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

March 1-7, 1999

If any of you use ICQ and want to add me to your contact lists, go for it. I'm user 509473 (I am not a number . . .). Plenty of strangers who've never seen my webpages seem to add me all the time . . . might as well have some folks who read the pages add me to their lists. I'm also registered on sixdegrees and a bunch of those kind of places.

The March issue of Retro magazine has all sorts of the usual cool stuff. Profiles of designers, songwriters, musicians, and folks who helped define pop culture.

Am I psychic or what? When I saw this question to Mr. Blue (Garrison Keillor), I just knew how his answer would end:

Mr. Blue,
Twelve years ago a teacher told me that you should never start a sentence with the word "so." Ever since I've been terribly inhibited because it seems like every other sentence I write wants to start with that awful word. Was my teacher wrong, or have I in fact been subjugated by an oppressive regime of Grammar Police?
Grammatically challenged in SF

Dear Challenged,
"So," as it might be used at the start of the sentence, is a conjunction that notes consequence. So a sentence that starts with "so" is probably an incomplete sentence. So what? So many people use incomplete sentences, and do so to good advantage, that your teacher was foolish to state this so absolutely. So let us push forward and write English freely and expressively and with pleasure. So say I. Sew buttons on your underwear.

Very cool web exhibition of Vincent Van Gogh's work [via robot wisdom].

Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. I was raised on his work, my Mom was/is an art teacher and used to teach Van Gogh to everybody and anybody. These days I get into arguments with my folks who prefer Monet, whereas I prefer Renoir. Nothing like a Monet vs. Renoir impressionism debate. :-) And then someone brings up Sisley or someone else entirely and we get sidetracked.

Speaking of art and my parents . . . my folks dragged me to a Chihuly exhibit when I didn't know him from adam. Impressive stuff, but I agree with Whump that the Macchia are especially cool.

Jorn mentions Murl and quotes their page:

No longer are your bookmarks trapped on your hard drive. Access them from ANYWHERE on the Internet.

Isn't that what a webpage is for? Or at least, that's what I understood the very first homepages were . . . a way of putting your bookmarks out there so you could access them from any machine. That's largely why I still have a section of links on my website. For my own use when I'm browsing from elsewhere.

Perhaps this works for those who haven't yet figured out HTML or don't have space to weave their own webpages . . . ('course I'd just have the urge to tell those folks there's free webspace to be had and that basic HTML is incredibly easy . . . ).

Are polydactyl cats really that rare? [link via memepool]. I guess I don't see them very often at animal shelters, nor do I know many people that have polydactyl cats. But they surely are around. My cat Inky is polydactyl . . . each of his four paws has a couple extra toes. Just adds to his "domestic panther" mystique. They're Big Paws. And he's a Big Black Cat. My parents have a polydactyl shorthaired tuxedo cat named Margo, her front paws have so many extra toes that each paw is split into two sections, much as humans' thumbs are distinct from the rest of our fingers. (er, I suspect I could explain this better had I the time . . .).

I posted a cool proposal/poll to Which songs would you include on a soundtrack cd/tape for Homicide: Life on the Street? I like my picks and may very well put together a tape for my own aural gratification. Even if you don't watch the show, I bet you'll find it grand fodder for a mix tape. (But then I'm a "mix tape" junkie. I love making them, I love receiving 'em. If anyone ever wants to send me a tape of their favorite music, email me).

The March issue of Dave Langford's Hugo-award winning fanzine is now available. Much good stuff, as usual (never read it? Try it . . . ). I quite liked this tidbit:

Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us. This hard-nosed NBC tv survey of said `evidence' attained stupefying heights of impartiality by using an expert source, interviewer, and executive producer with no possible financial interest in pushing alien abduction theories. Yes, you guessed it: Whitley Strieber. Lawrence M.Krauss of Physics of Star Trek fame was mystified that the alienness of a fragment of iron extracted from someone's hand was considered proved when a geologist with a big microscope `couldn't classify it.' God forbid they should risk taking it to a metallurgist. Or a scrap-metal dealer. [AIP/NYT]

Can't resist quoting this one from John Barnes:

Once More ... John Barnes's titles are again in a twist: `The reason the US edition of my first story/essay collection is titled Apostrophes and Apocalypses, and the UK edition Apocalypses and Apostrophes, is neither because Americans don't see any point in punctuating after the end of the world, nor a British insistence on alphabetical order, but because the author, who is something of an idiot, never decided between the two versions and used both in correspondence over a period of years. Both publishers took their best guesses, and came out in opposite directions; the blame rests solely upon the author, just as in US editions of Prejudice and Pride, Punishment And Crime, and A City Of Two Tales.'

Sat-Sun TV:
TNT has good Sat morning TV (Wild Wild West, Adventures of Brisco County Junior, Due South)
Mulder and Scully masquerade as Rob and Laura Petrie (!?!) on a new X-Files (8pm Sun, FOX)
New episode of The Practice (9pm Sun, ABC)

James Lileks and the gang at the Backfence discuss the difference between uff da and ish da . . .

Ha! The funniest part of the whole Artist/Prince/Symbol story:

The Symbol is no stranger to asking the courts to protect his good name. In 1984, Prince the musician tried to sue the then-maker of the Prince spaghetti products over a commercial that used a concert-like setting and introduced the Prince spaghetti product as a rock star.

He later dropped the suit.

Teevee piece about the evile Nielsen rating system:

No one needs a degree in statistics to know that there's no such thing as the Average American Family and no one needs that degree to tell that the Nielsen ratings system is a pathetic sham. The Nielsens are based entirely on 5,000 households; anyone can see, with an American population of over 250 million, that this number has no hope of being representative. More people are abducted by UFOs every year than are polled by Nielsen. According to the March 1999 issue of Brill's Content, $50 million of ad revenues are in the balance every time four viewers -- only four viewers -- tune in, or don't, to a network show. Tracking of these viewers is impossibly shoddy, too. The very best in 1950s technology is being used right now to fashion large rectangular chrome house-cleaning robots, design flying cars with fins, put a raygun in every spaceman's holster, build geodesic domes on the moon, and, oh yes, meter Nielsen family viewing.

Friday TV:
Rerun of the Providence pilot (7pm, NBC) and another episode (9pm, NBC)
Rerun of the Brimstone pilot (7pm, FOX)
Millennium rerun (8pm, FOX)
Gwyneth Paltrow on The Tonight Show (NBC)
Jon Stewart on Charlie Rose (PBS)
Bill Maher on The Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (CBS)

I'll 'fess up, I quite like Providence. Mike Farrell is instantly likeable as a kindhearted vet. I really like Melina Kanakaredes who stars as a woman who once lived and worked in L.A. (as a plastic surgeon) who returns home to live with her Dad and her two grown siblings. Good music, pretty scenery, fine cast. The writing has been solid, though not always terrifically original. It's a show that seems to be improving as it goes, a good thing. Has had some hilarious quirky moments of late. Not a must-see, but a pleasant show that could easily grow into something better.

What the heck is NBC thinking? Oops, I'm presuming thought. Makes sense to rerun the Providence pilot, good for them. I kept seeing promos for two episodes of the show, which also makes sense as the second episode almost should be part of the pilot. I'd assume the two episodes would run back to back, with the second preempting their usual Friday night Dateline. Ha! Nope, they're running the Providence pilot at 7pm, Dateline at 8pm, then the second Providence at 9pm instead of Homicide. Grrr. I suppose they're experimenting to see if another show (even a rerun) could draw better than Homicide in that timeslot, as they haven't yet decided whether to renew Homicide for next season. Sigh. I guess it's blasphemy to preempt a "news" show. Feh.

Brimstone. I watched this show once and was surprised to like it. Theme music by Peter Gabriel alone gives it an edge in my book. Interesting visuals. A premise that sounds like The Crow in a way . . . a cop kills the man who rapes his wife, then ends up in hell when he dies. He's allowed to return to earth to rid the world of demons or something. I guess tonight's rerun of the pilot will explain better than I could. Alas, it seems likely the show will die, but some fans are protesting.

Millennium. It's a different show every season. I still don't know what to make of the episodes I've seen thus far this season. I liked last season better, methinks. Still, I'll be watching the reruns to catch up on the ones I've missed.

It's funny, I'd been listening a lot lately to The Very Best of Dusty Springfield . . . now she's gone. Last night I'd swear every late show band played "Son of a Preacher Man" during their shows. Joyce Millman's tribute is lovely:

In an oft-quoted remark, made at the height of her fame, she said that underneath it all, she still felt like an "awful, fat, ugly, middle-class kid." Two months ago, dying of cancer, she reflected on her life in a British newspaper interview, recalling that she had an epiphany at age 16: "Be miserable, or become someone else." So Mary Catherine O'Brien bought a tube of black eyeliner, took the stage name Dusty Springfield and became one of the greatest female pop singers of her generation.

Jon Carroll talks about the movie Office Space. I've been avoiding the movie, even though I think Mike Judge can be absolutely brilliant. Because I fear it'd hit too close to home (especially now, right after having my job eliminated . . . ). It's hard enough reading Dilbert anymore, I don't find the modern workplace particularly funny. Methinks I'm disillusioned. But anyway:

This is the modern world, where merely following the rules is a sign of surliness. You must want to please. You must enjoy working overtime for no pay. You must accept whatever strange management idea is being promoted this week, and you must promote it yourself, even if no one understands it.

This movie is about selling your brain every day, and how bad that feels.

This past weekend's edition of Siskel & Ebert was a tribute to Gene Siskel, naturally. An excellent piece, that showed just the right clips (even that musical bit from The Critic and the time David Lettermen took Siskel and Ebert door to door in New Jersey). But the scene that still hits me as I start to hunt for a job, yet again. Siskel speaking to his young daughters, imploring them to do whatever it takes to find a job that they love passionately . . . and not to settle for anything less.

I've love there to be a museum of cool spy gadgets. But then I love shows like Get Smart and Hogan's Heroes for the gadgets. And James Bond movies. You know the drill. [via HNN]

HNN has archived the cracked version of Yeah, someone cracked it Wednesday night (appropriately enough).

The Turing Test: are you talking to a person or a computer? Tests run thru March 10th. [via HNN]

Lileks talks Lewinksy and change and stuff in today's bleat.

Yay! Finally a show in the post-Friends timeslot that is watchable:

NBC will move its freshman comedy Will & Grace to Thursdays at 8:30 pm/ET starting April 8, replacing another first-year comedy, Christina Applegate's Jesse, in the coveted "hammock" slot.

Thursday TV:
Sweeps month is over, it's rerunsville for the most part. Sigh.
I may give my guilty pleasure, Diagnosis Murder a chance (7pm, CBS)
Scott Thompson guests on Jesse (7:30pm, NBC)
Billy Crystal, George Miller on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm, CBS)
Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Emily Watson on Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (CBS)

Excellent article about fans of Homicide and their pilgrimmages to Baltimore. Even if they get a few facts wrong (the first "Homicon"-- a gathering of a group of folks from wasn't this past October, but occurred a couple years back). I still haven't made it to Baltimore and am going to miss "Homicide Live" yet again. Just couldn't swing it given my job situation. :-( I hope and pray the show sticks around another year so I can get to Baltimore while the show is still in production. Yeah, I know, it's just a tv show. Anyway. Read this article if you wanna hear other loons like me talk about their devotion to this show:

They may also tell you that it's not easy being them. Outside of "Homicide's" online community and Baltimore itself, "being a fan of the show is a pretty lonely business. One tends to get a lot of blank stares and shrugs," says Amanda Paulette, a 25-year-old graduate student who will drive from Yorktown, Va., for her third "Homicide Live!" A harmonic convergence of elements is what attracts Paulette and other out-of-towners: The show's realism, its credibly imperfect characters and the fact that it is taped in the Waterfront, Daily Grind and other real places with real names in a way that makes it "of" as well as "about" Baltimore.

Dusty Springfield obituary (sigh), wherein they quote what she said when diagnosed with cancer:

After the first diagnosis, she told The Mail on Sunday newspaper in January, 'I shed about three tears in the hallway and then said, 'Let's have lunch.' My brother came, the neighbors who brought me to town, my secretary, my accountant. I had a really good time -- don't know why. That's the spirit of my family, as if to say, 'Oh, to hell with it.'

"It was only when I came home one night and saw my cat lying asleep that I thought, 'Who's going to look after you?' It was as if somebody had run a train through me. I wept and wept and wept because then I realized: It is you. It's you. Yes, it might kill you."

Al Roker is boycotting the Monica Lewinsky interview that airs tonight on 20/20 (even though his wife, Deborah Roberts, works for 20/20):

Haven't we heard enough? haven't we seen enough? I know this will come as a shock to many of you, but I DON'T CARE!!! We know what she did. We know what he did. What prurient interest does it serve for us to listen to this young woman tell her story? It'll prevent others from suffering the same fate? I don't know about you, but I don't know too many young people who, if they had the chance, would flash the President their thong.

Detailed coverage of the Shubert theater's move. How does one move a huge historic building? It's fascinating:

From the earliest days of preparation to the installation of 70 hydraulic dollies underneath, the theater held steady as it was pulled from the spot where it was built in 1910 to its new home a quarter-mile away.

Entertainment Weekly interview with Paul Westerberg:

W: When people talk about the Replacements these days, they nearly get down on their knees in homage. How's it feel to be an indie-rock saint?

Paul: Twenty years after the fact the band is romanticized and looked at as classic. But back then people hated me. There was so much animosity all around. A handful of people would say, "Paul, you're on the right track." But most everyone hated us pretty much all of the time -- because we weren't a hard-core band, or even a real rock band. I mean, our biggest record sold 90,000 copies or something lousy like that.

I agree completely with Sarah Stegall's fabulous review of The X-Files' "Monday" and I just love her opening:

In Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park", mathematician Ian Malcolm attempts to explain chaos theory using the "butterfly effect": depending on whether a butterfly in Beijing flaps its wings, there is or is not rain in Central Park. Small, seemingly haphazard events add up to enormous, unpredictable consequences beyond our knowledge and control. And yet, in the midst of all these innumerable random events, there is order. The cynics among us may say that we humans, who specialize in pattern recognition, are imposing that order on the world, but most of us live our actual lives as though there were order, as though there were meaning, as though there were, therefore, hope. Order in and of itself leads us to stasis and death. Only in change can we find hope; the universe glimpsed through the eyes of a chaos theoretician is, rather than fixed and authoritarian, a vast expanse of infinite possibility, where anything may and sometimes does happen.

Some cool t-shirts available from Toga Tees, now if they'd just stop overusing the "resting on our laurels" phrase.

Reuters profile of Jesse L. Martin (the guy who plays "Dr. Greg Butters" on Ally McBeal).

Wednesday TV:
Gil Bellows ("Billy" from Ally McBeal) on Rosie O'Donnell Show
Paris and Torres get married on a new Voyager (8pm, UPN)
New Law & Order (9pm, NBC)
A classic Twilight Zone (Today's TV Ultra pick) (10pm, Sci-Fi channel)
Fresh Step on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm, CBS)
Juliette Lewis, Ian McKellen on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien (NBC)
Bette Midler on Charlie Rose
Jay Thomas on Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (CBS)

Wonder why I mention Fresh Step on Lettermen? Visit Aaron Barnhart's TV Barn:

Fresh Step, LATE SHOW NEWS readers will recall, is a fake, a fraud, a swindle. It's a Backstreet Boys parody group named for a brand of kitty litter. Only, the American public has never been told the truth about them. Fresh Step was introduced last month on "Late Show with David Letterman" -- with a straight face -- by the host, who held up the group's nonexistent CD, and then on they came, lip-synching a song that went like this:

F is for the fresh cuz that's what we are
R is for reality, we're living large
E is for emotion cuz we know how to feel
S is for the street cuz we're keepin' it real
H is for my homies cuz we got a bad rep
But ya gotta be fresh 2 fresh with da Fresh Step.

One of my all-time favorite sitcoms has been airing in syndicated reruns for a few months now. Be sure to watch for Newsradio reruns in your area, worth checking out, IMHO. Here's a fab Newsradio webpage which has an excellent episode guide and some fun soundfiles and the usual fanpage stuff.

I've been trying to spotlight other weblogs and sources here, at least one every week or two. I've not been terrifically diligent, but I'll get better at it. Previously I've plugged Tomalak's Realm for web/tech headlines/news. And Homicide Links on the Sites for all things related to Homicide: Life on the Street.

I figure most of you probably visit Jim Romenesko's Obscure Store and Reading Room each day, but if you don't . . . start today. It's fabulous. Well-designed with great content. Gossip, obscure news, you name it. I predict that most people who visit it once, end up visiting it daily (or almost daily) thereafter. Assuming they don't lose the URL. :-)

A cute, enthusiastic review of the new Palm pilots. [Thanks, Felix]. Probably a good piece to point to if you know someone who doesn't have one yet and who doesn't get what the big deal is. I love my Palm III, I look lustily at the new ones though I think I'm waiting for the next generation after those to upgrade.

I mentioned my love for movie trailers, I'm also fascinated by movie posters and other promotions surrounding movies. The Posters 'N' Movies website has lots of movie posters, including a bunch of new ones that I haven't seen yet. Cool. Blue Thunder Movies also has some posters and a bunch of movie trailers. [via darkhorizons]

Another excellent piece from Kevin Poulsen, this one is about Chris Lamprecht. Lamprecht is in jail for money laundering, but when the judge on his case found out that Lamprecht is also a skilled hacker (which has nothing to do with the money laundering crime), he's ordered that he not be allowed internet access for years after his release from prison. That's the part that depressed Lamprecht, but now he's fighting it and even making headway. He's impressed his lawyers. Here's Lamprecht's argument:

"The possible uses of the Internet are literally unlimited," he wrote in his brief. "Students can apply for federal financial aid, register for class, email their assignments to their professor. Taxpayers can file their taxes. One can even order a pizza on the Internet. In this day and age of technology, banning a person from the Internet is overbroad... The Internet is also a form of media and an avenue of expression, consequently this restriction violates the First Amendment right to free speech and free press."

And here's an amazing, possibly promising turn of events:

In an order issued last December, the very same judge who banished Lamprecht into electronic exile, and who is now reviewing the hacker's petition, wrote: "The petitioner further argues that the Court's restrictions on his use of the Internet constitute a prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment. This is a novel legal claim and the Court orders the government to file a brief responding to this point of error."


The flip side of HNN? Well, the silly side of it. INN [a.k.a. Innerpulse] is a hacker humor site that slays me every time. It's well-designed and looks vaguely like /. and other sites that offer real news tidbits. Makes one wonder if someday someone will get confused, miss the irony, and take it all seriously. Kinda like the whole satellite thing. Heh. Speaking of which, here's the innerpulse take on that mess:

Hackers have reportedly seized control of one of Britain's military communication satellites and issued blackmail threats. They are demanding an unknown amount of money. They have changed the satellite's course and will not cease to until their ransom is paid. British general Mark Winters only had this to say, "This bloody sucks!". Police said they would not comment on this case because it is too sensative. The Whitehouse head security advisor, David White, made this comment at a press conference earlier today, "The only reason I can see why this would be done is that a few hackers might have been tired of watching "Monty Python" and wanted some real TV".

Have I spent too much time lurking in alt.sysadmin.recovery over the years? You'd think I'd have recovered from my brief stints as a sysadminly person. I find this bitter Adminspotting T-shirt amusing [via /.].

Tuesday TV:
' New JAG, Third Rock, Felicity, Spin City, Will & Grace, NYPD Blue, etc.
New Newsradio (in which Lisa marries Johnny Johnson?!?) (7:30pm, NBC)
Ian McKellen, Erykah Badu on Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm, CBS)
Dennis Rodman, Billy Bob Thornton on The Tonight Show (NBC)
Al Franken, Jane Krakowski ("Elaine" of Ally McBeal) on Late Night w/ Conan O'Brien (NBC)
Ben Stiller on Late Late Show w/ Tom Snyder (CBS)

Booooo! Argh, etc. From ABC's Sports Night webpage:

SPORTS NIGHT will not be seen on March 2 due to a special broadcast of DHARMA & GREG.

Cary Grant TV:
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse (5:15pm and midnight, AMC)
Cary Grant: A Celebration of a Leading Man (9pm and 2am, AMC)
The Grass is Greener (widescreen version) (10pm and 3am, AMC)

Jack Carmody, legendary TV columnist for the Washington Post, died on Monday. From the excellent Post tribute:

As creator of The Washington Post's TV Column, Carmody pounded out five fact-filled columns per week, week in, week out, for more than 20 years -- defining and dominating the beat, piling up influence, laughing at himself and everybody else. He could cover a murder for a tabloid; he could profile Andre Malraux. Depending on the day, he was the sweetest grouch or the grouchiest sweetheart imaginable.

He called his office "the Pigpen" and his apartment "Pooh Corner." He liked saying "newshound gets lowdown on higher-ups." In the evening, as he shuffled from the office in a tan raincoat and a battered hat, he grumbled, "Ta-ta from Tinseltown." His voice sounded like his adenoids were being sandpapered.

A cool cute Q & A session with Don Roos (director of The Opposite of Sex):

Have you ever been to the Oscars?
I was there in 1992. It was fun watching the stars arrive downstairs. You don't expect stars to be nervous, but everyone was having a really horrible time. If you invite the top people in Hollywood into a room and say, "Out of every five people that are here, four of you are going to go home miserable," then you're going to have a tense little group.

Is there a noticeable mood shift after the awards?
Oh, yeah. You can tell who didn't win. Bitter, bitter, bitter. Trying to be above it all... but bitter, bitter, bitter.

You recently did a Newsweek roundtable with Warren Beatty and Tom Stoppard...
I was thrilled just to be in the same room...and not serving them coffee.

I'm not sure what I think about this, though my initial thought on seeing the headline was "neat" but as I read the article it started sounding like a commercial enterprise . . . "bleah". Still, will be an impressive work:

St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., will announce this month that it has commissioned British calligrapher Donald Jackson to hand-write a complete Bible -- the first such project in 500 years.

A truly fine piece on former-Gopher basketball player Courtney James:

FORT WAYNE, IND. -- Just across the street from his workplace, Courtney James spends a professional basketball player's countless free hours in a one-bedroom apartment, perfecting spin moves and thunderous dunks on his Sony PlayStation.

He owns baseball, football and golf video games, but he prefers NCAA Final Four '99, a CD-Rom that allows James to control any of 250 major college teams. He chooses only one, every time.

"The Gophers," he said. "That's who I play with, nobody but them."

Courtney James is talented, but he proved himself a kid with a chip on his shoulder and a bit of a mean streak when he was in Minnesota. At least that's the opinion I formed from watching him and what I read in the press. I really like this piece and it sounds like Courtney James has learned a bit from what went down.

Autumn Tysko on The X-Files' "Monday" episode:

-Looks like Mulder's apartment is back where it belongs after that unfortunate movie Arlington incident. We can only hope that if we ever get to see Scully's digs again her fridge is back in the kitchen.

-The most amusing thing about the repeated Mulder/Scully office scene was no matter what Mulder told her or what banter conversation they had, the thing that Scully really fixated on was Mulder's waterbed. Perhaps her amusement with it in "Dreamland 2" was not all an act.

The folks at the X-Files really need a staffer who pays attention to continuity. As Mulder and Scully's apartments move regularly. As do the furnishings and rooms in their apartments. From episode to episode. And then there was the movie which seemed to take place in an alternate universe . . .

What iMac color are you? [link sent to me by my friend Felix]

Excellent article at MSNBC (!) about the whole hacker-satellite story. Especially cool since it spotlights one of my favorite websites (and sources for news for this weblog)-- HNN (

The Reuters News Service on Sunday reported a dramatic story that hackers had seized control of a British military satellite, and won’t release it until a ransom is paid. But where might you turn for the “real” story? Perhaps the Hacker News Network, which by Monday morning had thrown cold water on the report. In another example of how personal Web publishing has turned journalism on its ear, a wire service report proved less reliable than Space Rogue’s HNN digest.

I'm listening to Trad Arr Jones, the new album from John Wesley Harding. JWH is one of my favorite songwriters. But this is an album of songs by or arranged by Nic Jones. Beautiful stuff if you like traditional folk type stuff. Well, it's beautiful regardless. I've heard of Jones, but don't own any of his albums . . . they're currently out of print and hard to find. For more info about JWH, visit his official website. Click on the album title to order from if you'd like (or just to check out the info and reviews they have).

The Trad Arr Jones official webpages are really spiff. Don't miss the songbook, which has lyrics for all the songs, as well as JWH's comments about them. Plenty of the songs are adapted from various Child ballads, I'm always fascinated by the lineage of such folk songs.

David Bianculli talks to Mike Nelson of MST3K:

"As far as the last show, we haven't talked about it much," Nelson said — although they "had a good laugh" proposing that Crow the robot would mount a "harmless little puppet show," after which Mike "comes in and cruelly cancels it."

James Lileks on the big Toy Fair. Here's an interesting encounter with someone who's plugging the Rosie O'Donnell barbie doll:

"This is the first of Barbie's celebrity additions," the spokesperson says, "and it allows girls unlimited opportunities for baking and decorating." She stops. "That was the old script. Sorry. I was doing that last August." She shakes her head like someone upending an Etch-A-Sketch, and continues. "Rosie is the same size as Barbie, but her legs and arms are twice as thick." Really. "Really! And she has a double chin! She sent back the first version because it didn't have a double chin."

And still more Barbie stuff:

Barbie also has tattoos. They go nicely with her new look, which could be described as Hooker Barbie, or perhaps Easy Rider Barbie. Crimped hair, a dress as short as a 2-year-old's attention span, and a crocheted halter top familiar to anyone who grew up in the '70s. It ought to come with a small bottle of Boone's Farm. There are other Barbies to come, including Barbie Loves Frankie Sinatra. (Perhaps they'll follow that with Barbie Fears Sam Giancana. Or Barbie Hates Ava Gardner.) There's a Barbie with a nose ring, too. Does it get infected, and then clear up when you put her in water?

"No!" says the demonstrator. "Barbie never gets infected. She's Barbie."

You need say no more than that.

Article also includes encounters with Lara Croft. Be afraid.

Fine pleasantly grumpy Jon Carroll column on book excerpts in 12 packs of pop (that's soda if you aren't from Minneso/d/a/ta. And on writers with three names. And such things. Read it (unless you're a fan of Barbara Taylor Bradford).

James Lileks has redesigned his Institute of Official Cheer and has released The Gallery of Regrettable Food 2.0. There'll be weekly updates to the Gallery for the next couplefew months. Be afraid, be very afraid. It's good, scary stuff.

Nice (albeit brief) profile of Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond:

"I'm embarrassed to say this, but in 1979 when disco was really hot, I was a DJ in an L.A. nightclub," Garrett tells EW Online. "I was a big white boy with a Panama hat with a whistle. It was a frightening period. It threw me into therapy, and I found out I wasn't Latino." But who knew he was so nimble? "Frankly, for a six-foot-eight white boy who can't dribble, I'm just happy to get from the couch to the bedroom without taking a header."

Monday TV:
Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin in the broadcast premier of the okay Tin Cup (7pm, ABC)
Dilbert goes to Elbonia (7pm, UPN)
Corbin Bernson, Amanda Pays on what sounds like a good 7th Heaven (7pm, WB)
Players from the '69 Mets appear on a new Everybody Loves Raymond (8pm, CBS)
Alice Krige (that's the Real Borg Queen to trekgeeks like me) guests on Becker (8:30pm, CBS). Will The Actress Who Used To Be Dax fight with her? That's all I want to know.
New Ally McBeal (8pm, FOX)

TV Guide picks 7th Heaven as this year's Best Show You Aren't Watching. Tonight might be a good night to give the show a try. I'll admit it, I've watched the show a couple of times. At first I avoided it 'cuz the show was recommended to me by my parents and grandparents . . . and no one else. But I kinda like Stephen Collins (even if he was in Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture) and I gave it a shot. It's well done and not too preachy (at least wasn't when I saw it).

David Duchovny confesses:

"I love Barry Manilow. He's so schmaltzy."

Speaking of Duchovny, one of the funniest things I saw last week was Duchovny's appearance on The Tonight Show. Okay, his comedy bits were a bit tired (though having his stand in and stunt double on was cute). But when it was revealed that he's "touring with Barenaked Ladies" I laughed far too hard. Then later, when BNL was on to perform their latest hit single, Duchovny played "egg" (that's a percussion instrument . . . ) and sang backup and danced around like mad. Cracked up the BNL guys. I was far too amused for my own good.

TV Guide online has a TV Robots "fotoflip" game this week. I haven't tried it yet, but I bet I know TV robots far too well.

George Clooney signed to star in a new Coen brothers movie:

Clooney will play the leader of three escapees from a chain gang in the 1930s. The pic tracks their misadventures in Mississippi and other Southern locales as they try to elude a tracker.

I agree with Robert Bianco in this preview of this week's Ally McBeal:

Here's a shocker: Ally's recent romantic escapade with Billy has filled her with guilt, which will occupy yet another outing of Ally McBeal (Fox, 9 p.m. ET/PT). I've found the return of this love triangle tiresome, though the final five minutes of last week's episode were so powerful that they almost made it worthwhile. Viewers, however, have watched in record numbers, proving once again that it seldom pays to bet against producer David E. Kelley.

I was pretty irked by the return of this supposed triangle, too. But the last 10-15 minutes of last week's episode was amazing and intense and believable, IMHO. I know some folks who turned off the episode during the first half hour in frustration which was a huge mistake. I hope they handle things well in tonight's episode. And then Move On, please.

Bleah. The Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade has been cancelled before it's even aired. Grrr. Here's a bit from J. Michael Straczynski statement [via ain't it cool news/coaxial]:

Well, we took our best shot. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don't.

The SciFi Channel programming guys wanted the show; they wanted it a lot. They crunched numbers for almost two weeks trying to make it work. But at the end of the day, the problem was that they had already allocated or spent their budget for the year, and couldn't come up with the huge chunk of change necessary to get an entire season. Had this come up prior to January 1st, things would almost certainly have gone differently. But they have their budget, as we have ours, and it was already allocated.

So TNT will now air the full 13 produced, and that's the end of it for now. I say for now because WB has told us to fold and hold all the sets, rather than scrap them, because they believe strongly in the show, and feel that when the ratings come in we may well be able to pick up a second season. We'll see.

Most folks are really not betting on a second season. In fact, if the ratings for Crusade aren't stellar, it's possible TNT won't air all of the existing 13 episodes. Me? I think if TNT doesn't want it and the Sci-Fi channel can't afford it, why not hit up the networks? They've got money and they surely could use some shows. But then the networks shy away from SF stuff and of late have preferred to show newsmagazines than hour-long dramas. 'Course I haven't seen any of Crusade myself so don't know if it's worth saving or what it's selling points to various markets would be.

"Vitamin Bee" reports re Cupid [via ain't it cool news/coaxial]:

Several fans had gathered funds to put a ("Save Cupid!") ad in Variety.

When word came down the pike that Cupid's creator (Rob Thomas) was joining the producing / writing team of David Kelley's new ABC series Snoops (Paula Marshall, Cupid's Claire, had already committed to the pilot a week before), one of the fans putting the Variety ad together e-mail Rob Thomas and he basically said:

"Thanks for everything, but Cupid is dead."

Good thing he told us too, since we were about two days away from committing several thousand dollars for an ad to Variety.

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Revised: March 5, 1999 / Laurel Krahn /