Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween chills

The Daily Show is making Washington D.C. available in high definition.

Regular definition is enough, thank you.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Definitely maybe

"Let's remember, over the last two and a half months of the season, arguably Sanchez was the Giants' best picher, without a doubt."

–Fox TV's Chris Rose, covering all bases on the World Series Game 3 pregame show

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hawaii Five-0 recap

What we learned on Hawaii Five-0 this week:

CBS has made so much money from the CSI franchise and/or America's leading comedian, Charlie Sheen, that they can peel off 20 grand to throw a snippet of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Higher Ground" into their slick new cop show.

Ben Bass is a stud.

Ben Bass cares about the ocean.

Little Hawaiian girls like to make bracelets for Ben Bass.  

Ben Bass surfs exclusively for Coral Prince.  Accept no substitutes.

I actually did go scuba diving once... the Great Barrier Reef... Cairns, North Queensland, Australia...

...ah, memories.

OK, back to the other Ben Bass.

Ben Bass cares about fragile wetlands.

Chicks dig Ben Bass.

Ben Bass is suspected of what?!

It's all good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Matt Besser says...

Because I cover comedy and theater for a popular arts website, I often receive press releases about live performances, movies and television shows. On occasion I mention them here.

Matt Besser, Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder, comedy guru, nasal prankster, gentleman philosopher, has checked in with news on his latest sketch comedy project.  I love me some UCB, so let's help Matt spread the word.

More after the break.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Aloha, Ben Bass

As some of you know, particularly the Canucks who Google their way here every day, there's an actor named Ben Bass who starred on a hit television show in Canada and currently appears on an ABC-TV police drama called Rookie Blue. I've been meaning to write about him in this space for a while now.

But before I could do so, I got an interesting tip this morning from a friend. Apparently on last night's episode of CBS' Hawaii Five-0 there was a character called Ben Bass. Not the actor Ben Bass, but a character that someone chose to name Ben Bass.

So Hollywood's cop shows aren't just throwing work at actual Ben Basses, they're adding fictional Ben Basses when they can't get a real one. It's all about Ben Bass these days! Of course, I have long felt that way, but no one ever seems to agree with me.

What was the character Ben Bass like? As my friend reports, "A heartthrob, no less. Got to kiss Grace Park and everything." Naturally. Ben Basses are suave.

Take the aforementioned actor Ben Bass.  Apparently he is quite the stud, judging from the "ben bass married", "ben bass is hot", "ben bass girlfriend", "ben bass gay" and "ben bass shirtless" searches that pop up in my blog traffic.

But just in case these Googlers were actually looking for me, the answers to the above queries are 1. No,  2. Thanks,  3. No,  4. Despite all appearances, no  and  5. Really? People use the Internet for that sort of thing?

Getting back to Hawaii Five-0, in the incredibly unlikely event that a TV show with a character named Ben Bass is of any interest to anyone besides myself and the slightly less dashing actor with the same name, you can watch last night's episode, "Ko'olauloa," here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

OK, Buffy fans...

Explain this:


Friday, October 22, 2010

Ripped from the headlines

On the morning the United-Continental merger became official a few weeks ago, I happened to be flying United from its Terminal 1 at O'Hare airport in Chicago.

The pilot announced that changes were already underway. In fact, he said, the first plane had just been painted to show both airlines, and it was visible to our left.

Since I always take a window seat on the left, I was able to see what he meant:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just asking

While watching the highly entertaining National League Championship Series, I learned the Phillies have a player called Ben Francisco.

Do the Giants have a guy called Phil Adelphia?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Big Ten Football and Beyond

After three years of banging away at this blog -- three years this week, in fact -- I've developed a bias toward more or less anything with the word "beyond" in the title.

Still, I have to give props to my new favorite television show: "Big Ten Football and Beyond." It's on the Big Ten Network. What are the odds?

"BTF&B" is a weekly roundtable discussion of quaint handicrafts, with a particular emphasis on macramé and pottery.

No it's not, just seeing if you were paying attention. It is, of course, all about the pigskin, huge midwestern state school style.

As you may know, since Penn State joined up in 1990, there are actually eleven teams in the Big Ten. Next year, when Nebraska defects from the Big 12, there will be twelve teams in the Big Ten, and ten teams in the Big 12. Got that?

Helping us make sense of all this, not to mention the weekly games around the league and the nation, are the show's four panelists:
  • The moderator par excellence is Dave Revsine, a Chicago native and "SportsCenter" host whom the Big Ten Network hired away from ESPN to install as its marquee anchor. He's a rock-solid broadcaster who lends credibility to the entire network.
  • Then you've got Chicago Tribune college football expert Teddy Greenstein, a walking sound bite machine. With his authoritative analysis and wisecracking humor, he's in constant demand on Chicago sports TV and radio. (He's also a poker buddy of yours truly.)
  • Rounding out the panel are Chris Martin and Gerry DiNardo, two guys gradually burning off the remaining adrenaline from their college football playing days by constantly attacking each other.

Speaking of my biases, I like that three of these four guys went to Northwestern, my law school alma mater. Teddy was the prince of the Medill sportswriting program; "Revver" went there too, plus his dad was a longtime Kellogg accounting professor; and "C-Mart" played on the miraculous 1995 Wildcats football team that ran away with the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl. Coach DiNardo went to Notre Dame, but he seems like a decent guy.

Putting the show over the top is the national football writer who comes on every week to break down the country's biggest matchups. This gentleman probably weighs 130 pounds soaking wet and comes across as a wispy accountant for the Keebler corporation, but he knows his college football cold and talks like a sophisticated NFL scout. He just happens to look like the captain of the high school math team. It's the converse of casting Lyle Alzado as a sensitive florist.

The weird thing about how much I enjoy this show is, I'm not even that into college football. I just like listening to people who really know their stuff, particularly if they're funny. Plus it's a convenient way to keep up with the game's big stories, its enduring rivalries, the Heisman race, America's ongoing dissatisfaction with the Bowl Championship Series, and the unsolvable problem that is Boise State.

I'd actually rather watch this show than the biggest game of the week. I'm content just catching the Northwestern game and hearing the Big Ten and national reports from these guys.

If you get the Big Ten Network, check out "Big Ten Football and Beyond."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On an off day you can miss forever

If you dedicate yourself to the sport, you can break two nonadjacent strings on the same shot.

Relatedly, a few months ago I broke four adjacent strings, but it did not occur to me to take a picture.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And speaking of comedy...

Jeffrey Ross, aka "the Roastmaster General," plays Zanies on Wells Street tonight.

My Flavorpill preview is here.

Birbigs and beyond

The prolific comedian Mike Birbiglia headlines the Vic Theatre this weekend. My Flavorpill preview is here.

To get us in the mood, here's "Two Drink Mike" performing at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Brits and bits

Scottish comedian Billy Connolly plays the Royal George Theatre this weekend and next.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Malcolm Gladwell on "The Magical Year 1975"

In his New Yorker Festival talk, Malcolm Gladwell argued that 1975 was the watershed year that talent in America started to get paid what it was worth.

Predictably, he spoke at some length about Marvin Miller, the visionary leader of the baseball players' union who led the ballplayers from indentured servitude to a promised land of princely riches.

In an early meeting with San Francisco Giants players at their spring training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., Miller was having trouble convincing his charges that they were entitled to earn more than the relative pittance to which they had grown accustomed.

Miller singled out Bobby Bonds, then one of the best players in the game, who like many players often had his young son in tow around camp. The younger Bonds was already showing signs of baseball greatness.

Miller told the players that if they followed the template set by other American labor unions, and if Bonds' son one day made it to the major leagues, he would earn more in one season than his father had made in his entire career.

Not only did that come to pass, but the $22 million that Barry Bonds earned in 2002 was more than Bobby Bonds and all of his teammates made in their entire careers combined.

Gladwell also described the frosty relationship between the feisty, confrontational, Fu Manchu-mustachioed Miller and baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, whom Miller viewed as an effete, weak-willed, bow tie-wearing, whisky-sipping Ivy Leaguer.

At one point Kuhn complained that Miller would not join him for a friendly meal. Miller responded that Kuhn merely wanted to pick his brain, and that the prospects for a reciprocal benefit were slim.

Gladwell also told of the current irrationality of both income and perspective at the highest levels of the American economy:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

That's the spirit

A lot of people get into the New Yorker Festival,
but this hotel went overboard.

Steve Carell on Hollywood

At his New Yorker Festival conversation with Tad Friend this morning, Steve Carell described the absurdity of living in Hollywood:

"We live around the corner from Miley Cyrus. One day my daughter decided to set up a lemonade stand at the end of our driveway. She was selling glasses of lemonade for 25 cents.

"Her first customer was Billy Ray Cyrus. He was out walking his dog. He gave her 20 dollars for a glass of lemonade.

"There are always tons of paparazzi outside the Cyrus house. All the paparazzi came around the corner to buy lemonade. They also gave big tips.

"Then the cops who chase the paparazzi away, they came around the block and bought lemonade. They paid a lot too.

"After an hour my daughter came inside with like 60 or 70 dollars. She was convinced that she could do this for a living. She had been completely misled.

"I tried to explain that this was not how the world worked. She was like, 'I'm buying a laptop!' "

Try not to like this

I may be running around New York City all weekend but, dear readers, I haven't forgotten about you. Both of you.

In my absence, enjoy these giant bubbles:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Strictly personal

Congratulations to my brother Ari Bass and his longtime girlfriend Sarah Ingram on the exciting news of their wedding engagement.

I'm pleased that the ten-year trial period has proven a success. It's somewhat redundant at this point to say welcome to the family, Sarah, but welcome to the family.

Very happy for you both!

Sexual chocolate


The Waldorf-Astoria looks beautiful this morning in the eastern sunlight, but why aren't they flying the national flag of Zamunda over Park Avenue? What would King Jaffe Joffer say?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Today's thought

Not all flight delays are objectionable.

For example, the two short bump-backs that held up my New York trip by 40 minutes not only didn't bother me, they enabled me to watch from United's Terminal 1 today's live White House press conference featuring two of my favorite Chicagoans, Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel.

The president just announced the worst-kept secret in Washington, that "Rahmbo" is leaving his post as Obama's chief of staff to run for mayor of Chicago. I hope he wins and would gladly tolerate the minor inconvenience of living a block from what would become the mayor's residence.

As for flight delays, the poor souls who opted for the 8:30 a.m. flight to LaGuardia were still hanging around O'Hare when I arrived for my 11:03 flight. Had I booked the "earlier" departure, all I would have done is sit around the airport rather than enjoy the splendor of stately Bass Manor. Sometimes the glass is two-thirds full.

New Yorker Festival preview

I will be spending the weekend in New York City, or as I call it, "Bedbugs and Beyond."

The primary reason for my trip is to attend the 2010 New Yorker Festival, the New Yorker magazine's annual three-day throwdown. Tickets to nearly all events are still available, even those that sold out online a few weeks ago. Ten percent of tickets were held back and will be on sale today from noon to 4 p.m. at SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. First come, first served.  A limited number of tickets will also be sold at the door beginning an hour before most events. Cash only.

Much more information about the Festival is here, or for those of you unwilling to read anything other than this blog (which I totally get), just sit back and watch this video summary of last year's version. I think I recognize the guy at the 3:00 mark:

Edit: Thousands of angry readers have emailed me to complain that this embedded video does not play properly, and they're correct.

Click here to watch it on the video section of the New Yorker's website, where it does work. Scroll down about halfway, or further as they continue to add videos from this year's Festival.