Resolutions for 2003: List of don'ts, won'ts for new year

This Just In...

January 01, 2003|By DAN RODRICKS

THINGS I AM NOT doing this year: Sailing aboard the Disney Magic to the Persian Gulf. (I'm going to limit my seafaring to Ed Kane's Water Taxi.) Reading any letters that begin, "Dear Moron." (So, Frank, Bill, you can put down your crayons now.) Answering certain questions. ("You want that super size?" "Is this gonna be in the Sunpaper?" "NudeMarvinXX has just sent you an Instant Message. Would you like to respond?")

More things I'm not doing this year: Consuming anything that's blue. (Pepsi Blue, this means you, and no more Sky Light snowballs.) Answering the phone between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. (It's either telemarketers or my editor.) Buying anything from a door-to-door salesperson. (Unless the salesperson is under 12 and selling Samoas.) Eating canned peas. (Gag me. Frozen peas actually have taste, plus they're actually green.) Listening politely to anyone trying to peddle a publication of the Lyndon LaRouche organization. (I'm just no longer convinced that Henry Kissinger and the late Queen Mother were involved in cocaine smuggling.)

I'm not: Using self-service checkout at Giant. (Why should I? They're not paying me to do it. Throw in a box of overpriced clementines and maybe then we'll talk.) Worrying about the historical lineage of the Constellation, when and how it was built. (It's a pretty ship at the Inner Harbor and that's good enough for me. If I'm going to worry about anything, it's the ugly building they threw up next to it. It's still there!) Joining a religious sect that believes humans are descended from aliens and allowing myself to be cloned. (I tried this once and ended up on Venus, surrounded by 5,000 clones of Lainie Kazan. I'm not going through that again.)

High cost of safekeeping

In a front-page article the other day about companies hitting consumers with dubious surcharges to increase profits, The New York Times reported that the Days Inn in Baltimore bills some guests $1 a night for staying in a room with a safe -- even if the guest doesn't use the safe. What's next? A charge for the booze cabinet -- even if you don't open it, but merely think about it? A buck for shampoo and conditioner even if you bring your own? One thinks of Thenardier, the sleazy "Master of the House" in the musical version of Les Miserables, who sings: "Charge 'em for the lice, extra for the mice, 2 percent for looking in the mirror twice ... "

A case for silent movies

George Roy Hill died last week, and the obit writers made a fuss about his directing The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But what about Slap Shot? It should be noted that Hill also directed the crudest -- some might say funniest -- depiction of ice hockey ever.

The brewski crowd loves this 1977 picture, and I've heard Slap Shot described in a national hockey magazine as a wonderful father-son bonding experience. It's frequently listed as one of the greatest sports movies of all time. But I wonder if those who praise it as a "raucous comedy" have given it a look and a listen lately. The goofy Hanson brothers make an unforgettable appearance in the film, Paul Newman gives a solid performance, and the script has gobs of grit and hockey slapstick. But it also has a predictable story line and, most noticeable of all, dialogue from the sewer, some of it so jarring, even by today's (The Sopranos) standards, that it becomes a dreary distraction. Father-son bonding?

Family fare is rare

If I sounded a little cranky and priggish just now, it's because 25 years (and parenthood) make your ears more sensitive to audio offal. The 12-year-old boy who lives in my house kept bugging me to see Slap Shot, so I rented it recently and ran it through the parental pre-watch. I hit the rewind button about halfway through.

Here's where I am in my movie appreciation life: I'd prefer to watch with my kids films that are entertaining, enlightening or funny without being ugly. There's plenty of time for ugly in the years ahead.

I spent a frustrating hour wandering through a video store the other night looking for something that wasn't rated R, wasn't riddled with graphic violence and spiked with crude language -- and wasn't something we had already seen. When it comes to sports movies, my tastes run to the inspirational and heroic: Remember the Titans, Hoosiers and When We Were Kings. And I consider October Sky to be one of the best films of the past 10 years. It's not a sports movie, but you can rent (or buy) it, watch it with your kids and not feel embarrassed -- or that you've become a stale, old prig.

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