Friday, February 4, 2011

I HAD THE MOST ABSURD NIGHTMARE: A reader passed along this photo from Cannot Unsee showing that Tyler Durden (Fight Club) and Louis Winthorpe III (Trading Places) wear the same coat, suggesting to the poster that the Ed Norton character in Fight Club had the other film imprinted in his brain in conjuring Durden.

It led me in a different direction.  Okay, remember back in May when we discussed the Tyler Durden theory for Ferris Bueller's Day Off?  Same question here: is it possible that Billy Ray Valentine doesn't exist, but that a PCP-addicted Winthorpe conjured him in his head, upon his firing from Duke & Duke, as a means of motivating himself to clean up and rebuild his career?  I'm still working through the details, but it's not a wholly implausible theory, is it?
ACTIVATE THE OMEGA-13 DEVICE: Right before Galaxy Quest was released, E! aired a 30 minute "documentary" about the Galaxy Quest "TV series," with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Darryl Mitchell all talking about the "show" in character. While you'd think it'd be a bonus feature on a DVD, it wasn't. However, someone's been nice enough to upload it on YouTube, and IO9 has pointed us all to it. Well worth your time, and still the best thing Tim Allen has ever done (or probably will ever do).
JERRY SCREWED IT UP AGAIN: Don't get me wrong--I love me some Parks & Recreation, and I agree that the show is at its best when Leslie is shown as being good at her job, but haven't the past four episodes (while all being very funny) all followed the same arc of "oh, no! Parks dpeartment in peril! What will we do?" and then Leslie coming up with a saving idea at the last minute which solves the problem. Admittedly, the execution of each of those plots has been funny, and the b-plots (Ron hires Andy as an assistant to ensure continued incompetence in the position, Ron coaches basketball, Rob Lowe exhorts his body to behave) have been comic gold, but Leslie can't always be dea ex Parks Department. (Feel free to use this to discuss the rest of Comedy Night Done Right, At Least Until Outsourced Comes On At 10:30--I suspect folks may have things to say about last night's Community in particular.)
FRIDAY ALOTT5MA GRAMMAR RODEO:  Paul asked us to address this question, and I will do with caution. The answer, however, is clear.

To say that something "begs the question" mean that it assumes its own premise without proof.  The alt.usage.english FAQ suggests "Telepathy cannot exist because direct transfer of thought between individuals is impossible" as an example; the late Bill "Whoppers Junior" Safire suggested in 1998 "Lying is wrong because you shouldn't say things that aren't true." as well.

It does not mean "to raise the question." That's something else. More Safire:
Let's say you argue: “Common usage makes it correct because that's the way most people talk.” I say that begs the question because “the way most people talk” is the definition of “common usage.” You could logically argue that “common usage makes it correct because language is changing constantly” or that “common usage makes it correct because rigid prescriptivists have been shown to be the laughingstocks of linguistics,” but you cannot argue in a straight line that “common usage is correct because it's common usage.”

Dictionaries have long reported that to beg no longer means only “to ask for a handout” or “to entreat humbly,” as in “I beg to differ.” It also means -- especially in the phrases to beg the question or to beg the point -- “to take for granted, to assume without logical proof.” And beyond that, “to avoid the issue; to sidestep the argument.” (Sentence fragments are O.K. when used for stylistic emphasis.)

“I wonder,” wonders Ms Meyers, not begging but asking, “has such frequent misuse of the technical term to beg the question made it somehow a proper use of the phrase? Or does such usage remain mistaken?”

Stay on those ramparts, logical thinkers -- hold the fort for Aristotle, the English language and St. George! To use to beg the question as a synonym for “to call for the question” is a mistake. Why? It's a mistake because it is in error. (That's begging the question.)
Got it?  Good.  Because we have screwed this up many times.

poll results, 2/11: I knew what it meant: 46 (58%); I'm ashamed I was so wrong: 15 (19%); and Means the same as "raises the question": 17 (21%).
1. Winner/final score.
2. Official Game MVP.
3. Since Anheuser-Busch has lost the past two years after its previous decade of dominance, we can again ask: which Super Bowl advertiser tops the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter?
4. Predict the Black Eyed Peas's setlist. (Bonus points for anything else you successfully predict about the halftime show, whether it's a JabbaWockeeZ appearance or accidental micturation.)
5. Will Christina Aguilera's rendition of the National Anthem be longer or shorter than 1:52?
Tiebreaker: Pick a prop bet as listed on Football Outsiders.  Get it right.  The tougher the odds of winning your bet, the more credit you get.
Previous winners: 2006: Benner; 2007: me; 2008: Joseph J. Finn ; 2009: Scott and 2010: Scott again. As they will tell you, the prizes are Fame and Glory within this community, but nothing financial.

[My predictions: Packers 34-20; Rodgers; old reliable Anheuser-Busch; I Gotta Feeling/(the one with the Dirty Dancing sample)/Boom Boom Pow/Where's The Love?; shorter; Yes on Tramon Williams INT, +300.]
NO, BEAVIS, NOT "HIGH" "COOL": HAIKU, THE HAUNTING THREE LINE FORM OF JAPANESE POETRY: For some reason, Mike Judge is bringing Beavis and Butthead back to MTV with new episodes. I don't know if he burned through his King of the Hill money or he has a new message. Like the Mystery of the Morning Wood, we will probably never know why, exactly.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

USE OF FORCE: Videos of streetfights have gone too far. (NSFW for language alone. HT: @cinematical)
MAY NOT BE DOOMED: I've got nothing to say about Idol tonight -- or last night for that matter -- but I need to let you know that Noop Dawg has a music video. (The sad part is that the vocals are so processed that he sounds nothing like the Anoop Desai we once knew.)

Related: our April 23, 2009 "in three years, Anoop Desai will be ..." predictions.
CHICAGO CODE BLUE:   If it's gotten so bad that they've had to establish a database to help folks track down the 500+ cars abandoned on Lake Shore Drive and then towed and mayoral candidates are sniping, we probably should give our Chicagoans and others affected a place to continue to congregate in light of this week's blizzard.
"I WASN'T AROUND FOR THE QUICKFIRE, SO MAYBE I MISSED WHY PADMA WAS DRESSED LIKE A SUPERFRIEND": Bourdain on the pasta disaster that was last night's Top Chef All Stars:
Where we might have dreamed of some good, country-ass, rustic pasta -- we got cazzo instead. It is mind-boggling the bungled fundamentals, the elementary misunderstanding of basic Italian staples, the missed signals that went on in the kitchen during this course. Mike Isabella, at least, understood the challenge. His rigatoni with braised calamari and cherry tomatoes should have been great. The sauce (or the "gravy" as some old timers might call it), was just right: classic, familiar, delicious. But he'd ignored the very wise Junior Pellegrino who had advised earlier that "you can use dry pastas," and attempted to make his own fresh rigatoni. It was hard, too tough and it didn't cook enough (I'm not convinced it ever could) -- as a result it never took in the sauce, and went down like a mouthful of bullets. To his credit, he knew. I have never seen a more unhappy, shamed, and repentant-looking contestant stand before us at Judges' Table.
Or, as Bourdain said on the show, “Some poor bastard in the Witness Protection Program is eating this right now.” Solid, straightforward challenge (I'm ignoring the Mizrahi amusement), and while I was surprised which of the bottom three went home, it was clear that this was the bottom three.  [Also, does this really qualify Lorraine Bracco to be billed as an "award-winning actress"?]
WILL BANKSY SHOW UP?   A nice NYT piece on the film competing for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, a topic some of you have been clamoring to discuss.  (I've seen about twenty minutes of Restrepo on tv, but that's it so far.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ALSO, THE 76ERS NEED TO SAW OFF THEIR RIGHT ARM (IGUODALA) TO SAVE THEIR FUTURE:  He has more titles than Shaquille O'Neal, but can Kobe Bryant surpass the Big Aristotle's record for most interesting film metaphor applied to basketball teammates, achieved in 2005 with his comparison of Penny Hardaway, Dwyane Wade and Bryant to the Corleone brothers?  Perhaps he has, in discussing Pau Gasol last night:
When I'm out there being aggressive and doing my thing, he needs to follow suit and just be just as aggressive which is hard for him because it's kind of against his nature. But I think tonight was a good step. Even when he was in Memphis and he was the go-to guy, he was always very nice. Very white swan. I need him to be black swan.
DUN, DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN, DUN (REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT):  The White Stripes are no more.  From Meg & Jack's [properly apostrophed? it's not "Meg's and Jack's," is it?] statement:
The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health.

It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.
OKAY, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BOOTIES 'CAUSE IT'S COOOOOOLD OUT THERE TODAY: It's February 2, so it's time to talk about the movie again. Do you buy the whole Buddhist thing, or should we just quote lines for a while and generally discuss its awesomeness?

Participate in this thread, or it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.

added: So, how long did Phil Connors spend in Punxsutawney?  We only see 38 days, but learning every skill he mastered takes a very, very long time.
ICE STORM 2011 -- KEY PARTY HARDER:  Your winter weather reports are welcome.  (2h late here, but I don't see any ice, really.)

added:  Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, wow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

SPEAKING OF HOT STOVES:  A journalistic transition we failed to cover last week -- Mark Bittman has ended his The Minimalist column after 13 years and nearly 700 columns, and will be shifting his writing for the Times to its opinion pages and elsewhere in advocacy for "good, sound eating and traditional farming."

He has listed 25 of his favorite recipes; the rest are all here, including a duck recipe about which I'll have more to say later this year.
HOT STOVE MOVEMENT: Rob Neyer -- the entry point for so many of us to full sabermetric immersion (both on account of quality and his being on the Web basically from the start of "") -- has left the Mouse to become national baseball editor for
TOUCHED BY A LAWYER: The CW's current slate of pilot pickups has one that seems particularly bizarre--Heavenly, in which a young attorney at a legal aid clinic is actually an angel sent from heaven to things. Joe Adalian of Vulture has already made the obvious joke, but I'm just grateful that we're one step closer to allowing another SNL hatched idea to become a real series.
Y'KNOW, THE SHOW IS NOT TITLED "THE MOLE":  So who was responsible for leaking to SurvivorSuck the remarkably accurate boot orders for the two Russell Hantz seasons?  Russell Hantz himself, who may now find himself liable for up to $5m in liquidated damages.  (The Russell v. Boston Rob season begins in two weeks.)

And there are now reports (denied, but we'll see) that a future season will feature Richard Hatch v. Jonny Fairplay. It would be a third season for each, and it would not surprise me in the least to find the producers willing to ignore Hatch's in-game naked assault on Susan Hawk (and his criminal record, obvs) and Fairplay's essentially quitting his second season .. because, hey, familiarity=ratings.

added: Andy Denhart has the CBS statement, which makes one think they may not be suing. (Reworded to avoid choosing between CBS's and CBS'.)

Monday, January 31, 2011

CAN KING GEORGE DANCE THE BLACK SWAN IN A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM WHILE MAKING THOUSANDS OF FRIENDS, HIGH ON CRYSTAL METH AND ONE-HANDED?   AMC Theaters are again running a two-day Best Picture Showcase splitting the ten films between on February 19 and 26, and selected cities also have the option of the single-day, twenty-three hour marathon of all ten film in a row starting with Toy Story 3 at 10am and culminating with The King's Speech beginning at 7:05 the following morning.  (Particularly cruel, or appropriate: Inception at 2am.)
FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO, MONDAY EDITION: This very special Monday episode of Friday Grammar Rodeo is brought to you by a friendly but stalemated dispute between two lawyers concerning the necessity of a comma. Please tell me which of the following constructions is correct (noting that the second entry uses a comma after the third word):
  1. He thinks that if he asks for directions, his membership in the brotherhood of men will be revoked. He would rather be lost.
  2. He thinks that, if he asks for directions, his membership in the brotherhood of men will be revoked. He would rather be lost.
I won't tell you which one I favor, because you'll just vote against me out of spite. And yet I trust your collective opinion, which is a mystery unto itself.
RUNTIME ERROR: While waiting for True Grit* to start, Spacewoman and I were treated to the trailer for Jake Gyllenhaaal's upcoming thriller, Source Code, about a top-secret government technology that allows Person A to take over Person B's body for the last eight minutes of Person B's life. Gyllenhaaaal is forced to relive the same eight minutes of some guy's life again and again to avert a terrorist attack and to woo Katie Holmes's stand-in. It's kind of Groundhog Hard: With a Vengeance, I guess.

Is the eight-minute limitation the most arbitrary central plot contrivance ever concocted? Why eight minutes? After that, the Fetzer valve runs out of 3-in-one oil and gauze pads? The midichlorians get restless? Just enough time for Gyllenhaaaaal's Eight-Minute Abs video? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

*Loads of fun.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

SOME PEOPLE CAN READ WAR AND PEACE AND COME AWAY THINKING IT'S A SIMPLE ADVENTURE STORY. OTHERS CAN READ THE INGREDIENTS ON A CHEWING GUM WRAPPER AND UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE:   Gene Hackman turns 81 today, which is a good enough reason to link to this PopWatch item asking whether he, Robert Redford (74) or Warren Beatty (73) will ever act again.
OR GET OFF THE POT: Via SomethingAwful, the least essential Wikipedia page of all -- "defecation postures."