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ollie stone

Early word on Alexander ain't too good ... Little Man sleeping in the Chronicle, only two stars from Roger Ebert, Scott Tobias calls it "an excruciating disaster for the ages," consensus scores at Metacritic currently stand at 40 on a scale of 100.

Why would anyone be surprised? Oliver Stone makes crappy movies. He's the new Stanley Kubrick, overrated by experts and commonfolk alike. He's directed 21 movies, I've seen six and liked one, Talk Radio which was Eric Bogosian's movie, anyway. JFK, Nixon, Natural Born Killers ... they all suck. Why does this guy get so much attention?


if the nba really wants my attention, maybe they could have their teams score more than 78 points a game

I know a few things about passive-aggressive behavior, as my family could tell you ... been there, done that, a thousand times over. I recognize it when I see it, too, which is why I think King Kaufman has it right about the recent NBA brawl:

In the thousands upon thousands of words I've heard and read on the fracas, no one has mentioned this: Artest lying on the scorer's table was a provocative act, a middle-digit salute to the Pistons, their fans, the officials, pretty much anybody. Disrespect. What else could Artest have been saying by lying on the scorer's table?

Don't give me "anger management" ... Artest knew what he was doing, and it wasn't calming down.

Fans don't belong on the court, and players don't belong in the stands. The fans who went on the court deserved to get popped in the face ... the players who went head-hunting in the stands deserved their suspensions.


goodbye and thanks: landon donovan

Landon Donovan has decided to return to Germany to play soccer for Bayer Leverkusen. It's the right decision for Donovan, who at 22 needs to compete at the highest levels in order to improve his game, and it's the right decision for the U.S. national team, again because Landon's game will only get better now that he'll be exposed to top-flight competition on a regular basis. It's a bittersweet moment for Bay Area sports fans, though, because we've been blessed watching Donovan with San Jose for the last four seasons.

When Donovan arrived in 2001, the Earthquakes had missed the playoffs four years in a row, in a league where almost everyone makes the playoffs (80% of the teams for much of the league's history). In Landon's first year with the club, San Jose won the MLS championship, an achievement they duplicated in 2003. The Warriors are a joke, the 49ers and Raiders haven't won a Super Bowl in a long time, the Giants have never won a World Series and the A's have been away from the big title for more than a decade. But Landon Donovan came to San Jose, and the Quakes won two titles.

With San Jose, Donovan was an All-Star every season, an MVP in one of those matches. He was also the MVP in last year's MLS Cup championship match. He had 42 goals and 35 assists in 101 Quakes matches, including 10 goals in 14 playoff games. He has been named the U.S. Player of the Year in each of the last three seasons ... in 2002 he was the youngest player ever to win it, in 2003 he was the first player ever to win it twice in a row, in 2004 he made it three straight. He has 18 goals for the men's national team, including two in the 2002 World Cup.

And he's only 22 years old.

So yes, we'll miss seeing him at Spartan Stadium. But it's the right decision.


artists i've seen live update

OK, visiting Tom today reminded me to update my list of Who I've Seen. Names in bold have been added since the last time I did this:

Air Supply
Airto
GG Allin
Eric Burdon and the Animals
Appolonia
The Avengers

Joan Baez
The Band
The Bangs
Beck
Chuck Berry
The B-52s
Black Keys
The Blasters
Blondie
The Bobs
Tommy Bolin
Gary U.S. Bonds
Bratmobile
Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Cadallaca
Rosanne Cash
Tracy Chapman
Eric Clapton
Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers
The Clash
Albert Collins
Judy Collins
The Cramps
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

The Dead Kennedys
Deerhoof
Iris DeMent
Derringer
Bo Diddley
Bob Dylan

Earthquake
Joe Ely
English Beat

Marianne Faithfull
The Feelies
fIREHOSE
Fleetwood Mac
Flipper
Peter Frampton

Peter Gabriel
Gang of Four
The J. Geils Band
Robert Gordon
The Gossip
The Grateful Dead
Patty Griffin
Guided By Voices

Pearl Harbour and the Explosions
Emmylou Harris
Bonnie Hayes
Head East
Hella
Don Henley
John Hiatt
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks
John Lee Hooker
Hootie and the Blowfish
Husker Du

Etta James
Jewel
David Johansen

B.B. King

Robin Lane and the Chartbusters
k.d. lang
Yusef Lateef
Led Zeppelin
Nils Lofgren
Los Lobos
Arthur Lee and Love
Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Mahavishnu Orchestra
Steve Marriott
Dave Mason
Paul McCartney and Wings
The Steve Miller Blues Band
Mink DeVille
Van Morrison

Youssou N'Dour
Willie Nelson
Randy Newman
New Order
The Nuns

Orchestral Manouevers in the Dark
The Outlaws

Pacific Gas & Electric
Graham Parker and the Rumour
Tom Petty
Liz Phair
Pink
The Pretenders
Prince
John Prine
Public Image, Ltd.
Flora Purim

Quasi

Bonnie Raitt
Ramones
The Readymades
Lou Reed
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
The Tom Robinson Band
Rockpile

Santana
Michelle Shocked
Sector 27
The Sex Pistols
Sha Na Na
George Shearing
Sleater-Kinney
Patti Smith
Sonic Youth
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
Bruce Springsteen
Rod Stewart
Sting
Sun Ra

Talking Heads
Alex Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Ten Years After
George Thorogood
The Time
Robin Trower
Ike and Tina Turner

The Undertones
U2

Vanity 6
Joe Venuti

Joe Walsh
Muddy Waters
Barrence Whitfield
The Who
Lucinda Williams
Edgar Winter
Link Wray
Gary Wright
Shannon Wright

Jesse Colin Young
Neil Young and Crazy Horse


hey tom, read this

Ran into my friend Tom in the grocery store parking lot today, which is kinda odd, since Tom lives on the far side of Oakland and my grocery store is in Berkeley. (Turns out his son goes to the Montessori school near my store.) There aren't many people I've known longer than I've known Tom ... let's just say I knew him before I knew Robin.

Tom and I are alike in many ways, and I'm glad I can still count him as a friend. But hey, buddy, you kinda disappear for like years at a time. So, since you told me you read this once in awhile, don't be a fucking stranger! Post a comment to this, or send me an email, or let's do something, whatever. And say hi to Mary while you're at it.

Among other things we talked about in the parking lot, Tom reminded me that we saw Bonnie Hayes, so I can add her to my list of Bands I've Seen. Many of the people on that list are acts I saw with Tom, most famously the Sex Pistols, but also everyone from Prince and Husker Du to Bruce and Sleater-Kinney to Flipper and, well, Bonnie Hayes.

And we played in a garage band together in high school.

Not only that, Tom's father is the person who married Robin and I.

So keep in touch this time!


lou reed, winterland, 1974

Thirty years ago today, I saw Lou Reed in concert for the first time.

The Velvet Underground are my favorite rock and roll band of all time, but I never saw them live ... I was just a kid. I latched onto Lou Reed's solo career, though, and ended up seeing him many times between 1974 and ... I don't know, the late 80s. When Robin and I were first married, our "stereo" consisted of a mono record player that used to be my grandmother's. We only had a few albums, and we didn't really have enough money to go to many concerts ... earlier in '74 we'd seen Dylan with The Band, and Eric Clapton, and that was it, and those were the first two shows we attended together.

Early in 1974, Lou released Rock and Roll Animal, which turned Velvets songs into arena rockers, and did a very fine job of it, thank you. Later in the year he released the studio album Sally Can't Dance, considered by some to be his worst album ever. Me, I played it over and over on that little record player, although I haven't really listened to it in many years and don't think I even have any of the songs on my Karma. The red-hot band from Animal was gone, so the group we saw on November 22, 1974 at Winterland was not the one that had made metal fans happy.

Robin was a few months pregnant with Neal, and Winterland wasn't the place to be for her then ... the smoke didn't help, and I don't think she much liked the opening act, which if memory serves was Earthquake. Arthur Lee then played with a later version of Love ... he sang "Signed D.C." and wondered why the metalheads didn't understand it. Finally Lou came out ... he was 32 years old by then ... he walked onstage to the "Sweet Jane Intro" like he was a robot or something, and proceeded to crap on himself and the audience ... he never played guitar, probably didn't give a shit, but to be honest, I had no idea, all I knew was I was at Winterland, Lou Reed was onstage, and I was happy.

This was the tour where he famously simulating shooting up to introduce "Heroin" ... at the time I thought it was a brilliant artistic statement ... I was 21 years old then ... I was wrong. He sang Velvets songs, he sang songs from "Sally Can't Dance," and sometime during the show Preggers Robin couldn't take the noise and smoke any longer, and she went into the lobby and found an open window where she could get some fresh air ... she stuck her head out the window and discovered that the last person to do the same had puked all over the window sill. Which probably sums up the concert as well.

I saw Lou Reed play much better concerts ... I liked his "Take No Prisoners" band, which came to town about once a year and played small clubs. I never did see the Velvets, and I also missed out on the best of Lou's solo bands, the one with Robert Quine and the incomparable bassist Fernando Saunders. When it comes to live shows, I've mostly worked around the outside of Lou Reed's finest moments. But you can't ever forget your first time ... and now that I think of it, that might also have been my first concert at Winterland, a shithole that I grew to love, more for the great shows I saw there than for anything inherent in the fucking decrepit boxing arena. In the end, Lou Reed '74 wasn't one of the great shows, but what's the point of a blog if you can't indulge in a few memories of a time long ago, when I was working in a factory and had just turned 21 and was awaiting my first kid, and watching Lou Reed pretend to shoot up was my idea of a good time.


bridget jones 2

We have a long history with the Bridget Jones franchise around our house, although Jillian is the central figure in that focus ... among other things, she's the one who brought me the original novel from England, before it had been released in the States. I liked the first Bridget movie quite a bit, and thought Renée Zellweger deserved the Best Actress Oscar that year.

I can't really say I was looking forward to Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. It's gotten mostly poor reviews (42 on a scale of 100 on Metacritic), and the novel wasn't up to the first one. Plus, the best scene in the novel, when Bridget interviews Colin Firth, was unlikely to make it into the movie, Firth being one of the main actors in the first movie (and, in fact, that scene does not make it into BJ2).

Still and all, it was pretty disappointing. I laughed a couple of times, Hugh Grant was good, Colin Firth was handsome, Zellweger is better looking with meat on her bones and boobs on her chest (although the director didn't do her looks any favors in this one). But the movie was a dud ... not only wasn't it worth seeing, it made me question the value of the first movie. Watching The Edge of Reason, I couldn't remember why I'd ever liked Bridget in the first place. Guess I need to re-read the first novel and re-watch the first movie. Three on a scale of ten.


space

Two items that I think are related:

1) Gmail now has POP3 access, which means I can use Outlook or whatever to read my Gmail. Gmail was the first webmail program I ever used ... well, 20 years ago I guess CompuServe was webmail, but you know what I mean ... ok, there was PINE in the UNIX days, but you know what I mean. I was so looking forward to being able to use my regular email software for Gmail. And now I can do it, and I tried it for a coupla hours, and I've already turned it off. I'm used to the Gmail interface, I like that I can switch between desktop and notebook computers and still read my email ... I guess I'm accepting that my email is stored, not on my personal computer, but on someone else's server.

2) Last night before I went to bed I told Windows to defrag my hard drive. I forget how big it is ... 80 gig, maybe? Anyway, when I got up this morning there was an error message explaining that since I had only 13% of my disk space remaining, and defrag needed at least 15% while it manipulated files, I had to do some housecleaning.

And yes, the above are related, because I'm thinking about the different ways I can store information besides just sticking it all on my hard drive. There's my Karma, which holds 20 gig of music files ... there's my various Internet accounts, all of which include lots of storage space ... there's the laptop with its own hard drive ... even with all of this, I'm running out of hard drive space (if you can be running out and still have 10+ gig to go).

Meanwhile, I replaced the stereo in the car with one that plays MP3s, which is one further step in the disappearance of albums from my music-listening experience. My sister-in-law asked me to burn some CDs for her while she's visiting, and she specifically asked for albums, but I told her that "no one" listens to albums anymore, everything is mix, an "album" nowadays is just as often a mix as anything, and with hard drive MP3 players like iPods and Karmas, the essential listening experience is not only not albums, but it's not even mixes ... it's shuffle play with thousands of songs in the hopper.

And that's not clearly related to the stuff about hard drive space, but in my mind they go together.

Of course, the reality is that my computers seem inadequate right now. This happens every time Sports Interactive releases a full upgrade to the Championship Manager (now Football Manager) series. More than once I've upgraded my computer just so it would do a better job of playing those infernal games. It's fascinating because there are hardly any graphics in the game ... but as the makers point out, graphics-intensive games can dump a lot of the dirty work onto your graphics card, while something like Football Manager is all about the main processor ... imagine trying to run an Excel spreadsheet or Access database that included hundreds of thousands of items, while the basic software was incorporating user input with computer AI thinking, and you'll understand why my Pentium 4 machines running at 2.53GHz with an 80 gig hard drive gets sluggish whenever I play the game.