Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Early congratulations to James Dinan and Susanne Akin on their wedding this weekend. I met James through quizbowl, and it was a pleasure to work with him in TRASH for eight years. Unfortunately the blessed event fell on a weekend when we'd already accepted a wedding invite. So 24 hours from now we should be arriving in Vegas to attend the wedding of Scott and JC.

If you're going to neither event, may I suggest the film Brick, which opens this weekend in apparently-wide release. It's a teen murder mystery done in deadpan-noir style. This is a conceit which sounds fraught, but holds up remarkably well. It was one of the best things I saw at last year's film festival. And with people flocking to Basic Instinct 2, you should have no trouble finding a row all to yourself.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The The Indie/Alt/College Tournament of Songs is now underway, and will be for several months, if past tourneys are any indication. Vote and argue here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

It's the music video, I tell you
Behold the power of Cheeze! Annette Norberg and Team Sweden have back-to-back world championships, with an Olympic gold sandwiched between. The team they beat was...Team USA, which came very close to knocking them off.
So in the Worlds since 2003 the US women have come in 1st, 4th, 2nd, 2nd. But unfortunately most people will only know about the big Olympic collapse until given a shot at redemption in Vancouver. Anyway, ESPN 2 is showing a highlight package on April 2, from 2-4 PM ET. Check it out. I'd threaten to not be your friend any more if you don't, but I'll miss it myself.
3-Chord Monday #13
It wouldn't be right to finish Women's History Month without featuring The Runaways. The Donnas lifted their shtick pretty much wholesale. Lead singer Cherrie Currie starred in Foxes with Jodie Foster, while their guitarists went on to bigger things -- perhaps you've heard of Lita Ford and Joan Jett. Finally, the Runaways missed the cut in the indie rock tournament Leah and I are launching, so here's their consolation prize.
The Runaways - Cherry Bomb

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The meme is: "Recount a one-line anecdote for each state you have visited [and then demand that others do the same]."

AK - Incurred bar bills that took me six months to pay off
AL - Dined at Steak and Shake with a Div. III softball team
CA - Got outbid on an authentic Sleestak costume
CT - Made first-ever paid sports roadtrip
DC - Squeezed a statue of a small hippopotamus for luck
DE - Paid exorbitant auto tolls
FL - Went out of way to see Perky Bat Tower on honeymoon (this is not a double entendre)
GA - Completed corporate training with coworker who had taken an average of one roll of film for each day of her toddler's life
IA - Went to Japanese-American cousin's wedding at a civic center named for the 5 Sullivan Brothers, killed when a Japanese torpedo sunk their ship
IL - Got groceries last night
IN - Broke down outside of Gary at 1 a.m. with all my wordly possessions and my mom in tow.
KS - May have crossed border during TRASH trip to UMKC
KY - Bought gas on drive to Florida
MA - Finding rare LPs by Twin Cities artists becomes major factor in college choice
MD - Attended CFL playoff game; next day won first trash tournament
ME - Drove to Portland to see REM's Green tour
MI - Created Hobey Baker promo material involving Bryan Smolinski, a hockey stick, and lighter fluid
MN - Went to six high-school proms in 4-year span
MO - Wondered why a McDonald's in the shadow of the one thing in STL you're supposed to see would not carry the Arch Deluxe
NC - Went from one Charlotte airport concourse to another
NH - Played cricket with one of Cooch's eventual ex-bosses
NJ - Had Cuban Thanksgiving with a crazy girlfriend's family
NV - Discovered admission fee to Liberace Museum is not only worthwhile, but is a tax-deductible charitable contribution
NY - Visited NYC during Carrie: The Musical's preview run; still kicking self for not going
OH - Observed the dumpy little hockey rink the Buckeyes used to play in, in the shadow of St. John's Arena
PA - Ate at Morimoto; later observed an 8-foot colon (not mine)
RI - Visited h.s. friend at Brown; 8 years later she has key supporting role in Fargo
TN - Sham sports attended here include women's football, NHL expansion hockey, and quizbowl.
TX - Saw unreleasable rough cut of film starring Gary Oldman as the midget brother of Matthew McConaughey
VT - Consumed no maple syrup or Ben & Jerry's, listened to no Phish
VA - Won a trash event at UVA I remember nothing about
WA - Had bleary layover after staying up all night in Anchorage
WI - Met a team with the greatest logo in all of sport

Friday, March 24, 2006

For those who can't get enough curling information, the women's world championship (annual, even in Olympic years) is going on right now. The US team is skipped by Debbie McCormick, and is 3/4 of the 2003 world championship team. They're 10-1 in pool play, and will play Sweden (also 10-1; beat the US) in Page playoffs today at either 3 or 9:30 PM. Team Sweden is Annette Norberg's rink, which is the defending world and Olympic champion. You should be able to follow the action here.

(Page playoffs: 1 v. 2, 3 v. 4, but the loser of 1-2 bumps down to play the winner of 3-4. The winner of 1-2 advances to the final. )

Monday, March 20, 2006

3-Chord Monday #12
Time for my favorite active band. I'm not sure this is my favorite of their songs, but when this comes on in the car I typically listen to half of it, then turn it waaay up and hit rewind three or four times. They still don't make Lollapalooza worth it, though...
Sleater-Kinney - "Start Together"
Movie Log 2006 #34: Three...Extremes
Not quite as extreme as I thought a gathering of three Asian horror/action directors (the aforementioned Takashi Miike of Japan, Korea's Chan-Wook Park, and Hong Kong's Fruit Chan) would be. All the segments were just okay, the first one serving as a reminder that Bai Ling is occasionally useful for something other than being asideshow attraction.
A little lunch blogging...the Monday music post will go up once I'm home tonight. To hold you over, Out of 5 is back online. I have little to say about my selection other than a close runner-up was "Legal Tender" by the B-52s. I was surprised that A) no one went with a blingy-rap number, and B) no one selected the subject's namesake, "To Hell With Poverty" by Gang of Four.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Insert Old Glory joke here.
Movie Log 2006: #31-33
Finally made it back to the theatre in this calendar year with Unknown White Male, a documentary we saw two days before the Oscar shorts. The lesson of the film: Just as you should always wear clean underwear in case you have to go to the hospital, so should you become filthy rich, so if you're suddenly struck with retrograde amnesia, you'll find the experience ultimately liberating.

Kirsti's out of town this week, so I loaded up the Netflix queue with horror she'd never watch. First on deck was Saw II, which was as stupid as one would expect. For all its grindhouse nature, this franchise has a pomposity that annoys the crap out of me.

Next up was Gozu, by J-horror freakshow Takashi Miike. Can't really appreciate Gozu without being versed in Miike's other stuff, as well as David Lynch. I am, and I'm still not sure I appreciated this one.

Monday, March 13, 2006

In our continuing efforts to make all hosting services mad at us, Out of 5 should be storming back sometime today next Monday - some people missed the deadline due to SXSW. Keep checking back, and grab it while you can!
3-Chord Monday #11
Women's History Month, plus St. Patrick's Day is coming up. I'm sure they exist, but I was unable to find an all-or mostly-female Irish punk/new-wave act, and I wasn't going to go with Sinead O'Connor (and less said about theCranberries, the better). Anyway, The Pogues are a longtime favorite, and they only recorded one song where original bassist Cait O'Riordan sang lead. The great-yet-overplayed "Fairytale of New York" was supposed to be a Shane-Cait duet, but then she ran off and married Elvis Costello. Anyway, here's The Pogues - "I'm A Man You Don't Meet Everyday"

Saturday, March 11, 2006

FLASH: I am too old/ugly/whatever for basic cable!
After passing the written test and having what I thought was a successful team interview, my teammates and I were turned down for the second round of qualifying for a new TV quiz show. I am bound by an NDA not to discuss specifics, as we are still technically eligible for second-season consideration, if there is one.

So that's three straight tests I've taken and passed -- four if you count the special Netflix test at WWTBAM -- without getting a callback. I wonder to what extent the Jeopardy experience or the quizbowl history is a factor. Which is silly, of course -- does anyone scream "ringer!" at the thought that an American Idol contestant might have taken a voice lesson or two, or have made a little money at an open-mic night?

On the upside, I no longer have to fret about being on time to play in the mixed club championship tomorrow.

Monday, March 6, 2006

3-Chord Monday #10
March is Women's History Month. Most people only know Patti Smith through her collaboration with Springsteen, "Because the Night." Here's her (superior) Van Morrison cover.
Patti Smith - "Gloria"
Oscar recap
Well, those seemed to satisfy no one. While many people are fuming about Crash, I'm pissed about The Moon and the Son. I usually love the clip reels, but these seemed horribly assembled. Jon Stewart acquitted himself well, I thought. The "Negative Ads" were astounding.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Movie Log 2006 #21-30: Oscar-Nominated Shorts
I have now seen all but one of the shorts nominated for Oscars this year. The only one not on the Film Center progam was the live-action The Last Farm.

Briefly, starting with docs:
"The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club" - Profile of the title figure, a war-zone photographer in late-Apartheid South Africa and later Sudan. Haunted by the images he snapped, including a controversial photo of a starving, crawling Sudanese child stalked by a vulture, he took his own life months after winning a Pulitzer. Interesting, but felt slight.

"God Sleeps in Rwanda" - Easily the best of the bunch, despite flat narration from Rosario Dawson. Profile of several women who survived the Rwandan genocide. One mother raises her daughter, a product of rape, after all her other children were killed. A 12-year-old finds herself the head of the household. Another woman is one of the first female police in the country. It's a safe guess that this subject will become the new Holocaust in the documentary category in coming years.

"The Mushroom Club" - A look at Hiroshima 60 years after the bomb. The Peace Garden is noisy, black trucks drive around spouting nationalist rhetoric, and many of the dwindling number of survivors refuse to attend the official remembrance ceremonies.

"A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin" Interviews with and reminiscence on Corwin, a radio playwright and poet.

PREDICTIONS: Rwanda. Corwin's got Old Hollywood appeal, so it's a dark horse, methinks.

"Badgered" and "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation" - I saw both of these at last year's Chicago Film Festival. The first is the most crudely rendered, but is funny. Plus I saw the director in October, and she's an adorable Scot who'd be fun to see win an award. So I'm pulling for her. The latter is a tedious exercise in onscreen therapy. I expect student shorts to mostly be about blaming parents for screwing up lives, but this was from a 30-plus-year career animator.

"The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello" Overlong but nifty steampunk tale, told mostly in silhouette.

"9" - hard to describe plotwise, but had a nice look to the CGI. A frontrunner.

"One Man Band" - A Pixar entry that had lush looking backgrounds, but was too reminiscent of Tin Toy, I thought.

PREDIX: "Jasper Morello" or "9".

"Ausreisser (The Runaway)" - apparently this is a frontrunner, but I didn't care for it all that much.
"Cashback" - Night-shift supermarket workers kill time. Saw this at the 2004 Chicago Film Festival. It's quite good, but the cheesecake factor might turn off voters.
"Our Time Is Up" - Takes the dying-person-turns-new-leaf trope and applies to psychiatry. Some big laughs, but maybe a little to familiar to win. Nice to see Jorge Garcia from Lost.
"Six Shooter" - dark-comic Irish short. A guy greiving the death of his wife takes the train home and meets a very odd loudmouth passenger. Has a good chance, I think.

PREDIX: "Ausreisser" or "Six Shooter."

Friday, March 3, 2006

*The winner of the Oscar pool will win exactly $99, which I find very funny.

*Gee, loading up on those $10, 1-year subscriptions to Spin sure seemed like a good idea at the time. I think we're set for at least another two years of...well, who knows what we're going to get.

* This baseball article, about bible-thumpin' ballplayer Tony Batista, is worth a read. my fave bit:

If coming to Minnesota and spending a season with the Twins is indeed part of "God's divine plan," then I assume that means having Batista make me miserable for a year while hurting my favorite team's playoff chances is also part of the same plan. That's an odd sort of relationship, like saying that someone dropping an anvil off a skyscraper is part of a plan and a person on the sidewalk below being crushed to death by an anvil falling from the sky is within the same plan.