Monthly Archive for June, 2010

world cup refereeing

In case you hadn’t heard, the US national team advanced to the 2nd round of the World Cup after a late goal from Landon Donovan gave them a 1-0 win over Algeria. It was an incredibly tense affair for the American fans who saw their team dominating Algeria but not finding the back of the net until stoppage time in the second half. Well, actually, they did find the back of the net much, much earlier. Roughly 20 minutes in Clint Dempsey scored, only to have his goal disallowed for a supposed offside. Now, in fairness to the referee and the linesman, it did seem at first glance as though Dempsey could very well have been offside—he was lurking near the back post with no one around and tapped the ball into the back of the net with ease. I was outraged all day, but this morning I went back and looked at the videos again and it’s about as close a call as could ever happen (the relevant rule and official interpretation says that a player is in an offside position if “any part of a player’s head, body, or feet [not including the arms] is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.” So maybe the refs don’t deserve too much bashing for that call by itself. But it’s pretty damn frustrating when it happens a game after that utterly bizarre call to disallow what would have been the USA’s winning goal against Slovenia. And had the US not advanced to the 2nd round, this post would involve lots and lots of curse words. Continue reading ‘world cup refereeing’

things in musicals that make no sense

Ever seen a movie or play or TV show and thought, “Gee, what is happening right now makes no sense whatsoever?” Well, I certainly have. Maybe the characters react to plot developments in ways that seem completely unrealistic. Maybe the concept is a clever but slight idea pushed beyond its limits. You get the idea. I’m sure if I racked my brains I could find plenty of examples in all forms of media, but here’s a few examples from musicals:

Instrument-selling traveling con men are really great guys on the inside (The Music Man)

Many musicals have been written about con men of various sorts—High Button Shoes, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 110 in the Shade, The Producers, and so on. One of the best known is The Music Man, about a traveling con man named Harold Hill who, passing himself off as a music teacher and conductor, sells musical instruments to boys in small Midwestern towns. He conveniently ducks out of town before the instruments arrive. Unfortunately, when he comes to River City, Iowa, he falls for Marian the librarian/piano teacher. She tries to expose him as a fraud, but the joyous mass hysteria that strikes the town when the Wells Fargo Wagon arrives with the instruments distracts the mayor and the rest of the inhabitants.* And she seems to change her opinions about Harold when she sees the positive influence he’s had on her shy kid brother Winthrop. And because it’s a musical, the two fall in love, sing a few songs about it, and she keeps her mouth shut about the fact that he’s a no-good con man. Unfortunately, a spell of late-show trouble comes in the form of a traveling salesman who does tell everyone that Harold is a fraud. But just as the citizens hunt Harold down, the band comes out and plays, and even though they’re dreadful the proud parents are so thrilled at the sight of their children in their new uniforms with their shiny musical instruments, and all is forgiven.

I don’t really have a problem with the love plot of the show—women can be irrational, Harold should be a charming, good-looking guy, and crazier romantic matches have happened (we’ll get to a few more later). But I just can’t buy the ending of this show. The citizens are supposed to be a stereotype of the reserved, stoic, somewhat cold midwesterner, but they are completely enthralled by the show’s climax. Can these people not hear? Continue reading ‘things in musicals that make no sense’

the tonys’ obessession with hollywood celebrities

Many of y’all watched the Tonys last night. We were treated to a parade of Hollywood stars, some with deep roots in the theatre world, others with only a tenuous connection at best. Actually, some of them had no connection whatsoever: Paula Abdul? Mark Sanchez? (At least he lives in New York. And he provided an easy chance for me to make a Sharks and Jets joke.) But most have made appearances on Broadway, as producers trade on their big names in order to sell more tickets. Among the luminaries were the awkwardly-dressed Katie Holmes (who towered over Daniel Radcliffe), Lucy Liu, Michael Douglas, Will Smith, Racquel Welch, Antonio Banderas, etc.

Now, to be fair we saw our fair share of legit Broadway stars: Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Glee‘s Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele*, and a handful of others. And some stars are true legends of both stage and screen (I’m talking about you, Angela Lansbury).

Now, some of y’all may be saying “CBS needs ratings. Movie stars bring ratings.” And presumably this is true, just as movie stars can sell tickets on Broadway regardless of their acting ability. And I understand this. So I really don’t mind if the presenters are movie stars. But when they start walking off with all the trophies, it gets a little ridiculous. Continue reading ‘the tonys’ obessession with hollywood celebrities’


I’ve been doing a pretty good amount of reading lately. Mostly nonfiction, in a variety of genres: sports, science, philosophy, politics, and plenty of others. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I absolutely cannot stand endnotes.

Often a writer has things to say that don’t belong in the main text, but still need to be said. Sometimes they’re parenthetical asides; sometimes they’re citations or clarifications. There are two main ways to deal with these: make them either footnotes (placed at the bottom of the page) or endnotes (buried in the back of the book). Now, I don’t mind an endnote if it’s just going to be something along the lines of “ibid p. 347.” But if you’re going to tell me something even remotely interesting, why the hell should I have to flip a couple hundred pages to read it? Continue reading ‘endnotes’