Friday, April 1, 2011

ALLIUM VERITE: Jersey Shore's Snooki received $32K to appear at Rutgers. Toni Morrison received $30K.
ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO: Well, its a surprising one today.  The Guardian (UK) web site today (with the concurrence of The Economist) has heard the masses and is going to grudgingly yield:
The Guardian has revised it's style guide to reflect the necessary consistency of adding apostrophe-s to create the possessive form of the pronoun "it."
I'm a bit taken aback with where this is going to.  But, this is an historic change which makes sense.  The descriptivist in me is ready to yield to the culture for two reasons: first, because in this case it's consistent with possessives generally, and also this might disincent people from unnecessary apostrophes for pluralization.

To be sure, none of the United States' guides have adopted this formally yet, but such a significant shift from across the pond suggests the question as to when it will occur in it's leading guides like the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Style Guide. Still, our language has been evolving since Moses's time, and we must accept it's continual change. Some things are inevitable.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

HOW TO SAVE A LIFE: If you're an hourlong show not named Glee, it can be a pretty risky move to try a musical episode, but I thought Grey's pulled it off admirably tonight. The concept of music being how Callie processes brain trauma was a clever way into doing the episode, and even those in the cast without a musical theatre background turned in some credible performances (Kevin McKidd and Chyler Leigh in particular). It's been a really solid season for both Grey's and Private Practice this year, and even seemingly soapy plotlines (Callie/Arizona/Sloan) have turned out to be rich sources of drama. Props to our friend Shonda and her team.
I GUESS YOU WEREN'T READY FOR THAT YET. BUT YOUR KIDS ARE GONNA LOVE IT:  On the bright side, I'm a big fan of the reworked performance segments on the Idol results show. No more hokey medleys; instead interesting duo and small group performances scattered throughout the hour. On the other side, damn ...

THERE IS NO FRESH START! LIVES CARRY ON!   Matthew Weiner has completed a deal with AMC to keep Mad Men on the air for at least two more seasons and possibly three. Sepinwall has the details.
BLAIS OF GLORY:  Tom Colicchio explains why what happened, happened, including the equipment you really need to perfect your own foie gras ice cream. A satisfying finale, and Top Chef "Masters" returns next week.  (Yes, I'm putting the word in quotes, because it's such a step down from having Hubert Keller, Wylie Dufresne and Rick Bayless compete.  C'mon. Also, no Jay Rayner?) (Also starting soon? Top Chef Canada.)
THE GOOD THING ABOUT OPENING DAY -- AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT COUNTS. IT'S IN THE RECORD: East Coast weather forecasts be damned; today is the first day of spring.

For Phillies fans, a winter that grew infinitely warmer with the late-night Cliff Lee news felt increasingly chilly as Chase Utley, Domonic Brown, Brad Lidge and others have been taken from the active ranks due to injury, and what was hoped to be a 100+ win romp now looks to be a season-long dogfight with the improved, chipper Braves.

Still, at 1:05 pm EDT (insert: tomorrow!), my office radio (yes, they still exist) will be on, Roy Halladay will take the mound, and whatever will begin, begins.  Welcome back, baseball.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BUT THEN AGAIN, NO:  Both Kim and I are too tired and uninspired to do the full back-and-forth on Idol tonight, though we reserve the right to supplement come morrow. Suffice it to say that none of the attempts to change one's box (more mellow! less Jacob-y! more fire!) have inspired us to reach for our thesaurii to find new words for "awesome," and at this point I have already seen all the Pia and Haley that I ever need to see.  So, sorry, which actually wasn't that hard to say after all.
ONE OF THESE BABIES WILL BE RAISED QUITE WELL: The current "Top Story" at is headlined "5 Things To Know About Kevin Federline's Pregnant Girlfriend." For those of us who are not Kevin Federline or members of his family, is there actually anything we need to know about this story beyond the two key points established in the headline (i.e., that Kevin Federline has a girlfriend and that she is pregnant)? Even that may be too much.

Moving from celebrities no one likes to celebrities we actually like quite a bit, all credit to Elizabeth Banks for managing to welcome a son to the family through a surrogate without making it into a tabloid extravaganza. No tabloid pictures, and the public announcement came through a tweet and a blog post expressly stating that there will be no such pictures. Class act all the way around.
IF I KNEW THE TUNES I MIGHT JOIN IN:  It's Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Elton John night on Idol (last done in season three), and I would be remiss if I did not quickly offer some half-assed predictions and advice.

SMURF VILLAGE:  In preparation for tonight's finale, ranks the eight Top Chef seasons.

added: Linda Holmes, "'Top Chef': How Did Such A Great Season Lead To Such An Uninspiring Finale?" My answer, which I posted over there:
The constraints on too many of the challenges have prevented the contestants from demonstrating greatness. Instead it's been more a matter of surviving from week to week in cooking stuff at Target, with mediocre equipment, or from other chef's favorites (among others). When given the freedom to just do what they do well -- the Restaurant Wars and Family History episodes in particular -- the show has been great. There just hasn't been enough of it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ALOTT5MA SHAMELESS COMMERCE DIVISION: Frequent commenter (and occasional subway busker) Paul Tabachneck's new album, Here Goes Nothing, is now for sale on iTunes and
MEAT CANDY: CNBC's Darren Rovell reports on the sizzling popularity of bacon in the video clip you'll see below the fold. While Rovell somehow misses the remarkable bacon grease popcorn now served at Philadelphia's Khyber Pass Pub, he does make sure to mention the new Maple Bacon Sundae at Denny's ("layers of vanilla ice cream, topped with maple-flavored syrup and diced hickory-smoked bacon") as part of their Baconalia celebration, which I guess they'll even serve to black people now because of all the court orders:

No postseason is perfect, but try explaining March Madness to an alien: the NCAA Champion is the team that wins six games in a row (seven for VCU). That's it.

The regular season is, in essence, meaningless beyond giving the high seeds an easier path. (And that doesn't always work out either, as VCU got in with wins over fellow low seed FSU, as well as mercurial Georgetown and Purdue — a path that any team would gladly have.) All of the 68 teams start over in March, even ones that might have struggled in the regular season. Like, say, losing five out of their last seven, and drawing the scorn of Vitale, Bilas and Lunardi on national TV. VCU's a hot team, but one of the best four teams of 2010-11?

It's sacrilege to say, but in point of fact, college football does a better job than college basketball of crowning the best team in the sport. You can't slip up, not at any time. That old BCS talking point is actually true: the regular season matters.
The problem is that I don't know any way to fix this without shrinking the tournament to 48 teams (or fewer), the idea being to give at least some subset of elite teams a first-round bye. But we know the NCAA isn't foregoing the revenue from those games, so that's a non-starter. The real problem is deeper, and it's structural.

BEYOND THE (NYLON) CURTAIN: In which Eric Teplitz continues and then concludes his yarn about interviewing Billy Joel in 1996.

Monday, March 28, 2011

TWO TICKETS TO THE GUN SHOW:  Many, many pictures of Young Alec Baldwin's chest hair.
CLEARLY THE BEST THING TO COME FROM OTTAWA SINCE SARAH CHALKE: At the start of last weekend, two Senators fans enjoyed a song at a hockey game.
MOTOWNPHILLYFORGOTTEN: The fine folks at the Village Voice surveyed 15 prominent music critics, asking them to name the 5 Boyz II Men songs to hit #1 on the Hot 100. None of the 15 got all 5, and most stalled out at 3 or fewer. Can you do better (without peeking)?
TWO NON-NON-BLONDES: I enjoyed both Limitless and The Lincoln Lawyer this weekend, a pair of films about pretty boys being forced to use their brains in new and creative ways. Each film has one pretty odd logical gap: if you've become supersmart through your supersmart pill, isn't the first thing you do ensuring an unlimited supply of the drug?  In the latter, well, there are some questionable assertions as to the power of Realtors, and I'll leave it at that.

Both films have side attractions of note: the Philadelphians among us will appreciate Limitless for its repositioning multiple local sites to New York City -- including the Marathon Grill at 18th and Market and the former AAA Building at 21st and Market (both flanking my office), Del Frisco's, Union Trust, Rittenhouse Square and The Happy Rooster; and for Lincoln Lawyer it's the deep supporting cast with folks like Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy and Frances Fisher all used well in small doses. Also, Limitless has towards the end an incredibly silly moment that had the audience tittering with anticipation (hell, I shouted "do it!"), and you'll know it when you see it.

Neither film is essential viewing; both fall under the category of "if you were thinking about seeing this movie, you'll probably like it." I can't say that either Cooper or McConaughey have wrested the That Guy crown from the other quite yet, but I think the universe has room for both.
A SWARM OF SYNERGIES ... A TRUCKLOAD OF TIE-INS ... A TAKE-AWAY CARTON OF CROSS-MARKETING ... A LOT OF ALOTT5MA FAVES: Beginning today, and presumably for a limited time, New York and Los Angeles will be visited by food trucks serving menus designed by Tom Colicchio to celebrate George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy franchise.

Coincidentally, on April 17, HBO will launch their Game of Thrones series, based on Martin's first Ice and Fire book. Around here, we almost resubbed HBO for Boardwalk Empire. Probably we should have. Now, I'm guessing it's a done deal. IMDB doesn't seem to have the complete cast list, so here's the Official Site.

Equally coincidentally, I'm sure, Ol' George himself is supposed to release the long, long, long, long anticipated Dance With Dragons installment of the franchise come July (though I could swear I read a press release a month ago that said it would be out in June).

In summary: Fantasy nerds rejoice! And the rest of you just consider that if Tom Colicchio is willing to associate his brand with this franchise maybe we're on to something. He's more than likely getting paid good money, after all, in the hope that it will get you to consider just that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

PLEASE DO NOT OFFER MY GOD A PEANUT: There are many good things that can happen when you drink a lot of tea, and if you drink a whole lot of it you can get sympathetic, pitying applause from the locals. But by the many arms of Ganesh I swear that we've seen this all before on The Amazing Race: India is crowded! Mallory is easily excited! Luke gets frustrated! Product gets plugged!

That said, it was (other than the lack of airplane intrigue) a well-constructed leg: a smartly-constructed needle in a haystack, a clue that required some intelligence to recognize, local navigational skills. I'm just not finding a lot to excite me -- either in terms of teams doing things which impress me or saying/doing things which amuse me. YMMV.