Saturday, March 3, 2012

FOR YOUR $22 YOU GET FIVE COURSES—APPETIZER, SEAFOOD, ENTREE, CHEESE, DESSERT—AND COFFEE: Tonight, Philadelphia one-time fine dining institution Le Bec-Fin serves its last meals after forty-plus years in business under Chef Georges Perrier, and will reopen under new ownership (Nicolas Fanucci, general manager of French Laundry) in a few months. Here's Philadelphia Magazine's original September 1974 review, which is a treat to read, and Pete Wells on the meal he had anticipated for twenty years:
Often, after ambitious restaurant meals, I leave feeling that too many hands mucked around with my food, and that despite all the fussing, the result wasn't even remotely satisfying. The cooking at Le Bec-Fin was of a different order; you didn't notice how much work had gone into it until you tasted it.
WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE:  Again last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, "Neil Young" and Bruce Springsteen covered a recent pop hit.

Friday, March 2, 2012

AIRLINES BEING AIRLINES:  Via Above the Law, we learn that not every USAirways customer tolerates their handling of bad weather crises (in this case, Boxing Day Blizzapocalypse 2010) with the same grace and equanimity of our own Isaac Spaceman. Which is to say that Isaac did not sue the airlines for less than awesome customer service and get bounced under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(6), but nor did his suffering involve emergency stays at the Four Seasons in Denver and the the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando.
DON'T EVEN GET US STARTED ON SCATTERED, SMOTHERED, OR COVERED: Jumping off a lengthy (and rather inexplicable) exchange that involved a number of you on Twitter last night--waffles, pancakes, or french toast? Justify your answer and show all work. And don't anger Wafflebot (questionably SFW).
PLEASE READ CHAPTER 7 FOR CLASS TOMORROW: James Q. Wilson died early this morning, and he's worthy of a brief remembrance here, because among his many writings includes American Government, which remains (I believe) the most commonly used introductory political science/American Government textbook. I know I have an earlier edition sitting on a somewhat dusty shelf, and I expect many of you do as well. I didn't always agree with the policies Wilson advocated (and, needless to say, getting into that is beyond our scope), but I admired his clarity of writing and directness.
WE DO LIKE OUR WHIPPED CREAM VODKA:  The folks at The Philly Post have crunched the data from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's 2010-11 annual report (click to download PDF) to learn all sorts of things about the Delaware Valley's drinking habits.  The region's top ten wines and spirits, in terms of bottles sold:
Jacquin's Vodka Royale - 80 Proof (375 mL)
Cavit Pinot Grigio
Sutter Home Cal. White Zinfandel
Jack Daniel's Old No 7 Black Label Whiskey (750 mL)
Jacquin's Vodka Royale - 80 Proof (1 L)
Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve CA Chardonnay
Grey Goose Imp. French Vodka (750 mL)
Nikolai Vodka - 80 Proof (375 mL)
Absolut Imp. Vodka - 80 Proof (750 mL)
Woodbridge By Robert Mondavi CA Chardonnay
WORLD EXCLUSIVE -- MUST CREDIT ALOTT5MA: Based on recent trends, our next American Idol will be:

  • a white male.
  • who plays guitar.
  • who is not devastatingly handsome like The Outlaw Casey James, or "dangerous" in any real way.
  • who doesn't mind reinterpreting songs.
  • from the Heartland
On May 24, 2012, at approximately 10:01 pm, Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Georgia, will be named the next American Idol. Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


If any Allen film is going to get the Broadway treatment, shouldn't it be Crimes and Misdemeanors?  Songs including "The Eyes of God (Are Upon Us),"  "I Know A Guy," "I No Longer Have Eyes For You," and, of course, "I've Gone Out the Window."
JACKO HAS BEEN BUMPED:  Four years later, Bill Simmons finally gets his interview with Barack Obama:
BS: Settle an office debate. Best Wire character of all time?
Obama: It’s got to be Omar, right? I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?
BS: We might break this down as like a March Madness bracket, and I think he’s going to be the no. 1 seed. [Laughter.] Everyone is in on Omar, it seems like.
Obama: He’s got to be the no. 1 seed. I mean, what a combination. And that was one of the best shows of all time.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I WAS THERE AND I SAW WHAT YOU DID, SAW IT WITH MY OWN TWO EYES:  Having finally watched my first sustained Idol action of the year with the four hours of semifinals these past two nights ... is that all there is?  Is there anything this season which we haven't seen before -- other than the fact that they're now adding a lot of Adele songs into the mix?   The pageanty girls who are more sexy-for-Idol-without-actually-being-dangerous than talented singers, the African American men with immaculate voices who'll finish around 5th or 6th, "rockers" with "alternative" haircuts, and the country singers and white boys with guitars who will rule over them all ... there's not a performer I've seen over the past two nights who doesn't seem derivative of and lesser than the ten seasons which preceded this. So give me a reason, other than habit, to keep watching.

  1. It is always appropriate to say something nice about the deceased.
  2. It is considered polite to inflate the decendent's talents beyond any rational measure.
  3. It is in poor taste to consider oneself constrained by inapplicable concepts like "objectivity" or "sanity."
  4. Criticism of the decedent is a delicate balance. It is never under any circumstances appropriate to say anything less than superlatively complimentary of a deceased celebrity, except in those instances where mild or savage criticism is appropriate or even mandatory.
  5. If any person within earshot or googleshot spent money on a product associated with the decedent before the person turned 28 or before the person went to grad school (whichever occurred first), any failure to acknowledge the absolute perfection of the celebrity decedent will be treated as a provocation warranting physical violence.
  6. Celebrity death retroactively cures pedophilia.
  7. One must always wait at least a respectful or nominal or none length of time before making a joke about a celebrity death.
  8. The phrase "too soon?" is a foolproof way of ensuring that one does not offend a person who would not otherwise have been offended. Though the following statement is not an etiquette issue, the ratio of funny-to-unfunny jokes preceding the phrase "too soon" approaches a limit of zero, and the ratio of funny-to-unfunny instances of the use of the phrase "too soon" is exactly zero.
  9. Literally everybody believes that suicide and drug addiction are sad and tragic, but it is a good idea in the event of a celebrity suicide or the death of a celebrity who struggled with drug addiction to make sure that everybody knows that you agree with this unanimous opinion by promiscuous use of the words "sad" and "tragic."
  10. If a celebrity died at the same age or in the same month, season, year, or manner as another celebrity, it is a sign of respect to point out these similarities or proximities so that people of disparate accomplishments can be reduced to their common mortality.
  11. Every celebrity's life was a testament to the divine rewards available to those who live properly, or ended in divine punishment for wickedness, but usually both, and one should take care to learn the lesson of the celebrity death, which is that one should and should not emulate the behavior of the decedent.
*Alternate title: Jesus Christ, Let It Go, You Asshole

    LEAVING WESTDALE HIGH SCRAMBLING TO FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO PLAY THE PROM: Davy Jones of the Monkees has passed away from an apparent heart attack at the age of 66.
    ISN'T IT A LITTLE EARLY FOR A FINALE? Wanted to talk a little about two shows which wrapped up their third seasons last night in fine form. On NBC, we had a solid finale for Parenthood, which managed to service pretty much all of the large cast well. Sure, some of the plot points were annoying (hopefully, this is finally the end of the Crosby/Jasmine merry-go-round) or seemed out of character (Adam's decision about the Luncheonette seemed entirely out of place), but there were plenty of solid moments, including the resolution of the season-long Julia/Joel plot and the brief father/daughter dance between Adam and Haddie, and, as one would expect from a Jason Katims show, plenty of handheld camera montages with a song playing in the background designed to make you emotional. A solid season of a solid show, and I hope we see it back--it's not a ratings bonanza, but it's the closest thing to a critical darling NBC has on the drama side right now, which would seem to help it, along with a finale that makes it easy to cut cast for next season, or at least reduce the number of episodes certain cast members appear in.

    Over on USA, there was a finale for White Collar, a show which may be making the leap from "solid fun buddy cop show" to something a bit deeper as it explores questions of redemption and the difference between what is legal and what is moral (while still remaining a fun buddy cop show). It's an interesting hit of the reset button they managed, and I'm intrigued to see where they go from here--there are several directions I could see them going, but many of those marginalize part or all of the current supporting cast.
    LOOK THE PART, BE THE PART:  If someone had told me sooner that The Wire involved researching campaign finance records in the days before, I'd have started watching it much sooner.

    It is Game Day in Baltimore for everyone. We've got a basketball game against Proposition Joe's squad; Omar's upping his game while Lester Freamon is upping the police's investigative game; Poot's getting some game over the phone; and Bubbs and Wallace may want out of the game altogether. (As to the latter, Tara Ariano notes: "D'Angelo looks at him wistfully, like he wishes he could quit the game and go back to the ninth grade himself. It's probably been ages since he diagrammed a good sentence.")  A more action-packed and plot-filled episode than most, and entertaining as hell.  Quote of the week goes to Lester:
    In this country? Somebody's name has got to be on a piece of paper. A cousin, a girlfriend, a grandmother, a lieutenant he can trust...somebody's name is on a piece of paper. And here's the rub: You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money, and you don't know where the fuck it's going to take you.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    SHE'S A SUCKER FOR FRENCH POETRY AND RHINESTONES. SHE'S VERY GENEROUS. SHE'S KIND TO STRANGERS AND CHILDREN, AND WHEN SHE STANDS IN THE SNOW SHE LOOKS LIKE AN ANGEL:  Isaac once wrote that "When Andie MacDowell smiles, it looks like she's smirking in judgment at you for watching one of her movies. It's the damnedest thing."

    With that in mind, do read Andie MacDowell's discussion of her many roles today with the AV Club, including the whole Greystoke redubbing incident.
    ROLL ON YOU BEARS: Sure, Joe Ayoob wasn't a very good quarterback for Cal Berkeley. But he is the world record holder for a paper-airplane toss.
    A MESSAGE FROM DAVID STERN: Hey, Seattle, eff you! Hahahahahahaha. Keep trying, though. Oracle is looking awfully old.
    NOT ON YOUR LIFE, MY HINDU FRIEND:  Splitsider's Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament brackets have been winnowed down via reader voting from their original 32, as beloved favorites involving an impostor marine biologist, a Gordon Gartrell shirt, a Judy Doll, Harry the Hat's greatest con, and Eric Cartman's favorite chili have fallen by the wayside to leave this final four:
    Community, "Remedial Chaos Theory" vs. Fawlty Towers, "The Germans" (vote now!)
    The Simpsons, "Marge vs. the Monorail" vs. Arrested Development, "Pier Pressure"
    SEVENTEENTH ON THE PERIODIC TABLE, BUT FIRST IN OUR HEARTS?  The Hairpin inteviews the element Chlorine. "Sodium completes me in a way that no other element does. Lately our reviews have not been great, but we are ready for a comeback."

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    GO GET SOME HONEY. GO GET SOME MORE. GO GET SOME HONEY FROM THE HONEY STORE: Writer/illustrator Jan Berenstain, who met her late husband Stan at their first day of class in 1941 at what's now Philadelphia's University of the Arts, is now permanently hibernating with their Bears as well. She was 88.

    Charles Krauthammer did not much care for their books, some 260 million of which have been sold, writing in 1989: "It is not just the smugness and complacency of the stories that is so irritating. That is a common affliction of children's literature. The raging offense of the Berenstains is the post-feminist Papa Bear, the Alan Alda of grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman."

    P.S. re last week's 30 Rock: Are you wearing yellow and blue on Wednesday?
    DO YOU THINK YOU'RE WHAT THEY SAY YOU ARE?  Not satisfied with having solved a problem like Maria, found a young Oliver who'd do anything, and rescued their Joseph from a cistern of West End hopefuls, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber is casting the lead for an arena tour production of Jesus Christ Superstar via a BBC reality competition.  Sir Tim Rice is not pleased:
    Sir Tim said that the musical's religious and political themes could become a source of ridicule in a television talent show, with the judges telling hopeful contestants: "You could be Jesus."

    He said: "It opens up a lot of opportunities for spoofs and I think it would be ill-advised to have people voting for who should be Jesus.

    "It's just possible that it might be the most sophisticated, tasteful show hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I doubt it. It sounds tacky and I really don't think Andrew should do it."

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    THE PURSUIT OF THE NAKED GOLD MAN: An open thread for your discussion of the Academy Awards, the sartorial choices associated therewith, and the lameness of Billy Crystal.