Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The triumphant return...

of Out of 5!. And the theme this week is mine.

UPDATE: well, that didn't last long. dang! Hm. Well, in the new year you'll have my Monday music feature, at least.

In other returns no less triumphant, we won the pub quiz again. Note to self: watch those Alec Guinness Ealing movies already, because I apparently can't recognize the man unless he's spouting crap dialogue and carrying a lightsaber. I have no questions for you. Sorry.

Okay, here are some from Tuesday, though I may not post answers for you 'til next week:

TEAM AND YEAR: The last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was...? 1992-93 Canadiens (Craig) - I narrowed it down to Calgary or Montreal, then remembered that in 1993 I was living in Michigan and thus had access to Hockey Night In Canada. Don Cherry was not too happy about the Francophones winning, but sang the praises of John LeClair.

On what album did The Clash's "London Calling" originally appear? London Calling (Brian) - I know there are differences between the US and UK editions of the eponymous debut, but no way was I going to fall victim to a trick question regarding one of my faves.

Soccer legend George Best played for three United States teams. Name any one. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (Brian) - Also the San Jose Earthquakes (NASL) and LA Aztecs. I correctly guessed that the opening topic, "Best of the Best" would be about the recently dead footballer, so had a chance to skim his obit earlier in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hmm...a little over a year ago, I changed email addresses. The new account has beeen largely spam-free until this last week. More accurately, until the second time I checked email from the Wintel machines at mom's house. Coincidence?

After 35 years, I finally found a squash recipe I like. You'd think I'da taken to squash long ago, given my longstanding love of anything involving its cousin, the pumpkin. But most squash seems to end up like a big bowl of baby food for adults. Not this one: two lbs. cubed butternut squash. 3 tbsp. chopped ginger. 1 cup frozen concentrated OJ, thawed. Toss, bake. Yum. I recommend extra ginger.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Greetings from Minnesota. Saw the new Harry Potter movie Sunday with just one of the nephews, as the burgeoning juvenile delinquent managed to get himself grounded from going. Best in the series so far, I think. Today's a lazy day, as we've finished all our shopping for early christmas, and everyone's still working. I'm leaning toward a 40-year-old-virgin/Serenity double feature at the local dollar cineplex.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Me & the Bruce on movies

loosely-organized ruminations on this post.

Matt didn't think much of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Of the films he compares it to, I think FT is:

dunno, haven't seen Kids
loads better
worse but different
hardly comparable, but both are good
far better

I'd submit that some of this might be generational in the few years that set us apart. (same reason everyone just two years younger than me love that damn Goonies). I also may be cutting FT some slack for being a genre-definer, not a refiner. First off, Amy Heckerling directed FT from Crowe's screenplay, so blame her for how the end titles ended up. It was a first feature for both, and yes, it showed (though in Heckerling's case, the only notable improvement since is the wonderful Clueless). I hope you stuck around for the DVD commentary: Crowe and Heckerling are tremendously entertaining, and talk for a good 20 minutes after the film ends. Likewise, Crowe has a 15-20-minute preamble on the Say Anything dvd commentary.

I don't remember making the nudity comment (your comments aren't archived), but I agree. Jennifer Jason Leigh carries the film. Roger Ebert gave it a one-star review seemingly because he was crushing on Leigh and didn't like seeing her character abused. I don't think he ever publicly changed his position on this film, but he didn't mind seeing JJL put through the wringer in the 3.5-star Last Exit to Brooklyn. Anyway, I like it because there's enough levity to keep the proceedings from getting too afterschool special while attempting to be serious about actual teen problems (not this BS "my parents don't understand me" malaise of John Hughes): demeaning jobs, money problems, the feeling that everyone but you is getting laid. And it deromanticized the First Time, an experience that nine times out of 10 is lousy. There's only one movie I can think of with a more unpleasant consensual first time.

Breakfast Club is an utter embarrassment. The great shame of my generation is that this was a defining film. You may think this is just me being cranky, but I remember it ringing false even then -- the North Shore affluence of most of Hughes' movies didn't speak to me. I can't imagine what a modern 15-year-old would think of it. Ferris Bueller has a bit of that problem too. Parts may as well be set on Mars. And then there's the problem of Bueller himself: a manipulative little jackass. I like to think that Bueller grew up and became the civics teacher in Election. But I think he's actually George W. Bush.

American Pie and Porky's -- A line I just heard last week (Dave Kehr on Animal House, actually) sums up my feeling toward Porky's: "I probably laughed harder...than I ever have at a film I didn't really like." There are some great bits, but it's sunk by the supposed "friends'" cruelty to each other, and the wedged-in anti-bigotry message. American Pie was freed of that phony sense of social responsibility, and for once the women were given a little more to do than be doormats/receptacles. Still, it felt like deja vu all over again.

I don't see the ties to Animal House. There are the "where are they nows?," but American Graffiti did them first. A link to Better Off Dead is even more tenuous -- other than a scene in a fast-food restaurant and Vincent Schiavelli, there's hardly a connection. Well, I guess Curtis Armstrong is playing a Spicoli Lite (VERY lite)...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Beijing mascots. Power Rangers meet Teletubbies? Surprisingly, I rather like these.

Which country will make the shoddy counterfeit merchandise, though?

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Did you know I never saw an opossum until I moved to Evanston? It's true -- it was quite literally a what the HELL is THAT?! moment. You'd think that growing up near the Mississippi, we'd've had more run-ins with 'possums, raccoons, and the like pillaging our garbage. I guess we were too far north for the marsupials, or maybe all the CHUDs got 'em, who knows. Anyway, while going to work today I noticed that some people still had their jack o'lanterns wilting on their steps, and that critters of some sort had been eating at them. I've decided that no matter how scary you may want your jack o' lantern to be, it'll be scarier with its face partially gnawed off.

Just a craft tip to help you get the jump on next year.
I hope you were able to grab the Out of 5 stuff over the past two days...the site's gotten too popular for its bandwidth. TPTB are making some changes; more news as things develop.
We rolled to another pub quiz victory. I don't know if we're quite on our way to getting a Barker-style banning--it's our second win in as many appearances, but we took last week off. Also, we drink, so we're more attractive to a pub than the Michigan cabal would be. Anyway, perfect scores in matching Canadian provinces/capitals/flags and "Halen or Hagar?," and three bonus points on Bizarro World.

We're recycling the BUCB gags; I guess there's enough time and distance where this is okay. Karin wanted our name to involve "Cobra Kai," so we became the Cobra Kai Pub Quiz Dojo. Also a comment was made (by one of our female team members, mind you) about the fabulosity of our team's rack, so that may come into play in future weeks. Flax, be warned.

I don't remember too many questions, so here's one hard, one easy:

Who was the last Aztec ruler? (we had multiple choice, but you'll not be so lucky)

Where is the US Hockey Hall of Fame located? Eveleth, MN - (Craig, to no one's surprise. It was gonna come down to whether he or Mark checked in first. )

Monday, November 7, 2005

Once there was a song that I liked, but had no strong feelings about. Once there was also a group that was never really my cup of tea, but that I considered mostly harmless.

Then the song and the group came together, and it became my most hated cover version of all time.

I type of course of 10,000 Maniacs' "unplugged" butchery of "Because the Night," originally performed by Patti Smith and written by Smith and Bruce Springsteen. Natalie Merchant drains any soul, any passion from the song like a vegan-coffeehouse succubus. Come to think of it, her/their cover of "Peace Train" is pretty damn annoying too..."eee-ahh--ee-ah-oo-ah" was never meant to be a lead vocal, unless your boss is Dave Seville. In all seriousness I'd rather listen to Britney Spears covering "Satisfaction." I'd rather listen to Michael Bolton take on Percy Sledge. Brit & Mike know their fans don't know any better.

It's likely that my bile for the cover overinflates the original. To be fair, Patti also has some blood on her hands for her "Hey Joe" cover, esp. the spoken-word nonsense about Patty Hearst. And Natalie Merchant took steps toward redemption with her lovely work on the Mermaid Avenue albums. Finally, I'll cop to liking the 10,000 Maniacs cover of "More Than This," when Mary Ramsey took over vocals, though I only ever hear it in the Christmas Tree Shop when visiting the inlaws.

Anyway, here.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

and speaking of Netflix,
The company recently announced a class-action settlement proposal in which eligible customers may receive a 1-month upgrade in service (i.e. a 3-disc customer would step up to the 4-disc plan, with no increase in fees for that first month). Okay, so everyone gets $6 or so in service upgrade, and whether you pay for the service increase after the first month is up to you.

But longtime users like me could be worse off by opting into this "benefit." I've been a member since 2000, so I'm in the 4-disc plan, but grandfathered into the 3-disc rate. So if I accept the benefit, I get bumped up to 5 discs for one month (or more). If at the end of that month, I decide to drop back to 4 discs, do I keep my favorable rate, or do I now pay $23.99? I've already sent an email off to Customer Service. In the meantime, there are already people unhappy with the proposed settlement, though in more of a nebulous, stick-it-to-the-Man way.