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Short Takes – August 2005

by Kristin Schrader

Let it be said. When I was a child, living in Michigan during the summer meant that no matter what time of the year it was, it was always too chilly to swim. You did it, because you were at camp and your alternative was to scrub canoes, but it was cold. I am telling you that I see fish jumping out of the water in the morning to cool off. Yes, the air in the morning is cooler than the water. Not right! In lieu of the Kyoto protocol being signed, at least there is some entertainment for us. Before the floods come through and wash away our TVs.

If you Google “Television highlights in August” the first thing that comes up is “Maori television highlights.” Like the people in New Zealand. That right there is enough entertainment for a week and a half, but there’s more! Kathy Griffin starts Kathy Griffin: My life in the D-List on Bravo in August. I love Hollywood insider shows. Ones that seem really real, from Curb Your Enthusiasm to The Comeback. Griffin’s show follows her through awkward bookings and charity machinations. Real working comic stuff. The Comeback (HBO), featuring Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish, is so exquisitely painful to watch. This mockumentary follows an ’80s sitcom star making her way back into the public eye, even though she isn’t really aware that she left. She has married a regular business-type guy, she has a stepdaughter and all sorts of every day life that barely dents the former star armor that protects her from disappointment again and again. Brilliant. Entourage on HBO is less realistic than some of what we’re getting as an insider’s view, or is it? Jeremy Piven has been nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of a hard-hitting agent Ari Gold, and boy oh boy, he deserves it. He is so hard and driven, and the show doesn’t make the mistake of making his weaknesses too visible. He simply is not a weak guy.

However, the show to watch in August? Try that Wanted on TNT, just ‘s new, and because someone really should be picking up the 100 most wanted criminals.

Get your music, get it now. What is new in August? Plenty. Jimmie Dale Gilmore will release Come On Back (Rounder) which are songs he learned from his dad. Jimmie grew up in Lubbock, these songs are country gold in the best sense. The Stanley Brothers bring us Essential Gospel Masters on Varese Sarabande. When I get called home, I hope it sounds like Ralph Stanley singing, I really do. Wait a minute, that’s the heat talking! I actually hope never to die.

The CD to purchase this month is the Ramones box set, Weird Tales of the Ramones (Rhino/WEA). Drive with your windows down!

Wedding Crashers is kicking it at the box office. I am okay with that, because it is something funny, for goodness sakes! Why everyone is going insane for a movie where baby penguins die is beyond me, it really is. Why is that what captured America’s heart this summer when people could be enjoying some goofiness? We are at war, that’s not sad enough? You have to watch the penguins die? Go see the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and know that Tim Burton has Corpse Bride headed our way in September. Plenty of death, but beautifully illustrated. Want happier? Shopgirl, with Steve Martin, Jason Schwartzman and Claire Danes is out in October from Touchstone. She’s lovely! And Hitch is finally on DVD. No penguins were harmed in the making of that movie.

The film to see in August? The Aristocrats! I feel like it is a shiny present all wrapped up for true students of the human psyche, presented by Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller. I would have different comedians digest the news for me if I could, so this is great. The same secret joke, told over and over by different comedians, as if they were ballet dancers interpreting Swan Lake. A Swan Lake with bestiality, incest, and no end of scat. Perfect for right before back-to-school. I can’t even write any more, I am going to go bounce up and down by the door until it comes to my town.

Until then I remain, as always, on the edge of my seat.

Most information is derived from IMDB's daily news, the Chicago dailies (Tribune and Sun Times), Entertainment Weekly,, various sources as listed, and by just paying attention.

Kristin Schrader is a writer living in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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