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Friday . . . November 20, 1998

Yes! Charles Taylor of hits the nail on the head (IMHO) re Woody Allen:

But then, when has Woody Allen ever been interested in anything besides Woody Allen? He has no interest in bringing out new sides of his actors. Jim Henson's casts had more spontaneity.

I can't stop with just that, here's another line from the piece:

Touting "Celebrity" as Woody Allen's dissection of our obsession with fame is like touting "Martha Stewart Living" as an examination of how materialism rules our lives.

Too sad... Alan J. Pakula died yesterday in a car crash. He directed To Kill A Mockingbird, All The Presidents Men, and Sophie's Choice among others. He was a fine director, writer, and producer.

Today's poll at asks how many O'Reilly mammal books you own. So far, 9+ books is in the lead... How cool is that? Well, I think it's fitting (and cool). (My tally? I'll have to look at my bookshelf at home, but I suspect I'm at or past 9 myself. If I had the money, I'd have the whole set).

James Lileks talks about the Star Wars trailer he hasn't seen yet:

I'm anxious to see it, and I hear it's great, but one phrase kept occuring in comments, and it gives me chills: comic-relief sidekick. It's not a reference to C3 or R2, who ought to be the comic relief, but to some other character. I wouldn't describe Lucas' comic touch as light or sophisticated, so I worry. Also people seem to be concerned that Yoda looks weird. Well, I'll say this: if someone had tapped me on the shoulder in the movie theater in the summer of 77, as I sat nearly alone during an afternoon showing, watching the movie for the seventh time, and said:

Hey James. Twenty one years from now, there will be a global system of computers called the Internet, a vast database of fun, facts and bulbous porn! You'll have your very own computer - in fact, you'll have half a dozen! And you'll use this computer to find out new information about the fourth Star Wars movie, and argue about beloved SW characters you've never even met yet!

I would have said:

Twenty one years, and only four movies?

And then the voice would have sighed in disgust, and said: okay, okay, you'll also have nine Star Trek movies and 300 new Star Trek episodes. Satisfied?


What happens when geeks create their own virtual pets? Nerds, Unix and Virtual Parenting by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda. Forgive the occasional spelling error and enjoy a short tale that should be true (probably is, somewhere).

Thursday . . . November 19, 1998

I, like many out there, have Star Wars Fever. It's amazing what one little movie trailer can do. Well, a movie trailer and many years of rumors, novels, toys, and the like. Many years of watching the same movie in different incarnations, waiting....

Here's the tale of the Hero of Star Wars fans everywhere, who made a bootleg videotape of The Trailer and got it online right away. It's entirely possible that the trailer wouldn't have shown up on the official Star Wars site, nor on TV (as it may tonight or tomorrow) if he hadn't gone ahead with his bootleg. Who knows? It's grand:

I paused the tape, and waited... ...for the 20th Century Fox logo to appear.... hit record.... NOW! One quick glimpse down to the flipout viewfinder confirmed it was pretty clear, and I just needed to let it be from this point on. And, as you saw in the clip, the Lucasfilm logo goes up, and everyone cheers (except for your faithful videographer, sitting right next to the microphone... but I did bite the inside of my mouth!).

For the latest news on the trailer and for links to a zillion mirrors to the bootleg and the official trailers, visit Or, I suppose, you could go to the official site, but it's pretty darn swamped these days. Rumors continue that the trailer will be shown tonight, in it's entirety, on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood, I'll believe it when I see it. Starts in theaters Friday.

I'll 'fess up: I'm not one who generally goes ga-ga over famous people. While I know far more than I should about all things relating to TV and movies, I don't generally obsess over any particular movie stars. Still, there are actors whose work I admire... a lot. And I'm always thrilled if I find they have a spiff fan page I can plunder for articles, pictures, and soundbites. I can't help myself.

Of course, none of this relates whatsoever to my recommendation of this article about the Kevin Spacey Phenomenon:

I didn't realize how pervasive the Spacey Phenomenon was until 2 weeks ago when a casual conversation I had with a friend about Spacey at the local Souplantation ended up recounted word-for-word on the Kevin Spacey Mailing List by a fan who couldn't resist eavesdropping on our discussion when she heard Kevin's name mentioned.

I want this:

The empeg-car is an in-car digital music player, allowing you to have up to 7,000 singles (or over 500 albums) instantly accessible in CD-quality, in your dashboard. No boxes in the boot. You can categorise tunes with the supplied PC-link software, and play the music that you like, whenever you want it.

I have this:

Have you ever wanted to turn your PalmPilot into a real Tricorder? Well Palm Navigator, the first product for PalmOS from Precision Navigation, Inc., provides at least one aspect of the Trekker's favorite gizmo. Let me get this out of the way first. Palm Navigator scores a 10 on the coolness scale. Period. [...]

Palm Navigator uses a snap-on magnetic sensor module and a special software application to turn any PalmPilot into a map navigation system and electronic compass.

And it only costs $30 for the software and hardware. It's very cool. I got mine from Pilot Gear H.Q..

Wednesday . . . November 18, 1998

A too cool (or cute? I can't decide) image from James Lileks:

Cordless phones are imprinted with incorrigible wanderlust. They wear no leash and they know it; they explore the house when you're not looking. At night they hop down from their recharging base and perch on a sink or jump under a sofa pillow, snickering to themselves.

Yeah, I often like what Jon Carroll has to say. I recommend reading his stuff. Today's column talks some more about pseudo-big-events like John Glenn's return to space. About the media and what gets called news these days:

But people like good news. Therefore, good news must be manufactured. The purest way of doing that is the movies -- 'Forrest Gump' felt like good news, even though it wasn't news at all.

Also, check out his classics Welcome to the Fear Years: Part I, Part II, and Part III. Truly excellent food for thought. And I mean truly.

A bit of real, cool news: Al Roker and Deborah Roberts have a new baby girl! It's funny how a thing like a website can make you feel like you know a person. I've been reading Al Roker's web journal almost since day one. And I've enjoyed his cartoons, too. And the occasional glimpse of him on TV (he's a grand talk show guest and a genuinely cool weatherman). We've exchanged a couple of brief emails. After reading about his life and his eagerness for this event... it's really cool to hear about it. I'm genuinely happy. Congratulations to Al and Deborah and Courtney!

A fine, negative review by Laura Miller (@ of Meet Joe Black:

The high-concept premise of Death taking a long weekend off to mingle with us mortals brings out the worst in filmmakers.

Pity no one has managed to put together a faithful film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's comic Death: The High Cost of Living, but then maybe Laura Miller has the reason.

Tuesday . . . November 17, 1998

Oh the agony of being a geek. On Tuesday Nov 17, in case you hadn't heard (aren't as geeky as I), there was a "sneak preview" of the first trailer for the new Star Wars movie. Theaters and movies were announced on the internet. And I guess people flocked to the theaters, even if the theaters were obscure, and it meant paying to see the travesty that is The Waterboy. "Robogeek" of Ain't It Cool News posted a lovely rant yesterday about one fans quest to see a simple trailer. I haven't yet heard if this happened:

And you know what? I've got this sinking feeling that I'll be sitting in that darkened theater, packed with geeks who got off work or skipped class or took a long lunch just so they could see the trailer, and it won't be there. And then, there will be a riot. The theater will be consumed in the flames of fanboy retribution. And CNN will carry a story about a strange rash of theater riots scattered across the country.

I thought about going to see the thing myself, but it would've required a journey to Inver Grove Heights or some other theater far away from me. To see The Waterboy or Meet Joe Black. And I knew if I bothered, somehow I'd get lost or the films would be sold out or the trailer wouldn't be there. And besides, it sounds like the trailer is going to turn up elsewhere on Friday. Not that far away, really. And I'm sure it'll get played a lot thereafter.

And of course it's online, but sites will be swamped for awhile. I'm not posting yet another link to those poor swamped sites.

I like papillons, I like cats, I like Cynthia Heimel, and I really like today's column by Jon Carroll:

From this a suspicious person might think: Jon likes papillons because, as dogs, they're a lot like cats. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although it is a fact that dogs have a lot to learn from cats: discretion, cleanliness, tact.

On the other hand, cats have a lot to learn from dogs. Like loyalty. Are you listening, Bucket? Like loyalty and coming when you're called. And maybe a little rolling over on command.

Of course, my cats do come when they're called. Part of why I like them, and think they act a bit like dogs.

Monday . . . November 16, 1998

The Finger Gallery is dedicated to Harrison Ford... and his index finger. I love it.

The Web Adventures of Mulder and Scully (actually, their action figures). Yeah, I need silly websites today. Bad day? Visit some frivolous web sites to clear your head.

I registered Powermarks today. It's now my favorite bookmark utility. Much as I love organizing things into folders, I adore the PowerMarks search engine more. No more wondering where I filed a bookmark, I just search on keywords or the title or other criteria and turn it up. Plus it checks for dead links and all that usual stuff, too. For Windows users only, thus far, alas. It's small and quick and sits in my Windows tray. And works really well with Opera (and Netscape and IE). Give it a shot if you haven't already.

I relate to this more than I can possibly say. Jon Carroll speaks about the internet, in today's column:

The odd thing: I was online long before Web browsers even existed, back when all you got over your telephone lines into your computer was text, beautiful text. And I wrote then about the virtual community, the group of new friends I had found online. I told stories, I sang songs, I piped the children into the magic cave.

Well, then things began to change, and cyberspace all of a sudden got a lot bigger, and spam was invented, and there were upheavals in the chat rooms and on the bulletin board systems, and sometimes it seemed that the virtual world was a community in the same sense that a BART car is a community, a temporary collection of wandering souls spending a lot of time ignoring the crazy guy in the aisle seat raving about black helicopters and Noam Chomsky.

Home / Revised: November 20, 1998 / Laurel Krahn / email