Friday, September 4, 2009

TWO HITS. ME HITTING YOU, YOU HITTING THE FLOOR: There was a football game last night, and improbable powerhouse Boise State beat improbable powerhouse Oregon for the second straight year. After the game, Boise State's Byron Hout started talking trash to Oregon's LeGarrette Blount, and Blount sucker-punched him.

Blount, who according to reports and the video is a complete nutcase, is going to get a deserved suspension that hopefully will last a while. But admit it: it's kind of gratifying to see a knucklehead like Hout, who just can't shut his yap, get his yap shut (and his lights turned out) with one punch.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

SHOW ME WHAT'S BEHIND DOOR NUMBER 2: The all new Let's Make A Deal, which replaces Guiding Light on CBS stations this fall, will originate from the (less-than-entirely) Fabulous Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas, NV. If for whatever reason you find yourself in Las Vegas dressed in a ludicrous costume, you know what to do (tickets available here). LMAD is a fascinating game, because unlike pretty much any game show save Deal or No Deal, there's fundamentally no skill involved other than the Monty Hall Problem.

This also gives an opportunity to reference cult game show classic Whew!, which, despite an elaborate opening sequence and a dramatic bonus round, suffered from perhaps the most complicated rules I've seen for a game show.
57 CHANNELS, AND NOTHIN' ON: With the first new TV of the fall season less than a week away (the premiere of the new Melrose Place, now with less Heather Locklear and more Ashlee Simpson-Wentz!), it's time to, with the aid of EW's handy cheat sheet, engage in two ALOTT5MA traditions:

1. Discussion of what we're excited for in terms of the new shows. For me, it's looking like Community and Flash Forward lead the pack, with a possible slot for NCIS: Los Angeles, though I'm concerned that we could have another CSI: Miami here--taking an original show that's enjoyable in large part because it's populated by a group of social misfits and dorks and trying to make it "cool and sexy," which seemed to be the direction the pilot was headed, though the casting of Linda Hunt gives me hope on that front.

2. The annual Death Pool. What show will get canned the quickest? I'm tempted to place my money on Fox's apparently execrable Michael Strahan sitcom Brothers, but given that it's Fox and Friday, I anticipate they'll have patience, but I'm going to stake my claim on Kelsey Grammer's latest attempted comeback--Hank, if just because ABC has Scrubs and Better off Ted ready to go into those slots if need be. The prize, as always, is fame and glory forever, or at least until you fall into the dustbin of ALOTT5MA history.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I THINK WE BOND ON A "FAT KID" LEVEL AS WELL: A second straight week on Top Chef Vegas featuring an institution in which gay Americans cannot partake equally -- and yet no complaints this time? Somerton's Jennifer Carroll had her chance to shine again in a particularly badass way, though the thing I was most amused by was the Judge's Table "you thought ours sucked -- what about the chowder?" cross-court diss. One of the better JT segments we've had in a while, in fact, as one question loomed larger than all others: "Why didn't you try to cook a winning dish?" Perhaps someone should have listened to Bart.
LIVE, FROM NEW YORK, IT'S TWO WOMEN WE KNOW ALMOST NOTHING ABOUT! Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad, welcome to Studio 8-H. Both new cast members are Upright Citizens Brigade alumni.

In addition, at least four new writers have been hired for the season -- UCB's Christine Nangle and Ryan Perez, and Chicago's Hannibal Burress (standup) and Michael Patrick O'Brien (Second City).

Finally, Darrell Hammond expects to come back for another record-setting season.
DANG! America's Most Awesome Airline, Southwest, just got slightly less awesome (I think) -- they're introducing a new $10 early bird check-in to guarantee a boarding number assignment 12 hours ahead of the general boarding queue.

On the one hand, okay, early boarding is clearly a thing with value -- I always set an alarm for my 24h reminder in order to secure A-group status, so in boarding I can stow the bag up top in front and find a comfortable aisle seat nearby. Is it worth $10 of value? Probably not, especially if a well-timed regular check-in still gets you in the A group. And that's the kicker -- I assume this isn't going to be a transparent market. I doubt you'll be able to extract from Southwest two days before travel the number of people who've already reserved early bird status, such that you'd know whether it was worth it for that flight. It's that uncertainty which may encourage some to reserve it needlessly, in turn making it more needed by the rest of us.

So, fellow Southwest travelers, collective action time: if we all agree to boycott the new $10 early bird check-in, then none of us will be harmed by not purchasing it. Who's with me?
TELL TCHAIKOVSKY THE NEWS: Adrian Beltre, who you probably don't realize is awesome because he's a right-handed pull hitter who plays in Safeco, has been out for a few weeks after a defensive play gone particularly awry, resulting in a torn testicle. He came back last night, and the music they used to play him in? The Nutcracker Suite.

Ken Griffey can't hit much any more and he can't field at all, but as long as he's coming up with ideas like this and tickling Ichiro once a week or so, I'm happy to have him.
EVEN THOUGH HE WENT TO PRINCETON, NOT A DOUCHE: In a somewhat surprising and out of the blue decision, the next of the Big Three evening newscasts to lose its anchor will not be CBS unceremoniously dumping Katie Couric, but Charles Gibson retiring from ABC's World News Tonight, to be replaced by his former GMA co-anchor Diane Sawyer. Gibson retires after less than 4 years at the main desk, but with nearly 20 years at GMA and several years of anchoring Primetime Thursday, and serving as moderator of multiple presidential debates.
GERMANE CROWELL INTENTIONS: I don't know how to feel about the fact that not one person I drafted in the ALOTT5MA fantasy football draft last night appears in Darren Rovell's new list of the top 20 selling NFL jerseys.

[Biggest surprises, to me? No Randy Moss, and no Brian Urlacher -- Troy Polamalu is the only defensive player on the list.]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

AND IT WAS STILL HOT: Our earlier discussion of the movie version of Where the Wild Things Are raises the question of what children's books ought to be made into a movie but haven't been (or alternately, have been done so badly they need to be redeemed). The one that comes most obviously to mind is Roald Dahl's Danny, Champion of the World, far-and-away my favorite of Dahl's works. It's such a great father-and-son caper-movie with a plot against irredeemable bad guy and with a perfect children's movie climax, I'm surprised it has not been done on the big screen.

It was done as a made-for-TV with Jeremy Irons in the UK in 1989, but does not apparently exist as US-coded DVD.

The other that comes to mind is Zilpha Keatly Snyder's Below the Root -- a terrific coming-of-age fantasy -- although the atmospherics of the book are so unavoidably elvish that the one guy I think I could handle it, Peter Jackson, would have to tack so hard away from his LOTR stuff that it might not work.
SIT ON IT, POTSIE: Look, name-squishing for famous couples was kind of cute at first (Brangelina!), but when it started to move into fictional couples (Huddy! Gizzie!), I began to throw up a little in my mouth. But we have reached a new nadir--apparently, fans of the Chuck/Blair pairing on Gossip Girl have begun to refer to the couple as "Chair." (That same article also references "Naley," a couple on One Tree Hill.) Exception, of course? Jeffster!
YES, BUT WILL THERE BE TAG TEAM PLINKO? In the oddest combination of two media properties in recent memory, Price Is Right host emeritus Bob Barker will guest-host WWE Raw next week. Please provide other suggestions for making other pricing games be extreme enough for the WWE.
AND IT WAS GETTING COLDER: The Pathetic Earthling panned the idea of a big-budget Where the Wild Things Are. I panned the teaser trailer for it. And now I'm here to pan the long trailer, which I saw this weekend attached to Ponyo.

I'll just reiterate that it seems to me to be a profound misunderstanding of Where the Wild Things Are to make Max eleven instead of four, melancholy and timid instead of impulsive and headstrong, unwild; to make the monsters communal instead of Darwinian, thoughtful instead of instinctive, unwild. But what I really want to say now to Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, both of whom I liked right up until they decided, incorrectly, that they could improve upon the original text: it's "let the wild rumpus start."
PAGING NOVOSELIC: Not only will the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominate ten films for Best Picture this year, but now it has been announced that the winner will be determined by instant runoff voting, hopefully ensuring a winner with broad appeal.
ALSO -- DON'T NEGLECT THE OFFERINGS OF D.P. DOUGH: As a follow-up to last week's question about campus tours, and further provoked by the fact that my friend Paul Rieckhoff had the chance to do this last night: if you had the chance to address your alma mater's incoming first-year students and offer them words of advice, what would you tell them?

I'd want them to know to step outside their comfort zones -- that even if they think they know what their majors will be, they ought to challenge themselves and explore. For me, it was getting into academic study of film too late and art history not-at-all, despite my academic advisor's urging. And I'd also tell them that whatever motivates them most -- whatever that real passion is -- to set a goal of becoming a campus leader on that. Finally, I'd recommend to them that they get off campus for a few hours at least once a week, because reminding yourself of the outside world is always a good thing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

IT'S ALIVE! ALIVE! (AND DISARMINGLY CHARISMATIC): As previously discussed (and then, okay, I forgot about it for the rest of the summer), ROBOBAMA LIVES!

[Query: could we also have a Zombie Obama and call it ZOMBAMA?]
THE XY FACTOR: I'll take No Matter How Low Our Standards Are, This Is Something You Don't Get To See On American Reality Talent Auditions for $200, Alex?
SO THAT'S WHERE THE MONEY TO BUY MARVEL CAME FROM:I have as little knowledge of kids' TV as possible, but am I the only one shocked that Disney Channel Original Movie Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie scored 11.4 million viewers on Friday night? To give you an idea of how big that is--last week's biggest network show (the America's Got Talent on Tuesday) scored only 11.88 million viewers. Can someone explain?
PLEASE CONTINUE BELIEVIN':You may be wondering why Fox is repeating the pilot of Glee twice this week, and now we have an answer. Wednesday, following a So You Think You Can Dance special, the "director's cut" of the pilot, with previously deleted scenes, will air, and Friday's airing will include a scrolling Twitter commentary from cast and crew answering questions. I'm not sure how or if this'll work, but it'll be interesting.
I WANT YOU AND YOUR TRIPLE-XL FRIEND TO WRITE JOKES FOR ME: I know I'm late to the party on Funny People, but I want to say that rather than see it as an interesting failure like Matt did, I thought it basically succeeded as a challenging portrait of a comic and his industry, the misery that can drive comedy and the narcissism it can produce. I thought Adam Sandler was phenomenal -- this, not Punch-Drunk Love, is the fearless, deconstructing performance we've been waiting for.

Not entirely an original thought, but think of Funny People as being Almost Famous without the all the sweetness and redemption. (Similar, the stand-up comedy in FP isn't that funny in the same way the Stillwater music in AF isn't that good.) No, the movie's not perfect -- I thought Seth Rogen was the weak link, acting-wise, unable to sell the choices that his character was making. But I'm glad that the film's universe and ambition was as broad as it was (Yo, Teach!), and that its ending was not the Hollywood ending I'd have expected. In that regard, it's another work in which Apatow was involved that comes to mind -- The Larry Sanders Show, which did not exactly end with hugs all around, instead maintaining its cynicism to the end. Bottom line? See it if you still can, and the DVD ought to have quite a lot of interesting extras.

Please use this post as a jumping-off point for touting your favorite films of the summer of 2009 and lamentations as to those you've still failed to see. (In my case: Up, Ponyo, District 9 and now Big Fan.)
MIGHTY MOUSE: Disney to purchase Marvel Entertainment for ~$30 4 billion in a stock swap; according to the news reports there are ~5000 characters in the Marvel Universe who are part of the deal.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Roger Ebert's Journal: Archives

MY NAME IS ROGER, AND I'M AN ALCOHOLIC: All that I can say about Roger Ebert's essay on the thirtieth anniversary of his sobriety is that it's a must-read, and is a valuable bookend to Isaac's thoughts on just how difficult sobriety was for Adam Goldstein.