Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WHOEVER DISAGREES WITH THIS IS OUT OF THEIR MIND:  The Web of Language blog has named the singular they as its word of the year. As Ben Zimmer reported for the WSJ back in April:
According to standard grammar, “they” and its related forms can only agree with plural antecedents. But English sorely lacks a gender-neutral singular third-person pronoun, and “they” has for centuries been pressed into service for that purpose, much to the grammarians’ chagrin. Now, it seems, those who have held the line against singular “they” may be easing their stance.

“They” most often turns singular in common usage when its antecedent is considered generic, not referring to a single known person. Nearly everyone would find that they can stomach the “they” in this very sentence, agreeing with “nearly everyone.”

Things get trickier when the antecedent of “they” more clearly refers to one person. Areader of this column may not like what they see in this sentence, for instance.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

AND BLUE IVY CAN INDUCT HER MOM:  Good question from Randy during tonight's Kennedy Center Honors: predict the honorees of 2035.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

NEVER GON' BE PRESIDENT NOW:  The ALOTT5MA Founding Fathers (With or Without Fathers) Sex Scandal Desk wants you to know that Alexander Hamilton may have had some reasons to publish the Reynolds Pamphlet, whose contents you can read here:
She told me the street and the number of the house where she lodged. In the evening I put a bank-bill in my pocket and went to the house. I inquired for Mrs. Reynolds and was shewn up stairs, at the head of which she met me and conducted me into a bed room. I took the bill out of my pocket and gave it to her. Some conversation ensued from which it was quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolation would be acceptable.
Or just listen.

N.B. Took the kids to the Washington Crossing reenactment yesterday. No one was specifically designated as Hamilton or Burr. Also, it was sixty-plus freakin' degrees.

Friday, December 25, 2015

BILLY MACK, KIRSTY MACCOLL SCREWED AGAIN:  At least it was the NHS Choir, and not that Canadian twit, winning this year's UK Christmas #1.

Monday, December 21, 2015

OBJECT-:  Now available for PC--Jayjay Falcon: Bird-Brained Defense Lawyer.
WHAT ABOUT THE DAMNED FOOL WHO SHOT HIM?  A short bio of Alexander Hamilton written from the perspective of a kid who's only seen the musical.

SOME KIND OF ATTENDANCE AWARD:  More on why Steve Miller has no business being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Regarding influence, none of the Steve Miller Band’s records appear on lists of influential or important albums from the 1970s. Not Rolling Stone, not Ultimate Classic Rock, not Paste, not Pitchfork. Not one record appears on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Album list. Even fan sites about the Seventies do not list the Steve Miller Band. Anywhere.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

COME TO THE DARK SIDE OF SPOILERS:  As requested, a Force Awakens spoiler/discussion thread.  I'm not seeing it till Saturday, so will be staying out of the thread till then.  (And if you're looking for a Road Chip discussion thread--well, this is not the blog you're looking for.)
MOMMY'S ALRIGHT, DADDY'S ALRIGHT, BUT NILE RODGERS, NOT SO MUCH: Your Rock Hall of Fame inductees for 2016?  Cheap Trick, Chicago, N.W.A., Steve Miller, and Deep Purple.  Chic loses out for a record 10th time, and the Hall passes on NIN, the Smiths, and Janet Jackson.  Next year, first time eligibles include Radiohead and Beck.
BECAUSE IT'S HARD TO FIND "COLLY BIRDS" THESE DAYS:  Based on reader request, and it's a good one: any advice for gift-giving this holiday season? What would you like to receive, and what's been fun to give?

I've had great luck with, which puts indie artists' work on everything from wall prints to iPhone cases to blankets. Have a Hamilton fan in your life? Put the Schuyler Sisters on a travel mug. How about your sci-fi geek daughter? Get her a lineup of pop culture robots and droids for a new laptop sleeve. Endless options.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, DECEMBER 2016?  NBC has canceled Best Time Ever but vows to remain in the NPH business for new projects.
CHUNG-CHUNG:  Our Friends at Previously.TV are joined by Our Friend Alan Sepinwall and conduct a (quite elaborate) Law & Order fantasy draft.  I'm sure we will have opinions on who drafted wisely and who drafted poorly, as well as whether Olivia Benson deserves the loathing that she receives from the panel.
MOST COMMON ANSWER? I WANT TO SEE WHAT HE'LL SAY NEXT:  Has Howard Stern really become "the most potent and powerful interviewer in American broadcasting"?

Monday, December 14, 2015

AN OVERLORD ALWAYS PAYS HIS DEBTS:  I am quite excited for SyFy's Childhood's End, one of my top-ten science fiction novels.  I made mention of a small plot point to someone in an online forum and got pilloried for providing a spoiler.  Childhood's End was published in 1953.  This person had literally had his entire lifetime to read the novel.  And what point has a statute of limitations necessarily run on not spoilers from a decades-old novel?
EPISODE VIII: THE FORCE TAKES A MID-AFTERNOON NAP:  I'm not saying we're moving to an all-Force Awakens content model for the next week, but share your plans for the movie in the thread below.  Also, thoughts on whether we need a spoiler thread and when it should go up?  I am not seeing until Saturday afternoon, and obviously would prefer to avoid spoilers.
ABOUT DAMN TIME:  Serena Williams is your Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, the first solo female honoree since Mary Decker in 1983.

The only other possible answer, I suppose, was Steph Curry, but I suspect he has plenty of time for this honor.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

OONTA GOOTA, SOLO?  Evaluating Han Solo's preemptive self-defense under the Model Penal Code.

Related: so, Obi-Wan Kenobi hasn't probably used his lightsaber since the battle with Anakin on Mustafar, twenty-ish years ago.  Now, within a couple minutes at the Mos Eisley cantina, he's slashing Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba without giving it a second's thought? And without any kind of reaction afterwards, like, damn I guess I've still got it?
AMERICAN LEAGUER MISUNDERSTANDS WHO SHOULD HIT WHAT:  I talking about anything to do with space, especially the prospect of Terraforming Mars.  I also love making fun of Jose Canseco.  You could reshuffle the universe a thousand times and I doubt I'll ever get a second chance to do both things at the same time,

Friday, December 11, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

THE DARKSIDEBOOK:  The L.A. Times has a helpful style and information guide for all things Star Wars.  Please note that "Imperial" is to be capitalized when used as an adjective, and that it's a "proton torpedo," not a "photon torpedo."
PRESENTED BY PIA ZADORA:  Golden Globe nominations arrived this morning, and a few interesting things to note:
  • Even though they're being aggressively campaigned in Supporting Actress, the Globes nominated Rooney Mara in Carol and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl as leads (Vikander also has a supporting nomination for Ex Machina).  Cate Blanchett is widely considered a virtual lock on the prize at the Oscars, hence the category shifts.
  • Room recaptured a little bit of mojo, with Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay nominations.
  • The Martian (although it has a lot of funny moments) running as a Comedy is pretty blatant category fraud, right?  That said, seems like The Big Short could throw a kink into that plan, with Best Picture, 2 Best Actor, and Best Screenplay nominations.
  • As usual, the TV categories are where we get the really Globes-y nominations, where they like random newcomers (Rachel Bloom, Wagner Moura, Catriona Balfe) and name stars doing TV work (Patrick Stewart, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gael Garcia Bernal).
  • A total of two network shows among 16 best TV series/movie/mini-series nominees:   Empire and American Crime.  The comedy nominations are all either premium cable or streaming.
  • Globes fell hard for Mr. Robot, with a (well-deserved) nomination for Rami Malek, as well as a Best Supporting Actor nod for Christian Slater and a Best Drama nod.
MAIL ... KIMP?  Serial, season two, has begun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

BILL MURRAY AIN'T NOTHIN' TO F--- WIT: The alleged final Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, has only a single copy, and a bunch of restrictions tied to it to "preserve the art," including a bar on selling additional copies for 88 years (though the buyer can have listening parties and give it away for free).  Most bizarre, however, is an alleged clause stating that currently active members of the Wu-Tang Clan and Bill Murray have the right to (without legal repercussion) attempt to plan and execute one (but only one) "heist or caper" to steal back the album, and if successful, all rights would revert to the Clan.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I CARRIED A WATERMELON:  ABC is also getting into the "musicals for television" game with a 3 hour event--Dirty Dancing, starring Abigail Breslin as Baby.  So, who do you cast in the other roles?

Monday, December 7, 2015

EGOT WATCH: Grammy nominations are out this morning, and a few EGOT-watch notes:
  • Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth ("See You Again," Song of the Year and others)
  • Seth MacFarlane (Traditional Pop Vocal Album)
  • Amy Poehler (Spoken Word for the audiobook of Yes, Please)
  • Louis C.K. (Best Comedy Album)
  • Michael Cerveris/Sydney Lucas and Christian Borle/Brian D'Arcy James (Best Musical Show Album, even though they won't be winning, because Hamilton)
  • There are no listed individual nominations for "Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media," but goes to "artist(s) or in-studio producers of a majority of the tracks on the album."  That probably does not qualify either Elizabeth Banks or Anna Kendrick for an award (Kendrick/"Barden Bellas" are credited on only 7 of the album's 18 tracks), but who knows?
 Also, given that she was nominated for song and record of the year last year for "All About That Bass," doesn't the Meghan Trainor "New Artist" nod seem iffy?  (The rule is that you're only ineligible if you've won a Grammy before.)  
BOB DOBBS APPROVES: As a reminder, Andrew Raff has been kind enough to set up a Slack channel to accompany the site, for real-time chatting and linking in a private setting, which 26 of us are already using. You can sign up here.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

FROM THE ALOTT5MA SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS DEFAMATION LAW DESK:  A Turkish criminal defamation case turns on whether a tweet comparing the President to Gollum is defamatory:
After a judge said he did not know enough about the Tolkien creature to make an appropriate decision, five experts were ordered to conduct an investigation into Gollum’s moral character before the next phase of the trial begins in February.... 
Peter Jackson, the director of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and two screenwriters, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, said in a joint statement given to the website The Wrap that the images the court will analyze are of the character Sméagol, not Gollum. 
“Sméagol would never dream of wielding power over those weaker than himself,” the statement read. “He is not a bully. In fact he’s very lovable. This is why audiences all over the world have warmed to his character.” 
Stephen Colbert, the talk-show host who knows so much about Tolkien that he was asked by Mr. Jackson to clarify elements of “Return of the King” during an interview on “The Colbert Report,” declined to comment through a publicist.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A REASON TO REJOICE, YOU SEE:  Yes, The Wiz Live! was that good. The performances, Harvey Fierstein's script-doctoring, the new songs, all of it. Yes, it needed a studio audience.  Yes, we wanted more Toto.

But this musical showed what NBC needs to do going forward: find a contemporary-enough musical with a solid book and without a non-definitive film version. Cast for talent, not fame/stunts. Holy crap was Shanice Williams a find. (Okay, but I liked the idea I saw that Terry Crews should've had Common's role.)  Embrace that you're on a stage, not filming a movie. And keep moving forward.

Now, we'll see what Grease Live learned from all this.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

NOTHIN' BUT A G(OY) THANG:  It's the Dr. Dreidel.
WHEN YOU TRY YOUR BEST, BUT DON'T SUCCEED:  You get fucking Coldplay as your Super Bowl L halftime show. Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, both of whom I'd rather see do this a second time, are slated to guest.

I accept that Taylor Swift's finally done the 1989 tour, and Adele ... isn't quite right for this. So, other than my standard suggestion of Prince four-out-of-five-years rotating with Morris Day and The Time, who? Drake/The Weeknd?
REMEMBER RECORDING SONGS OFF THE RADIO, ONTO A CASSETTE?  A nice reminder from a Redditor of how much the Internet changed everything:
When I was a little kid, and I asked my parents a non-obvious question about the human body or biology, their answer would be “Ask your uncle Paulo next time we see him. He’s a doctor”. Other questions about various topics would get “Let’s call up grandma and ask her; She’s a teacher”, or “Let’s see if the encyclopedia has anything about this”, or “Ask your teacher if, during recess, you can go ask the librarian at school”. 
What movies are playing? Let’s check the newspaper. 
How do we get there? Either they sent us directions, or we can open up a map and figure that out, then carry the map with us in case the roads have surprises such as closed exits or in case we make a wrong turn. (Intermediary stage between then and today: Let’s open up that newfangled Mapquest and print out custom directions!)...
Whatever happened to that guy I hung out with for a while when I was 14? Or that cousin-twice-removed that I met at that family gathering that one time, he seemed super cool and had some neat interests. Or that teacher I really liked? Back when I was young, if you didn’t interact with someone for a while, if they moved away, and don’t have friends/relatives in common, that person would effectively disappear. It would require phone-calls and letters to try to reconnect with them. Even once you did reconnect (if you really wanted to), it was unlikely that you would develop a meaningful long-distance relationship, more than a letter or quick phone call once every couple months. Seeing photos of each other’s projects and trips? Forget about it....

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

FROM NANU-NANU TO SHUZBOT:  The (sadly about to be integrated into Gizmodo) io9 has an excellent oral history behind the scenes of Mork and Mindy.
THE CASTING PROCESS WILL BE COMPLETED IN LESS THAN 12 PARSECS:  Among the many Star Wars projects in active development is a Young Han Solo prequel.  Delightfully, the casting search is code named "Red Cup," and they've seen over 2,500 actors for it.  Vulture has some of the names that have read, which range from Rami Malek (interesting, but might be too dour) to Miles Teller (whose off-screen antics hurt his chances).  Suggestions?  Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

VORG (VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT GILMORE):  Vulture goes all 538 on Gilmore Girls' pop culture references.  ("Number of jobs held by Kirk" is less than "number of different maids Emily Gilmore has during the series.")
ORPHAN, BASTARD, SON OF A SITH AND A QUEEN DROPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF A FORGOTTEN PLANET:  In his spare time (between 6 and 7:30 on two-show days) Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote the cantina music cues for Star Wars: Episode VII with director J.J. Abrams.

Monday, November 30, 2015

THE MAN AND HIS DREAM:  As part of a pre-Kennedy Center Honors WaPo profile of George Lucas, he's being wrong wrong wrong again:
In the [1999] version, it is Greedo who shoots first, by a split second. Deeply offended fans saw it as sacrilege; Lucas will probably go to his grave defending it. When Han shot first, he says, it ran counter to “Star Wars’ ” principles. 
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’ ” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

WE'D NEVER HEARD OF A DUMP CLOSED ON THANKSGIVING BEFORE:  50 years ago. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

SLACK, MOTHERF...  Andrew Raff has been kind enough to set up a Slack channel to accompany the site, for real-time chatting and linking in a private setting. You can sign up here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW OMNIA REGIT:  Now at my local Au Bon Pain: the obscure Breton pastry kouign-amann!   [A recipe is here.]
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?  Your EW Entertainer of the Year is Jennifer Lawrence, which, honestly, is a bit odd, given that her only projects this year have been Mockingjay Part 2 and Joy (and the much-delayed, minimally released, and critically derided Serena).  Runners-up are Chris Pratt, Adele, Taraji P. Henson, Aziz Ansari, Game of Thrones, Nicki Minaj. Amy Schumer, John Oliver, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shondaland, Taylor Swift, Elizabeth Banks, the cast of Straight Outta Compton, and Caitlyn Jenner.

Monday, November 23, 2015

THE MEH WIFE: I wanted to talk a little bit about this season of The Good Wife.  Yes, the show continues to have a lot of good parts, and many of the additions this season have been fine (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Character Actress Margo Martindale, and Cush Jumbo, who has dethroned Emily Wickersham in the category of "CBS actress whose name is most fun to say").  That said, it's felt as though that while the individual storylines are generally well-executed, each week's various narrative threads rarely coalesce into something larger.  Cary and Diane are off in their own show (which, honestly, I'd watch without hesitation), Peter is busy running the campaign Martin O'Malley thought he was going to, and Alicia is doing the small firm thing again (unless narrative calls upon her to do something else, like somehow be appointed to an elections board after resigning a position due to election fraud).  It reminds me of how The Love Boat was written, with different writing teams writing each segment, and then some very mild loose connective tissue thrown in at the last second.

It's widely speculated this is the show's last year, and I'm hoping they're actually building to something rather than chasing their tail to get to a pre-planned ending.  (I also wonder if Baranski and Czuchry might've taken the "wrong" side in whatever the drama relating to Archie Panjabi was, but were still under contract and are now being punished by being shunted into their own show.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

YES, APPARENTLY, WE CAN HEAR YOU:  The NYT reports that Adele's 25 "seems set to sell at least 2.5 million copies in the United States in its first week. That would be the highest weekly sales for any album since at least 1991," when they started tracking via Soundscan. "No album has sold at this scale since ’N Sync moved 2.4 million copies of “No Strings Attached” in 2000 — a time when annual CD sales were more than five times greater than they are now."

added.all.adkins.all.the.time: Adele and Graham Norton prank some Adele impersonators; alleged raw vocal feed from SNL; the Adele skit.

more!  The Muppet version!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

THE GRASSHOPPER LIES HEAVY:  Amazon's The Man in the High Castle is very much worth ten hours of your time.  It works well as alt-history, political thriller, period piece and reflection on life under tyranny.  I read the book twenty years ago and while it takes a very different path than the book, I think gets the spirit of the source work just right.

Friday, November 20, 2015

THE NEXT TIME YOU'RE AT THE CHECKOUT STAND AND HEAR THAT BEEP:  They've finally officially confirmed what always seemed obvious to me--on Supermarket Sweep, the smarter strategy than loading up your cart with big sides of beef, hams, and turkeys would be to spend all your time in the health and beauty aisle, grabbing small, lightweight, but expensive items.

EQUATIONS AND SHIT ON THE WALLS: Congratulations, Bay Staters, you live in America's smahtest state.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NETWORKS, MAN:  The Soup (also known as the only reason to watch E!), will come to an end with its December 18 episode.  Article suggests that it's a combination of McHale not wanting to do it any more and internal E! politics (E! shows have frequently been the butt of jokes on the show).  The fact that various efforts to develop a pairing for the show (The Grace Helbig Show, The Comment Section) have failed likely didn't help.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SIMAN TOV U'MAZEL TOV III:  Looks like Lorne Michaels will wait until December 19 to deliver his present.

TODAY'S POSTS, IN THREE ACTS:  Twenty years ago today, a show called Your Radio Playhouse debuted on WBEZ in Chicago.  In March of 1996, it changed its name to something we're all more familiar with--This American LifeTAL has influenced well beyond radio and podcasts (and TAL is pretty much the direct ancestor of most podcasts, right?), launching (or at least helping to launch) multiple literary careers.  Share your favorite stories, episodes, and moments.
SIMAN TOV U'MAZEL TOV II:  So, um, anyone have any great ideas for a kids' party adjacent to a May bat mitzvah for a beloved, geeky 13-year-old girl who doesn't want the whole dj/party motivator thing and for whom we'd love to do something less generic than Dave and Busters? Asking for a friend.
SIMAN TOV U'MAZEL TOV!  This blog turns thirteen years old today.

I'll be honest with you; I'm not sure if we should hit fourteen, at least not in this format. You can look at the post totals in the sidebar (and the traffic stats) and see how much we've slowed down in the past few years; indeed, the world has moved to social media, but we're still here. I've wondered if the right move for us is to shift our conversation to where we live more of our online lives—a Facebook page where everyone could share their pop cultural musing and moments of whimsy, perhaps—and maybe today's the day to start that conversation.

This community we've all built isn't going away. Our friendships are real, and they're spectacular. The question is where to center them going forward, and I am open to everyone's ideas.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED UNTIL THEY DO THIS EPISODE:The Mindy Project (which I'll admit to not having watched this season of yet because of the move to Hulu), nearly did a storyline involving a Hamilton Playbill becoming a valued status symbol.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I FEEL AN AWAKENING, BUT NOT UNTIL DECEMBER 17:  How serious is Disney about avoiding Force Awakens spoilers leaking?  So serious that they're refusing to screen the film for groups with early awards deadlines, which include the National Board of Review, New York and LA Film Critics Circles, and Screen Actors Guild.  As the article notes, the movie probably wasn't going to be a major contender in any of those groups' awards, since they don't have a ton of technical awards, but it's an unusual decision.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN'T CAST: As part of Vulture's high school TV showdown (which will pit My So-Called Life against either Buffy or Friday Night Lights in the final on Friday), they have a great piece up on the challenges of casting actors for these sorts of shows, revealing three"almosts" that I hadn't heard of before:
  • Taylor Kinney (now known for Chicago Fire and being Lady Gaga's significant other) was originally cast as Tim Riggins.
  •  Emma Stone nearly got cast as Julie Taylor, but they decided that she read too old for the part.
  • Chris Pine was seriously considered to play "Young Christopher" on Gilmore Girls (presumably in the notorious flashback episode).
CUT OFF YOUR SLAUSON:  We of the Northeast Corridor don't refer to driving on "the 95," "the 76," etc., so linguistically, what's up with California?
VOTING SHALL BE BASED UPON THE PLAYER'S RECORD, PLAYING ABILITY, INTEGRITY, SPORTSMANSHIP, CHARACTER, AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TEAM(S) ON WHICH THE PLAYER PLAYED: The National Baseball Hall of Fame has released its new ballot for modern players. It has fifteen new names, including Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman, and seventeen returning players. And voters only get to select ten of them.

I have set up a Doodle poll for the ALOTT5MA community to vote. All the stats are here. Please vote for no more than ten names, because that's what the BBWAA does, remembering that anyone who falls below 5% will be dropped from next year's ballot, so vote strategically if you must. I have long believed that players accused/admitted of PED usage should be voted into the Hall if their accomplishments so merit, and with their Hall plaques "teaching the controversy" where appropriate. My 2016 ballot reflects this. with players new to the ballot noted with an asterisk:
Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens, Edmonds*, Griffey*, Hoffman*, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling.
It is impossible to limit yourself to ten votes and not vote strategically -- there were at least 13 names under consideration for me. Last year, I left off Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens off the ballot, out of a belief they weren't going to be inducted last year regardless because of the controversy, but ... come on, they belong in, and with more room to do so, I'm doing it.

I took out Jeff Kent from past ballots because it's plainly not going to happen anytime soon, and skipped Sheffield and Martinez as well. McGwire, too, for that matter, and it is his last year of eligibility, but I know that vote would be wasted. I don't think I need to explain my repeated votes for Bagwell, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, or Schilling here; we've done it in the past (see below). which leaves the three men new to my ballot:

Ken Griffey Jr. is as obvious a first-ballot HOFer as they are. Nothing more need be said. And whether he's first-ballot or not, if any closers not named Mariano Rivera are allowed in the Hall, then Trevor Hoffman's longevity and dominance ought to put him in.

Jim Edmonds is my final vote. I'm not saying I'm sure he belongs in, and he certainly didn't get the in-career recognition that guarantees induction, but I'm sure he deserves to have years of future consideration. Nearly 400 HRs and outstanding defense in center field? As Rob Neyer notes, "His WAR places him in the same neighborhood as Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Dave Winfield, Richie Ashburn, Billy Williams, Zack Wheat and Willie Stargell. Then again, that simply places Edmonds in the same category as Kenny Lofton, Dwight Evans and Reggie Smith, outstanding outfielders who simply didn't do enough things that Hall of Fame voters appreciate. Maybe these guys can form a little club, and invite Lou Whitaker."

(Our discussion of the 2011 ballot2011 Doodle results; 2012 discussion; 2012 Doodle results; 2013 discussion; 2013 Doodle results; 2014 discussion; 2014 Doodle results.)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

YOU MIGHT WANT US TO LEAVE, BUT DO YOU WANT GREGG JEFFERIES OF THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES, MARK GRUDZIELANEK AND RONDELL WHITE OF THE MONTREAL EXPOS TO GO?  Splitsider lists 40 not-quite-iconic-but-still-beloved-by-them SNL sketches, some of which (James Brown's Hot Tub Party; Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute) plainly are iconic, or should be (Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Laughs).  Many video links.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GIVE HIM A MOMENT, SON. DEWEY COX NEEDS TO THINK ABOUT HIS ENTIRE LIFE BEFORE HE RELEASES THE NEXT APPLE PRODUCT:  I don't think I've ever had a movie experience like Steve Jobs before, insofar as I both admired Aaron Sorkin's three-act structure and couldn't help but wonder how someone could attempt that unironically in a post-Walk Hard universe.

The movie itself? Great performance by Fassbinder, but to what end?  [Spoiler alert: Jobs is a brilliant jerk and, because Sorkin, there are daddy issues.]  What it made me want to do is find a really good history of Apple to read: is it the Isaacson bio, because want I want is something focused on the company and the products.
SIDEBURNS, AND THE LESS-BIG MAN:  Springsteen fans will delight in this 1980 performance of "Ramrod," from an upcoming holiday package of The River with all sorts of bonus material.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

NZT GAVE HIM THE BRILLIANT IDEA OF LICKING HIS PALMS:  I haven't yet watched, but apparently CBS procedural Limitless did an extended Ferris Bueller homage last night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I'M SO EXCITED!  I'M SO EXCITED!  I'M SO...SCARED!  Today is the 25th Anniversary of "Jessie's Song," everyone's favorite episode of Saved By The Bell.
SEVEN WORDS YOU CAN'T REGISTER AS TRADEMARKS:  The effort by the Washington, D.C. professional football team to protect its name has led to a legal brief that's questionably SFW.

Monday, November 2, 2015

I CAME TO WORK, WHILE WEARING A MASK, SURROUNDING BY CHILDREN IN A GHOST TOWN, OR A PIRATE SHIP:  AVClub inventories 24 failed reality tv competitions, many of which we covered here back in the day.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION DESK:  I went and saw Room this afternoon (exceedingly good performances from Larson, Tremblay, and Allen, but by the nature of moving from book to film, loses much of the narrative voice that made the book so fascinating).  About an hour into the film, just after the narrative takes its big turn (not spoiling!), an older couple enters the theater and takes seats a few seats down the aisle from me.  They are clearly perplexed by what they're watching--I can hear the woman at one point mumbling "so, wait, Jack is a boy?"  They proceed to sit through the remaining hour of the film, still clearly confused.  As the lights go up, they mutter to the theater attendants their displeasure--apparently, they had bought tickets to Bridge of Spies, and had gone into the wrong screen.  I'll admit that this theater is not the best labelled (it doesn't have fancy digital signs above the entry ways, just signs posted outside each screening room), but one would think that they might have figured out that they were in the wrong theater a little more quickly given that Room is entirely devoid of spies, Tom Hanks, and Cold War period things.

Friday, October 30, 2015

IT WILL BE NICE WORKING WITH PROPER VILLAINS AGAIN:  Yes, I want to see an all-female Oceans Eleven starring Sandra Bullock.

Here's one attempt to cast the rest (no, not everything needs Kristen Wiig -- how about giving Anna Faris a chance?), but I'm sure you'll have your own suggestions.

And while we're discussing Bullock, a gripe: I have significant interest in seeing Our Brand Is Crisis. Why the hell did they open it the weekend before Election Day, when the people who care most about elections can't see it?
WE'VE DECIDED TO PURSUE MORE TIME SHOWING PEOPLE SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER:  ESPN is "suspending the publication" of Grantland effective today.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

DO YOU THINK THE AVERAGE STORMTROOPER KNOWS HOW TO INSTALL A TOILET MAIN?  Why the destruction of Alderaan was completely justified:
First off, let’s dispense with the childish notion that Alderaan was, as rebel spy and intergalactic insurrectionist Princess Leia has argued, a purely civilian target. There is literally no reason to believe her claim that “Alderaan is peaceful, we have no weapons.” She had previously lied about not only the diplomatic nature of the mission she was on when she was captured but also about the location of the stolen Death Star plans. It’s also worth noting that she would go on to lie about the location of a military target for the Death Star to target moments before Alderaan was destroyed....

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

READY! SET! BAKE!  Vulture's Margaret Lyons couldn't help but wonder: would we enjoy any of the talent evaluation reality competitions more if there were no eliminations, and the final winner were decided on some accumulated points system?

Also, I apologize for not learning about The Great British Baking Show sooner. That, and Survivor, are the only reality shows left on my plate.
SOMETHING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO RETIREMENT:  Against all odds, Phil Collins has unretired. Do you care anymore?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MAKING IT HARDER TO BE SATISFIED: Ready for Hamilton tickets to get even harder to get?  The Rockefeller Foundation is buying 20,000 matinee tickets to the show (face value $70), and providing them to NYC public school students at $10 a head.  Students will be able to participate in talk backs with the cast, and they're building a study guide and curriculum around the show.

Monday, October 26, 2015

OHMIGOD, YOU GUYS!  Reese Witherspoon, who let's be honest doesn't have a ton of quality credits in the decade after Walk the Line, is willing to lace up her last season Prada shoes for Legally Blonde 3 and thinks "it’d be kind of a cool thing to have her be a Supreme Court justice or someone who runs for office, President?"

Sunday, October 25, 2015

THE PREMORSE TRAP:  Certainly, Maureen O'Hara has given me a case of premorse.  This is a woman who must have been died around the same time as Shelly Winters.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

ALOTT5MA CONTINENTAL CUTLERY DESK:  Look out, America -- the UK is catching onto the fact that it's more efficient to hold a knife in your right(/dominant) hand while cutting, then flip your fork into that right hand after cutting's completed.

Friday, October 23, 2015

JUST A SWEET TRANSVESTITE: Look, I dig on the casting here, but -- FFS -- do we need a remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show?  I mean, no, of course we don't.  But what on Earth is the market here?
CHIP HARDER:  A Redditor couldn't help but wonder, "Should I watch the first 3 Alvin And The Chipmunks movies before I watch the new one coming out? Will the lore in the older movies make the new movie more enjoyable or will it be fine to go in cold? Also, what is the best order to watch them in, I assume its release order but I wanna be sure."

N.B. While the film is subtitled "The Road Chip," back in 2011 we had suggested other appellations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

IT'S A 3+ HOUR SHOW, SO HE BETTER EAT MORE THAN ONE RIB FIRST:  Chris Rock will host the 2016 Academy Awards, his first since 2005.
YOU CAN PUT IT ANYWHERE (ON THE SCHEDULE):  NBC has ordered a pilot script for a series that would be a Cruel Intentions sequel.  Fox tried a prequel series (starring, of all people, Amy Adams as Kathryn), but it got cancelled before airing an episode and edited into a direct-to-video movie.
INDY, WHY DOES THE FLOOR MOVE?  Both Grierson/Leitch and Adam Vary took some time last week to rank all of Steven Spielberg's films, and while they agree on which the top two are, there's some serious friction as to Temple of Doom and Catch Me If You Can.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NEXT, HE'S GOING TO NOTE THAT YOUR BALLOT HAS A BLANK SPACE, AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO WRITE HIS NAME:  Martin O'Malley covered "Bad Blood" on The View this morning.  (This blog, as always, does not endorse any political candidates.)
IT'S TRUE. ALL OF IT. THE DARK SIDE, THE JEDI ... THEY'RE REAL:  So we should talk about that.

Monday, October 19, 2015

STOCK UP ON COFFEE:  Netflix is allegedly set to order a series of four 90-minute Gilmore Girls epilogue films, with major folks behind the camera (the Palladinos) and in front of it (Graham, Bledel, Bishop, and Patterson) all ready to return.  Are you ready to cry at Richard's funeral?  (Because that's obviously going to be a plot point, right?)
SWEDISH POP OR CRYPTO-NAZISM?:  Apparently, in the case of Ace of Base, both.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

"THE CHECK MOVIES ARE OVER FOR ME":  Yes, we're now seven years past Eddie Murphy's first pledge to leave the movies and return to standup comedy, but that doesn't stop him from teasing the possibility again in this more-revealing-than-usual-given-that-he-rarely-talks-since-that-incident interview with the WaPo previewing his Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony tonight:
“Even though I’ve had some success in the movies, I’ve never turned into a white man in Hollywood,” he says. “I don’t have any sour grapes, but there’s a difference. If you’re black and you’re in this business, it’s different than if you’re a white guy in this business. And it’s not just me. How many movies has Denzel done with Steven Spielberg? How many movies has Will Smith done with Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese? How many movies has Tom Hanks done with Steven Spielberg? How many movies has Leonardo DiCaprio done with Martin Scorsese?”

Saturday, October 17, 2015

SOMETIMES EVEN MUSIC CANNOT SUBSTITUTE FOR TEARS:  Today's SlatePitch: Rhythm of the Saints, also released twenty-five years ago this week, is Paul Simon's best album? "Maybe the reason I love the album so much," the author claims, "is not that it doesn’t make me feel old, but that it makes me feel like growing old has a purpose."

Friday, October 16, 2015

THUNDER DROWNS OUT WHAT THE LIGHTNING SEES:  Twenty-five years ago today, we rushed to our local record stores to get the longbox of the Hindu Love Gods' first (and, of course, only) album. And so I couldn't help but wonder: what are your favorite side projects in rock-and-or-roll? [Don't all say Traveling Wilburys at once!]
GOODBYE, AND GOOD RIDDANCE:  At this moment, the final USAirways flight is scheduled to take off from Philadelphia, after which the airline will cease to exist.  As to when the flight will actually take off, and what information passengers will be given as to any delays, who the hell knows.

As a blog, I think we've accomplished our mission. It's all gravy from here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CAN'T SMIZE WITHOUT YOU:  America's Next Top Model, which never really produced a Top Model but sure was fun to watch back in the day, will conclude this season, its 22nd.
I KNOW, I'VE GOT TO LET IT GO AND JUST ENJOY THE SHOW:  Eight films about underdogs who fell short in The Big Game.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

MIRANDA LAMBERT IS NOT INVOLVED:  Given that it's (a) an original musical about (b) a lawyer who quits her job to follow an ex-boyfriend to California, seems like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend might be right up our alley.  Yes, the songs are delightful (see, e.g., "The Sexy Getting Ready Song"), but I'm not sure there's a series there, and the supporting cast desperately needs to be less of a cipher to work--prior "quirky town" shows on the CW (Everwood, Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie) have often risen or fell on their supporting cast.  Also,we start at (presumably) high school theater camp, and "10 years later," a 28 year-old actress is making partner in what appears to be a large NYC law firm?  (We'll leave aside the fact that she's talking corporate lawyer talk while looking through what appears to be a pleadings file.)  I'm in, though this is clearly a "high risk, high reward" play.

Monday, October 12, 2015

.... THE ARTICLES!  Playboy will stop running nude images because blah blah blah internet, print is dying, millennials, etc.
THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL SLIDE SINCE THE CHA-CHA SLIDE:  Will Leitch explains why the two-game suspension of Chase Utley (YATM) is so troubling (to me, at least):
It took one play, the Buster Posey broken leg, to make people realize that this was no longer what they wanted baseball to be, and they used it to change the game. The one thing MLB didn't do after that play was suspend Scott Cousins, the Marlin who ran into Posey in the first place. How could you? He was just doing what everybody does in that situation. Now, if he were to do that now, he'd be suspended, because the rule has been put into place: Everyone in baseball knows that MLB takes getting rid of home-plate collisions seriously and acts accordingly. But players don't know that with pivot plays. That's why Utley did it. That's why Chris Goghlan did it when his slide took out the Pirates' Jung Ho Kang in September. That's why everybody does it. Because no one has told them they can't. Because 100 years of baseball has told them they should.... 
It is reacting to the public response to a play rather than the play itself. Now, I understand why everyone is so angry. Tejada is out of the playoffs now. The Mets lost a game they might not have otherwise. Utley was defiant afterward. The optics are bad. But that is precisely why you don't suspend Utley. When you suspend Utley, you are not fixing the circumstances that led to the situation happening. You are reacting to how angry people are. People want blood, and you're giving it to them.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I'M GOING TO HAVE TO SCIENCE THE SHIT OUT OF THIS:  A solid A-minus to The Martian, a popcorn movie celebrating geekery (without quite the emotional pull of Gravity), but there's one unrealistic element I need to single out below the fold:

Friday, October 9, 2015

CONGRATULATIONS, TRACY JORDAN AND PHILIP MICHAEL THOMAS. YOU WIN:  This was in Lucy's handouts for Spanish class today:

WHAT CAN I DO TO GET THROUGH TO YOU?  No, I don't think the world needed a 2015 remix of "Say Say Say," though I do wonder if any here thought Macca's Tug of War and Pipes of Peace were worth revisiting at all.  (Also, really: why are you trying to hook up with your sister, Michael?)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

STRAIGHT OUTTA KELTNER:  Your 15 finalists for Rock Hall of Fame this year are:
  • Chicago
  • Cheap Trick
  • Deep Purple
  • The Cars
  • Janet Jackson 
  • N.W.A. (3rd nomination)
  • Nine Inch Nails (2nd nomination)
  • Yes
  • Chic (10th nomination)
  • The JB's
  • Chaka Khan
  • Los Lobos
  • Steve Miller
  • The Smiths
  • The Spinners
Who ya got? I suspect Janet Jackson is the only absolute lock in that bunch.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

HIS LIFE GOT FLIPPED-TURNED UPSIDE DOWN: When did Will Smith stop being cool? "Because while it is essentially still impossible not to like Will Smith (he is SO good at being likable), it’s become easy to ignore him. And that’s VERY bizarre to think about, especially if you grew up during his arrival to stardom."

[We may have touched on this topic before.]
DEL FUEGO/KIDS MUSIC STAR/BIOGRAPHER IS A HECK OF A TRIPLE THREAT [UPDATED. IT'S HIS BROTHER. ONLY 2/3]: Dan  Warren Zanes has penned a new biography of Tom Petty, with his cooperation but not authorization. Big reveal: Petty was a heroin addict in the 1990s, and hopes telling his story will save others. Zanes on Petty:
Tom Petty has had too many hits for some critics to be fully comfortable with him. The old, art commerce divide where people go, “oh, it’s too commercial.” The other thing, I was just talking to somebody who was watching a live Tom Petty concert on a computer, no between-song banter. He didn’t ever get a trampoline out and do a backflip. No, he goes out and plays the songs that he wrote. That extends to interviews. He’s just not a self-promoter. He couldn’t go from music into politics, and Bruce Springsteen could. And that’s not a judgment on Bruce. There are times I wish that Petty was more of a self-promoter if only so that his songs could travel a little more widely. Because they’re so good.
Be It Resolved That: this blog remains fond of Tom Petty.
"DON'T LOOK UP":  Yes, rightly, Cubs 3B Kris Bryant should win NL Rookie of the Year, but 2nd place is certainly Matt Duffy.  Here's a great little essay Duffy wrote of his start in the bigs, and a lot of the attitude is not only why Giants fans love the guy, but also a bit about why Giants have done a good job of making sure their homegrown talent succeeds when they get to the Show.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

PALPATINE '16: "[T]here are a number of serious problems with the Galactic Senate."
THE GREAT STATE OF CABLE:  The ABC Family channel will be known as "Freeform" starting in 2017 2016, which is as meaningless and stupid as SyFy or Spike or truTV, right?
“Freeform evokes the spirit and adventure of our audience," ABC Family/Freeform president Tom Ascheim said in a press release explaining the change. “Becomers represent a life stage rather than a generation,” and include both the younger end of the millennials as well as kids now in high school. Rather than keep focusing exclusively on millennials, the new Freeform will also aim to get their younger brothers and sisters to watch, since “in five years, millennials will be less than half of the [advertising] target,” the network says.... 
"The audience's identity and experience are fluid as they explore endless possibilities and their passions take shape.  Freeform personifies this fluidity and will deliver ideas, forms of content and ways of interacting with the brand."
Maybe I'm in a mood today, but what kind of nonsense word salad is that?
FOR FANS OF MUSTACHES AND GRIT:  The National Baseball Hall of Fame has released the names of the ten men to be considered by its Veterans Committee from the Pre-Integration Segregation Era this December.

On the other end of the timeline, Jonah Keri awards this year's hardware -- including a very difficult NL Cy Young race.
NONE OF WHICH FEATURE THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOKS WORD FREAK AND A FEW SECONDS OF PANIC:  Vulture picks "the one podcast to listen to" if you're looking for a great podcast in each of 24 genres.
FOR EVERYTHING THE NORTH GIVES, IT EXTRACTS A PRICE IN RETURN:  Just in time for the album's twentieth anniversary (remember the concert, Cosmos?), and possibly in celebration of noted Springteen fan Adam C's third straight ALOTT5MA FLB title, the AV Club's Ron Hart pens an appreciation of The Ghost of Tom Joad:
“The American story is transience and the idea of over the rise,” Springsteen told Costas in that 1995 interview. “Which is less now I suppose, but I think it’s an ingrained part of not just the American spirit but human spirit in general. My characters have always been on the move going someplace. Searching for something, whether its a better life or running from something or its the idea that moving might somehow make you better. It’ll heal you inside.”

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday, [a] Harvard postdoc joined some like-minded aesthetes for a playful protest outside the Museum of Fine Arts. The rally, which mostly bewildered passersby, was organized by Max Geller, creator of the Instagram account Renoir Sucks at Painting, who wants the MFA to take its Renoirs off the walls and replace them with something better. Holding homemade signs reading “God Hates Renoir” and “Treacle Harms Society,” the protesters ate cheese pizza purchased by Geller, and chanted: “Put some fingers on those hands! Give us work by Paul Gauguin !” and “Other art is worth your while! Renoir paints a steaming pile!”
THAT'S GOOD EVEN BY MAVIS BEACON STANDARDS:  When 538 statistically analyzes the lyrical density of Hamilton, noting that it averages 144 words per minute (2.4 words a second), you'd better believe we'll link to it.  
BALLPARK DELICACIES DESK:  Among the special items offered at post-season Texas Rangers games: a one pound bag of Cheetos(R) sliced open and topped with brisket, sour cream, cheese, and jalapenos, and "a brownie that's rolled in Rice Krispie treats, dipped in funnel cake batter and fried."

Friday, October 2, 2015

BEST. NIGHT. EVER.  With MLB's regular season ending with 15 simultaneous games Sunday at 3:05pm, we recall September 28, 2011.  As Joe Posnanski wrote, "I never argue with people who say baseball is boring, because baseball is boring. And then, suddenly, it isn’t. And that’s what makes it great."

[Our thread, in the wee hours of the morning, is here, and Nate Silver did the math here: "Multiply those four probabilities together, and you get a combined probability of about one chance in 278 million of all these events coming together in quite this way."]

added: Suppose -- purely hypothetically -- that you were trying to explain the narratives and highlights of this season to someone who barely paid attention this year because the Phillies sucked and my dad died and it's been really hard to get back into things -- such that the reader would be prepared for the playoffs.  What should he know?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SWING MAN: Sad to see Jeremy Affeldt retire, but he's had an absolutely stunning career as a middle relief guy and has one of the best post-season ERAs of any pitcher ever.  He did have a few parting words for baseball during his retirement presser of the five things he would not miss about baseball. Most notably, for this crowd:

The City of "Brotherly Love"

"Hang on, I know what you're thinking: Jeremy, do you have any idea how dangerous it is to insult the entire city of Philadelphia?! And yes, I know. I know all too well.

So first, let me be clear. Philly is a great sports town, with passionate fans and a palpable energy. The problem, though, is that the city, more than any other I've played in, seems to condone and almost revel in its fans crossing the line. Nowhere else in this country—again, based on my experience as a 14-year major leaguer and the conversations I've had with other players—is the opposition treated in such a repeatedly vile and borderline threatening manner.

We are out here to play a game, and even though we are paid handsomely to do so, professional athletes should not be subject to vulgarity, personal attacks or epithets. Sadly, in Philadelphia, this kind of fan conduct is far too typical. The irony is, while Phillies fans succeed in making many players dread traveling there, they also (not surprisingly) impact the decision-making process of those same players in free agency.

Sure, it's great to play for a rabid fan base, but after experiencing firsthand how powerful that fervor can be when it is channeling extreme negativity, it really makes you think twice about where all that collective anger comes from, and whether you want to subject yourself and your family to that all the time."


He also has unkind things to say about Wrigley Field. Well, mostly the player's locker rooms which sound about as adequate as a 40 year old high school.

IT'S DECORATIVE GOURD SEASON!  A not necessarily complete list of "pumpkin" scent variants currently available at Bath and Body Works:

  • Pumpkin Apple
  • Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin Cupcake
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake
  • Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow
  • Caramel Pumpkin Swirl
  • Pumpkin Pecan Waffles
  • Cranberry Pumpkin
  • Apple Pumpkin Pancakes
  • Pumpkin Coconut
  • Heirloom Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin Carving
  • Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte
How are you celebrating?  (Also, my neighborhood Target already has multiple rows of holiday decor and wrapping paper ready to go, if you're planning ahead.)
BUT I LOVE IT:  This week's return of Black Simon & Garfunkel (& Garfunkel), plus this winning bit of Matt Damon acting out all his roles with James Corden (yes, including The Adjustment Bureau), plus all the new hosts out there invites a check-in post: what late night shows are you watching?

Right now, while I'm DVR-ing Colbert nightly, I'm only really watching the bits which get buzz. (I'm surprised that this Colbert persona is so close to the Comedy Central version; I was expecting more sincerity, less artifice.)  I'm trying to watch Trevor Noah's opening segment each night, and ... needs work, but the writing is strong. And I'm still DVRing and watching @Midnight pretty much every day, because that's a joke machine which always, always works. Even without Funches.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BEST BUY HAS NOT YET SIGNED A PRODUCT INTEGRATION DEAL:  Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21/22 Jump Street, Last Man On Earth) have optioned rights to develop a fictional series set behind the scenes of Serial as they investigate a case.
IT'S THE WAY WE ARE FEELING:  Fox's Grease! Live!  is plainly going to be using the movie as the template for things, as it will open with Jessie J doing "Grease," and Carly Rae Jepsen will play Frenchy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MARILYN VOS SAVANT, DENIED AGAIN:  The winners of the 2015 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "genius grants" include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and twenty-two other people who have never been in my kitchen.

added: Coates discusses the burdens of genius with Jeffrey Goldberg:
Jeffrey Goldberg: Congratulations on your new job at the Apple Genius Bar. Maybe you could help me with something: I can’t seem to back up my contacts to the Cloud. I went to Settings > iCloud > Backup but I couldn’t get anything to work. 
Ta-Nehisi Coates: I don’t think that’s what they meant, Jeff. By the way, the MacArthur Foundation discourages linking the fellowship I was awarded with the word “genius.” Having said that, I would not object to you referring to me as “Genius Coates,” “Sir Genius,” or if that feels too stuffy, “He Who Holds Knowledge Of All Things In All Realms At All Times.” Seems about right.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I WILL TELL YOU FROM MY CAST IRON CHAIR:  My college radio alma mater, WAMH 89.3 FM, where I started with a Fridays at 4am hour-long shift before eventually advancing to mid-afternoon, is cutting back its student dj hours to 4pm to 2am and letting NPR programming fill the rest of the day:
Although students used to clamor to fill 24 hours of programming every day and more than 100 student DJs were on the air as recently as 2000, in the past few years it’s been a challenge to fill more than 10 hours a day. Neel explained that, “as a result of various different things” including “radio falling out of favor” and “poor leadership,” student participation at WAMH has dwindled and around 3 years ago reached its lowest point. At the time, WAMH was in serious danger of disappearing and that, in part, is why the arrangement with New England Public Radio Network was so appealing. WAMH hadn’t been airing student programming during the early part of the day and Neel told me that students at Amherst College prefer time slots after 4pm.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

AH YOU A CAWP?!  No, these NSFW videos of a Boston-area gentleman on a fishing expedition are now the best footage we have of the local accent in its purest form.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

THE SUN SHINES BRIGHTER:  Allegedly, Doris Day may come out of retirement to do a Clint Eastwood movie.  She hasn't made a movie since 1968.
TONIGHT, WE HAVE MAGIC PILL CRIMESOLVERSo, after one night of the new TV season, does anyone care about Mystery Naked Tattoo Lady, Does This Movie Brand Still Have Equity?, or We Want To Be Like Modern Family (But On CBS)?

Monday, September 21, 2015

PREMORSE… WELL, SORT OF:  I had no idea that Joan Collins and Jackie Collins were related. Seriously.  Not that I couldn't have have put it together -- they do look related -- but I never ever had them share my headspace at the same time.  There was never a need to ask the question.
RISE AND SHINE:  Just stumbled across a post about one scene in Groundhog Day where Phil is at the hospital checking on the old man and there, in the background, is the tree-climbing kid -- with a broken leg.  I think this is evidence of my theory that Phil is only set free once he does the right things -- but the right thing isn't everything; yes, he saves the kid on the Last Day, but he's striving to reach the right balance.  Ultimately he didn't -- and couldn't -- save the Old Man, but he needed to -- and ultimately did -- keep the kid from breaking a leg.
[CHUNG CHUNG]:  Some Law & Order: Original Recipe superlatives, in honor of its 25th anniversary.
IT'S YOUR SHOT:  The Hamilton original cast recording, streaming on NPR.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

PAGING MS. COSMOPOLITAN:  Nathan Rabin, on Grease 2:
Grease 2 is a tough film to evaluate because the very qualities that make it objectively terrible also make it a whole lot of fun. The songs here stand out because they are thoroughly, mesmerizingly, hypnotically, adverb-inducingly idiotic, not because they’re good, but because they lodge themselves in the brain all the same. And the over-the-top smuttiness that makes Grease 2 even dumber than its predecessor also renders it a surprisingly enjoyable exercise in delirious self-parody.

Friday, September 18, 2015

GRAND UNIFIED MUPPET THEORY CONFIRMED!  You remember what I claimed in 2010, right?
Much as The Muppet Movie is a movie-within-a-movie about how the Muppets received The Standard Rich & Famous Contract and became stars (including towards its end the newly-famous Muppets filming an origins film), The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Great Muppet Caper and all the other Muppet films should be seen as the other films the now-famous Muppet actors are making within the universe of the first film. In other words, the first film is a story about the "real" Muppets becoming actors, and the rest are the films those actors have made -- with Fozzie Bear playing a character named "Fozzie Bear," etc. It explains, for example, how the "Kermit" and "Miss Piggy" characters can marry (in a musical within a movie, but for "real") at the end of Manhattan yet this marriage isn't acknowledged in subsequent films. These are the movies which Lew Lord of Worldwide Pictures signed them to make.
The Muppets creator Bill Prady, talking to Sepinwall:
One of the things we're saying is that in the movies, they were playing versions of themselves.  So we're seeing them off screen for the first time.  I'm trying to think of an example, but like Hope and Crosby used to play themselves in all the movies or the Marx brothers or something, but then they also lived in Beverly Hills and had real lives (outside the movies).  I always imagined that after they finished doing "The Muppet Show," there was a bar across the street from the Muppet Show Theater where they'd go sit down and Kermit would have a drink and Fozzie would come over and say, "Well, it wasn't our worst."  And I always wanted to be at that bar.  So that's where this show is, it's in as close to the real world and the real personal life. 
Alan is not a fan; like others, he sees a Miss Piggy unleavened by her love of Kermit as being intolerably mean. And, really, do we want to be thinking about Muppets having sex? 

[But we're all going to watch, right? Can't be worse than Clifford, the Crunchy Rasta Muppet.]

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ITS TITLE BEING THE BIGGEST LIE SINCE "THE NEVERENDING STORY":  We love NPH. We're open to a return to variety shows in America. What went wrong there?

Because as Gene Siskel once suggested in reviewing a film, I'd have rather watched NPH, Reese Witherspoon, Carson Daly, Gloria Gaynor, Carrot Top, Ant and Dec having lunch than the hour they produced -- except for that last bit, which was delightfully gonzo.

Maybe I'm just too suspicious of, or bored by, all hidden camera tricks at this point. (NPH as Christoph Waltz should've worked, right?) Maybe they just need more time. But that?  That wasn't what I was hoping for.

Monday, September 14, 2015

SUFFOCATION BY DESIGN: "In total, [FanDuel and DraftKings] spent a combined $31 million for roughly 9,000 national television spots last week, according to advertising tracking firm"

I WANT TO SEE WHAT HE'LL SAY NEXT: Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks rank the 32 greatest (real, fictional, tv, radio, daytime, late night, whatever) talk show hosts of all time. (Other than Steve Allen, I guess.)

Friday, September 11, 2015

GET LINCOLN CHAFEE TO COMMENT:The USPTO has issued a preliminary office action, finding that "NO F***S GIVEN" (in unexpurgated form) is "scandalous" and thus unable to be registered as a trademark. The PTO does note that "NO F***S GIVEN is the standard unit of measurement used to describe the amount an individual cares about something." No word on whether this is under traditional measurements or the metric system.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

READY THE SURPRISED FACE:  Two notable wins in the early Emmys announced today:
  • Taylor Swift is officially halfway to EGOT, with a win in the "Original Interactive Program" category.  She's twice been eligible for a nomination for the original song Oscar--"Sweeter Than Fiction" from One Chance, and "Safe and Sound" from The Hunger Games, but hasn't been nominated yet, and a jukebox musical seems like an easy way for her to get a producing Tony (and she has the chops to co-write a score).
  • Left Shark has an Emmy!  (Outstanding Costumes For a Variety Program or Special)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN:  Congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II, now the longest-reigning monarch in British history, having ascended to the throne upon her once-stuttering father's death on February 6, 1952.  How long ago?  Singin' in the Rain wasn't released yet, nor was the novel Charlotte's Web.

Of course, there were two key elements to extending her reign: Frank Drebbin's foiling of the Reggie Jackson plot in 1988 (HT: Dan McLaughlin), and, of course, that one night there was an "electrical failure" after her notorious incident with Kevin Costner.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Monday, September 7, 2015

I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS, BUT HE'S GOT IT:  An ostensbile (and non-slideshow!) listing of the 70 greatest musical moments on tv. Oddly, no Silver Platters performance, and there may be a little too much Mad Men in there, but indeed you will be jammin' on the one before the end.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

BURNING THE JACKET:  George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, is 25 years old today.  We are still waiting for volume 2.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

THE WRATH OF THE WHATEVER FROM HIGH ATOP THE VITAMEATAVEGAMIN: Cate Blanchett will play Lucille Ball in an Aaron Sorkin-scripted biopic focusing on her relationship with Desi.

Mavis Beacon doesn't actually exist.
FEY-POEHLER OR BUST:  Next year's Academy Awards ceremony will have two (as yet unnamed) hosts. Please speculate wildly.
SWIFT SATISFACTION:  According to a marketer's survey which focused on tv series which pass the Bechdel Test, the most popular female character on tv is Sgt. Olivia Benson on L&O Extra Crispy, followed by Cookie Lyon; the Mother of Dragons/Breaker of Chains/Finder of Lost Remotes; and a three-way-tie between Olivia Pope, Dr. Meredith Grey, and everything Jessica Lange's doing in crazytown.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ALOTT5MA "DEAD BECAUSE OF A WRESTLER" DESK:  Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, 72, has finally been charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the May 1983 killing of his 23-year-old girlfriend at an Allentown-area motel. The facts are pretty horrifying.
THIS DAY WE FIGHT!  BY ALL THAT YOU HOLD DEAR ON THIS GOOD EARTH, I BID YOU STAND, MEN OF THE WEST:  I recall some story in a 3rd grader reader about the kid who designed the Alaska Flag.  Now, no doubt, the Big Dipper featured on many proposed designs for that -- but to the extent the myth is to be taken as received truth, the origin of the Alaska flag was untainted by the pretense of art.

Not so with the four finalists for the new flag of New Zealand.  I get the notion of wanting to ditch the Union Jack, but black is a lousy color for a flag (NZ's association with black notwithstanding) and the ferns?  I think replacing the Jack with the NZAF's Kiwi roundel would be much nicer and keeping with some semblance of tradition (and, if not for the sake of tradition, what's the point of a flag at all?).

I confess the RSA's flag has grown on me, but there they were trying to fundamentally break with flag that stood for something truly evil.  Here, what exactly are they separating themselves from that merits these abominations.

Monday, August 31, 2015

DARLING, NICKI:  Oh, I miss the days when the most fun moment at the VMAs was seeing Krist Novoselic accidentally knock himself out with an airborne bass guitar, Madonna's French drawing room version of "Vogue", Prince showing some tush (while his band seems to have raided the Cross Colours catalog), or Pearl Jam rocking in the free world with Canada's greatest rocker.  Yes, live music!

As for VMA shade-throwing, I'll take RuPaul vs. Milton Berle.

[To be clear: in a feud between Ms. Minaj and Ms. Cyrus, this author sides with the former.]
WILD CARD WEEKEND:  Coming to theaters for Christmas: a remake of Michael Mann's The Insider, with Will Smith as Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, Alec Baldwin as Lowell Bergman, Albert Brooks as Mike Wallace, Luke Wilson as Michael Gambon, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy as cigarette smoking.

[It's based on this 2009 GQ article.]

Saturday, August 29, 2015

AND THAT'S THE TRUTH, RUTH: One of America's greatest filmmakers, Spike Lee, will finally win his first Academy Award, as he and Gena Rowlands will be receiving honorary Oscars this year at the Governors Awards ceremony, with a Hersholt to Debbie Reynolds.

Lee's sole nominations have been original screenplay for Do the Right Thing,** and best documentary feature for 4 Little Girls. He has never received a Best Director nomination; no actor in his films has ever won Oscar -- not even Denzel Washington in Malcolm X. It's about time.

(He is, to be fair, the youngest winner of an honorary Oscar in almost 50 years.)

**A hell of a crew of fellow losers that year: Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen);  Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh); and When Harry Met Sally... (Nora Ephron). Tom Schulman won for Dead Poets Society.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

BOOK THE AWKWARD CAMEO FOR HARRISON FORD ON DECEMBER 17:  Our friend Jordan needs some help -- his responsible, ethical new workplace runs a SNL Guest Star Pool, and the draft is tomorrow: "My understanding is that you draft a team of potential hosts and a couple musical guests (in defined rounds). You get points for hosting/music and fewer points for a cameo appearance.  Double points if the musical guest hosts. There was talk of theme rounds (non-actor, etc.). Most total points at the end of the season wins. Already announced hosts are undraftable."

I think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are safe bets, between their own film and possible cameos (esp, in the Tracy Morgan return).  Jennifer Lawrence has two films later this year, and I'd want to lock her in.  For double duty, hmm: Bruno Mars? One of the judges on The Voice?  Part of the Janet Jackson comeback?

[I can only imagine how awesome this league was the year someone drafted Gregg Jefferies and Mark Grudzielanek.]
GIRL, YOU NEED HELP:  Linda Holmes outlines the five types of shows which are never, ever going away.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN, HI!  So how excited should I be that Pennsylvania is finally getting Fat Tire beer next week, being positioned "against some of the other aggressive out-of-towners who've done well in the city lately-Lagunitas, Deschutes and Sierra Nevada."
WELCOME TO CENTRAL PERK: Last night, Taylor Swift covered "Smelly Cat," with help from Lisa Kudrow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

BAD MF:  There is much in Vulture's profile of Samuel L. Jackson, focusing on his working relationship with Quentin Tarantino, to make you smile, but nothing more than this detail:
Jackson likes to sit with a real audience for most movies, especially his own. He claims to have seen 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, in which he played a billionaire ecoterrorist, eight or nine times. “I’m 66! I can show my ID at the theater and get a discount. And I do!” he says, clapping his hands together loudly. “I’m not too proud. I’ve earned it.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT TO SUCK YOUR BLOOD:  Is Carly Rae Jepsen actually a vampire?  The Verge investigates.

Friday, August 21, 2015

PATTERN REVERSAL:  The traditional pattern for young actress/singers in the late 90s/2000s was to start with an exceedingly packaged album, and then move toward a more "personal" work later (usually that they have a hand in writing and/or producing) that is either "de-glamorized" (e.g., Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, Kelly Clarkson) or involves increased sexual/provocative material (e.g., Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera).  I've been fascinated to see a reversal of that pattern of late in two major examples--obviously, the most prominent is Taylor Swift, who went from pretty straight singer-songwriter work to highly glamorized uber-polished pop, but the other prominent example that comes to mind is Hailee Steinfeld, whose breakout was in True Grit, in a completely de-glamorous role, who is now trying to reinvent herself as a glam poptart.