Saturday, January 1, 2011

ENOUGH WITH THE PALLADIUM-CATALYZED CROSS COUPLINGS IN ORGANIC SYNTHESIS STUFF: Can someone please explain to me how it could possibly be the case that the Nobel Committee continually fails to award one of its prizes to the inventor of the Magic Eraser? Mr. Clean, my grout, walls, and shower doors thank you.
GOING "QUAID CRAZY" IS FINALLY IN: Last year at this time, the WaPo correctly predicted that 2010 would see the rise of Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, groupons, cupcake trucks and Ayn Rand devotees.  So it would make sense to begin 2011 by checking out its predictions for What's In and Out for 2011, a strange new world in which zombies, Team CoCo, brussels sprouts and Diet Dr. Pepper are replaced by ballerinas, Joel McHale worship, sauerkraut and Cherry Zero.  (I must note, however, that this is the second straight year that someone's bought into that nonsense caveman diet/fitness non-trend.)

Welcome to the future, gang.  Time for me to corner the FCOJ market.

Friday, December 31, 2010

GOVERNOR PATERSON WANTS US TO RACE TO THE WHAT?  Kill some time with Splitsider's awesome Year in Review posts regarding The World of Things Funny, including the year in humor writing, unintentional comedy, and fifteen funny people who passed away in 2010.
AMERICA VOTED:  The results of this year's ALOTT5MA balloting for the National Baseball Hall of Fame are in, which you can compare with the ongoing BBTF compilation of disclosed BBWAA ballots (we're much higher on Jeff Bagwell, and lower on Jack Morris and Lee Smith):

R Alomar: 48 (of 51) votes (94.12%)
J Bagwell: 43 votes (84.31%)
B Blyleven: 40 votes (78.43%)

B Larkin: 38 votes (74.51%)
T Raines: 36 votes (70.59%)

HOW YOUSE DOIN'?  An incredible map and taxonomy of North American English Dialects, including 620 (!) audio exemplar samples of various dialect distinctions.  Where does "cot" sound like "caught" and "father" rhyme with "bother"?  Click and see.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

SAID RED MOLLY TO JAMES, "THAT'S A FINE MOTORBIKE":  Among those given New Years Honours by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as new Officers of the Order of the British Empire, are Annie Lennox and Richard Thompson. Said Lennox, "As somewhat of a renegade, it either means I've done something terribly right - or they've done something terribly wrong. In any case, whatever powers-that-be have deemed me worthy of such a recognition, I'm getting my fake leopard pillbox hat dusted and ready."  Below the fold, a favorite performance from each:

DISRESPECT:  When you're only a hired keyboard player for the gig, I don't care how late the featured entertainment is -- it's not your place to show up the artist by posting an I WAS ON TIME sign in front of the audience to show up the woman who's signing your checks.  Even if it's the perpetually punctually-challenged Ms. Lauryn Hill, whose tangles with tardiness are even more amusing in light of the fact that I just attended a Prince show which started on-time and ended at 11pm.  (True, he then played an afterparty concert which started at 3:30am.)

But what the keyboardist did to Ms. Hill, she in turn did to her fans.  When you're starting to be called the Axl Rose of the hip-hop world, it's a problem.  If you just have a problem showing up before midnight for your concerts, don't promote them as starting at 8:00 pm.  And then folks can decide if that's an evening they'd like to have.  This isn't hard.
SHABOOGIE BOP:  Really, I don't know what to say or where to start on the Prince concert last night at Madison Square Garden, the first time in all my years of fandom I had ever seen him live. The largely Sign ☮ the Times-and-earlier setlist speaks for itself.  Yes we're talking about a performer so confident that he could open with "The Beautiful Ones" and not something up-tempo yet still have the audience completely captivated; an artist with such a deep catalog of massive hits that he could have played a completely different set yet not leave people feeling disappointed that he went Steve-Martin-talking-Art, so to speak.  And at no point was he just doing rote versions which mimicked the originals -- we got an exuberant "Little Red Corvette" and a solo piano "Do Me, Baby" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover" (among others).

People were going berzerk -- Oprah's Favorite Things-level screams from the audience.  With good reason -- he plays the audience extremely well, working in-the-round on the same symbol-stage he used for the Super Bowl; the band is solid; and ... I mean, it's Prince.  The man's the closest thing we have to a modern James Brown.  When he comes to your town, spend what it takes.  Just. Go. Who knows -- you may get to see Cyndi Lauper brought on stage to do the O-E-O-E-O's of "Jungle Love."
WHICH ONE'S BETAMAX?  We take requests:
Hey, guys,

I'm frequent Throwing Things reader and occasional commenter Cecilia. I don't want to threadjack yesterday's excellent post on book suggestions, so I was wondering whether we could have a post at some point on the merits of e-books? I've always been anti-e-book, but I'm running out of room and have begun toying with the idea of getting one. I'd be interesting if the Throwing Things community likes the ones they have and the relative merits of the Kindle vs. the Nook. Having seen how much this crew reads, I'd be more interested in their thoughts and recommendations than just some random people at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SEND CARL FREDRICKSEN TO PARADISE FALLS:  Via new USPS Pixar stamps, coming in August 2011.  (But, really: Cars instead of Monsters Inc.?)
HIS ACTING?  GENIUS!  No matter how much you already like Jon Lovitz, you can't help but think even more of his mensch-itude following this AV Club Random Roles interview.  No, he doesn't get into the night he beat Andy Dick to a pulp (indeed, NewsRadio is the one show he won't discuss), but, gosh has he worked with a lot of interesting people and has generous things to say about them.  Except Andy Dick.
EX LIBRIS: Having returned to NYC, it's time for an ALOTT5MA Holiday Tradition--"What Books Did You Get For Chrismukkah?" I'll also open it up to what you read over the break. As for me, I got Noah Feldman's history of Roosevelt and SCOTUS, Scorpions, which, at least thus far, is both a solid read and solid history (extra credit for not being overly polemical when it would be easy to do so); the final volume of Edmund Morris' massive Theodore Roosevelt biography; Do You Think You're Clever, a book of questions posed to students applying to Oxford and Cambridge and suggested answers; and a photoillustrated book featuring some of Bono's speeches on poverty. Read over the break--Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile, which is a solid PI novel as well as an interesting meta-critique of the PI novel, and Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story, which is an interesting effort to write like Kurt Vonnegut that I'm not sure how much I ultimately enjoyed--the world creation is fascinating, but I would have appreciated more time on the world that's created and generally only hinted at and less on the protagonists (especially the female one, who I found to be an uninteresting Manic Pixie Dream Girl variant).
LET US SUPPOSE THAT A FARMER AND A CATTLE-RAISER ARE OPERATING ON NEIGHBORING PROPERTIES: Six and a half years ago, Matt, Alex and I merged blogs when seemed more efficient to post everything on one site rather than having to constantly link to each other's blogs and click ourselves to read them every day, and that it was easier to establish our reputation in the marketplace collectively rather than as separate entities. Also, as the blog expanded to include Isaac, Phil, Kim and others (but without getting larger still), we could have initially-assigned beats for various shows, but through an easily-negotiated series of mutually beneficial exchanges via email we each would be able to reassign these rights end up being able to blog about whatever we felt like regardless of the bailiwick within which the topic was initially perceived to be.

All of which is to say happy birthday to Ronald Coase, who turns 100 today.
NOT REALLY LOTSO FUN: But, hey, you don't go to see Toy Story 3 on Ice for the quality of the skating (nothing more than a perfunctory double was attempted), but mostly to see your favorite characters in an ice-based revue loosely based on elements of the trilogy -- an extended Woody's Round-Up segment, marching soldiers, a trip to Sunnyside, Buzz in Spanish mode, a battalion of Barbies, Ken Does Dress-Up and, yes, The Claaaaaaaaw.

I couldn't help but wonder what Oscar hopefuls might lend themselves to a better ice treatment. Watts suggested via Twitter Black Swan (and she's right), but I imagine that either The Social Network on Ice ("If you guys were the inventors of the toe pick, you'd have invented the toe pick") or 127 Hours on Ice ("Wow ... this blade sure came in handy") are inevitable in the weeks and months to come.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

RETROSPECTIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN CASTING: This morning, 10 Things I Hate About You was on FX, and I caught a few minutes of it. While the film still mostly holds up, what's impressive is how far the cast has gone off it in later years--8 Golden Globe nominations (Gordon-Levitt, Stiles, Ledger (x2), Janney (x4)) and 1 win (Ledger for Dark Knight, with Stiles an unlikely potential winner this year), 6 Emmy nominations (all for Janney, who won 4, with Stiles a probable nominee for Dexter next cycle), 2 Academy Award nominations (both for Ledger, one of which is a win), and a Tony nomination for best actress in a musical (Janney for 9 to 5).

Other members of the cast have had decent commercial success--David Krumholtz (Numb3rs, Serenity), Larry Miller (who's worked consistently as a H!ITG!), Gabrielle Union (who also managed to appear in Bring It On and has worked consistently in movies pitched to a more urban demographic), and Daryl Mitchell (whose career was briefly and sadly interrupted by a paralyzing motorcycle accident, but who's also worked pretty consistently). Given that the cast was almost entirely relative unknowns (Gordon-Levitt was on Third Rock, but that was about it for big U.S. credits), that's damn impressive work.
I'M GOING SMALL HALL THIS YEAR:  Ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame are now due, but why let the BBWAA have all the fun?  I've set up a Doodle poll for everyone to vote -- please select between 0 and 10 players only; explain your reasoning and show all work here.  Stats are here; BBHOF official mini bios here and hagiographies here ("Bobby Higginson fought for 11 seasons to be the best player he could be....")

As for me, I'm still not convinced on Blyleven -- HOF pitchers don't get just one start in a seven-game World Series, as Blyleven did in 1979 -- and while he was really, really good for a long time I don't know that he was ever great, and it's not quite enough for me.  (Same with Palmeiro.)  The rest I feel are pretty straightforward -- my attitude towards PED users is that they should be inducted if the stats clearly warrant it, and that the plaques should acknowledge what is established about the player's conduct.

So, my ballot: Alomar, Bagwell, Larkin, E Martinez, McGwire, Raines.  Go cast yours.  75% to induct.

related:  Joe Posnanski on the respect due to those players you know you're not voting for:
"YOU ONLY HAVE SO MANY OPTIONS ONCE THE BATHTUB IS FULL":  The NYT explores all the behind-the-scenes stuff they do at Walt Disney World to keep the lines moving.  Two things you might not have known:

  • "In recent years, according to Disney research, the average Magic Kingdom visitor has had time for only nine rides — out of more than 40 — because of lengthy waits and crowded walkways and restaurants. In the last few months, however, the operations center has managed to make enough nips and tucks to lift that average to 10."
  • "Disney has also been adding video games to wait areas. At Space Mountain, 87 game stations now line the queue to keep visitors entertained. (Games, about 90 seconds in length, involve simple things like clearing runways of asteroids)."

Monday, December 27, 2010

GOD FORBID SOMETHING HAPPENS TO HER, JIMMY SMITS AND AUNT BERU ARE READY:  Natalie Portman is engaged and expecting. Her intended, Benjamin Millepied, is a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet who used two of his 1,000 feet to appear across Portman in Black Swan (or did he?), for which he served as choreographer.
"THE WIMPS WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS":  Okay, so the Daily News' Will Bunch isn't happy that last night's football game was cancelled, but as one of the season ticketholders who would have been called upon to find a way to make it to Lincoln Financial Field last night I'm not at all upset with the decision, because I would not have gone.   Normally, I'll drive 10 minutes from the house to park the car for free on the street near the Ellsworth/Federal subway station, and it makes for an easy trip.  But I can't imagine chancing the weather conditions last night, especially for the way back.  The snow/wind/ice combo did not bode well, esp. given the risk of being plowed in.  The game would have looked like fun on tv, but there wouldn't have been more than 20,000 people there, and now I've got a nice Toy Story 3 on Ice/Eagles combo for Tuesday afternoon/evening.

Flash-forward to next Sunday, and the NFL has flexed Seattle-St. Louis for the night game.  Would I have rather seen Chicago-Green Bay?  Yes.  But if the Eagles lose one of these two games that one becomes meaningless for Chicago, and who wants to see Todd Collins and Garrett Wolfe in prime time?  So consider this an NFL investment in the future of Sam Bradford, James Laurinatis and Chris Long instead.  As for the "oh, a 7-9 team shouldn't be playoff-eligible," yeah, probably, but it's so rare as to not be worth changing the rules over.  I'd be happy with playoff seeding based on record alone -- allowing the Ravens to host the Colts instead of vice-versa -- but radical change is not needed.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"THIS IS A SONG THAT I WROTE WITH A VERY GOOD FRIEND OF MINE NAMED MITCH ALBOM ... THERE'S AN AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION ASPECT  TO THIS SONG":  Ten years ago this month, Warren Zevon performed around the corner at Philadelphia's Theatre of the Living Arts, and thanks to the glory of the Internet it's all downloadable and streamable for free at  It's got all the hits you'd want to hear, and the recording quality is so pristine that if you listen real carefully during "Hit Somebody," you can pretend to make out my voice among the throng.

(The other great thing about that particular track is that this was before the song was available in any format, so we were all hearing it and responding to Buddy's story for the first time.  FWIW, Kevin Smith's film adaptation of the song is now set to film next summer, with Nicholas Braun replacing Seann William Scott in the lead.  No, I can't think of a successful film that was based on a song -- what, "Alice's Restaurant"?)
BOXING DAY BLIZZAPOCALYPSE 2010:  Nothing precipitating in Queen Village yet; please keep us updated on your neck of the woods.  (I am supposed to go to Vick-Vikes tonight, but we'll see about that.)