Monthly Archives: April 2006

“Sopranos”: Luxury Lounge

I must say at the outset that I didn’t love this episode. True, a “bad” “Sopranos” episode is still better than 95% of what’s on TV, but this was probably the weakest of the season so far. I just felt like the put-upon-Artie-gets-revenge angle had already been done, two seasons ago, and the Christopher-in-Hollywood thing has been perhaps the weakest thread of all, throughout the series. Still, a few things I did enjoy:
– I loved the “Big Night” homage, with the cooking scenes at the beginning and end. When Tony mentioned the new rival restaurant, I half-expected Artie to channel Tony Shalhoub and yell out “Do you know what happens in that restaurant every night? RAPE! RAPE! …The rape of cuisine!”
– Are the two Arabs going to lead Christopher into further trouble with the FBI, should terrorism and/or money laundering issues arise? It looks that way, but then again it almost sounds too obvious that I wouldn’t think Chase would actually do it. And also, Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle brought up the interesting point that the “middle man” Chris hired to set up the hit with the two Italians could have been a government mole.
– I loved the three references to Season 1: Artie mentioning the fire Tony set at the original Vesuvio’s; Artie reproducing the rifle that he was threatened Tony with in order to kill the rabbit; and Tony mentioning the night he and his family drove to the restaurant in the rain (in the Season 1 finale).
– Speaking of the rabbit, help me, foodies: is it common practice for a professional chef to kill an animal in his garden, and then later serve it in his restaurant?
– The “whacking” of Lauren Bacall was inspired, sure. But if you’re going to cast Ben Kingsley, why not get him to play, you know, an actual gangster? He was brilliant in “Sexy Beast”- as well as in the groundbreaking role of “The Rabbi” in “Lucky Number Slevin.”
– By the way- the Bacall-getting-mugged story made the cover of Variety and presumably made some other national news as well. Once Tony put two and two together and realized that’s where the swag came from, wouldn’t it cause him to get upset with Chris? Remember: Tony’s a lover of old movies, and likely reveres Lauren Bacall.
– Next week: more of the Vito storyline, and could A.J. be embracing a life of crime?

Clamens Comes Back

On Sunday I caught the Phillies-Marlins game at Citizen’s Bank Park, as Ryan Howard hit two home runs- including a 496-footer that was the longest in stadium history- to give the Phils just their third home win of the season. A fun afternoon, as always at Philly’s incredible ballpark.
But the highlight of the day might have been the “birthday party” for the Phillie Phanatic, probably the only such event in the country that draws a near-capacity crowd. Not only was the Phanatic joined for a dance on top of the dugout by Mr. Met, Billy the Marlin, and numerous other major league mascots, but a between-innings bit during the game was one of the funnier things I’ve ever seen at a game:
The Phanatic comes out to third base. An actor dressed as an “umpire” starts arguing with the Phanatic. The umpire “tosses” the Phanatic (especially funny, since Phils manager Charlie Manuel had himself been ejected in the first inning of the game). The announcer then introduces the Phils’ new mascot, a giant clam with a 10-foot long shell-mouth. His name? “Roger Clam-ens.” So the clam charges at the umpire and… eats him, with the ump’s entire body going into the clam’s mouth. The Clam chews for awhile, and eventually spits out each of the ump’s shoes, then his shirt and pants, and then finally the ump himself, clad only in boxer shorts, who quickly runs away into the dugout. The soundtrack for this whole bit? “Eat It,” by “Weird Al” Yankovic.
In all, a brilliant bit of ballpark theater.

Sports Imitates Pearl Jam, Again

Bill Simmons’ Friday column, in which he previewed the NBA playoffs using quotes from Pearl Jam songs, was only the beginning. We we get news that OLN (the Outdoor Life Network) is changing its name to… Versus. Which, of course, was the name of Pearl Jam’s second album, which came out in 1993. No word on whether the band, still embroiled in their years-old TicketMaster litigation, will go after Comcast as well.

Quote of the Day

“As a long-term proposition, I don’t buy the superiority of blogs and the New Media any more than I bought the notion that America Online was more valuable than Time Warner. The Old Media – the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Atlantic Monthly – add to the store of public information in ways which seem irreplaceable. Do they have problems? Sure. Are some journalists bad at their jobs? Absolutely. But taken as a whole, the Old Media performs an enormous and valuable function that the New Media is neither able, nor inclined, to emulate.”

Jonathan V. Last, both a conservative and a blogger, speaking the truth in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Last’s weekly Sunday column, like Chris Satullo’s, is a must-read.

Another Hurdle Cleared…

The proposal of a new Minnesota Twins ballpark in downtown Minneapolis won a crucial victory last night, as it passed a key House committee. This was expected to be one of the bill’s biggest hurdles, and now it’s cleared. I’m not getting too confident right away, since I’ve been disapointed so many times before on this count, but it’s indeed looking better than ever that we’ll have a shot at outdoor Major League Baseball in Minnesota by the time the decade is out.

Movie Critic Quote of the Week

“In “American Dreamz,” a comedy about a faltering American president, a wildly popular TV talent show and the Svengalis behind them both, the jokes don’t just fizzle into insignificance; they flop about with gaudy ineffectualness, gasping for air like newly landed trout. Unlike fish, alas, gags about nitwit commanders in chief, oily television hosts and rabidly ambitious young performers with stars in their eyes and sometimes their beds can’t be tossed back in the water; only a blunt instrument, like a hammer, will do. Consider this a hammer, humanely but firmly applied.”

Manohla Dargis, the New York Times. Yes, it’s that bad.