What to make of an opera that imitates a musical that imitates an opera? That is basically what has happened in the latest production of La Bohème at the Kennedy Center. Puccini's original opera, which took place in Paris ca. 1840, was later remade into the Broadway musical Rent (incidentally parodied in Team America as Lease). But the current offering by the Washington National Opera combines both with some jarring results: On the one hand you have a classic Puccini opera, the "Quando me'n vo'" aria done well by Alyson Cambridge (Musetta), and solid performances by Slovenian soprano Sabina Cvilak (Mimi) and Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz (Rodolfo). On the other hand, you've got Rodolfo recording Mimi with a Camcorder, shown on a screen on stage, while she is singing. Other cast members are using cell phones and cell phone cameras. It's just a little distracting.
On the other hand, the use of surtitles made for some amusing moments--particularly when Mimi lay dying and saying, "I could really use a muff." Then Musetta comes to her aside and lets Mimi touch her muff. "It's so soft!" Mimi sings. Indeed. (Why am I the only one laughing?)
It's all really funny because I don't remember what the occasion was, but like nine years ago half of America kept insisting that perjury wasn't a real crime and no one ever actually got prosecuted for it. So weird.
My friend Andrew Breitbart is doing a Breakfast Table-like dialogue in the LAT with a writer named David Ehrenstein. In today's entry, Breitbart attributes to Ehrenstein, in passing, a love of America. Here's Ehrenstein's response:
I'm not so sure about the "love my country" bit as I'm markedly disenchanted with the entire concept of all nation-states. Move an inch beyond language and culture and their meaning and purpose almost invariably mirrors that of the Crips and the Bloods.
I can't tell if he's putting us on here, because putting aside "language and culture" is like putting aside oxygen and water. Sure, without those two things, the moon is just like Earth!
Mr. Ehrenstein is gay. I wonder if he would find culture to be such a minor thing if he lived in Iran. Here is one summary of Iranian law on homosexuality (remember, laws are derived from culture):
Iranian law dictates that penetrative male homosexual activity be punished with death, while non-penetrative activity is punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when death becomes the punishment. Female homosexuality is punished with lashes, also until the fourth offense, when death becomes the punishment.
But sure, other than little stuff like that, all nations are just big groups of gang-bangers.
A few years ago I made some trouble with a piece about women's sports that pointed out that women really can't compete with men on the playing field. I was egged on by ads from Gatorade and Nike and the WNBA which all carried the same general theme: Women are just as strong and fast and athletic as men are. Which is crazy. The most telling of the examples I found was Marion Jones, whose 2000 Olympic gold medal performance in the 200m would have earned her a fourth-place finish in the high school boys state finals that year in New Jersey.
It seems that the political line has changed on women's sports, as now exemplified by a new Nike ad:
"Are boys bigger, stronger, and faster? Yes. Is that all that has to do with being an athlete? No."
"It's not a girl thing. It's not a boy thing. It's a skills ["skillz"? -ed] thing."
Well, okay. Except that the logic of this points either to (a) uni-sex professional sports leagues, or (b) no longer bothering to keep score. (We'll leave aside that on the question of skills, too, men tend to be better than women. If you have any doubts, watch the passing and dribbling during a WNBA game some time.)
In another set of Nike ads for the U.S. women's World Cup team, the slogan tells us that they're "The best team you never heard of."
What I don't understand is why there's this vaguely accusatory stance from women's sports. Why do we have to pretend that female athletes are something that they're not? Shouldn't it be enough to appreciate them on their own terms?
Allow me to give props to my colleague Jonathan V. Last for doing some outstanding reporting in the current Weekly Standard on the subject of Second Life. Yes, all these months he's been playing as a "resident" just for this piece and I am sure he will no longer be active in that world now that the story has been published. Also, I haven't played Civ in a week.
In any event, I think JVL held back in describing the Second Life convention he attended in Chicago. Let's just say the actual Second Lifers are, well, larger than life. Enjoy.
No disrespect to Anthony Lane, but Variety's Todd McCarthy is the best movie critic in America. Here's an example of why, from his review of Elizabeth: The Golden Age:
Tales underbrush is littered by annoyingly anonymous Catholic traitors, backed by Mary and Philip, plotting to murder Elizabeth, who is increasingly taken with [Walter] Raleigh. The two ride together in the country and achieve what, for the queen, must sadly pass as intimacy, a state more completely achieved between Raliegh and Elizabeth's favorite young companion . . .
From Hercules the Strong, who is probably the best TV writer in America right now, about the ABC dramadey Brothers & Sisters:
“Brothers [& Sisters]” doesn’t otherwise much distinguish itself in the vast vast 21st century sea of scripted hourlongs.
Except in one respect. When it comes to the gay smooching, “Brothers and Sisters” makes “Will & Grace” look like “The Unit.” The show represents a breakthrough in network male-on-male spit-swapping, boasting copious Disney-sanctioned homosexual lip-lock. The show started with the openly gay Kevin, then introduced the Rob Lowe character’s gay brother. Still later in season one it is revealed that another core member of the Walker clan is secretly gay.
All this homosexuality is not entirely unexpected! “Brothers” was created by gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz. Greg Belanti, one of the homosexuals behind “Dawson’s Creek,” “Everwood” and “Jack & Bobby” (and the upcoming “Dirty Sexy Money,” one of at least two new ABC hourlongs to feature a major transsexual plotline this season), served as head writer and showrunner during most of “Brothers’” first season.
Another writer on “Brothers” is homosexual actor/playwright David Marshall Grant. Grant, some will recall, helped generate a shitstorm of viewer protest and sponsor pullout for (a pre-Disney) ABC more than 15 years ago when his gay character cavorted nakedly with another male in “thirtysomething.” “Brothers,” a 21st century ABC hourlong with a lot more homosexual content, has to my knowledge inspired no sponsor pullouts. Owing perhaps to the popularity of “Six Feet Under” and “The L-Word” and even “Buffy,” the religious right seems to have finally conceded this battle.
A very astute observation. The very fact that I haven't seen anyone else making a similar one seems to be a sign of how completely the debate has been shifted.
I'm basically with the Huffington Post's Nick Antosca about the behavior of the police as they grabbed U. Florida student Andrew Meyer, wrestled him to the ground, and then tasered him. And then accuse him of the ludicrous charge of trying to "incite a riot."
Meyer appears to be not totally balanced, but unless the videotapes are missing some important context--he has a history the officers are aware of, there's some other action we can't see--then this looks like terrible police work. Maybe even criminal--surely smart lawyers will be able to more accurately judge whether or not the officers crossed legal, and not just prudential or ethical, lines.
I know the conservative impulse is to laugh, since Meyer appears to be an unbalanced lefty conspiracy guy, but this is the sort of police action that should make you wary.
So, they are not what we thought they were. Before the season began, the three Eagles Superfans closest to my heart all predicted between 9 and 11 wins for the Birds. I scoffed, saying they looked like a 7 or 8 win team.
After last night's home loss to the Redskins, it's time to push the panic button. (You should hear DC sportstalk radio this morning: they think they have a "special" team. Yeah, but only because getting to .500 has been special in DC sports for the last decade.)
I'll be mildly surprised if either the Skins or Green Bay makes the playoffs. I'd be shocked if both did. These two teams have the look of NFL mediocrity.
The Eagles aren't even that good. McNabb looked terribly: slow and spraying the ball high on a number of passes. Tough to tell how much of that is rust, how much is the injury (remember, he's not supposed to be near 100% until the end of the season), and how much is time catching up with him. The more worrisome aspects: the receiving corps is, as usual, an embarrassment; the coaching decisions (hey let's call time out as the Skins are about to kick a field goal, prompting them to instead throw a touchdown pass!) were questionable. Worst of all, the defense looked completely vulnerable. Brian Dawkins, the heart and soul of this team, looked noticeably slower than he was last year. All in all, it was hard to find anything positive in last night's game.
But it's almost impossible to find anything positive in the remaining schedule. Go ahead and take a look. Find the wins. Detroit? They're 2-0 and look better than the Eagles do now. They might split with the Giants, if the G-Men really start to fall apart. No chance against the Bears. They'll probably go winless in November. If everything breaks right for them, they might win 6 games (@Jets, @Vikings, Dolphins, Seahawks, Giants, Bills). Really, how much confidence do you have that they can win all of those games?
Here's the scary scenario: It's entirely possible they go to the bye week 0-4 and go into Week 14 2-10, finishing the year with 4 wins. In fact, I'd suspect that's a more likely scenario than the one that gets them to 6 wins.
Either way, this is the beginning of the end for Andy Reid in Philadelphia.
Update: From Galley Brother B.J.:
Donovan McNabb 2008 - 2009 MVP with the Chicago Bears.
Yeah, if I was the Sex Cannon, I'd be worried about my job.
Update 2: From Galley Friend B.W.:
JVL: Don't say it, Matus.
VM: You want this, don't you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.
JVL: I'm leaving.
VM: Two words: La. Ron.
JVL: Don't make me look up ethnic slurs for Filipinos.
VM: Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you. Soon you will be a true Philadelphian.
Update 3: From Galley Friend and Redskins Superfan P.G.:
Seriously, when did ESPN officially become the Eagles SPorts Network? Did you like the pre-game feature on 85-year old “Weapon X”, Brian Dawkins? He’s so good that he gets knocked out after a collision with Todd Yoder. If Dawkins is Wolverine, does that make Yoder Sabretooth? I was actually surprised that Kolber and Tafoya didn’t blow McNabb and Reid at halftime at the 50 yard line. Did you start to feel a little shaky when the ESPN guys all picked the Eagles, with the exception of the one guy who actually knows something about football, Tom Jackson?
Update 4: P.G. again:
I've been dead-on with my Eagles predictions (but wildly inaccurate with my Skins predictions) for the past 2 seasons. I seriously think they won't win 7 games this year. I've never quite understood how everyone thinks Reid is a genius. The good news is that Parcells or Cowher will be available. The bad news is that your front office might be too cheap to pay them. Seriously, you guys should back the Brinks truck up at Cowher's door, he's a perfect fit for you guys. Blue collar guy for a blue collar town and team. No more passing 50 times, run the ball and let McNabb manage games.
Reid is a genius--at cap management. As you arrive at the Linc, the first thing you notice are the five glorious cap trophies lining the main entrance by the concourse. A lot of people say that they're just as good as Lombardi trophies.
But seriously, I think Reid has also been a great temperamental presence for the Eagles. His game management and playcalling have always been suspect, but he seems to do a great job preparing the team during the week and has so few back-to-back losses during his tenure that he's clearing doing something right in terms of putting his players in position to succeed.
All of that said, I also think that a bottom-out season, the end of which sees McNabb looking elsewhere, combined with Reid's off the field family troubles, will make it an attractive time for him to leave Philadelphia.
And then, if they don't hire Cowher, we can jump off the roof.
Update 5: From Galley Friend and Eagles Superfan T.R.:
1) The season is NOT over. But it is on the brink. As are AR and Donovan’s tenures in Philadelphia; 2) WHY WON’T THEY RUN THE $#@! FOOTBALL? It was the only thing that worked – and it was working WELL. Westbrook averaged over 5.5 per carry. Did the last six games of last season never happen? 3) And why do they run it only to the (usually clogged) left side? What about Shawn Andrews? Almost criminal negligence. 4) They attempted 48 passes and ran the ball 18 times. What else can I say except, Andy, when you say "I have to do better job putting the offense in the right position to make plays" you are exactly right. It's a disgrace. 5) The offense looked unready, uninspired, and unimaginative (not overwhelmed or undertalented) – that, in a word, is coaching. 6) A lot is being made about McNabb sucking. Justifiable, but keep a couple things in mind: He ALWAYS drills a few balls into the turf, and always will; The hallmark of over-the-hill QB’s is that they lose velocity – McNabb was a cannon; His accuracy and touch were awful… how much does that have to do with a knee injury… and how much might it have to do with coaching, hand-holding, and getting reps? 7) Let’s face it – Coaching in today’s NFL is a 24/7 job. Is that fair? I don’t know – but that’s the fact. And that is NOT what we have been getting; 8) Oh yeah, he’s also the GM.
Update 6: Remember this?
I posit that this was the high-water mark for the Reid-McNabb era.
Dean Barnett asks that question. The answer has to be, Depends on how you define "dominance."
Different sports have different capacities for dominance. Basketball, for instance, has a very high capacity for it. Players like Bill Russell and Michael Jordan were able to total strangle the sport for years at a time. Tennis has a similarly high capacity, where a single player can sometimes win three of the four majors in a year. Football and baseball have almost no capacity for dominance because they involve so many players--the best QB or pitcher in the history of the games can't do more than get their teams to a couple playoff appearances by themselves.
Until Tiger, gold appeared to be a sport with a relatively low capacity for dominance for a different reason: the fickleness of the game, which meant that no player could really hope to beat the field every time out. Too many things can go wrong in a round of golf.
So it depends. Has Tiger been more dominant than Roger Federer? No. Than Jordan? No. But because he's doing what he's doing in a sport that has never been dominated, then surely that counts for something. Thoughts?
Am I missing something, or did Patrick Ruffini just call Hugh Hewitt a liar?
Ruffini today: "Anyone who argues that this isn’t jump ball between some permutation of Giuliani/Romney/Thompson is probably lying to you."
Hugh Hewitt last week: "The third quarter fundraising is coming to an end, and so has Fred Thompson's honeymoon, leaving one of three people as George Bush's successor--Senator Clinton, Mayor Giuliani, or Governor Romney."
Last year Brad Meltzer, the guy who got me back into comic books with his outrageously good Identity Crisis, rebooted DC's Justice League of America series. Like Identity Crisis, it was jaw-droppingly good. The stories were interesting and the characters were written more intelligently than you have any right to expect in a comic book. One of the plots, for instance, dealt with Solomon Grundy who, it turns out, fears death, even though he knows he will be reincarnated every time. Couldn't ask for better stuff.
Now Meltzer has left Justice League and been replaced by a writer named Swayne McDuffie. I'd come across McDuffie's work only once before with his malicious, anti-American contribution to a 9/11 comics anthology. But his new Justice League is even worse: In a single issue he tears down all of Meltzer's structure and turns the book into Super Friends. All of a sudden the League lives in the Hall of Justice. Lex Luthor (in the stupid Super Power green armor) assembles the League of Injustice. They have Hall of Doom headquarters--looks exactly like the one the Legion of Doom used in the animated series--which is concealed underneath the water in a swamp.
Awesome. Brad Meltzer made me remember why I loved comics. McDuffie reminds me of why I left them.
In addition to this amazing bit ("Description Of Sexual Fantasy Changing With Girlfriend's Reaction"), the Onion has an interesting interview with Seth Green that gives some nice glimpses into Hollywood:
Idle Hands (1999)—"Mick"
SG: [Laughs slowly.] Um… [Laughs more.] The best thing about that movie was that everybody working on it had a different mission statement. We all thought we were making a different movie. Me and the boys—the other actors, Devin [Sawa] and Elden [Henson]—we were convinced we were making a high drama with some comedic elements, and we tried to make our relationship as lifelong best friends believable. And, uh… [Laughs.] The director, Rodman [Flender], was attempting to make a throwback Italian horror film, like a Dario Argento flick. The writers really wanted it to be Heathers. And the studio was listening to the test marketing and saying that if this movie didn't have… They really wanted the zombies to be cuter, and have more wacky antics, and apparently all the kids in the audience thought that there should be more pot-smoking, that pot should save the day, and somewhere, somehow, Jessica Alba needed to get her top ripped off. And that's how that whole new ending got shot, where she's up on the car lift and gets her midsection ripped off, and pot saves the day.
No, I'm not going to tell you that the Patriots cheated to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Maybe they did. But there were larger forces at work there and the Eagles weren't going to win that championship. That sort of thing doesn't happen in Philly. By which I mean the winning, not the cheating.
And can I beg that we have no more "Belicheat" or "Patriot Gate"? If this silly mini-scandal has a name, it's obviously "Patriot Games."
KSK had an outstanding item on the whole mess the other day, with Belichick as Rumsfeld. Quite good. But top honors has to go to LOL Jocks for seeing Belichick as Jack Horner, Burt Reynolds's Boogie Nights porn director.
"Aim for his tits, Eddie." I beg you to follow the link. It's gold.
When Galley Friend D.M. told me about the '90s era pilot for a Justice League of America series, I didn't believe him. Here it is.
Listen, I won't lie to you, this is long. Part one is 10 minutes. I know what you're thinking, I'm at work, I can't afford to take the time to watch this.
Believe me, when you see Green Lantern, the Flash, the Atom, and "Fire" unleash their mighty powers around the 9:00 mark, you'll understand that you can't afford not to watch. It's like the Corman Fantastic Four, only with real actors (Miguel Ferrer! David Krumholtz!), and much, much worse.
Here's the opening credits sequence:
So hot. Next comes the 10-minute part 1. Note the interwoven confessional-style interviews with the heroes:
I couldn't track down the next segment, but here's the denouement:
Question for the room: Is this the worst superhero adaptation ever done for the small screen?
It seems CBS's gambit to improve its Evening News ratings by sending Katie Couric into the war zone has failed. According to Reuters, despite Couric having been to Iraq and also interviewing General Petraeus and President Bush, her news program has hit an all-time low of 5.4 million viewers, "the lowest ratings on record since the current ratings system took effect in 1987, according to Nielsen Media Research." (In comparison, ABC's Charlie Gibson is attracting 7.8 million while NBC's Brian Williams draws in 7.78 million.)
But I knew ahead of these latest stats that things were not well when watching the NFL on CBS last Sunday. During a commercial break, the network ran a promo with a voiceover that sounded just a little too desperate:
"Katie Couric, covering the most important story of our time. She did it. And did it well."
It's understandable that in the midst of the Petraeus hearings, news from the "Family Secrets" trial in Chicago would get overshadowed. But for mob buffs, today's verdicts are key: A federal jury has found all five defendants guilty on racketeering and conspiracy charges. These members of "The Outfit" include capo James "Little Jimmy" Marcello and hitman Frank Calabrese.
It was testimony by Calabrese's own brother that proved vital to the prosecution. And as a result, we now know the true story behind the deaths of Anthony and Michael Spilotro (the former made famous by Joe Pesci in Casino): It turns out the brothers were not killed in the Indiana cornfield back in 1986. They were instead lured into the basement of an associate's home in Bensenville, Illinois, after being told Anthony was getting promoted to captain while his brother would be "made."
Last July, Nicholas Calabrese took the stand and explained how the Spilotro brothers entered the basement. The last thing Calabrese remembers hearing out of Anthony was, "Can I say a prayer?" Then the two brothers were beaten and strangled to death by a gang of men. (I guess the answer was no.) According to forensic pathologist Dr. John Pless, the Spilotros died of blunt trauma, more likely from fists than bats. They were later buried in the Indiana cornfield.
We also learn the Spilotros had another brother (a civilian) who happened to be a dentist. Patrick Spilotro actually asked one of his brothers' killers why they had to go. As Joe "Joey the Clown" Lombardo explained: "Doc, you get an order, you follow the order. If you don't follow the order, you go too." (Dr. Spilotro also testified in the recent trial.)
Casino (both book and movie) was correct, however, when it came to motive. The Outfit had had enough of Anthony Spilotro's shenanigans, including unauthorized hits, attempting to blow up Frank Rosenthal (DeNiro's Ace Rothstein) and having an affair with his wife. (The Chicago Sun-Times has excellent coverage of the months-long trial.)
In any event, the movie had the right spirit of Anthony "The Ant" Spilotro, particularly when Pesci's character reveals to a banker the true nature of his job:
I think in all fairness, I should explain to you exactly what it is that I do. For instance, tomorrow morning, I'll get up nice and early, take a walk down over to the bank and ... if you don't have my money for me, I'll crack your fuckin' head wide open in front of everybody in the bank. And just about the time that I'm comin' out of jail, hopefully, you'll be coming out of your coma. And guess what? I'll split your fuckin' head open again. 'Cause I'm fuckin' stupid. I don't give a fuck about jail. That's my business. That's what I do.
Drudge has been carrying this story all day about Univision claiming to lead all major networks for the week among adults aged 18-34. Here's the key stuff:
In the first entire week (8/27/07-9/2/07) since all networks were reported from one single ratings sample, Univision ranked as the #1 network with an +11% advantage over its nearest competitor, FOX, and beating ABC by +43%, CBS by +42%, NBC by +57%, and fully +125% ahead of CW for all Adults 18-34, not just Hispanics. Univision was also the #1 ranked network all night every night Monday through Friday last week among the same coveted young adult demographic.
In addition, Univision aired 9 out of the top 20 programs of the entire week, regardless of language, among all Adults 18-34.
When I read that this morning I scratched my head. It sure didn't sound right, unless there are waaaay more than 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country right now. Where did those numbers come from? Can they possibly be right?
I started paging through some back issues of Daily Variety and came upon the Nielsen chart for the week of Aug. 20 through Aug. 26. It told a wildly different story than the numbers Univision is claiming for the week which immediately followed:
* During prime-time, Univision finished a distant fifth place. Here are the total average viewer numbers for prime time that week (in millions):
* Univision didn't win a single night during the week, and was often getting doubled and tripled up on the nightly averages. For example, on Tue., NBC won the night with a 12.31 average (thanks to the #1 show, America's Got Talent--note to self: start book on end of civilization). Univision finished the night with a 3.43.
Sunday night was terrible for Univision. They finished with a 1.63 while CBS, powered by 60 Minutes, rode to a 7.88. NBC was right behind with a 7.57.
* Variety also has a chart with the top 16 shows in the 18-49 demo. None of them is a Univision program.
So what gives? Obviously, none of this is comparing apples-to-apples: these numbers are for prime time and total viewers (except for the top 16 list). And things change. But it seems a little odd that a network goes from being a fifth-place outlet to first place in a week.
Products have been appropriating songs in commercials for a long time. And yet it is still appalling when you hear some of them: EMF's "Unbelievable" became Kraft's Cheese Crumbles' "Crumbelievable." The Turtles' "Happy Together" became Applebee's "Steak and shrimp, and shrimp and steak..."
I didn't watch the VMA's for any number of reasons, but the Britney Spears train wreck is fabulous. (Thanks YouTube!)
Las Vegas native Jenny even went so far as to apologize to the rest of us on behalf of her city. She's a really generous person for a Cowboys fan. (And yes, Jenny, the Eagles probably won't total up 45 points for the season until week five.)
WWTDD has the word that Britney's people are blaming her performance on her being upset that Sarah Silverman made fun of her kids:
Yeah this sounds about right. Britney cares about her kids. That's why she's in Vegas on a Sunday night dressed like a whore.
AICN has word that Wolfgang Petersen may direct The Grays, a movie based on a book of the same name by Whitley Strieber.
This isn't Strieber's first foray into movies. His filmography shows that a few prominent directors and actors have taken an interest in his work. The 1989 movie Communion had Christopher Walker playing Strieber in his real-life autobiographical tale about being abducted by aliens. The Grays is also about aliens, only this book is fiction.
Strieber was associated with another prominent movie you may have heard of: The Day After Tomorrow. Strieber co-wrote the non-fiction book which inspired the movie. Or maybe it was fiction. Or maybe it was, as Al Gore called it, "honest fiction." Really, who can say?
In any event, I hope the former vice president will be good enough to help promote The Grays when it comes out. After global warming, genetic infiltration by a stranded, dying alien race may be humanity's most pressing concern.
Let me explain something to you Rexettes out there. I don’t wear an athletic supporter out there. I don’t. Too constrictive. My cock does not like being reigned in, and I am not one to go against the wishes of Dr. Death And His Satchel . . .
Will someone give the KSK guys there own TV show? I'm thinking it's like Robot Chicken, only with football.
Has anyone else noticed that USA’s Al Trautwig and J.K. Simmons might actually be the same person? It’s a little eerie. I keep waiting for him to tell Jim Courier that “Sure, Agnes Szavay may have been able to technically tell right from wrong, but her wiring is so screwed up that she may not even have known where she was at the time of the murder.”
Then Courier says, “So bottom line, we offer her a deal?”
And Mary Joe Fernandez is like, “I’ve got a deal, Jim. Let’s hang ‘em. Hang ‘em all.”
I digress. Tuesday’s Henin-Serena match was pretty impressive stuff. Serena only really showed up for a few games late in the first set and after she blew her set point, wasn’t present enough to stay with Henin. I wonder if at this point Henin is up in her head the way Federer is in Roddick’s.
Speaking of which . . . Andy Roddick is something of an acquired taste and in his current incarnation, Roddick 3.0, he’s one of the more interesting players on tour to watch. From the moment he comes out of the tunnel, he looks like a bull, pawing at the ground, waiting to charge. He takes almost no time between serves—he barely even sits down on changeovers. He’s almost Agassi-like in his between-point speed. (Roddick and Agassi could probably rip through five sets in about an hour forty-five.)
That’s all born of aggressiveness and Roddick is about as purely offensive player as you’ll ever see. What Connors has done is get him committed to staying on offense, every point, no matter what. From the moment Michael Barkan starts yammering to him in the tunnel, he wants to get it on. And you’ve seen that with Roddick the last couple years. He looks like he thinks he can beat anybody.
Except, of course, for Federer. Roddick has no chance against him. You know it. He knows it. The American people know it. It’ll be interesting to see how Federer beats him tonight.
Update: Agassi, doing a guest commentary stint, notes before the match that every time a rally goes over six shots, "Andy might as well hit the ball into the stands." So brutal. So true. I'd love to see a stat on points one per #-shot-rallies after the match.
Update 2: Through a set and a half they've had about 15 6+ shot rallies; Roddick hasn't won any of them.
Update 3: If you're still awake and you aren't tuned in to Roddick-Federer, flip it on now. We're at 1-1 in the third and there hasn't been a break of serve yet--heck, there's only been one break chance, even. And these two guys are playing total Rock 'n' Roll tennis--hit the ball as loud as you can. To be honest, I don't know that I've ever seen a bigger pure slug-fest.
The New York Post is reporting that Mario Batali, one of the great Food Network pioneers, is no longer going to be on the network. According to the Post: "Sources said that network executives told the spotlight-loving chef last month his multiple shows, which includes the long-running 'Molto Mario,' would not be renewed and that he would no longer be competing in the popular 'Iron Chef America' series."
If you recall, Anthony Bourdain blogged on Batali being one of the few highlights on FN: "Is there any more egregiously under-used, criminally mishandled, dismissively treated chef on television? Relegated to the circus of 'Iron Chef America,' where--like a great, toothless lion, fouling his cage, he hangs on--and on--a major draw (and often the only reason to watch the show). How I would like to see him unchained, free to make the television shows he’s capable of, the Real Mario--in all his Rabelasian brilliance. How I would love to hear the snapping bones of his cruel FN ringmasters, crunching between his mighty jaws! Let us see the cloven hooves beneath those cheery clogs! Let Mario be Mario!"
Not that we should be at all surprised. When I interviewed Michael Smith, FN's senior vice president for marketing and creative services, I asked him about a celebrity chef saturation point and any fears he may have about Jumping the Shark. Explained Smith: "I think that the challenge for us is that when it was just a genre channel, being a place where you’d come if you wanted information about food, we knew that we could pretty much deliver that pretty consistently just by putting food on the screen and having people present it. But when it transformed into sort of a pop culture entertainment channel, where people watch it for the personalities, then you get into the same game that the NBCs and ABCs are in, that it’s not enough just to have someone making chicken salad. You’ve got to have this really great personality, and that’s where you can Jump the Shark because, as you know in entertainment TV, personalities burn out. You gotta find new ones. And so, you have an Emeril, and he’s a rock star, but then you need the next rock star and the next rock star and so we get into sort of a hits business of finding stars."
Indeed. But as sorry as I am to see Mario go (he'll have a show on PBS), we can still look forward to Nigella Lawson, who joins the Food Network in October.
During this past Labor Day weekend, TNT broadcast Titanic on what seemed a continuous loop. So every now and then I would check up to see when things got interesting (i.e., the sinking) and ended up watching it from about halfway to the end credits.
A few observations, ten years later:
1. The acting is often terrible. The Italian and Irish stereotypes (Danny Nucci as "Fabrizio" and Jason Barry as "Tommy Ryan") are exceedingly over the top. On the other hand, James Cameron could not possibly have cast anyone better than Bernard Hill (Theoden!) as the captain. And yes, that was in fact Ioan Gruffudd playing an officer.
2. The movie contains one of the worst lines ever: When the old Rose (Gloria Stuart) explains to the crew and her daughter that "not even your grandfather" knew about Jack Dawson, she says: "A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets." I'm getting seasick.
3. So Jack and Rose emerge on deck after having sex in the backseat of a car. As they kiss, the lookout officers ogle them for a few seconds. Then the men look up and notice the "iceberg right ahead!" Had the officers not been distracted, they might have spotted the iceberg a bit earlier. Could the Titanic have been saved in those few precious seconds? In other words, should we hold Jack and Rose responsible for the sinking of the Titanic? I think so.
4. Old Rose's decision to throw the "Heart of the Ocean" into the deep rather than giving it to Bill Paxton, her granddaughter, or some charity is unforgivable. (Okay, maybe not to Bill Paxton.)
5. Rose survives by floating on a wooden plank while Jack swims next to her. I still believe it was big enough to support both of them.
6. TNT's large and animated promos that appear on the lower right corner of the screen are obnoxious. For a second, I thought Kyra Sedgwick and Holly Hunter were also drowning in the North Atlantic.
7. That breathy song was, is, and always will be a terrible, terrible song.