Friday, October 31, 2003

A Whole New 290 World

The crash earlier today, and Paul's new blog, got me thinking about the way this site is set up. So, you'll notice that the links to the side are a little different. Eventually Highway 290 Revisited will be the home page for a cluster of 290 sites (sites related to this one, not two-hundred and ninety different sites).

Isn't it sickening how much energy I have after my first week of work in four months? I'm sure it will wear off soon.

Something Bad...

My old template just died. I don't know why. Enjoy this weird thing until I can fix the real one again over the weekend.

Headed Home

Tonight after work I get to return to a house rather than a hotel. We don't have mold in our house; the air ducts are being cleaned today and all should be well.

This means that I get to give away the massive bag of candy in our pantry to neighborhood children rather than eating the whole thing over the weekend. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

That Was An Improvement

Last night's episode was far better than the previews would indicate, which makes me think NBC is promoting the show in an attempt to win a new fan base while trying, somewhat, to maintain the things that current fans enjoy while assuming they'll tune in. I have to admit, grudgingly, that this is a pretty good strategy.

I still don't like that Leo is turning into Mr. Evil. The "Us against the rest" feel of the principal cast is being put aside for some pretty serious rancor. I thought CJ was going to scream at Leo, and Will practically did shout at Toby before he decided to work for Bingo Bob. (I wonder what that choice means for Josh Malina's role on the show?)

Anyone who's paid attention knows what I liked the most, though: Amy left, and that's got to be a good thing. I especially liked how selfless Donna was: she was obvious about her feelings for Josh when she told him how good he looked, but she also tried to get him to treat Amy well and didn't nag him about his birthday. The writers remembered the promise Sorkin made last year when he put the words, "You've got to get Josh" in Donna's mouth--she's the one who gets him, both in the mental sense and, eventually, the romantic one.

Let's just hope Josh can dig himself out of the very Sorkin-esque mess he's in--I think his problems with the Idaho senator were the thing that made this episode enjoyable. The juxtaposition at the end--huge failure and happy birthday--was the kind of thing I would have expected in season two. Credit is due: good work, Mr. Wells.

Now, please don't make the rest of sweeps month revolve around a tornado.

Let's Hope He's Electable...

Howard Dean looks like he'll be picking up a big endorsement this week. That will really hurt Gephardt, who I was starting to consider the number 2 candidate in the race. Clark or Kerry have a chance to make a move--now.

A year from now there will be mere days until the election.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


The Onion | Pope John Paul II: 25 Years Of Laughs

I don't post from the Onion very often, but I didn't say anything when the Pope marked his 25th anniversary. He deserves some recognition for doing at least as much harm as good over the last quarter century by standing in the way of progress, encouraging the maintenance of stereotypes, and preventing millions of people around the world from seeking contraception that could help reduce population problems and begin the move toward equality for women in developing nations.

But God will tell him when to step down. Perhaps with a lightning bolt?

Just in Time

If you look to the right at the new music list, you'll realize that I found employment just in time to maintain my compulsive CD-buying habit. Suddenly picking the top albums of 2003 is looking a little bit trickier...

The new R.E.M. is great even if you're not a lifelong fan. Except for "Shiny Happy People," it's got everything you'll want from the last 15 years. Cough up the extra 4 bucks and get the special edition with the rarities disc. It's mostly songs you've heard before performed live or in a different version, and worth the money.

I'll have to listen to The Strokes a few more times to judge it fairly. Right now it's hard to tell if they've done anything at all different. I wish they would have continued working with Nigel Godrich (producer for Radiohead and two Beck albums). Oh well...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Go See It

See it. That's all I want to say about Mystic River , one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. There's a reason why you haven't seen a bad review...

Monday, October 27, 2003

Worth the Wait

I just finished my first day at the AAD. (In fact, I'm still here as I type this because I go home to the internetless hotel when I finish typing.) What a great day! I learned about the benefits of my job, which are myriad and include, for some reason, discounts at Woodfield. When I got upstairs, I found even better news: my cubicle wasn't a cubicle.

It was an office! Complete with a door, two desks (one for writing, reading, and meetings, and one for typing), and as much space as my boss had at my last job. (I'm not counting the two-day interlude at IPA.) The euphoria from this will probably propel me through at least Christmas.

It helps that the people are very nice; I was taken to lunch and people have been stopping by as I type this to say goodnight and ask how I enjoyed my first day. I can hardly contain my excitement. (I realize as I write this that it sounds like a letter Josh Malina would have written on Sports Night.)

In retrospect, the stop at IPA was a very good thing. It showed me what I want in a job and made me far more committed to getting this one. Quitting IPA was an even better thing; if I had stayed one more day I wouldn't have taken the call or scheduled the interview that got me this job. Sometimes things really do happen for a reason.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

But Before I Go

A better reason to hate Bush

Chew on this for a while.

If you don't hate Bush when you're done, chew again.

If you don't hate Bush after that...

You're as illogical and foolish as he is.

Livin La Vida Quinta

I'm home right now battling with a washing machine that won't spin out the water at the end of the cycle in a house whose temperature has dropped below 60 degrees because the heat is off while we're not living here. Oh, and it smells like the ducts haven't been cleaned yet.

So I'm posting this to explain that you won't be seeing quite so many updates from me this week, partly because I start my new job tomorrow and partly because I'll be going home to a hotel. Which, by the way, is about the last thing you want to do at the end of the day. Did I mention they have an outdoor pool?

Wish me luck on my "business trip" to Schaumburg!

Friday, October 24, 2003

Get Lost

Lost in Translation

What a film. I think this was the first time I've cared about the characters in a movie, and felt empathy with them, in a while. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson give amazing performances. And the feel of the film drags you into the characters and their experience of Japan--you're just as lost as they are. In a word, this is a wry film. And that's a good thing.

Anyone who's seen it, please offer your guess as to what Bob says to Charlotte at the end.

Home Sweet Home

La Quinta / Reservations / Property Overview / About This Hotel

Our landlords are sending us on vacation! Their sudden discovery that the horrific stench emanating from our vents may have something to do with mold in our ducts (which can cause, I learned today, permanent brain and lung damage) prompted them to send us to...Hoffman Estates! We'll be living right next to Chili's and IHOP, and just across the freeway from a 30-theatre AMC.

Free continental breakfast will definitely make up for not being able to use my computer or television or stereo or garage or read my newspaper each morning. At least I'll have a lot of fresh towels every morning.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

I Feel So Bad About This

Is Scalia Too Blunt To Be Effective? (

Ha! Justice Scalia, part of the unholy trinity of Supreme Court justices (with Thomas and Rehnquist) who can be counted upon to be on the opposite side of me on nearly any issue, won't be able to weigh in regarding the Pledge of Allegiance and whether it can include the words "under God." I guess that's what happens when you decide a case before hearing the arguments.

Today Scalia lambasted his peers for their ruling in Lawrence v. Texas . Doesn't he get it? I like the image presented in the first article of Scalia as a man who has failed to bring his colleagues around to his positions and thus been rendered, despite considerable talents, mostly ineffectual. Let's hope he remains that way.

The best way to keep Scalia out of the majority on the Court? Don't let Bush hold the White House next year. But that's just a suggestion.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Language Problem

Dear John Wells, Executive Producer of The West Wing ,

You've got to be kidding me. Josh and Amy have a language problem comparable to the one the administration has regarding the stagnating economy? Here's what they have: a relationship based entirely on physical attraction and on Amy's willingness to prey upon Josh to advance her causes. Shouldn't MLP be off having a baby by now?

At least you redeemed Donna's diet metaphor after making her look incredibly stupid--having her share a theory with a Nobel Prize winning president was a nice boost for the Donna-isn't-an-idiot crowd. And that speech about Bingo Bob on the teleprompter was pretty funny. But having Ryan bail out Josh and never saying anything about it, marginalizing Charlie's role on the show, and the way you're turning Leo into a crank--I can't say I approve.

By the way, John, I hope you're setting up something very good with this whole "Toby wants a different job description" thing. Perhaps this is how you'll promote Donna to set up her impending reckoning, and subsequent love affair, with Josh?

It's hard to like your show, Mr. Wells, when you're running against the MS scandal episodes over on Bravo. You should consider asking NBC to stop airing the reruns until summer so you don't have to compete. Frankly, other than Matthew Perry's return to the show, I don't know what the hell you've got planned. Based on that trailer, it doesn't look like much--but at least you didn't make me watch Josh and Amy kiss again. Thank heavens for small blessings.

A Very Concerned Fan

Take That, Ruben

Clay Aiken's CD Debuts at No. 1

It isn't the best CD of the year. I doubt it'll make my top ten. And it sounds like the soundtrack to a Broadway musical that doesn't yet exist. But Clay Aiken sold 613,000 copies of his new album in the first week it was in stores, and that's pretty amazing.

I hope Ruben sells less than 300,000. That would really be icing on the cake.

Is This True?

Dateline: Hollywood

This article, sadly, blurs the line between truth and fiction. I can actually imagine the conversation that occurs near the end of the piece taking place--and Colmes doing just as bad a job as he can defending his alleged party.

Thankfully, I doubt the electoral map will be quite as red as this article shows it. Yesterday's ban is the beginning of a culture war that will play out over the coming year. The notion that Roe v. Wade is in danger traditionally works in the Democrats' favor. Some of the voters the GOP counts on may be turned off by an anti-choice message--especially soccer moms.

If you read the culture war article, pay special attention to the section about General Boykin--AKA the "Christian Soldier"--and his remarks about Islam. The fact that Bush won't shout back at him for making clearly racist remarks because he doesn't want to offend his "base" tells me just how scary and powerful that base is.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Brian was also right. He's been pointing out the flaws with the comment system consistently for a long time. Jon just made a joke about it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

New Genetic Code

Jon is right: this website seems to have a genetic predisposition to ignoring comments. Well, no longer. Below each post for the time being you'll see two comment links. The one on the left is NEW; please start using it for your comments. The one on the right is the old, clunky version; I'll keep it on the site until it seems appropriate to remove it.

I hope this makes it easier to add comments in the future.

Not for the Faint of Heart

Savage Love by Dan Savage (06/12/03)

I discovered this while reading The Onion today. The offending material--a new definition for the word "santorum"--is at the end of the column.

That 's just about the perfect revenge.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Mission Accomplished?

BRAVO > The West Wing

A bit of personal triumph to share: as of tonight it is my belief that I have seen every episode of The West Wing . If not, it's very close. Thank goodness for Bravo.

Geysers of Blood

Kill Bill - OCTOBER 10th VOLUME 1 -

After a day of reflection, I've decided that Kill Bill is just the right kind of movie to divide in two.

I want to know how it ends--don't get me wrong about that. And watching it was, while sometimes straining, always entertaining--Uma Thurman's delicate facial expressions make up for the lack of dialogue in Volume One. But I couldn't have made it through the other 100 minutes or so of the film--not yesterday, and probably not today, either.

Much has been made of the fact that Tarantino shoots the movie in a variety of styles, all of which share a common trait--they obscure reality. Blood shoots from wounds like it would in a cartoon. The characters are often caricatures of themselves--indeed, Lucy Liu's character is animated for half her screen time. The story is so over the top as to be outside the realm of possibility.

Normally these traits make a movie watchable. They make it an escape. I can sit through three hours of Lord of the Rings and beg for more when it ends because the situation, however dire, is an escape from the reality of my life and bears little relation to it. These traits are the reason the Matrix sequels could have been packaged as one and many would have been made happier as a result.

And these traits are the reason why I can't imagine watching KB in one sitting. All the cartoony elements mask the underlying simplicity of the story: a heroine who got screwed and wants to face the people who did it. Yes, her screwing is drastic--how many of you were shot in the head on your wedding day while the rest of your wedding party was killed?--but so is her solution. It stands in all too easily as a metaphor for our own pain, our own primal urge for revenge. Tarantino lets loose the ambitions that civilization encourages us--and rightly so--to suppress. KB strikes a chord with a deep and disturbing part of the human psyche, the part that craves vengeance and holds a grudge. Incredibly, it does so without miring itself in the hours of philosophical debate about the nature of revenge one would expect from dialogue-fanatic Tarantino. Somehow, he lets the action do the talking.

If you can stomach the body count--and it's high, oh so high--go see it. Tarantino may well have lost his mind. But the man knows how to make a movie.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Another Bit of Science

Yahoo! News - Sexual Identity Hard-Wired by Genetics - Study

Well, here's a study for George Bush to toss on the "ignore" pile with the global warming studies. I guess that's all you can do when the facts are against you.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Make Up Your Minds! > The West Wing

Now NBC is saying that the episode of WW originally scheduled during game 7 of the NLCS will be on THIS Wednesday, the 22nd, rather than the 29th as originally announced. Just thought some folks might want to know.

And for the Josh-Donna naysayers, note that Bradley Whitford is next to Janel Moloney in the cast lineup at the top of NBC's site. And Mary-Louise Parker (Amy) is with child and expecting in early 2004.

Friday, October 17, 2003

10 Outs

Only ten outs--5 for the Red Sox, 5 for the Cubs--prevented the world from seeing the World Series of dreams. I don't even know if I can bear to watch the Marlins battle the Yankees.


Thursday, October 16, 2003

Just in Time

We’re Baaaa-aack

As the article above points out, liberal views are finally being heard by more than the small portion of the population willing to use the much-maligned term to describe themselves. Five of the ten bestselling books are by liberal authors, including Molly Ivins and Paul Krugman, who I've quoted here before, and Al Franken, whose book I just finished reading.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right is a wonderful book. You'd think it would be funny but lack any substance--and you'd be dead wrong. Every chapter bursts at the seams with meaningful discussion and arguments for a variety of causes. Hannity and Colmes, O'Reilly, and Ann Coulter all come in for some fact-checking, and the prevalent idea of a liberal media goes through the wringer.

And the book is also, much to Franken's credit, hilarious. Skits like Operation Chickenhawk and Supply Side Jesus make their points while making you laugh, and repeating themes like the Bush administration's pre-9/11 terrorism plan, Operation Ignore, bring a necessary levity to a very serious topic.

If you only read one piece of non-fiction this year, make it this book. It'll really open your eyes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Fear Not! says that tonight's episode of The West Wing will air on the 29th. And no, they're not going to go out of order. Next week is supposed to be a rerun anyhow, from back when Rob Lowe was leaving the show. NBC probably wanted to avoid conflicting with the end of the NLCS--gee, who would watch that --and the World Series game that will inevitably be on next week. After all, the ratings for baseball's postseason this year have been setting records. It'd be tough to compete.

Think Fox would like Chicago, New York, and Boston in the playoffs every year?

For Real This Time

Benefits Overview

Once again I've accepted a job--and this time I mean to keep it. I'll be working as a writer at the American Academy of Dermatology, producing most of the content for their member magazine. It seemed like a great organization and a really nice office during my two interviews, and everyone I've talked to has been extremely friendly.

Never underestimate the power of a really wacky cover letter.

Nothing Like a Clinton

Yahoo! News - Clinton blasts Bush's gay marriage attack

And people wonder why I'd vote for Hillary in a heartbeat.

Speaking of hearts, was yours broken tonight? Five outs! Five! Tomorrow night you'll be able to breathe easy--if you're not watching the game. Everyone who is will be holding our collective breath for nine innings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

A Note on the Color

Since some have noted the new green background, I should explain why I changed the look of the site.

First, I was getting tired of having the same old look. More importantly, I tried to find a color as similar as possible to Wellstone green to honor his memory these next two weeks. I'll change the background before Halloween.

Speaking of color, I think my neighborhood zipped through fall last night. The tree outside my office window went from brilliant gold to barren. I guess snow will be next.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Strong Families?

Marriage Protection Week, 2003

Somehow, I don't think strong families are what the Right considers the most important notion in the delightful proclamation above. If they did, they wouldn't have made the third and most provocative sentence stand apart.

Thank you, George W. Bush, for using the authority vested in you to remind me that you consider me a second-class citizen. (And thanks, especially, for choosing the week after National Coming Out Day to do it.) My only comfort is knowing that you're a third-rate human being with a fourth-grade mind.

Almost a Year

In twelve short days, it will have been a year since Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife, his daughter, three members of his staff, and two pilots crashed into a northern Minnesota forest and died. While it seems strange to feel this way, I consider that day a pivotal one for me, a day when I staretd to reconsider my place in the world as it related to politics, family, and work.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across a chapter in Al Franken's new book (which is, by the way, stellar) that discusses Wellstone's death and the ensuing memorial. I don't want to get into a debate about that memorial, though I still shudder when I think about how thoroughly the media botched its coverage when it allowed a heartfelt speech to be spun into an act of naked political cunning. What I want to do is remind people of something Wellstone said, something I believe, and something that refutes the idea, expressed to me by many of late, that politics is just a game, not a meaningful exercise:

"Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people's lives. It's about advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and in our world. Politics is about doing well for people."

Now That's Brilliant

Raised by a pack of French poodles

Though I've never watched Newlyweds , I've heard enough about it to find the article above very funny and very interesting. Linda Holmes is an excellent freelancer, and I think you'll find her conclusions about the popularity of the MTV show intriguing. Enjoy.

Thought of the Day

I'd rather work for a company that gives employees Martin Luther King Day off than one that celebrates Columbus Day.

And here's a question, especially for people familiar with elementary education: is Columbus still a big deal at this time of year like he was in my youth? I have such a different idea of him and his ilk now, and I wondered if schools are teaching about his "discovery" differently.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Done So Soon?

Google Search: "joey and rachel break up"

One of my visitors today arrived via the search above. It turns out that this site was the only one that a search for "joey and rachel break up" returned.

Yet it would appear that, only three episodes in, that's what has happened on Friends . I have no source, so this isn't spoiling, but I saw this coming and you've got to wonder, after watching Joey and Rachel fizzle out and head to bed separately, how long it will be before the writers bring back the Ross-Rachel plotline. They've only got 15 episodes left to put Emma in an unbroken home.

I thought tonight showed a great use of a guest star without all the promotional clowning you usually see on NBC. Granted, in spite of her roles in Christopher Guest films and as Stifler's mom, Jennifer Coolidge is hardly a household name. Still, it was nice to see a surprise on a show that, after ten years, has to really stretch to be surprising. And Chandler grabbing the phone to tell Amanda that he gets pedicures, providing multiple payoffs for a joke set up at the intro, was the kind of detail that allows the show to remain funny after all this time.

On a personal note, the waiting begins again for me. I've sent in my writing sample and submitted my references, following up on two strong interviews; someday soon I hope to hear back with positive news about the job I want more than any I've heard about this long summer and fall. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Oh, the Horror :: Official Blog :: October 2003 Archive

George W. Bush and I now have something in common--before this, our gender was the only thing I believe we shared--and it makes me somewhat sick. Bush has started a blog.

The entry above discusses the launch of his 2004 campaign in Pennsylvania, where he's chosen the delightful Rick Santorum to chair his efforts. Yes, Bush is aggressively courting the gay vote in the Keystone State. Perhaps he should call in Jesse Helms to tie up the black vote as well.

For those who don't remember why Rick Santorum and I aren't friends, check out this charming article by Santorum and this humorous selection from another, more respectable blog than Bush's.

Independence Day? More Like Columbus Day

I know that reality has been suspended on The West Wing . Nevertheless, wasn't it a bit strange that tonight's episode took place on the Fourth of July? I suppose they're maintaining the internal integrity of the show.

This episode was a slight improvement over the last two. While the horse montage that ran through the show was a bit much, the pacing of the conversations picked up, and the characters are back to thinking about issues and making us think with them. CJ's troubles with Bartlet's actions will hopefully mean a meatier role for her as the season goes on. Again, though, I must ask: Where is Danny? He's the one who brought Sharif to CJ's attention in the first place. I hope Wells hasn't let his character fade from the show in favor of this obnoxious new intern, Ryan.

Also, I'm glad William Devane won't be the VP, but I thought Gary Cole fell flat as "Bingo Bob." If he's going to get what he asks for--more access and involvement than Hoynes--I hope the writers make his character as intriguing as he promised to be in his little speech to Bartlet about confounding expectations.

Finally, I'm glad Charlie finally got a line. The conflicted face of Dule Hill as he told Bartlet to send Zoey to New Hampshire spoke volumes, but he deserves to speak with his mouth once in a while.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

A Faint Light

Yahoo! News - Poll: U.S. public is 50-50 on gay marriage

On a very bad night for sports and politics--unfortunately we can't recall the result of the Cubs game--the article above is the best news I could scrounge up. What do people think: will we see some federal legal recognition of gay couples in our lifetime?

If You Went to Bed When This Was the Headline, I'm So Sorry

Yahoo! News - Buccaneers Leading Colts 28-7 at 3Q

It was a perfect night for sports. The Red Sox kept the dream of an all-curse World Series alive by closing out the choking A's 4-3 in a nail-biting game that couldn't have been more riveting in its final innings. (Best wishes to Johnny Damon, who left the field on a stretcher, and evidently a concussion, after colliding with a teammate as they both ran to catch a bloop to center.) Then, millions of Americans switched over to the Monday Night Football telecast, only to find the Colts hopelessly behind the Bucs...

Except...Indy QB Peyton Manning caught fire, seemingly aware that his audience had suddenly doubled. With 386 passing yards (176 of them to the phenomenal and underrated Marvin Harrison), Manning led his team back from a 21-point halftime deficit, driving the team downfield for three scores within the final four minutes. The ensuing overtime brought eleven more minutes of thrills before Vanderjagt's field goal clinked the right goalpost and bounced left and through to win the game. I pity the millions of people who turned off the game certain that it had been decided and missed the most stunning comeback of the season.

The First of Many

Bob Graham Ends Presidential Campaign

This comes as welcome news: Bob Graham, Senator and former governor of Florida, has left the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. We're back down to the fellowship of nine. As time passes I'm starting to wonder if Clark isn't the electable answer...but for now, all eyes on the recall. Place your bets: When will the final recall results be available? I'm betting we won't know the outcome until Thursday.

Monday, October 06, 2003

The Same Old Song

Once again I have a second interview for a job, this time on Wednesday for a job here. After all these interviews, I'm more nervous about my round of golf tomorrow than discussing a job, but wish me luck anyhow. This would be a good job to get.

I caved in and bought the new Sting album. So far it's OK, but not a revelation. His duet with Mary J. Blige is excellent, but there's a lot of filler, many of the songs are too long, and some of the album sounds like Sting plagiarizing himself. Alas.

The new Rufus Wainwright CD, Want One , is more promising. The opening track, "Oh What a World," borrows from Bolero, and that's just the start of the fun. The lyrics are interesting, the music is strikingly good and executed with obvious skill, and the album as a whole feels shorter than Sting's--but is, in fact, longer. It's just a more enjoyable way to spend time.

Sunday, October 05, 2003


Yahoo! News - Calif.'s Davis Comes Back Swinging at Schwarzenegger

It's been an interesting weekend for the California recall election. Tom Brokaw asked Arnold point-blank about the allegations of groping and harassment, noting that in many states what the potential governor has been accused of has a name: sexual assault. As the article linked above notes, the number of women who have recounted their stories of mistreatment at Schwarzenneger's hands has grown to fifteen. I doubt they're all lying.

What do people think: Should a man who seems not to respect women be the next governor of California come Wednesday? And isn't it obvious what happens next if he wins? Can't you see the signs already?

The petitions are already printed, at least in Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury comic. Starting Wednesday, if he wins, Arnold will be the next governor who faces a recall election. Don't you think millions of disgusted women and embarrassed Californians will sign? The Republicans have started something bad. It won't end here.

A Great Day for Every Ursa

Yahoo! News - Cubs End 95 Years of Playoff Frustration

Today was the day of all Chicago sports days. The Bears and Cubs both found a way to win.

I was actually at the Bears game. Edinger kicked the winning field goal right at us, and we got to see both Bear touchdowns in our end zone as well. The Bears got their first win at the new Soldier Field--a historic feat, especially given their Division III level play for the first three quarters.

As for Kerry Wood and the Cubs...magical. I hope you saw it.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Ah, Memories...

The End Matter

At last I've discovered that much of what I read in The New Yorker --a magazine to which you should subscribe if you don't already--is posted on the internet for me to share with you. Today's link will encourage a chuckle from anyone who remembers suffering with Hacker in college, or any other guide to proper citation in term papers. The final paragraph is worth its weight in gold, and ends thus: "The perfect manual of style would be like the perfect map of the world: exactly coterminous with its subject, containing a rule for every word of every sentence. We would need an extra universe to accommodate it. It would be worth it." The article explores the myriad deficiencies of Microsoft Word, the haphazard nature of web citation, and the general hilarity of trying to record your sources.

The issue also contains an interesting profile of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, written by none other than Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections .

The last issue contains a very funny profile of R.W. Apple, Jr., a New York Times writer for decades whose reputation grows with his waistline. (Jon, this issue is probably on your coffee table where I left it.) Written by Calvin Trillin, it's worth reading simply for the playful joy of the words, which were of such quality that I'm sad to have left my copy of the magazine behind in St. Louis. If you happen across a copy of the September 29th issue, sit down and enjoy.

Beating the Bushes

Dean still on top of money race

With the numbers coming in, it's apparent that Howard Dean will lead the Democratic pack in fundraising again this quarter. That's good, but hardly news.

So here's some news, taken from the article linked above: "Taking the party-wide view, Rosenberg pointed to what almost no one else has noticed: Based on the preliminary estimates for the third quarter, the 10-person Democratic field collectively will have outraised the Bush campaign, an indication of how fired up Democratic donors are."

That's right: Democrats, with individual contributions of often less than $100, are managing to raise as much money as that prince of corporate contributions, Bush. How bad do we want this guy out of the White House? No price is too high...and we'll pay it from our own wallets if necessary.

A Deserving Winner

Yahoo! News - Coetzee Wins 2003 Nobel Literature Prize to Acclaim

In keeping with my promise to promote good literature, I thought I should note that J.M. Coetzee was announced today as this year's Nobel Prize winner for literature. I've read a great many books in the last several years, and I'd have to say that Disgrace , which won the Booker Prize in 1999, was one of the most profound and deeply affecting of all of them. I highly recommend it. Coetzee's work is short and easy enough to read; you can devour a book in a weekend and savor the afterglow in your consciousness for weeks to come.

Al Franken Was Right!

Limbaugh resigns from TV show

It's true--Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. And a racist to boot. Thank goodness the pressure put on him by Gen. Wesley Clark, Dr. Howard Dean, and Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, convinced Rush to resign his post at ESPN, where he had no business being in the first place. (Has anyone noticed how many of the Democratic contenders have honorifics?) And congrats to Donovan McNabb, who has been a class act despite being publicly dissed by someone who deserved an exceedingly unclassy response.

A Bit of Minnesota Remains

Yahoo! News - Garnett Signs Extension With the Wolves

I may have returned to Chicago, but many things from Minnesota stay with me. Among them is my love of the Timberwolves, who just might win a playoff series this year after breaking our hearts last season. Alas, there's good news in the air: Kevin Garnett, who Chicagoans may remember from his days of dominating high school basketball with Ronnie Fields at Farragut, has signed on for another five years at the Target Center. He, Wally, Sprewell, Olowokandi, Cassell, and Hudson are as good a top six as any team in the NBA. Here's hoping this is the year.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Ouch! That Stings...

The last few weeks have heralded the start of the Christmas CD season. Thus far I've behaved myself. Rufus Wainwright's new CD is on its way from Amazon, and today I went to Best Buy to consider this week's offerings. For the first time since the early '90s, I couldn't bring myself to buy a Sting CD. Even for $10, I don't think I want to own Sacred Love . But please, correct me if I've made a mistake.

I did buy Dido's new album, Life for Rent . I was sucked in the first time I heard the lead single, "White Flag," which is so accessible and yet so mournful that I can't help but be impressed. So far the whole disc holds up well. It's only $9.99 at Best Buy until Saturday.

If you don't have any Bonnie Raitt albums, I'd also recommend the new Best Of collection, out this week. Only two weeks until Clay Aiken's album! What new releases are you waiting for?

Also at Best Buy, I saw the new SACD versions of 15 of Bob Dylan's best albums. Oh, it was close--I want to own them badly. But I lack the SACD player to make it worthwhile. Does anyone have SACD capability? Is there a way to get it that doesn't cost $800?

Is It Getting Better...

or do I feel the same? I'm not sure what to make of this week's West Wing . Amy is back--and she and Josh are apparently "rekindling" their romance next week. I know there are Mary-Louise Parker fans out there, and I have to say, she looked better tonight than at any point in last season. But she's an extra piece of baggage on a show that's getting heavier by the minute--characters get two lines an episode and hardly any screen time as it is. Now they've added a snotty Harvard intern, Angela (the pollster in the parking garage, in a scene right out of All The President's Men ), and a whole slew of First Family characters. Let's face up to an inevitable truth: this show has three seasons left at best. Bartlet's presidency will end, and the show will end as well. Character arcs have to be resolved, and piling on more and more people isn't the solution.

Fitz is leaving, however, and it appears that Secretary of State Berryhill (William Devane) will be nominated as VP and fail (which we can guess will happen because Gary Cole--yes, the boss from Office Space --is slated to take over the VP role). They're clearing some of the decks. I just don't see how Will Bailey, Toby, Josh, Donna, Amy, Leo, Jed, Abbey, Charlie, Zoey, CJ, Margaret, Carol, Danny (where the hell is Danny?), Nancy (and where was she tonight?) and the other members of the cast of thousands can get enough screen time to warrant retaining them all if Wells insists on adding more people.

Also, didn't it feel like some of the dialogue in this episode was forced? The exchange where Fitz asks Leo if they've found a replacement felt shoehorned into the action, and Walken walking out of the Oval Office was a moment that felt botched.

Nevertheless, I think this episode was more tolerable than the last one, barely. They should slip Sorkin a bag of 'shrooms and remind him that he made this show great, and beg him to polish their dialogue before they film. That and some clunky camera angle choices are making for mediocrity.

Oddly enough, Bravo's episode tonight was the one where Bartlet gives Charlie the family knife made by Paul Revere--and by implication makes him one of the family. Didn't he seem like a family member tonight, and wasn't his speechless performance the best one of the episode? I hope the whole kidnapping, however pathetically handled by the show's new masters, means that Charlie and Zoey will stick together from now on.