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icon Film May 21, 1998
Nikita Mikhalkov
Burnt by the Sun

Mikhalkov wrote, directed, and stars in this story of Stalinist Russia. Beautifully photographed, the film manages to be simultaneously idyllic and ominous. Of course, the details of history dictate the outcome. Nevertheless, watching Mikhalkov's aging war hero play gracious host to the agent of his eventual undoing, you can't help but wish that history will be unwritten, if only for a few hours.

icon Poetry May 19, 1998
Charles Bukowski
Love Is A Dog From Hell

Nobody could inject the sublime into the vulgar quite like Charles Bukowski. In Love is a Dog from Hell, as in his previous collections, he documents love, sex, booze, classical music, and other basic human needs. Bukowski died in 1994. Here's a snippet of what he left us:

call it love, you
skewer it good, add
cabbage and applesauce,
then heat it from the
left side,
then heat it from the right
put it in a box
give it away
leave it on a doorstep
vomiting as you go
into the

--from "it's the way you play the game"

icon Music May 18, 1998
Dirty Three
Horse Stories

When you come across an instrumental trio fronted by a violinist, you build up some expectations. Bluegrass. Maybe a little Vivaldi. However, when that trio releases their records on Chicago's notorious Touch and Go label, look forward to your expectations being smashed into itty bitty pieces. It's probably best to just put them aside and enjoy the sonic landscape. The album's third track, "Hope," is a gentle and inviting place to start.

icon Film May 15, 1998
Roman Polanski

Watch the carnage unfold as Catherine Deneuve, a young beautician harboring some serious psychosexual demons, slowly and painfully goes out of her gourd. Ever had trouble at work? Ever been irritated with the opposite sex? Let Roman Polanski offer you some perspective. Also keep an eye out for the original Decaying Rabbit Corpse, as later seen in Eraserhead and Fatal Attraction.

icon Non - Fiction May 13, 1998
Reporting World War II

This two-volume set of wartime journalism features familiar names--Hersey, Murrow, Pyle, Bourke-White, Steinbeck, Agee--and familiar places--the Sudetenland, Poland, Paris, Yugoslavia, Guadalcanal, the Phillipines, Berlin. Documentary history is inherently fascinating, but when you add the global impact of the events covered in these volumes you've got pair of books that are very hard to put down.

icon Film May 12, 1998
John Sayles
Eight Men Out

So you think free agency, skyrocketing salaries, and tantrum-prone players are ruining professional sports? You ain't seen nothin'. The "Black Sox" scandal of 1919 had the Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series to benefit gangsters and gamblers. In Eight Men Out, the underappreciated Sayles looks at baseball under the influence of money, corruption, and gambling. While the film may appeal primarily to baseball fans, there are also some fine performances from Michael Rooker and David Strathairn. Look for writer/director Sayles as legendary sports writer Ring Lardner.

icon Stories May 11, 1998
Michael Byers
The Coast of Good Intentions

Twenty-eight-year-old Byers writes about people plagued with disappointment and confronted with possibility. Most of the stories take place among the rivers, mountains, and rainy streets of the Pacific Northwest, and Byers' compact, able description of landscape is put to good use in service of his genuinely interesting characters.

icon Game May 8, 1998
Godzilla vs. Tamagotchi

Considering the damage that tamagotchi have unleashed over the past few months--from causing traffic fatalites in France to their TV counterparts inducing epilectic fits in Japan--it's no wonder than they're the frequent target for satire. Here, you'll take the role of immense mutant reptile to stomp the bejesus out of the annoying LCD critters. Ah, if only Mothra was this easy to squash.

icon Music May 7, 1998
Creeper Lagoon
Creeper Lagoon

Four of the five songs on this EP have been recast as the core of Creeper's upcoming I Become Small and Go. Let's hope the Dust Brothers, the hot production duo behind the knobs on the new album, didn't screw around too much. Songs like "Dear Deadly" and "Second Chance" sound pretty damn good on this first take.

icon Non - Fiction May 5, 1998
Donald Norman
Things That Make Us Smart

Why is the Yahoo! directory better than a plain old search engine? Well, even before Mosaic was a glimmer in Marc Andreesen's eye, Donald Norman was laying out the ground rules:

"McGuckin's Hardware Store shows to what we might aspire: efficient, intelligents agents, coupled with a functional arrangement that makes browsing a pleasure and a source of unexpected finds...With modern tools, it is perfectly feasible to develop artifacts for maintaining information files without any particular ordering. That is, one can store the information internally in any format one wishes but reconfigure it in numerous flexible ways at the whim of the user."

icon Music May 4, 1998
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Cosmo's Factory

Growing up in the '70s, Creedence Clearwater Revival meant two things to me. They were the old band that was constantly advertised on late-night TV. And they were the old band that my father had recorded on his reel-to-reel along with another old band called the Beatles. Of course, the operative word is "old." I was young. They were old. I didn't get it. Now that I'm old(er), I've started to get it. With a vengeance. I don't know when it started or why. Maybe it was hearing "Bad Moon Rising" in An American Werewolf in London. Maybe it was the Minutemen covers. Or maybe it was my dad's reel-to-reel tapes.

icon Actor May 1, 1998
John Cazale

He always played the schnook. The loser. The screw-up. The guy who is congenitally unable to do the right thing, and yet is entirely unaware of his shortcomings. Such were the characters of John Cazale. Unlike those characters, Cazale wasn't a loser. Anything but. In fact, each of the five movies he made was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. Three of them won. They are all classics. So is Cazale.

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