Ten Best: Summer comebacks

by Brian Clarey

Harry Potter The little dork is having his biggest summer in years with a blockbuster film and the release of the final book in the series last week, one in which one of the characters dies. And when the book was leaked on the internet, Americans were forced to make a decision that rivaled even the “tastes great, less filling” debates of the late ’70s – read the spoilers or suck it up and buy the book.

Comic book characters Frugal auto enthusiasts know that retreads work just fine for a time, and that philosophy is embraced by many of this summer’s crop of popcorn sales devices. Spider-Man came back for a pitched battle against the dumb guy from “Wings”; the Fantastic Four got all metaphysical with the Silver Surfer; and I’m gonna throw the Transformers in this category too, because not only were they actual toys and the subjects of a 1980s cartoon, they also had their own comic book, albeit a pretty lame one, published by Marvel from 1984 to 1991.

The 1977 New York Yankees I was my oldest son’s age in the summer of 1977, the year chronicled in the ESPN miniseries “The Bronx is Burning.” It’s the story of – in my mind, anyway – the greatest baseball team in history, the ’77 New York Yankees, as they deal with personality conflicts in their quest for the World Series, set against the backdrop of a stifling heat wave and the Son of Sam killings, the city’s first serial murderer since the Prohibition era. It was also the era of the Reggie Bar, which I assume will be dealt with in an upcoming episode.

Michael Moore The garrulous muckraker received praise for this summer’s expose on the US healthcare industry from both ideological camps and also his usual share of lambasting. But this is perhaps Moore’s most responsible film yet, with only a few cheap stunts folded in along with the damning and disturbing footage. It took a Midwestern filmmaker with an ax to grind to get this country talking about the health of its citizens.

The bald eagle Once an endangered species, the bald eagle now counts 10,000 nesting pairs in its numbers. The birds, which live near water and commit the act of reproduction with talons locked and hurtling towards the earth in free fall, were decimated by DDT poisoning and the destruction of their habitats. Also they were over-hunted, presumably by people who hate America.

The Police Sting and the boys rediscovered some of their ’80s mojo with a tour this summer that kicked off with a May date in Vancouver and… yawn. I’ll be honest: I didn’t like the Police back then and I don’t care for them now. Sting is a self-righteous blowhard; Andy Summers flat-out sucked; and Stewart Copeland’s only redeeming quality is that he played in Oysterbucket with Les Claypool and Trey Anastasio. There. I’ve said it.

Die Hard Bruce Willis may be getting on in years – try comparing a recent photo of him with one from back in his “Moonlighting” days in the 1980s for a scary dose of the ravages of time – but he can still get his yippee-kai-yay on with the best of them as evidenced in this summer’s rehash of the series which was probably pitched as, “Die Hard gets old.” But compared to his action-movie contemporaries – Stallone, the Governator and that guy from Beastmaster – he’s faring pretty well.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Even as the debris from the World Trade Center showered down on the financial district of Manhattan, the country’s premier stock index spun into freefall, losing 685 points in a day, which was the single largest one-day loss in its history. But last week the Dow closed at just over 14,000, its highest close ever. The comeback may be short lived, though, as Rupert Murdoch will gain naming rights of the index if (when) he buys The Wall Street Journal and could conceivably cross-brand it with “The Simpsons.”

The Simpsons It’s arguable that the lovably dysfunctional Simpsons family never fully went away, but this year should mark their best in a while with the release of The Simpsons Movie later this summer. The show debuted in December 1989 – I watched it on the couch of my first apartment – and has gone on to win 23 Emmy Awards and a Peabody. It is, however, starting to kind of suck.

Apple Not one of us here in the YES! Weekly offices has even so much as laid eyes on one of the new Apple iPhones, but each of us is aware that they are out there, that their servers are crashing and that you can watch porn on them. Apple’s entry into the cell phone market is at least as big as the introduction of the iPod – hell, the iPhone is an iPod and like 10 other things as well. Still, we’re not buying one until they work all the kinks out of the system. Maybe Christmas.