Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ice, Ice Baby To Go

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Why did Oliver Stone make the movie W.? It's sort of boring because the history isn't old enough or that little known. Brolin is great, as usual, and Thandie Newton absolutely nails Condi Rice, but it's just kind of an "eh" movie.
    • Getting way hooked on Battlestar Galactica. I read something interesting on the web about the new Ginger vs. Marianne being Number Six vs. Starbuck.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Here is some (bad) video of what happened at the end of the Duke-Va Tech game this afternoon. Up three, Duke in-bounded the ball with twenty-three seconds left. The Hokies trapped Jon Scheyer, who proceeded to take more steps than Gene Kelly. No call. The Blue Devils got a timeout, then got fouled and iced the game. We all know that the refs favor Duke (see: 2001 Final Four vs. Maryland), but rarely do we see such an obvious example.
  • Monster Matchup: Crushed Ice vs. Ice Cube
    • The Wikipedia article on the ice cube may say that "ice cubes are often preferred over crushed ice," but that's bogus. This one isn't even a contest. Crushed ice, specifically the tiny pellets (like those from the soda machines at Cosi), trounces ice cubes. They make the soda colder, they're easier to eat, and it's much easier to move the straw around to get the best drinking angles when the soda gets low. I actually get irrationally happy when I realize that a soda machine has the tiny pellet crushed ice.

Five Degrees of Hip-Hop Separation

Some music videos (I used the clean versions so they can be sort of lame -- I'm looking at you, Ludacris) for a Friday night. Ludacris to Nate Dogg to Snoop to Pharrell to Jay-Z to Jermaine Dupri and back to Ludacris.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Frank But Loving Conversation With America

What's up, America? Come on over and sit down! Let me put my arm around you so we can have a heart-to-heart.

We've had a heck of a time these last three or four months, huh? We're going through some pretty tough times and maybe I'm not as affected as some of you, but I feel your pain. We got pretty tight after so many of us banded together to bring the new guy into the White House. I really feel like we've bonded a bit and we're a lot closer because of all that we've been through, so I have no doubt that you'll take what I'm about to say and go with it.

I was watching American Idol tonight, you know, the show we so love to watch together. You remember how fond we were of that Cook kid last year and how we laughed when Taylor won a couple of years ago. We've had some good times watching that show, you and me. I'm just a little worried that you're taking it a little too far.

It's fun to watch this stuff on TV and it's more or less harmless, but we have to keep it to that. See, I know we were all watching the recap show tonight to see if the producers could possible kick all twelve contestants from last night out. We know it's not the rules, but know how those sneaky producers like to bend the rules a little bit, huh? So we fast-forwarded through the horrible group performance and we begrudgingly accepted Allison and her hair that looks almost like the hair helmet that Brett made on Flight of the Conchords. Then, in the middle of the show, they brought out, as they are often wont to do, a past contestant to perform. That's when we found out that Brooke White has released a single.

This is where it stops being cute, America. This is where the laughter ends. We can watch whatever for free and I'm not even mad if you line AT&T's pockets with your text fees, but you aren't really going to download Brooke White's single, are you? It's just not okay to send your hard-earned recession money to some annoying chick who had to re-start a song on national TV. We have over seven percent unemployment right now, but at least one of you (and I'm afraid many more than that) out there is going to pay 99 cents. Hear me out, the world would be a better place if a dollar slipped out of your pocket and blew down a storm drain than if you bought that single. It would be for the best in the long run. You do realize that this is a slippery slope towards an Adam Lambert single, right? If you don't stop them now, they'll keep coming. You're just enabling and I thought that's what got us into this mess we're in as a country.

So... Please accept this hair-tousle in a totally non-patronizing way. I know you try as hard as you can, but I feel like we need to chat like this every so often to make sure that we're both on the same page. So, if you were thinking about buying it, go grab some Flo Rida or some Fall Out Boy instead. If you already bought it, promise not to do something like that again and you can apologize.

Apology accepted. This was a good talk. This was a good talk.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dead Locke-d

  • Idol Chatter: Week Two of the Semi-Finals.
    • Jasmine Murray, singing Sara Bareilles' "Love Song": They had been selling this girl as the full package -- great voice, cute, marketable. It would help if she actually could sing. Her timing and pitch were not good. Really disappointing. Randy, with his George Burns glasses, agreed with me.
    • Matt Giraud, singing Coldplay's "Viva la Vida": We love this kid. Going in, he was probably my second favorite to Danny. But, dude... Dawg... You pick a contemporary song like this and we're going to compare you directly to Chris Martin's voice and you easily lose. If he makes it through, I can't wait to hear which song he will sing entirely in vibrato next week.
    • Jeanine Vailes, singing Maroon 5's "This Love": Next.
    • Nick Mitchell, singing Jennifer Holiday's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going": I don't know what to say... He might just win this whole thing on the wings of uncomfortable suckiness.
    • Allison Iraheta, singing Heart's "Alone": Such a winning personality! You know the first four this week were really awful when they made her seem passable. (Aside: She was really awful, too.)
    • Kris Allen, singing Michael's "Man in the Mirror": He came out looking like David Archuleta's older brother. He sounded like David Archuleta's less-talented, boring older brother. Not bad, just boring.
    • Megan Corkrey, singing Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On": She was one of my favorites from the audition round. She was a bit robotic (read: white) and the big note was horrible, but I think she was pretty good. Good enough for tonight's crapfest.
    • Matt Breitzke, singing Tonic's "If You Could Only See": I really like this guy's Everyman vibe. I have a problem with his slow dance during the heavier part of the song. He lost a lot of stage presence points there. You can't hate him, he's just not remarkable.
    • Jesse Langseth, singing Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes": Best of the night up to this point. She was pretty tight on with the recording, cool presence. She doesn't jump out at you, but she was good. Again, I'll point out that "best of the night" is not necessarily saying so much. I kind of hate her exchange with the judges. It reminds me of Brooke White's from last year, which I grew to hate. Dude, you're not one of the judges. Shut up.
    • Kai Kalama, singing Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted": This episode has gotten a lot more boring as it's going along, which is actually quite a compliment. This guy is seasoned (read: he kind of looks old) and he can sing. Not great. I guarantee nobody will be great tonight. But solid. Have to think, in spite of the judges, that he has a decent shot of going through.
    • Mishavonna Henson, singing Train's "Drops of Jupiter": I missed her performance because I was typing her first name. No, she was fine, just like the last however many contestants. Okay, but boring. Her facial expressions reminded me of Melinda from a couple of years ago. Which would be great if "facial expressions" meant "voice", but not otherwise. Unless Nick Mitchell catches some Sanjaya/Vote For The Worst wind in his sails, ain't nobody from tonight winning the whole thing. Like can they replace whoever tonight's three people will be with people from another night?
    • Adam Lambert, singing The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction": He took arguably the greatest rock and roll song ever (not even my favorite Stones song, I prefer "Brown Sugar") and overperformed the hell out of it! He's obviously going to get through (with, I think, Megan and Nick), but don't fool yourself. He sucked in an awesome way. Nobody likes the idea of Pete Wentz singing like Cher. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Adam Lambert.
  • Lost Comments/Questions of the Week:
    • Nice Obi-Wan Kenobi thing going on there with Locke at the beginning. And we also now know that the two other people in first class made it to the island. And that the plane seems to have landed, or crashed gently. We know where those canoes that Sawyer and company were in came from.
    • But when are those other people? Did they crash back in the Dharma time like Jack, Kate, and Hurley? You'd think no, since Sawyer and company found the camp there with the canoes.
    • Was Widmore the leader of the Others when Ben and Richard purged Dharma? And then Ben kicked him out? If so, why did Richard go to Ben behind Widmore's back? And who, then, started the Dharma Initiative?
    • So if Matthew/Daniels told Locke to go to Australia and he "gets people where they need to go," then was he guiding Locke towards the island? Did someone know, because of Foccault's Pendulum, that Oceanic 815 was going to end up on the island?
    • Helen Norwood died on 4-8. Nice.
    • I was wondering how Daniels was on the show now that he's on that new crappy show on Fox. Guess he won't be on Lost any longer.
    • There was the whole thing, when Michael went back to LA, about how he couldn't kill himself. And Locke didn't kill himself and was reincarnated when he got back to the island. Does that have something to do with why Ben had to kill him?

Would The Fake State Of The Union Address Be Called The "Commonwealth Of The Union Address"?

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • On a suggestion/whim, I decided to subject myself to the Nicolas Cage movie Gone in 60 Seconds, via Netflix Watch Instantly. Great movie. For me to poop on.
    • I watched the Pittsburgh-Providence game tonight, as well, and I was ready to write something about how Pitt is the team you should be rooting for this year (assuming you're not a fan of Carolina, UConn, or Oklahoma). Then Pitt lost. I'll have to save that for later. Still, it was Senior Night at Providence; hard to believe we're at that point of the year already.
    • If you were a fan of Conan back in the day, this news will make you very happy.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • I hadn't watched a presidential speech to Congress in probably seven years, but not able to watch this one live, I even DVR-ed it. Apparently the legislators had to get to the chamber as early as 8AM if they wanted to be on the aisle to shake Obama's hand. So, as he walked down the aisle, we saw one side was all white men and the other was somewhat younger and extraordinarily diverse. I'm under no illusion that the left is not also full of old white men, but it's quite a different America nowadays, huh?
  • Random Video:
    • If you didn't see it, here's the best thing (even with the obvious edits regarding pot references) from the Oscar broadcast.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Forget It, Jake

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Two days ago when I said what I had at home from Netflix, Steve commented that he had seen Changeling and loved it. I concur. Changeling is a GREAT movie. I don't know why I slept on it so much -- it is directed by Eastwood, after all -- but don't make the same mistake. Jolie puts forth a truly brilliant, Oscar-worthy performance. The best thing you can say about an actor's work is when you forget it's the actor and lose yourself in the character. That has to be especially hard for someone as remarkable and attention-grabbing as Jolie, but she pulls it off. Add in a nice supporting job by Malkovich and a large number of very competent character actors and you get a well-acted movie with an enthralling story.
    • The LAPD must have been really f***ed up during the 1930s. How many movies have been made about its corruption? More on that below.
    • Can we get a round of applause for Hakeem Kae-Kazim's work as Ike Dubaku on 24? Really good job of taking this evil maniac and adding a soft side when dealing with the girlfriend.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Grand humor in the household tonight as my dog let loose a cacophony of flatulence that could have drowned out the end of the 1812 Overture. While he was sleeping, no less.
  • Monster Matchup: LAPD Movies vs. Chicago PD Movies
    • As mentioned above, there a number of movies that deal with LAPD problems during the 1930s. Off-hand, other than Changeling, I can come up with great films such as Chinatown, The Maltese Falcon, Die Hard, and the obvious Chinatown spoof Who Framed Roger Rabbit? In addition, there have been some movies dealing with later time periods, such as L.A. Confidential, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Die Hard, and Crash. I'm sure there are some other ones as well. You also get some pretty good movies that deal with the Chicago police. Off the top of my head, you have The Untouchables, Chicago, The Fugitive, and North by Northwest. The star of this matchup is Dan Aykroyd, who appeared as an L.A. Cop in Dragnet after he had made Chicago police look like fools in The Blues Brothers. L.A. gets a bit of an advantage because Hollywood would find it easier to shoot locally. So you get some more good movies like Beverly Hills Cop I and II, but some awful ones as well like Beverly Hills Cop III and Demolition Man. I want to lean towards Chicago because The Untouchables is my favorite movie ever, but I think of Jake Gittes and Sam Spade and Axel Foley and it has to be a no-brainer -- the winner is LAPD movies!

Ohhhhhh, Good For Youuuuu!

Just finished watching the mutual ass-kissing crapfest known as the 2009 Oscars. What happened to a host who pokes fun at the nominees. You don't think that Chris Rock would have pointed out that Frank Langella played Skeletor in Masters of the Universe? I had too many jokes that wouldn't be funny now, like comparing Jerry Lewis to Jeff Conaway or Penelope Cruz to Duck Baby. Instead, I'll just go on record as saying that I believe I hate every single person in that room except for, in no particular order (for reasons that should be obvious if you watched the whole thing): Will Smith, Danny Boyle, Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, James Franco, the cinematographer who came out with Seth Rogen and James Franco, and Kate Winslet's dad.

Okay, there was one particular order -- Kate Winslet's dad was awesome.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And They Are Indisputable

On the eve of my longest work day of the year (and it's a Sunday!), these are the facts:
  • Zack and Miri Make a Porno is am enjoyable, if not great, movie. It's pretty funny, but more than anything it shows, after the Jersey Girl fiasco, that Kevin Smith can make a passable romantic comedy with his own brand of humor. One of the big highlights is Justin Long, in a small part, as a flamboyant gay porn star.
  • How about Greivis Vazquez today? 35 points, 11 boards, 10 assists in the win over Carolina. Down eight with 1:17 to go, Maryland roared back and took it in OT. Terps may yet have a shot to sneak in.
  • I was never a big Trekkie, but I do like Battlestar Galactica. Where the Star Trek series were usually made up of a bunch of one-off episodes, Galactica has an overarching mystery that should keep my interest over the long run.
  • I love my DVR, the iPod Touch, the Wii, and other stuff (you know, like Penicillin or the wheel), but DayQuil may just be the greatest invention of all time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pop Culture Reset

Figured I would take a quiet Friday night to reset where I am (as of right now, so for instance no Dexter or Entourage) on various TV/DVD/reading stuff.

  • Regular TV Schedule:
    • Sunday:
      • The Amazing Race (CBS, 8PM) -- Watch it on the same night because people talk about it
      • Big Love (HBO, 9PM) -- Strong season, so usually watching it live; can watch on DVR or On Demand though
      • United States of Tara (SHO, 10PM) -- Good acting, pretty funny; often watch it on On Demand before the show actually airs
      • Flight of the Conchords (HBO, 10PM) -- So freaking good, too good to wait on
      • Eastbound & Down (HBO, 10:30PM) -- Only premiered last week, but it's funny as hell
    • Monday:
      • House (Fox, 8PM) -- Second best show on network TV
      • Heroes (NBC, 9PM) -- This gets watched second after House
      • 24 (Fox, 9PM) -- This gets watched last because nothing can top the excitement outside of maybe Lost
    • Tuesday:
      • American Idol (Fox, 8PM) -- Obviously have to watch it that night
      • 90210 (CW, 8PM) -- Usually DVR the Wednesday rerun or watch it on the CW's website (since my wife also DVRs Biggest Loser on Tuesdays)
    • Wednesday:
      • American Idol (Fox, 8PM) -- For no other show is a DVR more necessary (we usually watch the hour results show in around fifteen minutes)
      • Lost (ABC, 9PM) -- Watch it that night because of heavy discussion the next day; use the DVR so we can watch things again or freeze-frame
    • Thursday:
      • My Name Is Earl (NBC, 8PM) -- The only current network sitcom I've watched from when it started; may DVR depending on time and disposition
      • Survivor (CBS, 8PM) -- My favorite show on TV; always watch it the same night
      • C.S.I.: (CBS, 9PM) -- It's great but there's no time crunch on it; DVR it and currently two or three weeks behind
      • Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 9PM) -- Usually watch it the same night
    • Friday:
      • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox, 8PM) -- I enjoy it, but I can build up a few weeks on the DVR
      • The Soup (E!, 10PM) -- Must-see ASAP, the funniest single show on TV
    • Saturday: Nothing
  • TV Catch-up:
    • Mad Men (DVD/ other questionable means) -- Finished the first season and waiting to start the second; absolutely brilliant
    • Battlestar Galactica (DVD) -- Heard a lot of great stuff and, even though I'm only through part one of the miniseries, I'm enjoying it
    • How I Met Your Mother (DVD) -- I'm not a big fan of sitcoms that are filmed in studios and/or have laugh tracks, so I'm disposed to not love this, but NPH is hilarious; I didn't really like the first couple of episodes but it's really grown on me (I mean, Jason Segel is in the cast and Samm Levine and Martin Starr have guested so far)
    • Family Guy (Hulu) -- Watch new episodes whenever I have twenty minutes and feel like it
  • Reading:
    • Currently reading the collection of Douglas Adams' books. I think I read Hitchhiker's Guide a long time ago, but I've never read all of them.
    •'s weekly Dueling Analysis on Lost and transcripts of their weekly Lost chat, also's weekly Lost and American Idol recaps
  • Netflix Queue
    • Currently have at home: Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Changeling, and W.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We're Not Going To Guam, Are We?

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • It's going to take a lot of evil to make someone the biggest villain in Survivor history, but there is no doubt that Coach is the biggest douchebag. Did you see him with his jacket over his shoulder as he went to vote? Ick. I'm thinking Brendan is an obvious favorite right now, but you have to think the J.T./Stephen duo could be formidable.
    • Earl. Danny Glover. "I'm getting too old for this crap." Awesome.
    • We've added two new shows to the repertoire (via DVD): How I Met Your Mother and Battlestar Galactica (I know I'm really late to the party on that one). More thoughts on them down the road.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Four days in to a twelve-day work week. Tiring.
  • Lost Comments/Questions For The Week:
    • The questions on this one are pretty obvious... Who built the Lamp-Post in the first place (and could there be any more C.S. Lewis references on the show this season)? Did Desmond beat up Ben and did Ben succeed in killing Penny? Where's Aaron? Did anyone else get to the island? Who was the random guy sitting in first class? How did Hurley get out? How did Sayid get arrested?
    • But this week was all about the cool stuff having to do with Ajira Flight 316.
    • Lapidus flying the plane like he was supposed to do for Oceanic 815.
    • Hurley carrying the guitar like Charlie did.
    • Sayid in handcuffs like Claire Kate was.
    • Locke in a coffin like Christian was.
    • Jack with a letter like Sawyer had.
    • Ben almost missing the plane like Hurley did.
    • And... Kate pregnant like Claire was? I bet so.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where have you gone, Yankee Clipper?

When I heard the news that Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd is trying to make a comeback in baseball at the ripe age of 50, it got me thinking…What ever happened to fun nicknames in Major League Baseball? Over the first half of the 20th century, nearly every player had a nickname. In addition to the obvious names like “Babe” Ruth, we had a plethora of colorful nicknames such as Mordecai “Three-fingered” Brown, Jim “Cool Papa” Bell , and Jay “Dizzy” Dean. Even later players like “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron and Jim “Catfish” Hunter had a certain uniqueness to his name. I suppose that as salaries continue to escalate, a player’s creativity goes down or his image becomes too managed. Nowadays, few, if any, players have a genuine nickname. The most common nicknames in today’s game are nothing more than just the player’s name shortened. Think A-Rod instead of Alex Rodriguez or Coco instead of Covelli Crisp. The only current nicknamed players that immediately came to my mind are “Chipper” Jones “Pudge” Rodriguez, and the Big boys - Papi (David Ortiz), Unit (Randy Johnson) and Hurt (Frank Thomas). ESPN’s Chris Berman uses nicknames as part of his schtick when highlighting players like Roy “Every day is a” Halladay or Dontrelle “Watchutalkinabout” Willis but those are stale now that Berman has done it for 25 years. I suppose there are probably a few players with legit nicknames but it would take most fans a few minutes to come up with a list of 5-10 others without looking it up.

I would like to propose a concept to baseball management. Any athlete that is caught breaking a law or caught up in a controversy of any kind will automatically be referred to only by a unflattering nickname to be determined by me, your Chief Nickname Officer. Think of the possibilities:

  • “Cheetah” Rodriguez (Alex) – As in “the Yankees have two high-profile people on the left side of the infield, Jeter and Cheetah”. It sounds best if you use a Boston accent when describing this one.
  • “Hitman” Myers (Brett) – Not to be confused with Bret the Hitman Hart
  • “Lady’s Man” Dukes (Elijah) – If he doesn’t like Lady’s Man, I’d be ok calling him “Last Call” Dukes as well
  • “Jumbo” Cabrera (Miguel) – Only because El Guapo is already taken
  • “Dui” Chamberlain (Joba) - Pronounced Dewey
  • “E5” Mora (Melvin) – A dual reference to his shoddy defense and multiple offspring.
  • “Games Over” Gagne (Eric) – This nickname would have different meanings at different points in his career. Early on, it would have meant that Dodgers fans could go home because the Dodgers would win. Recently, it means his team is losing by 5 or more runs and about to get worse.

Some may say that my nicknaming concept is just ridiculous. If it is, then you can stop calling me “Sexy Thang” Goldsmith.

Random Academy Award Predictions.

  • Slumdog Millionaire will win several major awards (picture, director, adapted screenplay, cinematography, score, etc).
  • Wall-E will be the second biggest winner (animated film, original screenplay, sound).
  • Benjamin Button, nominated for the most awards, will only win one or two awards. Any win will be a minor category like make-up.
  • Heath Ledger will win Best Supporting Actor but I hope he does not.
  • Mickey Rourke was hands down the Best Actor of the year but Frank Langella deserves props. The Best Actress nominees are pretty weak this year. (Note: I haven’t seen Doubt yet but I hear good things about Ms. Streep).
  • More people should see Frost/Nixon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Idol Chatter

The first third of the thirty-six semi-finalists performed tonight. Here's how it went:
  • Jackie Tohn, singing Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation": I think she's generally annoying. The problem with picking this song is that all anyone really knows is the techno remix. Instead, she didn't take it very seriously, went with a Beck-style take, and she murdered it. Awful performance, total joke. After her interplay with Randy and the other judges, I think she's absolutely annoying. And did we need to spend fifteen minutes with her family? It's not like we're going to see her again after tomorrow night.
  • Ricky Braddy, singing Leon Russell's "A Song For You": Nice Hef jacket, kid. Pretty good, but next time you have one chance to get America on your side, pick a song we've heard of.
  • Alexis Grace, singing Aretha's "Never Loved A Man": Always a good choice for a white chick with pink hair to sing Aretha. She did for this song what Aretha's hat did for fashion at the Inauguration. Now I'm off to go listen to Joaquin Phoenix cover a Jay-Z song.
  • After we saw NPH and Ted Danson buddying it up in the crowd...
  • Brent Keith, singing Jason Aldean's "Hicktown": Since I'm not a big country music expert, I have to assume he was pretty good. I thought we might be free of this since we have our first non-Southern President in sixteen years, but no such luck. I like how I made fun of Paula for bringing up Bucky Covington right before Simon did. But Bucky was great as the bad guy in Twilight. And dude, don't sass Simon.
  • Stevie Wright, singing Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me": She sounded about as good as me singing on Guitar Hero: World Tour. The judges should be embarrassed that they put her in the semi-finals. That's really all I have to say about that. Next.
  • Anoop Desai, Monica's "Angel Of Mine": The first of the big fan favorites, but a weird song choice. Dude can sing and I enjoy his work on House and in the Harold and Kumar movies.
  • Casey Carlson, singing The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic": Stevie Wright's performance was tragic, but this was the first comically bad one. We really needed a crappy High School Musical-esque version of one of the greatest rock songs ever. One of the worst performances I've ever seen outside of the audition round. But hey, I didn't vote for the last chick who winked at me on national TV either.
  • Michael Sarver, singing Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want To Be": Another really bad performance. Too much smiling and bad dancing. Some flashes of good singing, but a mess for the most part. Maybe thirty-six semi-finalists is too many.
  • Ann Marie Boskovich, singing Aretha's "Natural Woman": Aretha again. Can we go ahead and add her to the Whitney/Stevie/Mariah list? I actually really liked Ann Marie after the audition round because of her girl next door feel, but this just wasn't strong enough. I barely woke up in time for the next song.
  • Stephen Fowler, singing Michael Jackson's "Rock With Me": He has a tremendous voice, but a bit too laid-back for a song that should be more up-tempo. Tough to sing MJ unless you're changing it all up like Cook did last year.
  • Tatiana Del Toro, singing Whitney's "Saving All My Love for You": She sang Whitney! Just when you thought she couldn't get crazier, she tackled the one major taboo of American Idol. Even Kara made fun of her. She doesn't even need to really go the whole serial killer route, she can just talk and people will take care of the rest for her.
  • Danny Gokey, singing Mariah's "Hero": He can do no wrong. Even picking Mariah, he can do no wrong. Pretty obvious why the producers put him last.

I'm going to stick with what are probably everyone's picks: Danny, Alexis, and Anoop.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jump Back

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • So I guess the big question on Heroes is who "The Rebel" is. I'm sure it will be someone either really obvious (like Nathan) or someone totally out of the blue (like Angela). Or vice-versa. Still enjoyable, but still not quite at the high level.
    • There was one line towards the end of the episode that made me double-take. Nathan, in talking about the guy that Tracy killed, says, "His blood is still warm." Isn't that a really poorly written line, seeing as how the guy was killed by freezing to death? Wouldn't it be better to say, "His blood just melted," or, "His blood is still cold?"
    • I once had an outpatient procedure at West Arlington Hospital, the night after I stayed at the Roosevelt Continental hotel. It's the thing to do when you live in DC.
    • I can't wait until the 7:00-8:00 episode when Chloe and Garofalo have a snark-off to the death.
    • I didn't think there was any character left on 24 that could make me cheer when they were shown, but... Aaron Pierce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • Pitt-UConn tonight was as great as advertised; a real postseason atmosphere. Both teams are way loaded with size and firepower. I give a bit of the long-term edge to Pitt with the leadership of Levance Fields and the ridiculous versatility of Sam Young. Right now, it's looking like I'd have the Panthers going against Carolina in the final.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Why do people say that there are no such things as dumb questions? Of course there are. I understand wanting to encourage people to ask questions in general, but why do we encourage them to not think before asking them?
  • Random Discussion Question:
    • In light of the full and triumphant return of 24, has any show ever fully unjumped the shark? The three shows that come to mind are 24 (after the horrible last season), Entourage (after the Medellin fiasco), and Lost (after the mini-season with the polar bear cages). Because those shows were saved, did they actually jump the shark in the first place?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's Not TV

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • A deaf guy, the guy who wrote Nacho Libre and School of Rock and his gay father, midget stuntmen, and a verbally-abusive redneck... The Amazing Race must be back! I have one big complaint about tonight's episode -- the deaf son and his mother rolled the cheese down the hill. They didn't carry it! They should have gotten a penalty for that. I like the brother and sister lawyer team or the two stuntmen to win. We'll see, still early.
    • Big Love really creeps me out. The idea of kissing your new wife at your wedding with your other three wives looking on? Creeps me out.
    • Tonight's Flight of the Conchords was (brilliantly) directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). The show is at the top of its game right now.
    • The new HBO show that premiered tonight was Eastbound & Down, created by and starring Danny McBride, who you might remember from Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder. It's really, really funny. He plays a former baseball bad boy (think John Rocker) who is broken down and now a PE teacher. It's basically all about him saying the most offensive things that come to his mind. Hard to argue with that.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • I'm getting a callus on my thumb from Guitar Hero. That's really sort of lame, right?
  • Random Sign That March Is Near:
    • Oklahoma's Blake Griffin is the best player in college basketball and will most likely be the first overall pick in this year's NBA draft. While we wait for the Championship Week, the greatest sports week of the year (only two weeks away!!), check out these two Griffin dunks from last week. The first is a sweet windmill, but the second is pure unadulterated nastiness. The dictionary definition of "posterized".

I Might Be Fourteen Years Old

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Went to see The International today. Stylistically, it's in the same vein as The French Connection. The movie to which I'd most compare it, weirdly enough, is Dreamgirls. No, Clive Owen doesn't sing. Dreamgirls suffered because the big Jennifer Hudson song in the middle was so good that the rest of the movie seemed anti-climactic. Similarly, The International has an all-time shootout in the middle of it. Just fantastic. However, there is still too much movie after that. Plus, while the movie is tense from the very first shot, the fact that it's tense all the way through with no break sort of means it's not tense at all. So, worth watching the Guggenheim shoot-out. The rest? Just okay.
    • Also saw Hancock, the Will Smith superhero movie, on DVD. The first half is really good. Then there's kind of a weird twist and the movie goes off in an unexpected direction. It's still way better than I thought it would be, but they did it a bit of a disservice with how they marketed it.
    • I don't think I've written much about the new 90210 and how much I like it since it started. But this past week's episode was awesome with a super awesome ending! You had Ethan showing up to catch Annie in the act of faking her anguish, super creepy and obsessed Silver, Navid insinuating that Adrianna potentially had poop on her face, and the final quote of "Right back atcha!" Even awesomer than usual.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • There is no better combination of flavors than chocolate, peanut butter, and banana.
  • Random Funniest News Article of the Week:
    • I was reading the Style section of the Post on Friday and saw what looked to be an interesting article on a production of Chicago opening in Karachi, Pakistan. Then I saw the name of the director and laughed about it for hours. Here is the Reuters article so you can get it for yourself in the original context.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Magic Of Editing

If you saw the Clip of the Week on tonight's The Soup, you'll recognize this video. It's not nearly as funny when you watch the whole thing instead of a few choice moments.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Tribe Has Spoken

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • "39 Days, 16 People, 1 Survivor!" Best sentence on TV. Nice twist at the beginning, but how stupid was that old lady, Sandy, with the gloating?
    • The best hype I could have heard for the new season came on the Mike O'Meara Show this afternoon. They had one of the new castaways, Coach, on. The guy is a total a-hole. It's the best thing they could have done; have the guy you'll most love to hate do the publicity. You might have seen him on the show and recognized him as the guy most likely to be a member of the Cobra-Kai.
    • In terms of picking a winner off the bat, I'm going to be partial to Stephen, the brainy New York Jew. Otherwise, I don't know. Maybe Tyson, except he's a little too forward, which means he'll have a big target soon enough.
    • The Grey's/Private Practice crossover was okay -- better than I thought it would be -- but there were too many characters for it to be really good. Plus, the brain surgery special effects were a bit lacking and the whole intern games thing was horrible. As is just about anything having to do with the interns and/or Izzy. How about Bernard from Lost showing up as a patient? Weird to have a reasonably prominent supporting character from one ABC show appear on another.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • I was going to post the Joaquin Phoenix video, but you've either seen/heard it by now or you can find it very easily. I'm 99% sure it's all a goof, but who cares? It's a perfect example of how much of a freaking genius Letterman is. His zingers were legendary.
  • Your List Sucks!: In honor of the return of Survivor, Top 5 Current Reality Shows,
    • 5. The Biggest Loser -- Yeah, it's seven-diamond, but you can tell it genuinely means a lot more to its contestants than on any other reality show.
    • 4. Celebrity Rehab -- Very compelling, but it's all about how awesome Dr. Drew is. He just takes it so seriously that you can't help but do the same.
    • 3. American Idol -- It can be pretty lame and it's probably a little rigged (certainly in the audition stage), but it's still fun and it still has Simon and some of the contestants are actually good.
    • 2. The Amazing Race -- It's missing the personality battles that make Survivor so tense and interesting, but the locales are mesmerizing and the last few episodes are always edge-of-your-seat fare. Have to get this show into HD. Have to.
    • 1. Survivor -- My favorite show of any type on TV and the greatest reality show of all time. Before Survivor, you only had The Real World, which was okay, but boring. Survivor introduced the concept of voting people off. Sure, that led to Flavor of Love, but it also has meant some great television over the last nine or so years.

This Place Is Death

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • As always, my Lost thoughts below.
    • Tonight's episode of Idol had to be one of the worst ever. There were no surprises. None. Everybody you had ever heard of and was halfway decent got in. Anybody you saw for the first time didn't make it in. So the first twelve go next week with favorites Danny and Anoop, among others. I always love the part where they all dance, because so many are so bad at it.
    • Oh, and Tatiana goes next week, too. Did you catch the moment tonight when she went from train wreck to pure horror show? That would be when she left the judges' room and was screaming, then (and you could see it clearly in the slo-mo at the end of the episode) stopped and looked to make sure the camera was still rolling, then screamed even louder. It's going to be so fun when she gets voted out because she might break all records for singing and crying at the same time.
    • Speaking of Tatiana, here is Vote For The Worst's ranking of the top 36 by worst potential. Total shock that Tatiana is #1 and that Danny is #36.
    • Carolina is just way too athletic for Duke. As are UConn and Oklahoma, to name two others. UConn and Oklahoma don't have Ty Lawson though.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Today was Jennifer Aniston's 40th birthday. Whoop-dee-freaking-doo. Sarah Palin's also. The name sounds familiar -- was she part of some comedy troupe or something? Anyway, Yahoo ran a big thing about the personality-less Aniston in which they referred to Leprechaun as a huge bomb. Leprechaun may be the bomb, but it wasn't a bomb, no matter how little money it made.
  • Lost Comments/Questions For The Week:
    • There were a couple of questions raised/expanded upon in this episode, but it was all about the answers tonight.
    • The monster is not just a security system, but the security system for a temple. Temple to what or whom? Jacob? I do think Jacob is some kind of demon. The ring of sand around his cabin says as much. The best example of this I can think of comes from Stephen King's Dark Tower series (and Lost has all kinds of King references) where the Gunslinger has to go inside a special ring of stones to speak to a demon.
    • There was a throw-away line in season one where Rousseau talked about one of her companions losing an arm. Now we know how.
    • The French guys were taken by the monster, but they escaped somehow and something happened to them. How and what?
    • What's with the wheel shaking around like that? Is it holding time and space together?
    • Why was it freezing when Ben went there, but not when John was there? Does that have something to do with the Orchid?
    • I'm fairly certain that when we saw Faraday in Dharma garb in the season premiere, it's because they went back in time somehow. It explains why he'd try to change the future by telling young Charlotte not to come back to the island.
    • Now we know that Ms. Hawking is Faraday's mother. Pretty obvious all along.
    • When Christian said that Locke needed to bring back everyone who left the island, does that include Desmond and Frank?
    • Why could Ms. Hawking start looking for the island without everyone there? I'm assuming they all go back, but she was a bit more forgiving of Ben than I expected her to be.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Freaks Next Door

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I'll reserve serious Idol commentary for tomorrow night, when the top 36 is revealed. However, you can see a couple of favorites jumping out of the pack. My three top seeds as of right now (and as of right now last year, nobody knew how David Cook was) are Dueling-Piano-Guy (Mike? Matt?), Danny, and Jasmine. I thought the blind guy was really weak in his last audition. Most of all, I can't believe that they let Tatiana and Nick through. Both sounded good tonight. Both also probably have Vote For The Worst drooling. And the preview -- the "Judge's Mansion"?!?
    • How great is tomorrow night going to be? Idol's top 36, what looks to be a huge Lost episode, and Carolina-Duke round one.
    • Tonight on The Biggest Loser, they walked to two different Subway restaurants. They also learned about the Fresh Fit meal and that the nutritional information is right on the front of the glass. They can choose a bunch of different sandwiches for fewer than 550 calories. That was a seven-diamond caliber whore job. Eliot Spitzer called to say, "What's up?"
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Why doesn't the NFL get more scrutiny when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs? The size and dexterity of offensive linemen increased a heck of a lot as soon as they started getting the big paychecks. I thought of a couple of very questionable names as well, but I'm not going to slander anyone. Just hoping that Congress plays it fair all the way around.
  • Random Video Of The Day:
    • Watched this with some friends today. You'd be amazed (or maybe not, this is Web 2.0, after all) at how many people have videos of themselves dancing to this song. This one is so horribly disturbing...

Monday, February 9, 2009

To Be Bobby Then, You Have To Be Bobby Now

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Isn't evil, snarky Sylar way better than good, earnest Sylar? And kind of cool when that kid shot the heat at the agent; the guy's hands were so melted that the dad from That '70s Show hit him with a car. Not a really obscure reference, but kudos if you figure it out.
    • I was going to write about what an a-hole Jack Bauer was tonight, but then this happened: "He doubled back on the 337. I'll take Connecticut to save time." That doesn't make any sense. There is no 337. Nobody has ever taken Connecticut to save time in the history of DC. And then the guy was on the Beltway and Jack was taking a left on Pennsylvania near the Old Post Office and they called out a bunch of street names that don't exist and Jack somehow ran into the guy miles from the Beltway and the First Gentleman was being held near what looked like Dupont but on a road that doesn't exist. It made my head hurt.
    • I had made a point to avoid every Bush speech or press conference since the start of the Iraq War. Yes, that long ago, but when he told me that Saddam was implicated in 9/11, I called shenanigans, so he and I had to part ways. So tonight I watched my first Presidential press conference in six years or so. When the president first came out, I got more than a little giddy. After the excitement of the Inauguration, I stepped away from politics for a bit, so it was a nice non-surprise surprise to see him. Maybe I could have done a running commentary -- he used the term "shaky assets", which I'm pretty sure is the title of a Lil' Wayne song, and someone asked him about Alex Rodriguez, which was a little surprising considering he had used the word "depression" more in the previous forty minutes than Sylvia Plath had in her entire life. What, no Chris Brown question?
    • Still, you have to knock Obama for the fact that his press conference wasn't nearly as funny as any of the highlights I had seen of Bush's. Very boring. Delightfully boring, I suppose.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Can we stop with the fake indignation over Alex Rodriguez? Nobody can actually be surprised. And who cares what it means to kids? Parents shouldn't let them heap unqualified worship on someone they don't even know. And not let him in the Hall of Fame? Obviously many players used performance-enhancing drugs during this era and A-Rod (and Bonds) still performed at a level way above the rest of them. Bret Boone was nowhere close to them. F.P. Santangelo could barely hang on in the bigs. Their steroid use didn't guarantee huge numbers. Yes, they juiced, but yes, they are also extraordinarily gifted athletes. Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson (through 1968) pitched on a fifteen-inch mound, compared to the ten-inch mound today. That gave them a huge advantage statistically over pitchers today. If we're to believe Jim Bouton that so many players were popping greenies back in the '70s, then we can't know for sure that Hank Aaron or Johnny Bench didn't use. Shoot, in 1920 only one team, the Phillies, hit more total homers than Babe Ruth hit by himself. We're going to just accept that at face value. So, please, spare me the complaints. We may have been lying to ourselves in 1998, but we've known for a long time what this baseball era has been about. Enjoy the game, put these guys in the Hall with other cheaters like Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry, stick a note on their plaque about the steroid era, and quit it.
  • Random Video You Didn't See:
    • Does anyone watch the Grammy Awards anymore? After Herbie Hancock beat Kanye's near-perfect Graduation for Best Album last year, I'm sure not. And definitely not next year after Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won the same award this year. The best album of the year was clearly Viva la Vida and the performance I heard everyone talking about today was Coldplay's medley of "Lost" and "Viva la Vida" that featured a special guest. Even if you don't like Coldplay, watch at least the first two minutes. Just absolutely sick.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Disney As Midrash

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Big Love has, up until this season, been a good show. The characters are well fleshed out and the story is intricate, but not impossible to follow. Two things happened between the last season and this new one. First, I read a book called Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, which deals with Fundamentalist LDS (FLDS) cults, specifically dealing with the history of polygamy in the LDS church. As I began watching this new season, I realized that I disapproved of the practice so strongly that I had a certain dislike for all of the characters on the show. Second, the writers just kicked the whole thing into another gear. The show is extraordinarily intense. Even better (for me, especially), the writers starting taking a close look at the link between polygamy and the forcing of teenage girls to marry. It means the show is addressing the very problems I had and it makes the show almost as complex as Lost in some ways (though no Mormon time travel, yet). So, it's now a great show, worthy of the tradition of the great HBO shows and right up there with House and Lost as one of the best shows on TV.
    • Clearly the best line from tonight's Flight of the Conchords went something like this: "You called him a dick, which makes you a dick. So, Jemaine, how do you like the taste of your own dick medicine?"
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • I actually watched a regular season NBA game today. Lucky for me, Kobe had the flu and LeBron didn't play very well. Because I totally tuned in to Lakers-Cavs to see Lamar Odom and Wally Szczerbiak go off.
  • Random Mini-Essay: Wall-E: The First Tu B'shvat Movie

Quick, think of a movie that has to do with a Jewish holiday. Odds are that just about anyone would pick Heston's The Ten Commandments. It's the biggest movie for the biggest Jewish holiday. There are plenty of other holidays though, one of which runs from tonight until tomorrow at sunset. Tu B'shvat, known as the New Year's for trees, is on the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shvat and celebrates the first flowering of trees in Israel. There have to be plenty of other movies that we can relate to these other holidays and I'm here to say that Pixar's masterpiece, Wall-E, is a Tu B'Shvat movie through and through.

Let's put aside the love story aspect of the movie and just look at how it deals with the theme of vegetation and renewal. Earth is desolate and people have escaped to space, but probes are periodically sent back to look for plants, to prove that the planet is habitable again. One of these probes, Eve, finds a plant and brings it back to the spaceship Axiom. After some fighting over whether or not humans can or should return, people go back to Earth. This leads to the remarkable ending credits where the story of the rebirth of the planet is told. The human race, after becoming lazy and baby-like, is also renewed.

Humans reclaim their viability by reclaiming their planet. Their reliance on technology and their disrespect of the environment doomed them to a life of sterile exile. To fix that, the first thing the people do is to plant and farm. A tree grows out of the original plant and this is shown to provide shade, comfort, and fruit. There's a very thinly veiled Eden reference there -- I mean, the one robot is named Eve -- but the people, through their hard work, are the ones doing the creation this time. It's sort of a reversal of the curse of hard work that God puts on Adam after the expulsion from Eden.

Remarkable in the ending credits is that the robots play a role in helping the humans to plant and farm. Wall-E and Eve are shown helping bring up water, tilling soil, and basking in the shade of the tree. Rather than eschewing technology to help the environment -- a major, if unfair, criticism of the environmental movement -- the humans are using everything at their disposal to help the planet and their situation. Everybody, human and non-human, is focused on the task of renewing the planet.

Obviously no trees are beginning to bloom today in America, so we have to celebrate the miracle of trees in Israel while making Tu B'Shvat more personal to us by dealing with the theme of renewal as a whole. What flowers anew for us? What figurative roots can we lay down today that will take hold and grow to provide us a more fruitful future? Many of us watch The Ten Commandments, as cheesy as it is, every Passover to help us think about the story and what our exodus means to us. As Jews take this holiday to think about the environment and this theme of renewal, maybe it's not such a bad idea to check out Wall-E and use it the same way.

Simon Says, "Die!"

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • The answer is probably yes, but is there a movie with dumber character names than Demolition Man? Simon Phoenix is out to kill Edgar Friendly and John Spartan needs to stop him. Oh, and Sandra Bullock plays Lenina Huxley.
    • And yes, that means I was watching Demolition Man, so who's the idiot now?
    • I think I'm going to get into podcasts. Listened to the Lindeloff/Cuse one yesterday, which is great. Sounds like a lot of stuff coming up in Wednesday's episode.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • I finally have a day to just chill tomorrow. Bought Wall-E today, so I'll have a chance to watch it. Most likely that will lead to a post about the movie and its relation to the Jewish holiday that starts Sunday night.
    • I know I should say something about A-Rod, but I really just have nothing to say. What can anyone say at this point?
  • Random Monkey Music Video:
    • There are an awful lot of songs with the word "monkey" in the title.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Night Off

Taking the night off, so I'll just point out that my wife got a new iPod Touch today. She let me play with it and within two minutes, I had already downloaded an application to it that shows just one video. It's basically my goal in life. Give me an iPod, a baby, a toaster. Within two minutes I will attempt to make it do this:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

That's Not Even A State!

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Earl just keeps firing on all cylinders. I need to find the appropriate situation in which to tell someone they're from Doucheachusetts or that they're the mayor of Assylvania.
    • Clemson won by 27 over Duke last night? Kind of takes a little of the wind out of the sails of next Wednesday's Carolina-Duke matchup.
    • With Denny gone (finally), Grey's went back to being really good. It's got a good chance of joining Lost, Entourage, and, of course, 24 as shows that have come back from the precipice. Though I can't quite figure out why they would do that weird dump of Erica Hahn just to bring in a new doctor to be a potential love interest for Callie.
    • Pretty much says all you need to know about the state of the shows in question when the much-hyped Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice cross-over was actually a regular Grey's episode and then a Private Practice episode with Patrick Dempsey on it.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • I saw some people tonight that I hadn't seen in fifteen years. So long ago that I met some of my best friends in the time since I'd last seen these people. So weird.
    • I can live with the temperature being in running back numbers, but quarterback numbers are not cool.
  • Random Music Video of the Day:
    • You might say, "Dude, this song sucks!" And I would respond with, "Dude, you are in denial. Luke, trust your feelings." I give you... Matthew and Gunnar Nelson!

Rise And Shine

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • As always, my Lost thoughts below. A rare morning post because the DVR wasn't set last night, so I had to wait until this morning to watch Lost.
    • The group night is always the best American Idol episode of the season because of the interpersonal drama and the potential for awful performances. I could talk about Danny and Jamar or Katrina, but the big surprising thing was the Osmond kid getting booted. And they didn't show a second of his performance? Was he so bad that they were protecting him?
    • The United States of Tara is a pretty funny, if weird, show. They had Nate Corddry doing a play on 9/11 similar to the one done on Curb a few years ago.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • SCHIP. Awesome.
  • Lost Comments/Questions For The Week:
    • The episode confirmed a lot of things we guessed at, but it ended with a HUGE bombshell.
    • So Norton was Ben's lawyer, hired to scare Kate into wanting to go back. Based on that, I'm going to assume that Ben also sent the people after Sayid to do the same.
    • It looks like Miles may be the baby from the opening of the season after all, since Daniel's pretty sure that Miles has been on the island before.
    • Sayid was out for forty-two hours. Ms. Hawking told Ben that they had seventy hours to get back to the island. So they only have twenty-eight left.
    • I think it may be a fair guess that there's a Quantum Leap aspect to the time travel, where they are going back to times that are important for some reason. Daniel tells the Others what to do with the bomb. Locke sees the drug plane crash. If we believe that, then there must be something important about Aaron since they were taken to his birth.
    • The canoes had bottles of water from Ajira Airlways. This website popped up over the summer. Looks like Ajira may factor into the Oceanic Six getting back to the island. If so, was that them in the canoe chasing Sawyer and company? But, if so, aren't we assuming that the Oceanic Six are the great Constant and therefore the time jumping should stop?
    • And Jin is alive, which isn't all that surprising.
    • Which leaves the ending. A boat crashes and the French survivors take a raft to the island. I'm sure everyone pretty much knew immediately what that meant and they didn't drag it out as the young pregnant woman revealed herself to be Rousseau. But... They were dressed in such modern clothing and their raft was pretty modern. We know that Rousseau had been on the island for around sixteen years before 815 crashed. But those clothes, with the hoodies, were not 1988 clothes. So did Rousseau jump through time? She said that all of her companions died of "the sickness". Is "the sickness" the nosebleed, headache, etc. from time travel? If so, why didn't Rousseau get it? And if she did jump back in time, why did she stop jumping? I feel like the Swan station with the computer and the numbers has something to do with that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

You Don't Know What You've Been A-Missin'

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I was looking forwards to Hollywood Week on American Idol, but I think I forgot just how great it is. Tonight was only the first of four Hollywood episodes, and surely the weakest because they had to fly through those a capella songs. Even so, the drama is intense. You get the talent and drive of the finalists with the documentary-style coverage that you can't get when the show goes live.
    • Best moment of the show was when the one kid with the weird lip piercing went into his huge crying gag about how much the show means to him. Simon pouted, which was hilarious, but even funnier was that when the kid was finished, the other people on stage gave him polite applause.
    • Watched Iron Man again tonight. It's totally better than The Dark Knight. More fun and it doesn't have anything as derivative as that boring sonar crap. I'd use this as an excuse to link to an uncensored version of Christian Bale's rave-out, but you can find it easily enough.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Idol gets a lot of knocks, but it wouldn't keep being so darn popular if it also wasn't so darn good. I can't help but comment on something my friend, Shtetl Fabulous, posted on her blog tonight. In talking about the 50th anniversary of the Day The Music Died, she said something about the "evil forces of American Idol winners...." Obviously, there's hyperbole there, but I feel like I have to defend a bit. Carrie Underwood can sing. Kelly Clarkson has some great songs. Jennifer Hudson (who didn't even win) seriously melted some faces with her anthem on Sunday. They're not selling so many records only because Fox tells people to buy them. If that were the case, we'd all be watching the umpteenth season of Woops! right now. We all like to think that what's new isn't as good as what's old and that what's popular isn't as good as what's underground. Maybe we're just not hearing the next great sound because we're completely out of touch. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit", but I'm sure it was just garbage to older people. New comes from the evolving tastes of youth. Popular comes from people actually wanting to buy it. No shame in any of that.
  • Random Video Of The Day:
    • Richie Valens may be the most popular because of the movie, but I have no doubt that Buddy Holly was the most talented of the three rock stars whose plane crashed fifty years ago today. Here's some very rare footage of a live performance.

Monday, February 2, 2009

And Then We All Switch Places When I Ring The Bell

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • If you watch House, how do you feel about the turn they took with the whole drug trial thing? Yeah, they wrapped it up well enough, but it was strange to have one of their doctors be part of the medical story.
    • Here's all you need to know about the direction in which Heroes has headed this season and the direction in which 24 has headed: with both on against each other for the first time in a couple of years, I chose to watch 24 last. There's no way that Heroes would live up to 24's intensity and, sure enough, it didn't.
    • Not to say that Heroes was awful -- it wasn't. It's kind of weird that so much time had passed, considering how the last part ended, but they did a fine job of catching up with everyone and setting up the story. The ending was pretty cool. I do think it's weird that in each season they all just sort of switch sides and team up with different people.
    • Meanwhile 24 is just legitimately awesome again. Great edge-of-your-seat action sequences, the end to one threat with the knowledge that larger ones will come, and you get the comedy of Dubaku's girlfriend stopping by at the end. Good stuff.
    • Something, other than the refereeing, went horribly horribly wrong for people in Tucson last night. Someone interspersed footage of the game with a clip from an adult video. Here is the NSFW story with the really NSFW video.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • At lunch today, a woman was talking as loud as she could into her cell phone in the middle of the restaurant. Did she want everyone to notice how important she was? Was she hard of hearing? Did she just not care? If someone were to have a conversation at full volume with a person sitting across from them, we would all stare, right? I already hate the bluetooth earpieces outside of the car, but now I'm starting to generally sour on cell phones in public, period. It's not cool to talk on your cell phone in a restaurant. It's pretty rude.
    • Every year I say that I don't care what the stupid groundhog saw, yet every year I look at the article anyway, out of curiosity. Not this year. I have no idea if he saw his shadow or not. You know what? It'll either be cold tomorrow or it won't.
  • Random Non-Penalties:
    • You might recognize this as the inspiration for Santonio Holmes' excessive celebration that wasn't called and didn't make the Steelers kick off from the 15.

The Better-Than-Expected But Still Not Super Bowl

Some quick final thoughts on the Steelers' win tonight:
  • The most obvious question is why didn't the refs review that last Warner fumble and why didn't Michaels and Madden talk about it? I think, in the coming days, that this (along with the defense's shoddy play) will diminish the Steelers' victory. Of course, they won and probably still would have if the play had been overturned.
  • Can we finally shut up about the Steelers' D being in the same galaxy as the Ravens' D in 2000? They gave up a million yards in the Super Bowl. Also, how come nobody talked about what a horrendous game Troy Polamalu turned in? He missed that one tackle badly, but he blew the coverage on that long Fitzgerald touchdown. They never mentioned it or broke it down. Polamalu jumped towards Boldin, who was already double-covered, leaving nobody behind to stop Fitzgerald when he grabbed the ball. Just another example of how bad broadcasting is as a whole when it comes to football.
  • Last, and most important, Costas said that this was one of the greatest Super Bowls ever. Yahoo called it one of the greatest games ever. That's just stupid. The last eight minutes were fantastic, but until that point each team had around forty yards in the second half. The third quarter was unwatchable, as was most of the first half. I can think of five Super Bowls off the top of my head that were better: Giants-Bills (wide right), Rams-Titans (one yard short), Broncos-Packers (Elway's first win), Rams-Patriots (the big upset), and Giants-Patriots (the bigger upset). I didn't even love last year's game so much, but it was better because of the historic implications. I didn't mention 49ers-Bengals, nor any game that happened before I began watching football, like Super Bowl III. So, just calm yourselves down there.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Liven Up Your Super Bowl With Group Activities

It's time. As I write this around midnight on Sunday, February 1st, we're so close. Only eighteen hours until the most anticipated football game since...

I can't even make a joke. Does anyone care about this game outside of Pittsburgh and Phoenix? After the Cardinals were almost blacked out for their first playoff game, one almost has to wonder if that many people in Phoenix even care. The excitement of the inauguration makes it feel like the conference championship games were played a year ago. We're on a collision course with mediocrity. Two very average teams are playing, one with a fan base that a lot of people think are jackasses, one that comes from a pathetic division and excites nobody (outside of Fitzgerald, obviously), they clash in a game that probably won't be memorable and that will have an outcome that everyone will hope to forget by next year. It's the football equivalent of the 2004 Presidential election.

But, fear not! I'm not going to break down the game because I really just don't f***ing care (other than how in heck is Pittsburgh going to cover Fitzgerald?). Instead, here are some things to look for and discuss with your fellow bored party-goers as all of you wonder, but are afraid to ask, why you can't just switch over to playing Mario Kart already:
  • Why are sportscasters racist? They love to refer to Troy Polamalu as a "throwback" player, but you'll never hear that about Adrian Wilson. It's because "throwback" refers to a non-black player who hits hard and doesn't have a shoe deal. Discuss with pertinent examples, such as Kevin Curtis, Jason Sehorn, and Jake Delhomme.
  • Does "Fast" Willie Parker sound more like the name of a football player or a role that Eddie Murphy would play? As a group, come up with a plot where a street-wise cop/bum/criminal named "Fast" Willie Parker finds a way to screw with the white establishment while cracking jokes. Don't forget to include a banana-in-the-tailpipe gag!
  • Is there anything more stupid than 50-calorie packs of dog treats? It's true; I saw them in 7-11! It has nothing to do with football, but it's a hell of a lot more intriguing than another Neil Rackers field goal.
  • See who can name the most Cardinals. Take away Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin for an extra special challenge! Remember, Albert Pujols doesn't count!
  • Spot the bandwagon Cardinals fans in the crowd. This one might be a little too easy. They're any fan in the crowd that is rooting for the Cardinals.
  • Which city is worse, Pittsburgh or Cleveland? You can't think of the Steelers without thinking of their long-time rival. Talk about the two towns while you laugh and not-so-secretly thank your lucky stars that you live in neither.
  • What would have to happen for Kurt Warner to question his faith? There's not a doubt that Warner is the most genuinely God-loving man in the NFL. So what would shake his belief system? Personally, I might question the existence of a higher power if the Arizona Cardinals were to ever actually win a Super Bowl. See if that creates a paradox for Warner.
  • Who is the goofiest Pittsburgh QB ever? They had Neil O'Donnell. They had Bubby Brister. They have Ben "Evel Knievel" Roethlisberger. But can anything top the fact that Terry Bradshaw appeared in a Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy, Failure To Launch?
  • Why do you have to watch this crap-ass football game? Be as existential as possible. Encourage your friends to be open and honest about why they think they've brought this horrible punishment upon themselves.