Friday, December 23, 2011

CUE MY FATHER, ASKING, "WHY DIDN'T THEY TAKE THE SCUDDER FALLS BRIDGE? THERE'S NO TOLL!" Artist Mort Künstler has created a more historically accurate depiction of Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776.

Previously: The Hessians? Not drunk.

[Ritual Dad Joke #2: "How could the Hessians not realize Washington would be coming from there? The town's name is Washington's Crossing!"]
JUST ASK THE HERPES MONKEY: Actual press release from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): "'We Bought a Zoo' is a Fun Movie, But Buying Zoo Animals Can Be a Bad Idea." [HT: @dhm]

Other things in Cameron Crowe movies you may not want to do in real life:
  • Blasting your boombox outside your ex's window
  • Dugout sex
  • Present a manifesto to one's employer as to how everyone in the firm is behaving unethically
  • Hang out with Citizen Dick
  • Topeka. House party. LSD.
STOP ... POOPINGAmong the more prestigious -- or at least, the most consistent awards I've given out each year on the site is the ALOTT5MA Award for Funniest Half Hour of Television of the Year. Our past winners are:
2004The Daily Show, Night Two of the Democratic National Convention ("My father was a poor Virginia turd-miner ... ")
2005South Park, "Best Friends Forever"
2006The Office, "The Injury"
200730 Rock, "The Source Awards"
2008The Colbert Report, April 17, 2008 (Edwards, Clinton, Obama cameos from Philadelphia.)
2009: The Office, "Broke" ("Our balls are in your court.")
2010: Um, let's award one retroactively today. (Community, "Modern Warfare"? 30 Rock, "Live Show" or "When It Rains, It Pours"? It's Always Sunny's Lethal Weapon V episode?) 
2011 is easy. Because while I'm a late convert to Parks & Recreation, I know brilliance when I see it. Sunny's "Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games" and "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore" made me bust several guts ("rum ham!"), as did Curb ("The Bi-Sexual," "Palestinian Chicken," "Mr. Softee") and Louie had multiple awesome episodes ("Moving," "Bummer/Blueberries," "Joan") which were among other things funny, to not recognize P&R's pantheon-level third season would an a historic mistake.

And while "Harvest Festival" and "Li'l Sebastian" have their own significant charms, I understand the allure of a meat tornado, and I appreciate how hard it is to do silly as well as that show does. Is there really a question about this?
That's a very good question, sir. And I would counter with my own question, which is: Why is half of your face all swirly?
Rewatch the whole thing this weekend. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WE WANT TO REACH THE OTHER 50% OF THE WORLD'S CHILDREN: After years of anthropological and psychological research, Lego is unveiling a "Lego Friends" line in the new year, as a Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover story explains:
Whereas boys tend to be “linear”—building rapidly, even against the clock, to finish a kit so it looks just like what’s on the box—girls prefer “stops along the way,” and to begin storytelling and rearranging. Lego has bagged the pieces in Lego Friends boxes so that girls can begin playing various scenarios without finishing the whole model. Lego Friends also introduces six new Lego colors—including Easter-egg-like shades of azure and lavender. (Bright pink was already in the Lego palette.)

Then there are the lady figures. Twenty-nine mini-doll figures will be introduced in 2012, all 5 millimeters taller and curvier than the standard dwarf minifig. There are five main characters. Like American Girl Dolls, which are sold with their own book-length biographies, these five come with names and backstories. Their adventures have a backdrop: Heartlake City, which has a salon, a horse academy, a veterinary clinic, and a café. “We had nine nationalities on the team to make certain the underlying experience would work in many cultures,” says Nanna Ulrich Gudum, senior creative director.

The key difference between girls and the ladyfig and boys and the minifig was that many more girls projected themselves onto the ladyfig—she became an avatar. Boys tend to play with minifigs in the third person. “The girls needed a figure they could identify with, that looks like them,” says Rosario Costa, a Lego design director. The Lego team knew they were on to something when girls told them, “I want to shrink down and be there.”
As the article acknowledges, "The Lego Friends team is aware of the paradox at the heart of its work: To break down old stereotypes about how girls play, it risks reinforcing others." And, indeed, Lucy doesn't need a "Lego for girls" -- her Lego is everyone's Lego, the one in which she builds the Star Wars and Harry Potter vehicles and buildings she loves, and in which pinks and pastels and curves are unnecessary.

I'm not the only one with qualms; check out Lego's Facebook wall. As Powered by Girl's Stephanie Cole writes:
I can speak from personal experience and assure you, Lego, that girls do like minifigs. They also like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and they like being creative and making up stories that involve adventures and good and evil and things blowing up. But if you keep on excluding them from your marketing vision, soon they will start to believe that they would rather have hot tubs and little plastic boobs. If your research is correct, many of them already have. And if that happens, some girls might miss out on all the fantastic, adventurous imaginative play that only comes around once a childhood. The part of me that still fondly remembers epic Lego vs. Playmobile battles with my sister and cousin, is pretty royally pissed off.
HAPPINESS AT THE MISFORTUNE OF OTHERS?  THAT IS GERMAN!  A compiled twelve minutes of the best fail videos of 2011, which assuredly will provide you more delight than the upcoming Three Stooges movie.
COCO LOCO:  I don't believe one can read Shaun Assael's ESPN Magazine piece on PlayoffPAC's attacks on the college bowl system's apparent abuse of nonprofit law and come away feeling good about the status quo. Thankfully, PlayoffPAC has posted many key documents online for your perusal.
THE ALOTT5MA AWARD FOR TELEVISED FATALITY OF THE YEAR: Congratulations, [Person on Game of Thrones]!  Better luck next year, Breaking Bad.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

THIS YEAR, TO SAVE ME FROM TEARS: The Awl's Tom Keiser argues that Wham's "Last Christmas" is "the most horrible holiday song ever made," calling it "a wallowing mess of a song. It mistakes self-indulgence for closure. It contains a synthy falseness that would make even Paul McCartney and Wings wince."

Did You Know? Wham! settled a lawsuit filed by the songwriters of Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You," who claimed that the song ripped off its melody, and agreed to donate the song's first year's royalties to Band Aid.
EVERYTHING IS GREAT, EVERYTHING IS GRAND: Three songs from The Muppets are among the thirty-nine shortlisted by the Oscars for Best Original Song eligibility. Other possibilities include a song written by Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs (and she does need the G-O), "The Mighty Sven" from Happy Feet Too, and submissions from Chris Cornell, OK Go, and  Zooey Deschanel.
BUSY WITH WHAT IN A BURGER KING BATHROOM?  Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen list classic hip hop songs you can play for your children.

Monday, December 19, 2011

HE INTRODUCES THE ACTS! "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS ..." I cannot possibly imagine that anyone here would have any comment upon a columnist's efforts to rank all ninety-two fulltime cast members in SNL history from worst to best.

(Underrated: Rock, Rudolph, Fallon; overrated: Dunn, Sudeikis, Meadows. The top ten is the correct ten, but I'm not sure about the order.)
THE REAL DRAGONSLAYER: I've got nothing to say about the end of this season of Survivor, which will go down as one of the five lamest in show history. Other than anything-having-to-do-with-Cochran and a few moments during last night's episode (the Redemption and first Immunity Challenge, the threat of a tie), just a blah cast with blah strategy.  Screw honor; I want game play. Bring on the next, hopefully better cast -- and no Redemption, right?

Fienberg, AV Club with the recaps.
HIGH FLYING, ADORED: In honor of Steelers WR Antonio Brown, from whom I need 19 fantasy points tonight in order to defeat Alex and join Watts in the ALOTT5MA FFL Finals (she having already thwomped Dan Fienberg), please name your favorite Antonio, Antoine, Antawn, etc.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

FOR MASKERS AND BERGAMASKERS ENTICINGLY TO ROAM: For the first time in six years, they're adding new songs to the Fountains of Bellagio repertoire, including "In the Mood" and "Billie Jean". The article notes that coins, wedding rings, plenty of drunks, and a catfish have been scooped out of the artificial lake, but does not contain this obligatory link.

For another video to make you smile, you'll have to go below the fold, for last night's SNL Bublé Duets skit. Yes, it's another impression parade, but what a parade: