Friday, January 14, 2011

HOW HENRY FORD RUINED GENERATIONS OF LAWYERS (AND IT'S NOT THE ANTI-SEMITISM): Please pardon the overly occupational topic of this post, but our grammar melee chipped off a piece of a "these kids today" rant that I've been working on for several years now, and I thought I'd roll out the rest of it here. Nobody reads us on the weekend anyway.
HAWAIIAN NOISES?  Do read Tom Scocca on Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" suddenly becoming too homophobic for Canadian radio under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code, and whether it's just about the most ironic song ever written:
"Money for Nothing" was a much bigger hit than anything that Dire Straits had done before; that is, Knopfler made himself into a successful rock star by way of a song about people resenting rock stars' success. He also abandoned his own opposition to making music videos, so the song was marketed with an MTV video in which computer-animated characters disparaged MTV videos—expressing what had previously been Knopfler's actual point of view—which won Video of the Year and helped make the song No. 1. And then, yes, alongside Knopfler's grumbling, working-man's-persona anti-MTV, anti-rock-star lyrics, there was another voice singing the video network's actual marketing slogan, and that voice belonged to, of all people, Sting. So. If you're looking for some moment when art and commerce, integrity and "selling out," class solidarity and class envy, performer and spectator, content and advertisement, and assorted other tensions all collapsed into a lucrative and critic-proof singularity, you could do worse.
THEY HAVE A BALANCED DIET OF SANDWICHES AND PENS: BBC America's Youtube Channel explains Law & Order: UK. Excellent combination of promotion and self-mockery.

But why is Fat Apollo thin and speaking with a British accent?
THINGS THAT KEEP US AWAKE AT NIGHT: When Adam visited Disney World's American Idol experience a couple of years ago, he praised the versimilitude, noting that the judging panel featured "Amiable Hefty Black Man Who Wears A Large Watch, Daffy Woman Who Praises Every Performer For Being Beautiful Before Evaluating The Singing, and Crabby Australian." Anyone know if we have adjusted to remove DWWPEVPFBBBETS and CA and replace them with Over-Enthusiastic Borderline-Incoherent Latina and Utterly Incoherent Man Whose Face Vaguely Appears To Be Melting?
I GUESS THIS MEANS NO TONTINE?  So as we all knew, Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz are returning for this of Survivor. Jeff Probst insists, "I’m not concerned at all about any Russell fatigue — that people have had too much. If you’ve had too much of Russell, I dare say you’re not really a Survivor fan."

Bullshit. I love Survivor, and I've had enough of Russell for now. I appreciate the need to theme each season, but that can be done through structural shifts (Redemption Island, hidden immunity idols, three-person final tribal, etc.) or through casting choices (I'm still waiting for an all Law Enforcement/Military season, or an all-female season).  We don't need to recycle Russell for the third time in four seasons.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, UTTERLY, AND INARGUABLY WRONG": Slate's Farhad Manjoo implores you to type only one space after each period. He explains that now that the world is all proportional fonts instead of monospaced fonts, "adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability ... It diminishes it."

added:  We ran a poll all week: two spaces won out, 62% - 37%.
MEET US IN MONTAUK: That was a deliberate Eternal Sunshine reference to open up Top Chef All Stars, right? Loved, loved anything having to do with Marcel and Dale last night, and the level of drama regarding the outcome was suitably high and tense. Recap here, but let me highlight two other comments. First, @FabioViviani tweets:
SORRY GUEST JUDGE if you do the 95% of the knife work means you did all the dish ! Idiot ! Whats left ? Sautee a Pc of fish ? Puree corn ?
Anthony Bourdain:
Who will rise to grab the Crown of Douchedom from the vacant throne? Marcel seems to be doing his best to live up to her standards. Apparently, all you have to do is feed Marcel a little alcohol and he starts thinking he's an OG, flashing a dizzying array of half-assed hand gestures and gettin' all gangsta and shit. And right up in your face, too! It's really an amazement that Marcel has made it this far through life without getting a proverbial pencil in his neck. On the prison tier of existence, he seems designed to be a victim. May you live long and prosper, Marcel. You make good television. Especially your menacing exhortation to your cellies that should they not live up to your high standards, they should just "Get the f--k out tha game!" I tell you, that gave me chills. Reminded me the time Suge Knight held me upside down off the hotel balcony and asked for half my publishing.
IF ONLY THE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL GANG COULD WRITE A SONG ABOUT THIS:  Remember last year when we were trying to figure out what to do about our commenting host, when we didn't want to pay $120 to maintain a system we found lacking?

Well, as it turns out, they also had a $12 annual rate for sites which had transferred over from Haloscan, as we did.  For $12, we can put up with the occasional hiccups and not feel like we've commodified our relationship with y'all.  In other words, no change.

[In other site news, we will continue our tradition of not Covering-It-Live for Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony, but will have a comment thread up for your thoughts as the night progresses.]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ONE MILE, NO SMILE!  Robert Moses, The Musical?  Yes, and biographer Robert Caro dropped by a rehearsal (while "deep into the fourth and final installment of his Lyndon B. Johnson opus") to comment.

added: There's also a new one-man play on Abbie Hoffman, but that should be a musical as well.  "Yippie for Yippies," "Steal This Song," "My New Hope," etc.  Because the last attempt to dramatize his life did not so much work for me.
BUT WHERE'S PRINCESS KASHMIR, QUEEN OF THE MYSTERIOUS EAST?  A SFW trailer for an upcoming, gulp, live action Simpsons porn parody film.
HEAVEN, IS THIS HEAVEN, WHERE WE ARE? A request, via J. Bowman:
I have an interview in Los Angeles on Monday, and the W and I are heading out for the weekend, to check the place out. I want to know where to go and what to see, but from a standpoint of "do we want to live here?" What neigborhoods should we be checking out, where are the grocery stores, reasonable places to eat, that sort of thing. I'm sure we'll still do a touristy thing or two, I just don't want to plan the days around the idea that we'll never come back.

Some useful information: a) I'd be working in Century City (next to the Shopping Center); the W will probably end up at either UCLA or USC. b) In general, house > apartment. c) I have a big dog who likes walks, so nearby parks are a plus.

On the other hand, if we don't move here, I'd hate to have spent the entire weekend just looking at cul-de-sacs in Westwood. What should we do with 2.5 days in L.A.? Something nice to see, maybe a decent meal (I do notice my hotel is right near Craft, but someone doesn't like steak), a few drinks?
50 CENT PLAYS THE PENNY STOCKS: I don't mean to sound old fashioned, but isn't this illegal?
NO, THEY WERE NOT GOING AFTER SHIA LABOEUF: The original casting breakdown for Modern Family suggests that while they'd written two of the parts for the performers who wound up playing them, the show could have been dramatically different (and likely not as good) with the wishlist, in particular in the Mitchell-Cameron pairing, where the wishlist is made up of a pair of performers who are both very funny, but who would not have worked in those parts (heck, flip-flopping the originally proposed Mitchell-Cameron pairing might have worked better).
THIS WEEK IN "THE ETHICS OF THE GOOD WIFE":  Boyfriend and Girlfriend stand accused of a shooting during a robbery; neither yet is talking about who fired the weapon.  Can one law firm represent both of them during the police investigation/interrogation? Can it only do so if it constructs a wall between the two sets of lawyers involved in the dual representation?

Yet another time-sensitive episode (along with the death penalty appeal and the potential Al Gore plaintiff), and not a bad one.  (Hey, it's always good to see Leelee Sobieski working again; I've been a fan since Never Been Kissed), and we are definitely upping the drama on The Most Important Law Firm Dissolution in the History of the World, though remaining 0-for-12 in solving NYMag's checklist of show mysteries.Yes, I do wish there were some subtlety to Blake's one-note thuggery, and isn't there supposed to be a State's Attorney race going on?  Still, another good, cynical episode, in which there's nothing Will does that doesn't backfire.
"I THOUGHT I WAS MAKING SERIOUS WOODWORKING TOOLS. TO SEE THEM USED IN THE KITCHEN, THAT WAS FRANKLY A PERSONAL DISAPPOINTMENT":   The NYT tells the Microplane story, from the small town of Russellville, Arkansas to my kitchen and many of yours.  My Microplane Zester and garlic wheel are probably my two most-used (non-electronic) gadgets when cooking.
SNOWPOCALYPSE NOW!  Our regular open thread for Northeast snowfall discussion and its aftermath.  Schools closed here in Philadelphia, but my office will be opening at 10am.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

AND WE CAN ALSO TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH KNUFFLE BUNNY FREE MADE US CRY:  Sadly, Christy in NYC is feeling under the weather this week, so it falls upon me to open up our annual discussion of the American Library Association's awards for young people's books, with these being the majors announced yesterday:
John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature: “Moon over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool, the story of Abilene Tucker, a 12-year-old whose father sends her for the summer to Manifest, a Kansas town populated by bootleggers and coal-mining immigrants.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:  “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” illustrated by Erin E. Stead, the story of a zookeeper and his tender friendship with the animals.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults: “Ship Breaker" by Paolo Bacigalupi, a tale of survival in post-hurricane New Orleans.
With many, many more awards and honors to discuss, and since y'all know this terrain better than me I'll shut up.
OLD MAN RANT: I'm one of the ancient dinosaurs who still uses a Yahoo page as my home page. So sue me -- I like having the news, sports, and entertainment headlines, plus the TV listings, all in one place. But you know what? Ever since Yahoo started branding all of its entertainment stories "OMG," I have developed a deep and calcifying resistance to clicking through. OMG, Yahoo, you're dumped.

Please suggest a good general-purpose home page.
IMMA LET YOU FINISH BUT...: This week's New York is well worth picking up, with a series of roundtable discussions on "the greatest New York ________ of all time" including:
  • Nora Ephron, Jonathan Tunick, George C. Wolfe, and Frank Rich debating musicals.
  • Phil Rosenthal, Nina Tassler, Adam Scott, and Damon Lindelof debating TV, including Adam Scott's admission that he has a Gossip Girl addiction.
  • Will Leitch facilitating the roundtable on athletes.
  • A bunch of architecture-types discussing buildings.
  • A ton of one-shots, including Felix Rohatyn on financiers, Pat Kiernan on local news anchors, Thurston Moore on rock shows, and Reggie Watts on stand-up comics.
Much to discuss and argue about.

Monday, January 10, 2011

WHEN WILL WE SEND A MAN TO THE MOON? WHE-AH WHENEVER SENATOR GOLDWATER WANTS TO GO: I don't really care about the controversy surrounding the decision of The History Channel to pull the 8-Part Series The Kennedys, but Greg Kinnear as JFK, Tom Wilkinson as Ambassador Joe? Yeah, I'll find the other venue for that.
ALMOST AS MUCH OF A SHOCKER AS "SECRET DWARF HOOKER:" Based on box office returns and this blog's demographics, seems safe to assume that pretty much none of us saw Country Strong over the weekend. Heck, even though it got a 1,400 nationwide screen release, it had only 4 prints in Manhattan. (Contrast Black Swan, which has a similar screen count, but 7 locations and at least 10 prints in Manhattan.) But Vulture's spoiler of the film's ending (it's not even close to what I would have guessed) makes it sound like it does something a little unpredictable, particularly for a vehicle that's being pitched as a dark horse Oscar candidate for Paltrow.
NO, HOSTESS STOCK DOES NOT COUNT: For I believe the first time, if you really, really love cupcakes, you can invest in them, as NYC based cupcakery Crumbs is about to go public. I see two subject for discussion here. First, what's your preferred cupcake/cupcakery? I'm not terribly big on the trend, and find Crumbs in particular to be overiced, but your views are welcomed. Second, please provide suggested dialogue from Aaron Sorkin's The Cupcake Bakery--I'll start us off with "If you were the inventors of the Oreo cupcake, you'd have invented the Oreo cupcake!" and "You know what's cooler than a million calories? A billion calories!"
OR MAYBE THIS IS STILL DENIAL:  Folks anticipating my annual Stages of Eagles Grief post will find themselves disappointed right now, because I'm not grieving.  This season started with meager hopes -- "let's see how Kevin Kolb develops, and maybe we'll go 7-9 or 8-8," more or less.  As the bye week hit we still didn't know what we had -- a team that owned Atlanta at home but looked puny at Washington and Tennessee, and with neither Kolb nor Michael Vick able to maintain the job consistently.

And then, wow.  You don't get much bigger in-season highs from your football team than what this one delivered -- beating Peyton Manning at home, then the ridiculous explosion at Washington and the 4th and 1 pitch to McCoy to beat the Giants, and then Miracle at the Meadowlands 2.0.  The next two weeks, though, let the air out of the tires some and reminded us that while the offense could be world-class, the defense was decidedly a work in progress.

But there were were, again, at the two minute warning last night with DeSean Jackson standing alone awaiting a punt, and ohmygodaretheykickingtohim?  And then ... I've never seen the air deflate from a balloon as quickly as what happened in the crowd upon the endzone interception.  It wasn't an angry reaction, just stunned, and then really a sense of oh, well, we weren't winning it all anyway.  Because we knew what we had, and what we didn't quite have here. It was a fun season, but not a great one.  A few more notes:

THE PIE-EATING CONTEST:  We don't talk a lot about lawyering and law school here despite how many of this blog's writers and commenters are in this world, but the opus in yesterday's NYT business section is a useful starting point.  We all know what the entry-level market is like, and we know that many law schools massage their US News data, and I want to focus on this:
“Who’s to say to any particular student, ‘You won’t be the one to get the $160,000-a-year job,’ ” says Steven Greenberger, a dean at the DePaul College of Law. “I think they should have all the info, and the info should be accurate, but saying once they know that they shouldn’t be allowed to come, that’s predicated on the idea that students are really ignorant and don’t know what is best for them.”

Based on the seething and regret you hear from some law school grads, more than a few wish that someone had been patronizing enough to say, “Oh no you don’t.” But it’s often hard to convince students about the potential downside of law school, says Kimber A. Russell, a 37-year-old graduate of DePaul, who writes the Shilling Me Softly blog.

“This idea of exceptionalism — I don’t know if it’s a thing with millennials, or what,” she says, referring to the generation now in its 20s. “Even if you tell them the bottom has fallen out of the legal market, they’re all convinced that none of the bad stuff will happen to them. It’s a serious, life-altering decision, going to law school, and you’re dealing with a lot of naïve students who have never had jobs, never paid real bills.”
I'll phrase the question differently:  assume the law schools told the unvarnished truth, that if you are not in the top (10-25)% of the class (outside the top-10 schools), you will find the job market to be exceptionally difficult, even both in our city and in your hometown, and you may well not be employed after graduation.  My fear is that even providing accurate information is irrelevant because however narrow that window is, most matriculants will assume that they're smart and hard-working enough to fit through it.  I don't quite know how to describe this heuristic -- I'm sure there's a formal term for it -- but don't most people assume "if they've admitted me, that means the school believes I'll do really well there"?

So I don't know how law schools can design the "warning label" accurately enough to provide the necessary message to overcome the denial (though at least with the blogosphere and articles like this one the message is getting out there).  A law school's primary job is to teach people about the law, but it also has a duty to be clear as to what one can do with a J.D. in this economy.  I'm interested in your thoughts as to what needs to change.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

THE DIRTY BIRD: Dear Philadelphia Eagles fans (and fans of the Chiefs and Colts too):

Please don't blame us. It's not our fault.

Remaining Superbowl Contenders The Seattle Seahawks
"WE SALUTE THE RANK, NOT THE MAN." BUT IN THIS CASE, WE ALSO SALUTE THE MAN: Dick Winters, who as a young First Lieutenant on D-Day led a group of 13 men in disabling a German artillery battery at Brécourt Manor, and who went on to become a Major, acting Commander of the U.S. Army 2nd Battalion, and the principal hero of Band of Brothers, has passed away. I know little about the man other than what I saw in Band of Brothers, but the reverence he commanded from his soldiers in their talking-head interviews is telling, and Damian Lewis's soft-spoken, thoughtful portrayal of his war in BoB is one of the high points in an HBO history full of high points.
IT DOES MEAN WE'D BE SPARED LEA MICHELE AS ELPHABA: While Wicked: The Movie Musical remains in turnaround (finding names with the right look and vocal range for the leads who are in the right age range and who are big enough to support the budget that'd be needed is going to be tricky--best I can do at the moment is Anne Hathaway or Mandy Moore as Elphaba and Reese Witherspoon as Galinda), ABC and Salma Hayek are apparently pursuing the concept of an 8-hour non-musical miniseries based on the book. The book is a lot darker, more complex, and heavier on the political metaphor than the movie, and makes Elphaba the clear protagonist, unlike the musical, where Glinda is a co-lead. Not sure if I'm sold on this as an idea, and the casting Michael Ausiello proposes at the link is godawful (love me some Heather Morris on Glee, but no, this is not the right part for her), but would certainly mean HBO would have some competition in all those Emmy categories we've suggested could be abolished.
"I LIKE WHEN THE MUSIC BLASTS AS SOON AS THE SITE LOADS. IT SIGNALS TO EVERYONE AT WORK THAT I AM GOING OUT TO EAT!" A compilation of things no one has ever said about a restaurant website. "Why would anyone want to skip this intro? I think I’ll watch it again," indeed.

Related: five ways to fix your restaurant's website.