Thursday, March 23, 2017

Let's Skip Over That

A pointless article entitled "5 Most Politically Incorrect 'Seinfeld' Moments" starts with this line:

NBC's "Seinfeld" did far more than introduce "yada yada yada" into the lexicon.

I can't believe how often I've heard this.

Seinfeld may have popularized the phrase "yada yada yada," but it was around a long time before the show aired.

In fact, not only do I remember a friend of mine using "yada yada" in the 1980s--I remember being charmed by how old-fashioned the phrase sounded back then.

But you know what they say--nothing happens until it happens on television.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March (And Other Months') Madness

Basketball is a weird sport in that essentially nothing matters until the final quarter.  The score bounces up an down, but it's usually close enough that it's decided near the end.  A goal in hockey, a run in baseball, a touchdown or even field goal in football makes a different early on, but 50 or 60 or 80 points scored early in basketball--who cares?

Unfortunately, this leads to the worst thing in basketball--the final two minutes.  Now both coaches have a good idea of what's needed, and the fun of the game is lost.  The coach that's ahead wants to waste time, while the coach that's behind needs to score fast and then get the ball from the other team.

What this leads to are lots of fouls and endless (they seem endless) timeouts so the coach can discuss the latest strategy, while the game practically grinds to a halt.  And usually it's pointless.  If you're behind by 15 points with 1:40 left it's over, stop playing like it matters.  Even if you're behind 8 points with 30 seconds left it's over.  But the fans have to wait forever for the game to finish.

I'd like to change the rules to get things moving.  How about this:

First, only one timeout allowed in the last five minutes of the game.  (And maybe none in the last two mintues.)

Then, a different foul structure in the last two minutes.  First foul, you keep whatever situation you're in.  But then future fouls--if they're intentional--give the team that's been fouled an option (or maybe not even an option, since that might slow up the game)--they can have the normal foul shooting situation, or they can take one foul shot and retain possession.  The other team, as far as I'm concerned, is just gaming the rules to get the ball back, so let's deny them what they want most and play this game all the way through like it's normal.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bangin'

After a lot of negotiation, The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for seasons 11 and 12.  For a while I wondered if the people behind it wouldn't just say "we've done enough, time to move on."

But it's still the biggest hit CBS (or any network) has (especially taking the demos into account), so what were they to do?  Some people like to go out on top, but others like to keep on going until it's definitely over.  It's hard to imagine making that much money, but it's also hard to imagine giving it up when you don't have to.

The central five stars have been re-signed, though the two "junior" cast members, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, are still working out their new contracts with CBS.  I'm sure they'll come to some sort of agreement. (Though I'm intrigued--how much leverage do they have?  They are regular cast members and it would be hard to write them out, but CBS knows they've got to be pretty happy with the money they're already making.)

There's also going to be a spinoff called Young Sheldon, which sounds awful.  Sheldon, unquestionably the breakout character, works fine playing off the ensemble, but I don't want to see him surrounded by new characters, I don't want to see his "origin" and I don't want him played by a new actor.

Still, who knows?  I recall, a decade ago, seeing a huge billboard near where I live advertising this new show called The Big Bang Theory. It featured the three leads, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons.  And I remember thinking "isn't it sad?--here are these young actors all excited about landing a network sitcom, and by the end of the year they'll probably be canceled and forgotten."

Monday, March 20, 2017

What Does S Stand For?

In the LA Weekly, Hillel Aron has a piece about the crushing defeat of Measure S in the recent election.  He tries to analyze its meaning.

This is pointless. Being a citizen here, I can guarantee him no one had any idea what Measure S was about.  We got about 100 mailers calling it either a disaster or something that will save the city.  And most of the material was against.  We could vaguely tell it dealt with development in some way, but that was it.

But that doesn't stop Hillel:

...the rejection of Measure S is a watershed moment in the history of Los Angeles, a confirmation that the city wants to become more urbanized, more dense, less reliant on the automobile, more inclusive and, perhaps, a more unified city.

This is a litany of nonsense.  No one understood Measure S, so you can't read anything into how people voted.  When people are unsure, they vote no.  But even if Measure S read "do you agree with everything Hillel Aron says in that quote above," and they voted Yes, Aron's claims would still be nonsense.

Here's what people want, no matter how they vote, no matter what Hillel thinks:  They want a better home or apartment.  They want their mortgage or rent to be lower.  They want more space.  And they want less traffic, especially so they can enjoy their automobiles more. (They also wouldn't mind better mass transit while enjoying their automobiles.)

It's bad enough we get stupid Measures that no one understands.  If people start thinking the vote actually means something, it'll only make things worse.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Ultimate

It's funny but just last week I was telling a friend it's surprising how many rock greats from its early days are still around.  Sure, Buddy Holly died young, and so did Elvis, but Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino are still around.

Heading that list, actually, was Chuck Berry, who just passed away at 90.  He was the greatest of all the originators.  He sang, played guitar, knew how to put on a show, and, above all, was rock and roll's greatest songwriter.  He created the template that so many followed--it's hard to imagine the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and so many others being what they were if Chuck hadn't come first.  If I had to name a single person most important in inventing rock, it would be Berry.

I don't know what's the first song of his I listened to, but I do remember the first time I heard "Johnny B. Goode." I was at some sort of outdoor fair and the song was blasting over the PA.  It stopped me in my tracks.  I loved the rock, of course, but what really got to me were the lyrics.  They flowed so well, and were so entertaining they almost made me laugh.  Chuck Berry was really the best lyricist ever in rock--I don't think anyone since has topped him.

I've paid tribute to him many time before, and, with a heavy heart, it's time to do it one more time.  Trouble is, you don't know where to start, and you don't know when to stop.












Saturday, March 18, 2017

PG Rated

Here's an interview with P. G. Wodehouse in The Paris Review.  (Done when he was well into his 90s.)  I read a lot of Wodehouse in law school.  It was literally comic relief.

He's one of the best comic writers in the English language.  He may not be the deepest, but he sure knows how to keep you reading.

Here's part of the reason, according to the man himself:

...always get to the dialogue as soon as possible.  I always feel the thing to go for is speed.  Nothing puts the reader off more than a great slab of prose at the start.  I think the success of every novel--if it's a novel of action--depends on the high spots.  The thing to do is to say to yourself, "Which are my big scenes?" and then get every drop of juice out of them.  The principle I always go on in writing a novel is to think of the characters in terms of actors in a play.  I say to myself, if a big name were playing the part, and if he found that after a strong first act he had practically nothing to do in the second act, he would walk out.  Now, then, can I twist the story so as to give him plenty to do all the way through?  I believe the only way a writer can keep himself up to the mark is be examining each story quite coldly before he starts writing it and asking himself if it is all right as a story.  I mean, once you go saying to yourself, "This is a pretty weak plot as it stands, but I'm such a hell of a writer that my magic touch mill make it okay," you're sunk. If they aren't in interesting situations, characters can't be major characters, not even if you have the rest of the troop talk their heads off about them.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Near Miss

I was watching an episode of What's My Line? aired some time in the 1950s.  A female guest signed in and host John Daly asked "Is it Miss or Mrs.?"

I watched with the Closed Captioning on, and the CC typist decided to spell it rather than use an abbreviation, so we got "Is it Miss or Misses?"

Misses?  Daly wasn't asking if she was one or more than one unmarried young woman.

It's spelled "missus," though I suppose you don't see it that much in print these days.  Perhaps the typist was too young to know.

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