Saturday, September 4, 2010

THE NEVER ENDING CORAL MAZE: Various indie rockers are now saying it's okay to say you like Phish and other jam bands. (I'll admit to having had a phase in college, but that's about it. Just one show, and a few songs stored on my iPod.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

WE ACCIDENTALLY REPLACED YOUR HEART WITH A BAKED POTATO. YOU HAVE ABOUT THREE SECONDS TO LIVE: Among the truths this blog holds to be self-evident is that the world misses -- misses, misses, misses deeply its savvy analysis of celebrity in the modern world. So I'm thrilled to see Fametracker vet Adam Sternbergh use his New York magazine perch today to perform what we can only call a Fame Audit on George Clooney, last audited by Tara Ariano in January 2001.

Ariano, then:
[W]hat we don't get is his whole career. Never mind the recent years, in which, following an initial run of notably inauspicious films (From Dusk Till Dawn, One Fine Day, Batman and Robin, The Peacemaker) Clooney somehow managed, just like that, as easy as pie, as though anyone could do it if they put their mind to it, to reel off an improbable run of notably auspicious films (Out of Sight, The Thin Red Line, Three Kings, O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Either he fired his agent, sold his soul to the devil, or both. Sure, he's offhandedly mentioned in interviews that, after the Batman débacle, he decided to do projects that really meant something to him and not worry so much about the paycheque, but come on -- we seem to recall Val Kilmer saying something similar after his own private Batman débacle, and last we heard he was in The Saint, At First Sight, and Red Planet.

.... Consider he nabbed the Golden Globe for his very charming turn in O Brother, and he has enticing future projects like Charlie Kaufman's Chuck Barris bio, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven remake loaded in the torpedo tubes, we think he'll be just fine. As such, we aren't so much calling for Clooney to receive more fame as we are sounding the klaxons and unleashing a great Aaah-ooo-gah! Aaah-ooo-gah! to warn the citizenry: hug your loved ones, stock your pantries, and find shelter in doorways and under desks, because Clooney is about to start sucking up all the fame in a hundred-mile radius like the great, huge fame-sucking vacuum he has become.
(Emphasis mine.) Sternbergh, today:
The question is not "Does George Clooney guarantee a blockbuster?" (he doesn't, and he doesn't try to); the question is, "Does it matter?" Apparently the answer is no. Up In The Air was a moderate success, grossing $83 million domestically, but Leatherheads tallied only $31 million, falling short of recouping its budget. (Fantastic Mr. Fox also faltered, but we chalk that up to America's aversion to deadpan foxes and puppets, not Clooney.) Yet talking about numbers when it comes to Clooney seems not only irrelevant, but vaguely crass. After all, if he gave up the "I'll wear a cape and leotard for $10 million" game, shouldn't we?

Clooney remade himself into something more heroic: He is, if you'll pardon the allusion, the perfect storm of celebrity. He does charity. (Think Haiti.) He does playful. (Think his recent Emmy cameo.) He wins Oscars (for Syriana) and makes Capital-1 Important issue films (like Good Night and Good Luck). He shrugs off flops(The Man Who Stares At Goats) and runs with the Coen brothers posse. And he's the only current male star you can envision standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Cary Grant and Gary Cooper, largely because he's the only current male star who seems to enjoy wearing a tie.
TEAM KATNISS: I haven't yet read Catching Fire or Mockingjay, but quite enjoyed The Hunger Games, and was shocked by the level of violence and brutality in it for an at least nominally YA book. But of course, there'll be a movie, and according to Nikki Finke, not only is a script done (from Billy Ray, writer/director of Shattered Glass and Breach), but there's a director fight--with Sam Mendes, Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit), and David Slade (Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 30 Days of Night, Hard Candy), being the final 3 contenders. Mendes seems too arty and Ross too sunny, so I expect it goes to Slade (who's also a hot commodity, coming off of a big hit that got better reviews than the first two chapters), but others may disagree or have thoughts for who should play the leads.
LIVE, FROM NEW YORK, IT'S SOMEONE WHO CAN DO AN OBAMA IMPRESSION! Meet Jay Pharoah, one of four new SNL cast members. Fifty of his impressions in eight minutes here, but you'll want to hear his POTUS:


Thursday, September 2, 2010

THAT'S NO WAY TO TREAT WHOEVER AXL ROSE HAS DECIDED IS ADEQUATE THIS WEEK: That Guns N' Roses were apparently Tila Tequila-ed last night by a crowd in Dublin is amusing enough. That the AV Club uses the headline that GN'R are "Not Down With Hot New Trend of 'Throwing Things,'" means that our linkage is essential.
COMEDY IN A HOSPITAL; TRAGEDY IN A STAND-UP CLUB: As the summer winds down (you can tell because it just got warm in San Francisco), it's a good time to say a few words about two pleasant additions to summer television -- FX's Louie and Adult Swim's Children's Hospital.

Children's Hospital is the less ambitious of the two, and all I've seen of it so far is old stuff that first aired on the web. It's broad parody very much in the style of its principal creator, Rob Corddry, so if you have a problem with that, you wouldn't like it. But the excellent cast -- a rotating stew of half the comic actors from the incestuous Greg Daniels/Daily Show/UCB/Human Giant ensembles -- seems excited about the format (each episode is roughly the length of two SNL sketches), the gag rate is high, and the shots the show takes at the enduring hospital-show format generally hit the mark. And the National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: SUV commercials are Veridianesque in their value-additivity.

Louie, on the other hand, is a show that Matt Ufford accurately described as not really a comedy so much as a show about the painful stuff that comedians use as comic source material. Louis CK puts his character into a lot of sit-com situations -- a playdate co-supervised with a brash single parent; a date interrupted by a bullying teen; a political argument with a friend; a poker game with some loudmouths and a gay man. Then he frequently mines them not for yuks, but for sharply observed examinations of flawed characters or insights about his own and others' shortcomings. Those, and not the more traditionally comic episodes (the airport episode; the lesbian mom episode) are the ones I have liked the most. At its best, the show is unlike anything I can remember seeing on TV.
DUH NUH NUH NUH, DUH NUH NUH NUH [CLAP CLAP]: Check your calendar -- today is 9.02.10.

Your trivia question, should you choose to accept it: in what order did the characters lose their virginity, and to whom? (90210 Original Recipe. I stopped watching the remake after about 2-3 episodes.)
NOT QUITE ANDREW W.K.: This clip of the Mad Men cast and crew in the post-Emmy interview room being asked about their propensity to party has already made the rounds, but the more I watch it, the more I love it, especially little details like Bryan Batt swilling champagne in the background, Matthew Weiner not quite knowing how to answer, Jon Hamm assuming (effortlessly) control of the situation, and the delighted reactions from Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks to Kiernan Shipka's response, since I don't think they've ever shared a scene with Shipka (who's the only thing making the Betty plotline interesting right now).
IF I'M CURT WITH YOU IT'S BECAUSE TIME IS A FACTOR. I THINK FAST, I TALK FAST AND I NEED YOU GUYS TO ACT FAST IF YOU WANNA GET OUT OF THIS: Executive producer Paul Lieberstein's top choice to replace Steve Carell on "The Office"? Toby wants Harvey Keitel.
CONFERENCE DOSEY-DO UPDATE: The Big Midwest Land Grant University Conference With Twelve Teams has announced its divisional split for football:
Division 1: Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota

Division 2: The Ohio State University, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois
Each school will have one protected out-of-division rivalry -- i.e., The Game will continue to take place on the final Saturday of the regular season.

The only geographically pure split would have been East/West, with PSU, OSU, both Michigan and both Indiana schools in one half, but that would likely have been imbalanced in terms of sports strength. So this sorta North/South-ish thing is ... interesting.

Also, Brigham Young University has broken up with the Mountain West Conference (but hopes they can still be friends) to go independent in football, West Coast Conference in other matters. In football, they've signed an eight-year deal with ESPN and an agreement to play Notre Dame six times in the next decade.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

OUTRAGEOUS! Even when this blog's fascination with muktuk has subsided, our attention to all things Lionel Richie has not -- especially when he has taken the song that brought him halfway to EGOT and reworked it to pimp British potato chips.

[Not the first time he's taken such liberties with his lyrics -- remember the 1984 Olympic Closing Ceremonies version of "All Night Long." Among the nonthreatening Children of the World breakdancers jambo-jumboing there: Cuba Gooding Jr.]

Related, from 2003: So, what is the deal with the bridge in Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me"?
APPLIED ECONOMICS: A year ago this week we talked about Southwest Airlines' announcement of a $10 earlybird check-in option, with no one here expressing much interest.

In the past year, I've found that by doing online check-in 24h in advance (thank you, Outlook calendar), I wind up in Group A, #40-50 anyway, and that A #1-15 for Business Select rarely has more than a handful of claimants. First five rows, window-or-aisle every time. What has your experience been?

[The Five Years Ago This Week archive is also interesting -- much Katrina talk, obvs, including an optimistic post Alex might want to take back, but also the 8-30-05 announcement that an "iPod cellphone" was on the way.]
NOT BETTER OFF, BUT THE NEXT BEST THING: Alan Sepinwall reports that the missing two episodes of Better Off Ted, which ABC refused to air because it hates you, are now available on iTunes. Those of you who watched the show may now rejoice. Those of you who didn't watch the show are horrible persons and I don't care what you do.
THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR THEM:We have teams for our next season of TAR--included are Team Home Shopping, Team Princeton A Cappella, Team Birth Mother-Daughter She Gave Up, and Team Beach Volleyball. (Based on the profiles on the CBS site, I think it's safe to assume that Team Princeton will develop a number of fans around here quickly.)
COME ON, GET UP NEW YORK! The NYT reports on the dawn of the 4:30am (and earlier) local morning news show. "Their viewers are apparently not just insomniacs; news executives say they hear from grateful late-shift workers, suburban commuters and parents of infants (and, yes, the occasional late-night club-hopper)."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THERE ARE WORSE THINGS THAN BEING MISIDENTIFIED: FYI, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has basically acknowledged that its leaving David Mills out of the Emmys "In Memoriam" tribute was an unintentional error. HBO's video tribute to Mills is here.

In other Emmy news, Variety is reporting that made-for-tv movies and miniseries may be booted from the primetime broadcast. No Big 4 network has had a miniseries nominated since 2005, with no network miniseries winning since 1996 ("Gulliver's Travels"); only three made-for-network movies have been nominated since 2000, with only one ("Tuesdays with Morrie") winning.
TOM BERGERON, FOR ONE, WON'T PUT BABY IN THE CORNER: In a development sure to collapse into a pop-culture singularity when Kim Cosmopolitan gets word, Jennifer Grey will be a member of the upcoming Dancing with the Stars.

N.B.: Given the involvement of Bristol Palin, we take a moment to gently remind the readership of the No Politics Rule.
IN ONLY ONE OF THESE THREE LINKS IS LAURYN HILL THREE HOURS LATE BECAUSE OF A MANI-PEDI: Rock the Bells, NYC. Rock the Bells, DC. Rock the bells, Iowa State University.
IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE: The ALOTT5MA fantasy football auction draft was last night, the first auction for many in the league. Matthew Berry's right: once you do it once, you understand.

Monday, August 30, 2010

THERE WAS A PARTY IN MY CITY: I wonder if Plex asked the Phillie Phanatic if he was mute or merely had taken a vow of silence:

The sixty-city tour is on
, though it's unclear whether any other shows will include a reunited Dinosaur Jr. singing "Banana". (This guy taped the Coachella set.)

Also, in case you were wondering whether the performers did their voices live or lip-synched the whole show, this live Brobee snafu should answer it for you.
FAILED SAVING THROW AGAINST SELF-TANNER: Yes, someone spent 24 hours creating Gym, Tanning, Laundry: The Jersey Shore RPG.
QWERTY IS NOT THE STANDARD BECAUSE IT IS THE BEST. IT IS THE BEST BECAUSE IT IS THE STANDARD: Isn't it time for everybody who runs a blog to sit down and decide, once and for all, what the buttons that read "previous" and "next" (or "previous posts" and "next posts," etc.) mean? They could mean "[older/newer]" or "[previously/next] in the order in which you encounter them assuming that you started with the front page of this blog and are working your way deeper into the archives," but it shouldn't be both. And there should also be a standard about which button is assigned to which side of the bottom of the page, so you can always know whether the right-hand side takes you forward or backward in time. Whenever I'm catching up with a blog I haven't read for a few days and I see those buttons, I have a minor meltdown of anxiety about whether I'm going to get sent back to the page I just saw.
MEXICAN MAFIA TEQUILA VS. POORLY DRAWN AUTEUR GORILLA CARTOON: I've said a lot about how crappy Entourage has been and can be, and I'll defend it. In fairness, though, I should mention that this season has done an uncommonly (for it) good job digging its two protagonists a hole deep enough to make me want to watch how they crawl out. That the show has done this with the quality of actors it employs -- aside from Scott Caan and the intermittently used Rhys Coiro, the wooden and dazed-looking porn star Sasha Grey is the least ineffectual of this season's principal cast -- is impressive.

Granted, I have no faith in the show's ability to resolve these problems satisfactorily, and I seriously doubt they'd do what the show really needs (make Vince an irreversible failure, to see the other side of the unwarranted success he had; it would be particularly satisfying to have set this season up so that either Vince's or Ari's success would be inextricably tied to the failure of the other, but obviously that is a very different show than the one I've been watching). It does feel like this season is playing with higher stakes that were harder earned.

The C- and D-plots are still pissing me off.
[EXPLETIVE DELETED]: Today's NYT challenge--write an 1,100 word article about a song when you can't mention the title of the song.
AN EVIL BEAR WHO SMELLS OF STRAWBERRIES: The summer movie season is just about over, and having still not seen Inception I can count the number of truly awesome summer movies I've seen this year on one finger: Toy Story 3. Everything else disappointed me in one way or another -- Dinner for Schmucks and Iron Man 2, especially, given the talent involved -- and the second-best movie experience I had this summer was probably when I finally saw Adventureland on cable.

Hopefully, you've got better things to report. [Last year's summer movie round-up is here.]

And, seriously, next time AFI or anyone else does a Greatest Screen Villains list, Lots-O'-Huggin'
Bear has to make the list. That's Oscar-quality work from Ned Beatty.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HAVE LEARNED NOTHING MORE ABOUT HIM. I HAVE, HOWEVER, LEARNED SOME THINGS ABOUT MYSELF. THERE ARE THINGS MEN CAN DO TO ONE ANOTHER THAT ARE SOBERING TO THE SOUL. IT IS ONE THING TO RECONCILE THESE THINGS WITH GOD, BUT ANOTHER TO SQUARE IT WITH YOURSELF: It is time to celebrate the best of television in 2009-10. And as bad as the twenty most embarrassing moments in Emmy history have been, there's always room for a twenty-first. Good luck, Jimmy Fallon:
THE BEST THAT [RUSSELL BRAND AND HELEN MIRREN] CAN DO: In today's Times, Mark Harris checks in on filming of the Arthur remake and finds out just how they're planning on updating the Dudley Moore-Liza Minnelli-John Gielgud comic smash for an era in which neither alcoholism nor ostentatious displays of wealth are as in favor as in 1981.

P.S. I'm testing out some new "share this" buttons in the blog template. Let me know if they work for you, and do please use them.

P.P.S. Reminder -- Emmys. Tonight. Live. Here.
WHERE THE DRINKS ARE IMAGINARY: If ALOTT5MA had a podcast, I fully expect that it would be a whole lot like NPR's new-ish Pop Culture Happy Hour, which this week manages to incorporate not merely a pretty insightful discussion of last week's Creative Arts Emmys, but a discussion of pop culture figures that seem primed for rediscovery that somehow (d)evolves into a monologue about Gymkata. Check it out.