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.