Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ear, there and everywhere

Last night I saw the documentary King Corn, one of the entries in the Wisconsin Film Festival, and my response is up on the Daily Page.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Band of brothers

Read my latest Isthmus article: A cover story about Delta Lambda Phi, the new queer fraternity at the University of Wisconsin.

Good word

"In talk radio, the P.C. bogey is kept on life support, the better to allow the heaping of abuse on the marginal and disenfranchised to pass itself off as speaking truth to power."

-- Stephen Metcalf

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Boobs and their tube

You'll be relieved to hear that we're watching lots of television. Not long ago Ereck and I were worried about our declining television consumption, which was waning for various reasons. But we chose some new series to watch, and our TiVo is brimming with options once more. Regularly appearing these days in the Now Playing list: We's reality show "Cheerleader U.," about the University of Kentucky cheerleading squad (it's a sequel of sorts to Lifetime's "Cheerleader Nation," about high school cheerleaders); "This American Life," the Showtime broadcast of the old public-radio favorite; and reruns of "America's Funniest Home Videos," because a monkey stealing a man's toupee is always funny.

And the original "Star Trek" series. We're longtime fans of old-school "Star Trek," and some years back, before we had cable, we watched most of the first two seasons on videotapes we got from the public library. We decided to return to "Trek" at just the moment TV Land began showing episodes from the third and final season, so the timing was fortuitous. And so we've been enjoying the notorious Season Three in all its uneven glory, with episodes sublime ("The Enterprise Incident") and absurd ("Spock's Brain").

I still get goosebumps when Spock says, "Live long and prosper."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Heaven's on fire

I was sad to read of the death of Kiss guitarist Mark St. John at age 51. To be certain, my intense Kiss fandom ended a few years before St. John's brief tenure with the band in the mid-1980s. But I was indeed a devotee at one point in my young life, and I have followed Kiss developments ever since.

My interest peaked on -- if I have done my Web research properly -- Aug. 14, 1979, when my mom took my brother and me, age 8, to see Kiss perform at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville, Tenn. My previous visits to Municipal Auditorium had all been for the circus, and I recall noticing that the Kiss show was pretty circus-like itself, what with the makeup and the acrobatic stunts. At one point bassist Gene Simmons was suspended by wires seemingly hundreds of feet over the stage. There also were flames, and blood, and flashing lights, and a flying guitar. (In 1998 the band released an album called Psycho Circus.)

And -- lest I forget -- there was music. I was intimately familiar with the Kiss canon, including the 1979 release Dynasty that was the occasion for the tour. At that age I appreciated the band's silly heavy-metal bombast ("God of Thunder") more than its silly groupie party anthems ("Love Gun"). (I remember not understanding what lead singer Paul Stanley was implying when he told the roaring audience, "Nashville got a lot of good-lookin' girls!!!!!!") But the set pleased me.

After the concert my mom, a classically trained musician, pointed out that most of the songs were in the same key.

A couple of years later, Kiss was deeply outmoded. When I tried to dump my Kiss records at the local used vinyl store, the sneering clerk declined to buy any of them. I put them back in my collection. I still have them. I'm glad I do.