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.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 9 NFL Picks

Week 9 picks below. I went 7-6 last week, putting me at 62-54 for the season. Again, picks are for the win, not against the spread.

Here we go (home team in CAPS):

FALCONS over Buccaneers
BILLS over Bears
Patriots over BROWNS
Jets over LIONS
VIKINGS over Cardinals
Saints over PANTHERS
RAVENS over Dolphins
TEXANS over Chargers
Giants over SEAHAWKS
Chiefs over RAIDERS
Colts over EAGLES
PACKERS over Cowboys
Steelers over BENGALS

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some Political Projections

It's Election Day 2010, and while in the alternate universe of Sorkinland it would be time for President Santos' reelection (according to Twitter against former Speaker Jeff Haffley (follow them all right here.)

As I majored in Political Communications, I have some vague knowledge of politics. Also I watch some cable news and read fivethirtyeight. So I'm making predictions. Because I can.


The governorship count itself is irrelevent. At no point do the 50 governors get together and vote on anything. So you probably don't even know that the count is currently 26-24 in favor of the Democrats. This will shift, probably significantly. More interesting to me is the 4 most populated states. New York, Florida, Texas, and California all have gubernatorial elections today. Texas is the only race where the incumbent, Republican Rick Perry is running, and he will likely win. In New York, Andrew Cuomo will likely be the third Democratic governor in three years. In Florida and California, however, it is quite possible that in spite of the likely national GOP surge, these governorships will shift from the Republicans to the Democrats. In California, Jerry Brown seems like a lock to rewin the top spot, while Florida has been back and forth all cycle. If the Democrats can pull these two off, it may show that the cycle is truly more anti-incumbent than anti-Democrat. I'm guessing this happens.


Republicans will take back the House. I feel fairly confident predicting that. I feel much less confident guessing how many seats they win. I think it will actually be underwhelming. So while the GOP will take the requesite 39 seats to give the nation its first orange speaker of the house, my guess here is 42 wins.


This is an odd Senate campaign year. There are 37 elections, including 17 which do not feature an elected incumbent on the ballot. There are unelected incumbents (Colorado, New York's Special); replacements not running for election (Delaware, West Virginia, Florida, Illinois); retirements (New Hampshire, Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, North Dakota, Kansas, Kentucky); and primary losers- those who just lost (Utah), those who switched parties then lost (Pennsylvania), and those who lost and ran potentially successful write-in campaigns (Alaska).

And so, here are my picks. Winners are bold, incumbents have asterisks, italicized were appointed. Florida and Alaska have 3 legitimate candidates, so all have been included. A note on Alaska- I think Murkowski pulls through, but not for several weeks. Democrat McAdams will come in 2nd, and challenges will take place over what spellings of Murkowski will count.

As a note, the cases I would not be surprised if I were wrong on are Alaska (for McAdams, not Miller), Florida (for Crist, not Meek), Wisconsin (all polls are showing Feingold losing so I went with it, but its a liberal state and he's well liked. It doesn't really make sense), and West Virginia (this race has been weird all along). On the other hand I feel oddly confident with Illinois, California, Washington, and Nevada. While I feel Reid will win, I do think he will be forced to give up his majority leader title. And my guess is it goes to Sen. Schumer.

All this would lead to a 55-45 majority in the Senate for the Democrats.