Category Archives: Across the pond

Brooklyn is the Center of World (Cup)

WorldCupHeadquartersWell, it’s finally over. After a month of great, often breathtaking games matches and gorgeous goals, the World Cup finished its 2014 run in Brasil yesterday, leaving us both sad and already overflowing with excitement for 2018 (and 2022 on our home turf?) I watched more soccer football in the last month than I had in my whole life prior, and it’s not even close. Even more, I think I watched more of the beautiful game in the last four weeks than I have of baseball all season. And I love baseball. But the Mets are mediocre and uninspiring, and just plain difficult to watch. And, well, the World Cup worked very well with my current unemployment flexible schedule. Will I continue this trend and begin to tune into MLS games on a regular basis. Probably not (last night’s Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers prime-time matchup notwithstanding). I already went down that road four years when I really thought I was going to be big LA Galaxy fan, and that didn’t last long (but that’s the worldwide appeal of David Beckham, I guess). Truth is, I’ll probably finally get back into baseball post-All-Star break, or, perhaps, if the Mets continue to make mediocre an art form, I’ll just kill time until hockey starts again (whose void was filled so wonderfully, and at just the right time, by the World Cup). But I’ll be ready for 2018 in Russia, and I’ll always treasure the last month, when I felt at one with the world and the world felt like it came to Brooklyn (and I spent way too much time in a bar before 5pm).

My lasting memory, I think, will be that every bar, cafe, restaurant, McDonald’s, hair salon and tax preparation office seemed to be broadcasting the matches, trying to capitalize on a popularity that I didn’t quite realize the tournament possessed. There was no shortage of establishments showing the matches, and, it felt, no shortage of people who were interested in watching. Walking around Brooklyn, it sure felt that soccer, after two decades of promise, had finally arrived.

World Cup Bars Brooklyn, Greenpoint

 

Our collective  fútbol fever may now have subsided, not likely to return for another four years. But from now until then, we’re still infected, with another outbreak just lying in wait, from Brooklyn to Chicago, from Seattle to Kansas City, to Los Angeles to the White House. I look forward to the relapse.

 

 

 

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Filed under Across the pond, Local Flavor, Matt Christopher Books, New Favorite Show, The Roaring 10s!

Branch Closing – A Farewell to ‘The Office’

We very clearly remember the moment that we fell for The Office, the NBC stalwart that closes up shop at Dunder Mifflin tonight after nine mostly great seasons. It was the fall of 2005, when The Office was starting to find its legs after a rocky and uneven six episode first season, and we in our first autumn post-college, back at our parents’, and for the first time since we were four-years-old not attending school. We were at our best friend and future roommate’s house, hanging out, maybe barbecuing, maybe drinking a few beers, maybe watching the first season of Lost on DVD, which dominated much of our time (and thoughts) during that period. We knew about the The Office, another blatant attempt to import a UK hit stateside, but missed its brief run earlier that year, as was the case with the aforementioned Lost, as the only shows we watched religiously during our final year of college (and last few months before true adulthood) were The Simpsons and Survivor. We did, however, recall reading that it was an imperfect translation of the original, and the Steve Carell-led vehicle – who was then best known as the other Steve from The Daily Show –  was not likely to resurrect NBC Thursday night Must See TV, let alone make it past Season 2. So with the middling reviews in mind, and the fact that we were unfamiliar with the original Ricky Gervais version, we didn’t go out of our way to watch the show. But that night changed everything.

More: But that was just the beginning…

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Filed under Across the pond, Back to the Past, Brilliance, Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam, Freak Out Control, Good Humor, Is That Still On?, LOST, Must Flee TV, Must See TV

Abby vs. Gabby: On the American Sportswoman

We’ve spent a lot of time over the past week discussing the Summer Olympics and with last night’s Closing Circus Ceremonies in London we could spend a few hundred more words deriding the final festivities – and such chastising would be much deserved – but we think we did enough of that on Twitter.  Instead, we’d like to spend our respective closing ceremony considering the female athlete in the United States, and we’d like to do so, in unorthodox fashion, with the minimum amount of snark.

During these 2012 Olympic Games we couldn’t help but be struck by the sheer dominance of the USA women – from gymnastics to swimming to soccer to beach volleyball to basketball – and how much our females have moved to the forefront of international competition.  Indeed, we heard a fact – perhaps it was from Bob Costas, the Walter Cronkite of the Olympics – that if the United States women comprised a separate country they would place third in the gold medal count.  Third.  Which is a stunning stat, and should motivate the men (with a few exceptions, including Michael Phelps, David Boudia and the men’s basketball team) to extend a hearty thank you and congratulations and maybe even get down on their knees and propose.  But beyond the magnitude of their achievement, the success of the USA women got us thinking about the state of women’s sports in America, how we got here, where it’s going, and, most especially, which female gold medalist do little girls today want to be when they grow up.

More: Abby or Gabby?

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Filed under Across the pond, Makes You Think, Matt Christopher Books, Yasmine Bleeth, You Decide

On the Olympics: Testing Our Medal

We’ve recently returned from a week-long sojourn to a tropical paradise, and thus were unable to commit the 10-12 hours a day we hoped watching the NBC Networks Olympic coverage of events like water polo, handball, indoor volleyball, ping-pong (sorry, table tennis), field hockey and trap shooting.  We were, however, able to catch part of NBC’s prime time telecasts, the carefully cultivated, perfectly orchestrated alchemy of prestigious events of which the Americans just happen to win the majority.  And if you think watching NBC’s tape delay broadcasts here in America is tough, try doing it twenty miles (or was it kilometers?) from Venezuela.

Upset about the admittedly completely unnecessary and pedantic Mary Carillo explains London segments? Fine.  But better than coverage not starting til 9pm EST and then finding the telecast constantly interrupted by an unknown Aruban man in a desolate, sad locker room set, serving as something of a local Bob Costas amid open lockers and prop gym bags.  Even worse is that these interstitials preempted the commercials.  The Olympics is the Super Bowl of commercials.  Normally we’d prefer to fast-forward right through all of them, but if we had our choice of watching a random guy pontificate about Michael Phelps in Papiamento or watching every single McDonald’s commercial, we’d choose the latter.  At least the second option gives us a the chance for a sports celebrity cameo, or a catchy jingle, or, God willing, a new Happy Meal Toy.  Or we could just use that time to visit the bathroom or get a snack, but, instead, while Aruban Bob Costas chats with the small island’s foremost track and field expert, we flip over to Lifetime to see if Forrest Gump is still on, not sure how long this detour from London is going to last (which, we admit, is a very specific experience, so we apologize if this particular situation does not apply to you).

Okay, so we’re exaggerating here.  It really wasn’t that bad.  But neither is watching the main events on tape delay here in the contiguous US of A, despite all the caustic vitriol  spat at NBC over its delayed gratification approach to the games.  What the people who level all the criticism at NBC for withholding the most interesting (to Americans) events til after 8pm (and, really, til 11pm) don’t seem to consider, or put much stock in to, is that most Americans (save for those who are currently employed and spend most of their day watching Razon Ramon documentaries producing high quality journalism and insightful media criticism), aren’t home at 2pm to watch the entirety of the Tween Women’s Uneven Bars final.  That doesn’t mean that NBC couldn’t cling to journalistic integrity, demonstrate a responsibility to delivering unfiltered, untainted Olympics coverage, and air the whole event live.  But then what?  Rebroadcast it again later?  In its entirety?  Or in repeats is it permissible to edit the events down?  And does NBC, even with its seemingly infinite cadre of cable channels, have the airtime to show the same competition twice?  On the other hand, if they air everything in real-time, what does NBC show in prime-time?  Grimm repeats?  Rock Center: Live from Westminster Abbey?  Start the Tonight Show three hours early?  No.  Make no mistake, NBC has not spent billions of dollars securing the rights to the Olympics to present sports in the most comprehensive, informative, honest and fan-friendly way.  They’re in it for the same reason ESPN is (despite what its acronym might imply), to make gobs and boatloads and gobloads of money.  Let’s not forget that.

And let’s not hold that against them.  For NBC, the Olympics is a two-week-long special edition of America’s Got Talent (Phelps, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin) and The Biggest Loser (Mckayla Maroney, any country other than the USA).  It’s the marketing push Whitney really needed.  And to suggest that NBC has some responsibility to the American citizen not to present the most popular events in the most melodramatic, heavily-edited, Al Trautwig-hosted, Cinderella-story way is silly, and, really, hypocritical.  Yank all 10pm dramas in favor of Jay Leno, shame on NBC.  Expect NBC not to value Olympic ratings above all else, shame on you.

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Filed under Across the pond, Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Matt Christopher Books, Must See TV

The Beanery

We got our hands on the exclusive, never-before-seen trailer for The King’s Speech, featuring the original actor earmarked for the role of King George VI.  As much as we like Colin Firth, we think they should have stuck with their first choice.

Chills.

[btw, Rowan Atkinson is EXCELLENT in Love Actually]

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Filed under Across the pond, The Big Screen, We'll Get It In Post

Russell Brand on ‘SNL’: Very British

Well, we had little hope that the SNL would rebound from its disillusioning Dana Carvey episode last week.  For some reason, lately we’ve been giving the show the reverse of the benefit of the doubt, the doubt of the benefit if you will.  And when we casually started the episode late Saturday night, it seemed that our prognostications would be proven valid, that we were in for another ho-hum effort with a perfectly fine but completely ordinary host.  But, while Russell Brand would prove to possibly be the weakest part of the show, the episode turned around on the basis of two sketches, two pieces that will no doubt sit atop our best of the season list.

Coming up: What sketch did we watch four times? And we hand out the season MVP award early.

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Filed under Across the pond, Analysis, Good Humor, Saturday Night Live, The State

Did ‘The King’s Speech’ Poster Rip-Off Mirah’s ‘You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This’ Cover Art?

Here’s the poster for Best Picture front-runner The King’s Speech:

And here’s the cover art for Mirah’s 2000 album You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This:

Makes you think, right?

Probably just a coincidence.

But just for fun:

Or:

Hmmmmmm….

YOU DECIDE

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Filed under Across the pond, Count Bleh, Makes You Think, Rip-off, The Big Screen, Tyranasaurus Sex, We'll Get It In Post, Woody Allen, Bar Mitzvahs & Bagels, You Decide