5 Reasons to Live

One Heck of a 'Show'

Ken Tucker gives kudos to Lindsey Buckingham's new single, the stars of ''Studio 60,'' and a fun feature on ''Scarface: Platinum Edition''

BUCKINGHAM PALACE Welcome back, Lindsay! Your first solo CD in ages is one of Tucker's Reasons To Live this week
Image credit: Lindsey Buckingham: Dennis Van Tine/London Features
BUCKINGHAM PALACE Welcome back, Lindsay! Your first solo CD in ages is one of Tucker's Reasons To Live this week

Ken Tucker sings Lindsey Buckingham's praises

1. Lindsey Buckingham's ''Show You How''
From Under the Skin (Reprise)
The only member who, in recent years, really seemed to care about Fleetwood Mac's soul (as opposed to its tour profits), Buckingham releases his first solo album in more than a dozen years. Which means he plays every note, and there are flurries, blizzards of them — he makes acoustic-guitar and vocal overdubs into cascades of sound. On the single (remember singles?) ''Show You How,'' he's a ''madman out on a madman route,'' if I hear him correctly. And even if I don't, his distinctive madness, the passion of a man obsessed with making connections between his enthusiasms and yours, is intensely pleasurable. ''Let the past be the past,'' indeed: He's promising another, this time electric, solo album soon. Looking forward to it, but this one has a charge that'll keep you lit up for a long time.

2. Counting the ''f-bombs'' in Scarface: Platinum Edition
With the manufacturers obviously high on their own supply, the press release says, ''featuring BIGGER GUNS, BIGGER EXPLOSIONS, AND BIGGER SOUNDS!'' Which means they've cranked up the volume on these sound effects. Plus, they've added an option to click on an ''f-bomb'' counter, which keeps track of how many times the characters utter their favorite obscenity. How many? Telling would spoil the fun — plus, I think they may have missed a couple. Anyway, the Pacino-DePalma Miami-grunge classic is back, to draw you under its irresistible, gritty spell.

3. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
(NBC, Mondays, 10 p.m.)
Creator Aaron Sorkin's version of The Dick Van Dyke Show's Buddy and Sally, these two comedy-writer wisecrackers also fit the descriptions ''unfriendly ex-Friend'' and ''unwise crackhead'' — both of which I intend as compliments. If, so far, no one around them has proven that the show they've been brought in to save is worth saving, these two performances are wonderful: Perry lets his face settle into bloodhound doggedness as he barks out his byplay, while Whitford reveals how truly angry his bristlingly intelligent West Wing Josh was, just below the surface. But they're not rehashing old characters; they're opening themselves up to the rancor and superciliousness that Sorkin excels at. Brave work; now let's watch the ratings to see whether the show-about-saving-a-show needs saving.

4. Bao Pai's ''Race'' in The Best American Poetry 2006
(Scribner)
Back by popular demand: poetry! Bao Pai — from Minneapolis by way of Saigon — puns on the title word (racial identity; racing in the streets). You have to read the whole tough, funny, lurid poem (it's as if Jan and Dean took ''Deadman's Curve'' and swerved into a new century), but here's a verse from early on in this mini-epic (all typography Pai's):

...So Huey and JPEG were like a team
JPEG's real name was Nimoy cuz his parents
Came to America and watched Star Trek and
They thought Nimoy was an American name
Now Nimoy called himself JPEG because he thought
he was
SO
PRETTAY...

5. Clu Gulager in Feast
(DVD)
He's the white-haired bartender in his son John's mash-up horror flick (Alien Goes Blood Simple; Project Greenlight Eats Its Young). But ol' Clu used to be cooler than anyone in this movie will ever be, in the 1960s, when he out-acted star James Drury on the TV Western The Virginian, and sneered and wore a sharkskin suit better than anyone in the cruddy '64 remake of The Killers. Watch him growl and grumble in Feast: He's still got it.

Originally posted Sep 29, 2006