Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Among the names moving today: Victor Martinez, Jake Peavy, Jarrod Washburn, Adam LaRoche (again), Casey Kotchman, Scott Rolen, Orlando Cabrera and Justin Masterson.
One sample, from its entry on someone who I believe is going to be voted on for ALOTT5MA Fave Status later this year: "Rickman brings order to the chaotic settings, seemingly anticipating all of the angles and never seeming to be anything less than fully in control. The actor sets the tone for the movie, replacing what could have been brutish and gruff with something that strives for the sleek and smart. Rickman’s triumph is also in how skillfully he lets us slowly watch Hans’ cool slide off into the sadism that he had hoped to mask. ... [H]e’s a cold killer that had hoped to put that all behind him and win the day with his brains and plotting. When that fails, he wastes no time embracing his roots."
Thursday, July 30, 2009
- The only people in the entire world whose opinions about baseball matter are in New York and Boston.
- New Yorkers already don't care about steroids because the Yankees were among the first teams in baseball to be revealed to have been eyeball-deep in steroids.
- In Boston, it is generally accepted that David Ortiz represents everything that is good and right with the world.
- David Ortiz did steroids.
- Steroids therefore are good and right.
- Since Boston and New York will now agree that nothing is wrong with steroids (and their "you cheated" arguments cancel each other out), we can all get over ourselves and stop caring about steroids.
- Get a haircut, Prince Valiant.
- Is there a reason for the other five strings on your guitar?
- A little pitchy, dawg.
There's also the press tour, where Jon Hamm wanted to remind us that he doesn't see the world the way Don Draper does, and where the cast got to rub elbows with industry luminaries like Alan Sepinwall. And then there's AMC's site, where you can create a Mad Men cartoon avatar of yourself. What a cartoon computer icon has to do with Mad Men is beyond the point, I guess.
Incidentally, this is a good time to plug Sepinwall's and Fienberg's Twitter feeds of the TV press tour. As Alan points out, Twitter is perfect for the little moments of the press tour and largely replaces the tour blog that he used to write.
Surely there's an American beer you can offer that's not too obscure/elitist, but also doesn't suck. How about a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or might we suggest an American pilsener for a hot summer day?
added: Heh. Dogfish Head wants in on the action. ("[W]e know what they should be drinking - fantastic beer from a great American craft brewery! There are thousands of great American craft breweries (more than 1400 of us at last count), and we'd love to see the President and his crew coming together over a craft beer. But whatver they end up drinking - one thing this whole brew-ha-ha has accomplished is getting the word out about American craft beer.") I still think the Chateau Jiahu is out.
From the hypermasculine stance on the cover to Springsteen’s forcefully vigorous vocals throughout, Born in the U.S.A. is an album about masculinity, clearly operating from a man’s point of view. To Springsteen’s credit, his women are seldom sex objects, and when they are, such as on “Darlington County”, that objectification is punished. However, there is little subversion of assigned gender roles within Springsteen’s portraits. In fact, his women are largely powerless, kept firmly in the private sphere, functioning as trophies or even as entitlements for the male protagonists. Such blind traditionalism was especially notable in 1984, when everyone from Madonna to Cyndi Lauper to Chrissie Hynde and Tina Turner were subverting the standard rock masculinity. Hell, even Springsteen’s mega-selling male rivals, Michael Jackson and Prince, did more, in both appearance and sound, to challenge the common expectations of masculine performance. In being a rock and roll revivalist, Springsteen also revived the less savory aspects of rock and roll, namely the Eisenhower-era female submission that coursed through so much early rock.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Here's exactly what I liked about Brandon's solo. Dancers on this show tend to do one of two kinds of solos: either they vogue in their "own styles" for 30 seconds with a few neat tricks interspersed throughout (Kupono) or they flail about madly trying to jam as much shit into that 30 seconds as they possibly can (Kayla most weeks). Brandon's solo tonight was absolutely jam-packed with actual meaty wow-invoking stuff, but it was also totally tight and controlled, with each move carefully distinct from the ones before and following. Bravo.
And that's kind of it for dancers who really excited me this week. Nigel keeps talking about how no one has shown any real personality yet, but I'm not sure that this gaggle has it in them. Did the judges sandbag during the auditions and Vegas, saving the Twitches, the Gev/Dominics, the Courtneys, and the Katee/Sabras for the inaugural fall SYTYCD season? So let's talk about a few things that I actually found interesting.
First: the interesting choices by the costume and lighting designers for Brandon and Kayla's contemporary dance. Kayla is so blonde and fair that she basically glows on set, so the choice to put her in bright red while stripping off Brandon's white shirt leaving him with dark skin and dark pants and nothing to reflect any light turned the whole thing into a sort of an intensely glorious Me and My Shadow.
And: I liked exactly one of the two Sonya dances. I was surprised by the degree to which Evan hung in there on the fun Willy Wonka dance (he was the one I watched, not Brandon or Ade). In fact, Evan was better doing Sonya than he was doing jazz hands Tyce, which makes precisely zero sense. As for the girls, I'm sure that the superbabe costumes pleased the couple of straight boys in the house, but beyond that it was just kinda dead. This show has never ever figured out how to do a partnered girls dance well. (I think a 3 is much closer to a 2 than it is to a 4 or a 5.) Remember the foxes? And the glorious-girls-with-umbrellas Broadway frippery?
Oh, and then: the eviction notice dance. How did I know it was an eviction notice dance? It's a testament to me and my keen intellect, you see, that I knew it was an eviction notice dance, given that all I had to work with was Tabitha and Napoleon saying it was an eviction notice dance followed by an actual piece of paper used in the eviction notice dance on which was typed in like 50-zillion point font that this was an EVICTION NOTICE dance. Napoleon and Tabitha are by far the the most literal choreographers this show has ever used, and I do hope that Nigel uses them much, much less next season.
Anyone who's ever seen the show before could figure out what the elimination challenge was going to be once the interlude was suggested, but no matter: this was the kind of high-level cooking in a collegial environment which has made this season so much fun. The moment which scared me -- and likely you as well -- was when Rick Bayless pledged to not be Baylessy this round. No! Let Bayless Be Bayless!
[This week's spelling bee word: chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard. I'll use it in a sentence: "I'd like to try Anita Lo's chawanmushi."]
Whatever complaints I've had lately about the show have dissipated -- this episode featured six great chefs put in a position to shine, without unfair or unrealistic constraints, and if there is no Top Chef Masters II I'll be really disappointed.
added: Did you know that Rick Bayless and Jay Rayner are among those blogging this season? Rayner, on Art Smith and the Scottish egg:
Here’s what you need to know about the true Scotch egg: it is a British traditional food, which has no noble antecedents. Or to put it another way, it may once have been a glorious thing, but nobody of my generation in Britain is aware of such a thing. It is a nightmarish food item, the stuff of cheap family weddings, where the irascible scary uncle gets drunk and tries to score with the bridesmaids. The buffet at that sort of wedding would always include a platter of Scotch eggs, which would leave as nasty a taste in the mouth as the party. Think dry, cold, coagulated, cheap quality sausage meat – minced pig eyelids, ground down ears and knee caps; the cheapest of the cheap – with a crust of bright orange breadcrumbs on the outside, and inside an egg boiled to such a degree that if lobbed in a crowded public space it would be regarded as a dangerous weapon. Put said item in deep fat fryer and leave to DIE. Scotch eggs are what you eat at three o’clock in the morning when you pull into a service station off the motorway and are too hungry to make a proper judgment. They are what you eat in British pubs – not the nice oldie worldy, prettified ones; the nasty, sticky floored ones, where the curtains small of nicotine and the air is heavy with the taint of regret and disappointment – when you have drunk ten pints of lager the colour and flavour of something that came out the wrong end of a cat.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Whatever problems Eagles fans have had during the Reid-Lurie years, no one has ever questioned how tremendous Jim Johnson's defense was. "Exotic blitz" barely scratches the surface of how confounding his strategies became. Any player, any play, any angle was vulnerable. And the results speak for themselves -- seven playoff appearances and five conference championship games in ten years with the Eagles, winning every first round playoff game he coached and only once (against Arizona last season) giving up 30+ points in a playoff game. A 2001 season (and overall 34 game streak) in which his defense never yielded more than 21 points or 300 yards passing. Twenty-six defensive Pro Bowl appearances for his Eagles players. As SalPal noted:
Under Johnson, the Eagles have ranked near the top in almost every important defensive category in the last decade. Since 2000, the Eagles have been second in sacks (390), tied for second in tackles for a loss (457), second in forced fumbles (159), second in red zone efficiency (43.9 percent), and second in third down efficiency (34 percent). During the Johnson era, the Eagles have finished fourth in the NFL in points allowed -- just 17.7 per game.
I'm trying to think of another coach in Philadelphia during my lifetime who was as respected as Johnson, who was never criticized by the fans even when losing. Billy Cunningham, maybe. But that's it. Johnson will be dearly missed.
added: One way to appreciate Johnson is to just look at the play-by-play of the Super Bowl champion Steelers offense when they visited Philadelphia last September. Nine sacks, three turnovers, a safety, 2/13 on third down, just 180 net yards allowed.
Monday, July 27, 2009
update: In other media news, frequent ALOTT5MA Piñata Richard Rushfield is leaving the LA Times to become West Coast editor for Gawker.
I can't wait until next summer's list of the 25 greatest law-related rock songs..."I Fought the Law," "Lawyers in Love," "I Can't Drive 55," "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"...OK, maybe just a top 10.
I was therefore a little suprised to feel a faint quiver in the black hole where my heart should be when I read that Cohen was killed in a hit-and-run accident this weekend. It would be nice if Idol, which had a lot of fun at her expense, could find a quiet (read: not self-promotional) way to repay the debt.
Now a new guy will inherit those shows. It's Jeff Gaspin, head of NBC's cable entertainment group. I don't know what to make of Gaspin. On the one hand, I take it (though I'm lazy and haven't researched to confirm) he's the guy who greenlit the Bravo brand that Phil criticized below -- the Real Housewives franchise, NYC Prep, etc. -- and pioneered the change of "SciFi" to "Syfy." To be fair, though, under the same assumption he also would have been responsible for a number of shows that I've never watched but that I understand others love, including Battlestar Galactica and all of the USA Network fare. So: nervous but not hopeless? Is that the right stance to take?
But eclipsing HP6 in weekend box office? Really? [Orphan placed fourth.]
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Please, Bravo. Stop. You're hurting America.
This, of course, isn't a competitive issue, since the suits are available to anybody who wants to buy them. And it isn't exactly a pure stance against the swimsuit technology, since it is still allowing the suits from waist to knee for men and from shoulder to knee for women. And it isn't quite fair that the women get a half-body's worth more use of the supposedly unfair technology than the men. It's just the work of a governing body that doesn't like the way modern technology has helped its athletes. What would happen if every other sport -- NASCAR, IAAF, whoever controls cycling -- just said "we're rolling all car/shoe/bike/apparel technology back to what was available 30 years ago"? Slower times: yay.