Saturday, August 3, 2013

ANY TEAM I COACH, THEY'RE GOING TO PLAY HARD FOR ALL FOUR QUARTERS:  Jason Sudeikis, Tottenham coach, in a short film promoting NBC's upcoming EPL coverage.

Friday, August 2, 2013

NPH'S GRAND SLAM BID IS ON HOLD... because Ellen DeGeneres will return to host the 2014 Academy Awards. She and Whoopi Goldberg are the only female performers who have ever hosted the show solo.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

DON'T GO BACK TO ROCKVILLE:  In honor of today's birth of un enfant on the platform at L'Enfant Plaza, Hairpin ranks the DC Metro stations based on their baby-naming potential.
HIS BIGGEST MISTAKE SINCE SHAVING THE 'STACHE: Really, Trebek: dinging someone in the kids tournament final for a minor spelling error when his intent is unmistakable?
#SLATEPITCHES:  Julia Turner argues that Boggle is better than Scrabble:
Boggle is also superior because it’s a game where luck plays no part. In Scrabble, the most brilliant competitor can get stuck with a handful of vowels while a newbie notches the high-scoring Q. In Boggle, each player works with the same letters, so the game is a pure test of wits. Excited that you found MINION? Well, I found that, too—and CINNAMON! 
Which brings me to another of Boggle’s virtues: It prizes long words rather than short ones. Sure, Scrabble has its “bingos,” the seven-letter (and occasionally longer) words formed when you deploy all your tiles in one turn. But the best way to improve your Scrabble game is to memorize the list of 101 acceptable two-letter words.... From a linguistic perspective, however, this is a terrible list of words, alternately mundane (IS, IF, SO, GO) and arcane (cf. the dubious ZA, an abbreviation for pizza used by no one ever). Boggle eliminates these pesky two-letter words altogether; standard editions call for a three-letter minimum.
To which Stefan Fatsis, author of the books Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic, as well as the Friday sports correspondent for All Things Considered, scoffs:
Boggle is “fun,” he wrote. It’s “entertaining.” Boggle is “the Twister of word games.” But, he avowed: “There’s no strategy. … I and thousands like me prefer our word wars to be more complex than just making letter connections. Scrabble's challenge involves a range of skills: spatial relations, board geometry, probability determination and more. Boggle's is narrow.”  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

IT'S NOT RUFUS:  Having been replaced by Michael Keaton as the villain in the upcoming Robocop remake, Hugh Laurie will be letting his musical talents shine on a US/Canada tour.
THE GAME PLAYED THE WEEK BETWEEN THE AFC/NFC CHAMPIONSHIP AND THE SEASON-ENDING BIG GAME: As part of the continuing effort to find a way to make the Pro Bowl relevant, the NFL has announced major changes:
  • No longer is it an AFC v. NFC game--now, all "all stars" will be in one pool, and are "drafted" shortly before the game into two teams by "coaches" who won Fantasy Football competitions.
  • Effectively, they'll play 4 "halves," with a guaranteed change of possession at the end of each quarter.
  • No kickoffs/returns.  (This may well be a pilot for getting rid of kickoffs altogether, which has been discussed as a concussion-prevention method.)
  • In the last two minutes of each quarter, unless you advance the ball more than a yard, the clock stops--no more kneel downs.
  • A shorter play clock.
Will be interesting to see how these get implemented and the response--as well as whether they trickle down into regular season play.
THE "WIN, OR YOU DIE" RULE WAS RELAXED:Vulture goes to a Game of Thrones trivia night, which is worth it just for the team names--"Operation Dothraki Freedom?"  "Five Starks and a Bastard?"
THE SUN IS SHINING, IT'S A LOVELY DAY:  Ten years ago this evening, Avenue Q made its Broadway debut. Here's "It Sucks to Be Me," from the 2004 Tonys.

No, we don't understand the existence of a school edition, and we may feel a little guilty about its having beaten Wicked for Best Musical, but for now there's happiness. (But only for now.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

IT'S TIME TO COOK:  Phew. Netflix apparently will start streaming Breaking Bad season 5 (first half) on Friday.

I finished season four last night, and am (I think understandably) a bit overwhelmed right now. Yes, we may need to revisit the 2011 ALOTT5MA Award for Televised Fatality of the Year, which had gone to one of GoT's crowning achievements.  You certainly can (re)visit Isaac's contemporaneous discussion of the s4 finale (ding!) at your leisure.
SEYMOUR, SHE'S GOING TO BE BIGGER THAN OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN!  A brief oral history of the making of Madonna's first album, released thirty years ago this week. A representative excerpt:
She came by on that Monday and played me that demo. It wasn't amazing. But this girl sitting in my office was just radiating star power. I asked her, "What are you looking for in this?" I always ask that, and the wrong answer is "I want to get my art out," because this is a business. And Madonna's answer was, "I want to rule the world." 
STATS ARE DEVIL DIGITS:  With Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Bill Parcells, frequent litigant Warren Sapp and others slated to don the yellow jackets in Canton this weekend, Mike Tanier plots out the next five years of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions.

Monday, July 29, 2013

USAIRWAYS IS A REPLACEMENT-LEVEL AIRLINE, OR QDOBA IS A REPLACEMENT-LEVEL MEXICAN CHAIN:  Nate Silver answers questions from Deadspin readers, including "Who is the hottest statistical model you've ever met? Did you ever have sex with her/him?"
WE CAN RULE OUT JOHN MAYER, SINCE HE WOULDN'T BE BORN FOR FIVE YEARS: Remember when Carly Simon suffered from crippling stagefright throughout the 1980s until her intimate HBO comeback special? Because now she's totally fine rocking out her biggest hit with T-Swizzle in front of tens of thousands at Foxborough.

[Other remaining musical mysteries: what won't Meat Loaf do, even for love? who placed the the bomp in the bomp-bah-bomp-bah-bomp?]

[From John Moe: "Yes, I went up to Saratoga for an important horserace. And yes, my horse won, thanks to years of training and the hard work of all the people involved. Is this a bad thing?"]

bonus.swift.coverage: After one of her Philly concerts last week, Swift took her crew to Ralph's in South Philly, leaving a $500 tip for a $800 meal. (She did not, however, try the veal, which remains exceptional there.)