Saturday, February 1, 2014

WHO ARE SEVEN GREAT FOOTBALL PLAYERS WHO ARE NOT THE SUBJECT OF ACTIVE MURDER INVESTIGATIONS?  First-time eligibles Walter Jones and Derrick Brooks, along with Michael Strahan, Aeneas Williams and Andre Reed, plus seniors committee candidates Ray Guy (!) and Claude Humphrey have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Next year's first-time eligibles include Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce, along with Orlando Pace and the late Junior Seau.

Friday, January 31, 2014

1. Winner/final score.
2. Official Game MVP.
3. Which advertiser tops the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter?
4. Bruno Mars/RHCP setlist predictions?
5. Will Renee Fleming's rendition of the National Anthem run longer than 2:25?
Tiebreaker: Pick a prop bet as listed on Football Outsiders. Get it right. The tougher the odds of winning your bet, the more credit you get.

Previous winners: 2006: Benner; 2007: me; 2008: Joseph J. Finn ; 2009: Scott; 2010:Scott again; 2011: GoldnI; 2012: Phil; 2013: Benner. As they will tell you, the prizes are Fame and Glory within this community, but nothing financial.

[My predictions: Denver 31-23, Manning, Budweiser, Treasure/Locked/Grenade/Higher Ground, shorter, under 27.5 Omahas.]
THE "ENCHANTMENT UNDER THE SEA" NUMBER IS A SHOWSTOPPER:  Coming to the West End next year (and, presumably, Broadway thereafter)--Back To The Future: The Musical.  Provide your suggestions for songs (yes, there will be original songs, in addition to "Johnny B. Goode" and "Power of Love" making appearances) and for casting (Darren Criss as Marty? Norbert Leo Butz as Doc Brown?).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

WHAT IS "THE PRISONER'S DILEMMA," ALEX? As you might have seen earlier this week on Jeopardy!, a player wagered for a tie rather than the win, claiming that doing so is the optimal game theory strategy.  I'm sure folks have thoughts on that.
NO, THIS ISN'T OLD-SCHOOL THROWING THINGS REWIND DAY:  We didn't get rid of Comments; they're just not showing up on the page right now. Until they're restored, please rail against the heavens or something.

update 2:15p:  Based on what I'm seeing on Twitter, we're not alone.

update, 4:50p:  Seems to be working. Do the ctrl-shift-refresh to be sure.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

NOPE, STILL ALONE: So, that weird fifth nominee for Original Song--"Alone Yet Not Alone?"  It's been disqualified for campaign violations at the nominating level.  Unclear if the nomination slot will be filled (Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Lana Del Rey, and Ed Sheeran all were snubbed).  If one were cynical, one could say that this clears the way for a potentially pretty hip and fun set of performances of Song nominees--U2, Idina Menzel, Pharrell, and some combination of Karen O/Scarlett Johansson/Arcade Fire.

ETA:  The Academy will not be having a replacement nominee.   Assuming U2 is willing to perform, this would seem to make song performances pretty likely.
BIRMINGHAMIANS NEED SNOW PLOWS LIKE NEW YORKERS NEED TORNADO SHELTERS:  Gizmodo explains why we're not allowed to make fun of the South after its inability to handle a light snowfall this week.
I'M THE GUY WHO DOES HIS JOB. YOU MUST BE THE OTHER GUY:  Vulture notes the oddity that Mark Wahlberg, star of The Departed, Ted, Boogie Nights, no G-rated and only one PG film (Invincible) in his career, will host this year's Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards.
ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO WEDNESDAY UPDATE:  There are writers out there, one of whom writes for Slate, who believe that the English language could survive without the comma.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

THE STATE OF OUR CHILDREN'S READING IS STRONG:  For a seventh year, Christy in NYC has the scoop from the American Library Association's annual awards for the best in children's publishing:
* * *
Hello again, friends. This past Monday morning, the children’s publishing world came together with the children’s library world in Philadelphia for, among other things, the announcement of the Youth Media Awards at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting! Here are your big winners:
The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults went to Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick. 
The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children went to Brian Floca for Locomotive
The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature went to Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.
Scouring the full list of winners and honors for some interesting nerdy things to point out (all three Caldecott honors are wordless picture books!), what really stands out more than anything is that this list is long and varied, even more so than usual—there are few repeats from award to award, and most awards opted to give a large number of honors, which usually means those books were clustered together as runners-up in the committees’ votes.

Simply put, 2013 brought us a lot of good new children’s books.

What have you and your kids been reading? Did your new favorites get award love this year?
"A LIVING ARCHIVE OF AMERICA’S MUSIC AND CONSCIENCE, A TESTAMENT OF THE POWER OF SONG AND CULTURE TO NUDGE HISTORY ALONG":  Thank you, Pete Seeger, for a legacy of song and commitment to American values which cannot be matched. As Sam Anderson wrote in 2009,
Seeger is, quite literally, a folk hero—in the sense that he collected, wrote, and popularized many of America’s essential songs: “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “We Shall Overcome.” (It was originally “We Will Overcome”; Seeger thought the vowel in “shall” made it sound more dramatic.) But he is also a folk hero in the sense that Paul Bunyan is a folk hero. His nine decades seem almost mythic, complete with a perfect origin story, trials, dangers, and big quixotic inspirational victories.... Through it all, Seeger remained the idealist’s idealist.

Monday, January 27, 2014

JUKT MICRONICS IS HIRING, HOWEVER: Following up on my November 2011 post, the California Supreme Court has unanimously denied disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass admittance to the state bar. Among other things, "Glass's deceit also was motivated by professional ambition, betrayed a vicious, mean spirit and a complete lack of compassion for others, along with arrogance and prejudice against various ethnic groups. In all these respects, his misconduct bore directly on his character in matters that are critical to the practice of law."
UUU:  A Words With Friends/Scrabble theory question: when do you choose to swap tiles?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

AN AWARDS SHOW WITHOUT AWARDS: They've already started handing out Grammys on the West Coast (almost none are presented on the broadcast proper), and winners are on the site.  Thus far, Idol alum Mandisa has picked up an award for Best Contemporary Christian album, and Stephen Colbert picked up another Grammy for Spoken Word.  We'll be in the Comments and on Twitter all night, and you can argue about whether or not Macklemore is rap to your heart's content.
MIND THE GAP: So, I've closed down our Doodle poll on cultural gaps after 140 responses, and the winner for biggest gap is Harry Potter, with 116/140 respondents having read at least one book.  George Orwell finished just behind, with 114 readers, again reminding me that I really ought to read 1984Catcher In The Rye finished third, with 112 readers. 

On the other end--seems ThingThrowers aren't much for trash--the only three that didn't get a majority of respondents having read were Sweet Valley High (58/140), Fifty Shades (27/140), and V.C. Andrews (43/140).

Unsurprisingly, we had no respondents who had read none of the options, but more surprisingly, only one (bellawifer) who admitted to having read all of them.

Suggestions for future Doodles are, of course, invited.