Saturday, February 25, 2012

IT'S POSSIBLE NICOLAS CAGE MIGHT SHOW UP TO ACCEPT IN PERSON: While we wait for The Artist to inevitably clean up tomorrow night, let's take note of the Razzie award nominations for 2011, which include 12 nominations for Jack and Jill, giving Adam Sandler 3 of his 4 nominations (actor, actress, and screenplay--the fourth is another screenplay nomination for his contributions to Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star). Nick Swardson scores the rare ignominy of being nominated as both worst actor (for Bucky Larson) and worst supporting actor (for Jack and Jill and Just Go With It), and they can't even bring themselves to refer to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley by name, simply calling her "The Underwear Model," which is an apt summary of her part. Anyone they missed?
JUST ADD SEAL: With news that Act of Valor, the motion picture starring active duty US Navy SEALs, will be the big winner at this weekend's box office, a few thoughts on how recent movies could be improved with the addition of SEALs.
  • New Year's Eve--Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele's characters are trapped in an elevator. Real, active duty Navy SEALs storm the elevator in an effort to free them, but Kutcher and Michele are accidentally killed in the process. The losses are deemed "acceptable."
  • Star Wars: Episode One--The Empire sends in active duty Navy SEALs to wipe out the Gungans. This is greeted with applause from the entire audience.
  • The Grey--Active duty Navy SEALs punch a bunch of wolves in the face.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked--Active duty Navy SEALs are sent in on a rescue mission when the Chipmunks and Chipettes are stranded on an island. Theodore is tragically killed in the crossfire. Again, losses are deemed acceptable.
  • The Vow--After a head injury, Rachel McAdams begins to believe she is an active duty Navy SEAL. Actual active duty Navy SEALs disabuse her of this notion. Channing Tatum also takes off his shirt for no apparent reason.
OH WON'T YOU PLEASE TAKE ME HOME:  The WaPo's Chris Richards attended a "Guns N'Roses" (i.e., "Axl and Friends") concert late Thursday night, and he did not care for it:
To call it a train wreck wouldn’t be right. Train wrecks are fast and violent. This was like being stuck in gridlock traffic behind a garbage truck in August.... Rose has surrounded himself with sloppy, unimaginative players who make him sound dated, safe and sexless. They had no command of pace or rhythm Friday. Drum fills were dashed off. Guitar leads were hurried. And anytime Rose left the stage for one of the dozens of breathers he took throughout the set, the band would wander off into instrumental dead zones, as if trying to discover the intersection of pathetic and insulting.

Friday, February 24, 2012

THE VEST MOVE:  I may have barely paid attention to American Idol this season, but one sure way to bring me back is with the Wacky Dancing Montage of the Final 24. For those who have been paying attention, do we have any favorites yet -- either in terms of "this is who you should like" or "this is who's going to win"?

(Fienberg galleries the gentlemen and ladies in the running for America's Next Not Sexually Threatening White Guy Who May Play Guitar.)

More importantly, let's go to the archives for the Wacky Dancing Montages of  Season 7 -- Battle of the Davids, Season 5 -- The One With That Woman Who's On That Show Now, and the 1st, 2nd (perhaps our favorite semis week ever), and 3rd groups of 12 from season 8, The One With The Lambert. Many, many former semifinalists whom you've totally forgotten about over the intervening years.  Enjoy.
I AIN'T SEEN NOTHING LIKE HIM:  R.I.P. Chicago's Steve Kordek, 100, whose pinball innovations include the two-flipper pinball machine (1948), drop target (1962), and multiball mode (1963).  As he explained to the Trib in 2009, "The secret to designing a good game is to attract the player, What attracts a player, first, is the pictures on the backglass of the game. Second, if what he sees on the play field is different, that's a success. And when the features are so exciting that he wants to put more money in it, you've got him."
I DON'T WANT MY DAUGHTERS GROWING UP ENTITLED AND SPOILED. AND I AGREE WITH MY FATHER--YOU GIVE YOUR CHILDREN ENOUGH MONEY TO DO SOMETHING, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO DO NOTHING:  As we round the corner into Sunday night's low-hype, low-suspense Academy Awards, is there anything you're hoping to see on Sunday?  Any viable surprises that would delight you?  Any level of expectation for Billy Crystal's hosting?  And are there odds on Crystal's singing the name of The Artist's director's name to the tune of "Hava Nagila"?

I'd like to see The Descendants nibble away at The Artist's expected romp -- George Clooney and Dean Pelton, especially. As I've said before, The Artist is a nice movie -- but it does not deserve to dominate the evening.

Also, FYI: I believe wagering is off on the Necrology Applause-O-Meter this year; despite the sad news of two Saturdays ago, it's still Elizabeth Taylor (assuming she doesn't receive a separate tribute), right?  And I believe that Twitter has eliminated the need for us to establish a Cover-It-Live window here, though we'll set up a live comment thread as always.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

PAGING ELAINE BENES: The Coroner for Australia's Northern Territory has opened a fourth inquest into determining whether the dingo ate the baby.
TAKEN BY A ONE-EYED PIRATE: Time for an installment of America's seventeenth most popular game show--Harlequin Romance New Release, Or Something I Just Made Up?

  1. Colorado Fireman

  2. Smoky Mountain Danger

  3. Blame It On The Bachelor

  4. The Last Bachelor

  5. A Touch of Persuasion

  6. His Gentle Embrace

  7. Lady Folbroke's Delicious Deception

  8. Lord Bentley's Dangerous Desire

  9. The Rake and the Heiress

  10. The Lord and the Maid

  11. Forever Claimed

  12. Eternally Yours

  13. Trouble in a Pinstripe Suit

  14. Seduced by a Starched Shirt

  15. Cupcakes and Killer Heels

  16. Sushi and Stilletos

  17. Operation Midnight

  18. Mission: Man

  19. The Paternity Proposition

  20. The Bedroom Proposal

Good luck! (For answers, check here.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

THE DELICIOUS DISH: Trader Joe's has launched pre-mixed, shelf-stable brownie batter--pour from a pouch into a baking pan, bake, and voila!, brownies--no additives required aside from greasing the pan. I've not yet tried (though I was intrigued enough to buy two pouches), but let's be honest--some not inconsiderable amount of this is going to wind up eaten with a spoon sitting on the couch, right?
BETTER DECISIONS: As I said back when LeBron James left Cleveland, every person should have the right to make decisions in his or her own best interest, but no person needs to be a dick about it. LeBron James was so astoundingly dickish in the way that he left Cleveland that he actually made people say things like "how dare he leave Cleveland?", which is kind of like saying "how dare he stop poking himself in the eye with scissors?"

Bad 2011 aside, Albert Pujols is the closest thing to LeBron that baseball has (except that his teams actually won some championships). Yet when he left St. Louis for the browner pastures and greener wallets of Anaheim, there was nothing like the outrage directed at LeBron. Why? Because Pujols didn't go out of his way to be a dick to St. Louis. And while some people questioned his sincerity in thanking his St. Louis fans, today Pujols provided some evidence that he meant it. Out of deference to St. Louis legend Stan "The Man" Musial, Pujols is criticizing his new employers' "El Hombre" marketing campaign. Just more evidence that if one is a baseball fan, it's hard not to be a Pujols fan.
WITH YOUR HOST, RICHARD DAWSON: When I was watching -- and rather enjoying -- Full Metal Jousting, it occurred to me that reality television was nearing the asymptote defined as a vertical line at The Running Man. The curve, however, has bent. Ladies and gentlemen: Ultimate Tazer Ball.
FRONT AND FOLLOW:  Episode 8 of season one of The Wire, "Lessons," and we learn that Stringer's even smarter than we thought (elasticity!), McNulty an even worse dad, and Bunk can't handle ... well, a lot of things. Also, that it's probably nice to get your spouse's book into your tv show if you can.

Alas, poor Stinkum. I have many thoughts right now, none of which I have time to share because of work needs. Tara's TWoP recap is another good place to start, and I'll see you in the comments when I can.
PRECIOUS: Matt Zoller Seitz argues convincingly for the creation of an Academy Award for Best Collaborative Performance (link fixed) to honor folks like Andy Serkis and Frank Oz.

Of course, I'd also like to see them recognize Best Stunt Coordination, Best First Film (director), and Best Debut Performance (actor), but doing so would require their doing something sensible like moving the two Short Film and some technical awards to prior-to-broadcast.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SO HURRY UP, AND BRING YOUR JUKEBOX MONEY: Dexter's Dad reviews Shake Shack for the NYT, hailing the service, shakes, hot dogs and democratizing features while decrying the inconsistency of the burgers and hating on the crinkle-cut french fries.

Shake Shack opens its first Philadelphia location -- a block and a half from my office -- this summer.
IT'S A WRAP!: SFGate's Peter Hartlaub has a charming interview with Erik Bauserfeld, the fellow who voiced Admiral Ackbar.
IT'S FIVE YEARS LATER, AND WHERE ARE WE? Yes, that was Conan O'Brien in the back of MacLaren's on HIMYM last night, which is probably more of Conan O'Brien than most of us have seen on tv since the week his TBS show debuted.
THIS IS SEE-WEEIOUS!  The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum surveys current children's television, and finds much to like in The Wonder Pets; Ni-Hao, Kai-Lan; and Phineas and Ferb, comparing each to grownup procedurals in format.

Monday, February 20, 2012

BOY, VAUGHN MEADER IS REALLY SCREWED:  Okay, sure, one more: favorite presidential impressionist, or comedic skit involving a President (a/k/a my excuse for invoking Bob Newhart's Abe Lincoln v. Madison Avenue yet again).

On the former, I was always fond of Jim Morris' Ronald Reagan, and Dana Carney's George H.W. Bush managed to define its subject while growing increasingly bizarre (Na gah dah?).  Dan Aykroyd's Ask President Carter is a great skit, mediocre impression, but of course Phil Hartman's Ronald Reagan: Mastermind ticks off both boxes at one.
I DIED IN THIRTY DAYS!  Preferred presidential ditty: Animaniacs or Simpsons?  TMBG or Ashford and Simpson?
YOU KICKED CHECKERS, YOU'RE PREJUDICED, AND YOU HAVE A POTTY MOUTH:  Favorite film about the Nixon Presidency: All the President's Men, Frost/Nixon, Nixon, or Dick?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING: According to a comprehensive study by the LA Times, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences barely more racially diverse as the National Hockey League -- nearly 94% white and 77% male, with a median age of 62 and only one in seven members younger than fifty.  Two key factors thwarting the improvement which the Academy itself seeks: once you're in, you're in for life; and the guilds comprising the Academy are themselves not diverse.
THE NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME: But for the musical guest, best top-to-bottom episode of SNL since...? It's hard for me to answer that question, but wow was that overstuffed with greatness -- celebrity impressions used in entertaining ways, solid guest work from Amy Poehler and Justin Timberlake, the comedic stylings of Maya Angelou ... if you missed any, get yourself to Hulu, now.