Saturday, December 17, 2005

ETC.: Virgins, sticky tape and the Pitts

• Can I vent? High on my hate list are those little security stickers they put on CDs, now apparently amped up with extra glue. The last several of these I've removed have come to pieces as I try peeling them off the case, and inevitably leave this sticky, unremovable residue that manages to stick your CD case to everything else in sight. Which is why you might find me scrubbing away at a CD case with a rag and a dash of 409 cleaner. Don't look at me like I'm a freak. Damn you, CD companies! And they wonder why we download.

ITEM! Watching it for the second time, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" still holds up great on DVD. This one will definitely make my list of top 10 movies of the year (coming, um, sometime this month). I was once again taken by how great and unexpected Steve Carell is in this movie. It's not the kind of role that will get nominated for an Oscar or anything, but Carell really acts his pants off (um, literally) as Andy, giving real soul to what could've been a freak-show geek in another actor's hands. It's subtle and impressive work. And the DVD is great fun, with tons of deleted and extended scenes. I'm a big fan of the improv comedy, and it's a lot of fun watching Carrell, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and others just go to town.
One caveat -- the "Unrated" cut, the big DVD marketing scam of our time, is actually not quite as good a movie as the original movie. The added scenes are sometimes funny, but other parts just slow the momentum and none of it really adds to the movie. And of course, the "Unrated" cut the easiest one to find, and the only version of the DVD available in widescreen. The studios love to plaster "Unrated!" all over the DVDs lately, but I've rarely seen an "unrated" cut that's actually a better movie.

ITEM! The best newspaper columnist in America right now has to be the Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts, who consistently delivers strong, fascinating material in a sincere, passionate voice. Pitts weighed in on this whole notion that Christmas is being persecuted by some sinister left-wing cabal, as FOX News would have all us believe this year, and it's another of his typically fine pieces, which you can read here. Pitts does what the best columnists do - cuts through the hysteria and demagoguery that passes for debate in much of America and delivers thoughtful appraisals. You can read a bunch of his other pieces here. I'm bummed there hasn't been a decent book collection of this Pulitzer Prize-winning writer's work yet, but I hope there will be eventually.

ITEM! And finally, three cute things Toddler Peter has begun doing this week:
- Playing "Follow the Leader." Wherever he goes, we must follow.
- Wanting to take his big rubber bouncy ball, which is bigger than his head, into bed with him.
- Because we're geeks, we like to watch "The Simpsons" a lot. Peter doesn't actively watch a lot of "adult" TV with us, but for some reason he digs "The Simpsons." What does he call it? "Homer! Homer!" And when there's commercial breaks, he's very said, with a plaintive, "Homer? Homer?" Matt Groening claims another victim.

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