Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The AT Book Review: The Archivist

Let me start by saying, yes, I read a chick-lit book. For the record, I have also watched numerous Jane Austen adaptations, and on my other blog will be forcing myself to watch National Velvet one day soon. I'm so evolved.

Let me finish by saying that this example of the genre is an execrable time-waster. An indulgent, navel-gazing snoozefest. The "hero" is so repressed, so restrained, so flat, that I can't see why anyone would ever take an interest in him. And to sum it up: he burns the letters. Archival trash, indeed.

THE VERDICT: Failing archival students will be assigned this book as punishment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why I Love TV (Sometimes)

Arts education PSA. You'll spit your Raisin Brahms all over your monitor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Netflixations 2

As a public service, some recent viewings courtesy of the good people at Netflix:

Wire in the Blood
-- Psychopaths, gore, murder, and mayhem. If these are your cup of tea, then WitB is the show for you. We're two seasons through this, and although we can't say we always enjoy the spatter, it's good to see some quality TV, and of course the British accents lend that touch of class. And for the ladies, there's Robson Green (whose chemistry with Hermione Norris is so hot that even though they never do anything, you'll feel like they did.)

Extras -- Thoroughly uncomfortable to watch, like Seinfeld, only better. And so low-key that if you're not paying full attention, you'll miss the best lines. Each episode features a celebrity playing him/herself -- Kate Winslet cursing and touching herself while wearing a nun's habit is a must-see.

Burn Notice -- Okay, it's shallow, set in Miami, and its female co-star is so skinny that you want to hold her down and force-feed her milkshake after milkshake. But it's all in good fun, Sharon Gless and Bruce Campbell are a treat, as is watching our disgraced spy try to figure out how he landed in the fire. (And does anyone else ever read the show title as Bum Notice?)

Saving Grace -- The wife and I are split on this one: she gives it thumbs up, while I say thumbs sideways. The way-too-thin Holly Hunter stars as a way-too-hard-living detective in Oklahoma City who's visited by an angel named Earl, who wants her to change her life. Yeah, lots of Christianity for everyone in here, plus all the cowboy boots, oil fields, chaw, yee-hawness, and billy-bobbery you can stand. Still, Season 1 gets better as it goes along, and Hunter does, as usual, a tremendous acting job.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Long Overdue Return

No, not me. Blimp rides, that is. Or should I say Zeppelin rides. A California company, Airship Ventures, has begun offering the first passenger-zeppelin rides in the US since the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. A one-hour ride, from either Mountain View or Oakland, California, will set you back just $495. Sounds like the perfect gift for those software and wine company execs who haven't yet lost everything. Oh, and don't call them blimps: "Zeppelins have a light, rigid metal and carbon fiber framework that is covered with a synthetic canvas hull - just waiting to be adorned with your company logo for yet another fee. Blimps do not have internal rigid frames." Aren't you glad that's cleared up?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Blog

On this final debate night, when hopefully we'll see the final gasps of the Party of Hate in '08, I'd like to draw your attention to a new blog. Yes, now I have two blogs, because ignoring one wasn't good enough for me. I've decided to stop writing about sports (esp. hockey) here, and get back to the original point of Archival Trash -- namely, making gentle (ahem) fun at our chosen profession, with a dash of some of the finer points of life in Maine.

So head on over to Category Five, for talk about the NHL, the Hurricanes, and occasionally some other sports and fun stuff. If you don't do it, then the GOP will have won.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Anchoring the Stress Belt

Meant to post this article from the Sun Journal, our little journalistic outpost here in Lewiston. Apparently, Mainers are not happy people.

Yes, we're in the Stress Belt. We're disagreeable, neurotic, and keep to ourselves. You might be tempted to blame it on the weather. But I say it's not from the snow, the cloudy days, or the cold -- it's the roads.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Library Police Strike Again

Apparently, there is no real crime in Grafton, Wisconsin. A woman was arrested -- yes, led away in handcuffs -- for having $30 in overdue book fines. Looks like I better check my own bookshelves a little more carefully.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dogs, Pools, and Motorcycles

Apparently, three things Mainers can't live without:

Dogs. Three new families/annoyances have moved into our neighborhood. All of them have dogs. Some have more than one. All of these dogs bark. A lot. Apparently, leashes are optional. Winter can't come fast enough now.

Pools. Why is there a pool for every third house in Maine? Why have something you can only use, oh, two months out of the year? One of life's great mysteries, unsolved.

Motorcycles. I've discussed this Maine phenomenon before. I guess it's part of the American dream to own something that you can purposefully make louder, just for kicks. Let's let Bart Simpson have the last word: "Snipers, where ARE you?"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

It's Cup Time!

It really is the most wonderful time of the year, even if your team isn't playing. This year could be a classic: the dominant, two-way Red Wings, and the youthful high-flying Penguins. On paper, it looks like all Detroit: 23 Cup wins on the team, the league's best defensman, a great defense, good-enough goaltending, solid scoring depth, and enough talent up and down the lineup to outskate any team on any night. But I don't count out the Pens. Their no-name defense has stifled everyone this playoff season, Marc-Andre Fleury is a budding star in net, and of course Crosby and Malkin. So who do I pick? Not just to spite the Caps and Rangers fans out there (you know who you are) I say...Pens in 7.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Conference Finals

Down to the Final Four, which means that seeing the Cup hoisted is only a month and a half away! Ah, hockey in June -- is there anything better?

PIT vs. PHI -- Well, I guessed right and the Flyers did indeed handle the Habs pretty easily. As did Crosby and Co. against the Rangers. Philadelphia will throw everything they have at the Pens, and this could be a high-flying, exciting series right from the first whistle. The difference as I see it comes down to two areas: Pittsburgh has two superstars (Crosby and Malkin), to the Flyers none (AND I think the Pens supporting forwards are much deeper than Philly's); and the Pens have a more mobile defensive corps (although I think both sets of blueliners are the weak links on these teams). In net, given Martin Biron's recent dramatics, I think the teams wash; Fleury isn't yet a star, but can win games when the offense sputters. So...PIT in 6.

DET vs. DAL -- I have a friend, a Wings fan, here in Lewiston who greets me every time by shouting "The DOMINATOR!" Not really relevant, I know, and yet... So, which Dallas team will show up? The one that stumbled down the stretch, or the one that handily beat the favored Sharks? Will Marty Turco remember who he is, or will he become the next great playoff goaltender? As much as I would like to not root for a team that (still) has players older than I am, I can't go against the Wings. The stars say that the Wings won't be stopped here, and there's nothing the Stars can do about it. DET in 6.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Round 2!

On to Round 2 of the NHL playoffs! A big thank you to the Colorado Avalanche for ruining my perfect record. Let's see if we can't do just as well this time around...

(1)Montreal vs. (6)Philadelphia -- Both teams survived Game 7 tests. Will this series also go the distance? Mmm...probably not. Call me crazy, but I think the Flyers will pull this one out. Carey Price has got to have Habs fans a bit worried. PHI in 6.

(2)Pittsburgh vs. (5)New York Rangers -- I think this will be a great series. The Pens blew the doors off the hapless Senators, and the Rangers--gods be praised--knocked Martin Brodeur out. Crosby and Malkin will be too much though, although I think this will go the distance. PIT in 7.

(1)Detroit vs. (6)Colorado -- Maybe if Claude Lemieux and Patrick Roy have anything left in the tank, they can make this another great Wing/Avalance series. The Wings aren't quite the powerhouse that they appeared to be a few months ago, but they'll get by here. DET in 6.

(2)San Jose vs. (5)Dallas -- I thought the Sharks were for real, then they went and almost blew it against the Flames. So will the Stars keep rolling after ousting the defending champs? SJ in 6.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


So what if Carolina isn't playing! It's the NHL playoffs, dammit! Nothing else matters! (At least until Saturday, when The Masters is on CBS.) With that in mind, here are my fearless predictions for 2008.

(1)Montreal vs. (8)Boston -- Seriously, how many here thought the Bruins would actually make the playoffs? And how many think they'll beat the Canadiens? Me neither. MTL in 5.

(2)Pittsburgh vs. (7)Ottawa -- Back in December, this would have been a marquee matchup. Since then, the Senators have done just about everything wrong, while the Pens kept winning, even when NHL Meal Ticket (aka Sidney Crosby) went out of the lineup. Ottawa has enough to keep it close, but if the Pens can score (and if Marian Hossa remembers he wears a Pens jersey now), the Sens won't win. PIT in 6.

(3)Washington vs. (6)Philadelphia -- The big question in this series is how well will the Caps defensive forwards Bengt Gustafsson and Kelly Miller shut down the Propp/Poulin/Kerr line....oh wait...(Archivists really do live in the past.) Ok, as great as Ovechkin is, think with your head, Caps fans. You've been 'hot' lately, but you're about to be 'not.' PHI in 5.

(4)New Jersey vs. (5)New York Rangers -- Ugh. Can both these teams lose, please? I voted against the blueshirts last year (against Atlanta, hahahaha), so I won't make that mistake again. The Devils still have Brodeur, but who's gonna score? NYR in 6.

(1)Detroit vs. (8)Nashville -- Ok, Preds fans, repeat after me: "Getting to the playoffs was a moral victory and I will be satisfied with that." Now don't you feel better? DET in 5. (Best chance for a sweep, here)

(2)San Jose vs. (7)Calgary -- This could be the toughest, ugliest series in the first round. If San Jose is for real this year, we'll know early in this series. I think they're for real. SJ in 6.

(3)Minnesota vs. (6)Colorado -- Don't you bet the Avs wish they still had Sakic, Forsberg, and Foote from their glory days? What...? They still do? Ok, this series is where youth and skill beat age and treachery. MIN in 5.

(4)Anaheim vs. (5)Dallas -- Hm. I take back that SJ/CGY comment. THIS series could be the ugliest. Since I don't really like either team, I'll hope for Chris Pronger to go home early. DAL in 7.

Friday, February 29, 2008

What do you do with it all?

The snow, that is. With record amounts of the stuff piling up around the state, you'd be forgiven if you need to find creative outlets involving snow. And if you're the folks in Bethel, you build things. Like the world's tallest snowman.

Angus, the world's tallest snowman, was built in 1999 and named after then-governor Angus King. A few stats from the website tell the tale:
Height -- 113 ft. & 7 inches tall
Weight -- 9,000,000 lbs
200,000 cubic feet of snow
4 ft. wreathes as eyes
6 ft. of chicken wire & muslin for the carrot nose
6 automobile tires as the mouth
20 ft. fleece hat
120 ft. fleece scarf
3 skidder tires for the buttons
2 - 10 ft. trees for arms

As if that weren't enough, now they're at it again. Today, Bethel will unveil Olympia, soon to become the world's tallest snowwoman. She'll top out over 122' and 12,000,000 pounds (for a BMI of 3936, just a bit into the obese zone.) Olympia also has 30' pine trees for arms; hopefully they'll post full stats on the website soon. In '99 it took Angus 15 weeks to melt: Given this crazy winter, Olympia may actually grow in the coming weeks.

The forecast? Six to ten more inches of snow for us overnight, maybe over a foot at Bethel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Deadline Day

Those of you who aren't hockey fans can tune out now. For the two of you who are, you know today was the trading deadline in the NHL. While there were probably just two blockbuster-type deals league-wide (PIT getting Marian Hossa and DAL getting Brad Richards), there was plenty of action overall. Here's the AT evaluation of deals involving our favorite division at Archival Trash, the mighty Southeast.

Get: C/LW Tuomo Ruutu
Lose: LW Andrew Ladd
The Skinny: Hard to say. Ladd is younger, slightly cheaper, and a bit bigger. Both players, former first-round picks, have been injury-prone and are considered minor disappointments. Right now, the edge goes to Carolina, given Ruutu's experience (even though with the Hawks he had no playoff experience) and proven grit. Should Ladd put it together however, down the road it should favor the Hawks.

Get: G Cristobal Huet, C Sergei Fedorov, F Joe Motzko, LW Matt Cooke
Lose: 2nd round pick, D Ted Ruth (prospect), C Alexandre Giroux, LW Matt Pettinger
The Skinny: The Caps add forward depth with Motzko, get a kind-sorta gritty winger in Cooke, hope to resurrect Fedorov for a few weeks, and land an heir apparent to Olie the goalie. I think these are all good deals for the Caps, especially if the 90 year-old Fedorov clicks with Ovechkin.

Get: C Erik Christensen, RW Colby Armstrong, C Angelo Esposito (prospect), C Alexandre Giroux, PIT 1st round pick
Lose: RW Marian Hossa, LW Pascal Dupuis, F Joe Motzko
The Skinny: Hossa was going to walk anyway, Dupuis is marginal, and Motzko is a fringe player. Christensen and Armstrong won't score like Hossa, but they're character guys and will play hard every night. Esposito has been maligned constantly since playing his way out of being picked #1 overall last year (he wound up going 20th), but is still a quality prospect. Getting an extra first rounder is just icing on the cake, especially after getting rooked out of multiple picks in the Keith Tkachuk deal last year. Probably the best deals in the division.

Get: LW Chad Kilger, D Karlis Skrastins, goon Wade Belak, TOR 5th round pick
Lose: 3rd round pick, D Ruslan Salei, COL 3rd round pick
The Skinny: Bzzt! I'm sorry, you lose again, Panthers fans. Skrastins is decent, but Kilger will drive you nuts, and Belak is a younger version of Pete Worrell (ie, bad). At least they didn't try to reacquire Todd Bertuzzi.

Get: G Mike Smith, C Jeff Halpern, F Jussi Jokinen, NAS 7th round pick
Lose: C Brad Richards, G Johan Holmqvist, LW Jan Hlavac
The Skinny: Can you say "Salary Dump?" I guess the Lightning are building for next year, but I question whether Smith can be the big #1 they're hoping for, Halpern is a nice two-way forward, but is nearly 32, and Jokinen is (for now) just a shootout specialist. But, at least they're under the cap now, which could pay off this summer if they can land a free agent or two.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The AT Book Review: The Historian

Today we bring you the first edition of the AT Book Review. Our review features a hefty tome from 2005, Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. (NOTE: Spoilers are included, so if this book is on your to-read list, skip to the end.)

Let me just start by saying that this was one bad book, all 642 pages of it. After plowing through a couple hundred pages over a few evenings, it took all my strength to keep coming back to it. I waited and waited for something -- anything -- to happen. Okay, okay, we get a few deaths, almost all "off-camera," one near-sex scene, several more-boring-than-usual academic conferences, and miles and miles of travelogue. Only the final item comes closest to being interesting.

The story: Dracula lives (sort of). And he's looking for a historian. Or an archivist (so he says). So Vlad goes and plants these special dragon-symbol books in various libraries and archives around the world, and several characters eventually unearth them. These discoveries inspire our heroes to hunt for Dracula's final resting place. Only each time they start their research, nasty things happen to the people around them. The novel follows a number of these unfortunates -- separately, and, for the reader, drearily together -- through much of the twentieth century, skipping back and forth from the 1930s, 50s, 70s, and the present day. Needless to say, blood is shed mysteriously, some characters behave menacingly, our heroes fret discouragingly, and the plot evolves adverbially.

There are two major problems with this book. First: Why, if Drac really wants to be found by these elite academics, does he then try to frighten them off? Why not just find some competent historian or archivist, make them undead, and solve your problem for all time? We eventually find out he's a discerning reader, has saved/acquired numerous priceless volumes, and has no trouble going anywhere in the world. What gives?

The second, and the biggest problem, is this: once we finally meet El Vladdo (nearly 600 pages in, mind you), he's captured one of our intrepid (read: doomed) hunters and has him begin ... Cataloging His Books! No research. No searching for more ancient tomes. Just making a catalog. Dracula finally has a world-renowned historian in his grasp, a classicist who probably knows even more than does Mr. Impaler, and he has the good professor catalog his library. I only hope our-soon-to-die professor has read his AACR2. (Kostova doesn't say.)

THE GOOD NEWS: Kostova received a $2 MILLION advance for this book. Maybe I should write a story about Dr. Frankenstein and his desire to archive his personal papers.

THE BAD NEWS: There may be a sequel. And a movie.

THE VERDICT: Unless you're an insomniac cataloger who wants to see archivists and academic historians kick the bucket, don't waste your time.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The quest for fame drives most donations. But now, shame can work to your advantage as well. For going beyond the mundane "Friend of the Archives" designation, Archival Trash presents the following fundraising hierarchy. Insert your own dollar amounts.

$$$$$$....Archival Sugar Daddy
$$$$$.....Honorary Degree Recipient*
$$$$......Honorary Archivist (will receive personally scrimshawed Bone Folder)
$$$.......One Who Knows Where the Archives Is Located and Sometimes Uses Your Parking Space
$$........Person Who Drives Past the Archives on Their Way to Work
$.........Someone Who Can Spell 'Archives'
-$........Cost-Cutting Middle Manager/Committee Chair
-$$.......Cost-Cutting Congressman
-$$$......That Administrator With a Shredder Who Won't Return Your Calls
-$$$$.....Mr. Vice President

*or, for non-university archives: New Meeting Room Named After Himself/Herself/Favorite Pet

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Presidential Hoopla

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton came to Lewiston. I took the short walk to the Lewiston Armory to join maybe 2,000 others to hear her speak. And I have the photos to prove it.

First of all, outside, a hastily doctored sign.

A closer look at the above. I guess all New England looks alike.

Next, the scoreboard over the Armory floor. Ok, I get the '2008.' But '44?'

Finally, the candidate herself. She gave a good, if typical, campaign speech. But I'm glad to see she and Sen. Obama actually came to Maine.

The Maine Democratic caucuses are held today. Of course, it's snowing. Turnout is still expected to be big, however, and right now the predictions are breaking for Obama. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trust Me, I'm An Archivist

Unless you're Daniel Lorello, an archivist for the state of New York, that is. Mr. Lorello has been charged with the theft of multiple items from the state archives, all to pay off his utility and credit card bills. Article link here.

I'm interested to see how New York approaches trying to retrieve any items Lorello already sold. Even though buyers most likely assumed they were getting items in good faith, will they be willing to return them? Will the state reimburse them? Or will we see multiple replevin cases once particular stolen items are identified?

And speaking of replevin, the state of Maine is working through the courts to attempt to retrieve a copy of the Declaration of Independence once owned by the town of Pownalborough (now Wiscasset). Somehow the copy ended up in the possession of a nineteenth century town clerk, and was sold at an estate auction in 1994. This case resembles one in 1999 where a copy once belonging to the town of North Yarmouth was sold in similar fashion. In that case, the parties resolved their differences in early 2001. (Go here.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

MacGuyver's Archival Glossary: The Bone Folder

Admit it, fellow archivistes: before joining the club, you had no earthly idea what a bone folder was. In fact, you probably thought it was one of the following:

a. the coolest move from an old Bruce Lee movie;
b. a professional wrestler;
c. that thing in Jack Sparrow's hair (thanks for that one, Christie);
d. some kind of Dungeons & Dragons magic thingy.

So what is it really? Only the second deadliest tool in the archivist's arsenal, behind the microspatula. Maybe not as subtle and deadly efficient as the metal blade, it's still perfect for eliminating paper creases, stirring drinks, and subduing recalcitrant patrons. Works equally well as a shim or a shiv.

With all these cool tools, can the archival utility belt be far behind?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Games Before the Big Game

I will go on record right now stating that the Packers and the Patriots will meet in the Super Bowl on February 3.

Ok, picking the Patriots is not exactly taking a risk. With Rivers, Tomlinson, and Gates not at their best (and maybe not even playing, in Rivers' case), I don't see how the Chargers can mount much of a challenge. Yeah, they beat the Colts without big contributions from those three, but didn't Indy look, I dunno, distracted or something last week? Were they planning their trip to NE already, thinking about visiting Faneuil Hall or the Gardner Museum? Even though the Pats have looked mortal the past month or so, I still think they win handily: NE 31, SD 14.

The Packers, on the other hand, definitely are a risk. I didn't think they'd win 8 games this year, let alone getting this far. But they're playing at home, the forecast is very cold temps, and Eli Manning doesn't fare well in the cold. But Brett Favre is still the wild child of QBs, and he scares me every time he drops back for a pass. Still, if the Pack holds on to the ball, they'll win: GB 28, NY 17.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Meme Mine

(Title with apologies to the Beatles)

Thanks to Brave Astronaut, I've been tagged by an archives meme. More on that below; but first, some pictures I took Monday.

Yes, it snowed again on Monday, just a mere foot, nothing special. This first pic is just after I left for my walk to work, taken around 7:45 Monday morning. It had been snowing for about 30 minutes. You may be able to see the piles of snow along the road from all the previous storms. And yes, it was that dark. Although maybe not so blue.

Here it is, not ten minutes later. There was now about 2 inches on the ground. People were still driving like nothing was happening, speeding along cluelessly. The sidewalks were very slippery just then, so I'm sure the roads were a blast.

Now here it is around 1:00, during the walk home. The building is a local hospital. Only 6 or 7 inches had fallen at that point. Still snowing quite heavily. It was actually quite easy to walk through, as long as you remembered where the curbs were! I don't think this street had been plowed yet. And traffic was slower, but still surprisingly heavy. (On a side note, these "early winter" snows are quite dry and powdery, much more so than the snows I grew up with in the South. Shoveling and cleaning the car is waaayyy easier, almost like brushing sugar off the kitchen counter.)

Now on to BA's meme. The challenge was this: "Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you've written." Each one has specific instructions, listed below. So here goes...

Link 1 must be about family. I have never posted about my family, and likely never will. Except the wife, and only then in glowing terms, because she's perfect. (Hey, I know what I'm doing.)
Link 2 must be about friends. Well, I've never really posted about my friends either. Must be something about posting about people... In lieu of a 'friends' post, here is my post about SAA, where I did get to see most of my friends. Does that count?
Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are... what you're all about. Here's my very first post. Yes, quite a doozy indeed.
Link 4 must be about something you love. Hm. Just to make BA jealous, read this.
Link 5 can be about anything you choose. Everyone's favorite archival tool. Don't leave home without it.

Wow, those are some powerhouse links. Looks like I either need to become more introspective on my blog, or start dishing the dirt. Maybe I can dish some introspective dirt.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wanted: Proofreder

Just received this in the mail:


This is why our dues are going up.

Friday, January 04, 2008

January Madness

No, this post isn't about even more snow. Nor about the single-digit temps yesterday and this morning, nor even about the expected thaw coming on Sunday (what, a week in the 40s?!?).

I've been watching the BCS games this week, and I've been less than impressed. Bowl games are always a crapshoot, and I figure NCAA has gone 1-2-1 in the four games so far. USC/Illinois and Georgia/Hawaii were such duds that you wonder why anyone bothered showing up. WVU/Oklahoma was a stinker from a football perspective, but great from a beating-down-OU one. Last night's Kansas/Virginia Tech game was good, giving me hope for Monday's finale. I still can't believe that either Ohio State or LSU got into the final, but hey, what do I know? Anyway, long-suffering football widows/widowers, soon your nightmare will be over.

At least until spring training.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Netflix: don't you wish you'd thought of it? How many times since joining have you spent agonizing minutes (hours?) in a video store trying to: a) figure out what to rent, or 2) remember what you came to the store for. The answer for me is none. And admit it, Netflix is addictive, too. How many of us really care to admit just how much time we've spent adding to and re-working our queues?

All this time spent honing our home entertainment options means an increase in the quality of our choices, right? Um, not really. Sure, I go to Salon and read the annual movies of the year, paying particular interest in the notable indy movies. But over the next few years, how many of these will I watch? One, possibly two, an outside chance at three. More likely, I'll forget the list and never see any of them.

Here's my confession; or rather, along with my wife, our confession. We're addicted to TV shows. Mostly mysteries,and mostly British, and only a few well-regarded shows. Very few American shows ever really catch our attention. Why? Who knows. Maybe that whole familiarity breeding contempt thing. Maybe it's the accents. Or maybe we'd rather avoid a constant stream of shows featuring twentysomething, skeletal Barbies being presented as sexy and alluring. (I once read a quote from a woman wondering what men found sexy about such bony women; she figured the sex must be like sleeping with a coat hanger. But I digress.)

So with apologies to Bergman, Antonioni, Hitchcock, and all the others who worked so hard to craft classic fare that would entertain beyond their lifetimes, here's my list of the favorite Netflix television rentals from 2007.

Inspector Frost Mysteries. A truly great series. Jack Frost is a fiftyish copper in dreary Denton, England. He's cranky, a little dumpy, loves Indian food, and somehow manages to be a hit with the ladies. This show is rightly a classic, and also introduced us to the word "sarnie."

Midsomer Murders. Quite possibly the deadliest mystery series ever, as the people in rural Midsomer County drop like flies in every episode. There are so many things to like about this tongue-in-cheek series, especially the way everyone in a particular village carries on as though nothing is happening even as the body count rises.

Cracker. No, not the godawful Robert Pastorelli series. This is the original, with Robbie Coltrane as the deranged lunatic/psychiatrist headliner. The biggest quibble with these episodes is that the quality went down as the family-related melodrama went up.

Second Sight. A really overlooked BBC show starring Clive Owen. Owen plays a driven detective who needs to cover up the fact that he's losing his eyesight. Only a few episodes, but well worth the rental.

Black Adder. Ok, so not exactly low on the quality meter. I rate this series much higher than Rowan Atkinson's other well-known vehicle, Mr. Bean. This show got better with each series, and also starred some of my favorite actors: a pre-House Hugh Lauries, Stephen Fry, Miranda Richardson (her Queen Elizabeth is possibly the craziest character I've ever seen in a comedy), etc etc.

Father Ted. Really, really sophmoric comedy about three misfit priests stationed on an oddball island off the coast of Ireland. But really, really funny once you get used to it. Trust me: after one episode you'll be saying "What the hell?" After three, you won't be able to stop.

The Closer. The more I think about, really not a very good show. Mediocre plots, okay dialogue,and often some really drecky acting. But still a lot of fun, mostly because of Kyra Sedgwick (please eat something, K). I also get a kick out of the scenes with sidekick (one of many) Michael Paul Chan, of the late lamented show Robbery Homicide Division.

Six Feet Under. We've only watched the first season so far, but the rest are on the queue. Quirky, yes; often self-indulgent, yes. Very good, yes.

I'd also like to give a tip of the hat to Deadwood, quite possibly the worst thing I've seen on TV in some time. And I watched Skating With Celebities.

Fortunately, 2008 promises more dabblings into television's past. Next on the list are such goodies as Nero Wolfe, The Wire, Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, Rosemary & Thyme, Hamesh Macbeth, Taggart, and The Job. Not to mention ones we caught when originally aired: Monk, the "old" ABC series Murder One, and a host of Inspector Lynley Mysteries. 2008 promised to be a very good year.