Tuesday, December 31, 2013

AN ODYSSEY:  Before we say goodbye to 2013, there's quite a lot we haven't discussed yet. Consider this a grab-bag post for you to hail the movies, tv, film, live performances, and books of this past year which none of us have gotten around to extolling.

I wish (and I know Randy feels the same) that I had flagged Mark Cousins' remarkable documentary series The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which aired its fifteen hour-long segments across this fall on Turner Classic Movies along with a fantastic accompanying schedule of films highlighted therein. Even for those of us who are occasional or former film geeks, there is so much to learn from Cousins' series, even from the parts of film history you think you already know well. As the Telegraph wrote for its UK release, the series was "visually ensnaring and intellectually lithe, [] at once a love letter to cinema, an unmissable masterclass, and a radical rewriting of movie history."

And it's all available for streaming on Netflix.

Monday, December 30, 2013

IS IT AN 'M' SHIRT?  Splitsider's 36 favorite comedy sketches of 2013. (Or just watch every Bill Brasky sketch ever.)

Necessary additions to the list, both from Key and Peele: Hingle McCringleberry's excessive celebration, referenced by the Saints' Lance Moore yesterday; and the East/West Bowl rap, which is gloriously specific in hitting its targets.
SATURDAY NIGHT'S GAMETIME TEMPERATURE EXPECTED TO BE TWENTY-SEVEN DEGREES: Dan Levy argues that while all divisional winners should be guaranteed playoff berths, seeding should be done by record so that San Francisco and New Orleans would be hosting Green Bay and Philadelphia, not vice versa.

Friday, December 27, 2013

GOT TO. THIS AMERICA, MAN:  Two years ago, a bunch of us made a New Years' resolution to watch The Wire already, all of it, and fourteen months later we had completed our epic journey through Baltimore's corners, police rooms, schools, and docks.  (We're not talking about The Sun, ok?)

I am game for a new group quest for 2014, and am open for nominees. Ideally, the show should be available on Netflix, Amazon Prime streaming, or HBO GO.  Maybe Homeland, which I've never seen, but I gather we may want to stop after season 1? Am willing to go for non-recent series as well. Tell me what you think.
NO ONE IS LISTENING TO GEORGE PLIMPTON: Please waste your Friday playing every Atari 2600 video game through your browser.  And when you are done with that, play Colecovision, Atari 7800 or Astrocade.  No Intellivision, alas.  Or Vetrex.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

SCAMORZAMANIA:  Bon Appetit's The Foodist predicts ten foodie trends of 2014: pancakes for dinner!
A TRADITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER:  Congratulations to Jeff Mandell, who this weekend became the third straight #6 seed to win the ALOTT5MA fantasy football league, now in its fifth season and with its fifth different champion.

After a 2-5 start, Jeff won eight of his last nine games. He relied heavily on Zac Stacy and Bobby Rainey down the stretch alongside Josh Gordon (#1 WR) and Jimmy Graham (#1 TE), and made ridiculously smart decisions along the way like benching Andy Dalton for Alex Smith in week 15 (outcome determinative). Also, he didn't let the fact that he spent half his draft budget on Trent Richardson ($47), Julio Jones ($35) and Darren McFadden ($19) hamstring him. Awesome. See y'all in 2014.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

OUTER.  SPACE!  Movie time!  I saw Inside Llewyn Davis today, and while I loved the music and Oscar Isaac's performance, I found it inferior to the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink and A Serious Man in their Let Us Now Study Men Not Achieving Their Desired Levels of Success series. Things happen, but (without spoiling) it feels less like an arc and more like a circle.  The film may be saying something about the distinction between a good man and a good artist, and maybe the cat's just a cat and not a giant metaphor ... I have a feeling this one's going to linger in my mind for awhile, but I'm not sure where.

What have you seen?  What are you looking forward to seeing?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

DO THEY KNOW IT'S META TIME AT ALL?  I forget where exactly I saw this idea, but I find it fascinating: thanks to the records we're leaving on social and other online media, our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and generations far beyond them will know a heck of a lot more about our daily lives and interests than what any prior generation has made permanently and readily available about itself. The ramifications are ... well, I just hope they do actually look at some point, I guess.

Monday, December 23, 2013

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At 8pm tonight is the finale of our beloved little a cappella show. The ratings? Mostly meh, with a little bright spot of the repeat show on Saturday night: though it only got a 0.6 rating with 2.89M viewers, it bested Two and a Half Men, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and helped NBC win the night even before the big SNL numbers. Not bad for the little a cappella engine that could.

So let's discuss what we think will happen tonight. I thought it was pretty clear from the beginning that we'd be down to Ten, Home Free, and Vocal Rush in the Finale - and I think it's obvious who our winner will be. Home Free is the perfect marketing opportunity for a label. They've got country (which still sells albums, Beyonce notwithstanding), cute boys, good personality. They'll do well, especially if they can break into that Straight, No Chaser adult fan base. If Ten had been able to get together a little in advance of the show and coalesce slightly more before filming, I think they might have had a shot at the win. But Home Free has the right niche and a proven ability to tour. Expect to see Nick, Shawn, Ben, and Jewel singing with the groups, as well as a finale-boosting appearance by Season 3 winner Pentatonix.

Last week, they announced that there will be a Sing Off tour, coming soon to a medium-sized auditorium or casino possibly near you. The schedule looks really rough (no days off for three months other than travel days) which makes me worried for the health of the voices on the tour. No word yet on which groups will be touring, but hopefully even the college groups will get to do a few days on break or near them.

So tell me, while we wait for tonight, what was your favorite performance this season? I'm partial to Vocal Rush, so I'll choose "Bottom of the River" as the winner for me. It was their first performance, and a strong introduction to what the high schoolers could do.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR SO LONG: Saray with her latest recap, again without any instruments accompanying her:
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Tonight’s show opens on Movie Night with “Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. It’s very safe, with heteronormative duet couplings and a lot of basic a cappella backgrounds. Don’t worry, the sparkly dresses are back, this time on Vocal Rush. Jewel will be coaching the groups tonight, and Nick tells us that all of the groups will be going to Ultimate Sing-Offs tonight. (So then...what’s the point of having them sing in the first place?) They’ll do two eliminations tonight. Nick introduces the judges as “Ben – the brain, Jewel – the beauty, and Shawn – the vocal muscle.” I rage.

A PACKET OF STEVIA, A CYTRON CARD, A SCREWDRIVER, AND A Q-TIP:  Twelve memorable objects from the year in televison.
WE'RE NOT DOING THE BIT?  Jon Stewart surprised John Oliver last night with a farewell tribute, and it gets a bit dusty at the end.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

IF THE DEMOGRAPHIC SHOE FITS...  Joe Adalian's breakdown of the year in Nielsen ratings has a lot of valuable insight, and this paragraph in particular seems to cover a lot of this blog's favorite tv programming:
ABC's Modern Family had the most affluent audience of any broadcast show in 2013, with its viewers boasting a median income of $82,400. The show with the lowest median income? The CW's short-lived game show Oh Sit! Still, wealthy-ish folks make bad viewing choices, too: After Modern Family, the TV show with the second richest audience profile was NBC's Smash, whose audience boasted a median income of $81,100. Other shows whose viewers had a median income over $75,000 (in descending order of wealth): The Amazing Race, Fringe, The Bachelorette, The Good Wife, Happy Endings, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, 60 Minutes, Don't Trust the B--- in Apt. 23, and Suburgatory. As for lower income shows, the series with audiences making do with median incomes of $45,000 or lower (in addition to Oh Sit!): American Dad, Cops, Perfect Score, and The Cleveland Show.
HAVE YOURSELF A DERPY LITTLE CHRISTMAS:  TNR's Michael Schaffer, on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer":
There’s this little reindeer with a deformity. We have no evidence that this deformity actually keeps him from his reindeer duties: He has a red, glowing nose. Big deal! It’s not like he has a torn ACL that might limit his flying-sleigh-pulling abilities. At any rate, because of this deformity, the other reindeer laugh, call him names, and bar him from their all-important games, effectively ostracizing him just because he looks funny.... Despite the repeated snubs and the impolite request, Rudolph demonstrates his utility in brilliant form. At which point all the reindeer decide that they love him. Notice that they still don’t apologize. 
Perhaps I am wrong, but this strikes me as a terrible, terrible lesson for kids. At the very basic level, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” presents a fairly grim, Hobbesian vision of society: If you want to be accepted, you have to prove your economic utility—which, in the case of magical flying reindeer, appears to only involve the annual sleigh-pull. 
WHY CAN'T YOU JUST LET ME BE? More from Saray:
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Last night's episode of The Sing-Off gave us movie themes (I didn't check, but we're assuming all of these songs are Sony songs or NBC Universal movies, right? Because if not, that would be a missed opportunity by the NBC execs.) They announced at the top of the show that all six groups remaining would compete in the Ultimate Sing-Off, which basically just meant "hey let's let these two groups sing together and come up with an excuse." That was okay, though, as it gave us two phenomenal group mashups, and also an additional only ok mashup with VoicePlay and the acoUstiKats.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

AND THEY'VE NEVER HEARD OF LOVE:  Today marks thirteen years since Kirsty MacColl was taken from us in a tragic accident. Here's "In These Shoes?" and "They Don't Know".
MOTHER, MAY I SLEEP IN AND NOT WATCH THE TODAY SHOW?  Lifetime is hard at work on a TV movie based on Top of The Morning, Brian Stelter's portrait of the most recent battles in the morning show wars, and I'm sure you can come up with some solid (and Lifetime-appropriate) casting choices for major players like Ann Curry, Matt Lauer, and Robin Roberts.
AND ALL THAT JAZZ: In what may be a first, Bebe Neuwirth is returning to the Broadway revival of Chicago, for which she won a Tony as Velma in 1996 and played Roxie in 2007--this time as Mama Morton.  Pretty sure this marks the first time a single actress has played all the major female roles in a show on Broadway (and certainly in the same production).
SHIVER:  Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York City first aired twenty years ago this week. For The Atlantic, Andrew Wallace Chamings writes:
For the final line, “I would shiver the whole night through,” Cobain jumps up an octave, forcing him to strain so far he screams and cracks. He hits the word “shiver” so hard that the band stops, as if a fight broke out at a sitcom wedding. Next he howls the word “whole” and then does something very strange in the brief silence that follows, something that’s hard to describe: He opens his piercingly blue eyes so suddenly it feels like someone or something else is looking out under the bleached lank fringe, with a strange clarity. Then he finishes the song. When Neil Young first watched the performance, he described that final note of Cobain’s as “Unearthly, like a werewolf, unbelievable.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WHOSE GENERATION? Saray is back with some more thoughts on Night 4 of The Sing Off.
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It’s the fourth night of our holiday edition of The Sing Off.  We open with “Talkin’ Bout My Generation” for the group number.  Does anyone want to guess which group is dressed in sparkly short body-con dresses?  No?  Only me throwing shoes at the television?  OK.  The groups transition into “We Will Rock You” and then to...Imagine Dragons “It’s Time,” which is when I officially declared confusion on this medley.
BE MY FRIEND, HOLD ME AND WRAP ME UP: The story behind Six Feet Under's final montage.
I CAN GO FOR THAT (YES CAN DO):  For 2014, the Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Hall of Fame will induct Nirvana, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt.

In addition, the heart-stopping, fun-loving, earth-quaking, love-making, record-breaking, air-conditioner-shaking, Viagra-taking, history-making, legendary E Street Band will be given the "Award for Musical Excellence" (the former "sidemen" category, where Leon Russell and Glyn Johns were recently recognized), and Beatles manager Brian Epstein and original Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham are being enshrined as non-performers.

[Based on our votes, there may be some disappointment about N.W.A., The Replacements, and Yes missing out.]

Monday, December 16, 2013

ONLY THING TO DO IS JUMP OVER THE MOON: That Connecticut high school which canceled a planned production of Rent has reversed course after massive pressure from the student body, the local community, and Rentheads like you.
PARTNERS FOR LIFE: The first film, unexpectedly, was much better than it needed to be, so what are the odds on 22 Jump Street delivering?
THE SADDEST FACT I'VE LEARNED IS NOBODY MATTERS LESS TO OUR SOCIETY THAN YOUNG BLACK WOMEN. NOBODY: Our old friend Jim DeRogatis did a lengthy and much-buzzed-about interview with the Village Voice today in which he reminds us that when you think of R. Kelly, you should think of one thing first and foremost (warning: link contains potential triggers):
YOU'RE NOTHING UNTIL THE THRILL OF THE KILL BECOMES YOUR ONLY LAW: There may not be a lot to say about this season of Survivor, but now that it's over, let's say it:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

MAKE A FACE: Given that I guess they didn't feel like awarding it to a deserving LeBron James for a second straight year, Sports Illustrated has named the also-unquestionably-worthy Peyton Manning its Sportsman of the Year.

added: Dave Zirin calls it "a resoundingly establishment choice that serves to obscure the rumbling resistance to the status quo throughout the sports world," suggesting Britney Griner, Robbie Rogers, the Grambling football team, Serena Williams, or everyone in Boston as worthier alternatives.

Friday, December 13, 2013

CHECK ONE TWO THREE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH [100]GS: Saray is back with some more aca-awesome:
* * *
Let’s take a minute to talk about the stakes of The Sing Off, or lack thereof. There’s something inherently charming about a reality singing competition in which the prize is a Sony record contract and $100,000. Split amongst the multiple members of a group, it’s not a ton of cash, and a record contract doesn’t really mean anything if the label doesn’t invest in you. As my friend Randi said, labels have to recoup 100% of their costs before you will see a penny of what you’ve earned in royalties. Winning The Sing Off is nice, but unless you put heart and soul into it (like Pentatonix has, to great success), it’s not going to make your career. So off we go, for a night one hour of low-stakes singing fun.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

LIFE, FROM NEW YORK, IT'S A WOMAN OF COLOR!  About twenty-five African American women have auditioned for Lorne Michaels in the past week, with plans to add one to the cast in January.
YOU REALLY ARE A HEEL:  Former attorney Linda Holmes advises a resident of Whoville as to his rights under defamation law.
HOW MANY FOOTNOTES WILL THE MOVIE CONTAIN? Jason Segel will play the late David Foster Wallace in a forthcoming biopic focused on the book tour for Infinite Jest, from the director of The Spectacular Now.
PARTY ON GARTH, PARTY ON WAYNE: Saray with The Sing-Off, night two:
* * *
Tonight is “Party Anthem” night on The Sing Off, so obviously the big group number starts with Ten singing “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black Eyed Peas. The acoUstiKats and Calle Sol join in quickly after, and the judges all put on light-up sunglasses. Vocal Rush chimes in with Ke$ha’s “Die Young” and Home Free countrifies it up with some nice bass tones. Street Corner Renaissance is as adorable as ever doing the step-touch in the audience. Element is in the middle of the audience, and VoicePlay on the other side and both chime in for a verse and a chorus. Notice how it’s a “group number” but a significant number of people are not singing for a lot of the song – this is how they make it interesting without having to rewrite too many sections for each group. The Filharmonic runs on stage and their lead singer gets to sing with Honey from VoicePlay to fill out the sound, and now we’re in “Please Don’t Stop the Music”. But they do stop the music, and it’s time to go. Title credits!

Remember how last night I said I would try to write shorter about a cappella? Sorry. You get 2,000 words tonight.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SADLY, THERE'S ALREADY A SHOW WITH A BIG NUMBER CALLED "I BELIEVE:" Bull Durham: The Musical is aiming for Broadway next season. No casting is announced, but Jeremy Jordan or Aaron Tveit as Nuke LaLoosh and Norbert Leo Butz as Crash Davis would have to be seen as potential targets.
GET READY TO MATCH THE STARS!  As part of a whole week devoted to game show content, our friends over at Previously.tv have given us a proposed cast for the star-studded big-money Match Game 2014, and have some pretty awesome selections.
THUMBS UP:  Facebook is considering adding a "Sympathize" button to replace the standard "Like", for when a user posts a status update containing sad news.
THE SAGGIES:  Nominations for the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have been announced, with lots of potential love spread in many of the places you'd have expected (12 Years a Slave, The Butler, August: Osage County, Captain Phillips), and if you thought we had finally passed the statute of limitations on awards for Behind the Candelabra or 30 Rock, apparently, not quite yet.

[Dan Fienberg notes, however: zero love for this season of Mad Men.]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

NOTHING MAKES A WOMAN FEEL MORE LIKE A GIRL THAN A MAN WHO SINGS LIKE A BOY:  The Sing-Off returned to NBC last night; I am delighted that longtime reader and a cappella expert Saray will be covering it for us. With no further ado...
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Many of you know that I am passionate about a cappella; after performing for over 15 years and working for Varsity Vocals (the people who bring you the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella or “ICCA”) it’s pretty much just ingrained at this point.  Adam kindly asked me to write some recaps/commentary about the shows as they air this season, and I hope to bring you a bit of insider perspective.  General caveat: I do know some of the performers in this season, and am friendly with many of the behind-the-scenes producers and arrangers for the show.  I’m going to try not to get too technical or, well, horribly snarky, but the jaded part might take over.  Many, many thanks to Marsha for covering this beat for the past three seasons.

We roll right from The Voice into an big group opening number, and I know I’m already screwed: the song is “Some Nights” by fun., which I declared last year to be the most overdone song in a cappella.  (Seriously – I made an agreement with a friend that he would donate $1 to the charity of my choice for every “Some Nights” cover from a different a cappella group that I could find on YouTube.  I stopped at $160 because I couldn’t take it anymore.)  For a show that is routinely called the most honestly earnest of the singing competitions, I suppose that’s fine.  There’s lots of pops of color in the clothing, as expected, along with snazzy college blazers.  Yep, it’s definitely The Sing-Off!

WHENEVER I GET GLOOMY WITH THE STATE OF THE WORLD:  The never-ending debate over the merits of Love Actually continues.  Christopher Orr, The Atlantic, anti:
Love Actually is exceptional in that it is not merely, like so many other entries in the genre, unromantic. Rather, it is emphatically, almost shockingly, anti-romantic.... I think it offers up at least three disturbing lessons about love. First, that love is overwhelmingly a product of physical attraction and requires virtually no verbal communication or intellectual/emotional affinity of any kind. Second, that the principal barrier to consummating a relationship is mustering the nerve to say “I love you”—preferably with some grand gesture—and that once you manage that, you’re basically on the fast track to nuptial bliss. And third, that any actual obstacle to romantic fulfillment, however surmountable, is not worth the effort it would require to overcome.
In response, Mother Jones' Ben Dreyfuss:

Monday, December 9, 2013

SMASH LIVES! With the ratings success of Sound of Music: Live!, NBC has announced that they will do another one next year, with the only requirements being "they must be Broadway classics with a slew of familiar songs."  So, South Pacific?  The King And I?  My Fair Lady? Camelot?  Provide your musical and casting suggestions below.  (And related to the headline, Hit List In Concert has drawn more than a few quite positive reviews, with some suggestion it could have an afterlife.)
Many runners were decked out in old-school gray sweats and red headbands like the ones Rocky wore. Phil Yurkon of Scranton, Pa., wore boxing gloves and had "Lithuanian Stallion" written on the back of his sweatshirt, a play on Rocky's "Italian Stallion" nickname and a homage to Mr. Yurkon's ancestry. The 32-year-old hadn't run more than 17 miles before this run; he heard about the Rocky run the day before and decided to try it. 
Brian Lynch stepped out of his house across the street from the one used in "Rocky II." The "Rocky house" draws a steady stream of curiosity seekers, often tourists from the U.K., he said. He was impressed by the turnout for the run. But he confessed to sometimes thinking that when he goes around Philadelphia, "I can't escape this damn movie."... 
"I'm getting ready for my cheesesteak, gonna stretch out for a little bit, and go home and take a nap probably," Mr. Yurkon said after completing the run.
BRING OUT YOUR KELTNERS:  Roy Halladay, clearly the best pitcher of [insert arbitrary endpoints here], will today sign a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and announce his retirement from baseball.  From 2002-2012, for instance:

1 Roy Halladay 181 25-35 329 63 18 2351.0 2222 408 1831 3.07 186
2 CC Sabathia 174 21-31 350 35 12 2384.0 2212 674 2043 3.44 208
3 Derek Lowe 155 29-39 374 10 4 2174.0 2266 650 1344 4.08 178
4 Mark Buehrle 154 23-33 361 24 6 2406.1 2564 537 1358 3.86 271
5 Roy Oswalt 149 24-34 328 17 7 2071.1 2024 487 1674 3.32 181
6 Tim Hudson 148 26-36 318 19 11 2108.2 1998 595 1319 3.37 158
7 Johan Santana 136 23-33 315 15 10 1896.0 1574 497 1896 3.02 203
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/9/2013.

A Cy Young in each league, eight All-Star appearances, a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter. Induct! (Basically, you're making the Koufax case here given the career length, but ... it's justified.)
THE MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN SPORTS IN THE PAST FORTY YEARS: The Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, again given the chance to induct Marvin Miller as part of its expansion era ballot, has instead voted unanimously to induct managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa.

I do think Mr. Finn raised a fair point regarding La Russa: if we're going to ding McGwire for using PEDs, why give a free pass to his manager who let it happen?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

HE VERY NEARLY, VERY LITERALLY WORKED HIMSELF TO DEATH FOR THE BENEFIT OF HIS EMPLOYER:  Mike Tanier did not care for the Houston Texans' firing of coach Gary Kubiak on Friday, just one month after he suffered a transient ischemic attack in the middle of a football game:
Football is a business, and the Houston Texans have a responsibility to win football games, so there was little chance Kubiak would coach the team beyond this season. But there are ways of acknowledging Kubiak’s efforts — not just the health risks Kubiak took in the name of team and career, not just the conscientiousness he showed by rushing back to work, but the eight years he spent building a team that, as recently as January, was a true contender. 
Kubiak was the most successful coach in franchise history, such as it is. When things went south, he worked to solve the team’s problems until he collapsed. Under contract through 2014, Kubiak could have been shuffled off to a “consultant” position for a year, a de-facto health severance and recognition that his shortcomings arose from just the opposite of a want for trying. If nothing else, he earned the right to play out the season with dignity, to give a final press conference and shake hands with Bob McNair on Dec. 30. 
Instead, the Texans fired Kubiak on Friday afternoon. Thanks for the playoff appearances, coach. Thanks for devoting yourself to our organization until you grew so dizzy on the sideline that you could not stand up straight. Now get the hell out of the facility.

Friday, December 6, 2013

MAYBE THEY REPLACE IT WITH AN IPOD IN THE FUTURE:  Grammy nods are out, and a few noteworthies:

  • Neither Timberlake nor Kanye gets into any of the top categories, with your five nominees for album of the year being Taylor Swift, Macklemore, Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, and Sara Bareilles.  The Bareilles nod is particularly odd, given that "Brave" doesn't crack song or record the year.  Bruno Mars gets in for record and song, but not for album.
  • Despite her cultural omnipresence and both "Wrecking Ball" and "We Can't Stop" being eligible?  Not a single nod for Miley. 
  • Best New Artist is seriously weird.  Though Lorde is up for record/song of the year for "Royals," she's not in, nor is Imagine Dragons (up for record of the year for "Radioactive").  Joining Macklemore and Kendrick Lamar as nominees are EDM artist James Blake, country singer Kacey Musgraves, and Ed Sheeran.
  • Despite the love for Red in the top category, not much for Ms. Swift elsewhere--indeed, "I Knew You Were Trouble" seems to have been completely snubbed, despite being considered a big contender.
  • EGOT Watch--Billy Crystal (who needs an Oscar and a Grammy to complete) is up for Spoken Word, as is Carol Burnett (who shockingly, has only an Emmy).  
  • Other interesting nominees?  David Sedaris (in spoken word), the Broadway Matildae (cast album),
THE OTHER FOOTBALL:  We have a World Cup draw for 2014, including a brutal quartet for Sam's Army: Germany, Portugal, Ghana.
CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING ... SOMEWHERE ELSE: There are parts of America where I would still expect Rent: The School Edition to prove controversial, but canceling a production in Trumbull, Conn.?  The principal is offering the b.s. grounds that he wasn't consulted far enough in advance, because "Without proper planning, Rent: The School Edition has the potential to become a speech rather than a meaningful dialogue to capitalize on all significant themes it presents."  

(I'm sure there was a lot of meaningful dialogue around The Wiz and The Music Man, which they've done in the past.)
FORD EVERY STREAM:  So many of us were excited to see The Sound of Music live on NBC last night, and knew that at least if it sucked we'd have a lot to talk about, and it ... well, it didn't completely work.

The primary problems, as I see it, were one avoidable problem and one unavoidable one. The latter is aesthetic: outside of soap operas and SNL, viewers are no longer used to seeing fake sets on live (or shot-to-tape) television. The hills in particular were not alive, and it was jarring to have to get in one's head "okay, I'm supposed to use my imagination here," because we're just so used to seeing on-location shooting.

The avoidable problem was Carrie Underwood. Could she sing the part? Yes, actually pretty darn well, esp. with something as demanding as "The Lonely Goatherd." The acting, however, wasn't there in any compelling way, and it distracted the whole time. I think it was just a fundamental miscasting—had NBC started with Underwood and then figured out what musical to adapt, they could've found something more suitable like, say, South Pacific?  Because I can totally see Underwood as a more credible Nellie Forbush. (Hugh Jackman as Emile, Matthew Morrison or NPH as Lt. Cable, Alec Baldwin as Luther Billis?)

Despite that, I want NBC to try again next year with a different musical, because live television and big events are fun and there is so much great talent out there. Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, and Christian Borle (basically doing Rooster Hannigan) were all great, as expected. The kids were fine, even if Rolf's shorts remained jarring throughout.

So, what do you want to see NBC try next? Previously.tv has some thoughts.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

HANDLE THIS: How bad is it for fans of the Houston Texans?  Rather than discussing playoff prospects, they're busy discussing who should replace Gary Kubiak as coach and whether it would be insane or brilliant for the Texans to draft Johnny Manziel (assuming he opts in to the draft) as the new franchise QB.  Heck, it's so bad that even in football-crazy Houston, there are people upset that tonight's Thursday game (featuring the hot competition for worst record between the Texans and Jacksonville) will air on the local ABC affiliate, preempting Scandal.
TRAPPED IN THE KHAN-SET: Benedict Cumberbatch reads R. Kelly lyrics.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

CAN YOU HONESTLY TELL ME YOU FORGOT? FORGOT THE MAGNETISM OF ROBIN ZANDER, OR THE CHARISMA OF RICK NIELSEN?  Twelve movie scenes about how you have to listen to a certain piece of music.

(#13: "Listen to Tommy with a candle burning, and you'll see your entire future.")

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

FROM A TOWN KNOWN AS OYSTER BAY, LONG ISLAND: Billy Joel, no stranger to these pages even though one co-blogger doesn't particularly care for him, has signed a deal to play Madison Square Garden once a month in perpetuity, as long as there's demand.  (He's also doing a New Year's Eve concert at the arena in Brooklyn with the Ben Folds Five.)
THE SUBSTITUTER: The forty-four worst people in every restaurant.
PRIMITIVE CULTURES:  I think it's impossible to revisit Animal House in 2013 and not find it deeply problematic, as The Dissolve's writers did last week. It's one group of overprivileged WASP assholes against the other, with the racists, peeping toms, would-be rapists, and vandals of Delta House labeled the heroes and the student government/ROTC crowd the villains, but, spoiler!, nothing they do in college actually matters, because white male privilege ensures that they can still be gynecologists, White House aides, and United States Senators no matter what happened in college. Really, is this a movie I'm going to encourage my daughters to watch?  Keith Phipps:
I feel like talking about this movie has made me sound a bit like an Omega House snob, too uptight to appreciate the outrageous antics of the liberated Delta slobs. Sigh. Sorry. This won’t change things, but I’d like to talk about some of the film’s attitudes toward women and minorities. When we finished watching it in The Dissolve screening room a couple of weeks ago, Scott said, “There are gags in that movie you would not see today.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

NOT EVERYTHING HAS ITS SEASON: A list of Broadway songs with which to never audition. (HT: @TheatreProblems)
AMADRONE:  I cannot be the only one who would prefer that rather than a swarm of drone octocopters, Amazon's new delivery system involved an armada of flying monkeys like the ones from Oz.

P.S.  "Cyber" Monday? 1996 called; it wants its once-trendy adjective back.

added: Waterstone's has an ornithological response.

Friday, November 29, 2013

THE PROFESSOR: Forty-eight votes in forty-eight hours is a nice, round number from which to analyze your HOF voting, given the percentage cutoffs. So:
Would induct (75%+): Greg Maddux (47 votes), Craig Biggio (39), Tom Glavine (39), Frank Thomas (39), Jeff Bagwell (37), Mike Piazza (37), Tim Raines (36)
Still on probation: Barry Bonds (27), Roger Clemens (22)
Receiving significant consideration: Curt Schilling (16), Alan Trammell (14), Edgar Martinez (13)
Will never consider again: Jack Morris (12, in his last year of eligibility)
Need serious help, or a less-crowded ballot: Mike Mussina (8), Larry Walker (5), Jeff Kent (4), Mark McGwire (4), Don Mattingly (3)
On the edge of being removed from consideration: Fred McGriff (2), Lee Smith (2)
Receiving one vote, and thus eliminated from future ballots: Armando Benitez, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa
The average voter cast 8.52 votes of the 10 allotted; more than half of us (27/48) used all ten slots. Compared to last year's slighly-less-crowded ballot, there was a lot of slippage this time, mostly with the PED cases squeezed out -- Clemens had 44 votes, Bonds 41, McGwire 33, Sosa 14, and Palmeiro had 6 last time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

AS GOD AS MY WITNESS:  Lots of people at the TV Club who had never seen an episode of the show before have roundtabled everyone's favorite WKRP in Cincinnati episode, for which this oral history exists:
TIM REID: The opportunity to see Les Nessman recount the falling of the turkeys in the style of the Hindenburg was just, tears to your eyes.  I mean, who takes on the Hindenburg, and does a comedy?  Takes one of the great tragedies in this country, and puts it in a comedy show?  We went there.
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 2013 ballot for modern players. Its thirty-six names perhaps constitute the most stacked ballot we'll ever seen in our lifetimes, with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Jeff Kent joining a field from which no one was elected in 2013, and from which Jack Morris is is now in his final year of eligibility. And voters only get to select ten of them.

I have set up a Doodle poll for the ALOTT5MA community to vote. 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 2014 ballot reflects this:
Bagwell, Biggio, Glavine, Kent, Maddux, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Thomas.
It is impossible to limit yourself to ten votes and not vote strategically. In my case, that meant leaving the eminently-worthy (with an asterisk) Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens off the ballot, out of a belief they weren't going to be inducted this year anyway. This made room for my continued votes for Tim Raines and Curt Schilling, to ensure each receives due consideration both this year and going forward. I seriously considered leaving off Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux for the opposite reason -- assuming they'd get in, no matter what -- but ultimately I couldn't convince myself to leave them off. Maddux in particular deserves as close to unanimity as possible, and as much as I want to maintain my continuing votes for Mark McGwire and Edgar Martinez, I just couldn't this year.

If anyone constitutes my "tenth vote," I guess it's Mike Mussina, as those last two as well as Larry Walker received serious consideration there. He is not at the level of Maddux, Clemens, or Glavine, but like Schilling he certainly meets the standards of the Hall. And I could be persuaded to wait another year on Kent, but ultimately he's getting my vote.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TUPPENCE, TUPPENCE, TUPPENCE A BAG:  Eight great improvised scenes in tv comedy. (Do we count Andy Kaufman's visit to Fridays?)
TAKE YOUR PASSION, MAKE IT HAPPEN: This blog, given its high editorial standards over the past eleven years, is normally above the base, pandering level of "look at this silly thing which happened on a local morning news show," but Fox 29's Mike Jerrick, reenacting a certain scene from Flashdance (the musical's in town this week) ... yeah, go watch.

Monday, November 25, 2013

THE LAST IS CLEARLY A PANDERING TO A CERTAIN INTERNET DEMOGRAPHIC:  As I predicted a few weeks ago, EW's Entertainer of the Year is Sandra Bullock.  Also on the long list?  Breaking Bad, Tom Hanks, Netflix, Jennifer Lawrence, Matthew McConaughey, Pharrell Williams (for "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky"). and Grumpy Cat.
¿CAN WE DO ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO ON MONDAYS?  Slate wants to know if the English language needs upside-down punctuation at the start of sentences. Or, you might shout,  ¡bad idea!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

NOTHING PORTENTOUS OR POLITE: It's comedy tonight, with Bill Cosby taking to the airwaves of Comedy Central for his first televised special since the year before the Cosby Show debuted and Sarah Silverman performing "We Are Miracles" over on the HBO. But before you settle in for a night of laughs and Jell-o Pudding Pops, Flavorwire has a list of the 50 Funniest Stand-Up Specials of All Time.
"SUCKERS THEY BE SAYING THEY CAN TAKE OUT ADAM HOROVITZ," OR "JOCKIN' MIKE D TO MY DISMAY":  Much like the recently-filed Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke v. Gaye lawsuit, the makers of GoldieBlox have preemptively sued the Beastie Boys and Rick Rubin to assert that their super-awesome viral video is protected by the doctrine of fair use:
18. In the lyrics of the Beastie Boys’ original song, girls are limited (at best) to household chores, and are presented as useful only to the extent they fulfill the wishes of the male singers. The girls are objects. The Goldie Blox Girls Parody Video takes direct aim at the song both visually and with a revised set of lyrics celebrating the many capabilities of girls. Set to the tune of Girls by the Beastie Boys but with a new recording of the music and new lyrics, girls are heard singing an anthem celebrating their broad set of capabilities—exactly the opposite of the message of the original. GoldieBlox Girls are the subjects; they are the actors taking charge of their environment. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

B EFFIN G:  Your December pairings for SNL are Paul Rudd/One Direction (December 7), John Goodman/Kings of Leon (December 14), and Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake (December 21).  It's Goodman's 13th hosting appearance, and first since 2001.
DIRNDL AT 1:15:  Fuller The Sound of Music promo, including explicit confirmation that this is a televised version of the stage production, not a remake of the movie.
HELP, I HAVE DONE IT AGAIN:  50 Songs That Are Guaranteed to Make You Cry. (no slideshow!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO SPECIAL BELATED 11TH BLOGIVERSARY WEDNESDAY EDITION:  Gee, thanks, Internet: you've turned because into a preposition. It's wrong, because ... rules?
BABY LOOK AT ME, AND TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE:  ESPN's David Schoenfield lists five baseball players who most improved their HOF cases in 2013.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I WANT MY DYLAN TV: If you haven't seen the new interactive music video for "Like a Rolling Stone" by who New York Magazine describes as the "Taylor Swift of the early 60s," prepare to lose a good 30 minutes of whatever productive time you thought you might still have today. (My favorite performers are the talking head professors on the History Network.)
CHECKING IT TWICE:  I realize that there's something a little more "receivey" than "givey" in posting here just to ask for offspring-gift-selection advice, but I strongly suspect that many would benefit from some ideas for what to buy the ThingThrowers of the future.  So my own question follows, and I appreciate any and all ideas, but please do feel free to use the comments to seek and/or dispense wisdom on Festive Winter Holiday gifts more generally.*  (Yes, yes, I know, Thanksgivukkah is sweeping the nation, but it's just too forced.  Except for Gobble Tov.  Which is awesome.)

My quandary:  Cosmo Girl (age 10) will be receiving an electronic gift with a high wow factor for Christmas. (Hint:  it starts with an i and is a phone.)  Cosmo Boy (age 7) will not be receiving a similar high-wow-factor-possessing electronic gift and will no doubt be bummed about it.  I need suggestions for amazing gifts for boys in the 7-10 age range, so that Cosmo Boy's lack of fabulous electronica this Christmas will not unduly sadden him.  Any ideas?

* I suggest not using the comments to solicit gift ideas for your significant other if said significant other is a Thrower of Things, because that would be dumb.
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: Slate claims to have constructed the most efficient way to answer one of the most troubling questions of our time--"Where's Waldo?"
WAY DOWN IN THE PRICE: I suspect some may be interested to know that at least for today, the complete series of The Wire is available on DVD today for $28.34 (including tax and shipping), which is less than 50 cents an episode.

ETA:  Because of massive attention to this (it also wouldn't shock me if there was a mistake at the vendor end with the price being low), the sale ended early.  (I managed to get my order in.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

LISTICLE WAS PWNED:  "Selfie" is the Oxford University Press word of the year, besting binge-watch, bitcoin, twerk, and others.  (Query: is the plural of bitcoin "bitcoins"?)
NO, IT'S NOT APRIL 1: Allegedly, plans are afoot for an authorized/official sequel to It's A Wonderful Life
FORTY WHACKS:  Flowers In The Attic is not the only reason to be watching Lifetime this winter--there's also a Christina Ricci-fronted Lizzie Borden movie arriving in January, and the poster has possibly the greatest tagline ever.
MAY THE COOKIES BE EVER IN YOUR FLAVOR: Sesame Street does The Hunger Games--unclear whether who they've cast as Peeta has more or less charisma than Josh Hutcherson.
BEFORE THE NEXT CLUE STANDS A DOORKEEPER. TO THIS DOOR-KEEPER THERE COMES A MAN FROM THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS AND PRAYS FOR ADMITTANCE TO THE NEXT CLUE:  Next season of The Amazing Race is an All-Star season, with three returning teams from far enough back that it was when I was still avidly watching.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

LE QUARTIER ANACOSTIA N’EST PAS RECOMMANDABLE DE JOUR COMME DE NUIT:  Are you traveling to the United States? Are you French?  Your government has some advice for you.  (HT: WaPo.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

NOT OKAY, LESS THAN AWESOME: Spurred by the high ratings HIMYM has continued to get and the issues it's had with newer comedies on Monday, CBS has officially ordered a pilot of How I Met Your Dad, which will focus on another group of friends who hang out at McLaren's, with an entirely new cast.  (No, this won't be a "flip side" story of the show led by Miliotti.)  Seems like a safe bet that it'll be leading off CBS Mondays next fall.  (That said, during pilot season last year, Beverly Hills Cop and NCIS: Red sure sounded like slamdunks.)
THEY WILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO APPEAL ANY VERDICT, BUT GOOD LUCK WITH THAT:  The work of SFBatKid Miles has resulted in an indictment being filed in United States v. Edward Nigma and Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. Indeed, there was heroism all over the Bay Area today, and if this results in other cities engaging in copycat efforts to enrich the lives of deserving children in their midst, I think that would be fantastic.
JUST KEEP THE CYANIDE AWAY:  It may sound like one of those #slatepitches, but actually it's The Atlantic arguing that you can totally eat an apple's core, especially if you eat it vertically.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

MOTHER, MAY I SLEEP WITH (REDACTED FOR SPOILERS): Speaking of trailers, Lifetime has released a trailer for its upcoming remake of Flowers In The Attic, including a creepy "Sweet Child O'Mine" cover and Heather Graham doing high camp.
WHAT'S A CUBIT?  First trailer for Darren Aronofsky's Noah, with Russell Crowe in the title role, Sir Anthony Hopkins as grandpa Methuselah, and a whole lot of water in the third act.
...BUT IT DIDN'T KNOW YOU THEN:  Mazel tov to our friend Paul Tabachneck, who is no longer single because he released a single, having successfully proposed to his girlfriend last week employing this here music video for a new song he created for the occasion.
REMEMBER THE SCHWAB: Ten great somewhat-forgotten game shows (and it's not a slideshow).
OUR KING SHALL GATHER ALL HIS STRENGTH/AND DUNK ON FORTUNE'S ASS:  Via Hang Up and Listen, The Tragedy of King James the First by Michael Salomon, a Shakespearean retelling of The Decision.  The opening soliloquy of Gilbert, excerpted here, provides context:
A curse of nature never known by man
for two-score years hath ravished our fair town.
From Erie’s banks spreads only wretched woe,
which festers in the bleak and barren ground. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ARE YOU GOOFIN' ON ELVIS?  So, apparently, at Monday night's Andy Kaufman Awards, Kaufman's brother alleged that Andy faked his own death in 1984, and introduced Andy's "daughter."

ETA:  Yep, hoax
NO, BROTHER WEST, IT WAS AN ACT OF WHIMSY:  In a move so smart it's somewhat shocking NBC has made it, Maya Rudolph's getting a post-Olympics variety special with the potential to go full series.
COERCED GOAT MARRIAGES:  While our friend Linda Holmes points out the many fundamental flaws of The Sound of Music (seriously, Maria, they're calling you a problem at your own wedding?), focusing on the film, I'd like to draw your attention to how many of your favorite things are different in the film compared to the staged version which will be performed on NBC.
THERE GOES FRITZ!  Slate's Ben Blatt uses game theory, and a whole lot of review of pricing game results, to develop strategies for dominance on The Price Is Right without knowing a single price, yielding a detailed two-page cheat sheet. For instance, when you're on Contestants' Row:
Game theory says that when you are last to bid, you should bid one dollar more than the highest bidder. You obviously won’t win every time, but in the last 1,500 Contestants' Rows to have aired, had final bidders committed to this strategy, they would have won 54 percent of the time. Instead, last bidders too often rely on their intuition, or on suggestions called out by delirious audience members. As a result, they have won only 35 percent of the time. Contestants in this sample of 1,500 who guessed a value between the highest and second-highest current guesses... win only 20 percent of the time. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A CRIMINAL RECORD, A RADIO SHOW, AND A SUCCESSFUL LINE OF TOMATO SAUCE: The twenty-four most Rhode Island things to ever happen.
IT WAS THE MACARONS:  The winner of the totally delightful Masterchef Junior tells all.
THEY DO LIKE THE UMLAUT UP THERE:  Based on the number of metal bands per capita, apparently Norway, Sweden, and Finland are the most metal countries in the world.
WHATCHU TALKIN' 'BOUT, WILLIS TOWER?  The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (yes, this is actually a thing) has ruled that the feature on the top of the new One World Trade Center is a "spire" and not an "antenna," thus allowing that building (once it opens) to overtake Chicago's Willis Tower as the tallest building in the US. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

AS YOU WISH:Even though a prior effort to musicalize it fell apart at a late stage over money disputes, William Goldman has signed with Disney theatrical to bring The Princess Bride to the stage.  Dreamcast away! (Christian Borle as Humperdinck?  Joel Grey as Grandpa?  Colin Donnell as Westley?)
IT WILL LOOK LIKE THE DEAL IS DEAD. DON'T WORRY. IT'S NOT:  If you woke up this morning like our Atlanta-area fans wondering just why your Braves are moving to Cobb County (this graphic suggests one reason), or just happen to be a reader who owns a professional sports team and is looking for a place for it to play, here's a handy twenty-step guide to getting the public to pay for your new stadium.
WE'RE OFF TO OUTER SPACE, WE'RE LEAVING MOTHER EARTH:  Matt Zoller Seitz's list of great tv series (and episodes) "you probably haven't seen" decidedly includes some which many here have.

(And guess what?  The movie is still moving forward.  We've only got one year!)
SHADE, SHE THREW: Angela Lansbury may be 88, but that doesn't mean she can't be a little upset about NBC's proposed Murder, She Wrote reboot.  (And I kind of agree--detective show starring Octavia Spencer as an amateur sleuth sounds like a fine idea, but no Jessica Fletcher and it's not Murder, She Wrote.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

WE DIDN'T LOSE VIETNAM. IT WAS A TIE!  The Dissolve's Mike D'Angelo reviews Kevin Kline's turn on A Fish Called Wanda and the other top supporting acting performances of 1988. "Otto is just such a sui generis creation," he writes, "an absurdist embodiment of American idiocy as seen through English eyes, vulgar yet weirdly graceful, prone to venting his frustration (“I’m disaPPOINTED!!!”) with leaps and kicks that would look at home in a big Broadway dance number."

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'M NOT SURE THE ODDS ARE THIS IDEA'S FAVOR:  I quite liked The Hunger Games and am looking forward to its sequel, but I'm not quite sure how it would work as a theme park attraction, given its rather grim premise--maybe something where Katniss escorts you as you sneak out of District 12 to go hunting and then must evade troopers from The Capital?
LOOK AT THE MONSTROSITY THAT HAS RISEN BEFORE OUR EYES IN THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS AND WEEP:  It's safe to say that the WaPo's Thomas Boswell has concerns about the National Football League:
The NFL doesn’t have a PR problem. It has a reality problem. And it may be a grave one. Every month — and it seems every few days — the NFL is inundated by new, barely suspected revelations. What has the NFL become? Or is this what it has been for some time? Is the truth coming out of the shadows? 
The list is stunning. Its cumulative effect, not any one particular item, is the true confidence-shaking shock.
ISN'T IT IRONIC? In edgier musical theatre news, Alanis Morissette is trying to bring a musical based on Jagged Little Pill to the stage.  No book-writer is attached, but Tom Kitt (arrangements for American Idiot, and original scores for Next To Normal and the upcoming If/Then) will provide orchestrations/arrangements.  So, who plays the edgy, gothy Alanis surrogate?  (My money?  Jennifer Damiano of Next to Normal and Spider-Man fame.)
GOOD OLD RELIABLE NATHAN:  Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally, Patrick Wilson, and Sierra Boggess will headline an in-concert performance of Guys and Dolls at a Carnegie Hall benefit next April.

In related news, a reminder: 2011's New York Philharmonic production of Company, with NPH, Patti LuPone, Christina Hendricks, Stephen Colbert and many other faves, airs on your local PBS station tonight. (Query: let Lucy watch it in full? isolated numbers?)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

APART FROM COST CONSIDERATIONS, THERE IS THE ISSUE OF WHETHER PLASTIC SMELTING MACHINES WERE APPROPRIATE FOR USE IN FOOD OUTLETS:  McDonald's is thinking about having 3-D printers in restaurants to produce, on-demand, whatever Happy Meal toy a kid wants.
THERE WAS MORE THAN ONE LOBSTER PRESENT AT THE BIRTH OF JESUS?  In recognition of the film's tenth anniversary this week, The Hairpin is publishing daily fan-fic on what happened to each of Love Actually's pairings ten years later.

(We may have discussed this film in passing before. As I noted a few years ago, if you watch Love Actually backwards, it's the interwoven stories of a bunch of British men who gradually realize that they shouldn't be dating women who work for them.)

added: The cast reminisces.
KAN JAG FÅ TVÅ BILJETTER TILL THELMA OCH LOUISE?  As part of their official movie ratings system, some Swedish theaters will now inform moviegoers as to how films perform on the Bechdel Test.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"MAY WE MURDER YOU?" One of the best things SNL has done this year was the Wes Anderson horror film parody, and now there's a piece chronicling the meticulous attention to detail and last-minute finalization that went into it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

LAMB SHANK WITH CURRIED SUNCHOKE PUREE BUTCHER FOR THE WORLD: Famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter died today. He was 54.

Trotter's eponymous Lincoln Park restaurant is largely credited with putting the Chicago culinary scene. The eatery, which opened in 1987 and closed in August 2012, received near universal praise, including a 1999 James Beard award for outstanding chef. Like many great chefs, Trotter was complicated and mercurial, with his behavior bordering on the bizarre several times since the restaurant closed.

The Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro wrote perhaps the defining profile of Trotter last year.
THE WORD ABIDES:  Linguists claim to have finally figured out the origin of the word "dude."
THAT'S NOT A PIRATE. THAT'S SOME DUDE FROM ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE WHO GOT TOO DRUNK AT THE OFFICE HALLOWEEN PARTY WHILE DRESSED AS A PIRATE:  Mike Tanier on the some of the best, and worst team logos in professional sports history.

Monday, November 4, 2013

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE MY KODACHROME AWAY, OR SAINT AGNES AND THE BURNING TRAIN IN THE DISTANCE:  Do you like wordy, socially conscious singer-songwriters who left insanely popular duos/trios to build equally popular solo careers which dabbled in world music and made forays into the Broadway scene?  Because Paul Simon and Sting will tour together in early 2014.
TIME TO SCREW MARVIN MILLER AGAIN: The National Baseball Hall of Fame has nominated the following twelve men for its Veterans Committee expansion-era ballot.
Dave Concepcion, Bobby Cox, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Tony La Russa, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry, Ted Simmons, George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre.
Anyone receiving 75% of the Committee's vote will be inducted in July; Pat Gillick was voted in the last time the Expansion Era was considered, with the now-late Marvin Miller falling one vote short.

Your Doodle ballot is here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT:  We're nearing year-end, and it's time to start speculating about who will be EW's Entertainer of The Year.  If I were guessing at this point?  Sandra Bullock becomes the first two-time winner courtesy of the strong critical and box office performance of both The Heat and Gravity.  There are a bunch of folks who I'm pretty confident will make the list, but I can't see them coming in at the top spot, including:
  • Macklemore--11 weeks with a number 1 single (split between "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us") plus "Same Love" becoming a political anthem.  In music, Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus also potentially come into play.
  • Melissa McCarthy--The Heat + Identity Thief + Mike and Molly might push her over Bullock if Mike and Mollywere a bigger hit.
  • A bunch of TV casts--Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory, and Duck Dynasty.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch--5 major movies, at least two of which (12 Years A Slave and August: Osage County) look to be big Oscar players, plus Sherlock.  The very model of someone who's in the 9-12 sphere on the EW list.
  • Tom Hanks--After some bombs, comes roaring back with Lucky Guy, Saving Mr. Banks, and Captain Phillips
  • Veronica Roth--The Divergent books are huge sellers (all 3 are on the Amazon 100 right now), and she brought the trilogy to an (apparently divisive) close this year.
Am I missing an obvious choice?