Saturday, October 13, 2012

I HEAR YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE IN [CULINARY SCHOOL] WHO DID MOST OF HIS COOKING WITH A SPOON AND A BIC LIGHTER:  There was a roast of Anthony Bourdain by his fellow chefs and some comics in NYC on Thursday; best (and deeply NSFW) lines collected here (and here).  [HT: Marsha.]

Friday, October 12, 2012

EXERCISE GIVES YOU ENDORPHINS. ENDORPHINS MAKE YOU HAPPY: The producers of The Expendables have hired the team who wrote Legally Blonde, The House Bunny, and 10 Things I Hate About You to write ExpendaBelles for whatever female action leads they can bring together, and in a just world this means Linda Hamilton and Uma Thurman being awesome together.
IT'S STILL NO OLIVE GARDEN: Even if Wendy's has been recognized for having the fastest drive-through in the business, they don't just want to be known for that, and are changing their logo, menu, and ambiance "to be a five-star restaurant at a three-star price."
MAMA SAYS SHE'S WORRIED/GROWING UP IN A HURRY, YEAH: With Heart's nomination to the Hall of Fame, you really have to ask yourself which Heart you're talking about.  Because there were two Hearts (and maybe three):  pre-1980s Heart, who made classic rock and roll music and sold a decent amount of records; 1980s-and-later Heart, who cranked out a string of hugely popular bland power ballads; and, maybe, if you are charitable, Lovemongers-era Heart, mentors to a Seattle music scene of which they were really not a part.  It's not just that you have to consider the three key criteria for HOF induction, quality, popularity, and influence; it is that you have to evaluate each of those criteria for each period of the band's history.  Most bands have a peak and a decline.  Heart has different peaks for each of the different criteria.  They're a weird case.  Keltner (explanation) me! 

1.  Was Heart ever regarded as the best band in rock music?  Did anybody, while they were active, ever suggest that Heart was the best band in rock music? 

I doubt it.  In the early period, I'd guess that 90% of the people who were fans of Heart, including every member of Heart, would have said they liked Led Zeppelin better.  Later, I think people would say their popularity was broader than it was deep. 

2.  Was Heart ever the best band in rock music in its genre? 

No.  I won't even bother to explain myself unless somebody shows up to say that they honestly believe that at some point (please identify the point), Heart was the best band in its genre.  Honest opinions only, please; no straw men. 

3.  Was any individual member of Heart ever considered the best at his instrument/role? 

BUT WHERE'S THE 90S PARTY MIX?  Yes, we didn't get Parks and Rec last night, but you can still get some Adam Scott (with Jon Hamm, Jeff Probst, Paul Rudd, Paul Scheer, and many other funny folks) presenting The Greatest Event In Television History--a shot for shot remake of the opening credits of Simon & Simon.
IF WHAT YOU GOT WAS A CONFESSION, THEN MY ASS IS A BANJO:  I'm not going to complain about the fact that the AV Club contributors' list of most-hated films of the 1990s also excludes female and black directors. Nor will I quibble that Face/Off and Chasing Amy are far closer to a Best list than a Worst, even considering the third-act problems with each. But where the hell is Just Cause (1995), a shockingly racist, convoluted, and manipulative piece of dreck starring Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburne, Ed Harris, and Blair Underwood? This is a movie which has less-than-nothing for everyone, and makes you angry that it was ever made. Other films may have failed but with good intentions (Powder?); this one was vile from the core, and succeeded.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I DON'T LIKE THE SOUND OF THEM APPLES, WILL. WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO?  Mark Harris interviews Ben Affleck about the arc, the journey, and whatnot. As Affleck explains:
In our culture, we get very much into shorthanding people. And I got shorthanded as That Guy: Jennifer Lopez, movies bombed, therefore he must be a sort of thoughtless dilettante, solipsistic consumer blahblahblah. It's hard to shake those sort of narratives. ...I made a bunch of movies that didn't work. I was ending up in the tabloids. I don't know what the lesson is, except that you just have to find your compass.

I liked Sum of All Fears. Daredevil I didn't at all. Some movies should have worked and didn't. At a certain point, it's just up to the movie gods. Anyway, this image becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I just said, "I don't want to do it anymore. This is horrible. I don't want to be in this spotlight, this glare, in this way. It's tawdry, it's ugly, it's oppressive, and it's inane. So I'm going to try to get away."

HALF-BAKED QUESTION:  Something with which I've been experimenting but have long wondered: when do you use the convection settings on your oven, and when do you feel traditional baking is more appropriate?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SOME STUPID WITH A FLARE GUN: It surprises me, it really does, that Deep Purple received only 14 out of 50 votes in our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame poll.  Are we that young, or that far separated from our collective memories of the early 1970s, or that nostalgic for the soft rock and disco that folks these days seem to think epitomized that era?  Luckily, we at ALOTT5MA have our Keltners (explanation) to tell us how to vote, and so Keltner we will: 

1.  Was Deep Purple ever regarded as the best band in rock music?  Did anybody, while they were active, ever suggest that Deep Purple was the best band in rock music? 

There probably was a non-trivial portion of rock fandom (more in England and Europe than in America) in the early 1970s that thought so, and an even larger population that would have put them at among the best bands in rock music. 

2.  Was Deep Purple ever the best band in rock music in its genre? 

No, because at its peak, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath also were in its genre.  It is fair to say that in the heyday of Deep Purple's genre (arena-oriented hard rock/nascent heavy metal), Deep Purple was the best band not already in the HOF. 

3.  Was any individual member of Deep Purple ever considered the best at his instrument/role? 

TURNPIKE EXIT 2:  I watched both episodes of Made In Jersey, in large part because of residual affection for Janet Montgomery from Human Target and because they used my office building extensively as an exterior and interior location in the pilot, which means I'm decidedly unshocked that it's the first casualty of the fall season (and barring a complete tank by one of the CW shows, likely the quickest cancellation in terms of number of episodes).  Given how rapturous CBS was about Montgomery at upfronts, though, I expect her to be their new Alex O'Loughlin/Simon Baker, which means she should be on a procedural next fall.  (NCIS: UK, perhaps?)
A HAIKU ON THE OCCASION OF THE PASSING OF ALEX KARRAS: What do you do to mark the death of someone who was familiar to you (and to many of your generation) only as a bit player in an insubstantial bit of media* -- as the father in the second-most-popular white-people-adopting-black-children-with-glandular-problems-comedy-theoretically-ensues of your childhood -- but who was more familiar to an earlier generation in a less embarrassing way?  Allow me this placid tercet:

The dude from Webster
Something something NFL
Was not Dick Butkus

*Not mentioning Mongo, because come on, that shit isn't funny.
THAT WAS WAY HARSH, TAI:  The AV Club's new Fifty Best Films of the 90s List is appropriately canon-respecting, fun-respecting (Out of Sight and Toy Story 2 both in the top ten) and all, and each of us may have some personal gripes (where's South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, The Insider, Malcolm X, or Three Kings?), but then you look at the whole and there's a troubling trend: no Silence of the Lambs. The Piano? in storage. Indeed, zero films by female directors, and not a whole lot of films which come close to passing the Bechdel Test (Heavenly Creatures is the first exception I can find, plus Election and Boogie Nights) or center around the telling of women's stories. My goodness, where's Thelma and Louise?

Some of this, to be sure, is the fault of Hollywood itself, and the films it chooses to make and the directors it chooses to champion. Some of it can be explained by the process by which the list was assembled (through voting, not curating).  But between Amy Heckerling, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Allison Anders and (HT: to Watts) Nicole Holofcener, surely more films by and about women could've been slotted into the top 50 without seeming like tokenism -- because they're good films.
"WHY" AIN'T IN YOUR REPERTOIRE NO MORE:  The Game has been raised, and this season's conflicts are apparent in "Refugees" (Sepinwall, Goodman). For so many characters, they want things one way, only it's the other way.

Start on the streets, where if we know one thing about the new Marlo v. Omar conflict, it's that it's only the beginning. Marlo's callous decision to have the security officer biases our sympathies in a way they're not usually tilted in this narrative universe, so when he turns down the New Day Co-Op we really are rooting for Omar to succeed in the poker heist. Unlike the Barksdale Organization, we don't (yet?) have the three-dimensional view to let us see Marlo, Snoop, Partlow et al as anything other than an evil menace.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

TILED AND PROFILED: The neatest Scrabble/magic trick ever?  Maybe. I have some thoughts on how it was done, but first just watch what David Kwong did.
SUBSEQUENT TO THE EVENTS YOU HAVE JUST WITNESSED ...  While it did briefly leak on YouTube back in 2008, it's not until today's BluRay release that you can officially see the alternate, original ending to the film Little Shop of Horrors, which as the link explains did not test so well twenty-five years ago.

Also, while Marc Platt is still developing another film remake, Joseph Gordon-Levitt will not in fact be starring, which leaves ... who?  Jesse Tyler Ferguson is not quite a film lead yet, so I'm not sure.
SO FUNNY, YOU'LL PLOTZ:  If New Girl were Jewish.
HAVE IT YOUR WAY, 83% OF THE TIME:  According to an annual study by Quick Service Restaurant magazine, Wendy's again has the fastest drive-thrus in the business, while Burger King's are both the slowest and least accurate. Wendy's is also the only fast food restaurant surveyed to have improved its time over last year; increasing menu complexity is generally to blame. On the customer service front:
While the total percentage of units that said “please” climbed from 53.7 to 57.2 percent, the same tally for “thank you” fell from 86.6 to 85.9 percent.

Monday, October 8, 2012

IGNOBLE:  Slate recounts some of the least deserving Nobel laureates in the history of its science awards.
BUT HOW DID BIG BIRD GET TO THE AFTER PARTY? I thought this week's SNL was pretty leaden, though the "Bond Girls through the years" sketch provided a useful tool to allow a bunch of female cast members to burst out random impressions, and this blog is institutionally pro-Muppet, so Big Bird was amusing (particularly at the end of the show when basically every cast member was far more enthused about hugging Big Bird than Daniel Craig).  That said, Lorne Michaels allowing Bill Carter to sit in on pretty much the whole process of putting the show together generates a worthy read, revealing that much of the political stuff is still written by Jim Downey, who writes via dictation on the phone, and how close we came to having the MSNBC "reaction" sketch being the cold open.
HE'S GOT 99 PROBLEMS, BUT A BACKUP ON THE MANHATTAN BRIDGE AIN'T ONE: Jay-Z (but not Beyonce) took the subway from his Manhattan apartment to his final performance to open Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

Related:  Apparently, NYT style for references to Jigga?  "Mr. Carter,"  at least after identifying his actual name as such, rather than "Mr. Z," "Jay," "Jigga," or "H.O.V.A."
LOOMING GINGER MENACE:  The BBC tracks the increasing use of Britishisms in American speech. Fancy that!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

PITCH-SLAPPED:  It's not that Pitch Perfect is a bad movie -- if you like formulaic teen movies which end with a singing/dancing/marching band/figure skating/spelling bee competition, it mostly satisfies, and goes above and beyond the call of duty through the awesomeness of Rebel Wilson and the sharpness of some of the writing. (I especially appreciated the college DJ club.)

But I've seen Bring It On (repeatedly), and Pitch Perfect, you're no Bring It On. Here's why: