Saturday, March 31, 2007


A summer night in the mid-seventies. ABC showed the awful TV movie The Tribe, a low-rent One Million BC knock-off, which I watched in the hopes it would at least feature dinosaurs, but no, only Familiar Faces, swaddled in fake beards and fur, carrying clubs and chucking spears throughout the usual SoCal settings. It only ran an hour and a half, followed by another, even less inspiring second feature, part of the network's Double Feature Fridays. I grew bored and wandered outside.

Walking the familiar environs of the farm, I didn't stop to look up, but I did notice how quiet and still everything seemed, how the usual constant late-summer whirring of the cicadas seemed unusually intermittent, how the fading light seemed oddly tinted.

I wound up at the pasture. The buildings of our farm stood at the top of a hill, the fields below. The pasture, mostly, was a hill leading to the fields, a well-worn path marking the way. This night I lingered at the top of the hill, walking slowly into the tall grass.

The blades trembled, as if in fear, and I finally looked up. Clouds, ever darkening, skittered through the sky, west to north. The wind wheezed asthmatically through the old corn crib and barn somewhere behind me. I laid down in the grass, felt it move, watched the heavens. Finally the clouds seemed to cease moving, became one large, bluish-gray mass, seeming to swallow the very horizon.

A drop hit my face, and another. I leapt up and scurried back to the house, and as I reached the sidewalk, the full fury engulfed me, water battering me so hard I could barely breathe. I stumbled into the back porch and stood in the doorway. For such a brutal squall, there was no thunder or lightning, and our dog Penny, who was terrified of storms, did not cower in fear, and sat beside me, and together we lingered for some time, watching the rain.

Friday, March 30, 2007


As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I got roped into participating in a research session for a local radio station. Brief snippets of songs were played--five or ten seconds--and we were asked to rate the songs.

Mostly, the snippets came from the chorus of the songs, or featured a distinctive riff. Hearing a randomly chosen piece of a familiar song can be disorienting--it actually allows you to hear the song in a different way.

Since most of the songs were from the sixties and seventies, many Beatles songs were featured. The cool thing was realizing that, without any knowledge of what song would be coming next, and the excerpted passage chosen seemingly at random, the Beatles tunes were instantly recognizable not by their melodies or harmonies, but by Ringo's distinctive drum patterns. You hear his drums, everything else falls into place.

Somehow, somewhere, Ringo got the reputation of being the "least-talented" Beatle, and a barely competent drummer. In fact, he's probably the greatest skin-basher in rock history, an ace keeper of the beat when needed, but his distinctive fills and slight hesitations are even more awesome, providing the solid foundation upon which the greatest band in history could erect their masterworks.

Sure, he's kind of turned into a joke in recent years (and by "years" I mean "decades"), but he did some great stuff outside of the band, particularly his fierce, raw, almost primal thumping on Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. Sure, I cringe everytime Ringo trots out a bunch of fellow has-beens and goes on tour with his "All-Stars", but Come Together, Ticket To Ride, Help, Sun King, Rain...these make up for everything. The only way to respond to musicianship like this is to genuflect.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


My mom and dad both had cancer, which means I am at high risk. It's a scary thing, and should be taken seriously.

So I would in no way suggest the announcement that Bush spokesman and all-around douchebag Tony Snow has discovered that a cancerous growth on his pelvis has spread to his liver is in any way politically motivated. As a human being, I hope Snow does indeed beat this thing, as he has vowed he will.

However, I would point out that Snow is part of a process that creates the impression this story is a cheap PR stunt, appearing as it did mere days after Elizabeth Edwards and her husband John decided to go forward with his presidential campaign, despite the fact that her own cancer has returned. Edwards was showered with love and respect from people of all political persuasions, something that has yet to happen to poor Snow.

Another reason Snow's story feels suspect is that it comes straight out of the Bush playbook: The Alberto Gonzales imbroglio is clearly not going away anytime soon, people keep dying by the score in Iraq, and Bush's popularity keeps sinking. What to do? Attempt to drum up sympathy for one of the administration's most noxious characters.

Again, cancer is serious, and Snow--who had a major battle with colon cancer in 2005--is proof that even though you can with a battle against it, cancer is one tenacious opponent. Still, you have to wonder if Snow's conscience is ever troubled by the fact many people in the webisphere, and presumably in the wider world beyond it, don't believe he is in fact suffering. When you lie for a living, even the truth can't set you free.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Boy, am I old.

I realized this last night when I participated in a "listening session" for a market research group. Though not officially stated, this session was clearly held at the behest of the local "oldies" station. When I think of the term "oldies", I think of the music that has always been considered from another time, music from the fifties and early sixties, from before I was born.

But much of the music we heard was from the seventies. The late seventies. My youth.

When did that happen? When did my life become part of the distant past?

We were asked to rate the music on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 meaning we hated a song, five meaning we loved it. There are obvious rules here, at least for me: Any Beatles or Marvin Gaye song is an automatic 5, any Bob Seger a 1.

Unfortunately, I found myself entering a gray zone of nostalgia. Songs I hate, at least by any rational standard, like Precious And Few by Climax, received middle-of-the-road evaluations from me. England Dan & John Ford Coley? Robert John? This is crap, and I should have rated it as crap. Except so much of it evoked powerful, random memories from me.

For instance, Paul McCartney's With A Little Luck. This song is the essence of suck, and yet, hearing a brief snippet of it last night, I flashed back to a time when it was always playing on the AM radio in my brother's Chevette, specifically to an overcast day in the spring of '78, when it was playing as we sat in the car eating McDonald's burgers, killing time before the second show of The Incredible Melting Man. Why do I remember that? How do I remember that? How can I condemn a song evoking such a specific time and place?

So I gave it a 3. I'm only human.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Though great stuff continues to come out on DVD, you can't always believe that what you think you're buying is what you're actually getting.

Some companies you can trust, like Warner Home Video, which today releases its second Errol Flynn box set. All the featured movies are hugely entertaining, particularly the boxing biopic Gentleman Jim, but more importantly, Warners presents them is pristine prints, remastered but not altered.

Sometimes, though, you enter a gray area. Sony Pictures, which has not been as careful with its library materials, today releases the first volume of Norman Lear's classic seventies soap opera riff Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Since this program ran five days a week, the set only contains the first five weeks of shows, twenty-five episodes. Sony has not seen fit to include any sort of supplementary materials that would put this show in context, that would explain how it briefly flourished and quickly faded, or even explain its unusual tone (jokey but despairing) to newcomers.

Sloppy, perhaps, but forgiveable. What's utterly inexcusable is that, according to some online reviewers, Sony has chosen to release the substantially altered versions of the shows prepared for cable syndication. These episodes were trimmed to allow for more commercial time, and some of those trims completely eliminate major plot points! This may not be part of a nefarious scheme; most likely, the people in charge of this project simply didn't do any research, and threw the thing together with materials they had on hand.

On the other hand, sometimes things are deliberately changed, and I wish more people would object. At the end of last year, MGM began its rollout of "upgraded" masters of all the James Bond pictures. Initial reviews were ecstatic--these movies, some of them over forty years old, look like they were made yesterday!--but then a second wave of opinion, better informed than the first, made it clear something suspicious was going on.

I've not seen these new Bond issues, so I'm only going by what I've read, but online critics like Glenn Erickson are extremely reputable--knowledgeable about the films themselves and tech matters, too. Apparently, in a push to "improve" the visuals of these films, digital tools substantially changed them. For instance, On Her Majesty's Secret Service famously opens with a moodily-lit fight scene, on a beach at sunset. Only now it doesn't--the actors have been digitally lightened, so they now no longer appear in shadows, and the sky has been brightened. Cosmetic changes, but they would totally alter the mood of the scene--and more importantly, this isn't what the filmmakers shot!

Sales for the "new" Bond pictures have been good but not spectacular. Presumably the people buying them are simply believing the hype (or more accurately, lies) that these movies now look better than ever, and maybe they just don't know any better. Real fans, I suspect, will avoid these, but if sails flatline, will the distribution companies realize people are avoiding them because they don't want shoddy producrt, or will they simply decide to no longer make vintage titles available, and doom us to a world of Rob Schneider vehicles?

Monday, March 26, 2007


So of course I wound up taking Paul to that Ninja Turtle movie. I wouldn't bother going on about this, but the thing made serious if unspectacular money this past weekend, and might be worth considering as the shapes of things to come.

I have no idea who or what the filmmakers saw as the target audience for this thing. In their original comic book incarnation, the Ninja Turtles were basically a parody of several recent trends in comics fandom. (The ninja aspect was specifically riffing on Frank Miller, the non-genius writer/artist who gave us 300...and more on that later.) But as it mutated into a TV cartoon and those mostly lame live action movies from the early nineties, it became specifically kiddie-oriented.

As it should be, I suppose. Despite all their self-conscious airs, such recent movies as Batman Begins and Superman Returns seem awfully silly, asking us to take guys in tights seriously as tragic, conflicted figures. They're superheroes, people! As a guy who has shelves stuffed full of Godzilla movies, I probably have no business getting on a high horse, but at least I have a sense of perspective: A superhero movie should be fun, not dark, and it should be, if not aimed at kids, at least accessible to them.

And if those superheroes are skateboarding, pizza-eating turtles, all the more so. Yet TMNT (and I can't say this enough: Awful title!) opens with reams of exposition, positing itself as a direct sequel to the earlier Turtle pictures, which were made before this movie's target audience was even born. The story is so pointlessly convoluted, lacking even a clear-cut, hissable villain, that Paul--who's seven, and quite bright--repeatedly asked me to clarify what was going on, and I had to tell him, I had no idea.

So there's that. Then there's the movie's hideous visuals. CGI wasn't a bad way to go for this material, and since it's set mostly at night, we're largely spared the depressing sight of computer-simulated sunlight (again, I'll get to 300 shortly), but aside from our titular heroes, the character designs are eye-punishingly hideous. Human characters are designed and animated by people with no apparent knowledge of anatomy (the exception is the quasi-villain, who endearingly resembles Peter Lupus), and the Turtles' Yoda figure, the talking rat Splinter, resembles Chester Cheeto reborn as a sports mascot. Some of the action scenes are well-staged, but most of the animation is clumsy--it's the CGI equivalent of mid-seventies Hanna-Barbera.

Optimistically, I'd like to find something positive in the film's success. I'm not sure that an animated film aimed at ten-year-olds instead of five-year-olds is progress, but it might at least suggest to studio heads that animation can be used for something other than talking animal movies. Who knows? Future superhero franchise movies might go the animated route from the start, which would at least prevent the jarring moments in which our heroes switch from being real actors in costumes to obvious, cartoonishly-rendered CGI creations.

Sadly, TMNT is likely a gateway movie. Kids reared on this will turn into adults who will willingly pay to see 300, who will gladly experience its empty style as empty sensation, who will be troubled not a second by its noxious homophobia and desperately closeted homoeroticism, who will not recognize its transparent misogyny, who will enjoy its hazy, joyless visuals and its vision of mountains and plains and skies as recreated by people who have never taken the time to enjoy the real thing.

They'll never see a real movie, or live in the real world, and they'll never know--or care--what they're missing.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

normal view. Normal View. NORMAL VIEW!

Herman Stein, who has passed away at the age of ninety-one, is beloved by monster fans everywhere, even if they don't know his name.

As a staff composer for Universal Studios in the fifties, Stein toiled in obscurity, working alongside guys like Hans Salter and Henry Mancini, producing individual cues that could be re-used over and over. Universal, alone among major studios of the era, seldom hired anybody to score an entire film beginning to end. They'd just have the staffers crank out generic "romantic cue" or "suspense sting", and credited music director Joseph Gershenson would plug them in wherever appropriate.

Stein specialized in monster music. He wrote the blaring da-Da-DAH trumpet burst for The Creature From The Black Lagoon, which Universal was still using in low-rent science fiction movies in the late sixties. (I always associate it with the Toho/Rankin-Bass collaboration King Kong Escapes, my first exposure to it as a kid.) Stein's noisy brass and shrill strings provided the signature sound accompanying the stark black and white visuals of The Incredible Shrinking Man and It Came From Outer Space, as well as Universal's atypically ambitious This Island Earth, for which he provided the "Normal View" crescendo so memorably mocked in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

After his uncredited gigs for the big screen, Stein worked regularly scoring episodic TV in the sixties. For those of us who grew up watching old movies and TV shows, he provided the soundtracks to our lives.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I don't know this for a fact, but I strongly suspect sometime this weekend I'll be taking the kid to the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (or, to give its official title, TMNT--and could you imagine a less appealing title?). He's pretty jazzed about it, although since he's seven, he tends to get jazzed about everything. (He literally started singing with joy once when i told him we were going to Old Country Buffet.) The first time we saw a preview for this thing, Tabbatha leaned over to me and said, "You get to take him to this one."

Hopefully, bad CGI-rendered martial arts action will make him hungry for the real thing, and then I can finally get him into Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. (My first exposure to Bruce Lee was the old Green Hornet series, and come to think of it, I have some episodes on tape somewhere. Wonder if that'd work...) We watched an episode of Samurai Jack the other day, and the deliberate pacing put him off at first ("This is a boring episode."), but by the end, he was literally on the edge of his seat.

As far as those damned ninja turtles, well, I suppose if they'd been around when I was seven, I might have thought they were cool. I wouldn't have been incensed that this is just a lame attempt to wring some more money out of a deservedly moribund franchise, but I suspect that the cheesy animation would have annoyed me to the point that I couldn't watch it. As a kid, I could tell the difference between good animation and bad, and so even though Filmmation studios cranked out action-oriented TV cartoons, they looked so crappy I couldn't get into them. And I was five or six--what aesthetic standards could I have possibly possessed? Enough, apparently, to tell me that even though a cartton based on Hot Wheels should have been cool, it wasn't.

Whether Paul has a similar sense of quality is open to question. After all, his favorite Star Wars movie is The Phantom Menace. But he's young. There's time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Two thoughts inspired by the dustup between the Democrats and the Bushinistas over the firing of U.S. attorneys:

1) Today's New York Times has a story detailing the exasperation the Democrats are feeling regarding the White House's stonewalling and refusing to release requested documents. According to authors Eric Lipton and David Johnston, Democratic lawmakers are "privately" asking reporters to press the White House to explain why the emails and assorted documents that have been turned over include virtually nothing from the week leading up to the actual firings.

A very good question. Too bad no reporter has ever bothered asking it until now.

2) Mad props to the Democrats for actually pressing this matter, but I can't help but wonder--why this?

Yeah, it's a pretty blatant abuse of power, but by the standards of this administration, it's pretty small potatoes. Democrats green-lit the invasion of Iraq, and even now are doing little to scale it back. Tax breaks for the richest of the rich, paid for on the backs of the poor? Unfortunate, but eh, what're you gonna do? Warrentless spying on U.S. citizens? Hey, we don't approve, but our hands are tied. Suicides in Gitmo, dismantling the Constitution, Abu Ghraib, signing statements, the naked consolidation of power to only one branch of government, the emergence of a true imperial presidency--were none of these things worth going to the mat for?

Democrats, Republicans, it ultimately doesn't matter--either way, we're hosed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Freddie Francis is dead at the age of 89.

I first became aware of his name as a kid, rabidly devouring issues of Famous monsters Of Filmland. Francis had a pretty good gig throughout the sixties and seventies as a director, sometimes for Gothic horror factory Hammer Films, usually for other production entities attempting to ape Hammer's formula. His work as a director seldom rose above the workmanlike (though Dracula Has Risen From The Grave is pretty good, and what a title!), and for somebody typed as a "horror specialist," Francis clearly had little affinity for the genre.

It wasn't until many years later I discovered Francis had another, much more distinguished career before his directing days, as a cinematographer for some of the most influential british films of the fifties and early sixties, including Room At The Top and Saturday Night And Sunday Morning. He won an Oscar for his fine work on Sons And Lovers.

His directing jobs sidelines his photography career throughout most of the sixties and seventies, until David Lynch hired him to shoot The Elephant Man--a masterpiece of the cameraman's art. Its widescreen black-and-white images recall Lynch's previous film, Eraserhead, recall Francis' own work for directors like Karel Reisz and Jack Clayton, conjure some of the Gothic shivers of classic British horror and, not incidentally, serves the story being told.

That was Francis' skill as a cinematographer, to find the proper visual style for the material at hand. His work on The Elephant Man was justly acclaimed, and his career was back on track. He worked with his old collaborator Karel Reisz on the very fine French Lieutenant's Woman, shot The Executioner's Song and was hired by Martin Scorsese to bring a stylish visual sheen to his otherwise misbegotten Cape Fear.

His most impressive late period work was again with David Lynch, conjuring the putrid greens, washed-out browns and vivid reds of Dune and beautifully capturing the beauty and loneliness of Iowa landscapes in The Straight Story.

That last one was Freddie Francis' final film as a cameraman. It's the story of an old man who realizes that the life he thought he wasted might have been worthwhile. Not a bad way to go out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


For me, a good week to save some money--there's nothing new on DVD I have to own.

Oh, there's some decent stuff, but most of it has the whiff of leftovers. For instance, there's Season Three of Batman Beyond and Season Two of Justice League Unlimited, two animated series produced by the estimable Bruce Timm. They're good, but not a patch on Timm's original Batman:The Animated Series, still the gold standard in TV animation.

And there's John Carpenter's contribution to the second season of the Showtime series Masters Of Horror, Pro-Life. Despite a clever premise (a father is determined to get his daughter out of an abortion clinic by any means necessary), it devolves into yet another variation on Rio Bravo, and though Carpenter is no stranger to low budgets and rushed shooting schedules, this looks and feels cheap. Somebody give this guy a big budget and a good script. Please.

Jules Dassin's Naked City gets the deluxe treatment from the good folks at Criterion, and while the film is undeniably of great historical significance, as entertainment it's really nothing special. On the other hand, if you're looking for glorious views of NYC in the forties, this is one of the best movies ever made, and James Sanders, author of the essential book Celluloid Skyline, provides a guided tour on the disc's best feature.

The first season of Maude, probably the best of Norman Lear's "relevant" seventies sitcoms, is out today (Bill Macy fans, rejoice!) and the third and fourth seasons of Miami Vice (not too exciting for anyone), plus the umpteenth reissue of Re-Animator and, inexplicably, the lame British horror spoof What a Carve-Up! I've stumbled across that title for years in film reference guides, and I've never had any desire to see the damned thing.

Finally, a confession: Though he's revered by people I highly admire, I've never cared much for W.C. Fields. Despite this, I note there's a new Fields box set out today, but again, it's mostly not prime stuff--Poppy, The Man On The Flying Trapeze and the like. The Bank Dick and It's A Gift were part of a previous set. Like I said, this week is all about leftovers.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Friday night was the first real practice of the season for Paul, as he and several other seven and eight year olds sprang across the bright green grass. Tabbatha and I stood, apart from the other adults, dads, mostly, who helped out, batting grounders to the kids while waiting for the coach to arrive.

We talked about our weekend plans. We'd be apart this weekend, me going over to Nebraska to see my nephew in his school pplay, while she just hung out at home. I kept watching Paul. He'd miss a ball, and one of the adults would tell him to keep his eye on it, get behind it, and next time he would. He listened and watched, the most concentration I've ever seen from him.

Tabbatha was downright chatty, talking about all manner of family matters, and talking excitedly about her new job. I love seeing her like this, and I'm so glad she likes her work, but the fact is, I barely paid attention to her.

She figured this out eventually: "Are you even listening to me?"

"Yeah," I said lamely. "Sort of. Sorry, I'm watching. This is all new to me." I nodded towards Paul. "He needs to work on throwing."

Vague irritation that I wasn't paying attention to her mixed with amusement at my reaction to her kid. The conversation shifted. She watched more, I listened more.

After practice, we went out for pizza (this is when Paul told me he wants to be called "Bumpy"; don't ask), and pretty much called it a night.

The next day it was off to Nebraska, ostensibly to see my nephew Matthew as Will Parker in Oklahoma! (and he was very good, as it turns out), but really to hang out with my brother John. I head over there every few months just to hang out, we watch bad movies while knocking back good beer, and drive into Omaha to eat artery-clogging King Kong Burgers, and just do stuff.

These things, presumably, I'll be doing less often once Tabbatha, Paul and I begin living together. It won't be so easy to get away, I'll have responsibilities and obligations. I'll be part of a family, I guess.

The life I've always had is the life I've known, and I've clung to it as a life preserver, drawing comfort from it even when it failed me. I didn't know I needed a change until I met Tabbatha, or maybe more accurately, once I met Paul, once I realized this new and different life was not only possible but even desirable, and things that seem mundane to many people--a kid's baseball practice, for instance--are a huge adventure when it's all new. This territory is unmarked, but fortunately, I'm with people with a good sense of direction.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Jerry Lewis turns eighty-one today.

Has popular entertainment ever produced a more polarizing talent? For the longest time, people either thought Lewis was a genius or they hated him with an irrational passion. These days--maybe it's an elder statesman thing--he seems to be somewhat revered; when he shows up on talk shows, he's afforded some measure of respect, if not quite the adulation he clearly feels he deserves.

Lewis' massive ego probably kept him from being the truly great director he sometimes seemed meant to be. If you only watch one Jerry Lewis movie in your life--one too many for most people I know--it should be 1961's The Ladies' Man.

Clearly Lewis was given freedom to do anything he wanted here, and as the title suggests, it is also the source of his "Hey, La-ay-dy!" catchphrase. He plays a handyman at a girl's school (I was going to say "bumbling handyman," but it kind of goes without saying), and there is no real plot, only a premise, a thin thread on which to hang gags.

Which would be fine, but the movie is largely laugh-free. Amusing at times (Lewis' character is named Herbert H. Heebert, and how can you not love that?), but not funny, which becomes particularly painful since Lewis leaves pauses during some bits, presumably to be filled with an audience's laughter. When there is no laughter, there is only cruel silence.

But. Lewis' staging of the gags, his formal conception of the entire film (shot entirely on one massive, ingeniously designed set) is often brilliant. His talent was very real, but he was so convinced of that talent that he wants you to admire it, too, and so lingers over certain scenes when he really needs to pick up the pace. A comedian should know timing is everything--and make no mistake, back when he was teamed with Dean Martin, Lewis was absolutely brilliant, as good as any comedian who ever lived--but every single movie Lewis ever directed is seriously flawed, and if you listen to the commentary track on The Ladies' Man DVD, you'll know why: Jerry is more concerned with building a monument to himself than acknowledging the contributions of others, contributions that might have helped the movie, might have helped Lewis make a genuinely funny movie instead of a brilliantly-engineered stiff.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


The essential truth of the story in today's New York Times is moderately interesting: Turns out Rudy Giuliani's law firm has lobbied the Texas government on behalf of an oil company controlled by Hugo Chavez. Giuliani had no comment--for once--and officials at the Lone Star branch of Citgo, the company in question, predictably claim they are blissfully ignorant of the whole situation.

None of these facts are as interesting as reporter Russ Buettner's characterization of Chavez's relationship with our president: In recent years, he has called Mr. Bush "a donkey," "a drunkard" and "a coward," blamed him for a failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002 and allied himself with Fidel Castro.

Can you spot the weasel words? Buettner (or whoever edited this piece) implies that Chavez's ire towards Bush regarding the coup is somehow deluded--he "blames" him.

The actual facts surrounding the coup will probably never be known, much as we'll never really know who gave the order to fire those U.S. attorneys. In other words, the administration may not have been directly responsible for it, but they damn well knew what was going on, and by making no attempt to stop it, they let it happen. Once it did, the Bushinistas referred to it not as a coup, but a "change in government," and were all too willing to fawn over Pedro Carmona, the noxious right-winger briefly installed in place of Chavez, and did everything they could to keep Chavez from returning to power.

Chavez doesn't "blame" Bush for the coup; he states facts, reported back in 2002 by repectable newsgathering organizations around the world. Including, way back when, The New York Times.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


This, basically, is what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said yesterday: Okay, sure, the firings of eight U.S. attorneys not sufficiently sympathetic to the Bushinista cause might have been politically motivated, but he had nothing to do with it, or maybe he did, but it's not that big a deal and certainly not something he should be forced to resign over.

As I'm reading this story, trying to dig deeper into it, wondering how, when such a blatant abuse of power occurs, it can be allowed to just kind of go by, I realize that my head is getting heavier and heavier, and feels like it may do a Scanners number any second.

So I look for something else, a pointless distraction, a glossy, upbeat showbiz story.

Oh, this should fit the bill: this year's Showest is underway, the annual ritual in which Hollywood types parade their wares in front of the nation's theater owners, in an increasingly desperate attempt to convince them times aren't passing them by.

This year, Hollywood is spurting all over itself, convinced this will be the best year ever. Why just look at this summer's lineup: Another Shrek. Another Pirates Of The Caribbean. Another Harry Potter. Another Spider-man. Another Rush Hour. Another animated penguin movie, presumably unrelated to any previous one, but who the hell knows?

And suddenly the transgressions of the Bush administration almost seem like the lesser evil.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Betty Hutton has died at the age of 86, and while I mean no disrespect, my first thought was, "Good God, she was still alive?"

Yeah, yeah, she starred in The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek, and that is, by any definition, one of the greatest comedies ever made. Kudos and props to her for that, although in truth, I tend to find myself wishing it had someone else in the lead. Anyone else.

Because as a kid, I was terrified of Betty Hutton. The local Sunday afternoon movie package, amusingly called Valour Theater, seemed to feature in constant rotation two of her more popular vehicles, The Perils Of Pauline and Red, Hot And Blue, both of them featuring lengthy song numbers designed to show Betty doing...whatever the hell she did.

I wouldn't know, because they always sent me scurrying behind the couch. Even on our 19", black and white Philco, her scatchy voice, grating mannerisms and over the top energy felt like being hit by a blowsy blonde hurricane. They made me cry and ask my mom why someone as terrifying as this exists in the world, and Mom would basically say you had to be there.

This is the kind of thing that scars you for life. Well, that and seeing Hutton in The Greatest Show On Earth (another Valour Theater mainstay), and realizing to my horror that all the other characters seemed to find her sexy, when she looked and acted like somebody's mom, if I'd known anybody with a mom hooked on speed. For this Cornel Wilde fell off a trapeze?

So fine, The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek. And maybe even Annie Get Your Gun, if you're a committed fan of director George Sidney. (I'm not, but I understand they exist.) But when I think of Betty Hutton, I'll only remember trembling behind the couch, my tear-filled eyes averted, questioning the existence of a loving God.

I guess that's a legacy.


Casino Royale is out on DVD today, and rather than geek out about all things James Bond, I'd like to pay tribute to one of the best things about this terrific movie, namely the musical score by David Arnold.

Anyone scoring a Bond picture labors under the awesome legacy of John Barry, the house composer for most of the films in the series. (For contractual reasons, the "James Bond Theme" is credited to Monty Norman, but come on!--everyone knows Barry really wrote it.) Even if the Bond movies aren't your cup of tea (or vodka martini, as the case may be), Barry's music is amazing. Pick up a copy of the soundtrack to On Her Majesty's Saecret Service and prepare to be stunned--lyrical orchestral passages mix freely with big-band jazz, proto-electronica smashes into surf rock. Barry's music always supported the films, but actually sounds better on its own.

Other composers filled in on occasion, but Barry quit the series (I was going to say "turned in his license" but I'm trying to avoid geeky Bond references...and I was pushing it with that vodka martini line earlier) for good after 1987's The Living Daylights. The next two entries featured notably substandard scores, but things picked up once David Arnold officially became the in-house composer.

His pre-Bond soundtrack work was a mixed bag, his highest profile gig having been routine scores for several Roland Emmerich crapfests. His first Bond score, for Tomorrow Never Dies, was nothing special, but he hit it out of the park with his next one, The World Is Not Enough.

If, that is, you could hear the music. Like most contemporary movies, the recent entries in the Bond canon have buried the score in the mix, just another element on the aural landscape timidly peeking out occasionally amidst the deafening sounds of explosions and gunshots. Even the sounds of people walking or picking up glasses stand out more prominently than the music.

Happily, Casino Royale gets it right. Arnold's beautiful score--which you might say is acquainted with Barry's work, but in no way indebted to it--is very prominently featured, and is in fact allowed to carry some scenes outright. While taking nothing away from the superb acting (and let me say, Daniel Craig is now officially my second favorite Bond, right after, ahem, George Lazenby) and fine screenplay and direction, it is Arnold's score that elevates this movie from just another series entry to a surprisingly affecting emotional experience; he can do action cues with the best of them, but there is a real romantic sweep to this score that makes it--and the movie it serves--something special.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Another month has nearly slipped by, a month on top of the year since Mom died. I've barely noticed.

There's stuff going on here--new job, Tabbatha and I making plans to move in together--and that's keeping me occupied. There's literally no time for thinking of such things.

Even when there is time, it's not dwelt upon. My siblings and I got together last month on the anniversary of her death. I expected much weeping and remembering, but actually we just kind of sat around and shot the breeze, discussing everything but Mom. Memories weren't shared and--oddly--weren't particularly missed.

How did this happen? I feel like i'm missing a stage of grief, like I went from absolute sorrow to total acceptance in about a week. The breakdown, the emotion, everything I expected to happen never did, and it's becoming clear, never will.

For my entire life, mom was always there, the person I could count on, the person who would always be there, who would never judge me, however big my mistakes. Without her--what?

As my sister Ann put it, once Mom left us we became orphans, forced in our forties and fifties to finally admit we were adults, to accept the fact that she wouldn't be there to offer advice or comforting words, to guide us on our paths.

A void, then. But not an ending. I met Tabbatha, and not just her but Paul. I'd dated women with kids before, but only briefly. I always assumed kids would never be a part of my life, because...well, just because.

And yet here they are, and my relationship with them evolves further everyday. I'm learning that what I want can't always come first. When there's a kid in the picture, he's important, he matters--no, we matter, the three of us together.

Sometimes I wonder if I could have arrived at this place if Mom was still around, if it took that unexpected stumble into adulthood to make it happen. She's gone, but by her very absence, it seems, she gave me a final push, guided me to the path I'd needed for so long.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Oh, finally Our Beloved President found a moment's quietude in his Latin America tour: Uruguay, where he was not treated as a visiting monster or an unwanted stranger. President Tabare Vazquez showed Bush around his private compound, walking in contemplative silence amidst the cows and horses. They shared some barbecue, and took a langorous boat ride together. One can imagine it as a misty soft focus montage, accompanied by a Rufus Wainwright song.

Of course, Vazquez is still a committed leftist, and speaking of Bushie before the visit, he made it clear that Uruguay is a thoroughly anti-imperialist nation. (Bush, asked about Vazquez's remark, responded, "I hope he would define my government as pro-freedom." Hope away, sir.)

Still, the fact that Vazquez is treating Bush with any sort of respect is seen as a mild rebuke to Hugo Chavez, who has been on a barnstorming tour of his own, pointing out (correctly) that Bush has never given an apparent rat's ass about the region until now, with the exception of backing a coup against Chavez, who was after all elected by the people of Venezuela. (Shows how much Bush really cares about democracy.) Chavez is on this tour not so much to bulk up his own popularity, but to stir hatred against Bush. He really doesn't need to bother; the fact that Bush is perfectly willing to build a fence along the Mexican border to keep out Latinos tells people in the region what he really thinks of them.

Actually, that Bush is on this tour at all is kind of weird. It's the kind of please-don't-hate-us goodwill bullshit that usually gets fobbed off on vice presidents. The fact that Bush is doing it himself makes it more apparent than ever that the real power in this administration is not in Bush's hands.

Besides, Cheney tried doing a goodwill tour himself recently and discovered everybody in the world hates him. And these days, he's probably locked down in his private compound, trying to decide whether he should have Scooter Libby pardoned or killed. (I picture Libby with an expression kind of like Count Dooku's right after Palpatine tells Annakin to behead him, an expression that says, "I served you faithfully and well, and this is how you reward me?")

If Cheney had gone to Uruguay, Vazquez's cows would have fled in terror, and the horses would have reared back, whinnying furiously, kind of like the monkeys when Damien visited the zoo. And Chavez could have just stayed home, because anyone would recognize this devil without prompting.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I realize bad movies have been with us at least ever since that Edison short of the two guys dancing together (it's supposed to be funny, because they're guys...and they're dancing together!), but there are projects so pronounced in their awfulness, it can still bring you up short.

Like this: A live action/CGI Alvin And The Chipmunks.

Really? Was Garfield not awful enough? Has the upcoming Underdog movie not exhausted the tombs of pop culture ephemera left to be exhumed by boomer studio execs? Is there anybody, anywhere, who thinks this could be a good idea?

Starring as Dave Seville--I typed those words, yet I can't believe I did--will be Jason Lee. Tim Hill, auteur of Garfield: A Tale Of Two Kitties, will direct. And the script, sadly, is by Jon Vitti.

If you're not a credit geek, Vitti used to write for The Simpsons back when that really meant something (he wrote Mr. Plow, for God's sake), and was a producer for The Larry Sanders Show. These are two of the best things TV has ever given us, and he's writing what will no doubt be another loud, annoying kiddie pic with plenty of ironic, snarky asides for the adults who are forced to sit through it, but which actually only reveal the cynicism of the creative team who can't be bothered to produce something that's actually good.

Sorry, maybe I shouldn't make assumptions. You can't judge something you haven't seen, after all. Maybe it will be good.

Wait--Chipmunks, CGI, Jason Lee--nah, it'll suck.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Brian Robbins, the auteur of Norbit and co-producer of Wild Hogs, is confused. According to a Reuters wire story, the poor guy can't understand why his movies get such terrible reviews: "Is the audience that stupid? Is America's taste that bad? I don't think so...The only films that get good reviews are the ones that nobody sees."

Okay, Brian. Mind if I through out a few titles of recent movies? The Incredibles, for instance, or Casino Royale? But let's stick with your metier--comedy. How about The Forty-Year-Old Virgin or Talladega Nights? Better still, how about Borat? What do they all have in common? All of them made a mint, and the reviews for all of them ranged from respectable to ecstatic. Of course, all of these movies were made by people with talent, something Brian apparently doesn't recognize or understand.

The really infuriating thing about this interview is his defense of Eddie Murphy's less-than-stellar work in Norbit. "Eddie plays three amazingly different characters brilliantly. How could you not praise that? No offense to Alan Arkin, but he couldn't do what Eddie did in Norbit."

No, he couldn't, because Arkin has some sense of pride.

Seriously, Brian, have you no shame? To play those "amazingly different characters"--one of which is a grotesque and offensive Asian caricature--Murphy is cocooned under so much latex that he becomes unrecognizable, and the performance becomes nothing more than funny voices. This is genius?

And yes, Brian, Arkin could do that, and more. You'd think a guy directing a comedy would know a bit about his art. Arkin was a founding member of Second City, the improv company that has probably had more of an impact on modern American comedy than anything. In his film career, Arkin has played everything from Soviets to Latinos (hell, he even played Inspector Clouseau once), but unlike Murphy, he always plays his characters, even in the most broad situations, as real people. Also, he starred in and co-produced the 1979 film The In-Laws, one of my favorite comedies, and a movie that was--are you listening, Brian?--well received by both the critics and the public.

Any parting words of wisdom, Brian? "Don't read the reviews. Funny trumps. Work with movie stars."

Yes, because unless a movie has big, big stars, it just isn't worth seeing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Yeah, it's kind of fun, I'll admit.

Not-quite-instant karma is coming back on the Bushinistas in spades: Scooter Libby is found guilty (by a jury who admitted even though they thought he'd been served up as a sacrificial lamb by the very people he'd served so faithfully, he was still a lying scumbag). Six of the eight federal prosecutors fired by Bush lackeys for not being properly partisan are testifying before congress and making it clear that powerful Republicans like Pete Domenici made implied threats to them. Dick Cheney nearly gets killed in Iraq, then finds he has a potentially fatal blood clot--even his own body hates him. And as for Bush his own bad self, his poll numbers slide lower and lower every day, and even members of his own administration have started to distance themselves from him.

Watching this unfold is, like I said, kind of entertaining, but I'm afraid I can't get too much pleasure from it. Nothing will change, after all.

There's already talk of Bush issuing a pardon for Libby, which will prove once and for all that wealth and power allow one to evade justice. The dismissal of the U.S. attorneys was transparently politically motivated from the get-go; though it's nice of them to act like they actually give a shit about something, our present cowardly congress won't take any meaningful action. Cheney won't die; he'll survive as he always has, by consuming the souls of those he believes are inferior. And even as Mr. Bushie starts his slow fade into history, the fallout from his disastrous reign will be with us for the forseeable future.

For instance, let's say a Democrat actually wins the White House. Do you think they'll actually have the political courage to close down Gitmo or get out of Iraq? Sure, they're saying the right things now, but they're lying. And if there's anything to be learned from the Bushinistas, it's that you can lie outright and get away with it.

Nobody cares.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


New on DVD today. Hopefully, you can actually find these...

The Literary Classics Collection: Ordinarily, when a studio clears out its vaults and releases a bunch of movies together under a vague umbrella title, the results are frustrating. (A prime example would be last year's Great Musicals from The Dream Factory collection, which ran from the sublime It's Always Fair Weather to the dreadful Till The Clouds Roll By) In this case, Warner Home Video has released a treasure trove of movies from the vaults that are all worthwhile, from a dual disc of the '37 and '52 versions of The Prisoner Of Zenda to the underrated swashbuckler Captain Horatio Hornblower (Gregory Peck as an Englishman fights Christopher Lee as a Spaniard!) to Peter Usinov's devastating take on Herman Mellville's Billy Budd.

For me, the highlights--and they're both available individually--would be MGM's gorgeous Technicolor adaptation of The Three Musketeers, which makes it clear Gene Kelly could have been a great action hero if he hadn't had so many other things to do, and, because even I am aware that I tend to go on at great lengths about the greatness of Vincente Minnelli, let me just point out his peerless version of Madame Bovary is now available on DVD, and this simple fact answers the prayers of cultists everywhere.

Shifting gears completely, also available today is 1978's The Manitou, the final film from low-rent auteur William Girdler. This is a movie that starts out as a sort of vague Exorcist rip-off, then gets weirder and weirder. Not good--God, no--but entertaining if you're drunk, and it proves that even while playing a blowsy broad, Stella Stevens was still hot.

Finally, the Disney Empire gives us the umpteenth reissue of their 1953 classic Peter Pan. This is minor Disney, perhaps, compared to their groundbreaking classics of the thirties and early forties, but it's well-suited to the studio's house style (unlike, say, Alice In Wonderland), is well paced and effortlessly entertaining.

The main delight in the film these days, of course, is the simple pleasure of watching clear, uncluttered staging, and most importantly, hand drawn visuals. Character animation--that is, the distillation of a character's essence by their movements and mannerisms--is largely a lost art these days, and Peter Pan is a feast, particularly Captain Hook, largely animated by Frank Thomas, who can go from buffoon to terrifying villain without us questioning it. Thomas, along with the directors and storymen, conceived of Hook as a character, not simply as a device upon which to hang cheap laughs or stock thrills.

In other words, the makers of Peter Pan cared about what they were doing, and never felt like they were cranking out product for profit. This is largely unheard of today, when most American kiddie pics are full of loathing for their intended audience, and it makes it well worth seeing, no matter your age. It may not be Great Art, but it is a good story well told, and that's always a good thing.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Thomas Eagleton, who for all of eighteen days was George McGovern's running mate for the '72 Democratic presidential ticket, has died at 77.

The reason McGovern dropped Eagleton? It was revealed that--gasp--he'd been treated for depression.

McGovern's reaction seems like something from the Dark Ages now. Eagleton's career had been remarkably straightforward--prosecutor turned attourney general for Missouri. He was in his first term in the senate when McGovern came calling. (McGovern kept hoping Teddy Kennedy would respond to his overatures, but there was no way Kennedy was going to be anybody's vice president.) McGovern's people asked Eagleton if there was anything embarrassing in his background, and Eagleton said no. From his point of view, there wasn't.

I don't know enough about Eagleton to know if his condition was perhaps a genetic trait, something he had all his life. But personally, I can't imagine how somebody with Eagleton's resume, if they cared about their job and acted on their conscience, could not be gripped with depression. Most politicians today, regardless of political persuasion, really don't give a rat's ass about anything but their own power. By all acounts, Eagleton was not like that. He always did what he felt was right, which isn't easy for anyone in their day-to-day life, and is almost unheard of in politics. Sometimes that courage comes with a price, and sometimes that price involves therapy.

It's easy to think the world has changed a lot since 1972. Anti-depressants and mood elevating drugs are so common, it's surprising to meet someone who hasn't been on at least one. They're sold on TV all the time, with pretty, soft focus images and soothing music that makes it clear that hey, everybody hurts. Sometimes it's just too much. No big deal.

Have things changed, though? If John Kerry's proud military service record could somehow be transformed into a liability by Bush's hit squad, when shadowy operatives are preparing to crucify Hillary Clinton simply because she calls herself a feminist, what would they do if a leading candidate admitted to seeing a psychiatrist?

I know, but I don't want to know.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


A deprseeing article in today's New York Times details the probable, inevitable slow death of the niche DVD market. "Niche" DVDs would tend to be the ones that I recommend every Tuesday, the obscure cult items.

The article mostly explores the travails of smaller companies like Synapse Films and Blue Underground. Synpase is responsible for, among other things, the definitive home video presentation of Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator, giving this sleazy low-budgeter the kind of care and attention the major studios usually reserve for big-budget Oscar bait. Blue Underground has gone even further, miraculously unearthing pristine copies of such grindhouse classics as Fight For Your Life (featuring a stunning performance by William Sanderson as the scariest racist cracker in film history) and Emanuel In America (the highlight of which would be a lovely, unclothed redhead, um, pleasuring a horse named Pedro). The mere availability of these films is a godsend; that they look so good and are treated with such respect is amazing.

Titles like these obviously aren't going to reach beyond a certain market; chain stores aren't going to feature huge displays hawking the likes of Lady Terminator. DVD sales are flatlining across the board, and the big stores are introducing both the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD format hoping to increse sales, but of course Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD is a replay of the VHS/Beta conflict from the early days of home video, and consumers are understandably reluctant to invest in either format until one becomes the standard. So as stores decrease shelf space for standard DVDs to make way for formats nobody wants, what do you suppose will be the first things they get rid of--the latest Adam Sandler vehicle or Something Weird's double-bill disc of The Defilers and Scum Of The Earth?

Though the article in The Times focuses on smaller companies, even major labels are facing problems as they release catalog titles. A couple of web sites are suggesting that Best Buy made a conscious decision to not stock Performance on DVD, though it features Mick Jagger and is released by Warner Home Video. And certainly recent trips to Best Buy and other big chain stores resulted in frustration when I tried shopping for two Vincente Minnelli titles I've raved about here, The Clock and Home From The Hill, and I suspect it's simply because these places have no interest in carrying titles nobody has heard of--but how would anybody become familiar with them if they can't find them?

True, online sources like Amazon always stock niche titles. Again, though, that will only sell these discs to people who are already looking for them. Many DVDs tend to be impulse buys, and when you're cruising through the aisles at (the now-defunct) Tower Records and happen to spy the triple-bill of The Touch Of Her Flesh, The Curse Of Her Flesh and The Kiss Of Her Flesh, you might pick it up, simply in a "what the hell?" moment. But you won't be able to do that anymore.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the absolute worst thing you will ever see? Shield the eyes of the young ones, and the fainthearted beware! Behold: Wild Hogs!

Okay, I haven't actually seen it, but come one--like I have to? Aside from the smirking homophobia and endless genitalia gags, the trailer for this loser brutally exposes the complete lack of chemistry among its stars. If this is the best they can come up with to try selling this thing--John Travolta looks bored, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence appear desperate for a hit, while poor William H. Macy gives the appearance of a solid pro doing his best under desperate circumstances--you have to wonder how much worse it could get.

Apparently, lots. The trailer merely shows our four hapless stars as middle-aged schlubs trying to recapture their youth by riding Harleys and trying to act macho. I didn't realize there was more to the plot, which would involve the the heroes saving a small town terrorized by real bikers. Oh, my sides!

Seriously, could a movie sound worse than this? Lazy, by-the-numbers plotting, actors who have seen better days, a classic rock soundtrack--this is actually my definition of hell. It'll probably make a fortune.

If it does, maybe it will actually inspire its stars to seek out better things. Travolta has officially squandered all the good will he rode after his Pulp Fiction triumph, Lawrence needs to stick to stand-up, and Macy, for God's sake, get P.T. Anderson or David Mamet on the phone and do some real work again.

The real lost cause here is Allen. His comedic persona has never done much for me, and his mostly family-friendly filmography is painful to contemplate...but there was his terrific performance in the desperately-underappreciated 1999 comedy Galaxy Quest, which seemed likely to lead to better things. He followed it up with Big Trouble, a would-be comic caper that didn't quite come off, but was at least a nice try, and showed that Allen could blend in smoothly with an amazing cast, including Stanley Tucci, Dennis Farina, Janeane Garofalo and Andy Richter. But when that tanked, it was right back to The Shaggy Dog.

And Wild Hogs, of course. This is a virtual admission by its cast and director (Walt Becker, the auteur responsible for Van Wilder) that they just don't care--about the audience, about their craft, about anything. This is what creative bankruptcy looks like when projected on half a dozen screens at your local multiplex, and it isn't pretty.

Friday, March 02, 2007


The weather remains terrible today, and for the second day in a row, my place of employment is closed. Three days this week I haven't worked, and barely any hours the two days I did.

This isn't good.

I just started this job two weeks ago, and I told them when I applied that I would have to make a minimum amount every week, and they said that should be no problem. What has happened this week was beyond anyone's control, but even so, things are looking grim here. Time to move on.

So I'm sitting here at my computer, with the wuxtra-fast connection Qwest is charging an arm and a leg for, knowing that I have a whole day stretching before me, a whole day when I should be looking for new, more meaningful employment.

The sky is a bleak, uncaring gray, and the bitter wind rattles my windows. I hear tires spinning on ice as people try to navigate their cars out from under the snow drifts. It's cold and depressing, and because I don't have to go to work today, I don't want to think about work.

I want to zone. There are several new Richard Thompson clips posted on YouTube since the last time I checked, and Christine Collister, too. Lots of Lowell George-era Little Feat, and more Zappa than could be watched in one day.

There's some DVDs I should watch, too, a couple of Altmans I need to be reaquainted with, some David Lynch shorts, and hell, anytime's a good time for Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

It's not that I want to blow off the job search; it needs to be done. But the postings will still be there tomorrow, right? I can take this day for myself, a day to be unfocused and out of it, a day to just not give a sweet shit about anything.

Not because I want to, but because, sometimes, I have to.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


The weather's sucking big time here, and I got sent home from work. As it turns out, my girlfriend is also getting off work early today, so we're going to meet for lunch.

At Old Country Buffet.

Partly, this destination is a practical necessity. The kid's getting out of school early, and we need to eat somewhere fast and close by.

Oh, who am I kidding? I seem to be developing a taste for mid-priced chain restaurants. Tabbatha actually likes these places--your Carlos O'Kelly's or your Bennigan's. Hell, we ate at Olive Garden the other day and--no, seriously--it was good. Or at least, you know, okay. No, more than okay; I'm being patronizing, and that isn't fair. Let me upgrade that--the portobello-stuffed ravioli was mighty tasty.

What the hell's wrong with me? Are my standards slipping? Is the food at these places improving? Are my tastebuds blinded by love? Can tastebuds actually be blinded, whether by love or sharpened stick?

These are the types of places I've always dismissed with a sneer, yet I admit I've never previously spent much time in them. And it is true, most of the people I know who frequent hole-in-the-wall bistros or offbeat ethnic spots--the type of places I've always favored--tend to be insufferable, self-satisfied jerks.

Never thought I'd say it, but it's true: If the food is edible, the service fast and the company good, hey, why not go to Bennigan's? Once you've had a bacon cheeseburger eggroll, there's no turning back.


I have a small apartment, and I tend to be rather spartan in my home decor, so the fact that I acquired a new chair is big news around here.

(Well, not new--my neighbor got new furniture, and threw out her old chair, which is what I got. Still, it's new to me...)

It's a huge wooden chair with soft, comfy cushions, and I wouldn't bother mentioning it at all, except the cats think it's the greatest thing they've ever seen.

At first they reacted like the ape-men in 2001 when the monolith appeared, gathering around it in awe, occasionally touching it. Within fifteen minutes, they were both curled up in the seat, snuggled together and purring. These guys squabble all the time, and here they are being bestest buddies in the whole world. Weird.

Okay, I realize this seems like an incredibly insubstantial and frankly uninteresting thing to write about, but I damn near wrote about the death of Kennedy hagiographer Arthur M. Schlesinger, so it could have been even more boring. At least this way, you get to read about adorable kitties. And everybody likes kitties, right? Right?

Hey, where are you going?