Saturday, August 30, 2008

News - Ocho Cinco 2.0 - Cincinnati Bengals

OCHO LOCO: Taking matters to a degree that Ted Turner and Andy Messersmith never considered, Bengals WR Chad Johnson (#85) has legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco.
STOP. THE LOVE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN: Some day, though probably not until after his death, an appropriate biography will be written detailing the truth of the tragic life of Michael Jackson, an entertainer once of extraordinary talent but for whom "messed up" doesn't even begin to describe what his upbringing did to him, or what he is generally believed as having done to child victims (or his face).

Well, he turned fifty years old yesterday (as have Madonna and Prince this year), and to the extent that you can view his work without the knowledge of all that has happened since, this 1975 footage from the Carol Burnett Show of Michael with his brothers (and a surprise guest) or an "I Want You Back"/"ABC" from 1977 may still provide a smile.

Friday, August 29, 2008

BEFORE THE LEAVES CHANGE:Monday marks the beginning of one of ALOTT5MA's favorite times of the year--the fall television season (though I suppose last Monday's debut of America's Toughest, Yet Somehow, Not That Interesting Jobs marked a pre-season game). It's a little strange this year, with "fall" debuts stretching from Monday (season premieres for Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill) all the way through October 22, when Stylista debuts on the CW. So, what are you looking forward to among new shows (Fringe, The Ex List, and maybe Life on Mars and My Own Worst Enemy are about it for me, though I will give 90210 a shot)? And more importantly, start thinking now for the annual cancellation pool, which promises to be tough--there's no Viva Laughlin level debacle apparent from the networks' fairly limited list of programs, and recent years of CBS's success on Monday (HIMYM excluded) demonstrates that even crappy sitcoms find love.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK, I'M WEARING A SHIRT! Michael Phelps to host SNL season-opener in two weeks; your skit suggestions are welcome.
BABY YOU CAN WEAR MY CAR: We've been watching other things this week, but did managed to take in the Project Runway recycle-a-Saturn challenge last night as a sort of nightcap. I've no deep insights (ha) or strong opinions to share this week. Only even managed to hate on Suede ever so briefly; glad Stella will live to sew another day; etc.
ALOTT5MA JEOPARDY: Things that Belong to KCosmo's Regular Beat for $400. Your answer is:
Olympic sport, small New England city, deciduous tree, Scottish musician, branch of mathematics.
IN THE ALIEN LIGHT OF THE SPACESHIP OF LOVE: Apparently, the problem for David Duchovny is not having too many girls ask "why won't you love me?" Indeed, apparently, it's quite the opposite.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

SHA LA LA: I know several of my cohorts are off for the long weekend already, though some of us still have to work. For that reason, let's go with some TV theme songs from YouTube. I'll start us off with a few:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HER BRIEF HOPES FOR AN EARLY ITALIAN DINNER QUASHED: Sioux City is finally getting an Olive Garden!

Update: Alas, this news story dates back to December of 2006, which means Sioux Citians have been enjoying unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks for close to two years. But in other more recent Olive Garden news, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham recently dragged buddies John and Joe Lieberman to the restaurant for dinner (McCain had the spaghetti and meatballs, Lieberman had the fish) and good news for the people of Rocky Mount, N.C., you're long nightmare is over--the OG is set to open a location next spring in-between the former Ham’s Restaurant and Fred’s Beds at the Golden East Crossing mall on Wesleyan Boulevard.

via Filmoculous
PUTTING SOME ENGLISH ON THE BALL? Starting next year, women on the LPGA Tour who fail to learn English will be suspended from the sport. The tour's sizeable (and increasiningly dominant) South Korean contingent was told this week that during 2008, they "will be evaluated by a core team on communication skills such as conversation, survival (i.e. 'I’m going to the store.') and 'golfspeak.' Players must be able to conduct interviews and give acceptance speeches without the help of a translator."

Other sports have exploited the global popularity of their non-fluent-in-English athletes and reaped the benefits -- I'm thinking, obvs, of Asian players like Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yao Ming, but it goes beyond that. Even 13-year veteran major leaguers like the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero still speak through an interpreter. Why can't women's golf accommodate and appreciate its foreign-born players? The WaPo's Leonard Shapiro has more.
HERE'S ANOTHER CLUE FOR YOU ALL -- THE WALRUS IS NOT PAULA: I'm just getting around to Adam's post about a fourth Idol judge, and I note some speculation, both here and elsewhere, about whether this is a vote of no-confidence for Paula. I disagree -- I think this is a vote of no-confidence for Randy Jackson.

Idol's judicial model is ingeniously simple, actually. Though people tend to think of them as the mean one, the incoherent one, and the indiscriminately positive really incoherent one, each supposedly represents one facet of the music industry. While their comments sometimes blur territorial boundaries, Simon is the business, Randy the profession, and Paula the dream of stardom.

So in bringing in this DioGuardi character, an industry pro with far more success than fame, Idol is saying that there's room for constructive technical criticism beyond "[reflexive laughter], let me be real, dawg, I [was/wasn't] feelin' it." Over on Idol's sister show, SYTYCD, the judges often (not always) raise specific technical issues, and it seems to work well. I suspect that's what the producers are looking to add to Idol.

Speaking of SYTYCD, since when is Lacey Schwimmer a regular on Dancing and Cuckoldry With the Stars? Isn't that her highest and best use? And approximately how many seconds after the tour ends will Kherington join that show?
AND YOUR LITTLE DOG, TOO! Apparently, Toto has broken up. I was actually unaware that they were still together.

ETA: Maybe even better? Kenny Rogers is still releasing music! And his new album is available for purchase, exclusively at Cracker Barrel. Just drop in there to see what condition your condition is in.
FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT THE GRAMMYS AREN'T HIP: When you think of the 60s in music, a lot of things come to mind--psychedelia, the British Invasion, protest music, folk songs--but let's look at the Grammy for Album of the Year from 1960-1969:
  • 3 albums by Frank Sinatra--A Man And His Music (1967, beating out Revolver), September of My Years (1966, beating out Help!), and Come Dance With Me (1960)
  • 2 comedy albums--The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1961), and Vaughn Meader's The First Family (1963, beating out Ray Charles' Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music)
  • The Barbra Streisand Album (1964, which also featured nominations for the Swingle Singers and the Singing Nun). Streisand also was a nominee in 1965 (double nominee--Funny Girl cast recording and People), 1966 (My Name is Barbra), and 1967 (Color Me Barbra).
  • Glen Campbell (1969, over Bookends and Magical Mystery Tour), Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto (1965), and Judy Garland (1962).

The only rock album to win the award in those 10 years? 1968's win for Sgt. Pepper.

ALL THAT GREAT BEER FLAVOR AND NONE OF THE ALCOHOL: America's hard-working culinary scientists won't let themselves be stopped by you saying "that sounds disgusting!" or "why would anyone want to eat that?" Following in the footsteps of non-alcoholic beer and Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum Soda, I give you Mountain Dew flavored Doritos.
BUST UP YOUR CHIFFOROBE: In case you had any doubt what 30 Rock performance Alec Baldwin submitted for Emmy consideration. Oh: and it's available on Hulu.

[You did say at the time things like "Baldwin better get the flipping Emmy this year," "Watching the therapy scene, I swear that I thought, 'well, he's got the Emmy tape right there,'" and via Isaac, "Baldwin is almost always perfect in the show, but you rarely get as much of him, time-wise and insanity-wise, as you did last night."]

Steve Carrell, fwiw, went with the hour-long season-ender "Goodbye, Toby," which included a a party, a pregnancy, a proposal, a surprising hook-up and Kevin seeming a little ... slow.

updated with Hulu link.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I SEE DEAD CAREERS:Broadway's already become a place for folks to lick their wounds post-Idol--Ace Young is joining Grease (and did you know he's a Grammy nominee for co-writing "It's Not Over?"), but perhaps even stranger? Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment, whose last theatrical release was Secondhand Lions 5 years ago, will star opposite John Leguizamo and Cedric the Entertainer in a revival of David Mamet's American Buffalo this fall. (Personally, I'm still more interested in the other Mamet revival for the Fall--his Hollywood satire Speed-The-Plow with Jeremy Piven, Raul Esparza, and Elisabeth Moss in the roles originated by Joe Mantegna, Ron Silver, and Madonna.)
NO, I CAN'T: You shouldn't be surprised about our decision not to blog about either of the party's national conventions -- the No Politics rule helps protect all the things we like about this community.

But pop culture about politics always remains within our bailiwick, as do all-star recordings and if we can mention the unveiling of the "Yes We Can" video, then I ought to acknowledge its polar opposite. Former Eurhythmic Dave Stewart has assembled a cavalcade of B- and C-list celebrities like Macy Gray, Joss Stone, Barry Manilow, Forest Whitaker, Margaret Cho, Whoopi Goldberg and the Jason Alexander who didn't briefly marry Britney Spears have banded together to record a song titled "American Prayer" (which Stewart co-wrote with Bono), and oh my goodness is this video the suck.

This video is to "Yes We Can" what Chill Factor was to Speed. It is the Stacey Q to's Madonna. It is the Morry Taylor of campaign-related videos. Etc. But you can't look away.
EARTHA KITT, CALL YOUR AGENT: Two casting rumors via EW: Cher as Catwoman in the next Batman film ("like a vamp in her twilight years"), and Russell Crowe (?!) wanting to star in a Bill Hicks biopic.

Query: has there ever been a great film made about a real-life comedian? Because between Man on the Moon, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling and Dustin Hoffman as Lenny, I'm not feeling it. (Even in terms of fictional standups, neither Punchline nor Mr. Saturday Night are going to be featured when Tom Hanks and Billy Crystal receive their respective Kennedy Center Honors.)
BECAUSE AMERICA NEEDS MORE COLONS IN ITS TITLES: When I was editing my law journal in law school, we had an author who wanted her paper titled "The Flim-Flam Father And The Fifth Amendment," in spite of the fact that her paper (on tax law!) had exactly nothing to do with the Fifth Amendment. In her honor, a challenge for you, dear readers--please come up with appropriate (albeit made up) academic paper titles about pop cultural subjects. A few proposals to get you started:
  • Legendary!: How I Met Your Mother and the Unreliable Narrator
  • "Follow The Evidence:" CSI and the Search for Truth
  • The Banker's Rule: Irrationality and Game Theory in Deal Or No Deal
  • A Very Merry Chrismukkah: Syncretic Theology in The O.C.
  • Nothing Ever Changes In Scranton: Exisentialism and The Office
A BUNCH OF PHONIES: Good Magazine argues that The Catcher In The Rye is far less essential than it's made out to be. They also offer some suggested substitutions for Catcher in the high school curriculum--I'm sure you can add to the list.
HARRISON BERGERON SHEDS A TEAR: This story is a good leading indicator regarding the decline of the United States. Let me also note that a 40MPH fastball for a nine year old boy is very fast, but not extraordinarily fast (as least judging by the settings on a JUGS machine). I know kids that age who can hit pitches at 45+ MPH.
THE RED AND THE BLACK: Thirty years ago yesterday, LEGO launched the Minifig. Save possibly BigTrak, no present from my folks was ever quite so awesome as the LEGO Galaxy Explorer, with four (four!) minifigs. Far more than any 4" action figure, these were the guys that animated my childhood.

Thanks. And Happy Birthday.
THERE COMES A TIME WHEN WE HEED A CERTAIN CALL: You thought supergroup charity singles were a thing of the past? (e.g., "We Are The World," "Hands Across America,""That's What Friends Are For") You're wrong--local radio just played the theme song to the upcoming (and quite worthy) "Stand Up To Cancer" event--"Just Stand Up"--featuring an all female supergroup--Mariah (who's apparently dropped her last name), Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Fergie, cancer survivors Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge, Natasha Bedingfield, Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis, Carrie Underwood, Keyshia Cole, Leann Rimes, Ashanti, and Ciara. And yes, it's everything you could hope for in the cheesy charity single category. Personally, I think the ad that featured Eddie Vedder's "Rise" was much more effective, though.
EVEN THOUGH THEY SPELLED IT WRONG, I STILL APPROVE: I am a month late in mentioning this, but how could I fail to note the fact that Hairspray's Marissa Jaret Winokur (Tracy Turnblad of Broadway fame, not the Bianca-beating one) is the proud mama of a baby son by the name of Zev Isaac Miller?

(Levi Alves McConaughey and Clementine Jane Hawke have standing to be annoyed at me as well, but oh my, darling, quality never goes out of style.)
IRA GLASS WOULD NEVER STOP THIS LOW: Normally, I manage to resist my inner 4 year-old, but when NPR this morning had a local story about how Rep. Anthony Weiner (pronounced "wee-nur") had introduced a bill that provided that certain people could be "penalized" (pronounced "pee-nel-ized"), I had to giggle.

Monday, August 25, 2008

AND WOULDN'T DON DRAPER HAVE MADE A SOLID TRIFECTA ALONG WITH TED HOFFMAN AND JIMMY WYLER? Has anyone besides me noticed that there's something about the Mad Men theme song that is somehow remininscent of the Murder One theme song? (For those of you who are already in Olympics withdrawal, there will be a mini-marathon of Mad Men's first five episodes of season two this Sunday starting at 5 pm.)

This comment thread is open for discussion of Mad Men's sophomore year thus far.
WELL, NOW THEY'VE GOT ENOUGH TO GRANT CERT: American Idol has added a fourth judge for next season, a previously unknown (well, so was Randy Jackson as far as we were concerned) pop songwriter-producer named Kara DioGuardia.
THEY GET LUCKY SOMETIMES? We cannot let our coverage of the 2008 Olympics end without looking at the other end of the spectrum. While we aped NBC's coverage and focused on those winning medals at the Games, Quebec's Jonathan Crowe again authored the DFL blog to track those entrants who placed last in each competition, such as the Games' most rhythm-free gymnastics squad (Brazil) and Britain's Blake Aldridge (age 26) and Tom Daley (age 14), the Games' least synchronized divers. Crowe also has collected some Great DFLs in Olympic History.

I cannot let this topic pass without noting the Olympic return of Mount Holly, NJ's Matt Emmons, a 27-year old accountant who doubles as an expert target shooter. Four years ago in Athens, he would have won gold in the 50-meter 3-position rifle event ... and then he shot at the wrong target in the last round, placing him out of medal contention. He was consoled by a Czech female shooter that night, and ended up marrying her. For four years, they both trained to be able to return to the Games once more, and once more, he found himself in the lead with one last squeeze of the trigger to go. I won't spoil the ending, but this is the kind of drama for which we watch the Games. (Did NBC cover Emmons on any channel at any time?)
PARDON THE CONTINUED OLYMPIC OBSESSION, BUT IF YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED THERE IS NO TELEVISION YET: A few Olympic rich people sports and the analogous sporting pastimes in which the nonrich engage:
  • Equestrian (dressage, eventing, jumping): Feral dog dressage, eventing, jumping
  • Skiing: Accidentally slipping
  • Sailing: Waitering
  • Fencing: Stabbing
WHERE'S SPEED ZONE? EW offers a list of 12 flicks (with accompanying photoshoppage) that could be improved with the presence of Usain Bolt.
A BEIJING FORTNIGHT, GIVE OR TAKE A FEW DAYS: The Games are over, and we ought to talk about the standout memories from these Games, the athletes to whom you have given every inch of your love, and it's a list that for me so clearly begins with Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt that it's hard to even think of a number three. They are, as Mr. Owens might say, true Getcha Popcorn Ready athletes, and when NBC did the pop-up chyron "Michael Phelps in 13 minutes," you waited.

In terms of inspirational stories, take your pick -- Dara Torres? Natalie Du Toit?

(Among US Rower Jason Read's memories? Chilling with this blog's favorite Monegasque five-time Olympian.)

One other great moment: whoever that exultant weightlifter was that they showed during the closing montage. Who was that, and why was he so happy?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

HMM. I WONDER IF THERE WILL BE FIREWORKS: If the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics are generally about Our Country Is Awesome (and in this case, And You Should Be Afraid), Closing Ceremonies are typically centered around two notions: (a) when people come together through sport, good things happen; and (b) hey! wait'll you see who's hosting in four years!

The Sydney 2000 Closing Ceremonies let Midnight Oil argue in favor of reparations to the country's aboriginal peoples; I'm guessing Beijing will not allow that sort of political discourse. (Seriously: those closing ceremonies were a goofy party: songs of vegemite sandwiches? Kylie Minogue singing ABBA? INXS with some other singer?)

(Better still: 1984. Lionel Richie!, and yes, there's Youtubage, with special lyrics written for the occasion, as well as nonthreatening breakdancing by The Children of the World. Outrageous!)

So if you're not tuning into CN8 tonight at 9:30 to watch my pretaped ramblings about the Democratic National Convention (anyway, you can just listen), join us for some festive liveblogging.
  • Great: Kissinger Associates employee Joshua Cooper Ramo will join us all night with his expert, unbiased analysis of China.
  • And as the athletes of the world enter, the return of the never-stopping greeter-dancers. It's interesting -- when you look at the athletes as a whole, there's a whole lot of folks with relatively normal-looking bodies out there.
  • Hey, who's the clothing sponsor for the USA team, anyway?
  • It's Yao Ming! Forget what I just said.
  • Also, Costas refers to "impossibly adorable children" on stage, and on cue, guess what? They found one with imperfect teeth to put on stage. Go figure. One of these eight-year olds will be tumbling in London.
  • Not only were the Games GFTJ, they were also good for gay, lesbian and bisexual athletes.
  • Ah, Mayor Boris Johnson. That'll be fun. Not very assertive with the flag-waving.
  • Costas hands off to Mary Carillo? What, Bob? You've got a plane to catch? Brian Williams wasn't available? They miss Katie tonight.
  • Britain = buses! umbrellas! (what -- no kebabs? no Guinness?)
  • How much did Michael Bay pay for the Transformers 2 plug?
  • "There he is, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame!" As opposed to the other Jimmy Page? This is looking like London circa Children of Men. Also, I'm not sure that "Whole Lotta Love" really gender-swaps well.
  • Okay, this human tower thing? All sorts of awesome.
  • So, are these the stars of Beijing High School Musical singing "Beijing, Beijing"? Good to know the whole world adopts the same boy-group archetypes -- look, it's the "dangerous" one!
  • I guarantee that within four years, Paul McCartney can write a song twice as crappy as this one -- or does no one else remember "Freedom"?
  • Michael Phelps busts out the post-Games haircut for London. Now, was that Ant, Dec or someone else interviewing him?
  • Also, I realized that London did not bust out its 2012 mascot tonight. Given the fiasco that was the Whatizit/Izzy rollout at the end of Barcelona (6:00 in), I don't blame them. Not an easy task.
  • Research project: how did they handle the whole "handover" issue at the end of the Moscow Olympics, given the US boycott? This video isn't conclusive.
  • And Debbie Phelps already has a sponsorship deal. Goodnight America!
I HOPE THAT THE LAST SPORT ON THAT LIST IS COMPETED IN ITS "DERBY" FORMAT: According to Jacque Rogge, the sports being considered for (re)inclusion in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are baseball, softball, golf, squash, rugby, karate and "roller sports".

[Attentive readers may recall that roller hockey was a demonstration sport in 1992, though it looks like it's inline roller speed skating that's closest to the 2016 cut, and not Artistic Roller Skating.)

I'm most interested in rugby joining the Games, and have no interest in baseball or golf because of the lack of the world's best players in the former, and the existence of a recognized set of world championship matches in the latter. As with tennis, if the Olympics isn't going to be the pinnacle of your sport's competitive year, then it just shouldn't be part of the Games.