Monday, January 30, 2006

Oates (A Poem For John Oates)

Oates, how did it feel
When the prettiest ladies
Swooned for Daryl, leaving you behind?

Oates, how could you smile
As you stood to the side
And Daryl hit the notes you couldn't find?

All the girls loved Daryl
The black girls said "he's one of us"
The white girls said "he's so fine"
You were the number two
The "and who are you?"
The "do you sing too?"

Everyone loved Daryl
Sara smiled a while for him
You? She thought your name was Jim
You were the other guy
The little brother guy
The short and ugly guy

Oates, why did you stay?
Were you afraid
That no one would listen to only you?

Oates, how did it taste
When Daryl went solo
And no one asked "What's Oates gonna do?"

All the girls loved Daryl
Pretty Daryl, lanky Daryl
The king of Reagan-era R&B
You were the swarthy one
They called you the lesser son
The rumors said five-foot-one

Everyone loved Daryl
When he sang “No can do”
Stevie Wonder said "I now can see"
You were the facial hair
The striped shirts and the stupid stare
The man who wasn't there

Oates, who wrote the songs?
Daryl, that's who
Though he'd sometimes throw you a bone

Oates, did he order you around?
Did he make you fetch
The paper and the cocaine?

Oates, did Daryl call you a monkey?
I heard he called you a monkey
I heard he called you a monkey
Say it isn’t so
Oates, say it isn’t so

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Elegance, Technique

I hope you like the sleek new look. I do. The title font is sweet.

Keeping it positive... three things I like:

1. On Beauty by Zadie Smith. A captivating book. I'm only one-third of the way through but she's already surpassed White Teeth. And she's younger than the Olsen twins (or so it seems) so it'll only get better. Or worse. Or, if we're lucky, both.

2. California Pizza Kitchen. How could a restaurant that appeals to kids make some of the best food on the planet? Is there any other chain restuarant appealing to large families that consistently delivers? The answers to these questions are "I don't know" and "No."

3. The cover of Traveling Wilburys' Handle With Care by Jenny Lewis.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bye Bye Wally

The Timberwolves traded Wally Szczerbiak to the Celtics. Okay.

For Ricky Davis. Yes!

And no more Olowokandi. Cool.

But now we have Mark Blount. Hmm.

And Marcus Banks. Good.

And Justin Reed. Who?

And we gave up Dwayne Jones. Has he ever played a game?

And a first round pick. Not good.

But still... Ricky. I like Ricky.

I don't know who Mark Madsen will hang out with on the road now that Wally's gone. Not Marko. Who'd hang with Marko? Maybe Mad Dog and KG kick it more than we realize. There's always Trenton Hassell. But Mark's a Mormon. All he really needs is a clean surface, a good book, and a turkey sandwich. I know about the Mormons.

But really... I don't know anything. Other than that I like Ricky Davis.

We're going to the playoffs. Yes I said "we."

That's my sports insight for the night.

Things On Rattlesnakes

I apologize for not mentioning the fact that Chris Penn actually died the other day. Yesterday's post makes more sense in light of this.

I'd rather not talk about the Timberwolves. Other than to ask: Can we redo the Clippers trade in reverse? And does anybody want a talented 7-foot former No. 1-overall draft pick?

An album that still sounds good after 22 years: Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.

I haven't been outside since 8:30 this morning. Seems like a nice day out there.

Finally, when will I stop thinking of Kevin Spacey when I look at my office bulletin board (made in Skokie, IL by a company called Quartet)?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nice Guy Eddie

I've been instructed by one Sweetpea to curtail the sports talk. Maybe cut it down to half the entries. Perhaps some more slice-of-my-life stories. Okay. So here's my Chris Penn story. About 9 or 10 days ago I was in the Whole Foods Market in Santa Monica, waiting for the elevator to go down into the parking garage. And there's Chris Penn, coming out of the elevator coming up from the garage. He looked a bit out of sorts but not too bad. He seemed like a nice guy. But here's the strange part: He had a bag full of groceries. Normally you wouldn't come from the parking lot and back into the store with a bag full of grocieries. I liked him. He was the best part of Reservoir Dogs and Starsky and Hutch.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Kobe's performance yesterday was the second greatest in NBA history, second only to former Timberwolf James "Hollywood" Robinson's barrage of 4th quarter 3-pointers in a December 1996 (or was it '97? Maybe '98?) game against the Cavs. 'Wood was unstoppable that night.

Early Super Bowl prediction:
Seahawks 31 Steelers 10

I'm not sure how the Steelers could be favored. Seattle beat the better team yesterday. Seattle dominated whereas the Steelers had the game clinched only when Jake Plummer made his 45th mistake of the game. And besides, I've been to both cities. Seattle is lovely. Pittsburgh is a lesser Detroit. Speaking of which, Detroit is apparently the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team hails from and calls home and keeps vacation homes. And Seattle's fans are loud. And he scored 81!!! On 46 shots! Playing on the same team as Chris Mihm and Smush Parker! And Devean George! 81 on a team with no other offensive options. None. Don't give me Lamar Odom. And you know what you can do with Kwame Brown. 81.

Switching from sports to movies... Saw The Squid and the Whale over the weekend. Very nice. No film has better captured the eternal moment that was 1986. You could almost taste the birth of irony then, It was kicking at the womb of the art mother, waiting for the perfect day (November 24, 1986) to get itself born.


Friday, January 20, 2006

He Drove Pico. For A Reason

I've got to show my west coast pride and root for Seattle to beat Carolina in Sunday's NFC championship game. But I also have a soft spot for Carolina's diminutive and irreverant wide receiver Steve Smith. Not because his considerable skills or anger management problems. No, it's because he used to work at a Taco Bell at the corner of Pico and Bundy in West L.A. and, as this article mentions, he uses his past fast food employment as inspiration. The article begins:

When there are no cornerbacks to taunt him and no coaches to question him, Carolina receiver Steve Smith heads to the Taco Bell on the corner of Pico Boulevard and Bundy Drive, where an order of motivation is always served fast and hot.

During bye weeks and summer vacations, when Smith comes home to Los Angeles, the car seems to steer itself down Pico. He drives straight to the Taco Bell in West L.A., not for a chalupa, but for a reminder. He used to work that cash register. He used to sweep that parking lot. He used to scrub those floors.

He used to scrub those floors!

Not only that but, without the grades to get him into a four-year university, Smith attended Santa Monica College, located a few miles west on Pico. The article concludes:

This season, he went to Santa Monica during the Panthers' bye week and delivered a pep talk at the 50-yard line. He told the players to go to class, to listen to their coaches, to stay out of fights.

That day, he probably could have taken 10 different roads back to campus. And yet, he took the same one he always did.

"I drive Pico," Smith said. "For a reason."

Yes, we all drive Pico for a reason. I used to live half a block off Pico. Pico was my muse, my home. Pico was my friend, my mother, my child. Now I don't live so close to Pico. Wilshire is my new Pico. They write books about Wilshire, not Pico. Still, I sometimes find myself on Pico.

And here are The Top 8 Reasons For Driving on Pico Boulevard (in west-to-east order)

1. Vidiots. For their fine DVD selection
2. The pool at Santa Monica College
3. The planetarium at Santa Monica College
4. McCabe's Guitar Shop
5. Trader Joe's
6. The Taco Bell parking lot that Steve Smith swept
7. The creepy Swedish grocery store
8. The no-longer-existing club where I saw Ween play in 1994

My NFL Predictions:

Seattle 27 Carolina 21
Denver 34 Pittsburgh 27

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Legend of Blueprint Blue

This is a story that no one but me knows about. Okay, maybe one person but he probably doesn't remember.

The year is 1987. There is no internet, much less internets. Reagan is president, Bruce Hornsby is a rock god, call waiting is the coolest technological advancement known to man, and I am young. It's a Friday night in April. I go to see a 9:30 showing of the movie Angel Heart at the Edina 2 (now the Edina 4) cinema in downtown Edina, Minnesota (for those of you who've never been there, think South Pasadena without the levity; for those of you who've never been to Edina or South Pasadena, use some imagination). My friend John is with me. He probably doesn't remember. My then-girlfriend Keesha is not with me, likely slumming it at some dorm party on the banks of the Mississippi.

Angel Heart changes my life. It is the scariest thing I've ever seen. It is compelling and inspiring. I'm enormously attracted to Lisa Bonet and the chicken blood doesn't scare me off. I admire Mickey Rourke and incorrectly predict permanent stardom and multiple Oscars. I vow never to cross a voodoo woman. I vow never to engage in conversation an eccentric couple walking by an ocean. I vow never to eat gumbo. I take this shit seriously.

But what compels me most is Louis Cypher, the character played by Robert DeNiro (most famous for Bullwinkle). Lou for short. Lou Cypher. Get it? He is the devil embodied. He has long fingernails and an eerie demeanor. He is the greatest and creepiest villain in the history of film (and with very little screen time so you know he's scary).

Lou Cypher haunts my visions and punctures my dreams. I read the book Angel Heart is based on, Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg (equally scary and very different). I identify way too much with Johnny Angel (Rourke's character), combing my past for forgotten crimes and unreachable pain. And I close my eyes and see DeNiro - smiling, baiting, and knowing everything.

Then, one day, I grab a notebook (yellow legal pad to be exact). The notebook is full of my confessional poems that will never ever see the light of day (they seemed good at the time). There's not much paper left in the book but there's enough to start something. I write the words "Blueprint Blue" at the top of the first blank page I can find. I don't know where those words come from, though I learn later. And I write my first ever short story, about a college student named "Ali" and his wacky group of friends which includes a friendly but cunning bass player with long fingernails named Bill Zubub. I'll pause for a second while you work that out.

The story continues for the remaning 10 or so blank pages and then I write on the backs of the pages, working from back to front (writing on the back is something I'd never done before and would never do again). I complete my first short story. It has no plot and features random appearances by my favorite British musicians of the time (Robyn Hitchcock, Paddy Macaloon, Roddy Frame, the rotting corpse of Sting). Eventually, Bill's father, Lou Cypher, shows up and then Robert DeNiro (as himself) and Mickey Rourke (as me) make cameos. It circles round and round and steals without shame from Angel Heart. But it's my first and most influential work of fiction. And that's the Legend of Blueprint Blue. The year was 1987.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Caught Up Again

In addition to feverishly working out with college students half my age in a dilapidated but charming campus gym, I've decided to try the Wally Szczerbiak Diet. Smaller logs on a continuous fire. Sounds like good advice to me. As long as it doesn't give me way-oversized eyebrows. Wait, I already have oversized eyebrows.

By popular demand, I've changed my blog name back to its original meaningless Steely Dan-influenced name, thus no longer invoking images of children's birthday parties. In a clever twist, I've entirely removed the color "blueprint blue" from my blog. I'm in the process of freshening up my links.

Top 5 Movies of 2006 That I Haven't Seen

1. Me, You, and Everyone We Know
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. Munich
4. Good Night and Good Luck
5. The Squid and the Whale

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Overrated Classic: Installment 1

What is the Overrated Classic? It can be applied to any art form but for now I’ll discuss the concept as it relates to film. Simply put, the Overrated Classic (called the “OC” from this point on) is

a) A great piece of work, exceedingly entertaining and worthy of multiple viewings.
b) Overrated beyond comprehension.

The OC is a rare breed. There are many overrated films that simply aren’t that good. This essay isn’t about those films so I won’t mention them other than to say that trilogies filmed in New Zealand and Marin County are prime suspects. No, the OC must be a work of quality. Also, the OC must be wildly overrated, not just mildly overhyped. Thus, Three Kings doesn’t fit the bill.

I am not making a list. But, from time to time on PS&HB, I will discuss an OC. I will essentially be creating an “Overrated Classic Hall of Fame.” Perhaps at a future point I will feel confident enough to create a “Top 10 OC” list. Is the OC acronym annoying yet? I thought so.


a) A great piece of work, exceedingly entertaining and worthy of multiple viewings.
b) Overrated beyond comprehension.

Overrated Classic Hall of Fame Entry #1:

Groundhog Day

I enjoyed this film the first time I saw it. And the second and third. I felt for Bill Murray’s knockabout mopeclown. I empathized with the dreary workaday routine – the clock radio was a fine touch. Andie Macdowell was tolerable – a feat she’s only otherwise achieved in Green Card. Just kidding about Green Card.

Today, while eating the worst fish burrito I've ever had, I agonized over this decision. If this were just slightly less entertaining, it would fail the first requirement of the OC. But it just gets in under the wire, by the pointy snout of Punxsutawney Phil.

Now, on to the second requirement: Overrated beyond comprehension. Here are some unattributed quotes taken out of context and off the internet about Groundhog Day:

"this movie changed my life"

"…that gives the film its remarkable spine"

"a closer look reveals a beauty not easily seen"

"a blazingly imaginative experience"

"the best comedy of the 90s"

Is that enough for you? I could go on. People have more unreasonable love for this movie than they do for carrot cake. This will surely crack my Top 10 OC list but like I said, there is no list for you today. Quit asking.

Check for more installments of the OC. Yes, I’m gonna keep calling it the OC. If I’m going to continually skewer sacred cows in a kebab of criticism, I might as well ratchet up the unfunny annoyance factor.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

An Outline For Mike Gainor

Act I: The Reckoning

1. Agamemnon returns to Perspex Island.
2. Hosannas are offered.
3. Evil Jed makes an appearance.
a. Evil Jed kills Winnifred.
b. Winnifred comes back from the dead and kills Evil Jed.
4. Cutthroat Norm knocks on Cicely's door.
5. A storm ravages the island.

Act II: The Call of the Beacon

1. All hope is lost.
2. Marshall Hall decides to play the "Oriental Card."
3. The abolitionists storm the capitol.
4. There is no Act II, Scene 4.
5. The (figurative) fire is (literally) started.
6. Comic interlude.

Act III: The Centurion and the Belgian Magician

1. Shaw + Andromeda = Love Scene.
2. The train leaves the station, bound for Brussels.
3. The verdict is read.
4. The helicopter comes, delivering Shaw, Andromeda, Hall, Norm, and Cicely to Perspex Island where Agamemnon and the ghosts are waiting in idling tanks.
5. It's on, dude, it's on!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

An exercise in positivity, in which questions are answered with a "No":

Could today's weather be any better? No.

Are there wolves at my door? No.

Am I having writer's block vis-a-vis The XXiXX of XXdXXX XXXmX? No.

Is there reason yet to panic about the Timberwolves season? No.

Am I not a lazy man? No.

Is their anyone better than Kobe? No.

Will we rock you? No.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Fun with Dick and Jane - A Review

In his first foray into comedy, dramatic actor Jim Carrey (The Cable Guy, The Majestic) shines, demonstrating surprising physical comedy skills and quick-witted facial reactions. Yes, he still displays the somber humanity and empathic gravitas he’s known for. But it’s the laugh-out-loud pratfalls and general all-out goofiness that continually surprise. Who’da thunk it?

The script, by 40-Year-Old Virgin co-writer Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller, moves slowly and that’s to the film’s benefit. As in the 70s original that this film is very loosely based on, Dick (Carrey) and Jane (The Naked Truth's always hilarious Tea Leoni) only steal out out of necessity. The robberies don’t begin until the film’s second half. It might seem that the reasons for Dick and Jane’s crime spree don’t need to be laid out so specifically – Dick loses his job after his company’s Enron-like freefall and pension theft; the resulting local economic collapse forces the family to hold on to their house but sell all their possessions, Jane quits her job, their little son spends so much time with the maid (whom they never fire) that he begins to express himself in amusing ways that I don’t wish to spoil here – but it’s the build-up that provides the laughs. Dick has a stint as a day laborer (funny). Jane becomes a research guinea pig (sort of funny). Dick reclaims his repossessed lawn (funnier than it should be and set to a soundtrack of Rancid’s brilliant and timeless Time Bomb).

It’s Carry who, well, carries the film. As in The Cable Guy, he plays the serious embattled everyman like he invented the role. Why he hasn’t been asked to play Biff (or even Willy) Loman astounds me. But more astonishing is how he dusts off his never-before-used comedic toolbox and wields laughmaking chops we never knew he had.

But this isn’t just a wacky film about unlikely criminals. It’s a love story about a couple that has to sleep in the dirt with swollen mouths to understand the meaning of their commitment and connection. It’s a comedy about the grim economic conditions that many Americans face, the soon-to-bust real estate market that many homeowners have sacrificed themselves to, and the immigrant experience that most people shield their eyes from. As with its thematic predecessor Trading Places, Fun with features an extremely convoluted resolution featuring Billy Baldwin’s rarely seen brother Alec (he may one day outshine his brother) that works well. The sheer preposterousness of this ending is shielded by Leoni and Carrey’s tender love and farcical movements.

Many people will stay away from this film for the apparent similarity to other husband-and-wife crime teams (e.g., the rather lame Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and the presumed miscasting (Carrey in a comedy). I say leave your expectations at the double doors of your local Cineplex and prepare to be surprised!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I Daresay

My well-thought-out NFL playoff predictions (with Lily's help):

Jaguars over Patriots
Bengals over Steelers
Panthers over Giants
Buccaneers over Redskins

The highlight of my weekend so far? A 158-point word in Scrabble. INFECTED through the F from one red triple word square to another. (For those of you who think it should be worth 185 points, I used a blank for the C). I finished with a respectable 483 points, 52 below my all-time record. Laurel and I are tied 1-1 in 2006.

Yes, I could have played INFESTED but that wouldn't have been any fun.

One more prediction: I will crush the competition in tonight's tournament. You know who you are. Prepare to be crushed, like ice, tomatoes, tomatillos, spirits, aluminum cans, and apricot pits. Prepare to walk the streets of Altadena, dazed and without transportation (for I took your cars as well as your chips), communication (for I took your cellphones for parts), or wives (collateral).

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I can accept that USC lost. I can accept that Texas was a better team. I can accept that Vince Young was the best player on the field. I can accept my own personal losses. But I can't accept this. McConaughey, you're on notice.

In just a few weeks, football will be completely out of the way and we can all focus on what's really important: basketball. The Wolves are a game over .500! Mad Dog has a blog (new entry!). And KG is on a mission toward sainthood. He made Oprah cry.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hammer Coming Down

I've been enjoying Mojo radio. Don't let the "classic rock" description on their site fool you. There's nothing classic about Elton John's Kiss the Bride and that's just the way I like it. If their radio station is anything like their magazine, I'll be listening voraciously for the next few days and then forgetting about them for 27 days.

It's been asked of me if I will still be happy if USC wins the Rose Bowl by fewer than 8 points (legal disclaimer: It's all good - I was in Las Vegas last week). Yes, I will still be happy though only on the outside.

Really sad news: The lead singer of House of Freaks, a late-eighties band I liked, was murdered along with his wife and two daughters in Virginia on New Year's Eve. I remember seeing House of Freaks play an incredibly enthusiastic free outdoor show to a mostly unappreciative bunch of transient college students one cloudy afternoon at Cal State Fullerton. And I remember listening to the one song I really loved by them on a cassette in my car the very first time I randomly found myself in Eagle Rock. And now I have to remember feeling horrified by four people being murdered.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I just wrote an exceedingly long paragraph about my job, comparing my current attitude toward work to the one I used to have, expressing relief that I finally feel "settled in" and no longer feel like an enormous weight is crushing my soul. But it was really bad writing, the kind that you won't read on this site. It's been deleted. You'll never read it. Now you want to read it, don't you? Too bad.

There's an eerie calm on campus today. A chilling silence. A disquieting quiet. Is it because of the Rose Bowl tomorrow? No, it's probably because the students won't be back for another week.

The "XXXXX of XXXXXX XXXXX" script is proceeding well. I can feel the wheels rolling, toward the river of dreams, where the lonely heart owner fishes for the freshwater fish he'll never find.