Friday, December 19, 2003


The life of the mind is all mixed up with the life of the body, of course. And there's nothing more intellectually stimulating than watching smart, scantily clad young men roll around on the floor together.

I'm talking, naturally, about University of Chicago wrestling.

My favorite Chicago wrestler of the moment is Nick Kehagias. Have I ever actually seen him wrestle? Well, no. But what a brain.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Wall of sound

Dear Santa,

It won't be Christmas until I hear the Ronettes sing "Frosty the Snowman."

Waiting patiently,

P.S. Don't make me use KaZaA.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Blurbin' cowboy

Since earlier this year, a small but always enjoyable part of my still-new freelancing lifestyle is writing two-sentence movie blurbs in Madison's Isthmus newspaper. (FYI, my first full-length review for the paper, of the documentary The Party's Over, ran last week and is up on the Isthmus web site.)

I'm still not sure what algorithm determines which movies I get assigned, but much of what I have seen for blurbing purposes is Z-grade American films, really terrible stuff like House of the Dead, The Order, and Boat Trip. (I would link to my blurbs, but Isthmus doesn't seem to post them.) That last one may be the worst movie I've ever seen--not only inept but also grotesquely offensive.

However, I've also blurbed films of surpassingly high quality, like The Magdalene Sisters and The Good Thief. And I've caught a few films that I assumed beforehand would be pleasant enough, and were--many of the kids' films I've seen fall into this category, like Piglet's Big Movie and The Lizzie Maguire Movie. I've seen quite a few foreign movies, like The Navigators, Unknown Pleasures, and Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, and even middling foreign fare like those three always has a frisson associated with its foreignness.

Happily, a couple of times now I have been caught completely off guard and found myself captivated by a movie I almost certainly would never have sought out. One was The Rundown, the action comedy starring the Rock, Seann William Scott and Christopher Walken, which kept surprising me by how smart and funny it is.

And it happened again just now. I'm home from seeing Love Don't Cost a Thing, a remake, with a mostly African-American cast, of the 1980s Patrick Dempsey comedy Can't Buy Me Love. And hurrah! I showed up prepared not to particularly like the film (for this gig that's often the case), but I walked away smiling. It's a romantic comedy about a geeky teenage pool boy (Nick Cannon) who bribes the most popular girl in school (Christina Milian) into pretending to be his girlfriend for two weeks. I found that premise crass for a nanosecond, until I realized it seems like the kind of stunt I might have tried to pull in high school.

The cast is enormously attractive, and director Troy Beyer smartly gives her actors time just to be charming and goofy. TV comedian Steve Harvey, especially, kept me guessing with one eccentric turn after another as Cannon's dad.

It's refreshing to know movies can still surprise me by being good when I least expect it.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Blue woman grope

I started to blog about this story I saw on "Celebrity Justice" last week: it seems actor Tom Skerritt sued an herbal-supplements company for using his image in an ad for some sort of virility-enhancing concoction. Skerritt and the company, Body Basics, reached an agreement, and the ads will run no more. The short web search I did revealed that this story is, in fact, months old, so just when you thought it couldn't be more irrelevant, it is.

Except that I am obsessed with the ad in question, and I wanted to share it with you. But although "CJ" flashed it again and again, I can't find it on the web anywhere! It shows Skerritt's head clumsily stuck on top of a ripped man's body, and he has his arms around a creature that is female and humanoid in shape, and lithe, but also bald and bright blue. It's an alien, right, except not a horrifying reptile alien like the one that kills Skerritt in the film Alien, but more like the late Persis Khambatta in the first "Star Trek" movie. You know, a hot, bald alien chick. But blue.

The strange coda to the story is that, as "CJ" co-host Holly Herbert reported, Body Basics explained the gaffe by saying the designer of the ad doesn't speak English and didn't know who Skerritt is.

I can't stop thinking about the ad. It's one of the most absurd, hysterical things I've ever seen. Please find it for me.