Friday, December 9, 2011

"I ALWAYS FIND MY PEOPLE HERE!"  That's what KarenNM commented yesterday upon realizing she was not alone in her Ann Curry not-exactly-a-fandom.

So I couldn't help but wonder: what other obscure, seeming aberrant, or possibly controversial pop culture views do folks here hold for which they'd like to determine if there's more support out there?  (Here's one: my daughters have been watching a lot of Looney Tunes lately, and I've realized that I just don't get the appeal of Sylvester and Tweety at all. It's just watered-down Tom and Jerry without the inventivess of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. What's the point?)
HE, OF COURSE, RETREATS TO HIS PORTUGUESE VILLA BECAUSE BEING WHITE IS HARD: Videogum nominates Love Actually as the worst movie of all time.
SO IF YOU BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS, CHILDREN, LIKE YOUR UNCLE BILLY DOES, THEN BUY THIS FESTERING TURD OF A RECORD:: Wagering is open for this year's UK Christmas #1 single, with the favorites being (a) whoever wins UK X-Factor; (b) a choir of military wives created for a reality series; (c) Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", being re-released as a fundraiser for a UK children's charity; and (d) The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want."
GLEE MEANS, LITERALLY, GLEE: If you're going to go out on a forced extended vacation, you might as well do it the way that Community did, with a brilliant, dense, layered, pissed off episode. One could probably sit down and write a term paper on everything that went right, from the spot-on parody (the bad rapping and production numbers, the nonsensical characterization, the continuity failures) up one level to overt rips ("if you don't like Glee Club, it doesn't make you a bully, and saying it does is reverse bullying"), to the reproach to Community's own fetishists (Annie's sexy/infantile come-on) to the meta jabs at Community's tone and self-destructive behavior. Community may have spent too much time this season trying confusedly to please disparate masters (including NBC, and not excluding its superfans), but this episode was nothing but the show doing what it wanted to do, well and proudly, and boy, did it hit the spot for me.

In other news, I'm trying to think of a sadder clown on recent TV than Ellie Kemper's Erin.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"I FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER, BECAUSE IT'S SAD:" The cast of Community (minus Ken Jeong) divides into two teams for a pop culture trivia deathmatch (contains moderate NSFW language). Unsurprisingly, Alison Brie knows her cheesy romcoms, Chevy Chase comes off as kind of a dick, and Donald Glover knows his MTV VJs. Also, you'll be shocked by some of the things they miss.
THE MOST SHOCKING JUDICIAL ROSE CEREMONY EVER: Following up on our discussion about David Denby's breach of the Dragon Tattoo embargo, a similar imbroglio has resulted in litigation. Producers of The Bachelor are suing Reality Steve, a site which has made its name by getting spoilers for the show, claiming that the folks behind the site have offered money to contestants to get them to breach confidentiality agreements and asserting tortious interference with the producers' confidentiality agreements with the contestants.

As a general rule, at least under New York law, tortious interference with contract is pretty much the last refuge of someone looking for a claim who can't/doesn't want to sue the party who actually breached, and the interesting thing here is that the producers have not sued anyone for actually breaching their contract--indeed, while the folks behind the site don't seem to deny sending the e-mails, their defense is (in part) that no one took them up on their offer to pay them to breach. This will be interesting to watch to see how it develops.
BOOM! SHAKE THE ROOM! Have you ever thought "well, I love my iPhone/iPod, but wish it had a much bigger speaker that weighed 700 pounds?" Now there's a solution to that problem, with the iNuke Boom.
THE BOY WHO WON: Daniel Radcliffe is your EW Entertainer of the Year for 2011.

(Our earlier speculation is here. I stand by my Pitt/Clooney call.)
SEACREST IN?  He's apparently being recruited to replace Matt Lauer on The Today Show.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

FOUR IS THE NEW THREE: Not only did Col. Potter join his predecessor Lt. Col. Henry Blake in the great M*A*S*H tent in the sky today, but in what has to be one of the oddest "celebrity" death days in recent memory, also passing today were: Dobie Gray, he of "Drift Away" fame; Pusuke, who at 26 was the world's oldest dog; and Barbara Orbison, the widow of Roy Orbison.
ALOTT5MA PREMORSE DESK:  On March 28, 2010, in a discussion of premorse Marsha commented: "I was 100% sure Harry Morgan was dead. But he isn't."

Now he is. Alan Sepinwall remembers the M*A*S*H/Dragnet star, dead at 96.
"FOR HIS WIT AND INTUITION, COMBINED WITH HIS PASSION FOR THE GAME AND HIS DOWN-HOME STYLE": The National Baseball Hall of Fame has selected Tim McCarver as the 2012 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for lifetime excellence in baseball broadcasting. He is the only second primary television analyst to win the award, which has previously gone to much more talented people.

Seriously, how does McCarver win if these are the criteria? "Voters were asked to base their selections on the following criteria: longevity; continuity with a club; honors, including national assignments such as the World Series and All-Star Games; and popularity with fans."
I FEAR ALL WE HAVE DONE IS AWAKEN A SLEEPING FAMILY AND FILLED IT WITH A TERRIBLE RESOLVE: Yesterday, the crew from Mythbusters fired a cannonball that ricocheted off a wall, through a house, out the back of that house and down the street, where it destroyed the dashboard of a minivan. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
BELLIGERENT NOSTALGIA:  The new Mark Harris thinkpiece on the potential Oscar field is a must-read:
If this turns out to be a year that yields, say, six Best Picture nominees, and those nominees are The Artist, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, War Horse, The Tree of Life, and (speaking of escaping from present-day realities) The Help, what will anyone make of the list 15 or 20 years from now? All they will glean about 2011 is that (a) 2011 was an immensely unappealing subject to the filmmakers who endured it, and (b) an extraordinary number of people either lived in France, came from France, fought wars in France, or really wanted to visit France. 
Is this an issue with the Oscars or with the movies? It’s easy to say that Academy Awards are only a reflection of what’s out there. But plenty of 2011 movies are, on some level, about the way we live now, and they’re eminently worthy of consideration. Imagine a list composed, for instance, of Moneyball, Margin Call, The Descendants, Contagion, Ralph Fiennes’ contemporized Coriolanus, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Collectively, they’d create a very different snapshot of a year and a world — more specifically, a recognizably post-9/11 world in which we are largely obsessed with and freaked out about money and war and an always looming sense of threat. Throw those six movies into a time capsule and, when it’s unearthed generations hence, someone might at least be able to make a reasonable guess as to when it had been buried.
BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SPELL MARKETA IRGLOVA WITHOUT AN E, G, O, AND T: Once, the Musical, will open on Broadway in March 2012.

Irglova and Hansard did not win the two Grammys for which Once (the film soundtrack) had been nominated; otherwise, they could have joined Mel Brooks in garnering three-fourths of the crown for multiple adaptations of the same work (in his case, G-O-T for The Producers).  Nine actors have gone O-T for the same performance.

[Side EGOT question: Eminem's Super Bowl ad for Chrysler won a Creative Arts Emmy for Best Commercial, but it looks like the award goes to the ad agency and production company. Is he in fact only a Tony away from EGOT?]
AN MC TO A DEGREE THAT YOU CAN'T GET IN COLLEGE: The Rock and Roll Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Hall of Fame has decided to induct in 2012 The Beastie Boys, Guns N' Roses, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan, Laura Nyro, and The Small Faces.

We had discussed this year's nominees here; among those passed over were The Cure, Donna Summer (again), Tom Waits, Heart, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ALL HAIL THE LANNISTER:  GQ has named Peter Dinklage its Stud of the Year 2011. (Slightly NSFW pictures.)  They've also named Jay-Z the King of the Year, and the grilled cheese their Sandwich of the Year.
NO MORE #8 SEEDS UPSETTING #1:  Grantland's Katie Baker and Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski assess the winners and losers in the NHL's radical realignment scheme, which may bring with it new conference names.
I'VE GOT CAROLINE IN THE BEDROOM RIGHT NOW, PASSED OUT COLD. I COULD VIOLATE HER TEN DIFFERENT WAYS IF I WANTED TO: Adam's post on Christmas Story reminded me that I watched a little of another beloved piece of our shared past this weekend -- Sixteen Candles was on in the waiting-for-sleep-to-take-me hours. Since I was born in 1970, it didn't take me too long to remember how weirdly good Anthony Michael Hall was in that role. What I didn't remember, though, was what a menacing sociopath Jake Ryan was. He invited the geek to rape his girlfriend (as long as the geek didn't leave her in a park somewhere) and teenaged girls everywhere swooned? People forgave a lot in the 80s if you looked a little like Matt Dillon.

(And, as TPE mentioned below, Long Duc Dong.)
FROM THE ALOTT5MA PROBABLY-UNNECESSARY ADAPTATIONS DESK:  A new musical version A Christmas Story is proving fairly popular on the road, except that they've kept the scene with the waiters singing "Deck the Halls" in the Chinese restaurant, and, come on, people, it's 2011, and as the show's original composer said (he's been let go for "artistic differences"), “I had a very strong feeling that I didn’t want an Asian kid taken to a musical and saying to his parents, ‘Why are they making fun of us?’".
GREETINGS FROM ASBURY SHARK: From the network that brought you Sharktopus and Mansquito -- and the writing team that brought you, um, the tv holiday classics The Dog That Saved Christmas, The Dog That Saved Christmas Vacation, and The Dog That Saved Halloween -- comes the 2012 sure-to-be-tweeted Syfy telemovie Jersey Shore Shark Attack. Starring Paul Sorvino, Tony Sirico, Jack Scalia, Joey Fatone, Vinny from Jersey Shore, and HITG! superstar William Atherton.

Monday, December 5, 2011

STORE THIS AWAY FOR A FUTURE TRIVIA CONTEST:  According to NYMag, Adele's “Someone Like You” is the first-ever U.S. No. 1 to feature nothing but voice and piano.  I did not know that.
BRING BACK BIG SHOT: Hip Hop is dead in Philadelphia -- the 76ers mascot others, not the cultural movement -- and the combined talents of Jim Henson's Creature Shop and locals have yielded these three finalists to replace him -- "Big Ben" Franklin, B. Franklin Dogg, and Phil E. Moose.

At least it's better than Li'l G.
COMBINED 1,982 WINS AND TWELVE NATIONAL TITLES: In a year that has seen its off-the-field sports news dominated by investigations of college sports programs once deemed iconic, Sports Illustrated will honor Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt as its 2011 Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.  They join John Wooden (1972) and Dean Smith (1997) as the only college basketball coaches to receive the award.
ARTISANALLY SHAT: If you were looking for a detailed tasting review of Kopi Luwak, the naturally preprocessed $420/lb Indonesian coffee, look no further.
NOT SINCE JAMES MADISON HAS AN EMBARGO BEEN SO HOTLY DEBATED: So, critics and select awards groups have already seen Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but under the terms of an embargo date--reviews were not supposed to be published until December 13. However, David Denby of The New Yorker broke the embargo with a review that published online today and is available in the issue arriving on newsstands and in mailboxes beginning today. Unsurprisingly, this has provoked a pissing match between Denby and producer Scott Rudin. Frankly, I don't understand the big deal--Dragon Tattoo is all-but-certain to be a big financial success regardless of reviews given the momumental book sales (though the fact that it's apparently a very hard R may cut into that), and the film that was shown was the finished film, not an incomplete work print.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

WE KIDNAP AND RAVAGE AND DON'T GIVE A HOOT:  A few observations from a quick trip to the Happiest Place on Earth for P's 4th birthday:

  • I would gladly stay at the Polynesian again. So nice to be on the monorail track, and to have a view of the fireworks at night from the hotel. Also, great swimming pool for the kids, and Disney's Magical Express succeeded with our luggage in both directions without fail.
  • Holy crap is Star Tours an awesome simulator ride.  We ended up on Hoth. (Also, P was selected as the rebel spy, which in addition to having her joke chosen by Marty Wazowski at the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor made the trip full of win.)
  • Cannot recommend more highly the importance of hitting a park as soon as it opens. Friday morning at the Kingdom, we were able to blitz, in about two and a half hours, Goofy picture/Dumbo/carousel/Small World/trio of princesses/Pirates/picture with Pirate Goofy/Jack Sparrow show/pictures with Jasmine-Aladdin/carpet ride, without once requiring a Fastpass.  Seriously, showing up at Dumbo and seeing no line whatsoever was an amazing surprise.
  • It's weird that construction of the expanded Fantasyland is visible to the public.
  • Are there EPCOT fans out there?  Can someone explain it to me beyond "Walt wanted a permanent World's Fair"?  It's so large, and if it weren't part of WDW I don't know that it could survive on its own.
  • Animal Kingdom, on the other hand, I enjoyed -- and this was my first time there. The theming is really well done; Kali River Rapids is a great ride, and the Lion King show is a solid half-hour for the kids. (For an adult that's seen too much Cirque du Soleil, everything else pales a little, but you know I'm a sucker for the movie and will admit to being impressed that they squeezed "Be Prepared" into the kiddie show, even if it was ixnay on the azi-Nay.) Also, 4-D Stinkbug!