Friday, December 31, 2004

tick, tick, tick...

I, personally, will be thrilled to put 2004 behind me. Had a shocking death in the family, the car got stolen, and I began the long dental-implant process. Then there was that goddamned election, less said about the better. Things bode much better for aught-five: I have the new job to report to on Monday, we hope to get many years out of the new car, and the dental work should be complete this winter. Still, 2004 can go suck it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Are you driving anywhere for the holidays? You'll need things to listen to. May I suggest, both via Boing Boing:

A mix of Bollwood songs

for your mashup needs, "Meet the Beastles"

Monday, December 20, 2004

A north Minneapolis shooting, police standoff, and fire, all happening right across the alley from the home I grew up in:

--photo clipped--

Look at the left edge of the picture. See the house in the distance, with the door on the second story? That's our former next-door neighbors.

Accompanying, bizarre news story here. (registration required, and by the way, is a good source for logins to reg-required sites).

I am frequently grumpy about most of my family's exodus to the 'burbs. Now is not one of those times.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Here I am, fishing for new cat litter endorsements.

Several months ago, we bought some Worlds Best Cat Litter based largely on a ringing endorsement here. This litter is made from corn, is fully biodegradable, scoopable, flushable, all-natural, it mows the lawn, picks up the kids from school, entertains visiting relatives, etc. After a transitional phase, mixing as directed with the old brand (Tidy Cat), we eventually went to all-WBCL litterboxes...and then the trouble started. We're always very good about scooping the box at least twice a day, but still, the cats have recently taken to peeing and crapping just outside the box. Nearly once a day this week. My guess is either they're too old to move away from the traditional clay-based litter, or this stuff smells too much like their food-- a main ingredient of which is corn meal.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

I've dodged the unemployment bullet. My contract in social studies ends at the end of this month, with no chance of it being renewed: two permanent social studies editors are moving over to lit, and another has been laid off. But over the past few weeks I've interviewed for three positions in other departments, and accepted one in production. I'm going to be working on digital products for math and modern languages. It seems to be the best fit in terms of day-to-day work, people, and avoidance of nasty office politics. So after some time off between Christmas and New Year's, I should be able to transition over to the new gig rather seamlessly.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Not much to say about Thanksgiving. Avoided the worst of the travel delays. Relatives are fine. Good to see the DeVeaus. Kenmore Square is...well, if I was a prospective BU freshman with the same interests I had in 1988, the cleaned-up Kenmore would have far less allure. I guess it all depends on what I was able to unearth at Nuggets.


Then again, the younger me would have new music avenues. Like the iTunes Music Store; the waters of which I finally waded into this weekend. First purchase: Joe Strummer's cover of "Redemption Song," after seeing the almost-made-me-cry video over the holidays. The track was intended to be a duet with Johnny Cash, and said duet made it onto the posthumous Cash box set. I like the Cash Rick Rubin-era stuff, so I bought that version as well. Ehh...not so good. Strummer can pull off a Bob Marley cover; the Clash dabbled in reggae on and off since the first album. But despite Johnny and June maintaining a residence in Jamaica for decades, I wasn't feeling the rastamon vibration from the Man in Black.


Is it fair or even appropriate to comment on the end of the KJ era when the only episode I watched in its entirety was his finale? Did he tank? Probably not. Those Double Jeopardy questions were ass-hard. On the other hand, having not watched the show with any regularity in years, maybe I'm off here, but he seemed to be running down the clock. Took a while selecting categories. The silence on the Sports Venues category was just strange. I think he'll hear about "Joe Louis Arena" from particular NAQT staff more than he'll hear about tax preparers.

And if he did decide to hang it up in a somewhat graceful manner, so what? This isn't his job. If I'm not mistaken he was on the hook for his own expenses all along, though that investment...has been recouped. He doesn't owe the viewers or other contestants anything.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

We took Friday off before Chris & Ali's wedding to do some sightseeing in Philadelphia. I'd seen the historic sites around Bicentennial time, and Kirsti'd never been. Unfortunately it was rainy and miserable all day.

The only thing we had scheduled was lunch at Morimoto, the restaurant owned by the once and future Iron Chef Japanese, so we may as well start there. Kirsti had a spicy chicken tempura. and a pot de creme for dessert. I opted for the lunch omakase (tasting menu), which was five courses consisting of:

1. rawé?. the name escapes me. But it was chopped pretty fine and served with a light sauce, some scallions, and caviar.

2. sashimi salad; I forget what sort of fish, but not a sushi cut I was familiar with.

3. chilean sea bass steamed once in sake, then with a black bean-garlic sauce.

4. sushi sampler: tuna, sardine, yellowtail, shrimp, salmon.

5. chocolate soup, passionfruit sorbet.

Not a single bit of this was disapppointing, but the highlights were the bass and the sorbet. The restaurant itself was pretty nifty, though Morimoto himself was out of town.

Kirsti's goals were to eat lunch and see the Liberty Bell. The restaurant is right near Independence National Park, so we killed time before lunch by getting the bell out of the way. Can't touch it any more. We decided to pass on the Independence Hall tour. I recalled being impressed with the underground museum at Franklin Court, and tried to get over there later in the evening, but we didn't get to it in time...assuming going on 28-y.o. memories is a good idea.

Next up was one of Chris's recommendations that got nixed for the out-of-town guest guide: The Mütter Museum. I don't have much to add that the good folks at Roadside America haven't covered, except:

1. Eat your bran, kiddies!

2. After my dental tribulations this year, I was disturbed at the high number of flippers in the "objects swallowed & removed" collection.

3. Kirsti's most-amusing bit was the exhibit on Laura Bridgman, the first blind-deaf person to be systematically educated: "[she was] held up as a model of Victorian girlhood...young girls would poke their dolls' eyes out and name them 'Laura.'" th' hell?

We took the subway to the Mütter, and the nearby stop is a fascinating microcosm of America. On the corners of 22nd and Market, we have: a Salvation Army thrift store, an adult book & merchandise store; a porn theatre advertising new first-run films (leading me to wonder who's still making first-run smut projected via celluloid, but my "research request" on this matter was flatly denied). And topping it off, we have...Trader Joes, the upscale food emporium. I'm hoping the Forum cuts its raincoat-brigade patrons some slack on bringing in outside snacks. 'Cos hey, nothing beats Inka Chips, y'know?

Traveling seems to be the only time I read anymore. On this trip I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I was expecting crashing waves of despair, but it ended up being sort of uplifting. I'd recommend it if there were more than five people left in this country that haven't read it.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Congratulations to the last Gerbil to wed: Chris somehow got Ali to marry him this Saturday. Mark may have pictures in the near future.

Some sort of Philly travelogue to follow, which will include an Iron Chef lunch and an 8-foot colon. NOT at the same place, thank the lord.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Let the healing begin

It's been a long, stressful 48 hours, capping off a long year. Emotions have run hot. Some may have said things they'd like to take back. Some may think they haven't said enough. In some rare cases I've lost respect for some people I've read. No doubt some of you may have come to feel the same way about me.

I say enough of that. It's time to come together. To come together and recoil in horror at...Stevie Nicks Fantasy portraits!

scarier ones here.

And dear god, the tambourines!
(pasted nearly verbatim from comments at Tim's place. Lots of good comments there as well. Blogger was busted most of the morning. )

On the tiny upside, the presidency is finally legitimized by the electoral and popular votes matching. Bush has been such a lousy president, under his own circumstances; I can't imagine Kerry swimming upstream against freeper wackos and a GOP congress. And, as pointed out elsewhere, Bush and his party are out of excuses. No more passing the buck. The Bil Keane Not Me/Ida Know presidency ended at 1 p.m.

On the the words of Mr. Hand, "Are all of you on DOPE?!!" The government is in the thrall of the dangerous religious right, and Bush seems determined to put future generations in hock. But since he's trying to bring about the End Times, hell, buy on credit. Enjoy those HDTVs, bitches...your grandkids and great-grandkids get to clean up after you.

At least I can be proud of all most of the states I've held residence in: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin. Oh, then there's the state of my birth...let's just say there's good reason it's said to be an acronym for Idiots Out Walking Around or I Owe the World an Apology.

Well, not so proud of Michigan either. The seeds of the next civil war were planted there and in 10 other states. I suppose the same could be said if those referenda had gone the correct way. As older folks die off, we will once again walk the walk about being a freer society and forming a more perfect union, but until'll be a long 40-50 years.

Well, don't mourn, organize. I join PFLAG and the ACLU this week. The stakes are too high now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

If you are for fiscal responsibility, you probably should not be voting for Bush. If he wins, I think one of his first 100-days activities will be to have his faith-based government apply for some of that Christian Debt Management that's still in my spambox.

If you'd like to see fewer abortions, you also might want to abandon the guy whose policies have led more women to decide not to bring kkids into the world.

If you value your gay and lesbian friends and family -- and believe me, you have some -- you may want to be able to look them in the eye sometime in the next four years.

Honestly, I don't think Kerry's in much of a position to alter the path in Iraq. Nor should he cut and run. But the proper analogy isn't changing horses mid-stream. It's Kyle Lohse on the mound with a 6-2 lead in the 6th walking five straight with no one out. Let's make that call to the bullpen, even if it's only JC Romero warming up.

I decided I can't watch too much TV tonight. I'ma go see Shaun of the Dead instead.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


I guess that answered my questions below. I saw Jimmy Fallon out on the field during the celebration, but I couldn't tell who his dramatic-smooch partner was. Was that Drew Barrymore in an attempt to shoot some quickie verite footage?

My respect for the Cardinals has approached Cub/ChiSox lows, and not for game-play reasons: because they inflicted musical blight Scott Stapp on us for God Bless America. Suddenly Steven Tyler seems like a good idea.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

movies and the Red Sox

Recent baseball goings-on have me wondering about two high-profile, yet wholly unnecessary, movie projects in the works.

First up: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The title girl loved Gordon while he was a Sock, but he's since moved around a bit, and now (for the time being) wears the pinstripes. Will the film be set during his late-90s run with the Sox, or does he now hate him? Or is he beloved again because he was so instrumental in the Greatest Choke in Sports History?

Finally, Fever Pitch. Nick Hornby's book was a brilliant piece of sports journalism. The Colin Firth adaptation was a rather by-the-numbers romantic comedy. Now it's getting Americanized, and the long-suffering Arsenal fan will become a long-suffering Red Sox fan. Thing is in real life, Arsenal's sufffering finally ended. If the Sox lose the World Series, will the Farrellys end the film with a fake victory? Or does the focus change to the drama against the Yankees?

...and most importantly, will Cam Neely get a cameo?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Making the rounds here, here, and here. For my purposes, "Friends list" becomes the "people I know" blogroll to the left:

Name a CD you own that you doubt anyone else on your friends list does.

The Suicide Commandos, The Commandos Commit Suicide Dance Concert The Suicide Commandos were the first, and one of the best, Twin Cities punk bands. They cut one brilliant album on a shortlived Mercury imprint in 1977, then broke up in 1979, leaving this final concert for posterity.

Name a book you own that you doubt anyone else on your friends list does.

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars by Daniel Pinkwater. I really enjoyed this book in grade school, spent about 20 years looking for a copy, and then of course discovered it was nowhere near as good as I remembered. It's recently back in print in a Pinkwater anthology, but I'm betting no one has the standalone book.

Name a movie you own on DVD/VHS/whatever that no one else on your friends list does.

Storefront Hitchcock, the little-seen Robyn Hitchcock concert film.

Name a place that you have visited that no one else on your friends list has.

I'm pretty poorly-traveled, but I think no one on the list ever went to the original Bird House bar in Bird Creek, Alaska. I got there in 1993, and it burned down three years later, though a replica has opened in Anchorage proper.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


This is that time of year when three biggish things converge to shut me up online: The Chicago Film Festival, getting ready for the start of curling season, and TRASH regional question crunchtime.

Of course, since I'm giving you even less than usual nothing of worth I have no right to bitch about other people's blogs, but when has that ever stopped me? Craig's home on the web is in that pray-for-February season where unless you care about football, there's nothing for you. At least the Tuesday caption contest has some broader appeal. Meanwhile Deeablo has become literally unreadable, friends-locking her LJ. I have an irrational thing against the LJ community, so I'll have to get her raving about the cute boys of the WB in person.

Oh, okay, here's something nonpersonal to bitch about: the ongoing rightwinging of my spam. This week: Christian Debt services. What is the Christian method of eliminating debt, exactly? And why are so many Christians in debt? Is it because George W. Bush and the GOP have abdicated the title of "party of fiscal responsibility?" One of the many interesting things gleaned from this book was the high instance of fraud in Utah, because swindlers tell people to pray on financial decisions.

Monday, October 4, 2004

So now that I have wheels again, I ended the gaming drought both days this weekend. I got out to Mt. Prospect Saturday. Of note was Betrayal at House on the Hill, the new Avalon Hill game, and only the second truly "new" game published under the AH imprint since Hasbro took it over. In this game you and other players are laying tiles to explore a haunted house, quasi-cooperatively (because you don't have an objective yet). At some point, an event will be triggered which will turn one player against the rest. In this game, my character was an 8-year-old girl. I encountered a madman who killed me, at which point I assumed the madman character, controlling zombies who tried to kill the rest of the characters. My undead minions made short work of them to win, but my madman got killed along the way. Surprisingly neither side's victory condition had anything to do with his survival.

Pretty decent game, all in all. It reminded me of the Buffy game in its 1 vs. multiple-players system. I don't know if it's $40 worth of decent, though, but I don't know that anything's $40 worth of decent with the big ticket items as of late.

This being the campaign season, on Sunday I played Road to the White House with a co-worker and some of his gaming buddies. Everyone plays a politician loosely based on real people and/or archetypes, and spends 6 months on the campaign trail trying to win electoral votes. My candidate was a grizzled-yet-respected Senator from Idaho who started off with virtually no base or cash, but has high charisma and a surrogate campaigner who sticks around for 4/5 of the game. My strong issues were Housing, Education and Abortion (pro-life), the latter of which came up three times in the game, which got me two more long-lasting surrogates and locks in Alabama and Utah. Because of this constant support and some Education dollars coming in, the other players were convinced I was in the lead, but I ended up going the way of Howard Dean. I ended up getting 72 electoral votes (including NY) to survive the first ballot, and was second-or third-place in many states, but they weren't the states that went back in play after the first player was eliminated, so I was next to go. I don't remember who the winning canddiate was, but he was in a final slugfest with the Ted Turner doppelganger who got 50% discounts on dirty tricks. Despite this game coming in at seven hours (six players, four rookies including myself), everyone seemed to agree that it was worth playing again soon, and that experience would shave at least two hours off the time.

Oh, happy first anniversary to Mark and Sarah. Where do people go for anniversaries on the Nawth Shawh if shellfish allergies are involved? Hilltop, maybe?

One of the vivid memories of a year ago today was being back in New England for BoSox playoff drama. Weren't we 3 or 4 games into the postseason by this time last year? Today we're on the eve of Game 1s. Did it start unusually late this season?

Friday, October 1, 2004

"I point the finger in their face and say 'You let this happen.'"

I'm really enjoying Chillinois. Whether or not you agree with pursuing the Maya Keyes story, this comment in particular (which has nothing to do with it) is spot on:

Four Flordia hurricanes, Mt. St. Helens is stirring, an earthquake has just jolted California. Can you imagine what the right wing would be saying about now if Al Gore was finishing his first term?

Thursday, September 30, 2004

The John Waters Paradox

inspired by reading about A Dirty Shame which precious few people seem to like.

No matter how sketchy Waters' films are, his DVD commentaries are all excellent. Witty and informative, they make his good stuff great and his lousy stuff watchable. I wish he'd do them for movies he has nothing to do with. I'd love to hear him get scholarly on Faster, Pussycat!! Kill! Kill! or one of the serious Woody Allen movies, or Passion of the Christ . I enjoy his commentaries so much that I have no longer have any desire to see one of his movies in the theatres--I'd much rather rent them.

While once a controversial (and barely competent) director, it's extreme competence, at least in that one area, that ensures that he'll never see another dime from me.

Last night we took home a magnesium (okay, grey) 2004 Civic Hybrid from Motorwerks out in Barrington. We ended up paying slightly less than invoice using this "fax attack" method espoused by the people at Fighting Chance.

Monday morning we faxed 20 dealers in the area, listing what we wanted what we knew about the car's pricing (MSRP, invoice price, and the fact that Honda gives dealers a 3% holdback from MSRP. Closest under 3 miles away in Morton Grove (not where we test-drove); farthest away in Highland, Indiana.

We got 8 replies Monday. We do not hear from the nearest or farthest dealerships. Nor anyone in Chicago proper.

Two stores have no '04s left and give quotes on '05s. One at MSRP, one a little less. Meh...if we were the sort of people who had to have the hottest model year right away, I wouldn't be shopping for a Honda Civic, hybrid or not.

Of the '04 bidders, one is quoting full MSRP, destination fee, and unwanted options, saying he can't budge on it "due to supply and demand." He's the first guy I hear from, and is the internet sales manager, not the store sales manager I sent the fax to, so I'm initially leery of the whole process. But as the bids trickle in throughout the day I almost end up feeling sorry for him. His out-the-door price is higher than both quotes I got for the 2005 models!

A woman at a different store in the same family of dealers doesn't do much better, offering 1% below MSRP. Thanks to the lack of unwanted options, she's cheaper than *one* 2005 quote, anyway.

One quote for $225 over invoice, $100 over invoice, two quotes for flat invoice (which works out to an OTD price of $21,073 with tax & tag). That's more like it.

Day 2: Regrets to the '05 dealers.

Call the closest dealer, where we test-drove but didn't fax. Best they can do for us is $500 below sticker.

After lunch, I start calling the respondents to see who's really interested in our business. The two ridiculously high dealers can't get in the ballpark. The highest guy I can't even get a hold of, so I just leave a message saying I'm going with another offer.

+225 is willing to deal, but only if I come in that day, and he won't quote me a new price. Sorry.

+100, at River Oaks, undercuts invoice, giving me an OTD price of $21K flat. Her disadvantages are she's further away and she only has my second-choice color.

flat invoice A: I get voicemail. I leave a message that they have 30 minutes to get back to me. They don't.

flat invoice B: balks that $73 could be the dealbreaker, but isn't giving up yet.

I go over and talk to Kirsti. She says paying the $73 is probably worth getting the color we like best. I tend to agree but by the time I get back to my desk, flat invoice B (Motor Werks) has agreed to match the 21K OTD price. I call River Oaks back, and tell her she's been matched by a closer dealer with our first-choice color. Since that 73 was off the out the door price, we ended up $67.5 under invoice.

I like the car so far. The MPG does seem at or close to what's advertised, but you do have to alter your driving style a bit, coasting and relying on cruise control more. Nice and quiet, especially compared to the lawnmower we drove before.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Interesting revelations here. Personally, I'm still waiting for my first Keyes bumpersticker/yard sign sighting. Some coworkers saw one while in Wheaton for a party. It figures.

Much less pain after Saturday. He made an adjustment so now I'm only having a hard time for 20 or so minutes a morning.

Car update: We should have something by Thursday if not sooner. More details will follow, but if you're in the market for a new car, by all means plunk down the $35 and buy Fighting Chance's information package. This is going really well.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

(General Boy film clip)

That's Good

Girl U Want

Whip It



Uncontrollable Urge


Jocko Homo (extended)

Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA

Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy

Gates of Steel


Freedom of Choice

Beautiful World (extended w/Booji Boy)

...and we're home by 11. But hey, I'm sure there was a Matlock rerun they didn't want to miss.

Josh Freese is the drummer these days with the original Casale/Mothersbaugh quartet.

Glad to have Whip It out of the way early. They only showed their age on That's Good, Girl U Want and Uncontrollable Urge, I thought. Otherwise, pretty energetic, particularly Mongoloid and beyond.

Would have liked to hear: Come Back Jonee, which was an encore song at some other shows this year; any of the missing songs from Duty Now.

Happy to have dodged: Peekaboo.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I haven't teed off on anything political in a while. Let's see...ah, here we go... I sure am glad everything's fixed. Yep, crime, "terrah," poverty, all magically whisked away so we can talk about the damn Pledge some more.

Dentalmania has taken a turn for the worse. For the first two days I was supposed to keep the flipper in more or less all the time, including while sleeping. Now I'm taking it out at nights per instructions, which has meant serious discomfort when I put it back in. I'm on the verge of tears every morning for about two hours. I have a followup appointment Saturday morning, during which something must be done. Meanwhile I will be going to work viked up tomorrow. Good thing I walk to work.

As a diversion, the Devo show is tomorrow night. The long-awaited Devo show. Last time they came near me was, IIRC, the New Traditionalists tour...'81, maybe? I was way too young to go to concerts then. I'm still positive I'm building myself up for inevitable disappointment, but concerts, conventions, etc. have been some of the few highlights in an otherwise suckass summer. Here's hoping this, plus the probability of a new car in the next fortnight, rings in a better fall.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I guess that went as well as could be expected. The most painful part of the process was the novocaine shots. The most disconcerting part involved a steel mallet -- I shall speak of it no more.

I've got amoxycillin and vicodin. I was never in a huge amount of pain, so I don't know that the vikes are doing what they're supposed to (they didn't do squat when I had them for the back injury). I was able to eat pretty well (soup, ice cream), and the bleeding is on the mend. The flipper's like wearing a retainer again, only the teeth are bigger than the old ones. I feel like George Thorogood.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

And we have a winner

...and not at all who I expected. My curling partner Andrea tapped untold reserves of goodnatured ribbing and was first with a Clarke photo. Must be payback for all the trampoline comments I made at Spring Spiel.

If you bet on The Field, you win. Rosenberg was second; always count on the spite from that boy. I didn't expect Scott Monty to chip in at all; his blog's been so quiet I figured he was as AWOL as Bush in the TANG. People placing below the field I figured were either too nice, didn't know me well enough to be comfortable sending me something like that, or in a couple cases, just don't pay attention to hockey.

Chris Rosenberg 3-2

Chris Papa 3-2

Shawn DeVeau 2-1

Jon Couture 5-1

Mark Coen 10-1

Steve/Jenni 15-1

KMacP 25-1

Craig Barker 50-1

Field 50-1

Mike Burger 75-1

Dee Stiffler 75-1

Matt Bruce 250-1

John Heaton 250-1

My Mom 1,000-1

Monday, September 13, 2004

(warning: medical TMI within, specifically dental TMI, so if this is a phobia...go away.)

So yeah, back to the blog. I haven't wanted to as of late. When I'm worried about something, I put off doing the nebulous "things I should." I'm still going to work of course, and have been surprisingly productive. But at home...there's always some fun to retreat to. Freelance work? Sure, honey, I'll watch our Netflix movies with you. Update the curling website? ehh...maybe I should try to get to the third board of this ridiculous MAME game. Write some trivia questions? Sheeeeit. I couldn't even be bothered to do right by Mark and the Bruce and update their links. And this is supposed to be fun.

Like many kids in the 80s, I had braces. And boy, did I need them. My teeth Were. A. Mess. Big buck-teeth, gapped incisors, and canines that hadn't dropped down with the rest of my teeth. So I spent two-plus years with the metal mouth, and they looked okay. But a few years ago, I was diagnosed with the dirty little side-effect of orthodontia: root resorption. Who knows why: maybe it was because of the metal bands I had around each tooth (most of my peers had the more common cement brackets, with bands only on the molars). Maybe it was all done too quickly. Maybe I was lax in care during the braces/retainer period.

In any case, I've had loose front teeth for about four years. For the most part this didn't make a huge difference. I just favored the other side or the back of my mouth, and haven't bitten into a whole apple in the 21st century. Last year, though, two of them got really bad. Fortunately, around that time Kirsti's company switched to a new dental policy that had more generous coverage regarding implantology. So...this Saturday morning I'm going to have six teeth extracted and four implants added. I'm not too worried about the pulling--I had teeth pulled when I got the braces, and frankly, the guy could shoot a threatening look at a couple of these teeth and they'd pop right out, they're that loose. But the implants have me worried. They are pieces of titanium to be screwed into my skull, after all. The first occasional anxiety dream happened the other week. And that never happpens. Fortunately I was not in high school and/or in my underwear.

The implants need 3-4 months to knit with the bone, at which point they'll be capped with crowns and a permanent bridge. So I'll get to wear a flipper the rest of the year. Comedy gold, I tell you. I know it's not cancer or anything serious, but I'm still pissed about the whole situation. Can't help feeling I'm too young for something like this. It doesn't help my apprehension about the whole ordeal that all the online information about implantology features pictures of senior citizens. But with the eighties braces-wave, I know I'm not alone.

Ah, well...maybe I'll grow my hair out, wear that scuzzy Flyers jersey, and be Bobby Clarke for Halloween.

(I was unsuccessful in finding a good Bobby Clarke photo; you know which one. There's already a betting line on which one of you bastards will deliver the goods.)

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Car Update

Still haven't purchased a new car. This means we had to abandon our regular State Fair pilgrimages, and is a factor in missing a family gathering I'd like to go to, but otherwise doesn't affect our lives much. We're using a car-buying plan/info package we found online, wherein the buyer faxes 15-20 dealers and has them compete for business. Updates will follow as circumstances warrant, and if this works I'll plug the hell out of the site, but so far it looks pretty sound. The actual faxing will happen in the last half of this month, with the goal to have something in September.

In other loose ends, I'm waiting for the city to send me a copy of the police report so I can send it right back to the city to contest the parking ticket written after the theft. I've received the insurance money, and have sent a letter to the Secretary of State to revoke the old plates. We also got our credit reports. We last got them a year ago when we refinanced the condo, and I'm not too sure how Experian dropped me 30 points despite having less overall debt and having all of my bad marks fall off. The hell?

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

LaPlaca picks

Here's how I'll reclaim my title in the Alison LaPlaca TV Dead Pool. Also check out Tim's reasoning for his picks. James Dinan is also likely to give a rundown.

1. Everybody Loves Raymond - I have this pattern of picking the about-to-be canceled veteran-sitcoms one year too early. Two years ago I picked Friends, then the cast got moneywhipped into sticking around. Last year Friends finally went away, but I prematurely picked ELR. This year it seems certain.

2. NYPD Blue - will ABC burn me here and keep this for another year? We'll see.

3. Studio 7 - WB pulled the plug on this show, actually a summer series, just last week. But the final episode is scheduled to air tomorrow, which just barely makes it eligible under the LaPlaca rules.

4. Commando Nanny - stupid title, Mark Burnett's luck has to run out sooner or later, and Gerald McRaney's surgery is mucking up the premiere date. On the other hand, it's between two reliable sitcoms for the Frog.

5. Blue Collar TV - Reba's success notwithstanding, I'm not seeing much future in the WB's red-state programming. Maybe if this show was paired with Reba...but it's in the sacrificial Thursday slot opposite Survivor. Not much faith here.

6. Life As We Know It - My So-Called Life for guys? I don't know that guys were exactly clamoring for such a beast. I suppose Freaks and Geeks came close, and while that ended up the Best TV Series Ever, it didn't translate into a second season. LAWKI even has a F&G pedigree in Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs, but it's also in a Thursday death slot. Plus it's got Kelly Osbourne, which is just a bad idea. Then again last year's doomed-to-fail quirky teen show was Joan of Arcadia, and that stuck around.

7. Medical Investigation - One medical examination/forensic show too many. I expect L&O: Trial by Jury to pop up in its slot.

8. Complete Savages - Okay, I just want Mel to take a fall. The fact that this has changed titles three times already says something. And it seems to me that FOX already got the jump on the passel o' kids sitcom with the already-renewed Quintuplets.

9. Center of the Universe - I like John Goodman just fine, but he's a second banana. Great on Roseanne. Great in Monsters, Inc. Great in the Coens' films. as the main, Ohio. Its fate probably rests with its followup, CSI: New York.

10. Father of the Pride - I didn't watch yesterday's premiere, but many people are already calling Fraught on this one. Aaron Barnhart at TV Barn says the show gets better, but as Tim points out, NBC hasn't been too friendly to primetime animation. Plus, it seems to me that tasteless humor on TV works best when it's the product of one or two fevered brains. It can't be done by committee. Who's responsible for Beavis & Butthead? Mike Judge. South Park? Trey & Matt. Family Guy? Seth McFarlane. Father of the Pride-- umm...Siggy & Roy? MGM Mirage? Dreamworks? See, no one knows. Then again, it just might catch on.

Thought hard about picking: The Office. but it may not see the light of day.

Kicking myself for not picking: Method & Red. Word is the producers, not the network, rejected an order for additional eps, and Method Man himself reportedly wants out. Damn, yo!
lunchtime blogging

Happy birthday, Mom!

I was all set to enjoy some Yankees dissing today in light of their 22-0 pounding and apparent collapse, but the usual suspects were silent: Cooch is on vacation, and the greenfieldgerbil server is down, knocking Mark, Bogg, and The Bruce out of commission. On the other hand, all three of them surely know better than to gloat too much.

I'll run down my 2004-05 LaPlaca picks tonight or tomorrow. In honor of them, here's a list of random things. I enjoyed The Jury while it was on. Admittedly, what I enjoyed most about it was watching for Homicide and Oz cast appearances, and no doubt that novelty would wear off quickly. What I was really waiting for was Belzer to show up giving testimony as Munch.

Ten actors who appeared in The Jury as well as on Homicide: Life on the Street, with their HLOTS characters:

1. Andre Braugher (Det. Frank Pembleton, seasons 1-6)

2. Ami Brabson (Mary Pembleton, recurring)

3. Peter Gerety (Det. Peter Gharty, seasons 6-7)

4. Toni Lewis (Det. Terri Stivers, seasons 6-7)

5. Jon Polito (Det. Steve Crosetti, seasons 1-2)

6. Zjelko Ivanek (Assistant State's Attorney Ed Danvers)

7. Bruno Kirby (the bad guy in "The Gas Man," one of the worst episodes of the series. And it didn't even involve Jon Seda!)

8. Barry Levinson (played himself in the episode "The Documentary")

9. Jon Seda (Det. Paul Falsone, Seasons 6-7)

10. Joe Morton (reporter Sam Thorne in two season 3 episodes)


Big news in Chicago is the William Kennedy Smith lawsuit. Interesting commentary about it and a Sun-Times columnist here and here. For the record, I think Steinberg was generally right, if crass, on 8/27, but horrifically offbase on 8/30. I'm just waiting for some conservative pundit to use the case and "kennedy privilege"/"two Americas"/whatever to besmirch Democrats in some manner. Whomever does so would be incredibly shortsighted: the person who successfully defended WKS in the '90s? Roy Black, who's now defending Rush Limbaugh against his hillbilly-heroin charges.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I went to Gen Con this weekend; much geekery and new purchases. JC was a way fun traveling companion, and kind enough to let me drive her car back home once her BF joined her in Indy. (originally she'd be riding down with me, but, well...yeah). Highlights: qualifying for the finals of a Diplomacy tournament, which was an 8.5-hour butt-&-brainburner; and competing in the Nordic Dice Toss, in which you chuck a 2 cubic foot 6-sider down a 10-foot wide strip, hope it stays inbounds, and score distance x dieroll. I'm not into writing a travelogue right now and doubt I will be, but you can go by here and catch her itinerary, now with added TMI. Yay!

I'm not much of a celebrity hound, but this was the second recent weekend where I'd wished I'd have brought my Dawn of the Dead game to get signed. George Romero was at Flashback Weekend, and Ken Foree was at Gen Con. Gonna have to start toting the thing wherever I go.

I bought a lava lamp this week. I've always had a low-level yen for one but for some reason never picked one up. Odd, considering the things I'll snap up without hesitation. So a woman at work was moving, selling her son's lamp for a sawbuck, and I took it off her hands. I plugged it in at my desk--¡el mistako gigante! The next 20 minutes were a big starefest. So into the bag it went until I got home last night.

My favorite lava lamp moment is when it's been on for 5-10 minutes from a cold start. A plume of hot wax from the bottom finds its way through the cooler stuff and shoots to the top, making a weird stringy mess that hangs there for a few minutes before breaking off, falling back down, melting, and then forming the round blobs one would expect to see. It's just a nifty, fleeting thing.

No, I am not high. Shut up. Jeez.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Well, you'd think my keyboard was purloined along with the car. That drama is almost over. I'm signing the title over to the insurance and contesting a parking ticket written during the 36 hours between theft and recovery. I'm getting just over two grand, which is way over the trade-in value. A CPD detective left me a message to contact him to close out my file, but A) he apparently has no record of our previous conversation which should have closed everything out, and B) No one answers the number he gave me.

So this weekend we got through some Netflix movies and got out to see Zatoichi, which was excellent. At home we saw The Trouble With Harry - Hitchcock's only attempt at a straight comedy, and considering his other movies are full of humor, I was expecting this to be darker than it was. Shirley MacLaine sure was cute back then, as evidenced by this and The Apartment. We also watched The Stranger -- not Camus, and thankfully not Billy Joel, but Orson Welles's only commmercial success as a director. Quite good despite a draggy second act and a drip of a heroine in Loretta Young.

I'm watching bits of the Olympics when I can. Not having cable, my viewing is limited to NBC and Telemundo. The flagship network coverage is of course a crapfest, full of personal struggles over adversity and the same non-quirky sports we see all the time. And I'm especially pissed that Costas & Couric couldn't be troubled to shut their goddamn yaps for three minutes while Björk was performing in the opening ceremonies. So I flip over to Andres Cantor & company a lot, and now find myself fully on the Iraqi soccer bandwagon. Seem to me that Americans of most political stripes can find something to rally behind in their success.

Monday, August 9, 2004

Here's my car's epic journey from parked to "recovered." Here's what it looks like now.

I spent a romantic Friday evening with Kirsti at the pound checking it out, getting my crap out of it and releasing it to the insurers. All of my personal effects were intact...tapes, loose change, everything. I'm 90% convinced that the "thieves" were either city or freelance towers. But the insurance company can investigate that all they want.

Thursday, August 5, 2004


You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.

What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.

What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm obviously first and foremost a movie snob, but that wasn't an option. I also think I'm more of a music snob than a book snob, but the questions leaned toward actually being able to play an instrument, and...I can't. And while I said I'd rather meet Poe than Beethoven, that was only because of the language barrier. (also, because Dee wouldn't be there. Kidding!)
new beverages

Forgot to mention these, all tried recently...

C2: Mix a coke and a diet coke and the total is much less than the sum of its parts. I'm not sure why anyone would bother. I hope this takes after New Coke and dies a quick death.

that Krispy Kreme Original Glazed drink: This was neither the vile concoction I feared, nor the party in my mouth that I hoped for. Maybe because I had it with coffee in it, dunno if that sullied the experience or what. But it just tasted like a coolatta or whatever with some extra sweetness to it.

Mountain Dew Baja Blast: When I don't bring a lunch and my usual lunching partners have plans, I sneak off to my guilty-pleasure-that-ain't-White-Castle: Taco Bell. They're hawking this exclusive MD spinoff. Now, I really dislike Mountain Dew. Seriously. Haven't had it willingly in like 20 years. But I like lime things, so I rolled the dice. Really Frickin' Good, I thought. The lime's got a nice crispness to it, even though the color (a frightening swimming-pool blue, not unlike the water found in this venerable State Fair ride) takes a while to get around.
Aside from this car nonsense (still no news other than it being at a pound; I'm waiting to hear from an insurance appraiser) it's been a pretty good week.

Saturday Steve swung me a pass to Flashback Weekend, a local horror-movie con. Highlights included meeting George Romero, who along with four Day of the Dead cast members introduced that film, which played at a makeshift drive-in in the hotel parking lot; and "Boomstick!," the Army of Darkness musical put on by the folks who did Evil Dead: The Musical last year. I also saw Tobe Hooper's new Toolbox Murders (at the drive-in) and Joe Bob Briggs doing an informed and informative commentary on I Spit on Your Grave. Much of his commentary was devoted to refuting Siskel and Ebert's claims that the film sides with the rapists. I'm now in Joe Bob's camp that it's trying to be some sort of feminist statement. I think it fails miserably as such, but still.

Sunday was a gathering at Dee's; raucous goofing off and eating.

Monday was That Fateful Day, and what brought me there in the first place was a screening of The Brown Bunny, the new Vincent Gallo movie. You may remember the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, when a 2-hour cut of this movie (guy who can't get over ex-girlfriend, played by Chloe Sevigny, drives cross-country, then meets up with her and receives apparently-real oral gratification) got a disastrous reception, and touched off a very funny feud between Gallo and Roger Ebert.

I really hated Buffalo '66, Gallo's directorial debut. It's one of three movies I ever shut off. I lasted about 30 minutes, but my good will went south much earlier than that, with the scene at the men's room. The whole "quit looking at me!"/"But it's so big!" exchange seemed to sum up Gallo in a nutshell, and it just turned me off. Yeah, we're supposed to pity your wounded little soul and still be impressed by you. Whatever. Kiss my ass.

So this version of BB clocks in at 90 minutes, roughly a half hour shorter than the Cannes cut. I must admit that the payoff at the end (and I'm not referring to That Scene) was quite good. But not worth the interminable crap beforehand. I swear his journey from New Hampshire to LA was shot in real time. I have a like/dislike relationship with Two-Lane Blacktop, the classic existential road movie which can be as monotonous, but the Monte Hellmann flick is at least shot beautifully. Most of Brown Bunny is either out of focus or closeups of Gallo while driving, so we have intimate knowledge of his pores, ear and greasy-ass hair.

But Gallo did a Q&A after, and I have more respect for the guy. Still didn't care for this movie, and probably won't revisit Buffalo '66, but he's engaging and not the pretentious dick that his reputation would have one believe.

Tuesday was the Prince concert make-up date. We had fifth-row seats by the aisle where they enter the arena. Great show all around, and as a bonus, The Time opened up. What more could one ask for? 'bout Ballad of Dorothy Parker, Irresistible Bitch (not likely given his cleaned-up show), When You Were Mine, and Starfish & Coffee. On the other hand, he played 17 Days, which is probably my favorite Prince song.

Wednesday was a screening of Open Water, which is a damn fine suspense film except for one completely subjective thing: I'm not that afraid of sharks.

Don't get me wrong, I would be afraid of getting up close and personal with one, make no mistake. But they aren't the stuff of my nightmares. I've lived in the midwest most of my life. While I've been to beaches on both coasts, the mundane threat of leeches gives me the willies much more than something that could devour my leg, just because I'm more likely to encounter them in my existence. Also, diving looks like fun, but seems to me an extravagance I'm not likely to spend the time or money on. Meanwhile, I've got friends with such strong shark phobias they refuse to watch JAWS even at home in broad daylight.

Being stranded somewhere with no supplies is a more accessible fear, and Open Water delivers on that count. The shaky, sometimes blurry DV cinematography is disorienting and claustrophobic even though they're miles from anywhere. The absence of musical stings was welcome.

I've read complaints that the film's protagonists (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan as an overworked yuppie couple) are unlikeable. I tend to disagree. Perhaps they aren't people I'd care to know in real life, but it isn't like they had me rooting for the sharks. And their relationship felt lived-in. Their squabbling was either well- written or well-improv'd. Maybe I didn't like them, but I bought into them. Can't possibly live up to the Blair Witch-style buildup it seems to be getting, but it's definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

The car has towed to one of the pounds this morning. Condition TBD.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

dude, where's...

I went into the city last night, parked at and fed a street meter in front of respectable bidnessess (Bed Bath & Beyond, Borders) on Broadway and Diversey at 6:40 p.m., and went to a movie. Got out and--a-la-peanut-butter sandwiches--no car. Chicago has no record of it being towed, even though I would have been cheating the meter for about an hour, so I'm assuming it's stolen. (actually my true assumption is that it is in fact towed and the record of that is lost in some bureaucratic vortex.) Police report and insurance claims have been filed. I didn't know that duct tape on the front panel and a dented, perforated hood were such joyride magnets.

This means I have to find a Plan B for getting to the Prince show tonight, and must scrap going to Michigan this weekend in favor of hastening the car-buying process (it also makes waiting for a Prius difficult). The really annoying thing is that I shelled out $200 yesterday morning just to learn that the AC would be prohibitively expensive to repair.

This report was just brought to my attention. I find it funny that anyone would covet this car's parts, since the last few times I've had any sort of work done, I've been told part x isn't used any more, so you'll have to get part y with an additional retrokit...

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Long wanky QB post

It's a shame Blogger doesn't have an LJ-cut equivalent.

At last journalists from the quizbowl circuit -- Cooch and JQ -- are weighing in on the Ken Jennings phenomenon. It's refreshing to read people who not only understand what NAQT does, but get the damn name right in their stories.

It may come as a surprise, but I didn't see any of Ken's episodes. It's on at an inconvenient time here and I know that if I tape it I won't make the time to watch it regularly. The last time I taped it was a year or so ago, to see a guy I sorta know from movie lists. He briefly held the single-day record, at $50K. Before that, the last ep I taped was to see how the woman who beat me fared.

I don't know Ken Jennings. We've met--else the paragraphs below wouldn't exist -- but I don't remember a thing about him. I don't remember many incidents in matches, and I forget who people are unless I see them regularly at tourneys, and he wasn't a regular fixture. The thing I admire most about him is that he likes Hayao Miyazaki enough to bring a Totoro onto the Jeopardy set.

But like JQ, I did beat him at a trivia competition; the same one in fact: Ann B. Davis 20001900. Or rather, my team beat his team. And just barely. I still have the notes from this game, because I'm a huge dork and keep a notebook during games. Gives me something to do. Mark doodles, usually drawing a whole bunch of connected triangles and then filling them in.

This was the last game in our round-robin bracket, they were 8-0, we were 7-1. A loss probably would have kept us in the playoffs, but without a first-round bye. Things started out bad for us. First question, they score 15 points on "4 Little Girls". I should point out right away that movie tossups -- what I consider my strong suit -- went entirely to Ken. At least I assume they went to Ken, as he's clearly a movie buff. Then we give up Montreal. Then Greta Van Susteren. Fortunately they're struggling with bonus conversion, getting 30 of a possible 90 points. We finally get on the board with question 4, "Bette Davis Eyes." We get 25 pts on the bonus to trail 35-60. One question later ( and we're down five, 55-60.

This doesn't last long, as they get the next two (including another movie question, "The Gold Rush") and the full bonuses to go up 145-55. Then four of the next six to go up 280-120 -- including another movie tossup, this on the director Josef Von Sternberg. Our saving grace in this stretch is getting a tossup on Zits, the comic strip, and picking up garbage points on a TU they negged on. The answer? Ironically, it was Rock 'n' Roll Jeopardy.

So we're doubled up on points with eight questions to go. Dwight powers a tossup on Canadian-born country singer Hank Snow, who had died a month earlier. Ken's team negs on a question that I pick up (Coleco -- I owned the ADAM computer that eventually became TRASH's first grand prize). We trail 190-275 with six questions to go. Mark gets "Shaken Martini". Chris gets a question on NHL ref Andy Van Hellemond. Dwight's in with Futurama's Zap Branigan. Suddenly we're back in it, 265-275. Three questions remain.

Question 19 is on the talent-free rapper/Puffy hanger-on Ma$e. It falls silent. It's times like this that gives me the utmost pride in the men and women of the quizbowl community. Except for the jackasses that write questions about Ma$e.

Question 20 is a self-help book question and they neg. I forget the answer they gave (it'd be ironic if it was the Mormon-written 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) but the eventual answer was Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. A full 30 on the bonus and we take our first lead of the game, 305-270. They can still win with a tossup and full bonus conversion.

Question 21 is a sports question. uh-oh. I suck at sports questions. But it's one on an obscure sport. Co-ed teams...played running with the ball...baskets in the middle of the court...I buzz in...

"Korfball?" 10 points, and an exhale. After a bonus, it's our game, 335-270. But as JQ noted, clearly he's had the last laugh.
Oh yeah, the Civic hybrid. It wasn't bad, but noisier than the Prius. A weird whining sound when braking (the regenerative batteries? ABS? What?) which the dealer couldn't diagnose either. He also didn't know about the ECON button on the dash, which gets the gas engine to cut off more, resulting in a quieter, more fuel-efficient ride. Based on our salesperson's lack of knowledge, it seemed like this model of car was the redheaded stepchild of the fleet --at least at this dealership.

I liked the color scheme better, at least this color scheme. I also liked that the back seat floor was flat--no crankshaft hump. And the cab was more of what I'd expect w/r/t roominess. I did NOT like that the back seats didn't fold down because that's where the batteries were.

We're still not close to a decision.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Remember when I said we were new to this whole car-buying thing? About 12 hours ago? That was borne out today when we went to the nearby Honda dealership and saw--duh!--they were closed on Sundays. Maybe this is SOP for dealerships, but it completely surprised us. I mean, sure, a car showroom needs to close sometime, but one would think both days of a weekend would be prime car-selling time, and a weekday would be a more profitable day to close. And car salespeople are all going to Hell anyway, so what do they need the Sabbath off for? In any case, a simple call or check on the website would have clued us in.

Anyway, we went down to Facets and saw Word Wars with the Gropys. We all enjoyed it a lot, but if you've read Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis (an acknowledged inspiration for the film, and interviewee), not much new ground is covered. A Scrabble game isn't going to have the inherent suspense that the Spelling Bee brought to Spellbound. Still, it's interesting to see these personalities from the book onscreen, and the filmmakers had the good sense to use two Minutemen songs.

After that we got some crazy-good deep dish at Pequod's, a little hole in the wall nearby. I'm not typically a deep-dish guy--it mostly ends up too gooey for me--but there are 3 or so places that do it great, and this is one. The movie and dinner ended up being just what the doctor ordered. After the wedding in Ely I was a bit wistful about my old crowd and the land o' lakes, thinking wouldn't it be cool to hang out with these people more, frequent the $2-beer bars in Nordeast with 'em, etc. I snapped out of most of that when I thought, look, half of them don't live in the Twin Cities any more, and the three in the Chicago area---including one two blocks away--you rarely make the time to see anyway, you putz. The rest of that wistfulness was driven away today by the return to two things here that I love and can't get elsewhere. The past few weeks I'd been busy and had forgotten about them. Obscure Movie + Killer Food. Why would I want to leave?


A few variably-sized steps into new territory for me/us:

1. In addition to signing up for two more 6-week fencing classes, I finally ordered my own gear this week. Jacket, mask, another glove, and two epees. I will no doubt ease up on the fencing once curling season starts, but I can pick it up again in the spring. And if nothing else, I have a kickass Halloween costume for the next few years.

2. I also joined the iPod masses, or I will have once it arrives. The new 20 and 40 GB models on the market prompted firesales on the older ones. I ended up getting a refurb'd 10GB for $170 from the Apple Store, which seems more than reasonable. I also got the FM transmitter doohickey.

3. Most importantly, we began doing homework on a new car. I think there's still life in the 11-year-old Saturn, but I want our next car to be a hybrid, and I'd like the ever-dwindling tax benefit on such a car before it goes away entirely. We looked at the Prius yesterday. It handled nicely, didn't have the pickup problems I feared, and has nifty gadgets. And it's so quiet--nice change of pace. The drawbacks:

a. an odd lack of rear headroom (though overall the car felt more spacious than the Saturn).

b. The FM antenna was weak. My favorite station is a low-power one out of Rogers Park, but should be easy enough to get in Evanston, less than 5 miles away. Yet this radio wouldn't lock on it while scanning.

c. The plasticy interior bothered me. The Saturn is plasticy, and I'm living with the long-term implications of that now; stuff's falling apart, and it looks like shite but is too pricey/solely cosmetic to justify repairing. Maybe that's de rigeur for cars in my price range; I've been out of the market for so long.

I know at least one sporadic reader has a Prius -- have you noticed these problems? How'd you see past them?

Next up: the Honda Civic hybrid. Immediate advantage is its availability (and, presumably, the ability to strike a better deal--it's my uninformed guess that the 6+month waitlist for Priuses [Prii?] makes MSRP close to haggleproof ), downside is the mpg's not as sexy as the Prius. I won't bother with the Insight; a 2-seater's out of the question.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The 100 top-grossing documentaries

what I've seen in bold

1 Fahrenheit 9/11

2 Bowling for Columbine

3 Winged Migration

4 Super Size Me

5 Hoop Dreams

6 Tupac: Resurrection

7 Roger and Me

8 Spellbound

9 Touching the Void (but this one's sitting on the TV thanks to NFLX)

10 The Fog of War

11 Paris is Burning

12 Imagine: John Lennon

13 Step Into Liquid

14 Capturing the Friedmans

15 Crumb

16 Unzipped

17 When We Were Kings

18 Comedian

19 My Architect

20 The Endurance: Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure

21 A Brief History of Time

22 Rivers and Tides

23 The Corporation

24 The Endless Summer II

25 Beyond the Mat

26 Life & Times of Hank Greenberg

27 Control Room

28 Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh

29 The Kid Stays in the Picture

30 Microcosmos

31 The Celluloid Closet

32 Hearts of Darkness

33 Anne Frank Remembered

34 Brother's Keeper

35 Dogtown and Z-Boys


37 The Thin Blue Line

38 American Movie

39 The Eyes of Tammy Faye

40 35 Up

41 The War Room

42 Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

43 Marlene

44 Visions of Light

45 Trembling Before G-d

46 To Be and to Have

47 Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones

48 For All Mankind

49 Lost in La Mancha

50 The Big One

51 Wigstock: The Movie

52 Kurt and Courtney

53 Pumping Iron 2: The Women

54 The Filth and the Fury

55 Road Scholar

56 The Weather Underground

57 Hands on a Hard Body

58 Incident at Oglala

59 Wild Man Blues

60 Sex Is...

61 A Great Day in Harlem

62 Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser

63 The Trials of Henry Kissinger

64 Mr. Death

65 The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl

66 I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

67 Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy

68 The Last Days

69 Riding Giants

70 Still, We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie

71 Into the Arms of Strangers

72 Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary

73 Genghis Blues

74 The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years

75 Keep the River on Your Right - A Modern Cannibal Tale

76 Trekkies

77 Grass

78 America's Heart and Soul

79 The Panama Deception

80 Nico-Icon

81 42 Up

82 Bonhoeffer

83 Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times

84 Scratch

85 American Pimp

86 Paradise Lost

87 Heavy Petting

88 American Dream

89 Life and Debt

90 Mayor of the Sunset Strip

91 Dancemaker

92 Sex with Strangers

93 Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey

94 Promises

95 Ram Dass: Fierce Grace

96 Weapons of the Spirit

97 This Old Cub

98 Bukowski: Born Into This

99 This So-Called Disaster

100 The Agronomist

Out of #101-182, I've seen five, with one coming up this weekend (Word Wars).

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Related to our trip to the Art Institute a few posts down, here's another reflection on the venerable Parker Brothers game. I do have to agree with her comparison of Peter Blume's painting to a seventies album cover. Maybe that's what I like about it.
Here's a game for you that's been sweeping one of the movie lists I'm on. Maybe we can turn it into a blog meme.

Use a single movie title to succinctly summarize another movie. Examples I came up with:

Before Sunrise/set - Walking and Talking

Insomnia - The Longest Day

A River Runs Through It - Go Fish

Titanic - That Sinking Feeling

Enter the Ninja - Men in Black

Groundhog Day - Time after Time

Barfly - Drunken Master

Leaving Las Vegas - Drunken Master II

Seabiscuit - A Day at the Races

The Crying Game - He's My Girl

Lassie Come Home - The Bitch

Have at it!

Monday, July 19, 2004

two weddings, two weekends: part II

Half a lifetime -- Christ!--half a lifetime later, I consider myself very fortunate to have a biggish group of high school friends who are A) friendly with each other, and B) took right away to that tall pretty girl from Braintree I brought home in the early 90s and indoctrinated her in our mysterious ways goofy crap, so that she's not odd man out at the frequent reunions. Kirsti's also still in touch with some people from her youth, but they mostly don't know or don't like each other, leading to lots of individual playdates whenever we get back to MA. So this weekend we were in Ely, MN for Liz & Matt's wedding. Lizzie's an ex-girlfriend--not the first, but the first where there was a substantial amount of good ol' high-school drama. So I got to make the highlight reel in one of the prom pix, which was cool (no, I'm not posting it). The first time I met Matt, the three of us went to a Twins game and he and I had a big conversation about Replacements bootlegs. Unsolicited endorsement received, sir.

Ely's a 4 or 5-hour drive from the Twin Cities. For anyone else it's a crazy haul. Most of the outstaters ended up making some sort of layover in the Cities. We opted to take a connector jet to Duluth/Superior and drive a rental the remaining 2 hours to Ely. We stayed at the Adventure Inn, a newly-remodeled motel with "northwoods-themed" rooms, which were not as tacky as you'd think. Well, okay, they were. Our first room (busy tourist season, and we booked late) was "Winter Wonderland"--sky blue, with little woodland creatures on the handmade quilts and window treatments. Second room was "Summer Sunshine;" sunflower motif, bright yellow walls. Not unlike living in an egg yolk.

The ceremony was short, sweet, outdoors in great weather, officiated by a minister friend but barely religious at all. Matt surprised everyone by singing this song a cappella just before the vows. He makes no claims to singing ability, but it was touching and romantic. Kirsti's not a wedding-cryer, but that's when she lost it. And it's by the Jam! How cool is that? Apparently a few single guys chewed him out later in the evening for raising the bar.

Reception was great fun. I did not have to go through with my threat to punch the groom if he smushed cake in the bride's face. I got to hear Mathleen's ringing endorsement of internet dating services (sorry, it's only funny when she gives it), and the product of same -- really great guy after a long line of flakes; I'm pulling for him, even despite the Cubs fandom. Got to see Liz's parents for the first time in a decade, and her formerly-little brothers, who are now huge and have a bunch of cute kids. Final song was "Da Butt." Can't beat that.

We were invited to the gift opening Sunday at a cabin on one of the lakes up there, but we were pretty sure if we went we'd leave late and miss our plane. Instead we stopped briefly at the International Wolf Center (interesting, although I saw no live wolves) and made our way back to Duluth. We stopped briefly here as an appetizer before the US Hockey Hall of Fame. That was swell, but I have a feeling my UM and BU-based readers may have found it disappointing in its Minnecentricity. Pat LaFontaine represents Michigan (I think Amo Bessone's in the hall too), and while there's a Beanpot program and a story of a typical BU 'Pot win, the sweater in that case is of the Crimson. Surprisingly Harvard is the big Massachusetts representative there, no doubt because of Bill Cleary. Also surprisingly, despite Ceglarski's inclusion, Boston College is nearly nonexistent there -- odd since Ceglarski made a big deal about only recruiting within the US. But I shouldn't protest too much, because more BU attention would surely mean more Eruzione focus, and who needs that?

I was sad that the place next to the HOF was closed. I wanted to get a pin. I'll have to go to a bonspiel there sometime.
two weddings, two weekends

Part I

One of my cousins met a woman from Wheeling IL in college and married her two weeks ago. This was an opportunity for most of my mom's family, from the Rochester area, to converge on the Chicago suburbs. Mom and Donna stayed with us, as did Katie and Todd; the first trip to Chicago for them, and first in a long while without the boys. Friday we did the touristy stuff, taking an architectural cruise and hitting the Art Institute to see if my sister would cry at the site of her favorite painting, which calls for a digression:

One of the boardgames we had as kids was Parker Brothers' Masterpiece. In it you bid at auction for various works of art, all of which were, in this edition, from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Katie's favorite painting was this, and if we ever outbid her on it in this stupid game, she'd cry and pout. I was always a fan of this, and Hopper's probably my favorite artist, but I always found this strangely alluring.

No crying, I don't think. But we all converged on the painting ahead of her and watched her discover it, which was a nice moment. We also saw what little of Millennium Park was open at the time. Since it will be a point of contention for tourists and residents for years to come, I want to go on record as being pro-"The Bean."

Wedding was Saturday. Pretty big affair. We all crashed at the hotel near the reception and I lured 10 people to the nigh-legendary Walker Brothers for breakfast. There was some grousing about driving so far, but the food put a stop to that right quick.
Revealed at last! The link between Patti Page and Tenacious D

And the peculiar thing is this my friends:

the song we sang on that fateful night? It didn't actually sound anything like this song!
-- The D, "Tribute"

We were driving back from the wedding yesterday and "Tennessee Waltz" comes on the radio. In "Tennessee Waltz," the singer laments -- well, here are all the lyrics, since it's short:

I was dancin' with my darlin' to the Tennessee Waltz

When an old friend I happened to see

I introduced her to my loved one

And while they were dancin'

My friend stole my sweetheart from me.

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz

Now I know just how much I have lost

Yes, I lost my little darlin' the night they were playing

The beautiful Tennessee Waltz.

Okay, so this means the song being sung is NOT the Tennessee Waltz. It's a song about the Tennessee Waltz..."Tennessee Waltz-prime" if you will. So how do you suppose the Tennessee Waltz being sung about, the one that turns interlopers into little mackdaddies/mommies, goes?

Monday, July 12, 2004

I'm mostly doing this to see what happens when activities designed for LJ get ported into Blogger:

IMDB's Top 100 Best Movies of All Time
generate this HTML for your own page at



Didn't See It/
Started It/
Finished It/
Hated It!


Godfather, The (1972)

Finished It


Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)

Finished It


Godfather: Part II, The (1974)

Finished It


Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003)

Finished It


Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002)

Finished It


Casablanca (1942)

Finished It


Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

Finished It


Schindler's List (1993)

Finished It


Shichinin no samurai (1954)

Finished It


Star Wars (1977)

Finished It


Citizen Kane (1941)

Finished It


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Finished It


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Finished It


Rear Window (1954)

Finished It


Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Finished It


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Finished It


Memento (2000)

Finished It


Usual Suspects, The (1995)

Finished It


Pulp Fiction (1994)

Finished It


North by Northwest (1959)

Finished It


12 Angry Men (1957)

Finished It


Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le (2001)

Finished It


Psycho (1960)

Finished It


Lawrence of Arabia (1962)


Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)


Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)

Finished It


It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Finished It


Goodfellas (1990)

Finished It


American Beauty (1999)

Finished It


Vertigo (1958)

Finished It


Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Finished It


Matrix, The (1999)

Finished It


Apocalypse Now (1979)

Finished It


Pianist, The (2002)


To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Finished It


C'era una volta il West (1968)


Some Like It Hot (1959)


Third Man, The (1949)

Finished It


Taxi Driver (1976)

Finished It


Paths of Glory (1957)


Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)

Finished It


Fight Club (1999)

Finished It


Boot, Das (1981)

Finished It


Double Indemnity (1944)

Finished It


L.A. Confidential (1997)

Finished It


Chinatown (1974)

Finished It


Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Finished It


Maltese Falcon, The (1941)

Finished It


M (1931)

Finished It


Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Finished It


Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)


All About Eve (1950)

Finished It


Se7en (1995)

Finished It


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Finished It


Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Finished It


Cidade de Deus (2002)


Raging Bull (1980)

Finished It


Rashômon (1950)

Finished It


Wizard of Oz, The (1939)

Finished It


Sting, The (1973)

Started It


Alien (1979)

Finished It


American History X (1998)

Finished It


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)


Léon (1994)

Finished It


Vita è bella, La (1997)

Finished It


Touch of Evil (1958)

Finished It


Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)

Finished It


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Finished It


Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)

Finished It


Great Escape, The (1963)

Finished It


Wo hu cang long (2000)

Finished It


Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Finished It


Clockwork Orange, A (1971)

Finished It


Amadeus (1984)

Finished It


Modern Times (1936)

Finished It


Ran (1985)

Finished It


Annie Hall (1977)

Finished It


Jaws (1975)

Finished It


On the Waterfront (1954)

Finished It


Braveheart (1995)

Hated It!


High Noon (1952)

Finished It


Apartment, The (1960)

Finished It


Fargo (1996)

Finished It


Sixth Sense, The (1999)

Finished It


Aliens (1986)

Finished It


Shining, The (1980)

Finished It


Strangers on a Train (1951)

Finished It


Blade Runner (1982)

Finished It


Metropolis (1927)

Finished It


Duck Soup (1933)

Finished It


Finding Nemo (2003)

Finished It


Donnie Darko (2001)

Finished It


General, The (1927)

Finished It


City Lights (1931)


Princess Bride, The (1987)

Finished It


Toy Story 2 (1999)

Finished It


Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Finished It


Great Dictator, The (1940)


Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957)


Lola rennt (1998)

Finished It

Which movies have you seen?