Saturday, June 30, 2012

WELL, IT'S NOT BRAZIL, MOROCCO, LONDON, OR IBIZA:  I've got no particular animus towards the rapper/entrepreneur Pitbull; according to our search engine we've never even mentioned him before.

With that disclaimer, I cannot imagine a superior way to harness the capabilities of the Internet than the current effort to exploit a promotion he's doing with Walmart where he has promised to visit the U.S. store receiving the most new "likes" on Facebook, and the masses would like to send him to the remote island of Kodiak, Alaska.  Join in here, and after you like the page, do read its comments.
THE BIG SCHVITZ: In a piece which may set a NYT record for "most Spelling Bee-eligible Yiddish words in a single article (whose proper spelling, and even the existence of a "proper" spelling, Marsha will challenge)," Joseph Berger tries to figure out how NYC Hasidim deal with a heat wave such as this.

Friday, June 29, 2012


(Obligatory flashback links: Maraka; the voiceover lawsuit; the problem with Dora impersonators.)
QUADRENNIAL OUTRAGE DESK:  The Chinese really, really swear that their female gymnasts are old enough this time.
AND NOW, THEY NEVER HAVE TO PAY TO SEE A MOVIE AGAIN: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 176 new members who've been invited to join this year, most of whom aren't surprising (folks who got their first nomination this year, like Jonah Hill, Jessica Chastain, and Melissa McCarthy), but you also have membership extended to Sean Bean, Bryan Cranston, Matthew McConaughey, and S. Epatha Merkerson.  Perhaps most surprising is the presence of Terrence Mallick on the Directors list, not because he's undeserving, but because I would have thought he would have been inducted long ago--maybe he declined?
ALOTT5MA USAGE DESK: Spurred by many reviews of Magic Mike, what are our thoughts on the phrase "assless chaps?"  Per Wikipedia®, "unlike trousers they have no seat," which means that chaps are, by definition, assless.  We must stomp out this redundancy!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

NEVER PRACTICE YOUR BACK FLIP IN SOCKS ON A HOTEL LOBBY CARPET: I've been remiss -- a whole season of auditions for So You Think You Can Dance has gone by with scarcely a comment from me, or from the even-more-absent K. Cos.  But I rectify!  Herewith, my thoughts on the Top 20 and various related topics, while last night is still fresh in my mind.  I promise my thoughts will be long and disconnected.  Dance specialists (Janet), please chime in:
TODAY'S IMPORTANT RULING: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette executive editor David Shribman has banned use of the term "jagoff".

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

IF THEY HOOK WATSON UP TO THIS, SKYNET WILL BE CREATED: Japanese scientists have developed a robot that (courtesy of high speed vision and analysis of human anatomy) beats humans in a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors nearly 100% of the time.  No word on whether or not the robot is able to win when Lizard and Spock are added, though.
HE'S GOT THE BALL ... AND A LITTLE BIT OF A SMILE ON HIS FACE:  Oh, Dewayne Wise, that's awesome.
WE GONNA HANDLE THIS SHIT LIKE BUSINESSMEN. SELL THE SHIT, MAKE THE PROFIT, AND LATER FOR THAT GANGSTER BULLSHIT:  Welcome back to Wire Wednesdays as we begin season 3 with "Time After Time," in which we return to a more familiar Baltimore centered around the drug trade and the police's efforts to take down the Stringer Bell-Proposition Joe operation, with an added gloss this time on the corrido....

.... Holy crap, Littlefinger is a City Councilman!, and he's already scheming ...

... corridors of power, both within City Hall and in the Police Department, where crime isn't seen as a problem of particular criminals and gangs but rather as a statistical aggregate which needs to be, if not reduced, then at least not increased quite so much. We meet some new drug dealers (and a returning old one, in Cutty) who may prove to be important, a few new police up and down the chain, and it looks like Herc and Carver may be challenged for the title of Dumbest Person in Baltimore by Justin, the new gang member who tried to sell drugs to a uniformed police officer.

Who's going to matter? Will McNulty ever get over his divorce? Will anyone ever listen to Stringer? Is this police investigation going anywhere? Chair recognizes the first comment -- but, please, stand up when you're speaking.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

MAY WE HAVE WHAT SHE HAD: After a six year stuggle with leukemia, Nora Ephron died earlier today.  Of course, her best-remembered works are When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle, and You've Got Mail, which still shape romantic comedies today, but her first film--This Is My Life--the story of a mother (played by Julie Kavner in one of her few live action roles) trying to make it as a standup comic and how that changes her relationship with her daughters--is a small gem that's unfortunately not available much of anywhere.  Her influence will continue to be felt, and the Times does a better job than we ever could of talking about her accomplishments.
THE SUBWAY FUGITIVE, NOT A SLAVE TO FASHION:  When Car Talk goes off the air this fall, Ira Glass would like to see NPR stations not air its reruns during what he calls "primetime," but rather use the slot to promote "new shows, new talents, new ideas" (and names several favorites).  Moreover, he's fine with the same happening when This American Life is done as well: "When we’re done making new episodes, take us off the air. I want to make room for someone else."
TWO GREAT TASTES THAT TASTE GREAT TOGETHER? So, how do we feel about Kristin Chenoweth joining The Good Wife in a recurring capacity as "a top-of-her-game political reporter who matches wits with Julianne Margulies’ Alicia and Chris Noth’s Peter?"  As for me, love Kristin, and love Good Wife, but think Kristin tends to fare better when it's more stylized/over-the-top (Pushing Daisies) than in something that is as grounded in ugly reality as Good Wife is.
TWENTY PEOPLE COULD SAY THAT THEY LIKED ME, ARTIE, AND I AM TELLING YOU I'D STILL BE THINKING SEVENTEEN OF THEM WERE LYING: Flavorwire's (single page!) list of the top ten tv shows about the making of tv shows demonstrates that there aren't, actually, ten such great shows yet, as Alan Sepinwall's similar 2009 list confirms (though he, at least, remembers Max Headroom).
I'LL TAKE RANDOM PARENTING VIDEOS FOR $200: I've got nothing to blog about this morning, so go watch this adorable video of a white rhino being born at a Tel Aviv zoo.  Or I've got four words for you: "Never again, Grace Elizabeth!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

THIS FIELD, THIS GAME: Houston Babies baseball is alive and well.
UNTIL YOU WATCH THIS VIDEO, YOU HAVEN'T SEEN SHAKESPEARE THE WAY IT'S MEANT TO BE PLAYED:  Aaron Sorkin may repeat himself. It's really quite something, a virtuous and proportional response, and you know it.
KILL THIS PORTMANTEAU, NOW:  "Breastaurant"?  Ugh. (And then kill the concept to which it is attached.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

TO BE FAIR, YOSEMITE IS PRETTY GREAT: Obviously, we're going to talk  about The Newsroom, and, unlike critics, we mere mortals have only seen one episode.  Perhaps because of that, I liked the show much more than many of the critics did (Alan in particular noted that his review would have been better if based on the pilot alone).  In particular, the opening sequence and most of the actual newscast worked quite effectively, and the performances were pretty uniformly solid.  A few thoughts to provoke discussion:
  • Especially in the middle portion of the episode (after the opening sequence but before they go on air), it seemed to me part of the problem was the direction.  Sorkinese is meant to be spoken very very quickly (especially Romantic Comedy Sorkinese), and the pace seemed oddly slow for a chunk of that act, with pauses that seemed out of place.  (Allison Pill, who has the most screwball part, arguably suffers the most from this.)
  • Several of the reviews have noted that the decision to set the show in the recent past leads to the show being about people who have almost magical knowledge.  The pilot includes a bit of reporting where Will and his team are able to get a story far before anyone in the real world did because of pure, unadulterated luck and dei ex machinae.  I hope this doesn't continue and turn into "Aaron Sorkin shows how to do news better than it was done!"
  • There are very clearly gender issues there.  Obviously, Sorkin has relationship issues, given that Studio 60 was a very long apology letter to an ex-girlfriend, but maybe he needs to work them out in a way other than TV writing.