I just realized that the version of Mystic’s extremely happy-making Cuts for Luck, Scars for Freedom that I ganked from KUOI has an additional track (“Here We Are”) thereon that includes Mos Def. Or at least so it appears. Verification?
July 31, 2006
I had heard things about High Fidelity before I saw it. Good things. Very good things, actually. So when I went to rent it at the local Hollywood Video and saw that it was on sale (to purchase) for $5.99, it was a no-brainer to spend the extra two or so dollars.
First time out, I wasn’t that impressed. Jack Black was amusing enough, I suppose. And the music references were appropriately geeky. Better than the mediocre Empire Records at any rate. At least The Beta Band made an appearance. But overall, I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
But, as I said, I now owned High Fidelity on VHS. And continued (and continue, to this day) to have a VCR. So I watched it again. The second time I watched it was when I fell in love with Lisa Bonet. This was during a resurgence of Cosby in my worldview (thanks to “House of Cosbys” and reruns on some channel or other) and the undeservedly underrated Enemy of the State. I began to appreciate the narrative structure as well. And John Cusack’s character started to speak to me. May have been a function of relationship situation at the time. Maybe not. Either way, I enjoyed it more.
Third time, I still hated the character Lili Taylor (because I always hate Lili Taylor; those were the worst years on “Six Feet Under,” and I Shot Andy Warhol is the worst film nominally about Andy Warhol I’ve ever seen) played. But that was short. And Catherine Zeta-Jones was luminous enough for all the exes. More importantly, Iben Hjejle started to grow on me. And I finally got the marriage proposal scene.
Fourth time (just a few minutes ago), High Fidelity felt like a much loved friend, stopping by for a visit. Perfectly crafted, full of piss and vinegar, chock full of story arc, containing some insightful acting and lines, and just lifeful enough to make the whole damned thing worthwhile. Hell, the alternative history scene involving Ray/Ian and Dick’s rage standing alone makes me happy enough to watch it again.
July 28, 2006
As an “Arrested Development” fan, I’m pleased to see that Fox is putting the entire series up for free on MSN. I’m less excited about the prospect of having to sit through commercials again, but still.
July 27, 2006
Cake. Or so it seemed. Exactly as expected, at any rate. The professional responsibility portion, that is. The rest, more or less cake. Come October, I’m going to be pissed if I don’t get a letter telling me I passed.
July 26, 2006
Strangely wonderful and extremely childish, Dicks Out Tuxedos is a new Internet company that is bound to make you chuckle.
[From Table of Malcontents.]
After two days of the Washington Bar Exam, I’m absolutely drained. Well, I wasn’t after the third session today. But the Puget Sound traffic made a fifteen-to-twenty minute drive take over an hour. Also, the Bar Examiners fucked me by not testing Commercial Paper. I’m going to have to write a letter in October expressing my disappointment.
July 25, 2006
Just completed the first day of the dreaded Washington State Bar Exam. Exhausted. Somewhat puzzled. Wishing I didn’t have another two days of this shit so that I could get tanked.
July 24, 2006
Ready for another installment of iTunes Shuffle? No? Well wait a few minutes, read something else for a short while, then try again. [For older installments, see un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, and huit.] Because here’s the latest:
- Dr. Octagon’s “Bear Witness” from Dr. Octagonecologyst. This song has a great beat, a great refrain, and absolutely no vile yet brilliant MC work. Should be a good intro, along with “Blue Flowers,” to those not yet initiated into the folds of Octagon fans.
- Van Morrison’s “Caravan” from Moondance. One of my favorite songs of all time, from one of my favorite albums. Van Morrison is one of those artists who is all over the place, disappointing more often than not. But at least with Moondance, one of his earliest works to be sure, he hit upon a masterpiece. And the album, and “Caravan” in particular, took on new heights when featured in a lovely sequence involving the lovely Mary-Louise Parker on “The West Wing.”
- Johnny Cash’s “Desperado” from American IV: The Man Comes Around. I feel the same way about The Eagles that The Dude does. Yet “Desperado” is something of an exception. It is a beautiful song. Yet the way Cash mangles it, at first I thought it was one of the messy covers that sometimes make their way on to my hard drive for comic relief purposes. How did American IV find its way on to my computer, you ask? I believe this was one of Jeff‘s contributions.
- Sufjan Stevens’s “The Seer’s Tower” from Illinois. A lesser song on a greater album.
- The Roots’s “Break You Off” from Phrenology. I’m not sure what it is, but when The Roots are trying to construct an album, I’m less impressed. Last year’s Home Grown series, comprised of B-Sides and throwaway takes left me excited. And The Roots work in Block Party was remarkable. But I’ve spent too long trying to get into Phrenology (as well as The Tipping Point), and I’m this close to purging it from my regular playlist.
- The Beta Band’s “Dry the Rain” from The Three E.P.’s. I nearly popped in High Fidelity when I heard this come on.
- Roger Taylor’s cover of Fountains of Wayne’s “Fire Island.” Yes, that Roger Taylor. The one who is my brother. He made a dozen or two home recordings of songs he likes or wrote during college, and sent me a few. Some of the better ones have entered my regular rotation. Like this one. “Fire Island” is a pretty song that wasn’t particularly produced on Welcome Interstate Managers, and is even less produced here. Hooray for stripped down!
- Blink 182′s “Stay Together for the Kids” from Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. I’m a sucker for dirty puns, and the title of this Blink 182 album always makes me chuckle. The song is, well, whiney. But I still enjoy it. I think I’m holding out in part because it is one of the few songs I ever heard a commercial radio DJ suggest he was sick of. To get a playlist monkey to admit on the air that he doesn’t always dig on the shit he plays, I give Blink 182 the First Annual Yodelling Llama Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
- The Planet The’s “Body Youth Lip” from Physical Angel. One of the many bands that I discovered and incorporated when I first started at KUOI. Good stuff, in a guitar-driven sort of way.
- Mr. Len’s “Taco Day” from Pity the Fool. Pavement and the extremely good soundtrack from the Brain Candy soundtrack turned me on to Matador Records. Which encouraged me to not only check out the stuff I figured I’d like (e.g. Dead Meadow, The New Pornographers, Yo La Tengo), but also the hip hop (this was before I took it upon myself to get into hip hop). Front of the list: Mr. Len. Former member of Company Flow, Mr. Len’s solo debut is a pretty great album. But “Taco Day” stands out, partly because it is such an unusual track. It is, I believe, a response to the media blitz that covered Columbine (which he contrasted with the lack of media attention when gun violence happens in mostly minority-attended urban schools). It features some very funny moments, but mostly it is unsettling. And it features the extremely talented Jean Grae.
July 23, 2006
I recommend that you go see Clerks II soon, while the theater still contains (1) people (2) who have seen and enjoyed Clerks. and (3) are not overly sensitive to donkey show humor. Because the laughter is infectious. Although you likely won’t be able to stop laughing, even if you wait to see it on DVD alone, you’ll enjoy it more in a crowd of the likeminded.
Clerks II is a sequel along the same vein as Before Sunset in that it revisits beloved characters, years later, and does so in a way that is astonishingly familiar. The format of Clerks II is roughly the same as Clerks. [although (1) the dance numbers are more numerous and choreographed, (2) there are celebrity cameos from Ben Affleck and Jason Lee that, while amusing enough, really aren't necessary, and (3) the female cast members are, from an easy-on-the-eyes vantage point, vastly superior in the second go-around]. Two guys work dead-end jobs, interact badly with customers, take off on short adventures, and ultimately end up approximately where they started. There’s a love triangle with Dante at the center. There’s an unnatural sex act. There’s rooftop action. There’s Jay’s ass.
But somehow, even with all the callbacks and repetition, Clerks II feels fresh. Maybe it’s because Kevin Smith is marvelous at coming up with a certain type of funny dialogue. [Sidenote: I am extremely thankful he has realized that he's not so marvelous at certain other aspects of filmmaking.] Maybe it’s because, as good as Clerks. was, it had a lot of faults (e.g. acting, direction, editing, sound, etc.) that have softened or disappeared with Clerks II. And maybe it is just that Clerks II, as a meditation on friendship and failure, simply has different themes than Clerks., and is a fantastic stand alone picture.
The obituaries for Jack Warden left me feeling puzzled. I certainly knew his face from somewhere, but I hadn’t ever seen Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait (the Warren Beatty film; I have seen the old Don Ameche film of the same name, although the films are unrelated), or “Brian’s Song.” I have seen 12 Angry Men several times, and after I realized who he played, it registered, but did not explain the familiarity I felt. Then it hit me: Jack Warden played John Ritter’s father in the Problem Child movies. Isn’t it frightening that a reasonably prolific character actor would stick out in my memory from Problem Child and its sequel? [I never did see Problem Child 3, although apparently Mr. Warden was dragged back into the fold, despite the franchise's having lost both John Ritter and the little bastard that played "Junior." I suppose he couldn't pass up an opportunity to work with Gilbert Gottfriend one more time.] I don’t think so. I watched the first two Problem Child movies several times when I was younger. I believe this was because (1) we had no video library at home, (2) the local video store was abysmally disorganized for non-film buffs, so locating yet-unseen films was difficult, and (3) Problem Child was not exactly well-received by most of the rest of the world, and its sequel didn’t really help matters, which meant the video store almost always had them in stock. And, I must confess, the fact that I enjoyed them may have had something to do with it.
So, Mr. Jack Warden, I hope when I get to the afterlife, I see you reprising the role of “Big Ben” one more time, just for me.