Saturday, January 8, 2011

FOOT-BALL: "With Thomas and Ivory both on IR," I emailed Isaac on Thursday, "the Saints may well lose this game." He denied it. Insisted on the suckitude of his home team, that I was underestimating how "terrible" (his word, not mine) the Seahawks were. I told him that true though that might be, they only needed to win this game once.

Julius Jones wasn't that bad today, but if all I told you about today's game was that the Saints ran 22 times but passed it 60 you'd know something was seriously amiss. And then Marshawn Lynch, wow.

Football days like this one render me inarticulate, and that's even without getting into one of the more impressive defensive performances I've ever seen from the Jets tonight.  Revis Island is real, and you don't want to be stranded there.  Onto tomorrow.
IT'S LESSIG-TASTIC!  After you read about Girl Talk's brilliant (though I kinda prefer Feed the Animals) mashup album All Day in today's NYT Magazine, go to to listen and see how the 373 samples fit together.

Friday, January 7, 2011

THERE ARE TOO MANY TYPES OF CHAIRS IN THIS ROOM: Funny People was a fascinating failure for Judd Apatow, so I was already interested to see what he was going to do next. That he's apparently doing a Knocked Up spinoff focusing on Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) sounds like an interesting and potentially fruitful choice. I do hope that he avoids the big sin he committed in Funny People of making Leslie Mann's character overidealized, which he certainly avoided in Knocked Up, and keeps the characters true to the ones we saw and liked originally. (Semi-relatedly--early reports are indicating Seth Rogen's Green Hornet might actually be really good, much to my surprise, even though Pineapple Express did prove that Rogen can do a relatively straight role in an action comedy.)
BUT IT'S GOT "HONEY" IN ITS NAME:  Via, Six Animals That Don't Give A F---.

(I've got nothing today.  Suggest some links folks should read.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

THAT'S ONE BAD TEDDY BEAR:   Matt Zoller Seitz explains why The Furnace scene works so well in Toy Story 3, as part of his Best Scenes of 2010 video essay series:

IT'S NOT WILLIAM GOLDMAN'S FAULT. (I KNOW.)  IT'S NOT WILLIAM GOLDMAN'S FAULT. (I KNOW): How Rob Reiner and Terrence Malick shaped the Good Will Hunting script.
WHAT TREASURES HIDE, JING CHA SIU BAO, PILLOWED IN YOUR DOUGH?  Okay.  Loved loved last night's Top Chef All-Stars, and it's funny because normally I'm more of a fan of "let's see them do awesome things amid realistic constraints" than "let's make them uncomfortable and amp up the pressure."  But in this case, we had a clusterfuck of epic proportions by placing the thirteen cheftestants in an insufficient kitchen and not reminding them that no one gives a damn about the plating at a dim sum restaurant.  So: angry old people! kitchen chaos! an ill-advised dessert!  turtle on a leash!  jalapeƱo in your eye!  And the glorious return of TC: Masters fave and kitchen badass Susur Lee, whom nobody doesn't like.  Plus we got the Jamie "Top Scallop" montage.

Bourdain writes:  "Of the carnage and recriminations, the filth and the fury that followed, I will speak little. Antonia, once again, became the repository for all the world's sins, left, it appeared, to cook nearly everything single handed. What a Trojan! She's like John Shaft -- always willing to help her brotherman, demonstrating a generosity of spirit that nearly doomed her. Had her own shrimp toast not been delicious, it might well have been her head on the block. For much of the show -- whether because of the edit or not, it looked like she was the only person moving in a kitchen full of stunned carp. As at the aftermath of a violent bar fight, the others present creeped slowly and stealthily away from the horror, unwilling to get blood or hair on their shoes. But she hung in. And at Judges' Table, when confronted about her central role in this greatest of face-plants, she stood up under brutal interrogation like a hard case career con refusing to put the much guiltier Casey in the soup. She made Sammy the Bull Gravano and Whitey Bulger look like punks. In the same situation, I suspect, the guys would have been jostling each other to drop a dime on each other."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Guy walks into a bar. "Ouch," he says, "didn't see that there."

Guy walks into a bar. "Can I fix you a drink?" asks the bartender. "No thanks," says the guy. "I'd prefer a new one that hasn't been broken."

Guy walks into a bar. "I'll have a drink," he says, "and one for my charitable disposition, too. Or don't you serve my kind here?"

Guy walks into a bar. After a brief consultation with the bartender, he leaves. He returns some hours later, yodeling and dressed like a Swiss orphan girl. "You asked to see my Heidi?" he says to the bartender.

Guy walks into a bar. "Sir," says the bartender, "I'd like you to meet my friend, Susan. She is a neurologist, and I believe she may be able to help you."
NO, "OLIVIA WILDE IN A SKIN-TIGHT JUMPSUIT" DOES NOT COUNT AS A VISUAL EFFECT: Traditionally, the Academy Award for Visual Effects goes to a big showy blockbuster, and most of the seven finalists this year are no exception--Inception's folding cities, Iron Man 2's series of endless explosions, Tron: Legacy's impressive digital doubling/deaging of The Dude and overall visual style. Interestingly, though, this year, two commercial disappointments are nominated--Hereafter (which I didn't see, but am surprised to see on a short list in this category), and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which didn't have the most cutting-edge of effects due to its 8-bit aesthetic, but which may well beat all the other short-listers save perhaps Tron for sheer volume of effects. A somewhat surprising omission here? The Social Network, which featured pretty darn seamless and impressive effects used to double Arnie Hammer as the Winklevi.
DJEE BREFFIS YEH? Via the Philadelphia Daily News, Sean Monahan's primer on how to speak Philadelphian:

BACK HOME, I'M WORTH $156,000,000:  If you played The Numbers in last night's Mega Millions lottery, you won $150 because three of the first five hit among the five balls picked, and 42 was the Mega ball.  (First five balls go 1-56, Mega ball goes 1-46.)  Apparently, this happens 1 in every 13,781 times, so just be patient if you missed this one.
FROM THE ALOTT5MA WASHED-UP, FORMERLY BELOVED PHILADELPHIA ATHLETES DESK:  No, I don't know whether it's sadder that Lenny Dykstra bounced a check to an escort or that upon relocating to Istanbul for his dwindling basketball career, Allen Iverson's still hanging out at the nearest T.G.I. Friday's just as he did in Philadelphia.

(Actually, I know: the latter story is sadder -- he's clearly got issues with gambling and/or alcohol, plus it's just depressing to see an athlete whose skills have so diminished still chasing the sport.  Dykstra's a scam artist for whom I have no sympathy.)
THE FIRST BLUE JAY CAP IN THE HALL:  Despite the best efforts of ESPN's Barry Stanton to elect BJ Surhoff, Tino Martinez, Don Mattingly and neither of these guys, the Baseball Writers Association of America has voted Roberto Alomar (90.0%) and Bert Blyleven (79.7%) into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Next closest to the line were Barry Larkin (62.1%), Jack Morris (53.5%), Lee Arthur Smith (45.3%), Jeff Bagwell (41.7%), Tim Raines (37.5%) and Edgar Martinez (32.9%).

Rafael Palmeiro (just 11%) and Juan Gonzalez (5.2%) stay on the ballot for 2012; Harold Baines and Kevin Brown are among those who failed to clear 5%. There are no huge names joining the ballot for the first time in 2012 -- Javy Lopez, Tim Salmon and Bernie Williams represent the cream of that lesser crop.

added:  Sean Forman would love to know how Lee Smith gets 45.3% of the vote when John Franco and Kevin Brown each fell below 5%.
MAYBE THIS TIME IT'S GOING TO BE HER TURN: Allegedly, Barbra Streisand wants to produce, direct, and star as Mama in a new film of Gypsy and has secured the consent of the legendarily prickly book writer, Arthur Laurents, who I think is still upset over the Sam Mendes/Bernadette Peters production a few years ago (which was really bleak in tone, though I found it appropriate to the show). Given that the show's had two Broadway revivals in the past 10 years and already been filmed twice, I'm not convinced we need this, though I'm sure Lea Michele is already ready to submit her audition tape to play Louise.
WE GET REQUESTS:  Via commenter slowlylu:
Thanks again for the fantastic blog. I am currently in some final planning stages of a trip to San Francisco in late February. Knowing that we have some resident San Franciscans I was hoping I could use the blog as a list making device for must eat/do/see things. 
It is just the two of us this trip and we'll have been skiing for a week and a bit beforehand.

No worries if you've got a lot of things to throw but the guide to Seattle and Las Vegas were really good from past years.
My advice starts with two words which have never let me down: Yank Sing. Best dim sum I've ever had.
FROM THE ALOTT5MA CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY DESK:  Okay, gang, guess the year in which this observation of an apparently novel cultural ritual was recorded:
There is this strange custom called a "Keg Stand" that all kids evidently do now. You stand next to the keg, put both hands on the side of the keg, have two others lift your legs so that you're upside down, and, at that point, a third person takes the beer nozzle from the keg and puts it in your mouth while you drink it. A fourth person pumps the keg. And everyone counts the seconds you can last. (Dumb me, I didn't even know what this thing was, and it's apparently the most common of drinking games.) I didn't do it, thankfully.... Drinking upside-down. What a country.
If you guessed "2011," congratulations to you and SI's Peter King, who's all caught up on what the kids are doing these days.

Update!  God bless Twitter, because @SI_PeterKing answered my question:
RT @adambonin: Was that really the first keg-stand you ever witnessed? Did you participate? ... Yes /// No. Absolutely not. Scared me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

THE INTERNET LOVES YOU SO MUCH: How could we possibly have lived without James Van Der Memes, a collection of animated gifs of James Van Der Beek acting out simple (or complicated) emotions? I'm going to bust out the exceedingly rare, for me, FTMFW, and say JVDBFTMFW.
REALLY. IT'S NOT STRESSFUL ENOUGH AS-IS? Thank goodness I went through the college admissions process before students were encouraged to prepare video pieces about themselves.  (And what do you do if you can't get Michael Bloomberg to deliver an on-camera endorsement?)
NO ONE AT THE SOCCER FIELD HAS SWAGGER LIKE US: Revisiting terrain it has covered since at least five years ago, the NYT explores how "minivan makers are trying to recast the much-ridiculed mom-mobile as something that parents can be proud — or at least unashamed — of driving."

Monday, January 3, 2011

MORBIDITY & MORTALITY ANNUAL REPORT:  The Awl's Rick Paulas compiles the most popular entries in his 2011 Celebrity Dead Pool, for which points are awarded on a [100 minus Age At Death] basis.  Among Paulas' rules for his Pool:
6th Rule: You Will Not Cause The Death Of Any Celebrity. Just to cover our asses here.

8th Rule: Don’t Pick Anyone On Death Row. This was an issue last year. Don’t let it be this year!

9th Rule: Don’t Pick Anyone Presumed Dead. C’mon, folks.

10th Rule: Or Brain Dead. Seriously, everyone.
CAN I BORROW YOUR ODORANT?  There is a rumor regarding the general plot of Pixar's Monsters Inc. 2 (in theaters 11-16-2012) which some here will want to discuss.  Do not even hover your mouse over this link if you don't want to know, and certainly don't click on the comments.
COVER OF THE ROLLING STONE: Whose face on magazine covers sold well? Well, according to stats from last year, it was apparently Lady Gaga. (Though they admit her numbers may be skewed since she was featured on the Rolling Stone cover which had the McChrystal interview.) Rihanna also did well, propelled in part by her semi-topless GQ shoot this summer.

Who were the losers? Interestingly, despite her big album sales, Taylor Swift doesn't seem to sell magazines, with her covers for Elle, Glamour, and Marie Claire all having limited sales success. And despite Anna Wintour's apparent massive girlcrush on Blake Lively, she had a decidedly mixed record, not selling well on the covers of Esquire or Vogue, but giving Allure its bestselling cover of the year.
PETE POSTLETHWAITE: Pete Postlethwaite, who either overcame or employed (depending on your opinion) his lack of leading man looks while quietly and with dignity out-acting every leading man who ever appeared against him, died last night of Keyzer Soze cancer. I'm sure Postlethwaite has been in bad movies (IMDB reminds me: Clash of the Titans), but when I think of him, I just think of how great he was in smaller, but diverse, roles in so many great movies -- In the Name of the Father, The Usual Suspects, and The Town, to name a few.

Also, he is in a select group of white men who improbably and inexplicably have played Asians: John Wayne, Mickey Rooney, Jake Gyllenhall, and Postlethwaite.

Edited to add: Most of the stories about Postlethwaite's death are accompanied by a photograph of him smiling, which, given the dearth of non-menacing smiles in his film oevre, is both unexpected and really nice to see.
GO AHEAD, ISAAC, DEFEND THIS ONE:  Would anyone have a problem with the NFL deciding starting next season that playoff seeding be based on record, conference record and points, independently from whether a team had won its division?  Are there folks who want to go the step further to bar teams with losing (or even 8-8) records from the playoffs altogether if superior wild cards are available?  Or is there someone here who believes that having the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks hosting the 11-5 New Orleans Saints is perfectly justified as a reflection of the importance of divisional titles -- or, at least, not a significant enough anomaly to merit changing the rules?

added:  Also, give Lovie Smith credit for playing his Bears starters against Green Bay in a game that was meaningless to them yet all-important to Green Bay and New York.  Not all teams would have done that.  (On the other hand, why was Tom Brady still playing in the second half against Miami?)
MEN ARE TERRIBLE AND THEY WILL HURT YOU BECAUSE THIS IS LIFETIME:  From the network that brought you "Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life," "Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story" and "The Pregnancy Pact" comes tonight's debut of the Lifetime Original Movie "The Craigslist Killer," which I imagine will draw an audience from our ranks.

That said, we live in a country that was able to produce three different Amy Fisher movies when it was only the networks who were producing such movies.  What has happened to our nation's trashy movie production capacity?