Saturday, July 14, 2012

WHY DON'T YOU MAKE MORE MOVIES?  That's the first thing President Obama said to Michael Keaton when they met, and when you read this lengthy interview the latter did with Grantland I imagine you'll  wonder that yourself. (I continue to wait for Johnny Dangerously II: The Danger Within.)  Favorite detail in the piece is that J.J. Abrams tried to get him to sign up for Lost to play Jack Shepherd, back when the plan was to kill Jack in the pilot episode, post-crash, and really unsettle the audience.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Mental Floss explains why it hurts so much to get hit in the nuts.
I DON'T MISS YOU BABY, AND NONE OF US WILL MISS A THING:  Steven Tyler is leaving that singing show we've mostly stopped watching, and Jennifer Lopez may be following him out the door.
I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD/I'M A FELINE CASANOVA, HEY, MY OH MY: There were 20 dancers on SYTYCD last night, and I have neither the time nor, given the relatively narrow band of quality on an overall top-notch dancing night, the competence to talk about them all. But I did want to assert one thought and one question.

The thought: it occurs to me that this is only secondarily a competition show, and primarily a show about a bunch of choreographers who the show treats as characters. Jason Gilkinson is the ballroom martinet; Sonya Tayeh the charismatic rebel; Mia Michaels the overemotional mom; NappyTabs the back-of-the-class cut-ups who secretly get good grades. Right now the big narrative arc is Travis Wall's Welcome Back, Kotter story, but it's well deserved: Travis Wall's choreography clearly is the star of the show right now. The dancers -- all of whom ranged from pretty good to excellent (aided by an extra week of rehearsal and, in some cases, some pretty big favors from choreographers) -- are kind of secondary to that. This season has an extremely high level of technical competence and charisma, something that really ought to be nice for the choreographers.

The question: how exactly are they going to handle the eliminations? There's no elimination show now. Somebody on the web pointed out that this suggests that people will have to learn a new piece even though they won't be competing. That can't be true, though, because if the eliminations split up pairs, they won't be able to do the dance. My guess is that they will tape an elimination in front of an audience and then reveal it the following week. I guess we'll find out pretty soon.
DO YOU MIND IF I LOOK AROUND THE CAR A LITTLE BIT?  A line-by-line analysis of the legal accuracy of Jay-Z's "99 Problems."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

JUST A LITTLE OUTSIDE: XKCD answers an important -- nay, the critical -- question of our times. What if a pitcher hurled a fastball at .9c?
THE FAULT IN OUR STAR (The Age of Miracles, Red Shirts, and Railsea): Given the fact that I've now read everything that China Mieville and Neal Stephenson have ever written, I'm pretty much past the point where I can credibly say I steer clear of sci-fi. And given the fact that I read The Hunger Games and The Fault in our Stars, and that Amazon keeps recommending spa treatments and fragrant soaps to me, I can't really claim to be too old and too male for YA. But I just read, in succession, the three books in the title, and I have thoughts.
CHAIR AIN'T RECOGNIZED YOUR ASS:  Because I'm traveling with the girls this week, there is no Wire Wednesday today. We'll do double-duty next week with "Dead Soldiers" and "Hamsterdam."

Monday, July 9, 2012

LINGUISTICS DESK: As part of my job, I wind up sending a decent amount of stuff via overnight delivery, though rarely by FedEx (we have a discount deal with UPS Overnight that makes it cheaper).  Of course, the question comes up "how do I describe in letters how I'm sending it?"  "Via Courier" makes it sound like hand delivery.  "Via Overnight?"  "Via Overnight Delivery?"  Or do we just go with "Via FedEx" in the vein of Southern "I'll have a coke." "What kind of coke?" "A Sprite."?
I DON'T SEE MICHAEL IMPERIOLI:  NASA has provided some rather gorgeous photos from Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.
DON'T LECTURE ME!  I would watch a show that consisted of Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda cursing at each other for an hour. But the rest?  Scott Tobias:
Here’s the thing: The show and its creator, Aaron Sorkin, are making completely valid points about how and why the media, specifically broadcast news, has let down the electorate. But the problem with the show is that it can’t help making those statements explicit. The Wire is a great show because it reveals, season by season, the futility of the “War On Drugs” and its corrosive, wide-ranging impact on a city’s social institutions and its people. It would not be a great show if Bubbles came out and said, “Man, the ‘War On Drugs’ has really had a corrosive, wide-ranging impact on the city’s social institutions and people like me.”
What's worse about the show is its take on politics and the Tea Party Movement, and we can't get into this without violating our No Politics Rule (Alan is skittish as well), but let's just say I found that problematic. And Linda Holmes insists next week is worse, with regards to its treatment of women, as though having a woman need a man to remind her how to breathe was a bit much this week already.  Hoo boy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

JIM NABORS AND JOHN ASTIN, PLEASE CALL YOUR DOCTOR:  First Andy Griffith, now Ernest Borgnine?  

(I never really watched the former, but my goodness did I see a lot of McHale's Navy reruns in the afternoon growing up, back when there weren't multiple channels with kid-centric programming 24/7. RIP to a man who defined gruff-but-lovable.)
MERE MOUNTAINS OF FAT: The Summer Olympics has now suffered a more than one hundred year drought of a Plunge for Distance competition. Despite criticism that the sport favors "mere mountains of fat who fall in the water more or less successfully and depend upon inertia to get their points for them," the 1920 rules remind the beginner that "it is not necessary to be over 200 pounds to be a good plunger."

Here's a handsome Russian swimmer demonstrating a good technique and who seems to do well despite not being a "stylish-stout" chap.
THERE ARE TOO MANY STATES NOWADAYS. PLEASE ELIMINATE THREE:  Kobe Bryant, 33, is deemed the leading veteran voice of the USA men's basketball team. Serena Williams, 30, is hailed for winning the ladies' singles and doubles titles in one day, in what observers say should be the twilight of her career.  I'm older than all the MLB all stars except one, Chipper Jones. When did "old" get so young?  (And why can't I recognize any of the music on the radio anymore?)

Related: fourteen first-world problems from the 1990s.