Thursday, January 27, 2005

My New CDs for January 2005

Has it really been more than 3 weeks since I posted to this thing? Unbelievable.

Stopped by Skoolkids last night & did some shopping. It's been a couple of months. I was due.

I bought two DVDs:

Peter Gabriel collection
Residents' Commercial Album

...and a bunch of CDs:

Mastodon - Leviathan
Autolux - Future Perfect
Liars - They Were Wrong So We Drowned
M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us
Hidden Cameras - Mississauga Goddam
Blonde Redhead - Misery is a Butterfly
DFA Comp #2
Fiery Furnaces - EP
Chemical Brothers - Push the Button

Of the CDs, I've listened to parts of the first five. Here's what I have so far:

Mastodon: Heavy as hell. And catchy, but not in a QOTSA way or a System of a Down way, more in a Monster Magnet way. 30 seconds into the 1st song, I was dialing Spoo cuz this is the sort of shit he might like. One of my colleagues was flipping through an issue of Spin in my office and happened on a profile of the band. She told me she'd known the Mastodon guys for a long time from Atlanta, and even pointed out that she'd had to hold one of them over the toilet on more than one occasion. She's incredibly smart, pregnant by a co-worker whom she's been dating for only slightly longer than she's been pregnant, and covered with tattoos. Four songs in, I'd had enough. I put in Autolux.

Autolux: Seemingly the umpteenth attempt at adapting the Sonic Youth sound to a more populous genre -- in this case, shoegaze. I heard Lush and Curve layered over trademark SY guitar tunings; you might hear My Bloody Valentine. We'd both be right. Curiously, it's produced by none other than Mr. Sam Phillips: T-Bone Burnett. Yet it sounds absolutely nothing like O Brother!, and nothing like Counting Crows either. I noticed this morning Autolux was added to the bill for the Secret Machines Cat's Cradle show in March. Which is good, cuz I kinda like 'em. And they're rumored for Coachella, too! Yay!

Liars: I braced myself for awful and experienced nothing of the sort. Sure it's abrasive, but it's surprisingly listenable. I think it should be considered a legitimate evolution of post-punk: post-post-punk. The dancefloor roots are there, but suppressed. Noisy loops (not unlike the interminable final track on their last CD) dominate the top layer of the soundscape, but there's some catchy melody that drifts in and (mostly) out of visibility there, too. Vocals are intense and the lyrics are obtuse (just look at the title), but it all holds together surprisingly well. Worth a listen.

M83: Bought this one on cred, as my only exposure to their work has been the occasional song bit on radioio Edge. Boy am I glad I did. Imagine Air, crossed with Radiohead, crossed with Caribou (may Manitoba Dick rot in hell, btw), crossed with Orbital at its hardest, crossed with Jean Michel Jarre at his most grandiose. Factor in the gorgeous (but judicious) use of the loud/soft dynamic utilized by Mogwai. And the trippiness of Spacemen 3. What you get is this beautiful and breathtaking record. This is, in fact, everything I was hoping Fennesz would be (but which, sadly, it wasn't). Count on me stuffing my sweaty self into the M83 tent at Coachella. I'm a convert.

Hidden Cameras: This has got to be the gayest CD I have ever heard. I mean that literally -- gayer by several degrees than anything Magnetic Fields ever recorded, this is as gay as gay CDs get. But don't let that sway you! These guys (& gals, if we're being particular) opened for Fiery Furnaces, after which I wrote:

"...from Canada, The Hidden Cameras. I knew they’d be cool when I discovered the drummer and the cellist in the back of the venue playing Galaga before the show. Six folks on a tiny stage, from left to right: 1) Bearded crunchy guy playing upright bass, 2) Seated skinny gayish guy playing cello, 3) Chick drummer, wearing a one-piece Mr. Goodwrench auto mechanic’s outfit, who swears a lot and squirms and bounces like she really really needs her Ritalin, 4) Singer guy, who also plays guitar, who looks an awful lot like a short Krist Novoselic, and who sounds like a more guttural Luka Bloom, 5) Beefy looking guitarist guy, who wears his hair like a British football fan, and who looks remotely like Flea, 6) Keyboardist chick who looks like a grown-up version of Heather Matarazzo as Dawn Weiner, and who dances a bit like her, too. They play a unique brand of folk-stomp indie pop, lyrically focused around some rather lurid queer stuff like golden showers, etc. But their show is so damned fun, their music so catchy, that it’s hard not to like them, and it’s easy not to notice they’re really a bunch of pervs ."

I stand by these gays, I really do, because their music is much more fun than it really has a right to be. Not since The Beautiful South, who've made a career of hiding perversely morose lyrics in cheery melodies, has there been a band that so successfully distracts the casual listener from its lyrical meaning. Listen to it, and you too will soon be singing along: "I want another enema mena mena!" Just like me!

posted by Bill Purdy, 10:59 AM | link | 0 comments

Numb3rs – CBS Fridays

There’s a lot to talk about, and I’m going to double-whammy you with comments from PAFC member, Bill Purdy. First, let me start with the cast:

Rob Morrow as Ron Eppes (Northern Exposure, Quiz Show) – an FBI Special Agent (no, he doesn’t ride the short bus) who is put on the most difficult cases and has absolutely NO personality whatsoever in this show.
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David Krumholtz as Charlie Eppes (Slums of Beverly Hills, 10 Things I Hate About You, Addams Family Values) – a professor of mathematics who uses numb3rs to help his brother solve crimes (uh, the guy listed above).

Judd Hirsch as Alan Eppes (Taxi, Independence Day) – he is dad to Ron and Charlie and known as the peacekeeper. He always has to poke that huge nose of his in EVERYTHING!

Peter MacNichol as Dr. Larry Fleinhardt (Ally McBeal, Ghostbusters II, Dragonslayer, Addams Family Values) – he is Charlie’s colleague and friend. Somehow, he is considered socially awkward. I know – a math brain that is socially awkward – go figure!

The name alone reminds Mr. Purdy of the old game show Bumper Stumpers, which ironically reminded me that I want a license plate that says “44BERG” if we ever play hockey again. Purdy also has deemed the show CS-Pi. Get it, its math plus CSI? HAHA! Anyway…

Here are some of the problems with the show. Ron is way boring – no character, no humor, just dull. Charlie is a little more interesting, and Alan kinda lurks around in the kitchen when the brothers discuss things. I can see a formula for this show (pun FULLY intended): Ron will have trouble with a case; Charlie will explain it can be solved with math, Ron replies with, “You can do that?” Half way through the show, there will be a problem with the equation because Charlie forgot something (like a math brain would forget something); Ron gets in trouble with his boss; Alan brings the boys back together and hints to them how to fix the equation; case is solved. Why do I say this? Because that’s how the pilot was, and that’s how the synopsis for Friday reads.

Don’t get me wrong – I kinda liked the show! Honestly. The pilot was about a serial rapist and it could have been a decent movie plot. It was a pretty exciting show to watch. However, if they stick to the same formula, it might get a little redundant. It resembles many shows like House (FOX Tuesdays) and Medical Investigation (ABC Fridays) where they seem like they have the case solved, but the show is only half over so you know they are wrong. Then they have to start digging again, but you can tell by your watch when they will find the right answer.

Off the subject a little, House really disappointed me this week. I love his character, but they blatantly ripped off an exact plot from Medical Investigation two months ago: Kids convulsing due to some kind of insecticide poisoning from wearing an unwashed new pair of jeans purchased from the back of a truck. That was a little disappointing for me.

I’ll certainly give Numb3rs another shot, assuming Medical Investigation is a repeat. I really liked CS-Pi and it has a ton of potential. Can they live up to it? Or would I rather watch a pseudo albino hang up on his coworkers without saying goodbye? Hey, everything is numb3rs!

3.5 out of 5, currently.

posted by Pat Angello, 1:12 AM | link | 2 comments

Friday, January 21, 2005

HELP Desk???

Billy, I know yer a computer consultant and you’ll find most of this to be my fault, but hear me out!

Everyone (yes, even the low-life contractors) received a new Dell computer at our company. They are sweet little desktops with DVD ROMs, Pentium 4’s and 20” flat LCD monitors. All came with Windows XP as well.

Sun is weird – they have their own version of Microsoft Office called Star Office. I receive a bunch of documents from Sun that need to be converted from Star to Microsoft and sent out for reporting. I had Star Office on my old computer, and it showed up on my new computer, but it wouldn’t open – it always tried to install when I attempted to open something then it would crash. I logged a ticket for re-installation of Star Office on 12/27.

I was also informed that I would be taking over billing for our Market Smart program, assisting one of our program managers. For this, I would need an application called Clients and Profits installed on my new computer. I went through a crash course training on the application right after Xmas and logged a ticked for installation on 12/29.

We’re pushing 3 weeks on BOTH tickets, and I got nothing so far. I know it’s just a matter of time before I get a document from Sun that needs to be converted because it happens every month. So, I grow the seeds and CALL the help desk on 1/13.

John picks up the call and decides to fix both issues with me on the phone right then and there. He asks for my computer name, and sends a request to my screen to take over my computer. I accept, and I’m stuck on the phone with him for 45 minutes trying to make small talk. It started out OK, with him commenting on my Devo wallpaper and the conversation went off into a music discussion. I’m talking guitar and 80’s music, and he’s a former band-fag trombone player. He’s about 40, so we can talk the same genre at least. But then things got a little thin and our conversation turned to odd bits of stretching for things to find common ground. For some reason, he’s thinking crude jokes are good small talk. The classic crude joke is good when you know the person and you know what you can get away with, but telling crude jokes to someone you’ve never met before is just uncomfortable to me.

I notice he’s misspelling the names of drives, and I have to correct him. They typical “not enough coffee” joke comes out of his mouth – granted it is only 9 am. I can see that he’s having trouble and I feel like I know what he’s doing wrong, but I’m not ready for him to turn into Jimmy Fallon’s help desk character from SNL, so I just watch painfully as he slowly realizes his mistakes. Help desk people know everything, so they think, so if you EVER try to correct them they go off. I need help here, so I’ll let him go for a while. However, I’m not sure how much he’s really helping me here.

He says he’s done – I log in again and test Star Office and C&P. They both open on a general basis, as they should, so I’m thinking we’re good to go. Now I put in a request to accounting for a C&P login.

A week later, as I expected, the Star Office document comes from Sun. It’s a simple cut and paste job as I take their version of Excel and throw the info into our own MS Excel doc. I double click the file from Sun and it is unrecognizable. So, I try to go the back way by opening Star Office first, but it tries to install again and crashes. I call the help desk.

John’s my man again. This time, we get to spend an hour together as he uninstalls and reinstalls this software about 4 times. In the process, he deleted some other software because it started with the word “star.” Actually, that software he just deleted was a pop-up blocker and kept me from getting crap through IE. OK, I’ll admit that not every site I visit at work is a work-related site, however, now I’ve got all sorts of crap coming up on my taskbar and 3-4 pop-ups whenever I open a web site. I’m not happy about this! Regardless, he finally reinstalls Star Office and I can finish my task.

The next day, I get my login from accounting for C&P. Excellent! Let’s open it up and see if we can damage something! I double click my desktop icon and it opens! I go to file, open application and I have to open it from another folder. OK, so I double click on Clients & Profits Pro 40.4 and I get “This application can’t be used by the C&P Player. Call the C&P helpdesk for an updated version.” Are you kidding? I honestly don’t have the patience to call the stupid help desk today. Ridiculous!

I called this morning and got Jim, not John. YAY! Jim said they’d look into fixing C&P for me (I think they didn’t install the full program) and add a pop-up blocker. I’m not holding my breath.

Slightly off the subject, but you’d think Tom would know better than almost ANYONE how inappropriate it is to send nipple-slip links to someone’s work email account. But no, he’s Tom, and he simply just doesn’t get it – ever! I mean, he’s 33 and he’s in IT! Guh!

posted by Pat Angello, 3:20 PM | link | 2 comments

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Sideways

This film is a story about a couple middle-aged men with strange relationship issues. Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a divorced struggling writer/English teacher with a passion for wine. When his buddy Jack (Thomas Haden Church – yes, the goofy mechanic from Wings) is about to get married, Miles plans a bachelor trip for them to tour wine country, eat some great food, and relax by playing a little golf. This is Miles’ ideal vacation and getaway, but Jack basically just wants one more fling before he gets married.

Ya know, I don’t say this many times, but this is honestly one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. The plot I described above isn’t anything too exciting, but the character development is fantastic and the dialogue is absolutely brilliant. Sure Jack throws f-bombs all over the place, but the talk of relationships and description of wine and how it’s made literally floored me. I swear to you, when Miles goes into detail about why he admires a Pinot Noir, and the care put into developing that wine, I had tears in my eyes. It was so beautifully scripted and his performance made you feel like he drank it out of respect for whoever made the wine, and their passion for the craft was directed personally at Miles.

I’ll tell you right now, I know nothing about wine. I’ve tried some, but never really liked any of it. After this film, suddenly I want to learn everything about it! That’s scary! No matter how many people have suggested wine to me, or told me how to drink it, I could care less – it was all the same. But the descriptions in this film aroused my curiosity, which I never thought would happen. That alone makes it an impressive film in my mind.

The relationship between Miles and Jack, their flawed personalities that they never learn to overcome, keeps this film true. You really get to know both of them by the time its over, and you feel for them. Even if Jack is a pig, you understand him and you know why. You can pry into Miles’ pain of being divorced and why he is scared to embark on a new relationship. They are great friends in a love/hate relationship.

This is a very funny film if you can handle the language and brief sex scenes (Mom). Paul Giamatti is a brilliant actor, which reminds me to tell you to rent American Splendor. Go see this film – please! It’s rated R so there won’t be any loud kids there and I have not enjoyed a film this much since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I honestly can’t find anything disappointing in this film!

5 out of 5!!!

posted by Pat Angello, 4:55 PM | link | 1 comments

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Medium, NBC Mondays

Let me get this off my chest right off the bat – I do not like Patricia Arquette. Her voice, tone, hair, teeth, posture, everything bugs me. She is just one of those people that rubs me the wrong way, so it’s going to take either a great show or an excellent supporting cast to make me enjoy this – and we have neither. Besides, it’s on opposite CSI Miami. Even David Caruso at his worst is better than Arquette at her best.

Arquette plays Allison Dubois – she sees dead people. Seriously, that’s a line from the show! We’ve never heard that before, have we? Anyway, she’s constantly making jokes about being a “psychic with a bad memory” if she forgets someone’s name. But she does have visions all the time. Sometimes, when she’s lying in bed, her dead father-in-law is there next to her giving her advice. Creepy!

When the series starts, somehow she’s a lazy law student with nothing to do. After two of her three bratty kids (“she’s flippin’ boogers at me!”) are off to school, she spends her days taking care of the littlest one, staring into the liquor cabinet (does this have anything to do with Kelsey Grammer being an executive producer? “What she needs is a closet drinking problem, right Kelsey?”), and solving the Super Password without looking at the TV. Hell, my wife can tell you an 80’s movie from the toilet after hearing one voice! And I’m now sleeping on the couch. Anyway, Allison has already gone through the motions with the DA looking for work, but he never called…Until TODAY!

After seeing previews for this show, it looked to me like a crime show where the medium solves complex cases by having visions. I was expecting the Dead Zone meets CSI. But when the DA calls Allison, its only to have her look at files of potential jury members and decide which ones will help him get the death penalty for the defendant. Ya gotta love Arizona, but is this it? She looks at files and decides some woman who was raped in her past should be on the jury because the bad guy just got paroled? Really? I’ve been waiting for this?

I’ll give the show the benefit of the doubt for now because scenes from next week showed her at an actual crime scene. Maybe it IS going in the right direction. Plus, some of the scenes of her visualizing things were kind of fun. But so far the writing isn’t great, falling back on the typical comedic side junctures like a friend urging his wife to tell her story about a new therapy she created. But, as soon as she starts to speak, he interrupts her and finishes her sentence. Then he turns to her and says, “Go ahead – tell ‘em!” Yeah, that’s really original. The dialogue is not good, and the tension and excitement simply isn’t there yet.

There are only two reasons why I watched this show:

1) CSI Miami was a repeat. Like I said before, I’ll take David Caruso over Patricia Arquette any day – especially because he has a better supporting cast and a half way decent show.
2) I love you all. I really do appreciate your responses to my posts and newsletters so I figured this would give me more material for the blog here.

Honestly, I need to watch the show again, but it has to improve on many levels and I’d much rather look at Emily Proctor than Patricia Arquette!

2 out of 5 for now…

posted by Pat Angello, 6:19 PM | link | 0 comments

White Noise

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) is basically defined as “unexpected voices that can be heard in recording media” such as radio and TV. Yep, the afterlife is talking to us through a fuzzy radio or TV station. Ever see Poltergeist? Remember the kid staring at the fuzzy TV? There you have it. That film scared me into sleeping on the floor in my parents room for a month – and I was 13 at the time!

So the movie White Noise comes out, based on the very real EVP. It looks and sounds like it has all the makings of a great scary movie, right? Oh, and Michael Keaton, one of my favorite actors, came back from the dead (so to speak) to star in it. I was SO excited; I thought this would be a great, fun scary movie to start off the year. Then I realized it was rated PG-13 and we were going to see it on opening weekend, at night. Flashbacks of loud, overreacting kids at Swim Fan came to my mind, but we were chaperoning my nephew and 12 of his buds for his birthday, so what the hell.

Keaton plays Jonathan Rivers, a successful architect and father on his second marriage to an aspiring young writer named Anna (Chandra West). When his new wife disappears, some whack-o named Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) follows Rivers to tell him his dead wife is speaking to Price through EVP. Ya see Price has some big set-up of TV screens and recording devices. He is obsessed with communicating with the dead through EVP! When Rivers meets a woman named Sarah Tate (Deborah Kara Unger) at Price’s house and he sees how this EVP has affected her and helped her cope with a recent death in her family, he starts to believe. Then, he starts to obsess! Seriously, even the kid is asking if he’s going to be OK. I mean, the guy stares at a fuzzy TV all damn day! And don't get me started on the blind psychic - seriously, how can she have visions if she CAN'T SEE!

I’m done with the description of the film because I don’t want to give away anything if you want to see it, but I’ve got to tell you why this film did not work for me.

The first and foremost issue with ANY scary movie is trying to shoot for the PG-13 rating. God bless the kids we brought because all were very well behaved, but they were the exception to the rule. Besides, every one of them came walking out of the film saying, “I don’t get it.” And the girls at these films are constantly overreacting to the slightest scares and jumpy parts. We’re talking high-pitched, shrilling screams! No need for that crap – just add a few more f-words so we can get an R rating and people that can handle this kind of film will enjoy it for what it is. I walk out of the theater after a PG-13 scary movie wondering if it was indeed scary – without the screams of the kids, who knows?

Another issue I had with this film was that it didn’t live up to its potential. Seriously, EVP is a creepy thing and seeing it on the TV show Ghost Hunters is the only highlight that show ever provides.

The biggest issue with the film is the awful script. The film took almost forever to set up and get moving. And Keaton, dude, I know you need work, but DAMN! When you turned to the TV screen, pointed and said, “she’s gonna die because she’s on the tape!” I seriously chuckled. That was a horrible, stupid line and I can’t believe he had to stoop down that far to pay the rent.

If I can go back to the PG-13 rating issue, other than the kids not getting it and the overreacting girls, here’s the biggest problem: kids react differently to situations than adults. For instance, you can’t injure a character and then show them in the next scene tooling around in a motorized wheelchair without expecting the audience to crack up! These people are used to South Park, Office Space, and (insert Ben Stiller movie here) – injured people in motorized wheelchairs are now comedy routines and make for the quick laugh. Sure you didn’t mean for it to be funny, but that’s the way it’s perceived.

I cannot go on any longer. The movie might be worth renting, in your own home, with the kids in bed. However, save the dough and avoid the bad script and meddling kids.

2 out of 5. But I am looking forward to Hide and Seek, scheduled to come out 1/28/05. That’s another scary film rated R (YAY!) and starring Robert De Niro, Famke Jensen, Elisabeth Shue and Dakota Fanning. Please tell me De Niro wouldn’t agree to a crappy script, please! And for her age, Dakota Fanning is a stud of an actress (less that awful Uptown Girls film she did)!

posted by Pat Angello, 1:04 PM | link | 0 comments

Monday, January 10, 2005

Stoopid Broncos!

All week long I’ve been hearing Mike Shanahan talk about how focused the Broncos have been in practice and they were ready to go against the Colts. And the idiot DB’s have been saying that the Colts’ receivers are soft and don’t like to get hit. That’s a lot of trash talking for a team that beat Indy’s practice squad last week but got KILLED in Indy last year in the playoffs. Then, right before kick-off, Bonnie Bernstein does a little sideline interview with Shanahan and asks him how they plan on stopping Peyton Manning. He tries to dodge the question, but Bernstein, being the great professional that she is (HAHA!), asks the same question again in a different way. Mike says something to the effect that they would try to bring pressure and show Manning confusing coverage and blitz packages. Let’s break down the Broncos’ strategy.

Offense: In my mind, they should have done nothing but run the football. This offensive line coupled with Tatum Bell and Reuben Droughns have been effective all year long. The Colts’ defense is not great against the run, so this would have been a great way to control the clock. Plus, if they are running, they can spend time in the huddle and bring the play clock down to 2-3 seconds before snapping the ball. That’s the only way to keep Manning off the field and control the clock. So, what do they do? They come out passing! Sure, the first play was a nice 20-yard pass, but then they went 3 and out after one run and 2 incomplete passes. I don’t think Tatum Bell saw the football until late in the 2nd quarter when the game was already over.

Defense: The only thing soft in this game was the Broncos secondary. Bring in the secret weapon – Roc Alexander! The rookie cornerback got burnt like a bad piece of bacon all day long! This guy hasn’t played on anything other than special teams until the big playoff game, and he had no clue about trying to stop Reggie Wayne or any other Colt receiver! What is he even doing in the game? And suddenly, Kelly Herndon is afraid to tackle. He was trying to grab shoulder, jerseys, do anything but make a solid, high-school taught tackle. Maybe he just had a manicure and didn’t want to mess up his pretty nails, like my mother trying to get her car keys out of her purse! The idea implemented to confuse Manning was to send some DB’s to blitz while defensive ends (yep, 300 pound linemen) dropped back to cover running backs and tight ends. Needless to say, this didn’t even come close to working. Are you trying to tell me that the Mastermind thinks Reggie Hayward can keep up with Dallas Drake? Well he can’t and he didn’t! The Broncos looked more confused about their pass coverage than anyone else. Manning recognized everything and audibled his way to an absolute thrashing of the Broncos. If it weren’t for a lucky tipped ball that the Broncos intercepted in the end zone, the Colts would have scored 42 in the first half!

The Broncos promised the fans that we wouldn’t have a repeat of last year’s 41-10 debacle. However, we SHOULD have been talking a 42-3 game at halftime. That’s not an improvement by any means. Why did they not watch tape of what Jacksonville did when they won in Indy earlier this year? And what do we do with this team now? Should we blow up and rebuild? I say sort of! How about a few ideas?

QB – Sorry Jake, but it’s over. You should be a back up and the Broncos need to do everything they can to bring in Drew Brees. Think about it – the Chargers already have another high-paid QB of the future on the bench, and Brees is a free agent now. Jake can back him up, and Mauck can remain as the 3rd string while Van Pelt continues to develop on the practice squad. Eventually, I think Van Pelt would be a great spark as a 2nd stringer if Brees goes down or is having an off day. Kind of like the days of Weese for Morton.

RB – we’re cool. Two RB’s went down with injuries for the year and we still managed to have an effective running game.

OL – is still good as well – maybe use a draft pick or two on some developmental players.

WR – Smith and Lelie looked great this year, and I’m seriously thinking Nate Jackson is our current best bet for the 3rd receiver. Darius Watts better work extra hard in the off-season if he thinks he’ll be the 3.

TE – Again, we’re cool. Hape and Putzier can handle the load, while the rest can do whatever – they are of no consequence.

DL – OK, the Broncos need to find someone that can pressure the QB. They let Berry go, and he led the AFC in sacks. Dumb. Granted having Pryce out all year hurt, but they still needed someone that could step up and nobody did.

LB – I’m not convinced that this is a problem area. Wilson and Williams are excellent, and Chukwura looks good when he’s healthy.

DB – Again, what can you do? Lynch and Bailey were fine this year, but there may be a depth issue on nickel and dime packages. I’m sure we can pick up some talent in the draft.

Coaching – What the hell do you do here? Seriously, I’m thinking Shanahan can no longer coach this team. He needs to go. And Kubiak is NOT his replacement. The offense needs a fresh idea, and someone has to replace our latest defensive coordinator. Maybe Wade Phillips? Who knows? The defense has been unprepared since the DB coach was replaced. Here’s where we need to start fresh and get this team back on track.

As I listened to the fallout on the morning talk shows, all I heard were complaints about the talent level on this team. That’s only a small part of it. I think the big issues are the leaders, coaches, instructors – they are not getting the team motivated and can’t seem to game plan anymore.

posted by Pat Angello, 1:53 PM | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The source of racism?

So, I was making my way home tonight after work. The first step on my way home is a metro ride from Anacostia to Fort Totten on the Green Line. For those of you who don't know, Anacostia is in Southeast Washington, a part of town that is fairly notorious for being unsafe. I'm there because that is where Bolling Air Force Base is. And the DIA is on Bolling's grounds. And I work at the DIA.

The Metro platforms are generally between 50 and 200 feet underground and served by a combination of escalators and elevators. When it comes to escalators I am a "walker" that is, I don't like to simply stand there and be slowly lowered to the platform, I walk. In the DC metro area there is an unspoken rule - "Stand Right, Walk Left." If there is somebody standing on the left side they usually move aside when they see you coming of if you ask them to move so you can get by. This evening I was making my way down the escalator when ahead of me I saw a fairly overweight black girl listening to headphones. When I got up to her I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to move to the side so I could get around her and she complied. Well when I got about 15 or so feet ahead of her I was suddenly subjected to a verbal haranguing. This girl was yelling at the top of her lungs that that I’m not some important white guy who has to rush around and I need to learn to keep my dirty white hands to myself.

I suppose I could have waited for her at the foot of the escalator and explained that I don’t consider myself particularly important it is just that I don’t like to linger on the escalator. Plus I need to walk all the way to the opposite end of the platform so I am positioned for my transfer at the next station. And the only reason I tapped her on the shoulder instead of simply asking her to move is because she had headphones on and probably would not have heard me. I suppose I could have said all of this but it would have been a waste of breath because she obviously wasn’t capable of listening to reason.

So, my reaction was to yell over my shoulder to her to “Stand on the RIGHT side.”

Well, this unleashed a torrent of racial slurs and cursing. “Fuck you you motherfucking honkey! Who is this motherfucker coming in MY station telling me where to fucking stand? Goddamn saltine cracker white motherfucker!” All at the top of her lungs in a VERY crowded metro station.

Before going any further, I think that being called a “cracker” is hilarious. But, I do recognize that it is meant as a racial slur in this context. The funny thing is that one of the sources of calling a white person a “cracker” is a reference to the slave owner “cracking a whip”. That aside I simply ignored the girl. I considered, for a fleeting moment confronting her and unleashing my own flood of insults: “Listen you ignorant fat nigger slut. I don’t think I am any more important than the next guy but you are probably going to wind up the mother of several criminals by several different daddies because you spread your fat thighs for any homeboy who comes along because you are so pathetic and take affection in any form it comes. So enjoy your welfare mamma life you fat piece of shit.”

But I didn’t. First of all, it isn’t in my make-up to flip out like that. Plus, a quick look around revealed a platform filled with other black commuters. So, even if I were to lay into her as outlined above, I would probably have had my ass kicked many times over. So I just bit my lip and made my way to the end of the platform.

On my way home I got to thinking. What if the roles were reversed? What if I was hanging out on an escalator with a buddy and some black guy tapped me on the shoulder asking me to move aside? And what if I told him to keep his hands to himself and wondered aloud who this uppity nigger was who needs to get past me. And then, if he turned around and told me to stand on the right side I started calling him a “nigger”, a “jungle bunny”, a “spear chucking faggot” and any other racial slurs that came to mind?

Well, first of all, what probably would have happened is another ass kicking. A pretty well-deserved one at that. I would probably have been accosted by both blacks and whites alike. I would, at the very least, been given a serious evil-eye by any and all people within earshot of my recent tirade.

But none of this happened to my escalator buddy. It was pretty much seen as normal or acceptable behavior. I could hear people chuckling as this chick went off on me. And people wonder why there is racism.

posted by MGSoden, 9:33 PM | link | 5 comments

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"Dear Pat:" a series of responses to your comment about my post about Napoleon Dynamite

Dear Pat:

As for Napoleon Dynamite, here's why it didn't work for me: I cared less about the characters in it than I do for most characters in SNL skits, and in fact the film plays like one long, extended, SNL skit. It was weirdness for the sake of weirdness, and not even endearing weirdness. It was, sadly, Pootie Tang for white suburbians. The morning after I watched it, I had trouble remembering what happened at the end. Even though I was awake throughout the whole movie, I just never connected with it, never really understood why I was supposed to be interested in these people. Because they're odd? I guess so. The cast is clearly talented -- the guy from Office Space, Napoleon himself, even the guy who played Kip (who, unless it is part of some very elaborate joke, is not the guy from Reno 911!. It's some guy named Aaron Ruell, who is a photographer [http://aruell.com] and BYU college buddy of the guy who wrote the film. The guy who plays Craig in Reno is named Kyle Dunnigan, and he's a circuit stand-up comedian: http://www.messinabaker.com/resume.php?clientID=116). Lots of talent there, just not much to do with it. Shame, too, because the director and cinematographer did a wonderful job of setting up some really striking shots. Some of the lines were funny, but again, without deeply amusing characters to deliver them, they just didn't have the punch. I wouldn't rank it up there with the worst films of the year last year, but I would have to say it's one of the most disappointing. Gosh!

Love always,
bp


Dear bp:

I was a little disappointed by ND at first, only because my niece has been quoting it and blowing it out of proportion for months. However, now that I look back on the film and remember some of the lines, I have a better appreciation for it. I think it's one of those films that will be a cult classic kinda like Pee Wee's Big Adventure. PWBA is a long SNL skit with characters that you don't have any feelings for, but it's pretty wacky and funny the more you watch it. I know I'd get a bigger kick out of ND if I watched it again, but maybe you won't. That's why it appeals to different people. You and I are different people. You like reality TV, and I don't. OK, maybe that's a bad example. You want to conquer certain video games, and I just want to kick yer ass in football/hockey/basketball/golf. You loved Pulp Fiction and swore it was the greatest movie of it's time, and I found that you over-hyped it for me and I ended up a little disappointed. I think when you hear so many good things about a film, you go into it overly critical. I know I do. However, as much as you may not agree with this statement, I feel like I always make my own judgment on films/TV/music and I never let the mass obscure my opinion.

I still love you though.

Love forever,
~o


Dear Spoo:

In defense of Pee Wee's Big Adventure: it is structured as a classic road story built around a robust and extremely well-developed character (which had been around for years by then, and which was already a countercultural icon). ND is structured as nothing, really. Nothing at all. Just scene after scene of Napoleon (neither a robust nor a well-developed character -- just an amusing one at best; basically -- just like SNL characters -- a funny look and a catch phrase or two repeated over and over again... might as well be Ed Grimley) looking constipated and saying occasionally funny (but never witty) lines like "Gosh." Also some amusing slapstick, but never with enough momentum (or surprise) to produce a genuine "laugh out loud" moment. In theory, that's OK -- I've enjoyed many films that didn't provoke the LOL moment. But few of those films were marketed to me as the feel good quirky comedy of the year! I think what upset me so much as I watched it was the attempted anachronism: mid-80's suburban Boise translated into mid-00's suburban Boise. I didn't see the point. Then I thought of how much COULD have been done with the whole mid-80's nerd thing (a subject with which I am embarrassingly familiar), and I got more and more angry that the film didn't make any attempt to connect with ME. Because I lived it, dammit!

A better comparison than PWBA (which, for me anyway, was a LOL movie from start to finish -- I remember being the only one in the packed theater who could barely breathe I was laughing so hard) might be "The Royal Tennenbaums," which, while full of weird characters to whom we can't readily relate, at least took some time to develop them. I don't remember a single LOL moment in that one, either, but I vividly and fondly remember the situations the characters found themselves in. If I could remember any of the characters' situations in ND, maybe the recollections would be fond (to be fair, I found the chicano guy whose name I can't remember pretty amusing in just about every scene he appeared -- much more so than Napoleon, Kip, or the uncle with the bad toupe). Which is basically my whole problem with the movie. It's been three days, and I can't remember any of it!. See what I mean?

As for your accusation that I am swayed by the masses and you are not... speaking for myself only, I DO read a lot of film criticism. A lot more than most people I know, and I'll bet a lot more than most peoiple you know. But film critics aren't the masses. They're just a bunch of people whose opinions I've learned over time align closely with mine (and, usually, they're good writers). I went into ND more or less neutrally biased, perhaps expecting to like it more than I expected not to. Keep in mind, the "hype" surrounding ND was almost universally mixed -- it's been a while since a "buzz" movie produced such strong love it or hate it reactions from the critical media (the ones I read regularly, i.e.). I went into it feeling pretty sure I'd like it -- I tend to align more with the writers who fell on the "loved it" side of the fence. The ones who hated it, though, were pretty persuasive. And I read just about everything I could, both positive and negative. Plus, you liked it. As did a few other friends whose opinions I know and trust.

Then, I saw it. And it just didn't work for me. It wasn't the worst movie ever, I didn't by any means hate it, it just didn't meet either my standards or my expectations. I respect you no less for liking it, but I can't say I saw whatever it was you liked when I watched it. Maybe another screening is in order. We'll see.

I have the same problem with "The Wire," which I have watched several times. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to sort out the characters who look alike (if you know what I mean), and it's really hard to watch a show when you can't tell from one scene to the next which person is a good guy, and which one is the bad guy. Bill Cross (and Ken Tucker, evidently, whose opinion aligns with mine about 95% of the time) think it's the best thing on TV. So I've ordered it up on Netflix. I may give ND another try, too -- Beth slept through it the first time, and I haven't sent it back. Maybe on 2nd viewing, I'll decide I like it more. But I'll probably just get more annoyed with it instead.

And can you confirm that Reno 911! Craig and Kip are / aren't the same guy? I think part of the problem with the movie is that I got all obsessed with finding out who he was, so I pulled out my computer and trolled the imdb for 15 minutes for an answer. I'm still not entirely sure. Any ideas?

Oh, and when are they gonna make the Ed Grimley movie?

Love eternally,
Willie


Dearest Guillaume:

First of all, not accusing you of being swayed by the masses. Quite the opposite! I was merely saying that when we (both of us, not "you") hear so many good things about a film, we are destined to be disappointed in it. Sorry if you misinterpreted what I was TRYING to say vs. what actually came out in the text. So when you do read that criticism (I know you are a much better read person than I am when it comes to entertainment - where do you find the time?), again you're set up for disappointment on movies that you expect to be great. Have you read the IBMd reviews for Life Aquatic? Some people loved it, others just simply didn't get it.

I thought they made an Ed Grimley movie, or was that just a cartoon on Saturday mornings?

Ya know, I am usually in line with your views on movies and so on. I'm at the point now when I read a review of yours I can tell whether I'd like the film or not - no matter how you judged it. For instance, I know I wouldn'tlike Dogville or Gerry, even though you have an appreciation for both films. And I will live by taking your word for it and not seeing them myself.

However, when you described Dead Like Me to me, I knew I would like it. Which leads me to believe you'd like Wonder Falls if it ever gets released on DVD.BTW, over the years I've grown to appreciate Pulp Fiction. But as for movies that are thoroughly depressing and realistic, I'd rather go to see something that entertains me and is an escape. If I want real, I'll watch the depressing news...

I would die for you,
GPA San Andreas

posted by Bill Purdy, 1:57 PM | link | 0 comments

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Pat Angello Fan Club Newsletter, 1/2/05

To receive this weekly newsletter, go to www.cafepress.com/pafc and sign up!

It’s that time of year again. Time for all of the media to give us the best of, worst of, most influential, blah, blah, blah of the year. So why should Pat Angello be any different? I’ll get to it…

I love the way magazines run Best Of/Worst Of issues at the end of the year. However, the reader’s polls confuse me. How can one band/show/film be on the best AND worst list? I also dislike the “worst” lists because I get offended if there is ever anything on there that I liked. I literally take it personally!

My magazine of choice currently is Entertainment Weekly, mainly because it’s not as much of a rag as the other “entertainment” magazines (are the royal family in People this week?) and never really favors politics – they stick to the same comforting format. However, they have this annoying tendency to ride a trend and then suddenly condemn it. For instance, they’ll promote Paris Hilton for months and then run an article about how tired of Paris Hilton they are - just out of the blue. It’s like having a friend who eats nothing but pizza for a month, then when YOU offer them a piece, they say, “Oh my God – I’m so sick of pizza!”

Speaking of magazines, I keep seeing an ad for the new reality show, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search, with the headline “Who’s Your Girl?” So I decided, as a devotion to YOU, my avid and loyal readers, that I should study this ad and all participants in great detail and let you know who my girl would be. None of them are cute really. Actually, they are all kinda creepy looking and scrawny! Is this what we’ve got to choose from? Yikes! Wait, I just remembered – the last time I looked at the SI swimsuit issue, all of the models looked like 11-year-old boys in bikinis. They had no definition to their arms or legs, and their ribs and pelvic bones were sticking out so far that the cameramen used their hips to make orange juice. There is one (in the front row all the way to the right) that is almost cute and has some curves on her. She gets my vote (as if I’d actually view the show!) because she weighs the most, which could still only be about 110. Then, to top it off, I saw a commercial this weekend where one of the “judges” was calling one of the models fat. “I know you threw up cracker you had for lunch, but you should probably start yackin’ up the 1/8 of an apple you had for dinner if you want to make it in this business.”

Most of you may know that I reside in Denver, so I’m going to comment on the firing of Denver Nuggets’ coach, Jeff Bzdelik. I didn’t like it, and I really didn’t like the way GM Kiki Vandeweghe did it – with a phone call! “Hey, Jeff? It’s Kiki. How’s it goin? Good, good. Hey, listen. You know how you took this team from the depths of hell, when we had no talent to speak of, and you got them to work really hard and attract some fans as ‘the hardest working team in the NBA’ even though they kinda sucked? Then you took that awful team, with a few minor tweaks and a high draft choice, to the playoffs the next year? So I took all of your role players/key sparks off the bench like Jon Barry, Chris Andersen, and Ryan Bowen and dumped them for a bunch of thugs that don’t listen to you, and we lost our starting shooting guard for the season in the opener this year, and now we’re struggling a little with our big guns are hampered with injuries? Well, thanks but yer fired - Merry Christmas!” Nice! And how does Bzdelik handle it? The same way he handles everything from searing criticism during his first year to commenting on ‘Melo acting like a baby during the Olympics – with class and modesty. He started by mentioning the front-page story in the paper about the tsunami and said, “It really puts things in perspective.” He then thanked Kiki and the Nuggets for the great opportunity. So, now 3-time WNBA champion coach/former Laker great Michael Cooper takes over in the interim with big names being thrown around like dough in a pizza parlor. Could we really see Phil Jackson or George Karl in Denver? I have a ton of respect for Bzdelik and I will continue to follow his career, as I have done with former Avalanche coach, Bob Hartley. The only good thing about this firing is now I will never have to hear another idiot local sportscaster say, “The Nuggets told Jeff Bzdelik to buzz-off” again! But when Michael Cooper leaves, I’m sure there will be some annoying, “flew the Coop” reference.

Now that I’m on the subject of local news, I have a question: why do they have to try to use stupid little play-on-words commentary all the time? It drives me nuts because all it does is make people roll their eyes like a teenage girl that just heard a corny joke from their uncle! (Not that I would know anything about that…) Just report the damn story and quit trying to be cute. Oh, and stop with the scare-tactic ads like, “medicine in your house that could kill you, coming up at 10” garbage. Don’t try to freak us out, just tell us what’s going on! While we’re at it, no more localizing major news stories either. Don’t ride the wave of the tsunami (no pun intended) and say Denver could be at risk because we can’t! I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

Did you really think I wouldn’t include my NFL playoff predictions now that the games are set? Before I do that, how the hell did Minnesota and Denver make the playoffs? These two teams did everything they could to throw away the season after great starts. St. Louis and Seattle somehow made the playoffs as well with simply crappy records. It’s ugly in the NFC, so I’m thinking your Super Bowl Champion is coming from the AFC. Here’s what I got for you:

Round 1
AFC: Indy over Denver, San Diego over New York Jets.
NFC: St. Louis over Seattle, Green Bay over Minnesota.

Round 2:
AFC: Pittsburgh over San Diego, Indy over New England.
NFC: Philly over St. Louis, Green Bay over Atlanta.

Round 3:
AFC: Indy over Pittsburgh.
NFC: Green Bay over Philly.

Super Bowl:
Indy over Green Bay.

OK, it’s time (finally) for my 2004 wrap up:

My Top 11 Great Things of 2004 is posted on my blog (http://patangello.blogspot.com/), as well as a movie review for The Life Aquatic. Do you have any lists of your own or want to review a movie/CD/show? Take a look at my blog where I post my newsletters, as well as other writings. If you’d like to participate, let me know because you need to be invited. And by participate, I don’t mean posting things like, “Pat Angello is such a dork!” I think we can all agree that I’m a dork – I’m attempting to sell merchandise with my face on it. Besides, anyone is welcome to comment on a posted article on the blog by simply clicking on the “comment” section at the bottom of each post. When you click there, THEN you can tell me I’m a dork. However, I’m mainly asking people that like to write and have something to say to post articles or lists or whatever they want. Let me know if you are interested in posting something and I’ll send you an invitation!

Here are some additional things from 2004 that I liked or disliked:

Films I enjoyed: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Incredibles, The Grudge, The Life Aquatic, Mean Girls, Super Size Me, Anchorman, Napoleon Dynamite, Dodgeball, Shaun of the Dead. Missed, but heard were worth seeing: Team America, Sideways, Sky Captain. Disappointments: Open Water, National Treasure.

Music I enjoyed: The Hives, Sahara Hot Nights, The Black Keys, Megadeth (welcome back Dave Mustaine!), Franz Ferdinand, PJ Harvey.

TV shows I enjoyed: House, Desperate Housewives, Lost, Arrested Development, Medical Investigation, Wonder Falls (cancelled), 24, Reno 911, Listen Up, South Park (still!), the Daily Show (and America the Book).

Signs the Apocalypse is near: William Hung, the Swan, Ashlee Simpson, Jessica Simpson, political ads/telemarketing, Paris Hilton “wrote” a book, Red Sox win the Series, a Denver Bronco in the Hall of Fame, no NHL, Devo’s “Gut Feeling” being played in a retail outlet, Live’s “I am Overcome” being played in a grocery store.

Peace out, for now!

posted by Pat Angello, 6:12 PM | link | 1 comments