Saturday, July 17, 2010

THIS WEEK IN THE SORKINVERSE: First trailer for the Aaron Sorkin-penned, David Fincher-directed, Eisenberg-and-Timberlake-starring Facebook movie The Social Network is now online. And he's now optioned the rights to Andrew Young's The Politician, a recent memoir by a staffer to a southern former Senator who ran for President again in 2007-08, only to ... yeah, that guy. Sorkin plans to both write and direct this one, and while many see Dennis Quaid as a natural to play the lead, I think it's a part Greg Kinnear was born to play.
I'M ON A CART: Via sconstant, the BYU Library presents the first of what's sure to be many TMYMCSL parodies worth sharing:

As you find more, link 'em in.
I'M STILL BIG RED: You wouldn't expect geek news repository Ain't It Cool News to give loving coverage to the tenth anniversary of Bring It On, but they've had fascinating interviews with both writer Jessica Bendinger and director Peyton Reed this week, including how the Sparky scene came into being, who was hung over during the bikini car wash scene, which now-hot director worked as a choreographer for the film, and the two actresses who nearly played Torrance Shipman. As for its brilliance, the opening scene does more than enough to justify it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I STILL THINK IT'S THE DIPPIN' DOTS OF DEHYDRATION TECHNOLOGY: But based on my initial inquiry via Twitter, at least some of y'all are true believers in the Dyson Airblade.
HEY, IT'S THAT GUY (AGAIN)! NYMag slideshows the ten most omnipresent actors on television.

In other linkage to NYMag, how to cast the right male nerd for your movie. Actually, does this blog have a stated preference in the Cera v. Eisenberg v. Baruchel v. Gordon-Levitt v. Hill v. (The Guys on Big Bang Theory) wars?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

YOUTUBE'D: Even on top of the Old Spice Man, it's a big week for web streaming video. Not only do we have the debut of Season 4 of The Guild, with Codex facing new problems, but also the debut of Red Band Trailer, featuring a very pregnant Diablo Cody interviewing celebrities both in her Airstream trailer and then at her backyard tiki bar--guests on Red Band thus far have been Adam Brody and Chelsea Handler, with a Jason Bateman episode promised next week.
SEVEN MONKEYS, JUMPING ON THE BED: Does SYTYCD need a new doctor? Losing Alex was a big blow for the show. Now it's Ashley's turn. Apparently she got hit by a scale that fell down as a result of the concussion from some dynamite that fell out of the pocket of a commuting anarchist rushing for the train. Or something. But Allison's okay, and previous-season injured person Jessica seems confusedly happy in the audience, so apparently the SYTYCD curse isn't fatal. Dancing after the break:
HE'S ON A HORSE: 5 years ago, it would be hard to think of a brand with a more dated and passe image than Old Spice. However, first with NPH giddily sending up Doogie Howser, and now, with the Old Spice Guy (who has some questions for you), it's a revitalized brand. And I don't think I've ever seen a brand so cleverly use the combination of YouTube and Twitter, with selected tweets directed toward @oldspice getting custom video responses on YouTube from Old Spice Guy, with those getting responses including George Stephanopoulos, Starbucks, the Huffington Post, and Linda Holmes. There are tons more, including a guy who managed to convince the Old Spice Guy to propose to his girlfriend for him. Offer your best.
THE POWER OF THE TABLE: Remember that Top Chef challenge a few weeks ago about designing a healthy school lunch within the confines of the $2.60/student budget? Remember this blog's longstanding crush on all culinary operations of Philadelphia's Marc Vetri? The Philadelphia Daily News' Ronnie Polaneczky writes today about this real-life collaboration for the kids of Girard College's Dream Camp, and it's not just about introducing panko crusts or chick-pea and cucumber salad into kids' lives:

Better still, the food is not spooned onto plates by the cafeteria staff but shared family-style at each table of eight, where civilized behavior and stimulating conversation is encouraged and rewarded.

"The meal becomes an entirely different experience for these kids," says [Vetri's business partner] Jeff Benjamin. "So many of them never sit down with their families, around a table, and discuss their lives. This is a whole different way of eating."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

THIS MAY LEAVE A MARK: Bryant Gumbel on LeBron James, tonight on HBO's "Real Sports":
Finally tonight, a few words about championship rings. Just when did they become the all-important barometer of who does or doesn’t count in sports? When did they supersede personal excellence or exemplary character as a standard of greatness?

I got to thinking about that the other night after the self-anointed chosen one, LeBron James, embarrassed himself as he tried to make his decision to seek rings in Miami sound like a search for the Holy Grail. It’s when he essentially admitted to placing a higher priority on winning than anything else.

LeBron’s decision is typical of our immediate gratification era, but it flies in the face of history. Even though he never won a title, Dan Marino is still the biggest hero in Florida. And in Boston, all those Celtics championships are dimmed by the unforgettable brilliance of Ted Williams, who never won anything. In Chicago, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus have legendary status despite playing on losing teams. And even in the NBA, where guys seem obsessed with being viewed as ‘the man’, real men like Barkley, Ewing and Baylor are ringless, but revered.

Despite such evidence to the contrary, LeBron James seems to think he needs a ring to change his life and secure his legacy. Maybe he’ll get one, maybe he won’t, but it’s probable that no amount of rings will ever remove the stench he wallowed in last week. LeBron may yet find that in the court of public opinion, just as putting on a tux can’t make a guy a gentleman, winning a ring can’t make one truly a champion.
I don't know how many titles James will have to win in Miami to be beloved and universally admired again. All I know is that there has yet to be a pro-James backlash to counter the massive anti-"ESPN Presents The Decision" reaction (regardless of how people feel about the choice itself), and he's in quite a hole right now.
EQUAL TIME. EVEN FOR AN EPHMAN: In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Sirius Black remarks that "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." To know more about George Steinbrenner, then, do learn the story of Ray Negron, caught painting graffiti on Yankee Stadium in 1973, and read this remembrance from bat boy Matthew McGough.
THE FIRE YOU LIKE SO MUCH IN ME IS THE MARK OF SOMEONE ADAMANTLY FREE: Liz Phair explains to the WSJ why she and her record company have asked for separate rooms, although just just listening to the quasi-bhangra-rap "Bollywood" opening track to Funstyle may explain even more. As Jezebel's Hortense puts it:
I was one of those 90s teenagers who clung to "Exile In Guyville" like a life raft in high school, but the time has long passed since bashing Liz Phair for not sounding like the Liz Phair of yore was considered clever or fashionable or even remotely necessary, and so instead of lamenting the loss of "Explain It To Me" Liz, let's just focus on this Liz, and this song, which is, well, I don't know what the hell it is. What is this?! Is it a rap? Is it a dance song? Is it a skit? Is someone talking to her? Who is talking? What is happening here?!?
In other "you had a nice run in the early 1990s, but..." news, Nicolas Cage has a new movie out today. Surprise: it stinks!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

IF YOU LET IT BE, NOTHING WILL EVER IMPROVE: In addition to today being Pub Day for a novel USA Today has called "highly entertaining" and "compelling fiction" -- yay, Jen -- today is also the 25th anniversary of an event that (as bad dad noted in the comments) we tend to commemorate most years here -- Live Aid. We did not, in fact, end famine in Ethiopia or feed the world, but the Brits at least put on a hell of a concert. Below the fold, too many clips.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: For those in NYC (or willing to travel to NYC), the fine folks at the Big Quiz Thing (seriously, the best bar trivia I've ever been to) are sponsoring a smackdown of trivial proportions--Teams of 4, $100 entry, and a shot at $1,000, an actual trophy, and fame and glory forevermore. My regular team will be competing, but I have a feeling that we have other Thing Throwers who'd be formidable, and in the words of Ric Flair--to be the man, you gotta beat the man.
AMERICAN SPLENDOR, TRANSCENDED: Harvey Pekar has passed away at the age of 70. If you were not a fan of his work, you may nonetheless remember him from appearances Letterman, or from a certain moderately successful biopic in which he was ably portrayed by Paul Giamatti.

How and why this man was important to that uniquely American artform, the comic book, as well as to literature and art more generally, is more than I can hope to capture competently with a few paragraphs of prose. (And you may be assured that no illustrators of note would volunteer to illuminate my musings on the topic.) But this -- among other reasons -- is why the gods of the internet have given us clickable links.

The best succinct summation of Pekar may be yesterday's "farewell" mention in The Comics Reporter. They certainly have the most comprehensive collection of Pekar links. This passage, in particular, resonates:
It is impossible to describe how important Pekar was to a generation of comics readers who sought something outside the overwhelming fealty to genre by the big publishers, how strongly his worked clashed with the dominant ethos, how instructive it was to be caught up in his quotidian travails and realize those things could carry you along as much as any other kind of art.
And since we like lists around here, here is Time's list of the Five (purportedly) Best Videos of Harvey Pekar, only two of which, mercifully, are from Letterman.

Rest in peace.
I MUST SAY, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, I FIND IT VERY HARD TO SEE THE LOGIC BEHIND SOME OF THE MOVES YOU HAVE MADE WITH THIS FINE ORGANIZATION. IN THE PAST TWENTY YEARS, YOU HAVE CAUSED MYSELF, AND THE CITY OF NEW YORK, A GOOD DEAL OF DISTRESS AS WE HAVE WATCHED YOU TAKE OUR BELOVED YANKEES AND REDUCED THEM TO A LAUGHING STOCK, ALL FOR THE GLORIFICATION OF YOUR MASSIVE EGO: Of course, the Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza confronted George Steinbrenner aired in May 1994, two years before Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and Jeffrey Maier led the Yankees to their first of five championships in a fourteen-season span.

I cannot write honestly about the passing of George Steinbrenner today and claim to have admired or respected the man. Yes, ownership entitles one to do with one's property more or less as one pleases, and it was not Steinbrenner who alone controlled what revenue sharing and other parity-enhancing tools Major League Baseball would employ. But cultural institutions like the New York Yankees are public trusts, and his meddlesomeness -- the five firings of Billy Martin, the Dave Winfield-Howie Spira skullduggery, the facial hair thing and the like -- degraded what should have remained baseball's crown jewel. Steinbrenner's Yankees were at his best after he put Joe Torre and Brian Cashman in place and stayed out of their way.

This has been a sad week for Yankees fans, between the passing of Bob Sheppard this weekend and now Steinbrenner's today. Out of respect, I'll say no more right now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

CAUSE I LIKED THE VIEW: As Danger Guerrero notes, Disney's recent track record in choosing young women has not led to an exemplary slate of role models.

(That said, I wouldn't include Vanessa Hudgens on the list. The pictures were private, and it's not her fault some cad released them.)
RESIDUAL GOODWILL: That Melina Kanakaredes is leaving CSI: NY is honestly of little interest except to TV listings people who no longer have to type her name each week. However, tossed into the article is that they are attempting to sign Sela Ward as her replacement. Ward is one of those performers who, despite never getting a huge hit/breakout (though she has two Emmys--one for Sisters, and the other for Once and Again), I have immense goodwill for, and I might even watch an episode or two of CSI: NY because of her presence. Are there other performers for whom you have similar feelings? I know I watched more than a few episodes of Justice for Victor Garber, for instance.
COME ON DOWN! In the 35-year history of The Price Is Right, only one contestant has ever made a perfect bid in the Showcase. Esquire has the story of how it happened, and how TPIR has changed in response to it.
YOU'RE NOT TOO SMART, ARE YOU... I LIKE THAT IN A MAN: Our friend Matt Zoller Seitz slideshows ten movies in which sweatiness is a major factor.

In other MZS news, I hope you've been following his video essay series on how the movies have depicted fame. It's really special, and I'm enjoying his continuing project of exploring new ways to do film criticism and analysis using the tools the Internet provides.
WELL, YOU KNOW THAT IT'S THE [THING] WHEN WE'LL BE GETTING [HITS ON BING] FOR GREASED LIGHTNING! In writing about the Sing-A-Long Grease today, the NYT notes that this verson "features some minor lyrical changes to make the songs less crude." According to original director Randal Kleiser, "The new version has some really funny things too, like when they sing 'pussy wagon,' we put a picture of a cat. When they say 'tits,' we put a cow doing the twist. It’s continuing to be crafty." Har, har.

Also, all of the cigarettes are CGI'd out, Rizzo is worried that Kenickie has made her late in applying early to Pomona, and the scene where Danny Zuko sings "Sandy" while a suggestive weiner does backflips behind him ... I have no idea what can be done with that.

Related: How we almost had a Grease with Henry Winkler as Danny Zuko, Carrie Fisher or Susan Dey as Sandy and Lucie Arnaz as Rizzo.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Related: the ten best pictures of Mick Jagger at the World Cup.