Saturday, December 25, 2010

I'M SORRY, SON, BUT YOU MUST HAVE ME CONFUSED WITH SOMEONE ELSE.  MY NAME IS ROGER MURDOCK.  I'M THE CO-PILOT:  DeSean Jackson attempts to go undercover as a clerk at a local sporting goods store.

Friday, December 24, 2010

COLEMAN, I HAD THE MOST ABSURD NIGHTMARE. I WAS POOR AND NO ONE LIKED ME. I LOST MY JOB. I LOST MY HOUSE. PENELOPE HATED ME. AND IT WAS ALL BECAUSE OF THIS TERRIBLE AWFUL ...  The Guardian (UK)'s Peter Bradshaw argues that Trading Places is the greatest Christmas movie ever because "It has all the elements in place: a Christmas setting, a fable about money not being important (the story is Dickensian in sentiment, Shavian in form), a rich vein of comedy, and some sharp black comedy that doesn't overbalance the essential heartfelt hokiness."

Your favorites are, of course, welcome.
ONE OF THE FEW RETAILERS TO MARRY CULT APPEAL WITH SCALE:  Among David Brooks' picks for the best magazine articles of the year (and do share your own links -- I'll again point you to GQ's Comedy Issue from the summer) is this fascinating Fortune article inside the secret world of Trader Joe's.
AND CHECKING IT TWICE:  Try not to get the collywobbles, you troglodytes, because those of us who aren't smellfungi might not be discombobulated or flummoxed but instead have a rambunctious hootenanny (without too much billingsgate or argle-bargle, or, God forbid, a brouhaha) over this list of the 100 funniest words in the English language.
HE'S MAKING A LIST:  Joe Posnanski charts the thirty-two most painful self-inflicted losses in sports history.  Do watch the video for #10, titled "God bless those kids, I’m sick, I’m gonna throw up."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

REQUIESCAT IN PACE, DIAPERMAN:  As part of its annual The Lives They Lived magazine edition (Mandelbrot! Holbrooke! Steinbrenner! Yarnell!), the New York Times provides a photo-and-sound montage of the musicians who died in 2010, including P-Funk musical director and guitarist Garry Shider and some whose passings we have previously noted.
OKAY, BUT HOW MANY CAN YOU USE IN A SENTENCE?  Dr. Robert Beard believes he has determined the 100 most beautiful words in the English language.  "Moist" did not make the cut, but "diaphanous," "insouciance," "propinquity" and "tintinnabulation" did.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

THE WORST REVIEW HE WAS INVOLVED IN SINCE CHARLES BARKLEY'S COMMENTS LAST WEEK:  Back in the day, when the land was new and pop culture blogging was a rare pursuit, I enjoyed putting together posts which compiled harsh reviews of new films, like the Steve Martin-Queen Latifah dud Bringing Down the House and Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio.  And among the reviews I uncovered eight (!?) years ago was Brett Favre's diss of the film, with his family leaving before its completion.

So you'd think that the cash-grabbing shitpile sequel Little Fockers would be a natural for this turf, but Rotten Tomatoes makes the job too easy and NYMag's Willa Paskin sifted through all that just to find the ones focusing on Harvey Keitel's scene with Robert DeNiro.  In other words, you don't need me anymore for this.  But I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight (via Paskin) the New York Post's review, for which Kyle Smith has as his lede:
"Little Fockers" may not be the worst, most vulgar, most pathetic and least funny picture of the year. But it's a strong contender for second place behind the picture Brett Favre allegedly sent over his cellphone.
I believe we're now at 12 years since DeNiro's last solid dramatic role -- Ronin. Our kids may never understand what the big deal was.
"IT LOWERED THE BAR FOR BLOWJOB REFERENCES ON POP RADIO":  No, you couldn't possibly guess what the Village Voice named atop its list of the twenty worst songs of 2010:
"Hey Soul Sister" is an orgy where bad ideas trade STDs, and the most syphilitic brain-fart stumbled in drunk from a Smash Mouth show. (For those of you who arrived late, Smash Mouth was a band from the late '90s that was formed when a soul patch met cake frosting. Their wikki-wikki scratching and dorkpie hats did to music what blood-soaked clowns do to the dreams of sleeping children.) Listen to "Hey, Soul Sister" a few times and you'll inevitably be reminded of the "whistling solo" from the Shrek house band's inescapable "All Star." From Smash Mouth, Train picked up an earworm that burrowed into society's asshole, laid 4.7 million iTunes eggs, and gave birth to a grey cloud of banality that covers the Earth.
As bad as that is, #15 may be worse.
LIKE A LEMON TO A LIME, A LIME TO A LEMON:  Tablet Magazine ranks the top 100 greatest Jewish songs ever, and by "ever" they mean "ever" as in "Dayenu" and "Adon Olam" qualify, and by "Jewish" they mean, well, it's a bit expansive.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#11: THE FINAL CHUNG-CHUNG:  The Associated Press has released the results of its poll counting down the top ten entertainment stories of 2010.  Not a terribly exciting year, apparently.
YOU DON'T HAVE THESE PROBLEMS ON DEAL OR NO DEAL: I didn't watch Million Dollar Money Drop last night (nor, based on the ratings numbers, did many other people), but apparently, Fox screwed up one of the answers, leading to contestants losing $880K. As a general rule, contestants on these sorts of shows have to sign a release saying that the producers have the final say on whether an answer is right or wrong and you have no appeal from that, but shows have often admitted error, either during a taping (Jeopardy! regularly has credited contestants with additional money during the game, with explanation from Alex) or afterwards (Millionaire has invited contestants back to continue playing when a question has been proven to be ambiguous), to avoid bad publicity. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
SO I'M SITTING IN A BAR IN GUADALAJARA:  Alex Balk lists The 39 Best Songs Performed By Kirsty MacColl, In Order.
I HOPE SHE KNOWS YOU ONLY LIKE THE BEGINNINGS OF THINGS:  Alan Sepinwall, Tim Goodman, Maureen Ryan and the AV Club each count down the best of television in 2010, reminding me yet again that I've been watching the wrong NBC sitcoms and need to learn more about meth dealers.
$100,000 AND A PLASTIC SUMMER CAMP TROPHY THAT YOU ALL HAVE TO SHARE: Once last time, Marsha takes the solo on NBC's The Sing-Off:
* * *
Tonight’s Sing-Off showcased the brilliance of the format NBC has chosen here. Pick a bunch of groups that are all going to sound at least acceptably decent, use amiable judges, don’t let anyone vote until the end, and get the whole thing over within 15 days. The audience will focus much more on the songs they like and the groups they have crushes on (and the songs they’ll download from iTunes) and who wins (and whether the right groups went in the right order) will matter much less to the viewers than the fact that they had fun.

I don’t have much to say about the result, except that once again, the competition was won by six guys who can pull off wearing fuschia shirts. And once again, the winner was obvious from the first episode. And I’ll be happy to buy their album.

PAGING THE LATE WILLIAM SAFIRE:  You know the cliched closing line from standup comics: "Thank you! I'll be here all week!  Try the veal! Don't forget to tip your waitresses!"

Here's what I couldn't help but wonder:  why veal?  Did this derive from some particular comic's routine?  A particular venue's ability to prepare the meat of young calves?  I'll take your best answers, whether well-researched or off the top of your head.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I FEEL IT IN MY FINGERS; I FEEL IT IN MY TOES: So, yeah, the X-Factor winner is your Christmas #1 (again) with this crapfest, with "Surfin' Bird" placing third and Cage Against The Machine's cover of "4'33"" well back of the pack.

This blog only cares about the Christmas #1 title because of Love Actually, of course, so it's to that film we'll turn to remedy the yucky feeling. Via Linda Holmes, the Belfast Giants professional hockey team:

PUBLIC SERVICE OR SHAMELESS MISUSE OF BLOGGING RESOURCES? With fewer than five days left until Christmas and a handful of people likely left on your (my) Christmas list (if you are my brother, STOP READING RIGHT NOW), let me ask this question: what is the best commercially available gift you have ever (or recently) received, with a value no greater than, say, $100 or $150?
BEAUTY FADES; DUMB IS FOREVER: I have very little to say about the Survivor finale
-- it was a satisfying end to an unsatisfying season, with perhaps the lamest cast since Survivor Thailand (Pornboy Brian's triumph). So, instead, two questions: (1) What would you have had them do in the case of a 4-4-1 tie at Final Tribal, which nearly was the case?  The rulebook (p8) leaves it to the producers to decide.  So: fire-lighting contest on an LA soundstage?  Split the money?  Re-vote now that everyone has watched the season?  (2) Are you interested in the Redemption Island twist for Season 22, and would you like it more if (as rumored) Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz will play some role in the season?
I AM SHOCKED THAT HE NEGLECTED TO MENTION THAT VINCENT SPANO IS A NATIVE NEW YORKER:  Even before yesterday's football game, Joe Queenan saw fit to use the WSJ op-ed page to explain why Philadelphia is better than New York City.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

FROM BERLIN DOWN TO BELIZE: The San Francisco Chronicle's always awesome Annual Geography Quiz.
"UNDER ANY REASONABLE DEFINITION, IT'S A HORROR FILM":  That's the quote from Devin McCullen here which I had in mind upon attending Black Swan last night, and it's an accurate one.  This is a film which starts off as an anvillicious, overwhelmingly formulaic black-and-white (literally) drama (seriously, I starting calling out lines before they happened) about The Virginal, Always In Control Girl Who Needs To Loosen Up which gradually, and then completely embraces its freaky side.  Oh, yes, it does, and this is decidedly not a sequel to the beloved-in-these-parts Center Stage.  This is one intense, occasionally ludicrous film that eventually wins you over through its commitment to its universe and the intensity of Natalie Portman's and Barbara Hershey's performances.  (Full spoilers in comments, because I know many here have seen it already.)

added:  The House Next Door's Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard talk at length about this "outrageous, unrestrained, heavy-handed, horny opera."
WIGGEDY WAKE: SNL was uneven last night -- especially disappointing to see the much-beloved Jeff Bridges not really find his bearings -- but this was awesome: