Friday, June 8, 2012

PENNIES AND DIMES FOR A KISS, 30 BUCKS FOR A TOTE BAG: It's a Jepsen-Off--who wins--Jimmy Fallon and the Legendary Roots Crew or the staff of National Public Radio?
IF I'M A MUPPET, THEN I'M A VERY MANLY MUPPET: Most of Dahlia Lithwick's stuff is off-topic for this blog, but when she argues that both the world of people and the world of Muppets can be divided into Chaos Muppets and Order Muppets.  Please take the time to classify yourself and/or celebrities into such categories, as well as being amused by the concept of a Muppet Supreme Court.  (I am plainly an Order Muppet.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

LET'S PLAY WHERE ARE MY KEYS:  How deep do you think you could dig a hole?  What if you had ten million friends to help you, and unlimited backhoes?  Do that. 

How big is your hole now?  Imagine the volume of the following things that it would take to fill it up:  those berries from palm trees that you can't stop stepping on; dried street-urine; Canadian pennies given to you as change when you buy gum; sap from the tree above your parking spot; skeeter-eaters and swarm termites; opossum; tourists who stop and gape right in front of the escalator; paper cuts; inconsiderate behavior; insecurity.  Fill it. 

Say, that hole is dangerous.  Build a fence around it.  The fence should be made from quarter-inch pressboard and it should be right next to your house, maybe even on your property, just a little.  For glue, use the stink of live skunks.  At the gate in the fence, which is attached by totally dry hinges, which make that noise when you open it, somebody has spit out his gum, and also somebody's dozens of friends also have spit out their gum, and, man, it is hot today with all of this gum on the pavement right in front of the gate.  To get into the gate, you need to give your credit card to the guy at the gate, and then all he needs is your security code and password for verification purposes.  Coincidentally, the guy at the gate is always the dad of the person who wants to get in, and, weirdly enough, he is naked and sexually aroused. 

Hey, David Stern, I found your keys.  They're right over there, in that there hole.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GIVE A MAN A FEW LINES OF VERSE AND HE THINKS HE'S LORD OF ALL CREATION: Ray Bradbury died this morning at 91. I am -- unapologetically -- a plot guy. Good prose is fine and all (and bad writing can get in the way), but if there's not a plot with good guys and bad guys and things at stake, I mostly don't care to read fiction (in which case, I'll stick with history with good guys and bad guys and things at stake). And while that remains true, that's all I ever thought there was to reading until I was about 11 and read Fahrenheit 451 (firemen who burn books!?) and soon most everything else Bradbury ever wrote and realized words were important -- and fun -- entirely for their own sake.
There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we've done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we'll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.
Also, Fuck me.
DETECTIVE, MY OFFICE:  Welcome back to Baltimore. We've got a bit of catching up to do:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

IT'S YOURS, AT LEAST UNTIL THE DRAGONS SHOW UP: Do you have a lot of money and are looking for a new and imposing office chair?  Might I suggest HBO's life-size replica of the Iron Throne of Westeros?  It's a mere $30,000, plus shipping, handling, and the blood of hundreds of your bannermen.
YEAH, I LIKE MATH. BECAUSE IT'S THE SAME IN EVERY COUNTRY:  Late in our weekend discussion of higher-level math, our own Kim Cosmopolitan couldn't help but wonder:
So here's a question: I feel like I am far from the only person in the world who sailed along in math before being generally befuddled by calculus. (For background - full on mathlete, did ok in calculus, but only because of a friend who taught me the "how tos" before every test, which I promptly forgot thereafter.) I have heard similar stories many times. Is this because (a) calculus is hard, yo, or is it possible that (b) calculus is sufficiently harder than "regular" math that your average high school math teacher isn't necessarily capable of bringing the degree of teaching skill required to get the students fully onboard? Or alternatively (c), this wasn't others' experience and my own mathematical abilities were more limited than they seemed to be during grades K-11.
J. Bowman's thoughts, below the fold:
THERE WERE TWO OF THEM. I WAS OUTNUMBERED:  A reminder that tomorrow is catch-up day for Wire Wednesdays. Be prepared to discuss "Duck and Cover," "Stray Rounds," "Storm Warning," and just how grating Ziggy's accent gets when you're marathoning episodes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

HE PICKED THE WRONG WEEK TO STOP THROWING CURVEBALLS: The deaths of somewhat forgotten Major League relievers aren't usually ALOTT5MA-worthy, but Pedro Borbon, who passed today at the age of 65 merits mention not so much for playing an integral role in the Big Red Machine's two World Series titles, but more so for his integral part in the movie Airplane.

His obit fails to mention if he was a fan a gladiator movies, but Borbon sadly missed sharing a bullpen with Bob Shirley by three seasons.
CORNBREAD. AIN'T NOTHIN' WRONG WITH THAT:  Robert De Niro, to the Bates College Class of 2012:
I think this is the most important piece of advice you will hear today: Become a movie star [laughter]. 
Now, you may be tempted by other careers, other interests, other commitments. There may be pressure on you to change the world, but you must find the strength to resist. When I started, I wasn’t a movie star, and it sucked [laughter]. The moment I became a movie star, things started to get better [laughter]. If you’re, say, a professor, or a distinguished broadcaster or a groundbreaking biologist, you have to ground it out every day... 
When you’re a movie star, you can coast. For example, who remembers the last really good successful picture I made [laughter]? C’mon, anyone? It doesn’t matter. I’m still getting the big bucks that Will Ferrell wishes he were getting.
added for Isaac: The Decemberists' Colin Meloy addresses the graduates of his alma mater, Helena High School, on the meaning of Montanan exceptionalism.
AFTER THE BOMBS: When you have a battle as big as the Blackwater, you usually spend part of the next episode counting up the dead. In Game of Thrones
GIRL, YOU'LL BE A WOMAN SOON: I wake up this morning and am no crazier about last night's penultimate Mad Men episode of the season than I was when it finished. It all seemed a bit too ... dramatic? forced? soap operatic?

Yet this feels like an odd complaint to lodge at a show whose first season saw an interoffice pregnancy (with a married father and a mother in denial), a man stealing the identity of his dead Korean War colleague, and, yes, a man hanging himself after Don Draper asked him to take some financial benefit and leave his life.  So the drama has always been there, with the audience asked to accept radical character gestures from the beginning.

Yet this time, especially with the one-two punch of Joan's situation last week, it all felt like a bit much.  Yes, I liked the little touches -- Sally wearing the boots for her date which her father wouldn't let her wear at the Codfish Ball, Don getting his Don Mojo back at last so he can sell more napalm, Betty showing humanity when Sally came home, Lane not even getting his suicide right the first time.

But on the whole, I'm feeling disappointed by this season, which seems to have substitute stunts (Roger's on LSD! Let's contrive to prostitute Joan! Zou bisou bisou!) for more nuanced character work. Peggy has moved on (for now -- no mention of her this week?), Lane has passed on, and Sally is growing up ... and everyone else is more or less themselves, Roger's LSD enlightenment having worn off, and less of the outside world creeping in (civil rights movement, culture of violence) as we once thought it might be. Things are happening, but the show doesn't feel as tight as it once was. Maybe Matthew Weiner has already told 90% of the story he wanted to tell, and we're stalling until the ending?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

ONLY ONE ANSWER ON THE BOARD, HERE'S THE QUESTION:  Has Richard Dawson, host of the Family Feud (and The Running Man) and co-star of Hogan's Heroes, passed away at the age of 79?  Survey says!
YOUR JOURNEY IS JUST BEGINNING: It's all over now; the spellers have returned home after Friday's Speller Prom (at least, that's what I'm calling it). Scott Isaacs, who won the 1989 Scripps National Spelling Bee, has been commenting here for the past few years as Uncle Spike; this year, in response to a Craigslist ad, he became a coach, and he was generous enough to share this story with all of us:
* * * 
To start off, Adam already posted a link to my blog, containing a poem written in honor of Dr. Bailly’s immediate pronouncing predecessor, Dr. Alex Cameron. But my post also illustrates, from a coach’s perspective, some of the angst that was going through my head as this year’s bee began. Check it out for the full story before reading on.

Without being overly effusive, I have to say that coaching Frank Cahill to his success in the National Spelling Bee has been a delight the entire way through. For a first-time coach like me, Frank was about as ideal a protégé as you could hope for. Unerringly polite, friendly, inquisitive, incredibly intelligent, and always willing to learn more…these are the qualities that make coaching sessions that last for hours seems to zoom by in a matter of minutes. But outside of our study sessions, Frank was astoundingly diligent. I thought I was wowing people back in 1989, saying I studied 3 hours a night prior to my victory in DC, and even studied up to 8 hours a few weekends here and there. Nowadays, that’s merely a good start. Frank willingly and gladly put in up to 12 hours a day on the weekends in the months leading up to nationals. He sacrificed his winter and spring breaks so he could concentrate on studying every day. And during our last month, we would meet twice, sometimes three times a week for 3-4 hours at a time, going over lists of up to 500 increasingly arcane words that I had forwarded to him sometimes no more than 36 hours prior to meeting.