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

March 15-20, 1999

Some interesting tidbits on this EW news page (from various stories I've seen elsewhere), including:

STAR WARS TROUBLE Lucasfilm and Fox are fighting to stop the auction of original film trailers of "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" on eBay. Some 25 prints -- most likely pilfered from movie theaters -- are up for bidding, receiving offers of up to $350. The notoriously proprietary Lucasfilm and Fox are trying to stop the illegal auctions, stating that the trailers are technically their property, and they have already gotten a couple of offers pulled off the site. An eBay spokesperson says the company will help shut down those sales if the studio asks them to.

CASTING Chris Carter has picked the cast for his new series, "Harsh Realm," which will air next season on Fox. Scott Bairstow ("Party of Five") and D.B. Sweeney ("Spawn") will headline the sci-fi-fest about a soldier sent to exterminate a rebel living inside a military virtual-reality computer program.... Jay Mohr ("200 Cigarettes") may join the Fox pilot for "Action," a satiric look at the Hollywood biz.

Wow. Interesting developments in the Kevin Mitnick case. You've probably seen the big L.A. Times story about a possible plea agreement by now (if you haven't, check it out). ZD Net broke the story Wednesday night. And here's a follow up piece that says Mitnick has signed the agreement.

Be sure to visit for a closer look at these piece sand how confidential information was leaked to the press. A political move? Or just one of those things?

My eyes kept going to the supposed part of the agreement that says Mitnick won't go near any computer for three years after he's out of prison. Yowch. It's been hard enough for folks like Kevin Poulsen to try to live sans internet, but sans any computer in 2001 and beyond? I guess it's do-able and beats being in prison, but still.

Someone mentioned recently on It's a fabulous website for TV fans, IMHO. Can't believe it's the first I heard of it. Anyway, in case you're wondering what on earth "jump the shark" means, this is from their FAQ:

Q. What is jumping the shark?

A. It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it "Jumping the Shark."  From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same.

The term "jump the shark" was coined by Sean J. Connolly in Ann Arbor, Michigan back in 1985. This web site, book, film, and all other material surrounding shark jumping, are hereby dedicated to "the Colonel."

The aforementioned expression refers to the telltale sign of the demise of Happy Days, our favorite example, when Fonzie actually "jumped the shark." The rest is history.

Jumping the shark applies not only to TV, but also music, film, even everyday life. "Did you see her boyfriend? She definitely jumped the shark." You get the idea.

I hope this article inspires some people to write/call/fax NBC:

TIME may be running out on NBC stalwarts "Homicide" and "NewsRadio."

NBC hasn't officially decided whether to renew the shows, but continued low ratings and a lack of critical support this season have put the two shows in serious jeopardy of being canned in May when NBC announces its fall schedule.

If you're experiencing deja vu, welcome to the club. But this year they really are taking a lot longer to decide the fates of these two shows. I hope they're both renewed. I hate the implication in articles like these that it's the departure of Andre Braugher from Homicide and Phil Hartman from Newsradio that's hurt those shows this year. It's nonsense. Both are missed, yes. But the reason the two shows have been uneven this year has far more to do with the writing than any other factor.

Homicide and Newsradio still have stellar casts (for the most part, let's forget about Jon Seda and Callie Thorne for the moment . . . they're exceptions, not the rule). They've still got talented writers, producers, directors and whatnot. Turns out it was NBC that pressured Homicide into stupid love plots this year and it wouldn't surprise me if it was NBC that wanted Jon Seda's Paul Falsone character front and center on Homicide.

But both shows are still better than 90% of the other stuff out there. Homicide's improving as the season progresses. And it'd be a real shame to end the show abruptly at the end of this season, if ever a show deserved to have a final year to wrap things up and get a fond farewell, it's Homicide. It's actually an incredible opportunity for NBC . . . many famous actors and directors and writers would kill to work on the show. And former castmembers would be willing to return if the scripts were right. But NBC has never handled the show right . . . sigh.

You can email NBC re Homicide and/or Newsradio. As soon as I track down snail mail addresses, phone numbers I'll likely mention 'em here, too.

Lots of good stuff at memepool, don't forget to check it out.

Yes! Jon Carroll makes the point I've always wanted to make when I see a certain bumpersticker slogan:

There is an old saying that Ginger Rogers was a superior dancer to Fred Astaire because she did everything he did except backward and while wearing high heels. Although amusing, this saying was created by someone who never actually saw Fred and Ginger movies because (a) he moved backward as much as she did, (b) she didn't do everything he did and (c) even when she did them, she didn't do them as well.

And then there's the more serious question/issue. Which is sad, but true:

Women may wear comfortable shoes to work, unless they seek rapid promotion.

That was why we have that odd female commuter fashion statement, the running shoe-with-business suit combination, accessorized with the bulging briefcase carrying the pointy little shoes with the elevated heels.

Glance at the footwear of the women who have broken the glass ceiling, the senators and CEOs and corporate attorneys. Glance at the footwear of their male counterparts. Which group will have fewer foot problems? Ask yourself: Why is being on a first-name basis with your podiatrist a key to success for women?

If it takes high heels to advance my career, I'll be perpetually stalled. 'Cuz I can't stand (in) heels. Hate 'em. Okay, I have one pair that I wear once in a blue moon (that's no exaggeration).

Another good Mr. Blue, gosh I like Garrison Keillor:

A young person should not settle for less than the best, which is a passionate love with a good and reliable companion. You don't want to be one of those people who spend their mature, productive years trying to cobble together a disintegrating marriage or trying to recover from a shipwreck of a divorce. Life is short, and you have good work to do, and it is so much easier to endure some loneliness early on and wait for the right person than to get entangled emotionally with guys who need a lot of work.


Loneliness is a habit, and it's not easily broken -- the lack of contact breeds fear of contact -- but it's easier to break it than to live with it. You simply manage to get out of the woods and come to town.

(Has everybody read stuff into my Mr. Blue selections? Heh. I am Hermit Girl, hear me . . . type away on webpages and watch TV instead of leaving the house. Then again, I did dance like mad for the first time in ages on St. Patrick's Day, right in front of the stage, right between Todd and Adam. Leadhead nirvana. I spotted friends in the crowd who gave me looks like they didn't know I had it in me. Methinks I'd forgotten, too).

I love this bit. But then I've lived my whole life in the midwest, I've watched friends come and go. And when I lived in South Dakota, I got homesick for the lakes of Minnesota:

The Midwest is God's country, and so of course you miss it, but why do you need to do anything about it? It is probably the most missed part of the country. Many people have made wonderful lives based on missing the Midwest. They live in California or Connecticut or Katmandu, and they think longingly of the rectangular fields, the silos, the yellow leaves on the maples, and this longing is a sort of rich yeast that raises their lives to a nobler level. We of the Midwest are happy to play this role, that of the unattainable ideal Homeland and fount of all true values. We love to be missed and are glad that most of the people who miss us are not coming back.

Salon magazine profile of Richard Thompson touches on some of the many reasons I love his work [via honeyguide]:

But tragedy is not Thompson's stock in trade, and neither, necessarily, is love. Drawing on musical influences from the Middle Eastern to the Celtic to classical, swing and country (with a few stops for oompah bands and Cajun music along the way), he has penned hundreds of tunes about love, yes, and death and betrayal -- but also about ice cream and alcohol and '52 Vincents and old 78s and MGB sports cars, Maggie Thatcher, fast food, you name it. And he has written them in a variety of styles, evoking (sometimes in a single album) Yip Harburg, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Randy Newman, Elvis Costello and countless English dance hall plunkers. He is, in short, a master songwriter and a motherfucker of a guitarist, if a vocalist of only limited range.

But what a voice it is!

Finally a decent piece re hackers from Reuters, Smashing the Stereotype of the Villainous Hacker [via hnn]:

Every hacker is a pimply youth out to break into your system, steal your money, vandalize your Web site and leave destruction in his wake, right?


Up to 80 percent of computer criminals are corporate insiders who penetrate their company's system to siphon out money, do some industrial spying or mess up computers for revenge and more, experts think.

But eliminate the lawbreakers and bratty teen-agers, and you'll find technology lovers who dispel the overblown hacker mystique by testing systems for consumers and advocating free speech.

I'm not irish, but St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite days of the year. If only 'cuz some friends usually come to visit and I always (well almost always) get to see Boiled in Lead play at First Avenue. I'll likely check out the Tim Malloys at Kieran's in Mpls before the Leadshow, too. Wheee!

I don't know the opening act for BiL this year . . . well, I know the Minnesota Pipes and Drums, it's traditional now that they play right before Boiled in Lead takes the stage. But anyway. Can't be here in Minneapolis? You can try the webcast (doors open for the show at 8pm Central time, I'd guess Lead would take the stage by 9:30 or 10pm).

Honest, I really did start my little tv site before reading James Collier's advice.

New Monopoly piece:

To pick the new piece, Hasbro held an election, asking Monopoly fans to choose among the sack of money, a biplane and a piggy bank.

Some 1.5 million people voted at toy stores, by telephone and on the Internet, Hasbro said.

People actually picked a sack of money over a biplane and a piggy bank? I'd think the plane would win. Sigh. (Me? I prefer to be the Scottie dog when I play, but then I was raised by Scotties . . . okay, not quite).

Sinead O'Connor and Thomas Dolby to collaborate on first "single recorded live over the Internet." Cool.

More Sinead news: She gives up custody of her daughter.

Ty Burr asks "Why, oh why, can't Hollywood let kids act like kids? " Good question (and he hits at least one part of the answer):

Perhaps the kids in movies like "Baby Geniuses" aren't meant to be kids, after all. Maybe they're meant to reflect the grown-ups in the audience, desperate to recapture their youth and willing to put up with the ultimate in cinematic face-lifts.

Girlfriend of actor Robert Pastorelli found dead.

I am not alone. Another solitaire addict stands up to be counted [via homestead]:

I had been playing solitaire when I should have been working. I played when I sat down to write -- just to warm up the ol' fingers, I used to tell myself. Minutes passed. I would play until I won, I vowed. I won. I would play until I won twice. I won twice. I would play until I reached a certain score. I reached it. I played and played and played.

"Oh, you're busy," my wife would say, peeking in on me. I'd nod. Writing is hard work. She knew that. Sometimes a column could take hours and hours. She knew that. I'd love to go to the supermarket with her, but I have to write. This was the way I make my living (such as it is). She'd nod, understandingly -- and go off by herself.

I felt low. I felt sneaky. I was like some stereotypical alcoholic who hid booze all over the house. I was losing time, work, self-respect. I could not face myself in the morning -- or afternoons or evenings. I marveled at those of my colleagues who openly played computer games in the office. They had moved beyond shame, I felt. They were either mentally sick or wonderfully liberated. I couldn't decide.

Huh. Web Monkey looks at CVS [via scripting news]. (Yeah, I've used CVS and I've tried to convince folks reluctant to try it that it's not that hard to use. Perhaps this piece will help some).

Lileks reviews Rogue Squadron, the latest Star Wars game:

Unlike the justly castigated Rebel Assault, which was as spontaneous as a driver's-ed simulator, you're in a real world. Lose your nerve and fly away, if you like. Go ahead, strafe civilians, blow up Jawa transports. (Skywalker! the program shouts when you perform an anti-social act. What are you doing? Smoking Jawas, that's what I'm doing.) In the first mission you have to defend Mos Eisley, although why you'd want to defend that wretched hive of villany and scum isn't explained.

But as you swoop over the rooftops and hear the squeal of weaponry bouncing from speaker to speaker, you might think that it was worth waiting 22 years for this. You -- you are Luke! You feel the Force!

Methinks Lileks will be getting some calls and letters re this gem in a recent Backfence column. Me? I just laugh. This column also features speculation about cartoon characters and talk of Y2K. Gotta love regionalisms:

From ROCKER1045:

  My favorite Minnesotaism: the California burger. Otherwise intelligent Minnesotans refuse to believe that the vast majority of our country does NOT call a hamburger with iceberg lettuce, tomato and mayo a California burger. I've never seen it on a menu outside of Minnesota, though I'm told it can be found in parts of Iowa. And it's certainly not a phrase you'll hear in California.

I doubt they have the Minnesota burger in California. If they did, though, what would it be? Just a plain hamburger, probably. Oh, we'd like some onions and ketchup, but don't bother yourself. Really. We're fine just like this.

The North Dakota burger: a small Fargo-shaped scrap of meat on one edge, and then 5 inches of empty bun.

The Wisconsin burger: four pounds of cheese, three pounds of meat wrapped around a bratwurst core, then soaked in butter and deep-fried. The buns are hard, but they can double as paddles for those electric heart jump-starters. (Order extra mayo -- it makes great conducting gel.)

The Iowa burger: just an ordinary burger, but it has instructions printed on the bun. 1. Insert in mouth. 2. Chew, avoiding tongue and side of mouth.

In case y'all hadn't guessed, one of the web.projects I'm working on is a TV-centric webpage. At this point it's more of a portal page, of sorts. And I've moved my daily TV picks over there and outta this weblog. I'll still likely be commenting on things TV here, but for my TV picks for a given day (like today, for instance) you can go straight to

Be warned, the page is still rough and there's not much original content there just yet apart from my daily picks. But I'm gonna create profile/review pages for my fave shows. Write some commentary, essays, and all that rot. Suggestions? I've not been particularly inspired design-wise of late and I'm so tired of the usual web colors.

Better than a drinking game (IMHO), it's the X Files' M&M's Game.

Do you hate Paul Falsone? Join the club. So many people wrote Falsone hate mail that Rob Postuma has added a discussion board to his We Hate Falsone website.

I didn't know Bill had his own domain. Of course he does: .

Official webpage for the film Free Enterprise [via haddock]:

In this romantic comedy, two Star Trek fans have their illusions shattered when they meet their idol William Shatner and learn he's hawking a musical version of "Julius Caesar" in which he will play all the parts.

I'd heard of this and wanna see it someday, but near as I can tell it hasn't yet had any kind of release beyond occasional festival appearances. Sounds like it may get a release in Spring 1999 (soon, I hope). Gotta love this bit that introduces a couple of the characters:

Robert - Sometimes a man has to decide between the love of a good woman . . . and a Star Wars action figure. For Rob, it's a toss-up. He's a bright guy . . . a sensitive guy . . . the kind of guy who treats his woman to a romantic candlelit dinner, gazes deeply and sincerely into her eyes, then confesses "We're in the dark because I spent the electricity money on a Star Trek collector's comic."

His girlfriend, Claire, is the perfect woman for Rob. She's tough, smart, beautiful, and most importantly knows the value of a comic. There's just one problem. Claire wants to have a kid, not marry one.

Here's the IMDB entry. And a review from Jam!TV

Tired of people sending you that cute link? Try HamsterBlast [via haddock].

Parrots are cool. And this Lexicon of Parrots is really pretty (and cool) [via memepool].

Due South finally calls it quits (I thought it had already aired it's last episode, but I guess it was still hanging on in Canada) [via tvbarn]:

"It was a strange episode to write," says Paul Gross, who co-wrote the finale with R.B. Carney, "because I'd write a bit and think 'Oh, that's the last time that character will ever speak. I should make it grander or something.'"

No continuance for Mitnick trial.

I saw Deep End of the Ocean this past weekend. Was out with my parents, you see, and that was the only movie my Mom would agree to. And okay, maybe I like Michelle Pfeiffer. So anyway. It's okay, but I agree with Roger Ebert who felt there were gaps in the film... important events that simply didn't happen on-screen. Suspect part of the problem comes from the difficulties that arise when making a movie out of a book. Still, there are good performances. It's a tear-yanker; family angst-fest. Pfeiffer looks as good as ever even as a grieving mother. And Jonathan Jackson ought to get a lot of movie offers out of this, he's the best thing in the movie.

My Dad asked me after the movie, "So why is it called Deep End of the Ocean?"
My reply: "I guess you need to read the book to figure that out."

Here's a TV Guide profile of Jackson.

Ha! Robert Bianco talks of the HBO special Men Exposed in his TV picks for today (Monday):

Produced by Meema Spadola and Thom Powers, the filmmakers behind Breasts: 22 Women on 41 Breasts, title this well-meaning special opens by asking, "Why don't men talk about their penises?" By the end of the hour, you'll know: because it's boring.

Monday TV:
Susan Sarandon, Henry Winkler on The Rosie O'Donnell Show (syndicated, check local listings)

The Amercian Comedy Awards looks like it should be a lot of fun (as awards shows go). David Hyde Pierce raps, David Duchovny gets a comedy award, a tribute to Barry Levinson, parodies of stand-up comics . . . Could be cool. (7pm, FOX)

John Huston's film adaptation of James Joyce' The Dead (7pm, Bravo)

A new episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (8pm, CBS)

John Larroquette stars in the premiere of Fawlty Towers knock-off Payne (8:30pm, CBS)

Dana Delaney stars in Resurrection, a TV movie with an interesting premise (she develops the power to heal after a near death experience) (I mention it 'cuz I like Delaney) (8pm, ABC)

Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness (8pm, Sci-Fi channel)

Monday Classics:
Doris Day in By The Light of the Silvery Moon (5:15pm, AMC)
Spencer Tracy and Katherin Hepburn in Desk Set (7pm, letterboxed at 1am, AMC)
Lee Remick and Montgomery Clift in Wild River (9pm, letterboxed at 3am, AMC)

This past weekend's SNL with Ray Romano as the host was worth watching if only for the sketch where Ray Romano played Roberto Benigni. (There were some other funny bits, too, actually. I'd been avoiding SNL for most of the last couple of years). The Practice was good. And I finally caught the TV Hall of Fame broadcast which was incredible (it aired on UPN last week, didn't air in Mpls 'til this weekend 'cuz it was preempted for local high school tournaments).

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