Saturday, February 16, 2013

COMPLETE WITH A PELICAN GARBAGE CAN:  What does one do when one has Dick Clark Money? Apparently, one thing Clark yabba dabba did was build a Malibu home which is a replica of the Flinstones', now for sale for $3.25M.

Friday, February 15, 2013

THE BEAT STARTED—AND INSTANTLY, PANIC REIGNED: Grantland tells the inside story of Marvin Gaye's NBA All-Star Game rendition of the National Anthem, from thirty years ago this weekend.
IF ALEX TREBEK IS THE SHOW'S VIRGIL, JENNINGS IS DANTE, THE ONE GUY WHO MADE IT OUT ALIVE: Buzzfeed's Kevin Lincoln profiles Ken Jennings as he tries to make his way in the world as a "professional smart person":
[P]arlaying both intelligence and effortless charisma into not just celebrity but also a seemingly permanent spot in the pop-culture landscape is a pretty specific hustle. Don't let the clean-cut Mormon good looks or aw-shucks demeanor fool you: Ken Jennings is on the grind.... His current job description is emblematic of the social media age: Being himself, for fun and profit. Which means being more than a little self-aware.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT TO ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO: Given our past discussions, I was grabbed by a headline in this morning's New York Daily News:
New Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis says he’ll always be a Boston Red Sox
But then, when you read the article, you find the Greek Hebrew God of Walks' actual quote, and ...
“To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house, to say I’d just throw it out the window, that’s not true,” Youkilis said. “I’ll always be a Red Sock.”
It's the latter, right?
DON'T WANNA MISS A THING: Like Isaac, I've been buried in paper. But instead of a lovely cover of R.E.M., I point you to the news of a meteor in Russia that knocked down a zinc factory and injured 500 people from shockwave-induced broken glass. This is, by the way, unrelated to this afternoon's close brush with 2012 DA14, but reminds us that it was not so much an asteroid but the lack of a space program that killed the dinosaurs

Thursday, February 14, 2013

NXNW:  Just checking in from the deep paper-filled hole in which I currently reside to say: (a) the Internet is awesome; and, relatedly, (b) here's Colin Meloy, Peter Buck, and Ben Gibbard doing You Are the Everything.
FIRST PRIZE IS A TICKET TO THIS, SECOND PRIZE IS A SET OF STEAK KNIVES:  We've previously talked about Jason Reitman's livereads of screenplays around here, but his newest one seems like the most interesting yet.  He's doing Glengarry Glen Ross, but with one big twist--an all-female cast, including Allison Janney, Mae Whitman, and Catherine O'Hara.  No announcement for who's taking on Alec Baldwin's "always be closing" monologue, but this sounds like it could be fascinating.
GIVE TO OEDIPUS! GIVE TO OEDIPUS! // HEY, JOSEPHUS!  Slate tries to figure out when it became cool to call someone a mother[love]r.
OBLIGATORY SCHMOOPY POST: Because of his shooting schedule, Jerry Orbach normally left the house early in the morning, but made it a tradition to write a poem for his wife to read every morning when she got up.  They've now been collected.
YIPPEE-KAY-YAY: In honor of today being A Good Day To Die Hard, NPR surveys the series to date.  Yes, Live Free Or Die Hard (retitled Die Hard 4.0 outside of the US) was more than a bit of a mess, and reviews of the new one are kind of terrible, but yeah, I'll be seeing it (though probably at a bargain matinee tomorrow or Saturday rather than paying full price).
AS IF. I AM ONLY SIXTEEN, AND THIS IS CALIFORNIA, NOT KENTUCKY:  Grierson and Leitch pick romcom couples who clearly didn't belong together, a list to which I'd like to add (1) either potential couple in My Best Friend's Wedding and (2) Heigl and Rogen in Knocked Up. Really? That's gonna work?
IT'S NO "SECRET DWARF HOOKER," BUT STILL: I certainly didn't care that much about Safe Haven, this year's obligatory Nicholas Sparks weepie, but Richard Roeper's disclosure that the movie contains a plot twist that he describes as "Bat. Bleep. Crazy." meant some digging was required.  Obviously, this reached beyond the obvious "she's on the run from an abusive/stalker-y ex" plotline that's set up in the trailer and the ads. Fortunately, the AV Club has the spoiler, which we'll discuss after the break.
FRANCESCA, FRANCESCA, FRANCESCA ... YOU'RE WELCOME:  Survivor is back, full of beans, spectral tarsiers, and enough foreshadowing that you might as well call it fiveshadowing. I'm happy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

LET HER BE YOUR STAR: Yes, Smash isn't a hit, but it did get Megan Hilty a chance to cut a solo record, with a pretty eclectic song list (Don Henley and Damien Rice covers?), and we are finally getting a Bombshell recording.  Do you care enough to buy either?
SOME GUY IN NORMANDY:  Okay, so we need to discuss the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament conclusion from last night. If you haven't seen the video yet, watch here, and then check the J-Archive for the game so you can confirm something which I'll place below the fold:
WELL I GUESS, MR. MAYOR, THERE'S NOTHING TO BE DONE: It is thrilling to experience a tv show which is as confident in the way it's closing up shop as The Wire is. In this penultimate episode, "Late Editions" (Sepinwall, AVClubTHND), there's a lot of plot business to be done, and my goodness does George Pelacanos' script cover it well.

WHAT BLOCKADE?  Spencer Ackerman provides military counterinsurgency analysis of the Battle of Hoth:
When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

MUPPET OF THE HOUSE: This Ain't It Cool post about the next Muppet movie (mild potential spoiler) jokingly suggests that Les Mis would've been better as a Muppet movie.  Without getting into the merits of that, I'm quite confident we can cast Muppet Les Mis here.  Some things are easy--Kermit as Valjean, Piggy as Fantine (of course she's going to want the diva role), and Robin as Gavroche--but who's your Javert?  Statler and Waldorf (with one in drag) as the Thernadiers?  Offer up your suggestions below.
THE 20/20 40/40 EXPERIENCE:  Remember last October, when we talked about which musical artists were big enough to pull off a stadium tour?  Because Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake are planning one for 2013.
MORE PROOF OF A CANADIAN CONSPIRACY AGAINST US:  Yes, Carly Rae Jepsen got blanked at the Grammys on Sunday, but she did get a Jeopardy! board tribute last night.
THE VOLKSNOODLE FOR AN EMERGING THAI NATION-STATE:  The Morning News has a solid thinkpiece on Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsongkram and the geopolitical/culinary history of pad thai.
RULON GARDNER AND KURT ANGLE HAVE A SAD:  In a surprise move (because modern pentathlon was the expected victim), the International Olympic Committee has decided to drop wrestling (both freestyle and Greco-Roman) from the 2020 Summer Games. The decision leaves boxing, fencing, judo, and taekwondo as remaining one-on-one fighting disciplines.

Wrestling now gets to apply for the now-vacant spot in the 2020 Games, in addition to baseball/softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu. (Golf and rugby sevens have already been added for 2016.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

GONNA DRIVE PAST THE STOP & SHOP WITH THE RADIO ON:  There's a movement afoot to have Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner" declared the official state rock song of Massachusetts.

Laura Barton, for The Guardian (UK) in 2007: "Roadrunner is one of the most magical songs in existence. It is a song about what it means to be young, and behind the wheel of an automobile, with the radio on and the night and the highway stretched out before you. It is a paean to the modern world, to the urban landscape, to the Plymouth Roadrunner car, to roadside restaurants, neon lights, suburbia, the highway, the darkness, pine trees and supermarkets. As Greil Marcus put it in his book Lipstick Traces: 'Roadrunner was the most obvious song in the world, and the strangest.'"

Still, there's a lot of contenders out there -- the Dropkick Murphys' "Shipping Up To Boston," The Pixies' "U-Mass," Juliana Hatfield's "Feeling Massachusetts," The Bee Gees' "Massachusetts" ...
"THE RED AND GOLD TEAM LED BY ROBERT GRIFFIN III": The WaPo's ombudsman has a few things to say:
“Every major national Native American organization has declared that the name of the pro football team in our nation’s capital is the most offensive thing native peoples can be called in the English language and has called for it to be changed,” [Suzan Shown Harjo, a Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee activist] said.

“It’s okay if others aren’t offended by it,” she added. “They should respect that we are offended and that this is something they can do something about — in our world where we can do little about most things, this is something we can actually do something to fix. They should care about it even a tiny bit because we care about it so much.”

Native Americans are not mascots or historical bygones to be imitated; they’re flesh-and-blood Americans, as much a part of the warp and weft of the living fabric of this country as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
added: Dave Zirin, also on-topic today: "In a league that’s 70 percent African-American yet couldn’t seem to find any coaches or executives of color to hire this off-season, the Redskins are also a reminder, as William Faulkner wrote, that 'The past is never dead. It’s not even past.'"
I GOT SO MUCH (LESS) TROUBLE ON MY MIND: Whatever one wants to say about last night's Grammy Awards, it's clear that they seem to have wholly escaped the problems of even 5-10 years ago, in which the awards themselves and performances in general had failed to reflect What People Are Listening To. Natalie Cole and her late father didn't sweep the awards last night, and nor did Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, or Quincy Jones. You can no longer look at each category, ask who would old people find least threatening?, and win your pool.

This is not to say that the awards themselves, or the performances were uniformly excellent -- I think only Kelly Clarkson, the Levon Helm tribute, and the Black Keys/Dr. John number approached "yes, I'd like to watch that again" levels, with the disappointments including Frank Ocean, Taylor Swift, fun. not getting electrocuted, a "Bob Marley tribute" with precious little Bob Marley music, and Prince not performing at all despite being there to present. Still, any night that ends with an Adam Yauch tribute anchored by Chuck D. (who himself has never won a Grammy) ain't all bad ...

Or is it? Because the obvious rejoinder is "dude, you're forty now. If you want to know if the Grammys are relevant to contemporary music, ask the teens and twentysomethings who comprise its principal market." I am open to the possibility that, like Matthew McConaughey's Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, it's not that the Grammys are actually getting younger but we're getting older, and there's a whole sphere of viewers from whom we're largely disconnected wondering why that old dude from NCIS:LA decided to rap (and why were there no contemporary rappers performing, save Jay-Z's cameo in Timberlake's performance?), and who was that tiny dude with the cane presenting Record of the Year, and why didn't Japandroids get to perform, and what's up with all those banjos?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

THE BETTER SOOKIE: Identity Thief is not a terribly good movie--it has at least one set of villains too many, a lengthy bit involving Eric Stonestreet (who, to his credit, evokes Cam from Modern Family not at all) that isn't funny, and a pretty awful CGI snake.  Despite that (and the winter storm in the Northeast this weekend), it opened to more than $30 million dollars this weekend, and that's being largely credited to Melissa McCarthy, and rightly so.  To the extent the movie works, it's because McCarthy throws herself into it--not just the broad physical stuff that has (unsurprisingly) been the focus of the ads, but also some genuine emotion, even within that physical comedy, just as she did in Bridesmaids.  I'm hoping this means we see more and better stuff built around her talents rather than her turning into the female Adam Sandler, turning out movie after movie built around the same template.