Thursday, October 24, 2002


Last week I watched “In the Heat of the Night” for the first time. Great movie. And, although some may say it’s outdated, the movie is very representative of its time. Smack dab in the middle of the civil rights movement, here’s this story of a racist southern sheriff who needs the help of a Black homicide detective from Philadelphia to solve a murder case. The role of Bill Gillespie, Sparta Chief of Police, won Rod Steiger an Oscar for Best Actor, but it’s easy to argue that Sidney Poitier was just as good, if not better as Detective Virgil Tibbs. By now, even those who haven’t seen the movie are probably familiar with the movie’s most famous line, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” Not only is the movie a first-rate murder mystery with outstanding acting, writing, and directing, but is culturally significant as an allegory for Whites and Blacks learning to live and work together, as well as respect each other. By the film’s end, Steiger’s bully of a police chief grows to kind of like Mr. Tibbs and I believe admire him for his skill and intelligence as a police officer. “In the Heat of the Night” very deservingly won the Academy Award for Best Picture for 1967 by vividly capturing a very specific time and place in our country’s evolution. It’s a highly enjoyable film and an extremely important one. I’m just sorry I didn’t see it sooner.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002


How strange that my horoscope on Friday instructed me to put on my dancing shoes. At the time, I felt like it was right on the nose, being that I had a wedding the next day and all. But, as it turned out, there was no dancing. Sure, I twirled My Girl around the lawn a few times just for kicks, but it wasn’t sanctioned dancing. There was, in fact, no dance floor. A band played for the first couple of hours of the lavish affair, but they were packed up and gone before the party really got going. Make no mistake about it, this was a fantastic wedding, it just didn’t include dancing, which my horoscope had specifically prepared me for.

The ceremony began with a comedy sketch performed by a group of friends who happen to be an irreverent up-and-coming comedy troupe known as The Ministry of Unknown Science and their interns, on a balcony off the sprawling Italian Villa in Sierra Madre, high above the grounds and the assembled. On the heels of laughter, the eclectically dressed and numerous wedding party (about ten on each side including My Girl on the bride’s side and Me on the groom’s side) made their way down the elaborate stone steps and settled on the stage overlooking the vast lawn filled with over two hundred guests. The bride and groom chose one of their very good friends to officiate the wedding, and he made his grand entrance to “Pure Imagination”, in character as Willy Wonka. He wore a custom-made purple velvet coat, brown top hat, crazy vest and bow tie, and strutted down the stairs using the signature Wonka cane as a prop. The bride and groom began their descent together from the top of the stairs, split up at the landing, then reconvened at their rightful places in the middle of the stage. Led by Willy Wonka, the ceremony struck the perfect balance of comedy and heartfelt emotion. The Ministry added another bit, with their interns passing out onions to the crowd to generate more tears, before the bride and groom read the vows that they had written to each other. The bride set the bar high with her piece, as she eloquently and beautifully related that in the groom she had found her Fonzie, sweetly tearing up at the end of her reading. The groom intoned “What’s the point?” before saying his peace. He said he left the ending blank hoping that inspiration would strike at the precise moment he needed it, but there were no magic words, he was just happy that he found someone who made him a better person. Willy Wonka instructed them to repeat some words after him, they exchanged rings, Wonka pronounced them husband and wife, they kissed, and then lip synced “I Found Love” as the wedding party backed them with a doo-wop shuffle. The audience cheered, blew bubbles, and shook their gigglehammers as the newlyweds began the recessional back up the stairs. The wedding party followed and the ceremony was complete.

Not only was there no dancing at the reception, but there were no assigned tables and no formal dinner, which made for a free-flowing mingling get-to-know-everyone affair. There were food stations around the grounds, including a table with a cheese fondue which seemed to contain some sort of addictive substance, seeing as the same group of people congregated in the area and refused to leave. Others would fill up their plates, go back to where they were, and inevitably return to the cheese. One station offered several varieties of soup, while another featured finger sandwiches of delicious roast beef. Then there was the dessert table of chocolate and caramel fondue, and a wedding cake made up of layers of scrumptious cupcakes. The only structured portion of the reception was a series of toasts and performances. One couple sang a song from “The Jerk”, the bridesmaids listed the top ten reasons why David should marry Apryl, and the best man channeled the groom’s deceased father in the first half of his toast and brought the house down with the second half. The Ministers did one final sketch as they made their collective toast, picking on one of their members who delivered a weak speech by detailing how much everyone else was willing to do for the married couple. Judging by the amount of effort and coordination put forth by so many in executing this grand wedding, it was obvious the people close to this couple would go to the ends of the earth for them.

Monday, October 21, 2002


Not surprisingly, there will indeed be a Season 2 of summer's smash hit "American Idol." Apparently, nobody involved with the production thought that it needed to be improved much. All three "American Idol" judges will return to the show. A fourth judge will be added. Frankly, I think three was the right number of judges, but two of the seats were filled by the wrong people. Paula Abdul is too emotional and too nice to judge anything and while she's pretty and all, she's not... how do I say this... smart. Randy Jackson, while serving to balance the judges demographically, is not eloquent or entertaining enough to be on television. Both of them should have been replaced for the next go-round of "Idol." As for the show's bumbling co-hosts, Ryan Seacrest is set to return, but in a shocking announcement, Brian Dunkleman has said he will not be back. My guess is the producers were going to can his candy ass, but gave Dunk the chance to save face by sending out a press release making it seem as though it was his decision. Of course, it'll be hard for him to save face now, being that we've already seen his ugly mug on camera and we're well aware of how painfully unfunny he is. I just can't shake this feeling that this guy is going to continue to get work in showbiz. Look no further than Keanu Reeves for proof that it can be done. Honestly, I don't even know why I care about this crap. The show got worse and worse as it went on and I hated more and more each week. As I was watching a number from the "American Idol" Reunion Performance, I vowed never to watch anything associated with the show again. But, it still catches my attention when I'm scanning headlines. And, when Tamyra Gray's album comes out, I'll probably buy it. P.T. Barnum would have his way with me.