Saturday, September 10, 2011

PRESENTED WITHOUT EDITORIAL COMMENT TO AVOID LITIGATION: Dan Snyder has dropped his libel lawsuit against the Washington City Paper for publishing a lengthy piece chronicling the Redskins' many failures under his ownership, as an NYT interview in which he admits to never having read the piece hits newsstands tomorrow.
THE AWARDS SHOW THAT DETERMINES WHO'LL BE PRESENTING AT NEXT WEEK'S AWARD SHOW: The Creative Arts Emmys were handed out tonight, and while it was generally Boardwalk Empire's night (wins in many technical categories), we also had wins for Game of Thrones (main title design, but not theme music, which was inexplicably won by The Borgias), SYTYCD (choreography), The Walking Dead (prosthetic makeup), Justin Timberlake (two--guest actor in a comedy for SNL, and songwriting for his sung monologue about not singing), Gwyneth Paltrow (for Glee), Loretta Devine (for Grey's), Jeff Probst (reality show host), and Harry's Law (guest actor for Paul McCrane, in the biggest shocker of the night, beating not just Michael J. Fox's Good Wife turn, but Jeremy Davies' much acclaimed work on Justified). Harry's Law has now won more Emmys in its one abbreviated season than The Wire did.
AND YOU SHALL, YOU OLD-FASHIONED BOY: Before we get into tomorrow, I do need to commend to everyone the new HBO special Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again, and as much as it's fun to hear EGOT-winner Brooks tell some of his Hollywood tales, Cavett's just as profane and even funnier. There's a story he tells halfway through involving Chico Marx (whose name we've apparently all been mispronouncing forever -- it's Chick-oh) and Tallulah Bankhead that, by itself, is worth the hour. (It's available via Google, but it's Cavett's delivery that sells it.) That you also get Brooks telling a priceless Don Rickles-Frank Sinatra tale is just the icing on top. Must watch.
FROM OUR HYBRID SANDWICHES DESK:  Denny's ("Now Serving Black People, Because The Courts Say We Have To"), not satisfied with stuffing mozzarella sticks inside a grilled cheese sandwich, has introduced the Mac 'N Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt as part of its new Let's Get Cheesy menu. Yes, a hamburger topped with macaroni and cheese "and zesty Frisco sauce," and you'll never guess what ingredient a HuffPo blogger believes is lacking.

Friday, September 9, 2011

THE STYLINGS OF LYLA GARRITY, CHRISTIAN RADIO DJ*: The AV Club has a roundtable discussion about the worst episodes of good shows. I agree with some (see above; see also 30 Rock, live episode). But the first one that came to mind for me was the black market episode of Battlestar Galactica. Should I ever manage to get Spacewoman to watch that show, we'll skip right over that one there.


*Featuring Logan from Gilmore Girls.
I GOT AWAY WITH IT THEN. I DON'T KNOW IF I COULD GET AWAY WITH IT TODAY. BUT IF I DID IT, I CERTAINLY WOULD GO ALL THE WAY: Mel Brooks talks about a Blazing Saddles adaptation for Broadway and various and sundry other matters in advance of an HBO special tonight he did with Dick Cavett. Among other things, Brooks confirms something we discussed back in March 2008 about Richard Pryor's contributions to Blazing Saddles:
You would think that Richard Pryor would give you the black view. You know, the black guy’s torment and broken heart. But no, he loved Mongo. He wrote, “Mongo only pawn in game of life.” Brilliant. He loved Mongo, so a lot of Mongo was Richard Pryor. And I wrote a lot of the black stuff, always checking with Richard. “Can I say this? Can I say that?” Like, I would do some bad black jokes, and Richard would say, “Good, go with it, fine.” And every once in awhile, he’d say, “Yeah, that’s all right to say that. But that’s not funny.” He was terrific....

We just enjoyed each other’s company. And it turned out to be quite an unusual and crazy, funny, brave script. I kept saying to all the other writers, “Write anything you want. Write from the bottom of your heart. Write from your unconscious if you can get in there. Write everything you can, because this ain’t gonna get made, anyway.” [Laughs.] And strangely enough, Warner Bros. liked it.
Below the fold, Brooks on History of the World, Part II: Jews In Space.
THE OTHER SIDE OF ALOTT5MA SUMMER PLAYLIST:  This may or may not be the last Playlist for awhile -- we may bring Grammar Rodeo back into the rotation -- but for now, why not tell us about a song you first fell for during the summer of 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NEXT -- CUBS WIN WORLD SERIES, SWEEP MIAMI:  Nike is unveiling a limited release Air Mag sneaker, otherwise known as Air Marty McFly -- yes, 1500 pairs of the BTTF2 shoes (not expected until 2015) will be auctioned on eBay over the next ten days with all proceeds benefiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation. According to Nike's press release:
The 2011 NIKE MAG shoe was designed to be a precise replica of the original from Back to the Future II. The aesthetic is an exact match, down to the contours of the upper, the glowing LED panel and the electroluminescent NIKE in the strap. The 2011 NIKE MAG illuminates with the pinch of the “ear” of the high top, glowing for five hours per charge.
Great SCOTT! The video indicates that they're not power-lacing.
We're looking at ways to further replicate the at-home experience in the stadium.
That's from an NFL spokesman explaining why the league is directing all 32 teams to display real-time fantasy football stats at all home games this season. But there's nothing like the intense, emotional stadium experience itself;** it doesn't need enhancing. Fantasy football is more popular than FantasyLaw because the sport itself is so gripping, the games so rewarding to watch.

And tonight, after the lockout and the fantasy drafting and whatnot, football is back. We can sit back (or lean forward with great interest) and watch two very good football teams face each other tonight in Green Bay and  New Orleans.

Half-assed predctions: in the AFC I see no reason not to expect New England, Pittsburgh, and Jets to return to the playoffs, with a healthy San Diego team dominating its division. If I have an AFC sleeper I guess it's Denver (Houston doesn't count anymore), but one of the traditionally dominant teams will return to the Super Bowl this year, and Buffalo, Jacksonville, Oakland and Miami will continue to disappoint. And I'm really going to miss Peyton Manning this year (I'm assuming the worst); the only QB in my lifetime against who you'd even consider going for it with the lead on 4th and 2 on your own 28 with two minutes to go and no timeouts, so fearful were the Patriots of what he could do from 70 yards away.

In the NFC, there's only one great team (Green Bay) and a lot of pretty damn good teams -- Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta -- and several with a chance to rise up this year. I know Detroit and St. Louis are the sexy picks, but who says that Donovan F. McNabb doesn't have another few more good years left in Minnesota?  I don't pretend to know whether my Eagles have fixed their offensive line sufficiently; all I know is that this is an Andy Reid team, and as in nine of the past eleven seasons I expect him to find a way into January, where anything is possible -- but mostly disappointment around here.

Welcome back, football. I missed you.

** This statement is not necessarily valid in Jacksonville.
*** Our suicide pool is still open.  It may close at kickoff tonight; it may close Sunday. I don't know.
A 100% CHANCE OF RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNANT SPEECHES: Aaron Sorkin's new pilot has apparently lost its title, but has gotten the formal pickup from HBO. No timing yet, as HBO has a bunch of stuff in the pipeline which might seem a fit, including the Dustin Hoffman/Nick Nolte horse racing drama Luck (slated for January 2012), Julia Louis-Dreyfus' political comedy Veep, and a new season of Treme.
DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO, LADIES. MY BALLS ARE HERE FOR YOUR PLEASURE: Ben and Jerry's is rolling out Schweddy Balls ice cream, which they're describing as "Fair Trade vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum and loaded with fudge covered rum and milk chocolate malt balls."
POSEIDON LOOK AT ME, ALL HANDS ON DECK:  Young Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. would like to have sex with a mermaid. Just what is it about baseball players and partly human hybrids?
(NOW I'M GONNA WISH YOU HAD NEVER MET ME):  So what was the Song of the Summer?  VH-1 insists its math proves it was Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)," but this recent NPR piece (and really, where else are you going to turn to take The Pulse of Young America) takes it as given that "Rolling in the Deep" reigned supreme.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

AND HE SPEAKS A SECOND LANGUAGE:  Harry Potter, recent Hogwarts graduate, is looking for work as an Auror. Here's his CV. (Via Buzzfeed.)

Edited by Isaac to add:

Dear Mr. Potter:

We sincerely appreciate your interest in an Auror position with the Ministry of Magic. While we are impressed with your credentials, we regret that we cannot offer you a position at this time.

As you are aware, magic is a detail-dependent field. The Auror position in particular requires an exacting command of nuances of language. Even minor grammatical or usage errors in powerful defensive incantations may have catastrophic consequences, often at the least opportune times. Your resume betrays an inattention to such matters that renders you unsuitable for Auror work.

The Ministry, as a matter of policy, ordinarily does not comment on the reasons for its personnel decisions. We have seen fit to depart from that policy in this instance to emphasize the grave danger that resides at the intersection of your linguistic predilections and the discipline of defense against the dark arts. We urge you, for your safety and that of those around you, either to devote yourself to an intensive course of study in magical proofreading or to refrain from the practice of any defensive spells.

We wish you success in your endeavors.

Warmest regards,
Gawain Robards
Supervising Deputy Minister, Office of Aurochs
Department of Magic Enforcement
Ministry of Magic
THE DINGO'S GOT MY MEDALLION WITH A RAINBOW RIBBON!  I suggested back in 2008 that she was long overdue, so it's about damn time that Meryl Streep has been announced today as one of the 2011 recipients of a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts, along with Yo-Yo Ma (what? he hadn't won already?), saxophonist Sonny Rollins, Broadway/cabaret star Barbara Cook, and, um, Neil Diamond.  Past honorees are listed here.
CLEAR OF LEGAL IMPEDIMENTS, FULL WALLETS, EVERYBODY LOSES: I don't normally write much about sports, but the news that Texas A&M is apparently finally going to consummate its flirtation with the SEC saddens me. As anyone who's watched half an episode of Friday Night Lights can attest, Texas and football have a deep primal connection with one another, and there are a bunch of great rivalries--some one-sided (as JFK observed), and some far more competitive--with arguably the greatest of those being the Texas/Texas A&M showdown--tied for the third longest running one (by games played) in college football, and for years, played on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, and often a major game with implications for which team would go on to play in the Big XII championship.

Grantland has (as usual) an interesting piece on the SEC's culture, arguing that A&M isn't a cultural fit as it is more Texan than Southern, but fails to note that "SECede" t-shirts and slogans have apparently been quite popular amongst Aggie fans in recent years, who are convinced that going to a bigger pond with a bunch of really big fish is a better solution to what ails them than staying in a smaller pond with one other really big and hungry fish.

The most interesting possible outcome here seems to me an 8 school "Texas Conference," which could be UTEP, SMU, Rice, Houston, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor, and which might actually get an automatic BCS berth for its champion.

ETA: Rice's Marching Owl Band provided its comment during halftime of last weekend's Rice-UT game. Still not as bold as when they marched in the shape of a fire hydrant and played "Oh Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone" at A&M in tribute to its mascot.
AND THEN I SAY "MAZEL TOV" AND YOU SAY "L'CHAIM" ... IT GOES ON LIKE THAT FOR QUITE SOME TIME: Jeff Tweedy discovers that covering the prolix, interactive Black Eyed Peas is harder than he thought it would be.
THESE AREN'T THE ROIDS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR: I think it's cool that the San Francisco Giants had a Star Wars-themed game featuring "a pre-game costume contest, a post-game screening of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in the stadium, Stormtroopers guarding the field during the 'Star-Spangled Banner,' giveaway statues of Giants closing pitcher Brian Wilson — frozen in carbonite, Han Solo-style — and the opportunity to generally geek out throughout the game." I hope it makes up for the fact that they're not returning to the playoffs this year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CLAP YOUR HANDS EVERYBODY, AND EVERYBODY CLAP YOUR HANDS: 11 fictional colleges you should be glad you didn’t attend.
TASTE THE SOUP: Eddie Murphy has decided to descend from Bubble Hill to host the 2012 Oscars.

Murphy turned 50 this year, the age at which he pledged to retire from film and return to standup comedy, and in the past year he has continued to hint in this direction. It feels like Murphy has more riding on this gig than most would -- between this and Tower Heist, it's perhaps a final chance for Murphy to establish himself as a star with contemporary appeal for adult audiences, with the bite, intelligence, and swagger that so many of us miss. I am very much rooting for him to succeed.
SWING, YOU FAT BASTARD!  The Amazing Race debuted ten years ago last night, and Reality Blurred has video of the first episode. Also, back in the day Linda Holmes recapped it for a site then known as Mighty Big TV.

Among other remarkable things: the clue envelope with the first spoon-fed flights doesn't tell the teams from which NYC airport each departs, so you see the teams running around in  Central Park frantically looking for pay phones to call the airlines to figure out where to go. (Also, it's obvious from the first moments that money scarcity is a much bigger factor for the teams than it has become, as they debate subway v. taxi for getting to the airport.) Not every season has reached the heights of seasons 1-4, but other than Survivor no reality competition has come close to its durability and excellence. Eyebrows will raise for Season 19 in three weeks.

Monday, September 5, 2011

SOMEDAY, I'M GONNA BE FREE, LORD!  You know that we often note here that cancer fucking sucks? So does AIDS.  Freddie Mercury would have turned 65 today.

Google offers this animated tribute, and from the many performances available online I'll link to this performance of "Somebody to Love" and, of course, Live Aid.  (No word, from what I can tell, as to when/whether the Peter Morgan penned/Sacha Baron Cohen starring biopic will film.)
THE PARTIES ARE ADVISED TO CHILL:  A Rolling Stone readers poll yields a "worst songs of the 1990s" slideshow.  I'm going to argue that three of the songs listed aren't bad at all -- "MMMBop," "Tubthumping," and "Ice Ice Baby," though ubiquity worked against each. As annoying as the Vanilla Ice phenomenon became (and with all the attendant issues regarding Caucasians in hip hop), one has to concede (doesn't one?) that the song works on its own merits.

Worse songs of the 1990s not on the list: Limp Bizkit, "Nookie"; Next, "Too Close"; Warrant, "Cherry Pie"; and Adams/Stewart/Sting, "All For Love."
BUCKNERED:  Fakest on-screen baby ever? Didn't care. That was some great Curb, and even though some of the setups were obvious the payoffs were grand slams.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

THROUGH EARLY MORNING FOG I SEE VISIONS OF THE THINGS TO BE: For the 3rd (?) consecutive season I have created an ESPN ALOTT5MA NFL suicide pool league. Entertainment purposes only; if you're wagering don't tell me. Do join in.

(Lou W. won in 2009; last year ended in a tie at midseason.)
HADJI, THE TOTAL TONNAGE OF WHAT I KNOW THAT YOU DON'T COULD STUN A TEAM OF OXEN IN ITS TRACKS: Two things. First, someone has put together an awesome stop-motion recreation of the Johnny Quest opening sequence. Second, in the original series, Johnny Quest was voiced by none other than Tim Matheson.