In my dream, I'm sitting in a Masterpiece Theatre-like room, with wood panneling, two comfortable chairs, a small table, and a couch. I have a glass of sherry in my hand (okay, so maybe it's port; doesn't really matter). The door opens, and an apparition of some sort walks in, picks up another glass of liqueur, and sits in the chair opposite me.
I sip my drink, and it's a long moment before I speak:
Ah, 2002. It's good to see you. We've been waiting for a while. It seemed like you would never get here. Welcome, friend.
Then there's something having to do with penguins and a shower scene with some cute brunette, but that stuff is probably less relevant for this column.
Can I just say how happy I am that it's a new year? 2001 really kicked our collective ass. I'm not going to sum up the year (if you don't know what happened, you don't deserve to be reading the reflected light of my brilliance), but suffice it to say that I have big hopes for the next 12 months. And none of them have to do with women's hockey.
Well, one of them does, but again, that's slightly off the point.
Anyway, I've been thinking about what exactly it is that we, as citizens of the world, need this year to be able to look back on 2002 fondly. (Last year started with a presidential election fiasco and ended with the stench of death, so "fond" isn't really the first word I'm inclined to use.) I've compiled a (thankfully) small list.
I'm not going to be so naive, by the way, as to suggest the clichéd "Peace on Earth; good will towards men" wish. While it's a very nice thought, a) you and I know it's more likely that they'll discover a tasty soft drink made from llama spit and b) if I were going to ask for anything quoted from Handel's Messiah it would be a "Hallelujah."
(I say "Amen!" brother.)
Okay, so the first thing I figure we could all use is to stop having stuff fall when and/or where it isn't supposed to. That includes: buildings, airplanes, stock markets, snow in the deep South, record sales, and dandruff. While Head & Shoulders may take care of at least two of these problems, the rest just don't need to happen anymore. And I don't care what you say; those flakes on your sweater speak for themselves.
Next, the rumors that this recession is over should actually come true. I'm thinking they might, if only because I've noticed that this whole economy thing tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The minute G.W.B. (that's Walker Bush, not Washington Bridge) said, "We're going into a recession," stock prices fell and - hey, guess what! - we're in a recession. So now that everyone's saying, "The recession's over," I think people are going to go "oh, I can start investing again." Cynical, yes. Unrealistic, no. Never underestimate the power of mob mentality, especially when it's driven by a former frat party boy. Just ask Mr. McFeely and King Friday.
I think 2002 should see the birth of the "corporate siesta." How many of us out there wouldn't work an extra hour in the evening if it meant that we could nap from 2:30-3:30 in the afternoon? Picture it - you're sitting at your desk. Maybe you've just finished lunch, maybe you've just accidentally deleted the sixteen-page summary for the Johnson account, maybe you don't have a desk and you and your coworkers are sitting in your little circle on the floor. You look up at the clock - It's only 2:20? Will this day never end? What the hell was I doing up at 1:00 last night watching "Escape from LA" for the eleventh time - God, that Snake Pliskin is cool - I just want to go to sleep....
In my office of the future (for the purposes of this column about 2002, "the future" is any time after right this moment), you would be able to go sleep. You would walk down the hall to one of the company "bed-rooms" (not to be confused with the company "bedrooms" which are for CEOs to boff their secretaries in; that's another column entirely), lay down on a not-too-comfortable mattress or couch, and power-nap for up to (but not over) an hour. Imagine actually feeling well rested at work. Imagine happy employees whistling as they go about their data entry. Okay, stop imagining that; whistlers scare me. (Except Whistler's Mother; she was a babe.)
What else do we need in 2002? How about a goofy-looking two-wheeled scooter that it's impossible to fall off? Nah.
I think in 2002 we might get to see them take cloning to a new level, utilizing DNA from more than one species to create new, but wholly useful, creatures. Imagine the things they'll be able to do in the future - a watchdog that can take itself out; an elephant dishwasher; a pelican cement mixer. In the future (see note above), the possibilities will be endless.
Okay, as you might have gathered, I'm fresh out of ideas. (Actually, I ran out after the recession paragraph.) I know we could use a few new bands that actually play innovative guitar-driven rock music. It would be nice if the Winter Olympics actually were interesting by virtue of themselves, and not because of a repeat of the Atlanta mishugas, or any other craziness (no more things blowing up, please). As long as I'm asking for things, I'd like to see a major movie studio release a good movie in a month other than June or December. And I think the year would be rounded out nicely if I got rich. I know that wouldn't help the rest of you all that much, but my mom would be pleased.
So to sum up, my wish for the coming 12 months is that when you look back in January of 2003, all of you (but especially my mom) should be pleased with how well 2002 turned out.
Happy New Year.
A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.
ABOUT ADAM KRAEMER
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
1.7.02 @ 12:11a
Woe be the year that a shower scene with a cute brunette is irrelevant.
1.7.02 @ 8:20a
Yeah, but you might not be as interested in one starring the brunette and myself.
1.7.02 @ 11:26a
Re: siestas, I think I read about Netscape and some other mid-90s startups having rooms full of futons for people to sleep on. Of course, this was more because people weren't going home or sleeping, not because they wanted to provide siestas as a benefit.
I travel to Mexico for work a couple weeks out of the year, and the siesta there is interesting. One of my colleagues goes home and visits his baby at lunch a few days per week. That is a very cool perk, but I can't imagine doing nap-time in the office -- I already spend enough time here as it is!
1.7.02 @ 12:03p
I can't tell you how much I love the nap idea. I never could figger out why we stop taking them when we hit the ripe old age of four. But Adam? Didn't Mr. McFeely and King Friday catch the last trolley to the coast in 2001? Just another incredibly sad 2001 event, imho.
1.7.02 @ 12:36p
True. We'll miss ol' Fred.
Actually, having caught an episode recently, I just have to go on record as saying those might have been the ugliest puppets ever. Really scary looking.
1.7.02 @ 12:45p
Yeah, all the scenes in the puppet kingdom freaked me out.
1.7.02 @ 1:03p
I was watching the director's commentary for Dogma and it turns out that the nun in the airport scene at the beginning of the movie was the woman from Mr. Rogers. Betty Aberlin is her name.
michelle von euw
1.7.02 @ 1:10p
And that is just one more piece of proof to explain why we need director's commentaries.
1.7.02 @ 1:16p
There was a website (I don't think it's around anymore) that too pictures of just people's eyes and you had to guess who was who and which ones were psycho. And the scary part was, I could never tell the difference between Fred Rogers and Charile Manson.
1.7.02 @ 1:41p
I'm fairly certain Mr. Manson had the same problem.
1.7.02 @ 1:56p
Oh my God Manson is the best!
1.7.02 @ 2:32p
Whistler's Mother = MILF?
1.7.02 @ 3:25p
Oh, totally. Wait, that's Stifler's mom.
1.7.02 @ 3:26p
Oh my God.
1.7.02 @ 4:04p
It should be noted that Striffler's mom is indeed a member of this very site.
1.7.02 @ 4:06p
I wish the phrase "Stiffler's mom" did not exist.
dr. jay gross
1.7.02 @ 4:07p
Is G.W.B. the antithesis to Chicken Little? Will more things blow up in 2002 than came down in 2001? I'm looking forward to the sequel which should hit the 'big screen' sometime in September.
1.7.02 @ 4:25p
Well, as I mentioned, my hope is that we've seen the end to the destruction.
I read a column recently by Ben Stein who pointed out that every time a country or a group attacks America, thinking we're lazy and apathetic, they learn too soon that we are much closer to the "sleeping giant" than they have gambled on. While we may often take our freedom and strength for granted, and would, in most cases, just as soon be left alone, we will not hesitate to protect our way of life at any cost. And even if we lose some of the battles we will almost assuredly win the war.
1.7.02 @ 5:22p
Sorry for jumping in late, but I've been at the dentist.
Lady Elaine Fairchild: She's a man, man!
1.7.02 @ 5:35p
RE: Ben Stein's Column
You'd think after 225 years with zero losses (when we were responding to an attack against our own) most other nations/activist groups/whathaveyou would have figured out...you may get a couple of good punches in, but ultimately, that's it. You can't beat voluntary national resolve.
1.7.02 @ 5:41p
True. And even in those events where we were abroad fighting for "someone else," we still made our mark. For better or for worse, Vietnam was never the same after we were there.
1.8.02 @ 5:59p
But it would still be nice to see an end to the death and the fighting.
1.8.02 @ 10:20p
Absolutely. Would we actually experience a utopian environment, though? Sounds likes something totally untouchable that you only see in old Star Trek episodes - you know, the ones where everyone is calm, peaceful and dress in gold silk, cavorting in lush gardens... except that *one* spot where you'll immediately disintegrate because you crossed into the "forbidden zone."
1.8.02 @ 11:11p
Ooh, interesting. Except Wesley was supposed to die when he walked on the grass, but Picard saved his butt anyway.
If you recall from The Matrix, that was one of the problems with the first version of the matrix (within the movie) -- the people plugged in couldn't accept it, because it was too ideal...so the master program had to change it to allow for conflict, pollution, etc., in order for people to believe it.
1.8.02 @ 11:49p
And in that utopian society only Captain Kirk got to have sex with the hot womem.
1.9.02 @ 9:04a
I'm not sure the Wachowski brothers have the last word on human nature.
1.9.02 @ 9:55a
I didn't say that I thought human nature would change or that there would be no more conflict. But it would be nice if I didn't have to read in a serious New York Times article something like: "His shoe contained no explosives."
1.9.02 @ 1:17p
Des Moines Register, January 8,2002: "A nation wants to know what Steven Paul Johnson of Marshalltown, IA was thinking when he tried to take knives, a box cutter, flares and lighter fluid through a security checkpoint at a Chicago airport Monday."
His mom said: "I don't think he was trying to do any harm. My son is not a criminal."
I wouldn't mind a little change in human nature. Just a bit.
1.9.02 @ 2:21p
I read that one. What was he thinking? Those crazy Iowa people.
michelle von euw
1.9.02 @ 3:08p
I can't decide if I think it's heartwarming that people stand up for their children or just plain stupid.
1.9.02 @ 3:10p
Come on, what's that woman supposed to do?
1.9.02 @ 3:17p
A hearty 'no comment' seems appropriate.
1.9.02 @ 3:25p
Well, yeah, but I'm not gonna bash her for defending her son, or giving him the benefit of the doubt.
1.9.02 @ 4:11p
Well actually, you'd have to read the rest of the article He's no angel, that's for sure. According to his mom, he "has always been a difficult child, and now that he's grown, we only hear from him when he needs money. But he's no criminal."
"Ah" says the crowd.
Selective editing is quite effective in proving a point.
1.9.02 @ 4:15p
You evil manipulator! But I can still understand a mother not giving upon her kid. Why am I the voice of compassion here?
1.9.02 @ 4:52p
There's something very topsy-turvy about Mike as the voice of compassion, to be sure.
1.9.02 @ 7:08p
Nah. He's shown his soft white underbelly before.
And it's so smooooth.
I'm not saying the kid is a criminal either. I would, however, say he is up to something.
My. Guess my clever pills just kicked in.
1.9.02 @ 7:38p
I don't want to know how you know about Mike's smooth underbelly...
I'm guessing the kid did it because he thought he was smart enough to get away with it. Just for bragging rights among his n'aer do well friends.
michelle von euw
1.10.02 @ 9:00a
Recently, some kids were arrested for planning a Columbine-like attack at a local high school. I didn't mind so much that the parents defended their sons as "good boys," but when they started saying that police officers had conducted a witchhunt to earn promotions and media exposure at the expense of their innocent babies, that's when I got angry.
1.10.02 @ 9:28a
First off, I heard Mike's underbelly was encrusted with jewels, except for one soft spot where an archer with good aim could put an arrow clean through him.
Second, I heard a rumor this morning that the kid in the plane might have been doing it to impress an arabic father he'd never met.
Third, is human nature instinctively geared towards destruction?
1.10.02 @ 9:34a
If we're trading Mike rumors, I heard he died from eating Pop Rocks and Coke.
Human nature is a lot of things. I don't think it's instinctively geared towards anything but self-interest. And for some, feeling the extent of your own power includes destroying things and people you don't like.
1.10.02 @ 10:31a
So it's an "I hold the power of life/death" thing?
1.10.02 @ 11:10a
First of all, I'm not dead, but I am Keyser Soze.
I heard the "impress daddy" thing too, on Stern.
I think the guy's just a wacko.
1.10.02 @ 12:23p
I've never met this mother, but I can tell you several things about her. First, whenever her kid bit/hit/spit in preschool, this mother loudly blamed the "victim" and told anyone who would listen that her baby had been provoked. Later, when said baby received poor grades in elementary school, there was Mommy trying to get the grade changed and complaining that the teacher had it out for her son. When her son was a young teen and said that "everybody else" stayed out till 2 a.m., Mommy sighed and threw up her hands. Fortunately, the son was a perfect angel and Mommy never had to set any limits. And her baby never learned to set internal limits either.
michelle von euw
1.10.02 @ 12:33p
Mike, I heard an old Kevin Spacey interview on the radio this morning, and he was saying that after the cast and crew of US were shown the first cut of the movie, that Gabriel Byrne started an argument with the director because he was convinced that his character was Keiser Soze.
1.10.02 @ 12:36p
That's hilarious Michelle! And speaks to the main weakness of the movie.
Hey Lila, wow, you're not cynical are you?
1.10.02 @ 1:26p
I thought the main weakness of the movie was that Kobayashi couldn't be a lawyer's name on a fax and a coffee cup at the same time.
1.10.02 @ 1:37p
I think the main weakness of the movie is the final revelation that the whole thing was made up.
1.10.02 @ 2:16p
Oh, right. Whereas if it had all happened, that would have made it more cool? I don't think so. Besides, you gotta figure some of it went down that way. It was just the skillful weaving of truth and fiction that was impressive.
1.10.02 @ 2:19p
I don't care about the "cool", I still enjoy the movie, and yeah, Keyser does a good job of mixing lies and truth, but I think it's a cheat on the filmmaker's part.
1.10.02 @ 2:28p
First, Adam, great underbelly reference. When we were kids, did that movie have the best special effects or what?
And second, I think what is human nature is to protect your children. And whether it's running into a burning building to save them, or defending them to the media to save them - it's all the same.
michelle von euw
1.10.02 @ 3:29p
I think I've decided, Matt, that it's great to protect your children -- except at the expense of someone else. Like in Lila's examples, and in the blame the police one I pointed out.
But let's get back to Usual Suspects.
1.10.02 @ 3:39p
Oh, right. God forbid we actually discuss a topic related to the column it's supposed to be about.
We need to get this back to movies.
1.10.02 @ 4:11p
Lighten up, Scrooge.
michelle von euw
1.10.02 @ 4:37p
In light of the posts preceeding his, you gotta realize that Adam is a way talented guy -- who else can do irony and sarcasm in the same sentence?
1.10.02 @ 5:22p
Thanks, I'm touched, I think.
And confused by the fact that Mike doesn't think that the point of Usual Suspects was that he was making up the story. I sorta thought the twist at the end was the point.
1.10.02 @ 5:47p
Why can't he think it's the point and a weakness both?
As for Gabriel Byrne, his face is shown at some point during the story of Keyzer Soze, yes? So naturally he would think he was him. Although if I remember right it's when Chazz is speaking that the face is shown.
The whole idea of filmmaker "cheats" I disagree with. People feel like sudden twists at the end are cheating. I say, use the weapons at your disposal.
Which is almost on-topic, in a way.
1.10.02 @ 6:18p
Well, thanks for backing me a bit, Jael, and screw you for disagreeing with me, Jael. :)
I know its the point, but it still bothers me. The fact that in the flashbacks we see it different ways just kind of loads the premise, so it's harder to not fall for the trick. I still like the movie, I just think the fact that the whole story we are shown is fabricated within the world of the movie limits its impact.
I think cheats exist. Plot holes are cheats. I think it's a legit complaint.
1.10.02 @ 6:40p
Plot holes are laziness. Cheats are craft.
1.10.02 @ 7:24p
Hence, if it's part of the craft, it can't really be cheating.
1.10.02 @ 9:47p
I disagree. A cheat is laziness in my mind. It's like saying a plot hole was left open on purpose, because that's part of the director's craft. Cop-out. Look, I'm not the type to nitpick everything in a movie (well, maybe I am)...if a movie works for me, it works, and I'll let stuff slide. Usual Suspects certainly works for me, I just think the end is a fundamental flaw that prevents me from admiring the rest as much as I might. Unlike Memento, where I think the ending, while copping to a red herring, actually reinforces the movie's themes, if not it's plot line.
1.11.02 @ 8:44a
In my mind, a sudden twist at the end is not a cheat because filmmaking isn't linear. Maybe in a book I'd be annoyed by a trick ending because I can imagine an author writing, writing, writing, and then realizing he's written himself into a corner and then coming up with something preposterous to get out. (Andromeda Strain, anyone?) But something like The Sixth Sense, which I've heard criticized for the same thing... it takes design and craft and planning and plotting and a thousand subtle arrangements to pull off that one moment of pure surprise. With a lot of people paying a lot of attention throughout the process, criticizing and poking holes and whathaveyou. So I respect it.
1.11.02 @ 9:13a
I respect too, if it holds up. The Sixth Sense is built on the twist, and it holds up throughout, at least with cursory inspection. As does Fight Club. But if The Usual Suspects is about how great a liar Keyser is, the audience gets cheated, because it's so hard to disregard what we see, and we see everything he describes. We see Keaton as Keyser, etc...it's one thing to trick Chazz, talking to him, it's another to hoodwink the audience like that. I dunno, obviosuly some of my complaints against US can be leveled at movies like FC or Mem., but everything in those movies at least happened, just in a different context with the twist. In The Usual Suspects, most or all of it didn't happen, and that's frustrating. Yeah, all movies are made up, but within the world of the movie US is all made up. It's different. I agree that movies aren't linear and therefore there's a lot of leeway, but I think, in general, a movie is better if it's true to itself, at least, and US isn't.
michelle von euw
1.11.02 @ 9:35a
My memory is shaky and I only saw it once, but I remember US being all about perspective. Was the film set up as Kevin Spacey telling a story to the police dectective? Weren't we seeing what he was describing?
One "trick" ending that absolutely did not work for me, BTW, was Saving Private Ryan. That, I felt, was cheating.
1.11.02 @ 9:41a
Actually, about 1:40 into the movie, Spacey (and I never knew if this was on purpose) says something like, "I did. I did kill Keaton."
But my problem with the movie was not the twist at the end, which just proved that Verbal/Keyser could take facts (like the murders that obviously happened, the line up that obviously happened, the explosions on the boat that obviously happened) and weave them into a fiction that would keep the cops going just long enough for him to be released from jail. My problem with the movie is that there were holes even in that ending.
1.11.02 @ 9:47a
Yes I agree, Adam. And Michelle, yeah how does that work in SPR? In the beginning you see an old man, then dissolve into his eyes, and it's Tom Hanks at Omaha Beach, but at the end the old guy is Matt Damon. Big cheat!
1.11.02 @ 9:50a
But since none of the characters in SPR was actually a full-fledged or even slightly rounded character, how were you supposed to tell them apart -- or care what happened to them -- anyway?
Man, I haven't had an opportunity to Spielberg bash for a while. Let me stretch properly, warm up first.
1.11.02 @ 9:56a
I dunno, I think Hanks was great in that movie, and the war sequences were pretty damn good. If you're gonna bash Spiels, let's talk his re-jiggering of E.T. What a joke that is!
1.11.02 @ 10:09a
I wouldn't fault Hanks' performance, or 90 percent of the film (between the bookends). And I wouldn't call the end a cheat, so much as a cop-out. Not unlike the end of A.I.
RE: US being mostly made up. Is that so much of a problem? A fiction within a fiction? Like Sammy J? I appreciate US so much because it's entertaining w/o falling back to convention. Maybe a lot of what Verbal said wasn't real -- but he wasn't talking to the audience, he was talking to Kujan (Chazz).
1.11.02 @ 10:25a
Yeah, but Kujan couldn't SEE everything like we did.
michelle von euw
1.11.02 @ 10:55a
I have to say -- so what? The story was being told, and we saw visuals to go along with the story. Like, for example, the Pie eating contest in Stand By Me. Except the whole movie was told from that perspective, and not just one scene.
The eye flash in SPR is exactly what I was talking about. It was misleading and underhanded. Totally a cheat.
1.11.02 @ 11:08a
Okay, I know, I'm being too hard on US, and a bit of a hypocrite. Whatever. Good movie.
1.11.02 @ 11:23a
I don't think I realized the eye thing in SPR. Now I hate the entire movie, start to finish.
Wait, that's not true. I think there's a difference, though, between a cheat, a plot hole, and an actual honest-to-goodness inconsitency. For all its faults, I still think SPR was a well-told, well-acted, well-realized film.
1.11.02 @ 11:29a
I agree with you Adam, on all counts. I think the world will now end.
michelle von euw
1.11.02 @ 11:43a
Ok, now that that is over, has anyone seen Gosford Park? Should I spend my lunch hour seeing it?
1.11.02 @ 11:44a
Well, I think SPR sucks, so let controversy live.
1.11.02 @ 11:50a
YES go see Gosford Park. It's great!
1.11.02 @ 11:52a
I like GP a lot. Very entertaining, great acting. And Jael, we all know you hate SPR. I wish we could find something you love that I hate. That'd be fun. Through some crap out there. I'm bored. Let's see how long it takes us to have our own pigfighting thread.
1.11.02 @ 12:02p
Well, everything I love is intrinsically and indisputably good, so there's little chance you'll manage to criticize it, isn't there?
The thread won't get any momentum. I'm about to go to lunch. Pigfighting me in my absence will be tough, and also I fight clean. Sometimes.
1.11.02 @ 12:03p
I can criticize anything. Just you watch! By the way, your above post sucks! HA! Plus your lunch sucks! YES!
1.11.02 @ 12:06p
I am cut to the core. Woe is me. How ever shall I go on.
1.11.02 @ 1:27p
Mike, if you're going to criticize something, why don't you criticize your use of "Through" instead of "Throw."
1.11.02 @ 1:30p
And Jael should have had a question mark at the end of her last sentence.
1.11.02 @ 2:00p
Again I am wounded. Why must I bear this pain.
1.11.02 @ 2:02p
And we've both been silenced by a chorus of fools.
1.11.02 @ 2:35p
Wow. Never considered myself a chorus before.
Which brings me back to the point of my column.
1.18.02 @ 8:18a
Anyone psyched about the new airport regulations? Think they'll help?
1.18.02 @ 11:24a
Adam, I haven't been so psyched about new regulations since they started mandatory vehicle emissions testing here in Missouri.