Sunday, December 29, 2002

So?

I'd say I'm at about 80-90 percent right now. The plan is to stretch and work out after work. Coincidentally, that was the plan for the evening of 12/20 before I got up after sitting all morning and eventually found myself in the ER. What I do need to do is go to HR and see if the Vacation time I put in for around Christmas can be changed to Personal/Sick, since I clearly was not vacationing this week. Making that differentiation is the dumbest thing HR departments do anywhere. Well, okay, performance reviews are up there.



I kicked the Valium and Vicodin on Christmas Eve; once I could tackle walking, I wanted to be able to drive, and neither lends itself to that. Plus I wanted to eat grapefruit again, which is strangely one of the Valium-prohibited activities. I'm still on the Vioxx, so New Year's Eve will likely be an alcohol-free affair. I'm not scheduled to curl until Friday, which is good.



Despite the pain and dope, it was nice to have a quiet Christmas Eve and Day just with Kirsti. I missed seeing her parents & family, and the DeVeaus, but there is just so much to be said for sleeping in one's own bed and not dealing with hectic holiday schedules, just having casual Xmas dinners with peers in similar situations. Felt like this is what grownups do.
Shout-outs, and not the "in pain" kind, either

I have to head back to work tomorrow -- today now, actually-- and this after spending a week sleeping until about 10, usually in a drug-induced fog. Why am I still up? Because these are some of the people who were incredibly nice to us this week. They're incredibly nice any other time, but under the circumstances were especially swell this week:



Adam, who ducked out of work to cart Kirsti and me home from the hospital.

Karen, who recommended a whole bunch of back-care books.

Natalie, who, upon hearing we would not be flying to Boston, was among the first to extend a Christmas Eve dinner invite to us. Go hear her sing, won't you?

Michelle, Chris, and Karlo, who brought a care-package of one of those hot/cold cherry-pit pillows and some of Michelle's FAAAAAB-you-luss spaghetti sauce and meatballs. This (not the cherry-pit pillow) turned out to be Christmas Eve dinner, as we thought traveling and sitting would still be a dicey proposition at that point.

Steve and Jenni, whose phone call turned into a Christmas dinner invite. This one we did take up. I mean, it began, "You fuckin' cripple." How could we possibly say no?



Monday, December 23, 2002

"Aren't you supposed to be.."

...in Boston, yes. The short story is I'm home, pumped full of drugs, recovering from a particularly debilitating back spasm that hit me Friday afternoon. I woke up that morning with a bit of a stiff back, but nothing too major. I got up around lunchtime and went to the drugstore two blocks from the office to run some errands. On the the return trip, my back just seized up -- it took me a good 20 minutes to walk back to the office. Got to my desk and called Kirsti, who had the day off. When she arrived we found I could not got out of my office chair without stabbing, excruciating pain. Four EMTs had to lift me from my chair onto a stretcher.



My ER treatment was relatively speedy. They figured rather quickly this was a muscle thing and not a spinal/disc issue, so the treatment was to get me drugged up enough to get me out of the ER, and write scrips to manage the pain until the muscles got closer to normal. Injections of Dilaudid and Valium did the trick for the former. Prescriptions of Vioxx, Valium, and Vicodin are taking care of business while home. Needless to say, flying was right out of the question. So here I am. I can putter about the house now, and dress and shower myself, but sitting upright for too long presents a problem thus far. We have received some Christmas eve/day invites from people, and are playing it by ear as to whether we go to either. A big issue right now is my inability to drive on my drug combo.



As for the drugs, Vicodin is wholly overrated. Whatever Brett Favre saw in it is eluding me completely. The jury's still out on Vioxx; it's one-a-day

and it supposedly has ibuprofen-like effects which build up over time. Dilaudid and Valium, however, are a hurtin' boy's best friend. Elvis and I heartily endorse them.



RIP Joe Strummer


The Clash was the first band I ever saw in concert, and one of the defining acts of my teenage years. Like most Americans raised on unhip radio, I arrived late to the party with the Combat Rock album, but each trip to their back catalogue was a new revelation. Their claim of being "the only band that matters" was never hype. I was holding out for a reunion tour in conjunction with the Rock & Roll HOF induction, but alas...

Friday, December 13, 2002

Today's laugh

the runner-up is Bowling for Columbine being named Best Documentary of All Time by some award group, but taking the cake isthis article, in which the author chastises Tony Soprano for not wearing condoms during his many trysts with...well, anything on two (and now one, since he and Svetlana got it on) legs. Hmmm, I think this is what's known as missing the forest for the trees.



This just in

If the Catholic Church names Mark Cardinal, then sign me up!



l

Thursday, December 5, 2002

Week in review

Tomorrow I leave for Trashmasters in Chattanooga. Upon my return I'll have much complaining to do about the tournament's interminable delays, plus I'll have Dead Pool 2003 picks to talk about, not to mention the other two Mental Hygiene programs I've ignored -- so I'd better get the Thanksgiving recap out of the way before it dries up like a wishbone. So--



Wednesday Uneventful drive up. We hit the road at about 5 a.m., got in before 1, with a stop for breakfast at Mecca. Kirsti took a shift at the wheel, which was nice. Got to see Katie and the kids. Dean has written a book; the first in a sprawling 16-volume saga called If an Alien Comes. It's at turns Joycean (where the chapters start in mid-sentence) and Proustian (where the narrator expounds on various Yu-Gi-Oh! cards). Dean will sell you a copy from $11.99 to $3.99, depending on how far you can grind him down. This is why there are agents, I guess. I have to say it was pretty good; certainly more ambitious than anything I did when I was eight. I didn't try writing the third Star Wars installment until I was 10.



Thursday quiet Thanksgiving with Kirsti, Mom, and Donna. Katie and her family were at the in-laws while Donna's daughter Jane was off dining with her future in-laws. Standard T-day fare; the only family oddity being a pink thing called cranberry "salad" (this being Minnesota, where Jello with fruit becomes a salad), consisting of ground cranberries, mini marshmallows, cool whip, and crushed pineapple. Some friends of Mom's came over in the evening and we played an early Christmas present to Mom, Apples to Apples. A big hit.



Friday Sans the boys -- which turned out to be a good decision because Dean would have been bored and we wouldn't have been able to take much in and watch Hayden -- Kirsti and I went to the Minnesota Children's Museum to see the traveling Sesame Street exhibit. It wasn't too bad, but I really wanted to see some Muppets up close, particularly the retired ones like Roosevelt Franklin and Sam the robot. But the point of a children's museum is interactivity, and collections of felt and foam under glass are not interactive. And of course, on Sesame Street the Muppets are real.



Lots of video, as you can imagine. Most of the better-known human characters had their own clips. Somewhat odd that the clip representing Mr. Hooper did not, in fact, include Will Lee, but was from the famous episode where Mr. Hooper's death is explained to Big Bird. They had the premiere episode on a loop. Much slower show than I remember the show being, and they made more of an effort to frame segments. And more slapstick violence than I remember, and a tinge of sexism (the only female character at the time was a stay-at-home mom). I wanted to get a glimpse of orange Oscar but gave up after 20 minutes.



From there we swung by the St. Paul Curling Club so I could get a broom, then to Cheapo where we dropped over $100 each on CDs, and then out to dinner with Amy, Kathleen, the newly-engaged Liz & Matt, and their friend Tony. I had a big bloody steak that must have weighed about 70 pounds. 'Cos, you know, everyone was famished after Thursday...



Saturday Iron Chef Lefse Battle. Mom and a cousin of hers have a friendly feud over who makes the best lefse, so it was down to my aunt and uncle's farm in Pine Island to put the mad Lefse skillz to the test. We almost were in trouble because we forgot to bring the cord to our griddle, but my aunt Carrie had a frying-pan cord handy. I am Mom's traditional flipper in this exercise. As a lad, I'd sit for hours and help Mom make batch after batch of this stuff, usually while subjecting her to the latest in mid-80s punk rock. The tunes were lacking this time out, but I pulled through. Who won? The judges, of course! Mmmmmmm...Norwegian potato tortilla...



Sunday Early Christmas. Since we're usually in Boston for actual Xmas, we've been exchanging gifts with my family around Thanksgiving for several years now. Despite the minor frustration at always having to spend the holidays on the road, this arrangement has worked out rather well for Kirsti and me, for while the rest of Christendom is sweating to get its shopping done, we've got our feet up chillin' .



We visited Dad and Barb, both under the weather, for a while, then did the gift thing with Mom, Donna, Katie & family in the evening. Highlights included Mom and I getting each other the Singin' in the Rain 2-disc DVD, Hayden's head just about exploding with ecstasy over his Power Ranger figure, and Hayden admonishing Dean, in the style of his parents, to leave him be: "DEEEEAN! 'member what we talked about!". I am now awash in German boardgames: this, this , this , and the 5-6 player expansion for that. It's always good to place the order for what your wife gets you.



Monday Left MN at about 10:30, got home at 7-ish. Weather was fine until Milwaukee, where we got a small taste of the dumping Chicagoland had received. Got word that remarkably, my Sunday morning team clawed its way into the finals. Bad news is, they're on 12/22, so I'll have to find another sub.



TuesdayBack to work. Dinner with Roy and Nancy, who were visiting Nancy's mom for Thanksgiving. We bestowed upon them Grave Robbers from Outer Space, which has some very funny cards and interesting mechanics, but seemed a long way to go for Nancy to win a game by a score of, say, 15.



Wednesday Curling resumed. We saw a healthy lead wiped out by a 5-ender in the 6th to tie things up, but eked out a 1-point win to move to 7-0 with two games remaining. A playoff spot is still not a lock, though, with two 1-loss teams also in the hunt. Despite not throwing in over a week, I thought I did all right. I like the new broom. For all the stressing I did about getting subs for the three games I missed, it turns out Monday's game was cancelled; one would assume it was weather-related.



today Work. Bleah. On the upside, we had dinner with Laura, whom we've been out of contact with since May, at Fondue Stube. Yummy, but I smell like a fryolator. Laura is a friend of mine from high school who went to Northwestern and never left the area. Her birthday was yesterday, and every year for the past 5 or so I've missed her party because I've been going to Trashmasters. And more about that...later.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Lucky vs. Good



Last night's result:

1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 5 (them)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 T

1 0 0 0 0 0 4 1 6 (us)



This was no thanks to me; I made maybe three of my shots all night. real bad weight, then again everyone was throwing bad weight.

So I'm now 8-7 lifetime, and inexplicably, we are 5-0 in the Wednesday night league with about three more games to play. We have a bye next week, so who's to say what sort of form we'll have afte Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

"THE SPOTS!"



Eddie Bracken has died. Until reading the obit, I hadn't put it together that he was also Roy Walley. But if you haven't seen him in one of the greatest movie comedies ever, then get renting, pronto.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Self-Betterment Through Film

So I went to three programs of Mental Hygiene movies over two days.They were hosted by Ken Smith, author of the book Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films, 1945-1970. Some of these make it onto MST3K tapes, others are available on DVD through Fantoma, and nearly all of them are available on the Prelinger Archives



The first program was Manners, Menstruation, and the American Way:



SHY GUY (1947)

Progressive in its day, this one put Glenview, IL's Coronet Films on the map. Dick York, looking somewhat like a lanky, nerdy David Boreanaz, is Phil, a new transfer student trying to fit in. After dad gives him some vague advice, Phil uses his interest in building radios as a converstion starter. Mike Wallace narrates. York is good, and the goofy dad, always in a three-piece suit, even when he brings Cokes to the kids in the basement, is a hoot.



BEGINNING TO DATE (1953)

Encyclopaedia Britannica, also based in Chicago’s northern burbs, had its name to trade on, but turned in this funny mess. George, a tiny fellow, wants to take Mildred, who is at least a head-and-a-half taller, to the Winter Frolic. While discussing his cold feet with his chums, the diving coach overhears and urges George to “take the plunge.” So they go to the Winter Frolic, where the children dance to music performed on piano and a lone snare drum -- sort of a proto-White Stripes. The best part is when George and Mildred are walking to the dance, in a medium two-shot. George considers conversation topics, which magically fill the ample space above his wee head -- topics such as MILDRED’S NEW DOG and COMIC BOOK. Priceless! Oh, and the diving coach? A young Studs Turkel.



CHEATING (1952)

Once given the MST3K treatment. John sits alone in a dark hallway, a nearby clock ticking ominously. He is sitting near a phone, waiting for a call that will decide his fate on the Student Council. through flashbacks we learn that he’s been caught cheating on his algebra test. The film is intended to elicit classroom discussion, and so ends with a big question mark. CHEATING attempts to throw some creative filmmaking into the works -- noirish, expressionistic shadows, that damn clock. From Centron studios in Kansas. Director Herk Harvey, of CARNIVAL OF SOULS fame, worked at Centron for years, doing about 400 films.



CINDY GOES TO A PARTY (1955)

Another Centron production, this one less arty and more whacked-out. Tomboyish Cindy is hurt when she hears about a party she’s not invited to. But then her fairy godmother appears and gets Cindy all gussied up and into the shindig. There the F.G. dispenses party etiquette tips, which appear in large letters with a wave of her wand. Cindy has a grand time, but it turns out to be a dream! Cindy awakes to find that she does have a party invite after all -- the hostesses older sister (the fairy godmother!) was late in delivering it. All is well.



LIVE AND LEARN (1951)

low-budget wizard Sid Davis was a one-time standin for John Wayne. His social guidance and safety films were relentless affairs, full of dire consequences for boys and girls who have it coming. LIVE AND LEARN may as well be Chutes and Ladders: The Movie. It’s a series of vignettes of Kids Who Should Know Better suffering Horrible Consequences. A young girl (played by Sid's daughter) uses scissors inappropirately and is impaled on them. Kids start fires with gasoline, get their eyes shot out with BB guns, and so on. Definitely a favorite of the evening.



MOLLY GROWS UP (1953)

Okay, you boys get to go to the gym and play dodgeball. Now girls, this representative from Modess (tm) has a film to show you, and she can answer any questions you may have. Important thing to note here is that one should only do moderate square dancing while having one's period. Got that? Moderate sqare dancing. Don't go nuts, ladies. The appearance of the napkin belt inspired knowing laughter or bewilderment, depending on the age pockets in the audience.



MAKE MINE FREEDOM (1948)

This slick color cartoon, funded by the pro-business Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, features people representing Labor, Management, Farmers, and Politicians quarreling until they meet Dr. Utopia, a snake oil salesman who offers them everything they’re looking for in a bottle of “ISM.” Fortunately, John Q. Public comes along and warns the would-be dupes to read the fine print. Capitalism wins.

Saturday, November 9, 2002

vocabulary lesson, courtesy of FOX

I am down to four TV shows: Buffy, 24, Firefly, and John Doe. Due to a pretty busy schedule, I taped them this week and only got around to watching the last three this morning. I was surprised to hear the words sanguine and/or sanguinary used in all three episodes, with definitions given on Firefly and John Doe. It's as if a suit heard sanguine used in 24, thought it beyond the ken of the average FOX viewer (and, well, yes), and quickly decided to work lessons on the Latin root sanguis into the two Friday programs.



Also, on John Doe: Hey, what kind of cool-ass bar shows CFL football in Seattle?



election stuff

Cook County may be known for voting irregularities, but not involving the butterfly ballot, apparently. We've used them ever since I've lived here, and with no glaringly obvious problems. This year there were signs all about, telling us to CAREFULLY CHECK for chads not punched all the way through. I checked mine and lo, there there two dimpled. One was for deputy dogcatcher or something, the other was for my statehouse rep.



Most amusing candidate: Stephanie "vs. The Machine" Sailor, a Libertarian running for Congress. Not amusing enough, I'm afraid. But The Bruce liked her a lot.



On the national scene: it's clear the Democrats spent too much time bitching about Nader in 2000, and not enough fixing their problems. A change in leadership will be a good thing, and was probably long overdue.

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Ah yes, what a month. So, we had:



increased busyness at work

Chicago Film Festival movies to attend (9 of 'em)

the start of curling season

my perhaps-foolish agreement to take on webmaster duties for the curling club (I might post a link at some point)

...all of which caused further trouble due to my procrastination about TRASH questions.



But I'm mostly out of those tunnels.



Curling is going well, despite the sore back I developed Sunday while playing back-to-back games. But I think what I'm feeling now has more to do with sitting at a desk all day and my usual horrid posture than anything else. I'm in four different leagues, playing lead in three men's events and second in a mixed event. We're 2-0 in one, 0-2 in another, and 0-1 in the other two. Pretty sad Monday night, where we got six-ended in the second end (there are perhaps three people reading who know what I mean by this, and two of them live in Michigan. Trust me when I say it's not something you want to happen). We clawed our way back into the match, and forced them to make their last shot to beat us. Which they did. On a personal level, I've improved from abysmal to bad. Which is fine; there is a marked improvement -- I've gone from most rocks entirely out of play, to some rocks staying in play, to most rocks remaining in play *and* a few actually going where they're supposed to go.



Due to two byes this week, I'm off the ice until Sunday. Tomorrow and Thursday we're going to the Siskel Film Center to see three programs of Mental Hygiene shorts; those ephemeral films from the 50s through 70s. I'm hoping, but it's sure not to happen, that they have a 16mm projector in the middle of the auditorium, and that they ask for volunteers to thread it. Sunday it's Seven Samurai at the Music Box. Whooo!



Wednesday, October 16, 2002

closed for the month

I have some stuff to do by the end of the month, so light bloggage for the next two weeks. Which is too bad, because I want to hold forth on the Chicago Film Festival offerings. In brief -- don't let knee-jerk reactions to Michael Moore prevent you from seeing Bowling for Columbine, regardless of your political stripe. And if a documentary called Tribute comes your way, jump all over it.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Okay, no doubt everyone has once hummed a song just before hearing it on the radio or somewhere public. Or have listened to an album somewhere and heard it later that night. But I never thought this common occurrence would happen with this one.



Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Some familiar faces in the Metrodome tonight. Dan Gladden is on the radio team, of course, and Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven had camera-range seats. We didn't get to see it, but Kent Hrbek was singing during the 7th-inning stretch. Tomorrow night Tim Laudner -- Boom-Boom Buck-Eighty himself-- will catch Sweetmusic's first pitch. I half expected to see Juan Berenguer on the mound in a trenchcoat.



One thing that was missing, though, was Kirby Puckett. Officially, Minnesota's most beloved sports figure has been keeping a low profile since news of domestic woes hit. But I'm not fooled. I figured out the real story.



Al Newman ate him.

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

I'm going to have to get closely acquainted with the Yahoo gameweb thingy. Games 1-3 of the Twins-A's series have 3 p.m. CT starts, and they're not on bradcast TV As I understand it, the start times were at the Twins' request, as they share a facility with two football teams. But the local ESPN station isn't joining the early games until 6:00, as it's more profitable to keep the drivetime yapfest on the air. Perhaps this will change now that the series outcome has become less predictable. Until then, I'll just follow the game on the web until 5 and sit in limbo for an hour, and pray nothing interesting happens. Like it did yesterday.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Some notes on the new TV season, or at least what I’ve seen of it.



New Buffy -- ehh. Giving Dawn something to do other than need rescuing is a good thing, I suppose. I don't care for or about her own little “Scrappy Gang.” And I’m not really thrilled with the back-to-high-school angle, but if getting these leftover high school tales out now means the Buffy Cartoon idea is DOA, then I’m all for it. I suppose with the exception of last season, where Buffy had to, y’know, come back from the dead and all --the season premieres have been kind of lackluster (Buffy vs. Dracula, anyone?) Odd to see such a seemingly inconsequential episode coming directly from Joss, though. With luck, that’s all part of the plan.



Firefly -- Jury’s still out on this one. I enjoyed much of the premiere, and I especially liked that they’re allowed to kill people for laughs. I hope FOX continues to let Joss keep plenty of anti in his antiheroes.



John Doe -- Hey, this was pretty damn good, I thought. Except for the voiceover in the premiere; that can go away. But I’ll be happy to keep the VCR running another hour on Fridays.



Twilight Zone-- Of course I have the most to say about the show I saw the least of. I watched a little over half of the new TZ Wednesday night. What people forget or overlook about the original Twilight Zone is that many of the episodes were, at their cores, morality plays. And heavyhanded ones at that. So, I dunno...points for sticking to the original spirit of the show, even if following that path will turn off viewers (including yours truly).

In the one segment I watched, a white guy, whose failure to assist a panicked black man in the street the night before led to the black man’s death at the hands of skinheads, gradually assumes the physical appearance of the dead man, and then of course runs into prejudices from his neighbors, wife and, of course, a meeting with the skinheads. This didn’t make me ruminate on society’s ills and what I can do, as an individual, to make this world a better place. It made me think of the brilliant National Lampoon Yearbook Parody, which includes a mock high school literary magazine in which the male drama flake writes a story about waking up in a world where whites are a substandard race persecuted at the hands of blacks. Oooh, edgy.



The other segment, with Shannon Elizabeth, lost me after about 5 minutes. I had a Sopranos tape to watch. I know it’s not fair to judge an anthology show after half an episode, but I’m sure there are a lot of good horror and SF --which is what people really love and expect from the Twilight Zone -- short stories out there. Why waste time with segments that are as obvious as the Vic Morrow episode from TZ-The Movie.



and speaking of The Sopranos -- We’re getting tapes from a work connection within a week of the episodes. The woman who replaced Fairuza Balk as “Danielle” - the undercover FBI agent sucking up to Adriana -- is pitch-perfect. And I like Fairuza.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

ready for further injury

Just like in Blue Crush, only I'm a guy, I'm not hot, I'm a complete novice at the activity in question, and a host of other differences, I am preparing to get back on the proverbial horse after a sporting-related injury for the new curling season, which starts in late October. This week I actually sat down and tried to reconcile the possible schedule with a bunch of concerts and limited-run movies I wanted to check out.



Fortunately, the Chicago International Film Festival falls at the beginning of October, so I'm clear to try to hit some of that. A hazier situation is the Kurosawa/Mifune restrospective at the Music Box. In terms of concerts, I will flat-out miss Beck and the Flaming Lips (not only are the Lips opening for Beck, but they're his backing band -- VERY promising, and I envy anyone who's going, anywhere), but will be able to see both Sleater-Kinney and the Soft Boys. Not sure if I can hit The Residents or John Wesley Harding.



I still need to get some appropriate shoes. Maybe next weekend when I'm driving through Madison.
Michelle & Chris had their baby last night after a four-day -- yes, four day -- labor. Boy. Nine pounds, 14.5-inch head, which prompted some choice So I Married An Axe Murderer quotes.



We paid a visit today and he is astoundingly cute. I don't get gushy about kids other than the nephews, but this one really is gushworthy. None of that Winston Churchill look common to newborns. He looks like he's long past that phase; apparently a nurse said he looks like a one-month-old already.



Name TBD, though it's a good bet he won't need the last initial when starting kindergarten.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

You've seen Sweet Home Alabama. You've seen it over and over again. Unless you're new to these color talkies we have these days, in which case SHA is a veritable rollercoaster of plot twists, and you will be at the edge of your seat as this madcap romance resolves itself, while also making insightful comments on politicians, homosexuals, New Yorkers, and Southerners.



Otherwise, it will be of interest to those who think Reese Witherspoon can do no wrong. And she does little to no wrong here, actually, unless you count risking becoming the next Meg Ryan by taking this trite cupcakey role.



There's one good laugh involving Civil-War re-enactments, which I'm told appears in the trailer. And it's nice to see Heavenly Creatures' Melanie Lynskey (whom director Andy Tennant also used in the much better Ever After). Beyond that, it's a long evening.



the facelift

Blogger had been rejecting my old template for a few days, so I had to make a change. I'll replace the links when I get more time. I'll also throw some links into the above review.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

news from the homestead



1. The Twins clinch the Central, to provide a welcome distraction for the Vikings, who very well could be worse than the Lions this year. But it's all over, of course; they'll go 4-and-out and be happy with it, and the chances of extorting a stadium out of the taxpayers will increase. Despite the incredible bullpen, I'd have to agree that even 1987's staff of Viola, Blyleven, a whole lot of rubes, and Reardon closing stood a better chance. The Twinkies' best hope for postseason success? pray that the Western race takes its toll on both Oakland and Anaheim.



2. Minneapolis Planetarium closes

The library building itself was incredibly ugly. I'll be glad to see it gone. Going to the planetarium -- both on fieldtrips and with my folks -- was one of the educational highlights of my childhood. And I'm not sure how Jesse -- with a former teacher as his Lieutentant Governor, could veto the funding for a new one.

Monday, September 9, 2002

now that was well done!

I went to a screening of Chaos tonight, a 1999 Japanese film by Hideo Nakata. Nakata also directed Ring, which is getting a US remake this fall starring Naomi Watts. Chaos itself is in the remake queue, currently with Benicio Del Toro attached, and Robert DeNiro possibly attached as a producer or actor.



Anyway, seek out the original; it's mighty damn good, and you just know the remake is going to get bunged up in some manner. A bit of Memento thrown in there, with some Diabolique (Clouzot) and Vertigo for good measure.

Saturday, September 7, 2002

My one and only 9/11-related observation

Anyone else find it odd that FOX aired Starship Troopers Friday night? Whether you perceive this film as a wicked satire on American jingoism (as I do -- Ann Coulter may as well have a walk-on in the movie) or a horrible bloodbath, surely airing it within a week of the 9/11 anniversary is on the inappropriate side. But then they're getting the American Idol chickiepoo to perform at the Lincoln Memorial observation, so appropriateness is right out the window.



new title

Yeah, I got sick of GBTW. And so did you, but thank you for politely keeping mum about it, along with observations on my weight and any thinning hair issues.

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

The Alison LaPlaca Open is underway for the 2002-03 season, and here are my picks and why. I have a feeling this will be an unsuccessful title defense; this seems much tougher than last year for some reason. Plus I screwed up my ballot, so that the show I thought was most likely to get canceled, is getting just one bonus point. I don't know if Mike is going to give me a break on that or not. But all my shows are going to go away, so it won’t matter a bit. Right? Right. So, then:



10-Friends (NBC) -- Apparently someone is still watching Friends, thought it’s no one I know or would associate with. Deep down I think that the cast will get moneywhipped into returning for more, which is why this was supposed to be at the bottom of the list.

9-Buffy the Vampire Slayer (UPN) -- Sarah Michelle Gellar reportedly wants out. I don't think UPN ever got the ratings boost it expected from the show. Last season had more low points than highs, and those highs were once again ignored come Emmy time.

8-Hack (CBS) -- I think this will this year’s prestigious-cast show that dies early. Before we had Deadline, with Oliver Platt, Lili Taylor and Hope Davis. Last year there was The Education of Max Bickford, which did manage to last a full season. Now we have this new project with Andre Braugher, who’s really just too good for television.

7-Fastlane (FOX) -- This was apparently the joke of the fall upfronts. It’ll either become this season’s Wind on Water, or will develop a loyal following, but I suspect Tiffani Theissen will get the boot midseason.

6-Firefly (FOX) -- I’m interested in Joss Whedon’s new project -- if Buffy’s going to wither on the vine, then I at least want him to be churning out some good TV in its place -- but the FOX Friday Sci-Fi block is usually a kiss of death, X-Files notwithstanding. This will be the Show I’m Slavishly Devoted To Which Will Last Less Than A Season, so I may as well profit from it, like I didn’t with Undeclared and The Tick last year.

5-Septuplets (FOX) -- The hell? Where did this come from? Septuplet teens? This being FOX, I’m sure they won’t have the host of physical and mental problems that real septuplets have. It’s on Thursdays opposite CSI, more NBC comedies, and the intriguing Push, Nevada, so buh-bye.

4-MDs (ABC) Opposite the venerable Law & Order, as well as CBS’s competing medical drama, Presidio Med. I doubt two medical dramas can survive long in the same slot, and MDs has the less-interesting cast.

3-Without A Trace (CBS) - Too many crime dramas on CBS, and this one’s up against ER. The leadins are strong -- Survivor and CSI -- but in the end the inexplicable slavishness to NBC on Thursday will win out.

2-The Twilight Zone (UPN) - I’d like this to stick around. I think there’s room to showcase new short-fiction talent on television. I think the choice of Forest Whitaker as host is interesting. But it’s in a slot of death -- West Wing will draw the adults, Birds of Prey will take the fanboys, and Fastlane may or may not take the MTV kids. Perhaps USA or Sci-Fi will pick it up and it’ll flourish there, but it’s not gonna last on the network.

1-Bram And Alice (CBS) -- Dear God, this looks awful. Then again, Baby Bob is still kicking around.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Zoolander (2001)

Ehh...never a good sign when the DVD menu is funnier than anything that follows. The credibility of a few nameless people has dropped.

Monday, August 26, 2002

A while ago, the movie websiteCinescene asked for opinions on "Hidden Treasures" -- "20 films you love that, in your opinion, don't seem to get enough attention from critics, filmgoers, or the world at large."



So instead of relaying the weekend's activities, here are my submissions. No time to add more links than what's already here, I'm afraid...



Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks, 1941)

I get the idea this is often overlooked when talking about Hawks. Stanwyck at her sexiest, and Gary Cooper, whom I usually find wooden, is at his most enjoyable.



Battle Royale (Kinji Fukusaku, 2000)

Truly hidden, at least in the US; the post-Columbine climate assured this hybrid of SURVIVOR and LORD OF THE FLIES did not get a distributor despite being less stomach-churning than, say, Takashi Miike's work. In a reaction to escalated juvenile violence and delinquency, once a year a classroom of students is shipped off to a deserted island military base. The kids are fitted with exploding neck-collars, given some provisions and one weapon, and are instructed to kill each other within three days. Last one standing gets to re-enter society. Excellent dark-comic action; worth digging around for.



Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)

A straight description of this film is unlikely to attract the skeptical. Suffice to say it's one of the best, most believable, and most unconventional screen romances.





The Big Snit (Richard Condie)

The only short on my list. Without giving too much away: a couple plays Scrabble and gets into an argument, oblivious to the goings-on outside. By no means a technical masterpiece, it never fails to make me laugh A LOT, despite my tape almost being worn out.



Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)

It's hard to argue that something this commercially successful was in any way "overlooked" or "hidden," but I think Clueless is overlooked as a literary adaptation. I thought it showed more affection for the source material than many movies in the "Classics Illustrated" genre (most notably the anemic by-the-numbers 1996 Emma), and I particularly enjoyed how Clueless managed to turn that genre on its ear. Not that it should be shown in schools or anything.





Dames (Ray Enright, 1934)

The fine FORTY-SECOND STREET gets all the attention when discussing Busby Berkeley, DAMES' story is just as thin, the songs are at least as memorable, the cast is largely the same, but DAMES has more elaborate musical numbers, especially the title song and the hallucinatory "I Only Have Eyes For You."



Delicatessen (Jeunet & Caro, 1991)

(Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1991)

I'd been down on French films most of my life, mainly because I hadn't yet discovered Clouzot, and I still haven't invested much time in Truffaut or Godard. I thought French cinema was mostly unfunny sex comedies. Jeunet et Caro helped me look beyond that stereotype. Personal impact aside, I think it's a damn funny, visually stunning bit of Gilliamesque sci-fi.



Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)

Kelly's screenwriting/directorial debut was produced and abandoned last year, but at least got a loving DVD tratment that may help it find the audience it deserves. I look forward to more from Kelly, Jake Gyllenhaal, and talented-beyond-her-years Jena Malone.



Hairspray (John Waters, 1987)

Hardcore Waters fans may cry sellout, but I prefer this one because: Waters finally had a somewhat personal story to tell, and finally had the budget to hire actors who could hold their own with the divine Divine. Then there's the soundtrack. And the dopey dances. And dodge ball. And of course, the hair.



Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1994)

Restrained compared to his earlier energetic grossouts, Jackson get riveting performances from two unknowns -- Melanie Lynskey and someone you may have heard of called Kate Winslet -- and creates a fantasy world that surely got him the LORD OF THE RINGS gig. A fascinating true crime film, and still the pinnacle of Jackson's career.



The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987)

A deadly parasitic alien craves violence, fast cars, and loud rock. What's not to love? As an alien FBI agent on the killer's trail, Kyle McLachlan previews Twin Peaks' Agent Cooper, who was surely not of this earth either.



Kiki's Delivery Service/Majo no Takkyuubin (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989)

To call Miyazaki the "Japanese Disney" I think does him a disservice. Disney was largely a marketer and appropriator, not a craftsman. Also, that title keeps him in the anime/kiddie fare ghetto, while he deserves a place among the greats of Japanese cinema. Disney bought the rights to Miyazaki's work with Studio Ghibli a few years back but has only released two so far. Perhaps they're afraid of being shown up. As witches turn 13, they traditionally leave home for one year to establish themselves. Kiki moves to a seaside town and, as flying is her main skill, tries to establish a courier service. What we're given transcends both the babes/blood/bullets standard of most anime, and formulaic American kids movies. A young girl grows into herself and finds a place in the world. There's no big bad villain, no forced romantic interest. And not a frame that isn't breathtakingly beautiful.



The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (Aviva Kempner, 2001)

This is the only documentary I can think of that is truly uplifting. Most documentaries make you sad or angry. This is not a bad thing; when you get outraged hearing the verdict in PARADISE LOST, or watching a father buy drugs in HOOP DREAMS, you can't deny the film's power. Comedic documentaries, like AMERICAN MOVIE or ROGER AND ME, have an aftertaste of condescension. But a documentary that leaves you with a good, honest happiness is a rare bird indeed.



Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 1983)

Much has been made of what I guess is a new wave of UK comedies since, oh, 4 WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, but few compare to this gentle comedy from a guy who hasn't been heard from in the States in too long.



The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942)

To me, this is near-perfect screwball. The Weenie King is one of the greatest characters in all of cinema.



Pennies From Heaven (Herbert Ross, 1981)

Audiences fueled by The Jerk and Saturday Night Live appearances weren't ready to see Steve Martin do anything other than comedy. Certainly not tragedy. Or a re-imagining (before that became a buzzword) of the Hollywood musical. Exquisite set design and musical numbers serve a bleak, bleak story. Like Dancer in the Dark 20 years later, you'll either love or hate this, but should see it all the same.



Searching for Bobby Fischer (Stephen Zaillian, 1993)

I submit this is one of the best sports movies ever made. Ah, you say, but it's about a boardgame! Chess is not athletic and therefore not a "sport." Perhaps, but as a film, that's to SFBF's benefit: since chess isn't athletic, the film doesn't suffer the pacing plight of most sports films that crash to a halt when the on-field action stops. The film does feature what makes sports movies great, though, and depicts it all better than most sports movies: Raw talent under development. Enigmatic mentors. Burnout. Pushy parents living vicariously through kids. Matches filled with palpable tension. Add a stellar cast, led by Max Pomeranc giving one of the best child performances since Mary Badham in to Kill A Mockingbird. A film that never gets old for me. And I don't enjoy playing chess at all.



Wing Chun (Yuen Woo-Ping, 1994)

Michelle Yeoh slaps around the bad guys, defeats the cotton belly, keeps the tofu safe, and proves, long before Crouching Tiger, that she deserves to be huge.



Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Frank Tashlin, 1957)

The only reason to check AMC's listings any more is to catch this gem now and then. The always dependable Tony Randall tries to recruit Jayne Mansfield for a new ad campaign, she's trying to make her boyfriend jealous, and that's more than I want to give away about this clever satire of the 50s ad world that holds up surpisingly well.



Zero Effect (Jake Kasdan, 1998)

Another buried-in-winter sleeper. Long before Tony Shalhoub played "Monk" on USA, Bill Pullman was Daryl Zero, an obsessive-compulsive detective assisted by the put-upon Ben Stiller. Quirky without being precious, this did get some attention once it hit video, but not enough, IMO.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

My latest addiction

"Hey Greg," you ask, "what's making you an unproductive citizen lately?" Well, it's Power Players, a Mac shareware adaptation of the acclaimed boardgame Acquire. The latter link goes to a page talking about some PC versions of Acquire as well.



Before that, the addiction was emulated Atari 2600 games, particularly Activision's Stampede. Why this game, I have no idea.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

weekend

Busy weekend up in the land o' cheese, as I took in the Gen Con game fair for the first time Saturday, and Sunday we made our annual pilgrimage to the Wisconsin State Fair, warming up for the bigger event later this month.



Amazingly, the scary people-watching title remains at the state fair. This despite the prevalence of Genconners dressed as Klingons, generic renaissance wenches, X-wing pilots and Padawans (okay, if you're over 10 and dressed as any character from Lucas's current trilogy, you're just hopeless). The fair had the old standards of tube tops, leathery suntanned skin, and images of Calvin peeing on NASCAR numbers this year mixed with new anti-Osama messages and some sad fake breasts (according to Kirsti, I didn't see that particular person). And we didn't even get near the midway.



I admit I was skeptical. And who could blame me, really? But I'm here to eat a big plate of crow and tell you that I'm now a believer:

The deep-fried Snickers bar is f'ing amazing.

It's just behind the cheese curds in the pantheon of deep-fried foods consumed last weekend, and rivals the DF'd Pickle, which is available in Minnesota. The deep-fried Oreos were better than I feared but still just okay. They won't make it into my usual rotation.



Saw the llamas. They still look like space aliens led around by little 4-H kids. Alpacas even more so. Got to see the 4H-ers leading their animals in a showmanship contest: high jumps and limbo. let's just say I never need to hear "Limbo Rock" again.



I was at GenCon for 18 hours and had a hard time leaving. Games played:

Monopoly (entered a tournament, actually...came in second in my qualifier and was an alternate, but not needed)

Guillotine

Fluxx

Burn Rate (a clever game by a laid-off dotcommer about running a dotcom and trying to lose money slower than your opponents)

some baseball CCG (while waiting to see the demo of the Simpsons CCG; a deluge of trash questions will soon follow, no doubt)

DC Hero Clix (sucked, and so did the baseball game for that matter. )

Apples to Apples (rocked)

Blink

Switch

Gold Digger

Nexus

Battle of the Bands

Illuminati

Settlers of Catan

Management Material (another workplace game, but better-conceived than Burn Rate)



Games bought:

Cosmic Encounter

Apples to Apples

Switch

Gold Digger

Freeloader

US Patent No. 1

Nexus

Battle of the Bands

...and a Cheapass Games Ultimate Bits set



So, when to play all these?

And speaking of work,

I'm back at it. Same company, different department, already very busy; I landed in the midst of what's shaping up to be a month-long crunch time. The work's fine; I'm still wondering whether I'm "in" in this new group yet. And if it turns out I'm a Sneetch without a star, then I already have people to hang around with anyway.





141

Equalling my total from last year, saw my 141st film of 2002 last night, a dog called Garmento. fortunately it was free. The best part of the night is everyone got a pair of the "padded cup" briefs featured in the film. One of the better promo items I've seen in a while; too bad the movie wasn't better.

Friday, August 9, 2002

Quote of the month

HAVE YOU GOTTEN A JOB YET, BECAUSE IF THIS IS WAY YOU SPEND YOU SPARE TIME,

THEN I AM ASHAMED TO BE YOUR SISTER.



--Katie (Sorenson) Paddock, after I informed her of Timmy/Josh Ryan Evans's death.

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

The Weekend

Not much to add that Mark didn't already cover. I could've sworn the Cubs tickets were $36 seats, but this could merely be imagination inflation; in a few years I'll be regaling folks with the tale of how our scalping prowess got us $110 seats for a mere fin apiece. I still prefer Fenway to Wrigley. Mark was astonished by this, but the grit and unique dimensions of Fenway appeal to me more than the manicured symmetry of the Confines. Of course, I haven't seen the Sox play since I graduated, so maybe the place has gone to hell even more since I left town. And my distaste for the Cubs surely plays a part.



The downside of Friday afternoon became evident Saturday, as I seem to be allergic or something to the sunscreen we have. I threw some on before picking up Mark, not knowing where we'd be sitting for the game (unnecessary, as it turned out), and the next day I had a rash on my wrists. Got the same thing a month ago after a beach trip; sunscreen was the common break in routine.



Mark's tournament went quite well; my performance on the other hand was a bit disappointing as I finished fifth (10-4). I think the truncated rounds worked to my disadvantage, but at the same time it was nice to play a full round-robin rather than splitting into brackets. Some particularly embarrassing gaffes were blurting "Stalag 13" when an answer was, of course, Stalag 17; and conflating All Things Considered with the correct answer; the show Kirsti listens to every weekday, Morning Edition. I did take home a swell game however; Smurf Ahoy!, one of those kids' balancing games.
Triple Eccchh

XXX is unintentionally the summer's funniest movie. Preposterous stunts, a silly Bond-rehash plot, and two very good-looking leads generating zero chemistry as they chew on each other's faces. It's this millennium's GYMKATA in terms of documenting the trends we will find embarassing 20 years down the road (extreme sports, lots of tattoos).



Vin Diesel can make the most of middling material (c.f., Boiler Room, Pitch Black), but he can't save XXX from falling into the land o' cheeze. Not that that's the worst place to be, but Rob Cohen is quickly turning the once-promising Diesel into Steven Seagal (and the reports of him suddenly becoming secretive about his past aren't helping either).





Not much to say about Asia Argento but she's attractive in a slutty sort of way, and I liked her crooked teeth.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

about damn time, too



the annotations from all those quizzes I made up are finally online. I had to finally bear down and write the questions for this weekend's quizbowl extravaganza.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

and here's one dealing with my more recent life. I'll stop now, I swear.
Appy Polly Loggies

To people taking the test linked to below who didn't meet me until college or after. I suppose like most people, the stages of my life are pretty well compartmentalized, and the two tests I did (here's the other, now fixed) definitely skew toward my youth. Blame my sister for that -- she started this whole exercise yesterday, and I think I was writing things I thought she'd have a chance on. She's since created three quizzes -- slow couple of days, Katie? Of course, I've created three now, but I'm not presently working.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

take my test

Test about random Greg trivia. I like the first one I did better, but it's broken and I can't fix it. Perhaps I'll reconstruct it soon.

explanations of the answers will follow next week.
you know you've been quiet lately when...

...your name/ID cookie expires.



I just bought Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, the latest CD by the Flaming Lips. Go buy it. It's not as dense as their previous, The Soft Bulletin, but it's still quirky, and pretty, mostly indescribable on one listen.



The guy at Dr. Wax said they were selling twice as many of this CD as the new Dave Matthews, which gives me hope for all that's good in the world.



My Geeky Day

So last Thursday was a veritable geekfest. Pretty much everything I did reeked of geek. To wit:



Get up early to go downtown to audition for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I got in line at about 7:45 for the 9:00 session, holding ticket 101. The test is 30 multiple-choice questions, probably easier than the Jeopardy test. I was one of about 30 to pass this session (out of, say, 250). Then off to the interview, during which I was not as tongue-tied as I was for Jeopardy. In-joke for my reader(s) with QB ties: one of the questions was, essentially, "Who Wrote Paradise Lost?"



go to Virgin Megastore Buy nothing.



go to the arcade at ESPNZone S@TM recommended both this place and the semi-truck driving game. I concur with both, provided one is okay with a sports/driving-only arcade (i.e., no shoot/hack/fight games). I have to add the motion-detect boxing game as a current fave.



go to CompUSA, specifically to look at the new iMac. S'niiiice. Buy nothing.



go to Bargain Books. Buy nothing.



head for home, grab lunch at Lucky Platter Not inherently geeky, I suppose, but I ordered a tuna melt, of all things, and read throughout the meal. The collection of horrid art now contains one noteworthy piece: a Lynda Barry work that I recognized from The Good Times Are Killing Me.



go to Stars Our Destination a local SF bookstore, and buy two games, this one and this one.



Hey, at least I didn't buy any collectible card games. That I did Monday, but they weren't for me, so shush, you.

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

where was this guy when Betamax went under?

Craig linked to this entirely wrongheaded screed against DVDs.



Matt Labash hands over on a platter the reason why his whole argument is bunk:

High-brow cineastes, of course, have always regarded Blockbuster as a McVideo store, a place where you can find 75 copies of "Men in Black" and nothing more obscure than "The Buena Vista Social Club."



Damn straight. Blockbuster is worthless. So, for that matter, is Hollywood Video. Particularly when it comes to DVD. It may be the only brick-and-mortar game in a lot of towns, but there are ways to get around that.



But what really makes Blockbuster a malevolent corporate entity--one that's more insidious than Arthur Andersen, Enron, and WorldCom combined--can be boiled down to three letters: D-V-D.



What a load of crap this is. Blockbuster was malevolent long before DVD. They're largely responsible for the public resistance to letterboxing. They force studios to bowdlerize video releases, continuing to ensure that there isn't a viable adult movie rating in this country. They were instrumental in preserving the "rental" and "sell-thru" VHS price structure, whereby a newly-minted VHS release would cost upwards of $80 for an arbitrary length of time, until Blockbuster can make some money from rentals, and then it becomes "priced-to-sell" (at $15 or so, with Blockbuster's many used copies going for $9 or so). DVD never had this price structure, although Blockbuster tried to get the studios to implement it.



I agree with the criticism of Blockbuster's practice of purging slow-renting VHS titles to make room for DVDs. A more pleasing solution to movie lovers would be to phase out VHS titles already out on DVD. Then again, Blockbuster isn't for real movie lovers. Never was.



Labash laments the lack of good DVD titles at Blockbuster and the shrinking outlets for finding VHS movies. Here are some URLs to get around both of these problems.

DVDFile (www.dvdfile.com) - excellent souce for DVD news.

DVD Price Search (www.dvdpricesearch.com) Want to buy a DVD? Start here for price breakdowns from several online stores.

Netflix (www.netflix.com) - Giving Blockbuster a run for its money; rent DVDs by mail. Faster now that there are fulfillment centers across the country.

Facets Multimedia (www.facets.org) -- rents VHS and DVD titles by mail, across the country. If it was ever released, chances are they have it.

Monday, July 8, 2002

We had a swell time with the nephew this weekend. He was very good and a lot of fun, but again this is with four adults to keep an eye on him.

7/4 - Gathering at Adam and Michelle's during the day. He was the only kid, but acquitted himself well. Dee brought the Bride Game, this horrible 1971 "Make-Believe Game For Girls" in which one collects various bridal gear and then races (yes, RACES, because it's all about gettin' hitched first). Aside from the horrible art and objectionable politics, it plays much like Cootie. Dean was amused, and grooved on the silliness of ot all. We went to the Evanston fireworks that evening, which I'd never been to in the 7 years of living here (we're almost always out of town on the 4th) -- they were quite good; certainly better than the lame ones we saw in Minneapolis in 2001. It cooled off considerably in the evening. It was refreshing to be chilly for a change.

7/5- Spent most of the day at the beach. The water was nice, but choppy. Dean loved getting knocked over by wave after giant wave. There was a missing-child alert leading to a shallow-water search, which Kirsti and I helpedwith (They found the kid safe on another beach, at which point I'm sure he got hugs and an old-fashioned whuppin'). We went to Michelle and Chris's that night for some grillin' action, and Dean got to play with Huckleberry the boxer and Nellie the pug. He particularly liked getting knocked down and having Huckleberry lick his face.

7/6- I thought about taking Dean to the Wizard World comic book convention to meet Michael Rosenbaum,who plays Lex Luthor on his favorite TV show. I was hoping to get out there and back in the morning and still have the day free, but Rosenbaum wasn't appearing until noon, and neither of us would enjoy going all the way out there and telling Dean "No" at all the unaffordable stuff he'd want. So I bagged that idea without telling him it was under consideration. Instead he, Kirsti, and I went to the Powerpuff Girls movie while Mom and Donna saw About A Boy. PPG was cute. If you like the show, you'll like the movie. If you don't like the show, you're a pinhead. Some good puns and Planet of the Apes riffs, based on Mojo Jojo's plot to take over the world. I hadn't noticed the Bullwinklish aspects of the PPG formula before -- low-tech (or at least the appearance of same) art coupled with multi-level wordplay. We went out for pizza and came back to play a few games. That night he noticed I had the first season of Buffy on DVD, so I popped in the first two episodes, He jumped a few times. Ah, the time-honored Sorenson tradition of age-inappropriate viewing.

7/7- Breakfast, a couple more Buffy episodes, and off they go. Kirsti and I needed a nap.

One thing I really liked about having a 7-year-old around is his enjoyment of and willingness to learn boardgames of nearly every stripe. The aforementioned Bride Game, The Tick: Hip Deep In Evil!, a The Great Brain Robbery, the Harry Potter trading card game (age 9 and up), and he even managed to tackle the 12-and-up Buffy the Vampire Slayer boardgame; no small feat as in the two-player rules each player controls five characters. He's quick with rules and mechanics; strategy will follow.

Saturday, July 6, 2002

History Lesson

Brian Hight wonders:

There's a line at the beginning of one of Eminem's latest songs that refers to where "Two trailer park girls ..".this has become a discussion point in our office, as we're not exactly sure what the last part of the phrase means...is it just a literal phrasing, something you could use your imagination to dechiper, or something more licentious?



For those who have not heard Eminem's current single, "Without Me," the lyric in question is:



"Two trailer park girls go 'round the outside/

'Round the outside/

'Round the outside"



This is a riff on a lyric from a song called "Buffalo Gals," originally released in 1981 by Malcolm McLaren, the manager/Svengali behind the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. "Buffalo Gals" is an odd mix of square dancing and breakdancing. The line is "Two buffalo gals go 'round the outside/'Round the outside/'Round the outside" and eventually one is encouraged to "do-si-do your partner."



McLaren's website bills Buffalo Gals as the "first commercial rap/scratch hip-hop single." This assertion may be

McLaren's trademark hucksterish hyperbole, but the song probably is the first instance of a white musician co-opting hip-hop music and selling it back to black folks, or as Eminem himself says on "Without Me:" "To use black music so selfishly/and use it to make myself wealthy."



If I wrote a trivia question about this sort of thing, people would grouse that my questions were "too hard."

Brian wouldn't; I've never known him to complain about question difficulty. This doesn't mean I'm terribly smart, just that I'm really really old.

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Mom & Donna are coming down to visit this weekend, and bringing Dean. I'm still not sure what we're going to do, especially for the Fourth. I know were we're not going. Taste of Chicago is vastly overrated -- too hot, and too crowded. Grant Park can't adequately contain the sprawl that Taste has become.



Most of my Fourth of July memories as a kid are a mishmash of going to a park (or better yet, a drive-in) to watch fireworks, and running around trying to find out who's selling firecrackers and bottle rockets. My most memorable Fourth was in 1990, when I spent a summer driving an ice-cream truck. My usual route was the northern half of Plymouth, MN, but on the Fourth everyone got an event to cover. I got a beach in Excelsior, maybe 20 miles west of the Twin Cities on Lake Minnetonka. So everyone got an extra temporary freezer in their trucks, filled with dry ice and extra goodies. I shlepped out to the park at maybe 11 a.m., and sat. And sat. And sat some more. Listened to some musical acts playing at the nearby bandshell, did some reading. But starting at about 8 p.m., still light out, people began to come to my truck, and continued until I had a huge mob waiting for Dove Bars just after the fireworks. I had maybe made $10 in the past nine hours, and suddenly I was making at least a week's income in three hours. I began to run out of change, and had to start rounding prices. It was crazy. Then I got lost on the way home, trying to navigate the windy roads out there in the sticls.

But the most memorable part of this capitalist orgy? One of the bandshell acts was a polka band, which was okay, nothing special, until their last song: Purple Rain! Yes, polka-ized Prince.
The best parts of MEN IN BLACK II are in the periphery. Patrick Warburton gets laughs as the latest of Agent J's not-up-to-snuff partners (he's doing

the same Puddy/Tick shtick you've already seen, but he does it so...damn...well). "Mr. Show's" David Cross is excellent as a whacked-out video-store owner. A public locker holds nifty surprises, and we learn what's so special about the U.S. Postal Service. And some more stuff. I'm sure the pug in the trailer would be less funny if we didn't have pug-owning close friends, but it worked for us.



As J (Will Smith) explains, neuralization wipes the MIB from one's memory. And Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, when in the suits (TLJ at the Post

Office is the exception), are mostly unmemorable. Not that I didn't enjoy myself thoroughly, but aside from what's in the trailer, I have little

recollection of *them* onscreen. This is not their fault -- If they were bad together, that would have stuck with me. It's just that the Cocky Newjack/Crusty Veteran buddy formula is so shopworn, they can't fully overcome it, even with the twist of Smith having to bring K (Jones) back into service. Not much in the center here, but still a tasty donut.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Before he got old

John Entwistle died. Looking at the bands who populate the canon of Classic Rock, I'd have to say I respect The Who the most (yes, possibly more than the Beatles, but don't make me defend that assertion. And Entwistle was always vastly underrated as a member of the Who. So that sucks. Would suck more if I had tickets to their upcoming tour.



Also, via Craig I learn that Jay Berwanger died. Which means only that I'm sucking wind in my Dead Pool. I need the people that only I picked -- Leni Reifenstahl, Ingmar Bergman, and Ernie Harwell among them -- to die, pronto! RE: Harwell: looks like I picked the wrong baseball announcer.
Obligatory pledge post



Though it will most certainly get overturned, and it will deflect national attention from the important things -- namely our overreaching president and more shadiness from corporate America -- I salute the 9th Circuit Court ruling that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional, for these reasons:



1. Rote recitation of anything diminishes its meaning. Think of your favorite song, or a poem that particularly moves you. Read its words aloud. Do this again. And again. And over and over until all you hear are syllables. Then some more until the syllables become phonemes.

An aside -- This is something I never understood about Catholicism, either; the idea of penance through repeating a prayer over and over. Other than occupying time the penitent would certainly rather spend doing something else, how is this a sin deterrent?



2. The inherent contradiction. "Under God/Indivisible." What's more divisive than religion?



3. A truly free society would not demand a loyalty oath. For that matter, the only flag worth pledging to is one that its citizens can burn, but that's another argument entirely. Conservatives would argue there's no sense in messing with something that's been in its present form for 50 years. But I'd point out that the nation existed for over 100 years -- including its darkest period -- without a Pledge to its flag. Good enough for the Founders not to worry about, then that's good enough for me.



Monday, June 17, 2002

Newly added to the links: God's Blog. I also need to add Craig and JQ at some point, but hey, first things first.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

The time of day I'd usually be online (before going to work) has of late been occupied with World Cup viewing or recovering from same, hence no updates. And in the evenings, we've generally been watching films. Here's what's been on the schedule in the past seven days:



Love's Labour's Lost - The Shakespeare play made into a musical with Ken Branagh, Alicia Silverstone and Matthew Lillard. Kinda cute.

The Believer -Excellent movie about a Jewish neo-Nazi. Not as brutal as American History X, but had more to say.

Attack of the Clones - sucked. K. liked it less than Phantom Menace; I thought it was better than that, bit still lousy. Dee got to see Wet Ewan, so she was happy.

Ocean's 11 - VERY entertaining. We're keeping it for a while to listen to the actor commentary.

Osmosis Jones - Not so good.

Lagaan - This was great! This is the Oscar-nominted 4-hour Indian musical largely about cricket. A lot of fun; moved by quickly, and the cricket was easy to follow, for the most part.

About A Boy - Really good. Hugh Grant, whom I usually despise, was perfect, the kid was great, and Toni Collette was almost unrecognizable.

Friday, May 31, 2002

You're just going to have to wait to hear what Date Movies suck and which ones rule. Relationships everywhere hang in the balance, I understand. But considering Kirsti and my first date -- okay, second; we missed the movie the first night and ended up going to Uno's -- (which, Bostonians past and present take note, is nothing in Chicago) consisted of seeing this movie, the list may not be the most conventional fare.



Soeaking of movies, though not necessarily date ones, we watched X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes Thursday night. A better Corman cheapie, and always a pleasure to see Dick Miller and Jonathan Haze (Look 'em up yourself). The DVD had a Corman commentary, in which he denies that the rumored last line of the film (given away by Stephen King in Danse Macabre) was cut for being too terrifying. He barely remembered shooting such a line, but said he felt it didn't work. So there.



I'm still in the process of recovering, workwise and sleepwise, from the Minnesota trip. The World Cup isn't helping, though we're only one game in right now. While there, we spent a collective $250 on used CDs. Although I'm sure Chicago has at least one haven for used CD shopping, we have not yet stumbled upon it, preferring quarterly binges at Cheapo on Lake near Hennepin. I grabbed about 20 CDs; have yet to listen to them all. Favorites, so far: Tricky, Blowback. I had held off on buying this album new last year because Tricky's previous CD was a letdown. But this is excellent; a change in style from, but every bit as good as, his first two albums. Also entertaining is Experiment Zero by Man...or Astroman? If the Ventures and Devo had a baby, they'd sound like this.



Most disappointing: Paul Westerberg, stereo/mono. The former leader of The Replacements, my own personal Beatles, continues his descent into McCartneyesque mediocrity. Nowhere near his former brilliance, and the sad thing about it is that the Replacements at their peak were notorious drunks. I want THEM back, entertaining Me, Me, Me at the risk of their health and well-being. I know it, and I don't feel all that guilty about it. Mostly.

Also: Radiohead. I bought their last three acclaimed discs, OK Computer, Kid A, and Amnesiac and have listened to the first two. Everyone raves about these guys as the second coming. WHAT is the big deal? They aren't bad, mind you, but what's so stirring about them? It's not that I don't appreciate experimental rock -- my collection is rife with weird stuff.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Roy recently sent me a forward about the 10 best "Date Movies," as selected in an unscientific E! Poll of celebs and industry insiders. It was bad. Real bad. So there are plans to compose a screed about E!'s list and some better alternatives, but that's going to have to wait, as we're headed to Minneapolis tonight for a 5-day weekend. Perhaps I'll have unkind words to say about Attack of the Clones by then as well.



Speaking of bad movies, I saw 40 Days and 40 Nights and Sorority Boys last night at the Brew & View — a perfect match of venue and bill. Much to my surprise, they were not wholly awful. When in drag, Michael Rosenbaum is a dead ringer for Sarah Jessica Parker. It's uncanny!

Sunday, May 19, 2002

It's unofficial, I suppose, until August 31 -- unforeseen catastrophes could still befall the casts of a show or two -- but it seems I ended up winning the Alison LaPlaca Open after all. But what to watch next season?



I had pared my TV viewing down quite a bit this year: Buffy, Undeclared, and 24 on Tuesdays, and The Tick on Thursdays were my only must-sees. I gave Smallville a look before 24 started up, and it was okay but nothing special, and I dropped Ed early on this season. The Tick and Undeclared are goners, and I highly doubt 24 will be as intriguing next season. The pilot I was most intrigued by didn't get an order -- it was an adaptation of Zero Effect, an underappreciated little movie from '98. Alan Cumming was to play Daryl Zero, the title character originally played by Bill Pullman.



So, the new season. Monday offers no reason for me to turn on the TV. Perhaps this is the night we'll be supplied with Sopranos tapes. Buffy remains on Tuesday, and though it may be on the wane I'll probably stick by it. I'd be more intrigued with 24 if they kept the same real-time concept with completely different characters and situations.



The logjam moves to Wednesday, where two of the better-sounding shows, Birds of Prey and Twilight Zone, duke it out. On Thursdays I might have to give Family Affair a look, not because of Tim Curry or Gary Cole, but because the legendary Sid and Marty Krofft are producing. You never know when Witchipoo might make a cameo.



On Fridays I'll be checking out Firefly -- I hope Joss has come up with enough to justify letting Buffy slum the way it has. Plus, the return of Barney Miller's Ron Glass to the small screen. Nothing worthwhile on Saturday. The Sunday FOX comedy lineup is worth catching when I'm able, as always.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

the American Taliban at work

Who do I give money to to ensure that this guy is out on his ass come November?



And while we're at it, why didn't we just cut the South loose in 1861? Its continual embarrassments since then would just be shrugged off like they were happening in Canada. Make things a lot easier. No Krispy Kremes, but less tobacco and NASCAR, so okey-doke.
Yay Me?

If the buzz I'm hearing is correct, I have already won the TV Dead Pool I'm in. New fall schedules are getting introduced this week. Only one show I predicted would get cancelled (Crossing Jordan) has been renewed. CBS's press release just game out, and The Education of Max Bickford has gotten the axe. Special Unit 2 and Pasadena are apparently both canceled, though it's not official yet.

The wild card right now is FOX, and whether or not they keep Greg the Bunny. It's on the fence, along with Andy Richter Controls the Universe and Undeclared. If the Bunny gets saved, I'll still finish respectably, perhaps in the top 5. I'm rooting for Undeclared to get saved, not just because of my pool hopes, but because it was the second-best new series of last year (first being The Tick, which didn't have a prayer).

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Heresy



I watched Mr. Deeds Goes To TownSunday night. While the remake is not on my list of things to see, I'm no longer mystified by the decision to turn it into an Adam Sandler vehicle.



Longfellow Deeds is eccentric, naive, quick to punch people who offer the slightest insult, and a sloppy drunk. Some believe him to be mentally ill. Sounds a lot like Happy Gilmore to me. Cooper was, and Sandler is, an actor of limited range, but the bigger liability IMO would be Winona Ryder in the Jean Arthur role.



It would be nice if the remake preserved even a fraction of the original's politics -- its populism would be downright subversive today -- but I doubt that's going to happen.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Family Values

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Luke John Helder is from my mom’s hometown.

And I’ll bet one of my cousins knows him.

Pine Island, Minnesota is about 60 miles southwest of the Twin Cities on US 52, a farming community which I suppose is on its way to becoming a suburb of Rochester. My mom and her four siblings all grew up there; my dad his brothers lived in Oronoco, the “town” next door, and went to school in PI. My grandmother, an uncle, and his family still live there. Pine Island holds an annual Cheese Festival, but hasn’t had a movie theatre in my lifetime. A brother of Walter Mondale was living there during the Carter administration, and the previous most-famous resident was Ralph Samuelson, the inventor of waterskiing. Everyone knows everyone in Pine Island. Helder’s 21. He was probably in either Jamie or Kelly’s graduating class. Mom’s going down there this weekend. I asked her to get the scoop.



Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Everyone knows some people who've had their 15 minutes, but do I know anyone who's crossed my path and then went bad, on a national level? The homecoming queen from the class before mine was sent to prison on drug charges and had her mandatory sentence commuted (rightfully so, IMO). I think that's about it.

Saturday, May 4, 2002

a few notes on baseball

I dont have a whole lot to say about baseball, as what little strike-sourness I still carry has been compounded by the contraction and corporate-welfare nonsense going on now. But:



1. The Twins are 13-1 at home. At home. That being the reviled building with the Baggie. Best home record in baseball, in the very building which may lead to the team's extinction.



2. Memorable games Matt Bruce mentioned going to landmark or otherwise milestone games. I don't retain much about what went on at the games I've attended, but I'd have to say the biggest baseball games I've been to were:

4. Red Sox clinch at home against Chicago, 1990

3. Twins clinch a tie for a division share at home vs. the then-formidable KC, 1987

2-1. 1987 ALCS, games 1-2. Still have the original Homer Hanky somewhere.



3. I hate both Chicago teams. The only Chicago sports team I've taken a liking to are the Fire, though I haven't yet been to a Chicago Rush game. But I really dislike both baseball teams, Cubs more so than Sox. I think this stems from growing up, when WGN on cable aired Soap reruns, but they were inevitably pre-empted for losses amongst the ivy, called by a drunken lech. Sox annoy me mostly because of the obnoxious homerism of their announcers. I dislike the Cubs mostly because of their "fans," or should I say the people who pack Wrigley to drink and socialize. It's a bar with live entertainment masquerading as a ballpark. But the asses are in the seats, so they'll be around next season, so matter how sucky they continue to be. And the Wrigely Mystique is beyond me. Give me the grit and scum of Fenway, any day.
Go see Spider-Man.

That's all. Go see it. Now!

Thursday, May 2, 2002

My friend Jeff from high school is staying with us for a while as the advance team, finding work and a place before his wife wraps up her commitments and joins him out here permanently. He, Kirsti, and I went out for pizza Tuesday night at Lou Malnati’s, one of the few Chicago-style pizza places I really like. The walls are festooned with an impressive collection of sports memorabilia, including a pretty cool section of scoreboard from the old Chicago Zephyrs. We were seated right under the photo and jersey of Bradley U.-era Kirby Puckett. A skinny little Kirby. Hardly the same little fireplug that the two Minnesotans remember from our youth. The expression on the young Puckett’s face, though, was priceless -- He had that “You gonna eat that?” look. Somewhat disconcerting while dining.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

free stuff

The other week I got my premiums from my February contribution to WLUW’s pledge drive. Chalk one up for the college kids, as Kirsti’s subscription to TIME still has not kicked in from giving to NPR’s pledge drive nearly 8 months ago. I got three CDs, which are:



Manic Street Preachers, “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours” -- Manic Street Preachers were supposed to be this rather firey punkish band, fueled by troubled lyricist/guitarist Richey James Edwards. In 1995 Edwards disappeared, an apparent suicide. TIMTTMY was their first full album since then. And I’m unimpressed. It’s very mainstream alt-rock, bordering at times on arena rock. So maybe I needed to experience the James era to really get the whole MSP thing. I asked this of a friend who’s way into them, and he concurred:



You are correct sir. While I still enjoy much of This Is My Truth (and it

certainly doesn't "suck" you bastard), it's definitely not characteristic

of their work as a whole. The band themselves even disowned it in retrospect,

calling much of it "a mistake." My favorite of theirs, and my fave album

all-time, is their third record--also their last w/Richey--The Holy Bible.

But be ready for a harrowing experience. The lyrics are absolutely brutal

and the music follows suit. It's the sound of a band going to war.

Definitely not easy listening. I love all their records though as I'm just

a bit partial. The first one is great--one of the most ambitious debuts

ever. Also, try 'Everything Must Go', the first album after Richey's

disappearance is extremely cathartic. Fuck, do yourself a favor and get

'em all!!




Okay, that goes on the list, but low. Somewhere after the new Wilco and Paul Westerberg CDs, Vols. 3-4 of Fantoma's Educational Archive DVDs, and the Buffy Season 2 DVDs.





John Lee Hooker - The Best of Friends

This is a 1998 compilation of collaborations from throughout the 1990s between the famous blues legend and his better-known acolytes: Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, and several others. With a roster like that it can’t not be good, especially an excellent “I Cover the Waterfront” with Booker T. Jones on organ -- but there’s something about much of it that smacks of “bunch of white guys straining to maintain blues cred” that just gnaws at me.



Henry Rollins - A Rollins in the Wry

I like this one best of the three. I imagine the former Black Flag/current Rollins Band frontman would prefer to think of this as spoken-word, but it’s essentially standup comedy, including riffs on dating and observational humor at Rite-Aid.



So 1-for-3 isn’t horrible. Better than a silly tote bag, and the premiums weren’t the point of the pledge anyway.

Monday, April 22, 2002

The big fear about the US reforming health care is that a Canadian model will mean we'll be waiting around forever for treatment. But considering I spent three hours waiting around to get 10-minute X-rays today for my followup arm visit, I say: O Canada!



And why, you may ask, didn't I speak up sooner? I did, at the 2-hour mark, but the point is, I shouldn't have had to at all. But anyway, I have x-rays that look just like the other ones, and a pain-free arm to boot, so we'll see what happens tomorrow.



So, interesting reading in the Radiology room today: the only magazines other than Radiology Today or whatever were some newsletters. One was Pallet,, the newsletter of the International Air Cargo Association of Chicago; some gun-rights newsletter by a group that was not the NRA; something by the National Taxpayers Association, and a partial letter from Jerry Falwell asking his sheep to work against a gay-rights bill. All very strange, considering last time I was there, there were a couple of Utne Readers.

Friday, April 19, 2002

What I Am Sick Of



I am sick of hearing about The Osbournes. I do not have cable. I've never seen an episode. I'm sick of The Osbournes being on the cover of every magazine we receive (okay, Ozzy has not yet graced Atlantic Monthly...yet). I'm sick of events on the episodes being relayed to me, usually in faux British accents. I'm sick of people shouting "SHARON!!!" like a crazed British Fred Flintstone.



The good thing about The Osbournes is people have finally shut up about Lord of the Rings, at least until December. But there's just a month until the incessant Star Wars jabber heats up again. Oh joy.
If you have a chance to see the re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey that is quietly -- very quietly -- making the rounds, by all means do so.



And then you’ll never have to see it again.



I mean, no matter how big or hi-def your TV is, it won’t hold up as well as in a theatre. And you’re not likely to get that chance again any time soon, seeing as how Warner fumbled this re-release. Of course, you may have already decided that you hate this film from watching on video or TCM or whatever. And that’s fine. It is overlong and self-indulgent. Yes, you could probably read Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End twice in the time of a single screening and get the same message. But it’s still worth seeing and hating on a big screen. So shut up and eat your vegetables.



I was also surprised to see, or to be reminded, that 2001 is rated G, this from the man whose next film was A Clockwork Orange. Suprising in terms of content -- in the opening Dawn of Man sequence, an ape gets beaten to death with a bone (I’m sure many a term paper has been written on how the the first gift of the Monolith is to teach us how to kill more efficiently), and just because most G-rated films are clearly aimed at a kiddie audience. I think The Straight Story and The Rookie are the only exceptions in the last 10 years, maybe more.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Yesterday (as I write, Monday is still “yesterday” for another 10 minutes) was Patriot’s Day, and as Kirsti and I work for a company whose HQ is in Copley Square, site of the Boston Marathon finish line, we had the day off. It was also tax day, so I suppose it was appropriate that we spend the day...shopping. Kirsti wanted to make another run to IKEA. We were just there the weekend before, but that was with Mom and Donna, and we looked rather silly cramming four people and their assorted housewares into a Prizm.



So we, or rather, Kirsti, got some small stuff and six--count’em, six--tall-ass CD shelves. I took this opportunity to go to Gameworks for a couple of hours, and I had the place almost all to myself. There’s this game, Police 911, that senses your motions so that when you crouch or duck, your character does the same. Tres cool, but hell on your thighs. After playing for about 15 minutes, I had trouble going up or down stairs for a little bit, and I’m still feeling it in my legs. So I figure I need to get one of these. I’d use it more than the NordicTrak, that’s for damn sure. But I can just see it now: “Broke his arm curling...blew out a knee playing video games.”



Speaking of arcades, Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbor is one of the best I’ve been to. They don’t have Police 911 or my other current fave, The Grid, but they do have a great selection of vintage stuff: Tron! Track & Field *and* HyperSport! And best of all, a sit-down Spy Hunter! They just need Cobra Command to be,well, my dream rec room, circa 1985.

I just got back from a test screening of a new film. My friends and I liked it very much, and felt it was pretty much the way it needed to be, particularly the ending which, from the questions on the questionnaire, had been a problem earlier on. In the interest of honoring the secrecy agreement I signed: This is the followup to an acclaimed director’s big hit. It stars a couple of household names, one of whom is playing a much different role than this person has led us to expect. I think this film will do quite well.



But I didn’t spend two freakin’ weeks at the movies. I’ve spent most of that preparing for TRASHionals, entertaining houseguests for a weekend, preparing for said visit, and doing taxes. TRASHionals went well, apparently. Not many complaints about questions (yet), and despite some delays things seemed to run well (and overall, we finished five minutes ahead of time, including a lengthy award ceremony). I was dubbed protest czar, apparently due to having missed a meeting. I was asked about three questions, one of which we ended up going to the Web right there to adjudicate (we were correct). We/I also overruled the other two, which turned out to be the right calls: “Payless Shoes” or Payless Shoe Store” are not acceptable equivalents to “Payless ShoeSource,” and “BMG” is an arm of Bertelsmann AG (the answer sought), but is not an equivalent answer based on what was already read.



Took a side trip to Casino Windsor Friday night with some of the BU folks past and present. Lot of skanks there. The minimum age is 19, but I swear there were some trashy-looking 14-year-olds working the casino floor. But anyway, I ended up losing (to the casino, not the skanks) US$64. That was enough to make me skip a chance to recoup at the MGM in Detroit.

Monday, April 1, 2002

Greg Sorenson Controls A Very Very Tiny Universe, Albeit Briefly



Mwahahahaaa...I was the phantom Stanford voter. Initially I voted about five times after Mark announced his poll. Once I saw someone was trying to sway voting toward Texas, I stuffed the box with enough votes to give the Tree a modest edge. Then once I saw Matt, currently a Bay Area resident, deny being the voter, I went all out. If you hit the "vote" button multiple times in a certain rhythm just as the host was being contacted, it would tally multiple votes. So it was a quick matter to register a few hundred new votes in just a minute or two without having to go back to the voting page after each vote.



My reasons? Mostly to foment intrigue among five or so people. But also, Stanford was the least objectionable of the teams that made Mark's cut. Being a Yankee, UNC and Kentucky are out. As a Minnesotan (but not a Gopher fan by any means) I couldn't back Iowa, and am surprised Mark would even consider a team that produced Acie Earl. I dislike orange (never mind that I frequently wear a ratty Flyers sweater I picked up for $5), so Texas is out. Which left Arizona and Stanford, and I chose solely on the basis of the Tree alone. Personally I would have chosen Maryland, for no good reason, certainly for no reason having to do with ACF. Probably because the Terrapins are a mascot as equally ridiculous as "Terriers."

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Bunch of stuff



Several things going on.



Arm -- feeling better all the time, still hurts when I try to put weight on or behind it. But due to my running around in a light jacket over short sleeves because it was easier with the splint, I seem to have a slight cold.



New office -- On Monday I began working at the new office at 909 Davis St. It’s nice, still full of that New Building Smell. The cubes are bigger, but have lower walls and are more open, and offer no way to situate your computer without your back to the aisle. Bleah. But the chairs, on the other hand, kick ass, and it seems quieter, at least in my area. I’m now sitting with the people I actually work with, instead of occupying the first available cube.



Oscars -- With the exception of the unfunny, useless Whoopi Goldberg, I thought they were the most entertaining I can remember. I’ve been clamoring for more clips for years, and they finally delivered. Yes it was long, but for the right reasons, for once. This was finally the show for viewers who really love movies; who spend more time watching IFC or TCM than E!; who explore outside the "New Release" aisle at the video store. Of course, since people bitch about it running “over” (which is a load of horse pucky -- let’s not broadcast overtime/extra innings in sporting events either) and its ratings were low by Oscar standards, I’m sure next year’s will revert to the usual crap. I finished well out of the money in the work pool, getting particularly hosed on Randy Newman and both Documentary awards.



Hitting the road -- We’re off to Minnesota tomorrow evening for a long weekend. I haven’t been up there since Thanksgiving, and try to visit around Dean’s birthday, which we missed last weekend due to a wedding.