Saturday, March 1, 2014

WELL, NEW JERSEY IS FULL OF TORN-UP TOWNS:  On his current tour leg through New Zealand, Bruce Springsteen performed an acoustic guitar/harmonica cover of "Royals," with some lyrical changes.  It's....interesting.

Friday, February 28, 2014

CLEAR SKIES WITH A CHANCE OF SATELLITE DEBRIS:  So, what are you hoping to see at the Academy Awards this year? Do you have a favorite between 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle for Best Picture?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

CAN THEY WORK IN A COLOR ME BADD TRIBUTE? After finishing playing the World's Worst Spanish Teacher on Glee, Matthew Morrison is now attached to the musical version of Finding Neverland, which racked up seven Oscar nominations in 2004 (including Johnny Depp's inexplicable nomination over Paul Giamatti for Sideways).  Seriously, in a show filled with terrible people who we are continually beaten over the head with the message of "like this person!," Will Scheuster is The Worst, right?
HEY! WAIT!  I'VE GOT A NEW COMPLAINT (ABOUT THIS LIST): Rolling Stone attempts to rank all 102 recorded songs by Nirvana from best to worst.  There's not a lot of "contrary to be contrary" rankings (with "Come As You Are" being out of the Top Ten being the biggest surprise), and no one's going to be surprised by what comes in at #1, but you may want to discuss.  (Note that the version on RS's site is a 102 image slide show with embedded videos.  I've linked to a single page version.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

THE DEPARTED:  This year's Oscar Necrology segment faces the same questions as in most year -- what to do about too-recent deaths (Ramis), given that the footage likely has already been edited to fit its time slot?  Who gets tributes beyond having their photos in the montage?

Given this list of those who passed away in the past year, I'd try to make room for oral tributes to Shirley Temple Black (Drew Barrymore?), Harold Ramis (Bill Murray, ideally), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (P.T. Anderson?), in that order of importance. (If you'd rather have a Peter O'Toole tribute than Hoffman, I'm okay with that.) Make sure to include Roger Ebert in the montage—his love of movies brought so many of us such joy, and he deserves to be remembered Sunday night—and don't forget Deanna Durbin.
DON'T SHOOT ME INTO...OUTER...SPACE!  So, apparently Adam Driver's pleas in Inside Llewyn Davis were half-hearted, as he's in negotiations to join the new Star Wars film as a villain.
CORE COMPETENCE:  So maybe this is less-than-healthy foods week on the blog, because Ben and Jerry's is unveiling a new ice cream process where they'll put two ice cream flavors on each side of the pint and a "core" of caramel, Nutella-ish stuff or other flavors in the middle, yielding four new flavors; and McDonald's is finally going to figure out how to serve breakfast later in the day.

Also: a history of the chocolate chip cookie:
Unlike the anonymous inventors of such American staples as the hot dog, the grilled-cheese sandwich, and the milkshake, the creator of the chocolate-chip cookie has always been known to us. Ruth Wakefield, who ran the popular Toll House restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts, with her husband, Kenneth, from 1930 to 1967, brought the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie into being in the late nineteen-thirties. The recipe, which has been tweaked over the ensuing decades, made its first appearance in print in the 1938 edition of Wakefield’s “Tried and True” cookbook. Created as an accompaniment to ice cream, the chocolate-chip cookie quickly became so celebrated that Marjorie Husted (a.k.a. Betty Crocker) featured it on her radio program. On March 20, 1939, Wakefield gave NestlĂ© the right to use her cookie recipe and the Toll House name. In a bargain that rivals Peter Minuit’s purchase of Manhattan, the price was a dollar—a dollar that Wakefield later said she never received (though she was reportedly given free chocolate for life and was also paid by NestlĂ© for work as a consultant).

Monday, February 24, 2014

HAROLD RAMIS (1944-2014):  Oh, no, this is awful.

Had Harold Ramis never acted, had he never directed, he'd still have been among the most crucial comedic talents of the past half-century: Groundhog Day, Animal House, Caddyshack, Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters all were authored or co-authored by him. Add in the acting and directing, and what a terrible loss.

"It’s hard for winners to do comedy," he once said. "Comedy is inherently subversive. We represent the underdog as comedy usually speaks for the lower classes. We attack the winners." Nathan Rabin did a career retrospective last year, and noted:
Where Belushi angrily demanded the spotlight, Ramis was and remains an inveterate collaborator. Ramis’ name can be found on many of the best and most beloved comedies of the past 35 years, but they’re almost invariably accompanied by the names of other screenwriters. Similarly, he has acted in several hit films over the years, many of them enormously successful, but it’s telling that Ramis never really starred in a movie. Despite the hit films he’s appeared in, co-written, or directed, there has never been a Harold Ramis vehicle. But he does have a gift for custom-creating vehicles for the John Belushis and Bill Murrays of the world, icons with the kind of electric presence Ramis lacks...  
In a comedy (and entertainment) world ruled by ego, Ramis is seemingly content to be the man behind the man, or, particularly during the earlier stages of his career, when he acted more regularly, the man beside the man. He has ascended to the apex of American comedy through an unparalleled gift for harnessing the potential of our culture’s preeminent smartasses, particularly Bill Murray, with whom Ramis shares a long, complicated, and fruitful history. 
FORREST BOUNCE:  On the eve of his return to the show tonight, Arthur Chu talks to the AV Club about his Jeopardy! run.
P-E-R-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-E:  The Kansas City spelling bee had to stop after 66 rounds because they ran out of words for the final two spellers, who went forty-seven rounds head-to-head. They'll resume in two weeks; winner goes to Nationals.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

LET THIS BE AS FAKE A TREND AS THAT PALEO NONSENSE:  Onesies for grownups, really?