Friday, October 14, 2011

ROLL CALL:  It's been a while since we've done an omnibus check-in. So: who are you, where are you, how are you, and what are you reading these days?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

BUT I WILL INSIST THAT WE ONLY BOOED MICHAEL IRVIN UNTIL IT WAS CLEAR HE WASN'T GETTING UP:  Philadelphia Flyers fans booed an anti-cancer ad during last night's game because it featured players from rival teams.  Or because we're pro-cancer.
THEOW EPSTEIN. IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THE 'W' IS FOR ...: Some time soon, Theo Epstein will be named something like Vice President for Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Chicago Cubs, Mayor of Wrigleyville, and Earl of Waveland and Boystown Environs. To introduce you northside Chicagoans to your newest neighbor, allow me to present a few true* facts about Theo Epstein:

  • Turned a perennially mediocre and dysfunctional team into a consistent winner; and

  • Supervised the process of bringing every facet of the organization that was under his control, including on-field product, scouting, and planning, up to the very highest standards in Major League Baseball; and thereby

  • Transformed a perpetually dispirited and cynical fan base into one of the most devoted (if irritating to others) in sports; and thereby

  • Enabled the creation of a merchandising, broadcasting, and revenue-generating machine that ensured both a competitive advantage over all but a handful of rivals and substantial profits for ownership; all of which

  • Resulted in the heaping scorn of his Red Sox employers.

  • Epstein also singlehandedly proved, as Joe Morgan and others argued, that Billy Beane was a fraud who knew nothing about baseball, by

  • Helping turn Beane's team into a consistent loser, by

  • Doing everything that Beane did and then outbidding Beane for every player that Beane wanted.

  • Epstein was the first Jewish teenager to own a professional baseball team, right after dropping out of Harvard Business School three credits short of a degree in theoretical computer programming.

  • His departure from the Red Sox is causing Ken Tremendous to tear Mose Schrute's hair out.

  • He is going to let Steve Bartman live in his basement, because Theo Epstein doesn't believe in curses.

*Facts not guaranteed to be true.

I SENSE A SUIT FOR BREACH OF THE STANDARD ISSUE RICH AND FAMOUS CONTRACT COMING: We have yet another more traditional trailer for The Muppets, which gives us new methods of travel, chickens singing Cee-Lo, Chris Cooper dancing, NPH with the pink Muppets from "Mahna Mahna," and an explanation as to why the movie's not in 3-D.
IT'S ALL BEEN A CROCK SINCE JINCY WILLETT LOST: Your 2011 nominees for the National Book Awards.
MORE MOLEMAN?  Splitsider's Josh Kurp has six ideas for rejuvenating The Simpsons for seasons 24-25.
I'M SORRY. I'M AFRAID I CAN'T DO THAT: Apparently, the iPhone 4S's new voice-recognition assistant, Siri, is prepared to answer all sorts of requests.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

IF THAT'S MY PRAYER BOOK, LORD LET US PRAY:  Fans of palindromic bass lines, mbaqagana, and all that is good in this world will be delighted to hear that Paul Simon plans a 25th anniversary Graceland concert tour for 2012 with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and others.

The original tour was my first rock concert at the Spectrum.  I will assuredly be in attendance for the sequel.

Update: Just realized that today (Thursday) is Simon's 70th birthday.
THE QUESTING NOVEL, REAMMADE: Neal Stephenson, it seems to me, gets a lot more latitude from his publishers' marketing folks (who presumably like their assets to build consistent brands) than the average author. His debut novel was hard sci-fi. His big breakthrough was part historical fiction, part caper pulp. He followed that up with a three-part series about Isaac Newton, Gottfried Liebniz, late 17th/early 18th century European politics, a feral adventurer with half of his junk missing, and some supposedly magic gold that never actually did anything magic except weigh out slightly too dense. Then came a long sci-fi rumination about parallel worlds. And now, the irritatingly named Reamde.
YIPPEE-KAY-YAY: After Live Free Or Die Hard (Die Hard 4.0 outside the US), you would have thought there's no place left go in terms of ridiculous titles for Die Hard sequels. You'd be wrong, as A Good Day To Die Hard will arrive in theatres in February 2013. The article also notes that we're getting a Taken sequel next fall (why not just cast Liam Neeson as Jack Reacher rather than Tom Cruise, since Taken was basically an audition reel for that part?) and the Percy Jackson sequel exactly no one was demanding Easter weekend 2013.
LIKELY THE ONLY HALL OF FAME IN EXISTENCE TO HAVE JOHNNY SACK AMONG ITS BOARD MEMBERS: In terms of Truly Meaningless Halls of Fame To Which I Devote Excessive Coverage, right behind the one in Cleveland is the newer one next door to here -- the New Jersey Hall of Fame,whose list of nominees for the Class of 2012 includes Turnpike stalwarts Richard Stockton and Molly Pitcher, returning nominees like Milton Friedman (if he's supposed to be inducted, won't the market arrange it?) and Grover Cleveland (recipient of non-consecutive nominations), and new nominees like Alexander Calder, Dionne Warwick (who already knows if she's in) and Aaron Burr, whose bio may be missing a few details:
Aaron Burr Newark (1756-1836) After attending Princeton University, he served in the army during the Revolutionary War, was a successful attorney and later became vice president during Thomas Jefferson’s presidential term.
Recent inductees include William Brennan, John Basilone, Woodrow Wilson and Judy Blume. Youse can vote right here.
OH, DEM GOLDEN HANDCUFFS:  Eleven were charged with prostitution last night in connection with a Mummers orgy.  Yeah, these guys.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

TOY STORY 4: BUZZ LIGHTYEAR GETS HOOKED ON PILLS: At least according to Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs watched Studio 60 (Sorkin doesn't name the show, but given timing, seems likely he's referring to Studio 60) and called Sorkin upon its cancellation "to make sure you're not discouraged," as well as approaching Sorkin about working with the folks at Pixar on a movie, which would have been the walkiest-talkiest animated movie ever.
EXPOS BASEBALL: 23 logos with hidden messages.

Monday, October 10, 2011

IN TWO ACTS:  Public Radio humor is much around us right now. Below the fold, not from WBEZ in Chicago is audio of The Ira Glass Sex Tape, followed by the Parks & Rec opening bit from last week:
AND THE LAND YOU BELONG TO IS GRAND:  In honor of this site's 3,000,000th visitor -- visiting six of our pages for 2+ minutes at 2:08pm EDT today via Norman, OK -- tell us something you like about the Sooner State.
IT'S DRIVING ME OUT OF MY MIND/THAT'S WHY IT'S HARD FOR ME TO FIND/CAN'T GET IT OUTTA MY HEAD ... WRONG MOVE YOU'RE DEAD/THAT GIRL IS POISON: There have been few episodes of Breaking Bad that one could write about this season without a bit of spoiling, but, boy, what a finale, and what a setup for the next season (or the next two half-seasons, however they're going to do it).
IF YOU LIKE THIS APOLOGY, MAYBE YOU'D LIKE TO QUEUE 'NEW COKE': R.I.P. Qwikster; Netflix has changed its mind about separating its services.
EXTRAORDINARY NUT SNACKS:  There are mornings on which I have scoured the Internets and recognized something that would launch us towards an engaging, nuanced conversation on the popular culture, and then there's the ones where all I've got is a picture of the "unmistakably masculine" squirrel which made a dramatic appearance on the finals of BBC2's The Great British Bake-Off.
YOU KNOW NOTHING, THOMAS KELLER: What do we like around here? Fannish devotion. Culinary challenges. And, of late anyway, George R. R. Martin. So I point you to The Inn at the Crossroads an ongoing effort to cook the way through the many dishes mentioned in a Song of Ice and Fire. A few of these recipes look pretty good, but most impressive is the list of stuff they can't -- or won't -- make:

- Roast swan stuffed with mushrooms and oysters
- Roast herons
- A great wedding pie with a hundred live doves baked within to fly out when the crust is broken
- Unborn puppies and honeyed dormice

I once ate horse proscuitto, which was pretty good. So I was disappointed to see no recipe for horse jerky or, you know, the still-beating heart of a stallion.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

BOTTOM? So seven days and a handful of hours ago, the Eagles were leading San Francisco 20-3 at halftime, and the Phillies were up 1-0 on the Cardinals with Cliff Lee scheduled to start that evening.

Things have changed.

Look, it's possible that the Eagles can turn things around, that the Phillies will restock appropriately for 2012, that the 76ers will play this season and be inspiring, and I guess it's even possible (however remotely) that I will develop a hockey jones again.

I know we're spoiled. After all, as Isaac would surely note, at least we still have all our teams. And I never thought Philadelphians could develop the sense of sports entitlement that New Yorkers have always had and Bostoners have cultivated in the past decade. Where our teams are right now is still better than where they were in 1999 -- Doug Pederson, QB; Paul Byrd, Chad Ogea and Robert Person starting for the Phillies; Allen Iverson, a season away from magic; and Eric Lindros, multiply-concussed and properly bitter. We are not there yet, and the Phillies in particular may not be a "bad" team for at least the next three years.

But there is a distinct chill in the Philadelphia sports air. Winter is coming.