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Bored on the Fourth of July 

Blondes and aliens put on a disappointing display

Since shopping and driving are America's two most cherished rights, celebrating the Fourth of July in the parking lot at Lenox Square was the most patriotic thing I could think to do last Wednesday. The crowd was a mix of families, groups of teens and twentysomethings. Many staked out their fireworks-viewing spots while others toured the event's shopping and entertainment. The Peach 94.9 stage featured a band performing blandly cheerful, Up With People-style covers of hit songs. Mercifully,

it was too crowded for me to investigate more closely.

Despite that bit in the Declaration of Independence about all men being created equal, I decided to take advantage of my date's access to the Atlanta Magazine VIP viewing area. After all, fencing yourself off from NVIPs is also an American tradition. Jimmy Baron from 99X was there, but since he wasn't standing near the open bar, I didn't introduce myself. However, while in line for the bar I did ask the guy in front of me how being a VIP made him feel. He smirked and responded that, as a former bouncer at Karma, he's well-known and therefore has VIP access everywhere he goes. His sidekick loudly supported his claim.

It's Slamtastic: I love poetry slams. First, because the performances can be exhilarating. Second, because they inspire me to invent fictional art competitions with similarly ridiculous names like etching throwdown, sculpture rodeo, architecture bee, piano fight and faux-finish jam. On Friday, Mumbo Jumbo hosted a poetry slam in its upstairs lounge. Imagine your living room with dim lighting, nicer furniture, 40 attractive people and a bar. The slam featured members of the MoorEpic Slam Team, who, along with the Bluemilk slam team, are preparing to represent Atlanta in the National Poetry Slam in Seattle July 31.

With a wildly physical performance of a poem simulating a nervous breakdown, Yohannes was thrilling and my personal favorite. Additionally, the slam team's captain, Ga. Me (Georgia Me), was charismatic and very funny, despite her ridiculous pre-performance assertion that hurling racist slurs at people is excusable if you have "love in your heart." Does the "love in your heart" defense also apply to stealing or beating people up?

Legally Bland: Good taste won a small victory Saturday night as people stayed away from the party at Karma intended to promote the new Reese Witherspoon movie Legally Blonde. The club is usually crowded on Saturday nights, but was nearly empty for this party. Perhaps regular Karma-goers felt like my friend, who suggested that she'd rather stick a pen in her eye than attend an event associated with a film that is so clearly horrible. Despite free admission for blondes, there were precious few of them present. Blondes might have more fun, but on Saturday, they had it somewhere else.

Dragging Con: I admit that I know next to nothing about science fiction, but I can certainly spot boredom and unhappiness when I see it. I got an eyeful of it at Sci-Fi Summer Atlanta 2001, a sparsely attended science fiction convention at the Marriott near Clairmont and I-85. I asked a group of comic and collectibles vendors what they thought of the event and was greeted with a loud and unanimous chorus of jeers. "It sucks," said a vendor who identified himself as Mark from Comic City in Nashville, bemoaning the event's poor attendance. He thought the $10 admission charge drove people away. Comic artist and vendor Tim Riley guessed that this weekend's Ozzfest show at HiFi Buys Amphitheatre featuring Marilyn Manson and Black Sabbath probably distracted the convention's target audience. The impressive variety of Satan-themed T-shirts and buttons for sale at the convention leads me to think that their audiences do in fact overlap.

The convention's big hit was the free pinball and video arcade, which was where I found most of the conventioneers on Sunday. I myself managed to play a bit of Pac-Man. The happiest person that I met at the event was Bill Blair, an actor who specializes in playing aliens. One of the convention's featured guests, Blair has appeared on several episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Babylon Five," and even has a Star Trek action figure modeled after his face. Though he obviously enjoys talking about his work, I can't help but think that one of the reasons that Blair was so chipper was the presence of his fan club president, an attractive young woman named Julia Weinmann. If attractive young women fans followed me to work every day, I'd probably be perky, too.

Got Milk: Writer and filmmaker Chris Kelly, winner of Creative Loafing's 2000 Critic's Award for Best Local Filmmaker/Video Artist, hosted a viewing party at his Ansley Park home Friday night to celebrate the first Cartoon Network airing of his cartoon "Major Flake." Guests included a bunch of Cartoon Networkers, including writers Stuart Hill, Jeff Olsen and Pete Johnson. Major Flake is a hyper, French-accented breakfast cereal mascot oblivious to the fact that nobody likes his cereal. Though neither hyper nor French-accented, Kelly was willfully oblivious to his guests' approval of his cartoon, shyly hiding in the kitchen while it aired.

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