Saturday, August 24, 2013

BUT WHO WILL MOCK SEACREST? My total viewing of American Idol amounts to maybe 30 minutes in its life, and the new judging panel of J.Lo., Keith Urban, and Dr. Luke (who you know his work, even if you don't know his name).  The Dr. Luke choice does, to me, indicate that they probably would like another female winner after the string of Sensitive Guys With Guitars.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"NOT WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE," OR "WE SAY YOU CAN GO HOME":  According to reports, Bon Jovi has fired Richie Sambora. I guess he's got to hold on to what he's got, which includes about $2 million a month from the current tour and 20 percent of the profits.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

AMERICA!  Matthew Yglesias provides "the ultimate proof that innovation is alive and well in America today" with a visit to Taco Bell to sample the new variety of Doritos Locos Tacos.  Not being a huge fan of Doritos (particularly the inexplicably popular Cool Ranch variety), I have yet to sample these fine products--is it worth a visit?
SUB UMBRO FLOREO:  I have only almost been killed once.

In 1996, second year of law school, I sent myself down to Belize.  Do a little scuba diving, saw some Mayan ruins, and do a little poking about for a novel I was trying to write.  Anyway, on my way to Caracol, the largest Mayan ruins in Belize, I stayed in a hut in the town of Douglas Da Silva.  I got there a bit late having lost myself a couple of times on the mountain roads there in central Belize.

I found myself a hut -- spent a half hour or so watching Comet Hyakutake -- and went to bed.  In the morning, I knew I had to pay for the hut (BZE$2.50) and get a permit (free) to get on the 10 a.m. tour of the ruins.  It was early - perhaps 6:30 - when I walked over to the ranger station to see if I could get my permit and move along.  I knew someone was there.  It was cold and smoke was coming out of the chimney -- it's high enough up that it's the only place in Belize you'll ever see a fireplace.

I opened the screen door and shouted a hello and heard a few folks in a back room.  So I wandered on down.  And saw the ranger and two men standing over a pile of $50,000 in cash.  Douglas Da Silva had ten permanent residents and a gas station that was open only if you called a number in the window. They all looked up, startled.
One man reached for his waistband.  To tuck in his shirt, I remember thinking, how polite!

The ranger held his hand up to his associated.  "Can I help you?"

"I needed to pay for the hut.  I got here late.  And I need a permit to go to Caracol."

"Follow me."  And we walked back to the front counter.  He took my money, spotted me the 50 cents.  "I don't have change."  And wrote me the permit.

I went on my way.

When you almost have a car accident, the adrenaline takes moment to work its way in.  As an evolutionary matter, this is fine.  A crack in the woods from a tiger.  The first sting of a wasp.  You'll be able do something about it.  Things are over and done with in a car accident long before the adrenaline does you a lick of good.

Here, however, that delay prevented me from being on a Dateline episode.  I was ten miles down the road, crossing the ford in my rented Suzuki Sidekick, when my heart rate immediately shot to two hundred.

No, brain, you aren't going to tell the rest of this idiot what he's witnessed.  Not until he's safely out of danger.  There is no other reason for a pile of cash to be in a place like this, but for a drug deal.  No other reason to reach for a waistband, but for a gun.  There is no reason he doesn't immediately recognize this, but for the fact that his body has decided that's the only way he's getting out of this alive.

I prevented you from showing up as a five minute bumper story on Dateline, my brain later told me. You owe me.

So, last week, when Walter White was threatening Saul with a trip to Belize, that struck me as pretty goddamned serious.  The Belize Tourist Board, however, wants the cast to come on down for a visit.  And they should.  It's lovely a country.

But for god's sake -- if you go -- be the one who knocks.

FRESHGROUNDPEPPER? Slate tries to figure out when waiters started pushing that tableside service, of which the NYT's Frank Bruni once properly asked: “If pepper is all that essential to dishes, shouldn’t the chef take care of it in the kitchen? And ... how is a diner expected to know whether he or she wants more pepper if a dish hasn’t been tasted yet?”
I'M LIKE, WHAT IS THIS GUY'S PROBLEM? HE'S DOING A COMEDY SHOW. WHY DOES HE NOT LIKE TO LAUGH?  Twenty-two SNL vets (and Marc Maron) talk at length about the SNL audition process. Two excerpts from a piece containing many links to extended interviews, video footage, etc:
BILL HADER: I got in an elevator, and there was a guy who was also auditioning, and I thought: “That guy brought a lot of props. I didn’t bring anything.” And he was looking at me, going, “That guy didn’t have to bring any props.” We were just sizing each other up in the elevator. And that was Andy Samberg. 
KATE McKINNON: I did Penélope Cruz. I did Sally Field and Temple Grandin. It’s too bad she’s not in the news more. I have that in my back pocket in case she does anything wacky.
DO YOU KNOW HOW I GOT THESE SCARS?  10 Batman Movie Villains Ranked from Most Epistemological to Most Ontological in Terms of the Nature of the Crisis They Incite.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DIANE LOCKHART ORDERS A MOB HIT ON HER OWN BROTHER:  Sarah Bunting has some highlights from season one of Law & Order: Original Recipe, and so I couldn't help but wonder: what are you Netflixing these days?  [I am finally getting started with Orange Is the New Black, while wrapping up my umpteenth rewatch of West Wing, season four.]
IRREDEEMABLE:  My goodness, the twists in this fall's season of Survivor. There are competitors (Rupert, Colton) whom I truly do not want to see again, plus a twist (Redemption Island) which has never seemed to work on the show, and that's just the beginning. At least we'll learn whether in the past thirteen years, Gervase Petersen finally has learned to swim.

Just give me eighteen people with some strategic sense next time. Please?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

STILL, MAKING MORE THAN I DO:  TV Guide's annual star salary list has some fascinating tidbits--not only has Jon Stewart surpassed Leno and Letterman as the highest paid late night personality, but Peter Dinklage is making substantial bank for Game of Thrones (though it's not clear if the $150K per episode is a $1.5M season salary or based solely on the episodes in which Dinklage appears).  Most shocking to me?  For returning to TV in The Crazy Ones, Robin Williams is only making $165K an episode--less than Amy Poehler makes an episode for Parks & Rec, or Jason Segel makes for HIMYM.

Monday, August 19, 2013

WINTER IS COMING: Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, successfully persuaded her parents to let her adopt the dog that played Sansa's Dire Wolf.  (And when so many shows are weighed down by child actor performances--e.g., Once Upon A Time--it's really impressive how both GoT and Mad Men have either gotten extraordinarily lucky or had extraordinarily good casting for the youth roles.)
34° 59' 20" 106° 36' 52":  That's the location of Albuquerque Studios, if you were wondering.  Took me a few minutes to figure that out on Google Earth.  Funny.  And it's better than encouraging oddballs from digging up the desert.

Look, yes, Walt needs to go down.  But I sure want Skyler to get herself a lawyer here.  "Don't start putting up roadblocks to me helping you."  How creepy is that?