Friday, June 27, 2008

"THIS IS ALL JAY HAS EVER WANTED": Which is not to say that The Hollywood Reporter won't speculate about Jay Leno's seven most-likely post-"Tonight Show" options.

My guess: loyal company man that he ultimately is (despite the phone-snooping incident), Leno declines to take on Conan O'Brien in any overlapping time slot. Instead, he'll do a Larry King-like show on MSNBC four nights a week, continue to do stand-up and corporate events, and gradually develop a political edge that makes him much more interesting to watch, and I have no idea what that edge is. (Seriously: what do we know about Leno's personal life or views other than the fact that he's married and likes old cars?)
INSERT REFERENCE TO KEVIN FEDERLINE: For discussion--less surprising breakup of the week--Madonna dumping Guy Ritchie or Anne Hathaway dumping her skeevy "financier" boyfriend right before he was indicted?
THESIS: "IS IT IN YOU?" IS THE WORST CAMPAIGN SINCE "A THOUSAND TINY FINGERS MASSAGING YOUR GUMS" AND, BEFORE THAT, "YOU ASKED FOR IT, YOU GOT IT." What, exactly, is in you? Gatorade original, Vitamin Water, or something else? And what flavor? (I ask because when my gym runs out of original lemon-lime Gatorade, every other option tastes like weak unsweetened Kool-Aid to me.)
ALL RIGHT, WHAT KID IS MASTURBATING IN OHIO RIGHT NOW -- GET HIM! We talked about the weird Buzz Bissinger-Will Leitch Costas Now, and then I believe we talked about it again. I mention this because over at Deadspin they're doing a roast of Will Leitch for his last day at the site, and it includes this absolutely genius redubbing of the Costas Now introduction. It only makes sense if you saw the original Costas Now piece and if you know a lot of the Deadspin story, but if you meet those criteria, just brilliant.

ETA: Adam points out, in case you hadn't noticed the title to this post, that the audio is NSFW.

You (yes, you!) can participate in our summer cocktail series. From you we need (a) an amusing anecdote about a summer cocktail and (b) a recipe for a summer cocktail. Send it in.

Long-lived commenter 3under5 provides us more evidence of Ben Franklin's axiom that

Beer is Proof That God Loves Us and Wants Us to Be Happy:

Wake up early on a day when you know that it is going to be hot and sunny. It's best if it's before 8 am. Ideally, the temperature should be expected to reach into the 90's, at least.*

You'll need a glass mug, 16 oz. size is ideal. It should be thick with a solid, sturdy handle. You can go with a fancy designer mug, but it's not necessary. My favorite is one that says "World's Be-t Gr-ndpa" in black and red foil letters (the 'e' and the 'a' have been scratched away over time). As it happens, I learned about this drink watching my grandpa drink from the same mug, while I enjoyed a similarly prepared Vernor's he hauled 1800 miles for me every summer.

In any event, once you've chosen your mug, run it under lukewarm water, making sure to leave just a little in the bottom (about a half-moon, just enough so that when it breaks off later it will be a solid ice piece that will rise to the top of liquid, but not so much that it will water down your drink) and visible droplets on the sides and handle. Place the mug (or mugs, if you have company) in your freezer.

If you have long hair, you'll want to pull it back in some sort of dew rag or head band, or you may want to put on a baseball cap. You should also have some work or gardening gloves. What's important here is not fashion, but utility. You're going to sweat. Now, go outside. You'll need a project, and it should be one that requires significant manual labor. For best results, I prefer projects like laying sod or digging fence post holes, something that requires a lot of arm muscle (in the interest of honesty, I admit I have done the former, but I have not, in fact, ever dug a fence post hole by myself). Ideally, the task should be one you can complete in about a 10 hour time period (shorter or longer may negatively impact the result).

Work at your project. Work at it hard and with few breaks. Work at it all day. Work until your body is covered in sweat with droplets rolling in and stinging the corners of your eyes. Work until the skin on your shoulders and forearms has burnt a little and is starting to hurt and crack (this may not seem important, but it is, don't leave this out). Work until you can't go on. Most importantly, work until you have a visible result.

Throw down your shovel. Remove your gloves. Wipe the sweat off your brow with the back of your hand. Go inside and wash your hands - but do not shower. Get a beer from your refrigerator. At this point, any beer will do, and actually, beer in a can is best for pouring. The lighter, the better, and price and perceived quality have ceased to be important. (Grandpa usually went with the Silver Bullet.) Carefully remove your mug from the freezer and watch as the frost appears. Admire the ice droplets on the sides. You can briefly press the mug against your burning forearm, but don't take too long, you don't want it to melt. Tip the mug to the side, and slowly pour the beer in, but not too slowly. Stop as it foams up over the top, sip a little of the head, then empty can into the mug.

WAIT! STOP! Do not drink any more.

You need to go back outside, find a spot of shade and a plastic lawn chair, positioned so that you can admire your work. Now, Enjoy.

*This works best if you live in a dry climate and can watch the dust blow by you in a hot wind. I've learned that in more humid climates, you may want to take more breaks and be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I RESPECTFULLY DECLINED TO SUBMIT MYSELF FOR CONSIDERATION: GoldDerby has the list of the semi-finalists in the Emmy series category, which include surprising inclusions both joyous (The Wire, Dexter, FNL) and madenning (Family Guy, over HIMYM and The Simpsons), and some surprising exclusions (nary a bit of love for CBS' Sunday comedies, and many highly rated shows not making the list). Some surprising episode choices, too--Family Guy not going with "Blue Harvest," Boston Legal going with the well-acted but extremely political "The Court Supreme," and The Wire going with the finale, which will be interesting if it comes through to folks without prior experience with the series.

Based on this, I'm guessing Comedy will be The Office, Pushing Daisies, 30 Rock, Entourage, and Conchords, while Drama will be House, Boston Legal, Friday Night Lights, Lost, and The Wire.
"MASTERPIECE": Yes, that's what they're saying about WALL-E, and I believe that my "oh, when is the good culture coming?" whining is over. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ:
The first half hour of "WALL-E" is essentially wordless, and left me speechless. This magnificent animated feature from Pixar starts on such a high plane of aspiration, and achievement, that you wonder whether the wonder can be sustained. But yes, it can.... [T]he film stands as a stunning tour de force. The director has described it as his love letter to the golden era of sci-fi films that enchanted him as a kid in the 1970s. It is certainly that, in hearts and spades. Beyond that, though, it's a love letter to the possibilities of the movie medium, and a dazzling demonstration of how computers can create a photorealistic world -- in this case a ruined world of mysterious majesty -- that leaves literal reality in the dust.... I must drop my inhibitions about dropping the M word -- especially since I've already used magnificent -- and call "WALL-E" the masterpiece that it is.
Ken Turan, LA Times:
Daring and traditional, groundbreaking and familiar, apocalyptic and sentimental, "Wall-E" gains strength from embracing contradictions that would destroy other films. Directed by Pixar stalwart Andrew Stanton, who co-wrote and directed the Oscar-winning "Finding Nemo," "Wall-E" is the latest Pixar film to manage what's become next door to impossible for anyone else: appealing to the broadest possible audience without insulting anyone's intelligence.

Part robot romance between two mismatched mechanized marvels, part science fiction saga with deliberate echoes of Stanley Kubrick's "2001," this may be the first animated feature to pivot around novelist E.M. Forster's famous imperative, "Only connect."
EW's Owen Gleiberman:
There's a way to measure how well an animated film takes over your imagination. Do you forget, during the movie, that you're even watching animation? Do the textures and settings, the fantasy-land characters, become — for lack of a better word — real? That, or something close to it, is what happened to me during WALL-E, the puckishly inventive, altogether marvelous new digitally animated feature from Pixar.... [E]ven as the movie turns pointedly, and resonantly, satirical, it never loses its heart. I'm not sure I'd trust anyone, kid or adult, who didn't get a bit of a lump in the throat by the end of WALL-E, a film that brings off what the best (and only the best) Pixar films have: It whisks you to another world, then makes it every inch our own.
The NY Post's Lou Lumenick says that "Some day, there will be college courses devoted to this movie." I believe I know what I'm doing this weekend.
A LITTLE GIFT FOR ISAAC IN HONOR OF HIS WIFE'S FORTHCOMING BIRTHDAY: I am live-blogging the SYTYCD results show from vacation. (And I mean really live-blogging, as there's no TiVo here at the ancestral country manse among the slipcovers. Which also means that I haven't seen last night's performances, so am working exclusively off the result-show recaps.)

Extra-cool Wade Robson hobo-dead-people-can-dance group routine -- wait, that was Mia Michaels? Ok, that's weird. Is Wade going to choreograph a raw personal insight into his own mommy issues next week or something?

Chelsea and Thayne: Wow. Did that suck as much in its full-length version as it did in the recap? Everyone always talks about how hard the quickstep is, but this is the only time I can think of on this show that we could truly see the difficulty. Yick.

Joshua & Katee: I was skeptical of all the adulation that they'd received to date, given that their first two genres had been hip-hop and Broadway. Picking
Broadway is the equivalent of getting a bye for the week -- nothing America loves like a good jazz square. But that samba was great (at least what I saw of it), and Joshua is rapidly becoming one of my favorite dancers in the competition.

Chelsie & Mark: Sorry, their recap took place while I was running around trying to find the computer so I could write this. No idea what they did, but I think they're cute together and it looks like America does too.

Twitch & Kherington: Duh. These two aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Rhumba people, whose names I forget and whose identities I cannot search because of the lack of TiVo, but I'm guessing her name is either Courtney or Chelsea, because everyone else's is: Presumptive Courtney/Chelsea has the best freshly bedded hair I have ever seen. Nothing else really resonated with me during their thirty seconds of airtime.

Comfort & Chris: Comfort keeps failing to impress on dances that one would think would be in her wheelhouse. Last week she was truly meh in a hip hop routine, of all things, and while I get it that African jazz and hip hop aren't the same thing, it's still very rhythmic and big and not, say, the foxtrot. I'm not sure whether they're outclassed by the competition or whether they just need new partners.

The Tall People: Who is this choreographer? (And who writes Mary's patter? You've got something for sale and I'm buying it? Seriously?) While I was typing the thing about Mary, I missed whatever else they showed in this clip. But they're in the bottom three, so apparently I didn't miss much.

Jessica and Will: Disco is never a jidge pleaser, and I never understand why they use the genre so heavily. (Did they at least use a different choreographer this time?) But I'm glad to see Will in that slot -- like season one winner Nick Lazzarini, a really great dancer transcends the inherent cheesiness of the dance.

I am giggling at Nigel's take on Michael Caine.

Hok! Hok! Hok and friends!

And now the solos. Chelsea: last week they told her to step it up in her solo. This is better, but is it amazing? Eh.

Thayne: Bonus points for Bon Jovi and for having the ability to straddle his legs beyond 180 degrees. That was pretty good, in the classic "RUN! LEAP! RUE THE HEAVENS ABOVE WITH YOUR FISTS!" solo style.

Comfort: She seems to finally have remembered to turn the energy switch on for a solo, but she is no Hok. I get the yay for B-girls thing, but I don't see her making it to top 10 unless Nigel is really adamant that there must be a female hip hopper on the tour.

Chris: Weird outfit choice. It's like he's dancing for Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters. I'm too distracted by the outfit's incongruousness to pay attention to the dancing.

The incredible Jordin Sparks is performing live on this very stage? Yeah, I don't care. I voted for Blake.

Kourtni Love Thurman: She is so cool looking. But the lights are glinting off her hair and blinding me.

Matt: He is not cool looking. In some ways he's interestingly bendy, and in some ways he needs more joints to break up the lines of those extra-long bones. I'd keep Thayne over him if it were up to me, and I don't know what I'd do with Captain Geech.

Jordin: Mr. Cosmo and I like the fact that she still looks the way she did when she won. None of this Carrie Underwood "I do my shopping at fashion week and no longer eat" business. I still don't care about her music, but I like her personally.

Ok, I say it should be Chelsea and Matt going home. But what do the jidges think? Not a lot of dissention about the female choice, it would appear. She's going home to a warm family that will cradle her, so it's all good. And apparently the jidges like weird bendiness, whilst Captain Geech's clothes weren't masking anything noteworthy.

And so it's toodleloo to Chelsea and Chris, leaving Thayne and Comfort as our first new pairing. I'm guessing that neither of them is too terribly excited -- it's not much of a trade-up for either of them, unless the interpersonal dynamics of the prior partnerships were more problematic than they seemed.

And that's it for tonight -- the betel rinds beckon.
CHUNG-CHUNG: In an apparent effort to make L&O:CI even more twitchy and tic-y than it already is, Chris Noth's Det. Logan will be leaving, and alternating with D'Onofrio next season as the senior cop will be Jeff Goldblum.
SORRY, GRIESE, BUT TRIPPING OVER YOUR DOG IS BUSH LEAGUE: In recognition of Detroit Tiger Brandon Inge's trip to the DL on account of the ever-dreaded pillow injury, 100% Injury Rate lists its (their?) favorite sports-related injuries. The list is clearly not comprehensive: it indefensibly omits Glenallen Hill falling through a glass table during a nightmare about spiders, John Smolz burning himself ironing a polo shirt while still wearing it, or Tony Allen blowing out his knee dunking the ball after a stoppage of play. So look here for more omissions, or here, or here, or just google your own.

Via Deadspin, which the last week or so has turned into a weird self-officiated Irish wake for Will Leitch.
SO I THINK I CAN'T TELL WHO CAN DANCE: Every Wednesday (what's today? I'll go with Thursday), I show up at the office ready to get excited about a KCosmo SYTYCD post, and every Wednesday I find out that KCos is off in Malawi arbitraging betel rinds or in the countryside taking the dust-covers off of the sofas at the ancestral summer manse. My temporary SYTYCD duty is starting to feel like a recess appointment for which, as I mention every week, I'm not qualified.

They shifted around a lot of the call sheet this week but it didn't make a bit of difference. Let's do this in tiers:

They both are correct in thinking that they can dance: Twitch and Kherington; Joshua and Katee. I'm not a rhumba fan, I guess, and at some point someone needs to explain to Katee that "smoldering" doesn't mean "smile like you just won the giant cuddly frog at the fair," but I was pretty sure that by wearing revealing clothing and failing to fall down, J/K were going to get a hot tamale pass. As for T/K, whenever I watch either one, I can't look away, and I have to rewind to watch the other. It's the damndest thing -- I don't really even like to watch dancing, and yet I find them mesmerising.

Okay, they both kind of can dance, but yawn: Mark and Chelsie, Matt and (I want to say) Kourtni? Did I get that right? The jidges loved M/C. I thought it looked like a high school play. Plus, given Chelsie's terror at learning she had to fake sexual tension with Mark last week, I winced when he put his hand on her boobs. They're just being mean to the Mormon teen. Meanwhile, M/K -- eh. She's tall and should seem tall (he actually does a great job of this, I think), but she seems intent on diminishing herself. He seems good but dull.

One can dance; the other has self-doubt: Will and One Dimple; Gev and Courtney. I didn't think Jessica was bad; it was just that she kept hesitating and then catching up, like a badly-spliced student film. And she's so muscular -- I keep waiting for her to lift Will, which would be something to see. Still, I like her a lot more than I think the jidges do. Meanwhile, the jidges keep praising Gev for not royally screwing up, but it just looks to me like Courtney is so much stronger than him (not just as a dancer, but physically) and is really carrying the team. When she slid down his leg from his shoulders, she did a great job adjusting for his shaking. And I'll bet that if and when they draw hip hop, because of her NBA dance background she'll have no trouble keeping up.

Sometimes they can dance, but not at the same time: Chelsea and Thayne, Comfort and Chris. I don't have anything really bad to say about C/T, but they just don't seem as good as the teams above. Actually, I have one bad thing to say about Thayne. It's not his fault, but his smile is like the cartoon smile of somebody who stands too close to exploding dynamite, right before all of the teeth fall out with a tinkly noise. Last (and least), C/C. I actually think Comfort has been good every week (though I like her more than I like her dancing). Chris may be good but he is annoying and I want him to go home.

If I were making tiers, it would be the first group above, then the next two, and then the last one. So my guess is that Chelsea and Chris go home, which is a bit of a shame because, frankly, I think all of the women left are better than maybe three or four of the guys.
KANYE WEST DOESN'T LIKE LOWER CASE LETTERS: Apparently, Kayne West's set at Bonaroo started late, as in 4:45 am. And yet, after I read his all caps, profanity-laden, hyper-punctuated defense of his very late, very short set, I can't help but see his point.
IT'S NOT YOU; IT'S NOT EVEN US: As internal discussion among the Thing-Throwing hierarchy confirmed why you aren't seeing much blogging from us this week: blame the culture. When the best non-SYTYCD things on tv appears to be HBO2's reairings of all the old George Carlin specials this week and the NBA Network's rebroadcasts of 15-20 year old drafts (and you should have seen Will Perdue all farbissen when the Bulls drafted him in 1988), well, be patient. Big Willie Weekend is coming. In the meantime, tell us what you're enjoying, or at least anticipating.

By the way, our friend Dan Fienberg? Also hated The Happening: "There are times where it really seems like Shyamalan doesn't get the English language. Like John Leguizamo's character is saying where his unseen wife is heading and he says something like, 'She's going to New Jersey, to the town of Princeton. 'To the town of Princeton.' As if long-term residents of Philly needed clarification that Princeton is a town. In New Jersey. It's strange that the addition of one or two extra words in a sentence would irk me so, but Shyamalan's characters do that all the time and it's just not the way people talk."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WE DO NOT REWARD KNOWLEDGE, WE PUNISH IGNORANCE: I Survived a Japanese Gameshow was actually fairly amusing. The premise is great: ten - well, not very sophisticated - Americans go to Japan and participate in the normal range of humiliating physical game show stunts. I'm not sure I like the direction here. The sequences of the show itself are pretty good, but the reality-drama parts (oh, my, the Staten Island chick is self-absorbed) are tedious and the segments during the bridge between competition and elimination (the losers had to drive rickshaws, the winners get a helicopter tour of Tokyo) showed no local color at all.

Still, we'll give it another run next week.

Special Drinks Issue - Blender Drinks Are Back -

LIQUEFY! In news sure to delight some readers of our Summer Cocktail Series, the NYT is reporting that blender drinks are back, providing recipes where appropriate.

If you have a cocktail and a story you'd like to share, please email us at the address on the right.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WRITE, CALL, OR E-MAIL TO FUTILITY.COM: Will Leitch is a very funny and very smart guy. Despite that, he was unable to Win Ben Stein's Money. Gawker has the video. Also, is there a tougher game show bonus game in recent years than beating Ben in the "Best of 10 Test Of Knowledge?"
I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE BAND OF MR. SCHNEEBLY, AND WILL NOT FIGHT HIM FOR CREATIVE CONTROL ...: Did Jack Black, Joan Cusack and the kids complete all the narrative and character development arcs in the original, or is there in fact a need for School of Rock 2 beyond "Hollywood isn't sure what else Jack Black can do"?
RYDELL HIGH IS HIRING A NEW SECRETARY. XYLOPHONE SKILLS A MUST: Dody Goodman, who played Blanche in both Grease and Kim's favorite film, has passed away. She was 93. I love this description of her distinctive voice: "like a Tweetie Pie cartoon bird strangling on peanut butter."

And completing the pop culture triumvirate of obits in today's Times with Goodman and George Carlin is Kermit Love, the costume designer responsible for helping create Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Oscar the Grouch.

And speaking of Carlin, the news happened too late to make the Monday Chicago Tribune, but ironically the op-ed page yesterday featured this cartoon.

HEADIN' DOWN THE ATLANTA HIGHWAY: After last night's debacle, I doubt we'll be doing much more Nashville Star blogging. The contestants were asked to perform countrified versions of non-country hits like "Living La Vida Loca," "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Love Shack," and let me make this plain: It. Did. Not. Work. What's worse: the performers are now joined by The Nashville Star Dancers, or whatever they're called -- six young women who cavort about aimlessly and make the whole thing feel like the second coming of the Love Boat Mermaids.

It just feels like they don't trust the audience to come and stay just by having talented country singers doing contemporary country songs. And that's a shame, because the show they're putting on instead is unwatchably, laughably, insultingly bad.

Monday, June 23, 2008

LET'S HAVE A (TRADE) WAR: First, we say that we'll take their tired, poor, and huddled masses, but not their 24-year-old crack-induced-emphysema sufferers, which pretty much puts the lie to the "yearning to breathe free" part. Then they tell us that, to protect their innocent bystanders from impromptu justice-obstruction, our cold-hearted uber-WASP domestic empresses are not welcome to pop over for a spot of tea. Now comes the news that their formerly* gender-bending false-burglary-reporting cocaine-hording blue-eyed-soul singers must allegedly imprison escorts elsewhere. And thus, the stock-fraud prosecutors of London and the imprisonment-disliking escorts of several large and mid-sized cities in the United States can sleep easier tonight, knowing that their governments have done everything in their power to protect them.

*Russ -- I'm trying it out without the hyphen.

Little more than a cameo: 19 stellar cinematic one-scene wonders | The A.V. Club

IF NOBODY HAS ANY OBJECTIONS, I BELIEVE I MIGHT BE OF SERVICE: For a list in which George Carlin's work in Dogma and J&SBSB surely belongs, the AV Club lists "19 stellar cinematic one-scene wonders".
#!@#, !*#!, #&!&, @@$#, *!C*!#_!(R, *!C*!#_!(R, ^#^S: George Carlin, dead at 71.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

25 TO LIFE: I'm sure most ThingThowers subscribe to EW, which, for its 1000th issue, has published "the new canon," which aims to provide us a list of the 100 best films, TV series, albums, books, and top 50 "pop culture moments that rocked fashion," stage shows, and video games, and the top 25 "innovations that changed entertainment." To kick off some discussion, I'll offer some brief observations about each category--I'm sure there'll be much to discuss:
  • Film--in many instances, seems like they chose less impressive options for some franchises or directors (Bourne Supremacy (29) over Bourne Ultimatum (does not appear) and Jerry Maguire (17) over Almost Famous (does not appear))--and seriously, a list on which those (along with Magnolia) do not appear, but manages to find room for Evil Dead 2?
  • TV--It's a little premature to put Lost at number 8--so much of our assessment of the show ill be how they ultimately resolve it. More severely? 90210 at #20 and My So-Called Life at #33?
  • Music--Back To Black at #9? Ahead of Tidal, Appetite For Destruction, and Exile in Guyville? Seriously? (Perhaps more criminal is the ordering of U2 albums--Achtung Baby at #3 and Joshua Tree at #63?)
  • Books--Bridget Jones at #20, ahead of The Corrections (#50), Bonfire of the Vanities (#57), A Prayer for Owen Meany (#73), Friday Night Lights (#74), and Presumed Innocent (#92)? Sure, the influence of Bridget Jones is significant, but Presumed Innocent also launched a genre.
  • Style--Amy Winehouse being anywhere near this list, especially without the phrase "hot mess" being used.
  • Stage--August: Osage County at #3? I know it's great by all accounts, but ahead of Sondheim, Mamet, and Neil Simon? (Also, no Proof.)
  • Videogames--Half-Life on the list, but no Half-Life 2? World of Warcraft at #49 and Madden at #50 both seem way lower than they should be
  • Tech--TiVo at #3, behind the DVD player? Sure, the DVD player was rapidly adopted, but did it really add a whole lot of capability beyond what VHS was already offering, especially since even now, it doesn't offer a ton of recording options?
There's much to discuss in there, and I leave it to you to discuss.