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February 1 - 5, 1999

Sneak previews of October Sky this Saturday, February 6th. I've heard extraordinary things about the book and about this movie, so I'm gonna check it out for myself Saturday night. You can check on the webpage to see if there's a theater showing it in your area.

A fine piece about machines and humans and like that. By Michael Finley, who taught me more about writing and life than he probably realizes . . . way back when. And still he teaches. Read it already:

And what if you built your whole identity, your whole business, around the idea of the future, and the machines that bring it closer -- and now it turns out you may not have much of one?

Ever have a song stuck in your head? Of course you have. Now playing in Laurel's brain: "The Twentieth Century is Almost Over" by Steve Goodman and John Prine.

Winter's getting colder, summer's getting hotter
Wishing well's wishing for another drop of water
Mother Earth's blushin' cause somebody caught her
making love to the man in the moon
How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm,
now that outer space has lost its charm,
Somebody set off the burglar alarm
and not a moment too soon

The twentieth century is almost over
almost over, almost over
The twentieth century is almost over
all over this world.

Weekend TV:
New Providence (Fri, NBC, 7pm CST)
Meghan Gallagher returns (?!) on a new Millennium (Fri, FOX, 8pm CST)
New Homicide (Fri, NBC, 9pm CST unless you're in Mpls where it's preempted for a basketball game and won't air until approximately 2:35am. Not that I'm bitter).
Greg Germann (Ally's "Richard Fish") on Late, Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (Fri night, CBS)
Gwyneth Paltrow, Barenaked Ladies on Saturday Night Live
New Simpsons sounds good, new X-Files promises all sorts of revelations (both Sunday night, on FOX)

Yes! Fabulous piece by Joyce Millman at salonmagazine about Chris Elliot's Get A Life:

Chris Peterson was the archetypal Chris Elliott character. Fey and full of himself, snotty and naive, obnoxiously superior and very, very dense, he's always trying to reach some Horatio Alger dream (become a male model, marry a famous actress, be his favorite TV star's best friend) because this is America and his mommy and daddy told him he could be anything he wanted. (They lied.)

Also at salon, a favorable review of Rushmore:

Along comes "Rushmore," and, well, I don't know what the hell it is exactly, except that it's a work of loopy, original comic genius.

Loopy and original, this I gotta see. :-)

Wired News profile of Ayelet Sela, writer/producer/director of Homicide: Second Shift. Nice piece, with still more details about tonight's TV/Web crossover.

Timmy, Timmy, Timmy . . . What would Frank think?:

Homicide: Life on the Street's Det. Tim Bayliss has a secret. When he's not solving murders, he's tinkering with his web site.

The truth about Bayliss comes out tonight (10 pm/ET, NBC) in a unique crossover episode between Homicide and its web-based spin-off, Homicide: Second Shift.

In the grisly storyline, the Baltimore cops try to track down a serial killer who uses streaming video to show his murders on the Internet.

Lileks says you can't be a pepper in Minnesota:

The commercials suggest that being a Pepper involves spontaneous public dancing during which you shove cans of Dr. Pepper into the hands of astonished onlookers. Then you thrust the can in the air and grin so hard your cheeks split. Try that here, and you'd get arrested as a maniac. Code 1, all units, report of a man being a Pepper at 7th and Hennepin. Approach with caution. Subject capable of leaping scissor-kicks.

Jon Carroll considers the Y1M problem:

The wheel, once invented, was not subsequently renounced. When humans discovered fire, they did not huddle and say, "Nah, too dangerous, let's just have cold cuts." Progress is jerky and uncertain, but, as a general rule, things stay invented. Useful things continue to be used.

So there will be computers. The computers will have years buried inside them. Under the current plan, the years will have four digits. Everyone will heave a sigh of relief.

Fools. The Supermillennium is just around the corner.

New batch of letters to Mr. Blue (a.k.a. Garrison Keilor) at salonmagazine. There's always plenty of good stuff there. I chuckled at this advice:

I think you should start using capital letters immediately. It's OK to write in lower-case until you're 20, but you're beyond that now.

Thursday TV:
New Friends (7pm CST, NBC)
Woody visits Frasier (8pm CST, NBC)
Doug Ross/George Clooney's 2nd to last ER (for now, at least) Djimon Hounsou also debuts on the show. (9pm CST, NBC)
Mel Gibson on Late Show w/ David Letterman
Geena Davis, a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" thing of some sort w/ David Arquette (huh?) on The Tonight Show
Gwyneth Paltrow on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien
Dave Foley on Politically Incorrect

Possible Kids in the Hall reunion? And Scott Thompson on Star Trek: Voyager.

Go, Providence, Go:

Since premiering Jan. 8, "Providence" has averaged 16.9 million viewers, a 55 percent increase from what "Dateline NBC" was drawing in the Friday 8 p.m. slot.

Makes sense that more people are turning the TV on to see Providence at 7pm CST on Friday, before it started all that was on were news magazines (bleah) and kiddie shows. Good to hear that the show is keeping some new viewers around for Homicide later in the evening, too. So far the show has been good, shows potential, good cast. Nothing earthshattering, but it's enjoyable.

Many articles of late about the web/tv Homicide crossover. And the Director's guild just announced their nominations for their award... Steve Buscemi was nominated for directing the Homicide episode "Finnegan's Wake". As always, latest and greatest articles, transcripts, sites, etc. are at Homicide: Links on the Sites. And if you want to see the Web portion of Homicide, visit the official site at Story starts on the web, continues on the show this Friday, finishes up with more webstuff.

Lovely profile of Andre Braugher. The more I read about the guy, the more I see him work, the more I see him interviewed... the more impressed I am. Pretty impressive considering I first saw him in Glory (one of my favorite movies). This profile nails it in the first paragraph:

There was something about Andre Braugher's performance as Detective Frank Pembleton in NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Streets" that churned with power. But when you meet him, it's the grace that you notice.

Aw drat, Pluto is still a planet. Sure, after I bought a pair of socks with pictures of all the planets on them, thinking they might become collectible when Pluto was deemed not a planet (ergo it shouldn't be on the socks).

(I'm kidding! Really!) (Though I did buy some socks, and they did say Pluto is still a planet). (LOL! No, my socks do not talk. And my shoes aren't on top of the world, either. I did buy socks. Experts say Pluto is a planet. I can sometimes form coherent sentences).

Gateway My Yahoo! sounds like a secret code phrase used on Get Smart or Hogan's Heroes. Actually, sounds too odd for the latter.

Lileks wonders if anyone outside of Minnesota plays duck, duck, grey duck. I've been wondering the same thing. Is grey duck a Minnesota thing? Does everyone else play duck, duck, goose? And why do we care anyway? (I've seen people fight about this, now that's silly).

Someone also fesses up in this particular Backfence column, to actually keeping gloves in his car's glove compartment. I'm shocked!

Ah, good. Those Florida l/i/c/e/ licenses won't be sold after all. [via hnn]

I like Al Roker's description of Groundhog Day:

It's that time of year again. A rodent the size of a meat loaf is trotted out and held up to the world amid the glare of TV lighting equivalent to that of a small solar system's sun and proclaimed to be the harbinger of an early/on time spring.

Fine column by Jon Carroll about walking and running and Hawaii and it has beautiful bits about rainbows. Do read it. One example of the fineness within:

I saw rainbows that were like rumors, mere whispers of colors against the clouds. I saw rainbows that were like billboards, so bright and defined they looked like cartoons.

I really want to visit Hawaii again. I went there once, when my Dad had a business trip there and took the family along. That was when I was in 5th grade, something like that. We stayed in Honolulu, didn't leave Oahu. I mostly remember the pleasant warm breezes (we were there in November, just before or after Thanksgiving). And the flowers and white sand and big waves. And the buses there said "The Bus" on the sides, appropriately enough. We rented a condo for a week, I think. And filled the freezer with macadamia nut ice cream, the fridge with mango and papaya juice. I made leis from flowers we found on the ground beneath huge flowering trees near the beach.

I'm behind on email, and I didn't add anything to the log yesterday. Oops. Then I got an email asking why I stopped my online journal way back when, which reminded me that this is how it starts: skipping a day 'cuz I'm tired, depressed, uninspired. Ooops. I'm back now. Weblogs are easier than journals in a lot of ways.

Do iMac's come in "Smurf blue"? [Thanks (I think) Felix, for the link].

Dave linked to the nice ol' net.chestnut "A Girl's Guide to Geek Guys" in today's Scripting News. So I feel obligated to link to ye olde response: " The Guy's Guide to Geek Girls:"

There are many topics of conversation the geek girl may be interested in discussing. One of the most popular ones is Science Fiction; geek girls are often avid SF fans, and many will gleefully analyze the latest B5 episode for hours with you; however, there are a few things to keep in mind where the geek girl take on Science Fiction is concerned:

  1. Ivanova is God.

It's a really fine piece (I like it better than the original). I also really appreciate this bit from Lisa's main page:

Do guys make passes at girls who wear glasses? Yup. One of the stereotypes that irks me the most is the story where the geek girl has to take off her glasses, undo her ponytail, and dress like everyone else before a guy will take notice. What results is not a magical transformation, but someone in ill-fitting borrowed clothes whose hair keeps falling in her face and who bumps into things. Geek girls, keep those glasses on. All you need to get noticed is to be who you are, because you'll never know if he's worth flirting with if you have to squint at him.

(I'm blinder than a bat sans glasses and I couldn't wear contact lenses if I wanted to, so I usually get crabby during those scenes in movies where the heroine removes her glasses and is somehow Transformed. Puhlease).

If you don't visit Tomalak's Realm each day, you're missing a fine collection of headlines (and highlights). When I'm in a rush, without time to visit my long lists of haunts, I can count on Tomalak's Realm to have links to the top tech/net stories and some of the best stories. Thanks, Lawrence.

Huh. Sounds like the Babylon 5 spin-off Crusade may not be aired on TNT after all. The show has paused production (I think they've already filmed a dozen episodes) and sounds like there's much shuffling of paperwork. Will it stay on TNT? Move to the Sci-fi channel or elsewhere? Whatever the case, I hope it finds a stable and supportive home, 'cuz the show sounds promising. Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5 is the main source of info, but the most recent rumors and alleged quotes from JMS are at Ain't It Cool News. Babylon 5 reruns continue to air on TNT, 3pm CST weekdays.

Tuesday TV with Potential:
New King of the Hill (7pm CST, FOX) missed it
New Newsradio (7:30pm CST, NBC) ("Lisa unwittingly creates a groundswell of opposition to her boss' proposed addition to the New York City skyline: the Jimmy James Space Towers." "Matthew celebrates his 30th birthday by acting out his teen rebel fantasies.")
Catherine Bell (of JAG) on Late Show w/ David Letterman
Dave Foley on The Tonight Show Alas, he wasn't there.
Julia Sweeney, Steven Wright on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien missed it

Oh-oh, looks like David Duchovny just ticked off some more geeks (as if a bunch aren't already jealous of all the time he gets to spend with Gillian Anderson, not to mention his wife Teá Leoni):

Duchovny, who won the [TV Guide] prize for Favorite Actor in a Drama, shocked the assembled reporters with his response to how he liked the Star Wars movies. "I remember liking them, but I don't remember much about them," said the sexy X-Files star. "You're looking at me like I'm a martian. It's possible that Star Wars wasn't the defining moment in everybody's life. I say, 'Let's just relax about Star Wars.' They were good movies. The sequels will be good. But they were not the most momentous event of our lifetime."

Dilbert website hacked by alleged spammer.
More on the East Timor stuff.
HNN reports a bunch of Navy websites hacked.

Would you trust a Microsoft phone? Though I gotta admit, it sounds kinda neat. This made me laugh, though:

The Microsoft Phone continues to perplex. Last night I told my wife to call her folks by pressing Voice Command and saying "Call Sara's Parents," but it dialed a local number. Damn! I misprogrammed it. So I ran upstairs and checked - no, I'd entered everything correctly. Try it again: same thing.

"I don't trust it now," she said.

"No!" I said. "You have to trust the phone."

"I don't."

"Please trust the phone, honey."

Perhaps these Microsoft phones are really lawsuits waiting to happen . . .

Good/Interesting TV (maybe) for Monday :
New Everybody Loves Raymond (8pm CST, CBS) Funny, as usual.
Space Colonies: Life Among the Stars (8pm CST, Discovery channel)
Bill Cosby, Brendan Fraser on Late Show w/ David Letterman Was good, even if the Cos had the flu
Joseph Fiennes, Maria Bello on The Tonight Show Hmph, Fiennes must've cancelled, was replaced with Howie Mandel (!). That's just Wrong.
Sophia Loren on Charlie Rose (really this time maybe)

This week's Entertainment Weekly has a decent cover story about the upcoming X-Files two-parter. Some of it is available online (all of it is if you're a subscriber). (Some of the online photos aren't in the magazine). Gotta love this bit:

Skinner is the character most in the dark (a visit to the set reveals even his desk calendar is out of it: The date reads August 1995). And it's a state of mind actor Mitch Pileggi can relate to. "I don't feel either of us has a handle on the conspiracy," he says. For the two-parter he stuck to his usual methods of preparation: "I just read my parts and play it as if I don't know what's going on. It's always a surprise when I watch the shows."

In the full interview, Duchovny says "I can't believe Mitch admitted that!" or something like that. :-)

Huh? What are the folks at PC Week thinking? The headline "Hackers are out in full force" and the piece (which is pretty much just PR for one ISP/security outfit) seems like mindless fluff. I expected better of 'em. Duh. Yeah, there are people out there breaking into computers and networks, folks who take it seriously. This is a newsflash? Like personal webpages are front page news, I guess.

Ha! I love this stuff. A slashdot review of The Story About Ping:

The book avoids many of the cliches one might expect. For example, with a story set on a river, the authors might have sunk to using that tired old plot device: the flood ping. The authors deftly avoid this.

There's a webcam at the Montreal BioDome that points at a group of penguins. Nothin' but penguins, 24 hours a day. Wheeee! [via slashdot]

This is kindof a clever cute bit of software for Windows users, for use as a screen background and/or screensaver. 'Course I seem to always not bother with wallpaper as my screen is invariably full of windows running applications or showing webpages. I do like the pet parrot.

Fine article about youth in the hi-tech industry, working long hours as slaves to the machines, all that jazz:

Eager twenty-somethings are much less likely to complain about laboring late into the night in a campus-style live/work environment, hounded by unattainable product deadlines. Even less so, eighteen-year-olds, once you put their first $40K in their hands. And while these young workers have a high "burnout" rate, there's always a fresh crop to replace those who can't hack it (no pun intended).

I was a geek true believer or something, who worked ludicrously long hours on projects... throwing my heart and soul and life into the work. Without making overtime, while being underpaid, without having much of a life beyond work. Happened on a couple of jobs. And then in both instances, the fickle nature of hi-tech biz left me laid off and (perhaps overstating it a bit) lifeless.

I know more twenty-something individuals with the same experience, who now have a hard time caring about their work or wish they could stop caring so they could stop playing the game of working zillion hour days. For fear of The End. And I know many folks like me, who'd love to have a steady job they could let themselves love a bit. While still having a life apart.

Hey science fiction fans . . .

Only 14 more days 'til the registration deadline for Minicon. Register now if you haven't already and are thinking of going. Even if there's just a slim chance you'll go, it's a good idea to get a supporting membership. Saves you money at the door, but (more importantly, at least to me) helps us make sure we've got enough food and drink and other good stuff to go around.

Good idea to reserve a hotel room now, too, while you're at it.

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Revised: February 5, 1999 / Laurel Krahn /