Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blogging at a Snail’s Pace -

CLEARLY NOT US: Some people are trying to start a "slow blogging" movement.
THE TRIUMPH OF THE EEEEE! In spite of decidedly mediocre reviews, Twilight is going to gross $70M+ this weekend, and the studio has already greenlit a sequel, which I'm guessing will be rushed for Christmas '09 if they can. Any "Twihards" (yes, that's apparently what they call themselves) here want to opine?
I SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT: There's never a bad time for this "West Wing" clip.
POST BEING POSTED: From the Department of Lack of Thesaurus Usage comes the following Playbill headline -- "Decision on American Buffalo's Future to be Decided November 24."

Friday, November 21, 2008


Deep Vote predicts the Oscars:
Last year, he batted 1000 :: :: Oscars

MADNESS, AS YOU KNOW, IS LIKE GRAVITY. ALL IT TAKES IS A LITTLE ... PUSH: Roger Ebert talked to his reliable inside-Oscar source, "Deep Vote," and he's ready to make his predictions. Best Supporting Actor, he claims, is assuredly Heath Ledger's, and as for the big prize?
Best Picture, 'Slumdog Millionaire,' 'Frost/Nixon,' 'Doubt,' 'Revolutionary Road,' 'The Reader.' Maybe 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.' Extremely strong possibility of 'The Dark Knight.' 'WALL-E' is good enough, but voters will cover it in the best animation category. 'Synecdoche, New York' is easily good enough, but they're embarrassed you had to explain it to them.
The big wild card? No one's seen Clint Eastwood's 'Gran Torino' yet.
BRONX DIGS TONKS, BUT KNOX AND MADDOX READ VOX: So you're Pete Wentz. You're expecting a baby with your wife Ashlee Simpson any minute now, and you're killing some time chatting with Ryan Seacrest while you wait. Ryan asks you if you've picked out a name yet. You reply that you and Ashlee are waiting to meet the baby first, but that you've got a methodology in place:

You've got to have a baby with a name that could be a rock star or a senator, so he'll get work either way.

And so a few weeks later, Ashlee has a baby boy. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the newest addition to the United States Senate, Bronx Mowgli Wentz.

Better hope that little Bronx can carry a tune.

(see also Baby Name Wizard Laura Wattenberg's take on the Jolie-induced trendiness of names ending in "x'")
PUT YOUR TWO CENTS IN: Fresh from the ALOTT5MA Glorious Department of Time-Sucking, it's come to my attention that all fifty state quarters have now been released. Weigh in on your favorite and least-favorites among those which have been minted.

IMHO: Rhode Island, Missouri, Vermont and the ironically phallic Utah design are awesome; I am not a fan of the random montages of Ohio, Florida and Arkansas.

(DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. still to come next year.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

THE PIEMAKER'S SECOND TOUCH: E! is reporting that three shows with significant appreciation in the ALOTT5MA community are dead and buried after their current 13 episode run is completed--Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Eli Stone. No surprise, though I wish they'd tried DSM after Desperate Housewives on a Sunday--I think it'd be an excellent pairing.
DECADES OF COLLECTIVE MEDICAL TRAINING AND MY MEDICAL TEAM CAN'T TELL A JOKE -- WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU, DENIS? I didn't mean to put my nameplate on the ALOTT5MA Autism Desk, but here it is, engraved on fake mahogany resting on a burnished nickel stand, and I guess it's Denis Leary who put it here.

That's the Denis Leary whose new book, if you haven't been watching the Daily Show or reading E! Online, says:
There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can't compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks…to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don't give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you—yer kid is NOT autistic. He's just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.
Leary says, apparently with some justification, that one can't just read that passage out of context:
I thought I made my feelings about autism very clear: that I not only support the current rational approaches to the diagnoses and treatment of real autism but have witnessed it firsthand while watching very dear old friends raise a functioning autistic child.... The point of the chapter is not that autism doesn't exist -- it obviously does -- and I have nothing but admiration and respect for parents dealing with the issue, including the ones I know. The bulk of the chapter deals with grown men who are either self-diagnosing themselves with low-level offshoots of the disease or wishing they could as a way to explain their failed careers and troublesome progeny.
Let me say that I believe Leary's explanation of his intent completely. He refers to specific paragraphs of his book, and he's done enough charity work to earn the benefit of the doubt. I do not for a second believe that he either said or was trying to say that autism isn't an actual, devastating disorder.

And guess what: it doesn't matter. What he actually said is idiotic.

First, Leary's premise is that there is a difference between "real autism" (his words), which exists, and something else, and that Leary himself can tell the difference. It's not clear whether Leary thinks the something else -- "low-level offshoots" of autism -- exists and is just wishfully misdiagnosed, or whether Leary just thinks that Aspergers and PDD don't exist because he thinks they don't exist. Either way, it's an uninformed opinion. I read an article by a guy who said of his son, "if you met him for ten minutes, you wouldn't notice anything. If you spent a half-hour with him, you'd think he was quirky. If you spent several hours with him, you would know that something was wrong." My guess is that Leary's broad-stroke generalization isn't based on the three-hour encounter, or even the 10-minute one. As between a parent's questionable "self-diagnosis" and Leary's completely uninformed one, I'll take the parent's, thanks.

That's not what bothers me the most about Leary's argument, though. It's the thought that "inattentive mothers" and "competitive fathers" are shopping for diagnoses for selfish reasons. If anybody out there is sympathetic to Leary's argument, let me ask you: whether you are inattentive, competitive, or neither, what would you do if your kid were having unusual, even if "low-level" difficulties? Late speech, inability to handle abstract concepts, failure to interact with other children, complete indifference to typical children's interests, poor motor control? Would you say, "dang, my kid is stupid and lazy," or would you go to an expert and say "is something wrong with my kid?" Even if you're paranoid and crazy and your kid is just fine, would that somehow make you a bad parent?

One thing it would not make you, notwithstanding Leary's argument, is lazy. Let me tell you what you can expect with a diagnosis of a "low-level offshoot" of autism. With a diagnosis of Asperger's or PDD, you get the hope that with therapy and hard work, your child will learn to pass, to seem "normal" (the ASD community prefers "neurotypical") enough to live the life that you lived or better. But you also get some other stuff. You can expect a lot of hard work and frequent disappointment. If you are lucky, you can expect countless hours -- weekends, afternoons, time off work -- with therapists, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a year for years and years. If you are very, very lucky, you will fight a constant battle with your insurance companies and government service providers, month after month, to get them to pay for it. If you are less lucky but still lucky, you will lose this fight and pay out of your own pocket. If you are unlucky, you will take what you can get from the state and can afford on your own but you will not have the resources to pay for interventions that are recommended to you and you will watch your kid fall further behind and know that you were unable to provide the help that other people could afford. And all of these parents, the lucky and the unlucky ones, get to worry every night about whether their kids will ever get to the point where they won't be called stupid and lazy out of ignorance or malice. What Leary doesn't understand, and what these parents do, is that a diagnosis isn't an end product; it's the beginning of a very long and possibly endless ordeal full of exhausting work, interminable frustration, and sickening heartbreak.

These parents -- the ones who go out and get these diagnoses, sometimes knowing what's in store for them -- are not indifferent, not lazy, and not motivated by competitiveness. If they were lazy, bad parents, they wouldn't get the diagnosis at all (though that's obviously not the only reason people don't get early diagnoses), because it's a shitload easier and cheaper to let a kid fail than to do whatever you can to help him succeed. Denis Leary, you are so, so wrong.
"HEY, GUESS WHAT -- I'M GAY!" (BUT I'M NOT GAY): Head SNL writer Seth Meyers insists that last week's show wasn't designed to be that gay, however -- "We’re not a top-down show where we have a meeting on Monday and assign stuff. Everyone goes off and writes their own thing. Certainly it was more than I think anyone expected, but I think with what was in the air and with Proposition 8, I think different people had different ideas. Once that happens it just turns into a meritocracy on the pieces."
WHAT ABOUT BEEP BEEP RIBBY RIBBY: Sesame Street takes on 30 Rock. Sadly, the strongest bit is the credit sequence and Muppet Jack Donaghy is no Muppet Stabler.
SPOOKY SCARY: Is it wrong that my first thought on seeing this (the cover story in today's New York Post) was to immediately jump to Tracy Jordan?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

AIN'T NO ANGEL GOING TO GREET ME: And now, from our Depressing Followups to Films of 1993-94 Desk:

Fug Girls: Odds on ‘America’s Next Top Model’ -- The Cut: New York Magazine's Fashion Blog

DUTCH CRED: I don't actually have a lot to say about tonight's ANTM finale (previewed here) -- the three finalists didn't quite have the Tales Of Overcoming (Asperger's, Moderated Heftiness, Being A Twin, Illiteracy, Being Damn Near Forty, Infidelity, A Wesleyan Education) or the overall awesomeness of a CariDee. Just three fairly competent models-in-training being put through the traditional finals paces -- tv commercial (in Dutch!), sponsor's photo shoot, wacky runway finale, and while I wasn't surprised by the ending, nor was I feeling overjoyed. Justice wasn't served because Elina's belly was silenced; we move on to cycle 12.
FINALLY CATCHING UP TO JDATE: Vaguely creepy and aggressively marketed online dating site eHarmony has agreed to open itself up to people seeking same-sex partners in a settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General. (However, it'll be on a separate site.)
YET AGAIN, I SEEM TO HAVE BEEN OVERLOOKED:This year's Sexiest Man Alive is Hugh Jackman. Also deemed sexy--Zac Efron, Jon Hamm, Blair Underwood, and Chuck Bass.
XOXO, MAGENTO:Yes, Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand was a big commercial hit, but critics and fans were much less fond, claiming it degenerated into mindless action. No surprise that X-Men 4 is now in development, but more surprising is that it'll apparently focus on newer and younger X-Men, and Chuck, Gossip Girl, and O.C. creator Josh Schwartz will write (and may direct). Certainly, Chuck demonstrates that Schwartz can do geek, so this is an interesting choice. Personally, I'm still holding out for the Whedon Wonder Woman that got put on hold a few years back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TROCHEE CENTRAL: Adam Sandler has two daughters, or so I've been told. Sadie Sandler was the first one, now she's two years old. Sadie's sister, Sunny Sandler -- there's some comic gold!

(Have no time to write the fourth line, now must hit the road.)
WITH AWESOME POWER...: Stan Lee has won the National Medal of Arts.
"WE SORT OF SUCKERED PEOPLE INTO THIS SHOW BY NOT PRESENTING IT AS A SCIENCE FICTION SHOW RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE": I feel like I've spent years of my life offering prayers that J.J. Abrams and his acolytes might actually have a plan. This great piece on Lindelof and Cuse's appearance at the 2008 Screenwriting Expo (not spoilery, unless you consider the revelation that the show is getting more science-fictiony over time to be a spoiler, in which case I encourage you to hide under a rock until January 21) is mostly encouraging, although I suspect that when it's all over and done with, we'll have a long list of unanswered questions.

And if you check out Mo Ryan's blog, you'll get some nifty information about guest stars for this season as well as which actors are and are not part of this season's roster of regulars. (Hint: I see dead people, but not regularly.)
DP IS MVP: Dustin Pedroia, the star second baseman of the Red Sox, was named MVP of the American League today. Pedroia won a Gold Glove this year while batting .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs. He established single-season franchise records by a second baseman for runs, hits, doubles, batting average, total bases, and extra-base hits.

Pedroia led the majors with 54 doubles. He tied Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki for first with 213 hits, and ranked second with 118 runs and 61 multi-hit games, both AL highs. He also stole 20 bases in 21 attempts.

Interestingly, Pedroia was left off one ballot entirely -- by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, who gave Kevin Youkilis his first-place vote.
THERE IS NOT A RED AMERICA AND A BLUE AMERICA, BUT CAN I GET SOME LOVE FOR YELLOW AMERICA: Reports are circulating that Don Wakamatsu will be named manager of the Seattle Mariners. If I'm not mistaken, that would make him the first Asian-American manager/head coach of one of the major professional American sports leagues. Make no mistake, this is a terrible job (probably second only to "Raider coach" in undesirability), but congratulations nonetheless for breaking the bamboo ceiling.
THESE VAMPIRES TODAY, I TELL YA: Going to school in the daylight, my fanny. In my day, we slept the day off in velvet-lined coffins deep in vaulted crypts, and we liked it. And none of this navel-gazing stuff and mooning over the living. Vampires stick with vampires, that's what I always say. And get a damn haircut. I don't understand all of this shaggy Beatles or Fall Down Boy stuff or whatever they're calling it these days. When I was coming up, it was Bryl Cream and a widow's peak or nothing at all. What're you trying to look good for, the mirror? Ha. Not for nothing, but when I see what the kids I bit are doing these days, I can barely look the boys in my coven in the eye.
"WHEN MR. PATTINSON APPEARED AT THE APPLE STORE IN SOHO THE WEEK BEFORE, ONE YOUNG FAN ASKED HIM TO BITE HER": Okay, folks, help me out -- just how big is this teenage vampire movie going to be?
CHARLES CARMICHAEL, ED., BARTOWSKI'S BRISTOW CODE ANNOTATED (UNIVERSAL 2008): Hey, if you watch Chuck for the suspense and not the comedy, or if your head recently encountered the underside of a falling safe or piano and you get confused easily, you might find this post a bit spoilery. Do not read further. If you are familiar with the concept of television and are capable of functioning independently, this probably won't be news to you, but don't blame me if you read below and learn something about Chuck, and about yourself in the process.

Anyway, just so we have it written down instead of floating around in Jack Bauer's grey matter, the Rules of Greater Los Angeles Basin Spying:
  1. Well-dressed people are spies.
  2. People in dark clothing are spies, and people with dark turtlenecks are foreign spies.
  3. Strong silent types are spies.
  4. Sexually predatory women are spies.
  5. Nightclub owners are spies.
  6. The IT guy is a spy.
  7. People with briefcases, purses, music boxes, or chewing gum are spies with bombs.
  8. If you are introduced to a person you have not yet met, he or she is a spy.
  9. When you go out on a date, most bystanders are spies, and bartenders and waitstaff are head spies.
  10. People who wear glasses are spies with fancy gadgety spy glasses.
  11. Your childhood friends are spies.
  12. A sexual encounter with a person will automatically turn that person into a spy.
  13. Your parents are spies, except where killed by spies.
  14. Parents who have been killed by spies are not dead and instead are just out spying.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"THEY'RE MORE CREATIVE IN FINDING AND USING PROPS AROUND THE HOUSE": FYI, this blog turned six years old today. According to BabyCenter, "Hair twisting, nail biting, nose picking, and shirt gnawing are just a few of the annoying habits 6-year-olds develop. Your child isn't out to irk you. Such habits are a way of coping with stress. Nagging to stop is actually counterproductive. It only draws negative attention to the habit."

Thanks for being along for the ride -- our readers, commenters and lurkers -- and most especially to Matt, Alex, Isaac, Phil, TPE, Kim, Bob and Kingsley (wherever he is), without whom this isn't nearly as much fun, and without whom this blog wouldn't have such an odd-yet-endearing acronym.

There's only one real way to celebrate this day, and it's becoming something of a tradition around here on days like this: KIKKO-MAN!

Joan Cusack's TV queue adds two

EXCEPT FOR SOCIALLY, YOU'RE MY ROLE MODEL: Joan Cusack has inked a tv deal, and since she's so darn likeable you can use this as opportunity to review your favorite roles of her career. (Underrated: Arlington Road, when she finally got to play creepy.)
THE LOS ANGELES LIONS? Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp wonders if one of the consequences of the auto industry's current woes is that the Motor City will cease to be a four-sport town:

The automotive industry as we once knew it is dead. It will reinvent itself with a leaner identity and a more responsible spending philosophy. And that will likely translate into a more conservative approach as it pertains to cutting checks for luxury suites and unlimited entertainment expenses. It wouldn't be a surprise if Detroit loses at least one of its four professional sports teams within the next 10 years because ownership sells to an outside interest and the franchise moves to an area with a stronger economic base.

If you don't think that's possible, then you're not looking at the current local economic situation with a realistic eye. Detroit and Phoenix are the only two cities that support four professional sports teams in four separate facilities. That requires four teams capable of finding enough corporate backing for those all-important luxury suites in four different stadiums/arenas to keep the coffers filled without sharing the facility operational costs with another tenant.

CROSSING THE BAR: Authoress Elizabeth Wurtzel graduated from Yale Law School earlier this year and took the bar this summer, and we had a spirited discussion of whether she'd qualify as a member of the bar from a moral and ethical standard (see also Stephen Glass, who's apparently working as a paralegal and comedian, despite having passed the bar, due to his application's denial). That's not yet an issue, since Gawker reports her name was not on the pass list. (Also, for any folks who took the bar this summer and have passed, feel free to exult in the thread.)
WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN MAN? For work reasons, Spacewoman and I just got around to last week's Grey's, and we both had a supplemental complaint not raised in KCosmo's post. Can we just call a moratorium on representations of autism-spectrum disorders on television, which tend to be ridiculous and grotesque*? Ever since Dustin Hoffman spot-counted the toothpicks, mass-culture ASD has been a combination of attention-begging tics and parlor tricks bearing only an attenuated kinship to actual ASD. So much so, in fact, that Mary McDonnell's Dr. Dixon was both instantly recognizable as the platonic ideal of TV-ASD and unrecognizable as a person with actual ASD (or even a person at all).

Come to think of it, maybe the gigantic difference between TV-ASD and real-world ASD explains why Bailey was unable to diagnose it until Dixon drew her a road map.

Anyway, the worst thing about ASD on television is that it makes people who have never spent any time with someone with an ASD think that they know what ASD is like. Saying that an ASD is that thing where people walk on their tiptoes, can do math in their heads, and are incapable of altering their routines is a lot like saying "Asians are subservient, excellent at numbers, and drive poorly." It gets tiresome.

*Other than on ANTM, which realistically portrayed a woman with actual ASD until Tyra cured her.
INCONCIEVABLE! An uncommonly rich Monday NYT from our perspective, with the Gray Lady taking looks at:
CALLING ALL CALENDAR GIRLS AND ZODIAC KILLERS: Spaceboy v.1.0, who formerly was into the states, is now crazy sick for the calendar. So, of course, I'm making him a calendar-themed iPod mix -- which is much easier than the states-and-provinces mix, because there somewhat fewer months than states and provinces and somewhat fewer songs about Nunavut (note: not an actual province) than about February (note: not an actual month). But yet again, I beg your assistance. There's a tentative list below, but if you can do better (or if you have a suggestion for a song about a day, like Wednesday, or Yom Kippur, that would be nice too), let me know in the comments.

The current draft:
  1. "January," Pilot
  2. "January," Ravens & Chimes
  3. "There's No Love in February," The Orion Experience
  4. "Two Days in February," The Goo Goo Dolls
  5. "March," Great Lakes Myth Society
  6. "April Fools," Rufus Wainwright
  7. "April," The Hentchmen [sic]
  8. "Maggie May," Rod Stewart (I know, but I think he'll like it)
  9. "May Queen," Liz Phair
  10. "June," Pete Yorn
  11. "July Jones," New Pornographers
  12. "July! July!," Decemberists
  13. "August," Rilo Kiley
  14. (September? help?)
  15. "October," Rachel Ries
  16. "November Has Come," Gorillaz
  17. "Cold December," Matt Costa
  18. "December," Weezer
Two notes: First, please don't suggest Earth, Wind, Fire, Guns, Roses, Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall, or Neil Diamond. I have the obvious September song in as a placeholder but I'm not happy about it. Second, I'd remind you that this is a playlist for a five-year-old kid, except that the last playlist I gave him included f-bombs and lyrics about drugs, withdrawal, kidnapping, domestic violence, Polish hookers, the River Severn, and "the rape of the great country." So I am a bad parent, yes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF ROADBLOCK FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS BLOG POST: I do love me some TAR game theory. It's okay to leave for a Fast Forward, and you can be the second team to go for it if you believe you can beat the other team. But everyone else should stay put, because you know one of those first two teams is going to be behind you, because they can't both win the FF.

2. In the list of airports that would get you from Delhi to Kazakhstan, Frankfurt would not have been in my top ten list. I'm shocked it wasn't just through Dubai or Istanbul for all the teams.

3. To Kimmi Kappenberg II: you're on a reality show. Hell, you're on The Amazing Race. They're telling you the challenge in a restaurant. What do you think they're going to ask you to do?

4. Montecore!

5. Reading is fundamental.
WHO DEY? NOT US: Today's Eagles' game represented the worst football-related effort I think I've seen since this collection of mid-to-late-80s NFL team rap videos.
EVERYONE'S A CRITIC: I don't know when I last laughed as uncontrollably at an SNL skit as this week's digital short. Easily the most queer-positive show I've seen them put on, plus a solid Joe Biden open, great car sketch, wacky sound effects and, hey, it's the world's first Janet Napolitano impression! And a brilliant surprise return from one of my favorite SNL hosts! Amy who? Who needs an election to be funny?

(Even if Don Pardo screwed up Michaela Watkins' name in the intro, calling her "Michaela Watson".)

(Also, it looks like they've finally compiled all the digital shorts in one place.)