Friday, May 26, 2006

Victory Is Mine!

Today I set up my entertainment center in the rec room in our basement. It took me the better part of the day. First I had to drag the entertainment center's two towers (mwah ha ha ha...the Two Towers! Hobbits beware!) over to the right of the credenza piece. All of the components that will satisfy our various and sundry A/V nees are laid out on a long table in the utility room, thanks to Doc. All I needed yet to do was to find all of the cords. Wouldn't you know it? They were in the last place I thought to look. But find them I did and I felt the glee I imagine the Nazgars would have felt, had they found the Ring of Power.

Now, I had everything I needed, except a plan. How the heck does all this stuff go together? I have a Yamaha amp and tape deck, a Marantz single disk CD player, a phonograph (yes, a phonograph...Doc loves his old LP's), a Sony Play Station, a Go Video dual deck VCR, a set of 4 foot Fisher speakers (Doc's) and a set of 2 foot Polk speakers (mine). At one time, these pieces all worked together in loving harmony to provide me with music, movies and video games in stereophonic bliss. did I do it?

I know! I'll call my Dad. He is a certified audiophile from way back when. He's what you'd call an "early adapter". Whenever some new technology came out to give him better sound, he grabbed at it. To his credit, though, he is discriminating. I don't recall him investing much in 8-track tapes, for example, though he did have a player. I think we had three altoghether: Muppet Christmas with John Denver, Gold Coast (my Uncle Mike's band), and Jim Croce. He taught me everything I needed to know with regard to music, stereo equipment, what's cool and what's not, and how to maximize your equipment to get the best sound. Also, he usually helps me set this stuff up whenever I find myself in a new place.

I chatted with him on the phone a bit. I couldn't figure out how, in the past, I was able to run the TV through the stereo. My TV, a wedding gift from my parents nearly nine years ago, only has one RCA jack in the back and it's an input jack! I can't take the audio from the TV to the amp without an RCA output jack. I scratched my head, wondering what I was missing. Dad said that all I really needed was a splitter box and he had an extra one, if i wanted it (of course he has one!). I agreed to try that but I was still bothered. I didn't have a splitter doo-dad the last time I had this all set up.

The last time I had this stereo set up was in 2002, if you were wondering if my memory was so bad that I couldn't remember the arrangement of wires, cables and components from a mear two months ago. We never bothered to set it up at our last house. I'm not sure why. I think I ended up buying a Magnivox "home theater" system shortly after we moved in and it trumped my old component system. So, it stayed in a closet in the basement for the duration of our time at that house.

Well, the Magnivox bit the dust within a year of using it and we were hobbling together different components to meet our A/V needs. It was highly unsatisfying. I don't know why I didn't stick with old faithful. I also don't know why I bought a combination set up. It is a principal I hold dear (thanks to Dad) that components are superior to combos. If a component stops working, you just replace that one piece. If a combo unit flakes out, like say, the DVD player quits on you, you have to replace the whole daggone thing, because fixing it is nearly imposible. By the time the Magnivox quit, we were planning to sell the house and the components were buried behind boxes. So in the basement it stayed.

I decided not to worry about the TV sound going through the stereo (I'd let Edwina handle that one), and went about setting up the stereo. It went along pretty smoothly and very soon I had all of the pieces hooked up together. The Play Station was hooked into the RCA jacks in the TV and was working well. I put on Wallace and Grommit's Curse of the Wererabbit for the kids and looked forward to playing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as soon as the wee ones were asleep. I bought the game in February and haven't even cracked the seal. Come to think of it, though, I'm not really sure where it is. Doc probably knows...

Anyway, I turned to the idea of setting up the VCR. At first I wasn't sure I'd bother with it, what with all those new DVD's out there. And then I remembered The Pact. Crap. We have enough VHS tapes to get us through at least a year and a half of at one tape a day. So I went back to the utility room and took a good look at the VCR. Hmm...two RCA jacks, one in back and one in front. And a coax jack. That's when Edwina nudged me. There's a coax out jack in the back of the VCR! I could hook the cable directly into the VCR and then use the coax out jack to hook the VCR to the TV! Then I could attach the Play Station, which doubles as a DVD player, to the front RCA jacks and then everything could play through our four speakers! I am so delighted!

Take a look:

So, now, our new house is on the way to being a home. Sure, we're still living out of boxes, but at least we have some of the comforts of being settled for the first time in about nine months. Let's hope we can make this work. Besides, we have a kick-ass back yard with a great table that was a birthday gift. Check it out:

Edited to add: You might wonder why it's "my" entertainment center. I bought it with pain and suffering money after being rear-ended, maybe 15 years ago. It's all still there, except for the 5-Disk CD player, also by Yamaha. It bit the dust in maybe a year, too many moving parts.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Season Five And They've Hit Their Stride

I knew great things were in store for us fans of American Idol this season. First, Ryan Seacrest gets a star and hosts New Year's Rockin' Eve (and Executive Produces). Then they overbloated the auditions portion of the season. Then, they gave us some really talented and interesting people to compete for our pleasure. No one really cracked under the pressure, except maybe Kellie and Ace. There were no trainwrecks, so to speak. And to top it off: the finale.

It was a finale to end all finales. My boy Clay showed up and I wept. Dionne Warrwick showed up and brought a ton of class to the operation. In the spirit of Paula Abdul, Toni Braxton came out and sang with Taylor as if she was on cold medicine and "pain killers." I swear, girlfriend could barely keep it together.

And wonder of wonders, Prince shows up! I nearly died. He was so hot. The songs were amazing. The backup singers/Solid Gold Dancers were awesome. Seacrest didn't even announce him, he just sort of pointed to the stage and said "American Idol." I nearly passed out on the floor from a good old fashioned case of the vapors due to the shock of a star of his magnitude gracing the AI stage. In fact, I'm surprised the stage didn't collapse under the weight of those heavy hitters.

Everyone sounded All those years of watching AI since 2002 and Season 1 have paid off. All those hours watching this new show stagger and stumble its way to the top. It went from amateurish to cheeky to meta to out and out professional-fantastic! I've been entertained.

Way to go 19E. Way to go Clive Davis. Way to go Simon Cowell. Way to go Ryan Seacrest, my little dumpling. Here's to the best finale of the best season of American Idol evah.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Day 2

Co-written by Doc.

The realization of the pact we've made is setting in. No more movies. Movies are no more. Suddeny they are dead to us unless they are delivered through the pap and treacle that is cable TV. [Flannery: the TV's just fine with me] I mean, good God! Volume 9 of MST3K just came out!!

Also, we found a tape trading site where you could buy old episodes. I was planning on sending the guy seven bucks when Doc stopped me. The pact.

"Well," he suggested, "It is your birthday."

"Yeah," I said.

We sat in silence for a little while.

"Shit," I said, "It's only been two days."

"We have 363 days to go!" he countered.

"We can do this! We're not a bunch of pussies!" I exlaimed.

"Well," he replied, "We certainly don't want to be a bunch of pussies."

Oh Dear, I Am in a Rut!

I am republishing a vintage post because it captures exactly what I am feeling today. I have been struggling with accounting issues all week and I just wanted to bring this old post back. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? It was written exactly one year ago today. Spooky.

Adrift in the Accountancy

I'm not opposed to math, in general. At first contact, I tend to recoil, but once I sit myself down and start digging into the numbers, I find I begin to enjoy myself. I remember that lesson I taught myself in order to remove the gravitas from studying math: It's just like learning a foreign language. If you memorize the basics, do your homework and perservere, you'll be fine.

But getting my math brain cells to work is like getting an ancient trireme to change directions. It happens, eventually, but I actually can feel myself aging as I row through the accountancy. I am slow, but deliberate. I get the job done, but with neither the speed nor the panache of your modern day frigate.

When I near an obstacle, I have to command my brain cells to stop or turn well in advance. And then I climb up from the galley and take a look out at the horizon. If I lose sight of shore; I'm lost. If I catch sight of the obstacle, I almost never recognize it for what it is. It appears that the gods are toying with me. They have placed this wonder in front of me with in order to dazzle and confuse. But because I have the plodding drive of Sisyphus and similar motivations, I'm able keep navigating through the iceburgs and the reefs.

However, my work and Sisyphus' work are never done. And that is the great joke on us by the gods.

Zeus: "You think you're funny, do you? Initiating the unitiated?"

Hera: "Let's see how you like doing math!"::maniacal laughter::

But Sisyphus and I have hope. Some day, we will complete our unwanted task, or, better yet, pass it off to some chump...uh...I mean someone else who will have those elusive skills of looking out at the accountancy and making sense of it all. Would that some Achilles of Math would come by and tap me on the shoulder and say, "You've done enough; allow me to take the helm." I would gladly step aside as the sun breaks through the clouds, the rain stops, and the pain in my head evaporates.

"Come on, Sisyphus," I'd say, "Let's go get a brew and take a swing from the language tree; at least there I'll be able to keep up with the monkeys."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Our First Movie

Co-written by Doc

Doc turned to me tonight and said, "I got us a movie."

"What?!?" I grasped my pearls in horror. "You didn't!"

"I did," he smirked, "I found it in our house!"

"...", I said.

"The spa care video!" he exlaimed, delighted.

Relief washed over me. I had just spent the last 24 hours defending my decision to quit buying, renting, and seeing movies to all my alarmed friends. I was fully planning on sticking to my guns on this and to have my compadre fold on me was quite a shock. I got over it soon enough and steeled myself.

"OK, let's watch." I said as he popped the tape in.

Doc had already seen the video and promised we'd be enjoying some vintage cheese. Well let me say this, Doc delivered on his promise. Our spa, a Rendezvous spa, by the way, turns out to be quite a needy little princess. Thank goodness it's already set up or I might have turned it into a planter. When setting up a hot tub, we discovered, you must set aside at least 5 hours in order to "fine tune" the chemicals.

Ah, the chemicals. A majority of this picture was comprised of a chemistry lesson, thanks to a "Great Lakes Biochemical Company" in an uncredited appearance. I swear, my mind seized up at the first diagram of molecules in action. But, no matter! We'll just get us a big old bottle of Ph Magic! A product which the Renezvous Corporation gladly provides at our local professional spa dealer.

Another product we may pick up at ye olde spa shoppe is what I can only imagine is called Sparoma, scented liquid you dump in the tub to enhance our experience. The narrator informed us of the many scents we can enjoy while we're in our new hot tub, on of them being San Moritz Sun...Oooookaaaay. We watched a disembodied hand dump what looked like watered down shampoo into a palm bestroon hot tub.

"Look," I said, "See how it smells?"

"It's oil free!" Doc added.

Threaded throughout the narrative was this message: Now that you have a hot tub, you get a new casual lifestyle, no extra charge! Apparently, there's a "hot tub lifestyle" of which we are now members. If the cast of this movie (overheard saying "okeedoke") are representative of this previously unknown subculture, Doc and I agreed: we wanted no part of it.

The narrator gave this film the tone and timbre of a 50's hygene short. He was warning us to do what he says and buy what he recommends. Don't be like Hot Tub Scum Larry, who never shocks his tub! Be like Hot Tub Honey, who obsessively checks the chemical levels of the water while rubbing down the finish with a special Rendezvous poof, therefore ensuring your hot tub investment pays off! Lord help me, now a hut tub is an investment? I suppose it's better than playing the lottery.

At the end of the movie, I was totally depressed. The amount of work involved seemed overwhelming, having just got home from work at 9:00 p.m. One more thing I have to see to. I looked over at Doc who seemed to sense my morale taking a nose dive.

"That's a heckuva lot of work we've got to do," I said.

"Well, it's not so bad. I was looking at the panel on the hot tub today. It had a big fat button that said 'clean' on it, so I pushed it and put the cover back on it. No sweat."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Our Little Sacrifice

Doc and I are terrible with money. Neither one of us wants to be responsible for bringing home the bacon or frying it up in the pan. We don't like keeping track of it either. As you can imagine, we are, therefore, in debt. Some of it is good debt, some bad. I've been following allong with the Budgeting Babe's blog, looking for ways to unwrap the mystery of money management. She's got some great ideas and some of her topics are over my head. But I keep checking in. I've subscribed to her blog so that I can see it everyday on my homepage and remind myself of the wisdom of Snoop: I've got to keep my mind on my money and my money on my mind.

Fortunately, Edwina, my subconscious, has generated a solution to money management for me. A couple of weeks ago, my parents were getting ready to go to Gatlinburg, Tennesee for a long weekend. They were driving and taking our car DVD player with them. My Dad was flipping through my DVD books seeing if there were any they'd like to watch on their trip. Every now and then, he'd find one he liked or one he was mystified by, like why we have the complete opus of Lee van Cleef.

"What does our movie collection say about us?" I pondered aloud.

"You spend a lot of money on movies," he said, matter-of-factly.

"Huh," I said.

That short interaction stayed with me as we moved all of our stuff into our new place. Boy, oh boy, do we have a lot of stuff. We don't need all this stuff for sure. Doc and I have tons of books, movies and music CD's. Probably thousands of dollars worth. Get this, though: no one will pay us a penny for them. I didn't know what to do about our money situation. How can we save money? How can we still have fun? I didn't have any answers, so I let Edwina handle it.

Last night, as Doc and I sat in the garage, Edwina handed me the idea fully formed. Well, first she handed me an action, then followed it with a justification. I turned to Doc and said, "Wanna make a pact?"

"OK," he replied, "What kind of pact?"

"Let's swear off buying movies for one year. That means we don't go to the movies, we don't buy DVD's, even if they are a buck."

"Alright," he agreed, "I'm game."

I thought for a moment and then said, "We'll let Mom take the girls to the movies, if she wants to, but we won't go."

"Can we ask for movies as presents?" he wondered.

"Sure," I answered, "That sounds fair; it would give us something to look forward to."

This decision felt so satisfying. I knew Edwina had pulled out a winner. I also began to think about what kind of difference this would make in our budget:
  • No more Netflix...savings $11.99/month
  • No going to the movies $30.00/month
  • No buying DVD's $20.00/month
  • No renting movis $15.00/month

That's nearly $80.00 a month savings, nearly enough to cover the cable/internet bill. If we can be disciplined about this and commit to a year without movies, we would save almost $1,000 in a year. That's the price of a short vacation or a down payment on a new car.

"A year without movies," Doc pondered, "now there's a book."

"You should write it," I said, as I always do, "We should write about it on our existing blogs." I didn't want to create another blog to monitor.

"OK," he agreed.

So, consider this our first day in a year without movies. I was very pleased with myself until I saw the preview for X-Men 3. Shit. I'm going to have to miss that one. Maybe next year I'll just drive myself in my new car to see the new Harry Potter movie. Yeah, that's the ticket...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Adora Mi Aura...

Thanks to Big Orange for this quiz.

Flannery, your aura is Nurturing Tan.

Nurturing Tans are the pillars of their community. They are helpers, volunteers, believers in brotherhood, dedicated, tenacious, service-oriented, unselfish, self-effacing, communicative and mental.

Nurturing Tans are another of the Eclipse Colors in the Personality Spectrums system. The color closest to their body is Mental Tan. Outside the Mental Tan and completely encircling their body is a band of Blue. These two colors combine many of the characteristics of both the Mental Family of colors and the Emotional/Spiritual Family of colors. However, a Nurturing Tan has a distinctly different motivation from either of these two colors alone, with personality and character traits unique to this color.

The driving force of the Nurturing Tans, the mission that gives their lives meaning, is the concept of brotherhood. They demonstrate their commitment to this mission by rendering service to the family, the neighborhood, the city, the nation, or the world. They put the needs of others before their own, teaching humanitarianism by example.

The lesson that Nurturing Tans need to learn is to identify and serve their own personal ego needs as well and to satisfy their own longings and desires in such a way as to make existence something worth living for. Nurturing Tans need to learn that it is acceptable to give something to themselves while serving others.

I'm such a saint, aren't I?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Getting Caught in the Rain

If you like Pina Coladas
And getting caught in the rain
If you're not into yoga
If you have half a brain
If you'd like making love at midnight
In the dunes on the Cape
Then I'm the love that you've looked for
Write to me and escape.

--The Pina Colada Song, by Rupert Holmes

This song has been running through my head for the past couple of weeks. It's not an earworm; I haven't heard it consistantly and been driven insane by it. It's just pleasantly rolled through the muzak playlist in my head here recently. It all started when I began to listen to a book on tape written by Rupert Holmes: Where the Truth Lies. I'm on my second run through and I've started a review of it for My Bedside Reading Table, but somehow, I just can't seem to find the time to write lately.

So, I've been moved to sing it to myself, or out loud, or to my protesting children, as I am wont to do when I'm happy and doing something that doesn't take a lot of thought. It's really a cheeky song and Rupert Holmes, a cheeky guy, has been in my head as I've prepared to move to our new home. I've met the man, did you know? In 1990, I believe. At the time Big Orange and I were dating. He was a theater major and appearing as King Claudius in the premiere of Rupert Holmes' new play Hamburger Hamlet at the Cleveland State University Factory Theater. The director of the play, some prick from New York City, had arranged for the cast and certain others (including me) to take a bus trip to New York City, see Rupert Holmes' play Accomplice and then meet the man afterwards.

I joined the rowdy bunch of revellers as we departed Cleveland after 11:00 p.m. in a bus bound for the Big Apple. I believe the plan was that we were supposed to sleep on the eight or ten hour trip overnight and arrive fresh as daisy on the Great White Way the next morning. That didn't happen. Instead, this hearty band of troubadours sang, and talked, and drank all night long. So, no sleep was had by anyone. We stopped at a truck stop in New Jersey before pulling into NYC. BO and I started grabbing some cheap snacks to get us through the day. The prick director stopped us.

"No, you should really wait until you get into the city to eat; there is so much good food there!"

We, being naive midwesterners, took the native New Yorker's word for it and set our snacks down. We climbed back onto the bus and prepared to blown over by the awesomeness that is New York City. We pulled up to forty-something street and the doors opened. That little prick stood up and announced to the passengers:

"It's 10:00 a.m. We'll see you all back here when the doors open at 7:00 p.m. If you'd like some ideas about where to go, here are some walking tours," he said as he held up a single sheet of paper. Then he scooted off to catch up with long lost friends, sip martinis in a swank penthouse, and snark on Cleveland, I presume.

It was a lovely morning. BO and I kind of looked at each other, looked at our selection of walking tours, all but one or two of them included a subway ride, which I had no intention of riding. We decided to head to the Museum of Modern Art. We paid eight dollars to get in and wandered around for an hour or so. Then, seeing what a lovely day it was outside, we decided to walk around.

We were hungry and decided to partake of some of the fine cuisine we heard so much about. It turns out that what we had in our pockets would only buy us hamburgers. Once we'd paid eight dollars a piece for the world's worst hamburgers and finished off the last bites, we tried to figure out what to do next. Now, I don't think I'm telling tales out of school when I say that BO has zero sense of direction. So it fell to me to make sure we didn't get lost in the worlds biggest city. So, we decided to just circle around Times Square, keeping our destination (the theater we were supposed to return to in, oh about six more hours,) in sight.

And then, it started to rain. It rained hard. It was that cold pounding rain that would set Pollyanna on a genocidal bender. Undeterred, we kept searching for something to do with our last twelve dollars.

"Look," I'd say, "Peep shows for a quarter, let's go in there!"

"At least we'd be out of the rain." answered BO.

Eventually, we found a legitimate movie theater decided to go see a movie: Crazy People. Folks, seriously? This is one of the worst movies in the world in one of the most awful and threadbare theater I've ever been in. I'm sure there were rats. At least, the rats were implied. It was miserable, although, afterwards, we amused ourselves by quoting the movie in near hysteria. We were not suffering from fits of laughter, rather, feverish delirium. Here we were circumnavigating Times Square saying, "Sony? Boney!" One of the best lines from the movie.

At 6:00 p.m., feverish, coughing, and broke, we made our way to the theater. We weren't the first to arrive. Johnny had been sitting there for a while. Defeated, he looked up relieved to see us. He wanted to show us the t-shirt he bought. It had a cow on it and it read: I've Seen New York, Now Take Me Home. Our sentiments exactly.

We went in to see the show and it was marvelous. We met Mr. Holmes directly afterwards and he was friendly and open to questions. Unfortunately, my brain was mush and I don't remember much that he said. But Carla, the nice young lady who plaid Ophelia, was very kind to. The prick director had banned everyone who was not in the cast from sitting anywhere near Mr. Holmes. She saw the disappointed look on my face and called me over, prick director be damned. I'll always remember her for that.

But I digres...

Two nights ago, Shawn and I found ourselves alone in our new house. We had spent a long day, I at work, he loading and unloading the van. We sat and played backgammon and then decided to take a dip in our new hot tub. Doc had brought bathing suits, he said. After some discussion, I discovered that he brought a bathing suit for himself and not for me. He didn't realized that I'd be there for our first dip. At first I refused to go in without proper bathing gear. What would our neighbors think if I hopped into the tub starkers?

After some cajoling, Doc convinced me to go into the tub in my bra and panties. He got the golf umbrella and escorted me to the tub and held it up to mask my entrance in the tub. Boy am I glad I did it. It was warm and bubbly. And it was raining, that same cold driving rain that fell on me in NYC. But this time, my body was snug in 106 degree, bubbly water. We sat there and talked about nothing important. The water in the tub was cooking us while the cold rain was cooling our heads. And then I started singing:

"If you like pina coladas..."

Doc joined in. We sat in our new hot tub in our new yard at our new house, singing in the rain, Finding each other again, if only for a fleeting moment between the chaos we know we will face in the coming days. Tomorrow night, we will be moved in. And you can bet your bottom dollar that we will be soaking our butts in that tub until we are medium well done.

The next day, when Mom, Riley and I were in Walmart, we paused to look at the Mother's Day cards. In the quiet, we heard the muzak for the first time. It was the Pina Colada song. Mom and I smiled at each other and sang along for a little while.

I'm not sure what this means, but it's nice to have a motif, a theme song for a major event in my life. I know I'm in the midst of a storm and I must keep pushing through. Soon it will be done. Until then, we must keep moving. We must mind our manners. We must look out for those around us who are helping and be thankful. And keep singing...If' you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain...yes, I do!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Irish Jam!

Doc, Madame E and I sat down to watch this movie last night with the full intentions of enjoying some pure cheese. I had seen this title in Hollywood video a month or so ago and immediately knew I must see it. I am a huge fan of the B movie and I knew this one fit nicely into that category. However, I was unable to convince Doc to rent it the first time I knew it existed. But last night, he wasn't there and I grabbed it with the glee a Leprechaun must feel when he comes upon the next chump in line.

Just for the sake of context, let me give you the plotline. A poor village in Ireland is up to its eyeballs in debt. The only thing they own free and clear and is not already in the hands of a villainous English Lord is their pub, Finnigans. So, they decide to hold a poetry contest to raise the money and offer the pub to the winner. That way, the villainous English Lord will be unable to take it from them in payment for their debts and the pub will never fall into his manicured hands.

The winning poem, it turns out, was "written" by our hero, Jimmy Jam, a flim flam artist on the run from a crazy lady he left at the alter, creditors and scorned thugs who were cheated by him in a drug deal. He escapes them all thinking he had won a pub on and island not a pub in Ireland. All were surprised when he arrived, he by the lack of babes and sunshine, they by the likes of this colorful character.

We all agreed that this movie was a good premise. Afterall, fish out of water stories are usually good stories. However, in its execution, it failed terribly. All of the interesting stuff such as he and the villagers getting to know and like each other, gets stuck in a montage. We see them working together, playing together and drinking together, all to the tune of some hokey Irish pop. What we do get instead is lots of focus on Jimmy Jam's open mic night, where he does various impressions of the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby.

As we were watching, we also mourned that fact that we didn't see nearly enough of the jilted bride. A large black woman (Monique an uncredited but genius part of the film), in full bridal regalia and pissed. The scene where she finds him in his apartment and chases him around is one of the finest three minutes of comedy I've seen in a long time. He's just gotten out of the tub and is in a towel when she crashes the door down. He runs into the bathroom and tries to escape out the window. She wrestels and wrangles him around, even trying to bite him on the ankles before he shuffles loose from her and she falls into the still-full tub. You really should see it if just for that scene alone.

But the problem with the movie is that it is trying too hard to be too much. Is it a comedy? Is it a solidarity piece about the similar plight of the Irish and Black Americans? Is it a love story between an urban hip hopper and a lovely Irish crooner woman with Maureen O'Hara's right hook? Is it a drama about the land rights of the poor in Ireland? Who knows?

But Madame E and I (Doc bailed before the beginning of the last act) agreed that it could have been a wonderful movie, if we had gotten our hands on it. We would have lost all of the stand-up schtick Eddie Griffin's (writer and producer) ego wouldn't let go of. We would have had more bridezilla. Much more. We would have lost the too precious Kathleen, a girl whose picture could be on every travel brochure for Ireland. You know the ones: pale skin, blue eyes, ruddy cheeks, black hair. Get this: she was mute in the story and our hero causes her to speak by the end. Finger licking cheese extrodinare. We would have taken the story out of montage and fleshed it out and really examined the enculturation of Jimmy Jam into the community of Bollywood.

I think with the above changes this movie could have gone somewhere. It was too nervous to decide what it wanted to be. I really like Eddie Griffin. I think he's a funny guy. He's got all the charm of Flav-O-Flav and none of the baggage. I think he's a smart guy, but he got way too sentimental in this movie. He could have used all the wasted time to let us see how things happened instead of telling us what happened later. The whole problem of the village and its debt was solved offscreen. Jimmy Jam filled in the village, the bad guys and the audience via video confrencing!!! This violates Roger Eberts movie rules: don't let the action be us watching a guy using a computer. Bad Eddie!

I recommend to anyone writing a screenplay to read Roger Ebert's book: I Hated, Hated, Hated, This Movie first. Because making a good movie depends more on what you shouldn't do rather than what you should do. I call to every would-be screenwriter: Learn from other people's mistakes rather than study the masters. For if you study the masters, you will only be a pale copy of the original. At least knowing what to avoid, you can open yourself up to innovation and creative and original ideas.

As I step off my soap box, I will leave you with this recommendation: See this movie for the bridzilla action and the lovely Irishy scenary. Laugh yourself silly at the movie's misplaced earnestness. And savor the feeling of superiority it will bring you.