Ah, attempting to Get My Blog On once more before the end of the month.

I've been back in Boston four days now, and between getting caught up on work and laundry and writing a review of a Russian Party Rock Compilation CD and dealing with the whereabouts of a package mistakenly sent to my old address and going to see "Northfork" and getting sucked into "Fantasy Island" reruns with b-level guest stars from other ABC shows of the era like Bosley, Jan Brady, Issac (from "The Love Boat") and future Charles-In-Charger Scott Baio and answering personal ad inquiries and waiting for one particular guy to call who was sweet enough to call and say "hi" while I was in Milwaukee but has yet to contact me again, well, I've been keeping busy.

I really want to post something profound and illuminating about my trip, and that may take some time to put together. I wrote about 30-35 pages in my journal whilst on the trip. So, until the lead runs exquisitely from my penny pencil (eat your heart out, Ralphie), here's the expurgated version: it was fun to see the folks, although three days together was enough for us to become totally exasperated with each other; it was great to see old friends, and that time I never wanted to end; it's always fun scarfing down frozen custard, even if the flavah of the day is Strawberry; and I felt a little out of place the whole time I was there, which just goes to show that I'm now a Bostonian at heart--might as well be, as the 6th anniversary of THE MOVE OUT EAST is comin' up.

And, I saw a celebrity (!) in Milwaukee (!) who used to date (married?) Julia Roberts. And his name is not Benjamin Bratt, who, as you all know, once guest starred on Alf. Seriously.

More to come, from the Big Load Laundromat on North Avenue to your PC (or Mac, if you're one of those people, which is exactly how I was referred to constantly as a commuter student my Freshman year at Marquette.)


Well, gettin’ ready to go home, whatever that means. I’ll be in Milwaukee for the next eleven days. Since my parents packed up and moved to Iowa almost five years ago, I’ve spent less than ten nights there, and only three in the last three years.

I know, you’re thinking I must be a total masochist for wanting to go to the Midwest for such an extended period. I’m sure the novelty of simply being there will wear off after a few days, and besides, why didn’t I want to go somewhere um... a little more exotic instead? Well, the real purpose of this trip is to see my parents for a few days (they’re driving up and meeting me there tomorrow), and reconnect with an old, good friend I haven’t seen in four years.

I’m not trying to have any great, impossible expectations; nor do I want to re-live my past glories, only to watch them inevitably deflate. I just want a change of scenery, and time to spend in a familiar place. I can’t really call it home at this point, but it still feels special to me in a way that Boston never will. I probably won't be able to blog while I'm there, but I am bringing a fresh new composition book with me. Who knows, maybe I’ll transcribe some it onto here after I get back, maybe not.

Few movies seen lately; loved “The Sum Of Us”, a remarkable Australian film starring a young Russell Crowe as a gay plumber living at home, centering on the relationship he has with his father, who totally accepts his sexuality. It’s unpredictable, nuanced, and it makes great, stirring use of Crowded House’s “Better Be Home Soon”.

I’ve been much, much more at ease since I moved into my new apartment.


Trash or Treasure?: Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Legally Blonde 2, Swimming Pool

After the ludicrous American Pie 2 came out two summers ago and reaffirmed everything I hated about cash-in sequels, I vowed to stay away from them. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter films aren’t exactly cash-ins, since they’re part of a grand series. But really, are sequels all that necessary in most cases? I remember sitting through Nutty Professor 2 and thinking, “Wow, everything that was appealing and funny in the first film is just crass and crap (amidst all the endless fart jokes).”

While the forthcoming American Wedding has no place on my list of must-see movies, I have to admit to going to Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Legally Blonde 2 on their respective opening weekends. And the former film is the best guilty pleasure I’ve seen since Charlie’s Angels itself. I marvel at how much that film and its sequel polarize critics to a degree that only the likes of the mid-90’s Brady Bunch movies have seen. Of course, the Angels movies are stupid, dunderheaded trash. But their saving grace is that they don’t take themselves seriously at all (except when still-overrated ice queen Demi Moore takes center stage); for all the plot twists and glossy action sequences, Full Throttle is breezy, snappy (if calculated) fun, a keen way to give two hours of your life over to a rarely better Drew and Cameron; even Lucy Liu shows some personality this time around (especially in conversation with the incomparable John Cleese as her father (!)). A boisterous Bernie Mack is no Bosley substitute for the laid-back deadpan Bill Murray brought to the first film, and Justin Theroux’s Irish gangster villain is a little too cardboard remote. But, despite Demi’s Joan Crawford-worthy shoot-the-intercom debacle, Full Throttle’s never overwrought or tedious. It’s a fun ride that delivers all the necessary thrills, even if you won’t remember half of ‘em the next day.

Legally Blonde 2 is equally dunderheaded, and less forgivable. Whereas the Angels movies feel like supersized, upgraded installments of the TV series, the original Legally Blonde felt like a weak gag stretched out to feature film length and made bearable and likable by its talented, charismatic star. An unexpected hit, so how about a cash-in sequel that stretches the concept to its absolute breaking point? You won’t believe a single scene of this animal rights, goin’ to Washington DC fantasy in which every single strand is simply a variation of the first film’s formula. But you will enjoy a genuinely funny pet-sexuality gag, a surreal, satirical sorority house scene, lots of fabulous outfits, and Reese Witherspoon’s undeniable charm and presence, which again makes all the utter silliness tolerable. Plus, it’s difficult to hate a film where an aged but still deft Bob Newhart leaves a lasting impression as a hotel doorman/dogwalker. I doubt there’s much left we don’t know about Elle that’ll even make the most diehard fan anticipate or expect another sequel. However, I once thought the same about American Pie 2, so I’m not placing any bets.

Swimming Pool, the latest feature from French auteur Francois Ozon, is a decidedly classier, more cerebral sort of trash. It has less immediate thrills, but it’s still entertaining and sly. Charlotte Rampling stars as a successful British crime fiction author. A rather unpleasant old maid, she retreats from London to her publisher’s French country home to seek solitude for writing her next book. All goes well until the surprise arrival of the publisher’s equally ornery, sexually promiscuous, twenty year old daughter (played by Ludivine Sagnier in a nearly 180 degree turn from her last role in Ozon’s 8 Women). Both women immediately get on each other’s nerves until Rampling puts aside her latest piece and starts writing in secret about Sagnier’s sexploits. Executed with the precision, wit, and lucidity of a better-than-average Hitchcock thriller, Swimming Pool doesn’t have as powerful an impact as Ozon’s eerie, elegant Under The Sand. Rampling was brilliant in that film as a woman who calmly refused to believe her lost husband was dead. She’s nearly as good here in a far more comedic role; her character is a rather miserable protagonist, but she pulls it off without turning her into a monster, throwing wicked, silver-tongued barbs at everyone (including herself). Sagnier is an appropriate younger foil, and she seems more interesting as what we know (and still do not know) about her character fluctuates. Swimming Pool has much more meat to it than the fun if frothy 8 Women, but what makes it worth seeing a second time is a stimulating twist of an ending that’s employed quite subtly. Instead of hitting you on the noggin, it seeps in ever-so-slowly to the point where it saturates your memories of the film and is thus unshakable.