Saturday, March 1, 2008

YOU EVER DANCE WITH THE DEVIL BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT AND GET INTERRUPTED BY A PHONE CALL AT 3 AM? Jack Nicholson, real-life Hillary Clinton endorser? Nice. But Jack Nicholson's film roles endorsing Hillary? That's some crafty YouTubage.

e.t.a. Details here, including Nicholson's personal involvement.
EXPELLIARIUMUS LITIGO: J.K. Rowling has sued the folks behind the upcoming published version of the Harry Potter Lexicon, claiming it infringes on her copyrights. Complicating matters is that Rowling had been nothing but supportive of the site until it became a book that would sell alongside hers. Will be interesting to see how it shakes out.

(Also on a legal note, how awesome is it that the billable-hour-obsessed senior partner on Eli Stone is named "Posner?" Economic optimization, folks!)

Friday, February 29, 2008

HE STILL, APPARENTLY, OWNS THE BEST UMBRELLA: While most of the attention paid to Bill Carter's overview of the upcoming bidding war over Jay Leno has been to Leno's post-2009 options (ABC, FOX, Sony syndication) now that his show has been promised to Conan O'Brien, I have to issue a warning about one detail, a followup to a red flag Matt first raised fifty-three weeks ago:

Several executives predicted that NBC would use the months Mr. O’Brien will be off the air to introduce his successor, widely expected to be Jimmy Fallon, the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member. Mr. Fallon is the favorite of Lorne Michaels, the “Saturday Night Live” producer who had success in choosing the unknown Mr. O’Brien in 1993 to succeed Mr. Letterman and who will again be involved in the selection of the new host of “Late Night.”
Everything I said about him back in January 2003 (same day I blogged about Joe Millionaire premiere) still stands, and I do still love these quotes I found:
"Jimmy Fallon is going to be gross when he's old, because he'll still be doing that 'awww shucks' cute-boy thing, like Paul McCartney still does. But Paul's rich and can make those faces, being a 20th-Century Beethoven and all. Jimmy's just gonna be icky, like a Monkees reunion tour."

"I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like Jimmy Fallon," says a 24-year-old former record label employee who asked only to be identified as Craig. "A place where pretty-boy comics who get inventive with hair gel crack each other up with 'pull-my-finger' jokes. If there is any justice, Fallon will get a corner suite."
This must be stopped.
ACT LIKE YOU'VE BEEN THERE BEFORE: You know the school of thought where certain "classy" players after scoring a TD will just matter-of-factly hand the ball to the ref, rather than jump into the crowd, strike a pose, or, any matter of preconceived celebration? The oft played shot from "No Country For Old Men" of Javier Bardem's character walking through the pharmacy while the car explodes outside on the street seems to me the cinematic equivalent. That shot (about 1:05 in the preview) seems to me to be the iconic one that will be featured in Oscar montages for years to come (you can guess Billy Crystal would have used it for his opening had he been the host this year). I was trying to think of other examples of that kind of shot earlier this week, but couldn't come up with any. And then I saw the latest Iron Man Trailer

(the fan boy in me thinks the movie looks awesome), which ends with a similar shot of Tony Stark firing a missile at a tank and then turning around and casually walking away without turning his head.

So, ALOTT5MAers, my question to you is can you think of other cinematic examples of this shot or have the Coen Brothers started a trend?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

ONE CONSTANT: All Desmond episodes of Lost are awesome. I haven't had a chance yet to write down the rest of my comments, though; I'll have to remember them later.
SONT LES MOTS QUI VONT TRES BIEN ENSEMBLE: Nothing terrifically surprising from tonight's AI results show, except that I found the third exit to be surprisingly moving. I've always wondered why more contestants don't find themselves caught up in the throes of emotion when their time comes. And couple the outpouring of woe with the first verse of the song, and, well, the sappier among us (hi) would not be unjustified in finding ourselves just the slightest bit weepy.

But the big news from the show was the part that wasn't really news anymore -- by now we've all heard that AI has finally obtained the rights to whichever subset of the McCartney/Lennon catalog the good people of Sony Neverland have opted to offer up for mangling by the 12 finalists.

I myself am not a Beatles fan -- as Mr. Cosmo puts it, there are Elvis people and there are Beatles people, and there is one of each in our marriage -- but even my husband the Beatles devotee is concerned about the total unsingerliness of the Fab Four's songlist. I am cringing at the thought of "All You Need Is Love" and "Birthday" being performed on the show. What would you all suggest that our final 12 sing in a couple of weeks to avoid the seemingly inevitable comment that their song selection didn't properly show off their voices? So far I'm content to hear "Back in the USSR" and "Penny Lane," but that's about it. I do, however, think that the band is gonna have a blast.
My husband has been offered a job in Santa Clara, California. We need to look into housing, schools, etc to see if we want to/can make it work (we currently live in southwestern Ontario, Canada, so it's a big move) I know at least one or two thing throwers live in northern California - is there a way to ask them if they can give me any advice or point me to useful websites, etc?
HE HOPES IT WILL PUMP (CLAP) THEM UP: Gov. Schwarzenegger has had his tank returned to him by a museum that he previously lent it to. According to the article, he plans to offer tank rides "to inner-city children in the Los Angeles area as a reward for staying in school, avoiding drugs and working hard." Somehow, I expect Ahnold will look better on a tank than some candidates have.
THE WIND THAT IS SWEEPING DOWN THE PLAIN IS NOT THE ONLY THING IN OKLAHOMA THAT CAN BLOW ME: Lord knows I've had some good times as a Seattle sports fan. My first sports memory is of when my father's friend, an usher at the Seattle Center Coliseum, snuck us in to watch the second half of a Sonics game. I've seen dominant and near-dominant teams (the 2001 Mariners, the Payton-Kemp Sonics, the 1991 Washington Huskies football team) and good and bad teams that were ridiculously fun to watch (the X-Man-Chambers-Ellis Sonics, the Zorn-era Seahawks, the 2005 Husky basketball team), although the only pro championship I've seen was that of the 1979 Sonics, with DJ, Downtown Freddie Brown, and Sikma. From Chicago, alone in my apartment, I experienced a moment that still gives me chills and makes me want to cry. I've watched athletes whose talent or competence or charisma was transfixing (Ichiro!, Edgar Martinez, Payton, Alex Rodriguez, Easley, X, but especially Kemp, and watch this YouTube if you don't know what I'm talking about). I've loved some players irrationally (Nate McMillan, Daryl Turner, Doyle), and hated some players, perhaps not irrationally (today's whipping boy: wealthy douchebag Scott Spiezio, the guy with the ridiculous tattoo and .064 (!) batting average who nonetheless whined for more playing time, was arrested for DUI, property damage, leaving the scene of the accident, vomiting in a friend's condo, assault with a deadly non-firearm, and stealing $4.5 million from the Mariners by posting a .064 batting average -- some of those may not be crimes). I've also seen some bad times (for example, Mariners management taking only two or three years to renounce the cornerstones of the dominant 2001 team -- on-base percentage, power, and superlative defense that makes pitchers look better -- in favor of grit, hustle, moxy, veteran leadership, superannuation, and lack of baseball ability). But I've never seen anything like this.

There is a guy, his name is Clay Bennett, and he is trying to kill me. He owns the Seattle (formely Super-)Sonics, and he is adamant that he is moving them to Oklahoma City, so that he can impress his friends in that backwater temporarily awash in oil money. As if it weren't bad enough that he's going around openly counting the days until the team can leave (and admitting that the move is probably not good business, i.e., it is not because I must, but rather because I can, that I am fucking you), he's decided to bury the team as deeply as possible in the tank for the two years before the team's lease is up, the better to maximize cap space and draft position so that he can put together a good team once the moving vans are packed. In other words, why would he put a good product on the floor in Seattle if he can save money for a better product in Oklahoma? Now, I am opposed to using public funding for a new arena (the city is still servicing the debt from the last publicly-funded arena project for the Sonics, 12 or so years ago). And I don't presume to say that he can't move the team. He owns it, after all, and once the NBA let him buy it, he got the upper hand.

All I'm saying is that this is a new feeling for me, the feeling that I'm going to be losing a team for which I've rooted all my life. If there is a worse feeling in sports than this, I don't care to know of it.

(ETA: As Bob pointed out in the comments, just a few hours after I posted this, Sports Guy ran a 15,000-word mailbag of anguished emails from Sonics fans).
SPINAL SIMIAN: My wife was mentioning today how a business colleague always overuses the term "monkey off your back," which of course made me immediately seek out this forgotten Aldo Nova gem (the beauty is in the literalism, that and the way Nova pulls of the leather jacket with no shirt look). While Nova's video is chock full of awesomeness, really it doesn't come close to approaching the awesomeness of Journey's "Separate Ways" video.
I'VE NEVER MET A MEAN AFRICAN: It's too early to handicap this cycle of ANTM, and maybe it would be pointless anyway (given that two episodes in, the most model-ready one seems to be the weird-looking 24-year old mother with no eyebrows, meaning, as if). But I didn't want to let the episode go by without commenting on the quote in the title of this post. I have no great love for Fatima, who is socially inept and has the most unsightly hairdo in this show's history of bad hairdos (it's not often that I think a woman would look better bald, but there's a first for everything, I guess). Still, it requires an impressive combination of ignorance and condescencion for a person to imply to Fatima -- a female-genital-mutilated refugee from a series of brutal wars and conflicts in Somalia, mind you -- that she is the meanest person ever born on the continent of Africa.
SUPREME VACANCY: NYT reporter Linda Greenhouse, who's covered the SCOTUS beat for 30 years, has announced that she's retiring and taking a buyout. Greenhouse's extended and sometimes controversial work on the court and its jurisprudence will be missed.
AS YOU WATCHED YOURSELF GAVOTTE: There really isn't much to say about an Idol in which there was only one good performance, but our friend Dan Fienberg tried. I don't know whether cargo shorts are a greater offense to the Idol gods than butchering a Heart song (or Simon's not even knowing "Magic Man"), but this gives me an opportunity to stress a fundamental Idol point.

There are two groups of contestants in the Final 24 -- Those Who Can't Win The Whole Thing, and Those Who Can. As long as they get rid of the first group before starting to pick at the second, it's not worth stressing over the order of elimination. In other words, I don't care if Robbie Carrico goes before Jason Yeager, as long as they both are gone before Michael Johns is at risk. Similarly, with the ladies, as long as women like Asia'h Epperson and Brooke White are in it for a while, Kady Malloy and Ramielle Malubay can fight it out for 11th place. Agreed?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ALRIGHT, LIGHTMAN. MAYBE YOU COULD TELL US WHO FIRST SUGGESTED THE IDEA OF REPRODUCTION WITHOUT SEX: Today at the firm, we had a half-day training seminar where a couple of actors come in and tell you a few things about trying to get your story across in the courtroom. Well, I'd been to one of these things before (with a different group) and it was tedious because it was almost all lecture. This one, however, was actually pretty damned good.

I mention this only because today's was not only good, but one of the instructors offered me an unadulterated, in-the-flesh, H! ITG! moment. To wit, while it took a few minutes to place him, I was learning a few things from Alan Blumenfeld, who has done tons of TV bits and, it turns out, had a small part in another film dear to at least one of our co-bloggers.

But I could only place him as the fellow who played the science teacher in WarGames. Now, short of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, WarGames was as much of a touchstone of my grade school and intermediate school years as any movie. So that was pretty damned cool. Fortunately, when I went at the break to confirm that he was in fact that fellow his wife and fellow instructor - also an actress - was good enough to make the necessary joke about asexual reproduction for me.

Anyway, if you happen to be the business of selecting one of these seminars, Act of Communication is worth your patnership's money.
ONE LESS THING TO SAVE SPACE FOR ON THE TIVO: Well, it sounds like the elite list of TV shows canceled after one episode, including such illustrious occupants as Emily's Reasons Why Not, has a new member--Herskowitz/Zwick project quarterlife drew NBC's worst 18-39 ratings at 10 PM in at least 17 years, worse than such illustrious projects as UC: Undercover, Cold Feet, and The Lyon's Den.

Emmys may add reality host award - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety

THERE'S NOTHING LEFT IN YOU THAT I CAN LIVE WITH. IF I STAY WITH YOU I'LL BE DESTROYED: Life imitates art, and one of those living it offers a very personal retrospective appreciation: Chez Pazienza on 1976's Network. The link at his blog to the New York Observer's story comparing him to Beale is worth a read as well, though the comparison itself is certainly overblown.
"EVEN IF ONE TAKES EVERY REEFER MADNESS ALLEGATION OF THE PROHIBITIONISTS AT FACE VALUE, MARIJUANA PROHIBITION HAS DONE FAR MORE HARM TO FAR MORE PEOPLE THAN MARIJUANA EVER COULD": William F. Buckley died this morning. Since we have here an explicit ban on politics and an implicit one on religion (to which you are admonished to adhere in any comments), I'll excise those two things from this brief post. Um, Buckley was best known for his book Man at Yale and for his entertainingly vehement opinions on language, although he dabbled in spy novels, spy-being, siring satirical authors, and gay-bashing Gore Vidal to defend himself from charges that he was a Nazi.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

FINISHING THE HAT: Given the love oft expressed here for Georges Seurat and Stephen Sondheim, it's worth noting that the rapturously reviewed Roundabout revival of Sunday In The Park With George has discount tickets available through Goldstar Events. Also, unfazed by the alleged curse and that the last revival was a mega-flop, a much acclaimed production of The Scottish Play, starring Captain Picard himself, will transfer to Broadway.
IDOL JUST WANTS TO BE YOUR EVERYTHING: Two performances rose above the Idol pack tonight -- David Hernandez's smokin' hot "Papa Was A Rolling Stone," with some of the nicest phrasing I've heard on the show in some time, and Chikezie's just awesome, off-the-charts-charismatic take on Ray Charles-by-way-of-Donny-Hathaway's "I Believe To My Soul" (even better than Elliot Yamin's take). Young David Archuleta was solid on "Imagine", but didn't quite blow me away as much as he did the judges, and I rather liked Clifford the Crunchy Muppet's take on "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" as a charming performance, even if the singing wasn't quite there.

For the rest, song choice, song choice: "Go Your Own Way" is a great duet, but no one wants to hear it just for Lindsey Buckingham, Mr. Johns. Similarly on Luke, I'm glad he can pull off Freddie Mercury, but why waste it on "Killer Queen"? Junior Johnny Weir should've never tried to take a Ruben Studdard song and make it his own. If Jason Yeager can't stop smiling, he has to not sing songs like the Doobies' "Long Train Running," which doesn't call for it. And David Cook, no one cares if you can play the guitar, because "All Right Now" is not a singers' song.

Private to Robbie Carrico: yes, there are many ways to rock, but all of yours suck.

Gone (I hope): Robbie and Yeager.

Feinberg: "I hope David knows bigger words than he was trying to show off for the camera, because otherwise he must get really frustrated with his crosswords after, say, Tuesday. But I'm sure there's a girl sitting at home saying, Wow, he's balding and he knows 'juxtaposition.'"
THAT'S NOT SO HOT: Well, he's already got a TV show, but Perez Hilton will soon have his own book (which I assume will be nothing more than pictures of celebrities with poorly scribbled words across their faces), and his own record imprint. As noted in the comments, I'm sure we're prepared to sell out and resort to lives of full-time media consumption and blogging if a major media conglomerate wishes to make the investment.
TALL DARK HALF-CAF ICED: If you have a caffeine jones between 5:30 and 9 PM today, don't go to your local Starbucks (or the one across the street from that Starbucks, or the one next door)--they'll be closed for barista training. Dunkin' Donuts is responding with cheap lattes of its own.
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JON A DULL BOY: A genius applies the Ewing Theory to Garfield comics and the results read as if Jon took a job at the The Overlook Hotel this winter.

Via Francis.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A List Of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago

CHUCKIE'S IN LOVE: In response to Sarah Silverman's recent announcement In re Matt Damon, Jimmy Kimmel, Ben Affleck and a massive array of celebrities (Robin Williams! McLovin! Brad Pitt! Huey Lewis! Macy Gray!) now have a song of their own.
NO, THEY DON'T MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE IN THE BOWELS OF CITY HALL: Local history buff Ron Avery has prepared a list of 84 things he's heard Philadelphia tour guides claim that are flat-out wrong, including:
  • Trees were planted along streets so illiterate people would know the name of streets. So Pine Street was lined with pine trees etc.
  • The Declaration was read first in German because 60 percent of Pa. was German and then read a second time in English.
  • Ben Franklin had 80 illegitimate children all in Sweden.
  • The garden behind the Second National Bank was where wives waited because they weren’t allowed inside the bank.
  • Ben Franklin weighed 300 pounds when he died and had syphilis.

There are three items on that list of which I've been mistaken, and about which I am glad to be corrected. (Two involve the same location.)

WE DIDN'T HAVE COFFEE. IT WAS CHOCOLATE MILK: As commenter KJ pointed out a few weeks back, The Wire is a show that rewards patience at the beginning of each season with the quickening pace toward the end of the season as everything starts to come together. To me, this was the best episode of the season, for the comedy (McNulty's face during the FBI profiler's report of the serial killer), the continuity (Rawls's "I like a little kinky shit myself," a call-back to the fleeting glimpse of him that we saw in the gay bar some seasons ago), the closure (a sad, smaller-looking Poot, with the bravado poorly masking his pathetic story), and, of course, for the way that all of this season's stories, and many of the loose ends from other seasons, are starting to converge.

Judging from comments the last few times I've posted about this show, it has fewer viewers even here than it should. For the three or four of you who are watching, a comment a couple of questions: First, holy crap, Omar is 47? And second, what exactly happened in that last scene?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

MEAT PARADE: Your ongoing thoughts as to the 80th Annual Academy Awards are welcome here. Many of us will be checking in as the night progresses.

closing thoughts: The show moved briskly, but that's what happens when you axe the incredibly necessary "let me tell you what each nominated film was about" segments and have only one honorary award. A good Oscar show features clips of nominated films -- not clips of other Oscar shows -- and that really frustrated me, especially for a year like this in which only one nominated film was widely seen. As I wrote three years ago:
They need to bring back the 1-2 minute clips of each nominated movie so that viewers have some sense of why each was nominated -- you need Sylvester Stallone up there saying, as Ebert put it, "Million Dollar Baby tells the story of an aging fight trainer and a hillbilly girl who thinks she can be a boxer. It is narrated by a former boxer who is the trainer's best friend. But it's not a boxing movie, for reasons that become clear later on. In the scene you're about to see, Maggie tries to convince Frankie to manage her," etc. Otherwise, there's no context for the awards at all, and especially in a year where the nominated films were not mass blockbusters, it's necessary.

My time-saving suggestions remain the same: cut out the production numbers of songs no one knows, and I'd seriously consider moving the two "short film" awards and some technical awards, replacing them with Best Debut Performance and Best First Film, a director's award. Let's keep talking -- also about the winners, of course.

[One more thing: is this the first time all four acting awards went to non-Americans?]
THIS IS RIDICULOUS. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? ROAD TRIP: Inexplicably for those of you who don't know him, and unsurprisingly for those of you who do, Spaceboy v1.0 has developed an obsession about the states -- their location on the map; their residents and former residents of interest (family members, ex-nannies, RW/RR Challenge participants); the order in which they were admitted to the Union. Don't believe me? He just wrote the following story: "The dog went outside the cat came the dog went to Nevada."

So, naturally, I decided to make him an iPod playlist of songs about states. I got 13 songs in and realized that I needed a lot of help. ALOTT5MA readers, help! The criteria are as follows:
  1. The song must mention a state's name. Songs that merely refer to a city without naming the state itself don't make the cut.
  2. Preferably, the song should be about the state and not just mention it in passing. This rule is not inviolate. It may be hard to think of many songs about Delaware, and a great song that just mentions Delaware is better than a mediocre song that is all about it.
  3. Song quality is superior to on-the-nose-ness. I have to listen to this stuff too. This is why the "Indiana" spot on my playlist remains open even though I am aware of the crime against humanity song "Gary, Indiana."
  4. Bonus points for depth of thought. I'm perfectly capable of querying the iTunes Store for songs that include a state name, but that's not very useful to me. I'd rather have people tell me about songs that they like (without filtering out songs that don't include the state name in the title).
  5. I have a preference for non-obviousness, though again, it's not an absolute requirement.
I won't list the 13 songs I already have, in the hope that you'll convince me to replace them.
I'M NOT GOING TO OVERSTAY MY WELCOME: Two questions spurred by last night's SNL:
  • Does John McCain have a right to demand equal time on SNL based on Gov. Huckabee's appearance last night?
  • We've previously talked about the issues associated with blackface. Was Fred Armisen's Obama uncomfortable (and, IMHO, ineffective) because of the quasi-blackface, or just because the impression stank? (Though the rest of the sketch was pretty damn funny.)
Also, Don Pardo is 90? Wow.

e.t.a. by Adam: Okay, I just saw the I Drink Your Milkshake sketch. That's comedy.