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January 18 - 22, 1999

Jon Katz' "Descent Into Linux:" Part 1, Part 2.

An older piece from Stating the Obvious, "A Standard for Site Organization." Music to my ears (or should I say eyes? no, that makes little sense):

A selection of well-chosen and well-named root-level directories, implemented across as many sites as possible, would go a long way toward easing the complexities of navigating unfamiliar sites, no matter how good (or bad) their fundamental design.

Some neat links via slashdot:

How to Build a Stormtrooper Costume

Stairway to Middle Earth: Led Zeppelin and Tolkein (oh my).

Eat less, live longer?

Holy cow, more idiocy at Network Solutions reported in this week's Need to Know:

They've simply deleted the "Status" and "Last changed" fields from the whois database without telling anyone. You'll note that this a) potentially busts other programs, b) doesn't solve the problem, since the domain name speculators already *know* when they reserved the domain. Network Solutions - placing the emphasis on neither.

Ha! From a chat with actress Mary Kay Adams:

Mary Kay, do you have a preference between playing Neal Alcott on ATWT [As The World Turns] and India on GL [Guiding Light]? I love you as both characters.

MARY KAY ADAMS: Thank you so much. I love them both, but since Neal is dead, I prefer playing India. :) There's so much more to do.

I'm smiling this afternoon because one of my favorite actors (Jay Hammer) is returning to work playing one of my all-time favorite television characters: Fletcher Reade of Guiding Light.

I'd gush more, but well. Read this interview with Hammer and/or check out FletchFest.

I've not read Dilbert in eons, until I saw this one which made me chuckle.

TV Alerts:
Art Bell on Millennium (Fri, 8pm CST, FOX)
New episode of Homicide (Fri, 9pm CST, NBC) (will this batch of good episodes continue? I hope so).
William Shatner (!) sings (or something) with Fear of Pop on Late Night w/ Conan O' Brien
Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night.
New Scully-centric episode of The X-Files on Sunday night (Fox).

Anthony Michael Hall on playing Bill Gates:

Hall didn't go overboard with the Method acting, however. "Apparently, Gates would go for days without showering," he says. "I did not. But I'll tell you what I did do: From day one I would go to the set in costume, glasses and everything. I really tried to become the guy."

Oh how I want to say something delightfully snarky, but I'm low on sarcasm at the moment.

Well, I hope there's more to it than that. Michelle Pfeiffer on her role in Midsummer Night's Dream:

"The truth is my whole performance boiled down to keeping my butt covered in the flimsy fairy costume," Pfeiffer says of her role in the Shakespeare comedy. "I kept asking the cameraman, 'Did you see my butt? Could you see my rear end?' "

'Course this piece was about how Pfeiffer doesn't like to do nude scenes. And yeah, I still refuse to refer to the movie as William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. I'd hope everyone reading this log has enough sense to know who wrote the play . . .

Two fine new columns by Jon Carroll:

"On Not Giving a Flying F-Word":

I GOT TO THINKING about rebellion. The young and the old are united in their distaste for convention. It is the great middle-aged middle class that demands adherence to an entire galaxy of unspoken regulations.

and "Ethics on the Walk to Nowhere":

That is why I have joined my gymnasium. I have my eyes on a distant goal. In the meantime, my thoughts turn inward. I listen to my music. My younger daughter has made me many tapes over the years, and I listen to those.

Lyle Lovett, Astor Piazzolla, Bobby McFerrin, k.d. lang, Tuck and Patti, Tom Waits, Bruce Cockburn, Spearhead and Zap Mama, Me'Shell Ndegeocello -- she selects those. I sweat and walk and listen. Occasionally I dance a little on the treadmill, but I have noticed that the others find it disturbing. I could be a crazy man.

Should we call Mulder and Scully (ha, ha, ha, haven't heard that joke too much lately) or are parts of Minnesota merely being hit by mere meteorites? Or maybe it's just nothing at all.

More star-shaped holes of open water have been discovered on another ice-covered Minnesota lake. Again, there are no snowy footprints to indicate that they were made by ice fishermen.

DirecTV buys Primestar.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. James Lileks:

Or, was it meant that one perceived a tactile similarity between oneself and a pecan? My skin -- it's all thick and knobby and burled. There's a seam along my side. I feel dried, roasted, salty -- my GOD, I feel like a nut.

Steve Outing of Editor & Publisher on original online content at news websites: Part 1, Part 2. Some interesting stuff, but I find myself mostly agreeing with Steve Yelvington of (a cool and good thing since he works just down the hall from me):

When your call for examples went out, I thought: What can I point to on our site? We don't create original content for its own sake; we create original content where there's an opportunity to provide value. The most valuable original content on our site is embedded in the way we do business, throughout our news, HomeZone, FreeTime and other services.

I always think it's particularly cool when we augment a news story with extra online-only stuff. But in most cases, there's no easy example to point to. Sure, we could point to special projects, the fun and games section, and our discussion area. But I'm most tickled when we put extra photos up for a story about Christmas ornaments. Or the time we put a whole transcript of a proceeding about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (the ship, not the song) online to go along with a single newsstory. Original content goes online almost every day, some multimedia stuff, some extra text, you name it. And our editors make editorial decisions separate from the dead tree edition's newsstaff. Our front page is unique, it doesn't merely mirror the print paper.

Good to see this article about name changes of movies (thanks, Jorn. Found it via Robot Wisdom). I was also really upset when I heard they'd changed the name of Dancing About Architecture to Playing By Heart. I can remember the first title (and had already decided to see it when it was known by that name), but not the second. Guess I'm not the target audience the big movie studios seek:

The original name of "Playing by Heart" was inspired by an adage that goes, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." In the script, director-writer Willard Carroll uses the phrase to explain the difficulties of talking about love. It's his way of saying the thing we need most is almost impossible to express verbally.

The new title, however, doesn't convey any of that. " 'Playing by Heart' is just generic," says Jack NyBlom of Camera Cinemas. "It could be a million movies. 'Dancing About Architecture' at least makes you wonder."

BioToys and NanoLights, Oh My! To think, I dreamed of having a simple Lite Bright when I was a kid. [via memepool]

I registered AdsOff!, it's worked well for me. I've banished those annoying pop-up ads, as well as big (and small) animated banner ads. Whee! It is amazing the difference it makes, now when I go to look at websites on a computer that doesn't have AdsOff! installed, I get crabby. Especially when visiting sites on Geocities, for instance.

It's only available for Windows 95, 98, NT systems, it does work with Opera, Netscape Navigator, and Internet Explorer. Though I primarily tested it on a Windows NT system with Opera 3.51 (my fave browser).

Maybe it's finally official that next season will be the last for The X-Files, though the movies will continue. And Chris Carter will continue to create new shows for FOX. [link sent to me by James Francis]

Was talking X-Files stuff with a friend via email, when she said something that strikes me as a grand .sig file, it's just too funny. I got permission to quote her. Sharon Kahn on last week's episode of The X-Files:

You gotta wonder what kind of FBI agent doesn't notice that he's being followed everywhere by a chortling Unabomber lookalike with a Palm Pilot.

Yes! Editor & Publisher announced the finalists for the 1999 EPPY Awards:

Best Overall U.S. Newspaper Online Service, circ. > 100K

  - The New York Times on the Web

  - (McClatchy)


Wheee! Very cool for to be listed in such fine company. I love the site, I'd love it even if I didn't work here. I get so mired in the day to day stuff, sometimes it's easy to forget that we've still got a grand site. Even though there's so much we never get the time or resources to add to our service.

The Washington Post lead all finalists, by the way. I suspect it's their year to win the category. But in this case, it is truly an honor to be nominated.

If it seems my log is heavy on TV, movies, entertainment fluff of late... it's mostly 'cuz so many other weblogs are doing a great job of handling the tech/net side of things. By the time I see interesting stuff in those areas, that news has hit other logs already. I hope to have a more even mix next week, but much of this depends on my mood on a given day/week, too. Oddly, I've watched little TV of late, not even the stuff I write alerts for. But my log is heavy with it. Hmm.

Ty Burr defends Out of Sight:

Simply put, "Out of Sight" SHOULD be awarded, because it's exactly the kind of movie that Hollywood has, by and large, forgotten how to make. That is: expertly shot, smartly written, unapologetic about its genre, and acted not with award-hungry fireworks but with simple, meat-and-potatoes wit by its appealingly varied cast.

Lisa Schwarzbaum on Meg Ryan:

Ryan, canny and composed, acknowledged, "I am known to cause diabetes."

This self-aware cookie said tartly that she was sick of her "nauseatingly adorable" image. That when cute-girl actresses get old, all that's left for them is pet activism and commercials for Depends. And that "Cute girls don't go through menopause. They get hysterectomies that are secretly funded by the government."

Ryan made her audience laugh with pleasure and nod in recognition of the truth, Hollywood style. I'm only hoping she'll seize that truth and run with it -- all the way to roles that let the sophisticated 37-year-old wife and mother trade in pixie mannerisms for more full-bodied characters.

Entertainment Weekly is conducting a poll on the greatest TV of all time. Deadline is Jan 25th, so visit now if you care about this kindof thing. Some glaring omissions from the nominees-- how could The Dick Van Dyke Show not be a candidate for best sitcom?

A gentle reminder for sf fans out there who might be thinking of going to Minicon, the deadline for pre-registrations is February 14th, after that you'll have to pay the pricey at-the-door prices. Now is also probably a good time to get a hotel room if you plan to do that kind of thing (oops, I need to do that yet).

What's Minicon? A spiff science fiction convention that has taken place over Easter weekend for the last umpty-ump years in Minneapolis. Cool people, lively discussions, great music, fine parties, and so on. Mpls silliness, too. More fun than should be allowed. I'm biased, though. I could ramble at great length about the convention, but you're probably better off checking out the webpage. If anyone wants my first-person take on it, ask via email and I'll babble further.

Homicide is one of three nominees for Best TV Drama award from GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Others are Chicago Hope and Linc's.

Thursday night TV:
New Friends, Cupid rerun (it's new to you/me).
James Woods on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder.

Anastasia airs on AMC tonight at 7pm CST. The rerun at 1:05 AM tonight/tomorrow morning is the letterboxed version (I tend to tape classic movies off of AMC in their letterboxed versions, movies on AMC also blessedly have no commercials in 'em). Ingrid Bergman stars in this classic (she won an Oscar for her performance, even).

When your city's team is in the playoffs, the media covers it (and covers it and covers it) at the expense of all else. Fred Martin's lament about living in Denver where everything is Bronco-related these days, cracked me up. I feel his pain. I'm sure I'm not the only Minnesotan who was relieved the Vikings lost just so we could have some non-Vikings-related news coverage.

And when Fred Martin reports of the last straw, I understand:

Then, one of the stations went too far. Channel 9, the NBC outlet, pre-empted one of our favorite TV shows. The dimwitted hypemeisters at Channel 9 canceled -- without notice or explanation -- the exquisitely crafted "Homicide: Life on the Street" and put on a "Bronco special" instead.

[ . . . ]

The media increased the tempo of the hype-a-thon. The following Friday night, Channel 9 tossed "Homicide" again, and that tore it. My wife and I decided to root for the Jets.

Another old favorite (hey, it's no laughing matter!), The Lip Balm Anonymous Web Site.

Gotta love The Onion:

Bloodthirsty, Undead Ghoul Advocates Chocolate Cereal Consumption

MINNEAPOLIS--Count Vladimir Elysius von Chocula, the 400-year-old undead Rumanian nobleman who sustains his existence by feeding on the blood of the living, held a press conference at General Mills headquarters Monday to restate his long-standing advocacy of the pre-sweetened breakfast cereal that bears his name.

Of course their cold and flu prevention tips are timely, since I'm recovering from a cold. If only I'd known . . .

I don't know what it says about me that I laughed hardest at the headline: Newest Baywatch Cast Member Kicks It With Byron Allen. Maybe I laugh in relief that I'm not the only one who's actually seen the show.

TV Alerts for Wednesday:
Sean Connery, Joan Allen, and Lyle Lovett on The Tonight Show
Tony Curtis and Patti Smith on Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Matt Drudge on Politically Incorrect

A special honoring Richard Pryor airs on Comedy Central, 9:30pm CST. Guests including Richard Belzer, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, and others. Pryor's to be honored with the first "Mark Twain prize" of its kind.

Huh. Rumor (or at least this article) has it that Todd McFarlane bought the baseball Mark McGuire hit for his 70th home run last year.

Q & A with Jeri Ryan (a.k.a. The Borg Babe from Voyager). Includes Voyager spoilers if anyone actually cares (me? I rarely watch the show, but I'm told it's improving somehow).

An oldie, but . . . you know: Addicted to vi:

You press the keys with no effect,
Your mode is not correct.
The screen blurs, your fingers shake;
You forgot to press escape.
Can't insert, can't delete,
Cursor keys won't repeat.
You try to quit, but can't leave,
An extra "bang" is all you need.

Found it (again) when I was pointing a coworker to the Vi Lovers Webpage (they needed some vi reference stuff).

(Yeah, I use vi rather than emacs, wanna make something of it? I just never learned emacs. :-) On my PC, Homesite and PFE are my editors of choice).

The Ultimate Cary Grant Page actually is one of the best pages devoted to Cary Grant on the net.

It Crawled from the Bins: Peter Gilstrap presents "Selections From My Pathetically Huge Collection of Oddball Records."

It's enough to make a lyrics junkie like myself cry:, the International Lyrics Server, has been shut down. Only article I've found thus far about it is from the New York Times (which requires registration).

Brent Spiner Chat: He's chatting at Excite tonight at 9pm EST, 8pm CST. Hmph, they don't list the movie Out to Sea in his credits, that's one worth renting if you wanna see Spiner as an outlandish singin' and dancin' cruise director.

What looks like an interesting piece about C.S. Lewis (via Arts & Letters Daily):

C. S. Lewis continues to speak to current problems of interpretation and meaning because of his intellectual agility, his willingness to adopt decentering strategies at the operational level, while rejecting self-canceling denials about the possibility of "a still point in the turning world."

(I say "looks like" because I haven't had a chance to do any more than skim the article. I'll read it later tonight, with any luck).

Ha! James Lileks observes:

Around two I went to an auto dealer to drive a Navigator. (Interesting that the big popular SUVs are called Navigator and Explorer; too bad they weren't preceded by the Spyglass, Mosaic or Lynx SUVs.)

Jon Carroll proposes a simple solution to three big problems. Okay, maybe not that simple. But it made me chuckle anyway.

New Sharps and Flats at Salon magazine includes reviews of stuff by Peter Himmelman and XTC. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a Peter Himmelman song played during last week's episode of Providence. I'm thrilled about this very favorable review of Himmelman's new album:

There are days when it seems as if the entire music industry is intentionally flooding the aural landscape with utter crap. The records wash up in endless waves, threatening to drown us in a deluge of brain-dead ditties. Thankfully, it only takes one great record to lift you out of that muck, and singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman has happened by with a lifesaver.

Haven't heard any Peter Himmelman stuff? Check him out. He's got 8 albums worth out there. He's also a grand performer, well-worth seeing live. Trivia: He's Bob Dylan's son-in-law and grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

An article about the state of Homicide: Life on the Street in which Tom Fontana is interviewed. Even Fontana likes the thought of a new P.I. show:

He hopes to have Diamond do another guest stint -- "I just think he's terrific," Fontana said -- or maybe even spin him off into his "own little series."

Yes, he's serious.

"I would love to do a P.I. series with Reed Diamond."

I think TVGen/TVGuide's "You Sexy Thing" competitions are incredibly stupid. But they're featuring Ally McBeal's Portia de Rossi and Lisa Nicole Carson this time around, with some really good pictures of each.

TV Alerts for Monday:
Plenty of Cary Grant movies (see below)
New Ally McBeal (8pm CST, FOX)

It's Cary Grant's birthday on Jan 18; I can't let the day go by without mentioning that a ton of his movies are airing today. And well, he was a true movie star. An underrated actor. A class act.

American Movie Classics airs the following CG movies this Monday: I Was a Male Warbride, Monkey Business, People Will Talk, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and The Grass is Greener. They'll air a letterboxed version of The Grass is Greener at 1am (CST) Monday night/Tuesday morning.

Turner Classic Movies also celebrates Grant's birthday on Monday with airings of Sylvia Scarlett, Bringing Up Baby, Gunga Din, In Name Only, and The Philadelphia Story.

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Home / Revised: January 22, 1999 / Laurel Krahn /