Friday, November 27, 2009

PAUL NEWMAN! The Buckeye State is trying to determine which famous Ohioan should take the place of its existing William Allen statue in the US Capitol's National Statuary Hall.

For Athletes in Motion, Real Estate Can Be a Burden -

LOCATION, LOCATION: Interesting evergreen article in today's NYT on professional athletes' real estate problems during our economic downturn -- essentially, they purchase nice homes, get traded (or leave via free agency) and no longer can re-sell at anywhere near the purchase price, making the most elegant solution to rent out their white elephants to other athletes now moving into those cities.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

PERHAPS WE DID, IN FACT, GIVE HIM UP, LET HIM DOWN AND SAY GOODBYE: Last year at this time, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade rickrolled itself, and we all speculated as to a series of future such appearances (Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest, the Obama Inauguration, Super Bowl halftime) that sadly was not to be. Still, we have the memories.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

THERE ARE FOUR TYPES OF CLOWNS -- A TRAMP, AN AUGUSTE, A WHITEFACE AND A CHARACTER: I cannot say enough good things about Modern Family. The show just knows its characters so well, structures its episodes well and delivers the comedy expertly. "People are gonna stare! They're not used to seeing one clown in a car!" [More on Fizbo's origins here.]

Bold statement time: it's time for 30 Rock's Emmy reign to end. Yes, this show is that good.

Remembering the 2000-01 Sixers | Philly

THE GAME THAT I GO OUT THERE AND DIE FOR AND PLAY EVERY GAME LIKE IT'S MY LAST: I said my goodbye to Allen Iverson when the 76ers traded him in 2006, but if Stephen A. is right it's over-over now. What a shame. The Inquirer helpfully brings us back to the 2000-01 season, one of the most wonderful, thrilling, city-uniting sports experiences of my life.

As he said in that press conference, "Believe me, it is just not about Allen Iverson. I am going to go to war for Philadelphia. Every time that ball goes up, I will go to war and fight. I am going to do some [expletive] that's wrong and I will do some things right. I can't do everything right all the time. Michael Jordan is the great player in the world. He did not do everything right all of the time but he tried and gave it his effort. That's all you can ask for." And that's what Iverson did.
THE BLUEGRASS SELF-DENIAL: According to a new survey, the new product launched in 2009 most remembered by consumers is Kentucky Fried Chicken's effort to negate one of the words in its title. Also on the top ten list: the Blackberry Storm, Beatles Rock Band game and (even though we discussed it in December 2008) the Snuggie.
I'M NOT A BABYSITTER. I'M A PERFORMER: Kim, Isaac and I decided not to do a post about the Adam Lambert AMA performance "controversy" when it happened because, well, I hate "controversies" that belong in quotes and aren't true controversies. It's not like he used his platform to challenge factory farming on the eve of Thanksgiving Week, or to unfurl a banner denouncing the President for his role in, well, something bad. He danced provocatively in order to attract attention, knew exactly what he was doing, and is reaping the expected publicity blitz. [We've come a long way from Shir LaShalom.]

Still, Lambert's remarks on CBS this morning are noteworthy, both because of his unapologetic articulation of a perceived double standard on suggestiveness as to male performers (and in particular gay male performers), and because it's just nice to hear him speak at length for once about anything, given the limits of the Idol format.

added: Ann Powers: "[T]here's a third way to view Lambert's staged provocation: not as a new low for pop's moral standards, nor as a revolutionary act, but as one of the most traditional things he's done so far...."
ONE OF THE ROUGHEST GAMES AROUND FOR THE ATARI GAME SYSTEM: AdWeek collects ten celebrity computer/video game commercials from the 1980s, including the late Phil Hartman promoting Activision's Ice Hockey and a pre-adolescent Jack Black pitching Pitfall. [My other favorite early Black appearance was as one of the teenage acolytes of Pennsylvania Senate candidate Bob Roberts.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

IN WHICH I SIT DOWN TO WRITE IN LIEU OF PLANNING MY THANKSGIVING MENU: I am gradually getting caught up on my TV viewing after a few weeks in which life got in the way of both television and blogging (not that I had anything to write about anyway, having been consuming nothing in the way of pop culture). I offer a few observations.
  • The final four on Top Chef are exactly who everyone thought they would be after, what, two episodes at the most? Ditto the top two designers on Project Runway. Have we all become such experienced reality TV viewers that we can no longer be surprised? Or have these just been really obvious seasons?
  • Fat Apollo kicks the snot out of Fat Barney.
  • I don't have a lot to contribute on SYTYCD thus far. My DVR ate one performance episode, and Cosmo Girl insisted on watching the other one with me -- skipping the jidges' comments. I plan to watch tonight, though -- alone, so that I can cuddle up with my BFFs Nigel and Shankman uninterrupted by demands that I hurry up and get to the next dance. Anything fabulous that I should be tracking down on the youtubes?
  • There is no more cringeworthy song on the planet than "(You're) Having My Baby," regardless of who sings it and under which circumstances. I do want to give a big shoutout to my own personal favorite unexpectedly awesome singing voice on Glee: Artie can sing his ass off.
  • Note to Lifetime: I hate video blogs. I like reading what Tim Gunn et al. have to say after the fact, but I don't want to have to watch even more TV to gain additional insight on the already-too-many TV shows I choose to watch. Plus it's much easier to quietly read a blog at my office than it is to quietly watch TV on my computer at my office. Carry on.
FOUR MONTHS OF GLUM: Fox has announced its midseason schedule. There will be no new Glee from December 10 until April 13, at which point it will take the post-Idol competition slot to air directly against the final episodes of Lost.
TWOFER TUESDAY: Continuing the musical incongruity theme so brilliantly displayed by the Muppets take on Queen, may I present Neil Young tackling the theme from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
ELECTRIC MAYHEM:The fine folks at the Muppets give us a new version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Particular credit for not relying on just the big name characters, but pulling out the obscure.
YOU BETCHA, WE ... WERE MORONS: Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse revisits the Twins' then-controversial decision to take hometown high-schooler Joe Mauer over USC's Mark Prior with the first pick in the 2001 MLB Draft.

added: Albert Pujols is the BBWAA's unanimous selection as NL MVP. Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder follow. Pujols is your tenth 3-time MVP in MLB history ... and he's only 29. Oddest ballot would be the one with Todd Helton in third.
"IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER HOW HE DID IT": So that guy who they thought cheated his way to third place at the National Sudoku Tournament? Puzzlemaster Will Shortz had him retested at the Inquirer's headquarters and has disqualified him, seeing as he was unable to come anywhere close to completing the same puzzles he sped through in competition.

Monday, November 23, 2009

THE 5TH PHASE? PARKING: So thanks to my friends Eric and Becky I was able to attend last night's Eagles-Bears game at Chicago's Soldier Field. (To those friends I wasn't able to see while I was out there, sorry! Brief trip.)

This was my first time ever attending an Eagles road game, and so beyond the game itself there's a lot of compare-and-contrast to do:
  • Soldier Field is an architectural wonder. Plopping an asymmetrical, futuristic stadium into the colonnades of the classical shell looks messed-up from the outside, but on the inside it really works. Yes, the slope of the western deck is extremely steep to fit it into the structure, but it results in an intimate stadium where the seats all remain close to the field. And there are some beautiful curves to the place, especially in how the luxury suite structure tapers off into video scoreboards which hang over the end zones, and I appreciated the gentle hill up from the Field Museum which led to an entrance halfway up the stadium.
  • No cheerleaders. Drumline! I approve. Also, actual halftime entertainment (the Chicago cast of Jersey Boys), which the Eagles seem to have given up on.
  • Very odd, as Eric noted, that they spend five crucial scoreboard hype minutes just prior to gametime reviewing the evacuation plans for every section. I blame lawyers.
  • The most-worn jersey at the game, by far, was Walter Payton's. Number two was Brian Urlacher. Not a lot of confidence shown in the active roster from the fanbase. (At Eagles games, at least 5-7 active players lead this list before you'd get to the Reggie White and Randall Cunningham jerseys.)
  • A very odd locution from the PA announcer -- every kickoff was announced as "restarting" the game, not "resuming" it. Always sounded weird.
  • Eagles fans are louder and more hostile. I was wearing my McNabb jersey all night; wasn't harassed once.
  • There's a timeout. Where?
  • Good fight song rhyme: joy/Illinois. Bad fight song rhyme: nation/T-formation.
  • Okay. So it's great and gorgeous that Soldier Field is part of this lakefront campus with the Field Museum and all (though I'm still pissed about the destruction of Meigs Field), but it did make me appreciate the merits of Lincoln Financial Field being sited in a sea of parking lots, connected to both major local highways and just two blocks from the trunk of our main subway line. It's easy to get to the Linc, and it's easy to leave. To this outsider, at least, egress from Soldier Field was confounding. Poor information about bus options, and absolutely impossible to find a cab back to downtown -- I think I ended up at Balbo and Michigan before locating one.
  • Most importantly: E! A! G! L! E! S! EAGLES! Playoffs still within reach.
IT'S NEITHER A MANDOLIN, NOR MINIATURE. MAYBE THE CLUEMONGER WON'T NOTICE: Not a particularly exciting leg of TAR, but it was nice to see a Detour that allowed some some lead changes and the needle-in-a-haystack Roadblock was kind of fun.
I DO RADIO COMMERCIALS FOR PRODUCTS: As we enter into the week of Thanksgiving, time for an ALOTT5MA holiday tradition--Jed Bartlet calls the Butterball Hotline.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

WHAT UP WITH THAT? Questions spurred by last night's SNL:
  • Who knew Joseph Gordon-Levitt was THAT good a dancer? Seriously, the back flip was damn impressive.
  • Was anyone really asking for the return of the sketch referenced in the title? (Though one cannot deny the theme song's catchiness, or the enjoyable ridiculous randomness of Bill Hader's wordless Lindsay Buckingham in the sketch.)
  • Better random celebrity cameo in that sketch--Al Gore or Mindy Kaling?
  • Update started much later than usual in the show--not kicking off until the 53 minute mark, rather than around 40 minutes in (it also seemed considerably shorter than usual).
  • The show went pretty rapidly downhill after Update--the Thanksgiving sketch didn't work at all, and the "Woman To Woman" sketch seemed to me a painful effort to create a recurring character for Armisen. (Though the "Say Anything" sketch was awesome.)
  • How many sketches will expressly or impliedly be about Blake Lively's breasts or cleavage when she hosts in a couple of weeks? (Also, safe assumption we're going to see at least a Leighton Meester cameo, right?)
ANTI-HELIOCENTRISM: Oh my, do I hate this new "holiday" Gap ad.
THINGS I LEARNED FROM THE APOCALYPSE: (Warning: contains 2012 spoilers, not that a single particularly unexpected thing happens in this movie anyway.)
  • You will probably die during the apocalypse.
  • When the apocalypse comes, it's a good idea to live in the Midwest--at least there, you'll have the most time to escape.
  • John Cusack apparently has the largest lung capacity of any human being in existence.
  • All that is required in order to perform acrobatic flying manuevers and to serve as co-pilot of a jumbo jet is "a couple of flying lessons." You will protest that this is not enough, but it will be sufficient.
  • Large cars like RV's and limos are best to be in in the event of apocalypse, not because they are likely to be able to survive damage, but because of their excellent manueverability.
  • If you are an aging character actor, you will die in the apocalypse, but you will be offered a chance to reconcile with your family beforehand and make a display of nobility.
  • If you are unattractive, you will probably not survive the apocalypse.
  • If you have behaved like a dick during early stages of the apocalypse, you will die during the apocalypse, but either in an ironic manner or in a manner that allows you some small measure of redemption.
  • If you are a small pet, you will probably die during the apocalypse. However, if you are in a position where you could possibly be saved, you will be.
  • A sign of the apocalypse? In December at Yellowstone National Park, no one will require jackets or any sort of heavy clothing.
  • The apocalypse will provide an opportunity for separated couples to reconcile and couples that never had an opportunity to get together to get together.
  • And, of course, man is basically good at heart.