Saturday, October 16, 2010

CODY CODY CODY: While Adam is walking back to the subway from Game 1, I just wanted to toss up a thread on the NLCS. I still believe the Giants are going to have a tough time of this one, but at least we get three games at Pac Bell next week.

There was, of course, no reason to think that both Halladay and Lincecum could do anything close to what they did last week, but neither did I think we'd see a 7-run ballgame. Wilson, of course, did everything he could to drag it out. I look forward to proving the logic of sending out Sanchez tomorrow rather than Cain.

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As an aside, I think Adam was a tad optimistic about how Burrell was going to be greeted by the teeming masses of Philadelphia. You'd think he bombed a row-house before he left town, given that reception.

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(In other news, for our limited north Texas readership: Go Rangers!).

SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIT (GOLLY): Barbara Billingsley, dead at 94.
THE QUESTION ISN'T FOR THE AUDIENCE TO FIGURE OUT WHO DON IS. IT'S FOR DON TO FIGURE OUT WHO DON IS: In advance of tomorrow night's season finale, Alan Sepinwall talks to "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner about what we've seen so far. Much talk of the uniqueness of the Don-Peggy bond, and Kiernan Shipka's progression as an actress.

Friday, October 15, 2010


HATES QUITTING; DON'T QUIT: TJ Lavin, a professional BMX rider and host of MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenge, is one of the few reality-TV hosts perfectly matched with his show. His laconic delivery counterbalances the contestants' overheated antics, he draws out better performances by encouraging effort and savaging quitters, and he openly disdains his charges. According to a story he told on Bill Simmons's podcast, he waited out a rage tantrum by perennial psychopath CT; he presided over the funniest spelling bee ever televised; he rationed his catch-phrase, "you killed it," because he knew that Simmons and his friends were using it as a metric in their RW/RR Challenge pool.

Lavin took a bad spill at a BMX tour event and is in a medically-induced coma. Hopefully he'll be better soon to calmly belittle more immature Challengers.
GO CRAZY, FOLKS!  Joe Posnanski compiles (with audio and video) the thirty-two greatest announcer calls in sports history.  TPE's favorite is #4.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2 KOOL 2 BE 4-GOT N:  Twice in one week, really?
H-I-R-P-E-E-S:  Okay, Sepinwall and I are aligned on the yeah, that was cute, but don't ever try that again attitude towards tonight's 30 Rock, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it -- mostly for the guest performances, and especially the two who appeared in ads.  Also, hey, that Canadian guy!  Continuity!  DRATCH!

[added:  The 17 Differences Between The East- and West-Coast versions.]

As for The Office, Ed Helms had in the middle of the episode the funniest single line the show may have had in a year. Crude, sure, but it was that good. The rest ... we're on a character arc now, and we kinda know where, and let's see if they know what they're doing.
FROM THE ALOTT5MA SEC MASCOT DESK:   Say hello to Georgia's Uga VIII and the University of Mississippi's Rebel Black Bear.  As to why the latter beat out a Land Shark, a "Hotty Toddy" and the Mon Calamari Supreme Commander of the Rebel Alliance Fleet, a "concept committee" explains:
In Mississippi, many stories that have been shared for generations center around our native black bear. In William Faulkner’s “The Bear”, Old Ben, a formidable black bear, is a symbol of pride, strength, and toughness. Additionally, the legend of the “Teddy Bear” originated in Mississippi when President Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a defenseless bear on a Mississippi hunt in 1902. The Rebel Black Bear, an imposing figure, would intimidate any opponent and be a real source of school spirit. Off the field, The Rebel Black Bear would be [a University of Misssissippi] ambassador, full of pride and welcoming any opportunity to spread the joy of being a Rebel.

I'm seeing this if I have to go all the way to Mumbai.
I LIKED THIS SPEECH WHEN GEORGE CUSTER GAVE IT: Apparently, there's this thing called the "American League" which also gets a playoff series now.  The New York Daily News' Filip Bondy explains:
The Rangers have retired exactly one player's jersey (aside from Jackie Robinson's) and attempted to counter George M. Steinbrenner with George W. Bush in the owner's box.

All they've ever had was Nolan Ryan, and they've ridden him like an urban cowboy on a mechanical bull.

Ryan's no-hitters aside, this ALCS represents one of sports' great historical mismatches, 40 pennants versus zero. The Yanks should win this series just by throwing their pinstriped uniforms onto the field and reading from a few pages of The Baseball Encyclopedia.

If only Bud Selig would agree to waive a few silly postseason rules, the Bombers might send their Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster to Arlington for the first couple of games, make this a fair fight.
As far as Joe Posnanski is concerned, "The baseball playoffs start now."
F*CK IT, WE'LL DO IT LIVE:  As a reminder, tonight 30 Rock joins a list of shows as varied as ER, The West Wing, Roc,Gimme A Break and Will and Grace in attempting a live episode.  Showrunner Robert Carlock talked to the NYT about what's in store.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

LIFELESS, FROM NEW YORK: Sean Fennessey discusses the current season in the context of the five most painful transitional seasons in SNL history.
NEXT STOP? MILF ISLAND: According to this report, "NBC is actively developing a new adventure-oriented dating series blending the hookups of The Bachelor with the adventure elements of Survivor." Your suggestions for titles and challenges are invited.
IT WAS NOT HIS DENSITY: As part of the 25th anniversary BluRay release of the Back to the Future trilogy, the public finally gets to see footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly.

[For those who don't know: they actually shot for a month with Stoltz as the lead before deciding that he just didn't provide the right comic touch; also fired as a result was Melora Hardin (The Office's Jan Levinson-Gould), who was to play Jennifer but was too tall to be cast opposite Michael J. Fox.]

Incidentally, I did let Lucy watch BttF about a month ago and she loved it, though the language is a little strong at times (even on basic cable, you get "son of a bitch" and "goddamn" a few times). We stumbled across BttF2 a few weeks later and that ... yeah, that plot's a little hard for a seven-year-old to follow.  Now he has to undo everything he screwed up in the future, and then he has to make sure the past happens the way it did the last time he went back ....
THE HOBO CODE: Last night at trivia, we had, for the first time in memory, a successful appeal on a question--the question was pretty simple--"On the TV series Mad Men, what character, present since the first season, has been played by three different actors?" The "correct" answer, which we got, was "Bobby Draper," who's been played by different actors because of the aging timeline. One team's answer, though, led to an appeal--"Don Draper," with the contention that 3 actors have played a character we know as "Don Draper"--Jon Hamm, the guy who played original recipe Draper in Korea, and the guy who played young Draper/Whitman in flashback episodes. Lively discussion ensued as to whether the third one in particular counted. (Ultimate ruling--half a point, rather than the full point.) Correct or incorrect? (Receiving a full "smart-ass point" for making the host and room laugh, however, was the answer of "Darrin Stephens.")
NO LONGER AMERICA'S WORST FANS:  Query for my fellow locals -- has there ever been a visiting athlete as beloved in Philadelphia as Pat Burrell?  It is impossible to overstate just how loud of an ovation he's going to receive when his name is first announced on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SO, MAYBE A LIST YOU COULD HELP THEM WITH THE MAKING OF?   Jeffrey Goldberg and Alana Newhouse are compiling a list of non-Yiddish words which, nevertheless, only Jews use. Their examples include "luncheon," "Federation" (always capitalized, of course) and "traipsing."  My apologies to the Gentiles among our readership for whom not so much of this is interesting.

Also via Tablet: Fred Flintstone's Jewish roots.
FEAR THE BEARD: Other than the pitching staff, there was only one player on the San Francisco Giants on the field at the end of Game 4 who was on the field opening day.

I have no idea who most of these guys are, because the front office assembled this team on Craigslist when Brian Sabean was supposed to be looking for a new boxspring. And yet they're off to Philadelphia to face down the best team in baseball.

So many of my Giants teams have been hitting first, pitching as we can. Most of the heroes among Giants fans in the last 25 years have been those guys: Kevin Mitchell, Will Clark, Barry Bonds, Matt Williams. The good pitchers (and mostly, they were good, rarely great) aren't really remembered except as furniture for the sluggers. Don Robinson? Russ Ortiz? Rod Beck? And now we've got these guys: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez. Wilson. Heck, Zito is the number five man.

Mrs. Earthling and I have struggled to keep up with the hitters and without names on their home jerseys, it's taken a while. But Burrell and Posey and Cody Ross. Who the hell is Cody Ross? Doesn't matter. He was the hero yesterday and everyone loves him. And he'll be remember in twenty years by those of us who still love Candy Maldonado for one weird moment in the post season (i.e., coming out of the dug out to, er, confront Ozzie Smith after Smith kicked Will Clark). Everyone loves these guys because they're loveable.

And for a post-season win -- other than the Dodgers -- there's not a team the Giants fans would rather beat than the Braves. Division be damned, no one hates the Rockies, after all. Despite that, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that the Giants were going to do for Bobby Cox what they did, when they did it. Not a locker room footnote, but they stopped to give the Braves fans -- and Bobby Cox -- what they -- and he -- deserved. A moment of due respect for a good man and a brilliant career. And everyone loves these guys because they're just a ball club. None of the Barry Bonds prima donna nonsense.

And everyone loves these guys because, despite the dramatics, the Giants are good.

Are they good enough to beat the Phillies? Geeze, I doubt it. And if they do, it's going to be in Game 7 after they've given up an unlikely lead and claw it back from the edge. But it's going to be fun.
I, HOWEVER, FOUND A 1904 NETHERLANDS 5 CENT COIN WORTH UPWARDS OF $8: A family in Buffalo has been storing a painting behind their sofa for years. Turns out, it's a Michaelangelo. Worth well north of $100M.
(FORMER) JUSTICE (WITH A LIBERAL LAWYER GHOST DAD), DENIED: NBC has officially canceled Jimmy Smits' show Outlaw; final four completed episodes to be burnt off Saturdays at 8pm, with an additional hour of Dateline to fill that 10pm slot of Fridays (during which you're supposed to be watching Yo, Teach! anyway.)

Having now served in the United States Congress, Galactic Senate, the Executive Branch (well, briefly at the end of the last West Wing episode) and on the Supreme Court, where would you like to see Smits next?  
VIOLET! YOU'RE TURNING VIOLET, VIOLET!  Wonka three-course-dinner gum, becoming reality.

Monday, October 11, 2010

FROM THE ALOTT5MA LINGUISTICS DESK: If you're a sports journalist, you can't just fling around adjectives willy-nilly like a fun-loving gunslinger. Accuracy matters. So let's be clear:
  • An "inappropriate" picture would be if Brett Favre had sent images of a vacation spot to which he wanted to take someone who wasn't interested in traveling with him. 
  • A "racy" picture would involve Brett Favre clad in a bathrobe or wrapped in a towel with an insinuating grin on his face.
Kudos, then, to the journalists who properly called them "graphic" pictures, "explicit" pictures or, in the case of Orlando Sentinel, "pornographic" pictures.  Because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it's a middle-aged dude's penis that no one wanted to see.
WALK AND TALK: Aaron Sorkin responds to some questions about sexism and accuracy in The Social Network by engaging over on Ken Levine's blog. Well worth your time.
MORE OR LESS REPULSIVE THAN THE DOUBLEDOWN? The WSJ investigates a dark subculture on the Internet--those who love the McRib.
WELL, THIS WILL NOT BE HOW LINDSAY LOHAN MAKES HER COMEBACK: In a somewhat surprising move, Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive (Who Was Willing to Pose In Her Underpants For Us) is former Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly. It's an odd choice, given that Kelly's sole major credit is FNL, along with a tiny role in 500 Days of Summer. Kelly's undoubtedly gorgeous, but I'm puzzled by how creative types seem to fall for her as an actress (both Jason Katims and Peter Berg have used her in multiple projects) given that she has limited range (though she got considerably better during her time on FNL)--heck, she even got canned from her midseason show this year.
I'VE GOT DIBS ON MARIE CURIE:  Today is, by Presidential Proclamation, Casimir Pulaski Memorial Day, in honor of the father of the American cavalry who came here to defend freedom during the Revolutionary War and gave his life on this date in 1779 at the Siege of Savannah.

Fans of trivia know that he is one of seven people ever given the title of Honorary Citizen of the United States (and may recall my personal affection for this question), and in his honor today we do what we always do on this blog:  go ahead, name a famous Polish person or something from Poland that you like.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH A STORY:  Thanks to everyone who offered advice for my trip to Universal Studios Orlando.  I did, indeed, make a beeline to Hogsmeade as fast as I could and queued up for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey as quickly as I could.  The sign predicted 75 minutes, and some of my colleagues bailed, but hoo boy the wait was worth it.  (Actual time, start to finish: 55 minutes.)

The first half-hour was a slog, in long winding queues with nothing but some electrical fans to break up the monotony.  Even the walk through the Hogwarts greenhouse was just ... walking through a place with plants.  None of them were animatronic, and there were no staffers providing mid-queue entertainment. 

But then you enter Hogwarts, and from there on it's pretty damn spectacular.  The pictures talk to each other, and Salazar Slytherin's complains about all the muggles infesting Hogwarts.  You visit Dumbledore's office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and see the Sorting Hat.  And then, The Ride. 

This spoiler-filled review provides the details, as well as what I think is the right critical take.  As ride simulators go, it's incredible.  You really feel like you're flying through Hogwarts, being attacked by Dementors (though I didn't notice the Dementor's Kiss moment described at the link), racing across a Quidditch game and the like.  But what you don't feel is any sense of narrative -- it's unclear what you're doing in Hogwarts in the first place, or why you're chasing Harry around, or what you've accomplished other than a really neat flight.

The same problem, of course, pervades all of Universal -- there's no narrative whatsoever which ties the various "lands" to each other -- Seuss, Jurassic, "the Lost Continent," Marvel Island -- and there's no real effort to layer everything with all the interstitial stuff that Disney does so well,  It's just a collection of rides and places to buy stuff.

And buy stuff, in Hogsmeade, I did.  No, I didn't wait in line for Ollivander's Wand Shop, but Honeydukes and Zonko's Joke Shop did receive a fair share of my business.  (Pygmy Puffs!)  As I noted on Twitter, alumni of Hufflepuff and Ravensclaw will be severely disappointed in the amount of school swag available compared to the Big Two (esp. Gryffindor), but it is pretty damn awesome to have all that merchandise available.

And it's all because the thirteenth publisher who Jo Rowling's agent approached had an eight-year-old daughter who, when showed the first chapter of the first book, demanded to read more. You know the rest.