Saturday, October 20, 2012

CHITCHAT, YICK YACK, AND FLIM FLAM:  The NYT goes in deep on the revised Country Bear Jamboree at Walt Disney World, discussing WDW's efforts to satisfying nostalgic interests and modern audiences, noting that the Enchanted Tiki Room is recently back under old management following its 1998 update.

related: The Disney parks will be introducing Limited Time Magic in 2013, with special weeks including Pirate Week, Unleash the Villains Week, and this, for which I imagine many here will have suggestions:
‘Long Lost Friends Week:‘ lesser-known Disney characters will move from the shadows to the spotlight with meet-and-greets on both coasts. Photo opportunities with characters that could include Flik, Clarabelle Cow, Remy, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will surprise and delight guests. And Disney guests will even have the chance to vote online for which characters they want to see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

DINKIN FLICKA:  Craig Robinson has signed up for his post-Office project, an NBC sitcom helmed by Greg Daniels, in which Robinson portrays "a talented yet struggling musician forced to swallow his pride and teach at a middle school, where he deals with the other teachers and hits on single moms in that Craig Robinson way."
DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE READ?  Somewhat surprisingly and fairly quietly, Universal has put the shooting script for Les Miserables on the web.  The site also indicates that they have faith in This Is 40, with the script up for that as well (Apatow films notably change a lot from script to shoot to edit, but it gives you some idea).
BOOM BOOM BOOM: I may not be a Katy Perry fan, but then again I have nothing against Katy Perry. Every time I come down with a "gosh, she is an oddly robotic performer," it ends up being exactly counterbalanced by a "say, her cover of 'Black and Gold' is not the hate crime I expected." But if there were ever anything to push me off the fence in re: Katy Perry, it would have to be this wonderful clip from Jon Stewart's Night of Too Many Stars, in which Katy Perry duets on Firework with a little girl with autism. Not just because she showed up and did it, which in itself is great, but because she bothered to learn some of the harmony parts to her own song, and then worked her ass off in the performance to match them to the kid singing lead.
ROWLF EXPLAINS MARGIN CALLS:  Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the stock market's Black Monday, best known to our generation because it prompted the Nightline producers to book the Muppets to explain what the hell was happening.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

IT'S WHERE YOU GO AFTER GRADUATING FROM THE MONSTERSORRI SCHOOL: In preparation for the upcoming movie, Pixar has set up an impressively detailed and joke-riddled site for "Monsters University," the institution.
WILL THE REAL ____ PLEASE STAND UP:  Slate has a fascinating reminiscence from one of the last imposters to ever appear on the New York-taped version of To Tell The Truth.  While NYC is now again a robust TV production town, both in terms of daily talk/chat shows and for scripted dramas, the game shows (with the exception of Millionaire) have never returned.
WELL, I GUESS IT WOULD BE NICE:  Twenty-five years later, Steven Hyden looks back at the release of George Michael's Faith, noting how it set the blueprint for transitioning from teen idol status to being taken seriously as an adult artist (hello, Timberlake!), and notes:
At a time when pop music brontosauruses stomped across the cultural plain, unencumbered by an Internet-ravaged music industry and supported by monolithic, star-obsessed media outlets, George Michael stood toe-to-toe with Michael Jackson, Prince, and Madonna, and by the late '80s was selling more records than all of them. But is that how we remember him? Faith was as much a part of the pop landscape as Thriller or Purple Rain, but it's not really put in that class anymore....

I've played Faith at least once a day for the past week to assess how it holds up in 2012. Not that I'm entirely convinced this is relevant, at least for those of us who were alive, young, and exposed to pop music in the spring and summer of 1988 (when Faith spent six of its 12 weeks at no. 1 on the Billboard albums chart) primarily via PA systems at neighborhood swimming pools and roller rinks. If this is you, then Faith is one of those albums that are just part of the geography of your life. I've owned Faith on cassette, vinyl, and CD, but it lives on forever in my head
Twenty million copies sold. Six top-five singles, four of them hitting number one. First album by a white solo artist to top the Billboard R&B chart. Grammy for Album of the Year. And then it all fell apart.
DOWN ARROW: Newsweek will stop print publication at the end of this year, and shift to online-only.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM RICH TO WEALTHY: Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle may do a comedy tour together.
THE MAN IS TRYING TO BRING THEM DOWN:  In case you cared, at least one court has agreed to accept as a fact, on judicial notice, "the phenomenon known as the Counterculture of the Seventies wherein untraditional attire such as spoons and hand-crafted pipes adorn both home and person."  Record Museum v. Lawrence Township, 481 F.Supp. 768, 772 (D.N.J. 1979). 
THANK YOU, METH HEADS: While it might be otherwise sketchy for me to refer to last night's debate in any way on this site, I can nonetheless point you to a fascinating etymology column by Ben Zimmer today on a particular adjective employed therein, and the multiple meanings it possesses depending on one's generation.
KEEPIN' IT FOR THE CHILDREN: RZA is open to reuniting the Wu-Tang Clan, provided that he is given absolute control over the contents of any such reunion.
MAKES/TAKES:  I find it absolutely bizarre that Trenton, NJ, a state capital, has only one hotel—and it's closing because of poor business.

Obviously, the state is compact enough that no corner of a state is more than a ~2h drive away (or you can visit by boat) but, seriously, that's weird. Are there any other state capitals which are similarly hotel-deprived?
JACKIE JORMP-JOMP:  On the long-delayed musical biopic front: Amy Adams is now attached to star in a Janis Joplin biopic, with Lee Daniels angling to over-direct; Brian May announced the Queen biopic starring Sacha Baron Cohen will start filming next year, to be released in 2014. (We first discussed that project in 2010.)
THERE AIN'T NO SPECIAL DEAD. THERE'S JUST DEAD:  "Alliances," our fifth episode of season four of The Wire (Sepinwall, Goodman), is about moving pieces around the chess board without making any bold plays, with a few exceptions. It's the small moves towards new pairings, however, which seem to matter more:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NOT DEFYING GRAVITY:  Yes, of course, seeing normally terrestrial man falling through space is cool, but it's not as neat as this time-lapse photography of the usually-seen-in-flight Space Shuttle Endeavour making its way through the streets of Los Angeles.
HOPING FOR A GAME TIGHTER THAN HER DEREON JEANS:  Beyonce Knowles will headline the 2013 Super Bowl halftime show in New Orleans.

Totally acceptable choice, even if I'm mystified by the continued absence of a country performer. Shania Twain (2003) was the last to even co-lead, and before that you have go back to 1994's Rockin' Country Sunday with Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds.
INTRIGUING!  I was caught off guard during this week's Hang Up and Listen podcast by the way SI's Grant Wahl kept pronouncing the word interesting with four syllables -- IN-tuh-res-ting -- when I (and I think most people) shortchange clarity in the middle to go with the abbreviated IN-truhs-ting. As The Big Book Of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide For The Careful Speaker by Charles Harrington Elster explains:
The three-syllable IN-tris-ting is a victim of syncope (SING-kuh-pee), the loss or omission of a sound or syllable from the middle of a word as in FAM-lee for family and KUHMF-tur-buul for comfortable. It is now probably the most commonly heard pronunciation in American speech. The noun and verb interest is also a victim of syncope and is usually pronounced in two syllables, IN-trist, although the older IN-tur-ist is still heard. The verbal adjective interested is often pronounced in four syllables, IN-tur-ES-tid, but the evidence of my ears says the three-syllable IN-tris-tid is more common.

Monday, October 15, 2012

LIKE MYSPACE USERS WHO STILL CHAT ON AOL INSTANT MESSENGER:  The NYT checks in on people who still own Blackberry devices, now that its market share has gone from 50 percent to less than 5 percent of the U.S. smartphone market over the past three years.
FROM OUR PURPLE AND ORANGE DESK:  Dunkin' Donuts is attempting to trademark the name Bagel Bunchkin for a new food offering. It is unclear what the product will taste like, or whether the trademark application will be successful.
YOU ARE NOW ABOUT TO WITNESS THE STRENGTH OF STREET KNOWLEDGE: "Hip-hop came from the clubs and sidewalks of New York City as a party music made with turntables and rhymes by performers who usually couldn't afford music instruments," explained Geoff Boucher in the LA Times a few years ago. "It was party music, but then it came west and got a beat-down by a swaggering collective that called itself N.W.A. Run-DMC gave rap its commercial shape and Public Enemy provided the politics, but it was N.W.A that took the genre to the dangerous side of the street.”

Not many artists are generally deemed responsible for two separate musical movements, yet it is impossible to tell the story of the West Coast hip hop sound, or the lyrical content of gangsta rap, without placing N.W.A. towards the start and very much in the center of the tale. In discussing Deep Purple last week, we got into whether a band could be inducted based on only one song. Well, N.W.A. only recorded two proper studio albums, but the first is the defining document of a genre, and the second was the first of its genre to hit #1 on the pop charts. Its members would go onto massive success as solo artists, as producers, as stars of family-friendly films, and as multimillionaire headphone entrepreneurs.

Did N.W.A. glamorize violence? Somewhat. Is the misogyny and homophobia throughout their lyrics uncomfortable to stomach? Absolutely. Is it somewhat excusable by the whole “we were only playing characters/reflecting reality” thing? We’ll get to that. The influence, however, is not debatable. Here’s what Chris Rock said in 2005 in placing Straight Outta Compton atop his list of the top hip-hop albums of all time:
N.W.A. is the most influential act of the last thirty years -- bigger than Nirvana, Madonna or the Sex Pistols. Nothing has ever been the same since they came. I remember I was in L.A. when I was a kid, and I brought Straight Outta Compton back to New York. More people were coming over to my house to listen to N.W.A. than were going across the street to the crack house. I had the real shit. It was kind of like the British Invasion for black people.
N.W.A. has made the final ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; this is the first year in which it was eligible. To the Keltners!

Sunday, October 14, 2012