Trust the Gene Genie

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Meaningless milestones

Wow, 500 hundred whole hits. I realize most blogs hit that mark about every 30 minutes. But, alas, my faithful three readers simply don't have that kind of time to spend. Three readers, you ask? Yes, that probably is being a little generous.

Anyway, it's still a benchmark and that means we need to celebrate. In honor of the big 5-0-0, I will give 15 heavily used (but recently erased) MiniDiscs to the person who writes me about their latest and most meaningless milestone. Since no one has a MiniDisc player anymore, I'm hoping the 15 MDs will be as useless and meaningless as the milstone they share. I, of course, will act as judge and chose the winner from what I'm sure will be countless entries.

Send your submissions to u2 disco at gmail dot com, subject line "Meaningless milestones."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Letterman is King. Long live the king.

I'm still seething over a post I lost yesterday bceause my crappy computer froze up on me. I don't know that I'll try to rewrite, maybe when I'm done here, I'll give you all the gist. But, I'll tell ya, nothing's more frustrating.

Anyway. Letterman. He's slowly becoming my generation's Carson. And he's not as vital to our culture as he once was. For starters, there are no longer three main networks. Then you have Jon Stewart. Genius. And of course Conan. Genius genius. Somewhere on this list there should be Craig Kilbourne. But Kilby lost something when he moved to CBS. And he never got it back. Which is kinda sad.

But I was talking about Letterman. I would have been a Conan guy had I had a semi-normal childhood. Conan is my generation's late night host. He came on when I was in high school and got huge when I was in college. That is his demographic, those are his people. And I love Conan, it just took me a while to come around.

Because I watched Letterman. Almost religiously when I was in junior high. And for some reason I was the only one of my friends who did. When I was a young'un, my older brother would come home from college or come home from his night job and turn on "Late Night With David Letterman." I would either sneak out of my room with my little brother and watch it from behind a corner (putting myself in excutiating pain as I tried to stiffle huge belly laughs) or, if I was feeling brave, plop down on the couch beside him.

The NBC shows were hilarious. Letterman was silly and still had this ascerbic sarcastic bent that made the comedy seem anything but light-hearted. I had no idea who Malomar Khadifi was as a 10-year-old kid, but man if he showed up in a Top Ten list, it was dang funny. And after watching for a couple years, you figured out who these people were. I made fun of New Jersey. I've never been to New Jersey in my entire life and as a junior higher I made fun of New Jersey. Because Letterman made fun of New Jersey. Sometimes my friends would just stare at me. I'd make a crack about John Ghotti in my social studies class and maybe, MAYBE my teacher got the joke. Because of "Late Night" I got Chris Elliot, I fell in love with Penn and Teller and adopted my healthy, cynical attitude about life I carry with me to this day.

It was Letterman. I keep the first book of Top Ten lists at my desk today. The one that came out in 1989. With the straight-faced Foreward relating the 1980 Olympic US hockey team's Miracle on Ice. As though the book in your hands were the book about the Miracle on Ice. That's funny. Anyway, we used to sit around during my eighth-grade GT class and read the lists out loud, hardly being able to talk because we were laughing so hard, tears running down our cheeks. I had no idea who Robert Bork was or what his beard looked like, but I knew "Chin Slinky" was hilarious.

I bring it all up because a colleague of mine was called in for jury duty this week. It happens a lot here. Becky was called in over the summer and we've only lived here a year and a half. Of course I hear jury duty and the first thing that pops into my head is Letterman's Top Ten list on how to get out of jury duty (3. Respond to every question, "Let me talk to the little man who lives in my pants.").

I couldn't find the list because it acutally showed up in Letterman's second collection of Top Tens, not the first. Anyway, looking online for the list, I learned that the classic NBC Late Nights rerun on Trio. My first reponse was instant nostalgia. How would it be to have the old shows on my TV nightly? It'd be like I'd died and gone to late night TV heaven.

Of course my second emotion was dread. You can't go back. And having the old shows that accessible seems so tasteless. No longer are they precious childhood memories, enshrined in the pink haze of youthful bliss, but just another creaky slot filler for some two-bit cable channel. By becoming so accessible they cease to be special.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't buy a DVD collection. So I say long live the Monkey Cam. Long live Larry "Bud" Melman. Long live stupid human tricks and Rice Crispy suits. Long live the door-to-door visits to Long Island and the impromtu gift baskets to GE's office building that don't get past building security. Long live Letterman working the drive-through window at McDonalds. Long live Letterman.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Cai- Cai- Cairo

Well, now that the new Bond has been officially named, I thought it would be a good time to make a list. 'Cause lists are fun.

The Bond films, of course, have been around for 40 some-odd years and there's 20 features -- not counting "Casino Roayle" (spoof and non-spoof) -- in the collection. Opinions vary on the best, the worst and the most laughable of the series depending on why you watch the Bond films. But here's what I think:

Best Bond film: 1964's "Goldfinger" -- I think it's one of Sean Connery's best performances and, as far as world-domination plot's go, the storyline for "Goldfinger" is pretty dang original, far-fetched though it may be. Not to mention the swinging theme sung by the incomparable Shirley Bassey and probably the best Bond girl name of the franchise, Pussy Galore. Talk about sqeem-factor watching that with your parents as a kid. Anyway, "Goldfinger" is Bond at the height of what is truly James Bond.

Worst Bond Film: 1979's "Moonraker" -- Make no mistake, there have been some stinkers. And I was never crazy about Roger Moore. He certainly should have stopped long before the '80s began. But of the series, "Moonraker" stands out simply because the premise was so weak, the special effects were so poor and Moore was at his worst. 'Though it would be hard to argue he was ever at his best. And it's not to say "The World Is Not Enough" and "Tomorrow Nevre Dies" aren't bad, because they are. But Brosnan was a far surperior Bond compared to Moore.

Sentimental Favorite: 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever" -- If memory serves, this was the first Bond film I ever saw. Shirley Bassey was back for the killer theme song and it had those freaks Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint. The scorpian scene always creeped me out as a kid and I loved Connery's swagger. I used to imitate at school (this was like fourth or fifth grade) while standing in line the way he stood while waiting for Blofeld on the off-shore drilling platform thinking it made me as cool as Bond. Anyway, I still dig that movie.

Unexplicable Critic's Favorite: 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" -- It has Telly Savalas.

Most Undeservedly Maligned: 1987's "The Living Daylights" -- I had no problem with Timothy Dalton as James Bond. And I think "Living Daylights" is one of the best of the series. The story holds up really well, Dalton actually acts, which may be what turned some people off and the movie never feels half-baked, a chronic Bond film ailment. It's a great film. However, '89's "License to Kill" is another story.

Best Sean Connery Bond Film: Well, "Goldfinger." But we all know, with the execption of the terrible, terrible remake "Never Say Never Again," you can go with any Connery era Bond film and do well.

Best Roger Moore Bond Film: 1977's "The Spy Who Loved Me" -- Like I said, I'm no fan of Moore, but "Spy" was, all around, a pretty decent film. His first, "Live and Let Die" is another solid choice, but, with the VooDoo and the bayou, it gets a little hokey, even for a Bond film.

Best Timothy Dalton Bond Film: See above.

Best Pierce Brosnan Bond Film: For me, it's a straight up tie between his first and his last, 1995's "Goldeneye" and 2002's "Die Another Day." "Goldeneye" literally ressurected the franchise. It was explosive, exciting, well-acted, well-plotted and just flat-out entertaining. But it hasn't aged well, surprisingly. "Die Another Day" had the exact same effect to the franchise after film quality had become really stagnant with Brosnan's two middle films. "Die" was fresh, doing things a lot of other Bond films had never done, like using real geo-politics, successfully finding a darker tone without drowning the Bond swagger and encorporating serious character development.

So, "Casino Royale," the new film with the new Bond. I think producers are doing it right. I'm excited. I think it'll be good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


The artwork is out (unofficially) and this is what the "U2: Veritgo '05 Live From Chicago" concert DVD will look like. I'm excited, even if it does kind of look like the Elevation Tour DVD. But, I guess, on retrospect the ZOO TV and Zooropa tours were similarly linked in theme and look.

But before I completely start to sound like a nit-wit, no-life fanboy, I'll change the subject. Except to say this. The tour, the U2 machine will be making its Oakland stop next month. For those of you not Northern California geography inclined, Oakland is the closest stop to Redding the tour will be making. It's three hours southwest of here. Needless to say, on a reporter's salary and no one to leave the girls with overnight, Becky and I will not be going. A first for me since joining the U2 bandwagon in earnest in 1993. And to be honest, it was something I had pretty much resigned myself to. Until last weekend.

On Thursday, me, Becky and the girls traveled to Oakland (for the first time since living in Redding) to meet up with Becky's parents for a wedding on Saturday. The weekend was awesome. We spent all of Friday in San Francisco seeing the sites and having the time. All thanks to Becky's very generous and gracious parents. But the hotel we stayed at in Oakland is pretty much right across the street from the arena in which U2 will be playing. The place, of course, had the lighted, flashing electric screen marque proudly announcing the Vertigo Tour stop in November. The realization that I was so close (it was a surprisingly quick three-hours), yet still so far away (I'm a poor man) came crashing down like a load of stage prop Trabbies.

Anyway. Such is life. And as much as this may age me to say, family, interestingly enough, is more important. So, on the evening of Nov. 8, Becky and I will sit down and watch "Rattle and Hum" which she has yet to see all the way through. Something about hi-res DVD and Bono looking very hairy and very, very sweating through-out.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Band Bites Back

I suppose it was inevitable. Some of you may remember my brother-in-law Dave and the little face-off we had about the virtues of U2 vs. his band Creed (I've said it before and I'll say it again, who seriously still listens to Creed? Who ever listened to them in the first place? How is it possible for a band to suck so bad and yet be so popular?).

Well, cue the Strings of Impending Doom, the Creed CD came in the mail over the weekend. I haven't even come close to putting it in the stereo. But I know I'll have to. That was the deal. And he did, reportedly, give my U2 CD a good three listens. Kimmy, his wife and U2 fan, told me there were tracks on the CD even she wasn't crazy about. If you recall the story, Dave's last U2 taunt was something along the lines of U2 not knowing how to rock. So I included some of their rockier tunes. But I guess I should have followed the logic: if he likes Creed, that means he probably likes radio-friendly or at least pap-pop garbage and should have included some of U2's more well-known, radio-friendly stuff. But I'm a geek, if you haven't figured that out yet, so I didn't figure it out.

I'm trying to remember now, but I think I threw on stuff like the new mix of "Gone" and classic "Bullet the Blue Sky." Nothing crazy. I did throw on a live version of "Last Night on Earth" and "Love is Blindness." I don't know. But as soon as I'm done listening to his CD we'll compare notes and see what happened. It's all very junior high and all. But in a way it's fun, because who makes mix tapes anymore? It seems the age of creating personalized song compilations is over.

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