KNOW YOUR SPUDS
TWO XL SPUDS — Absolute Must See
TWO SPUDS — Definitely Worth Checking Out
1.5 SPUDS—Worth Checking Out, But Don’t Expect A Ton
ONE SPUD – Not Worth It, Except For The Hardcore Fan
NO SPUD 4U – Just Plain Sucks
ONE SPUD’S HOLIDAY JOURNAL
THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Today is one week before Christmas eve. I have absolutely none of my shopping done.
But that’s alright. What, me worry. You see The Wife is the only one I have to really think about at Christmas, (she does all the rest), and she’s always kind enough to make me a substantial list. This year, she wants traveling luggage and something to haul her miniature gear around with, a couple of books a couple of movies and whatever else strikes my fantasy.
This is all doable in one shopping excursion, because I do one thing that every man who wants to compress their holiday shopping experience should take note of … it’s called recon. Take your significant other to the mall. Let them wander around in the stores that interest them practice some active listening and take notes, mental or otherwise. All will be revealed, grasshoppers.
THE WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Two days before Christmas Eve. It’s a Friday. Most of the stuff I am working on has ground to a halt. There are lots of other little jobs in the job jar, but I have kind of ground to a halt too. It’s time for a little R & R. I went and had breakfast with a bunch of old friends today at my networking group. I go to these meetings a lot. Not because they are necessarily great opportunities for me to pick up business. They’re more opportunities for me to learn about how small businesses operate. Most of the people in this group are one person operations just like me. We all face the same challenges, mainly staying in business and staying happy.
This is a very good bunch of people. I like them a lot and feel very comfortable with them. These meetings are always a lot of fun, especially around this time of year. Almost everybody in my group is a spud, so, here’s my wish for all the best for you during the holidays and into the new year.
I picked up the Wife at school, because she was using the car, ostensibly to go and pick up my Christmas present, so she dropped me off at home. It was pretty nasty out so just hung around Spud CentraI made a few calls and sent a few emails, surfed the web a bit, watched a bit of TV, mostly the press conference on CNN with the lawyers for the three young guys from the Duke University lacrosse team who were accused of kidnapping ands raping a stripper who was hired to entertain them at a party or something. This was way back in the early spring. Anyway, today, the state prosecutor dropped the rape change for lack of any DNA evidence and the defense lawyers had a field day. The lawyers were both southern gentlemen and sounded like characters from a John Grisham novel. This was very cool indeed and it just goes to show you how vulnerable the upper classes and the rich really are in America. Normally I don’t watch TV during the day, except for the weather channel or sports scores. But this was really interesting, as I had been following this case for quite a while now. It’s the Kobe Bryant rape case all over again. And besides, I was officially on holiday.
When the Wife got home, she was officially on holiday too. So we went out and did a little shopping and ordered a Pizza for dinner, which we watched with a movie called “The Devil Wears Prada.”
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (1.5 SPUDS)
The first thing that happens when you see this movie is you start to wonder if the creators of the TV series Ugly Betty ripped off their show idea from this film, or if it was the other way around. Either way these two entities are remarkably alike. Girl who wants to be big time journalist takes a job at a fashion magazine where she is intellectually slumming, but at least in the biz. Yadda Yadda. In the movie, the girl in question (Anne Hathaway) is not as ugly as Ugly Betty, but she does end up as assistant to the editor, who is played by Meryl Streep, as a complete and utter bitch. Anyway, this is a completely predictable and quite unfunny comedy, but it’s still not a bad little film. There’s lots of good stuff in it, including Meryl Streep’s performance and the supporting turn by Stanley Tucci, who for my money is one of the most versatile actors around. He’s kind of an American Ben Kingsley. The Wife, who had already seen this on one of her Friday night jaunts with her pal Nina, slept through most of it. I sort of wanted to, but couldn’t bring myself to abandon it. OK Timewaster, in spite of the fact that it’s hardly anything original.
THE TRIANGLE (3 PART MINI SERIES ON SPACE) (NO SPUD 4U)
This movie should have been a whole lot better than it actually was. It stretched out over three Sunday nights, which is something I usually don’t have the patience or presence of mind to stay with. But I was curious about this because it had a whole lot of heavyweight sci-fi talent on the creation and production sides, including Dean Devlin, the actor turned producer who was responsible for Independence Day and the original Stargate movie among other things. Anyway, the Triangle in the title refers to the Bermuda Triangle. The story revolves around these four people a journalist, a psychic, an oceanographer and a
geologist of some kind who are all summoned by a rich guy who is tired of losing his ships in the triangle and is willing to pay these people 5 million clams apiece if they can figure out just what the deal is.
Now to start with, this is preposterous. I just want you to know that, so you won’t think I’m a fool or anything. But I wanted to watch the whole thing because there’s so little sci-fi on TV these days and well, who knows what could happen even with a dopey premise. These are, after all, big time Hollywood guys putting this together…surely it will at least make some sort of sense.
Well, sad to say, it made none. On the one hand I’ve never seen so many dangling subplots in a movie, maybe in my life. On the other hand, Katherine Bell, who plays one of the scientists is always fun to watch. She’s just so damn cute. On another hand, the special effects could only have been cheesier if they were in an early Godzilla movie. And on yet another hand, Ed O’Neill, who plays the shipping magnate with the big chequebook, looked like he was in absolute agony being in this film.
Lou Diamond Phillips was also in the film, and he played a Greenpeace activist who got too close to whatever was going on out in the old Triangle and got to experience temporal phase shifts all though the movie. It kinda made him crazy, just like it was making me. I could hear him screaming to himself, “None of this makes sense!” And I’m right there with him going, “Who approved this script?” “Who wrote this ludicrous ending”. “Why does the Secretary of the navy have a fake leg, and why do we need to know about it?”.
So, there you go. The protracted anatomy of a Zero Spud waste of celluloid.
YOU, ME AND DUPREE (1.5 SPUDS)
I guess you could say that this is a ‘vehicle’ for Owen Wilson. Not that he actually needs one more or anything. This is one of those weird movies that’s not enough of a romantic comedy or even a satire to know exactly what it is. Fortunately, everybody in it is pretty good at letting their characters revolve around Owen’s manic loser (or is he a winner?). Dupree is the best friend of Matt Dillion who is getting married to Kate Hudson who is the son of big time developer Michael Douglas. Michael, of course doesn’t think that Matt is good enough for his little girl, and makes his life a living hell. This is evidently based on the theory that if you make a guy miserable enough at work, he’ll divorce your daughter. In the mean time Dupree, and all his “I don’t ever wanna grow up baggage” comes to stay with them. And, of course they put up with all his shenanigans for an absurdly long time. Then Dupree smartens up and things change again. It’s all not quite comical and not quite farcical and not quite what you would call a dramady either. In fact the movie is pretty much carried by the fact that Owen Wilson is just a naturally funny actor who you just love to watch.
You Me & Dupree isn’t a very good movie. It’s what we used to call and OK Timewaster. So I’d recommend it on that basis. But just barely.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
A couple of nights ago, I pulled out all my columns for the past year and started reading them. I do this because I’ve never been much for living in the past and I need to read through them to remind myself of what the most important stuff was. But then again, maybe the stuff you can remember without assistance is really the most important stuff of all.
So here’s everything I can remember about 2006
- I remember that the first review I wrote was for Brokeback Mountain, which the wife and I saw on New Year’s Eve, because we couldn’t get in to see The Chronicles of Narnia, which we did eventually see, but for some reason, never got reviewed. That’s odd. And I think maybe it set the pattern for the kind of year 2006 actually became.
- I don’t remember the SuperBowl, but I do remember sitting in my sister’s family room and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Indianapolis Colts to get to the SuperBowl. That was a hell of a football game. My sister and I both agreed that the Steelers looked very much like a ‘driven’ team, and we were pretty much convinced that nobody was gonna take that title away from them.
- I remember 24, which will probably go down as one of the greatest TV series of all time. There is no more heroic hero than Jack Bauer in America and I love the irony of the fact that he is played by a Canadian.
- I remember Kobe Bryant getting in trouble for allegedly raping a girl in Colorado and thinking how the hell is a skinny uber-rich black man gonna get a fair trial there. As it turned out the girl was just golddigging. The new extreme sport in America.
- I remember The Constant Gardener, a movie that really moved me, in spite of the fact that it didn’t make a lot of sense in the end.
- I remember the Winter Olympics, but just barely.
- I remember the Academy Awards and Canadian Paul Haggis cleaning up and thinking, euphemistically, “Are there any Americans left in the film business?”
- I remember going to see a bunch of my friends who have a band called the Groovediggers, do a gig at the Legion Hall. It was a cool night.
- I remember seeing The Unit, for the first time and thinking, this is why I watch TV.
- I remember seeing The Inside Man and thinking that Spike Lee has figured out this movie making thing.
- I remember reading a short story by the Princess of Pain and having my faith in genetics reaffirmed.
- I remember seeing Deal or No Deal for the first time and thinking, all it takes is a Canadian host to make a game show worth watching.
- I remember seeing Munich on video and thinking that Steve Spielberg still hasn’t made a bad movie.
- I remember the NBA Playoffs. Not because of the final series, but mainly because of being able to see Steve Nash (another Canadian) lead his Phoenix Suns to the division finals in some of the best pro basketball I have ever witnessed.
- I remember seeing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and thinking, damn, I wish I had written that. It was so good, I wondered if its writer/director Shane Black was Canadian.
- I remember giving the Big Kahuna TV award to The West Wing and deservingly so. In the past five years it was the show I most looked forward to every week.
- I remember sleeping through the new Superman movie.
- I remember being delighted at being able to see Huff.
- I remember wanting to demand my money back after seeing Miami Vice.
- I remember seeing’Justice’ for the first time and thinking, now there’s a hit, and wouldn’t you know it, the guy who was making the show what it was turned out to be Victor Garber, (another Canadian).
- I remember Phil Mickelson winning the Masters and then disappearing from view, completely eclipsed by Tiger Woods and his 12-tournament winning season. I also remember thinking that there really are no adequate words to describe just how good Tiger Woods is.
- I remember Tiger Woods losing his dad this year, and hoping that didn’t cause him to lose his focus and his drive. Needless to say, it didn’t.
- I remember seeing an indie movie called Kinky boots and thinking, the indie film is alive and kicking (no pun intended).
- I remember seeing Lukas Rossi win the second Rock Star competition and thinking,
more Canuks getting paid in American bucks.
- I remember seeing the beginning of the second season of Prison Break and thinking, this is more like it.
- I remember seeing the debut of Heroes and thinking, it’s about time.
- I remember seeing the debut of Intelligence and thinking Canadian television has finally arrived and it only took 50 years.
- I remember that the Blue Jays finished second in their division this year and thinking they’re finally on the right track, especially if they can keep Vernon Wells, (which they did).
- I remember all the must see TV shows on my list. Boston Legal, Heroes, Intelligence, NCIS, Numbers, Rescue Me, Weeds, House, The Unit, Criminal Minds, Justice and Las Vegas, the Sopranos, Prison Break.
- I remember seeing a show on Much More Music called Flavour of Love, which takes crass materialism and the decadence of the hip-hop culture to new lows while elevating the objectification of women to new heights. This show is supremely evil and nobody even knows it.
- I remember seeing Blood Diamond and thinking that is possible to make a big Hollywood movie that is actually about something. I remember thinking that this was hands down the best film I have seen in 2006.
- I remember waking up on Christmas morning and feeling a bit empty. Because as your family grows older, Christmas seems to start later in the day, when everyone arrives for dinner. This takes some getting used to. But, if nothing else, we are adaptable. The spirit of the season still burns strong within this Spud as I hope it does for you.
- Finally, I remember 2006 as a year that I spent a lot of time investing in ideas and relationships that will hopefully pay big dividends in the years to come.
Well that’s it for this year. Hope that 2007 treats you better than 2006.