Saturday, July 18, 2009

YET NOT ALL TWEETS ARE TWEE: Triggered by a viewing of (500) Days Of Summer last night, which is quite good, if exceedingly twee, and the fact that there does not seem to be a good definition of "twee," let's try and create a list of things that are "Twee." Things ALOTT5MA has previously referred to as "twee" are:
  • Pushing Daisies
  • Some contestant who dressed as a matador on SYTYCD
  • A song by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
  • Anthony Federov
I think we can also agree that the films of Wes Anderson and the music of Belle and Sebastian also fall into the category of "twee." Anything else we're missing?

Friday, July 17, 2009

WHEN I'VE LOST CRONKITE, I'VE LOST AMERICA: Walter Cronkite, dead at 92.
ONLY A MAN IN A FUNNY RED SHEET: Cooler celebrity childhood photo of them dressed as a superhero--Joshua Malina as the Incredible Hulk or Diablo Cody as Wonder Woman? N.B.--Apparently requires Twitter account, since these are what they are using as their profile pics.
AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE FLAWED METAPHORS OF KATY PERRY: There are many reasons to dislike the incredibly derivative rock stylings of Nickelback, but their current hit's lack of command of the subjunctive mood is yet another. The chorus proclaims:
If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past?
Donate every dime you had, if today was your last day?
What if, what if, if today was your last day?
Shouldn't each and every one of those "was"es be replaced with "were," to properly use the subjunctive "to express wishes, commands, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or statements that are contrary to fact at present?"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

COMPLEX LITIGATION, THIS IS JOHN: I was not planning on reexamining the B.S. Report Recurring Guest Rankings for at least a few months, but Chris Connelly's invocations of Robert Moses, Don DeLillo and the term "apotheosis" in the latest episode at least bumps him ahead of Seth Meyers for the time being. Also, his insight into why it's hard coming up with a pick for Best Auteur Film of the 00's was a real winner, which I imagine we'll get into more as the decade draws closer to an end.
DID YOU GET A NEW HAIRCUT? CONTACTS? THERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT YOU: It certainly was about time-plus-a-decade to get rid of the Ally McBeal backsplash on the logo, but I think the TV Tattle redesign qualifies as an extreme makeover.
THE FINAL FRONTIER:We may get big stars doing Shakespeare, Brecht, Chekhov, and Greek tragedy in the park in NYC, but as for me? I'll take Portland's Trek In The Park, this year, featuring a performance of "Amok Time."
ANGEL WITH A MAGIC BALL: This morning, Chandra Wilson (yay! Bailey!) and Jim Parsons (Sheldon from BBT) announced the primetime Emmy nominations, and we'll be updating a roundtable discussion throughout the morning.

Adam: Let’s start with supporting action – comedy. What a Golden Age for supporting actors on sitcoms. I'm supposed to choose between Tracy Jordan, Dwight Schrute and Barney Stinson? On the women's side, I'm not sure how Kristin Wiig counts as "supporting" given her omnipresence on the show, but, whatever. My only regret is that there's no micro-supporting category to recognize the tertiary characters on The Office -- Stanley, Kevin, Creed, Meredith.

Kim: Micro-supporting would be a great category – something between “supporting” and “guest.” I’m only about halfway through season one of 30 Rock, don’t watch The Office, have never laid eyes on Two and a Half Men, and dropped Entourage a couple of years ago, but I strongly suspect that even if I weren’t predisposed by process of elimination, I’d still have the same reaction: hurrah for NPH! Barney Stinson is a phenomenon that transcends the show, and Harris’s work should finally be recognized by some organization besides, well, us. As for the women, I understand that SNL’s actors don’t neatly fit into any other category, but there’s something odd to me about putting sketch comedy into the same realm as Wilhelmina Slater or Olive Snook.

Adam: I just need to jump ahead to something awesome -- SNL's "Motherlover" gets a nomination for best original song, competing against Hugh Jackman's opening number from the Oscars and the Conchords, among others. Carry on.

Kim: My own jumpahead bit of awesomeness is that apparently, Mad Men’s writing kicks the snot out of all other dramatic series’ writing except for Lost’s “The Incident.” I am totally down with that. As you were.

I want to talk about the nominees for supporting acting for drama. So long as Slattery and Emerson are nominated, I shouldn’t complain, but seriously, two nominations for Boston Legal? But I can’t get too worked up, because Emerson rocks and I have a big crush on John Slattery. As for the actresses, nominations for “24” are starting to feel like nominations for Entourage and Everybody Loves Raymond (oh wait, did that one go off the air?) – totally de rigueur for people who liked the first season or two of a show way back when. But I like Cherry Jones, so whatever. Yay, however, for both Christina Oh and Chandra Wilson, whose work should be recognized at every opportunity.

Adam: As should the men on that show -- Dempsey and Chambers especially, this year. That Katherine Heigl allowed herself to be nominated this year, but wasn't, is, um, yeah. Jumping back a second, I'm surprised that of all the Lost episodes, it was The Incident and not "LaFleur" or "The Variable" which was nominated for Best Writing.

But I need to jump ahead to the two nominations that might make our audience the happiest: Justin Timberlake as Best Guest/Comedy for his SNL work, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog for "Outstanding Special Class -Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs," in which it's competing against Springsteen's Super Bowl halftime performance, Kenneth's 30 Rock webpage and ... it's just a bizarre category, but I'm glad Whedon's getting recognized.

Kim: There’s something about season premieres and finales that seem to inspire shows to submit those episodes for consideration. Maybe it’s that they get such heavy publicity relative to mid-season episodes that the producers think that they’ll gain wider traction among the nominators. I agree with you, though, and would have taken “LaFleur” or “The Variable” in a heartbeat. As for special-class-short-format-live-action-entertainment, this seems like sort of a weird effort to include the 21st century’s technological advances on them thar internets. But yay anyway for moistness and viral videos.

Adam: Reality tv categories mostly see stagnation -- Heidi Klum, again? Each of the shows in the category has been nominated for each of the last three years.

Kim: A question: does SYTYCD only bother to submit work for the dancing categories? Because while I am pleased to see 4/6 of the choreography nominations going to our friends on FOX (but no “The Garden?”), I am totally befuddled at a world in which (a) Heidi Klum and Tom Bergeron get reality host nominations to the exclusion of Cat Deeley, and (b) Dancing with the Stars is perceived to be a better reality dance show than SYTYCD. I think Nigel should hire me as Chief Nomination Pimping Officer.

Matt: Hey now! Some of us have actual work that we needed to do. I want to backtrack to supporting for just a moment. The big surprise in comedy has got to be Piven's snub, which you pretty much have to credit to the sushi incident, since the nominators haven't lost their affection for the show, it seems, and which really does clear the way for NPH to win. On the drama side, yeah, Shatner's performance is a brilliant blend of self-homage and self-parody, but we've honored it before, and given that there's so much other stuff that missed the cut (the BSG and FNL ensembles come immediately to mind), it's kind of ridiculous.

But turning to leading acting--How do you nominate only one of the two Conchords? They come as a pair, you know. And again, great as Shalhoub is as Monk, I'll be glad when he gets his last nomination for the role next year. And Simon Baker's nod in the drama category is simultaneously a "WTF?" moment and a "glad just to be invited" since he has something approaching zero chance of winning.

Adam: I don't have much to say about the Drama categories -- Lost, Grey's and House are the only three I really watch. Yes, I'm a bad human being for not being up-to-date on Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Damages, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, The Wire, The Corner ... wait, Boston Legal was on the air this season?

Kim: In the lead dramatic acting categories, I have to grumble twice. Regardless of whether you call it SciFi or SyFy, it’s criminal that no one from Battlestar Galactica is nominated. Admittedly, I haven’t watched Season 4.5 yet (coming out on DVD soon soon soon!), but I just can’t imagine that after all of their amazing work in the series thus far, Olmos, McDonnell, and Sackhoff suddenly stunk up the joint in the last half-season. Hmph. And while I’m happy to see Elisabeth Moss getting recognized for her work on Mad Men, I would have added January Jones to the list as well.

Adam: One obvious omission -- isn't there some bald guy on Lost? And wasn't he really, really good this season?

Kim: Reason number eleventy-million billion and ten to heart Terry O’Quinn. If I recall correctly, O’Quinn chose not to submit his work for consideration this year after already having won an Emmy for the role. And he’d be in the supporting category, anyway. (It’s a shame, though, that his omission didn’t clear the way for the incredible work Josh Holloway did this season.)

Adam: Or Jeremy Davies. Sigh.

Kim: Comedy is to me as drama is to Adam. Half of the first season of 30 Rock is all I have seen of any of these shows. That makes me feel pretty good, actually – apparently I do have a life beyond the watching of television. Only two nominations for best mini-series: has the ascension of high-quality tightly serialized TV (see, e.g., Lost and Mad Men) rendered the mini-series obsolete?

Adam: It ended up being a better season for The Office than 30 Rock -- or at least the former ended on a higher note. But Fey doesn't lose anything this year. Speaking of comedies, I do like the fact that for the nominations for Best Writing for a Variety/Special, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Louis C.K. and Will Ferrell are all the sole credited writers for their shows. If that's true in terms of how their works were created, kudos to them. As for miniseries are concerned, it's a budgeting thing, I imagine.

Kim: I just noticed that 30 Rock is the Mad Men of comedic writing, garnering 4 of the 5 comedy writing nominations. Apparently there are only two well-written series on television – who knew?

Matt: Yeah, there is no way Fey loses in either category this year, though the leading actress category has surprises of its own--no love for any of the Desperate Housewives? A nomination for Sarah Silverman for playing "Sarah Silverman?" In guest actress, funny and arguably significant as Fey's performance as "Governor Sarah Palin (Spoof)" (seriously, that's how it's billed) was, didn't Elaine Stritch's work as Mama Donaghy have much more emotion in there?

Kim: I'm sorry, is Desperate Housewives still on the air? Nothing surprising about that as far as I'm concerned.

Adam: Speaking of "still on the air?", ER got just two nominations for its final season -- best directing on the finale, and Ernest Borgnine as guest in same. No nominations for any of the regular or returning actors.

Kim: Did any of them deserve nominations except in the category of Best “Aw, Nice to See You Again” Moment?

Adam: Maybe Noah Wyle, but I understand that no one beats Michael J. Fox in Guest/Drama this year.

Matt: OK, let's look somewhere else. Seems that, as usual, the Academy chose a pair of HBO programs to shower with nods in the movie/miniseries category--this year, it was Grey Gardens and Before The Storm. It's a bit unusual in that usually, HBO has a single thing that they push to all extremes--John Adams, Angels in America, Band of Brothers, but this year, seems like they spread things around, probably in part because Grey Gardens had basically no male parts, right?

Adam: Please, please let this be the year that all acting/writing awards for tv movies/miniseries are relegated to the pregame show. Because no one cares.

Kim: Not a great year for HBO, except for my happiness that Big Love was recognized for best drama. The ascension of non-HBO cable programming continues.

Matt Is it really the ascension of non-HBO or the decline of HBO? Yes, True Blood is enormously popular, but what little I've seen of it is godawful (It's like "Twilight," except they actually get it on repeatedly), and the old beloved hits have all left the air. And it's interesting to see that aside from AMC and "Damages," other basic cable shows aren't breaking in--no love for any of the USA originals besides the obligatory Shalhoub nomination, no love for "The Shield," no love for Saving Grace beyond Holly Hunter's nomination.

Adam: Um, Where Is Jill Scott? I was expecting her to be nominated. No, not a great year for HBO. Here's one statistic: Justin Timberlake has won 6 Grammys and 1 Emmy so far; he can get that up to 6/3 this year, as two of his nominations (Motherlover and the ESPYs song) compete against each other.

Also, want a depressing category? Nonfiction Special has Alzheimer's competing with anal cancer, Parkinson's disease, 9/11 and Roman Polanski.

One more specific lament: where are the lead and supporting actors of color in the comedy/drama noms? I count Chandra Wilson, Sandra Oh, Tony Shalhoub, Vanessa Williams and Tracy Morgan out of 48 slots. (I blame the shows this year more than the voters.)

Matt: Let's close with a general lament. The following shows got zero nominations -- Friday Night Lights, Dirty Sexy Money (which returns on Saturday!), Burn Notice, Better off Ted, Eli Stone, Dollhouse. Chuck got one (stunts). Dancing With The Stars got 10.

FNL did get a casting nomination, but no love for any of the individual performers, writing, directing, or anything else.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CAN YOU IMAGINE THE CONVERSATION IF L'IL C AND DEBBIE ALLEN WENT OUT FOR DINNER? So the SYTYCD Sorting Hat had one really big faux pas tonight (a Draco-Malfoy-assigned-to-Hufflepuff-caliber mistake) and one big triumphant victory (Travis Wall returns!), but otherwise did acceptably well across the board. More detail tomorrow, but I think that with maybe one exception (wasn't it nice to see Evan doing his sweet old-fashioned riff rather than running around trying to be tall or forcing Nigel to come up with more politically correct phrasings than dude, you are the whitest white guy ever placed upon this earth), the solos didn't move the needle much and tonight will stand or fall on the new partnerships plus residual goodwill.

It's tough to imagine an outcome that doesn't send Dulcinea and My Twee Matador home tomorrow night, but hey, America's got the power now, and who knows what she'll do with it?
HMMM...SMELLS LIKE CUMIN: One year ago today, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was unleashed on the Internet. It's certainly done a lot for most people involved--the Whedon family got a surprising pickup for a second season of Dollhouse, Nathan Fillion's finally a lead on a show that got a second season, and NPH is having a career-pinnacle year. But why doesn't Felicia Day have a TV show? I mean, yeah, The Guild is great, but can't she get a real show?
SOMETHING ELSE TO ADD TO LAWS AND SAUSAGES: The NYT takes a look at the manufacture of "Gyro Cones." Related--the video on that page (perhaps not for the weak of stomach) repeatedly uses the pronunciation JAHI-row, rather than YEE-row. and there seems to be evidence on both sides. Where do we stand on this crucially important issue?
SURPRISINGLY, NO "JONAS ENGAGED, OMG!" COVERS: Tabloid cover statistics this week:
  • Jon and Kate and some chick Jon is shacking up with: 5/5, including main story in In Touch
  • Tony Romo/Jessica Simpson, 5/5, including main story in Us
  • Michael Jackson, 3/5, including main story in OK!
  • Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler, 2/5, including main story in Star
  • "Beach Bodies," 2/5
Making single cover appearances--Khloe Kardashian has lost weight (main story in Life & Style), Ryan O'Neal/Farrah Fawcett, and Kendra Wilkinson.
MONEY CAN AND DOES BUY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. JUST NOT YOUR MONEY: Nice catch by Deadspin: The average salary of an all-star this year is about $500,000 less per year than the average salary of a New York Yankee.
WE'RE SORRY. YOU'RE WELCOME. Yes, last night's Better Off Ted was spectacular, especially for those of us who've spent time deposing, prepping witnesses for deposition, and defending depositions. However, one thing that bugged--I understand why for comic purposes you'd have depositions before document discovery, but why was a bigger deal not made of the "missing e-mail?" It actually could have led to some funny jokes about the "routine demagnetizing process" of Veridian Dynamics. Still, if just for the perfection of Veronica's answers to questions like "How would you describe your job?," that was a darn fine half hour of comedy.
AS LONG AS HE UNDERSTANDS THAT SANDRA BULLOCK DOESN'T LIVE HERE: Okay, so I'm excited about Pedro Martinez coming to Philadelphia. He may well be crazy, but he's my kind of crazy -- the kind that gives us a better chance at repeating as WFC.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MUNDUNGUS! Four years later, we get to be excited about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince all over again. I am so excited to see this film I may well go opening night.

A List Of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago

JACKPOT! Our friend Rhett wants you to know that the ridiculously awesome Joe Schmo 2 is, indeed, now for sale on DVD. At $10.99, it's a remarkable bargain for anyone who's ever enjoyed a season of reality tv. So many reasons to smile.
SIR MIX-A-LOT'S ANACONDA HAS BEEN RETAINED AS AN EXPERT WITNESS:Apparently, courts in San Francisco are faced with the thorny issue of whether this article of clothing makes your butt look fast. (Or, more technically, a dispute over whether "Does this ________ make my butt look fast?" is a valid and infringed trademark.)
I WONDER WHETHER DANCE FEVER HAD MORE THAN ONE DISCO CHOREOGRAPHER: If a roundtable didn't make sense when there were three of us proposing songs for the AI finalists to sing, it makes even less sense now that there are only two of us offering up our thoughts on the final ten dancers on SYTYCD. So maybe a roundtable isn't the right way to think about this. Instead, envision Isaac and me leaping and vaulting over a long, rectangular table with a briefcase sitting in the middle. Hot tamale express, indeed.

Here are your girls.

What Randi’s got going for her is that she’s shown more personality than any of the other girls to date. Kayla is kind of an empty vessel with cutie pie grandparents, Melissa’s “naughty ballerina” bit is just an empty name, Janette comes across as kinda weird except for when she’s dancing, and Jeanine could be Randi’s competition in the cute personality category but for a lack of comparable airtime thus far. But the married dumpling bit is maybe starting to wear a little thin -- it’s time to accept the fact that a lot of dancing is actual kinda (eeeeek) sexual and that playing a vamp when you’re dancing is just fine and dandy. She’s not the biggest talent out there, but the fans of this show like and are willing to vote hard for cute. What they don’t vote for is discomfort, so get over it. -- Kim

I have never gotten over the unitards. Really, they looked more like wrestling singlets. Who in her right mind thinks that the best way to present herself in any situation whatsoever is a unitard? And really, Randi seems like a unitard kind of woman. Behind the dimples and the gold-medal makeover lies an old-fashioned freckled tomboy who wants to play dress-up in Grandpa's 1909 bathing suit. Or maybe she's just fixing to box John L. Sullivan. Incidentally, she's not as strong and powerful as she looks, and she dances without the gravity-defying conviction for which one hopes. Maybe it's just that she's afraid Evan's going to drop her. Incidentally, in my note on Evan, I forgot to mention how thoroughly dispirited I am by the certainty that his mugging, schticky older brother is going to be on next season. Ugh. -- Isaac

Can’t someone grab her backstage and let the stylists fix her hair for real, not just when she’s dancing? There’s such a wild disconnect between the leggy graceful creature who does all this dancing and the goofball Latina Dorothy Hamill who we see the rest of the time. It’s disconcerting. This girl has had a whole lot of ballroom so far – she needs to show what she can do with something more emotional and raw to prove that she’s really in this thing to win it. (And don’t think, Janette, that just because you gave us a respite from the goofy faces last week that we’ve forgotten about that little tendency of yours. We’ll be watching you.) -- Kim

Ballroom dancers on a pan-stylistic show are a little like ice dancers. Having seen enough figure skating to know that the best thing about it is that moment in the jump where you know the next sound out of the crowd is either going to be "YESSSS" or "ooooohhh," it's hard to watch a sport defined entirely by the absence of that moment. The thing I care about the least on this show, aside from how manly Nigel finds dancing, is footwork. With Janette, I say yes to soccer-ball-head and the spin-split where she Ash Wednesdays her partner with her heel, but no to the hip-swivel and the jake leg. -- Isaac

This seems like such a small thing, but I think I agree with Nigel that Kayla’s hair is getting in the way. So much of what she does is so frenzied with the hair whipping around (especially during her solos, when she’s whipping the hair and the legs and the arms) – it’s just too much. Let us focus on the gorgeousness of what her body is doing – that’s what she can control. The hair is just a prop. I just went back and rewatched her samba, her Brian Friedman “pop-jazz” (the princess losing the throne), and her Sonya contemporary, all with an eye toward ignoring the hair, and I still don’t totally get her. So my only real advice for Kayla this week is this: connect with me. -- Kim

I still think that she consistently provides the most amazing moments of all the women, but I get the problem now. Sabra aside, this show loves its flirty just-one-of-the-guys girls. Lacey, Kherington, Courtney (who outlasted the judges' predictions by a mile), even Randi. Kayla seems a bit more aloof, more serious (or humorless, as I think a commenter said). Addiction dance is right up her alley, but she's not going to be able to sell a pillow fight while dancing on a couch. Still, she unfolds all kinds of crazy beautiful shapes and even after rewinding I still can't figure out how. She's my favorite woman, and it's not close.-- Isaac

The more I think about Jeanine, the more I think that she could go really far on this show. Setting aside that absurd baby fat belly button outfit from last week’s solo, which really has to go into the annals of all-time-really-bad-costuming-choices, Jeanine has been pretty darned compelling nearly every time we’ve seen her. And that’s despite being shackled to Philip for five weeks. Jeanine needs a really good partner this week and pretty much any genre except hip hop so that she can show off her considerable skills alongside someone equally trained. -- Kim

She was really hampered by the Phillip pairing, getting blah choreography and never really synching with him. I wonder if the latter is because he doesn't count like a dancer. Like Randi, she benefits immensely from professional wardrobe people who make her, if not exactly beautiful, at least context-specific beautiful in a Jersey mobster girlfriend way. But I don't know how far she's going to go, because I think she's stronger than she is flexible. When Kayla or Melissa or Caitlin bends a leg backward to her head, you think she might keep it there long enough to french-braid her hair. Jeanine just thows it back there and yanks it back. I've liked her, but I think her ceiling is lower than Kayla's or Melissa's.-- Isaac

Oh, Melissa. Somehow she’s become the frontrunner despite the fact that she bores me. I get that ballet is hard, yo, and that most of these other people couldn’t strap on a pair of pointe shoes and do what she does. But for all the grace and the perfectly placed limbs, there’s just something about Melissa that leaves me cold. Here’s a theory – and I’m not committed to it: I don’t know whether it’s the ballet training or whether it’s just Melissa herself, but there’s a certain composure to everything she does. I like to see dancers on this show let loose every once in a while and blow us away with the emotion of their dancing. I’m not looking for a quickstep that makes me sob, but Melissa is almost too precise and perfect. Give her some Shane Sparks, or heck, let the girl crump. Ditch the pointed toes and just dance for us. -- Kim

Yeah, she's boring, and she's like 100 years old. She's six years older than Lauren Conrad, AND LC HAS CELLULITE. Melissa had to be a ballerina, because when she started dancing, they hadn't invented jazz yet. Look, I like her dancing more than I think I like her, and as long as she doesn't have to pair with Evan she's going to be fine. I really want her to have to do a harder-edged hip hop routine, like maybe a Li'l C crunk or something, and then have them intercut it with those early scenes from Save The Last Dance. -- Isaac

And here are your guys.

Evan is a clear-cut case of why early-round pimping matters. But for the extensive coverage of the sweet Gene Kelly leprechaun and his whoopee-making tappity-tapping brother, I suspect we would have lost Evan long ago. He's had a couple of memorable dances, but nothing that would make him one of the sole dancers to avoid the bottom three so far. To distinguish himself, Evan needs to find those opportunities to soar -- both metaphorically and literally -- he had some jaw-dropping leaps during his audition and in Vegas that haven't yet shown up in the SYTYCD studio. -- Kim

I liked his pairing with Randi at first, but let's face it, Evan is John Stevens from Idol. What he does is hopelessly old-fashioned, and he is no good at anything else. Everything he does is soft, from his feet to his lifts. He's had at least a couple of dances where his entire job was to focus everybody's attention on Randi, and I got the feeling that that was more because of his limitations than her assets (look, Nigel, I can play too!). -- Isaac

The fact that I had no idea how good Ade really was until he exploded out of the bottom three for the first time last week tells me something. All of a sudden I think of him as the male frontrunner after paying no attention to him for the prior four weeks. To avoid settling back into no man’s land, he has to bring that explosiveness into an actual partnered routine. If ever a dancer were yearning for a big, raw Mia Michaels routine, Ade is that dancer. -- Kim

Maybe the most important audience for Ade's solo was the people in the VIP bleachers -- the choreographers. Everything in the solo looked like it went together (I remember, for example, at least one Danny dance that seemed more like a stunt checkdown), but Ade was also able to convey the importance of giving him difficult, hard stuff to do. In a way, his partnership with Melissa may have been holding him back, since choreographers have been drawn to her grace and lines and have used Ade mostly to pick her up or swing her around. After his solo, though, everybody in the studio seemed to go "um, wow," so maybe the choreographers will ride that to a strong finish. Also, Ade has an easy smile and a calm manner that I think is a key part of getting votes. Even his solo was relatable -- understandable as a great solo in a way that I usually haven't gotten others' solos. He's definitely the top guy for me. A request for the jidges, though: no more puns, thanks (as if).-- Isaac

Brandon has hung in there week in and week out, but I’m not getting any star quality vibe from him. I guess that’s not a prerequisite to winning this show – both Sabra and Joshua were relatively quiet personalities compared to others their seasons – but I just feel like that eager puppy thing is going to get old at some point. Brandon needs to get a little serious at some point, and show that he can be a real presence regardless of who he’s partnered with. Basically, Brandon needs to suit up. -- Kim

Unlike Ade, Brandon seems a little antic, too eager to please. He has been solid every week, and his choreographed hip hop has been the best this season (much better than Phillip's). He's small, but he's strong. Like Henry Pym, Ant Man. Actually, I think Brandon has two problems that are not entirely his fault. The first is that he suffers in comparison to Ade's long lines, and the second is Mia Michaels's early tirade against him, which seems to have stuck. On dancing, he's been right there with Ade and I'd put him at a not-too-distant second among the men. -- Isaac

Jason’s got a whole lotta rows to hoe if he’s going to make it past this week. There is no shortage of contemporary guys left in this competition, and Jason is currently bringing up the rear. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were a real dancer underneath the husk from which Caitlin sucked out the lifeblood over the last month. There was something critical missing from that partnership, and Jason’s hopes rest on being partnered with someone this week with whom he has some genuine rapport. He’s got a potential “cute guy” edge – and we all know how that can matter on a show where text voting is a big deal – but really needs some serious oomph to stay afloat. -- Kim

Manorexic Tracy Morgan is better than Evan, but I've never really cottoned to him. When I think of contestants' signature moves, all that comes up for me with Jason is the yell-and-flex he did during the gladiator paso doble, plus his Tracy Morgan grin peeking out from between Caitlin's dancing feet during Bollywood. -- Isaac

Kupono’s advantage among the remaining guys is that he’s different. None of the others (with maybe a half-exception for Evan) have shown any real ability to portray a character, but the addiction dance and the crash test dummies showed us that Kupono has some real talent in that area. Which is good, because he doesn’t have all that much drama in his actual dancing. I think he and Jason will be fighting it out to stick around for another week, but Kupono could have an edge if he gets the right routine. -- Kim

He looks tall (even if he's not), so that's good for making pretty geometries. He seems strong enough, so that's good for the liability insurance. He's a decent enough actor, so that's good for the entertainment. Kim compared him unfavorably to Mark from S4, though, and that's about right. Floppy, spinny Hawaiians who like to throw themselves on the floor like they're mad at it. Do they teach that at the Waikiki Danceteria? -- Isaac

Monday, July 13, 2009

CAN WE GET ANDRAE GONZALO TO APPEAR IN BOTH? Well, it is All-Star Week, so it's worth noting that Survivor 20 will be a (Hatchless) all-star heroes v. villains season, while the return of Project Runway will be preceded by an all-star competition including "Chris March, Jeffrey Sebelia, Michael Knight, Daniel Vosovic, Santino Rice, Kenley Collins, Sweet P, and Korto Momolu" and maybe others.
NOT KNOWING WHAT THEY'D DONE, THEY PAINTED IN THE SUN: So if artists like to complain about the commodification of art, and if they bemoan how collectors are overly committed to decorative consistency instead of the basic point of the pieces they see, and if we know from Whistler v. Ruskin that what's valuable about art is not the time it takes to make it, then why do the prices of paintings by the same artist generally correspond to the size of the pieces?
CAN'T TELL ME NOTHIN': It should surprise no one that Tiger Woods tops SI's list of the top-earning American athletes for 2008. Number two may surprise you, as well as the paucity of football players compared to hoopsters on the list.

The Dodgers' Jason Schmidt is still #44. Heh.
YOU CAN SOMETIMES DEPEND ON THE KINDNESS OF ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED STRANGERS: I have to say that if this story is true (and I have no reason to doubt that it is) the cast of the current Central Park Twelfth Night are just a bunch of awesome people.
SOMEWHERE, DUNKLEMAN WEEPS: Given that Ryan Seacrest has signed a $15M/season contract to host Idol, how much should the other 4 principals be paid? (Related: Dunkleman currently hosts Family Feud: Live!)
MARY ROSH AND BILL WASIK HAVE BEEN COMMITTED TO THE AGES: Among the new words added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary for 2009 are frenemy, sock puppet, flash mob, locavore, reggaeton, shawarma and vlog. Sniglet, however, still sits outside the dictionary's walls.

Related -- Dear National Association of Realtors, please stop subtly insisting in your commercials that I pronounce your occupation as "REE-uhl-tores". Isn't "REEL-tuhrz" sufficient? Do you have to grab for that third syllable?
A LIST HEARD IN D.C., SAN ANTONE AND THE LIBERTY TOWN, BOSTON AND BATON ROUGE: In honor of Casey Kasem's retirement and/or Alex's birthday today, the NYT surveys the top ten songs from 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 years ago this week. Anyone not favoring the 1984 list needs to explain him- or herself -- does busting not make you feel good?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

THIS LIST MUST CHANGE OR LISTS MUST BURN: Via our Down Under reader slowlylu, the listeners of Australia's "Triple J" modern rock radio have voted to create a list of the top 100 songs of all time. It is, as others have noticed, a remarkably male list. [Also, Hunters & Collectors but no Hoodoo Gurus?]
THE SOUND OF RERUN EATING POPCORN: Remember when Adam posted a link to Ben Gibbard doing Thriller? In hunting it down for my iPod, I ran across the Internet Live Music Archive, a free collection of concert recordings ranging from low to damn high quality. Best of all, every entry on it quotes the copyright holder's approval for inclusion in the archive, so it's all legal. Gibbard's "Thriller," along with nice acoustic versions of, among other things, "Title and Registration," "Such Great Heights," and "All Apologies?" Here. A gorgeous Decemberists cover of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, or the same band goofing on Don't Stop Believin', Jesse's Girl, and I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight? There and there (though in .flac format, so you'll have to exercise some industry). There are hundreds of artists in the archive, not all of whom I recognize, but all of whom are letting people make this available for free, which is the right price for me.

And if I'm the last person in the world to know this exists, sorry.