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Wednesday, 01 August 2007 00:00

Recommended diversions

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“Picket Fences,” and “Northern Exposure”

Is it possible to be nostalgic for the 1990s already? Or maybe it is the relative lack of excellent, quirky, hour-long “dramadies,” especially on network television. Before HBO blew the networks away with “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “Deadwood,” and the like, these shows were two of the best television had to offer. “Picket Fences” was created by David Kelley, who also created “LA Law,” “Ally McBeal,” and “Boston Legal,” among other shows, but I thought “Picket Fences” might be the best of the bunch, and after a long delay, the first season is finally available on DVD. Since Kelley’s shows are often topical, some of the episodes seem a bit dated now, and the edginess of the show is not nearly as edgy now in the wake of “The Sopranos,” et al. Still, it is well worth seeking out. “Northern Exposure,” on the other hand, has not dated at all, remaining as fresh and inventive as the day it aired. Instead of watching another stupid reality show, give these a try, or if you know and love them already, go ahead and wallow in some ‘90s nostalgia.

White Stripes, Icky Thump

You’ve got to hand it to Jack White. Not only has he taken his band to the very summit of rock and roll “hipness,” he has created a kind of mythology around the band the likes of which we rarely see these days. In other words, he’s a rock star like Jim Morrison was a rock star, like Jimi Hendrix was a rock star, like U2 are rock stars, playing to tens of thousands instead of the two dozen or so the White Stripes played to in tiny, trendy venues only five or six years ago. I’m not much for rock myths, but I’ve liked the Stripes’ records right up until the last one, Get Behind Me Satan, which I thought was a little too cute and gimmicky. He’s running out of gas, I thought. Well, no, it turns out. Icky Thump is a thunderous return to form, full of riffs and hooks that recall not only Led Zeppelin, but the Stones, the Faces, and Hendrix, among others. If the Stripes keep making albums this good, they can wear all the funny looking clothes they like.

Dairy Queen

On a hot summer day, we love loading up in the minivan and hitting the drive-thru at the good old Dairy Queen, where the kids and Tammy always get small cones dipped in chocolate, and I always get a large cone of plain vanilla, a towering, impossible swirl of ice cream nearly as long as my forearm. By the time we get home, the kids look as if THEY have been dipped in chocolate, their faces painted almost completely, while the adults in front compete with the sun to devour their cones before the dripping begins. Usually, the adults win. Hedonism 1, Discipline 0...but so worth it.

— By Chris Cox

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