Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Weird Thing #1: I never noticed until tonight that this brand of canned iced coffee we sometimes get from Trader Joe's ("America's Best" brand, this was the cappucino variety) has a taste not unlike Honey Smacks/Super Golden Crisp cereal.

Weird Thing #2: I'm okay with this.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Tried to see Prince Saturday night, only to arrive at the Allstate Arena to see tons of cars EXITING the parking lot. Canceled, rescheduled for August 3 -- a schoolnight, but I have no conflicts. And the Krispy Kreme people were giving out free dozens to people in Mannheim Rd. traffic, so I've no complaints. Instead we went over to Dee's to finally break in her Trivial Pursuit 20th-anniversary edition. Meh...out of all the TP editions, I still prefer Genus Edition and the original expansions (Silver Screen, Baby Boomer). There was some care in questionwriting that just isn't there any more.

Coincidentally, last week I had compiled this List of Ten Things, which I now present with some adjustments and annotations:

Ten artists I had tickets for but didn't see:

Prince (you know why)

a Queen Latifah

b Siouxsie & the Banshees

c Suicidal Tendencies

c Circle Jerks

a Volcano Suns

d Duran Duran

d Georgia Satellites

e Public Image, Ltd.

f Buzzcocks

a no-show opening act

b canceled a stretch of Lollapalooza-I dates due to laryngitis

c no-show headliners

d were scheduled to open for David Bowie on the Glass Spider tour in the Metrodome. Bowie postponed the concert to make room for more Detroit dates. The rescheduled date changed venues and was sans openers.

e I bought tix specifically for opening act PiL but was lukewarm on INXS, the headliners. When PiL canceled, I got rid of my ticket.

f like an idiot, I completely forgot I had a ticket to this show. Damn!

two items in brief, maybe more later:

Fahrenheit 9/11: essentially, it's everything both sides say it is. The most mature work from someone who still has a long way to go.

Big Fish: Remember when Tim Burton used to be cool? He's now 100% irrelevant to my life. His last OK movie was Sleepy Hollow, and hasn't been TIM! F'ING! BURTON! since Ed Wood. I also dread a "Music by Danny Elfman" credit the way I dread James Horner. What a waste of time, even watching with subtitles on at 2x speed.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

There are some myths about the Jack Ryan debacle that I want to clear up for out-of-state readers. They seem like things that the conservative spin machine would push on a national level, particularly to redstaters far from Illinois who never heard liberal-media/hypocritical Democrat stories they didn't like, but to be fair I don't know if these are actually being propagated. So they're proto-myths right now; nonetheless, I want to nip them in the bud.

Myth #1: The media unfairly targeted Ryan.

The Tribune and ABC pursued Ryan's sealed divorce records in the same manner they pursued similar records of Democratic candidate Blair Hull in the primary. I don't recall the "where's the right to know?" hue and cry then.

Myth #2: Democrats are hypocrites for lambasting Ryan, against whom nothing is proven, while defending Clinton.

It's true that the sex-club allegations are just he-said/she-said, and are nothing illegal or (what I would consider) adulterous. But the Democrats didn't say a peep about the Ryan allegations. Leading Illinois Republicans, with the exception of outgoing Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, got together and vowed not to campaign with or for Ryan. They're the only ones to whom this mattered.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Ten books I started but have yet to finish:

The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea

Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

Xenocide*, Orson Scott Card

Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson

The Devil in the White City*, Erik Larson

Neuromancer, William Gibson

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

A Star Called Henry, Roddy Doyle

Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem

*- what I'm currently reading

Monday, June 21, 2004

Something Hypocritical This Way Comes

A fella's gotta work pretty hard to take on Michael Moore in the asshattery realm. Enter Ray Bradbury. He's mad at Moore over Fahrenheit 9/11 and its play on the title of his book Fahrenheit 451.

"He didn't ask my permission," Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. "That's not his novel, that's not his title, so he shouldn't have done it."

No doubt Mr. Bradbury got permission from William Shakespeare, Sara Teasdale, Voltaire, Walt Whitman, and the songwriters and screenwriters behind the film Animal Crackers before titling the works Something Wicked This Way Comes, "There Will Come Soft Rains," "The Best of All Possible Worlds," "I Sing the Body Electric!," and "Hello, I Must Be Going."

Friday, June 18, 2004

Ten films with both color and monochromatic sequences:

Run Lola Run

Wizard of Oz

Phantom of the Opera (1925)

She's Gotta Have It

Kill Bill

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle



Toy Story 2

Pennies From Heaven

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

uncontrollable urge I wanna tell you all about it

Unless there's a sudden run on tickets, I'm seeing DEVO!This is very big. I'm seeing the Pixies in November, and that's big, too, but this is bigger. So big I'm sure I'm setting myself up for inevitable disappointment. I'm trying to think of bigger things that would not involve resurrections. Suicide Commandos? They're more a latter-day discovery, not something I grew up on but missed. I know...Talking Heads. That'd be bigger.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

While I'm disappointed to have the Pledge back in schools, I think the technicality in the Newdow case is a sound one. This fall look for kids everywhere to compose Groeningesque parodies and take up that singsongy voice with nothing behind it: "I PLEH jah LEE jentz..."

Nearly two years ago I ran down my objections to the pledge, I still stand by them 100%.

1. Rote recitation of anything diminishes its meaning. See the above mindless singsongy voice. 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? Is the Christian state of grace the ability to dash through seven Hail Marys like you were John Moschitta Jr.?

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

3. A truly free society would never 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 14, 2004

and the winner is...

not Donna Tartt. There were perhaps three copies of The Secret History, but she was well overshadowed by Oprah faves White Oleander and She's Come Undone. And even those paled in comparison to your 2004 BUBS Champeen:

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. Many copies of Little Altars Everywhere as well.

In the nonfiction category, The Perfect Storm and Ditka: The Autobiography were neck and neck. Just one copy of Fast Food Nation. But give it a couple of years.

now that's a good idea, she said, she said...

The wise JC posts a comment that's so good it deserves a longer look:

I'm always interested by how used CD racks seem to replicate the popular musical opinion of the moment. I wonder if anyone tracks the "most often sold to used CD stores" CDs at any given moment…it'd be a good way to figure out who the one-hit wonders are.

Eeeexcellent...a weekly nationwide survey of used-CD stores to see just what people have sold back. Sort of a reverse SoundScan. I'd love to see it. National-network sites like this have useful bargain-bin areas where you can see what's hard to get rid of. For example, a quick look shows that the entire Spin Doctors crapography is still overpriced at $3.99 or less a disc. But that still doesn't tell you what's just on the precipice.

I suppose such a system is unlikely to come about. Most used places seem to be seat-of-the-pants operations, and would be too concerned with squeezing as much out of the supposedly-dying plastic disc industry to bother with a caplital+overhead expense. And the only people who would benefit from such a service would be...people like me, who live to bust on things.

If there were such a system, though, you could expect Musicology to top the charts within 6 months. I hear it's good, but a copy of the CD accompanies each ticket. So you know there're a lot of people who will end up with multiple copies. My crazy friend Steve is going to all six Prince shows in Illinois.

On a related note, Kirsti and I are on our way to the Brandeis Book Sale tonight. When we first started going I was struck my how many copies there were of Bernard Malamud books, particularly My Name Is Asher Lev. Then there was a big glut of A Man In Full. Then Primary Colors--still a lot of those on the tables. When the Bob Greene scandal hit, a lot of people decided to part with their copies of American Beat and the like. In two years I predict The DaVinci Code can be had in hardcover for under $3. Tonight, though, my prediction is...lots of copies of Donna Tartt's works: The Little Friend and/or The Secret History. Stay tuned to find out if I'm right.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

In the spirit of Heaton's recurring Ten Random Things feature:

Ten artists/bands I have seen more than once:

1. Lyle Lovett & his Large Band

2. The Replacements

3. The Residents

4. John Wesley Harding

5. Robyn Hitchcock

6. Shawn Colvin

7. They Might Be Giants

8. Warren Zevon

9. Husker Du

10. Soul Coughing

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Lost between the Reagan and Ray Charles bookends was the news that guitarist Robert Quine had died over Memorial Day weekend, and was found only last weekend. The name might not ring a bell, but if you recall Matthew Sweet's 2-3 years in the spotlight, you've heard his lead guitar work on "Girlfriend," "Devil with the Green Eyes," and "Time Capsule." Or perhaps you remember his work with Richard Hell & the Voidoids, in which case you are probably a record-store clerk and you should let me abuse your employee discount.

I find it odd that the obit cites his work with Sweet almost as an afterthought, while his work with avant-jazz saxophonist John Zorn is given prominent play. Must be a New York thing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

things that make you go hmmm...

Some old things that were sidetracked due to news and family events, and one thing from tonight.

* So we went on our regular CD-buying spree at Cheapo in Minneapolis over the long weekend. While I was pleased to see that Alanis Morrissette has fallen so out of favor and is now ruling the used bins along with Cypress Hill, I was confused by Cheapo's new categorization system. Instead of an omnibus "Rock/Pop", there's now "Classic Rock/Pop" and "Modern Rock/Pop." And what's where doesn't always make sense. Joe Jackson and Robyn Hitchcock, two active artists I'd do cartwheels over if they ever got play on a "classic" rock station, are considered "Classic Rock." And while their frontman is still getting magazine covers as a solo artist, The Smiths are filed under "Modern Rock," although they have been defunct FOR HALF OF MY LIFE.

*Speaking of getting a favorite artist on the radio, "The Loop" in Chicago is having people vote on their "entire music library" online. I doubt one voter will make a bit of difference, but if this particular voter does, kiss the Doors, U2, and Van Hagar goodbye. (an aside: I just did the B's. Among them was "Birthday" by the Beatles. Is this the Worst Beatles Song Ever, or does this go to Ob-La-Di? Discuss...I can never make up my mind. )

*I'm continuing with the fencing, which started up again tonight. This is a continuing class with intro to epee, which seems pretty cool. But so with about 10 minutes left of class, a guy walks in wearing a dark-red getup--a floorlength cloaky thing, but high-necked and sleeved, the sort of thing the badass shaolin master wears in the movies. He's waiting for the next class (continuing/sabre) but when asked if he has experience, he says in a vaguely West-Indies accent, "Yeah, street fencing." Huh? WTF? Is this out in the park with the broomsticks? Selling hot car stereos? What?

Sunday, June 6, 2004

Second-Best Reagan Tribute Idea Ever

I was tempted to lay low this week and let the big wave of Reaganite BS (white)wash over the 'net. But then I realized the really intense Reagan worship is going to last all summer, culminating in the Republican convention (and if you think I'm being disrespectful, you can bet there are some GOP convention-planners who are absolutely thrilled the Gipper's dead, as they now have a convention theme to replace 9/11). Maybe Dee will post goodies from her copy of The Clothes Have no Emperor to set the record a little straighter. And I do hope that those who complained that Paul Wellstone's funeral was too political exercise similar vigilance on Friday.

A diarist over on DailyKos posts this idea:

We should immediately introduce the "Honor Ronald Reagan" Bill, instructing the Treasury to put Ronnie's face on all T-bills, US Bonds, etc...

After all, it was Ronnie that instructed the country that massive debt and fiscal irresponsibility was good. Ergo, a truly appropriate memorial would to place his face on each and every instrument of US Debt there is.

That's pretty good. That is his true legacy, after all, something for our great-great-great grandkids to treasure.

But no, the best Reagan tribute idea came from his widow, and is the first bit of wisdom I've seen attributed to her since...ever:

In a rare appearance last month, former first lady Nancy Reagan spoke at an event to raise money for embryo stem cell research. She hoped, she said, that others would benefit from research on such diseases as Alzheimer's, which had afflicted her husband, Ronald.


Reagan's recent public support of stem cell research, however, has put her at odds with other Republicans, including President George W. Bush, who opposes the research.

Friday, June 4, 2004

He's smart.

He's committed.

He's articulate.

He's got copious free time.

Send Mark Coen to the DNC!

Thursday, June 3, 2004

movie update

Shrek 2- Banderas steals what's left of the show that Murphy steals. The role of straight man suits Mike Myers; interesting since Cat in the Hat bombed and Austin Powers is so, so over. As entertained as I was, in less than five years I predict the Shrek films will be unwatchable. While I appreciate introducing kids to the works of Tom Waits and the Buzzcocks, a finale set to "Livin' La Vida Loca" already has a certain stale whiff to it. But I can understand where Dreamworks needs to focus on commerce vs. art to establish itself against Disney and the soon-to-be independent Pixar.

Super Size Me- Compeling despite the fact that it doesn't convey anything that any American over the mental age of 12 doesn't (or, okay, shouldn't) already know. Spurlock may be a Moore wannnabe, but he's agreeable and never shrill. Ironically, it may have had the unintended side effect of promoting fast food: just try to get the opening summer-camp song out of your head. It's the worst earworm I've had in months.

Coffee and Cigarettes- This collection of black & white shorts is sometimes uneven but frequently hilarious. My favorite was the Iggy Pop/ Tom Waits one; least favorite was Alfred Molina/Steve Coogan, which seems to be everyone else's fave. Along with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it's one of the best movies of '04.

Napoleon Dynamite- A very hard-to-describe film. Like Welcome to the Dollhouse without the misery and abject cruelty, or John Waters without the porn or scatology. But neither of those quite captures it. Things are so absurd that the whole movie teeters on collapse to the point where I was tense watching. And no one's particularly likeable, except maybe Tina Majorino (remember her from Waterworld?) as a deadpan "like-interest." But things held together, and I laughed a lot.

David Cross:Let America Laugh (DVD)- To those lamenting Bob Odenkirk's work in the Miller Beer campaign: it could be worse, as his Mr. Show partner proves. This "tour diary" features precious little standup, several run-ins with hecklers, and lots of shaky interviews with drunk and/or high people. A chore to watch.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

I had a nice weekend in MN, but came home to the news that my grandfather had died Monday morning at 92. I'm saddened but not grieving, if that makes any sense, given that he had what seemed to be a good, full life. In a way I feel bad that I might not be feeling bad enough.

In his nineties Halvar Johan Sorenson (somewhere along the line anglicized to Oliver John) was still able to do some deer hunting, tried out a jetski (accompanied), was a better pool player than anyone in the family, managed to hit the seasonal lutefisk feeds (not a churchgoer, this was apparently his method of atonement) and was a voracious reader. I occasionally got the idea he'd outlive the rest of us.

He developed a liking for Dolly Parton, so much that two of the just three movies I recall him seeing in theatres in my lifetime were 9 to 5 and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. When Grandma was still alive they were great dancers and cutthroat cardplayers. Katie and I would spend long stetches of summers on their farm, and they cared for us with a long-leash attitude that I admire greatly, although in 2004 letting an 11-year-old run around alone on a county-fair midway for hours would get you locked up. From the grandkid standpoint, the only thing--really, the only thing--close to negative I can say about him is that we always had to be quiet for an hour so they could watch Days of Our Lives. How 'bout that, as Ollie would say.