Monthly Archives: October 2009

Tavis Smiley: Week in Review, Part IV

HOWARD MEGDAL: This interview, while it suffered from many of the typical Tavis problems, is probably the strongest he’s done thus far in our review. Throughout, Smiley emphasizes the identity politics of Simmons- the first African American woman to be president of an Ivy League school- which has its strengths and minuses.

AKIE BERMISS: So Thursday may, in hindsight, be the high water mark for Mr. Smiley’s program. I have to say, this is probably is as good as it gets. When it really comes down to it, I’m not sure if Tavis has much more to push on when it comes to preparedness and interview-craft. And just in a nick of time too with the entire show going to a full-length interview with Dr. Ruth Simmons — the president of Brown University.

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Tavis Smiley: Week in Review, Part III

AKIE BERMISS: And so it was with great trepidation that I began to watch Wednesday night’s episode of the Tavis Smiley show. With a harlequin performance on Monday, and a mediocrity all around Tuesday — I had a feeling Wednesday would have be judged on a Pass/Fail basis.

HOWARD MEGDAL: No digression at all from what Akie said about this. In essence, we know this: give Tavis some liner notes and a CD, and he will prepare. Give him a book, and he’ll look at the cover. Continue reading

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Mascot Prayer

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: Everyone knows mascots are inherently godless, and are largely understood to worship Satan, in the form of New Jersey Devils mascot “NJ Devil.”

HOWARD MEGDAL: I strongly object to a taxpayer-funded mascot engaging in religious activity, facetious or otherwise, while on the public dime. Continue reading

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Tavis Smiley: Week in Review, Part II

AKIE BERMISS: Preparation is king, Tavis Smiley. Tuesday night’s episode was far more bearable than its predecessor. Why? Because Tavis seemed prepared for his guests. And it was just in a nick of time, as well. With Nicholas Kristof and Haleh Esfandiari. I know Kristof from his work for the Times and I was worried — after the “dog” incidents of the previous night — that he would spend half of the interview asking Kristof about the relevancy of the sky to human rights issues. I was pleasantly surprised by Tavis’ ability to ask fairly penetrating questions that we ON TOPIC and actually unveiled much of the substance and purpose behind the book.

I must disagree with Akie’s descriptions here. Tavis seemed out of his league on both interviews, and the second was nearly a parody. Continue reading

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World Series Preview

HOWARD MEGDAL: Like Dave, I believe those who are calling the World Series an easy win for the Yankees are mistaken. The Phillies are a skilled team, strong defensively, with a lineup to compete with the Yankees and even some good starting pitching.

The Yankees, however, are better and have the home field. I suspect that is too much for even a strong Philadelphia team to overcome.

DAVE TOMAR:Robin Roberts, the Hall of Fame Phillies pitcher who faced off with the Yankees as a member of the Whiz Kids during the 1950 World Series, once said that there were only four things he hated: Michigan, Notre Dame, Russia and the Yankees. Personally, I’ve got nothing against Russia. Continue reading

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Tavis Smiley: Week in Review, Part I

HOWARD MEGDAL: I am consistently struck by a pair of truths when watching Tavis Smiley:
1. He consistently gets a caliber of guest unmatched anywhere with the exception of Charlie Rose.
2. He manages to waste that opportunity far more often than he makes use of it, with nonsense questions and long non-sequiturs about his own life.

AKIE BERMISS: I have to agree with Howard — Tavis Smiley’s interviews are almost always train-wrecks. I’m not sure if he is just a) bat-shit crazy; b) incredibly stupid; or c) foolishly under the impression that his “zany” off-center questions betray some tragic, underscored congenial wit. What is it about him? He seems like a nice enough guy and when he’s on point he usually comes through with a terrific interview. All too often, however, he just seems like a smiling dear in headlights. Poor guy — sometimes I just want to pull him out through the television screen and just let him have a moment to think things over. Continue reading

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Horror Movies: Top 5s

JILLIAN LOVEJOY LOWERY: I love being scared; I love every second of it. There’s nothing like it. (*In controlled situations, of course. Don’t get any funny ideas).

TED BERG: OK, I like a lot of horror movies. But I like a lot of horror movies for a variety of reasons, from ridiculous violence to unintentional comedy. The following list does not include numerous movies I thoroughly loved, perhaps more than the ones I mention below. The Evil Dead series, for example, did not make it for being too self-consciously campy. American Psycho didn’t make it because I feel like it was too good and too funny to be considered a horror movie proper. What follows, in honor of Halloween, are my five favorite horror movies that actually scared me. Continue reading

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Chuck Todd’s Goatee: End of an Era?

HOWARD MEGDAL: Relief is the only word that comes to mind over the news that Chuck Todd, whose political acuity set the standard for a generation of political junkies, will not be shaving his goatee, which set the standard for a generation of Chuck Todd’s face.

CHRIS PUMMER: Todd might be keeping the goatee a while longer, but this observer thinks it’s time for the powerhouse political analyst to move on. Continue reading

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Next Board Game Movies

ZOË RICE: Watch out comic books. Board games are the next verdant field waiting to be reaped for movie magic. Apparently Monopoly and Candy Land are headed for the big screen. Rumors are also flying that Battleship may be next (I picture Harrison Ford yelling “B-19″ from one ship and Bruce Willis surrounded by rushing water yelling, “Hiiiiiiittt!” from another). But why stop there? More board game movies that need to be made:

TED BERG: 1) Chutes and Ladders: Jason Schwartzmann stars in director Charlie Kaufman’s existential comedy on the rise and fall of a business prodigy. Continue reading

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LILIT MARCUS: Have you ever played the game Bullshit Bingo? My coworkers and I were big fans back when we worked for a corporation that shall remain nameless. The idea is that you grab a Bingo board and instead of numbers and letters, each box gets a buzzword or buzzphrase. Popular terms include “24/7,” “circle back,” “at the end of the day,” “it is what it is,” “all hands on deck,” and “conference” (used as a verb). Then, each of you brings one sheet in with you during a long staff meeting and while the boss pontificates you check off terms as he or she uses them. The first person to get Bingo has to announce it some sneaky-yet-obvious way. (My coworkers and I would use the good old “fake coughing fit” gambit.) Advantage goes to people who have been at the company a long time and are familiar with each executive’s annoying phrases of choice.

MATTHEW DAVID BROZIK: In the field of law, there is no small number of terms of art (there is a large number), and as many asserted reasons for keeping them in use as there are for letting them die. The best–and by best I mean dumbest–terms I’ve encountered, though, came not from lawyers but from emails sent by executives at a certain international company being sued by three of my clients. Continue reading

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