Saturday, October 20, 2007

AND WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH "THE PROCESS"? WHAT, EXACTLY, IS IT PROCESSING? This weekend's NYT Arts & Leisure includes two interesting what-ifs -- what if Jerry Seinfeld hadn't turned down the opportunity to appear in "a comedic caper written by David Mamet" -- can you have a Mamet film in which Rebecca Pidgeon isn't the worst actor? And what if "The Office" had been set in Utica, NY, or Nashua, NH? What would Kevin's band have been named?
I CAN'T THINK OF ONE REASON BIG ENOUGH FOR HIM TO LIE ABOUT THAT'S SMALL ENOUGH TO MATTER: Judging by prior threads, it's likely we need a comment thread to discuss Gone Baby Gone, which really establishes that Ben Affleck is a filmmaker to watch in the next few years. What struck me most is that just as how Dillon, Texas is in essence a character in Friday Night Lights and (I understand) Baltimore is a character in The Wire, Boston (and in particular the hardscrabble side of it) is a character in this film. Sure, the film's not flawless--we lose some emotional "oomph" by not having Angie and Patrick's backstory (though, as someone who read the series in substantially reverse order, it can work that way), and Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan are both maybe a little too pretty and unweathered for their parts, but still, you have to admire a film that (like the book) has its characters make a dramatic moral choice and leaves to the audience the question of whether that moral choice was the right one.
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT EDITING: Given that it's apparently Authorial Intent Week at ALOTT5MA, I think we need to also need to discuss the interesting story that appeared in the NYT earlier this week asking about what version of several of Raymond Carver's stories is the "right" one. The comparison that appeared alongside the story makes the point clearly--basically, it appears Carver's editor substantially increased the ambiguity of Carver's endings. Now, Carver's widow wants to publish the "original" versions, but the publisher (who owns the copyright to the stories) objects. Any thoughts on the controversy from the ThingThrowers, as it raises several interesting legal and authorial questions?
"OH, MY GOD," ROWLING CONCLUDED WITH A LAUGH, "THE FAN FICTION." I suppose I never gave it much thought, but Albus Dumbledore is gay.

Friday, October 19, 2007

MAY I SUGGEST USING YOUR NIGHT STICK OFFICER? Of some interest to the readership of this blog is that Philadelphia has been declared to be the city with the ugliest people in America. Although I was there a couple of weeks ago, I'll reserve comment (although my hostess was looking particularly radiant!). Nevertheless, I invite the readership to nominate your city for being the worst at something. (And no backhanded compliments here. Don't fight the hypo!)
I'D BET THEY'RE ASLEEP IN NEW YORK. I'D BET THEY'RE ASLEEP ALL OVER AMERICA: As Ken Burns recently demonstrated, World War II was a total war: a conflict in which all of America's resources were mobilized for victory. Those resources necessarily included the nation's popular culture and mass media. While most pop-culture producers willingly supported the Allied cause, the federal government took no chances, creating a new propaganda arm, the Office of War Information (OWI), in June 1942. The OWI produced everything from posters to training cartoons, all urging citizens and soldiers alike to do their part in defeating the Axis powers.

The OWI's most influential efforts were directed towards the movies, through its Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP), which enlisted filmmakers in two distinct propaganda campaigns. First, the BMP recruited directors, screenwriters, composers, and other talent to create patriotic documentary films, the most famous of which are the Why We Fight series, directed by Frank Capra. By 1942, Capra had already become a cinematic adjective, as his romantic comedies and political fables mined a deep vein of sentimental populism in American audiences. Even in the depths of the Depression, the Capraesque hero remained a proud American; indeed, this sequence from 1939's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (just after Jefferson Smith's arrival in the capital) looks indistinguishable from a wartime propaganda film. Working for the OWI, Capra brought the same optimistic patriotism and cinematic manipulation to Why We Fight. Originally shown to American troops and later re-edited for general release, the films combined summaries of recent military events with inspirational declarations of the ideals for which the "free world" was fighting.

The BMP also put pressure on Hollywood studios to produce features that would assist the war effort. The June 1942 Manual for the Motion Picture Industry outlined general principles for producers and directors to keep in mind as they planned future projects and urged filmmakers to consider how their pictures might help win the war. Within a few months, BMP officials were also encouraging studios to submit their scripts for review before shooting even started, the better to advise filmmakers about potentially touchy subjects or objectionable scenes; by late 1942, the OWI was threatening revoke export licenses (essential for the vital overseas market) for any studio that failed to seek BMP script approval. By and large, the studios complied with the BMP's script review. In some cases, like 1943's Bataan, Hollywood features might as well have been armed-forces recruiting films; in other instances, like 1942's Casablanca, the propaganda was more subtle but no less powerful, as noted approvingly in the BMP's review.

Today, of course, we're in the midst of another war, albeit one with a very different relationship to pop culture. On the one hand, we do seem to be witnessing a boomlet in films about Iraq and Afghanistan; on the other hand, those movies tend to be more critical of the war's military management, political justification, and human cost. Will such films ultimately be more lasting than the patriotic features of WWII? Or will today's Iraq War movies quickly feel dated? We've talked before about September 11 in American popular culture; do you think the war in Iraq will inspire any memorable pop-culture moments? (Remember, kids, let's play nice and try to keep politics out of the discussion....)

Next week: the dawn of television, movies of the '50s, and comic books.
YOU WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU'RE PLAYING FOR? THE RIGHT TO BE PUNISHED FOR WINNING, THAT'S WHAT: A couple of quick thoughts on some more of the Thursday TV:

First, utterly infuriating Survivor. I'm all for rule changes that surprise the contestants and stave off Pagongings -- Paradise Hotel was one of the greatest reality shows, in large part because the producers changed the rules just to screw with the contestants heads -- but the gimmick in last night's episode, where each team chose two members from the other to join their tribe, was just bad. There was one strategic implication to the switch, and how it played out depended upon whether both tribes, the stronger tribe, the weaker tribe, or neither tribe figured it out. Of those four possibilities, none could make the game or the show more interesting, and three would make it less interesting, in the following ways: (1) accelerated Pagonging (strong team figures it out); (2) a standstill involving mutual efforts to lose immunity (both teams figure it out); and (3) punishment of the strongest players from the strongest team, with no possibility of redemption (weaker team figures it out). As a viewer who tends to like the most athletic, competent, and good-natured players, I think the worst possible result was (3), and that's what we got. I hope the other team realizes what's happening before the next immunity challenge and the show is repaid for its stupidity with the equivalent of a sit-down strike.

Second, a spoonful of 30 Rock sugar certainly makes the bitter Survivor medicine go down smoother. As usual, too many great gags to repeat, but I'll mention my favorite: Jack Donaghy mentioning that his cousin Tim fixes NBA games.
DON'T LET THE PIGEON RUIN LILLY'S BIG DAY! Two children's literature stars, one slot: Mo Willems or Kevin Henkes?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Schrute Farms in Honesdale, Pennsylvania - B&B Reviews - TripAdvisor

WHOEVER, WHOMEVER ... RYAN USED ME AS AN OBJECT: Title 11 of the United States Code, the TripAdvisor review of Schrute Farms in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, PowerPoint, Soul Asylum, Rainn Wilson's Emmy reel and the crazy things love (and its absence) makes one do ... yes, I'd say tonight's Office was a fulfilling one.
TUGBOAT: Paul Lukas on the history of baseball bullpen carts.
WHAT'S CHANNEL 9 IF IT DOESN'T HAVE ARSENIO? NYT tech correspondent David Pogue offers a list of imponderables, including:
  • Why is Wi-Fi free at cheap hotels, but $14 a night at expensive ones?
  • Would the record companies sell more music online if it weren’t copy-protected?
  • Wi-Fi on airplanes. What’s taking so long?
  • Who are the morons who respond to junk-mail offers, thereby keeping spammers in business?
  • How are we going to preserve all of our digital photos and videos for future generations?
  • Why don’t public sinks have foot pedals?
  • Why don’t all hotels have check-in kiosks like airlines do?
  • Five billion dollars a year spent on ringtones? What the?
  • Why doesn’t someone start a cellphone company that bills you only for what you use? That model works O.K. for the electricity, gas and water companies —and people would beat a path to its door.
Anyone? Or more questions -- such as mine: if iTunes shifted to variable pricing (more popular songs/albums become more expensive, and obscure ones are as cheap as a dime), would Apple make more money than it does now, and would the overall number of songs purchased increase or decrease?
STRANGERS WAITING UP AND DOWN THE BOULEVARD: Contrary to the speculation of many (including Jeffrey Wells), David Chase is now saying that Tony and the rest of the family did not, in fact, get whacked in the middle of listening to Journey, but that he lives on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NO CONTEST: The Soup Nazi tops a new list of the best Seinfeld episodes of all time, with Bubble Boy and The Opposite coming second and third. I still say you can't beat "The Contest," with "The Chinese Restaurant," "The Pen," and "The Parking Garage" deserving consideration as well.
HOUSE WINS ALL BETS: For those of you who've been wondering what the first cancellation of the new season will be, we have a winner! And the winner is....(drumroll)...Online Nation, part of the CW's horrific Sunday night lineup that's basically a half-hour of the "best" of YouTube. Don't think anyone had that in the cancellation pool. Replacement is repeats of the CW's underrated Aliens In America, which is sorely misplaced as a lead-in to Girlfriends on Monday nights.
I WANTED TO BE A JEDI: I'm not quite sure how many times we can recap the "rules" on Pushing Daisies before it gets old, but tying it back to stories of Young Ned figuring out the rules is pretty adorable and makes them wear thin less quickly. Though how can you have Raul Esparza and Kristin Chenoweth play love interests without having either of them sing? Reassuring, to be sure, as this was the first episode without Barry Sonnenfeld behind the camera, and with a lower budget. Perhaps a few less location pieces this week, but the style is still there. Also, how you can resist a show that will apparently feature a production number to a They Might Be Giants song next week (strongly hinted as being "Birdhouse In Your Soul").
I HAVE A VERY LIMITED DOMAIN: I just watched Private Practice for the first time since the premiere. I don't have a problem, per se, with the show; in fact, it's a perfectly acceptable way to pass an hour. But there's nothing that particularly makes me want to watch it next week. (Or, for that matter, to go back and watch the episodes from the last couple of weeks that are parked on my DVR.) It feels more like a soapy Law & Order than a grownup Grey's Anatomy -- just a series of free-standing episodes without any linear arc.

At core, I just don't find the characters to be all that compelling. Do I really care whether Cooper ever marshalls the emotional energy to declare himself to Violet? Meh. Whether Violet gets over her stalky thing? Not so much. Does Naomi and Sam's divorce move me one way or another? Nah. Do I feel the slightest bit of tension over Pete and Addison's will-they-or-won't-they? Yawn. Does the "unconventional medical practice" thing create any interesting opportunity for medical intrigue? Thus far, it's not that unconventional other than the absence of nurse support. And, most bummingly, Addison herself just isn't proving to be all that interesting.

To date, I'll take ANTM over Private Practice every week. Naysayers should feel free to step in and say nay.
I AM YOUR CONSCIENCE: Bill Simmons brings word that some extremely rare video has made its way to the Interwebs: actual footage of Jamie Foxx being funny. Actually, more than funny -- vicious. Join us on an excursion to Shaq's All Star Comedy Roast 2, and watch a young man named Doug Williams received the verbal beatdown of his life. It's the comic equivalent of being posterized.
I’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN A NUMBER OF CULTS -- BOTH AS A LEADER AND A FOLLOWER. YOU HAVE MORE FUN AS A FOLLOWER, BUT YOU MAKE MORE MONEY AS A LEADER: Via commenter Leslie, vintage footage of Office co-star Creed Bratton (who plays "Creed Bratton") sha-la-la-la-la-la living for today.
A CAGE TO CATCH OUR DREAMS: The movies became "Hollywood" in the 1920s, as a small group of "movie moguls" headed out to California and established the so-called "Big Eight" studios (Columbia, Warner Bros., Universal, RKO, MGM, United Artists, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox). Recognizing that the movies were an industry like any other, the studio heads organized their business operations with ruthless, brilliant efficiency. Thomas Schatz's authoritative study, The Genius of the System, describes how the studios came to control every aspect of the movie biz, from production to distribution to exhibition. This "vertical integration" stifled any hope of independent competition, but it also turned Hollywood into an extraordinary dream factory, pouring out hundreds of films a year to an eager and enormous public. During Hollywood's "Golden Age" of the 1930s and early 1940s, average weekly movie attendance in the U.S. [warning: PDF] typically ran between 75 and 100 million people -- or nearly two-thirds of the overall population. (By comparison, today's weekly movie audience usually amounts to just ten percent of the national population.)

Beyond the rigid contract system and manipulative booking practices, the major studios also controlled their product through an elaborate system of self-censorship. Throughout the 1920s, critics had complained about offensive material in the movies, from sexual innuendo and vulgar language to disrespect for authority and the glorification of criminals. Fearing a wave of local and state censor boards, the studios -- led by their chief lobbyist, Will Hays -- promulgated a list of "Don'ts and Be Carefuls" in 1927, which was superseded by the more substantial Production Code in 1930. The Code laid out strict moral guidelines for moviemakers to follow in their treatment of potentially sensitive subjects, and after a few years of indifferent enforcement, by 1934 the Production Code Administration under Joseph Breen was exercising "final cut" authority over every studio film.

Yet despite (or perhaps because of) these rigid controls over business and content, Hollywood of the 'thirties and early 'forties produced a staggering number of classic films. Romantic comedies like It Happened One Night (1934) and His Girl Friday (1940); musical extravaganzas like Swing Time (1936) and The Wizard of Oz (1939); "prestige pictures" like Gone with the Wind (1939) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940) -- in many respects, these films could not have been made outside of the powerful studio system, with its savvy marketing, its starmaking machines, and its massive financial resources.

Ironically, even though DVDs and niche cable networks have made it easier than ever to watch "classic" Hollywood films, many younger viewers have seen almost nothing from the "Golden Age." (In my class today, for instance, only four or five students said they'd seen either His Girl Friday or Gone with the Wind.) So here's your assignment: Pick three movies from Hollywood's "Golden Age" that you think would best introduce today's uninitiated audiences to the wonders of "classic" film. And ... action!
YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT STEPHEN JR'S FLEEING TO CANADA? Noted late night talk show host and slightly disappointing author** Stephen Colbert says he's entering the South Carolina presidential primary of both parties.

** His tone doesn't translate well to the written form, and I thought the book's avoidance of current events took away from Colbert's sharpness. It's no America.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

OKAY, THEN, PLAN B -- WHY DON'T WE JUST KILL EACH OTHER? Face/Off is on the USA Network right now, and, still, is there anything about this movie which is less than 100% completely awesome? Would that today's action movies paid as much attention to narrative and style as this 1997 gem. Just saying, is all.
I KNEW FAUSTO CARMONA DIDN'T HAVE ANY PROBLEM WITH MY ADDING HIM TO THE ALOTT5MA LEAGUE WINNING "WELLFLEET RED TIDE": The United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit has ruled that a fantasy sports website's First Amendment rights outweigh any right of publicity possessed by the league or its players in controlling the exploitation of their names and statistics.
SPARKY: The publication of a new biography of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz (excerpted here) has prompted a wide array of review/appreciations -- e.g., John Updike, Bill Watterson, Michiko Kakutani and Laura Miller. Writes the reclusive Calvin & Hobbes creator, for instance:

Lucy, for all her domineering and insensitivity, is ultimately a tragic, vulnerable figure in her pursuit of Schroeder. Schroeder's commitment to Beethoven makes her love irrelevant to his life. Schroeder is oblivious not only to her attentions but also to the fact that his musical genius is performed on a child's toy (not unlike a serious artist drawing a comic strip). Schroeder's fanaticism is ludicrous, and Lucy's love is wasted. Schulz illustrates the conflict in his life, not in a self-justifying or vengeful manner but with a larger human understanding that implicates himself in the sad comedy. I think that's a wonderfully sane way to process a hurtful world. Of course, his readers connected to precisely this emotional depth in the strip, without ever knowing the intimate sources of certain themes. Whatever his failings as a person, Schulz's cartoons had real heart.

The cartoons are also terrifically funny and edgy, even after all these years. The wonder of "Peanuts" is that it worked on so many levels simultaneously. Children could enjoy the silly drawings and the delightful fantasy of Snoopy, while adults could see the bleak undercurrent of cruelty, loneliness and failure, or the perpetual theme of unrequited love, or the strip's stark visual beauty.

(A 1999 appreciation by Watterson on Schultz appears here.)

I'm not sure that I needed to know how connected the Peanuts characters were to Schultz's private life and goings-on; I think I preferred it when the work spoke for itself. And, since I haven't actually looked at the strips through the eyes of a grown-up, might as well start today.
ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE: Following in the footsteps of Diana DeGarmo and Fantasia, Clay Aiken is making his way to Broadway. No, he's not doing Rent or some Jim Steinman piece of bombast, but will play Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, who has the big showstopper "You Won't Succeed On Broadway" in Act II. Has Aiken finally found his place, or should he stick to singing the Immigrant Mouse Song?
BORN TO KEEP THE CAR RUNNING: I remember in health class when they taught us about the synergistic effect, which I think ended up being less cautionary and more of a life lesson in how to get more wasted. The synergistic effect, or 2+2=6, is what I thought of though, when I saw these clips of Win Butler and RĂ©gine Chassagne of Arcade Fire joining Bruce and the E Street Band on stage in Ottawa last night for two songs, including AF's "Keep the Car Running." I especially love the near orgasmic Meg Ryan/Suzy Waldman-like response from whoever is behind the camera.

Redemption Hunting - New York Times

ACT AS IF: Just what would it require for you to take Ben Affleck seriously as a filmmaker or actor?

Monday, October 15, 2007

CLOSEST TO ACTUAL RETAIL PRICE: For the first time in nearly 33 years, Bob Barker did not host this morning's fabulous 60 minute Price Is Right (Barker hosted for 35 years, but missed three episodes due to illness in December 1974). Unsurprisingly, new host Drew Carey wasn't as slick and smooth as Barker was, and brought a more blue collar sensibility to things, even as he seemed like a nervous actor rushing through his dialogue before he forgot his lines. Of course, that didn't prevent the big winner from being one of the plethora of sorority girls that turn up (not quite sure what she's going to do with her new trailer, though). Credit's due not only for Carey observing that the show was a perfect show (every pricing game won) plus a pair of Showcase Showdown bonus wins, but also for Carey's homage to Barker, however awkwardly delivered, with reminding us to have our pets spayed or neutered. Anyone else watch?

Profiles: Stealing Life: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

THE POSTMODERN INSTITUTIONS ... THOSE ARE THE INDIFFERENT GODS: The New Yorker's Margaret Talbot profiles The Wire and its creator, David Simon, who says about the show: “It is perhaps the only storytelling on television that overtly suggests that our political and economic and social constructs are no longer viable, that our leadership has failed us relentlessly, and that no, we are not going to be all right."

(Yeah, I know, I really need to start watching from episode one, and have no excuse.)
I'M NUMBER THREE! I'M NUMBER THREE! In a subject of perennial interest around here, the NYC baby names list is out, giving you every name used more than ten times for a baby boy or girl born in 2006. Among the more bizarre numbers:
  • 34 boys named "Maxim" (yes, like the magazine)
  • 33 boys named "Sincere"
  • 187 girls named "Destiny" (30th most popular girl's name last year!)
  • 25 girls named "Nechama," "Noa," Tiara," and "Yitty."
THE CONSTITUTION IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL, 1962-2007: As reported over at Volokh Conspiracy, Professor David Currie has passed away. Among Chicagoans -- a term I use geographically, but might equally employ to describe a state of mind -- Currie was a legend, a man who bucked legal trends to create his own brand of scholarship, who championed legal rigor and disassembled legal hypocrisies, and who did it all with a mischievous smile and a twinkle in his eye. His mind and wit were a whip, smart and sharp, making his classes as terrifying as they were edifying and fun. Currie's research interests in the last two decades of his life might have seemed to some as if conceived on a dare -- read everything the Supreme Court has ever said, or everything a Congressman ever put on the record, and see what you can tease out of it about the Constitution -- and have been criticized as "law office history" (historians hate his work, which Herb Hovenkamp once called "chronology without history"). Currie, though, understood that you can't know what's going to be important until you find it, and he didn't want the Constitutional debates in the early Supreme Court and Congresses to disappear simply because nobody made any rigorous effort to catalogue and understand them. And once Currie happened upon something he found interesting, he had a raconteur's way of making it interesting to others, whether in efficient, conversational law review articles or in his conspiratorial Burl-Ives debating voice.

I spent a few hours a week as a research assistant for Professor Currie for a year, trying to help him figure out why the early Congress thought its commission of a Virus Agent was constitutional (short answer: it didn't, at least once the virus agent innoculated some people with live smallpox) and chasing down what early muckety-mucks really thought of trying Benedict Arnold -- which, I suspect, Currie might recently have employed in writing about traitors and terrorists of a different stripe. When people ask me about my favorite professors, Currie is one of the three I always cite. The other two, who are all over the news right now, both commented to me, back when I was in law school, about how I should appreciate the opportunity to learn from Currie. I did, and I know a lot of you did too.

Fun Currie trivia: Currie clerked for Frankfurter the year of Baker v. Carr, when Frankfurter hectored Whittaker into a nervous breakdown.

Eternal gratitude to the first person who posts a link to the Moby Dick of legal comedy, "The Least Consequential Justice." (Or was it "Least Significant"? There is a reason I've been unable to find it, I think.)

ETA: The Law School's official obituary. And really, if you're at all interested and you have a Westlaw, Lexis, or JSTOR password, follow the link in the comments to The Most Insignificant Justice and enjoy Currie's scholarly humor.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ON A STEEL HORSE THEY RIDE: With them appearing on SNL this weekend, it strikes me as an appropriate time to Keltnerize Bon Jovi, which will be up for Rock Hall Induction next year.

1. Was Bon Jovi ever regarded as the best artist in rock music? Did anybody, while they were active, ever suggest that Bon Jovi was the best artist in rock music?

A bunch of teenage girls? Yes. Critics? Not so much. (Though "Livin' On A Prayer" was the #5 single in Pazz and Jop 1987.)

2. Was Bon Jovi ever the best artist in rock music in its genre?

In the genre of "Arena rock bands from New Jersey," everyone is a distant second place to Bruuuuuceee!

3. Was any member of Bon Jovi ever considered the best at his instrument/role?

No. The closest you come is Richie Sambora, and he's certainly not a guitar virtuoso.

4. Did Bon Jovi have an impact on a number of other bands?

Arena rock as a genre has dropped out of fashion in recent years, but there are certainly elements of Bon Jovi in, say, Kid Rock.

5. Was Bon Jovi good enough that they could play regularly after passing its prime?

Sure. Several hiatuses, but the band continues to play to this day, and play pretty well. They had a #1 country hit just a few years back.

6. Is Bon Jovi the very best artist in history that is not in the Hall of Fame?

I doubt it, but next year's class is pretty uninspiring from a commercial perspective. (Billy Bragg, k.d. lang, and Stevie Ray Vaughn have strong cases from other angles, and Run-DMC is likely a gimme.) That's probably a mark in their favor, since the odds of a year without inducting a name band seem small.

7. Are most bands who have a comparable recording history and impact in the Hall of Fame?

Yeah. 100M worldwide record sales is a pretty elite club and the vast majority of the eligibles are already in.

8. Is there any evidence to suggest that Bon Jovi was significantly better or worse than is suggested by its statistical records?

Critics hate 'em, audiences love 'em, and the band's always been a little defensive about it (witness the 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong album title). Probably about even.

9. Is Bon Jovi the best artist in its genre who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

"Jersey Arena Rock." Behind Bruuuce!, who's already in, but in terms of those who aren't yet in or who will be eligible in the next few years, arguably a front runner.

10. How many #1 singles/gold records did Bon Jovi have? Did Bon Jovi ever win a Grammy award? If not, how many times was Bon Jovi nominated?

4 #1 Hot 100 singles--"You Give Love a Bad Name," "Livin' On a Prayer," "Bad Medicine," and "I'll Be There For You." 1 #1 Country Single--"Who Says You Can't Go Home." Jon bon Jovi hit #1 solo with "Blaze Of Glory." 1 Diamond Album (Slippery When Wet), 8 Platinum Albums (Bon Jovi, 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit, New Jersey, Keep The Faith, These Days, Crush, Have A Nice Day, Cross Road), 3 Gold Albums (Bounce, Lost Highway, 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong). Not a single studio album has failed to go gold. 1 Grammy, for "Who Says You Can't Go Home" (Best Country Collaboration). Other Grammy nominations, Oscar nomination and Golden Globe win for "Blaze of Glory").

11. How many Grammy-level songs/albums did Bon Jovi have? For how long of a period did Bon Jovi dominate the music scene? How many Rolling Stone covers did Bon Jovi appear on? Did most of the bands with this sort of impact go into the Hall of Fame?

You can't go into a Karaoke bar pretty much anywhere in America without hearing the rendition of a Bon Jovi song, giving them a pretty good score on the "endurance" scale. While Bon Jovi didn't "dominate," aside from the Slippery When Wet period, they've been present on the music scene and a force pretty consistently. At least two Rolling Stone covers.

12. If Bon Jovi was the best band at a concert, would it be likely that the concert would rock?

Not in a debauched way, at least not any more, but yeah, there'd be rockin'.

13. What impact did Bon Jovi have on rock history? Was he responsible for any stylistic changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change history in any way?

Not really, other than the importance of hair as a marketing vehicle.

14. Did the band uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

You've got both the light and dark side. Jon Bon Jovi married his high school sweetheart and has remained with her, while Sambora married, then divorced, Heather Locklear and, at one point, dated Denise Richards. Band has also done a lot of charitable work.

I'm not sure if the quality is quite there, but the statistics and longevity strike me as enough to make them a good bet for induction, especially given the reinvention--the band's managed to go from hair arena rock to overly earnest arena rock to country to adult contemporary rock--in other words, to move from MTV to VH1, with a fair degree of class. Induct, but only marginally so.
IT MADE ME SAY "OHHHHH!": Last night's SNL had a couple of distinguishing characteristics beyond its general awfulness (though "People Getting Punched Just Before Eating" had its moments):
  • The host did almost no comic material. In fact, Bon Jovi wasn't even in almost half of the sketches, and of the ones he was in, he only twice played someone other than "Jon Bon Jovi." There were also a disproportionate amount of material that involved only one performer, like the Al Gore and Dane Cook bits.
  • Musical Guest? One song. Host? Two songs. Why not just make JBJ host and the band the musical guest, rather than waste the Foo Fighters?
  • Jack Nicholson breaking his "I don't do TV" rule to say goodnight. Why? Who knows?

Show goes into reruns until November sweeps, when we will, for reasons unbeknownst to man or beast, get Brian Williams to say "Ladies and Gentlemen, Feist!" In more interesting news, to promote Superbad on DVD, Jonah Hill will host on November 17. I'd prefer a Hill/Cera co-hosting, but that still could be amusing.