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Livebloggin’: The 2009 Video Music Awards

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 13, 2009

Kanye Taylor

Amidst a borderline-historic night for quality American Television–the Packers and Broncos, the Phillies and Mets, the season finale of True Blood, the series finale of King of the Hill, reruns of Beef: The MC Battles on FUSE–I still can’t resist the lure of the 26th annual Video Music Awards on MTV. I started off thinking I could suffice with Twitter updates, but quickly realized only a running diary (like last year’s!) would suffice. So I’m backlogged for the first twenty minutes or so from my Twittering, but after that it’s all exclusive shit! Relive the magic with me, won’t you?

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Posted in Livebloggin' | 4 Comments »

Livebloggin’: Game Five of the World Series (Pt. 2 of ?)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 29, 2008

If this is it, please let me know

After sitting through what could most accurately be described as an inauspicious Sixers season opener (rebounded and d’d fairly well, but that’s about it, and Brand didn’t anchor the team so much as just sort of weigh them down), it’s good to remember that one of my city’s other sports teams is still potentially three innings away from a World Championship. This week has been maybe the most surreal I’ve experienced in my brief tenure as a sports fan–baseball is drawn out enough as it is, without having to spend two days in between innings contemplating pitching match-ups, momentum swings and possible dramatic storylines (like how if the Phillies somehow ended up losing after this, it would have to mark the blackest moment in the city’s sports history, right? Yikes, maybe I did choose to follow Philly at just the right time)

That said, I still like our chances a pretty good deal tonight–good though David Price has been, I’m not convinced he can handle four scoreless innings by his lonesome, and as long as we don’t have to resort to Durbin at some point, I trust our bullpen guys fairly implicitly. And ultimately, this might be a good thing for baseball–this was gearing up to be a fairly anonymous Series, and at least this mishap has given the match a little personality. Of course, it’s a much better story if the Rays win tonight, so let’s hope things don’t get too interesting. In any event, it’s going to be hard for me to resist flipping intermittently to the Spurs-Suns season opener (watching Game Five of the ’05 Western Conference Finals on NBA TV today reminded me just how easily this is my favorite rivalry in pro sports), so forgive an interjection or two from that game.

Anyway, opening pitch approaches. Can Lidge keep history on his side? Can Cholly outmanouever Maddon after 48 hours of labbing behind the both? Who gets to be the hero tonight? Should be one for the ages, no matter what.

8:38: Geoff Jenkins announced as the pinch-hitter for Hamels. I don’t like it–yeah, maybe he matches up better, but I don’t think he’s actually come through in any important capacity since the summer, and I’d be shocked if he broke that streak tonight. But with an unstable Balfour on the mound and a record-enthusiastic Philly crowd behind him, I’ll be willing to suspend disbelief for a couple of pitches.

8:42: HOLY FUCKING SHIT GEOFF JENKINS. A leadoff double over the head of BJ Upton that looked like almost as much of a bomb as Stairs’s NLCS clocker. Jenkins, you fucking prince. Charlie Manuel, you fucking genius.

8:43: Rollins bunts Jenkins over, and the dreaded RISP cloud moves back over Citizens Bank Park for Jayson Werth. Can he put bat to ball and get Not-Favre 90 feet over?

8:45: Somehow, yes. Werth works his patented “Runner on Third With Less Than Two Outs Pop-Up” magic, but with the infield playing in to nail Jenkins at the plate, Aki fails to pull a Rollins and make the backwards shallow-outfield catch. Jenkins scores, Werth safe at first, so long Grant Balfour.

8:49: Earlier today, I realized how much I missed those “Where Amazing Happens” NBA commercials. A few hours later, I wondered how the hell I was ever going to an endure an entire season’s worth of them again.

8:50: J.P. Howell in for Balfour. So much for Price going the distance, although McCarver & Buck helpfully point out that doing so would necessitate the Rays’ having to hit for him too soon. Doesn’t matter, since Utley goes down on three pitches to Howell, causing me to wonder if the Phils aren’t instilling the “hurry-up offense” they so often do once they get a league in big games, seemingly uninterested in providing further offense at the risk of unnecessarily delaying victory.

8:54: Howard pops up, inning over. Down to Madson, Romero and Lidge nail down a glorious anti-climax.

8:57: Hey, forgot that Hamels can still win this thing! A record-setting 5-0, just another reason why winning tonight might not be the worst idea (Reason #1: Not stretching this thing to the very end of the month getting in the way of my Halloween plans).

8:59: Madson freezes Navarro, and we officially start the Outs to Go countdown. (8)

8:59: Uhh, scratch that, as Rocco Baldelli somehow fights off a high and inside fastball…INTO THE LEFT-FIELD STANDS??? I don’t know how that mitochondrial motherfucker managed that one, but we got ourselves another tie game, and Hamels loses his shot at a historic 5-0. Goddamn it.

9:02: Bartlett singles and gets bunted up. Madson out, Romero in, and the chances that we can finish this game without resorting to Condrey or Durbin start to dwindle past the point of comfort. Would it maybe not be the worst idea to let the well-rested Myers come out of the bullpen if necessary, and have Moyer and either Blanton or a three-days’-rest Hamels pitch the potential Games 6 and 7? Well, given the fact that he always gives up two runs in his first inning, maybe it wouldn’t be so advisable. But soon it might be time for a little out-of-the-box thinking.

9:07: Another game-saving play from Utley, who gloves a hot grounder from Aki, realizes he has no play at first, and has the presence of mind to fake the throw, hold on to the ball, and gun down the overzealous Bartlett heading for home. Said it before, say it again–whatta crew.

9:11: PAT. THE. BAT. Burrell comes inches away from a game-breaking homer but manages a lead-off double anyway (anyone else would’ve gone to third or possibly home on the ricochet, but whatever). Sometimes, 1-14 just looks so much better than 0-13. Incidentally, where was that Battle of the Bullpens we were promised?

9:19: Vic advances the pinch-running Bruntlett to third, and then Feliz knocks in Bruntlett with a shot up the middle. Looks like all the momentum the Rays were supposed to get from the days off and from Hamels being out of the game has yet to properly transfer to their bullpen. Still, I guess we should see if ours’ll start holding up before I start gloating too unapologetically.

9:22: Ruiz forcefully grounds out, and then in a move that he damn well better justify with his pitching next inning, Romero is not lifted for a pinch-hitter, and grounds out somewhat less forcefully. In any event, time to start the Outs to Go countdown again (7, 6).

9:25: With every new season, the gap between between 24 and an 80s Schwarzeneggar movie closes a little bit. Not that I’m complaining, mind you–I’m especially looking forward to Jack’s climact knife fight with Bennett in the season finale.

9:28: Crawford singles up the middle, but as has somehow become his trademark this World Series, Upton grounds into a double play (5, 4). Why does this guy seem so fast when he’s stealing second or rounding third (even winning America free tacos in the process), but becomes positively Burrell-esque when running out potential DPs? This has got to be the most frustrating thing in the world if you’re a Tampa fan (and yes, I think we’re going to have to get used to the phrase “Tampa fan” in the years to come, no matter what happens here tonight).

9:32: Pena lifts one into left a little too far for comfort, but it lands in healthy playability for Bruntlett (3). No matter what, the Phils are going to have the lead going into the ninth, with Lidge on the mound to turn the lights out for the 49th and last time this season. Are we getting excited yet? Inversely, can we possibly picture a more terrifying Worst Case Scenario if the Phils don’t pull this out? Actually, let’s stick to the excitement part for now.

9:35: And heeeeere comes David Price. The more I hear about this guy and the more I see him pitch, the more I’m convinced that he’s the baseball Tim Duncan. He sorta looks like him, facial hair aside, they both were #1 picks that were thrust amidst huge hype into extremely high-pressure post-season situations their first years and they both look to be the franchise players for a potentially dynastic team. But most importantly, neither look like they feel anything except fear, adrenaline and sullenness, their perpetually hagdog expressions looking jarringly ill-fitting for such a championship-calliber player and leader. Maybe next year Price grows a goatee, dates a reality TV star and does a Sprite commercial, but more likely I think he chills at home with his phone on silent, wondering why everyone always wants to talk to him so much.

9:39: Rollins flies out and Werth strikes out. Hard not to question Maddon for not putting his No-Longer-Particularly-Secret Weapon in the game as soon as they were lucky enough to tie it against Madson, no?

9:43: Utley walks and steals second, and for the first and last time in history, Howard continues to get pitched to For Fear of Eric Bruntlett on deck. Of course, Howard justifies their decision by whiffing.

9:45: BRAD LIDGE TIME. Goddamn this blog for making it too confusing for me to figure out how to write that in the humongous, screen-shattering size it deserves. CAN YOU FEEL IT PHILADELPHIA?????

9:50: Eva Almighty pops up, and boy is it starting to feel real. Sorry for the shitty series, MLB, but I think we just needed to get this one out of the way. They can’t all be evenly-matched epics like Boston-Colorado and St. Louis-Detroit, I guess. (3)

9:52: Uh-oh, broken bat bloop single for Navarro. Lidge never did do things the easy way. Fernando Perez pinch-runs for Navarro in a way that is in absolutely no fashion reminiscent of Dave Roberts in 2004…right?

9:54: Perez steals second. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK. Zobrist and Hinske, Brad. You’ve done it all year. Do it one more fucking time, please.

9:55: Zobrist lines a beauty to right, that somehow manages to stay up long enough for Werth to get glove on it (1). Holy shit is that a little too close for comfort. And as we always knew it would, the World Series comes down to 2003 Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske. Can he provide the big-game support for the Rays that he did for the Red Sox last year? I’m cuing up the McFadden and Whitehead, just incase.

9:56, 23 seconds: Foul grounder to first, strike one.

9:56, 48 seconds: Hinske can’t check his swing, strike two. Hope you’ve been practicing your McGraw leap, Brad-Brad.

9:57, 20 seconds: Lidge slider, Hinske swings, and



10:50: About an hour, a ridiculous amount of texting and IMing, six shots of tequilla and a whole lot of Hall & Oates and Gamble and Huff later, the incredulity of the situation has started to strike me somewhat. The Phillies have won the 2008 World Series….how about that? No weaknesses came back to haunt the team, no brutal ironies surfaced to sap the team of its life and enthusiasm, no holes opened up in the middle of the earth under CBP to swallow the team whole. And as soon as Lidge got that third strike on Hinske, I completely forgot all about all the rain delays, as I imagine the entire world will within the next 24 hours. This will not go down as one of the great moments in sports history. This will go down as very potentially the great moment in Philadelphia sports history. Holy shit am I lucky to have started following this team when I did.

And once again, they did it all as a team. There are no goats on this team. Pedro Feliz and Eric Bruntlett were not exactly on the shortlist of the team’s prospective post-season homers, but Feliz got the game-winning hit, and Bruntlett got the game winning run. My boy Moyer got shelled in his first two series outings, but he redeemed it all with his Game 3 performance, and now fans are chanting his name as he gets interviewed by Peter Gammons. Hell, even Mitch Williams, the guy who give Philly fans ulcers whenever his name was mentioned for a decade and a half, got to throw out an opening pitch. Lidge got the save, Hamels got the MVP, and Phils fans got ammo over Mets fans for years and years to come (IITS friend Andrew Weber on the occasion: “I am not even talking about this. This is too depressing. This is it for six months.”) It’s unreal that it’s as uncomplicated as it all is.

It’s a better story if Tampa Bay wins, sure. But the early-90s Braves needed to lose before they could win, too, and it’s the Braves that turned out to be the team of the 90s, while the Twins were pretty much never heard from again. I don’t cry any tears for the Rays–it would’ve been amazing if they won, sure, but they’ll only get better, and they’ll have their chances soon enough. The Phils, on the other hand–this was their year, and they might not have another. Burrell and Moyer might be on their way out, while Howard, Utley, Rollins and Victorino are not nearly as young as you might think for a group that hasn’t even been playing together for a half-decade. It was a year where just about everything that could’ve gone right did–some minor dips in production, but no major injuries and no major catastrophes, and a post-season where the team did not lose a single game at home. For a team who has had a notoriously tempestuous relationship with its fans, this last month was a gift that should buy them credit for years and years of heartbreak to come.

So will it be another hundred seasons before the next Philly championship? Maybe, but maybe not. I’m hoping this could be the break in city psychology that Boston got with those first couple Pats championships, opening the floodgates for an oncoming period of prosperity and dominance. And if not, well, it’ll take a whole lot to start complaining again. This was as special a season as they come, and the memories–Victorino’s 9th-inning assist against the Braves to save Lidge’s save streak, Howard’s incredible long-balling September to get the Phils back in the playoff hunt, Rollins and Utley’s amazing double play against the Nats to seal the division, Myers’ huge walk-draw against CC to help chase the best pitcher in baseball out of the NLDS, Stairs’ incredible 8th-inning blast against the Dodgers to help seal the NLDS, and Lidge’s strike-out of Hinske and the ensuing pile on as the Phils won their first World in a quarter-century–will last my whole life.

Shine a light, Philadelphia.

Posted in Clap Clap ClapClapClap, Livebloggin' | 2 Comments »

Livebloggin’: Game Five of the 2008 World Series

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 27, 2008

This is the time

The first game of the Phillies season was not exactly encouraging. For seven innings it was all right, especially on the two-run homer Jimmy Rollins hit in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game. But then 8th-inning man Tom Gordon let up five runs in the 8th, and the Phils could not respond, ending up losing the game 11-6 to the perpetually bottom-feeding Washington Nationals (“These aren’t the light-hitting Washington Nationals anymore” proclaimed Yahoo Sports writer Rob Maadii, arguably prematurely). It was the same old story for the Phils–disappointing starting pitching followed by unreliable relief, and an inability for the team’s big hitters to respond in the clutch. 2008 was going to be a fun year, no doubt.

The way this team has managed to turn around all the bad vibes of not merely that fluky season opener, not just the disappointing end to last season, but over a hundred years (and over 10,000 losses) worth of franchise doom and gloom, is nothing short of historic. I’ve been reading through You Can’t Lose ‘Em All recently, Frank Fitzpatrick’s retelling of the story of the 1980 championship Phillies team, and yeah, there are definitely some parallels. Bowa, the team’s veteran all-star shortstop called the team frontrunners, just like Jimmy Rollins did earlier this year, Schmidt, the team’s reluctant hero occasionally irking fans with his lack of emotional showiness, is a dead-ringer for Utley, and flat-footed but power-hitting outfielder Greg “The Bull” Luzinski probably knows how pissed Burrell gets when Charlie Manuel subs scrubby Game 3 hero Eric Bruntlett in for him in late innings.

But the attitudes–of the team, of the manager, of the fans–couldn’t have changed much more between the ’80 team and this one. The ’80 team, for all their heart and hustle, sniped at each other, whined about stats, badmouthed their manager to the press (and were slighted and undercut by him in return), and were intermittently booed by their fans right down to the last game of their improbable division win. Optimisim was conditional at best, and pessimism was ever-pervasive, everyone always leaping at the chance to proclaim the team as good as done. And while it hasn’t always been a honeymoon with this year’s squad–Howard and Burrell’s slumping, Myers’ disastrous first half, the J-Roll controversies–the team all seems to like each other, they all seem to listen to (or at least begrudgingly respect) Uncle Cholly, and they all just seem to get the importance of all of it–the series, the franchise, the city, the moment.

The biggest difference, however, has to be in the attitude of fans. Not only are Phils fans not wary of the worst anymore, they expect the best. Fans on the webboards are already planning their victory parties. My dad, a Philadelphia sports devotee of roughly a half-century, seems dangerously close to letting his guard down for the first time since 1964. If you asked somewhere in the city of Philadelphia who they think was going to win tonight, they’d probably say “The Phillies,” and they’d stare at you in confusion while you waited for them to add a disclaimer. I’ll say it too, why not: I think the Phillies are going to win tonight. Not only would I not bet money against them, I’d strongly consider betting money on them. Sure, it helps that they haven’t given fans a reason to doubt them since August, but anyone will tell you that it’s not just that: This year, it just feels different.

Of course, that’s what the Cubs fans said at the beginning of the post-season, before they promptly dropped three straight. And of course, this Rays bunch does have that Team of Destiny feeling to them, so from a dramatic sense at least, no one would really be surprised if they still managed to come back to win. I’m not so blinded by the team’s success that I’m willing to say it’s all over just yet. But that’s the last qualification I’m going to offer in this blog post. If it jinxes the team, well, I guess my Philly fandom is still pretty green, and I probably have a lot to learn about what it feels like to have a sports team yank out your heart and play drunken foozball with it for the millionth time.

But let’s put it this way–in what other city is John Fucking Oates going to end up singing the National Anthem before what could very possibly be your closeout game in a world championship? Why can’t us, you ask? No reason, as far as I can tell.

8:30 PM: Strike 1 to Aki Iwamura. 80 more to eternal glory. Hamels gets Iwamura to fly out, and Tim McCarver comments that Cole “may never have this chance again.” What, to go 5-0 in a post-season, winning two series clinchers (and undoubtedly, two straight post-season MVP awards) and toppling Josh Beckett for Best Big Game Pitcher in Baseball status? Yeah, and Nick Nolte “may never have the chance” to win People’s Sexiest Man Alive again. (Not a joke, sadly–the 1992 winner. I guess he was the only one that year not to buy into the Zubaz craze or something).

8:33 PM: Three up, three down. Champagne by 9:30 EST?

8:38 PM: J-Roll smokes a ball, and I instantly flash to his lead-off home runs in the NLDS and CS clinchers. Turns out “smokes” is a somewhat relative concept, and it falls to left-fielder Crawford with relative ease. Guess we’ll have to go a little off-book, guys.

8:42 PM: Werth walks, and now a trademark Utley HBP. Him going the entire post-season without getting plunked at least once would’ve been far more conspicuous than Howard going homerless or Myers going facial hairless, so thank God we got that out of the way.

8:44 PM: Howard, met with “M-V-P!” chants, promptly strikes out swinging. Love the guy, warts and all, but if he wins top regular season honors, it would definitely be something resembling a travesty.

8:47 PM: Burrell walks, bases loaded for Victorino. The man could no doubt assure his place in the forever ranks of Philly folk heroes with a blast of some sort here. And sure enough, the Flyin’ Hawaiian comes through once more, singling to right field, 2-0 Phils. THE THRILL OF VICTORINO.

8:51 PM: There has never been a man alive slower than Pat Burrell. It hasn’t really mattered in any big spots (though after a Ruiz fly-out, he might’ve cost the team a run by not scoring on a Feliz single), but it would be remiss of me not to mention that this man somehow runs slower than Anthony Kiedis at the end of the “Under the Bridge” video. And you don’t even get to watch the visual poetry of his pecs heaving from one side to the other while he does it.

8:55 PM: Pena…bunting his way on? Are the Rays really waving the White Flag that early??

8:59 PM: Possibly the most exciting thing about the Phils’ chance of closing it out tonight–no more seeing those Bud Light “Drinkability” commercials ten times a night. Guys, we already have one ad campaign complaining about how people say all beer tastes the same, and it’s only through the involvement of John C. “Miracle Worker” McGinley that it’s even slightly bearable. Pushing your luck with a similarly weak argument (and an annoying buzzword to go with it) is inadvisable.

9:10 PM: Unexciting Phillies inning means I have to keep talking about commercials, but I really do love those Bob Melvin Frutista Freeze commercials. Considering how abysmal last year’s infamous “Rules to Live By” campaign was, and how marginally less dreadful this year’s “Triple Steak Guy” ad was, boy is it refreshing to see a Taco Bell commercial that doesn’t make me want to hide under my bedcovers for the rest of all time.

9:16 PM: A dinky hit by Aki, the Rays’ first of the night, is promptly negated by a weak groundout from Carl Crawford, three outs. Is this going to be one of those classic foregone conclusion games where nobody remembers a single thing that happens because everyone involved seemed to know the inevitable outcome from Strike One? Could it really be that easy? Could I set a record for number of home team jinxes in one blog post? Stay tuned.

9:21 PM: Strike three, Ryan Howard. Pop up, Pat Burrell. Swinging K, Victorino. Well, we wouldn’t want to make it too easy for Cole, now, would we? After all, he may never have this chance again.

9:27 PM: Pena gets the first legit Rays hit of the game, a few feet away from a home run. This is when all the adrenaline and cockiness subsides and I realize that we still do technically have five innings to go in this game with but a two-run lead as cushion.

9:29 PM: Longo pushes Pena in with an RBI single, 2-1. Hm.

9:31 PM: Navarro grounds into an inning-ending double play. I slink back into my arrogant bravado as I would a warm bath.

9:34 PM: This House episode looks weird. I’m sure there’s a reason Cutty is yelling “C’mon, cry! CRY!!” at one of her patients, but it’s sort of hard to guess what that might be.

9:35 PM: Feliz strikes out swinging, and Kazmir is starting to look a little too on point. Thank God he seems to suffer from the same tendencies towards handicapping teams a run or two in the first as Myers, otherwise we might really be in trouble.

9:36 PM: Ruiz’s single to the left side brings up a very, very scary question: Could Carlos Ruiz somehow end up being the MVP of this series? .429 batting average, a key longball in game two as well as that game’s winning RBI, praise from the entire rotation for the way he’s called the series behind the plate…I mean if Hamels wins tonight, he’s practically a shoo-in, but if God forbid he didn’t, would the regular-season .220/Ruiz be the main hitting candidate? If so, he’d have to be the ultimate “answer not even Schwab could pull” in a “Name the last ___ winners of the World Series MVP” first-rounder.

9:37 PM: Hamels, bunting, gets nailed in the left hand, and the city of Philadelphia sounds like a Cavs game after every time LeBron takes a hard foul. The fact that I’m able to convince myself that this won’t be in any way meaningful five minutes from now should be comforting, but I guess we’ll see five minutes from now.

9:47 PM: Two very long plate battles lead to walks to Rollins and Werth and a potentially game-breaking AB for Utley. Too bad he already wasted that HBP, huh?

9:50 PM: Chase, clearly hoping to walk the run home, settles for hiting a hard ground-out into the second-base shift. I haven’t bought into the “Phillies can’t get runs home” hooting because, unlike the Rays, at least they’ve been getting them on base in the first place. But a hit there would’ve been kinda nice, huh?

9:51 PM: Zack and Miri Make a Porno has me thinking I might’ve hardlined a little too much on my Nick & Norah stance–clearly, it is the lesser of two disgustingly precious, gratingly raunchy, “alternative”-baiting evils. Well, probably…need some more info on the soundtrack first, I guess. (And, uh, maybe to see either movie).

9:53 PM: Rollins loses a Baldelli pop-up in the now terrible weather conditions. Well, at least Hamels is still pitching right, huh? Maybe he just won’t let them put bat-to-ball again in the last five innings.

9:55 PM: One thing about this team that never disappoints: Motherfuckers know how to turn double plays. I’d like to say the one Utley just pulled–just managing to tag an advancing Baldelli and then gunning down a speedy Bartlett–was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. But really, is it even in this team’s top five for the last month? Whatta crew.

9:58 PM: Briefly remembering the existence of the Titans-Colts game tonight reminds me that I have to take this opportunity to send a big Fuck You out to Ted Ginn, Jr. The second-year Miami wideout, who received a great deal of hype in the pre-season this year, was a reliable disappointment through his seven weeks of underperforming as the third Wide Receiver on my fantasy team before I finally dumped him for the Colts’ Anthony Gonzalez. Last week, of course, he puts up seven catches for 175 years–approximately 20 times the production I got from Plaxico Burress, my current #1–while Gonzalez has yet to make a catch in the game (and for all I know, is injured or suspended or dead or something). That’s what I get for not selecting DeSean Jackson in time, anyway.

10:07: Working against a strike zone that’s apparently smaller than Chris Cooley’s dick, Kazmir walks Howard and Burrell and eventually gets lifted. Good news for us, but it is kind of bullshit–Kaz is a likeable enough guy, and his final stat line this post-season won’t reflect what should have been a fairly dominant pitching performance. Still, two men on, no outs, Vic coming up…can’t say my heart’s breaking too much for the young’n.

10:17: Victorino and Feliz pop-up, the Rays somehow brave the elements to make the plays, and Ruiz can really solidify his MVP case here with an extra base or two. Hits a screamer down the line, but it lands just foul, as Chooch decides another pop-up to first might end up being more productive. The Phils have held on to games like this all post-season, can they do it for four more innings?

10:26: “You just can not help but think that the elements are going to have something to do with the end of this game,” says Buck, and it certainly does have the makings of that type of “The [Insert Lore Variable] Game” game. Luckily, if Hamels keeps bombing ’em like he does to Aki here, maybe we can avoid making it too consequential.

10:34: BJ Upton manages to steal second without necessitating “Yakkity Sax” getting played over the PA. I hate to say it, but I think this game just got good.

10:37: Pena singles to left, scoring Upton and tying the game. Yup, no doubt about it, we got ourselves a ballgame. Goddamn it.

10:39: Mr. Tony Parker flies out to center, ending the inning. Good on the Rays for not going down without a fight, I suppose. But if they wanted to just kinda lay down and die now, gee golly I sure would appreciate it.

10:42: Oh great, now they bring the tarp out. See you guys at three in the morning, I guess.

10:44: All right, to be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted to win in that superlame suspended-game sense anyway–no fans should ever have to stomach the news that their team’s World Series ended three whole innings before it should have, especially with such a flimsy lead. If tying is like kissing your sister, winning like that would be like a second-base makeout with a cousin (one of the ones you’ve known all your life, not like one of the hot second or third cousins you see only once every five years and forget you share the same (great-)great-grandparents for minutes at a time). Nobody–well, close to nobody, probably–wants that.

10:50: Hey, Anthony Gonzalez caught a pass! A big ol’ two-yarder! The evening, and my fantasy season, has been redeemed.

10:52: OK, now the Upton run isn’t pissing me off so much because it tied the game but because it gave Selig and admin on down an excuse to potentially call what could’ve been a game for the ages regardless of outcome. I mean, I guess there are reasons why football is more conducive to bad weather play than baseball, but not really that many, and the prospective public outcry over the Rays’ season getting ended by some bullshit would mean that they would’ve had no choice to let the game play. We finally would’ve gotten to see if baseball looks as awesome and old-school and epic as football does when it’s played in the muck–and during the most important game of the year, no less. I mean, aren’t you sort of curious? It’s not like either team would’ve been more inconvenienced–both teams rely on speed, both on defensive dexterity, control pitching, etc. Why not just let ’em play?

11:06: How many members of the ’07 Giants and Packers do you think are watching this right now and thinking, “Those fucking pussies”? The ’01 Raiders and Pats?

11:13: Game officially postponed. Someone’s gonna catch fucking hell for this. They better, anyway. Well, I certainly didn’t want to have to say this, especially not for some horseshit like this, but I guess we’ll see you here at IITS tomorrow night.

Go Phils.

Posted in Livebloggin' | 3 Comments »

(Semi-)Livebloggin’: The 2008 VMAs

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 8, 2008

Dum dum de-dum, dum dum de-dum dum

Ah, the first Sunday in September–for better or worse, there’s still nothing quite like it. And while the rest of America is watching the leaves turn from green to brown instantaneously and/or obsessively checking the first-week stats of their Fantasy Football roster, those of us who still believe in the music video (or just want to relive the Fartman and Jamiroquai-related memories of our youth) will be watching the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by Forgetting Sarah Marshall breakout star Russell Brand. Technically I won’t be live blogging this, as I’ll be too busy watching game two of the Phils-Mets doubleheader (in fact, I’m actually writing this introduction after having watched the VMAs on re-runs–spoiler alert: Carlos Delgado shells Cole Hamels, and J-Roll goes 0-5). But they’re live to me, and that’s good enough. Get ready for two and a half hours’ worth of shallow insights and employment-seeking procrastinations–it is September after all!

  • Britney, out to introduce the opening performance, somehow looks human again. She’ll never recapture the allure she had around the turn of the millennium, obviously, but the fact that you can look at her now and even remember that she and the girl from the “Sometimes” video share many similarities (and may even arguably be the same person) speaks to great progress.
  • Rihanna opening with a super-gothed-out “Disturbia” with bits of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “Seven Nation Army”–should be the most awesome thing ever, right? Unfortunately, Rihanna sounds like the song is completely out of her vocal range, and she barely has anything to sing anyways, since all the song’s cool parts are done by the back-up singers. Thought that counts, I suppose.
  • Russell Brand, as in the awards’ ad campaign, comes out swinging at the obvious question: What the hell is Russell Brand doing hosting the Video Music Awards? He insists that he is indeed famous in the UK, and hopes you take his word for it. “My persona doesn’t really work unless I’m famous,” he admits, with good cause.
  • Shots at the Republican party? Know your audience, my trans-continental friend. I would have no idea who Sarah Palin even was if I was still 17. And I run a blog.
  • Repeated, repeated shots at the Jonas Brothers’ virginity brings up to me a sort of obvious, but little-asked personal question: At age 17, would you rather take your chances at sex with below-average potential and no guarantee of success, or would you prefer to stay a virgin, with the extremely assured knowledge that you could sleep with just about anyone in the entire world should you decide to do so? Would having to perform “When You Look Me in the Eyes” 500 times a year sway the balance one way or the other?
  • Britney takes one for the team by beating Katy Perry for the Best Female Video VMA, the first award of the night. She begins her acceptance speech by thanking God, and I search for the irony that I’m sure must be there somwhere.
  • The house DJ scratches on a copy of “Wonderwall” while accompanied by a live drummer. It sounds pretty cool, but I continue to be vaguely amused and embittered that some 13 years after their one year on top of the colonies, Oasis continues to be the #1 reference point for British musical culture in the U.S.
  • You know, back around the time of her Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle resurgence, I thought the “Demi Moore = hot as ever” movement was significantly misguided. She looks pretty good presenting the Best Male Video VMA, though–in almost the exact same outfit as Katy Perry, no less.
  • Chris Brown wins BMV for “With You.” Right dude, wrong song. Good enough. He gives it up to Lil’ Weezy, his pick for the award, who now has officially reached Kanye-level status of “I better give this dude his propers, since he might have his entourage beat me up after the show otherwise, and everyone thinks he’s cooler anyway.”
  • The JBs perform “Lovebug,” at first on an apartment porch in vests and suspenders, the set of which gives way to a much larger street setting, as the song revs up, the crowd goes nuts and Head Jonas goes crowdsurfing. It’s a surprisingly good song, and I am reminded for the 150th time that these guys are the first pop phenomenon in my lifetime that officially make me old.
  • The presenters and announcers keep making a big deal about it being the 25th VMAs, with Katy Perry (mention #3 already in this article, of god knows how many) paying homage to (but not re-enacting) Madonna’s famous performance of “Like a Virgin” at the ’84 ceremonies. Considering the fact that in last year’s ceremonies, the channel seemed to be doing as much as was humanly possible within their power to shit on whatever sense of legacy or history the show had, I consider this an accomplishment of sorts. Maybe MTV won’t even need JT’s stern admonishing at this year’s ceremonies.
  • I hope I never get sick of this Gates / Seinfeld commercial.
  • We get the tail end of Katy Perry (#4) performing her mega-hit. Russell Brand totally blows an opportunity to become my personal hero by failing to in any way slam on Perry, instead just making a lame joke about putting cherry chapstick on his balls. Boo.
  • Leona Lewis covering The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”? Shit, am I missing something here? I wish this girl would come out with one song that I could like unreservedly, because she seems like a pretty decent human being.
  • Lil’ Wayne is, without question, the biggest rock star on the planet. Weezy, performing shirtless with his ass hanging squarely and unapologetically out of his pants, and T-Pain, in his leather jacket, top hat and white-rimmed sunglasses, have taken over the mantle of JT and Timbo grooving to “SexyBack” in their white suits at the ’06 VMAs, as the epitome of pop cool. Say what you will about the current state of pop music, it’s good to know that its leadership is still in relatively good hands. I wish they had used the zooming “A MILLI” screen in the background, though–I’m definitely picking one of those up for my new apartment.
  • Uh, Fannypack winning a VMA? Like, that Fannypack? What the fuck?
  • I can’t decide what’s worse, the previews for Burn After Reading or the previews for My Best Friend’s Girl. I mean, I don’t much question which actual movie will be better, but when did ad people and editors of all stripes decide it was OK to not actually advertise any of their movie’s jokes? Instead, we just get a lot of interrupted sentences and flailing limbs.
  • Russell Brand seems to think that if he talks remarkably quickly, no one will mind the fact that his jokes are going way over everyone’s heads. Which is pretty cool by me, actually–it worked pretty well in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
  • Paramore, these kids are pretty nifty, huh? The great songs aren’t quite there, yet, but once lead singer Hayley Williams gets her heart broken by the bassist or one of the guys in Panic! At the Disco or something, they’ll be Tragic Kingdom-caliber in no time.
  • Shia LaBoeuf, in suit and slicked-back hair, and Slash, looking like Slash, are the two representatives of rock culture deemed apporpriate to introduce the award for Best Rock Video. Linkin Park’s “Shadow of the Day” takes down Paramore, trumping the old award show maxim of the most recent performer winning the next award they’re nominated for (somewhere in the audience, LeAnn Rimes seethes with recognition). It’s a worthy recipient, though–still the best U2 song in close to a decade. “Transformers was awesome,” Chester professes to Shia in reverence.
  • Russell interrupts Miley performing “Living on a Prayer” on Rock Band II, reminding me that a week from today, not only will the Jovi anthem remain the most over-played song in karaoke history,  it’ll also be the Rock Band go-to for anyone that doesn’t know what an asshole I can be when it comes to played out 80s anthems. Plus, she’s brought out to introduce Pink performing “So What,” her new smash that once again makes me wonder how Pink has managed to cover about 20 different musical styles, attitudes and genres in her decade’s worth of hit singles without ever turning out a single one that was even half-decent. Grumble.
  • Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson, together in wedded bliss. I’m trying to think of what my generation’s equivalent of this would be. Billie Joe Armstrong marrying Sporty Spice? Yikes.
  • Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse shows up on stage with Slipknot, allegedly trashed from doing bodyshots back stage, to introduce the Best Hip-Hop Video. Tick-tock, Chris. Tick-tock.
  • Jordin Sparks and John Legend show up to introduce T.I.’s performance of out-of-nowhere #1 hit “Whatever You Like.” Sparks first takes a moment to shoot back at Russell for mocking the Jonas Brothers’ promise rings, claiming “not everyone, guy or girl, wants to be a slut.” Legend’s reaction is vaguely akin to Mike Myers being informed that our president doesn’t care for dark-colored folk.
  • T.I. and Rihanna perform “Live Your Life,” a song based on a sample of “Dragostea Din Tei,” the song from the Numa Numa video. How this has not yet, at date of publication, caused the internet to collapse in on itself, is a fairly mysterious phenomenon. MOLDOVA REPRESENT.
  • Hey, Christina Aguilera’s still around. Get Mandy Moore and Jessica’s big sis in here and it can be 1999 all over again. Chrissy performs a darker update of breakout hit “Genie in a Bottle” (pretty cool, though I maintain that the original is kinda unfuckwithable to begin with), leading into new hit “Keeps Gettin’ Better,” which sounds like a significantly more extroverted Goldfrapp. Not so bad.
  • More blandly pretty people that I only sort of recognize, all right. Presenting the Best New Artist award, to uh, Tokio Hotel. Do these guys even exist in this country outside of TRL? Well, I guess my enemy’s enemy is my friend and all that, as Katy Perry (#5) continues to go moonmanless.
  • Russell Brand introduces Paris Hilton to announce the Best Pop Video award. McLovin nods knowingly in the audience, thinking to himself “Hmmm, yeah, I could probably fuck her if I wanted to.” Arguable. Britney takes home award #2 for “Piece of Me,” which apparently was a much, much bigger hit than I remember it being. God gets shoutout #2 from Brit-Brit. Still searching for the irony.
  • Drake & Josh (Wikipedia is gettin’ a workout tonight, lemme tell you) come out to introduce Kid Rock, doing his cover of that Hitmasters standard, “All Summer Long.” I never stopped believing that you had another comeback in ya, Kid, I just wish you could’ve stuck to over-appropriating from one classic rock song to do so. Good show, though.
  • Kobe Bryant, renowned celebrity and much-beloved popular figure, comes out to introduce the award for Video of the Year. I wish he could’ve been out there to introduce the inevitable performance of Kanye West, his musical equivalent in almost every way, but it’s still a treat to watch him to try to mask his contempt for the youth of America. How the hell did the Ting Tings get nominated for this award, exactly?
  • Brit gets the hat trick with “Piece of Me,” though unforunately, God only goes two for three in her acceptance speeches. “Where are we going?” Britney asks, as Russell talks her into a golf cart that starts speeding off the set. “We’re going to start a new life, Britney,” he casually enforms her. Well played, Mr. Brand.
  • Kanye has a new song to close the awards, apparently. I don’t know exactly how I feel about Kanye throwing traditional rapping over in favor of one of singing into one of T-Pain’s auto-tuners–I mean yeah, “Hey Ya!” was fun and all, but we all know what happened to Andre 3000 once he decided that he’d have more fun doing spoken word pieces and drum and bass covers of jazz standard, right? Still, hard to argue with for a closing performance. And the rolling credits confirm it: Katy Perry (#6 and final) will be going home unadorned tonight.

All in all, maybe the first VMAs since I left high school where the times I felt slightly seasick were outnumbered by the times I nodded to myself and said, “all right.”

Posted in Livebloggin' | 3 Comments »

Livebloggin’: It’s Opening Day Somewhere

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 25, 2008


Admittedly it’s been a while since I cared enough to notice, but I don’t necessarily remember the MLB season starting at 6:05 in the morning in years past. However, in their ongoing attempts to go worldwide (one too many cracks about how arrogant calling a national series the World Series is?), the league has situated the christening series of the ’08 season in Japan, a far away land where apparently morning is night and hamburgers eat people. Last year’s reigning champs, the Boston Red Sox, take on a bunch of scrubs you’ve never heard of, called the Oakland Athletics, for a two-game series televised in the wee small hours of the morning.

Lest I spend the entire season like the guy who comes into a movie ten minutes late and spends the next two hours trying to catch up with what he missed, I’m setting my alarm clock early to check out the season opener. But if I have to sit through it on three and a half hours’ sleep, then you have to sit through me sitting through it on two and a half hours’ sleep, and I will be liveblogging. Will the Sox start off on the road to a second straight title, on the back of starting pitcher and hometown hero Daisuke Matsuzaka? Will the A’s begin the long and arduous process of rebuilding by shocking the world champs? Will I ever forgive the Sox for reminding me why underdogs are underdogs for a reason with their depressingly abusive dispatching of the Rockies last October? Will Matsuzaka and Manny Ramirez justify their auto-draft positions on IITS’s first ever Fantasy Baseball Team, the Ottawa Obfuscators? Stay tuned…

Oh, and I have a 10:00 start at Sirius today, and it takes me about 50 minutes to get down there, so let’s hope the game don’t go extra innings.

6:08. No JD Drew this morning, apparently. Looks like the Sox are gonna have to go without Grand Slams for a few games.

6:09. Ouch, Eric Chavez is injured? The A’s are gonna be like the Indians in Major League this year.

6:10. First pitch of the season, courtesy of Joe Blanton (who looks exactly like the ’08 A’s ace should look like like). It’s a strike! Well that’s it, the Red Sox are done for this season.

6:11. Pedroia singles up the middle. Never mind, they’re going all the way again.

6:12. Shit, I turn away for one pitch and I miss whether Kevin Youkilis’s beard has grown back yet or not. Games in Japan already look like they’re going to take about half as long as US ones.

6:14. Hey, the A’s catcher is named Suzuki! How come he’s not getting a standing ovation?

6:15. Ortiz and Manny fly out back-to-back. Soon enough, my pretties.

6:16. Daisuke Matsuzaka gets his Big Ovation. I dunno, I’m sort of underwhelmed–the way they were hyping this I was expecting nothing shorter than a minute of defeaning enthusiasm and no less than a dozen bras on the playing field. They do have bras in Japan, right?

6:18. Matsuzaka retires the leadoff A (missed the name–Ruiz, maybe?) on a first-pitch ground ball. “That’s what they want,” the announcer says, “They want efficiency.” Hey, that’s some borderline commentary right there.

6:19. Well hey there Mark Ellis–a rocket over the left field wall gives the A’s (and Major League Baseball) the first Home Run of the 2008 season. Ellis hit 19 dingers last year, he keeps this rate up, he should hit about 530 more this year. “Sayanora!” the announcer yells. Think they were hoping for that one sooner rather than later.

6:22. Dice-K walks batter #3 (missed the name again, dammit). Does it effect the national economy in Japan if he gets taken out before the 5th inning?
6:23. Jack Cust! I’ve actually heard of this guy a bunch of times. 26 homers in less than 400 at bats last year, .408 OBP…not too bad. Dice-K goes a little wild and hits him. Then another wild pitch to Emil Brown, and we’ve got two in scoring position. Put a leash on that puppy, Jason.

6:29. Yikes, is Dice crying already? Nah, he’s just sweating a whole lot and sniffling a little. Still, not exactly a face to inspire terror in the opposition. Not like Matsuzaka’s baby-face and quivering demeanor ever really should–dude could really use some lessons in stone-facedness from Okajima and some in Al Pacino from Papelbon.

6:30. Sac grounder Bobby Crosby, run scores, 2-0 Oakland.

6:32. Dice-K strikes out Chavez replacement Jack Hannahan swinging, third out. Big K for the Dice Man, and if memory serves from the World Series last year, the Sox score (on average) approximately two runs an inning, so they should get about four now to make up for the goose egg in the first. So I wouldn’t worry if I were him. I just pray for my fantasy stats.

6:35. Series MVP Mike Lowell lines into center, base hit. The Phils almost got this guy in the off-season! Can’t say I don’t blame him for staying in the town where he’s a guaranteed legend forever (in the town that guarantees legend status forever), but seriously–Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Mike Lowell. Tell me that there’s ever been a better offensive infield than that one. (Apologies to Pedro Feliz, I’m sure he’s the next best thing).

6:37. The A’s get Lowell on a force from Drew’s replacement Brandon Moss, then a very old-looking Varitek grounds into a double play. Well, the Sox got the leadoff thing down, #2 and #3 could use a little work.

6:39. I missed this Lou Pinella commercial during the off-season! Does this mean the Loren Wallace ads are gonna be making a comeback soon?

6:42. Suzuki / Matsuzaka showdown. SUZUKI WINS!! Blooper single into center. Suzuki apparently is the Hawaiian born second-year catcher Kurt Suzuki, so that explains the lack of homecoming support I suppose.

6:50. Varitek is really earning his keep with all these breaking-breaking-breaking balls and supersliders. Matsuzaka, on the other hand, is not earning his keep on my Fantasy team, leading off with a 10.8 ERA and a 3.00 WHIP. Maybe it’s not too late to swap for Tim Wakefield.

6:58. Dice-K gets himself out of a bases-full pickle by striking out Jack Cust for out #3. Phew.

6:59. You know, I really like these MLB 2k8 commercials (you know, the “I wanna…” ones), up until the point where it comes time for the “I SAID 2K. K?” catchphrase. LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME.

7:01. Jacoby Ellsbury whiffs in the first at bat of his supposed Rookie of the Year season. I’m amazed pitchers can ever get by this guy without getting distracted staring into his eyes. Those arching eyebrows? Them shits is hypnotic.

7:02. Julio “Monkey Man” Lugo singles. This guy sure is fast for a heroin addict.

7:05. All right, I got a pretty good look at YOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUKKKK this time around, and it looks like the beard/moustache combo has indeed returned. Not quite up to the majesty of last season’s yet, but the fact that I don’t have to see what this guy looks like as a fresh-faced Greek, Jewish (!!) behemoth means that there is still some sense of sanity in the world.

7:07. Big Papi saunters to the plaet with two on, and the crowd goes nuts. Sox fan or no–is there a sweeter sight in all of pro sports? Grounds out to second, though, and the Sox go scoreless in three.

7:18. The Monkey Man saves the day (and Dice-K’s scale-tipping third inning) on a leaping grab of Kurt Suzuki’s high liner.  Flashback to Game 3 of the Series. Goddamn Lugo.

7:23. 0-2 for Manny. Not the most promising start for the Obfuscators.

7:25. Three up, three down for the Sox. This is gonna be about the point where I run out of any even remotely interesting things to say if the game keeps up the slow pace, so let’s hope for some good commercials at least.

7:28. Bud Selig says the league is making “Very Good Progress” with regards to steroids abuse. The problem with this guy is that he doesn’t take this stuff nearly personally enough. Come out swinging! “ROGER CLEMENS, YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!”

7:30. Wait, the inning’s over already? Damn, I thought we were still on the leadoff hitter. Meanwhile, my bed is starting to coo to me, softly, gently. This is going to be a very long day.

7:39. Bottom of the Sox lineup retired in order. Well, at least we’re looking at a reasonable end time.

7:42. Shots of Cherry Blossoms and sounds of briskly plucked strings to remind us where the game is taking place (New Zealand, I think?) Unfortunately, I’m unable to ascertain the most important cultural difference of all–how the stadium Muzak compares to that in the US. I can hear the chintzy organ sound, but I can’t make out any of the familiar melodies. Hopefully they’ll do a little profile before the night’s over. Do they have “We Will Rock You” across the Pacific?

7:46. Matsuzaka retires the side in the bottom of the 5th, presumably his last appearance. The Dice Man finishes with two hits, two earned runs, five walks, six Ks and decent enough fantasy numbers. Ended a whole lot better than he started, so good for him. I imagine Japanese baseball fans aren’t any more forgiving than American ones, so it’d have been a shame to see their hottest recent export in a complete hometown meltdown.

7:53. Pedroia doubles, YOOUUUUUUUUUK walks, and we’ve got the scariest heart of the lineup in Pro Ball up with 0 outs and a very flustered-looking Joe Blanton. Ahhhh, so this is why it’s been such a long five months…

7:57. AAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNND WE’RE ON THE BOARD!! Not just the Red Sox but my Obfus as well, as Manny hits an line drive into the corner in left, scoring Pedroia and YOOUUUUUUUUUK.  Ramirez and Dice-K  point at each other like Liam and Jesus in The Big Lebowski. Ladies and gentlemen, the ’08 season has begun.

8:01. After Lowell goes down swinging, Brandon Moss earns his start by singling up the right, scoring Manny (looking somewhat unManny barreling around third) and giving Matsuzaka the chance at the Win. Things are suddenly looking very bright in Ottawa. Blanton gets pulled after five very impressive innings and one that might make them all for naught.

8:06. Alan Embree bails out Blanton by KO’ing Varitek, but the damage is done–3-2 Boston.

8:13. Well, so much for the win–the replacement players are getting it done tonight, with Chavez sub Hannahan hitting a towering two-run blast (possibly the most important of Hannahan’s four clobberoos to date, though I can’t necessarily vouch for the timeliness other three) to make it 4-3 A’s.  Sorry, Dice, I’m sure you’ll get us a bunch in time.

8:19. “Matt, you might wanna stick to passing.” Fuck you, Stacy, I happen to think Mr. Hasselbeck uprocks as well as any white boy should.

8:24. Red Sox go down in the Top of the 7th without much noise. I’m taking a shower break now, so keep an eye on the game while I’m gone and make sure that nothing important happenz, K? K.

8:34.  Aside from a pitching change, looks like I missed absolutely nothing. Good work, guys.

8:36. Keith Foulke is back! Not like I ever knew him in his prime, but it seemed like he was a pretty solid dude back in his day, and I was wondering where he had ended up. Good to see the A’s still have one established guy in their line-up, even if it is an injury-plagued, possibly washed up reliever.

8:37. YOOUUUUUUUUUK flies out to deep, deep, tantalizingly deep center. This might be the most obvious observation I make all article, but if they don’t play the beginning of “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” when he comes to bat in Fenway this year, it’ll be a waste of tragic proportions.  A close call fly ball for Ortiz, and a called third on Manny, and the clock is ticking on the Sox’s season opener.

8:47. I said goddamn! Ellsbury makes a jumping, backwards grab of a deep Emil Brown fly ball. If Coco Crisp’s calling card in his fight with Ellsbury for Center Field has been his defense, his case certainly ain’t being assisted muchly by plays like that. A couple meek grounders later and the Red Sox have one more chance to get back in the race here. As Izzy Mandlebaum would say, it’s go time.

8:50. “Hey Papi, why do we always have to have BP out here?”
‘Coz thees the only place I know the Green Monster in right field.”

I still don’t really get it.

8:54. Huston Street (not to be confused with Houston Street, one of my favorite stretches in downtown Manhattan) comes in to close the door on the Sox. He gets one in Lowell’s CF fly out, but then KABLOOIE–Brandon Moss, of all people, has been The Guy for the Sox today, officially earning Temp of the Week honors by hitting a one-run solo shot that ties the game and pretty well guarantees that I’m not gonna get to see the end. Thanks a lot, motherfucker.

9:00. Ellsbury teases with a clocker that looks gone but hooks foul, then actually lines out to left. I’d like the Sox to win, but if the A’s can wrap this up in the next ten minutes so I can at least have seen the whole game, I can live with that too.

9:02. I think the crowd actually digs Okajima, brought on to end the 9th for the Sox, more than Matsuzaka. Can’t say I blame ’em–outside of almost letting game three slip to the Rox, the guy was a stud in middle relief last year, and makes Dice-K look like Shelley “The Machine” Levene by comparison with his stone-cold killer glare on the mound.

9:09. Travis Buck hits a long, long flier to center that looks like it might put me out of my misery, but no such luck. One away from extra innings.

9:14. Ellis hits a chopper to Okajima for out #3, and that’ll do it for me. Hell of a game so far, but not quite good enough to start myself on the slippery slope of forced lateness and absence excuses from the workplace. In any event, a great way to start what should be a mad fucking exciting season of Major League Baseball.

Let me know how it ends. Oh, and Brandon Moss for Rookie of the Year–remember, you heard it here first.

Posted in Livebloggin' | 1 Comment »

IITS’s Seven Days of Xmas / Livebloggin’ / Tradition: 15 and a Half Hours of Christmas Day TV

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas, you old internet

So as any British streetrat worth his salt no doubt knows by now, today is Christmas Day. And I for one, plan on celebrating, the only way a goyim left alone at his parents’ house loaded with the full arsenal of digital cable–watching TV. Watching a lot of TV. In fact, in what I plan on making a tradition, I plan on doing absolutely nothing but watching TV today–with perhaps minor deviations from schedule to pick up one of my transportation-less friends, and at least one WaWa run, of course. But besides that, I plan on taking advantage of the best But besides that, I have some 600 channels and a barrage of On Demand movies at my disposal, and I plan on using them. Why should today be any different from any other day, I supose?

11:42 AM: Watching the end of The Illusionist after either leaving or falling asleep in the middle two days in a row. Now I understand why whenever I try to talk to someone about The Prestige, they go “Oh, is that the one where…, or is that the one where…?” This movie is such a blatant poor man’s Prestige it makes it somewhat difficult to actually pay attention to what’s going on in the movie–Jessica Biel even looks exactly like Scarlett Johansson does in Prestige, except significantly less attractive. And Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti’s accents are both terrible. What’s the deal? I heard reports of a good twist ending, though, so I guess I’ll have to ride this one out.

12:30 PM: Meh.

12:35 PM: Ah, 24 hours of A Christmas Story on TBS, right in time for the leg lamp scene. I’m always left a bit colder than I should be by A Christmas Story, considering its somewhat unassailable status as a kiddie Christmas classic–most easily explained by the fact that I somehow managed to avoid seeing it all the way through until I was at least in middle school. And even then I never actually watched the movie from start to finish–I just finally caught enough pieces of it over the course of Christmas that it actually added up to the whole thing. Frankly, I prefer TNT’s unofficial 24 Hours of The Ref marathon–more alcohol and sarcasm, if nothing else (although apparently The Ref isn’t on at all today–what the fuck???)

12:50 PM: Flipping between ACS and a 1987 Christmas game between the Knicks and the Pistons on NBA TV. Always fun hearing announcers say retrospective LOLers like “It looks like Thomas could really be a star one day” and “Pitino’s not sure if this Ewing guy is gonna make it as the Knicks’ center,” although not as much fun as seeing super-freak Dennis Rodman as, y’know, just an above average defensive player. Info says that the Pistons go on to win the game 91-87 (honestly, do you have to put the final score in the info for the game?), but I guess Billy Donovan is sleeping much easier at night these days than Isiah, so it evens out.

1:09 PM: Anyone ever hear of a CBS Afterschool Special called The Writing on the Wall? Apparently Peter Billingsley was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as an anti-semitic teenager taught the importance of tolerance by rabbi Hal Linden (Barney Miller). And now he’s an exec producer on the upcoming Iron Man movie? I had no idea Ralphie went on to be so prolific. He probably watches Scott Schwartz’s pornos every Christmas and cackles to himself.

1:40 PM: Not like those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials have ever been any sort of standard for excellence, but the animated ones with the two singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” plumbs new depths of mind-numbingness. Not even so bad is PC’s ad-lib of “So you’d better buy a mec and not a PC this holiday season or any other time, for goodness sake,” or is his oh-so-clever-lyric-tweaking of “he knows when you’re in sleep mode.” Mostly I’m just annoyed by the choice to have it be an animated ad, even though otherwise it’s basically no different from any of their other commercials. Like John Hodgman and Justin Long had anything better to do?

1:46 PM: You know, I think the Pink Rabbit Suit Ralphie gets in this movie gets sort of a bad rap. I’m not saying I’d wear mine outside of the house or anything, but when it comes to clothing, I’m all about economy, and why bother owning a bathrobe, pajama pants and slippers when you can just take care of all three in one warm, comfortable-looking suit? I suppose there’s no way to wear something like that around others in this day and age and avoid furry connotations, but I think I’d enjoy watching TV in it by myself. Maybe I’ll order one for Christmas next year.

1:53 PM: I always kind of wish that Ralphie actually does shoot his eye out at the end. I think I just don’t like 10-year-olds being retrospectively narrated by old dudes–kids are know-it-alls enough as is without having to add aged wisdom bullshit to everything. I have similar problems with Kevin Arnold. Oh, and while we’re at it, if my family ever cooked a Christmas Turkey, I’d be praying some neighborhood animal got to it so we’d be forced to go out for Chinese instead. Turkey’s like the most boring meat there is.

2:00 PM: Family Feud marathon all day on GSN. I had flipped to it a few hours ago and Richard Dawson was hosting, but unfortunately it looks like we’ve moved on to the Ray Combs era. Oh well, at least I caught it before they got up to Louie Anderson. “Well, I brought my voluptuous sister Annie,” one of the team leaders explains to Ray. Who the hell refers to their sibling as “voluptuous”?

2:08 PM: For my money, Ray Combs belongs in the Short People Hall of Fame. Every day on his game show, he has to stand next to at least ten people that are almost undoubtedly taller than he is, most of which are even standing on higher ground than he is. Yet he hosts with the confidence and charisma of a Dick Clark or Bob Eubanks, and uses no trick sets or photography to try to hide his height disadvantages. Kudos to you, Ray, you suicidal paraplegic.

2:42 PM: Why is MTV Hits showing an entire MTV Live Hellogoodbye concert? They had a top 20 hit earlier this year, and I’ve already practically forgotten who the hell they are. And the lead singer looks too much like Ben Folds.

2:45 PM: “Walk Hard: Now the winner of two Golden Globe nominations!” YOU CAN NOT WIN A FUCKING GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATION THAT IS WHY IT IS CALLED A NOMINATION

2:52 PM: Heat vs. Cavs, in part one of an ABC doubleheader. And in part one of our “Sports Dudes who Sort of Look Like Pop Culture Dudes” segment today, I present to you:

Heat Coach Pat Riley

Special Agent Lundy from Dexter

3:41 PM: Shaq nearly single-handedly brings down the backboard with a dunk. So maybe this guy is as washed up as everyone says, but he still looks like he could beat up the entire defensive line of the Chicago Bears were he called on to do so.

3:44 PM: So, singing along to “Hang on Sloopy” is like, a thing in Ohio sporting events? Since when are the McCoys such a midwestern institution? Someone really needs to do a definitive article documenting all these bizarre musical appropriations in pro sports.

4:09 PM: An animated So So Def remix video of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” on MTV Jams? Jermaine Dupri, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! Not that a Betty Boop’d out animated Mariah is a bad look or anything, but some perfection you just don’t mess with.

4:13 PM: Cinemax is really coming out swinging today: Night at the Museum, The Matrix Revolutions, Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, V for Vendetta, The Last King of Scotland, Brokeback Mountain and King Kong all on at the same time? I’m only but one pop culture fiend, thou vile temptress! Not that I would flip to most of these even in the most dire of TV droughts, but still…

4:21 PM: Archival 2006 Phils game against the Mets. It’s nice watching these games in Philly for once–usually I’m in New York, where I know that no matter what game I’m watching, no matter what the score or situation is, the much-hated Yanks will inevitably come back to win. This time, though, I know that even though the Mets are up 10-9 in the bottom of the 8th and Ryan Howard just went down swinging, the team I actually like is gonna battle back to win it. Unless, of course, Philly’s loser streak runs even deeper than I thought.

4:25 PM: To think, it was only two years ago that “Oh boy! A Monk marathon on USA!” would’ve been my likely reaction to an all-Shalhoub weekend schedule on America’s channel.


4:57 PM: Sports Dudes Who Sort of Look Like Pop Culture Dudes, Pt. 2:

Cavs Forward Anderson Vaerjao

Puerto Rican Pro Wrestler Carly “Carlito” Colon

High School Musical Star Corbin Bleu

5:07 PM: The “White Light / White Heat” Art Rock segment of the much-ballyhooed Seven Days of Rock miniseries is on VH1. So far so good, but I had no idea that Dennis Hopper was the narrator for this thing. Always great to hear his voice, but he sounds so barely restrained in his anger and bitterness discussing Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground, like any minute he’s gonna burst out “FUCK THIS SHIT!!! I DON’T FUCKING CARE!! I WANNA DO MORE SHITTY COMMERCIALS ABOUT THE 60S!!

5:26 PM: Suns vs. Lakers. Does anyone remember the Grant Hill Drinks Sprite commercial from the late 90s? Ahead of its time, I say.

5:28 PM: Nice bowtie, Phil Jackson!

6:00 PM: Of all the people to have nabbed as the franchise cast member for all the American Pie straight-to-video releases, why the hell did it have to be Eugene Levy? Doesn’t he have Christopher Guest movies and Samuel L. Jackson buddy comedies to be doing somewhere? Meanwhile, what the hell are Thomas Ian Nicholas and Eddie Kaye Thomas doing with their time that’s any better than this?

6:18 PM: Despite how much I enjoy watching Steve Nash play for the Suns, I’d like to see the NBA create a law that requires Nash to play a minimum amount of games in his career for every team in the league. It only seems fair that every pro basketball player should get to play with him as a teammate for at least a little while.

6:57 PM: This is one of the best NBA games I’ve watched all year, easily. The amount of one-upmanship is just getting nuts.

7:08 PM: Who is this bald, old, British dude that VH1 always gets to talk about metal? I demand to see his qualifications before I hear what he has to say about the visceral thrill of British Steel one more time.

7:14 PM: Gotta love the organized version of “Bennie & the Jets” that’s playing throughout the game.

8:06 PM: Goddamn Lakers. They seriously looked like one of the elite teams tonight, though–and Kobe wanted to be traded why, exactly? Like he’d have been better off with the fucking Bulls?

8:18 PM: Watching the first couple episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with friends. It’s weird how a couple of them actually pretend to care about seeming like good people in the show’s early days. And it’s weird that that’s weird.

8:51 PM: Autumn Reeser makes a seriously great super-Christian nymphomaniac. Wonder what she’s up to these days.

9:06 PM: The “Hundred Dollar Baby” episode of this show is really starting to seem like an all-time classic. Top 20 of the decade for me, maybe. Non-stop hilarity, though it’s a shame that it’s so obvious this is as good as the show is getting.

9:50 PM: Trailblazers and Sonics. How the hell did this team win 10 (soon to be 11) in a row? Don’t get me wrong, I like mediocre Northwestern teams pretty well actually, but 11 in a row?? I just hope it turns out to not be a total fluke–how awesomely unexpected would a Trailblazers playoff drive be in this day and age? Almost as awesome as being named Travis Outlaw, I’m guessing.

10:01 PM: Rocky IV on Spike. Spike TV seems to need less of an excuse to show one of the Rocky movies than Bravo needs to show one of the Godfathers (which, of course, there’s a marathon of right now). What percentage of this movie isn’t montage, exactly? 30% And does anyone remmeber what actually happens in that 30%?

10:21 PM: Fargo on FLIX. “Unguent! I need unguent!” Gotta love a movie that uses words that have probably never been in any movie ever before.

11:10 PM: Most underrated scene in Fargo–Steve Buscemi’s having sex with a prostitute, when Shep Prowlfoot (the pissed off Native American dude who hired him) picks her up off of him and tosses her off. “Shep, what the fuck are you doin’?” Buscemi pleads with him. “I’m bangin’ that girl!” As if Shep either didn’t realize that Buscemi was having sex with the naked prostitute who was riding his body, and/or his expression of annoyance at Shep’s disruption would cause him to go away.

1:00 AM: “Jesus, kid, when I was your age, I didn’t need no fucking gorilla. And I wasn’t as big as one of your legs. Four kids beat me up one time and I went crying home to my daddy. You know what he did?”
“He made it all better?”
“No, he kicked my ass. You know why?”
“Because you went to the bathroom on Mommy’s dishes?”
What?? Fuck no!”

Bad Santa = Best Christmas movie of the last ten years, so easy

1:55: Skinemax’s new series Co-Ed Confidential almost seems close to being the first working example of my intersection between Primetime Soap Operas and Cinemax wish. From what I’ve seen so far, though, the acting isn’t quite as good as I’d like, the tone isn’t nearly serious enough, and the sex itself is only OK. Plus, no chance for character development in a half-hour show where half of it is devoted to sex anyway. Still, a couple of the girls are pretty hot, so I’ll rate it above Sex Games: Cancun but below Sin City Diaries.

2:15: Sportscenter says that the Giants might rest their starters against the Patriots next week. I really like the Giants, actually, and even Eli Manning, depsite his continual drive to prove himself the least competent QB in the league (much less one already in the playoffs), but if they do this, and not even try to make the Pats earn their immortality, I’ll have no choice but to root for another 18-52 performance from Manning and a bad case of the measles for Brendon Jacobs and Osi Umenyiora come January.

2:45: Based on their interviews in The Wire: Odyssey, the HBO doc about the first four seasons of the series, the five actors that seem the most different from the characters they play:

Deirdre Lovejoy (Rhonda Perlman–actually Irish, surprise surprise)
Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty–actually British, which I actually do find as kind of a surprise)
Robert F. Chew (Prop Joe–hard to explain the difference, but he’s not nearly as aloof as I’d expect)
Larry Gilliard, Jr. (D’Angelo Barksdale–kinda sounds like a geek)
Gbenga Akinnagbe (Chris Partlow–sounds like a not-entirely-evil human being)

No Idris Elba (Stringer Bell) or Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale), though, which bums me the fuck out. God I can’t wait for season five, though–might need a week’s worth of IITS for commemoration.

Posted in Livebloggin', Seven Days of Xmas, Tradition | 6 Comments »

Livebloggin’: The 2007 Emmys

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 16, 2007

Britney Spears-free, probably

All right, so let’s get the obvious prelimenary stuff out of the way:

  1. Friday Night Lights and The Wire received a sum total of 0 major nominanations, thus rendering the award totally meaningless.
  2. Ryan Seacrest will be hosting, thus rendering the show totally unwatchable.
  3. Kathy Griffin already won one of these bad boys last week, thus rendering the award not only totally meaningless, but arguably a shameful possession.
  4. No one cares about the Emmys anyway.

But honestly, what am I gonna do, not write about them? It’s TV, it’s awards, it’s awards given to TV. On TV. With TV people in the audience! Let’s see who’ll be joining the prestigious ranks of Marg Helgenberger and the retarded guy from L.A. Law. C’mon, it’ll be fun.

  • 8:00 P.M. “Please welcome, from The Family Guy, Brian & Stewie Griffin!” I guess it’s better than Seacrest trying his hand at a musical intro. Well-timed potshots at Scrubs, Two and a Half Men and the cast of Desparate Housewives (they’re old!) And the cut to T.R. Knight in the audience after an Isaiah Washington joke–and his “oh shit, I’m probably on camera now, right?” reaction–doubtlessly going to go down as one of the night’s highlights.
  • 8:04 P.M. Ryan Seacrest does his opening monologue. Some predictable American Idol jokes, something about Angus Jones (?), attempted flirting with Eva Longoria mixed with comments about her shoes–eh, at least you feel like he’s trying, but you really can’t have it both ways, and frankly, he should probably stick with being the blandest TV personality in the universe.
  • 8:07 P.M. Ray Romano is possibly the only celebrity in existence that sounds more like himself than any of his imitators. His opening bit runs even longer than Seacrest’s, and already tells the evening’s second joke about the Sopranos finale. Whoops, the show accidentally cuts out one of his Frasier jokes–damn, there’s no way that’s still going to be topical by the time it hits YouTube!
  • 8:11 P.M. Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy series.
    • Prediction: Rainn Wilson for The Office
    • Should Be: Neil Patrick Harris for How I Met Your Mother
    • Actual Winner: Jeremy Piven for Entourage. Yeah, all right, Piven could win Emmys for this from now until Entourage goes off the air in 2017, but Rainn Wilson really was due, and obviously Neil trumps all. NPH’s time’ll come soon enough, though.
  • 8:14 P.M. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
    • Prediction: Masi Oka for Heroes
    • Should Be: Masi Oka for Heroes
    • Actual Winner: Terry O’Quinn for Lost? Wow, I haven’t seen any Emmy prelim stuff that implied that O’Quinn even had a shot at this. Not that I’m complaining, though–been kinda bummed with the third season of Lost, but Locke remains the show’s most consistently reliable and interesting characters. Definitely preferable to Michael Imperioli winning for a season he was barely in. Next year, though, let’s see some love for Josh Holloway.
  • 8:19 P.M. Hey, “Stars” by classic 90s dreampop / alternative one-hit wonders Hum is in a Cadillac commercial! Between this and their use of Lilys’ “Ginger,” I know what I’m buying with my post-grad checks.
  • 8:21 P.M. Uh-oh, Ryan makes an alcohol-related Abdul crack. “What?” she angrily mouths in the background. Seacrest backpedals, but the damage is done. Heh.
  • 8:23 P.M. Oustanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
    • Prediction: Vanessa Williams for Ugly Betty
    • Should Be: Jenna Fischer for The Office
    • Actual Winner: Jamie Pressly for My Name is Earl. Hey, cool–Pressly’s character is sort of one note (though she’s a fucking symphony compared to Ethan Suplee) but she’s still a Comedy Night Done Right highlight, and she certainly appears to care about winning, so whatever, good for her. Plus, another award unclaimed by Two and a Half Men or Ugly Betty, so.
  • 8:26 P.M. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series (co-presented by Kyle Chandler, who should be lighting himself on fire or something in protest of his snubbing)
    • Prediction: who cares
    • Should Be: I dunno, I guess Aidin Quinn is kind of cool
    • Winner: Thomas Hayden Church for Broken Trail. Lifetime achievement win for his work on Wings, I guess.
  • 8:33 P.M. Ellen DeGeneres makes some doctor joke to Hugh Laurie, who wisely decides not to break the hearts of teenage girls worldwide by unleashing his British accent on them. Ellen presents a montage of “topical one-liners”–some Colbert, but not nearly enough. A minor tribute to Tom Snyder follows, which reminds me that I should probably be watching enough news to be able to say with certainty exactly who Snyder is.
  • 8:37 P.M. Surprise, surprise: Kevin Connolly can’t act in real life either.
  • 8:38 P.M. Outsanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
    • Prediction: People have been saying Sandra Oh, so fine, her
    • Should Be: I dunno, Katherine Heigl? Slow fucking year, and neither of those Sops noms did much of anything this year.
    • Actual Winner: Hey, Katherine Heigl. I still find her more bearable than anyone else on that show, now that Washington’s gone and Knight sucks. “My mom told me that I had no chance of winning, so I didn’t prepare anything.” Better start planning that Mother’s Day bouquet now, Kat.
  • 8:41 P.M. Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
    • Prediction: Bunch of people for The Daily Show with John Stewart
    • Should Be: Bunch of people for The Colbert Report
    • Actual Winner: Bunch of people for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Works for me, though I’m pissed off about being 0-5 now. “I do have a speech, because Katherine Heigl’s mother said we would win”. Thin ice, boys–that kitten’s got claws.
  • 8:50 P.M. All right, Tony Bennett and Christina Aguilera! And they’re singing or something! Fascinating, invigorating stuff, that definitely is clearly relevant to the rest of the evening’s proceedings!
  • 8:53 P.M. Outstanding Directing for a Comedy, Music or Variety Program
    • Prediction: American Idol, people like that, right? Oh wait, that Tony Bennett thing was nominated? Shit.
    • Should Be: I dunno, Colbert deserves something
    • Actual Winner: Rob Marshall for the Tony Bennett thing. The Emmys are just as current and topical as the Grammys after all.
  • 8:55 P.M. Outstanding Lead Actor in a TV Mini-Series or Movie.
    • Prediction: uh
    • Should Be: Matthew Perry was in something serious? Hah.
    • Actual Winner: Robert Duvall for Broken Trail. Hard to argue with that I guess.
  • 8:58 P.M. More Vanessa Anne Hudgens naked pic jokes. Man, when even Ryan Seacrest is laughing at you, you’re not getting out of bed for a week or two.
  • 9:03 P.M. Queen Latifah’s tribute to the 30th anniversary of Roots, leading into an appearance by much of the series’ principal cast. Oddly, LeVar Burton is nowhere to be found. Not so oddly, neither is O.J. Simpson. They present the award for Outstanding Mini-Series:
    • Prediction: I dunno, Broken Trail seems like a safe bet at this point
    • Should Be: right
    • Actual Winner: All right, my first one on the money. To be fair, though, only three nominees, and The Starter Wife didn’t look like much competition.
  • 9:09 P.M. The orchestra plays the theme to How I Met Your Mother as Neil Patrick Harris takes the stage with Hayden Panettierre, all three people in the audience who watch the show nod in appreciation. A bunch of awards that have already been won (I think? Sort of confusing) are presented, including Alan Taylor’s work for directing The Sopranos (which at least he got for “Kennedy and Heidi,” by far the season’s best episode). and David Chase for writing The Sopranos (which of course, he got for series finale “Made in America”).
  • 9:21 P.M. I hope the pissed-off look on Rainn Wilson’s face isn’t just for the show’s sake.
  • 9:23 P.M. Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
    • Prediction: The Daily Show with John Stewart
    • Should Be: Colbert’s pretty funny, c’mon
    • Actual Winner: Stewart wins. He must’ve won at least a half-dozen of these already, no? And next year’s an election year, so…dammit.
  • 9:25 P.M. Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program
    • Prediction: Tony Bennett?
    • Should Be: Please not Tony Bennett
    • Actual Winner: Tony motherfucking Bennett. He’s like the Tom Joad of crappy award shows.
  • 9:28 P.M. Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series or Movie.
    • Prediction: Whoever got nominated for Broken Trail
    • Should Be: Don’t care as long as its not Anna Paquin, due to her bitter rivalry with friend of IITS Andrew Weber (as long as she loses, he’s still technically having the more successful 2007)
    • Actual Winner: Judy Davis for The Starter Wife. Yawn.
  • 9:30 P.M. Something about how awesome TV is when it comes to doing good in the world. Sorry guys, as long as According to Jim is still on the air, you’re going to be fighting a losing battle.
  • 9:35 P.M. God, Back to You is going to be very bad.
  • 9:37 P.M. Outstanding Made for TV Movie
    • Prediction: Uh, Wounded Knee
    • Should Be: What the hell is Why I Wore Lipstick to My Vasectomy about?
    • Actual Winner: Wounded Knee, are we fucking done with the miniseries and TV movie awards yet???
  • 9:38 P.M. Jersey Boys doing a tribute to The Sopranos–clever, clever. What, are they not even performing new lyrics to apply to the Sopranos cast? What the hell is the point of that? C’mon, Steven R. Schirripa got burned on a nomimation for yet another year, seems like the least the Emmys could do would be to try to find a word that rhymes with “Baccalieri”.
  • 9:43 P.M. The Sops cast comes to stage–christ, there are a lot of these guys, huh? With this display of favoritism, it seems virtually impossible that The Sopranos could lose for Best Drama at this point.
  • 9:49 P.M. Outstanding Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie
    • Prediction: Messing maybe
    • Should Be: Someone else
    • Actual Winner: Helen Mirren for Prime Suspect: The Final Act. Woman’s a machine. “You Americans are very generous people!” Damn straight.
  • 9:52 P.M. Lewis Black is yelling at or about something. Is it too late to catch Anchorman on ABC?
  • 9:55 P.M. Outstanding Directing for a Mini-Series, Movie or Special or pretty much anything else except the shows I actually care about
    • Prediction, Should Be and Actual Winner: some dude
  • 9:57 P.M. Outstanding Writing for a Mini-Series, Movie or Special
    • Prediction, Shoule Be and Actual Winner: no wonder I’ve never actually sat through this fucking show end-to-end before, who the hell takes TV seriously enough to give a shit about these? I mean, if it’s not me, who else is there?
  • 10:00 P.M. “The Cha Cha Slide” is in a McDonalds commercial. The sad truth: I’m actually sort of excited about the chance to hear it daily.
  • 10:04 P.M. Creative Achievement in Interactive Television? Masi Oka and the guy who created MySpace have some internet conversation about Al Gore, maybe? I can’t be expected to keep track of this shit.
  • 10:08 P.M. Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher do some bantering, reminding everyone why the sitcom is dead. Some award for Outstanding Performance is presented, and once again:

Your fucking days are numbered, octogenarian.

  • 10:11 P.M. More awards that have already been presented, Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series. Stanley Tucci (Monk) and Elaine Stritch (30 Rock) win. Could be the only gold 30 Rock sees this evening, so enjoy it while we can, I guess. Outstanding Direction in a Comedy Series goes to Richard Shepard for Ugly Betty, Outstanding Writing goes to Greg Daniels for The Office.
  • 10:23 P.M. “You know, this looked a lot less gay on the rack,” Seacrest says of his Henry VIII wardrobe. “Can I keep it?” Has any other TV personality ever tried so hard to cause such deliberate confusion over his sexuality?
  • 10:26 P.M. Who the hell invited Kanye West? He’s put into a mock-AI competition with The Office‘s Rainn Wilson over remembering the lyrics to his own songs. “Now remember, whoever loses this has to retire from show business,” host Wayne Brady remarks. “Not another!” Kanye cries. Sadly, this is by far the hippest the awards will get all evening.
  • 10:29 P.M. Outstanding Reality Competition
    • Prediction: Amazing Race wins this a lot, right?
    • Should Be: Five-way tie for last
    • Actual Winner: The Amazing Race, now uncontested for a half-decade. “We are so proud…to win this again,” the producer says.
  • 10:35 P.M. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert banter about the environmental merits of the Emmys. “If celebrities stop getting together to congratulate each other, THEN THE EARTH WINS!!!” Colbert concludes. Unimportant, though, I’d listen to these guys debate about sponges.
  • 10:39 P.M. Best Actor in a Comedy Series
    • Prediction: Steve Carrell for The Office
    • Should Be: Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock
    • Actual Winner: Ricky Gervais for Extras?? Wow, I don’t think anyone saw that coming. I’m shocked enough people watched the Extras tape to even vote for it.
  • 10:40 P.M. Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
    • Prediction: Edie Falco for The Sopranos
    • Should Be: Yeah, Edie Falco, why not
    • Actual Winner: Sally Field for Brothers and Sisters. Meh, I guess Falco has three already. This shit is a lot harder to predict than the Oscars. Uh-oh, Sally wanted to say something about the war that she wasn’t given time to. “If the mothers ruled the world, THERE WOULD BE NO GOD–” Someone at FOX is getting really proficient at hitting the “KILL” button tonight.
  • 10:44 P.M. Some people died last year. I don’t think I knew about Jack Palance. Pavoratti too, huh? Bummer.
  • 10:52 P.M. Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
    • Prediction: America Ferrera for Ugly Betty
    • Should Be: Tina Fey for 30 Rock
    • Actual Winner: America Ferrera. All right, so at least there is some rhyme and reason to this emmy business. Does it piss anyone else off that Ugly Betty is sort of hott? I mean, not an Eva Mendes or nothing, but for a show that’s supposed to be about accepting outsiders or something, couldn’t they have found some chick that was actually, y’know, ugly? I’m pretty sure there are a couple of ’em out there if you squint hard enough.
  • 10:55 P.M. Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
    • Prediction: Fuck it, I’m not going Gandolfini, I’m saying Hugh Laurie for House
    • Should Be: Laurie or Gandolfini are good for me.
    • Actual Winner: JAMES FUCKING SPADER??? I mean, don’t get me wrong, as a lifetime achievement you couldn’t possibly pile on enough awards on this guy, but for Boston Public? “I still have no idea who votes for these things,” Spader admits, sounding guilty as hell. What the fuck.
  • 11:02 P.M. Outstanding Comedy Series
    • Prediction: Ugly Betty?
    • Should Be: 30 Rock
    • Actual Winner: Wow, they actually gave it to 30 Rock. That almost makes up for everything else, no it doesn’t not really but you know. Hey, Emmy people, I know how to roll a die too, can I be on the voting committee next year?
  • 11:08 P.M. Outstanding Drama Series
    • Prediction: I dunno, let’s say Heroes ‘coz it makes no sense
    • Should Be: The Sopranos, sort of
    • Actual Winner: All right, so they gave it to The Sopranos after all. Looks very emotional for the cast of 22,371, presumably because they might not have a reason to be in the same room together until the ten year anniversary of The Russian’s disappearance or whatever. Fair enough.

Show suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. Blog it yourselves next year.

Posted in Livebloggin' | 10 Comments »

Livebloggin’: The 2007 Grammy Awards

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 11, 2007

Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide

8:00: The newly-reformed Police open the ceremonies with a version of “Roxanne”. Starts out a fairly faithful cover, but the song goes dub for the second verse. Cool, though not as cool as playing “Synchronicity II” would’ve been. The group links hands and takes a bow, evidently once again able to stand each other’s company. Inspiring.

8:05: First presesnter Jamie Foxx opens his routine with a joke about Snoop “doing the cirpwalk down the 4-5” after he heard that “The Police were opening.” The joke falls flat, evidently tripping Foxx up considerably. “That joke would’ve killed on BET,” he laments.

8:06: As if to prove how current and cutting edge the Grammys have become, Nelly Furtado and Timbaland lose the Best Pop Vocal Collaboration Grammy to Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett covering Stevie’s “For Once in My Life.” What, did Barry Manilow’s 50s covers album not have any duets on it?

8:09: Joan Baez introduces fellow female musical rebels the Dixie Chicks, who do a fairly solid performance of Record of the Year nominee “Not Ready to Make Nice.” Baez says that she has also been told to “Shut up and Sing,” half the sentiment of which I definitely concur with.

8:18: Prince emerges. “One word: Beyonce” (anything more and the Purple One charges overtime). Beyonce does an impressive “Listen,” bringing the Dreamgirls tally for the night to two so far. Overcompensation for the Oscar snub, I suppose.

8:21: The Black Eyed Peas introduce special Grammy honorees Booker T. & the MG’s; Fergie sounds almost unable to speak in complete sentences. The award for Best R&B Album is announced, going to Mary J. Blige for The Breakthrough. Apparently her first Grammy speech (though I’m almost positive she’s won at least once before), Mary is predictably close to tears. “For so many years people have talked about me negatively, but now I am being talked about positively by so many people.” Mary races to get through her laundry list of Thank Yous as the “Get Off the Stage” music gets louder and louder.

8:28: OK Go has apparently won the Best Shortform Video Grammy for their viral sensation “Here it Goes Again“. This time last year, the phrase “Grammy Winners OK Go” is one I would’ve bet million of dollars against ever being spoken.

8:33: Justin Timberlake is shown talking about what an important song “What Goes Around” is to him, calling it “the best song I’ve written thusfar.” He is then shown performing the song with a live band/orchestra, playing the piano part himself (take that, Rockists!) Eventually he leaves the piano behind, and starts singing right into a mini-camera he holds up to his face while singing. Really necessary?

8:39: Pink and T.I. are brought out to introduce honorees The Doors. Pink looks and soudns drugged out as ever, T.I. is mad classy in an all-black suit and black shirt. Introducing the Best Female R&B Performance, Mary J. Blige is now 2-2 (Indie.Arie, you already had your day). “Let me just be brief about this,” Mary says at the mic, chuckling.

8:41: Jacques Lu Cont wins some Best Remix-related Grammy for his reworking of Coldplay’s “Talk.” Not his best work by any means, and a couple years too late, but awesome to see the dude acknowledged nonetheless.

8:44: Lil’ Jon in a Heineken spot getting off a private plane and handing a twelve-pack to J.D. “Two twelve packs I sweep the awards next year!” he exclaims. “I’m with that,” J.D. responds. Now where were commercials like this during the Super Bowl?
8:48: Stevie Wonder introduces the singer-songwriter block of Corrine Bailey Rae, John Legend and John Mayer. Disappointed to see Corrine Bailey Rae play something besides “Put Your Records On” (which VH1 has bullied me into liking, somehow), but she sounds good anyway. Next up is ’06 Grammy darling John Legend, who remains about as bland as he was last year, but it’s a nice flow from the Rae performance. Then it’s John Mayer, who thankfully does a song besides “Waiting for the World to Change.” Some people say this guy is the next Eric Clapton, which is probably true for all the wrong reasons. All in all, a nice low-key moment, definitely a rarity for the Grammys.

8:58: Nelly Furtado, Natasha Bedingfield and Nicole Scherzinger put aside their petty squabbles to introduce the Best Pop Vocal Album. John Mayer, conveniently still waiting backstage, picks up an easy win for Continuum. “I wanna thank Michael McDonald, my manager,” Mayer says. Can we get a “What a Fool Believes” cover on the next one, John?

9:05: Dear God, please spare me from ever having to hear “Hips Don’t Lie” again.

9:10: Dixie Chicks take home Song of the Year for “Not Ready to Make Nice.” Rick Rubin gets thanked multiple times–is there any genre this dude can’t conquer?

9:19: Lots of bad basketball puns abound the introduction of Gnarls Barkley, performing a slow, orchestrated version of “Crazy” while dressed like pilots (a tribute to Airplane!, maybe?)

9:23: Common and Kanye West present the award for Best Rap Album. Ludacris wins, beating T.I. and Lupe Fiasco. “So all I had to do was cut my hair to win one of these, is that what y’all tellin’ me?” Luda asks. I didn’t even notice it was gone, actually. Luda thanks Oprah and Bill O’Riley one more time at the end of his speech–man, this guy really knows how to hold a grudge.

9:34: Terrence Howard gives a gushing introduction to performer Mary J. Blige, now clearly the woman of the evening. “I’m in love, and for Mary J. Blige, that’s for real,” Mary says, leading into a performance of hit “Be Without You.” I still think the song’s kind of boring, but the crowd obviously disagrees, giving Blige a standing ovation.

9:39: Mandy Moore, LeAnn Rimes and Luke Wilson (???) introduce the award for Best Country Album. They humor the other nominees by reading the nominees, but none of them can have any allusions about beating the Dixie Chicks for this, and sure enough, The Dixie Chicks pick up #2. “Well, to quote the great Simpsons, hah-hah!,” Natalie Maines remarks, admirably attempting a Nelson Muntz taunt. “A whole lot of people just turned their TV sets off,” Maines reflects afterwards.

9:42: The Flaming Lips win their second Grammy for Best Instrumental Rock Performance with “The Wizard Takes On…” The one guy voting in this category must be an Oklahoman or something.

9:48: Carri Underwood and some old dudes do a cover of Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose.” I never heard of the guy, sounds like an all right song though. This transitions into a Rascal Flatts cover of fellow country greats The Eagles’ “Hotel California” (uhh, I guess…). Carrie returns for a surprisingly soulful “Desperado” rendition, and then joins up for a final performance of “Life in the Fast Lane,” doing an impressively ripping countrified “Life in the Fast Lane.”

10:00: Natalie Cole and Ornette Coleman appear to pay tribute to Lifetime Achievement honoree Ornette and to present the award for Best New Artist. “Hey, we both have ‘Cole’ in our name!” they unfortunately do not remark. Carrie Underwood of course takes home the honors, even though I could swear she’s been around for at least two years already (people have difficulty remembering a world pre-“Jesus Take the Wheel,” I suppose–understandable). 2

10:08: Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci (who looks disturbingly…adult) introduce Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie and Chris Brown–“three generations of R&B.” Not that I”m the biggest Lionel Richie fan, but I think there’s a little bit of a difference in form and methodology between “Tracks of My Tears” and “Hello,” and “Run It!”–especially since for the chorus, Brown stops singing altogether and just does his highly-choreographed dance thing. This is followed by Grammy regular Christina Aguilera proving how soulful she is for the millionth time by covering James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” attempting some of the Godfather’s mic pumps and other signature moves. Bizarre.

10:30: Hey, I didn’t know Freddy Fender and Buck Owens died this year.

10:38: Rihanna and David Spade (“David Bowie and Iman were unavailable”) introduce Ludacris, Mary J. Blige and Earth, Wind & Fire (who seem to need decidedly little persuasion to show up at the Grammys for whatever random position has to be filled). Still my all-time least favorite Ludacris single–I believe Ludacris’ll be able to tackle serious fare one day, but this isn’t the most auspicious start.

10:43: The legacy of Ahmet Ertegun is given tribute by James Blunt’s performance of “You’re Beautiful,” a song which stands for absolutely 0 of the progressions made by Atlantic Records. Bummer.

10:52: Dreamgirls alum #3 Jennifer Hudson announces the My Grammy Moment winner, one of three soul singer chicks with soundalike voices who gets to sing along with Justin Timberlake. Winner Robin Truth looks really confused and sort of upset at her victory. She and Justin do a duet on Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” (I’ll never understand how singers manage to not lose track of all the “I Know” repetitions in that song) before launching into “My Love.” The added punctuations she provides to T.I.’s rap verse are kinda dumb, but aside from that, the girl does all right.

10:58: Tony Bennett and Quentin Tarantino present the Record of the Year grammy. Tarantino seems WAY too jazzed to be presenting the award with Tony Bennett, and about all the extremely unexciting nominees (“YOU’RE BEAAUUUUUUTIFUL!!! JAMES BLUUUUNT!!!”) And of course, it’s a hat trick for the Dixie Chicks. “I’m all out of clever things to say!” Maines exclaims. Pity.

11:09: Chris Rock enthusiastically introduces “The Best Band in the World,” Red Hot Chili Peppers, who support his claim by playing Stadium Arcadium‘s half-baked third single “Snow (Hey Oh)”. Nickelback probably feels pretty left out as the only current million-selling rock band not to get fellated at the Grammys–give ’em another ten years, I guess.

11:13: Al Gore, somehow now the hippest politican on the planet, appears with Queen Latifah (who not so subtly hits on the ex-VP) to present the Best Rock Album. Against all odds, Tom Petty’s latest album fails to trump RHCP, who take the award home for Stadium Arcadium. “Kids, get out there and start more rock bands. WE NEED MORE ROCK BANDS!” proclaims Chad Smith (well, we certainly need more new rock bands), who looks a whole lot more like Will Ferrell than I remembered.

11:24: Don Henley and Scarlet Johanssen present the Album of the Year grammy. Scarlett looks practically unrecognizable, closer to a Simpson sister than the hott indie chick that so many guys fell in love with five years ago. Sad. “So, you’re recording your first album, Scarlett?” “Yes, that’s right Don, do you have any advice for me?” “No.” “(Awkward Pause)”. Nice one. “YES!!!” exclaims Don Henley as he reads the Dixie Chicks as the winners, in a clean sweep. Good for Rick, I guess.

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