Tuesday, November 27, 2007

100 Free Songs
Be sure to head over to outof5 this week for our 100th entry. This time we each chose a theme and did individual 10-song mixes. My theme, "Sucking Up: Songs that Pander for Play," was inspired by an entry in that "50 Worst Rock 'n' Roll Records of All Time" book, specifically (and rightly) busting on "Pilot of the Airwaves." In retrospect the Joe Jackson song is a poor pick. Kirsti's suggestion of Fishbone's "? (Modern Industry)" would have been a better fit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

from the "Two Wrongs" dept.
yeah, if this actually comes to pass, I'll watch the hell out of it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Usually the film fest is something I want to talk about, but this year I had a dreary experience that shut me up for nearly a month. Well, that plus laziness. And curling. And laziness.

The animated shorts were all pretty good. I had to miss what was apparently the best collection of live shorts thanks to a change in time and venue. Way to go, douchebags. The other two collections were middling. Of the documentaries I saw, Chicago 10 was pretty decent, while Becoming John Ford was a complete waste of time. Not until they introduced the film did I discover it was commissioned by Fox to deal solely with Ford's years at that studio. So, two important films covered (My Darling Clementine and Grapes of Wrath). No John Wayne. No Informer. It was like...I dunno, buying a Beach Boys box set to find it only covered the Bruce Johnston era.

Features...Control was deserving of its hype, and Weirdsville was better than it had any right to be. The Signal and Stuck were pretty lame.

Unfortunately I signed up for a two-year membership. If the Fest doesn't shape up its act next year, I'm done with them.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Did they just read about dogs in books?
I just watched Pushing Daisies last night.


Now I know how Kirsti feels when she hears Belle & Sebastian.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Congratulations to Laura and Shawn DeVeau, who finally got an adoption match after nearly two years of waiting for China to get its act together. With any luck they'll be back and ready to show off the kid when we're out there (Boston, not China) after Christmas.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A little on TV
How long before cutting-advocacy groups protest Heroes and Claire's constant testing of her abilities? I'd like to think we're far beyond the days of kids jumping off roofs trying to fly like Superman, but you never know.

Chuck vs. Reaper: JC weighed in on the dumb technobabble and general CIA/NSA implausibility of Chuck. All well and good, but remember that Reaper features the entirely-credible scenario of Satan existing and hiring mortals to return escaped souls to hell. So the playing field is pretty level, as I see it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Let's all go to the moooo-vies...

Here is my Chicago International Film Festival schedule, if anyone is interested in some titles and would like to meet up. I'm too lazy to give you links; check the site for summaries.

*=River East, all others at Landmark.

10/05 Shorts 2 (anim), 7 pm
10/06 Signal, 10:30
10/07 Shorts 1 noon, Stuck 10:30
10/08 *Becoming John Ford 5:00 [Jersey turnpike not included. -ed.]
10/09 *Chicago 10, 7:00 [Peter Cetera not included. -ed.]
10/15 Shorts 4, 6:45, Shorts 3 9:30
10/16 Control 6:30, Weirdsville 9:30
Your Official Baseball Postseason Bandwagon Team is...

The Philadelphia Phillies!

Reasons include, but are not limited to:

1. Chance of Rosenberg coming out here for a Cubs/Phils NLCS.

2. With Kyle Lohse and JC Romero, the team continues its trend of picking up Twins' castoffs begun in 1993 when David "Infinity" West appeared on the roster. At least he got an out for you guys...

3. Should Boston advance in the AL, JD Drew's at-bats will be all the more interesting.

4. A title for the losingest team in MLB will tweak Cubs fans for a fourth straight year.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ever since the North Stars moved, I've been a man without a country when it comes to the NHL. Too old for the Wild; I remember the Norris Division too well to back the Hawks (but don't mind the Leafs, surprisingly enough). Inasmuch as I pay attention at all, it's to college players I remember, or people who served me well in fantasy teams.

One position I do hold is that each Original Six team should be competitive enough to at least make the playoffs. It isn't as embarrassing to miss the postseason as it was in the 20-team league, but still...it takes some doing. So I, like everyone in Chicago not named Wirtz, took the news of his passing as a cause for optimism. I look forward to a rejuvenated, competitive Blackhawks squad -- one that's actually worthy of hating. Because it just hasn't been fun.

Monday, September 17, 2007

hey, free flash drive in EW

Don't throw out your very wee USB drive in the 9/21 Entertainment Weekly. I chucked what was on it right away though...a preview of The Big Bang Theory, which was about as bad as I figured it'd be. About three good laughs. It'll probably be a monster hit, wrecking my LaPlaca entry.

More TV

interesting Salon point/counterpoint piece pitting The Sopranos vs. The Wire as the Best Series Ever. I don't know that either is, but between those two, I'd pick The Wire without hesitation. In fact, I'd say The Sopranos is at best the third-greatest HBO series. And this is having never seen Conchords or Six Feet Under, and hating on Sex & the City.
Movie Log 2007:80-82

Superbad - I really wanted them to knock this out of the park. I can live with a ground-rule double. I read one review calling it a remake of Eyes Wide Shut, in that a couple's relationship is tested during an increasingly surreal walk through town, culminating in a wild party with alcohol acting as the masks. I'm not sure how McLovin' fits in there...

My Favorite Wife - Cary Grant/Irene Dunne screwball comedy. Also featuring Randolph Scott, and made while Grant & Scott were housemates.

Body - What Kirsti said. Take Body Heat, replace the sex with KISSING(!), and add musical numbers. I'm always amused at the details Bollywood doesn't need to steal from originals, yet does: here we have the wind chimes, white dresses, the same method of covering up the crime, and the wacky friend (updated to karaoke from Ted Danson's tapdancing D.A.). Oh, and an impassioned break-in, only instead of throwing something through the glass door, he...sorta...jiggles the door until the latch opens. Or something. I'm pretty sure that doesn't work like that. I'll try it next time I'm at Bipasha Basu's place.

So now we've seen Bollywood ripoffs of:
Body Heat
Sense & Sensibility (I don't know if that really counts, since adapting a public-domain work is fair game)
On the Waterfront
While You Were Sleeping
Pretty Woman
...and a crazy hybrid of E.T. and Forrest Gump
For a quick 10 points...

What actor castmember was suspiciously absent from the Roots Saloot (clip reel and cast appearance) at last nights Emmys?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

blanket statement
Because the position of not caring is inherently neutral, there will be no football schadenfreude at this location. As I see it, your misguided belief that football is interesting is punishment enough.

Feel free to pile on about the Twins, though. Sweet Jesus, WTF was going on Friday night? But hey, Matthew LeCroy just got the callup. There's the bat we were looking for. Never mind the inevitable loss of Torii Hunter...It's gonna be so FREAKING RAD next year when Liriano's healthy and he can join Santana in losing all manner of 1-0 games.
While it's only because Mike built the page in order of entries received, I'm currently D.F. Last on his Alison LaPlaca leaderboard. Which amuses me to no end, because I have no expectations for this year. As I've alluded to many times, we're a broadcast-only household, but right now we aren't even that -- I unplugged the antenna when I was trying to fix something a few weeks ago, set it back up incorrectly and haven't bothered to correct it.

So here are my picks, based on as little hard information as possible.

10-Scrubs (NBC) - As far as I can tell this was the only series entering its final season (as confirmed by the network).

9-Cavemen (ABC) --by all accounts, the pilot is an absolute disaster. But remember, The Office's first effort was a nigh-unwatchable parroting of the BBC series.

8-Journeyman (NBC) I think I picked this largely on Maureen Ryan's dislike of the pilot. That could bite me in the ass, as last year she hated Heroes and praised Studio Sucksty to high heaven. It's got Kevin McKidd, anywhay, whom I like. But also Reed Diamond, who helped ruin Homicide.

7-ER (NBC) - does anyone still watch this? Rumors are they're lining up alumni for guest appearances in a final season.

6-Carpoolers (ABC)
- I might not have picked this had I noticed that former Kid in the Hall Bruce McCulloch was a creator. On the other hand, the only Kid worth a damn since the breakup was Dave Foley, and he had no hand in News/Radio's writing.

5-The Big Bang Theory (CBS) It might not actually set TV back 25 years, but the formula was used back then (NBC's We've Got it Made) and the results were suboptimal (lasted a season on the network).

4-Viva Laughlin (CBS) Hm. Mädchen Amick singing should be interesting.

3-Girlfriends (CW)
Stories that this 8th season will be the last are several pages in on a Google search. I think I saw earlier stories predicting its demise. We'll see. Picking a CW sitcom is always tricky, because they have nothing to lose.

2/1-According to Jim (ABC)
and Jericho (ABC) -- I don't see the last-minute pickups adding up to much. Of course, there's always the possibility the Acc. to Jim episodes will go straight to syndication, denying me points.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Okay, eep wins...

People on LJ communities are all freaking GENIUSES compared to the AICN talkback forum. That is all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hey, a meme!

From Craig: Comment and I'll give you a letter. Then with that happy little letter, go choose your favorite songs starting with that letter!

I got S, so...

Start Together - Sleater-Kinney - S is a common Scrabble letter and all, but I was surprised at how few of my favorite songs start with S. While the rest of the list is mostly "songs I like that happen to start with S," this is a favorite. When this turns up on the iPod, I will typically listen to the first 40 seconds several times, then play the whole song at least twice.

"17 Days" - Prince - Yes, my favorite Prince song is a B-side, so I was especially happy to hear him play it last time I caught him live.

"Stay Away from Robert Mitchum" - April March - It's hard not to crush on April March. A cute ye-ye revivalist who was also an animator on Ren & Stimpy? What's not to like? So here she is starting catfights at a wax museum.

The above three songs are available in a .zip file here.

See a Little Light - Bob Mould - the first solo blast from everyone's favorite wrestling-storyline writer and Bobby Hill lookalike.

Shake Your Rump - Beastie Boys - For as big an impression License to Ill made, Paul's Boutique remains their best album. I don't know if it was them or the Dust Brothers. The samples were dense and artful, and hip-hop will never sound that way again because the sampling economy has changed.

Statue of Liberty - XTC - One of the great things about YouTube is all the ancient live XTC footage. Too bad about that breakdown.

Secret Agent Man - Devo - Does this even qualify as a cover? I think only the chorus is the same.

Someday - Steve Earle - I first encountered this song as a Shawn Colvin cover. The saddest song on the list, because you know the protagonist never will. (sorry about the video. Bridge to Terabithia...whatever. Could have been some anime crap, so count your blessings).

Sour Times - Portishead - Ah, trip-hop. I liked the stuff out of Bristol better than the Manchester scene. I wonder why...better drugs? The idea that they were making music to get it on to instead of music to dance around like spazzes to?

Sugarcube - Yo La Tengo - I'm lukewarm on the song, but this is one of my favorite videos. The Mr. Show guys can improve pretty much anything.

Step Right Up - Tom Waits - A handful of band has tried to write songs consisting entirely of advertising come-ons, but only Waits got it right.

Safe European Home - The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope was considered a sophomore slump, but I always thought it was one of their better albums, and that this was their best leadoff track (yeah, better than "London Calling."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

When you hear the secret word, scream real loud
Today's word is microburst, which is like a tornado except without the fun things such as a few minutes' warning. Our pal Jenni was the only one in her building when one hit their block during last Thursday's crazy storm. It tore the roof off the back of their building, and the resulting water in the walls will render their entire 6-unit condo uninhabitable for at least 4 to 6 months. We spent daylight Saturday at Jenni & Steve's helping pack 150+ boxes of their stuff and moving it to the dry half of their place. I'm still amazed at how much stayed dry. Shelves of books, CDs, and DVDs all survived. Lovely dining-room furniture, rugs, and kitchen appliances are ruined, but they're media people...much of what survived is nigh-irreplaceable.

If you plan on shopping at Amazon any time soon, please consider doing so through Jenni's e-Store link.

And our neighborhood? Moist but otherwise pristine. The construction site next to us was unmolested...nary a brick or scaffolding out of place.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My costume? "Aging Wannabe Hipster."

The Hold Steady and Art Brut, Halloween night! I should start growing the odd facial hair now. Metro's smoke-free at least, so I don't have to take up smoking.
Movie Log 2007: #70-79

The Broadway Melody (1929) - the second-ever Best Picture Oscarwinner, and the first talkie to win. Good Freed & Brown songs (including "You Were Meant For Me," which later found its way into Singin' in the Rain), but limp overall.

Double Dare - Documentary about Zoe Bell (most recently seen in the "Death Proof" half of Grindhouse) coming to the States. She's so on the list. I think she's on Kirsti's list too, which is okay by me.

The Man Who Came To Dinner - Took a while to get going, but was generally hilarious. This should have been one of our high-school plays instead of the bummers we had to drag out. David & Lisa? Good Christ...

Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story - I used to be ambivalent about Andy Warhol. Now I actively dislike him. Berlin's photography did look like it could have been interesting, but the film just concentrated on how bugf%^k crazy she is.

Sunshine - Smarter science fiction than I expected.

Stardust - Princess Bride with better stunt casting.

Road House - Great movie, or the greatest movie?

Fuck - Documentary about the F-bomb. In league with The Aristocrats, and maybe slightly better.

Shut Up & Sing - This was a good look at band dynamics and crisis management, though one death threat notwithstanding, I never really bought their plight. So, Home sells 7 million while Taking the Long Way only goes a piddling double platinum? Hrm...talk to the Dead Kennedys or Negativland about career suicide. Anyway, I'll see anything Barbara Kopple puts out.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
- Look, I am into some nerdy shit. There's no way around it. Just look at the post before this one. But anyway, along comes a movie like The King of Kong to put my life in sweet, sweet perspective. It's no cinematic spectacle, but this documentary about people vying for the world-record Donkey Kong high score demands to be seen in a crowded theatre.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The game Redneck Life is just okay, but its sense of humor really carries it. The family-run company publishing the game are now my favorite exhibitors. They're fun to talk to, and pretty much demanded that I give them my email address when I mentioned that I made bacon brittle. So I entered their Spam carving contest at Gen Con. Here's my piece, "Mother and Child Reunion":


I took fifth, probably because of that quick ad lib. I won a roll of bacon tape for my troubles. The woman next to me made this:

Yeah, it's the Venus of Willendorf! Because nothing says ancient fertility goddess like Spam. She came in third, and deservedly so. Here are the winners (not my flickrset). The winning Spamalope was tres cool.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

This should be interesting
I'm finally getting around to seeing Sports Night, having borrowed it from a friend this evening. Seeing as how I know several good friends who swear by the show, I feel like there's a bit riding on this. At the same time, I'm wondering if it's possible to enjoy Sorkin in reverse order. I never saw any Sports Night, saw one or two West Wings and thought it too preachy, but was generally indifferent to it; and loathed Studio 60. I wonder if all the problems are going to be laid too bare, like when I saw Heaven's Gate before Deer Hunter.

PS: Like West Wing? Like Heroes? You should have read or be reading a comic series called Ex Machina.
Good to know...
If things get bad, jobwise, AMC Theatres are apparently calling out to me.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Re: last post -- family and cohorts are okay. To give you an idea of the scope of this event, how important the artery is, and and how the outage screws things up, here are some comparisons. If you're familiar with Boston: Tobin Bridge. A tunnel collapse isn't really a valid comparison, given costs and time to rebuild. Chicago: the Skyway.

As you can see
, there are other ways to get across the river, but also consider that a major shipping lane is clogged up (just upriver is the lock at St. Anthony Falls).

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

There are times when it's nice that most of my friends and family in MN don't have web presences. Then there's now. We were driving to a dinner date when my sister called with the news. Said our moms and Katie's family were okay. Of course AM radio is useless in the Loop, I couldn't get through on the cell, and I knew I'd be getting home too late to make calls.

No messages from up there on our machine. That's probably good, right?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We're getting DirecTV in the near future. I'm none too pleased about it, as we don't have a choice in the matter. Our condo board has decided to enter a bulk agreement to the tune of an additional $30-40/month on the assessments. This is a savings for current cable customers, of which we are not.

We had cable at our last apartment, and I thought about getting it again when we bought this place. But I never got around to making the call, and Netflix turned out to be a cheaper, better home entertainment option: instead of having to search 100 channels for something to settle for watching, we always have something we *want* to watch at hand. And lately I'm out of the house most nights of the week, what with gaming, curling, and pub quiz going on.

I'll admit I'm intrigued by impending dish access. A month will be cheaper than a tank of gas, after all. I'd just rather have the choice. And it feels like the board has been spending money like drunken Republicans lately.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Lutheran church across the street from us now has a discreet rainbow flag on its sign. Good on them. I do find this surprising, only because the congregation seems to be predominantly black. Not that I'm up on Sunday morning in a lawnchair holding a clipboard or anything...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Movie Log 2007: #62-69

Hollywoodland - Liked the George Reeves A-story; could have done without so much Adrien Brody subplot. BTW, how does Brody, who's all nose, sire the kid in the film who's all ears?

Sicko - While Moore generally preaches to the choir when I see one of his films, I do find it ironic that he made his bones with a movie about a corporation laying off thousands of workers, yet if he gets his healthcare wishes, how many healthcare employees get their walking papers?

Transformers - Do I have any right to be disappointed in a movie I flat-out knew would suck? As bloated as this was, only about 40 minutes were devoted to big robots clobbering each other. Most of the time they were in their cheaper boring car form. Ah well, it was nice to have the truth about Herbert Hoover come to light at last.

The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai - So this Japanese sex worker gets shot in the head, and the bullet in her brain makes her a supergenius, then gets caught in a fight for the cloned finger of GW Bush. Endearingly low-budget -- at one point a cutaway scene set in the US is enacted with action figures.

For Your Consideration - This felt like a Waiting for Guffman remake. My favorite character was the meteorologist/ventriloquist with the monkey puppet. I'd watch that morning show.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - I tend to like the Potter movies slightly better than the books, because there's usually a subplot I find tedious in the books (most notably house-elf emancipation), and I think Rowling's not all that as a writer. This was the first film I found disappointing. It felt too cursory, rushing from one set piece to the next. I'm not sure what I would have added, though. Luna's casting was quite good; there was great potential to make the character Drusilla-level annoying.

Breach - This and Hollywoodland prompted "who's that woman?" moments - it was Caroline Dhavernas in both cases, reminding me I need to finish watching those Wonderfalls discs. This was quite good. The director again manages to coax a great performance out of a lightweight actor (this time Ryan Phillippe; previously it was Hayden Christensen in Shattered Glass).

Dreamgirls - Pretty good considering I loathe Jennifer Hudson's singing style, and all the songs were completely unmemorable. I bought Beyonce (mostly because I don't know much of her regular career). I had a hard time buying Eddie Murphy as anything other than Eddie Murphy. Speaking of which, what's with the Norbit trailer on the DVD? Why not just kick Murphy in the nuts a few times?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

9 months
If all continues according to plan, a major life accomplishment should be complete in nine months.

(No, not that. Please. Do you even know me?)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hey, do me a favor: download this week's Out of 5 and tell me if it's anywhere as interesting to listen to as it was to create. This "Random Association" theme took an extra week to compile. Andrew kicked us off by sending a song to the next participant in line, that person associated it with a new song and sent it to the next, etc. Since we only received one song ahead of us, I had no idea what led Dee to choose Bryan Ferry's cover of "Falling in Love Again," but my first instinct* was Madeline Kahn channeling Marlene Dietrich in Blazing Saddles. And as a bonus, I learned how to conver YouTube videos into mp3s.

*My second instinct was Klaus Nomi covering the same song, but I thought such repetition might be inappropriate.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Movie Log 2007: #58-61

24 Hour Party People - This could have jumped from very-good to great had there been less Happy Mondays, and a lot less "tell, don't show" that they were some sort of geniuses. But I liked the way the movie intercut archival footage, and the Howard Devoto cameo was priceless.

Punk's Not Dead - This documentary was well-meaning, but in the end I'm not sure it proved its titular thesis. It's nice that bands like the Adicts and Buzzcocks are still touring. But then they spend most of the film talking to organizers of the Warped Tour, and some rep from Hot Topic, and the likes of Good Charlotte and My Chemical Romance; and give just a little attention to the organic DIY scenes still popping up around the world (the Russian kids look like fun).

Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea - Another feel-bad documentary, this one about the troubled saline lake and the people who still live near its ghost resorts. For a couple of condo payments, we could by a big swath of land in the desert....cool! But after seeing this I'll never eat tilapia again.

Maxed Out! - How the credit industry preys on underinformed consumers (and especially people who have previously filed for bankruptcy), who then get get into debt cycles that ultimately lead to suicide in some cases. Meh...I felt bad for maybe three people in the film. The elderly woman who was talked into having her 40-ish retarded son transfer their mortgage (signing in block letters he had to copy) to one they couldn't afford was particularly heartbreaking. But most of the people they talked to just blithely "got some credit and lost they damn minds" to paraphrase Chris Rock, and then cried victim. The only real nod to any sort of personal-responsibility plan is in a DVD extra. This could have been something more than Super Size Me for banks.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


That headline seemed destined to come true over the past couple of years. Of course everyone would have guessed the other guy.

And there's my one Chicago sports observation for 2007. Was it good for you too?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I recently finished The Money and the Power, a look into the corrupt history of Las Vegas. It wasn't the best book to read in 35-minute spurts while working out, but it'd still be of interest to Craig, given its place in American history from Kefauver through the Kennedys; and Rostron, as Mormon money funding organized crime is a common theme. The Mormons and mobsters are described as getting along because they had in common business acumen, loyalty, and unquestioning obedience.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Movie Log 2007: #41-57

In no order. Also, I've started a collaborative movie blog here.

Hugo Pool
part of a MDN we attended. I remember very little abut them because we spent most of our time decorating these figurines.
The Heart of the Game
Knocked Up
Spidey 3
Hostel Part 2 - I reject the term "torture porn" as something concocted by lazy critics. That doesn't mean this movie holds up much past its initial horrors. I'll probably have more to say about this at the other site.
Nacho Libre
We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen
Superman Returns
Children of Men
The Queen
The Squid and the Whale - When K. I were in college we once at at the Thai place near campus, and overheard a loud, pompous, tweedy gentleman dining with two female acolytes. He described menu items at length, and declared one dish to have a "distinct summery flavor." In honor of Jeff Daniels' character, we declared this film to be Distinct Summery Flavor: The Movie.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - Maybe because I have no stake in the comics at all, and think Galactus was best skewered in the Tick episode "Alone Together," but I rather enjoyed this, and had a better time then at the bewildering Spidey 3.
Inside Man
Lord of the Flies (1963)
Casino Royale (2006)

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Stay Hungry," indeed...
Any restaurant playing Talking Heads' More Songs About Buildings and Food album as I walk in is going to become an instant favorite with me.

Also, we got to try the freaky soda Rosenberg told us about. It wasn't the worst thing ever, and certainly complemented a bacon sausage with caramelized onions and brie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's not like I went to Europe and back or got thrown in and out of jail since I last had anything to say. In the interim I:

- had an anniversary
- went curling
- went to MN to see the family
- and of course, saw a crapload of movies, which I'll have to write up separately.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Movie Log 2007: #29-40
And this doesn't count Season 1 of Rome or the Evening with Kevin Smith discs. Let's see what I remember from early April late March...

Wife vs. Secretary - Gable/Loy/Harlow love triangle. When this showed up in the queue, I thought "hey, I'm pretty unattractive and have some false teeth. Why aren't Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow fighting over me?" Then I watched it and learned that a love triangle involving Jean Harlow is not that desirable. I know one shouldn't necessarily apply modern standards, but contrary to what we may have learned from Madonna songs, Ms. Harlow looks sorta like Jimmy Cagney's grandma. Anyway, this was rolling along nicely and took a sharp right into drama. Not Fatal Attraction sharp, or anything, but still jarring. One curious part of the film is that the wife's initial jealousy seed is planted by her mother-in-law. I'd have expected her own mom to sow the hubby mistrust.

Platinum Blonde - More Harlow. This was five years before Wife v. Secretary, and she looked much more matronly. She's supposed to be this society woman, and it's just not working. Meanwhile, Loretta Young plays Robert Williams' blue-collar-unnoticed-best-friend, and she's not only a knockout, but reeks class. The roles should have been reversed.

Saw III - hey, a string of horror/violent action films...Kirsti must have been out of town. This was more patronizing dimestore philosophy BS from the Saw folks. I was surprised to see they got cameos from Donnie Wahlberg and Dina Meyer. Well...less surprised about Meyer.

Lady Vengeance - Finishing the Chan-Wook Park trilogy. I think Oldboy was the best.

The Descent - This was pretty good. It earned the scares.

Cabin Fever - Less good. It was recommended to me, but I thought it was for the horror, not for the laughs. It was pretty funny, in retrospect.

Inside Deep Throat - The best part of the film is the Florida theatre owner and his bickering wife. Damn, they were funny.

Slither - Fun in that Tremors sort of way. "We're itchy" was a nice line.

300 - Put me to sleep. I was merely bored, while K. downright hated it.

Hot Fuzz
- The subject matter of Shawn of the Dead will always mean so much more to me, but this was hilarious, if overlong.

Grindhouse - I liked the Tarantino half better by a hair. I hope Zoe Bell gets a Jackie-Chan-esque action franchise.

Stranger than Fiction - Slow going at first, but then it really won us over. While I love the song and I'm glad to see Wreckless Eric get a bit more attention, one thing bothers me: where does Harold Crick learn "Whole Wide World?" How is that obscure song the only one he knows, given his life? It's not well-known, at least not in the states. Is this something that just pops into his head, thanks to Karen Eiffel?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Movie Log 2007: #25-28

The Departed and Gangs of New York - Both very similar films, in that DiCaprio infiltrates a rival in both. I think I liked the former a shade better, but maybe that's because Nicholson hasn't had to act in anything since Prizzi's Honor. When did Scorsese start casting such blah female leads? even the scenery-chewing of Sharon Stone would have been preferable to Diaz or this Vera Farmiga person.

Ray - Continuing the Oscar catchup. I was happy to see so many veterans of The Wire. Much has been made of Jamie Foxx's performance, but the real revelation for us was Curtis Armstrong as Ahmet Ertegun.

Lost Horizon - No, the 1937 Capra, not the trainwreck 70's musical. I think its reputation stems from the reconstructed footage and from it being Capra, not from being any sort of masterpiece. As Pauline Kael noted about the remake, the material is dated past any redemption. Edward Everett Horton is good for a few laughs, as usual. Of course, now I want to see the apparently-horrible musical.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Movie Log 2007 #23-24

There are about ten movies I need to write up.

This Film is Not Yet Rated
- about how the MPAA, a studio tool, generally puts the screws to independent filmmakers. Distributed by Red Envelope, an arm of Netflix -- which itself did away with its "mature" titles years ago and will capriciously pull films from stock. The most interesting revelation to me wasn't even dealt with: the fact that Kirby Dick's appeal board included the head of the Landmark Theatres chain, which specializes in indie/arthouse films. The private investigators seem more competent after listening to the commentary, but the film isn't the expose it wants to be. If you want recommendations of movies with decent sex scenes, this film gives you plenty of options.

The problems of the artists in TFINYR seemed so insignificant after watching The Lives of Others the next day. I still don't know how it stacks up against Pan's Labyrinth, but this was solid and suspenseful throughout.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"with bubble liquid from his body..."

The recent plodding gravitas of Battlestar Galactica has been so unentertaining that I have the three latest episodes sitting unwatched. And this when the two other shows I keep up with are on March hiatus, so there's less fighting for my time.

I appreciate the show's general competence, but when it's trying to be earnest and about big weighty issues, I simply cannot take it seriously. Not when I've had this earworm ratting around in my head for nigh-on 30 years...

Yay! Happy toy! Happy toy of genocidal toasterbot! Yaaaay!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

One last interview

I'd been sitting on Alma's questions for a while, and had some time yesterday...

1) I really liked your apartment decor- I thought it said "you" all over, and if I had walked in not knowing who lived there, I would definitely have wanted to meet you and your wife. What three things in your apartment best say "Greg," and why?

The movie "posters" -- though the decor is a collaborative effort, I've decorated with various movie items since I was a kid. it's amazing how cheap frames can class up old pics from out-of-date calendars.

The room full of games - I've had a decent-sized collection most of my life, but really grew the stash in the past six years or so, given some leisure time and disposable income.

The clutter - my desks as a kid, my room as a kid, my desk at work-- there's a unifying theme here.

2) When I ask "What makes you angry?" what is the first thing that leaps to mind?
social conservatives. I don't feel like elaborating further.

3) Tell me the funniest story you have about something you've done.

Here's the story of my attempt to get a fake ID. In the summer of 1990 I was at home from college and Public Enemy was coming to town later that summer. My buddy T. and I somehow got it in our heads that the 21+ show would be somehow more interesting, or at least longer, than the earlier all-age show. So this would require fake IDs. Through some friends, T. had access to a state seal of some sort. He had been able to procure an official state ID card from the DMV using a doctored birth certificate stamped with this seal.

So now it was my turn. My summer job that year was driving an ice cream truck around a posh suburb. There was a DMV facility on the way to work, connected to a county library. I would stop here (taking care to park my truck far away so that no one would see that I had just driven up to the DMV in order to get a non-driving ID card), get the ID, and go on my route.

It's not that crowded. I think, this isn't going to take long at all. I get up to the counter, the woman takes my stuff and goes back somewhere.

Then she's looking at it funny.
Then she's showing it to someone else.

I think, okay, going to the 'burbs was a mistake. T. went to the downtown facility, where they're swamped and harried and just want you out. Here, she's got more time on her hands.

They're still going over it.

Oh, shit, I could go to jail for fraud or something.

Upon making this realization, my next thought was not how going to jail could put my personal safety at risk. Instead, I thought:

If I go to jail, all the ice cream will melt.

Anyway, I'm trying to be as calm as possible, though I'm sure I looked like the incompetent criminal I was. She returns to the counter and explains that the cert was stamped with a notary seal, not an official state seal. As such, they couldn't take the cert as valid documentation, so I'd have to come back with something else.

Whew! I was leaving empty-handed, but not in cuffs. I ended up getting into the show on the fake birth certificate. Once in, I didn't even bother ordering a drink.

4) What five movies would comprise your perfect, all-dubious-hits-all-the-time, B-movie Saturday lineup?

Howard the Duck
Repo Man - a little palate-cleanser: not a bad movie, but definitely B.

5) If you could call back in time to your high school self and give him one piece of advice or insight, what would it be?
Don't be so cocky. In a few years you'll be surrounded by people who are better than you at nearly everything.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Movie Log 2007: #19-22

Chandni - A downside of having 500 movies in the Netflix queue is you forget just how some things got in there. This Bollywood film starred none of our favorite actors, and the musical numbers were nothing I would have seen on Namaste America and filed for future reference. So it must have been an "if you liked..." suggestion. It wasn't bad...predictable, yet entertaining through its 3 hours.

Sophie's Choice - It's nigh-impossible to watch this and accept Kevin Kline's role after seeing A Fish Called Wanda. All the Meryl Streep worship makes sense, though.

A Face in the Crowd - Fans of The Andy Griffith Show should rent this to see their boy play a total SOB, a hobo who gets transformed into a Will Rogers-esque homespun pundit/political tool. It's in the vein of Network and Sweet Smell of Success. Few extras, but it was a bit shocking to hear Matlock drop an F-bomb in the featurette.

Klute - Everyone talks about Jane Fonda's performance, but the film itself is suspenseless. Characters other than Bree & Klute are so underdeveloped that the whodunit becomes obvious early on.
i made the funny/ridiculous realization this week that, while I'm known in my qb-related friendships as a cantankerous old man, I am apparently a trusted voice of a new generation at the curling club. It's all relative, I suppose.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Movie Log 2007 9-18: B-Fest wrapup
I was pretty pleased with B-Fest this year. The few things I'd seen before were either things I wanted to see again, or were placed in places where I could get a little sleep. Or else they were the first movie, The Brain that Wouldn't Die. Meh. A censored print, and a brittle one to boot-- the film broke right when the proto-Sloth creature got out. Next up was that TBS classic The Beastmaster. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid, and was surprised at how well it held up.

After a terrific Ub Iwerks Flip the Frog cartoon, it was Revenge of the Creature in sorta 3-D. I admire the NU folks for trying, but their projection equipment and poor print quality available to them make 3-D efforts a headache-inducing nightmare. I had the glasses off through most of the movie.

Off to sleep during Wizard of Speed and Time and Plan 9 From Outer Space before...Savage Sisters, this year's exploitation offering. Pseudo-exploitation, that is. A grab-the-cash caper film set in a banana republic (though the auto plates clearly say PHILIPPINES); Savage Sisters was notable for its constant near-nudity. I think it ended up more entertaining than if it had served up real T&A.

Invasion of the Star Creatures
- For many people, this was the fests' soul-crusher. And indeed, there was not much to recommend in this tale of horrible comedy stylings and aliens wearing leotards and vegetables (seriously). I did find one running gag sorta funny: the characters all belonging to a serial-hero fan club, and displaying the decoder ring at a moment's notice. I dunno...at an event that's all about bonding over geekiness, I'll buy into similar actions onscreen.

Street Trash - This year's Troma-esque offering was a vile tale of a box of ancient hooch causing homeless people to melt. There were some worthwhile bits, plus one guy whom Vincent Gallo has apparently based his entire persona upon.

The Hypnotic Eye - Women are inexplicably lighting their hair on fire or washing their faces with acid. The incidents get traced to a hypnotist's act. This was one of the more coherent films shown, except for an extended fourth-wall scene. I'd see it again. It was better than Cats.

Tarantula - Seen it before, so I slept. I needed to stay awake for...

Krull. Through means I don't remember anymore, in 1982 or so I acquired movie posters for three upcoming Columbia Pictures attractions: Blue Thunder, later a TV show eclipsed in popularity by Airwolf; Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a 3-D flick starring Peter Strauss and a newcomer named Molly Ringwald; and...Krull. Somehow of those three, Krull is the one film I'd missed until this year, so I was eagerly anticipating it.
Yeah, that was a mistake. Krull was a real-time travelogue about walking, climbing, walking, riding horses (so why all the walking earlier?!), walking some more, climbing a little, capturing and riding new horses (what about the old horses?!), letting the new horses catch fire and fly (that was actually sorta cool), and a little more climbing for good measure. It was also about not bothering to use the ultimate weapon that the hero recovers in the first act for most of the film.

Invasion USA - Chuck Norris beating back communists, who manage to launch an invasion less plausible than the one in Red Dawn. No small feat, that.

Teenage Doll - Roger Corman gives us the straight dope on girl juvenile delinquents.A girl is on the run from a rival girl gang and the cops. I like Corman. He manages to create silk-like purses, and I'm still not sure if one character's "kid sister" was actually supposed to be her kid.

Incredible Melting Man
- Neither Jack Black in Heat Vision and Jack, nor Bob Denver on Far Out Space Nuts can top Alex Rebar's ridiculous astronaut performance. The best thing that can be said for IMM is it doesn't waste time becoming an effects extravaganza.

King Kong vs. Godzilla - Classic guys in suits. Shown via DVD; probably a harbinger of B-fests to come.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

here's hopin'
There is both a Wild Oats and a Whole Foods within walking distance of our place. I shop at neither. With their pending merger, perhaps Trader Joe's will finally get the parking-enhanced space it's been looking for in Evanston.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More questions, and possibly the last. These are from JC:
1. What is your favorite outdoor activity and why? (I'm not going to allow curling as a response, as I believe you at least usually do it indoors, even if it started as an outdoor sport and could be played outdoors.)
It's probably walking. Okay, call it "hiking" because it sounds more rugged, even though we're in suburban Illinois and I'm not fooling anyone. It's active enough but doesn't require a lot of concentration, so I can have a conversation with a partner or listen to music/get lost in thought if alone without getting hit by a truck. Swimming's fine, but you can only do it outside for a small part of the year. I have a bike and blades, but haven't been on them in over two years. I think I'd like orienteering, and often mean to go once during the window where that and the curling seasons don't overlap.

2. Is there a question you missed or didn't get to answer on Jeopardy that still haunts you today? If so, what was it?
I'm actually pretty well over Jeopardy. You'd think it would be the final question, but it's not. Because timing is such a big deal, I was more frustrated by getting beaten to things I knew cold. There were two things. The first is I almost ran the table on a category that was right in the wheelhouse: foreign films. I got beat to the buzzer on one question. The other was in the episode just after mine. Had I won, I could have feasted on another category right up my alley: John Cusack films. Blast!

3. Death is not an option: Pick three board games that will be the only board games you play for the rest of eternity.
*18VA. Ever since I was a kid I've reacted very strongly to maps and logos. the 18xx games have had a strong pull even before sitting down to play. 18VA wins out because of its length and the better opening auction.
*Catchphrase, assuming this "eternity" clause allows for updated editions now and then. I'm a bit rankled when my non-gamer friends ask me to bring stuff over, and this gets played instead. But in my circles it does induce the strongest seizures -- seriously, seizures -- of laughter.
*Ingenious. One of these has to suit two players, and you'd call BS if I tried to claim that the Project GIPF games were a single game. This scales equally well with 2, 3, or 4, and is a nice solitaire diversion on BSW, too.

4. Who is on your list? (that is, the list of around 5 people, famous or not so famous, that you are allowed to sleep with if given the chance with no spousal guilt or consequence)
I highly doubt I'm "allowed" any such liberty. But I'd seek forgiveness after -- not permission before -- dalliances with, in absolutely no order (all links are SFW, though I can't vouch for anything beyond the pix):
*This obscure actress named Scarlett Johansson; perhaps you've heard of her. Yeah, I know it's almost a cliche, and I understand I'd likely have to get vaccines afterward. Still...hot.
*Shu Qi. She was in this silly HK action flick we rented some years ago, and she hasn't left the list since.
*Aishwarya Rai and Preity Zinta Yeah, that's me...hot for actresses who aren't allowed to *kiss* in their films. Surely that's diagnosable.
*Alicia Witt.

5. If you could re-do any portion of your life, would you? Why or why not?

Well, no "spend more time with [dead relative/friend]", because no matter how much time you add it'd never feel like enough. There are two things I would do over. One is practical; the other is completely frivolous, but still haunts me.
The practical: I would insist that my parents send me to a different orthodontist, and I'd be a better patient. After all that drama with my teeth as an adult, I still don't know if it stemmed from that guy's medieval methods, my lackadaisical care, or my biological fate. But undoing two of those would be nice.
The frivolous: After a college visit to Boston, I arranged to visit an aunt and uncle ouside of NYC, and bum around Manhattan alone for a day. While I was there, matinee previews were going on for a musical adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie. Despite the idlest of afternoons, I did not seek out tickets for this show. I should have. Carrie, of course, turned out to be a legendary flop, closing after only five performances. Given my love of pop culture and trainwrecks, missing this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle is one of my great regrets.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

from Julie:

1. You went to college in Boston. What did you like most about the Hub of the Universe?
I loved having a city as my campus, and being able to get where I needed to without driving.

2. What are your favorite and least favorite things about quizbowl and the QB community?
The competition is still interesting, but less important. I stand by "anti-retirement," but if I ever were to win TRASHionals with a near-full Gerbil squad, I wouldn't be surprised if I hung it up afterward. My favorite thing about quizbowl is the excuse to see people I only get to see once or twice a year. And I can safely say that's nearly always been the case for me. I played exactly one year of "collegiate" qb, but have played "masters" qb for 12. I think because I played so little as a college player, I have less and less patience for my least-favorite part: what I call the collegiate-protest mentality; the "what do we want? (more hockey! less hockey! clocks! no clocks! etc.) when do we want it? (NOW!)" attitude, where if you disagree then you're some sort of fascist out to destroy quizbowl.

3. What attracts you so much to the music of the 1980s, and what aspects of it do you consider unique and important?
Though the time period may vary, I think the attraction is near-universal: the music of one's formative years (in my case, 1980-89) had the most impact on me. The things I think are important about the era are not necessarily the things that strike visceral chords with me: The rise of hip-hop and sampling have had lasting importance, as have the birth of underground labels that sought to treat artists ethically.

4. This one's a little more personal, so I understand if you'd rather not answer. You've indicated in your blog that (like me) you're half of a voluntarily childfree couple. Have you ever had to explain this decision to family or friends, and if so, how did you navigate this often-treacherous path?

I haven't had to do much explaining to family. My sister had her first of her four kids before we were engaged, so the pressure's been low on my side since before we got hitched. And the family knows I'm stubborn as hell. Kirsti has had it a little rougher, as the only child of older parents. After a few years of not-so-gentle suggestions, she gave them The Talk not long ago. They played on the fact that she ended up the most important thing in their lives. As I recall, the response was something like, "that's nice if you want kids." We have one friend who had a kid and decided we absolutely needed to have one. It was getting pretty bad for a while, but then he had his second kid. Then he got too busy to hassle us, but you never know when the pushy gene will relapse.

5. If you could do anything for a living other than what you're doing now, what would it be?
From what I've read, the funnest work atmosphere I can imagine was the MAD Magazine staff in the Bill Gaines era. But barring a time machine or a talent-bestowing fairy-godmother, I think it would be cool to be the programmer at a repertory cinema.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

These are from Stan:

1. If you were giving advice to someone from outside the area, would you say there's enough to do in Evanston that's not affiliated with the University to justify living there?
Without question. Evanston's gotten much more lively since you were here for school. The university is really only on my radar two or three times a year; for B-Fest and perhaps another random event (but keep in mind I don't live in, or have much cause to go to, North Evanston, where the stadium is). On the other hand, it's ridiculously expensive. Our realtor told us seven years ago that we got the last good deal in town. Not that I've been looking that hard, but I haven't seen evidence to the contrary.

2. On your blog a while back, you mentioned deciding to be childless. In a world which seems to pressure people to procreate, did you and Kirsti encounter much opposition to that decision?
Julie asked me a nearly-identical question, and I'm trying to answer them consistently but differently. In nearly every step of the relationship we haven't done much in a traditional manner: we got engaged later than most people, married later than most, then eloped...I guess we made it pretty clear that we were going to do things the way we wanted. We've had to have The Talk with a few people, but it's not like anyone's trying to throw me on top of Kirsti or anything. Well, there's one person, but i'll get into that later.

3. What's the most played song in your home -- either on the computer or on a CD?
I will either shuffle iTunes or listen to an album in its entirety. Kirsti will listen to three or four songs several times in a period. According to iTunes, the most-played song is "Walking with a Ghost in Paris," which is a mashup involving a Tegan and Sara song. But that hasn't been played in over a month. I've heard K. play the Nina Gordon CD a lot, but I'm not sure what songs from it are in heavy rotation.

4. After graduating college with a journalism degree, did you ever work in a newsroom in any context?
During school I had a paid internship at the Boston Herald, working in the sports department. This was mostly answering the phone, writing high-school recaps and entering things for the agate page, but was a lot of fun. After graduation my focus was on college sports information.

5. If you could eliminate one word or phrase from the language, what would it be?
"My bad" really irritates me. "I'm like" instead of "I said" is also annoying, but I'm as guilty as the rest of my generation.

Monday, February 19, 2007

we get sacks and sacks of questions

These are from Brian:

1. What one card or board game would you suggest for a group "game night" outside of the typical selections one could find at the generic MegaloMart?
There are so many, of course. If you aren't talking party games, maybe Ticket To Ride Europe. It's a good gateway game for people used to the Hasbro/Mattel fare, and the Europe version corrects some potential problems in the US version.

2. Of the places you've lived, what town/locale had the strongest feeling of a "neighborhood"?
Probably Camden, the neighborhood in north Minneapolis I lived in from third grade until leaving for college. I think when you're not old enough to drive yet, the friends you make and businesses you can get to within walking distance feel most neighborhoody.

3. In your opinion, has the advancement of technology over the last 10-15 years made it easier for lesser-known but high-quality musicians to find a wider audience or has it made it easier for "corporate rock/pop" to dominate more musical outlets, forcing lesser-known acts to more obscure outlets?
I think what it is is while the corporate outlets still control megastardom, they've become less and less relevant. It's become much easier for musicians to get an audience. The most shining examples right now are Dangermouse, who wouldn't have become half of Gnarls Barkley without the buzz of his underground Beatles/Jay-Z mashup; and Lily Allen, who chafed at her label delaying her album -- both here and in the UK -- and became a Myspace star.

4. Of the state fairs you've visited, what was the strangest experience you've ever had, whether visual, event-related, gustatory, or other?
It was probably the llama costume contest: handlers and their respective animals dressed as: Union/Confederate soldiers, prince/princess, and priest/nun.

5. What would be the one "highlight reel" moment of your curling career to date?
I've started to skip more, so lately I'm more proud of some of the calls I've made than the shots. One shot that does stick out was a tricky double I made the other week to score five en route to a shutout win to advance to a tournament final.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

And now the interview questions are pouring in. Next up is Mark:

1. You've alluded to your inner city high school at times. How did you wind up there, and what cinematic inner city high school would you compare it to?
Minneapolis was very segregated in the seventies -- lots of redlining going on in housing, and this of course was reflected in the schools. As I completed sixth grade, the Minneapolis Public Schools went through a dramatic reorg, gerrymandering districts, closing several schools and creating a number of magnet programs in the remaining high schools. The high school in my district, Patrick Henry, got no new programs; while North, right in the heart of black neighborhood, got a very rigorous sci/math program, the school district's radio station, a TV station, and a visual/performing arts magnet. TV production was what attracted me.

I don't think I have a movie to compare my experience to. Most movies set in "rough" schools are about Earnest Teachers trying to Make a Difference, and those never ring true to me (sorry Alexis), so I skip them. None of the John Hughes films, that's for sure.

2. Sticking with movies, AMPAS gets you on the phone and tells you that they've finally given Gil Cates the heave ho - you're in charge of the Oscars telecast. What changes would you make?
First of all, instead of scolding winners to keep it short, I would advise that the show is going to go as long as it needs to be, so get over it. I'll move the event up earlier if necessary, say 5 pm CT. More clip reels. SOUND in the dead reel. Bruce Vilanch will be fired, if not summarily executed. Song nominees will be performed sans dance accompaniment, either by the original artist, or by Bill Shatner. Finally, in order to generate more general interest in the event, I'd work behind the scenes to encourage gambling on the Oscars. I'll plant Oscar-pool prediction stories in more nontraditional areas, like ESPN2.

3. Finish this sentence: "If I stuck with sports information as a career, I would currently be..."
Underpaid, overworked, and bitter. Aside from the job taking up all my leisure time, I have found, through the ongoing quizbowl experience and generally being an old crank, that I don't have the disposition to deal with college kids on a regular basis.

4. What would it take to get you and Kirstie to relocate back to the Boston area?
The Great Chicago Fire of 2009? It'd take some crazy-ass relocation package that would allow us the wherewithal to live in the thick of things, but that's never something either of us would seek. I thought Boston proper was a pretty cool place to go to school, but not once did I feel like anything but the outsider. And it'd be a pain to live someplace more remote, like Braintree, because Kirsti hates to drive. She misses her folks, but she's happy to have some distance from the extended family gossip and drama.

5. You asked about my parents, so I'm going to ask about yours. What have been the most and least positive aspects of your current parental set-up?
There are many more positives than negatives. My stepmoms are pretty different (gee, ya think?), but they complement their partners very well. And I like their adult kids a lot. The best thing is that my sister's kids are getting the right messages about same-sex relationships. While the Christian Taliban's reach seems to grow all the time, at least I can have hope in those four. Least positive: I wish we could get the whole gang together for family gatherings, if only so we didn't have to schedule separate playdates when we're up visiting. Also, I think my sister can still play guilt cards on mom. That's not cool.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Movie Log 2007: Jesus Camp
You know how every couple of years there's a news story about a child who's been locked up in a pet kennel in a basement for years? Remember how those stories make you feel? That's how I felt when watching Jesus Camp. Only it was funnier.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Interview meme

Stolen from Craig:

If you want to be interviewed:
1. Leave me a comment to that effect.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

And Craig's questions to me:

1). I'm getting to the stage in my life where crankiness may be a virtue...How does one act curmudgeonly while at the same time remaining tolerable?

I guess you'd have to ask people who see me regularly to determine how cranky and/or tolerable I am in real life. As much as I've cultivated a cranky persona at its worst in blog tournaments or online comments, I'm probably more social now than I've ever been. I'm pretty calm and easygoing about most things, and I think I've got an outstanding life, which I undoubtedly take for granted. However, that makes for a blog even less interesting than what you see here.

I dunno..."pick your spots" is my answer, I guess. The things I get het up about online -- whether Bender is a better sidekick than Jerome Benton, for instance -- are utterly ridiculous to begin with, so my railing against contrary views on such matters should not be taken seriously in the least. (answer: Jerome!)

2). Not looking so much for a guilty pleasure, but you've seen a number of films that most people haven't. What movie did you like that didn't receive a great deal of discussion, good or bad, that you wish more people knew about and why?

Two recent films by Yoji Yamada really moved me: Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade. They're period-era samurai films, but they deal more with class and the bureaucracy than with swordplay. The former was a best-foreign film nominee, but I don't think either made it past the film festival circuit. Both made it to DVD, at least.

There are films I'm more evangelistic about, but those have a better chance of finding an audience.

3). What is the greatest song ever by a Minnesota musical act? If they are different, what is your favorite song ever by a Minnesota musical act?
I should first apologize to Bob Dylan fans for ignoring him here. I'll never work in a hip record store now, but I'm shamefully clueless when it comes to his body of work, plus I view him as a "Minnesota musical artist" the same way Eric Lindros is a Nordiques great.

For greatest, I'm going to go with Prince's "When You Were Mine." It's free of Prince's more annoying quirks, was straight-ahead rockin' enough for Mitch Ryder to cover, turned out suitably kinky when Cyndi Lauper covered it and didn't change the gender pronouns; and despite the early-80s cheeze keyboards, it has a punky rawness that reflects the different things going on in the TC scene at the time.

For my favorite, I'm going with "Celebrated Summer" by Hüsker Dü. It used to be "Left of the Dial" by the 'Mats, but each time I've revisited the New Day Rising album I've found something more to appreciate amidst the wall of noise.

4). What's the secret to getting a good deal on a car?
We had great luck with the method espoused by fightingchance.com. In short: bone up on invoice price, dealer holdbacks, other incentives, and what the market for a given model actually is. Then fax a number of car dealers in the region and give them 3-5 days to bid for your business. Whether the intel in the website's $35 info pack is worthwhile may vary depending on how knowledgeable you are about the car market. We aren't, and thought it was completely worth it.

5). Of the three other Gerbils, which one is the most likely to be killed on the reunion tour in 2017?
"Reunion" assumes a breakup, and when it comes to quizbowl and retirement I operate on Too Much Joy's theory of breakups, which is: Too Much Joy will never break up. It may never make another record and it may never play another show, but that doesn't mean we've broken up....I'm not trying to be diplomatic or anything; the thing is, if you go out and say, "Oh, we broke up," and then you feel like playing a show later on, all of a sudden you're like The Who. Who wants to be The Who? I want to be The Who in 1965, not The Who in 1999.

But it'll be Rosenberg, of course. The three of us will have a hand in the execution, a la Murder on the Orient Express, and we'll do it solely for the dead pool points.

Monday, February 5, 2007

*went off to a bonspiel this weekend. Our strategy was to build up huge leads and then piss them away in the final three ends, and we executed that strategy to near-perfection. Only once did we falter in that mission, wrecking a perfectly good streak with a victory.

*Because of post-'spiel exhaustion, and also because of the not caring about boringball, I slept through most of what had everyone else bummed at work today. I tuned into the fourth quarter, and caught the Prince show later on YT. The set demonstrated once and for all that he's a preeminent rock -- yes, ROCK -- guitarist.

*Over the weekend my teammates and other clubmates let it slip that I was on a game show. Considering I can rattle off at least ten friends and acquaintances who've done better on the show, I'm always surprised when people are impressed by this.

*Yeah, you'll have to wait for the B-Fest recap. I thought the films were more palatable on the whole, but the audience reaction was not as energetic as in the past. Anyway, there is another addition to the Movie Log 2007: #7, Hail the Conquering Hero. Eddie Bracken reunites with writer-director Preston Sturges, this time as a guy booted from the Marines on a medical discharge, who reluctantly allows himself to be regarded as a war hero when returning home. Such an odd mix of deep patriotism and equally deep cynicism. Some top-notch Sturges dialogue, as well as a usual dollop of period racism. This time the eyerolling comes from frequent references to "Japs" and "Nips." There was a war on, I suppose...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I sure am glad I bought all that frozen stuff at Trader Joe's...
It seems our microwave has died. Which wouldn't be such a pain if
a. it wasn't an over-range model (thankfully not attached to the stove)
b. B-Fest and a bonspiel weren't eating up my next two weekends
c. we weren't too busy to wait around for an installation, should we not want to attempt it ourselves.

At least they're under $200, so it's not like this'll have to be our anniversary gift to each other.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Movie Log 2007: 4-6
You Were Never Lovelier - This time Fred Astaire woos Rita Hayworth. It was well-done and entertainingly corny, but nothing really stood out about it.

Starcrash, aka Female Space Invaders - Spaghetti space-western starring Caroline Munro (the woman in Adam Ant's "Goody Two Shoes" video), Marjoe Gortner, and young David Hasselhoff. It was as good as it sounds.

The Groove Tube Despite Starcrash and B-Fest, this could be the worst thing I see all week. This was an abysmal collection of sketches in the tradition of Kentucky Fried Movie, which I wanted to watch immediately afterward just to get the horrible tste out of my mouth. It was cool to see young Richard Belzer, though. The director/writer/star, Ken Shapiro, has gone on to be a writer for the Golden Globes and Daytime Emmys, which explans a lot.
In an effort to apppear less cranky, here are five things I'm especially happy about right now:
*B-Fest is this Friday. Rawk.

*The Pogues are coming to town just after my birthday.

*God Damn, that Hold Steady album is good. Yeah, I know I'm late to the party here.

*also better than it has any right to be: Girl Talk. This Cleveland/Pittsburgh DJ concocts mashup albums using hundreds of samples. This may sound like ADD, but it's actully perfect -- after ten seconds of a standard two-song mashup, you get it and can move on. You can get about half of his album via his Hype Machine links, but I'll probably buy the full thing just so he has an additional $10 for the inevitable lawsuits.

*I'm trying to get more organized at work and decided to resurrect a Franklin Planner that's nearly a decade old. While adding the new inserts, I found an old letter from my grandpa written just after my Jeopardy appearance, telling me how proud he was despite the outcome. That was nice to find.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Movie Log 2007 #3: Girl in Gold Boots (MST3K) After the double bummer of the Wal-Mart doc and polishing off Season 4 of The Wire (just absolutely infreakingcredible; everyone needs to see all of this show, especially you Sorkin/Wolf-ites in my audience), this made for a nice palate cleanser. I especially like the bad splice where a character just pops, seated, into a group scene.

We might have to start screening for Joel-only episodes. Mike Nelson is not the problem. The problem is Pearl. I cannot think of a TV character that ground a show down so much. Scrappy Doo and Cousin Oliver are breaths of fresh air, comparatively. At least with DVDs we can just go right to the movie chapters.
My one football-related post of 2007
Have I told this one before?
In the mid-80s, my circle of friends had gradually included some sports-minded people. Teen peer pressure (and the lack of a technological avenue with which to lovingly bust on them for being insufferable 6 months out of the year) demanded that I start paying attention just to keep up. Simply hopping on the Vikings bandwagon would not do, however. I bought two packs of Topps football cards, and decided I would follow the fortunes of the team which netted the most cards. Luckily, this team was just about to start a brief flirtation with the fickle mistress called Respectability.

Ladies and gentlemen, Go Saints.
Now talk about something else, for crying out loud.
I broke down and bought Guitar Hero II. I'm well on my way to a Zumaya-esque injury.

Between gifts, visits to two used stores over the holidays, and picking at the bones of Tower Records before it closed, we have about 40 CDs sitting around waiting for their debut spins.

My mixed team this year earned a berth in our club's biannual mixed bonspiel. Tired of getting passed around by oldsters, Andrea and I decided to curl with a rookie couple this year, and it paid off. We went 3-2 in our league, and handed the champs their only loss.

And Movie Log 2007 #2: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price - I'm the choir here, but it was nice (?) to see the problem addressed from so many angles: if you're anti-union but also anti-corporate welfare, all the subsidies WM soaks towns for may disturb you. Or the way the company was using government programs as its healthcare plan. The amateurish production quality was noticeable; in particular, the music was always mixed too loud (which led to unintentional comedy when a Springsteen song popped up: Kirsti: "I used to be a successful small-town singer/songwriter until Bruce Springsteen came to town and drove me out of business..."). In general, the pseudo-word "Mart" in any place name indicates seediness to me.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Some friends of mine are in a band, and on Jan. 1 they launched a new venture, TheSongofTheDay.com. Which is just what it says it is. The first two songs are scene-setters, the second one being a real dud IMO, but the third finds its legs.

Deciding I'd help them out a bit, I sent a note about the site to a pal at Gapers Block. To date GB has posted nothing about TSotD.com. But Andrew did post about a Chicago-area guy who just finished his own song-a-day project in 2006, and was featured on the local NPR station. I advised the Beatnik Turtle folks that in order to get proper GB love, one of them needs to get associated with either WBEZ or Coudal Partners, or start crafting.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Movie Log 2007: #1
Curse of the Golden Flower
- Our New Year's Day movie was the new Zhang Yimou epic. Of course it was lush, colorful, well-acted by beautiful people, and cinematically flawless. It also rankled politically. CoGF was critical of the ruling classes, and whims and petty grievances which sent thousands of pawns to their deaths. Something which should be criticized, to be sure -- but I couldn't reconcile that with Zhang's earlier Hero and its blatant nationalist (and slightly less blatant pro-Communist) messsage. Troubling, but worth seeing on a big screen.