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  THE BLACK LIST: A RANDOM REVIEW OF EVERYTHING, IN GRADE FORM.  
   
     

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, a novel by MARK HADDON: B-

 

 

CALIFORNIA'S GUBERNATORIAL RECALL: This summer's political blockbuster is not showing on Broadway, and it's not appearing in theaters near you. But anyone can read the headlines and follow the carnival. Conceived by an ex-felon and starring a cast of actors, pornographers, and millionaires, this production is a welcome distraction from politics that, Silvio Berlusconi aside, have gotten so darn depressing. Cue California, stage left with the sequel to "Rolling Blackouts!" Highlights thus far? Gray Davis getting Terminated while his Lieutenant Governor lurks in the background. (et tu, Bustamante?). Gary Coleman, former child actor, filing his papers to run with the caveat "God forbid that I actually might win." A candidate proposing a plan called "Porno for Pistols," whereby people exchange firearms for dirty videos. Hand jobs for handguns. Thank goodness one candidate, smut peddlar Larry Flynt, has actual experience with the law. National self-respect. F. Entertainment value. A -- Juliet Siler Eastland

CHICKEN PIZZOLA by SUBWAY: The picture of this new offering from Subway looks positively tantalizing in the picture, with freshly grilled chicken, pepperoni and provolone cheese draped just so. But in reality, this sandwich was D.O.A. the minute the sandwich artist took the precooked, prefabricated chicken "breast" and stuck it into the microwave for two minutes. The cheese was so stale you couldn't melt it with a spot welder and the special tomato sauce was just the shit the meatballs were floating in all day. Sandwich artist? More like con artist. What did they do, draw the grill lines on that chicken with a Sharpie? No wonder Jared's so thin. I can't see him keeping his Chicken Pizzola down, either. D+ -- Eric Gillin

SQUATTING ON THE TOILET: Every time I walk into a restroom in one of Manhattan's little hot spots, I have to step in the little bit of piss women leave on the floor. Then, I have to bend down to inspect the seat to see if I now have to squat, and end up squatting myself because the seat is covered in urine droplets from some drunken paranoid whore. According to research done by The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University in Bloomington, scabies and crabs are the only things you can catch from a toilet seat. And the chances of this are slim-to-none if you just wipe the seat before you sit down. Yeah, if you're relieving yourself in a Starbucks, train station, gas station, McDonalds, Euro-trash dance club, or a Porto-Potty, squat because those toilets are nasty. But if you're spending your bonus check at some trendy little pan-fusion, $9.00 a drink, uber chic café, do you really need to pee on the seat? F -- Kathie Fries

AMERICAN WEDDING: This piece of shit will give you diabetes. It's sappy sweet -- the Hostess Sno Ball of summer movies. An untalented sausage-fest, Jim, Finch and a porn mustached Kevin rally around a post-Buffy Alyson Hannigan, who has been left to jump up and down for a starring role and a paycheck. Chris Klein, riding his success

 

from Rollerball, was obviously too big of a name to return. And Tara Reid? Couldn't take the straw from her nose long enough to make it to the set to look her vacant best. Crowd fave Stiffler, ups his "gross out" ante and eats shit, so Hollywood can take him *real* seriously now. Sitting though this movie was like watching someone you hate get beaten in the head with a shovel. You're somewhat horrified, but still think it's a hoot. It's worth seeing, but not for $10. Try sneaking into the theater. C+ -- Tracy Weiss

ATKINS ADVANTAGE BARS: Granted, your dining options are drastically slashed once you embark upon the Atkins diet. Forget

 
  pasta and sweets -- you'd kick a dog just to have a piece of fruit. After your tenth hard boiled egg of the day, you think, "Gee, I'd like an alternate snack option." Well keep looking, honey. These bars are only marginally better than not eating at all. It's not so  
 

much that they taste bad, but they just taste artificial, top to bottom, whether it's 'chocolate' flavoring, 'peanut butter' flavoring, or the manufacturer's attempt to recreate the sensation of crunchiness. Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels, and that goes double for these. D -- Claire Zulkey

7-UP'S NEW "UPSIDE DOWN" FLAVOR: It's nice to know Yellow #5 still has some clout in the soft drink world, because this green beverage manages to include both that and Blue #1, which must be a friend of Yellow, or something. Clearly the product of guys who used to spend all day in front of 7-11 bumming change so they could find out what a Slurpee would taste like if they combined all the flavors, this unholy wedding between Mountain Dew and Fresca will probably become quite popular, especially when combined with Midori Melon liquor, or used to dilute such. It certainly can't taste any worse, but it has its uses. I mean, you could like, swizzle some in your mouth, and then go out and froth it all up like you're an alien, and the Earth's atmosphere is wreaking havoc on your vascular system. That'd be cool. Also contains Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin. Yum. C+ -- Dave Gaffen

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by MARK HADDON: This novel-slash-mystery, about an autistic teenager who finds his neighbor's poodle impaled with a garden fork, has been touted as a remarkable, and long overdue, journey into the autistic mind. The problem is that it's actually too good, and after reading

 
  it I walked away with the false knowledge that I could now communicate with the autistic much like Aquaman communicates with salmon. The sadly logical mind of the young, autistic protagonist, Christopher John Francis Boone, seemed like such an easy nut to crack: Avoid emotional topics, stick to straight  
 

facts and mathematical equations, and you can converse with an autistic child for hours. Haddon's book is provocative and bittersweet, but it's also extremely dangerous. Like Microsoft's Flight Simulator, the book's another seemingly innocuous invention that gives laptop "pilots" the false notion that they themselves could teach an autistic child how to fly an airplane. B- -- Adam Finley

SCRUBBING BUBBLES FLUSHABLE TOILET WIPES, by JOHNSON & JOHNSON: For those young bachelors who are unlucky enough to have another young bachelor for a roommate, these little babies are life-savers. The flushable toilet wipes are a combination of a baby wipe and a Swifter and they are so, so convenient. With one quick swipe you can get almost all the pubes off the rim of the toilet and drop it into the toilet bowl before you even realize what a nasty thing your are doing. No more sponges with leftover pubes and crud from six months ago, the last time you cleaned your toilet. No more complicated bleaches and powders. Just one wipe on the rim, one on the seat, and you no longer have to be ashamed when a girl comes over to visit. In fact, it's so easy you might find yourself cleaning the toilet more often than necessary. The only downside is the temptation to sit down on the seat as soon as you are done wiping it -- you should wait until it dries, because the bleach in the toilet wipes gives an irritating butt rash. A- -- Trevor Thompson

FRESHDIRECT.COM: It's great how new companies always find a way to put together lengthy legends of their founding that make them sound like they're a Savile Row haberdashery. This on-line grocery store does it with the description of the different temperature zones for keeping food so it all stays fresh and comfortable. Wow! Temperature zones? Who knew!? Anyway, they're still offering $50 of free food, which comes out to about nine orders of the really tasty fish cubes or one whole 16-pound top sirloin, which makes 12 steaks, a big roast, and 5 pounds of hamburger meat. Let the drooling commence. A- -- D.G.

UNDERNEATH MY SKIN by TRACY LORDS: As far as memoirs go, former porn star Traci Lords sticks to the "I Can Read" playbook,

 
  using simple, bland sentences to promote the idea that her post-porn career as a C-list celebrity was successful. And while Lords makes it extremely clear that she's at peace with her demons as a 15-year-old porn queen, she's not exactly very forthcoming with the kinds of details I wanted. Where are the dicks and blowjobs  
 

and sucking and fucking and boobies and money shots and buckets of cum? For someone that made 13,000 films in two years, Lords spends one measly half-chapter vaguely outlining her Blue Period. Instead, Lords opts to spend forever discussing her supporting role in Cry-Baby, and tries to convince us that her musical career was, in fact, a success. I'd rather have the bucket of cum. C --E

TRADING SPACES FAMILY: The original Trading Spaces is the crack cocaine of the home improvement show set, mostly because of Paige Davis, the inexplicably hot host who has one of the illest racks ever. (Look for a near-naked shot of Davis in nothing but wallpaper in the Aug. 16 TV Guide!) So you'd think Trading Spaces Family could at least be like, heroin, or something. But the geniuses at TLC made the mistake of dispensing with Davis in favor of Joe Farrell, whose camp counselor-esque bedside manner evokes Bob Saget's run on Full House. Five episodes in and Family's shtick is already tired. The paint fights are silly, the practical jokes are dopey and the quaintly designed rooms are perfectly bland. The only time this show tops the original is during the reveal, when Mommy, Daddy and the kiddies freak out like they've been dosed with LSD. C+ --E

CHICAGO, a musical starring MELANIE GRIFFITH -- Why do this, Mel? You're not a singer. You're not a dancer. The world already saw Renee do it and liked it. Why would they pay $100 for someone almost twice her age limp through the cellblock? Sure, you've still got a decent pair of stems, but she's spunkier and didn't lose her virginity to Don Johnson (not even once). What's your Roxy Hart got? Does it matter? Melanie needs this gig to keep an eye on Antonio who's playing in Nine across the street. I'd hang on to my man too, dollface. He spends a lot of time looking at Jane Krawkoski's tits. But all is not lost. Chicago's still a classic show filled with murder, corruption, violence and sex. Just like hip-hop. This stunt casting might be selling tickets to the tourists, but no one's sold. All that Jazz, indeed, B-. -- T.W.

 
 

*BT*

SUBMIT. The Black Table has opened the lab. We want you review whatever new thing is out there that caught your attention so we can publish it next week. Keep entries at 150-175 words in one paragraph. Do not go long. Remember the grade. Entries are edited. Send to: theblacktable@hotmail.com