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All times referred to in this weblog are Central Standard Time unless otherwise noted.

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February 22-26, 1999

A very cool idea and a good resource: Blindspots: Movie Reviews for the Visually Impaired. I visit quite a few low-vision sites because my Grandpa Krahn is legally blind, has low vision. I'm always on the lookout for stuff that will make his life a little easier.

Yay! Sarah Stegall has started reviewing episodes of The X-Files again, after a two year hiatus. I'd missed her reviews. Stegall on the recent "Agua Mala":

As with virtually every other X-Files episode this season, there is a strong resemblance between the story and a famous movie. In this case, we get "Key Largo meets Alien". Trapped like Bogie and Bacall in a dilapidated condo threatened by a violent hurricane, Mulder and Scully race against time to flush out a parasitic water-borne menace, while facing moronic deputies, a gun nut, a looter, and most menacing of all, a pregnant woman with an Attitude.

WashPost piece on Jesse-- "The Governor of the Future":

How many dreams are more stirring than this? A guy comes out of nowhere, speaks plainly, admits when he doesn't know something, and -- stunning everyone -- becomes governor. That's what Jesse Ventura did. He used to wear pink boas; now he runs Minnesota.

Okay, Ventura didn't come out of nowhere -- he came out of wrestling. But as politics go, that is nowhere.

Another fine column by Jon Carroll about diabetes. I think it's great that he's talking about it, I've never understood hesitation about talking about illness . . . when so much good can come of getting certain facts out. And of knowing there are others out there who deal with certain diseases from day to day. Surely more good comes of it than bad. Stigma? Phooey. Anyway:

Because it's manageable. That's the good news and the bad news. If you are mindful every day that you have a potentially fatal illness, you can control the effects of that illness. The blindness, the kidney failure, the amputations -- they need not happen. You're going to die of something -- the issue is pre-death quality of life.

So I say an affirmation every morning. Don't gag -- I'm a California guy. Today I am a person with diabetes. I have one wife and two daughters, and I want to watch them grow old. Mindfulness is a bitch; may she have many puppies.

A big interview with Neil Gaiman at CNN [link via Lenny Bailes who sent it to signal-to-noise]:

"As adults, we are discriminated against. As adults, we are an oppressed majority because nobody writes us fairy tales. I think the problem is not that ... we grow out of fairy tales. The problem is nobody writes us fairy tales; nobody gives us fairy tales that are as satisfying, as meaty, as filled with real people and real incident, as the things that we remember from when we were children," Gaiman said during a recent extensive interview with CNN Interactive.

A cool interview with Joseph Fiennes. On Shakespeare:

Shakespeare wouldn't have survived the test of time if he were just for academics. It's not for academics; it's for everyone. The reason he has survived is because he has such pertinent resonance with our day-to-day social structure. For some reason, his brilliance has touched on that. It's something to learn from, to look at, to readdress. It's a mirror to society in that age and to our own society, and to ourselves, our sexuality, our faiths. And it's full of great bawdy jokes. What more do you need?

Ooooh. Fine column by Dan Barreiro about the bargain basement Minnesota Twins:

The answer is as troubling as it is unhealthy for this franchise: There is absolutely no pressure here.


The Twins have become an all-too-attractive retirement home.

Philip Michaels tries to think like Jerry Falwell and takes a close look at some other TV characters:

The Great Gonzo: While technically not gay, this muppet is having intimate relations with a chicken. And that's simply the wrong message to send to children.

Fred & Wilma Flintstone, Barney & Betty Rubble: The theme song says "We'll have a gay old time," doesn't it? Well, there you go.

Rocky & Bullwinkle: Like Ernie and Bert, Beanie and Cecil, Davey and Goliath, and Kukla, Fran and Ollie, these fast friends never leave one another's side. Could it be because they're carrying on a torrid and thoroughly unwholesome love affair? Perhaps not. But we'd better ban them anyway, just to stay on the safe side.

Michaels continues:

Clearly, Rev. Falwell has only scratched the surface of the problem. The level of surreptitiously gay cartoon characters has reached crisis proportions, and only eternal vigilance will hold the line against the excesses of the cultural elites.

Once we've beaten back this crisis, we'll be able to turn our attention to the other, more odious messages that are sneaking their way into programming aimed at our children. Messages that advocate public dancing, for instance, and those that undermine the institution of arranged marriages. And those cartoons that agitate on behalf of extending the right to vote and own property to women... man, those really get my goat!

Big news in the Twin Cities the other day, when Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn were spotted scouting locations in Minneapolis and dining with Governor Jesse Ventura in St. Paul. I guess Jack and Sean were in Duluth on Thursday.

Oh-oh. They're talking about duck duck gray duck vs. duck duck goose again in the latest Backfence column. And also about hotdish (or is it casserole? goulash? . . . ). Yes, that really is James Lileks creating new Beach Boy-esque songs about hotdish . . . :-)

Friday TV:
500th episode of The Rosie O'Donnell Show (guest: Bette Midler) (Friday, check local listings)
Michael McKean (oh-oh) guests on a new Providence (Friday 7pm, NBC)
Michael Zaslow tribute on the Soap Opera Digest Awards(8-10pm Friday, NBC)
James Coburn on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm Friday, CBS)
David Duchovny and Barenaked Ladies on The Tonight Show (Friday, NBC)
Jon Stewart and Natalie Merchant on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien (Friday, NBC)
Martin Mull and Joe Queenan on Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (Friday, CBS)

Thanks to everyone who has sent me job leads and/or condolences. I'll get caught up on email replies one of these days, honest. Your kind words mean a lot and are appreciated.

Inky update (for those of you who read the story earlier/lower in this log): he's doing fine. He actually purred when I used a citrus based cleanser to try to get flypaper residue off of him. He seems pretty oblivious, I'm still surprised that the cats haven't tried to clean it off themselves.

Huh. Got feedback from someone who found me via Arts & Letters Daily. Sure enough, they've got a page devoted to weblogs, now. Pretty minimal, but still it's nice of them to link to this page (and to Honeyguide, Robot Wisdom, Obscure Store, Scripting News). I'm flattered to be in that group, that's for sure.

I love feedback (though I'm slow to respond these days) and I really like hearing about how folks find this page. It often helps me find new pages myself. Don't be shy about suggesting links, either.

Janet Maslin's Siskel tribute [via obscure store]:

He was in top form only months ago when he said of Jerry Springer's lurid "Ringmaster," "In 30 years of reviewing movies I haven't used the word 'mendacious,' but that streak is now over." Much too soon.

Jon Carroll gives one of the best descriptions of diabetes I've seen. Useful, interesting stuff.

Ack! I went in the kitchen to heat up something to eat. Realized something was missing: the flypaper I hung up last night to catch the fruitflies that seem to have taken up residence in my kitchen. Oh-oh. Don't see the paper anywhere. Quick, where are the cats? Marlowe is sleeping on the back of a chair in the living room, cute as can be. Where's Inky? He's in my bedroom on the bed. And yup, he's got flypaper stuck all along him. Ack. On there pretty good. Do I try to cut if off of him or just pull it off? I tug experimentally, he just sits there looking at me. So I pull it all off, some black fur comes off (but not much relatively), naturally, but Inky doesn't even squeak in protest.

Now Inky (my very large beautiful black cat with the silky medium-length fur) is a bit . . . sticky. As are my hands. All I can think is what if he'd done that while I was gone for the day at work? what kind of misery and mess would I have seen when I returned home?. Then again, he might've sat still and waited. This is the cat that when he got shut in a small closet (accidently!) for 10 hours, didn't scratch anything or soil anything or otherwise do any harm to the closet (or its contents). Was just real glad when I came home and found him and let him out. (And now I'm extremely paranoid that I can see my cats out and about before I leave the apartment).

Just doublechecked the package for the flypaper. It says NO POISONS in huge red friendly letters. I can't imagine any way I could attempt to get the sticky stuff off of Inky just yet . . . hrm.

My domestic panther seems oblivious to the sticky stuff that runs down his chest and along his side. Hrm. Maybe a bath or a trim or a call to the vet is in order. Poor guy. Suspect he'd prefer I just let him be.

Huh? Just doesn't strike me as a good idea:

Kevin Smith and Miramax are developing an animated series based on "Clerks," his 1994 indie film about bored cashiers in New Jersey. ABC is expected to order six episodes

And to think, I remember Lauryn Hill from her days playing a runaway on As The World Turns. Nancy Hughes taught her character how to read. Aw.

Thursday TV:
New Friends and Frasier and ERfor what that's worth to you (7pm, 8pm, 9pm, NBC)
Looks like the Chicago Hope reruns on Lifetime may be from the Mandy Patinkin/Peter McNichol era (i.e. when the show was really good) (weeknights, 7pm, Lifetime)
Homer Hickam (author of Rocket Boys a.k.a. October Sky), Eriq LaSalle (of ER), Blondie on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm, CBS)
Ron Howard, Juliette Lewis on The Tonight Show (NBC)
Arthur Miller on Charlie Rose (PBS)
Martin Short on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien (NBC)
Camrynn Manheim, Tom Bodett on Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (CBS)
Frasier's Peri Gilpin and David Hyde Pierce on Later (NBC)

Cool! Vector Internet Services has a "Shubert cam" set up for those who want to watch a very large theater move to a new location. (It really is the damndest thing).

After ten years (my how time flies), MST3K's Satellite of Love will return to earth. Yup, 10th season will be the last. Details (as always) at the official MST3K info site. (Thanks to Felix for the heads up).

Another good Siskel tribute, this one from Mike Downey.

Sarah Vowell's piece about Gene Siskel strikes so close to home it's eerie. I nearly could've written this one:

I was no stranger to not liking, having been previously introduced to the month of August, my stepgrandmother and black-eyed peas. But I was under the impression that movie projectors were perpetual ecstasy machines, that movies were vacations from muggy heat, frumpy relatives and the ickier varieties of legumes. I didn't know what to do with my cinematic disappointment.

Then came a television program called "At the Movies," featuring two guys named Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. I started watching their show when I was about 13 and it was a revelation, an answer. What to do with that empty feeling? Talk about it! Argue! Complain!

'Course I kept watching their show, and will continue to watch . . . though of course the show will never be the same.

My grandma has diabetes, my Dad has diabetes. Oodles of people I know are developing late onset diabetes. One (of the many) reasons I need to start exercising more, eating healthier, and generally taking care of myself is so I don't get it. Jon Carroll on diabetes:

Diabetes is not a swell disease. Its long-term effects may include kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, impotence and infections of the legs leading to amputation, plus a greatly increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In order to reduce the risk of these dire consequences, attention must be paid. I hate paying attention.

What does your soap wrapper say? Lileks:

Unusually dense and long-lasting -- well, you could say that about Strom Thurmond, but I don't want to rub him all over myself in the morning. But the best of all attributes: After a few uses the edges become smooth and rounded. What a novel concept for soap. Who'd have figured that soap would actually wear down upon usage? That's the line that seals the deal for me. I'm tired of soap that hones itself to a razor's edge.

Al Roker on backlash against weathermen (thanks to groundhogs):

And the complaints! "Al, when's it gonna warm up?" "Al, turn up the heat!" "Al, where's spring?" It'ss winter, people. It's supposed to be cold. You got sucker punched by a rodent. Maybe next year you won't be seduced by the promise of warmer than usual temperatures from some furry forecaster.

Lileks on the move of the Shubert theater, in today's bleat:

I took a walk down to Hennepin. The Shubert theater is gone. Or rather, moved around the corner. It's the damnedest thing - one day it's sitting in its usual spot, then it's up on jacks, then it's a block away. It's like watching an iceberg run from the authorities.

I suppose Jesse went a bit far with his comments about the streets of St. Paul. But, truth be told, many many people agree with him (myself included). Though I would've stated it a bit more tactfully. But he was joking around with Letterman, after all ('course he is governor . . . ).

Ty Burr on Siskel and Ebert:

The weird, offhanded genius of "At the Movies" was that it LOOKED like a consumer-service show, but it really taught millions of viewers how to think critically about their beloved flicks. Not to just dis them, but to think in terms of long-term quality -- and, more importantly, to think in terms of context: to judge Dumb Junk by the standards of Great Dumb Junk, in other words.

Cool movie tidbit:

Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, who last teamed up in "L.A. Confidential," are joining again. The two will play industrial lubricant salesmen who meet at a convention in the comedy "Hospitality Suite"

I regularly contribute links to Homicide: Links on the Sites, it really is the definitive online Homicide: Life on the Street site. Features links to news articles, chat transcripts, websites, and all things Homicide. Dave Locke started it, Jim King now maintains it. Fabulous. If you're a fan of the show, it's worth visiting the site regularly (me? I visit it at least once a day, but then I'm obsessed). It only seems like the theme this month is "All Belzer, all the time". :-)

I really should go to this year's "Homicide Live" and see Baltimore finally and like that. Here's what Kyle Secor says about the show:

"That's another big part of being artistic director," Secor said, "reminding people of the date of the show and when they're supposed to show up. Richard Belzer, up until the day of the show last year, kept going: 'What day are we doing this again? I can't remember.' So, mainly, my job is to handle neuroses -- mine and the other actors -- because we are a terribly neurotic bunch. But you can use that energy for good things."

Short Cyndi Lauper piece:

In addition to looking after her kid, Lauper, who won an Emmy in 1995 for a guest spot on Mad About You, is working on a sitcom pilot. That doesn't mean she's giving up music, however. "I might tour in the summer," she said, "and am getting myself together for a multimedia experience. In the meantime, I am writing for a new CD and stuff I would include in the series, if it is a go."

Wednesday TV:
New Law & Order (9pm, NBC)
Uma Thurman on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm, CBS)
Nicolas Cage, Rose McGowan on The Tonight Show (NBC)
Garry Marshall on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien (NBC)
Peri Gilpin and John Mahoney (of Frasier) on Later (NBC)

From the "it's probably for the best, but it still hurts" file: I was told today (Tuesday) that my job at is being eliminated. Quite sudden, I had no idea this was coming. Anyway. If entries are a bit more sporadic than usual, it's 'cuz I'm busy haunting job websites.

If anyone knows of a cool job for a Geek Like Me, do let me know. I'd really like to stay in Minnesota if at all possible, but for the right job I'd consider a move. Want to know about what I'm looking for? Email me, we'll talk. I'll probably blather a bit more about my skillset here sometime, too.

Right now I'm just a bit numb, I've been at the strib for two years and I'm really going to miss my coworkers. And the place. So sudden. Sigh. Oh well, I hadn't been challenged or happy in the position for awhile . . . but still . . .

Cool site: BetaNews has info on beta releases of software. Nifty.

Anyone else fine this hilarious?:

AOL wants to keep CompuServe a distinct, more elite service -- part of a broader strategy of nurturing the businesses it acquires as niche brands for specific customers.

"What AOL is trying to do is get beyond their traditional subscriber base, and get into a market that's a bit more sophisticated," said Zia Daniell Wigder, an analyst with Jupiter Communications.

And I'm amused to read this at

Or, as Weil said, "Think of AOL like the USA TODAY newspaper. CompuServe is a little bit like the New York Times. It's a more serious newspaper."

I don't know about this:

Though remote and somewhat cloistered, Minnesota tends to produce sui generis specimens who somehow capture the national mood and define the leading edge: politicians like Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy; musicians like Bob Dylan and Prince; writers like Garrison Keillor and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And now, an ex-pro wrestler with a community college education who says politicians should actually serve the public?

From a Washington Post piece about Jesse (what else). Reading it makes me uncomfortable. Very Minnesotan of me. Though of course Minnesotans are leading edge, brilliant, etc. ;-p

I laughed far too hard at this Abridged script for Payback. I've seen the movie, I didn't care for it much (though it did make me realize that Mel Gibson really is a star, I'd never thought much of him but realized he's the only thing that makes the movie remotely good). Anyway, this "abridged script" is hilarious. Does contain spoilers, naturally.

CREDITS MONTAGE-MEL walks down the streets and steals wallets, pushes people around and looks angry. This is okay and nobody thinks twice because he's MEL GIBSON. He shows up at junkie DEBORAH UNGER's apartment and slams a door into her. Even though he will later decry violence against women this is okay because he's MEL GIBSON.

As Tom Snyder leaves the airwaves, an era of late night TV ends:

Then Tom Snyder raised the night to an art with his '70s NBC "Tomorrow" show - all spotlit darkness, and cigarette smoke swirling, and that manic guffaw, and even his occasional fits of pique. He was a genuine soul, with personal eccentricities instead of a persona, and enough real curiosity to spark sharp conversation.

It was what FM radio used to be, what the Internet has become - people connecting through electronics in intimate ways, ways we long to duplicate in person or maybe can't overcome the fear to make happen, so we savor it vicariously. We don't just learn something from the people whose chatter we eavesdrop on; we learn something of ourselves through sharing in that soul exposure.

Well at least Bob Costas is sortof returning to Later to introduce classic bits from his classic interviews from a time when that show was cool. I'm really going to miss Tom Snyder.

Ha! Amanda Finch on the most recent episode of The X-Files ("Agua Mala"):

To clue you in on how scarred I've been by this season so far, I actually feared that the staredown between Mulder and the Shipley's cat Reggie was a soul-swap of some kind. Actual dialogue during scene: "Noooo!"

And Autumn Tysko's review has this gem:

Oh my God. Teso Tounces was back without his stick. They did use a real wet cat for much of it, but not even the Meryl Streep of cats would stage that shot with Duchovny. Here's hoping it's the last we see of fake cats on the X- Files. I keep expecting them to talk about kitty litter odor.

Ty Burr thinks Hollywood blew it in nominating Elizabeth and The Thin Red Line for best picture. I haven't seen either film yet, but I know their nominations surprised me . . . he may have a point:

Hollywood's a company town -- just a little more ragingly neurotic than most -- so it's as prey to groupthink as any insular entity. That's why the Oscar nominations are less a recognition of individual filmmaking merit than a nifty little Polaroid of what the industry thinks "should" be honored at the time the ballots are sealed. The Oscars are a bandwagon, in other words.

The new James Bond movie is still in production, but the website is now online. I can't wait . . .

Like movie trailers? I'm a trailer.junkie. I'm always thrilled if I get to see a lot of previews before a movie, disappointed if we only get one or two trailers.

Loew's cineplex has movie trailers available for download in their trailer park. Cool.

Jason Snell's piece about Siskel and Ebert (the show) and Siskel and Ebert the critics is spot on. Don't miss it:

David Letterman always joked that the only reason his set had two guest chairs was so that there would be places for both Siskel and Ebert. So every now and then, when you see that empty Late Show chair, remember Gene Siskel -- one half of a classic pair that'll never pass this way again.

Tuesday TV:
Yay! New Newsradio (7:30pm, NBC)
Christopher Lloyd guests on Spin City (8pm, ABC)
Yay! New Sports Night (8:30pm, ABC)
Minnesotans can watch behind the scenes Jesse/Letterman stuff on Mpls' WCCO 10pm news
Governor Jesse Ventura on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm, CBS)
Rosie O'Donnell on Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (CBS)

Also new episodes of JAG, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity, Third Rock from the Sun, The Hughleys, Will & Grace, King of the Hill, and NYPD Blue. All have potential . . .

Lane rage (of the checkout line variety, that is):

At my grocery store they have card-readers that deduct the cost from your bank account. This machine, like ATMs, generates a massive Stupidity Aura that turns competent adults into gibbering simpletons. They hover over the machine with their card: Do I use the edge of the card to punch in the numbers? Or do I slide the card in my mouth and then hit the keypad with my forehead? Of course, these people are only turned into zombie-dolts if you have ice cream or something you need to get home quick. If you have a full bladder, be assured that the person in front will attempt to use their library card in the machine. Slowly. Ten times.

Will Gateway take over the world? Er, I mean, take over still more of the PC market? Time will tell. They are actually probably doing the right thing, with the service contracts and the like. Sigh. Now if they'd just improve their **** website. [Note to those new to this log: I used to work on gw2k's website, so I'm just a wee bit more critical than the average person].

I get 30-40 stations on my TV (via my local cable system). Last night, three of those stations were airing the Tae Bo infomercial. It's always on at least one channel . . .

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Spock, Lizard (try saying that ten times fast). [via peterme].

New Palm Pilots hit the street? [via /.]

Siskel's colleague and friend Bob Greene's fabulous tribute to Gene Siskel:

We were at a restaurant once many years ago, and both of us went to use the pay phones, and he put coins into two of them at once -- and used them simultaneously, one phone held to one ear, one to the other, carrying on two separate conversations with two different people. He did not seem to think this was eccentric, merely efficient.

Way to go,! (hey, I'm still ecstatic that was one of the three nominees/finalists for best online newspaper). EPpy award results are in.

Monday Night TV:
Mark McGuire on Mad About You (?!) (7:30pm, NBC)
New Ally McBeal (8pm, FOX)
New Everybody Loves Raymond (8pm, CBS)
Matthew Broderick on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm, CBS)
Bonnie Raitt on Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (CBS)

I've been watching Siskel and Ebert review movies for most of my life. Yeah, I started watching 'em on PBS in the 70s sometime, followed 'em thru the 80s and into the 90s. Granted, I agreed more often with Ebert than Siskel, but I loved 'em together and Siskel surely turned me onto some good films and wowed me with his knowledge of all things related to movies.

Now Siskel is gone suddenly and far too soon. Leaving family and friends and countless fans behind. Sad.

Take the time to read Aaron Barnhart's piece:

He had been one of my longtime readers on the Internet and, in our occasional e-mail exchanges, mentioned more than once that he wanted to meet me in person. So when I came to Chicago last October, Gene Siskel invited me to accompany him and a few others to a screening and lunch. But I ran late finishing a rewrite for my paper back in Kansas City and had to blow off the date. Afterward, I called Gene at home to say sorry, maybe we could hook up the next time I was in town.

He cut me off. "Where are you?" he said.

I told him I was just about to walk over to the city's largest independent bookseller to hawk copies of my TV guide. I'd published this thing myself and was hand-distributing it where I could.

"I'll meet you there in ten minutes," said Gene.

Other pieces: Chicago Tribune coverage, AP story, Ebert piece, Chicago Sun-Times obit

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Revised: February 26, 1999 / Laurel Krahn /