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? Hmm...how '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...