Friday, October 18, 2002


Gemini Horoscope for Fri Oct. 18, 2002 by

It is time to put your dancing shoes on, dear Gemini, because the next few weeks are going to be filled with a great deal of social activity that you won't want to miss. Today is the start of a planetary transit in which you will experience a greater boost of energy in the department of love and romance. Connect with others for events and gatherings that make you feel alive and young.

Now I'm not sure if this is some sort of cosmic coincidence or not, but tonight marks the beginning of another two-weekends-in-a-row wedding run for My Girl and I. The festivities kick into high gear this evening, as The Spludsterns, the very close friends who My Girl and I met through, hold a rehearsal for their entertainment-filled wedding and a fiesta in their fantastic gigantic hotel suite. The wedding takes place tomorrow afternoon and I'm sure it'll run late into the evening and will be full of surprises and all sorts of weirdness. The mod design-obsessed couple sent out highly-stylized invitations in the form of a 45 record jacket and disc, easily the most creative wedding invitations I've ever seen. They are calling for a dress code described as "vintage cocktail attire," and while I don't remember the exact defintion they gave, I know it included the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Elvis (both thin and fat), Twiggy, and the Rat Pack. Even at this late hour, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to wear. I suppose I'll use my existing tuxedo as a base and try to funkify it a bit. I promise juicy and colorful details of the event next week. Mazel Tov to the happy couple!

Big shout out to Young Goodman Brown, Piker's most loyal reader. He checks the stats more often than I do.

Thursday, October 17, 2002


I finished reading "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles yesterday at work. It was strange, usually the phone rings nonstop in that office, but for the majority of the late afternoon, after I began reading, it was quiet. The phone rang maybe four or five times and I was able to cover the last seventy pages. Maybe the universe was conspiring to give me a moment's peace to finish "A Separate Peace." Somehow, the novel eluded me throughout middle school and high school. Honestly, I never even heard of it until this summer when My Girl and My Mom were talking about while I was rereading "The Catcher in the Rye," which was one of the few books I actually read when I was in school.

I don't think I can say unequivocably that "A Separate Peace" is a better novel than J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", but I submit that I enjoyed reading "A Separate Peace" a whole lot more. I didn't identify with Holden Caulfield's alienation nearly as much as I felt a kinship with Gene Forrester's bout with insecurity and desire to live in a bubble. When I think back on "Catcher", I get a wintery kind of feeling of cold and isolation. On the contrary, remembering "Peace" brings up summery thoughts of warmth and comraderie. Salinger's novel is dark in tone, with Holden rejecting nearly everyone he comes in contact with by labeling them phonies, and a jolting reveal at the end that Holden has been narrating his experiences from a sanitorium. Knowles' story has dark undercurrents, such as war both external and internal, and heavy themes, like fear, jealousy, hatred, and insecurity, but is essentially an exercise in nostalgia. Obviously, I dig nostalgia. Otherwise I wouldn't be reading two classic novels set at prep schools that are routinely assigned by grade school English teachers.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002


Before last week, I hadn't seen a movie in a long time. During the week I saw "Knockaround Guys" at a free employee screening. Seeing as how I am sitting in the offices of the company which made the film, it probably wouldn't be proper to rip into the movie. But, I am just a temp... Let's just say the movie isn't good. With a cast that includes Dennis Hopper, John Malkovich, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, and Seth Green, it should be a lot better. There are some occassional laughs and a few solid lines of dialogue, but the plot is weak, the pace is plodding, and the energy surprisingly flaccid. Malkovich is simply awful. I don't think I've ever seen a worse performance from him, featuring the least convincing New York accent I've ever heard.

"24 Party People" is a much more fun movie. The subject is Tony Wilson, a Manchester native who somehow managed to place himself at the forefront of Punk, New Wave, and Rave cultures. Wilson parlayed a television magazine show about music into Factory Records, a cutting edge record label, and an ultra-hip nightclub called The Hacienda. Factory Records launched the careers of Joy Division, New Order, and the Happy Mondays. The Hacienda may have very well been the birthplace of the rave. This mocumentary is full of rich performances, most notably Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson, a slew of sentient music sequences, and some of the finest digital video cinematography to date. I took My Girl to see the flick at the Academy 6 in Pasadena. This old theater is quite a vivid experience, from the old-school version of stadium seating to the old-fashioned raffle-style tickets to the schlocky corridor serving as an arcade featuring a crumbling Ms. Pac-Man machine, Arkanoid, and three other old games. There couldn't be a more perfect place to see this scrappy movie, and it happens to be the last theater in Los Angeles playing the quality art-house film. Overall, this "Party" is definitely worth showing up for. To be courteous, you should probably bring a bottle of wine or a box of cookies or something.

Monday, October 14, 2002


The Dolphins-Broncos game last night was the best NFL game so far this season. Intensity from the kickoff until the last tick of the clock. I am amazed on many levels that the Dolphins pulled it out. For starters, and I know I keep repeating this, Jay Fiedler is not the kind of quarterback that can lead a team from behind. Fiedler caught a major break when his last pass of the game slipped through the non-stick hands of John Mobley and Dedric Ward managed to hold on to it. That was just enough to give Olindo Mare a chance to win it with 6 seconds left. 39 seconds after Jason Elam's nailed a 55-yarder and then high-stepped along the Miami sideline, Mare answered by drilling a 53-yarder of his own to win it. On the replay, it looked like that kick would have been good from 60 yards out. Considering how much the Dolphins struggle on the road and how often they lose to teams that are as good or better than them, this was the best Dolphin win in years. They let a 10-point lead evaporate in the last eight minutes, but didn't succomb to the change in momentum and showed incredible fortitude in fighting back to win it. Phenomenal effort from Jason Taylor and the defensive line. The Broncos front seven dominated a large portion of the game and it wasn't until Patrick Surtain returned a fourth quarter Brian Griese pass for a touchdown that either team had any kind of control of the game.

Sam Madison had an interesting night. He appeared to intercept a ball in the end zone, but the replay clearly showed he dropped it. Because ESPN went to a TV timeout, the Broncos had time to see the play on the Jumbotron at the stadium. Mike Shanahan immediately challenged the play and it was overturned. Madison returned to the field with a big smile on his face, nodding his head, and chanting "I'll get mine. I'll get mine." A short time later, he got his, making a real nice play to pick off Griese.

Ricky Williams is a tough guy. He carried 20 times and struggled for every one of his 49 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground, plus he caught 4 balls for 30 yards, taking a beating in the process. The Broncos have an outstanding run defense and they were hitting extremely hard all night. Al Wilson popped Ricky but good in fourth quarter. However, last night and hopefully for the rest of the season and career, Ricky embodied the spirit of the Dolphins -- nothing came easy, he got knocked down repeatedly, but he kept getting up, coming back, and fighting hard.

I have very mixed feelings about Dave Wannestadt as a coach. It's hard to argue that he didn't have the team prepared, because the Dolphins most definitely rose to the occasion to show they were a force to be reckoned with in the AFC. But I question his in-game coaching methods. Following a Bronco touchdown to cut it to a two point game, the Dolphins got the ball back with three minutes and change left on the clock. The first play they ran was a pass to Ricky Williams in the flat that was successful, but ended with Ricky landing out of bounds and stopping the clock. The Dolphins ran another pass play on second down that went incomplete and stopped the clock yet again. So, here they are in exactly the position they want to be in, leading in the fourth quarter with a chance to let Ricky Williams run out the clock, and they've run off eight seconds on the drive. Luckily, Oronde Gadsen made a great catch on a very low throw on thrid down to extend the drive and keep the clock moving. But, they failed to get another first down and wound up punting it back to the Broncos with enough time for them to drive. And then, when the clock was stopped late and the Broncos were already in field goal range, the Dolphins called a time out. I couldn't believe they would waste a time out, knowing the Broncos would probably make the field goal and the Dolphins would need everything they had to put together a drive of their own. Thankfully, none of these coaching blunders cost the Phins the game. Wannestadt must've done something right in motivating these guys and making them believe they could win right up until the bitter end.