Friday, January 31, 2003

According to this editorial by Howard Fineman, we're invading Iraq on March 3. Set your countdown clocks accordingly. I also liked this column on last week, where Dan Shanoff argued that the US wouldn't invade Iraq prior to the Super Bowl, in case said invasion led to a cancellation of the game. I like the idea that Super Bowl Sunday has become an unofficial national holiday, and that it's just as important to the economy and national well-being as Thanksgiving or Christmas. All that's left is for the greeting card industry to sell Super Bowl cards, and the circle would be complete. The only problem with that idea is that most guys don't want to send "Happy Super Bowl Sunday!" cards to their buddies. Guys don't send cards to other guys, except for their fathers.

Jimmy Kimmel Live has turned out to be rather funny in its first few outings. Kimmel seems to be a different guy on ABC than he was on FOX or on the Man Show: he seems more confident and in control, while maintaining the same self-deprecating sense of humor that works for most late-night talk show hosts. Maybe it's his wardrobe; I'm used to seeing him in football jerseys or untucked shirts, looking more like a schlub than a star, and on JKL he's wearing a jacket. That makes me feel stupid. He's not really a different guy, but he just looks like it because he's cleaned up for the network. I like the fact that the show is live. The idea that anything can happen, that the whole production could come unhinged at any moment, gives it a freshness that the other talk shows lack. I'm getting tired of Jay Leno, I haven't watched Letterman much since he went to CBS, and I've never gotten into Craig Kilborn. I love Conan O'Brien, and overall I think he's funnier than Kimmel, but it's refreshing to have something else to channel-surf through late at night.

Monday, January 27, 2003

I left yesterday around 2 PM, for those who are interested in that sort of minutiae about my life.

Super Bowl XXXVII was entertaining for most of the game. I got bored when the Buccaneers took a 34-3 lead but got back into the game as the Raiders did. 5 INTs for Rich Gannon is a record I'm sure he doesn't want. I'm happy for Tampa Bay: they've finally shed the loser tag they had for so many years. Unfortunately this means we'll get to hear more from Keyshawn Johnson about how great he is. Why do the jackass players tend to win championships, while the nice guys like Tim Brown of the Raiders can't get a ring?

The commercials weren't as memorable as the ones in past years, but I did like the zebra referee, the guy wearing his dog as a rasta wig, and Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. The last one was by far the best ad during the game, and those who enjoyed it as I did can go to the web site to see more of the same. The four minute film expands on the ad, with much hilarity. I want Terry Tate working in my office.

Now I'm watching Alias and waiting for Jimmy Kimmel Live to premiere later. I have no idea what's going on with Alias, since I've never watched the show before. What is the Alliance? SD-6? And why did I let my wife program the VCR during the opening two minutes, when Jennifer Garner was in her underwear? Previously I hadn't thought of her as being attractive (her face is too angular) but she seems more rounded lately. The airplane sequence strongly reminded me of a similar bit in the video game No One Lives Forever. At least this particular show has Rutger Hauer, who's never gotten the best Hollywood roles but always gives a good performance. I might have to break out my DVD of Blade Runner after this, for some more Rutger Hauer action.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

At the moment I'm sitting in my firm's midtown office, waiting for a phone call from my boss telling me it's OK to go home. Earlier this morning, my office, like the rest of the world, was hit with the latest Internet worm, disrupting most of our systems. At least it's not that early, I got a good night's sleep, I have Internet access here, and no one's dead because of this. (Maybe I should have put that bit first.) And in an amazing bit of luck, I had absolutely nothing planned for today. My Saturday was a tabula rasa, if you will. Liz is volunteering at the cat shelter this afternoon, so I have the rest of my day open, assuming I'm not here much longer. The weather's even warming up a little, to the point where it's not unbelievably uncomfortable to be outside.

More movie reviews:

This week, we watched Mulholland Drive on DVD. For most of the movie, we talked only about how neither of us had any clue what the hell was going on. The more we watched, the more confused we became. I spoiled the movie, but enhanced my comprehension, by looking at the cast list on while the DVD spun. So when the story switched approximately two hours in, at least I was able to follow who the characters were supposed to be at that point. After the movie ended, we read more reviews online which helped to explain just what David Lynch was going for. The more we thought about it, the more we both loved the movie. I wish I'd hung onto it for a few more days, because I'd love to watch it again and see if I could catch more of the clues to the mysteries in the story. And for those with more prurient interests, Naomi Watts and Laura Harring are both easy on the eyes (as David Letterman used to say), and the lesbian subplot plays out in extremely steamy fashion. If you don't know it's coming, it's a little unexpected, but it fits into the story the more you think about it.

We also watched Orange County, which we rented as much for Jack Black as for anything else in the movie. It's got made-for-future-MTV-showings written all over it (it's short, it's easy to follow the plot, and it's not what I think of as "cinematic") but I think that helps more than it hinders. Surprisingly for a teen movie, there isn't much potty humor and no nudity, unless you count Jack Black in "skeevy" underpants in either category. He's easily the best thing in the movie, but Liz and I agree that he really can do no wrong. We've loved him in every movie we've seen with him in the cast, and still get laughs from the Tenacious D debut album (I can't believe I missed their HBO series -- must check iMesh when I get home). The rest of the cast is also fantastic: Colin Hanks is great, Schuyler Fisk (his girlfriend in the movie), Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow, Lily Tomlin... it's a great cast.

Next up on my movie schedule is the extended version of Das Boot. After reading John Keegan's The Price of Admiralty, which included a lengthy description of life aboard a German U-boat, I thought it was time to watch the greatest film ever made about the subject. I just read the comment on the movie's imdb page, and I'm excited. I've enjoyed Wolfgang Petersen's other movies, and my friend Jon highly recommended the long version of Das Boot when it was in theaters a few years ago. Maybe that's how I'll spend my Saturday afternoon, if I ever get to leave.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

I've been meaning to post several observations this week, but it was a busy one. I was in a training class for Sniffer Wireless LAN troubleshooting for two days, and even though I had Internet access, I had to pay attention to the class material, so posting from class wasn't really an option. And at home, I've been playing through Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, so instead of posting in my free time, I'm playing a game.

Anyway, in no particular order, are some of the thoughts I've had this past week.

On Pete Townshend's arrest on suspicion of child pornography possession: I hope his name is cleared eventually, but I'm not too confident. After all, how much research do you need to do on child pornography online? I think the stuff is like nuclear waste: sometimes you have to work with it but you never want it near you or to handle it personally. The farther away the stuff is from you, the better off you are.

Yarrhh, matey! Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Ye'll walk the plank next Sunday! The Super Bowl will be an all-pirate affair, as the Buccaneers and Raiders advanced to the championship game. Or, if you prefer, it's Jon Gruden vs. his old team, one year later. I like the pirate angle, but I bet the networks will play up the Gruden story instead. Too bad. I'll be rooting for the Bucs, as they have the longer history of mediocrity, and I just can't root for the "hated Oakland Raidaz," as Myron Cope would put it.

Liz and I saw About Schmidt yesterday afternoon. Jack Nicholson just won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance in this movie, and I can't disagree with that choice. He was outstanding, as usual, and I thought the screenplay was also exceptional (it won a Golden Globe as well). I think that the Oscar for Best Actor will be a two-man race between Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis, who was amazing to watch in Gangs of New York (which I saw on Friday night). Speaking of Gangs, the opening was my favorite part of the movie. It combined elements of Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan (and others I can't think of right now) into a great tense battle scene that set the tone for the rest of the film. I thought the music for the opening, just drums and tin whistles, was especially effective. I want that music playing the next time I'm going into a difficult meeting or facing a tough problem. Kick that door open and go face Daniel Day-Lewis' gang for supremacy. Damn, it was cool. I still think Chicago will win Best Picture at the Oscars, but both of the movies I saw this weekend would be worthy choices as well.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

I watched the Steelers lose their playoff game against the Titans earlier this evening. Strangely, I'm not that upset about it. Maybe it's because I didn't expect the Steelers to get this far in the playoffs, or maybe it's that I'm getting used to the idea that it's just a game and not worth moping over for hours or days. Either way, it's over for Pittsburgh for this year. They need to improve their secondary for 2003 and maybe look for a rookie quarterback for Tommy Maddox to tutor. I'll say this for Maddox: he's the first Steelers quarterback since Terry Bradshaw that doesn't make me nervous every time he drops back to pass. It's been that long since I've felt this comfortable watching a Steeler throw the ball.

Before the game, Liz and I saw Chicago. We agreed that it was one of the best movie musicals we'd ever seen. It keeps the stage feeling of the musical while successfully translating the story to the big screen. The illusion that I was watching a stage musical was so effective that at the end I had to remind myself that there were no curtain calls so that I could applaud the stars' performances. Every time I hear the music from this show, I enjoy it more, so I'm definitely adding this film to my growing DVD collection when the time comes.

Over at I found this link to an editorial by the online editor of the Weekly Standard where he argues why The Two Towers will lose Best Picture to Chicago. I don't care. TTT is a great movie, but I don't think it deserves a Best Picture Oscar and that it will be lucky to get a nomination. Chicago, on the other hand, is a great movie that should get the Golden Globe for Best Musical already (no need to wait until next Sunday), should get a Best Picture nomination, and I wouldn't be upset at all if it won. Fellowship was Peter Jackson's best chance for the BP Oscar, and I think his movie was better than A Beautiful Mind last year. The Academy will probably look at TTT and argue that it's more of the same, so if FOTR didn't get an Oscar, why should TTT? I doubt Return of the King will win the award next year either. Sequels never do as well as the original at the Oscars, unless it's The Godfather II. It's OK that the Academy doesn't recognize the LOTR films with awards. Twenty years from now, people will remember LOTR much better than they'll remember last year's Best Picture winner, the John Nash biopic A Beautiful Mind. I've already forgotten most of it.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched Fox's new reality show Joe Millionaire on Monday night. While some people choose to see this show as further evidence of the downfall of old-fashioned romance in the 21st century, or as the latest and sleaziest in a line of exploitative TV programs, I choose to look at it as entertainment. I don't have anything else to watch on Monday nights, and I'm usually busy getting ready for the next day anyway, so it's not as if I have something better to do. And it is an entertaining hour, at least as much fun as MTV's Real World or even The Osbournes, now that they've become more conscious of their media image. To those who argue that the women or the man are being exploited, too bad. They agreed to be exploited the minute they signed to be on the show. At least they're not on Fear Factor eating animal parts. I'm curious how the producers will sustain the tension of the show for another six episodes: since we've already seen the way people play reality show games, there's nothing new they can show us about women cat-fighting over a man that we haven't seen already. The real treat at the end is not who wins, but how the winner reacts to the news that the guy doesn't have the money, and I hope they can keep the show interesting enough to make me watch every week, not just the finale.

I don't have any plans to watch ABC's Bachelorette show. Trista Rehn is attractive enough, but, as Tony Kornheiser said on PTI, 25 guys and one girl sounds like a bad party. Maybe I'll check out the last few shows, when the numbers thin out.

Monday, January 06, 2003

I was going to write something on Saturday about watching the Miami-Ohio State game, and how fantastic the game was, but then I watched two amazing comeback games on Sunday. First I had to live and die and live again with the Steelers, then I saw the 49ers stage an even more astounding resurrection against the NY football Giants. I can't handle this kind of excitement anymore; it's taking years off my life. Next weekend, if the Steelers are going to lose, please let them lose early, so my poor heart can be spared. The same goes if they win.

There's an article over at that combines observational and nit-picky e-mails from viewers of The Two Towers. I must see the movie at least one more time to try and pick out some of the funny things others have noticed. I agree with some of the detractions, but most of them are things that I think are purely stylistic decisions that keep the movie at a viewable three hours. I think that those who found TTT wanting in some areas will be satisfied with an extended DVD edition next fall. Certainly the FOTR extended DVD restored many things that fans thought were missing from the theatrical release. I definitely don't agree with the people who suggest that these films should be labeled "Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings" or that the movies are garbage and that "at least we still have the books." If you're that much of a purist that you can't overlook theatrical considerations in moviemaking, then you're never going to be happy with the adaptation and you should probably just stay home. PJ is doing an excellent, admirable job in bringing these books to the big screen and I would rather applaud his efforts than pick them apart for inconsistencies and errors.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I've been looking for some direction in my life lately, so a new year seemed like the time to start finding it. To that end, I've made one significant resolution for 2003: get my Novell certification. I've been working with NetWare, GroupWise, ZENWorks, and other products for almost eight years and while I've learned much over that time, I'm always conscious of how much I don't know about Novell products. Also, I've always had this geeky idea that having a CNE (Certified NetWare Engineer) certification is like being a Jedi Knight. And it should be clear to anyone who knows me well that I've always wanted to be a Jedi. For years I've felt like a Force adept who pretends to be a Jedi without knowing everything there is to know about the Force and the ways of the Jedi. This year I aim to get that certification and feel completely confident when using the Force (managing the Novell directory) or building a lightsaber (installing a server). (I told you it was a geeky idea.)

New Year's Eve at Cafe Wha? was more fun than I expected it to be. The band played rock, funk, pop, and R&B for hours, and they were excellent, even the guy with the weird Kato Kaelin hair. No man in 2003 should wear their long and teased like that. The crowd was a mix of young and old (mostly young, especially the two kids under 12 at the table next to ours) so there was a lot of illicit activity on dance floor. Nothing too family-unfriendly, since most of the people seemed to be coupled. I'd definitely go back next year, though Liz insists we're going to Beale Street in Memphis next New Year's Eve, something we've been talking for a long time. From what she describes, it's the big crowd of Times Square but with open containers allowed and sobriety discouraged. I'm all for that.