.

Mt. Sinai in the suburbs | Inquirer | 05/07/2007

COMBINING TWO OF THIS BLOG'S SECOND-TIER INTERESTS: The National Park Service has certified Beth Sholom Synagogue, the suburban Philadelphia synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as a National Historic Landmark. Looking like an "angular, flat-topped pyramid," Beth Sholom is the only synagogue Wright designed during his career, and only the fourth synagogue to be so designated. (It's also where my parents wed in 1970, but we don't need to get into that.) Many pictures available.
OSTRAFIED: I've got little to say about tonight's Sopranos episode that's not all spoiler-y (and likely to be handled better by Alan anyway). Regrettable choices in various characters' treatment and therapy arcs, for sure, and John Locke was really lucky.

e.t.a. Alan's take: "I really do hope something is coming of all this. Since this final season began, I've been warning everyone that Chase and company may not be going for an earth-shattering conclusion, but more of a life-goes-on finish. But the writers have spent so much time over the last five episodes hinting that some apocalypse is coming -- whether it's Phil making war with New Jersey, Tony taking out Chris or vice versa, the FBI completing their RICO case, Muhammed and Ahmed up to no good -- that if none of that comes to pass, every bit of anger from the fans is going to be justified."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

RACEAROUNDTHEWORLD: A bleh end to the TARstars season, with a San Francisco ending so dramatically unsatisfying you'd think they just remade Zodiac. Forty minutes of wasted time followed by a single task, without any kind of physical way for the teams to separate themselves? No Roadblock in the final leg? No way to use airport skills to gain a meaningful advantage? They settled this thing on a slam book?

Please, take yourselves back to May 2002 to see how a Race ending in San Francisco is supposed to end, because this was all kinds of wrong.
AT LEAST THERE WASN'T A KUATU SKETCH: Apparently, tonight's SNL In The 90s: Pop Culture Nation special (which I'm TiVoing right now) suffers from an excess of good material. However, was it just me, or did yesterday's SNL: The Best Of The Season So Far have a lot of missing components? While we did get a recurrence of "Bobby McFerrin Raped My Grandfather!" and, of course, "A Special Christmas Box," we also had to suffer through Dane Cook as a TSA inspector, and one of the painfully unfunny "Bronx Beat" sketches. It seemed quite a few things were missing, such as:

Anything else that was missing? Because lord knows there's a lot I'd have cut and replaced (Julia Louis Dreyfus being molested by a boom mike? Extended boring Weekend Update clips?)

TAYLOR HICKS REMAINS UNREPRESENTED: Anyone who doubts the power of Idol to sell records should take pause at today's iTunes top 100, which features 7 songs by Bon Jovi, including "Livin' On A Prayer," "Wanted Dead Or Alive," and "This Ain't A Love Song," plus "Blaze of Glory" by Jon Bon Jovi solo. In addition, Carrie Underwood has 3 slots, Kelly Clarkson 2, Daughtry 2, Katharine McPhee 1, and Josh Groban 1 from the Idol Gives Back Album.
A TIM GUNN MOMENT: In an earlier thread, the question of what is appropriate wear for women at a law school reunion was raised. The "correct" answer, based on my observations tonight, is a classy cocktail dress, preferably in black. The "incorrect" answer? White skintight leather-seeming go-go minidress with accompanying knee-high boots (also in white), also in evidence tonight.