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Week of . . . December 19, 1998

TV This Weekend: Lyle Lovett on Sessions at 54th, Nick at Night shows Christmas episodes of cool sitcoms on Saturday, a new episode of CBS's Martial Law (Sat night), new Simpsons on Fox Sunday... with Mark Hamill as himself, and a classic episode of The Practice is rerun on Sunday night (featuring John Larroquette in an Emmy-winning performance).

Friday Night TV: Julia Roberts on The Late Show with David Letterman (yes, there will be flirting), Sarah McLachlan (and Bridget Fonda, too) on The Tonight Show, Jeff Goldblum on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Shades of when I first heard antimatter really exists, this is cool:

Florida-based high tech start-up Nanovation Technologies, Inc. says its lab at Northwestern University has made a working, fully integrated optical circuit that could have revolutionary effects on computing. The circuit works with photons instead of electrons.

It's worth a shot (yeah, like it'd happen). Jon Carroll's plan to save baseball:

SO, LET'S REARRANGE the leagues. Let's have a Rich League and a -- well, "poor" is such a loaded word -- a Prudent League. Use a fine mathematical formula to determine what the median payroll of a major league team is. Above that: the Rich League. Below that: the Prudent League.

Philip Michaels cracks wise (or something) re the hottest thing on TV these days:

You may be kicking yourself for missing Impeachment!, but don't you fret -- the show is still on the air. A new episode was to air today, but it got pre-empted for some sort of old war picture. [teevee]

I confess, I remember playing Dukes of Hazzard on the playground when I was in 2nd grade. I thought it was the coolest show back then. Now, I can't stomach more than a couple of minutes of it when I happen on it on TNN. Maybe I'm seeing the worst episodes, Lora Grady seems to think the early ones were good. Glad to know I wasn't obsessed with complete drek as a youngster. Anyway, this is a good piece, don't let the Duke boys scare you off:

A large part of the mentality of the '90s seems to be about taking nothing seriously, but making absolutely sure that everyone knows you are in on the joke. Mind you, I don't mean to wax nostalgic about the '70s at the expense of the here-and-now... only to say that our TV shows ultimately suit our times. After all, only the '90s could have produced the snarky paranoia that characterizes the best moments of The X-Files, a show which would have likely crashed and burned immediately if it had debuted 20 years ago. [teevee]

You don't have to go outside to see holiday light displays unless you really want to.

Alas, no Homicide: Life on the Street on NBC this Friday... but wait, Zabe posted spoilers to

Well, it's another double Homicide. The first one is called "Figure Skating," which is a classic episode that they show every year at about this time. However, the second one sounds even better. It's called "Xmas in D.C."

This one post made me remember one of the best posts (IMHO) to ever. You've gotta read David Cross's lengthy review of the episode of Homicide that aired on June 15, 1996:

According to _TV Guide_, the episode was called "NBA Finals: Bulls vs. Sonics." I've watched the episode four times already, but I've been unable to find any hidden meaning in the title, although the episode itself was crammed full of symbolism.

Dave Locke compiled an excellent "taste" of the newsgroup, fun stuff, available on Jason Lempka's website. And for all things relating to the show, you've gotta start at the links.

Michael Finley announces his choices for the "1999 Metamoron Awards:"

The Metamorons are awarded annually by The Why Things Don't Work Institute to those organizations and individuals, public and private, whose behavior typifies brutality toward customers and employees, and blindness toward their own long-term advantage.

Too many bits I'm tempted to quote, just go read the piece already.

It's an odd world after all (but we knew that):

Russian legislators considered a motion Thursday appealing to Monica Lewinsky to help halt the American attack on Iraq.

Thursday night TV: Jeff Goldblum and Angelina Jolie on The Late Show with David Letterman. Do ya think Dave will fawn over Jolie? Duh. Normally I avoid The Tonight Show with Jay Leno like the plague, but he's got Gillian Anderson and Billy Bob Thornton on the show tonight. Probably worth a peek.

James Lileks on being in the newsroom on a day of bombings and impeachment-talk:

A great day to be at a newspaper - people running around, the air loud with shouts and the clackety rattle of typewriter keys, the chime and ting of carriage returns mixed with throaty growls of COPY BOY!, the faint aroma of bourbon mixing through the sweat and smoke and aftershave, the walls rumbling as the presses gear up for an extra edition.

Actually, it was, as ever, as quiet as an insurance office. [daily bleat]

It really is like that. Rows and rows of low-walled cubicles. Some stacked full of mail 'cuz that particular reporter works from home or elsewhere more often than from the newsroom. And it's very, very quiet most of the time.

I think there's more activity in our online department during breaking news, as our editors scramble to get stories on our website as soon as possible (and preferably before the competition, it's particularly gratifying if we beat national news websites). Artists rush to pull together fresh art, we scramble to get whatever multimedia stuff we can. They've got CNN or other news stations going on the TV there, someone monitoring online news and the stuff piped in to the paper. They'll call down to the newsroom to check on getting some local copy. I miss it, 'cuz I no longer sit near the content editors for, I'm off in a tiny office a good ways down the hall.

Minnesota's Hennepin County Library Board makes a bold decision (well, bold for this day and age, apparently):

But in a four-hour meeting, Library Board members continually reaffirmed their belief that access to the Internet should be largely unfettered, except for material already defined as illegal, and that parents, not librarians, should be the arbiters of what kids can see on their computer screens.

They ruled that library terminals that access the internet shouldn't have filters on them. And that kids don't necessarily need parental permission to use the terminals. (Note to folks who don't know... Minneapolis is in Hennepin County). (Also note that the startribune article linked to above will likely expire in 2-3 weeks time).

Michael Zaslow's final interview, with Michael Logan for TV Guide:

"I am not preparing myself or my family for anything but life," said the actor in a TV Guide interview conducted at his New York City apartment on November 6. Zaslow sat cuddled in a corner of his couch with his wife of 23 years, psychotherapist Susan Hufford (they have two adopted daughters, Marika, 16, and Helena, 13). Although many of the muscles in his face had atrophied, Zaslow had no trouble flashing a stubborn smile. "There is much to be hopeful for in terms of ALS research," he insisted. "We now detect optimism on many fronts." [more about Zaslow] [Fight ALS]

Odd TV moment of the week? Scary Spice interviews The Artist (formerly known as Prince) on VH1. Wednesday night, probably repeating many times thereafter. (Guilty secret: I think The Artist is a musical genius. Okay, an extremely eccentric musical genius, but hey. I don't like all of his work, but some of it is really cool. Of course, I grew up in Minnesota where it was once required that you like Prince).

TVGen interviews Gates McFadden; her comments about her son remind me of things I've heard Gillian Anderson say about her daughter's attitude on the set of The X-Files. It's gotta be strange (but cool) raising a child on the set of a TV series:

He actually grew up on the set of Star Trek. His godfather was Data and he thought it was perfectly normal for somebody to walk around in this gold makeup. And he was more frightened of Michael Dorn than he was of Worf. He learned to walk on the bridge of the Enterprise.

When we did Generations and they blew up the ship he was very upset, because he felt in a way that his home was being destroyed. And I kept saying, "Honey, it's just pretend." It never occurred to me how much that set was like a second house.

Some gorgeous photos accompany this excellent story @

Like many American Jews, I was going to eastern Europe, once the heart of the Jewish world, in search of my roots.

But along the way, I found something I never thought possible -- the signs that Jewish life is starting to make a comeback there, in cities such as Budapest, Hungary, for the first time in more than half a century.

Kudos to my colleagues at, for enhancing a fine print story by including multimedia stuff for the online version. And additional photographs.

I haven't yet been subjected to a "boo-fay" at a holiday party this year, but I know of what Jon Carroll speaks. And of mindless party chatter (it's why I tend to avoid many parties):

Now you chatter. You make statements almost at random. "I've certainly heard about it," you say, referring to a late Elliott Carter string quartet or the poems of Ursula K. LeGuin or the television program "Cupid" or a Web site called

I still haven't seen the first trailer on a big screen (sigh):

Well Variety says we geeks can expect to see the new 4 minute plus trailer for THE PHANTOM MENACE on January 24th. So.... be prepared to do another run at theaters.... hahahahaah, we're hopeless zombies with no wills of our own. The trailer tasks me, and I shall have it, I chase that trailer round Presidio, round Regal and round GMC theaters before I'll give it up.... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh help we're all dooooooooooooomed..... [cool]

The decline of the board game:

Cliff Annicelli, the associate editor of Playthings Magazine, a toy-trade publication, said board games today are played overwhelmingly by children too young for computers, or just getting started on them, and by adults who were brought up without new technology. Nearly everyone in-between, he said, spends the bulk of their gaming hours with hand-held units, CD-roms, and in cyberspace - sometimes playing video versions of longtime board favorites. [via robot wisdom]

I'm not sure how I feel about it, I had a hard time convincing family members to play board games with me when I was younger, so being able to play Monopoly on my computer was a revelation. See my solitaire pursuits page for more of my thoughts on a related issue.

Patrick Stewart might make a good Jedi Knight, I know he's an excellent Starfleet captain:

I was in a movie theater the other night and they played the trailer for Star Wars. Well, I wasn't quite on my feet as I think the rest of the audience were. I thought they were gonna tear the cinema apart. I mean, the film that followed never got close to that strength of reaction. And it was a very good movie. And I felt the excitement, too. It is, I think, one of the most brilliant trailers I've ever seen. I simply cannot wait to see this. I know it's going to be extraordinary, and I'm deeply envious of my British colleague [Ewan McGregor] who is starring in it.

Felix Strates tells me about a very cool black bag. How did he know I'm on a quest for the perfect bag for carrying my geek.gear (Palm III, cell phone, wallet and checkbook to use to buy more geek gear)? I think I need one, preferably in black leather.

Al Roker gets to see secret service agents up close:

The President and First Lady would be sitting behind some really thick bullet proof glass during the ceremony. While we were rehearsing, there were two Secret Service agents cleaning the glass. I walked over to one off them and said, "You guys have to clean the glass?" One of the agents looked at me with a wry smile and said, "They show you pretty girls and exotic locations in the brochure. This", he said, motioning toward the glass and the rag in his hand, "This ain't in the brochure."

Home / Revised: December 18, 1998 / Laurel Krahn /