Ross M. Miller
Miller Risk Advisors
March 26, 2007
As one who is "between papers," I have been
decompressing for the last few weeks. The way that I decompress is to
absorb large quantities of non-print media—DVDs, HDTV, the random CD,
and various sounds from XM and Internet radio.
My therapy started with Garden
State, which I purchased at Target because I sometimes admit to
being from New Jersey and it was in the store's IFC section. I had never
seen either Zach Braff or Natalie Portman before, which is probably
because I live under a rock. It was highly derivative, but pleasant
enough. I liked Natalie Portman, but not enough to watch another Star Wars
movie—I saw the original willingly and the first two sequels under
varying degrees of duress—or a movie where she appears bald. New Jersey
wasn't like that when I lived there.
The best thing about Garden State was that I
Shins, who didn't change my life as advertised in the movie, but are
groovy just the same. Actually, I first noticed The Shins because they
were featured in Stereophile,
which I read in case I ever decide to spend $80,000 on a turntable. The
Shins have come in handy on mornings driving into the university when
listening to CNBC on XM radio makes me cringe. (Yes, folks, I'm still
bullish, though selectively so.) I don't really listen to the lyrics,
which don't make sense anyway, but they are pleasant enough.
After watching clips of Clerks
II on Youtube, I decided that it was time to get down with the
hobbits and finally watch some of Lords
of the Rings. Figuring that I might not survive all three volumes,
especially not with disks and disks of bonus features, I bought the cheapo
version of the first volume. Nice sound and visuals. Liv Tyler makes a
good elf. I want to be Gandalf when I grow up.
Having had enough of the mainstream, I returned to
Target's IFC section to purchase The
Fog of War and Secretary.
I am a big Errol Morris fan and Fog did not disappoint. Great
Philip Glass music, too. Jack Kennedy really did nearly blow up the world,
so I wasn't doing all that ducking and covering for nothing. (Note to my
younger readers: I don't know about the other baby boomers, but in my
grade school there had air raid practices and really made it seem like we
were going to die at any moment in a giant flash followed by a mushroom
cloud. Just being alive each day seems like one big miracle.)
I got Secretary because I liked Donnie
Darko's sister, but had no idea what the movie was about. Was I in for
a surprise. Two thumbs duct-taped together. Great date movie, too.
(Note to my readers with financial interests—there is
nothing else in this commentary about financial markets. I already told
you that I am selectively bullish, what more do you want? Okay, I hate
tech companies—too much competition. Are you happy now?)
Returning to Target and having exhausted the IFC
section, I got Crash
Royale. Crash was a big, big mistake. It was essentially a
P.C. remake of Magnolia
which is in turn a remake of Short
Cuts. It did have some tricky plot twists, but the acting was
abysmal. Brendan Fraser is not a credible DA and Sandra Bullock should be,
well, use your imagination. If ever a movie needed a rockhopper penguin, Crash
did. Casino Royale was vastly better even if one of its writers was
the writer/director of Crash. Daniel Craig is a great Bond and Eva
Green is best accountant in any movie ever (better than Gene Wilder, for
example). I grew up with the Sean Connery Bond flicks and this one is
right up there with them.
On XM radio, I discovered two channels aimed at my
26 and The
Loft. I mostly listen to Lucy
even though it makes me feel stuck in the 1990s. Flight 26 is more
contemporary, but also more bland. The Loft is even blander, but far more
eclectic, spanning a far greater period of time. What XM needs is a real
pop channel with someone like WFMU's Pseu programming it. I have listened
a bit to U-Pop,
XM's world-oriented pop channel, and it's clear that I'm not quite with
their program given that I don't go for Europop tunes that work better as
On Internet radio, I listened to WDST
and discovered the live version of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder
Road." I parted ways with Bruce when Born
to Run came out, but the live
version of "Thunder Road" from the time it was released is
truly a revelation. The best thing about it is that radio stations rarely
play it, so it doesn't get Stairwayed to Heavened to death even though it
is at or near the top of several lists of the greatest songs of all time.
I watched pieces of a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert from
Milan on HDTV. I was obviously under a rock when
"Can't Stop" came out. It is a prime example of a "fan
favorite" song—a showcase for the group's talent that doesn't
pander to a broader audience. The video for the studio version of the song
on Youtube is cool, too.
I saw Five
Easy Pieces for at least the tenth time, but this time in HD. I
first saw it when it came out in 1970 and was big for my age and so got in
without a parent or guardian. It was all downhill from there for Sally Ann
Struthers. Jack Nicholson, of course, deservedly made it big with this
movie, moving up from his supporting role in Easy
Rider. The movie holds up well for aging hippies, but I cannot
imagine that anyone under 30 could make the least bit of sense of it and
would find it dull, which it certainly is much of the time.
I don't remember much about 1982, which would explain
why I never saw Blade
Runner. (I did resurface two years later to see Repo
Man and Buckaroo
Bonzai.) Well, now I know that Rob Zombie lifted "More
Human Than Human" from this movie. To think that I could have
gone through life not knowing that. I wonder what else I don't know.
Finally, I saw Borat.
My favorite part was not even in the movie, but was the
"censored" track with Borat in the cheese section of the
grocery store—an absurdist masterpiece. High five.
I am not sure that this cerebral enema was altogether
necessary, but I think that I am ready to move on. I was pondering
Cuisinarts today and we'll see if I ever get around to writing about them.
Next time, however, I recount a no-longer-recent trip to Tucson, scene of
my most recent adventure in retailing.
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