12/29/2003 10:12:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Outworn welcomes of 2003 As a creature of media, I experienced deep hurting at the coverage and hyping of many 2003 phenoms. Here's a few. - Ironic praise for "The Daily Show" or "The Onion": Please, everyone - stop saying that these fake organizations are "the only REAL news." They're not. They're satire. For fuck's sake. Ernie Pyle was a real journalist. Michael Kelly was a real journalist. Smoove B. Love Man is not. The Nation, of all the crazy sources, got it right when they interpreted Jon Stewart's (very, very funny) show as political activism. - Making fun of Dennis Kucinich: So he's short, single, and has bad hair. He also is a presidential candidate with a platform. When did the Fourth Estate start taking orders from ten year-olds? Reporters and webmasters took a throwaway line in a debate ("If you're out there, call me") and made us believe that Dennis Kucinich was running for president to get dates. Yeah, he won't win the primaries, but he's speaking for at least 2 million voters who want us to hand over national soveriegnty to the UN, abolish the death penalty and Pentagon, and subsidize graduate school tuition with our tax dollars. Cover it! - California recall jokes: For Christ's sake, anyone who's observed more than one political campaign should know that wacky people run for office all the time. Lyndon LaRouche and his cult mount presidential campaigns every four years. Dozens of oddballs will be on state Republican primary ballots, picking up 100 or so votes against George Bush. And yet every working cartoonist and every human cartoon (Keith Olbermann, I'm looking at you) acted like this was a disgusting mockery of democracy. And then they put on their serious faces and joked about Dennis Kucinich's hair. - Explosions and shiny things: I'm not alone on this one. At multiplexes across the fruited plain, people saw what movie studios were offering and said: "Um, I think I'll see Finding Nemo instead." So we had Gods and Generals (which made back 15% of its cost), Timeline (18%), Biker Boyz (48%), Bulletproof Monk (30%), Hollywood Homicide (29%), Cradle 2 the Grave (70%), Out of Time (55%), Tears of the Sun (39%), The Rundown (43%), The Haunted Mansion (51%), Tomb Raider 2 (50%), The Cat in the Hat (65%), Charlie's Angels 2 (63%), The Hulk (77%), and the worst movie of the year, Bad Boys II (82%). The Hilton sisters: Obviously. Fox (the network, not the news channel): If you want a good, hard cry, rent the fourth disc of Joss Whedon's Firefly and listen to the way Fox treated the producer of one of the most acclaimed TV shows of the last three decades - a show that inspired national security documents, academic papers, political tracts, and millions of teenage girls. So what did Fox do? They rejected the finished, two-hour pilot and gave Whedon two days to write a "typical episode" of the series. Then they used the non-pilot as the series premiere. Then they ran other episodes out of sequence (the equivilent of watching The Return of the King before Fellowship, followed by The Two Towers). Then they pre-empted it for The Brady Bunch Movie. Then they cancelled it, with three filmed episodes unaired. This is the the network that, in 2003, ran Skin, The Next Joe Millionaire, American Juniors, and Temptation Island. The skinny Renee Zellweger: Can we just agree that she looks much, much sexier when she gains weight for the Bridget Jones movies? It goes straight to her curves.|W|P|107271075479171694|W|P||W|P|12/27/2003 04:51:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|DVD Review: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fifth Season" When CJ and I sat down to watch these 22 episodes, which premiered in 2000-2001, we wondered if they would make any sense to viewers who hadn't been watching the show for four years. Xander (Nicholas Brendon) had gone from a goofy, Buffy-worshipping slacker to a very grown-up construction worker. Willow (Alyson Hannigan), a loveless computer geek back in 1997, was now a hardened magician and cheerful lesbian. Rupert Giles (Anthony Head), a stuffy librarian/trainer in season one, was now a tortured father figure with no job. And Buffy, crushed by a seasons 2-3 relationship with the studly vampire Angel, is now dating the lunky ex-spook Riley Finn. When the season begins, the new cast is living it up at the beach, tossing around a football and eating hamburgers cooked by Xander and his girlfriend, Anya (Emma Caulfield). Watching them like this was just ... weird. In five years of Seinfeld, the characters had changed hairstyles and George had gotten a new job. In five years of The West Wing, President Martin Sheen had been re-elected. In five years of Buffy the characters had really grown up. The show's producers realized this, of course. They had finished with the "high school is like hell" metaphor a while ago, and spent one year letting their characters taste freedom. At the end of the season five premiere, they revealed that Buffy had a 14-year old sister, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg, who really does look like she could be related to Sarah Michelle Gellar). But Dawn had never existed until now. She was a plot conceit - to hide away a key that would destroy the barriers between dimensions and allow hell to bleed onto earth, monks had transformed it into the kid sister of the most powerful human being they could think of. Buffy was an unwilling participant in a plot to keep the world safe from Glory (Clare Kramer), an exiled hellgod who was killing anything in her way to finding the key. But that was just the plot device. As with everything on Buffy, Dawn meant a whole lot more. She grounded the slayer who was just getting a sense of independence. Since the monks had created Dawn with fake internal and external memories (as we see later in the season, Buffy even remembers her coming home from the hospital 14 years ago), she had a calibrating effect on the entire cast. She crushed on Xander, treated Willow and her girlfriend, Tara (Amber Benson), like aunts, and made Giles even more of a father figure. And as the season went on, she was one more person grieving when Joyce Summers, Buffy's mom, got a brain tumor. The result was the saddest season of the show to date. Nearly every episode involved some cast member crying. By the end, Buffy was so overloaded with tragedy that she became catatonic (Willow went into a trance to snap her out of it). This set the tenor for the rest of the series, which hemmorhaged fans and depressed critics. But how else could the series continue? Buffy had come into her twenties. The crackerjack box stress of high school was over. Buffy and her friends were in the real world, and it was terrifying. CJ and I watched the season in three marathon sessons, devouring 8 episodes at a time. That made the medicine go down more smoothly - with a couple exceptions, season five was never as fun as one, three, and four (season two had funnier episodes but ended with the death of Angel). Marti Noxon, who had handled the heartbreaking Willow/Oz and Willow/Tara episodes in season four, comes roaring back with emotionally devastating episodes about Riley, Joyce, and, uh, Dracula. Joss Whedon turned out the two saddest episodes of the whole series ("The Body" and "The Gift"). Even Spike gets pathos. But because the first four years had driven such a great foundation, the season as a whole worked. I've seen chunks of seasons six and seven, and I'd have to admit that this is the last great year of Buffy. EPISODES (the five best are bolded): 1 - "Buffy vs. Dracula." Dracula comes to Sunnydale, hoping to turn the slayer into one of his own via patented sexy methods. Xander becomes his emissary; even Willow kind of gets a crush on him. 8/10 2 - "The Real Me." Fallen-from-grace high school queen Harmony, who'd been vamped in the season three finale, forms a gang to take down the slayer. Also, Giles takes over a magic shop. 7/10 3 - "The Replacement." A demon splits Xander in two - responsible "Mr. Harris" and goofy Xander. There's great writing, but a so-so plot and resolution. However, we find that Riley thinks his relationship is doomed. 7/10 4 - "Out of My Mind." Riley needs heart surgery, and Spike wants the domesticating computer chip out of his head. 7/10 5 - "No Place Like Home." Buffy meets Glory and finds out, via a very cool spell, that Dawn is not her sister (she sees reality shift in and out - Dawn fades out of pictures and her bedroom fades into a storage room). Good on its own, the episode's themes won't be fulfilled for months. 7/10 6 - "Family." Tara gets her own episode and it's merely ok. Her family had abused her and claimed she was a demon - the gang proves she isn't, and take her into their arms. There's wonderful acting by all concerned, but not much of a plot. 7/10 7 - "Fool for Love." Buffy wonders what actually hapens in those battles that take a slayer's life. Spike, who's killed two slayers, fills her in. Absolutely one of the best episodes of the series - funny, pathetic, revealing, and deep. 10/10 8 - "Shadow." Glory sends an emissary to find the identity of the key, and Joyce has a brain tumor. A menacing episode that suffers from a silly rubber villain. 6/10 9 - "Listening to Fear." A "snot monster from outer space" arrives to murder mental patients, and Joyce is on the hit list. Bad villain, scary episode. 7/10 10 - "Into the Woods." Riley, who has been paying vampires to feed on him, gives Buffy an ultimatum - come to the place where the military is re-recruiting him or he'll leave. She arrives too late. 8/10 11 - "Triangle." Willow and Anya bond when they accidentally summon a troll god. The funniest episode of the season, with big emotional highs (Xander almost dies saving them both). 10/10 12 - "Checkpoint." Everything piles on Buffy's head, including a returned Watcher's Council. She realizes that everyone needs her, but she doesn't need them. 9/10 13 - "Blood Ties." Dawn finds out what she is, and after cutting herself with a kitchen knife and burning her diaries, she runs to the hospital and is caught by Glory (who doesn't know what she is). An incredible fight scene, a stunning revelation (Glory is trapped in the body of Ben, who's befriended Dawn and Buffy) fine acting by Trachtenberg, and the emotional high of the season thus far. 10/10 14 - "Crush." Spike is in love with Buffy, and kidnaps her (and Drusilla) to prove it. Weird but affecting. 9/10 15 - "I Was Made to Love You." Warren Mears built a robotic girlfriend for himself, then tired of her and tried to leave her. What could have been an idiotic episode is saved by good writing and forshadowing. 9/10 16 - "The Body." Buffy finds her mother dead, and the team reacts. Try watching this and then explaining why the "West Wing" actors deserve to win Emmys. 10/10 17 - "Forever." Dawn tries to resurrect her mother. A necessary plot, well-acted and scary. 10/10 18 - "Intervention." Spike has had Warren build a Buffy robot, thus losing all of the esteem of Buffy's friends. But Glory tortures him to find out who the key is, and he doesn't tell. Buffy rewards him with a kiss. Awesome melodrama. 9/10 19 - "Tough Love." Glory zeroes in on Tara as the key, and when she comes up empty, she steals Tara's sanity as payback. Willow goes shithouse and confronts Glory at her HQ. Corny, but thrilling. 9/10 20 - "Spiral." The team goes on the run and hides in an abandoned gas station from the encroaching forces that want to kill Dawn. A suprisingly exciting chase episode. 9/10 21 - "The Weight of the World." Willow pulls Buffy out of her coma, and we get an explanation of just what Buffy is feeling during the hellishness of this year. 9/10 22 - "The Gift." Willow steals back Tara's mind from Glory. Xander proposes to Anya. Giles murders Ben because Buffy can't. Spike sacrifices himself (but doesn't die) to save Dawn. Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world. 10/10|W|P|107256186426475985|W|P||W|P|12/27/2003 02:51:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Before I blog ... Here's a review of my current reading material from the fun, socially conscious mag City Limits.|W|P|107251146870983822|W|P||W|P|12/26/2003 04:59:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|And I am proven correct Boxofficemojo have updated their site. The Return of the King won Wednesday. Cold Mountain came in fourth. I can tell you Miramax's mistake. They are treating ROTK like another geek movie, like Star Wars or The Matrix. But it's an adaptation of a classic novel, starring a marquee cast, and featuring a very strong love story. Thus the can of whupass. UPDATE: Why do I care? Eh, the Cold Mountain commercials get on my nerves. They go something like: "The most acclaimed movie of the year is now the most nominated movie of the year, with eight Golden Globe nominations including best picture of the year." But Cold Mountain is just another slice of the weepy based-on-the-bestselling-book period crap that gets served to us every year. Return of the King is a near-spiritual experience. I watched grown men wipe tears from their eyes at the performance of Sean Astin. This movie deserves some damn respect.|W|P|107247596459424578|W|P||W|P|12/26/2003 04:24:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Drudge is an idiot My family computer won't let me shrink the screenshot I took, but here it is anyway. Drudge has reported that "Cold Mountain" is the box office victor of Christmas day, based on a link to BoxOfficeMojo.com. But the page in question hasn't computed totals for any other opening movies. As I show in this screenshot, BOM editors had left LOTR's gross totals blank. Christmas box office receipts typically look like the receipts from an average weekend. The Last Samurai, which was marketed much like Cold Mountain, made about $8 million each day of its opening weekend. If Cold Mountain follows similar patterns, it will make a little less than $20 million over the long weekend. If so, I'd be pleased - I predicted as much three weeks ago.|W|P|107247387233329383|W|P||W|P|12/26/2003 12:53:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Every single movie I saw in 2003 I'm a fucking mark. Seriously. For all of my pretense, and for all of my copies of The New Yorker and The Northwestern Chronicle, I look over my list of box office excursions and realize I fell for all of Hollywood's mind games. I had to see the Matrix movies. If I liked American Pie I would love its latest sequel. So I never got around to Finding Nemo, and I missed most of the movies that were nominated for Golden Globes. But of the 33 movies I saw, a healthy dozen were worth my money. And the rest ... were the rest. Here they are in ascending order of ruling. 33. Bad Boys II It's hard to judge this leaky anal cyst of a movie without pondering how much it cost. $130 million. $40 million of marketing. Now, I go to a university with a pretty good film program, and I've met people with solid scripts or concepts. And I break into a cold sweat thinking of how many of their lives could have been changed - how much art could have been unleashed upon a grateful world - with the money Michael Bay used to portray two rats fucking as Martin Lawrence watched. Bad Boys II proved once again that a.)Martin Lawrence is incapable of being funny, b.)rape isn't funny, c.)after a point, exploding cars can be boring, d.)gay-bashing can be funny, but not when Will Smith does it. 32. Irreversible Get this - an annoying Frenchman falls in love, and then his girlfriend is raped, and he and her ex go looking for the killer! It's a Lifetime Original Movie with the rape scene shown in full, stupid dialogue about "fucking," and it's all edited backwords. But the soundtrack (by Daft Punk) was cool. 31. Cradle 2 the Grave A mind-numblingly dull kung fu bottom-feeder, with a plot slightly less intelligent than the average mission on Grand Theft Auto III. Jet Li's green card obviously came with a provision barring him from making decent movies - everything he touches turns to suck. DMX's 5-year old daughter stealing a van. The face-off in the ring of fire. All of the idiotic prison scenes. The DMX scooter chase. Jesus. 30. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The original movie worked because the actors were unknown and the filming was gritty, so it seemed like an unfolding nightmare. This is a glossy groanfest with a kidnapped baby thrown in to give it a more human touch. And it's set in the 1970s, but one of the doomed kids wears cargo pants. 29. Tears of the Sun Endless Bruce Willis war movie about Nigeria. 28. S.W.A.T. Actually, there's something compelling about a movie that doesn't contain a single original idea or line of dialogue. Wait - the villain did get caught for having a busted tailight. So that's new. 27. 2 Fast 2 Furious Mediocre action with some fun set pieces and scenery-chewing performances. Even from Paul Walker. 26. Head of State There were some surprisingly good jokes in this satire of blacks in American politics. I liked the travelling b-boy narrator - I didn't like the obvious, ghettoed-out campaign that Chris Rock undertook when he decided to prove something to himself. The terrible to fun gag ratio was 2-1. 25. The Matrix Reloaded And so the Wachowski brothers reveal that they only had one good idea, and proceed to bluff their way through the first of two generic sci-fi actioners. This one was the worst, thanks to the insultingly trite "philosophical" speeches that. Never. Ended. 24. Identity I credit the studio for keeping an Act III plot twist completely concealed throughout the ad campaign. I also credit them with a stupid ending that marred a pretty cool mystery. 23. Daredevil It made the mistakes that Spider-Man and the X-movies didn't - it treated the comic book characters like comic book characters, and made their decisions stupid, always geared toward whatever would inspire a fight scene. This gave us the immortal Michael Clarke Duncan moment when, given the choice between blowing Ben Affleck away by siccing his guards on him or taking him on in a fist fight, takes off his jacket and says: "I'm from the Bronx. You wouldn't understand." And there was the part when Colin Farrell caught a stack of broken stained glass. 22. Phone Booth Not bad, but the worst episode of 24 blows it the hell away. 21. Pirates of the Caribbean A silly family movie that was oversold to adults like me, who watched Keira Knightly spar with an undead monkey and said, "huh?" 20. Dark Blue Kurt Russell and Brendan Gleeson really drained every ounce out of a mediocre cop thriller script. Hell, they found emotions that weren't there in the first place. The result was like really kickass community theater. 19. The Hulk Fine acting and a great buildup ruined by stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid action scenes. See Hulk punch a mutant dog! See Hulk wrestle with an electrical Nick Nolte! 18. Bruce Almighty A terrific high concept - Jim Carrey with the powers of the Judeo-Christian God! A so-so execution, with some really lamentable life lessons from Morgan Freeman and a homeless guy, who is, of course, also God. 17. American Wedding What a disappointment. The second Pie had constructed a sweet, cute love story for Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan. This movie just didn't fully utilize what the first two movies had lying around. Some wonderful moments (Eugene Levy giving Alyson sex advice, Sean William Scott hitting on men) were dragged down by stupid character motivations and a lame new character played by January Jones. If Jones' character had been stronger, this would have been a top-tenner. 16. The Matrix Revolutions Taken out of context, this was a fun b-movie - the kind of thing John Carpenter or Tobe Hooper would make if Joel Silver gave them enormous novelty checks. Huggamah buggamah was the dialogue awful, though. 15. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Far better than it should have been, considering it was basically "Terminator 2: Oh man, we didn't save the world this time." 14. Bad Santa The worst Terry Zwigoff production by a country mile - listless and sometimes dull. But if you lie back and let it sink in, there's some magic in Billy Bob Thornton's curses and vomiting. 13. The Weather Underground The only documentary I saw was way, way too light on its brain-addled subjects, but I have to give credit to its narrative flow and recreation of the mood of radicals in the 1960s. 12. Shattered Glass For such a boring crime, as movies go, Billy Ray fashioned a compelling, funny little epic. Hayden Christiansen really gave one of the performances of the year - you pity the little shit, even as he drags down his friends and coworkers with his lies. 11. Freddy vs. Jason The best slasher pic since A Nightmare on Elm Street. You could argue that the filmmakers matched the ambitions of Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino in making exactly the picture they wanted and exactly the picture fans had spent years yearning for. 10. American Splendor I saw it on a date, like About Schmidt and Adaptation. Movies about depressive guys who strive for better things and are never really happy ... they click with me. 9. Love Actually Like Preston Sturges on meth. At this point in the list, I'm remembering moments and images that stuck with me for days after I saw these movies. Love Actually is extremely funny, and packed with stuff that Ali McGraw would sell her teeth to act. 8. School of Rock For every 20 shitty losers-overcome-the-odds movies, there's one winner. This is the Slap Shot of our time. 7. Kill Bill Vol. 1 I really, really didn't get into the opening scenes with Vivica A. Gox. Not at all. But the movie gets going after that and really puts other revenge movies to shame. And the animated sequence is better than anything in The Animatrix. 6. Bubba Ho-Tep You know a movie is kicking when it features Ossie Davis as John Kennedy, dyed black by the government to cover up a conspiracy, and most critics don't even mention it. This was seriously fun - one of the few movies I saw that made me think, halfway though, how mad I was that it was going to end eventually. 5. 28 Days Later Danny Boyle understands why the George Romero horror movies worked. They weren't about monsters. They were about what makes people want to create and preserve societies. I loved almost everything about this movie. 4. X2: X-Men United Forget the "best comic book movie ever" talk. Bryan Singer and crew absolutely understand what makes the X-Men concept work, and they beautifully handled every character (especially Pyro, Mystique and Jean Grey) to drive the themes home. And stuff blows up real good. 3. A Mighty Wind This, and the next two movies, were the only ones that drove my fellow moviegoers to tears. I look for that sort of thing. When a movie makes a gambit to tug my emotions, if it's working, I see if it's working for someone else. And the final concert scene really affected the people around me both times I saw A Mighty Wind. It's not the funniest Christopher Guest movie, but it's the only one that does that. 2. Lost in Translation It makes your favorite romantic comedy look like garbage. 1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Can we just admit this is the best epic fantasy ever filmed? It does no good to deny it. For the past two years, there's been nothing like the Rings films. Each one is packed with moments that stick with you. The Matrix had the initial Trinity camera-swing and Keanu's acrobatic bullet dodge. Rings has Boromir fighting through the hail of arrows, the Balrog, the Ents, and pretty much everything Legolas ever did. And I never liked the scouring of the Shire in the first place.|W|P|107241801195167323|W|P||W|P|12/25/2003 04:27:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The year in quotes Tim Blair offers a side-splitting collection of 2003 wit (intentional and un-) over at his blog. Keep hitting "next" to go and see every month's picks. Some favorites - - "I hear that one of Saddam's main torture techniques involved giving the victim a standard medical exam and then showing it on TV." One of Tim's astute commenters. - "I have an uneasy feeling that many on the intellectual left are fearful that America will lose its next war amid massive casualties – but are even more fearful that America may win with minimal casualties." Robert Fisk in a real "hear, hear" moment. - "You want to really annoy the conservative warmongering powers that be? Work your ass off to pump up the vibration." San Fran Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, one of the many people who helped make Arnold governor of California. - "Do those who have written this tripe ever dare to go back and see how wrong they were last time?" Christopher Hitchens? You bet your ass. Sometime I edit this little newspaper. When I joined it, back in 2000, I was a little embarrassed by the quality of our writing and arguments. I'm not any more. I was very careful that we didn't jump too deeply into pre-war word orgy. We saved most of our jibes at celebrities for our middle-of-the-book section. I wrote one column about celebrity/journalist fearmongering, but concentrated on the hypocrisy who supported Clinton's wars and cringed at Bush's. Part of me regrets joining the anti-anti-war protest at NU, back in March, but when the anti-war folks asked me to take the mic to explain why we could possibly support Bush's genocidal schemes, I calmly asked everyone to think past their hatred of this-or-that politician, or this-or-that policy, and form an argument about what would actually make Iraq better. These quotes are still funny. But they remind me why I've lost most of my interest in opinion journalism, and why I like reporting much, much better.|W|P|107238763664662740|W|P||W|P|12/24/2003 04:23:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I am entertained I notice that Stephen Den Beste has been writing interminable synopses of his latest anime purchases. This has prompted me to reflect on the stuff I've watched since my vacation began last Saturday. TV Aqua Teen Hunger Force It's like this: Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock are anthromorphic fast food items with superpowers. Meatwad can assume different shapes. Frylock shoots electricity from his eyeballs. Master Shake squirts goo out of his straw. In theory, they solve mysteries. In practice, they sit around their New Jersey house and sneak into their neighbor's pool when he's not looking. Weird things happen - creatures arrive from the moon, a dig reveals a sandwich forged by the overlords of Hell - but the gang does their best to avoid them. When I explain this cartoon to peers, they don't get it. Understandable. The concept is pure Cartoon Network - ironic, cheap animation with an inherently silly core. What makes the show great (and worthy of repeat viewings) is the writing and voice work. Look for a script online, and get a flavor for how Master Shake and Carl (the neighbor) make the same riffs work in different plots and contexts. Sealab 2021 A crack team of scientists in a futuristic undersea complex do stupid things. Dean likes it - I'm less enamoured. But I love the episodes that play with the confines of a TV show, like when it becomes an MTV-style bullshit promo for a Sealab "movie" called "Tinfins," or when a nine-minute story is revealed to be a commercial for the jazz-themed Bebop Cola. Movies The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) Tobe Hooper's sequel to his slasher classic is pure, unmitigated shit. Realizing he can't recreate his old documentary style, Hooper makes a Sam Raimi-style gorefest that absorbs absolutely none of Raimi's wit, and "funny" scenes drag on for eons, getting more and more unbelieveably dull. Poltergeist II (1986) Strangely, Brian Gibson (director of 1998's very funny "Still Crazy") manages to recreate the look and feel of Tobe Hooper's original, which is one of the 10 or 12 best horror movies since the birth of Technicolor. Stranger still, he packs in a lot of potentially scary ideas that don't work. And he commits a truly stupid ending to film - the haunted Freeling family enter the spirit world, do battle with a scary bulbously thing, and are saved by the ghost of Craig T. Nelson's mother in law. I mean, Jesus. Lifeforce (1985) Can we make it official that Tobe Hooper was never any damn good? This potentially cool vampires-in-space movie starts like Alien and ends like Mullholland Drive, with the human antihero engaging in naked sword-sex with the alien soulsucker. Wow, what crap. Legend (1985) Ridley Scott's legendary dud, which casts Tom Cruise as the feyest fantasy hero since Little Nemo, is actually a real wonder to behold. The set design is breathtaking, on par with the prettiest sights in "The Lord of the Rings." Mia Sara, best remembered as the squeeze in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," is gorgeous. Tim Curry, as the villainous Darkness, is a human cartoon. "What is LIGHT without ... DARK! What are YOU without ... MEEEEE!" Glengarry Glen Ross What the fuck? The only Oscar nomination went to Al Pacino? Unfair. Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and Kevin Spacey are all fantastic as real estate salesmen who are cracking under the pressure of a contest set down by their employers, relayed by Alec Baldwin. Don't let the phrase "real estate" scare you off. The dialogue and acting make this one of the tensest dramas of the last 20 years.|W|P|107225783331402672|W|P||W|P|12/24/2003 03:34:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Simple pleasures When I have time on my hands, I read. When I have time and an internet connection, I read reviews of bad movies. And the pans of Roger Ebert are some of the best. Bad movies apparently make his brain leak out of his ears. He cannot comprehend how these movies are made, and he pounds the keyboard, pained and wailing, trying to understand. The results are always, always funny. Here are some samples. - on "Josie and the Pussycats" Josie and the Pussycats are not dumber than the Spice Girls, but they're as dumb as the Spice Girls, which is dumb enough. - on "Little Indian, Big City" If the third reel had been the missing footage from Orson Welles' `The Magnificent Ambersons,' this movie still would have sucked. - on "Trapped in Paradise" There's a scene where several squad cars are chasing three crooks in a horse-drawn sleigh. Why is this supposed to be funny? Why? Why? Why? - on "The Flinstones in Viva Rock Vegas" This is an ideal first movie for infants, who can enjoy the bright colors on the screen and wave their tiny hands to the music. - on "Saving Silverman" You know you're in trouble when you're reduced to praising a movie for its absence of fart jokes, and have to add "almost." - on "Mad Dog Time" The girls share the last name of Everly, so they're the Everly Sisters--get it? Ho, ho, ho. God, what rich humor this movie offers! - on "Clifford" It's not bad in any usual way. It's bad in a new way all its own. There is something extraterrestrial about it, as if it's based on the sense of humor of an alien race with a completely different relationship to the physical universe.|W|P|107225486270804816|W|P||W|P|12/19/2003 09:15:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Songs for next year The brilliant Casey Newton publishes a treatise on how fast cool music can date, and suggests which of 2003's songs will make it into the canon.|W|P|107188652179777249|W|P||W|P|12/19/2003 08:40:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Do I hate music? Believe it or don't, some people are actually checking my site to see if I've updated the record reviews. I got my start on the internet reviewing CDs ... last year, I made an attempt to come back and review them again. I wrote up opinions on Harry Nilsson, Suede, and Eric Carmen on my parents' computer, then forgot to bring them back to New York with me. A few months later, their hard drive was damaged and the reviews were lost. I get serious pleasure out of reviewing albums, and look for some new stuff in the next week. But not until then. It takes a while to gin up the initiative to create prose you've already written.|W|P|107188445562831051|W|P||W|P|12/17/2003 04:28:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The Nation on Saddam David Corn, no fan of George Bush, has some sensible and eloquent thoughts on the capture of Saddam.
The war on terrorism's number-one distraction has now been taken out. Let the Iraqis celebrate. Let Hussein be punished to the max--though no punishment devised by mortals can fit his crimes.
It's nice to hear this - it distinguishes smart anti-war folks from professional whiners like Michael Moore.
Thank God Saddam is finally back in American hands! He must have really missed us. Man, he sure looked bad! But, at least he got a free dental exam today. That's something most Americans can't get.
And then some background about how the US supported Saddam against Iran. In a way, this kind of commentary reminds me of the LOTR review I fisked below. The Michael Moores assume that people like me are 1.)uninformed or 2.)treacherous. We don't know that the US once supported Saddam, or we don't care. Just once I'd like them to actually read the Project for a New American Century reports they bleat about. People like me realized that America had been wrong to support Saddam in the past, and he should have been overthrown in 1991. And sanctions against Iraq ended not because of TV Nation or Voices in the Wilderness, but because of Paul Wolfowitz. Corn has the humility to recognize that, then move ahead and make his argument.|W|P|107169653448954533|W|P||W|P|12/16/2003 11:47:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|A chink in the King's armor Like many nerds, I've been following the reviews for The Return of the King on Rotten Tomatoes, an internet clearinghouse for critics. For a very, very long time ROTK's rating stayed steady at 100% - all good reviews, no bad ones. Today, the rating dipped to 98%. As we've all been reminded in these last 18 or so months, dissent is vital to our democracy. Dissent is patriotic. The Dixie Chicks do more than make shitty records - they defend our free speech. Right? Nope. These two critics don't really have anything bad to say about ROTK. David Elliot of the San Diego Union-Tribune saves his venom for the fans.
The saga sags, though not for fans like "fuzzfeller," buzzing on a Web site about the film's "awesome" video game. (Yep, it arrived before the movie. Synergy, anyone?) Or Andrew, on the site Fetal Film Report, excitedly telling us that actor Billy Boyd, who plays Pippin, "was near tears just reading the screenplay."
To paraphrase David Wild: What the fuck is this shit? It's really not hard to consider a film without checking in with its tie-ins and internet fans. Does merchandise diminish a movie? Does hype?
You can't blame people (like a few Lordites who called to tell me I was too old to really relish the series) for not having seen movies made before they were born, but some perspective beyond the Tolkien or fan-site kind does help you evaluate Jackson's film achievement. It was my awareness of what Coppola, Lean, Gance, Kobayashi and other creators of epics have done that helped prompt questions in my head.
You're imagining him writing this into a composition book in a small Parisian cafe with a pencil in one hand and a cigarette in the other, right? Tell me I'm not the only one. And tell me David Elliot doesn't really think he knows more about Roger Ebert, who spent years compiling a collection called "The Great Movies" and also loves the Lord of the Rings movies.
Since we know that cute Frodo must save mankind by returning the gold ring to Mount Doom, why the endless padding of "heroic" suspense? Jackson really thinks we needed such touches as the episode with a huge spider worthy of a '50s monster film (reputedly he's an arachnophobe).
Arachnophobe or not, he probably got the idea for the spider from the book upon which the movie is based. Why isn't this genius critic aware of the source material?
Why, in these many realms, are the only viable occupations warfare, sorcery, music and carousing? Who built and sustains these mountain-scaling keeps (perhaps Merlin, the original digitalizer)?
Good point. All those castles in Europe - they were all built by Industrial Light and Magic, right?
How come women are only saucy flirts or radiant emblems of civilian vulnerability? Finally, perhaps pinched by feminism, Jackson lets fair Eowyn (Miranda Otto) flail a sword and hack off a monster's head.
And she was seen using a sword, and besting the robust male hero, in The Two Towers. Maybe David should spend less time studying Coppola (does that include The Rainmaker and Jack?) and more time watching the movies he's paid to review.
Jackson has achieved not Tolkien. He has made a cornucopian and corny hash of Tolkien, old John Martin spectacle paintings, head comix, Arthurian tales, Bob Howard macho-lit, New Zealand travelogues, Thomas Kinkade kitsch, '30s serials and the mountain films of Leni Riefenstahl, whose spirit hovers over the grand shots of relay bonfires on snowy peaks.
What the fuck is a head comic? Eh, enough time wasted. This is a pissy little rant that holds up one movie to standards that Eliot would obviously never apply to any other movie. Like that timeless masterpiece Panic Room.|W|P|107163642295682999|W|P||W|P|12/16/2003 02:31:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I am on vacation: I compile lists For now, here are my favorite singles/songs of 2003. I'll update as the situation demands. 15. Fleetwood Mac - "What's the World Coming to" 14. Jane's Addiction - "Just Because" 13. Richard Thompson - "A Love You Can't Survive" 12. Outkast - "Ghetto Musick" 11. The Thorns - "Blue" 10. Warren Zevon - "Keep Me In Your Heart" 9. Super Furry Animals - "Golden Retriever" 8. Belle and Sebastian - "Step Inside My Office, Baby" 7. Fountains of Wayne - "Stacy's Mom" 6. Christina Aguilera - "Fighter" 5. Justin Timberlake - "Rock Your Body" 4. R. Kelly - "Ignition (remix)" 3. Guided by Voices - "My Kind of Soldier" 2. The New Pornographers - "The Laws Have Changed" 1. Outkast - "Hey Ya"|W|P|107155991585380668|W|P||W|P|12/15/2003 10:41:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|CJ and Dean, again My Delaware friends chime in with more opinions about Buffy - Dean offers some lists and CJ offers some season retrospectives. It's inspiring ... I will chime in shortly with that most subjective of lists, the favorite characters.|W|P|107154606630605762|W|P||W|P|12/14/2003 11:47:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Yes, yes, but what about Ramsey Clark? Without knowing whether this is inside blogball or a legitimate international story, I am wondering: If Saddam Hussein goes on trial at the Hague, will former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark - a major anti-war organizer in 2002 and 2003 - join his defense? Clark was the co-chairman of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, and one of its most visible spokesmen in the English-speaking world. In 2001, Clark came out very strongly against the treatment Milosevic got from international forces.
"I have seen this in many countries," said Clark. "The authorities try to disorient and weaken a political prisoner, especially in the first stages of an arrest." Clark noted that despite these attempts to break Slobodan Milosevic, he remains strong, has an excellent spirit, is very sharp, and wants to argue his case to expose NATO's aggression aimed at breaking up and Yugoslavia, to defend the sovereignty of Yugoslavia and to defend the people of his country against US and European plans to take over and devastate the economy. Said Clark: "Milosevic says, 'OK, I didn't choose to be here, but I am here. So apparently it is my destiny to use this prison as a platform to help our people.'"
There's every reason to believe that Clark is fuming at the treatment of Saddam we've seen today. For years, he has credited American imperialism with Iraq's problems, charging "genocide" and "crimes against humanity" even when no bombs were falling. In 1999, he wrote a letter to members of the UN Security Council linking US policy against Yugoslavia to US policy on Iraq.
The targeting by U.S. and NATO outside of Kosovo was clearly directed at terrorizing and crippling civilian society, as was the case with Iraq in 1991 and now ... U.S. militarism is out of control. It strikes where and when it chooses. The El-Shifa Pharmaceutical plant destroyed by 21 Tomahawk missiles in August 1998 produced 50 percent of the medicines available to the people of Sudan. The U.S.-compelled sanctions against Iraq continue to further impoverish a malnourished and sickened population. Several hundred human beings die each day as a direct result of the sanctions. Every U.N. agency dealing with health, food, water quality, or children confirms that these genocidal sanctions against Iraq have taken more than one and a half million lives and permanently injured several times more. The act of genocide as defined in the Article II of the Convention includes "deliberately inflicting on (a national, ethnical, racial or religious) group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." The U.S. bombs Iraq constantly, killing and destroying at will. In the first two weeks of March 1999 it attacked northern Iraq with 195 bombing missions and southern Iraq with 511. Hundreds of casualties resulted. The principal targets were chosen to cripple Iraq's ability to transport and sell oil under the U.N. food for oil program in order to further deprive the people of Iraq of needed food and medicines.
From everything he's put into the public record, it looks like Clark views Saddam as he views Milosevic - a misunderstood defender of national sovereignty trampled by US arrogance. He helped set up Dan Rather's pre-war interview with Saddam, and told reporters that the dictator could be, and wanted to be, dealt with peacefully.
Clark said Saddam sees little incentive to cooperate with the inspectors, however, because he believes Bush is set on war. "What he thinks is, no matter what Iraq's performance is, the president will attack," Clark said.
So what if Saddam goes to the Hague? What if Ramsey Clark helps to defend him? I'm not sure, but I hope that other reporters remember that when thousands of people across America protested the threat of an Iraq war, they were marching under the banner of Ramsey Clark's group. There might finally be some investigation into these people US military action under any circumstances, and why. And I'd love to see how Joe and Jane TV watcher react when they see a man who got thundering ovations at an anti-war rally defending the murderer of 300,000 Iraqis.|W|P|107142046485102942|W|P||W|P|12/14/2003 10:26:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Immediate Saddam thoughts I break from my irregularly scheduled funblogging to offer my Saddam thoughts: - We should take the necessary steps (I'm fuzzy on what they are) to have Saddam tried by the courts at the Hague, as with Milosevic. Two reasons. 1)It grants an air of legitimacy to the operation that would be lost if Saddam is tried by an Iraqi tribunal or US military tribunal - the worst option. 2)It will keep Saddam in the public eye, which from a Bush supporter's perspective (which is my perspective, until Gephardt or Kerry do something to blow my mind) is ideal - world press is reminded every week for a year of the boilerplate Bush and Blair used to justify the war. - It's no sin to see this footage and say "Damn, where's Osama?" That's what I said. It's my hope that international forces in Afghanistan are emboldened to find Osama and the Mullah Omar. Meanwhile, in my id: Owned. UPDATE: Courtesy of Fark.com |W|P|107141556219730715|W|P||W|P|12/14/2003 10:08:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Saddamized I turn you over to the jingoistic Bush fedayeen at the BBC.|W|P|107141449650896762|W|P||W|P|12/12/2003 04:04:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Heading home Work kept me tired and haggard for a good two weeks. I spent Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon watching movies and manually mailing some issues of my newspaper to our friends and subscribers. Come 4 p.m. Friday, I will be Delaware-bound. And then I'll post some more, if you're into that sort of thing.|W|P|107121987085591392|W|P||W|P|12/07/2003 11:23:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Buffy countdown pt. III - favorite villains Trying to put this list together a while back, I realized a certain design flaw. The real villain of Buffy, as producers have told us, was Life. The bad things our heroes fought were merely a sideshow in the journey to learn the big lessons of the series. On the other hand, the villains on Buffy were really cool. After Season One's generic vampire The Master was vanquished, Buffy et al encountered foes who took more out of them, dug into their emotions, and saddled them with loss. Frequently, they were given hilarious dialogue. I have 8 favorites in the rogues gallery. 8. The Master Oh, come on, respect where it's due. He did kill the heroine in the first season. And she obviously never quite recovered from it. "Where are your jibes now?" 7. Quentin Travers and The Watchers Council This was a good twist, provided by a freelance writer, no less (David Fury, who went on to produce the show). The Council that creates Slayers is corrupt and sadistic. Buffy can only do her job when she breaks from tradition - and in the series' finale, she can only save the world when she destroys what they created. That was fun. "Congratulations again." 6. Spike Everybody loved Spike as a villain. I liked him as a sad sack love interest, too, and part of that was thanks to his general reprehensibility. He's essentially a scared, lovesick pansy who can only get through the day by doing terrible things to people. And he is very, very funny. "Oh, please! If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock." 5. Glory There's an Antichrist element I like about Glory. Buffy's interesting because she's a cute, punny girl who happens to be sworn to protect humankind. And Glory is a cute, silly girl who happens to be a God from Hell intent on destroying the world. That in itself is cool. Glory earns bonus points for irrevocably changing the heroine's life, by forcing mystics to give her a younger sister (this is always the plot that sounds silliest when you explain it), and then by finding new and exciting ways to exploit her vulnerabilities. "I'm crazy? Honey, I'm the original one-eyed chicklet in the Kingdom of the Blind. 'Cuz at least I admit the world makes me nuts." 4. Willow I think if fans were more at peace with themselves, they'd admit that Willow's villainy made perfect sense. Without going into too much detail - Willow was the character most fans could identify with. A fantasy fan is an outcast. He or she spends some time thinking about how unfair his lot is, and how he'd punish the people who make fun of him if only he had some kind of power to do it. Well, Willow got power. Making her go rogue was the only artistic decision that made sense. The fact that it hurt so much? That's proof that the writers were doing their job. "Buffy, you hate it here as much as I do. I'm just more honest about it." 3. The Mayor He had a chintzy evil scheme, actually - to transmute into a gigantic demonic snake. I didn't really appreciate him until it was revealed that he founded Sunnydale himself, more than a hundred years before the show began, expressly for the purpose of empowering himself and feeding demons. "That's one spunky little girl you've raised. I'm gonna eat her." 2. Warren Mears I'm kind of alone on this one, but think about it - Warren was more or less created by Buffy. If she hadn't humiliated him when his first plans went awry, he wouldn't bothered trying to outwit her. He nearly killed her, and he succeeded in killing Tara (the only villain apart from Angel who killed a cast member). He not only turned Willow into a villain - he wrecked her life, and her friends' lives, and will haunt her forever as a result. In a sense that only makes sense in a list of villains, that's kickass. "Are you done yet? Or can we talk some more about our feelings?" 1. Angel When my friend CJ and I discussed Buffy a few days ago, we agreed that the show didn't really reach greatness in the first season. It took more than a year for the themes to build. And it took time for fans to warm to Angel, the studly, mopey vampire who absolutely loved our heroine. They couldn't have done less to make it really hurt when, in the middle the second season, Angel lost his soul and became devoted to killing Buffy's friends and destroying the world. That introduced about 10,000 character conflicts, moral questions and great issues into what was a fun, silly show. And you really, really wanted him to die. That's the mark of grade-A villainy. "Love you, too. I'll call you."|W|P|107085739394603524|W|P||W|P|12/07/2003 10:41:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Democratic observation At one point during yesterday's Florida convention, Sen. John Kerry told Democrats that we need "to get U.S. troops OUT of Iraq and UN troops IN!" Whether he knew it or not, behind the stage, a throng of diverse-looking Democrats had been allowed to take seats, to make the whole thing more town hall-ish. Since organizers didn't want to embarrass candidates, they forwent candidate banners and instead gave the throng miniature American flags. The result was, when Kerry said "We need to get U.S. troops OUT of Iraq," the people behind him started waving their little flags. Their little American flags. To paraphrase Seth Green, "that falls under the heading of 'irony' in my book."|W|P|107085491269139901|W|P||W|P|12/06/2003 09:18:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|They Might Be Giants at the Vic, Dec. 5 I'd been warned in advance, but I was surprised at how just funny TMBG are in person. For all the world they're like Leslie Neilsen in the first Naked Gun movie - guys who've taken out the real band and are bluffing their way through the show. For some reason, the show begins with three cute puppets appearing on the upper balcony and talk-singing some obscene rap about how they're going to "fuck us up." The band comes on immediately after and plays their biggest hit, "Birdhouse in Your Soul." Excellent move. The audience is brought to a boil right away. Then they introduce "Cyclops Rock" with a lot of banter - "this is about a friend of ours who's 80 feet tall. He is mythic. He is real." Flanzburgh takes vocals on this one, and handles most of the stage patter thereafter. To my disappointment, the show is biased toward new material and songs from the band's last three records - not their worst stuff, but not their best. An early peak arrives when Linnell straps on the accordion and plays "Doctor Worm." But the crowd (including yours truly) is crestfallen when they don't follow with "Istanbul." There's a little too much Flanz for my liking. Sure, he does some funny stuff with recent favorites "Wicked Litta Critta" and "John Lee, Supertaster," but I want to hear the early songs! "Ana Ng" is my salvation. After an appearence from Flansburgh's cute wife, Robin Goldwasser, and one good encore, the show ends on a second encore with "Fingertips," the legendary multi-part song that inspires truly impressive degrees of audience participation. Then the asshole Vic bouncers push the front row (of which I am a member) forcefully toward the exit, before we can mingle with the band. So we end on a low, after a bunch of high points.|W|P|107076349552599162|W|P||W|P|12/05/2003 12:59:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Buffy countdown pt. II - favorite jokes The dialogue sold me on Buffy. I never could have gotten into this quirky show if I hadn't found myself laughing with eerie frequency at everything the characters said. Even in later seasons, after the characters left high school and the show took a turn for the bleak, it's easy to mine quotes for one's own daily outbursts of wit. My nine favorite humorous quotes, that I refer to the most often and quote to people who operate under the assumption that the show is stupid: 9. "I like you. You're funny, and you're nicely shaped. And frankly, it's ludicrous to have these interlocking bodies and not ... interlock. Please remove your clothing now." - Anya, in "The Harsh Light of Day" (4-3) 8. "It could be witches! Some evil witches! [sees Willow's and Tara's expressions] Which is ridiculous, 'cause witches they were persecuted, Wicca good and love the earth and woman power and I'll be over here. [sits]" - Xander, singing, in "Once More, With Feeling" (6-7) 7. "Isn't it crazy how slayin' just always makes you hungry and horny?" "Well ... sometimes I crave a nonfat yogurt afterwards." - Faith, then Buffy, in "Faith, Hope and Trick" (3-3) 6. "Well, I like you. You're nice and you're funny. And you don't smoke. Yeah, okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time." - Willow, to Oz in "Phases" (2-17) 5. "Oh, please. If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock." - Spike, in "School Hard" (2-3) 4. "I'm the best, the most important friend you'll ever have. Besides, you know, once the Ascension starts, the 'in' crowd you're so concerned about? Whoo! They'll be lucky if there's enough left of them to fill a pothole. Promise. Still unhappy? Okey doke. I've got two words that are going to make all the pain go away. 'Miniature.' 'Golf.'" - Mayor Wilkins, to Faith in "Enemies" (3-17) 3. "Oh, God, is the world ending? I have to research a paper on Bosnia for tomorrow, but if the world's ending, I'm not gonna bother." - Cordelia, in "Helpless" (3-12) 2. "When I'm with a boy I like I can't say anything cool, or witty--or at all. I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away." - Willow, in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" (1-1) 1. "I don't like vampires. I'm going to take a stand and say they're not good." - Xander, in "The Harvest" (1-2)|W|P|107060395397853609|W|P||W|P|12/04/2003 02:32:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I love products In 5 days I will finish my last two finals and head to Borders Books and Music, where I will cash my receipt for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fifth Season on DVD. For the first time, I'm paying for some episodes I've already seen. I basically know what happens in this season, and I have one scene saved in realmedia format on my computer. I will allow readers to guess which scene this is. It involves lips. I've always put stock in shiny objects. When I was a kid, I read books cracked only at a 90 degree angle, so the spine wouldn't bend. If a book or card or magazine got creased or soaked, I'd throw it out and find another. This was eventually outgrown via painful and expensive therapy, but I still like owning things. I own more than 1000 CDs. I own my favorite TV series on DVD. And I especially prize the Buffy/Angel discs. Keeping these 6-disc sets in a prominent place comes with a bunch of benefits. - instant conversation/flirtation piece. Just as I've always selected T-shirts for their ability to start conversations, so I display DVDs. People who enter my space see them, and make their judgment - I'm either a fan of their favorite show, or some kind of hyperdork. - rewatch value. I replay favorite scenes from movies all the time. With Buffy, I replay favorite scenes, dialogue, or entire episodes. - bells and whistles. I carefully study the interviews, quick documentaries and episode commentaries that come with new Buffy sets. As any fan of this show can tell you, it's the kind of thing you can discuss and debate for hours. Quoting David Fury about his experience on "Helpless" is the geek equivilent of a Dim Mak death touch. - packaging. This is the saddest part. Naomi Klein would break my legs if she knew. But I really love tearing the plastic off a new DVD, reading the insert ads (this time it will promise Season 6 in July 2004), looking at the promo art used for each flap of the case, and seeing who's on which DVD. When I bought Season Four in June (racing from work to pick it up days before official release in a store in Greenwhich Village), I bet myself who would be on which discs. And I got it wrong. So my predictions this time, for whose faces will be on the discs: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Spike, Dawn. A completely irrelevant detail, but it works my pleasure centers. Over the next 5 days I'll use this blog to take breaks from studying and post favorite things from the part of Buffy I've seen (Seasons 1-4). It's a weirdly cathartic show. The fact that it's available after I finish my last classes of 2003 is a little godsend. 1: |W|P|107052317846468370|W|P||W|P|12/03/2003 11:58:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|It never rains but it pours It's a rule of thumb that when I get one bad news e-mail about the Chronicle, another is coming. Early today I picked up a message from a campus reporter angry about a story we'd run, criticizing the policies of the campus paper. I pounded out a quick response. Went to class. Came home. Before the close of business, I'd gotten 3 more e-mails. - The first was a question from our publisher. We'd told them they were getting money from a donor, and it hadn't showed up. What was the problem? - The second was a letter from our faculty liason. She'd been contacted about the missing money. What was the problem? - The third was a letter from the liason, cced to the student accounts office. Our account had been frozen until we made up for the missing money. Remember the Simpsons episode when Homer gives Mr. Burns all the parking slips at once - "You have 24 hours to move your car, you have 3 hours to move your car, your car has been towed," etc? Just like that. The sticky part is that the donor had told me they were wiring the money to our publisher in November, a little behind schedule. Apparently, they were still behind schedule. But the buck stopped with me, and when they didn't do their job, I got the blame. Luckily, we're not publishing again until January. I have time to solve this. It's just strange how trouble always comes in spurts.|W|P|107051391499506025|W|P||W|P|