Playlist 8 -- Juno, Simpsons, Rollie, Gong

For the first time in ages (thanks to all the holiday days off), I got to the movie theatre and took time to watch a movie at home. Both were excellent and lead off this week's Playlist, which also includes a couple Web sites, a crazy old space rock band and an exciting basketball game.

The Simpsons Movie. I wondered if this would be a jumping the shark moment for Homer and the gang, which they've avoided so well for 20+ years. But not to worry. This is more than just an extended TV show. Hilarious movie that, like the show, gets in a lot of little jabs at "the man" and the general hypocrisy of our society. Oh, and Bart goes full monty on us.

Juno. Yep, I was at a real movie theater -- and not just to drop my kids off. I was hoping to see No Country for Old Men, but with teen-ager (and fellow Arrested Development fan) in tow, we decided on this quirky, well-written movie. First off, the movie avoids all the usual stereotypes. The characters have depth. And it shows how a girl who isn't sure "what kind of girl she is" maturely faces all the challenges ahead of her. And it's damn funny. I see Oscar nominations in its future, at the very least for screenwriting.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel.
This memoir by the Dykes to Watch Out For cartoonist was my first graphic novel. Bechdel covers her childhood and coming of age as a lesbian, but the book mostly deals with her father's dark secret (he was bisexual and had a thing for boys). This was certainly interesting and an easy read, but ultimately I found it a bit too depressing. I found myself breezing over all the literary references. (Remember, I am only the writer of a junior high school level blog).

Tacky Christmas Yards -- the Blog. Those of you who remember I Don't Get It 2 know I love Christmas decorations only if they're done tastefully. But thanks to inflatables, everywhere is looking a lot like a White (Trash) Christmas. Just this week, I found this blog devoted to pictures of tacky Christmas yards -- along with the author's lists of violations. So if you've put away your Christmas decorations, stop on over and start making plans for next year.

Search for D.B. Cooper. It's been 36 years since Dan Cooper parachuted out of a hijacked airplane with $200,000 in cash. The FBI wants to know if you can have any information on where to find him.

Gong. Best of Gong. I was jonezin' for some prog rock and I found this band I had never heard of before -- and I know my 60s/70s music pretty well. It's pretty crazy -- parts pre-Phil Collins Genesis, a little early Floyd, dashes of Zappa and the Mothers, and a pinch of Spinal Tap (only because they did a trilogy of albums based on the adventures of space traveler Zero the Hero and wrote numerous songs about gnomes). Gong has survived for more than 30 years with rotating musician and the band naming changing to Mothergong, Gongzilla, Planet Gong ...

Bethel College 95, Northwood 94. After running into the Bethel team the night before at Sw
eet Tomatoes, I decided to take my younger son to see a college basketball game -- not NCAA, but NAIA. Didn't matter. These guys were good. We started rooting for our local team Northwood -- coached by Rollie Massimino -- as they built up a 26-point lead. But we couldn't help cheering on Bethel as they scrapped their way back to a 92-92 tie before winning it with three William Walker free throws in the last 11 seconds. And all this for a total of -- $8 ($3 for children, $5 for adults).

And why Chester Arthur on the link this week? It's about time ol' Chester, our 21st president, got some love. We need politicians who can bravely stand up against the hands feeding them for the good of the people, as Arthur did when he championed civil service reform.