Wednesday, November 27, 2002


Since the beginning of the year, a group of friends of mine have been performing as a comedy troupe called The Ministry of Unknown Science. They are extremely irreverant and snarky and, most importantly, funny. I attended a dress rehearsal of their new "experiment" last night at their headquarters downtown and, as usual, I laughed my ass off. If you want to see them, they are performing this Saturday night at LOSCON 29, which if I heard correctly is L.A.'s largest science fiction convention. If you want to read about them before you see them, follow me... Or you can pick up a copy of the L.A. Weekly when it hits the stands tomorrow. The buzz is just beginning. Jump on this bandwagon before it rolls out of town.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002


I have watched a ton of sports over the years and yet I saw something last night that I've never seen before. Monday Night Football showcased the San Francisco 49ers against the Philadelphia Eagles. Last week, the Eagles superstar quarterback Donovan McNabb broke his ankle on the third play of the game, but somehow managed to limp his way through the rest of the game, throwing four touchdown passes in the process, and leading the Eagles to a big win. However, post-game x-rays revealed the fracture and McNabb will most likely be lost to the Eagles until the playoffs. Enter Koy Detmer. The Eagles backup QB was in the national spotlight last night, making his first start in three years against the west division-leading Niners. Detmer proceeded to play a near-flawless game in helping to stake the Philly boys to a big lead in San Fran. But, destiny had something else in store for Koy Detmer on this night. Late in the third quarter, Detmer dropped back to pass and, as he had done all evening, hung tough in the pocket to complete a 24-yard pass play. But he paid the price, taking a shot to the legs from defensive end Chike Okeafor, who threw him down to the turf. Detmer extended his left arm to brace his fall, and in a moment reminiscent of the famous scene of Joe Thiesman's leg getting bent back and broken on a hit from Lawrence Taylor on Monday Night Football, the quarterback's arm twisted awkwardly under the pressure. When they showed the replay repeatedly, you couldn't help but wince, imagining the pain he must have been in. And Detmer showed his pain too, wildly kicking his legs and flailing as he immediatly grabbed his left arm. The referee was compassionately holding him down with one hand while urgently motioning for the trainer with the other. When the trainers finally set the arm in a makeshift cast, helped Detmer to his feet, and sat him down on the cart to be wheeled off, something amazing happened. In a display of nothing short of love, the entire Eagles roster swarmed Detmer with encouraging words, pats on the head, and pure appreciation. Two weeks in a row the Eagles have witnessed tremendous courage and ability from their top two quarterbacks in the face of adversity, and their leadership has helped define the team character of the Eagles. Koy Detmer is known to be a very popular player on the team, one who knows the offense so well he teaches the coaches a few things. But this went beyond popularity. This went beyond being a good teammate and a likable person. Hell, the 49ers defensive team that was on the field wished Detmer well too. No, this was more than just a moment in a game. This transcended sports.

Monday, November 25, 2002


Is there a subtlety to Lorraine Bracco's acting that I'm not getting? Is she some sort of genius and I'm the only one who doesn't see it?


Not that it happens very often, but I was extremely disappointed in "The Sopranos" last night. Granted, I had just watched "Citizen Kane" on DVD right before it started, but last night's episode entitled "Calling All Cars" was weak.

Entirely too much screen time was devoted to the Janice-Bobby Bacala-and-his-kids storyline. We've seen manipulative behavior from Janice before, so there was no jolt of surprise in her sending a haunting anonymous IM to Bobby Jr. in order to more solidly entrench herself in their lives. In fact, it was predictable that she was going to pull a stunt like that and it felt repetitive. The seance with AJ and his little hottie and the Bacala kids was long and uneventful, the scene with Bobby and Janice eating dinner in the mall was all right, but in the end, who really gives a shit about Karen's last ziti? I like the character of Bobby and I usually get a kick out of Janice, but maybe I just don't care enough about the subplot to feel much of anything.

You know what else there was too much of? Lorraine Bracco. To paraphrase James Spader's Steff character from "Pretty in Pink", her acting was, is, and always will be nada. She sucks the life out of every scene she's in and that's quite an accomplishment considering most of her scenes are played against James Gandolfini, who expertly continues to craft one of the most fascinating characters in television history. Melfi's a terrible shrink and Bracco's an abominable actress. Kudos to Tony for ditching the therapy! After sitting through yet another session of Dream Analysis 101 and suffering through the most deliberate delivery in the history of acting, I would've hightailed it out of there a hell of a lot faster than he did.

The most interesting stuff involved the escalating tension between the New Jersey family and the New York family, but there just wasn't enough of it. A short scene with Carmine and Johnny Sack and then an uneventful dinner scene with Little Carmine... That's it? Oh, right, a couple of conversations with Silvio about keeping Florida secret and Paulie Walnuts. Not a memorable scene in the bunch. I'm not saying I don't like where this story is headed, but I do feel as though the moments we saw last night could have been used to lay the groundwork for something that took place in the same episode.

The dream sequences were strange and kind of creepy, but we've seen stranger and creepier from this series. They didn't seem to add up to too much either. Of course, we have to assume their purpose is to set up some big revelation in the last two segments of the season. But that's just it, the whole episode felt like setup. Besides finally eating Karen's fuckin' ziti, Tony cutting the therapy cord was the only concrete thing that occurred. But even that feels unfinished. It was as if the producers needed to stall for a night so they could flood the final two with, what I hope will be, the same intensity as the one where Ralphie got whacked. I guess it boils down to the disappointment of knowing this was one of the final three episodes of an otherwise scintillating season.

No Christoper in rehab... No Adrianna... No Meadow... No Furio-Carmela scenes... No Heshie...

It pains me to admit, but as far as I can remember, last night was the first time I was little bored while watching "The Sopranos."