Saturday, November 25, 2006

Exiled #42 Is Out, A Fandom Yawns

- Friday evening, I was returning from the YMCA and from picking up some Chinese takeout. I got to the back door of my building (my apartment is in the back of the building) and was fumbling for my keys when suddenly a guy appeared in the door window and came out. "Excuse me," he said, and held the door open for me. I recognized him as the boyfriend of one of my donwstairs neighbors who was going out for a smoke. I was startled by his appearance and didn't even talk to him or nod at him. I got upstairs to my place, set down my stuff, and then ran downstairs. I opened the building's back door and said: "Hey: thanks for opening the door for me. It was rude of me not to say anything." He smiled and said: "Don't worry about it" a few times as I spoke. I know if I hadn't gone down and said anything that this would have haunted me for the weekend, if not the rest of 2006 and beyond. As Costanza once said: "You know, we're living in a society! We're supposed to act in a civilized way."

- Hours later, I headed out that back door for the Country Bar to whoop it up over the latest Exiled being done. As I hit the back parking lot, I saw a raccoon to my right, wandering by the building. It stopped and looked at me, kinda daring me to approach it. I don't know anything about raccoons, but this guy looked obese. Are they generally rotund, or does this just happen to city racccons who feast on fat-filled dumpster product? I walked away but kept looking back at the raccoon as I made my way. He was also checking on me and anytime I looked back, he assumed some sort of defensive posture that suggested he was ready to kick my ass. Geez, fatass, you win! (Also: last night from my living-room window I spotted a raccoon in the yard between my building and the one next to ours. That guy scaled a tree and then hopped onto the top of my building. If I were paranoid, I would be convinced that the Man had trained certain raccoons to check up on my activities. )

- Oh, as mentioned above, Exiled on Main Street #42 is available here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Billy Shakespeare: He's Everywhere

Watched a couple of very fine movies via Netflix the past couple of nights.

First up on Wednesday was Brick. This came out in the last year and was instantly notable for its film-noir-takes-place-in-present-day-high-school premise. I was very impressed. As Ebert pointed out, the movie works because it plays the premise straight. Aside from the dry noir humor, some humor also flashes out via the teen angle as when the protaganist tells the principal (who in this movie plays the noir police chief role) that he doesn't accept his deal and "I'll see you at parent conferences!"

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the teen detective lead. At first I was put off by this. Not that I have anything against this actor, just that he's been playing a teen forever - I first saw him in that sitcom "3rd Rock from the Sun," but mostly remember him from teen movie 10 Things I Hate About You from 1999 where he also played a high-school teenager. But he pulls off his role in Brick commendably - as do all of the youngsters in the flick: The informer guy, the femme fatale dame, the other femme fatale dame, the Mr. Big character, the tough guy, etc. Sheesh ... do "Hate American Culture First" snobs also hate film noir, yet another pop culture gift the good ol' USA has given the world?

Up on Thursday was Roman Polanski's version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Good thing I read Shakespeare's text just a few short weeks ago as through the first half-hour of the movie I was pretty much going on memory to keep up with what was going on because of the old-old-school English wording. No big deal, I used to just go on "feel" for the first thirty minutes in the pre-subtitled-DVD days when watching Monty Python movies until I got the accents figured out. As Macbeth played out, I understood more and more and then fell totally into it as Macbeth slid into the dark side. Brilliant film.

Oh, and all you Culture War prudes who decry the state of popular culture these days are strangely silent on the free-for-all that Shakespeare came up with four hundred years ago. In just this one tragedy we get (don't blame it on the film, it was all in the book) ... witchcraft, the occult, druggings, assassination, insanity, more murder, killing innocent women and children ... what did I miss? Aside from Macbeth having no children and saying that he has "an empty sceptre?" Ha ha: thank you William Shakespeare - greatest English-language writer ever - for winning the Culture War centuries ago! (Culture War prudes: Name a better writer than the Greatest. Face.)

And now that I have some Shakespeare under my belt, a little Harold Ramis/Rodney Dangerfield Back to School (my third Netflix disc sitting here at home) is in order. The scene where Dangerfield replicates his spending spree in the pro shop in Caddyshack ("looks good on you though") will be like a tasty dessert. You know - the part where he declares: "Shakespeare for everyone!" He also tells the clerk that he'd like to "tame her shrew." Hey - what Shakespeare work was 10 Things I Hate About You based on again?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The First Ripple

The Democratic takeover of the House and Senate has been described as a "wave" or "tsunami." I dare suggest that this all started with a ripple when Democrat Todd D. Burianek won the Grafton, North Dakota, mayoral race back in June. In a red state, he stomped the incumbent with a whopping 75 percent of the vote.

And if it hadn't been for Burianek having to deal with the chronic trauma of being forced by the University of North Dakota housing bureaucracy to room with yours truly for two months back in 1984, he would likely (at the very least) be in Congress by now.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

RIP, Dead Schembechlers

Bo Schembechler died, and he took the Dead Schembechlers with him. They're a band whose members dress like Woody Hayes and sing such songs as "Bomb Ann Arbor Now."

They announced that last night's show was their last and will give the proceeds from the gig to a charity of the Schembechler family's choice.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Minneapolis Is Home

I just realized that as of last month I have lived in the city of Minneapolis longer than I have lived anywhere else:

West Fargo (ND) = 6 years
Littleton (CO) = 4
Grand Forks (ND) = 11
Mpls suburbs = 7

Minneapolis proper = 12 years. It's nice to live in a place that I don't ever want to leave.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Rest in peace Milton Friedman, big government's best friend."

Milton Friedman: a study in failure.

Friedman's one success? In 1942, during world war two, Friedman actually went to work for the US government. While there he helped design the payroll tax that in Britain is known as PAYE, Pay As You Earn, and in the US as withholding tax, the system that allows the government to administer the taking of income tax directly from salaries and pay packets. Unlike everything else he argued for, withholding tax was withstood the test of time and is in use all around the world. It was the best thing that Keynesian-style government could ever have wished for, and Friedman bitterly regretted it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Reply To a Friend's Question Earlier Today

My favorite Aerosmith song is either "Last Child" or "Sweet Emotion."

On a related thought - if Johnny Marr and Steven Tyler (or for that matter, Joe Perry and Morrissey) formed a band they could call it "The AeroSmiths."

And for the record, I did have Roman Polanski's adaptation of Macbeth tops in my Netflix queue over Back to School. But that doesn't mean I'll watch it first.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Feelin' Blue

In Minnesota:

Klobuchar over Kennedy - I used to work with a brother of Mark Kennedy. And if the Congressman is as smart as his brother ... well then Minnesota would have been in a heap of trouble if he had gotten into the Senate. The brother was a complete tool and Kennedy has the same dopey blank look in his eyes. Plus, he's just not very likeable. Some pundit Tuesday night said the GOP was convinced at the beginning of the year that the seat would be a lock for them. By the end of the summer, it was apparent that Kennedy was running against the wind. Hence, Klobuchar wins by twenty points. Hey GOP: Nice job of kingmaking!

Pawlenty over Hatch - Hatch popped off last week, calling a reporter a "Republican whore." Of course, the worst insult here was calling the dude "Republican." And now I'm going to get that creepy feeling as Pawlenty starts getting national attention come 2008 ... GOP convention to be held in St. Paul ... yikes!

The DFL put a beatdown on the GOP, holding the state Senate and capturing the state House. They have significant majorities in both houses. The DFL also knocked off incumbents at the state auditor and the secretary of state. I caught part of Governor Timmy's victory speech last night and cracked up as he read off the long long list of names of his comrades who had been defeated. Steve Sviggum, out as Speaker of the House, looked like he was crying.


A nation-wide referendum on Bush and the war turns into a victory for the Democrats, winning both houses of Congress. Rove comes up short (ha ha) of his "permanent Republican majority." Why? Bush is narrow-minded and incompetent. Once you see through his facade of folkiness, you see a spoiled little momma's boy who just wants things his way. I missed his press conference on Wednesday, but imagine that he wasn't bragging about his political capital (how long did that last for him two years ago ... ten minutes?) I do daydream about him hitting a microphone and yelling: "If you wanna crown 'em, then crown their ass!"

The best political analogy Tuesday night came from MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who compared Bush's efforts in this year's campaigns to William H. Macy's effect in The Cooler.

You could argue that fatass druggie Rush Limbaugh had a similar effect on Jim Talent's campaign in Missouri. Hey Limbaugh: Donovan McNabb is the #2 leading scorer in my fantasy league!

Also on Tuesday, Keith Olbermann pointed out that a former member of Orleans won a Congressional seat in New York. The guy sang a Little Steven song at his victory rally!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tomorrow: Don't Reward Incompetence

Just a few of the achievements of the GOP and George W. Bush:

- Needless bungled war in Iraq where American troops are still dying.

- Rumsfeld keeps his job. Bush says he's doing "a fantastic job."

- Horribly mishandled the response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush on the FEMA director: "hell of a job."

- Take their orders from the anti-science, homophobic religious right.

- Turned a surplus into a huge deficit. It's hilarious to see Republicans brag about reducing a deficit they created.

Don't reward incompetence. Vote Democrat and throw the Republican bums out on November 7th.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Redemption Code

Reverend Jesse Jackson mediated a meeting between Ron Artest and Ben Wallace, bringing me a smile while reading the sports page today. His words after made it sound like he had just been part of the Camp David Accords:

[The message of] reconciliation over retribution is what we should do for mass conflict. When giants come together, those who look up to them also come together. This sent a shot around the whole league. It's one thing to have a dress code, it's another to have a redemption code."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Line of the Week

Somebody emailed the Common Man show on Thursday and explained the Vikings' "Cover Two" defense: The opposing team lines up five receivers at the line of scrimmage and the Vikings cover two of them.

And I understand that the Vikings went trick-or-treating Tuesday night. They masqueraded as a playoff team.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

When Sports Geeks Babysit

Last night, I cracked up my two-year old niece with my Jim Mora impersonation and she started saying: "Playoffs? You kidding me?"