Friday, November 29, 2002

Mention Me! XX

Almanac Brad eclipses me and Nathan.
Music to My Ears and Eyes
I'm the only one in the office today, and I'm not at all sorry. My Thanksgiving was a holiday full of friends and family, I've gotten a lot of personal Web work done in the cloistered quiet of the cubicles, and I've come across several awesome examples of independent music and animation online thanks to links shared by people whose zines and comics I've reviewed recently. These are all worth checking out:

  • Flobots: Boston area-based hip hop that's currently pumping my PowerBook
  • One if by land: An indie-rock band once from Santa Fe, New Mexico, that features three drummers, three bassists, four guitarists, and four singers. Wish I'd known about them when I was in Santa Fe this May!
  • Graffiti: A Gumby-laden animation from the Paper Radio comics collective

    All thanks to Liz Prince, of whose taste I am now much more confident.
  • From the In Box: The Movie I Watched Last Night XLIV
    Alice's Restaurant is a huge deal in my family. So funny that you mention it. The local radio stations in Philly play it every year, I know. Not sure if that happens in every town or not. I just know I grew up hearing it here in Philly. Happy turkey day -- a day late! -- Jennifer Kronstain
    From the Reading Pile XIV: Part 2
    Before I can tackle the accumulated zines and comics stacked in the milk crate on the floor by the big blue couch, I need to catch up on some unpublished reviews. Apologies to all involved, but these were penned back in July -- as well as this past Monday.

    Bleep, Blop, Bloop: A Celebration of Silliness & Being Friends
    Dedicated to Jim Henson, this well-printed 36-page mini by Paul Hornschemeier features two friends who engage in a gleeful dance of mutual appreciation. Hornschemeier's cartoony artwork reminds me of Roger Langridge a little, and the mini, termed an interlude, seems to be part of a larger work entitled Sequential. Gentle, loving, and silly, this mini is intriguing, if not entirely satisfying. $2.50 to IDGI Graphics, 2324 W. Walton #3F, Chicago, IL 60622.

    Comic Book Heaven #7
    The advertisement on the inside front cover indicates that next year will bring some new comics work by Scott Saavedra, editor of this glorious 36-page fanzine, and -- while welcome; I've missed Dr. Radium -- I hope that it doesn't edge in on Saavedra's comics journalism. More fannish than Alter Ego and more obscure than Scott Shaw's Oddball Comics columns online, each edition of CBH reminds me of why I started reading comics -- the sheer thrill of discovering some new piece of delightful comics ephemera. Whether plugging new self-published periodicals, name dropping the Mad Peck, or presaging Shaw's oddball selections, CBH also retells the tales told in outdated Gold Key, DC, and Charlton comics. Saavedra also analyzes the appearances of mermen in Wonder Woman comics and makes fun of hippies, digging through the back-issue bin of history so we don't have to. The fanzine for true comics fans, not readers or collectors. $2.25 to Slave Labor Graphics, P.O. Box 26427, San Jose, CA 95159-6427.

    Comic Nerd/Cumulus
    This 28-page flip mini, is an odd pairing. On the cute side, there's Liz Prince, my latest comics crush. Equal parts Ariel Schrag and Allison Cole, Prince does cute well. Her assumedly autobiographical comics approach caffeine, cats, cruelty, and cacophany well. Prince deftly depicts dedication and desperation to good effect. Flip now to Daniel Espeset's 12-page piece, "Cumulus." Couching his creation in heavily inked hyperbole, Espeset tracks the trials of a biplane that meets an ill end with a zeppelin. Shades of Gene Day, it's the lesser element here, but both pieces make me want to see more. $2 to Liz Prince.

    The Comics Interpreter Vol. 2 #1
    While TCI, Robert Young's creme de la creme comics fanzine for readers is most notable for his interviews, this 72-page edition opens with two solid review roundups. The first, an overview of Top Shelf's recent output, casts the publisher in a light deservedly reserved for its compatriots Alternative Comics and Highwater Books as Young by turns lauds Glenn Dakin's "Abe" (a book that Highwater could've and probably should've published) and lambastes Josuue Menjivar's "Cicada." This dichotomy of digestion indicates that Top Shelf's output, which at its best is indeed top shelf, is to be totally truthful, uneven. He then pairs the New X-Men with Top 10, an immediately clear comparison even though I feel -- fear -- that he gives Grant Morrison's X writing too much credit. Now, the interviews. In the first interview, a multi-part conversation between Chad Parenteau -- who seems to be a Boston local given his comments on Comicopia, the Beantown Zinetown, and the area arts community -- and Hans Rickheit, creator of the Xeric Award-winning (read: Peter Laird-bankrolled) book Chloe, Parenteau does little to build on the body of literature, such as it is, on Rickheit's work. The interview basically outlines Rickheit's experiences in the Xeric process and spends some time detailing Rickheit's role in the Cambridge-based Zeitgeist Gallery, whose influence on the local comics scene is, at best, inconsequential. That said, the insights offered on the role comics -- and Rickheit, whom I saw deliver the recent issue of Chrome Fetus to the Picnic just this past weekend -- played in the short-lived alternative-alternative newspapers the Cambridge Candle and the Cambridge Inferno are well put. These histories would not be told otherwise. Next up, Paul Pope, as interviewed by Robert Young. I've not liked -- which is different than disliked -- much of Pope's stuff until the recent book 100%, so read me as you will. This interview will make me read Pope's comics more closely. His comments on the definition of productivity, substenance via superheroes, value of inking and tight scripting, and artistic inspirations are worth this zine's cover price alone and then some. Thank you, Robert Young. After sharing some of the feedback offered in response to an email survey on the most interesting people in comics, which includes a wonderful two-word response from Brian Ralph, Young turns again to the reviews. In the end pages, Young points out lesser-known work by local Dan Moynihan (who now shares a studio with Jef Czekaj), Rick Smith (love that Shuck!), and the magazine Giant Robot, which was recently featured in the Nation. If you don't always read the Comics Journal, read the Comics Interpreter. Young is a true friend to comics. $4 to the Comics Interpreter.

    Everyone Needs a Salesman
    I''m not quite sure why this 24-page comic created by Jamie Tanner in 1998 just recently appeared at the Picnic, but I'm glad it did. Compiling five selections ranging in length from one to eight pages, Tanner's mini shares an ugly world populated by ugly people. Deformed people attend a reading. A salesman's vague, non-physical malaise isn't relieved at a retail establishment. A demon repairs televisions. And a prostitute dismembers an unfunny comedian. Tanner's dark narratives, one inspired by Haruki Murakami, remind me of Hand Rickheit, but for the most part, I'm slightly dissatisfied. Perhaps longer pieces would be more rewarding. $3 to Jamie Tanner, 50 Ocean Parkway #4G, Brooklyn, NY 11218.

    I have no idea how much I paid for this 84-page anthology edited by Jeff Sharp and Scott Mills. Collecting pieces created between 1996 and 2002, it's an alternating assortment of Mills' wispy comics and Sharp's rough cartoons. Lizards eat bugs. Astronauts battle planets. Clients tease barbers. Tanks race. A boy weeds. And a man ponders over mermaids' tears. Highlights include Todd Webb's contribution, "Work Ethic," Sharp's "Civil Servant" strips, and his "Clifton Nork" strips. Flummery appears to be a catch-all for unpublished work -- as well as an excuse to involve friends such as James Kochalka, who contributes a Magic Boy piece inked by Mills. Inquire about availability.

    Lowjinx #4
    A Noe-Fie Mono-Media and Top Shelf joint, this Kurt Wolfgang-edited 59-page production indicates why Tom Devlin should issue the next edition of Coober Skeber. These alt-comics anthologies are like glue, connecting the people who are producing the most important comics today and collecting them for readers who need to know who knows whom. This hand-colored edition of Lowjinx comprises childhood comics and drawings by folks such as Ivan Brunetti, Tony Consiglio, Greg Cook, Jordan Crane, Sam Henderson, Megan Kelso, James Kochalka, and Eric Reynolds. We all drew comics like this. I did, first inspired by Jules Feiffer's book. And it's fun to track the inspirations: Brunetti's Darger-meets-Disney panels, Cook's penchant for ninjas, Crane's long-lost Punisher obsession, Kelso's storybook conundrums, and Reynolds' text-driven romance with Marvel. Fun stuff, and well worth the shillings. $6 to Top Shelf.

    Mortgage Your Soul: The Business Adventures of Don Hadley, American Entrepreneur
    Commissioned by a Titans of Finance fan, this comic is an eight-page ashcan for a longer graphic novel in development by occasional Dean Haspiel collaborator Josh Neufeld -- and Peter Ross, whom I'm guessing commissioned the work. In the few pages offered here, the book-to-be outlines the experiences of Don Hadley, an actual entrepreneur. It's a tale of unwitting corruption, penny pinching, and tomato-field espionage. If it all comes together -- and is truly about one man's business experiences -- it'll be a doozy. That said, "1974 Barbados, W.I." makes me think that exposition can kill a comic. Josh, you've got to rein in this Ross guy. Without an editor, there's only so much you can do. Keyhole Comix, 175 Eastern Parkway #5C, Brooklyn, NY 11238.

    These are the kinds of comics I used to draw in grade school. Equal parts Metroid, Pitfall, and Shinobi, these strictly grid-oriented comics trace the adventures of a ninja. He runs, he jumps, he hits, he escapes. And that's the end of another mission. Sloppy, simple, and silly, these are amateurish, immature, but passionate comics. Sometimes passion is all you need. I'm not sure who drew these, but they're credited to Brian and were drawn between 1982-84 it seems. $4 from Lightning Bolt, P.O. Box 1361, Providence, RI 02901.

    Paper Rodeo #12 (July 2002)
    If the only comics in the world were produced by the people who publish the 24-page tabloid Paper Rodeo, the world would be a better place to comics. For that I need to thank the advertisers who help Paper Rodeo stay afloat: Armageddon Shoppe, Blue Dress, Corleone Records, Flo, AS220, the Decatur Lounge, Atlas Bower Books, Columbus Theatre, Bulb Records, Lightning Bolt, Acme Video, White Electric Coffee, Heresee, Flyrabbit, Dearraindrop, Troubleman Unlimited, Hudson Market, Myopic Books, Hospital Productions, Ragtime, and Red Car White Car. You people are amazing. As are the comics contained herein. (Apologies to anyone I missed.) $1 to P.O. Box 321, Providence, RI 02901.

    Paping #3-5
    Drawn and self-published by a Puerto Rican, punk-rock, public-school art teacher, this personal comic reminds me of the old Oatmeal minis. The drawing style has an abstract, angular approach, and the stories are solid. No. 3 features stories from John's experiences as a teacher, a yucca recipe, a loving tribute to the Vasquez family, and a political look at public murals. No. 4 is a redrawn collection of pieces that John lost just before printing. It considers teaching art in the Bronx, disagreements with a principal, the outcome of the mural on the handball wall, John's new job in Long Island, bocce, weddings, and friends. The art is more sloppy than in the previous issue, perhaps because John redrew it hastily, and this issue reminds me slightly of Tenth Frame. Lastly, No. 5. Enlisting several friends, John concentrates on life lessons, taking on a special education student, littering, and coming-of-age rituals. Involving friends added an impression of variety to this issue, and overall, Paping is extremely well worth reading. $2 to John Mejias, 60 St. Marks Pl. #4, New York, NY 10003.

    Brilliant! This wonderfully produced 52-page comic by Tom Gauld and Simone Lia includes several alternating storylines featuring recurring characters. In one series of selections, a kernel of corn (that has the most expressive gestures I've ever seen in corn) comments on the failings of society and culture. An explorer has to go home before reaching his destination. Two masked wrestlers kill time before a match. An ugly woman finds love. The overarching themes of the 21 pieces are unrequited love and falling short of a goal. The two artists have drastically different styles. One has a denser, almost Edward Gorey approach, and the other opts for a more immature Hamster Man effect. But the two interact well, and the inter-comic connections and call backs add an aspect of consistency and continuity. Wonderful stuff! $8 to Cabanon Press, the Drawing Room, Panther House, 38 Mount Pleasant, London, England WC1 XOAN.

    Word to Word
    A collaborative comics game played by Davey Oil and Leah Walsh, the basic gist of this is that one participant draws an object described by a word or phrase, each entry changing words but keeping part of the previous word -- such as "mud puddle" turning to "puddle jump." In this 28-page comic, it seems one participant may have contributed all of the 20 words and phrases, with the other depicting them. We start with "animal farm" and end with "animal farm," and a story about a skateboarder and a cranky is told along the way. My favorite panels include "house of cards" and "cardboard." Unfortunately, the comic doesn't include any contact information, but if you and your friends are into comics, you can easily make one of these yourself. A fun idea. $1 if you find it somewhere. Contact me if you know these folks, please.
    From the Reading Pile XIV: Part 1
    Before I can tackle the accumulated zines and comics stacked in the milk crate on the floor by the big blue couch, I need to catch up on some unpublished reviews. Apologies to all involved, but these were penned back in July -- as well as this past Monday.

    Blush #1
    Published by the folks behind Draculina, this 36-page glossy fanzine focuses on visual kei, an underground Japanese music combining elements of kabuki theater, goth, glam, metal, and thrash. Editor Cameron Scholes provides a home starters kit and indies shopping guide to the music and profiles a handful of leading bands, including Syndrome, Misery, Due'le Quartz, and Cynthia. Discographies and demo tape reviews round out the issue. While I've never listened to or seen visual kei, Schole's enthusiasm is infectious and the photographs of the performers offer an interesting look at the subculture's style. One of the better esoteric fanzines I've come across in awhile. $5.95 to Draculina Publishing, P.O. Box 587, Glen Carbon, IL 62034.

    Florence of Arabia #1, 2
    With two years between these two 24-page issues, Hob is developing an interesting story that reminds me slightly of Donna Barr's Desert Peach work. Narrated by a disembodied head, the comics detail the misadventures of a zen firefighting instructor mistakenly sent to diffuse hostilities in Arabia. The opening sequence in #1 is excellent, and Hob's sense of humor amplifies the impact of his artwork -- more detailed in these minis than in the Therapist. #2 is slightly funnier than the first edition, as Florence acquires a not very practical camel, distills water through a snail shell to survive in the desert, and receives a mysterious message at the end. Hob combines pratfall and philosophical musing in this comic that well deserves a larger format and much less time between installations. $1 to Hob, 93 Jewel St. #1R, Brooklyn, NY 11222.

    Foul #7
    For the video game player also interested in T&A and violence, Foul is a 48-page glossy fanzine that combines game reviews and tips and tricks with a healthy dose of irreverence. This issue includes an interview with Steve-O from Jackass, reviews of video games mostly for the PS2 and XBox, and a "hot chick centerfold." But folks really read Foul for its humor. Featuring National Lampoon-style letters from readers, a review of a fake game highlighting the Special Olympics, and fan art of several crossdressing game characters, Foul moves beyond gaming culture and into fandom. Not sure how useful this zine is to the hardcore gamer, but it sure is a funny read. $3.95 to Multimedia Empires, 12 Sain Marks #2F, New York, NY 10003.

    Last Cry for Help
    I am in awe. And I think that Souther Salazar and Dave K. Teenage are my two new favorite cartoonists. This 48-page collaborative collage comic combines found photos, typewritten text, comic art, and journaling to create a messy but methodical look at life. Similar to Souther's collaboration with Saelee, I can't always tell Souther and Dave K. apart, but the comic's result is one of controlled chaos and care. Themes addressed include love, desire, robots, solitude, cats, death, drinking, funny animals, skateboarding, cute girls, alienation, and city life. While the entire comic is excellent, several pieces stand out as extremely impressive: the smoker on p. 9, the street scene on p. 12, the cereal eater on p. 17, the bird panel on p. 19, p. 34, and p. 37. Shades of Allison Cole and Ron Rege, Jr., this comic makes me want to read more of these two. Beautifully presented. $2 to Souther Salazar, 106 N. Chester Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106 or Dave K. Teenage, 568 Grandview Ave., second floor, Ridgewood, NY 11385.

    The Monster That Ate Stars
    A little larger than a matchbook, this 48-page photocopied comic by Souther Salazar is a silly scribbled romp through what seem to be the fantasies of a young boy. He turns into a monster, goes crazy, eats almost everything imaginable, travels to outer space, evades people who try to stop his eating spree, and plays with monkeys. Though simply drawn, Salazar's art is studied and subtle, and the comic's content captures the rambling storytelling and imagination of children quite well. Pages 6, 10, 14, and 17 are especially impressive. An excellent microcomic. $1 to Souther Salazar, 106 N. Chester Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106.

    National Waste #One
    With a screenprinted color cover, this 36-page, self-published comic collects about 10 pieces written and drawn by L. Goldberg of the Paper Rodeo comics collective. "National Seashore" is a surprising Bambi-meets-Frogger look at how we affect the environment. "A Victory Garden Revisited" returns to the theme; a simple gardener acquires all the trappings of a successful life. "Mean Old World," the longest story at eight pages, also has an environmental edge as we witness Mr. President "spread the seed of your invincible nation into the heavenly abyss." The more simply drawn "Why Cats Paint" considers artistic inspiration, graffiti, and the law. Goldberg's art is by turns simple and scratchy, combining a plain humor with a frenetic line. This book is most notable for Goldberg's portrayal of authority figures (including God) and environmental caution. $4 from L. Goldberg, P.O. Box 321, Providence, RI 02901.

    An excellent 52-page small-press comics anthology featuring work by Allison Cole, Matt Westervelt, Lindy Groening, Patrick Theaker, Maris Wicks, and others. Styles range from the starkly simple (Wicks) to a Gene Day-like sketch from (Cybele Collins and Joe Quinones), and there's also some photography and sculpture included. Groening's four-page piece "Sock Soup" is the best story in the bunch, and the innovative use of panel flow and poetry is amazing. It's also good to see that Theaker, editor of Paean, has also got it going on. "My Favorite River" is another standout, serving up a dark yet appreciative look at the LA River. Hooray for Providence's comics scene! $6 to Paean.

    Peanut Butter & Jelly
    Created shortly after Souther's monster comic, he collaborated with his friend Saelee to make this 32-page mini. It's a fun, friendly, and frantic assortment of sketches, one-pagers, and stories, but most of the pieces don't go very far. Their combination of comic art and typewritten lettering has good effect, and the four-page story featuring Qwerty shows how gentle and clever the two can be. Unfortunately, I can't really distinguish between the two consistently. Regardless, I quite liked this joint comic, and I think I'd like to see more work by both. Email Saelee or send $1.50 to Souther at 106 N. Chester Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106.

    The Therapist #1
    Hob's surreal 24-page comic was inspired by the Couples Communication Workshop at NYU Millhauser Laboratories and at times evokes the work of Tom Hart. The premise is simple -- a therapist cycles couples through a washing machine contraption that combines the partners into one person. But it doesn't always work properly, and one couple is recombined into three childlike entities who grapple with the therapist, eventually falling into the machine to produce two therapists. I'm not quite sure what Hob's message is, but the art is clean, the wordless comic clever, and the ending a surprise. $1 to Hob, 93 Jewel St. #1R, Brooklyn, NY 11222

    Though I Slumber, My Heart Is Still Awake
    Printed on resume-quality paper, this 32-page mini drawn by Sammy Harkham early this year tells the story of a woodsman punished by God. The character seems to age as the comic progresses and he befriends a bird, survives a lightning strike and flood, and washes up on a heavily wooded shore. The moral of the story is ambiguous, and the protagonist ends up performing an act worse than the one for which he was originally punished. Harkham's art is beautifully well-composed, and he has several strong moments, including pp. 12, 15, 21, and 28. An awesome introduction to a creator I'm not familiar with. $3 to Sammy Harkham, P.O. Box 2316, Beverly Hills, CA 90212-2316.
    Magazine Me XXII
    I know that it's Buy Nothing Day, but I subscribe to the notion that Buy Nothing Day is more oriented toward boycotting commercialized conspicuous consumption on the biggest shopping day of the year. I don't go to malls. I usually don't buy commercial, mainstream products. But I see no reason not to support independent, alternative activities on this day of days. I could wait until tomorrow, but why not show my support now? How I spend my money is a political statement, and I needed to make this statement today.

    So I just signed up for a four-issue subscription to Kitchen Sink magazine, a new quarterly print and online publication produced by an arts collective in Oakland. The first issue, which is available now, includes articles about Erase Errata and New England's own James Kochalka. I find the Web site a little difficult to navigate and digest, but I look forward to seeing what the print product looks like.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XLIV
    Alice's Restaurant
    I try to watch this movie every Thanksgiving. Set in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and based on true events in Arlo Guthrie's life in 1967, the movie is a wonderful look at Guthrie's life, music, and setting. Positioning Guthrie as an oppressed activist musician -- his encounters with authority figures are extremely cartoony and occasionally quizzical in terms of just how it is that he's rebelling or being repressed -- who's extremely moral -- he, in several chaste steps, refuses the advances of a 14-year-old fan, an aging nightclub manager who just lent him $80, and Alice herself (although that's a scene slightly better handled). The movie highlights the importance of friends and family, the need for a creative community, the value of having a place of your own, and the dangers of being too tightly interdependent in such a place-based community. In many ways, Alice's Restaurant is a fitting epitaph to the '60s, complete with a meandering commentary on how movements wax and wane (delivered by the aging nightclub manager, perhaps played by Alice Brock herself?) and the film's ending, in which Arlo -- the new generation -- drives away in his VW van and Alice -- the preceding generation -- stands still and solitary on the steps of her church as nightfall comes. One of the only Thanksgiving movies I'm aware of, and well worth revisiting every year.

    The Dark Crystal
    Mike popped this in to show-off his widescreen HDTV. And it's a movie worth watching large, to be sure. Directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, this is a darker take on the worlds presented in their Muppets and Fraggle Rock work, perhaps in part to capitalize on the opportunities presented by teenage fantasies such as the Never-Ending Story. Yet it is Brian Froud's work as conceptual designer that makes this movie important. Froud's early character and setting designs are terribly innovative -- offering several interesting, fantastic, and usually horrible creatures and environments. While the story is a pretty straight-forward heroic quest tale in which a young Gelfling has to heal the dark crystal with a shard before the conjunction of three suns, the takeaway of the movie is unclear. Other than the eye candy -- and delicious it is, visually -- what do children take away from this? There's little moral message, and the death of two rabbit-camel land striders goes unnoticed and unmourned even though they just helped Jen and Kira get to the Skekses' palace. Add to that a steady sexual undercurrent (draining people's essence, the phallic nature of the crystal itself, and Jen and Kira's arguably incestuous opportunity to save the gelfling race), and it's not a movie to ask questions about... just to watch and enjoy.
    The Restaurant I Ate at Last Night XVI
    I've been cooking more at home and bringing lunch into work, per the goal mentioned in the Nov. 11 entry in this standing topic, but I haven't really continued the new restaurant exploration tour. Wednesday night, however, Hiromi and I went to Centro, a restaurant managed by the folks behind the Good Life on Central Square -- and located right next door. What an amazing dinner. The restaurant focuses on regional cooking from Italy, changing its menu every two months to concentrate on a new region. Right now, they're about three weeks into a menu drawn from cuisine in the Piedmont region, a relatively mountainous region in northern Italy -- and a region characterized by heavier ingredients. The bread and white bean spread with sundried tomatoes was awesome. But the parsnip chowder I had, which was prepared with pancetta and shrimp, wasn't overly impressive in its flavoring. Good, but not great. Then the chef surprised us with a gratis second course, gnocchi with a shaved squash garnish. The gnocchi was the best gnocchi I've ever, ever eaten. Handmade that morning, it practically melted in our mouths, and this is one dish that I'd highly recommend at Centro -- anything gnocchi. Continuing on, my entree was the sole, which was prepared well -- extremely light, flaky, and tender -- but confusingly. They wrapped the fish up into little spirals! I say confusing because I'm unsure whether it was wrapped like that when it was cooked -- or solely (pun not intended) for presentation. I forget what Hiromi had for her entree -- she started with a vegetable torte that looked awfully quiche-like -- but she had bread pudding for dessert. I, as I am usually wont to do in slightly more fancy restaurants, indulged in a glass of port. While the prices do run on the high side, if you're looking for a varied eating experience -- I'm sure to return to Centro in about two months' time to see what region they've moved onto -- and if you're a foodie who like a little education with your mastication, you can't beat Centro's wait staffs explanations of where the recipes come from, why the ingredients were selected, and how they'll prepare the dish for you. I've not learned more about what I was about to eat in a long time. Impressive. And quite satisfying.
    Things for Which I'm Thankful III
    Last night, I shared time and table for Thanksgiving with Hiromi and some of her friends from swing dancing. Mike Hibarger of Five Guys Named Mike hosted, and there were five of us total. Mike used to play guitar in a self-described Stooges-like punk band called the Takers. He also used to run the local label Sonic Bubblegum. So conversation focused primarily on the local lindy-hop scene -- I was the only non-swing dancer in attendance -- and its parallels with the local indie-rock scene. I was fascinated. The national swing dancing scene is much more tightly knit than the national punk-rock scene, perhaps because of the various exchanges and camps, and I was impressed by how many people at Thanksgiving dinner had mutual friends from different parts of the country. I also learned a lot about various styles of swing dancing, their "purity" -- whether people learned from actual dancers from way back when or from Hollywood screen renditions of rougher forms of dance. All in all, a pleasant holiday -- and good eatin'! -- thanks to Mike and the Boston-area lindy hoppers for welcoming me into their home... and their subculture.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2002

    From the Reading Pile XIII
    Before I can tackle the accumulated zines and comics stacked in the milk crate on the floor by the big blue couch, I need to catch up on some unpublished reviews. Apologies to all involved, but these were penned back in April.

    John Pham's 52-page "mini-comics madness rip-off preview" delivers on the artistic tease he offers in Raina Lee's 1-Up zine, avoiding illustration work for fuller length comics. "Oceanus Versus the Venusian Crayfish" provides one of the pieces scheduled for Epoxy #3, and it's a doozy. The four-layer narrative combines the relationally tense participation in a Hue City talent show, an old man's story about an orchestrated zoo break, the reminiscence of an ended relationship, and a "band" rivalry. Pham's work still reminds me of an anime-inspired mix of Tom Devlin and Jordan Crane, leaning toward Crane and indicating that his influence looms large (someone give that boy a MacArthur!). Pham's use of repetition, inversion, and slow-motion cinematography is awe-inspiring, and there are several moments worth citing: p. 5's stop-motion scene setting, p. 16's understated youthinasia, p. 19's use of multiple planes of reference, and p. 38 in and of itself. Pham's a god, and it's necessary that I absorb more of his work. $3 to John Pham, P.O. Box 361135, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

    O, Canada!
    Printed in February 2002, this 28-page mini collects three stories detailing Allison's recent trip to Vancouver, BC, with her friend Asher. "Asshole" describes an encounter trying to sell minis to a clerk at Golden Age Book & Comic Emporium, showing the low ranking most comics retailers give to self-published comics (sometimes solely based on size) and the need for more centralized indie comics distributors. "Un-Canadian shares an incident experienced while crossing the street -- an incident that occurs regularly in the Boston area. And "But It Wasn't All Bad!" offers some nice framing for the trip, including a two-page spread of Vancouver's skyline, a view I saw last September and can appreciate. Despite Allison's sketchier line work in this edition, O, Canada! re-establishes her as one of the best minicomics makers in New England today. $3 to Allison Cole, 2 College St. #502, Prividence, RI 02903.

    Paper Rodeo No. Infinity (May 2001)
    Yes! Sander's right. Newsprint is hella cheap, and more people should pursue their tabloid-templated projects. The Paper Radio crew collates this 12-page edition of creative comics and grassroots regional advertising. This issue features work by Tim, a cover that riffs off a Chewbacca-like character, the T, and some Sentinel-like robots. Also: L. DeCurtis, whose chaotic multiple portraits capture elements of boredom, fashion, and frustration; Ben Jones, with some more unicorn and breakdancing bear imagery; and Mat Brinkman (I think) and his wonderfully linear process comics. The ads are as cool as the comics, bringing contributors' styles to spots for local indie hot spots such as AS220, Myopic Books, Other Music (RIP), and Million Year Picnic. More of this, please. I've had this issue way too long. Free from Paper Rad.

    Proper Gander #32
    They're not the same, but in Boston we have the Weekly Dig, and in San Marcos, not far from Austin, they have Proper Gander. While the Dig is an edgy tabloid affectionate for the area's electronica and free-jazz scenes, the Gander is a 10-page comics-laden tabloid heavy on art and fiction. Hans Rickheit's "Chrome Fetus Comics" bridges the gap, accompanying excellent comics work by Baltimore residents Mary Knott and Beppi, Andrew Goldfarb, and Tania Kauffman. The non-comics and -ad content features a good zine and comics review section and a handful of record reviews, as well as a profile of artist George Bedard and a fiction excerpt by Mark Wisniewski. Also included is a center spread of portraiture exhibited at the Go Coffee Shop -- images of a fellow named Furly. Slim and somewhat ad-packed, but still solid. Worth getting, and one of the better second-tier alt.papers I've seen in awhile. Free from Proper Gander, P.O. Box 434, San Marcos, TX 78667.

    Ultra Laser #1
    I've seen Asher Penn's comics before, and I think I might have mistakenly considered him part of the Paper Radio set. Regardless of his creative affiliation, this is an excellent mini similar to Allison Cole's work and sporting a screen-printer cover, contruction paper interiors, and the opening, "Hello there. My name is Asher. I am a Canadian art stud." Incorporating cute brute comics featuring a Stussy-clad bear, a Pikachu-like figure, and various indie-rock characters, the 36-page mini is primarily a sketchbook including comic art, song lyrics, and balloon lettering. While I'm intrigued by the Stussy fetish, I was particularly interested in the five pages of handwitten text. This writing expresses heartfelt appreciation and affection for a friend (perhaps Allison?), incorporating quotes from several teen movies -- perhaps movies Asher and Allison saw while in Vancouver: "Cruel Intentions," "Grosse Point Blank," and "10 Things I Hate About You." I'll need to keep up with Asher's work, and I'm thrilled to find a new set of creative companions in the area. $3 to Asher Penn.
    Employee of the Week
    Every so often, the executives of Fifth Man Media, Media Diet's parent company, like to recognize an employee, or as in this case, employees who have made quality contributions to Fifth Man's corporate culture, business performance, or other aspects of our work. Media Diet would like to recognize the following Fifth Man Media employees for their service above and beyond the call of duty:

    Pumping up the volume in the cafeteria

    Sally Pickles, Paul Revere (no, not that Paul Revere; he's dead), and Leonard Polzin recently donated a new stereo sound system for employees to use in the Fifth Man Media cafeteria. While walking to lunch last week, Sally, Paul, and Leonard came across a van with its back doors wide open. The van was full, floor to ceiling, with stereo and other assorted electronics equipment. Between the three of them, Sally, Paul, and Leonard liberated -- and then donated -- a substantial sound system that will help Fifth Man employees "kick out the jams" during lunch and corporate gatherings. Thanks, guys! You know the true meaning of "Robbin' the 'hood."
    What Google Thinks of Me, According to Googlism
    Inspired by one Claire Zulkey, I just plugged my name into Googlism to see what Google thinks of me. Here's what it had to say:

    heath row is a whore; clip art of a burrito; nonsequitor comics i am not a whore

    heath row is shown as "hetherow"

    heath row is a small hamlet a mile and a half east from longford

    heath row is knocking on doors and sleeping on floors along north america's west coast to

    heath row is my real name

    heath row is participating in a web

    heath row is senior social capitalist and worldwide co

    heath row is the international co

    heath row is to journey to cities like rochester and meet the local "cells" of what the magazine calls its company of friends

    heath row is the brains behind somerville

    heath row is back with another issue

    heath row is soliciting material for future issues

    heath row is a fancy gated community with expensive homes

    From the above, it seems that I spend too much time at work, have identity issues, am addicted to media, and charge high rents.

    Try it; you'll like it.
    Music to My Ears XIX
    Oh, this made me smile, a grin as wide as my face. Chewbacca sings "Silent Night." Perfect for the snow globe that is the world this morning!

    Thanks to Cederholm.Org.

    Free to Be... Freelance?

    A long-running class-action suit brought by several freelance writers and photographers against the Boston Globe has been resolved. Yesterday, a Suffolk superior court judge ruled in favor of the paper, saying that the Globe has the right to renegotiate its working relationships with freelancers -- and that if freelancers don't want to give up their online publishing rights, they have the right not to work for the paper. Seems that the Globe's concept of "renegotiation" includes very little negotiation and a whole lot of reneging.
    Television-Impaired IX
    Oh, I want one of these.

    Thanks to BoingBoing.
    Alternative Weaklies
    Michael Ryan comments on the sad state of "alternative" journalism today, contending that the once underground, true alternatives to mainstream daily and weekly newspapers are now merely vehicles for advertising and entertainment listings. Hinging his remarks on the recent antitrust case against Village Voice Media and New Times Media, the two largest alt-weekly publishers, Ryan suggests that it is consolidation and corporatization that's ailing the alt-weeklies.

    I would agree. While there are economies of scale for companies like Village Voice and New Times, following a cookie-cutter approach to alternatives loses the very local look and feel -- reportage and attitude -- that make alt-weeklies viable alternatives. Ryan reminisces about the old days of the Real Paper before it was purchased by the Boston Phoenix, which has grown into an "alternative" corporate media presence in its own right. I'd much rather see a proliferation of occasionally flawed papers such as the Weekly Dig than continuing centralization of what's deemed alternative media.
    Among the Literati XIX
    JP Press, a specialist in quick fiction, is holding a holiday writing contest.

    Never got the toys you wanted from the fat man when you were a kid? Well here's your chance to try again. Enter JP Press' first annual Letter to Santa Quick Fiction Contest, and settle the score. Or sing his jolly praises in a brief narrative prose poem.

    Premise: Write a 500-word story or prose poem in the form of a letter to Santa.

    First Prize winner receives a one-year subscription annd publication on the JP Press web site. Honorable Mentions will also be printed online.

    Guidelines: Please submit your 500-word story via an MS Word attachment. Of course, please include author's name and contact information. Submit by December 20.

    Announcement of winner: December 24.

    Roll up, writers! Stick to the man, the man they call Santa.
    Comics and Popcorn
    A recent email from Top Shelf included some good news. Not only is Doug TenNapel's Creature Tech the publisher's fastest selling book ever -- with 5,000 copies sold in three months -- but 20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises have picked up the feature film rights to the book. The deal resulted from what is described as "a fierce bidding war" and is worth high-six against low-seven figures. The result will be a live-action "extravaganza." Top Shelf is so Hollywood! Eisner award winner TenNapel is the creator of Earthworm Jim, the Neverhood, and Gear, and he currently works as a creative producer on ABC's "Push, Nevada." He's also writing and directing a pilot for "Gear" at Nickelodeon. Fun stuff!
    Event-O-Dex XVI
    Sunday night at the Washington Street Art Center in Somerville, So&So, Choo Choo La Rouge, and the Operators.

    The show starts at 8 p.m., and there will be slide and film projections throughout the performances. Hope to see some of you there! The Washington Street shows are pretty low key -- perfect for a holiday weekend!
    Weather Report VIII
    First snow in the city! Relatively decent-sized flakes blowing horizontally past my office window, wind on the neck, and slush puddles to navigate in my LL Bean boots. I'm glad I'm not driving anywhere for Thanksgiving like my neighbor Carol.

    Tuesday, November 26, 2002

    Rock Shows of Note XLVI
    Last night was a train wreck! I almost didn't go out, but around 10 p.m., in a fit of wanting to support the scene, I ventured out into the drizzle to head to Charlie's Kitchen to see several local pop bands: Shumai, Spoilsport, and the Tardy. I've already written copious amounts about Spoilsport and the Tardy, so I'll not so say much other than that the Tardy was a tad sloppy and Spoilsport rocked harder than they usually do. (I think it was in honor of my new short hair -- or Mookie quitting her banking job to become a carpenter.) There were much more interesting things happening at the show, and I don't really want to mention them. So there.

    But Shumai was new to me. Shumai! A four-piece, they were quite impressive. Relatively solid power pop featuring a female lead singer and a male bassist who sang a couple of songs. They didn't do the boy-girl dual vocals thing much, and the songs the woman sang were usually more interesting than those that the man sang, and all in all, Shumai is well worth checking out. The MP3's on their Web site do them justice even if they sound a bit more twee on recording. I'll go see them again in a minute.

    Actually, in a minute, I'm going to leave work and head for home. Lesson: If you're not sure you want to go out, and you finally decide to do so at 10 p.m., don't. It's probably not a good idea, especially if you haven't eaten dinner yet -- as good as Charlie's iceberg lettuce might be. You should probably stay home, continue to read and review comics. Because, then, you'd have published 20-plus comics and zine reviews instead of a photograph of a model. But that's the way the ball bounces, it seems.

    Lesson No. 2: Everyone should go to the shows at Charlie's, even if it's raining. Last night was relatively sparsely attended -- perhaps because of the weather -- and if we want to keep the great rock shows coming upstairs at one of Cambridge's best hangouts, we need to keep the headcount up. Lecture over; I'm outie.
    PR-D-R-R II
    I just got the following "news" release via email, and I can't help myself. Here goes:

    Unique modeling firm to cater exclusively to Auto Racing, Motorcycle industries.

    Infineon Raceway, CA - (November 25, 2002) - Strap on your race gear! Start your engines! Head out to a venue ASAP!

    Armed with hot pants and sun shades, the UmbrellaGirls are coming to raceways across America - and they want to meet you.

    The latest innovation in a sport that attracts more fans per event than any other in America, UmbrellaGirls USA is a group of dynamic, beautiful young women promoting goods and services exclusively to the auto and motorcycle racing industries.

    "The idea was to cull a roster of some of the most lovely, interesting women in America, and put them to work representing the many companies that vie for advertising space at the raceway," says Ann Asiano, President and Founder of UmbrellaGirls USA. "In Italy, where motorcycle and auto racing is highly revered, upscale event models are a huge part of the race fan experience - in the United States that niche really hasn't been filled as yet. But because there's such a plethora of companies that are interested in getting involved with the racing industry, our UmbrellaGirls offer a great way for a wide array of organizations to get their names out at the raceway via a very appealing medium."

    Nice chassis!

    Through UmbrellaGirls USA, Asiano plans to promote divergent client types ranging from motor oil companies to retail and clothing firms. Umbrella Girls wear apparel bearing client logos and tote eye catching signature sun umbrellas while meeting and greeting fans, race contestants, and raceway VIP's.

    "While they are very attractive, UmbrellaGirls are more than eye-candy at the raceway," says Asiano. "They have an advanced knowledge of racing and truly understand the products and services they are promoting. Some UmbrellaGirls, such as Natalie Jackson, compete in their own right and have been involved in motor sports for years. And since motor sports have such an international appeal, we make it a priority to recruit UmbrellaGirls who are bilingual so they can assist and make welcome the many European, Asian and Hispanic contestants and fans that compete and watch races in the USA."

    While scheduled to formally launch in November at the International Motorcycle Show held at the San Mateo Expo Center, UmbrellaGirls have appeared on a limited basis at Infineon and Pomona Raceways, and will continue to preview services at raceways throughout the West Coast in coming weeks.

    To learn more about Umbrella Girls USA, visit their website.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for beautiful young women promoting products and services, especially beautiful young women well-versed in motor sports, but I'm curious how this is innovative. From the pages of Easyrider to the boothless babes at most car shows, it seems that there's already a connection between women and wheels. I know I work for a magazine called Fast Company, but this might be better received -- and actually covered -- by the folks at Popular Hot Rodding. Or, yeah! The folks I just met at Raceway Media Magazine.
    Shelf-Publishing III
    Remember that book I'm working on? We're still working out the reprint permissions, and I might need to gather some more stories and articles, but Off Message is still in progress. I've got folks lined up to do the promo blurbs on the back cover, and the author of the foreward is super, super cool. Should be a rad book.

    That's not final, but it just might be the cover. What do you think?
    Things for Which I'm Thankful II
  • Sunshine in the morning
  • Slow days at the office
  • Ex-girlfriends who still talk to me
  • Charlie's Kitchen
  • Bittersweet chocolate
  • People who make their own books, zines, comics, and records
  • Water, preferably cold
  • Monday, November 25, 2002

    From the Reading Pile XII
    Before I can tackle the accumulated zines and comics stacked in the milk crate on the floor by the big blue couch, I need to catch up on some unpublished reviews. Apologies to all involved, but these were penned back in March.

    Get Bent! #9
    Interesting! A year between issues of Get Bent! (this edition came out in spring 2002) in order to concentrate on Unshaven Chi, and still Ben delivers an uneven effort. I wish he'd written a better introduction to "A Fay Zone Leah" instead of describing the premise afterward, because the story, characterization, and phonetic speech don't carry the impact they might otherwise. "The Waterhead Man" is a much better and more explicit treatment of the subject, working in some solid Family Circus references (and Little Nemo, he says) as he explores his reactions to this person who so affected his life and memory. Ben was a 2001 Ignatz nominee, but because the 2001 SPX was canceled, we might never know how great he really is. Just kidding; he's great, although this 28-page comic isn't quite what he could've been. $3 to Ben T. Steckler, P.O. Box 7273, York, PA 17404.

    My Life in Family Vacations
    This more than matchbook-sized photocopied mini recounts several family vacations taken by Kim Paglia. Her family goes to DC in a mail truck; wear waterproof clothing at Niagara Falls (I did this!); camp in Pittsburgh; abandon several trips to Herhey, Pennsylvania; and eventually go to Georgia instead. This 36-page mini-mini is excellent in its scaled-back presentation, and the holiday travel stories border on the universal. Dude: 50 cents. Get this. I'd like to see some bigger and longer work from Paglia. Kimberly Paglia, 1935 Highway 106 North, Danielsville, GA 30633.

    Feh. A well-printed eight-page comic -- screen printing on heavy stock -- but a disappointing premise. Why detourn old romance comics to babble on about pornography? The detourned art has promise, but the writing and lettering falls flat, as does the content of the copy. Shat Platz and Beau Buck.

    Typewriter #4
    Bound as an old book complete with cloth covers, this wonderfully produced 64-page edition of David Youngblood's comics anthology is dedicated to "old books" everywhere. Featuring nine pieces, the collection features Chris Wright's Tom Hart-like anthropomorphic untitled piece, Jonathan T. Russell's Jessica Abel-inspired drama comic about shopping and self-esteem, Michael Hall's prose-driven space opera, and Youngblood's own surprising blend of Megan Kelso and Greg Cook (love the tree on p. 40, as well as the cloud on p. 45). Youngblood's piece runs eight pages too long -- editor, edit thyself -- but otherwise, this is an awesome assortment of almost unknowns. $5 to David Youngblood.

    Unshaven Chi #4
    The complement to Ben's fictional Get Bent!, this is "pure autobio." Despite the similar cover stock and screen printing, Ben pays less attention to the artwork, opting for a Dennis Eichler-meets-Big Boy style that's not as solid as his work in Get Bent! Regardless, in this 32-page comic from fall 2001, Ben tracks his genealogy, discusses the value of buying from friends on account, appreciates his grandmother, fondly recalls Joey Ramone, worries about melanoma, and reprints some old -- three years old -- comics. My concerns about the art aside, I find this to be a slightly stronger effort, more ably capturing Ben's life and loves than Get Bent!, which seems more self-aware and -apologetic. $2 to Ben T. Steckler, P.O. Box 7273, York, PA 17404.

    As always, materials for possible review in Media Diet are welcome. My mailing address is on the left.
    Things for Which I'm Thankful
    It is Thanksgiving week. Thursday is Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving falls on the 131st anniversary of the execution of three leaders of the Paris commune (Rossell, Ferre, and Bourgeois, if you must know), and my thoughts now turn from France to friends. Throughout the week I'll continue to post notices of some of the people, places, and things for which I'm thankful. This is where it starts:

  • Fast Company for giving me a place to spend my days. I'm pretty lucky to have the job I have.
  • Evan Williams of Blogger for his ongoing assistance and support with Media Diet. The man doesn't really need to respond to my customer service and support queries in a timely fashion -- especially when we don't communicate much otherwise -- but he does. And that's rad.
  • Jon Ferguson and the other folks behind and inside Cardhouse for helping make Media Diet real.
  • Media Dieticians everywhere. You know who you are.
  • My mom, dad, sister, and grandmother.
  • The Anchormen for their patience and provision of a carthartic creative outlet I wouldn't have otherwise.
  • "Special" female friends who have much more patience, persistence, and presence in my life than I deserve.

    That's seven. And that's lucky. More thoughts of thanks as I think them!
  • Corollary: Event-O-Dex XII
    It was not the High-Steppin' Nickel Kids that I saw at the Milky Way in JP wearing jackets emblazoned with the band's name like they're in some of gang or something, I don't believe. It was, if memory serves, which it often doesn't, skipping school like some silly truant, the Lost City Angels. But who the heck knows.
    From the In Box: Anchormen, Aweigh! IX
    Wow, Zombies of the Stratosphere is the first compilation the Anchormen have ever been on? Cool! We really thought about your suggestions; now you can order Zombies via email. -- Dan and Deke Logan
    Hardcore Logo III
    We have a winner! Or at least, an applicant. Joe Szilagyi has contributed the shiny, happy new Media Diet logo you now see at the top of this very page. This doesn't mean that I no longer want people to design logos for Media Diet. The idea is that I'll have several that cycle through periodically. Submissions are still welcome.
    Age-Related Angst
    Some recent comments Matt made in Retro Rocket got my wheels spinning:

    when i was a bit younger, and before i settled upon the law as a career, i used to get mildly bummed out about the direction my life had taken when seeing much younger guys playing professional baseball and football and so on. what must it be like to have such motivation, such talent, such a paycheck, i thought. i got over those feelings a while ago, right around the same time i realized i was too old to be a 'real world' cast member.

    now comes the hiring of the boston red sox new twenty-eight year old general manager. are you kidding me? twenty-eight and running a baseball team? and yale law grad, no less. shoot me now.

    Having had a bit of a mid-midlife crisis earlier this year, similar thoughts have loomed large in my life of late. Nearing the big 3-0, I realized that I was no longer the surprisingly young man who'd done -- and was doing -- a surprising amount of surprisingly interesting and arguably important stuff. It was now an assumption that I'd be doing stuff similar to what I'm doing. Or at least doing something. Oh, I was no protege, don't get me wrong, but I missed having the age cachet in my, how you say, bag of tricks.

    Every so often, I like to think that I'm past that -- and that even though there are notable holes in my life... holes people much younger than me have already filled... I'm still in a pretty good place for 29. I'm far from adult. I'm far from settled. But at least I'm not a Yale law graduate or general manager of a baseball team. And my age still surprises some people. Perhaps I'll miss getting carded when people stop carding me.

    Because that seems to start happening again every time I shave my head.
    Television-Impaired VIII
    Fancyteeth on the history of television.

    Thanks to Metafilter.
    It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World XVII
    In Sacramento, California, two billboards will be outfited to change the image they display based on the radio stations tuned into by drivers of passing cars.

    Thanks to Just One Thing.
    From the In Box: Pulling the Plug VIII
    More on Mama Gaia's:

    It is with gratitude and a profound sense of humility that I write this response to your emails of support. Since the suspension of operations at Mama Gaia's Cafe, we have become the subject of a powerful show of support from customers, friends, and families. Said support has been manifested in offers of financial contributions big and small, offers to organize fundraising events, and even campaigns of support-letter writing. Unmistakably, such tremendous show of support has taken the management team by surprise. It has been humbling and refreshing to feel and see a community asking us to remain in business and continue our mission of community building and social justice. We felt very much alone and overwhelmed by the developments, the motives behind them, and the unnecessary use of pressure imposed upon us; however, to see members of the Cambridge community, ranging from students to business owners and even homeless people, expressing their sympathy and support is at least unusual and, at best, a sign of hope in times of hopelessness and a clear indication that, even under very difficult circumstances, most of them financial, we have done something right and there are a lot of community members that do recognize and appreciate all the hard work and passion invested in the vision and mission of Mama Gaia's Cafe.

    I would like to take this opportunity to brief you on the current status of the negotiations to reopen Mama Gaia's. I am happy to report that your support has allowed us to reopen between Thursday or Friday of this week. However the financial damage of the suspension of sales is expected to have repercussions as we approach the slow business cycle of the Christmas break. Therefore, we find ourselves in need to continue our fundraising efforts to ensure that we won't be closed again. To that end, and in honoring the Spirit in which help has been offered, we will work with many of you to organize fundraising events; we will ask the support of the hundreds of talented musicians, artists and performers, as well as the intellectual, activist, media, and student communities that make up the bulk of Mama Gaia's customer and support base, to join us and show their commitment by participating in activities to fundraise and by increasing their visits as customers of the Cafe.

    I have asked Martin Hunter to serve as liaison for all of you who would like to be updated as to our status. In addition, if you wish to circulate updates about Mama Gaia's Cafe situation or send out calls for help to various listserves, we ask you to please coordinate your efforts with Martin in order to avoid duplication of efforts. In turn, all special cases and/or people wishing to help in organizing or performing will be channeled by Martin to Rafael Medina. Rafael will serve as coordinator for special projects. His duties will include to organize the flow of the events, to bring together volunteers with coordinators and to oversee that the outreach is well done so as to maximize the result from all these efforts. Performers, organizers, and idea people should contact Martin requesting to be directed over to Rafael. This way they will continue to be in the main stream of communication while serving on a special projects team.

    A bank account has been prepared for those of you who want to help financially. All contributions will have the option to be turned into stock in the equity of the company in the near future, or just be treated as a loan with terms to be determined on an individual basis. Proper documentation will be provided upon receipt of contribution and will be personally guaranteed by me. More information is available to better inform your financial decision. Please contact us to make arrangements. Juan Carlos Kaiten will serve as administrator for the funds and will be in charge of proper documentation of entries and proper communication to those with financial links to us. For all financial questions and contributions please write.

    Finally, I would like to pledge with renewed breath and depth my commitment to the principles of community, solidarity, social justice, peace, equality, nature, diversity, and spirituality that make up the fiber of the Mama Gaia's experience. Rest assured that Mama Gaia's will continue to be not only a part but a reflection of this community, which has now grown and expanded to all of you. All our past, and now our current, efforts represent the heart and soul of all of us who still believe in our birthright to live in a better place based on dignity and respect, on true love and commitment to our community and those who will one day continue this age-long struggle for freedom and justice. We will not give in, we will stand out for what is right, it is the only way we can breathe. We can't and will not have any other way.

    Thank you sincerely for your support. -- Pedro Noe Morales, founder, Mama Gaia's Cafe

    Thanks to Media Dietician George Mokray.
    Blogging About Blogging XXXIV
    Being featured on Slashdot or Metafilter can send your traffic through the roof. As can being featured prominently in Blogdex.

    Around 7 p.m. last night, one Joe Szilagyi in Connecticut noticed that his site had basically "taken over" the second page of Blogdex. It seems that if you combine several domain names tracked by Blogdex -- parking them all in a new domain -- you can accidentally break Blogdex.

    Cameron has yet to tweak the system, but needless to say, Mr. Sizzle might need to put in a whole new roof.
    Rules for Fools XIV
    Rule No. 17: If you get on an elevator that is going up and you are, in fact, wanting to go down, you must either first go up before you can go down -- or get off the elevator and wait for another.

    Corollary to Rule No. 17: They'll make more.

    Rule No. 18: When you ask people also getting on the elevator to hit your floor button for you ("Three, please."), chances are good that they'll hit their floor button first even if yours comes sooner.

    Corollary to Rule No. 18: You do the same, so what's your gripe?
    Digesting the Daily IV
    Recent editions of the Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper of my alma mater, featured several media-, technology-, and activism-related items that might be of interest to Media Dieticians.

    Caught in the banter of the Brothers Savage
    One Savage advises about sex. The other Savage advises about school.
    (Nov. 14, 2002)

    Name snafu causes much strife among NU students
    Letter writer Dan Abramson sets the record straight on the other Dan Abramson, who draws cartoons for the Daily. The gist of it is that letter-writer Abramson does not draw the cartoons, so stop bothering him
    (Nov. 15, 2002)
    Among the Literati XVIII
    In another creative coup, McSweeney's books is issuing a joint book/CD compiled by Nick Hornby. Songbook will include essays penned by Hornby about some of his favorite songs and songwriters, and the CD will comprise many of the songs mentioned in the book.

    To add to the gift-giving goodness of this holiday release, proceeds from Songbook will benefit the TreeHouse Trust, a U.K. charity that helps to educate children with autism and related communication disorders, and 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing lab based in San Francisco.
    Corollary: Event-O-Dex XV
    Seriously, though: Buy Nothing Day. After sending out a request for donations from Adbusters readers, the folks behind BND have been able to secure an ad spot on CNN's Lou Dobbs Moneyline. It'll air at 6:49 p.m. EST (3:49 p.m. PST) on Tuesday, Nov. 26. That's tomorrow.

    Quoth Adbusters: "After you watch those 30 seconds of TV on Tuesday, make plans to party on Friday, Buy Nothing Day, Nov. 29, 2002. Here's only a glimpse of what's in the works:

    "In Norway they're playing volleyball with presents; in the Netherlands they're wearing wings of dollars and flying among consumers; in London they're shooting a film with a human-sized credit card; in Japan, the Zen Santas will meditate; and all over consumerland, activists are hitting big-box stores with whirlmart actions.

    "Broadcast your plans -- or locate a group to join."

    Several folks in Boston are planning activities. Get involved!
    Event-O-Dex XV
    Don't forget: Shumai, the Tardy, and Spoilsport are playing at Charlie's Kitchen on Harvard Square tonight. Festivities begin at 9:30 p.m., I believe. I'll be there, grilled cheese and beer in hand.

    Also don't forget: Buy Nothing Day is Nov. 29. So buy lots of stuff now. If you like classical music, I heartily recommend H&B Recordings Direct.

    Also don't forget: Remember the Alamo.
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XLIII
    Equal parts catching up on the Netflix rentals that sat at my house while I was traveling and a largely antisocial, domestic weekend, the last few days have been a veritable film festival for me and the big blue couch on Magazine Street.

    Friday: Altered States
    William Hurt stars in this 1980 movie that I remember vaguely from the Mad magazine parody -- but knew little about. I thought it was about medical research involving sensory deprivation tanks, and to some extent I was right. But it tries to be more, blending elements of Carlos Castenada and Timothy Leary in a story -- partly based at Harvard -- about using psychoactive drugs and other methods to find the "original self." In an interesting, albeit slightly ham-handed, twist, Hurt's character's research cause physical and genetic retrogression, turning the obsessed scientist into a simian creature -- who promptly goes on a rampage. Eventually, Hurt forsakes his research for his true love, played by Blair Brownn, but in a fit of shoddy special effects, they're nearly pulled back into the retrogression for once and for all. Only their love could save them, and what do you know? It did. An interesting movie that might have been more at home in the '70s than in the early '80s, but really only a curiosity at best.

    Saturday: Doctor Zhivago
    This was one of my parents' favorite movies, and as one of the last epic romantic movies, it doesn't surprise me that it struck the newlyweds so strongly in 1965. Starring Omar Sharif, the extremely long movie -- I fell asleep during the intermission (intermission!) and had to pick it up again on Sunday, it was so long -- tells the story about a doctor and poet who falls in love with a political activist's wife and spends most of the Bolshevik revolution trying to track her down -- and reconcile his love for Lara with his love for his, gasp, wife. As I said, it's a long movie, and -- told through the perspective of Zhivago's half brother -- the film follows Zhivago's progress through marriage, raising a family, World War I, and the revolution. The prison train scenes are particularly notable, as are the sequences in the reclaimed house of ice and snow, but as a love story, it's somewhat passive aggressive. That's understandable, given the backdrop on which the romance plays out, but outside of some commentary on the role art and poetry can play in revolution, Doctor Zhivago is long on history and short on romance. There might be a reason they don't make them like this any more.

    Sunday: The Twilight Zone
    I recently signed up for Columbia House's Twilight Zone DVD club, and this is the first disc they mailed. The DVD comprises four episodes. In "Nick of Time" (air date Nov. 18, 1960), William Shatner plays a superstitious fiance who, lured by a penny-ante fortune-telling machine, becomes trapped in a small town in Ohio with his bride to be. Shatner shines as an actor who'd yet to develop his schtick, and you can barely tell it's Captain Kirk. Also some neat exposition on the nature of superstition. When I was dating Sarah, she didn't like it if we walked on opposite sides of a lamp post. In this episode, Shatner pulls his fiancee toward him so she walks on the same side of a street sign as he does. "Bread and butter," he says. I had no idea! In "The Prime Mover" (air date March 24, 1961), Buddy Ebsen plays a telekinetic diner employee who helps his friend build -- and then lose -- a gambling fortune. The story is at times a tale about abusing friendship but redeems itself in the end when Ebsen's pal realizes the error of his ways, drops the gambling, and proposes to his girlfriend. "It's a Good Life" (air date Nov. 3, 1961) is the throwaway of the lot. It's a position piece that merely introduces a menacing character, leaving viewers in the askew-viewed world but not resolving any of the issues raised. The basic idea is that a 10-year-old boy has the power to make real -- and unreal -- anything he likes or dislikes. There are some skin-thin religious allegories as the boy creates a three-headed gopher, but otherwise, it offers an insight on the tyranny of children and the need for socialized ethics, and then steps away. Unsatisfying. Lastly, "The Mind and the Matter" (air date May 12, 1961) stars Shelley Berman as a disgruntled office worker who, pushed too far by the hustle and bustle of city life, wishes away humanity. Obviously, he becomes lonely. So he wishes that everyone were like him. Obviously, that's not the best bet, either, and we're left with the message that diversity is good, loneliness is bad, and to some extent, when life gives us lemons, we need to at least make lemonade, if not suck lemons. I look forward to future DVD's in this series -- The Twilight Zone is a wonderful, wonderful show, and its period moodiness and Rod Serling cameos are delightful. My one complaint is the clunkiness of the navigation. The giant eyeball is a pain in the butt, and the pastiche interstitial scenes that occasionally punctuate episode changes are a waste of time.

    The A-Team: "Mexican Slayride"
    As the pilot for this program, this episode runs hot and cold. Yes, it introduces the characters: Hannibal (George Peppard, natch), Faceman, Howling Mad Murdock, and B.A. Baracus (as played by Mr. T). And yes, it sets us up for the formulaic adventurers-for-hire storylines that would grace the TV screen for five seasons (the pilot aired Jan. 23, 1983). But running over the course of two hours, it's a bit much. Tim Dunigan stars as Faceman, later to be replaced by Dirk Benedict. And so many characteristics are established, so many elements of interpersonal relationships, so many catchphrases first used, that I'm curious how much more the writers have in them. The story is simple. A wayward journalist is kidnaped in Mexico while tracking down a story about drug smuggling. A colleague enlists the A-Team -- a process that involves a racist Asian disguise that almost rival Mickey Rooney's character in Moon River -- which heads south of the border. They are in turn captured by the smugglers but promptly escape, enlist the aid of an oppressed village, and quell the rebel forces funded by the smuggling. It's at this point unclear how the A-Team brings so many resources to bear, but perhaps that'll come clear in the future. One interesting Peppard tidbit. The armor-plated bus that B.A. rigs up reminds me of the vehicle used in the post-apocalyptic Damnation Alley. Just a little.

    Friday, November 22, 2002

    A Brief Note of Appreciation for the U.S. Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685)
    They come but once a year, the U.S. Postal Service statements of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685). But when they do, my gears shift, my interest peaks, and my mind turns to the coming year. Usually printed in the December issues of most magazines -- the statements are required for periodicals that want to qualify for second-class mail privileges -- these ephemeral, esoteric snapshots of a magazine's scale, scope, and success are quite intriguing.

    It's not that I collect them, per se, but I do clip them out for perusal. Other than the insights the U.S. Postal Service statements of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) offer in terms of total number of copies printed, sales through dealers and carriers, free distribution, and copies not distributed, I'm fascinated by the different design approaches magazine's take in presenting this required data.

    Because the information is required to be published, most magazines err on the side of less is more. The least amount of real estate the U.S. Postal Service statements of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) take up, the better. Look at Down East. That magazine basically reduces the actual forms they filed to fill about a sixth of a page, making the information almost illegible. What is Down East trying to hide? That one of their executives is named Koester? That they only sell 10,000 copies on the newsstand? Full disclosure, Down East. Full disclosure!

    Meanwhile, Fitness follows a suitable, streamlined approach, separating the comparative data -- preceding 12 months vs. single issue published nearest to filing date -- into orderly columns for easy reading. No workout on the eyes, no sir! YM adds a pleasing plum shading to its statement of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685), asserting that not only is math not hard, but young women should be concerned about the circulation of their magazines -- as well as their own.

    Details opts to constrain its statement of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) in a box, ensuring that the dastardly data will neither muss Leonardo DiCaprio's hair nor threaten the correspondent from California. Columbia Journalism Review employs a nasty typeface that is ill-suited for use in a journalism trade magazine, much less in a civilized society -- at the same time deciding not to offer the comparative data side by side but to segregate the two sets of numbers in linear presentation.

    Nature Conservancy selects an almost Harper's Index- or McSweeney's-like approach to its statement of ownership, management, and -- get this, quarterly -- circulation. The New Yorker employs a classic -- and classy! -- serif typeface, mirroring its overall design sensibility and offering what might be the clearest parallel to the magazine's general look. And Rolling Stone -- the rebels! -- sticks it to the Man and runs all of its statement of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) in a single line of text without break or columns... refusing to be oppressed, repressed, suppressed, or whatever it is that the Man does to Rolling Stone.

    I love these statements of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685), and I like to think that they think kindly of me. For, is it not true that they keep coming back year after year, almost as though to see if I'm still reading, how I'm doing, and if I'm still in circulation? I am, little statements of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685), and I can hardly wait until next year to see how your ownership, management, and circulation has changed -- for the better or worse.

    Oh, yeah. Don't let the fate that befell George Schultz befall you. Faithfully file your statements of ownership, management, and circulation (required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) or the U.S. Postal Service will revoke your second-class mail privileges. I think it's safe to say that we all agree that this -- shudder! -- is a fate worse than death.
    Silicon and Storytelling
    I participated in the Digital Storytelling Bootcamp and Festival under the tutelage of the late Dana Atchley back in 1999. Several colleagues and collaborators of his are keeping the flame alive -- and recently launched the Digital Storytelling Association. Here's the announcement:

    Representing eight countries, and over 30 US states, a cross section of media professionals, educators, community activists, artists and enthusiasts have organized a new international membership organization, the Digital Storytelling Association (DSA).  The DSA is dedicated to evolving the practice of digital storytelling by providing services, advocacy, resources, and information. 

     To celebrate the launch of the organization, the DSA will be assisted by the British Broadcasting Corporation in Wales to present a webcast of digital congratulations of statements by DSA affiliates around the world including Melbourne, Brussels, Stockholm, Cardiff, New York, Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area, and Scott County, Kentucky. The program will be available beginning on Friday, November 22, at 5 p.m. PST and will be archived for future presentation.  The webcast event will be featured as part of the launch of the DSA website. The website was designed by a team of graduate students (Nikolai Cornell, Yael Maayani, Cybil Weigel) from the Media Design program at the Art Center School of Design in Pasadena working with the award winning graphic and broadcast designer, Harry Marks.  

     The DSA website will act as the information source for all of the DSA activities and membership information.  As part of the launch, there are a number of new articles and commentaries by DSA affiliates from around the world, the basic descriptions of membership benefits and activities and an online membership application and fee payment.  In launching the organization, the founding participants will make the website a home for new creative activities, community building projects, and interesting discussions over the coming year.

    In beginning a membership campaign, the DSA hopes to grow to 500 global members in the next year, and to establish country and local chapters in most areas where there are current constituents. As part of the opening Membership drive, the first 50 new members will receive a free copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements provided by Adobe Systems, Inc.  Individual membership fees are $50/year with a discount fee of $25/year (low income/student/relative international economies).  Memberships for non-commercial and commercial organizations are also available.

    As described in the DSA charter, "Digital storytelling uses digital media to create media-rich stories to tell, to share, and to preserve. Digital stories derive their power through weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, and insights."  According to Daniel Meadows, the Creative Director of the BBC Cymru/Wales Digital Storytelling Project, "For over 10 years, a large number of people working as professional and amateur digital media practitioners have associated our work with the idea of Digital Storytelling.  We felt the movement of activity and dialogue around this work has finally achieved a breadth of interest and sophistication to sustain our new association."

    Included in the organization's activities in their inaugural year are an online and print Membership Directory database, information resources in the form of an email and web-based newsletter and technology news, the support and development of regional and local chapters, and the hosting and co-sponsorship of gatherings and conferences.

    As part of their activities, the DSA is working with partners to develop a US national conference in Arizona in June of 2003 and an international conference in Cardiff, Wales in November of 2003.

    In the first year, the DSA will be based at the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, California. For more information about the DSA, contact Emily Paulos at 510 548 2065.

    Congratulations to Denise Atchley, Joe and Nina Mullen, and everyone else involved for getting this wonderful effort off the ground!
    Comics and Commentary III
    Amy Benfer has launched a new series of columns about comic books and graphic novels in Salon. Her first entry touches on two already-known quantities, Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine. She addresses the unwelcoming nature of comic shops, the impact that other pop culture creations can have on the success of a comic or graphic novel, and the reasons why avid fiction readers should also be avid comics readers. Stepping away from Ghost World for a moment, she concentrates on why people should catch up on Eightball by reading the new Twentieth Century Eightball collection. Then she turns her attention to Tomine, spending a scant four paragraphs on his Summer Blonde collection. She draws the obvious parallel to Clowes' work and caps the column by recommending five additional titles, including Jessica Abel's wonderful La Perdida and Rich Koslowski's Three Fingers. It'll be interesting to see what other books Benfer looks at.

    Thanks to Bookslut.

    Thursday, November 21, 2002

    Pieces, Particles IX
    The following media-related stories recently spotted in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

    The Bean Book, Down East, December 2002
    It's always interesting to read about yourself.

    Between the Lines by Dennis Cass, Mother Jones, November/December 2002

    Business as Usual by Miles Maguire, American Journalism Review, October 2002
    While news organizations have energetically uncovered corporate abuses and editorialized for reforms, their parent companies have been less than enthusiastic in applying the new standards to their own operations.

    The Curse of Tom Wolfe by Michael Shapiro, Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 2002
    First, a story. Or rather an "anecdotal lead," which seems essential when writing about magazines -- in this case, where they've gone wrong and how maybe they might recapture one of the great pleasures they've lost: the story. Not the article. Not the piece. The story.

    The Cutting Room Floor by Tad Friend, The New Yorker, Nov. 18, 2002
    Unseen TV

    Does Size Matter? by Michael Scherer, Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 2002
    Chances are you won't bother to read this article. It is just one long block of text, after all, unbroken by alluring pictures, snappy captions, or eye-grabbing infographics. You can't click it. You can't flip it. All you can do is read it.

    Finding a Niche by Jill Rosen, American Journalism Review, November 2002
    From ferrets to tattoos: Specialization is the name of the game in today's crowded magazine world.

    Getting a Lot out of "Two Cents" by Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher, Oct. 21, 2002
    Homegrown database helps "Chronicle" reporters meet sources willing to talk

    Going Long, Going Deep by Scott Sherman, Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 2002
    The Atlantic, one of the few American magazines that still dares to publish high-quality, complex narratives, sits in Boston's Little Italy, a slightly raffish neighborhood with narrow, twisting streets and filled with comfortable little restaurants, espresso bars, and cheese shops.

    Hard-Core Philanthropist by Jay Cheshes, Mother Jones, November/December 2002
    How can a vibrator in Topeka help halt the spread of AIDS in Hanoi? Just ask Phil Harvey, porn magnate and social entrepreneur.

    "How Did I Do This Before Google?" by William Prochnau, American Journalism Review, November 2002
    The relationship between newspapers and computers got off to a shaky start, but it was destined to go the distance. What are the ramifications?

    Ink by Tad Friend, The New Yorker, Nov. 11, 2002
    Finders keeper

    Jailhouse Talk by Laura Fraser, Mother Jones, November/December 2002
    On Friday nights, prisoners across Texas tune in to hear the voice of a gay ex-con and -- just maybe -- a message from home.

    Letter to an Ex-Contrarian by Katha Pollitt, The Nation, Nov. 25, 2002

    The Life and Times of AJR by Lori Robertson, American Journalism Review, November 2002
    Back in the 1970s, a lowly grad student named Roger Kranz had a crazy idea and a VW bug. The rest is history.

    Lilly Heir Makes $100 Million Bequest to Poetry Magazine by Stephen Kinzer, The New York Times, Nov. 19, 2002

    Mondo Bond by Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, Nov. 4, 2002
    Forty years of 007.

    Networking by Amanda Fisher, Comics & Games Retailer, November 2002
    Small stores benefit from interaction with others

    Not So Funny by Natalie Pompilio, American Journalism Review, October 2002
    Several major newspapers are leaving their editorial cartoonist positions vacant. Are these civic needlers an endangered species?

    Police Beat Redux, Glass Eyes by the Bottle, and a Convention Stunned to Silence by Peter Spectre, Maine Boats & Harbors, Winter 2003

    Revolution at the Reference Desk by Chris Dodge, Utne, November/December 2002
    A new generation of librarians see information as a social cause

    Running on Empty by Richard Byrne, The Boston Phoenix, Nov. 15, 2002
    Serbian rock music helped bring down Slobodan Milosevic. But postwar Serbia is a tough place to make a living as a musician -- or as anything else, for that matter. Can the country rebuild its shattered economy and keep its culture?

    Still Shining Independently by Bruce Costa, Comics & Games Retailer, October 2002
    A continued discussion with Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics

    Swedish Hot Nights by John Harris, Rolling Stone, Nov. 14, 2002
    The women are beautiful and the government pays you to be in a band. Welcome to punk paradise.

    This Is a Headline for an Essay About Meta by Laura Miller, The New York Times Magazine, Nov. 17, 2002
    Why jokey self-consciousness permeats novels, films, TV -- and our speech.

    What's So Funny? by Tad Friend, The New Yorker, Nov. 11, 2002
    A scientific attempt to discover why we laugh.

    Why Movies Are So Bad by Kim Masters, Esquire, December 2002
    The story of the fall of one pushy studio executive is an object lesson in why Saturday nights are getting more boring

    If you work for a magazine and would like to sign me up for a complimentary subscription, please feel free to do so. My address is in the grey bar over on the left.
    Workaday World VIII
    Conversation in the elevator:

    Julia: Let's hold the elevator door for this woman.
    Me: You're too kind.
    Julia: That's probably what I am: Too kind.
    Woman: You held the elevator for me! You're so polite!
    Julia: I was raised by wolves.
    Woman: Well, then, maybe we should all be raised by wolves.
    North End Moment XXX
    The elderly Italian barber I used to frequent whose shop is on the corner just off the alley behind the Scotch & Sirloin building has closed his business. The sign on the door reads, "Closed for retirement. Thanks to all." I'll miss him.
    From the In Box: Event-O-Dex XIV
    Thanks, Heath. Turns out we had to cancel the event because of planning problems, but I appreciate your help. -- David Callahan
    Event-O-Dex XIV
    Another last-minute event notice. David Callahan, director of research for Demos, will be at the Harvard Business School this evening for a discussion and reception to celebrate the publication of his book about HBS' class of 1949, Kindred Spirits.

    The panel discussion, "Values and CEOs: Lessons from the Harvard Business School Class of 1949," will feature HBS professor Lynn Sharp Paine, whose work focuses on values and leadership; Roger Sonnabend, a lifelong Bostonian and member of the class who is chairman and CEO of Sonesta International Hotels Corp.; George Berman, another member of the class who ran the Boston-based Unitrode Corp. for many years; and Calahan.

    Quoth Callahan:

    The HBS Class of 1949 was one of the most successful business school classes of all time -- a third became CEOs and graduates led such major companies as Xerox, Johnson and Johnson, and ABC. The experience of the class sheds light on changes in the value systems that guide CEOs, as well as a variety of business trends of the postwar era.

    If you're interested and in the Boston area, the event is tonight at 6 p.m. in HBS' Hawes Hall, room 203.
    Seat Sickness II
    Like to watch stuff blow up and fall down? Implosion World is an interesting site that serves the demolition industry -- the world of controlled destruction. What's most interesting about the site is the many video clips of hotels, bridges, steel mills, and stadiums reaching their end of days.

    Thanks to Memepool.
    Digesting the Daily III
    Recent editions of the Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper of my alma mater, featured several media-, technology-, and activism-related items that might be of interest to Media Dieticians.

    Turn on, tune in
    On the air and behind the scenes at the Evanston Community Media Center
    (Nov. 7, 2002)

    "Dateline" reporter: Remain critical of media
    Correspondent says election coverage lacked depth, forgot specifics of issues
    (Nov. 12, 2002)

    Listserv to keep students' parents updated on campus news
    Student Affairs might extend services to grant family online access to grades
    The Movie I Watched Last Night XLII
    The Wedding Singer
    After stopping by the comic shop, where MIT's Henry Jenkins dropped $100 on comic books for the comics class that runs into December, and by a bookstore, where I picked up Sheila Heti's The Middle Stories, I grabbed a quick dinner at Charlie's with Hiromi. Then it was back to the big blue couch for movie night!

    The Wedding Singer isn't indescribably bad, but it's also not awe-inspiringly good. Adam Sandler uses the movie as an opportunity to ham it up lounge stylee, portraying a washed-up heavy metal musician who's now making bank singing wedding schlock. After his fiancee ditches him on the day of their wedding, he starts spending time with a cocktail waitress who also works at the reception hall -- played by one Drew Barrymore who is cute as a button, a real chicken pot pie, in this movie. She, too, is engaged, but to the wrong fellow. Over the course of the movie, Sandler and Barrymore's characters become better acquainted, and the inevitable happens.

    What's the inevitable? A sickly looking Billy Idol saves the day on a plane to Vegas. Yes, that's right. Billy Idol. The scene on the plane, admittedly, almost brought a tear to my eyes, it was so cheesy yet poignant and touching. Overall, an enjoyable, throwaway movie that also features cameos by SNL alumni Kevin Nealon and Jon Lovitz, as well as a lusciously lush Steve Buscemi. Curious why the latter two were uncredited roles?