Saturday, June 16, 2007

MICKEY MOUSE HAS COMPETITION: For the first time in a long time, Pixar sneak-previewed its new film Ratatouille to the general public--perhaps because it's Pixar's first film without an immediate "hook" to grab kids in particular (toys come to life, the monsters in your closet, superheroes, etc.). The good news is that after a slight mis-step with Cars, Pixar has yet again put together a remarkable film. The more surprising news is that while they've stuck with certain eternal Pixar themes (the parent-child relationship, seeking independence and finding one's place in the world), this is Pixar's most adult oriented effort yet. Sure, there's plenty for kids to love--some very nice slapstick comedy, and a couple of very exciting chase sequences--but this is a movie for adults, that for the first time for Pixar, is substantially set in the "real world," rather than a comic book world or a world hidden from our view.

Unlike Dreamworks, Pixar doesn't anthropomorphize its characters. Our hero is a rat, who spends a substantial chunk of the film scurrying around on 4 legs and we watch him and his family eat garbage. Also, while there are name actors involved (Peter O'Toole plays the villain), Pixar doesn't hesitate to use unorthodox casting (cult comic Patton Oswalt voices the hero, and a Pixar employee voices Linguini, the chef who works with the rat), and the name actors aren't the selling point of the film. It's about the story. In a summer of disappointments, Ratatouille is a treat for kids and adults alike, though I'm a bit concerned Disney's going to have trouble marketing (pssst---ads on Top Chef are probably a good call).
BOYZ III MEN? Baseball-wise, I should probably stop attending Friday night Phillies games. But it was also "The Sound of Philadelphia" Night at the Park, Billy Paul sang "Me and Mrs. Jones," and CAPA's own Boyz II Men was honored before the game.

Except there were only three men! (And they didn't sing.) Oh, the disappointment. But, as it turns out, it's not that someone had better things to do that night -- Michael "Bass" McCrary left the group in 2003 due to health issues.

In other Remember the 90s news, Arrested Development is touring again this summer and, hopefully, will be up for a game of horseshoes (a game of horseshoes?) when they come to your town.

Friday, June 15, 2007

'Four' Adds Up to Zero -

I BELIEVE IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT HE HATED, HATED, HATED THIS MOVIE: The WaPo's Stephen Hunter, on the new Fantastic Four film: "Hey, FTC! WAKE UP! Shouldn't some truth-in-advertising law require someone to rename "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" something like "Zzzzzzzz," or "Yawn," or what about "See Paint Dry!"? Isn't that your job? Surely the dullest of Hollywood's many comic-book-derived summer movies, "Silver Surfer" is drearier than corn dying in the Iowa sun, slower than molasses in Antarctica, as grim as February in Rockville. Sentient humans should stay away; all others may enter confident that their IQs are already in the Chernobyl-fried range and will not be affected, except for downward. So many flaws, so little time...."

I need to balance this post with something positive. Alright. "Don't Stop Believing," via Family Guy. And the Robot Chicken: Star Wars half-hour special debuts Sunday night.
WE'RE COMING TO AMERICA! John Williams has written many fine and haunting film scores over the years (though, John, could you spare one Oscar for Marc Shaiman, who's never won one?), but he might have also written the least inspiring classical piece ever--"Fanfare For Michael Dukakis." (Scroll down to 1988.)
TRAPPED IN THE BODY OF A WHITE BOY: I left something out of yesterday's So You Think You Can Dance post: the degree to which 19 Entertainment wants to see a hip hop dancer make it into the later rounds of the competition this year. I've already noted that this season's girls have been more heavily pimped going into the finals than the guys; and of the guys, all the airtime has been going to the b-boys.

(Question: I've never heard the phrase "b-boys" before this season, and I feel sort of white-man's-overbitey using it in a post -- is this a normal part of the American lexicon that I have somehow missed out on?)

Season one had Ryan and Jamile, while season two had Musa. All three eventually got sent home for failure to keep up with their more highly trained counterparts. This time we've got Hok, D-Trix, and Cedric. And you've got Jimmy and Jesus as well -- neither of whom is a hip hop dancer, but both of whom have training in hip hop along with a slew of other styles. But the proof is in the pudding, and last night's pudding left no room for doubt. Saving D-Trix and Cedric over the undeniably weird (I like to think of him as Christian Slater in Heathers minus dental work and any veneer of normalcy) but undeniably talented Ricky was a shot across the bow: the producers want to give their hip hoppers every opportunity to blossom into well-rounded dancers before sending them all home. Having more of them on the show provides some cushion - if D-Trix goes home on a given week, that gives Hok and Cedric another week to work on their technique.

B-boys, get to work: you've got a flock of producers hanging their hats on your success!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Year Of Flops Case File #41: The Jazz Singer (1980) | The A.V. Club

I! HAFF! NO! COMMENT! As part of his year-long review of Hollywood failures, fiascoes and secret successes, Nathan Rabin reviews Neil Diamond's The Jazz Singer:
Diamond and Arnaz might pass for the slightly homely friends of romantic leads, but as cinematic lovers they’re horrifically miscast. Watching Diamond and Arnaz give into their passions during a soft-focus sex scene is like walking in on your elderly parents having kinky sex, only infinitely more painful and embarrassing. In a star-breaking performance, Arnaz conveys little but the slightly strained vivacity and canned sass of a mediocre sitcom sidekick. Diamond, meanwhile, is utterly defeated by the demands of the script. When called upon to convey heartbreak, Diamond can muster only vague disappointment. When called upon to display moody torment, he conveys the mild irritation of someone who ill-advisedly skipped lunch and is paying an exceedingly modest psychic cost.
It's a shanda.
UP MULHOLLAND WHERE I MADE THE SCENE, LIKE THE ONE THAT TOOK LITTLE JIMMY DEAN: As some of you know already, after eight or nine or four or less than two years, depending upon which of us you're asking, the Spacefamily is pulling up stakes and moving north to the East Bay, where the adults will commute into San Francisco. Those of you who have endured my pro-LA rants -- first as a commenter, then as an assistant superintendent of this blog -- can anticipate that this is a little strange for me. As Spacewoman pointed out, this is the longest I've lived consecutively in one city. So while I still consider myself a Seattleite at heart, I do feel at least in part -- the part that became an adult, became very good at his job, married an awesome woman, watched two wonderful kids born, bought a house, and got TiVo and HDTV -- an Angelino. Unlike most of the people who leave LA, I love it dearly, and there are many things I will miss: the 320 days of sunshine and corresponding 90-degree Januaries, the Z-list celeb sightings, the daytime nontourist leisure vibrancy, the Hot Girl ATM at Beverly and San Vicente, and so many other things. I'm sure the things I'll miss far outnumber the things I won't.

On a related note, a few months back, I posted my list (proven incomplete in the comments) of the most architecturally-significant houses in the US, and I mentioned that a disproportionately high number of them are in LA. At the time, I knew I would be leaving soon, and I took it as a sign of a flaw in my character that I had never even tried to see a number of these houses (as I mentioned, I had been in the Gamble and Blacker Houses). To cure this, I grabbed my camera and a Thomas Guide and set out in search of the list.

As it turns out, it's not as easy as I thought it would be. I don't want to bore you with technical jargon, but here in LA we have a term for wandering uninvited onto rich people's property to take pictures of their private stuff: trespassing (or alternatively, Martin Lawrence). So I was limited to houses that were (a) visible from the street; or (b) disinterestedly guarded. Here's what I found, with photographic evidence.

As I mentioned before, Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis-Brown House is in bad shape. When you drive up right below it, it basically looks like it's about to slide right down on top of you. In the picture, you can see that just about every Froebel block is disintegrating. It doesn't look much better from the front of the house, and the cheaply-made iron gate and plywood barrier aren't helping. The saddest thing is that I think this is doomed either to a transformative restoration that junks the original materials or a permanent renovation (like Sagrada Familia) because the materials just weren't engineered for permanence.

Pierre Koenig's Case Study House # 22, the house of the iconic Julius Schulman portrait, was tough. I found it on the map pretty easily, but when I got there, the road was a private drive. When I got out of my car, hopped the gate, and walked up the road, there was nothing but a high plaster wall to greet me. I asked a local which one it was, and he pointed it out, but said that the owners don’t take kindly to trespassers (or Martin Lawrences). Since the house is on the leading edge of a half-circle bluff (which I confirmed by driving right underneath it) and I had a long lens, I thought I'd go over to the next hill and snap a picture. Easier said than done -- I ended up crossing one part of the hill on what must be the only unpaved road left in LA and later trying to execute a three-point turn in a narrow cul-de-sac graded at what must have been a 45-degree angle cutting the road diagonally. Eventually I found a few perches -- an open construction site that seriously messed with my acrophobia, and the fire exit of another house -- that gave me a relatively unobstructed view. I think I love this house -- its L-shape cleanly separates the enclosed private spaces (p.s. -- neat sculpture) from the wide-open public areas, and the view is stunning.

If Case Study # 22 played hard to get, Koenig's Case Study # 21 was kind of skanky-easy. It had just sold, but the buyer hadn't moved anything in, so the property was wide open. I walked around the whole thing, took pictures through all the windows, and accidentally stepped into one of the ponds. Frankly, while I love the catalog photos, in person this house is disappointing. A professional photographer can work magic, because in the light of day the house is kind of dingy. Worse yet, it's tiny. I guess an extraordinarily tidy ascetic could live there, but this works better in theory than in practice.

The last house I saw was John Lautner's Chemosphere. In a way, the directions to this house are simple: Go as high as you can in the Hollywood Hills, then look around and see if there's anything higher. If there is, you're not there yet. In another way, the directions are maddeningly confusing. Essentially, take a right on Torreyson, then a right on the other Torreyson, then a left on the other other Torreyson. Once you figure out where you're going, there's a lot of climbing. First, up the steep street it's on, where there wasn't any parking. Then you can take the funicular from the front gate to the house itself. If, however, you are not exactly supposed to be there and you don't want to draw attention to yourself, calling the funicular might be a bad idea. So there are a LOT of stairs. You are rewarded at the top, however, with a house that is much more likeable than its pictures convey. Most of the shots I've seen of this tend to emphasize the fact that it sits on a single stilt with the living area barely connected to the hillside, so you tend to see the structure (which looks a little like a palm tree clad in aluminum siding) and not the house itself. Up on top, it's completely different -- a very modern decking area (akin to a Palm Springs spa) connected to a mostly-open round room with a 270-degree view of the Valley. It's a little hard to convey exactly how on top of the world you feel up there, but that black building way down below in the picture is the 30-story (?) NBC Universal Tower. This house is probably pretty expensive and impractical to live in and a total bitch to sell, but I can see why somebody would buy it.

That's it. Goodbye, beautiful LA houses, I won't be living in you, but I'll miss you (and the one I did live in) just the same.
ARE YOU RIDING THE HOT TAMALE TRAIN? With 10 couples dancing last night, this could be an extremely long SYTYCD post. But rather than do a blow-by-blow recap, I'll just make some minimally organized observations:
  • I get the sense that the producers are really looking for a girl to win this season. Of the top ten girls, nearly all of them already had significant character/backstory development before they ever set foot on the big stage. (And thus I fear for Sabra and Shauna, the two girls coming into the finals relatively cold.) The guys haven't had nearly as much air time thus far.
  • A few early favorites out of the guys: I love Hok. I just love him, his accent, his grins, and oh, yeah, his dancing. Jesus got a great edit tonight -- that story about the town rallying around the vineyard workers' kid was the kind of thing that can take you far on a show like this. He had the benefit of that amazing Wade Robeson choreography, too, but more on that in a minute. I have high hopes for Pasha -- it's so nice to have a ballroom guy who doesn't feel a need to have an open shirt constantly whipping around a bare chest. Danny (aka Travis Wall's sort-of-adopted-brother) and Jimmy were also worth noting.
  • Anya! Anya! She reminds me of Jennifer Garner for some reason, which can never be a bad thing. Jaimie and Faina illustrated the point that some non-hip-hoppers get it (Jaimie) and others don't (Faina). Jessi managed to make me not hate a waltz. Sara was great (see prior comment re Wade Robeson), and Lauren isn't going home anytime soon despite the salsa problem, but I'm concerned for Ashlee after that painful tango -- she's much better than that. (When both Latin dances blow up in the same week, do you blame the dancers or the choreographer?)
  • And then there's my personal favorite of the night: Lacey Sister-of-Benji-Not-of-David Schwimmer. If you think back to Benji's efforts with Mia Michaels last season, he struggled. Mia said all along that although Benji was the better performer, Travis was her preferred dancer. Lacey totally submitted to Mia's choreography and was astonishing to watch. We know she can do all the ballroom/swing/Latin styles that she'll need to get through that part of the competition, but she was a big question mark for hip hop and contemporary. We'll have to wait and see how she does with Shane and the rotating cast of hip-hop choreographers we're sure to encounter throughout the season.
  • A question to long-time fans of the show, wasn't it great to see the work of all the choreographers again? I'll admit that I'm starting to find Shane a little tiresome - I think they overuse him and that of all the choreographers, he's the least mentoring of his weekly crop of dancers. But Wade Robeson is unfailingly original and brilliant -- remember the corpse group dance from last season? That plus tonight's vagabond cabaret (a vagabond cabaret??) make him one of my most highly-anticipated choreographers. Mia Michaels's work is always amazing and raw, and tonight was no exception. Whatsername the disco queen bores me, and I'm a little skeptical as to whether Alex da Silva has anything new to offer us in Latin land. I did like the new ballroom guy, though -- have we seen him before?
  • And then there's one of my favorite things about SYTYCD: it rewards viewers who have been there since the beginning. Whether it's Nigel pointing out Season Two's Allison (a/k/a Mrs. Spacewoman's doppelganger) out in the audience as he mentions that Lauren Gottlieb reminds him of her, or Dan Karaty pointing out to Dominic that no one committed to cheesy disco dancing like Season One winner Nick Lazzarini, or the three siblings banging around in the top 20, this show builds on itself in a comforting, rewarding way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

TOP CHEF III - TOPPIER. CHEFFIER.: Last week, in an unblogged teaser episode for the new season, some may have seen Top Chef Season 1 alums face off against their oddly-coiffed Season 2 counterparts in a challenge to prepare meals for the incoming Season 3 cast. Season 1 was the clear winner, both on the food and because, when you put them right up next to each other, Stephen Le Sommelier is no where near as irritating as MC Teen Wolf. (I can't believe they let him "bust a freestyle", as the kids say... ugh.) Tonight, Season 3 kicked off with an episode that called to mind one of my favorite Weird Dining Experiences: Denver's Buckhorn Exchange.

This cast of characters seems to have a higher Skill-to-Issues ratio than the last bunch. Obviously that's just a first impression, and a moot issue as well since Tre is already this season's winner. Guest judge Anthony Bourdain has graced him with a set of his collected published works "all signed with obscene doodles" and vowed to take him out in NYC "to get late night Yakitori and obscene savage drunk." How sweet it is. Congratulations, Tre!

Here, based entirely on the impressions they made in the first episode, is a brief rundown of the other contestants still vying for the consolation prize of being designated "Top Chef":

Brian - My only lingering impressions of Brian are his remark about "different beef items", and his uniformly wriggly protein selection for this week's challenge. Would have scored if he'd offered to fry Padma's toe for her.

Joey - Manhattan Motherfucker. Curses constantly. Would give the money to his fucking Mom, okay? My nomination for Contestant Most Likely To Shank Somebody This Season.

Hung - Yet another Las Vegas attitude, but perhaps this time it's justified. Loved the "Yeah. My monkey could do that." remark in the teaser reel. (He has a monkey?!??)

Sara - Last seen gushing over the Versace Palace Hotel Ballroom where they had the meet-and-greet reception. Cab Collichio's quick-change from hors d'oeuvres to ingredients just in time for the big opening Quickfire number was cool.

Howie - Pimped Bourdain with a quote from his own book. Huge points. Yeah, Tony? I got your Ecuadoran Line Chef RIGHT HERE!

Dale - Chi-town. The mohawk says "trust your heart", but watch out for his herb utensil.

Micah - Caterer something art blah. Next. Won the Quickfire though. Low screentime sleeper?

Tre - Hardcore. No nonsense. No fear. Gave a rave to his top-two opponent at the judging table. A winner even before Bourdain offered to take him on a bender.

Lia - Brooklyn.

Sandee - Another mohawk. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.

Sarah - Fromagier, therefore inherently of interest. We do like us some cheese.

Clay - Promised to be a real downer, this guy. Now serving catfish gumbo to economy class passengers on Cambodia Air. Kind of looked like that dude from Pirates Of The Caribbean with the wooden eye, but not in a good way.

Casey - Executive Transvesti -- er, chef. Executive Chef. Life is too short to live in Dallas, even if you know what an amuse bouche is.

CJ - OC denizen. TC survivor. Seemingly willing to joke about it.

Camille - Brooklyn.

This season there may be a recipe attempt or two mixed in with the episodic snark, depending on how organized we can keep the kitchen here at the Throckmorton Manse. Meantime, any early favorites? Other observations? Scintillating details I overlooked about the introductions of Lia and Camille?

Place your bets, place your bets...
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE REFORM, IT MAKES ME WARM: Purely for its musical merits, I need to link to the "I Got a Crush . . . On Obama" video currently circulating on the Internets. The song's by Leah Kauffman, the Temple student also responsible for "My Box In A Box".
NO WORD ON IF SHE WILL HAVE THE CRAZY EYES: While network TV is in reruns, basic cable has some interesting stuff. Next week, TNT kicks off its summer season with the return of The Closer (which I think I'll give a shot) and the interesting-looking Heartland about the world of transplant surgery, starring Treat Williams (playing what sure sounds like a pre-Everwood Andy Brown, who's reminiscent of a Mike Ovitz), Kari Matchett (the Gage Whitney lawyer from Studio 60), Morena Baccarin, and Dabney Coleman. Later this summer, there's Saving Grace, which sounds vaguely like Touched By An Angel crossed with Crossing Jordan, but which features Holly Hunter, who's almost invariably worth watching.
I HAVE A BEEF WITH THIS PLACE: Not merely because Top Chef 3 starts tonight, but out of general interest, I visited Tom Colicchio's New York outpost of CraftSteak tonight. Adam was quite fond of the Vegas location, and I was generally impressed as well. Gorgeous space (despite an ugly view of a carwash across Tenth Avenue), service that finds exactly the right balance between being attentive and knowing what they're doing (waiter gladly explained the differences and his preference between two identically priced New York Strip steaks from different farms), an impressive selection of not just cuts of meat, but varieties (corn-fed, grass-fed, different locales), and the desserts all looked astounding (I had a chocolate souffle with "banana chip" ice cream that was heavenly).

I'm still not 100% sold on the cooking method--steaks are briefly seared, then pan roasted, in an effort to prevent dryness. Certainly, the steak was not even remotely dry, but lacked a certain heat and sizzle. Also, there's no way to try and understand the different types of beef served. You must choose one. I'd be interested in a "tasting platter," which offered three different varieties of the same cut of beef (e.g., a corn-fed, grass-fed, and wagyu Strip), to allow someone to appreciate the differences. Still, I enjoyed my meal, and wouldn't hesitate to return, though more likely in Vegas, where prices are a bit more reasonable.
POTTERVILLES: Falls Church, Va., is currently America's Harry-est Town, according to this list of top 100 cities ranked by number of how many copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows their citizens have pre-ordered.
LEBRON BEATS DUNCAN: At least when it comes to jersey sales. The NBA released its list of the top 15 selling jerseys from this past season, James' jersey ranks No. 3, 12 spots ahead of Duncan's. Kobe Bryant regained the top spot by changing numbers from No. 8 to 24, while Dwayne Wade slipped a notch to No. 2. And while I have no way to prove it, I am going to venture a guess that Jake Voskuhl's No. 43 Charlotte Bobcats jersey was the worst selling shirt this season.
IN SOVIET RUSSIA, GAME PLAYS YOU! Nostalgic for the Cold War? How about some Soviet-made arcade games? Interestingly, in contrast to American games of the same era, there's remarkably little theme of "kill the evil guys on the other side!" present in the games, perhaps because many of the Soviet games seem to contain Pong-level technology.
DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CAN'T BLOG: Four seasons of television ago, before the merger, Matt and I tried to construct a pantheon of episodic television -- a list of the best episodes of television from the past decade or so. Since we're now twelve years past the first airing of ER's "Love's Labor Lost" and the final episodes of My So-Called Life, and shows like Lost, Grey's Anatomy and House, M.D. have all debuted in the interim, it's probably time for us to update that list. (Plus, it's a slow week.)

I have a feeling we'll find broad consensus on at least two: Lost's "Walkabout" and House's "Three Stories", but beyond that, well, you tell me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - FOX 411: 'The Office' Spin-Off in the Works? - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment

MORE MOSE! Would you watch a Dwight Schrute-centered spinoff of The Office?

Also reported in Roger Friedman's column today: NBC may be trying to lure in Bradley Whitford as the new executive assistant DA on Law & Order.

Pamela Low, 79; created flavored coating for Cap'n Crunch cereal - Los Angeles Times

THE ROOFS OF MILLIONS OF KIDS MOUTHS WERE NEVER THE SAME: Pamela Low, the woman credited with inventing the flavor of Cap'n Crunch died last week.

Meanwhile, Edwin Traisman, who not only was a key figure in the development of Cheese Whiz, but also was instrumental in evolution of the McDonald's French Fry, also passed away.

Neither food Frankenstein can match the output of William A. Mitchell, who passed away in 2004. Among Mitchell's culinary innovations were Pop Rocks, Cool Whip, and Tang.
HEAVEN IS DEFINED A MOOSE: Because we're accidentally running second to in online coverage of the Sopranos finale, a couple of notes. First, for those of you still dissecting the final scene, somebody on Sports Guy's chat (no link because I'm not an Insider and the content went private when the chat ended) pointed out that when Tony is walking into the diner, he's wearing a leather jacket and a button-down grey checked shirt; when we next see him staring at the door, he's wearing a kind of resort-wear/bowling shirt. So there's something going on there with the continuity. Just saying.

Second, with all of the love for Don't Stop Believin', I remind you of an oldie-but-goodie, the greatest flash animation of all time: Don't Stop Believing: A Tribute to America.
I DON'T KNOW, BUTCHIE, INSTEAD: A troubled television savant we all love creates a different kind of show with a cultish audience, then a second show that sets a high bar for quality but that implodes in network politics. He launches a third show, and though some of the characters and many of the actors are familiar, they seem lighter, more accidental, transported into a more trivial setting.

After one episode, it's way too soon to know whether John from Cincinnati is David Milch's Studio 60. It has many of the elements -- as in earlier Milch fare, a character plumbs the depths of an addiction in the opening episode and others struggle with abandonment issues; as with the Sorkin Family Players, Milch employs repeat players, here Luis Guzman, Austin Nichols, Willie Garson, and soon, Garret Dillahunt (whose Wolcott in the second season of Deadwood, I'll say for the millionth time, remains the high-water mark for televised acting); as with Sorkin, the star of the show when it really gets going is the highly mannered dialogue, in Milch's case a brittle, tangled patois of halting misdirection.

And, like Studio 60, JFC (initials, incidentally, of a religious figure that Al Swearingen frequently invoked) will, or would, suffer from an unfair comparison. A sketch comedy show just can't match the gravity of the West Wing, and the trials of a surfing family squandering its talent just aren't as thematically compelling as the dirty struggle to build order at the edge of civilization. I say "would suffer," though, because, unlike Studio 60, I don't think JFC is trying just to recapture the magic of its predecessor. It's too early to know what the point is (after one episode, I have no clue except that it involves levitation and an echolalic mystic), and it's way too early to pass judgment. I hope I'll enjoy finding out. If the improbable discovery that Ed O'Neill can deliver Milchese is any indication, I just may.

Monday, June 11, 2007

WE'RE A STAPLE IN THE AMERICAN MUSIC CULTURE. LIKE US OR NOT, WE'RE TO STAY: You know who else liked that Sopranos ending? The members of Journey.

e.t.a.: And who gets the one interview with David Chase post-finale? Alan Sepinwall! Re the final scene, Chase says, "I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there.... Anybody who wants to watch it, it's all there."

Also of note: "Originally, that ending was supposed to occur last year, but midway through production, the number of episodes was increased, and Chase stretched out certain plot elements while saving the major climaxes for this final batch of 9. 'If this had been one season, the Vito storyline would not have been so important,' [Chase] says."

And re Agent Harris' surprising exclamation, learn about Special Agent R. Lindley DeVecchio.

Sports Features Communications™ - Sports Newsfeeds 24/7

WHY DO WE WATCH? WE WATCH BECAUSE IT'S ON THE TELEVISION: I am giddy about the fact that, after a five year hiatus, HBO is resurrecting its "Hard Knocks" NFL training camp documentary series with the Kansas City Chiefs this summer. Season one made Tony Siragusa into a media celebrity (for better or worse) and ranked on my first Top Ten Reality Seasons Ever (So Far) list -- "Hard Knocks kicked ass because it was 100%, completely, undeniably real: no contrived environment, no silly contests, just a bunch of guys fighting for their actual jobs in the real world while the veterans prepared their bodies for one more war." I can't wait to see what Tamba Hali, Ty Law and Brodie Coyle have for us.
EVERYONE KNOWS NESSIE'S A SHE: In little less than two weeks, this blogger (accompanied by a few occasional ThingThrowers) will be journeying to Edinburgh for 3 days, followed by a week in London. Having previously been to London, I'm quite comfortable knowing what I'm doing there, but none of us have ever been to Scotland. Thoughts from the ThingThrowers on the subject of Edinburgh and exciting things to do there that don't involve drams of scotch are appreciated.

Act I:

Eight Hundred Five Eight Eight Two Three Hundred!
Act II:
Eight Hundred Five Eight Eight Two Three Hundred!
Eight Hundred Five Eight Eight Two Three Hundred!
Eight Hundred Five Eight Eight Two Three Hundred!
Act III:
Save big money at Menard's!

LISTEN, ABOUT YOUR FATHER: Last night's Sopranos finale nicely coincides with the fact that Emmy nomination ballots are now in the television academy's hands, so it's time for ThingThrowers to make their recommendations and pleas.

I'll start with a few that shouldn't be too surprising -- Robert Iler did some really complicated work on this final Sopranos season, and that growth deserves recognition with a nomination at least. That Best Supporting Actor/Drama category will not be complete, however, unless Lost's Michael Emerson is also included. Flipping over to comedy, 30 Rock's Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin both deserve props, and it's about time that Kevin Dillon, not Jeremy Piven, got the Entourage nod. Playing that dumb is hard.

I have no idea which actors from The Office should fill out that category, so let me just offer up a futile prayer for recognition for Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson, who wakes up every morning in a bed that's too small, drives his daughter to a school that's too expensive. Then he goes to work, to a job for which he gets paid too little. But on Pretzel Day -- well, he likes Pretzel Day.

Also, hopefully, this is the year that The Amazing Race finally doesn't win for best reality competition series; it doesn't even deserve the nomination. That's all about Top Chef 2 and Project Runway 3 as far as I'm concerned.

Finally, veni, vidi, vici -- season two of Rome came, we (okay, some of us) watched it, and it kicked ass. It'd be nice to see Ray Stevenson (Pullo), Kevin McKidd (Vorenus), James Purefoy (Antony), Lindsay Duncan (Servilia) and the series as a whole all get recognized with nominations, but I doubt it will.

You can review last year's nominations and winners over here.
ADVENTURES IN LIBERAL ARTS: American philosopher Richard Rorty and Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène both passed away over the weekend. There's nothing really that unites their deaths other than the fact that I learned who both of them were during my freshman year in college, and that I never really invested enough time to truly understand what either of them were doing, except that Sembène's film Xala was both funny and compelling. Beyond that? You tell me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

AND THE MOVIE NEVER ENDS, IT GOES ON AND ON AND ON...: I don't want to spoil the Sopranos finale here. To the comments, to Sepinwall, etc., and to Dylan, as quoted in the music-filled episode:
A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not fergit
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.
Man, nothing good happens in SUVs on this show.
MAKE THAT SIX DIRTY WORDS: Apparently taking advantage of the recent FCC ruling on what you can say on television, apparently, the cast of Spring Awakening will apparently perform part of their showstopper "Totally F***ed" (in somewhat expurgated form) during tonight's Tony Awards (after 10 PM, to keep in that safe harbor)--which will make the show well worth watching. Other performances will include a pre-taped bit from The Apple Tree (likely Kristin Chenoweth doing "Gorgeous"), Audra McDonald performing "Raunchy" from 110 In The Shade, Raul Esparza performing "Being Alive" from Company (which will lose some its power divorced from the show), and Christine Ebersole performing "Revolutionary Costume" from Grey Gardens.

Jack McCoy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DUN DUN: People of Manhattan, it's time to take a stand: your next (fictional) district attorney could be someone who once said that "Justice is a by-product of winning" and who has conducted notorious affairs with his female assistants, while pushing the ethical envelope repeatedly during his tenure as Executive Assistant District Attorney. You need to call Mayor Bloomberg and reject the scheduled promotion of Jack McCoy to the top job; he isn't the prosecutor Manhattan needs. If Ben Stone's willing, offer him the job.