Friday, May 9, 2014

CONGRATULATIONS, DARREN ARONOVSKY AND RUSSELL CROWE:  After its fourteen years atop the charts, Jacob has been displaced by Noah and Liam as the most popular baby boy's name. Sophia, Emma, and Olivia top the girls' chart for 2013.

Big risers include Jayceon (and Jayse/Jayce), Milan, Atlas, and Duke for the boys; Daleyza, Marjorie, Lennon, Jurnee, and Everlee/Everleigh for girls. Also rising: Arya and boys' names starting with Bran.

[Added: Vox on the rise of Arya and Khaleesi, but there were only seventeen Katnisses.]

Among the top fallers are a lot of irregularly-spelled boys' names ending in schwa-n (Austen, Masen, Trevon, Jaidyn, etc), while z's are out-of-favor for girls (Litzy, Jazzlyn, Maritza, Izabelle).  Also Geraldine.
YOU ARE TEARING ME APART!  Allegedly, James Franco wants to play Tommy Wiseau in a movie about the making of The Room that Franco will also direct.
ALOTT5MA TRAVEL DESK:  Birthday boy and ALOTT5MA regular Joseph J. Finn is headed to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Any recommendations?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

TO ALL, SKEE SKEE SKEE SKEE SKEE SKEE: There is a trademark battle between the company responsible for the arcade/boardwalk game in which one bowls small balls towards a series of concentric rings up a ramp, and Brooklyn's Brewskee-Ball league.
BUT I'M STILL 19, RIGHT?  According to a music review in Thursday's NYT, Natalie Merchant and Tori Amos are now 50 years old.  Cannot be true.
IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER, DETECTIVE PERALTA?  After a one-season experiment with Cedric the Entertainer hosting, Terry Crews will take over hosting syndicated Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in the Fall. I'm admittedly biased on this front, but I think the show could benefit from a back to basics approach, getting rid of the more complex rule set they've introduced over the years for syndication and going back to the straight "15 questions/3 lifelines" approach.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WE'RE GOING TO SKIP THE CRONUT:  Cupcakes?  So five minutes ago.  The new trend?  Artisanal popsicles.

Monday, May 5, 2014

WONDER IF CANADA'S FANS OF JAY-ZED AGREE:  In France, is referred to
COULD THIS BE ANY MORE NATE SILVER-Y?  Slate breaks down the statistics on Friends.
BEE INFORMED:  With three-plus weeks to go, it's time to turn our attention to the field for the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee, the twelfth to be live-blogged here. (Yes, we're now at the point where some of the competitors weren't born yet at the time I first started doing this.)

There's only one five-timer in the field, two-time prime-timer Sriram Hathwar; and five four-year repeaters including long-time ALOTT5MA fave Vanyya Shivashankar, the keystone to many a pool entry over the years and one of two siblings of past winners in the field. There are two Canadians.

The rules appear to be the same as last year, with its artificial cutoff Thursday afternoon of kids who've spelled all their words correctly onstage but erred in the computerized rounds, and my objection still stands:
Are we okay with a Bee in which many kids will be eliminated not be spelling a word wrong on stage, but by performance in a private, computerized competition? Clear pros and cons -- it spares these young people that public moment of failure, which can be both scarring and motivating -- but it also deprives the audience of the full drama. I have long noted that the Bee is, in essence, a long process by which we see every kid (but one) misspell a word, which is ironic and more than a little sad, but putting myself back in my early adolescent hypercompetitive brain, I think that's what the kids want -- win or lose (and likely lose), to have it happen on the stage, in that moment of spotlight and pressure.
But on the other hand, as I noted after last year's Bee: "The Bee doesn't exist for our enjoyment: it exists for the kids who are competing in it, so as I've said before the question of whether these computer-based cutoffs are appropriate is really one for them as competitors more than for us as observers. From this outsider's perspective, it does seem more fair to have evaluations based on 24 (and 24 more) common words rather than the luck of the draw at the microphone, and more compassionate to not have every eliminated speller have to suffer that fate in front of a camera—but that also renders the Bee a test of slightly different skills than the traditional oral-only evaluation."