Tuesday, September 27, 2005


The Top 5 . . .

I know that everyone does a top five list or a top 10 list of things to do and see. I'm really behind the curve. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

There, I'm guilty. Still, I figure I can update something like this on a weekly basis. So here's the weekly Top 5 things that I'm reading/seeing/obsessing over . . .

5) Everybody Hates Chris. Again, I know everyone's raving about this new show - which, for my money, is the only sitcom this side of Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm that I feel like watching. But I still feel the need to chime in. First off, this sitcom bubbles with sweetness. Like the classics in family sitcoms, it tells stories of people who genuinely love each other, albeit in the least treacly ways possible. When I watched the first episode this past week, I thought it was strong and funny, something I would continue to watch. Then when it was over, I flipped over to the second half-hour of Joey, and I realized just how poor most of the other sitcoms are these days. So I'm glad to have a couple of goodies.

4) James Robinson's Starman series. Comics fans, I know you're already aware of this bad boy, but it's so good that it deserves another clarion call. I've been re-reading this series in trade paperback form over the past several weeks, and again I am blown away. For the uninitiated, Starman tells the story of Jack Knight, a young man whose dad fought bad guys as a member of the Justice Society of America (precursor to the Justice League) from the 40s to the 70s. Jack doesn't have any interest in joining the "family business", until its thrust upon him. As a reluctant hero, he defends Opal City, travels to the stars, and takes part in a series of truly great adventures. But that's not the reason to buy the book. This is a story about fathers and sons, how they relate to one another and learn from and even rage against each other. It's also about collecting, about Generation X's obsession with cool stuff of the past and present. Starman only lasted 80-some issues at DC Comics, but that's because writer James Robinson wanted it that way. This is a super-hero story with a very concrete beginning, middle and end. It's been fun to watch Jack Knight grow from obnoxious 20-something to responsible 30-something and family man all over again.

3) The Constant Gardener. Sure it's heavy and depressing. Sure the wife and I left the theater thinking we need to do more about the poverty and disease afflicting people in Africa. And sure, it didn't make for the most light-hearted date night ever. But it is a terrific film. A year or two back, I thought that Director Fernando Merielles' City of God was one of the best flicks I'd ever seen. I still do. And this sophomore effort tells me that I'll go see anything this fella wants to put on the screen. Bravo.

2 (tie)) Mustard Seed Cafe. Just around the corner from my new home in Los Feliz. Already, the wife and I have found a fave new place to grab a weekend meal. Sure, the portions are a bit large (but we can share), but the Rosemary Turkey burger is outstanding, the salads fresh and amazing, and the Mustard Seed Omelet to die for. Plus there's the atmosphere. This is just a great place to pull up an LA Weekly and a coffee cup and spend a lazy, sunny Saturday or Sunday.


Blue Blood by Edward Conlon. Don't know how many true crime fans there are out there, but this book just floored me. The son of an FBI agent and the latest in a long line of cops, Conlon graduated from Harvard and then elected to make his career as one of New York's Finest. His book follows his days on the Job from walking the beat in Bronx housing projects to earning the gold shield as a Detective in Manhattan, then back to the Bronx. Frequently hilarious (as when it describes recruiting and keeping street informants) and occasionally heart-wrenching (like when Conlon is called upon to sift through the rubble of the World Trade Center after 9/11), Blue Blood qualifies as a love letter to New York. No lesser critics than Joseph Wambaugh and Ed McBain hailed this as the best memoir of a NYPD officer ever. Who am I to argue?

1) The Cincinnati Bengals. We're 3-0, baby! OK, OK, you're thinking I must be drunk or something. But understand this: I'm a football guy. Grew up in Ohio, birthplace of the professional game. Cut my teeth attending games at the legendary Horseshoe in Columbus. Went to grad school in Austin, where people bleed burnt orange for the beloved Longhorns.

So it's torn me up the last 15 years as Ohio has seemed to go without a professional football team. Well, no more, baby. Let's hear it for Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, and the new and improved defense (I'm talking about you, Deltha O'Neil!). Fifteen take-aways in three games! Holy Cow!

I'm not unrealistic. I know we've just beaten the Browns, Vikings, and Bears - not exactly the cream of the crop. I'm not out there proclaiming that the Bengals are headed to the Super Bowl. I'm from Southern Ohio. I would take a playoff appearance and splitting the series with Pittsburgh. It can happen. I can feel it.

Oh, and yeah, I know the Bengal uniforms are terrible. But if they win in them, I'll take it.

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