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.