Saturday, July 10, 2010

THERE WERE NO UTENSILS IN MEDIEVAL TIMES, HENCE THERE ARE NO UTENSILS AT MEDIEVAL TIMES. WOULD YOU LIKE A REFILL ON THAT PEPSI? Today's NYT Magazine asks whether jousting is America's next great extreme sport. I say that if it doesn't involve battle on flying ostriches which release eggs when you hit them, it doesn't count.

Friday, July 9, 2010

IT WILL BE CHANGED....FOR GOOD: Allegedly in the running to direct Wicked: The Movie Musical? J.J. Abrams, James Mangold (Knight and Day, Walk The Line), Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall. Somewhere, there's a Glee fan erupting with the idea of Lea Michele (who could sing the part) as Elphaba and Dianna Agron (who couldn't) as Galinda. And while Chenoweth and Menzel were great in the original production, I think Rent taught us well that this is perhaps not a wise choice for characters who are supposed to be quite young. So, who do you cast (Nikki Finke's commenters seem to push heavily an Anne Hathaway/Amanda Seyfried pairing), and who should direct?

6:45 a.m.: Cliff Lee for Wilson Ramos and Kevin Slowey "all but done"

7:43 a.m.: Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak "just waiting for the ink"

8:53 a.m.: Cliff Lee for Jesus Montero, David Adams "just waiting for parties to agree on third prospect"

10:40 a.m.: Cliff Lee for Jesus Montero, David Adams, Zach McAllister "a done deal"

11:33 a.m.: Cliff Lee and Jose Lopez for Jason Heyward, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Christian Bethancourt, Adam Milligan "would be done already except the parties misunderstood which Peachtree was the street where they were meeting to sign"

12:00 p.m.: Pujols and Hafner, Kearns, Peralta, LaPorta, Santana, Redmond, Wood to Seattle; left arm and torso of Cliff Lee to St. Louis; remainder of Cliff Lee returns to Cleveland, trade "only needs union approval"

12:58 p.m.: Cliff Lee for Stephen Strasburg, John Wall, Alex Ovechkin, 13% royalty on all McNabb jerseys retroactive to February 2010, Naval Observatory "a complete irreversible lock"

1:12 p.m.: Cliff Lee for eternal souls of baseball fans under age of 60 plus permanent drilling rights in all US coastal waters and ANWR rights through 2510 "just waiting for formality of agency, devil approval; already greenlit by heaven"
WHAT IS THY BIDDING, MY MASTER? Just stumbled across this walking back from lunch yesterday -- The Vader Project, one hundred identically-sized Darth Vader helmets customized by renowned contemporary artists which have toured the world since 2007 and are on auction in Philadelphia at noon tomorrow. It is useless to resist. The catalog is here.
THAT EXIT TOWARD THE DARK SIDE LEADS YOU: Yes, you can now have Yoda, Darth Vader, and C-3P0 direct you on your TomTom. (And the videos are awesome.) Han Solo voice arrives in August, and will explain to you how to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
SOME ENCHANTED EVENING, YOU MAY GET CHLAMYDIA: While the world still waits indifferently for the Jim Carrey-Jake Gyllenhaal remake of Damn Yankees, along comes word that South Pacific will be returning to the screen with "a tougher, more realistic retelling of the same classic story of two very different people whose love for each other transcends their enormous cultural differences."

Anyone want to participate in the casting or rewriting? Or should we just sit back, assume that they'll let Matthew Morrison reprise the role of Lt. Cable, and hope that "tougher, more realistic" doesn't quite mean we're getting the graphic realism of HBO's The South Pacific.
WE WITNESSED: There are at least four different types of failures we can discuss regarding last night's LeBronathon:
  1. The failure of LeBron James to choose the Chicago Bulls, which would have placed him in a better position to win championships.
  2. The failure of LeBron James to control his narrative here, leading him to be seen (so far as I can tell) as a heel in all this rather than an eager athlete hoping to win, as this Bill Simmons tweet notes with the appropriate sports entertainment reference. (Though would any selection other than Cleveland lead to this outcome?)
  3. The failure of ESPN in delivering the news in the first ten minutes of the show as promised, leading instead to the basketball equivalent of an Idol results show.
  4. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's open letter to the fans as Comic Sans FAIL.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

ON SELF-EVIDENT TRUTHS: We've done what I consider to be a decent job avoiding the whole Lindsay Lohan meltdown, despite my own keen emotional investment in the case -- something I won't tell you about now, so that you can read about it later in the chapter of my memoir entitled "Get Off My Lawn, You Damn Kids." I find it impossible to avoid today, though, as Lohan, in her only official comment on her 90 (but probably 23)-day jail/90-day inpatient rehab sentence for violation of the terms of her probation, had this to tweet:
It is clearly stated in Article 5 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." This was taken from an article by Erik Luna.. "November 1 marked the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. But there were no celebrations, parades, or other festivities in honor of this punishment scheme created by Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission.... Instead, the day passed like most others during the last 15 years: Scores of federal defendants sentenced under a constitutionally perverted system that saps moral judgment through its mechanical rules."
May I respond?
  • Lohan was in state court, and the Sentencing Guidelines are federal.
  • Lohan was not harmed by any mandatory minimum imposed by any law or guideline, since the law permitted the judge to impose no additional sentence (beyond that already served) but decided on her own to impose more than the minimum.
  • Actually, Lohan did originally receive a statutory minimum sentence of 96 hours of jail time, 48 of which was erased by election into two weeks of community service, and the remaining 48 hours of which was served by a "look-and-leave" -- surrendering to jail shortly before midnight and leaving shortly after midnight, which gives the prisoner credit for two calendar days. That would have been it if she had been willing to comply with the terms of her probation.
  • It is impossible to argue cogently that the judge followed "mechanical rules" in this case or failed to exercise "moral judgment," whether or not you agreed with that judgment.
  • So 90.05 (or probably 23.05) days of special-circumstances confinement and 90 days of rehab constitutes "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" for a person who crashed a car, lied about it, carjacked another car, tried to use it as a weapon, and falsely accused two other people of driving it, all while either drinking or doing coke? Take it away, other Isaac:
    No rich young white guy has ever gotten anywhere with me comparing himself to Rosa Parks.
ACTUALLY, NO, I'M PRETTY SURE THAT RIGHT NOW I CAN'T DANCE: So far this season, we've seen the following dances: contestant-all-star; contestant-contestant; contestant-alumnus; contestant-choreographer's assistant; all-star-all-star; group dance with all-stars; group dance without all-stars; contestant solo. I'm putting my money on seeing contestant-judge, all-star-assistant, and alumnus-homeless person in the next few weeks.
CLEAR EYES! FULL HEARTS! WILL STILL LIKELY LOSE, BUT IT'S NICE TO SEE THEM NOMINATED: 2010 Primetime Emmy nominations are out. Love, love that in Variety/Comedy/Musical, Conan got nominated but not Jay or Dave, and of all the seasons not to nominate "Survivor" for best reality series, really?

A few more thoughts: As TPE noted as well, I don’t understand how you can nominate three supporting actors from Modern Family and not have Rico Rodriguez as one of them. That kid is aces.

The Office had nine Emmy nominations last year; it has four this year. That strikes me as at least one too many still (Best Comedy Series?), but at least one of the four was the writing for the wedding episode. Non-Carrell actors: shut out. Alongside the wedding episode, comedy writing noms went to the Glee and Modern Family pilots (but not Fizbo?) and two mediocre 30 Rocks. [P.S. The Daily Show episode that received the writing nomination was the Glenn Beck parody.]

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

THE FASCISTS OF THE FORTIES FANDANGO: Today's Spain-Germany World Cup semifinal doesn't lend itself to the kind of discussion that yesterday's paean to all things Dutch (and any things Uruguayan) engendered. These aren't quirky little beloved countries, but each former holders of the Dominant Global Superpower title, albeit one more recently than the other. Spain has the better food and art; Germany superior car design and beer, and I'm calling it a draw on Contemporary Film Directors Who Are A Bit Nuts (Almodovar v Herzog) ... so do we just talk about who has the better football side?
I'LL TAKE MY ICE CREAM IN NON-BALL-BEARING FORM: Today's weather forecast makes this the perfect day to revisit Deadspin's ranked list of the top products inside an ice cream truck. Someone send me a Jack & Jill truck, because I could really go for a creamsicle today.
I'm pretty damn sure [Toy Story 3 is] the best 3rd movie of a series ever.
Here's a decent top ten threequels list, though I don't see any films listed there which involve Richard Pryor as a zany computer geek. Yeah, I think Lou's right.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE: Are you going to the Grease sing-a-long? If not, why not?
FROM THE GUY RESPONSIBLE FOR MEMENTO, THE PRESTIGE AND THE DARK KNIGHT? NO WAY: Based on early reviews, Christopher Nolan's Inception is really, really good.

[Speaking of summer movies: finally saw TS3 this weekend. Yes, I was a bawling mess in that final scene. Damn you, Pixar.]
DO YOU CRAVE IT FORTNIGHTLY? Today is apparently National Fried Chicken Day, so we should discuss the wonders of battered and fried poultry, such as which chain provides the best fried chicken, what are appropriate sides with fried chicken, and, of course, white meat or dark meat. (My answers--Popeyes, cajun rice at Popeyes/mashed potatoes pretty much everywhere else, and mixed.)
WORSE THAN A VEGEMITE SANDWICH: The flute solo in Men at Work's "Down Under" has been deemed a copyright infringement by Australian courts. The infringed work? "Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree." (And a YouTube purporting to show the ripoff.) I will say that my first thought upon hearing the story was surprise that "Kookaburra" is not in the public domain, and my second thought was that while I hadn't noticed it before, there is a striking similarity in the flute solo.
HUP HUP: In recognition of today's World Cup semifinal match, please say something nice about the Netherlands -- including but not limited to their customs as to who pays on a date, or their egg yolk plus butter plus lemon juice sauces -- or anything, anything you know about Uruguay.
KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE? INTERRUPTING VIENNA. STOP INTERRUPTING ME! There's good trainwreck tv -- I'm thinking of the night that Clifford the Crunchy Muppet sang his way out of Idol -- and then there's the kind of trainwreck that makes you wish you didn't own a television and could erase the ugliness from your memories. Last night's Bachelorette was the latter, as James Poniewozik explains. ("It was as fascinating, as tedious and then as get-me-out-of-here awkward as being dragged into the middle of any fight between two strangers.")

Monday, July 5, 2010

THE SEXLARATION OF INDEEPOUNDANCE: A day late and a pound short, a comprehensive list of double entendres and sexual innuendo in Thomas Jefferson's most famous work:
  • human Events
  • dissolve the Political Bands
  • endowed by their Creator
  • pursuit of Happiness
  • laying its Foundation
  • such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their ... Happiness
  • long Train of Abuses and Usurpations
  • pressing Importance
  • called together ... Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant
  • fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures
  • opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions
  • returned to the People at large for their exercise
  • Convulsions within
  • encourage their Migrations hither
  • raising the Conditions
  • erected a Multitude of new Offices
  • eat out their Substance
  • quartering large Bodies
  • enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument
  • plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts
  • fall themselves by their Hands
  • excited domestic Insurrections
  • Petitioned for Redress
  • Attentions to our British Bretheren
  • disavow these Usurpations
  • interrupt our Connections and Correspondence
  • in General Congress
  • appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions
  • do all other Acts and Things
  • acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, friends [if you know what I mean]
HEY, HEY, GIVE 'EM WHAT THEY WANT: Speaking of celebrity voiceovers, I just heard 10,000 Maniacs' "These Are Days" appropriated for background music in an television ad promoting a blood glucose monitoring system, and I couldn't help but wonder: are there other songs from the band's catalog which have similar commercial potential? (Probably not "Eat For Two.")

Sunday, July 4, 2010

THE MIDSUMMER LIST OF GRIEVANCES: The 2010 MLB All Star Game lineups have been announced. Not only is Stephen Strasburg not on the team, but nor is he on the NL ballot for the final slot (while other NL pitchers are. Seriously, just as an email list-building exercise, how can you not have Strasburg on that fan ballot? But I still expect him to be a replacement for one of the Sunday starters.)

But other people did make the team, and we can discuss what a lousy job the selectors did again. Below the fold, from July 4, 1939, when one of the greatest stars of all said farewell.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776: When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.