Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 16 NFL Picks

Week 16 picks below. I went 6-8 last week, and I've started this week 1-1, putting me at 123-100 for the season. For some reason, I randomly missed last week's Broncos/Raiders game, so it does not count. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home teams are in CAPS):
Jets over BEARS
Patriots over BILLS
Ravens over BROWNS
CHIEFS over Titans
RAMS over 49ers
Lions over DOLPHINS
JAGUARS over Redskins
Chargers over BENGALS
Texans over BRONCOS
Colts over RAIDERS
Giants over PACKERS
BUCCANEERS over Seahawks
EAGLES over Vikings
Saints over FALCONS

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday and Friday NFL Picks

I'll do my full post of picks Sunday morning but for the early games:
STEELERS over Panthers
Cowboys over CARDINALS

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 15 NFL Picks

Week 15 picks below. I went 11-5 last week, putting me at 116-91 for the season. I missed this Thursday's Chargers/49ers game (thanks CivPro), so it will only be 15 picks this week. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home teams are in CAPS):
Browns over BENGALS
COWBOYS over Redskins
Texans over TITANS
COLTS over Jaguars
RAMS over Chiefs
DOLPHINS over Bills
Eagles over GIANTS
Cardinals over PANTHERS
Saints over RAVENS
Falcons over SEAHAWKS
STEELERS over Jets
PATRIOTS over Packers
Bears over VIKINGS

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Some Thoughts About SNL 36x10: Bridges/Eminem and Lil Wayne

Tonight Jeff Bridges hosts SNL for the second time. You might not remember his first, he co-hosted with his brother Beau Bridges in a season 8 episode in 1983, with musical guest Randy Newman. That hosting gig was a year after his film Tron came out, 27 years later he is back at 30 Rock to promote Tron's sequel. In between he did everything from making a cult-class bowling comedy to winning an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Eminem tonight becomes the 23rd member of the Five-Timers club. He is the 8th member of the club to never host the show, along with Dave Grohl, Tom Petty, Randy Newman, James Taylor, Beck, Nate Mendel, and Dave Matthews. The Five-Timers club was first introduced when Tom Hanks hosted in 1990, here is the sketch, including a not yet famous Conan O'Brien and a random visit from Ralph Nader:

Saturday Night Live - Tom Hanks - 12/08/1990
Uploaded by ccob. - Watch feature films and entire TV shows.

Eminem made his first appearance in 1999, as a co-musical guest with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Tonight he is joined by Lil Wayne, who appeared as a musical guest in the season 34 premiere in 2008, with host Michael Phelps.

Some Predictions for Tonight:
-With today's repeal of Don't Ask Don't Update. Tell, I can easily see the "Two Gay Guys from the Military" returning to Weekend. Hader and Armisen have also played the "Two Gay Guys" from Jersey and Connecticut.
-Rihanna and Eminem had one of the top 5 songs of 2010, and while Rihanna didn't perform it when she was musical guest, I could see her coming back to do it tonight.
-I don't expect a five-timers sketch for Eminem, but if there is the cameos could be high-profile and numerous.

Be back at 11:30 for the live blog!

Sketch 1- Christmas Eve in Washington D.C., with Kenan as Frosty the Snowman. Now we're seeing Obama's dreams for 2011. Unemployment drops, Wikileaks- McCain a Muslim, Palin runs. Now Hillary (again portrayed by new girl). Rahm, Pelosi, Biden. Unique, but quite amusing. A.

Monologue- Bridges is completely clean shaven. Jokes he must have done a good job when he hosted in 1983 for him to be asked back so soon. Now talking about the differences (or lack there of) between The Dude (his Big Lebowski character) and himself. And now here's Cookie Monster. And the two of them are singing Silver Bells. That was quite random. B. EDIT- Totally forgot about the Cookie Monster hosting SNL campaign. They did a great YouTube video for it:

Sketch 2- A message from Mark Zuckerberg(Samberg). And guess who he's interrupted by- Julian Assange, for the 3rd straight week! Talking about why he should have been Time's Man of the Year instead of Zuckerberg. It is getting old, but Hader does own it. B-.

Sketch 3- The Miley Cyrus Show, which I assumed was gunna come last week, but they pushed it to this week. She's doing the Conan combined celebrities baby bit, using Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, which makes Suri! Miley's drug lesson- "don't let your friends video you when you do things." Her guest tonight- Bridges as Nick Nolte. Funniest part- superimposing Bridges' face on Nick Nolte's mug shot. B-.

Sketch 4- Digital Short- Lonely Island with Akon, doing a song "I Just Had Sex." And John McEnroe! And Jessica Alba and Blake Lively! Classic Lonely Island style digital short, we haven't seen in a while. Solid. A-.


Sketch 5- Looks like we're getting a send-off to Larry King. With Armisen reprising Larry, which he did on King's final show Thursday, interviewing the man himself in matching outfits. A sendoff to the people who made his show. Kenan as Jermaine Jackson, Wiig and Eliot as the Judds, Bridges as a dead on Dog the Bounty Hunter. He asks Jackson if he is an only child. He asks the Judds which one is the mother. And now Dog the Bounty Hunter is singing My Way to close it out. So random. B.

Sketch 6- Under Under Ground Records is back! One of the most random sketches from last year. With Crunkmas! Sudeikis and Pedrad own this. Another death for Ass Dan! Pharoah is DJ George Costanza. Why? Who knows! It's 2 minutes of every random thing the writers room can come up with. Just brilliant. A+.

Music 1- Eminem and Lil Wayne are performing "No Love." This song samples Haddaway's "What Is Love" which has a rich SNL history itself through Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan's Roxbury Guys sketches, and the film "A Night at the Roxbury" based on those sketches.

Weekend Update- DADT, Assange, Afghanistan, David Paterson, Walmart, and Michael Steele, as portrayed by Kenan. Stronger impression than I would've guessed. Weekend Update weatherman a terrible Brad Pitt impression, joined by Eliot as Angelina. A Harvard joke. The ScarJo/Ryan Reynolds divorce. And now a holiday message from Snookie (Moynihan), Stefon (Hader), and Gov. Paterson (Armisen). An odd performance of "Christmas Tree." Very weird. Not a great WU. C.

Sketch 7- TCM looking at the original cut of "A Wonderful Life," the Chanukah movie "This, You Call a Wonderful Life?" Great premise, can they follow through? Sudeikis pulling off a very strong Jimmy Stewart. A 43 minute deli argument! Amusing. The director also tried and failed with "A Mitzvah on West 84th Street." Well done. B+.

Sketch 8- Jeff'd, Jeff Bridges' version of Punk'd. Pranking Sam Elliot (Sudeikis) at the dry cleaner. He comes in very early and Elliot doesn't care. Now Abby as Maggie Gyllenhaal. He sends her roses at the front desk of her hotel. Kenan as Forest Whitaker. He replaces Forest's dog with a cat. Samberg as Billy Bob Thorton. Bridges is his limo driver. And he tells him right away that he's Jeff Bridges. Thorton gets pissed and pulls out a gun. And then he tells he's been Billy Bob'd. Seems like it was probably a funny idea in the writers room on Monday, but it didn't work so great. C.

Music 2- Eminem performs "Won't Back Down." Then he leaves and Lil Wayne comes on stage to perform "6 Foot 7 Foot."

Sketch 9- At an old timey General Store. The worker is Hader, with the client new girl. Wiig and Daniels are the introducers of the concept of gift wrapping. They wrap things modernly. Now Sudeikis comes to shoot up the shop. Not good. Easily the weak link of tonight's episode. D.

Sketch 10- A holiday message from the Kardashians. Pedrad and new girl as Kim and Kourtney each dressed as "Sexy Santa," and Eliot as Khloe dressed as Santa. They wish their friends a "merry Christmas," their agents and managers a "happy Chanuka," and their boyfriends a "happy Kwanzaa." Decent filler. B-.

So that wraps it up for 2010. A solid ep. Nothing unbelievable, but nothing absolutely terrible. Overall, and compared to this season, a pretty strong episode. B+.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Story of the Philadelphia Heat

*NOTE: Not everything lines up perfectly. This is just for fun, to show the similarities. I do not believe Lee going to Philly is really similar to LeBron going to Miami, but just for fun...

It's a story as old as time.
Or at least as old as July, 2010.

He spent his early career in Cleveland. They weren't a great team, but they were pretty good. They never could come up with a championship, unable to defeat a stronger overall Boston squad with veteran stars. After years of just falling short of winning a ring, he hits free agency in 2010. He is clearly the top available player in the league. His team wants him back. New York is doing everything to get him. There is even some talk of the second team from Los Angeles, but they never seem like a legitimate candidate.

Another star player was coexisting at the same time. He was playing his career out on a decent team. He made it to play for the championship several years ago, but at that point he wasn't the major star of the team; he was joined by a hired gun who had previously won several championships in a bigger market. After that guy left, the team struggled.

A third star was establishing himself in Toronto. With pretty much nobody else around him, the star put up dominating individual seasons, but was unable to make the team competitive.

Finally, in 2010, the three stars joined forces to form a squad everybody predicts will be one of the best ever.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some Random Thoughts About SNL 36x9: Rudd/McCartney

Paul Rudd hosts SNL for the second time tonight. He first hosted in 2008 with musical guest Beyonce. That episode is probably best remembered for a sketch where Rudd played a minor role, with Beyonce filming her Single Ladies video (aka "the best video OF ALL TIME" according to Kanye West) with backup dancers played by Andy Samberg, Bobby Moynihan, and Justin Timberlake. Tonight he is promoting his new movie, How Do You Know.

Paul McCartney will appear as the musical guest for the third time. He first appeared via satellite and debuted a new music video in a season 5 episode hosted by Steve Martin in 1980. He came back 13 years later for a season 18 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin. Yet with only 2 prior appearances, he made it into the Platinum Lounge under the guise of being Paul Simon 4 years ago:

Some Predictions for Tonight:
-Literally anybody could cameo tonight, and I think there will be quite a few. I can envision a British Band Battle on the Barry Gibb Talk Show, which would include Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, and Ringo Starr. Both Baldwin and Martin could stop by. One of Rudd's costars- Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, or Jack Nicholson could stop by, or one of SNL's cavalcade of common cameos- Tina Fey? Cameron Diaz? Maya Rudolph? Really, nobody would surprise me.
-I'm sure McCartney will be in at least one sketch if not more, and I'm sticking with the Barry Gibb Talk Show as at least one of those.
-We haven't seen Jean K. Jean (Zut Alors!) or Judy Grimes, the travel expert, around the Weekend Update desk yet this season, maybe it's time for one of them.
-ADDED AFTER INITIAL POST: And they have to do The Miley Cyrus Show. I don't enjoy it, but the sketch exists for the sole purpose of being done in tonight's episode. If they don't do it, (and it is for a reason other that "we cut a whole bunch of sketches at dress rehearsal and decided to just have a cold open, a monologue, weekend update, and an hour long Paul McCartney concert) someone should get fired.
-ADDED PREDICTION #2: With this being the week of the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death, and with Jimmy Fallon saying on Twitter than McCartney would do a special song of some sort earlier tonight, I bet he either performs or samples Imagine.

Be back at 11:30!

Sketch 1- Remember last week when it looked like we were going to have an Obama cold open but it was a fake out? This time its Obama. Who apparently is now a conservative Republican. This is actually funny. B+.

Monologue- From the decoration, you'd almost think this is the Christmas episode (it's not). "When I got here this week, all these fans were lined up chanting 'Paul! Paul!'... Then one fan shouted 'Yesterday' which was a reference to the NPR interview I game yesterday." And here is Sir Paul, which clarifies it for Rudd. McCartney says he loved Role Models. Then featured player Paul Brittain shows up.

Sketch 2- Parody ad for "Feline Culinary Creations." Essentially very formal cat food. Kinda slightly amusing, but one note joke. C+.

Sketch 3- The kissing family is back. This time Rudd is the son, Wiig the mother, Armisen the father, new girl the girlfriend, and Hader the brother. They're all overly passionate. It was moderately funny the first time like three years ago, but this is like the 5th time. They do some gum passing. Here's some Romanian relatives. And Moynihan is what appears to be Santa. Full open mouth tongue swapping between Rudd and Armisen. It is just the same sketch again. C.

Sketch 4- We've got a game show call "What's That Name?" Hosted by Hader, contestants Rudd and new girl. They show celeb pictures and they have to name them. For $20 Jared Fogel and Steve Zahn. For $10,000 Rudd's character's doorman (Kenan). He has no clue. Girl's office cleaning woman (Wiig). She has no clue. For $1mil, 8 of Rudd's summer interns, he needs to name 1, he gets it for 3, goes double or nothing and loses it by again not getting the doorman. It was amusing and original. A.

Sketch 5- A digital short called "Stumbling," to the tune of "9 to 5" Which features Samberg and eventually Rudd stumbling past a bunch of things. Now McCartney sings a bridge about walking. Now McCartney plays a tiny harmonica. Completely random but very funny. A.

Sketch 6- A statement from MasterCard, but here is Julian Assange! Hader does a great job with this character again. Each day they'll attack a different website. (BTW I didn't catch it but there was a Mario Batali cameo in there too) Quite good. A-.


Sketch 7- Sexually Speaking. You know the one, the host is out sick so her producer, a fat, bald, and goateed Armisen hosts, but he can't hear anything and he can't give advice. New girl's husband has a small penis, Rudd is gay which Armisen doesn't get. Abby's boyfriend is selfish. Pedrad's boyfriend wants to wait. This sketch isn't good, but they keep doing it. Who knows why. D.

Music 1- McCartney's mic appears to not be on. He's performing "Jet," a 1974 Wings song. Because he's Sir Paul McCartney and he can sing whatever the hell he wants to sing.

Weekend Update- The tax cut compromise, Assange, Oprah. "Weekend Update Audio Caption" with Paul McCartney as Camilla and Meyers as Prince Charles. Was it funny itself? No. Was it funny seeing McCartney do that? Yup. City Correspondent, Stefan, who is only funny because Hader can't do it without cracking up. We do learn that Hader can do a really good "Angry Miss Piggy" impression. And that's about it. Pretty weak. C.

Sketch 8- We have some sort of holiday school event. Rudd is a teacher. Pharoah is a principal who seems to easily run out of breath. Rudd keeps making terrible puns. Kenan is the gym teacher. He's angry. This is just a plain waste of time. F.

Sketch 9- Parody ad for Meryl Streep On Ice at MSG. Abby is Streep, and does it pretty well. She's an insanely good skater. Fan reactions. Sudeikis shows up for first time tonight, tearing up. Kids chant "Meryl! Meryl!" Randomly amusing. B+.

Music 2- Pretty early for second performance already. "Band on the Run." A classic. Just sitting back and enjoying. It does surprise me, however, that McCartney went double-Wings. Especially this week (Lennon's death) and with all the Beatles/iTunes ads throughout the ep.

Sketch 10- Rudd is performing for Broadway Cares, something from Cabaret. Hader is director, Sudeikis is running the spotlight. Sudeikis isn't following him with the spot. This is essentially the only joke. Then when Rudd leaves. Sudeikis performs it. Yup, that pretty much sums up this episode. C-.

Music 3- Well there's the explanation. With the Beatle's classic "A Day in the Life." And he goes into John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." I know I don't give grades on the music anymore, but A+ there.

And that wraps it up. Or does it? NO!

Music 4- Beatle's hit "Get Back."

I have a hard time letting a musical guest bump up an episode's game, at least significantly, but 4 musical performances, plus appearances in the monologue, Weekend Update, and the digital short by a man who is probably the greatest living musical legend cannot be ignored. It was otherwise a very up-and-down episode, I expected more from cameos (see my predictions and compare them to what we got, Mario Batali) and it would likely get a C or a C+, but thanks to Sir Paul: B.

Remember to checkout for a visual recap!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Week 14 NFL Picks

Week 14 picks below. I went 10-6 last week, putting me at 105-86 for the season. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home teams are in CAPS):
Colts over TITANS
Browns over BILLS
Packers over LIONS
Giants over VIKINGS
STEELERS over Bengals
Buccaneers over REDSKINS
Falcons over PANTHERS
JAGUARS over Raiders
SAINTS over Rams
49ERS over Seahawks
JETS over Dolphins
BEARS over Patriots
Broncos over CARDINALS
CHARGERS over Chiefs
Eagles over COWBOYS
Ravens over TEXANS

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Some Random Thoughts About SNL 36x8: DeNiro/Diddy-Dirty Money

Oscar-winning legend Robert De Niro is hosting SNL for the third time tonight. The first time was 2002, 28 years after his first Oscar win and 11 years after his last nomination. In his monologue he stated he was invited to host way back in season one, in 1975, but he didn't feel comfortable doing live comedy. De Niro next hosted the Christmas episode in 2004, when he famously sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with Kermit the Frog. Tonight, De Niro is promoting "Little Fockers," the triqual to "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers."

Diddy-Dirty Money is a musical group with Sean "P. Diddy" "Puff Daddy" "Puffy" Combs, and two other people. Under all his aliases, Combs has only been the musical guest once, in the season finale in 1998, as Puff Daddy. I'm guessing he does different songs tonight.

Some predictions:
-SNL's Twitter account hinted at a digital short with De Niro and Diddy, I'm guessing they'll be in one other sketch together as well.

-We haven't had a cameo in forever, since the second episode of the season actually. Someone is showing up on Weekend Update. I just don't know who.

See you at 11:30! Also, after the show, check out for a Stick Figure Sketch-by-Sketch recap.

Sketch 1- We start with Armisen in the Oval Office, but it is interrupted by Hader as WikiLeaks' creator Julian Assage, with more embarassing WikiLeaks at WikiLeaks:TMZ. On the TMZ type set. Samberg as the guy with the long blond hair. Armisen as Omar Kadafi and Wiig as his nurse/prostitute. De Niro as Hamed Karzai. Apparantly new girl has replaced Amy Poehler as Hillary. Very funny, and unexpected. A.

Monologue- De Niro talking about New York, how it is his town, and getting every fact wrong. Just saying stuff about other cities. "That's why, in New York we say 'fahgetabout this.'" "It's great to be here, hosting the best show in New York, Friday Night Lights." Clever. B+.

Sketch 2- An ad for a book "The Abacus Conundrum" written by Harlan Kane (De Niro) who has written a lot of books. That was about it. C.

Sketch 3- It looks like... Is it... Yes it is! WOOOOOEEEE What Up With That? Guests: Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, and of course Lindsey Buckingham! A robot and an oompa loompa! De Niro and Williams complaining as the music starts behind them. Now De Niro won't speak. "This is wrong, this is disrespectful." Now Wiig is singing and taking off wigs. Williams is texting someone. Guess what, they didn't have time for Lindsey Buckingham! And it's his birthday (not in real life though)! But DeAndre got him a picture of the two of them, with Buckingham cutoff. I love this sketch. A-.


Sketch 4- From the Garden, with Mr. Produce, Tony Secilia (De Niro). His produce is all no good. Samberg is his son Anthony, who did not spray the produce and just questions everything. This just isn't funny, maybe there will be a payoff...It's not looking like it. Nope. Terrible. D-.

Sketch 5- Digital short, looking like Weekend at Bernie's with Samberg and Hader as the guys and De Niro as the boss. It seems like Weekend at Bernie's in 2 minutes, but the guests immediately figure out he's dead and flip out. Now they're in court over it. But his last will and testament is requesting the party and the Hawaiian shirt and the lie! Now that is how you end a sketch with a surprising twist. A-.

Music 1- Diddy-Dirty Money performs "Coming Home."

Weekend Update- WikiLeaks, The Kardashian Kredit Kard, and here's Pedrad, Elliot, and New Girl as Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney respectively. Atheist billboard, Dreidelpalooza, Spiderman Musical and here is Samberg as Spidey. "You know how many guys die every year doing Jersey Boys?" Man marries dog run of jokes. Now Wiig as a 1980s workout video instructor, on Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative. Seriously. You might think I'm making that up, but I'm really not. That is what we're seeing on NBC at this moment. What the heck is Seth Meyers doing all week that this is the best stuff he can come up with? It isn't like this is based on something real that they're trying to make fun of, its just junk. You have to imagine MadTV is wondering why they were cancelled compared to this. D.

Spinning dreidels on the between commercial look-ins! Happy Chanukah!

Sketch 6- On the set of "Little Fockers," Moynihan playing a kid getting to see the set. He's a big fan. Here's De Niro. The kid is much less interested in him then meeting the Craft services guy or the schedule guy or seeing the camera. This is actually kinda funny. De Niro is taking this offensively. And here is Ben Stiller! The kid likes Stiller's one dramatic movie more than any De Niro hits. Surprisingly amusing. B+.

Sketch 7- Now a Diddy sketch. He's making an album, with the BlizzardMan. Samberg is the BlizzardMan, this may be recurring. Kenan, Wiig, Samberg also involved. He's horrible, but Diddy liked him. Now De Niro is the BlizzardMan's mom. This visual is clearly the sole purpose of this sketch tonight, and it is worth it. But besides that, pretty much nothing. C.

Sketch 8- Commercial look-in, we have a person dressed as a deer. Oh, its Vinny Vedecci, the Italian interview show. Of course, like all guests, De Niro doesn't speak Italian. Is it just me, or has De Niro been playing himself in a whole lot of sketches tonight? Vedecci (Hader) asks De Niro to do his best De Niro impression. Now his son, Moynihan, in the sailor outfit, is drunk. And it's the deer from "Deer Hunter," and he has a watergun. But De Niro throws a pencil at him and it stabs him. And he is dead. De Niro refuses to do his line from "Taxi Driver," so Vedecci starts talking quietly in the opposite direction to get De Niro to ask "you talking to me?" Better than that sketch previously has been. B-.

Sketch 9- Recycled Bosley pubic hair transplant from the Amy Poehler episode. I gave it a B+ then, I won't regrade the same sketch.

Music 2- Diddy-Dirty Money with Swizz Beatz doing their song "Ass on the Floor." Perhaps the funniest part of the episode.

Sketch 10- Samberg and Sudeikis at a bar. De Niro now has long hair and a beard. Samberg asks rhetorically "who do I have to screw to get a drink around here?" Which De Niro answers seriously "Me." So Samberg screws him and gets a beer. Now Sudeikis is doing it. Oh and Stiller was back there too. With long hair and a tiny little beard. Yup, that was the sketch. D.

Sketch 11- This is some sort of very short cartoon. I literally have no idea what just happened, so I'm going into uncharted waters here: Inc.

Overall- Started strong, got weaker, and then just got strange. Overall, highly mediocre. C.

The November Network, Primetime, Half-Hour, Live-Action Sitcom Rankings

Here are the November sitcom rankings. This goes through all episodes that have aired to date. Ratings and viewership numbers are considered, but it is mostly opinion based. Parks and Recreation continues to be based solely on the first two seasons.
RankPrev.ShowNetwork% of Next Seas.
14The Big Bang TheoryCBS100
22Modern FamilyABC100
46How I Met Your Mot…CBS95
55Two and a Half MenCBS100
6130 RockNBC100
73Better with YouABC85
89Cougar TownABC75
910Parks and RecreationNBC75
108The OfficeNBC95
1213Raising HopeFox50
1316Mike and MollyCBS50
1411Running WildeFox5
1514The MiddleABC20
1615Rules of EngagementCBS15
1717$#*! My Dad SaysCBS20
Some quick thoughts:

-Big Bang Theory wasn't particularly unbelievable this month, although I do like how they've integrated Amy and Bernadette into the regular 5-person cast- especially with Kaley Cuoco missing a couple episodes with a broken leg, this was necessary. But it moved up to the #1 spot mostly based on its strong history, top notch ratings, and a weak month by sitcoms overall.

-Community had an extraordinary month, perhaps the best run of episodes for any show this season- from Zombies to Missing Pens to Conspiracy Theories. They've finally found a way to use Chevy Chase without overusing him. And they've been given a full season with extra episodes, and appear safe now that NBC is transfering to 3 hour sitcom Thursdays. Still, the ratings are remarkably low, and this will always be an issue for this show.

-Better With You has shown its first weak spots, but is still strong, and clearly the strongest first year show...All first years seem safe for the season, except Running Wilde, which depending on who you ask is on hiatus or cancelled, but almost certainly won't be back in 2011...Parks and Rec had a good month solely because they have a startup date- see you January 20, with newbie Perfect Couples...Who watches The Middle?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Week 13 NFL Picks

Week 13 picks below. I went 10-6 last week, putting me at 95-80 for the season. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home teams are in CAPS):
EAGLES over Texans
Saints over BENGALS
Bears over LIONS
PACKERS over 49ers
TITANS over Jaguars
CHIEFS over Broncos
Browns over DOLPHINS
Bills over VIKINGS
GIANTS over Redskins
CHARGERS over Raiders
COLTS over Cowboys
SEAHAWKS over Panthers
BUCCANEERS over Falcons
Steelers over RAVENS
Jets over PATRIOTS

Mets Post Update

I know I promised a Mets post earlier this week, but I've decided to wait until tomorrow when the nontender announcements are finalized, both to see who the Mets cut (the only question really being Sean Green- I'm guessing they reach an agreement with him, tender deals for Pagan, Dickey, and Pelfrey, and nontender Maine)and to see who has joined the free agent market and might be looking for a short or even minor league deal (ala Dickey last year).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Random Thoughts in a Post-Memo, Pre-Final World

This week, you could say, is the calm between the storms, with my major 1L memo being handed in a week ago today, and my first final exam a week from Friday. And so, this week, I will try to check in more than NFL picks on Thursday and SNL Liveblog on Saturday. But you'll still get those too!

-I've been at this for about 2.5 months now. I'm amazed I've gotten over 500 hits (thank you), and still not a single comment.

-I will have a significant post on the Mets either tonight or tomorrow- my thoughts on Alderson (excellent, what the team needed), his Front Office (nobody can say Wilpon doesn't spend), Collins (the best of the 4 finalists), the coaching staff (Moooookie), the roster (Goodbye John Maine, you chronic liar), etc.

-I've now seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 twice, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I will have a Potter-centric post at some point.

-Although November ends tomorrow, I will base the November sitcom rankings on everything up to the end of this week. Essentially, with Thanksgiving last week, this gives the Thursday 6 sitcoms one last episode for the month.

-Anne Hathaway and James Franco are cohosting the Oscars next year. I genuinely like Hathaway (especially her SNL performance earlier this month) and I am rather ambivalent towards Franco, but they are not good picks to host an award show. In fact I think we should limit all main stream award shows* to the following list of hosts:
-Neil Patrick Harris
-Conan O'Brien
-Jimmy Fallon
-Jon Stewart
-Ellen Degeneres
-Steve Martin
-Billy Crystal
-Whoopi Goldberg
-Hugh Jackman

Youtube any of their award show intros or closes. Brilliant. If you can't get one of those nine, just get an announcer and some presenters.

*What falls under mainstream award shows at this point is another debate. Oscars, Golden Globes, and Emmys undoubtedly. The Tony's have a set spot on network TV (CBS) and have consistently gotten high profile hosts (Harris, Jackman, Goldberg, Sean Hayes) so we can include them. The Grammys and AMAs? Sure, but they have fair reason to want musically related hosts as well. The VMAs are a good training ground for those who might eventually join this list (that doesn't mean you, Chelsea Handler). Same with the ESPYs, which might just vault Justin Timberlake and Seth Meyers at some point.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week 12 NFL Picks

The Thanksgiving Triple Header this week! Week 12 picks below. I went 9-7 last week, putting me at 85-74 for the season. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home teams are in CAPS):
Patriots over LIONS
Saints over COWBOYS
JETS over Bengals
Packers over FALCONS
Steelers over BILLS
BROWNS over Panthers
GIANTS over Jaguars
REDSKINS over Vikings
TEXANS over Titans
RAIDERS over Dolphins
Chiefs over SEAHAWKS
Eagles over BEARS
BRONCOS over Rams
RAVENS over Buccaneers
COLTS over Chargers
49ers over CARDINALS

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mets Coaching Chart

Here is a chart of Mets coaches since 1998. The coaches hired by each GM (Phillips, Duquette, Minaya, Alderson) have different background colors. The coaches under each manager (Valentine, Howe, Randolph, Manuel, Collins) are in a different color font. I will update this as the new coaching staff is announced. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Some Random Thouhts about SNL 36x7: Hathaway/Florence + The Machine

Anne Hathaway returns tonight to host SNL for the second time. She first hosted two years ago, with musical guest The Killers. The episode was actually most notable for two sketches Hathaway wasn't in: the cold open of the 2008 Vice Presidential Debate, featuring the return of Tina Fey's Sarah Palin, and a sketch near the end featuring Andy Samberg as Mark Wahlberg, talking to animals. The sketch got a negative response from Wahlberg, who came in to talk to Andy about it in a sketch a few weeks later. The only character I remember Hathaway playing was Mary Poppins.

Florence + The Machine make their first SNL appearance as tonight's musical guest. I certainly hope they do "Dog Days Are Over," because it is the only Florence + The Machine song I know.

Some predictions:
-Anne Hathaway won't sing in her monologue. It has been a trend this season, but I don't see it continuing here.
-Hathaway is promoting her new film, "Love and Other Drugs," so I'm going to say her costar, Jake Gyllenhaal makes a cameo.
-We haven't had Target Lady in a while. I'm not complaining about that, but its coming...

Be back at 11:30!

Sketch 1- Eliot as Rachel Maddow, who has apparantly not donated to any candidates and has not been suspended by MSNBC, with Hader as Speaker-Elect Boehner, Wiig as Speaker Pelosi, and Kenan as Charlie Rangle. Eliot's Maddow was always good, but it is dead on tonight. Including the Maddow style orange pun for Boehner. It almost seems like Maddow wrote it for her (she is in the same building...). Hader's Boehner is not great, hopefully he has time to improve (it was his first chance at it. Boehner was last played by Dan Aykroyd). Wiig's Pelosi is okay. Kenan's Rangle doesn't have the voice quite right, but is pretty good. Very strong start. A.

Monologue- About her doing nudity. She'll do it as long it is important to the story. Samberg, Moynihan, and Kenan all come and tell her that they've made changes to their sketches where she now should do them naked. Wiig tells her she doesn't have to, she says she was saying she would just to make them happy. Solid. B.

Sketch 2- Seems like an ad for one of those sex call lines, but its actually for TSA patdowns. Bloody brilliant (I'm still in Harry Potter mode). A.

Sketch 3- The Miley Cyrus show. This was good enough the first time to do again? New girl as Miley, Samberg as Billy Ray. This time Miley has a puppet, Smiley. Her guest is Katie Holmes, as played by Hathaway. Ok, hilarious line with Miley saying "you used to be on a show called Dawson's Creek back in the 1900s." Okay, this is halfway decent. I don't think its a great Miley impression, but she does okay with it. But how do they not mention the divorce with Billy Ray? B-.

Sketch 4- A Thanksgiving soup kitchen, being run by Hathaway. Pedrad and Kenan and PENELOPE!!! My favorite Wiig recurring character is back. "My relatives came over on the April Flower, so they got here one month before your's did." There's an entire family of Penelopes! Very well done, nice to see a solid recurring brought back. But odd end where they zoom out on Wiig on the green screen. A.


Sketch 5- Samberg as Prince William, Hathaway as Kate Middlebury, Armisen as Queen Elizabeth, Hader as Prince Albert. Once William leaves, Elizabeth and Albert go into cockney accents. Meta Princess Diaries reference. "In public be Princess Di, be Princess Grace, but in the bedroom, think Fergie." Quite funny. A.

Music 1- Florence + The Machine are singing "Dog Days Are Over"

Weekend Update- More TSA jokes. More William and Kate jokes. More Charlie Rangle jokes. And now Thanksgiving day cooking tips from Moynihan's Guy Fieri. "First step, put your glasses on wrong." All his recipes have massive amounts of alcohol. "Come on, Dictionary," is apparantly the literary decendent of "Really?!?" Sudeikis as a creator of Four Loco. An Amy Winehouse joke? When was Amy Winehouse last relevent? And a Quidditch World Cup joke. Ahh, a rare 3 guest night, with Jay Pharoah doing a few Thanksiving Hip Hop songs. Solid, not spectacular. B.

Sketch 6- Midbreak- We are off to see the Wizard! Sudeikis is Robert Osbourne taking a behind the scenes look at The Wizard of Oz. Lost scenes. Hathaway as Dorothy, Hader as the lion, it seems like the two new white guys as the Scarecrow and Tin Man. Armisen as a weather bird, who wants a new apartment. Pretty funny, actually. Hathaway clearly likes classic musical sketches. Moynihan is the Wizard. The same actor was cut from several other classic movies. Excellent sketch. A.

Sketch 7- Sudeikis is a local NY news anchor. Hader is reporter on the scene of a crime, celebrating his 60th year in broadcasting. Hathaway is a witness. Newbie guy and Pedrad are her children who saw the shooting. Blah. C.

Sketch 8- Mega-Mart ad from Moynihan for Black Friday. 12 minutes a 4 AM, all you can grab. Just as they finish waxing and mopping, no security guards. Four Loco sponsored the waiting line. Free Box Cutters at the door, just watch it on Hulu tomorrow, absolutely brilliant. A+.

Sketch 9- An ad for CamelTame, the solution to camel toe. It's essentially a cup for women. Okay. B-.

Music 2- F+tM sings "You Got the Love"

Sketch 10- The children's movie "Horse Play" featuring Randy Newman (Armisen), The Cranberries (Wiig), Alannis Morisette (Hathaway), Robert Smith (Samberg), Adam Lambert (Sudeikis), Cee Lo doing "Buck You" or as they call it "The Gwenth Paltrow Song from Glee" (Kenan). I love that they do these all impression sketches once a week now. Excellent. A.

Overall- Easily the best episode of the season, and one of the best of recent years, up there with Taylor Swift, Tina Fey, and NPH. Absolutely excellent. A+.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 11 NFL Picks

Thursday night games continue, and so due Thursday picks. Week 11 picks below. I went 6-8 last week, putting me at 76-67 for the season. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home teams are in CAPS):
DOLPHINS over Bears
BENGALS over Bills
Lions over COWBOYS
TITANS over Redskins
CHIEFS over Cardinals
Packers over VIKINGS
JETS over Texans
STEELERS over Raiders
Ravens over PANTHERS
JAGUARS over Browns
49ERS over Buccaneers
SAINTS over Seahawks
Falcons over RAMS
Colts over PATRIOTS
Giants over EAGLES
CHARGERS over Broncos

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Some Random Thoughts About SNL 36x6 Johansson/ArcArcade Fire

Tonight Scarlett Johansson becomes SNL's second straight 3rd time host (after Jon Hamm 2 weeks ago). ScarJo, as she is known by nobody (but would definitely be her nickname if she played major league baseball) first hosted in January of 2006, with musical guest Death Cab for Cutie. She returned the next season with musical guest Bjork (Cue Seth and Amy: Really SNL? Bjork was a musical guest in 2007? Really?). She also made a cameo appearance in the show hosted last season by her husband, Ryan Reynolds.

Arcade Fire is making their second SNL musical guest appearance, first appearing in the 2007 episode hosted by Rainn Wilson. In that episode they also appeared in a Digital Short.

Predictions for tonight:
-1 cameo, Ryan Reynolds. A second, by Sandra Bullock, who is BFFs with Reynolds and locked lips with ScarJo earlier this year at some award show, wouldn't shock me.
-ScarJo has a random recurring character named Lexi, who I believe has an annoying NY accent and sells stuff. I'm sure it will be back.
-We haven't seen Randy and Greg in a while, it might be time for them to come back. Also, Greg is not an alien.

Be back at 11!

Sketch 1- Obama with Chinese president. I cannot believe we are doing this again. This was the worst sketch of last season. The Chinese translations are all about how China owns the US. It's Armisen as Obama, Hader as the Chinese president, and Pedrad as the translator. This isn't funny. Armisen as Obama even mentioned them discussing this a year ago, which they did as a sketch as well, and it was equally terrible. The only thing I will say is Armisen's Obama seems slightly better. Not good. But better. Same one note sketch, still not funny, and this time stale. D-.

Monologue- Mentions the fact that she has nothing to promote. Also she doesn't look great considering she's one of the most attractive human beings in the universe. And we have our third musical monologue of the season. And she's being joined singing "Class" from Chicago (Broadway only), and joined by Wiig as Dina Lohan and Eliot as Ke"DollarSign"ha. Ehh. C+.

Sketch 2- Ad parody for MTV's "My Super Sweet 16 and Pregnant," with ScarJo in title role. Then we have Andy Samberg as Mario Lopez, Pharoah as Nick Cannon, Bobby Moynihan as Snooki, and new girl, all hosting random plays on MTV shows adding pregnancy. Not bad. B+.

Sketch 3- Millionaire Matchmaker. ScarJo as the matchmaker, and though I've only seen promos it seems pretty decent. Eliot and Moynihan are her assistants, new girl is the single millionaire. Her choices are an old guy, a blind guy, a little boy, and a guy who looks just like her. Okay. Probably would have been really funny if I've seen the show. But I feel most people haven't seen the show. B-.


Sketch 4- During break- Looks like What Up With That Set. I hope so...It isn't. It's the mother fucking Manuel Ortiz show. That was the biggest shift in emotions I've ever had while watching SNL. You know the Manuel Ortiz Show. Armisen is Ortiz, and each guest answers and dancing. ScarJo's baby may not be her husband's. Husband is Samberg. He's cool with that. And now they bring in possible father, Hader. Now Hader's character's girlfriend, Pedrad. Kenan and a new guy as security. Wiig brings out paternity test results. At least they're doing funny things with the tempo of the music. But I hate this sketch. D.

Sketch 5- A parody ad for that Denzel Washington movie with Pharoah as Denzel, a new guy as Chris Pine, ScarJo as Rosario Dawson, and other new guy as someone who works with her. This sketch is just another opportunity for Pharoah's Denzel impression, which is alright by me. And legitimately summed up what the entire movie will be. A-.

Sketch 6- You have to be fucking kidding me its the access hollywood style show Hollywood Dish, hosted by Hader and Wiig with ScarJo as the guest. Totally forgot she won a Tony this year. It's the same sketch as it has always been. It is kind of made okay by Hader slushying Wiig, and she appeared to have no clue it was coming. And they called her ScarJo! C.

Music 1- Arcade Fire is performing "We Used to Wait," according to wiki. Not an Arcade Fire fan. I'm going to stop giving musical guests grades; opinions vary simply on whether you like the artist/group or not.

Weekend Update- Sudeikis as Bush and Pharoah as Kanye. And that puts the full cast in tonight's episode by the halfway mark! And now Armisen and new girl as passengers from the Carnival cruise. Oh boy, this isn't sort of good. This is just a waste of my time. D-.

Sketch 7- A Disney Channel show, with Kenan as a student in a wheel chair and Wiig, Samberg, ScarJo, and 2 new white guys as costudents. They peer pressure him into trying to walk and he falls. And then it happens again the next day. I bet it happens a third time too, good old comic rule of threes. And yes, there's day three. Armisen as a PE teacher has the students convince him to let Kenan jump on a trampoline. Horrible. F.

Sketch 8- A digital short. Model UN speaks to UN about world history. It's Samberg naming horrible historical events and saying "what was that?" This is kinda funny. B+.

Sketch 9- A Paula Deen sketch, with Wiig actually doing a dead on Deen. 8-ply paper towels for taking butter off southern food. The impression is good. The sketch is not. C.

Music 2- Arcade Fire doing "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)."

Sketch 10- TLC's Stars of Tomorrow. Moynihan plays an agent. New girl is the child star. Wiig is her mother. ScarJo is her rival. Armisen is a director. The girls do random lines from random films that they have no reason to do. I've pretty much zoned out, but a staged production of "Brokeback Mountain" starring two young girls in the Ledger/Gyllenhaal roles is kinda funny. At least they tried something with this slot. C+.

Sketch 11- And here's Armisen selling ceramic busts, so here comes Lexi. It was pretty much the same as every other Lexi sketch. C.

Overall- Just not good. They didn't make use of ScarJo's considerable acting talents. Not at all impressed: D-.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week 10 NFL Picks

With Thursday games beginning tonight, time to start making picks earlier in the week. Week 10 picks below. I went 8-5 last week, putting me at 70-59 for the season. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home team in CAPS):
Ravens over FALCONS
Lions over BILLS
BEARS over Vikings
Jets over BROWNS
COLTS over Bengals
Titans over DOLPHINS
BUCCANEERS over Panthers
Texans over JAGUARS
Chiefs over BRONCOS
GIANTS over Cowboys
CARDINALS over Seahawks
49ERS over Rams
STEELERS over Patriots
Eagles over REDSKINS

Monday, November 8, 2010

Three Years Later: A Look Back at Lend Me a Tenor

I got lucky. Much of what brought me to directing Lend Me a Tenor three years ago today was pure, unadulterated luck.

I happened to not go to sleepaway camp until I was 13, which is kind of old, and I happened to pick the bed next to the one other kid in my bunk who did theatre, and he happened to get a job as an assistant stage manager a couple of years later, and that happened to make me jealous, and that happened to make me want to direct. And the kid happened to go to GW and happened to get involved in FPP, and happened to know Lend Me a Tenor and suggested it to me.

And I happened to do Pippin senior year of high school, so that when I went to GW planning to not do theatre for the first semester so that I could get settled in with my work, but FPP happened to be doing Pippin, I decided what the heck, I might as well tryout. And I happened to make it (all the guys who tried out did) and I happened to become friendly with the director and one of the supporting stars. And the director happened to be the artistic director of the company and the supporting star happened to be directing a show the next semester. So when I decided, what the hell, I'll apply to direct in the cabaret for spring semester my freshman year, I got it. And then I was asked to assistant direct.

So I got very lucky just to get to the point where I was proposing Lend Me a Tenor. And I thought that would be all, I would propose, I would show that I was interested in directing, I would get a decent assistant directing gig, and I would go through the process the next semester.

But Sam Dercher (I owe her the few hits she might get through this) chose my show. I didn't know why, and I still don't. I was up against someone who had directed before, had directed a relatively successful play in the fall and was on the FPP executive board. When I got an interview for my show I thought "well that's nice," but I had no doubt in my mind, I wasn't getting it.

So when I got it, I decided I was going to make the most of it. And although I always thought I would get the opportunity to direct again, I decided to direct like I wouldn't have that chance. I'd do everything I dreamed of doing as a director.

And that is why I ended the show with the Macarena. It was actually a no brainer. The "doing the show in a minute" was funny in itself, but I knew if the cast was willing the Macarena would make the audience lose it. I think it succeeded.

I made plenty of mistakes along the way. I picked an Assistant Director I didn't fully trust, but I wanted to give her the opportunity I had with Ballyhoo. She let me down, and had to be replaced before auditions even occurred.

I got aggravated with the cast as rehearsals wore on and many of them started having rehearsals for other shows that weren't going up until after Tenor. I also had trouble as they continued to not be off book when I asked. This led to me going off on one cast member who quit the next day. This was incredibly hard on me, I thought for a little while FPP was going to take the show away from me. They didn't, and I think I was able to change for the better for the last few weeks. I also think this is why I never got to direct again, despite proposing 4 times after LMAT.

The moment also reinvigorated me. The replacement, Sara Martin, was someone I had great respect and admiration for. She had been in the song I directed in the 2007 Cabaret, and I thought she was incredibly talented. I didn't have a choice in who got the role, but if I did I could not have chosen a more perfect person. She played the part better than I could have ever imagined.

Another cast member was Matt Avento. At the first production meeting, an outdoor picnic in May before heading back to NY for the summer, I told Sam that Matt was the exact person I pictured as the bellhop, but I assumed he would choose to audition for one of the musicals instead. I was right, he did not audition for LMAT. In fact, due to conflicts, only 3 guys auditioned for LMAT that I could cast. Those 3- Patrick, Carlos, and Brian- fell perfectly into the roles of Max, Tito, and Mr. Saunders, but I had no bellhop. Thanks to a series of phone calls by Sarah Kupferman, FPP's EP at the time, Matt came to callbacks, and we gave him the role after one readthru. He played it perfectly, and stole many scenes throughout the show.

Three years later, my work on Lend Me a Tenor remains the thing I am most proud of for my time at GW. I still can't believe I was the one who directed the show.