Extra sugar, extra salt, extra oil and MSG!

Thursday, July 31, 2003


It would appear that Dr. Chameleon's secret identity has been compromised, at least partially. There was a time when he was irresponsible about blogging on the job, but he has since ceased. So to all you co-workers who may've sussed me out: I'm getting my job done, I swear! Please don't rat on me! I'll be good! Before you go spreading rumors and accusations, I welcome you to e-mail me at "liberryblooze" at "hotmail" "dot" "com." Your threats will be acknowledged, fretted over, and then promptly forgotten, at least until I get fired.


Open Season by Linda Howard

Be careful what you wish for....

On her thirty-fourth birthday, Daisy Minor decides to make over her entire life. The small-town librarian has had it with her boring clothes, her ordinary looks, and nearly a decade without so much as a date. It's time to get a life -- and a sex life. The perennial good girl, Daisy transforms herself into a party girl extraordinaire -- dancing the night away at clubs, laughing and flirting with abandon -- and she's declared open season for manhunting. But her free-spirited fun turns to shattering danger when she witnesses something she shouldn't -- and becomes the target of a killer. Now, before she can meet the one man who can share her life, first she may need him to save it.

Seamlessly blending heart-pounding romance and breathless intrigue, Linda Howard delivers a stylish and provocative novel that absolutely defies readers to put it down.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


Welcome to my extremely bad mood. I was going to write "if dying means never having to deal with cars or human beings again, then I greet death with open arms," but was somewhat calmed by a humiliating sight on the way to work. I noticed a man on the sidewalk, hunched over, toying with the drawstring on his pants. Suddenly, his pants dropped and I was chagrined to see that he wore no underwear. It caught me by surprise, I froze in a moment of shock, and then I laughed really hard. Full frontal nudity just blocks from the library.


Looks like we're on for a national debate:

"As someone who's spoken out in strongly moral terms, what's your view on homosexuality?" a reporter asked the president.

"Yeah, I am mindful that we're all sinners," Mr. Bush replied. "And I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own."

What exactly do you mean by that, Mr. President? I hope someday to see a book compiling the witticisms and phrases coined by U.S. Presidents, including Bush's wonderful new "speck/log" saying. I can't tell you how many times I've had to brush a log out of my eye just this morning, already.

[ thanks, Ben ]

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Life has been throwing me lemons recently and I haven't been handling it too well, so I'm sorry about the lack of new content here. I didn't plan to write anything for awhile, but this morning's USA Today confronted me with such ugly headlines that I had to comment. First:

Poll: U.S. will get Saddam
While U.S. forces patrol the Tigris River Monday, more Americans expect Hussein will be captured or killed

This is news? Citizens with no connection to the war effort think Saddam Hussein might be captured or killed? Wow! What else are Americans thinking about? Britney's hair color? The cost of their electric bills? Imagine the journalistic possibilities! There are an endless supply of news stories that can be generated by taking a random poll. It's simply awesome.

Americans less tolerant on gay issues
Poll indicates backlash

Why would you report on this? Is there really a backlash, or are they trying to create one? "Asked whether same-sex relations between consenting adults should be legal, 48% said yes; 46% said no." Does anyone even pause to think about what they're agreeing to when they answer these questions? How would you enforce that law, and what would the punishment be? It boggles the mind. It boggles this mind, anyway. Would we so casually poll Americans to ask them if they think it should be legal to allow Jews to practice their religious beliefs?

The really amazing thing is that yesterday's USA Today said the exact opposite:

Poll: Views on gays are changing
Public becomes more accepting as political parties struggle

So which is it? I can only assume that some top editor or shareholder was unhappy with yesterday's article and demanded a "counterpoint" in today's issue. It wasn't that long ago that the Star Tribune had a policy of always providing a space for an anti-gay position in every article even tangentially related to gay rights issues.

Maybe USA Today is right, maybe there really is a neo-con majority slowly taking over. It certainly has seemed so since Bush "took office," and moreso since 9/11/01. Republicans swept the Minnesota elections last fall, and some of us liberals have been scrambling about, feeling hopeless. I guess what surprises me is that the problem areas have mostly been in foreign policy and the budget. This spring we passed a frivolous gun law in Minnesota, and suddenly there's a return to the old "family values," which seems like an anachronism, but is exactly the kind of thing that's easy to fall back on when society as a whole is feeling vulnerable. "Hey- why not return to outmoded, strict constructions of gender and sexuality? You know, the ones we're used to, that don't scare or challenge us?"

'Seabiscuit' making men cry
Even a 10-year-old boy fesses up: 'I almost cried'

Oh yeah, it's just that bad, folks. Right at the top of the page, above the gay intolerance headline. Sometimes men cry. No- not at a movie? What a revelation! Perhaps soon we will learn that there are women who hold full-time jobs and play sports. Thank you, USA Today for brightening my morning.

Thursday, July 24, 2003


In February 2002, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence agreed to conduct a Joint Inquiry into the activities of the U.S. Intelligence Community in connection with the terrorist attacks perpetrated against our nation on September 11, 2001. This report (available as both S. Rept. 107-351 and H. Rept. 107-792) consists of 858 pages that presents the joint inquiry's findings and conclusions, an accompanying narrative, and a series of recommendations.

This Report, the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, can be found on GPO Access from the Congressional Reports application at www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/911.html in PDF format only. It can be accessed as a single file (5.51MB) and has also been broken down into smaller files. The full report contains the errata print, which includes recommendations that were inadvertently not included in S. Rept. 107-351 and H. Rept. 107-792.

Copies of the Report (S/N: 052-070-07397-7) may be purchased for $64.00 (U.S.) or $89.60 (non-U.S.) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at bookstore.gpo.gov.

In addition, the Report is being distributed to all Federal depository libraries in paper under item no. 1004-E as Senate Report (Y 1.1/5:107-351). The House Report will not be distributed in any format. Shipping list and classification data will be provided to Federal depositories libraries at a later date.

Proof that the government wants us to know everything, the report is 858 pages long, certainly something we'll all enjoy perusing at the beach this summer.

There's an inadvertently painful commentary on the state of national security over at CNN, here's a sample:

Much of the information in the report was previously made public. But the report -- the product of 5,000 interviews and a review of nearly 1 million documents -- contains new details and examples.
"The attacks of September 11th could have been prevented if the right combination of skill, cooperation, creativity and some good luck had been brought to the task," said Sen. Bob Graham, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and one of the leaders of the joint investigation.

Graham, a Democratic presidential hopeful, faulted the White House for what he described as its reluctance to declassify some material, a sentiment that was echoed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who also served on the joint panel.

Republican lawmakers, who joined Graham at a news conference releasing the report, did not criticize the White House, but said the report highlighted intelligence failures and underscored the need for further reform.

The report included some 19 recommendations to bolster counterterrorism efforts; those recommendations were originally released last year.

"I think the basic tenet that we learned is a lack of coordination and sharing of information, different cultures in the community of intelligence," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "We have done our job, and now we have got to do more legislatively and the people who run the intelligence community have got to do theirs."

All the parades, flag-waving, and commemorative snow globes in the world can't hide the fact that we're still in total disarray. Senator Shelby says that the important lesson was that we all need to work together, at the same time two other lawmakers suggest the White House was sitting on important information. Meanwhile, Graham makes the painfully flippant suggestion that "good luck" could've prevented the attacks. I'm not feeling too safe right now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


It hasn't come up here before, but I'm a huge, flaming Terry Gilliam fan. Unfortunately, his career has been disappointing since 1995's 12 Monkeys. I've only seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas once, and it was successful insofar as it made me feel disoriented and slightly ill, and I thought it was a smidge more interesting than the book (let the hate mail begin!), but it was a disappointment overall. And then...then...nothing. Nearly four years passed and I despaired, until I saw news of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Ah ha! At last, Gilliam was taking a crack at one of his long dreamed-of projects, a classic text which had informed most, if not all of his prior works. Rather than attempting to file down the massive tome to a reasonable feature length, Gilliam mixed in a bit of Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, recasting Quixote as a time-travelling tale, with a twentieth-century Johnny Depp somehow stuck in Cervantes' world. I was pretty damn excited. And then there were reports the production was stalled due to weather. After that, word came down that Don Quixote himself, actor Jean Rochefort, had a back injury that took him out of commission. The film was dead. My spirit sagged.

Late last year I heard that someone had made a documentary about the botched production of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and I perked up. I finally saw Lost in La Mancha this winter and was horribly depressed by it. It was a fine film, but very sad to see Gilliam falling apart, and the brief glimpses of what might have been. Meanwhile, he had announced pre-production on Good Omens, an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett novel. I've never read the book, but heard great things, and the plot sounded right up Gilliam's alley (Armageddon served with a healthy dose of wry British humor). Again, though, there was a long period of silence, followed by vague news that financing couldn't be wrestled down and that film was stalled. Things looked pretty hopeless for the Gilliam fan.

Good news finally came this spring, that a $75 million production of The Brothers Grimm was greenlighted with Gilliam set to direct. It's being co-financed by Miramax and MGM, starring Matt Damon (blech), Heath Ledger (some teen heartthrob I've heard of but know nothing about) and Jonathan Pryce (yay!). It's also got Peter Stormare, a scary dude you might remember as "Nihilist #1" from The Big Lebowski. Robin Williams was at one time attached but has since dropped out, as has Nicole Kidman (whose cameo part has yet to be recast). Hopefully these are minor problems (fingers crossed!), but it seems like Gilliam has got better support this time out, enough to actually get the damn thing finished and released. They're filming in the Czech Republic as we speak, less than a quarter of the way through a seventeen-week shooting schedule.

Meanwhile, Lost in La Mancha is out on DVD, a two-disc set featuring deleted scenes (more swearing, I hope), interviews, and something billed as "Salman Rushdie and Terry Gilliam: A Conversation from the Telluride Film Festival" (???). I'm looking forward to seeing it again, with a stronger heart and optimism that this isn't the last we've heard of Gilliam.

Today I came across this ironic moment from a 2000 FilmForce interview with Ken Plume. The sad punchline follows the mention of a 12 Monkeys "making-of," The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, that was included on the 12 Monkeys "Collector's Edition" DVD (you can read the full interview here):

PLUME: It's also great that the process was documented so well in the Hamster Factor documentary...

GILLIAM: Yeah... In fact, those two guys are doing a documentary on Quixote. They were grad film students from Temple University in Philadelphia, and we gave them a Hi-8 camera and told them to go to town – and it was wonderful. They did a really good job. I told them, "You have complete freedom to do whatever you want. I'm not going to censor it." And they made a very good film.

PLUME: It's a shame they weren't involved on Fear and Loathing...

GILLIAM: Yeah, they missed out on some fun there...But I think they may end up with a really good one on Quixote.

Monday, July 21, 2003

[ via LIS News ]

I hate stories like this. None of us who are reading it have any idea what really went on, yet it's going to upset most of us for all kinds of reasons.

First, it is a complete joke that the library administration would prohibit an employee from discussing one particular subject. Will they similarly ban all staff from demonstrating any kind of opinion at work? I don't see how they can possibly have any legal basis for this. It makes me mad.

Usually when I hear complaints of a "hostile work environment" in a case like this I roll my eyes, because what it really means is that one defensive, overly-sensitive conservative overheard one casual remark and took it as a personal affront. It's funny, because your average, center-to-right leaning American scoffs at the idea of "political correctness," but are just as eager to yell discrimination as the supposedly fascistic lefty "PC police," and it's usually in the realm of gay rights. People jump at the chance to be offended by all things homosexual, often to an absurd degree (you can find all kinds of great examples here).

But again, we weren't there, and the phrase "the staff complained that Cuevas was being disruptive because of the frequent, impassioned telephone calls" makes things a little more complicated from the observer's side. Cuevas' son was severely beaten in a gay-bashing incident, and you can imagine that she would be highly emotional on the subject. Now, if she was on the phone yelling and crying every day at work talking about this over a long period of time, I can see where her co-workers would get uncomfortable, regardless of their political beliefs.

I'm fairly guarded about my personal life at work, and I tend to excpect a certain amount of discretion from others as a result. There are all kinds of good examples of bad behavior, in mixing your personal feelings with your civic duty, or just plain loss of control. It's unreasonable to expect people to behave like robots, however, and you'd think a benefit of working in the public sector would be the avoidance of rigid corporate rules (like "thou shalt not discuss gay rights in the workplace, ever"). We should be able to talk to each other on the job, to laugh, and to have real personalities.

Admittedly, Jason Lewis is right, that government jobs tend to attract left-leaning folks. Unlike him, I don't think these employees are out of touch with reality and draining tax money from the good, honest people (by which, I assume, he means affluent white suburbanites). I think we should all be expected to have our personal political opinions, as long as they aren't interfering with our work. We work in public libraries, not private, academic, or corporate libraries, and there are a host of responsibilities that come with that, including a duty to demonstrate as much objectivity as possible.

So, yeah, I'm a little surprised when I come across a conservative-minded librarian, and sometimes I just smile politely and grit my teeth when patrons tell me "it's about time we went in and kicked Saddam's ass;" it's always a fine line we have to walk. Most reasonably intelligent people, however, should be capable of disagreeing with their co-workers on political issues, no matter the moral disquietude they may experience. Holding a different opinion is not the same as insulting someone, unless you couch it in those terms ("only a complete idiot would think..."). You can't expect a woman who was quoted in USA Today about her son's assault not to discuss it at work. That's beyond ridiculous. It's offensive.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


A frantic patron asked me a slew of questions when she was trying to sign up for a computer, including "is it a workstation?" and "does it have the regular internet?" Is there a premium blend we should be using?

A small child asked me "have you seen any dinosaur books?" Well, sure I have. Bunches of times. Why?

For some time there was a horrible banner ad on my Hotmail account, featuring cartoony lobsters on the right side and a pot of boiling water on the left, with the message "drag a lobster into the pot and win a free vacation." Woo hoo! The really sad part was that if you even waved your mouse near a lobster it would squint in agony and go into the pot BY ITSELF, like they don't even trust people to do the simple task of clicking and dragging something an inch and a half across the screen, but then I guess they aren't exactly trying to attract the brightest of lightbulbs.

Somebody on the phone was after a Physician Assistant test guide and kept asking if it was the "third education" or "fourth education." I was baffled at first but then correctly interpreted her to mean "fourth edition." Then she asked me if we had the 2003 edition of the book, or the 2004, or the 2005, which I thought was a bit optimistic. [ed. note: we are currently living in the year 2003]

A conversation I had a few months ago:

Patron (a small child): "What is my e-mail address?"

Me: "I don't know."

Kid: "My sister don't know it and my cousin don't know it. My other sister says we don't have one, but I need it to get into Lil' Bow Wow."

Me: "Do you ever check your e-mail or get e-mail from someone?"

Kid: "No."

Me: "Then you probably don't have e-mail. It's something you need to sign up for."

Kid: "What's yours? Can you tell me? Please?"

Friday, July 11, 2003


File under "funny if you're into Black Sabbath and library science": I just realized the first three key commands to add a new book to our system are N, I, and B: "Nativity In Black," dude. Innovative Interfaces is totally satanic.

I was leading a Hmong teenage girl to one of our study rooms and, referring to one of our display shelves, she said "that book Bamboo Among The Oaks is so retarded." Bamboo Among The Oaks: Contemporary Writing by Hmong Americans was published by the Minnesota Historical Society last year and hasn't exactly been flying off the shelves, which gives credence to the girl's criticism (on a par with the two-word review of Spinal Tap's "Shark Sandwich" album).

Item! Yesterday a little girl peed all over herself. She managed to get in front of the bathroom door but not into the bathroom. Of course she was being "watched" by her older brother who is maybe nine years old. Thankfully, our security guard was around to help, and we both had a stern talking to with the boy. He's in here all the time, planted in front of a computer while the little ones run wild. I have no idea where the parents are. Pretty standard stuff around here. Babysitting = staring at a computer screen while library staff chases your children around.

Also, a crotchety old man wandered in and asked if we had envelopes, said he couldn't find them anywhere. I had no idea it was so difficult to buy envelopes, but I think really it was this man's personal problems that were the obstacle. My co-worker asked if he wanted "a regular envelope, to mail a letter" and he grunted "whaddya mean 'mail a letter?' For general mail." Ooookay. Glad we could clarify the difference between mailing a letter and general mail. We suggested a nearby drug store, or someplace like Target, and he said "they got all these people behind the counter and none of 'em know anything," and went off about how no one sells what he needs "they just got a bunch a useless junk." He was one of the more high-quality curmudgeons we've had in here. Poor guy. This is why I don't ever want to be alone, 'cause I know I'll be that confused, helpless, and angry one day.

Finally, on an inspirational note, media assassin Michael Moore shows his support for public libraries once again (he credited the ALA for the success of Stupid White Men, love it or hate it). The real story isn't in the celebrity worship, it's in the effort to help an unjustly neglected national library system, increasingly a vital resource for immigrants and the poor, thus first on the budget chopping blocks.
[ thanks to Nu finish for the story ]

Thursday, July 10, 2003


I've been eyeing these at Target for awhile, and Carlos recently made the excellent suggestion that I wear them to work. Take that, naughty patrons! Librarian smash! RRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh man, that would be great. Now I have a good excuse to buy 'em. Look out, world!

What a fine, long Fourth of July weekend I had, which I shall now bore you with details about.  Thursday night after work I met a bunch of friends at the Artists' Quarter to check out Source Code, an excellent quintet of aged gentlemen on vibes, alto sax, trombone, bass, and drums.  This was my first trip to the "new" location, and it was nice, although the bar was being tended by an incompetent high school kid.  I ordered a sidecar and the bartender said to me "we don't have a blender, so do you want that on the rocks, or as a shot?"  What?  Why would you need a blender, and why in God's name would you turn a classic cocktail into a shooter?  I grimaced and told him "on the rocks," since that seemed simpler than anything.  Unfortunately, he poured some unknown combination of liquor in a glass and filled it with sour mix, resulting in a drink that managed to be overly sweet, tart, and flavorless simultaneously.  Fortunately, the music made up for the bar fiasco.  When they started out, I was concerned that the band lacked enthusiasm, but as the night went on they proved to be smokin'.  They played stuff I mostly didn't recognize, from straightahead bop to more adventurous modal tunes, including compostions by Miles, Monk, and Bernie Maupin.  They even played "Alfie."  Dave Hagedorn was pretty incredible on vibes and "Xylosynth," a versatile but occasionally annoying MIDI instrument I'd never seen before.  It had convincing Hammond B3 and marimba sounds, but at one point he was using an atrocious 80's digital piano sound that needed to be stopped.  The sax player cooked and Eric Kamau, the leader of the band, was a strong, energetic drummer.  Later on, I made the mistake of ordering a Manhattan, which turned out to be a mysterious, fizzy yellow-green.  I asked the bartender what he put in it, and he told me "brandy and sour."  Apparently, you can make anything with sour mix.  I told him "no, it should be sweet vermouth" and he says "yeah, and a splash of vermouth."  So he poured a little vermouth into the nearly-full glass.  No, no, no, no, no.  Fortunately, Space Waitress's mom rescued me, flagging down the owner's son to get me a real manhattan, made with whiskey, no sour mix in sight.  Bev, you're a life-saver.      
We celebrated Independence Day by watching a bunch of stuff blow up real good.  I'm talking about the on-screen fireworks of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which had the dubious honor of sucking in different ways than I was expecting it to suck.  Newcomers to the series, Claire Danes and Nick Stahl, were pretty good in the film, and Ahnuld was passable, but "terminatrix" Kristanna Loken was just a joke.  It's like she watched Robert Patrick in T2 and poorly exaggerated one or two of his mannerisms.  There was nothing menacing or sexy about the T-X, and you had to wonder why she didn't just blow the hell out of the veterinarian clinic with her arm cannon from the get-go.  There's a lot to blame the director for, here, including the lackluster visual style that really sets T3 apart from its predecessors.  Rise of the Machines was not a legitimate heir to the throne, and how could it be without megalomaniac James Cameron at the helm?  I realize action movies are meant to be gratuitous, but the logic of the film was so transparent that it was hard not to laugh at times.  "Let's see...the T-X is going to crash a helicopter right through the wall of a military base, and then, suddenly, Arnold's T-101 smashes a bigger helicopter into the same base.  Woo!"  Those screenwriters are genius.  The mandatory "Arnold appears in the present naked and searches for a leather jacket" scene had an unfortunate twist this time around, introducing a bit of '80s style homophobia into the mix.  My pet theory is that the original script set the scene in a gay bar, but Arnold wouldn't stand for being ogled by a bunch of drooling homos, so they turned it into a "ladies night" scene, leaving the silly exaggerated queer dancer part in.  Why?  Is Arnold feeling limp after a string of box-office failures (Collateral Damage, The 6th Day, End of Days)?  Does Schwarzenegger really worry about his masculinity in the wake of so many sexual harassment cases brought against him in recent years?  Or was all that groping an overcompensation for some kind of sexual identity crisis?  Perhaps it was just a crappy joke thrown in by the writers, who thought that's what the audience wants to see.  Still, I like to blame the Austrian ex-pat. 
Things brightened up on Saturday, when we had a nice breakfast and walk around Lake Calhoun, my beloved "Puzzle Fighter" game arrived, and we went to see The New Pornographers at First Ave.  Their songs were so catchy and bouncy, yet I found my mind wandering off to the distant voices of Sloan.  I must've felt like I was cheating on them or something.  Can't a man love more than one Canadian pop band?  Neko Case was awesome, although I sensed a little tension between her and frontman Carl Newman.  Mostly, though, it was fun-loving, power pop ecstacy.  They did a verse and chorus of Heart's "Magic Man" (leaving off at the first bended note of the guitar solo) and a cover of "Action" by The Sweet.  I was also surprised by how much I liked the songs I didn't know, of which there were many.  Magnet magazine had gushed over Mass Romantic when it came out in 2000, but the tinny sound clips on Amazon that I heard didn't excite me too much.  I think I need to go back and re-evaluate the record by actually listening to it.  All the songs they played were great, so it must be better than I thought.  There were two guys playing keyboards, and one of them had a white Roland AX-7.  Yep, a keytar.  For some reason, though, Blaine Thurier must've thought slinging a keytar over his shoulder would not look cool, because he had it up on a keyboard stand with the rest of his keyboards.  Why would you not make use of the extreme awesomeness that is the keytar?  We must lift the veil of shame that has shrouded the keytar for too long. 

Afterwards, we went to Whitey's with Meg (of Shimmy and Viovoom fame) where I enjoyed a cajun yellowfin sandwhich, something Chuck introduced me to the last time we were there, and a delicious pint o' Guinness.  I was dead tired by the end of the night, though.  Must be getting old.
Sunday led us to Hopkins, where we visited Junior Scientists' recently transplanted brother and wife in their new home, then took them to one of our time-honored local celebrations, the Taste of Minnesota.  I don't think they were too impressed.  The sun was oppressive and we had a bit of a dreary march to and from Harriet Island, which is a horrible location for the event, as far as I'm concerend.  The Capitol grounds were much more accessible.  The lineup of Linuses on the Wabasha "Freedom Bridge" (ugh) was less than thrilling, and the antique tickets-for-food barter system continues to annoy.  The really lame part is that we were there to see Jessy Greene and Viovoom and we only made it there for one-and-a-half songs.  Oops.  Oh well.  I was glad to meet part of the family for the first time, and we had a good enough time mocking the proceedings.  Jr. Scientist and I retreated to our makeshift cave in my air conditioned living room, ordered Lucé, and played some more Puzzle Fighter.  Much swearing and mocking ensued.  End of weekend.  Hooray for America!

Wednesday, July 09, 2003


Normally I disdain these online quizzes, but finally, some industrious geek has developed an entertaining, fairly comprehensive measure of geekdom. Though certain answers should probably be weighted more heavily than others (e.g. "I wear vampire teeth permanently due to cosmetic dentistry"), it's fairly accurate. My score: 38.2643% - Major Geek. I kind of wish I'd scored higher -- which makes me a pretty big geek -- but where I excelled in the gaming and sci-fi/fantasy departments, I was weak in the science and technology areas (you computer geeks should have a good time with this). The geekier you are, the funnier the quiz (one word: "THAC0"). Have at it, then. Excelsior!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I saw The Italian Job last night and it was much better than I was expecting. If you're in the mood for a good heist movie, this one fits the bill, unlike Mamet's Heist which started out good and devolved into a ludicrous series of plot twists. I don't know why The Italian Job got such bad reviews. I can see why one might assume it would be a bad film (remake, action movie, Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg), but none of those elements killed the film, plus we were treated to the charismatic presence of Seth Green and Mos Def. Yes, there were a few ridiculously impossible things in there, but they fit the fantasy mold without disrupting suspension of disbelief. My only major complaint was the awful cover of Pink Floyd's "Money," performed by the old G'n'R lineup with Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots filling in for Axl. Awful, just awful... horrible... and it's in the film twice! Why, Lord, why? John Powell's score was actually pretty cool, though, seemingly influenced by the David Holmes scores for Soderberghs' "Out of Sight" and "Ocean's Eleven." Unfortunately, the excellent sound work in the film was frequently interrupted by a woman in front of us who answered her cell phone four times during the course of the film. At least once I could hear the voice of the person on the other end, too. The fourth time, I leaned over the railing and said "would you please not answer your phone in here?" For a long moment we locked gazes and I was stunned by how empty her big eyes were. I expected some kind of pissy retort but got nothing. Still, I am haunted by the utter stupidity which saturated this person.

After the movie, Smokes, Jr. Scientist and I headed over to Grumpy's to celebrate Joel Stitzel's birthday. I use the word "celebrate" loosely since we hardly spoke to Joel, but hey, the man's got a shitload of friends, and it's nice to be part of that crowd (esteemed as it is). Smokes performed an inspiring rendition of Dio's "Holy Diver," and oddly, I ran into someone I haven't seen in ten years. She was someone I knew in high school, but not very well, and it was kind of an exciting little event. We were in a creative writing class together and I totally had a crush on her, even though I was a veritably asexual creature at the time. In a true "pathetic loser story," she even tried to set me up with her younger sister for prom. Since then, she dyed her hair black, got lots of tattoos, got married, and got a degree in... creative writing, though she's currently working as a make-up artist. We discussed our mutual lack of interest in high school reunions but had a nice little conversation anyway. Plus, she told me I still looked really young, which is one of those things you're supposed to be proud of, I guess, but it's awfully damn embarrassing to be carded at R-rated movies, I tells ya.

Meanwhile, I've treated myself to a series of media purchases, including:

The Clientele - The Violet Hour (their first real full-length, available now on the Merge Records website)

Spoon - Loveways EP

Arcwelder - Xerxes (for only $3.99!)

The Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties Request (the SACD hybrid version)

Bikeride - Morning Macumba

Mamie Smith - Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (featuring the first ever blues recording, the 1920 hit "Crazy Blues/It's Right Here For You")

Sonny Rollins - Sonny Rollins & Co. 1964 (assorted sessions with Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Ron Carter, and others)

Richard Ashcroft - Human Conditions (kind of a cross between Beck's "Sea Change" and Rufus Wainwright's "Poses")

Chopin - Piano Concerto No. 2/Grande Polonaise Brilliante/Grand Fantasia (Emmanuel Ax performing on a mid-1800s Erard with Charles Mackerras and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on period instruments)

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" The Complete Fourth Season

"The Autobiography of Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes" by Scott Frost

...and finally, the much-maligned, highly sought-after "Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo" game for Playstation. I'll never have to leave the house again!

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