Friday, May 26, 2006

Oh, My Stars and Garters!

Last night, I caught the midnight show of X-Men: The Last Stand and I’m as giddy as the Impossible Man on whippets to report that it is every bit the fanboy spooge target I had hoped it would be. I had my doubts, I admit, but Brett Ratner takes the helm competently (if not always with the greatest inspiration). If you are worried about the casting of Kelsey Grammer as Hank McCoy, you needn’t be. Just when you think he’s going to stand there in an ill-fitting suit sounding like Frasier Crane for the whole movie, Beast throws down, swings around and seriously pounds some mutinous mutant ass.

Oh baby I hear Big Blue a'callin', tossed
soldiers and scrambled heads...

I must say that I may be the ideal audience for this series. An ardent fan as a kid, I later lost interest but never fondness for the Marvels of my youth. Therefore, I can’t really quibble if Colossus isn’t portrayed with a Russian accent, as I can’t remember if he actually had one back in the day. Likewise, I wouldn’t bother to claim that Angel is underdeveloped or underused in X3, cos I barely recall him at all from the comics. I will say that his flying veers perilously between angelic and seagull-like, bringing the audience to the verge of unintended laughter. There was one hearty inadvertent laugh from the crowd, but I didn’t quite decipher the reason. (I won’t describe the scene for fear of catching spoiler flak.) Maybe you would have to be a teen to appreciate it anyway, for Donna and I beat the median age in the theater by a solid score. On a school night, no less! Damn kids!

Lots of mutants meet their demise--one way or another--in this supposedly final outing. Again, I can’t say how closely it follows the original arc, as my memory gets fuzzy after Jean Grey returns as the Phoenix. (Oops, um, spoiler alert? Ah, forget it.) BTW, if you're dragging a non-fan along, they'll definitely need to see the previous films first. Donna thought the others were great without knowing anything about the X-Men beforehand, and she loved this one too, but there's not much in the way of back story, with flashbacks mostly predating the earlier flicks. As for the complaint I've read about cramming in too many characters this time out, I say cram away! Every mutant cameo, reference or stock line (see post title) got at least some measure of appreciative reaction from the audience, and I sure enjoyed the hell out of them. They could've at least gotten Nightcrawler in there again...

Lastly, I must add that if you’re one of those hasty hotpants who bolts from his seat at the first whiff of denouement, with X3 you’d better settle yer hash for just a few minutes more. The final scene is one of great, somber pathos, but then, a split-second before the credits pop up, something happens that had this faded fanboy rising out of his seat in unabashed nerdly jubilation. So brave the throngs and see X3 this weekend, effendi! X-celsior!

Post-script: Rambling Morsel tells me that there is even more nifty stuff after the credits. The wife and I opted to bolt before the crush of teenybopper exodus so we missed it, dammit to hell! I guess I'll just have to see it again...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Just a reminder that 8 o'clock tonight is the season finale of Gilmore Girls, a WB show I watch and enjoy religiously. If you aren't familiar with the witty comedy of manners, revolving around a sassy innkeeperess (?) and her brainiac daughter, you can start checking out the reruns of previous seasons that air on ABC Family at 5pm daily (repeated at 10:30am the following day). They just started from the very beginning a week ago, so if you jump in now you won't have missed much. This season has been a little weak, but generally it's a damn fine program. I know it looks wicked gay on the surface, but just trust me. I resisted at first, but I was hooked before too long.

Tonight's episode has the local streetcorner musician (played by Grant Lee Phillips, formerly of Grant Lee Buffalo) discovered by an agent. This apparently leads to an assemblage of other small-town troubadours, played by Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Sparks, Joe Pernice, and Sam Phillips. In other events, Lorelai and Luke may be on the outs, and Logan unfortunately didn't die while base-jumping. Also, this looks to be the last ep helmed by the show's creators, who have left over contract disputes. I hope the new producers and writers realize it's never too late to have Logan meet some other disastrous, bloody demise.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mom Rocks!

Friday morning I opened the A&E section of my morning Oregonian and read about a local Portland documentary filmmaker who is having a CD release party to fund her current project, “Rock N Roll Mamas,” about women balancing motherhood with their careers as musicians. Her name, Jackie Weissman, struck me as familiar, and when I looked at the photo above the article, it hit me—twenty years ago and three-thousand miles away, holy crap, we were in a high school play together.

The play was a flighty, updated version of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, with pop culture references and so forth. With only two males in the play and about a dozen females, the battle-of-the-sexes theme proved challenging. I played “Magistrate, Commissioner of Public Safety” and, by necessity, half of the soldiers of the Peloponnesian War. Todd P____ played the other half. Talk about stretching your thespic muscles—I was a cast of thousands! I don’t know what role Jackie played, but I suppose it was only one character. Pfft! You call that acting?

I recall little about the whole affair, especially why in the holy name of Cap’n Jesus Crunch a loner like me signed on in the first place. Surely I must have known all that rehearsing would cut grievously into my precious sleeping and Super Mario Brothers time. Although doing the play gave me the unexpected honor of meeting Rupert Holmes, it would be my only foray into extra-curricular theatrics. The December after high school ended, however, I was typecast as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Pius Players’ production of A Christmas Carol. My performance is still reverently spoken of in New England Catholic amateur stage production circles, particularly that closing night when, lost in the reverie of the part, I completely blanked during the pivotal reformation speech and could only conjure lines from an episode of F-Troop I had seen once in 1974. No one in the audience quite understood why Scrooge was bellowing “It is BALLOOOOOOON!!!!,” but it brought down the house nonetheless.

Anyway, I sent Jackie an email and she soon responded, and we exchanged nebulous memories of the play and our not-so-fondly-remembered hometown. She was kind enough to invite me and the wife to her shindig, but, as avid Non-Paraders know, I am reluctant to leave the house except in the event of fire (and even then it must be one that could respectfully be described as “raging”). So we’ll see.

Please do check out Jackie’s website (that’s, and her myspace blog, too. You can enjoy the trailer for Windows Media here, or the Quicktime trailer here. And here’s the article from the Oregonian.

If you happen to be a local type, the CD release and benefit party is May 20th at the Bettie Ford Lounge, 1135 SW Washington Street, from 7 to 10 p.m. $25 gets you in and nets you a CD to boot. (21 and over, natch.) Tickets are available at the door, or call 971-327-6920, or order online at Good luck you crazy kid!