Saturday, November 8, 2008


THE NEVER-ENDING ROAD TO CAVALRY: Via Popwatch, an alleged list of the 100 most-often misspelled words in English.

See, related, this immense list of common errors in English usage (e.g., "throws of passion", censor v. censure v. sensor v. censer, imply v. infer.)
TIME TO CALL THE SLAYERS: In a war of two cultural phenomena on iTunes, vampires currently lead Barack Obama. "Decode," the lead single off the Twilight soundtrack (which sounds to me like cut-rate Evanesence), is currently at #14, while's "It's A New Day" tribute single is at #20 (and scores "awful rhyme of the year" consideration for attempting to rhyme "hummin'" with "Harriet Tubman"). High School Musical 3 continues to overall dominate, with 5 songs in the top 100, though the newly New Yorker approved Taylor Swift has 4.
A MOJO. IT'S A VERY HIGH-TECH MACHINE THAT TRANSMITS PAGES OVER THE TELEPHONE. IT ONLY TAKES 18 MINUTES A PAGE! Believe me, I'm not saying this to complain, but it seems like one of the Cinemax channels is now airing Almost Famous just about every night this month.

Do I adore this movie? Yes. (Who doesn't?) The things I didn't appreciate upon first viewing, though, was just how luminously Kate Hudson was shot and what a remarkable Manic Pixie Dream Girl she is; how much Cameron Crowe wanted to pen a valentine to his mother; and the awesomeness of Billy Crudup's facial reactions during the "Tiny Dancer" sequence.

Trivia: Natalie Portman and Kirsten Dunst auditioned for Penny Lane and failed; Sarah Polley was signed for the role first before deciding she just didn't want to do a big Hollywood film. Jack Black auditioned for Lester Bangs, as did Jon "not the speechwriter" Favreau. Brad Pitt was signed to play Russell Hammond before admitting to Crowe, after months of preparation, "I just don't get it enough to do it."

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'VE LEARNED A FEW THINGS ABOUT SEX -- I DO NOT LOOK GOOD IN A HELMET, CABBAGE IS YUMMY, AND RUSSIAN WOMEN PUNCH MUCH HARDER THAN THEIR HUSBANDS: Do you need advice or information? Are you a pervert? Can you accurately be identified as "Confused in [a geographic area]"? If so, you should write to 2Hot Girls in the Shower. Sort of safe for work, though you may want to keep the volume low.

(I know this is old, but it occurred to me that I hadn't checked in on them in a while and I got to giggling over the early stuff again.)
HE'S NOT EVEN THE WINNER AMONG PEOPLE WHO WON BUT DIDN'T WIN: Haven't we heard this before already? From Deadspin, the strange story of a half-marathon runner who missed a turn and accidentally won the whole-marathon, but was disqualified from both as a non-finisher in the former and a non-entrant in the latter.

Marathon runners have weirdly low opinions of their talents.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A VOICE FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T BOOK CLIENTS: With only four pictures remaining in Tyra's hand -- said photos (and technically, there were eight) representing the ladies still in the running to becoming America's Next Top Model -- now's a pretty good time for us to review the show again. Last night's ouster was both inevitable from a narrative perspective and deeply disappointing -- yes, we all know by now that if you don't change the way Tyra wants you to, you're going home, but this resulted in eliminating someone who made both for consistently great television and great modeling.

Also, where did McKey's new accent come from?
WHERE'S MY QUAD-TUNER? OK, what's sure to get the fanboys and fangirls riled up about Fox's new midseason schedule is that Joss Whedon's Dollhouse is getting pushed into the same Friday death slot that led to the demise of Firefly. Honestly, not that significant, since I'm sure there'll be a DVD set, and it's something to TiVo on Friday. But moving House to Mondays at 8, against HIMYM, Chuck, and Gossip Girl? That's just cruel. (Though you have to assume NBC is moving Chuck at some point.) Also of note?
  • Idol stays Tuesday-Wednesday, but all results shows will be a full hour. More Seacrest!
  • Bones gets pushed to Thursdays at 8.
  • Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles joins Dollhouse for a sci-fi burnoff Friday extravaganza.
  • Prison Break is on an indefinite hiatus. (At least until Dollhouse gets cancelled.)
SYNCHRONIZED RUNNING: Put on your sweater-capes; let's talk about Oprah on "30 Rock" and a generally underwhelming "Office" until it all came together in the exotic, dusky end. Tonight was a night for seeing stars, indeed.

I should note, for what it's worth, that I'm a big fan of episodes in which Jim isn't perfect. They really can't be ... beet.
SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, CANCEL THE SHOW: Ubisoft has cancelled plans for a Heroes videogame. Apparently, levels like "Mohinder delivers a pretentious voiceover," "Parkman does things that make no sense," "Peter acts really, really, stupid," and "Characters disappear for no interesting or apparent reason," do not have mass appeal.
NOT WITH A BANG, BUT A WHIMPER: U.S. News and World Report, the newsmagazine read by pretty much nobody, will move from a news bi-weekly to a web presence, with monthly print "consumer guide" issues to continue their "America's Best Colleges/Graduate Schools/Doctors" franchise. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that the Washington Post Corp. hasn't bought them out as a compliment to Newsweek and their Kaplan business.
IN WHICH ADDISON FINDS HER SPINE:The honor for most improved show of the year (at least thus far) has to go to Private Practice, which has finally found its footing, courtesy of several factors.

1. Addison has a spine and is a badass again. After a first season where she spent far too much time being moon-y over Tim Daly and repeatedly saying "I want a new life, not like my old one!," she's now back to being the character we grew to knew and love over on Grey's, in particular with making her the person in charge of the practice.
2. Bizarre relationship plots (Cooper, the pediatrician sex addict!, Naomi and Del!, Violet pines for her ex!) have generally been jettisoned, in favor of something a little more stable.
3. The medical stuff has been much better--last season often felt like a relationship-based drama with a medical overlay, while this season has moved to a medical drama that also explores relationships. This season, there's been real drama. Yeah, sure, some of it (they're really half-brother and sister! No, you shouldn't have a baby!) has been done elsewhere, and rings of House, but it's been well executed.
4. While I figured last night's episode would go in a different direction (I'd guessed Charlotte would join the practice as an administratix/rainmaker, rather than just take the office upstairs), they've finally figured out what to do with Charlotte, both with the Charlotte/Cooper relationship and from a work perspective.

And what was good is still good--the cast remains generally likable and gorgeous (though they still can't figure out what to do with Chris Lowell and his character, and some trouble finding a plot for Tim Daly). Sure, there are still flaws (characters, particularly Violet, still have a tendency to do stupid things for no good reason), but in contrast to some shows that promised improvement (I'm looking at you, Heroes), this one's actually delivered.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ENJOOOOOOOOYED BY ZEEEEEEEERO: The Associated Press explores the backlash against the most annoying commercial currently on television, including the Facebook resistance group it has inspired.

(Number two most annoying? I believe it involves a jingle heralding a piece of paper currency with Abraham Lincoln's face and a unit of measurement.)
AT LEAST THEY DIDN'T OFFER HER A DRIVER'S LICENSE: Perhaps the only post-mortem of the campaign worth sharing here given the immediate reinstatement of The No Politics Rule, Clinton strategist Howard Wolfson amusingly explains why selecting Celine Dion's "You And I" as the campaign's theme song marked the beginning of the end of her candidacy.

I'll say it again -- she should have gone with "Enter Sandman".
DEAR LORNE: SNL has only had three African American female cast members in its history -- Danitra Vance, Ellen Cleghorne and Maya Rudolph. The Palm Beach Post's Leslie Streeter believes yesterday's election results require the show to hire another, and fast.
A SHOW WITH EVERYTHING BUT INCLUDING YUL BRYNNER: Michael Crichton, author of the Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, and dozens of other novels, as well as various writing/producing/directing credits for Westworld, ER, and the Great Train Robbery, has died.

More than most science fiction writers, and like the best of them, Crichton spotted trends well ahead of the public and wrote tautly written little novels. Nothing grand, but I loved his novels because they did no more than what they set out to do: provide a quick, coherent techno-thriller story without a lot of overhead: a crazy billionaire clones dinosaurs, people get eaten, good guys escape. Government scientists discover a nasty bug from outer space, try to kill it, decide they need to kill themselves to save the world, and then find a way out at the last possible moment. (Granted, Sphere did something remarkably stupid: scientists discover an American spaceship from the future and decide that that is not interesting enough, discover an alien artifact, and then completely forget that it happened).

He'll be missed.
WELCOME BACK . . .TO SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: Tonight the Cosmos embark upon our now-annual pilgrimage to Nassau County for the SYTYCD tour. As I mentioned a few months ago, SYTYCD has it all over AI when it comes to the tour format. And based on the LA Times' writeup of this season's tour, tonight should be as enjoyable as last year's festivities.

The dances that have stuck in my head the most from this season are the Twitch/Katee door dance and, a bit more oddly, the Courtney/Gev Indiana Jones and the Indecipherable Tourist Map dance. I'm guessing I'll see both of them tonight as well as, if last season's tour is any indication, approximately 500 others. Report to follow.
WAR, WAR NEVER CHANGES: To ease ourselves back into regular programming, let's talk about another Washington--the post-apocalyptic one of Fallout 3. Even though my PC can't run the game at its max settings, it's gorgeous and immersive, and the reviews are right--this is just a phenomenal game--from great voice casting (Ron Perlman and Liam Neeson) to a substantially faithful recreation of big parts of DC and the surrounding area and what may be the best character creation and tutorial sequence I've ever seen in a game. Yes, the game's not for everyone. Run and gun fans won't like the fact that for much of the game, ammo is hard to come by, and the gore is over the top (limbs and heads explode with regularity, especially if you take the "bloody mess" trait), but this is a sure-fire contender for game of the year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

BREAK OUT THE WHITEBOARD: Given recent developments (at least on NBC/MSNBC), it's time for a results-oriented discussion thread. One of the most touching moments on MSNBC was one of the correspondents noting how much relish Tim Russert would have taken in tonight. No champagne corks yet, folks! (And, again, keep it civil, or termination with extreme prejudice.)

ETA: And let's raise a glass both to Sen. Obama as President-Elect and to Sen. McCain, who's had an admirable career of service to his country--in the military as well as in the Senate. For all the disagreements you can have with one or both of these men, there is much to admire in both of them.
IT'S LIKE RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY: Blogger apparently is not letting Nate Silver update On the most important day of his site's existence. Blogger, that is cold.
SO LONG SAD TIMES, GO LONG BAD TIMES: Every city, I think, has some unofficial sports mascots -- the alpha marauder from the Raiders' end zone, large shirtless men who dance and mug for the camera, celebrities and quasi-celebrities and sub-celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Jenn Sterger and Freddie Sez.

Tuba Guy was one of these local fixtures in Seattle. Tuba Guy was Edward McMichael, who plied his trade pretty much anywhere you would find people congregating for a civic or sporting event -- baseball, football, basketball, symphony, opera. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, he played "Happy Days Are Here Again" for the fans leaving the magical Game 5 against the Yankees in 1995 (my greatest sports memory) and a dirge for fans -- including me -- leaving Key Arena after eighth-seeded Denver beat the top-seeded Sonics in the first round of the 1994 playoffs (my worst sports memory). That's pretty much the soundtrack to the local version of "thrill of victory, agony of defeat." My guess is that Tuba Guy would have found a long line at a polling place today and played there.

I say "would have" because McMichael died yesterday, a week after being brutally beaten in a robbery. Such a sad, undeserved end for a guy who had woven himself into the local fabric.
EVEN RICHARD NIXON HAS GOT SOUL: Your mission: put together an election night playlist. I'll give you two obvious ones: "Campaigner," by Neil Young, and "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)" by Randy Newman. But surely there is an election-appropriate song from the last 30 years.
VOTER APPETITE SUPPRESSION: After voting today (and you are voting, right?), you can get plenty of free food and drink--one site suggests that this includes Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Chick-Fil-A, and Ben & Jerry's (though the Chick-Fil-A promotion apparently varies from market to market). Use this thread to talk about your voting experience, as well as whatever goodies you get as a result. (Obligatory warning--while we all have political opinions around here, there are supporters of multiple candidates among us--conduct yourselves civilly in the thread, or we will terminate without warning and with extreme prejudice.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

THIS POST CERTIFIED 100% FREE OF LAZY 'IS THIS BECAUSE I'M A LESBIAN' JOKES: After about 3/4 of a season's worth of building toward, and then paying off on, a Callie-Hahn relationship (with good work by both of the principal actors, and I say that as someone who's found the story a little dull), Grey's Anatomy is abruptly ending both the storyline and Hahn's tenure on the show this week. They are so forcefully ungaying Callie that the incoming Melissa George character, hired as a lesbian Sawyer to Hahn and Callie's Jack and Kate, got caught in the straightwash, went into a straightspin, and ended up taking a straightdive right into the straightway. She's so straight now that they're going to name her character Isaiah Washington.

Now I didn't like Hahn so much as I liked having her around -- after Addison left, the show needed a bad-ass female surgeon to prevent the Weber-Shepherd-Sloan group of attendings from getting too boys' clubby. Maybe they're moving Hahn aside to show Bailey moving up the ladder and into that role. But I do think it's a terrible idea to try to replace Hahn with Melissa George. Aside from the fact that the show doesn't need another Pretty Young Doctor (and frequently benefits from adult supervision), I associate Melissa George primarily with the comically disastrous third season of Alias (the inexplicable decision to make her an American born-and-raised spy but to not ask her to hide her natural Australian accent just encapsulates how horribly wrong that season went) and secondarily as the awful third lead (opposite Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Reynolds's abs) in the Amityville Horror remake, a movie I watched perhaps a dozen or more times for work reasons, as a result of which it is etched in my brain.
WHEN'S PRACTICE? If there's a rule on this blog we cling to even more bitterly than the "no politics" rule -- and tomorrow will prove interesting in that regard -- it's that when Allen Iverson gets traded, we blog about it.

Allen Iverson is now a Detroit Piston. To all the Motor City faithful in our community, congratulations. You will love him.
LIQUOR IS QUICKER: As we are just past Halloween, and I have discovered that both I and at least one of my cohorts are big fans of the 100 Grand Bar, time to have an important discussion--what is your preferred sugar delivery system? The 100 Grand bar scores big for because it's satisfyingly crunchy, chewy, and chocolate-y all at once, and strikes a better balance of those three components than does a Twix.
IT'S NO SASSY: Ladies (and gentlemen?), I give you Sue--the magazine for female litigators. (Via ATL, naturally.)
THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE AN APPLEBEE'S: I grew up in Texas, where high school football is the big game (sometimes, about half jokingly, I've said I chose my college because it had a football "stadium" smaller than my high school's B field), and it's big even in towns too small to field a full 11 man squad, resulting in 6-man football, played on an 80 yard field and with a few other variations, and where winning teams in Texas this year have been averaging over 57 points. NPR took a look at 6 man football in Wyoming this morning, which reminds us that yes, there are places where the joy of the game still exists.
BAND CAN COOK: Top Chef NYC premiers on or about November 12 on a conspicuously consumer-oriented network near you. It's not the kind of outfit that is likely to consider implementing such a thing, but I'm all a-tingle with cross demographic synergies after watching this Cake video's A-Team like cooking montage .
MY MOM IS THE WORLD'S WORST WINGMAN: Another season of The Amazing Race, another sojourn into the crowded streets of India. Although our teams are really not that compelling this was a well-structured leg: a solid roadblock that let the frat boys both move ahead, then a detour that put them right back; a leading team panicked and got dreadfully lost; Americans forced to scrounge cash from strangers.

Mrs. Earthling and I are now firmly in the Dallas and his Mom camp, if by default.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

AFTER YOU, MR. PENNY-FACE: We don't blog Simpsons as much as we reference it, but, c'mon, it's Treehouse XIX night. The Grand Pumpkin was awesome, but I'd like to kick it old-school. From V:
Lisa: Bart, does it strike you as odd that Uter disappeared and suddenly they're serving us this mysterious food called "Uterbraten"?
Skinner: [walking up in leiderhosen] Oh, relax, kids, I've got a gut feeling Uter is around here somewhere. [chuckles] After all, isn't there a little Uter in all of us? [chuckles] In fact, you might even say we just ate Uter and he's in our stomachs right now! [laughs] Wait... scratch that one.
P.S. The frogurt is also cursed!
THIS CALLS FOR A FULL INVESTIGATION BY DOUG BENSON, TSI:Before seeing Zack and Miri last night--which is a decent fusion of Smithian raunch and Apatovian heart and which features an absolute breakout performance from Craig Robinson--I saw the Confessions of a Shopaholic trailer--about which I've had one question since seeing--if this is going to be touted as being "From Producer Jerry Bruckheimer," I want some frakkin' explosions.