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April 26-30, 1999

Friday TV:
New Homicide: Life on the Street (9pm CST, NBC)
More picks, details . . .

Huh. Cool, I think. Benjamin Bratt is leaving Law & Order, he'll be replaced by Jesse L. Martin (recently seen in a guest role on The X-Files, best known as "Dr. Greg Butters" on Ally McBeal). I'd grown used to Bratt as Rey, but I really like Martin so suspect this'll be a cool change.

Maybe Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe is right:

Turn off the fax machines, put away those the-tube-is-going-down-the-tubes lecture notes, and consider this: Maybe "Homicide" should be offed.

Now that NBC has threatened to cancel the drama, whose already-low ratings have dipped, the true-blue viewers are sure to mount one of those red-hot campaigns to keep the show on the air. But let us remember that "Homicide" is seven years old now and, like dog years, TV-show years count for a lot more than human years. Once a jittery view of social despair and personal struggle, "Homicide" is aging into just another gritty cop series about perps, pimps and pairs of pretty police people. We should let it go now.

I dunno. I can see either way on this, time to let go, keep it around and give it a proper send off. And 'cuz it's still better than most shows. I agree with the writer's conclusion, that we'll always have the classic reruns on cable. :-)

Read this fab parody of tacky opinion polls. Specifically, it's a take on a recent poll given to viewers of Homicide: Life on the Street, the author gives us what the poll would've looked like if it were about Hamlet [via hlotslinks] :

1. You have just seen a play by William Shakespeare. If the Globe stages future productions of Mr. Shakespeare's plays, which of the following statements best describes your feelings.

a. I would never under any circumstances, if you boiled me in oil and placed me on the rack, attend another play by Shakespeare.

b. I might attend another play.

Yay! Fabulous article for the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Gregory A. Patterson, about the black men of Homicide: Life on the Street:

At a time when the scarcity of black men in weekly television series extends even to sitcoms, the alternately sly and gripping portrayals in NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street" hit the mark better than any show ever has. At least according to this black man. (I'm no expert, just experienced.)

"Homicide" isn't a show by, about, or even for black men. Perhaps that is the beauty of its achievement. For us, after all, the machinations of race rarely come by themselves anymore, but usually in some other container -- invitations not given, achievements unrecognized, a pullover by the police.

Funny recent top ten lists:

Top Ten Ways To Make Religious History More Entertaining

10. New chapter of the Bible: "The Book of Regis."
9. Instead of parting Red Sea, Moses drives Ford pickup into a Red Lobster.
8. After David slays Goliath, he is elected Governor of Minnesota.
7. Each psalm has to include the word "jiggy."
6. Lord is asked to perform greatest miracle -- get Knicks in playoffs.
5. At end of Jonah and the whale story, Roy Scheider blows up whale using pressurized oxygen tank.
4. All new Book of Genesis explains why they've sucked since Peter Gabriel left.
3. The Book of Judges expanded to include Koch and Judy.
2. Epic new film: "The Ten Commandments Broken By Darryl Strawberry"
1. Scratch 'n' sniff plagues of Egypt.

Top Ten Star Wars Fan Euphemisms For Not Having A Girlfriend

10. Camping alone outside the theater.
9. My force is no longer with me.
8. The Death Star is not yet operational.
7. The Empire's striking out.
6. Shaking hands with the wookie.
5. Darth Vader has no place to put his helmet.
4. Oiling the droid.
3. Unable to set coordinates for the planet Babe.
2. Spending the night with Han Solo.
1. Tractor beam not powerful enough.

TNT is taking Babylon 5 off the air for a bit, episodes start not airing on May 3rd. They're asking fans what timeslot they'd like to see the show in, so far 6am weekdays has the lead (which makes sense once you see the few options we're given to choose from).

There's (finally) a new batch of X-Files episodes available from Fox Home Video. You can check out the descriptions on the Fox video website (they do a fabulous job with these, often including pictures, original art, sound files, movies). Best Buy has the tapes on sale this week, FWIW, I got the three tape/six episode set for $23 there ( sells it for $33).

The tapes are well put together, with extras like cards for each episode, interviews. They don't release all episodes, just the ones they feel are particularly good episodes or that are part of ye olde "mythology". Vince Gilligan's episode "Paper Hearts" is the one that finally converted me to a full fledged fan of the show (I'd only watched the show off and on until I saw that one, which hooked me completely).

Of course if you aren't enough of a fan to buy the tapes, you can usually find them available for rental at video stores . . . a great way to catch up with the show if you're a recent convert or someone who wants to see what the fuss is about. It's how I got hooked. I recommend fast forwarding past the interviews at the beginning if you don't want to see any spoilers (watch 'em later).

Sometimes I love what Jon Katz has to say, other times he drives me crazy (and not in a good way). But I'm glad he's talking about the Littleton fallout (/. piece):

In a Gallup poll this week, 82 percent of Americans surveyed said the Internet was at least partly to blame for the Colorado killings. And schools across the country were banning trench coats, backpacks, black clothing, white make-up, Goth music, computer gaming shirts and symbols. They installed hotlines and "concern" boxes for anonymous "tips" about the behavior of non-mainstream students. Kids who talked openly about anger and alienation, or who confessed thoughts of revenge or fantasies of violence against people who'd been tormenting and excluding them, were hauled off to counselors.

Of course I knew it would happen, doesn't make it any easier to take. Sigh.

No generation has the right to dictate to another what its culture ought to be, or to degrade its choices as stupid and offensive. Yet geek and nerd culture is continuously denounced as isolating, addictive and, now, even murderous.

Jon Katz at Why Do Kids Kill?
Other Side of Littleton Story: Anti-Oddball Hysteria
More from the Hellmouth: Kids talk about rage

Weird. A review of Dave Barry in Cyberspace for the /. crowd. It's weird 'cuz I just read the book the day before yesterday, after picking it up for a mere $4 on the clearance table at a local bookstore. Book came out in 1996. And yeah, it amused me. Heck, the back cover alone made me chuckle out loud. Nothing particularly new, but still.


As reported by Dave Merritt to HNN:

After notifying NASA of several serious security holes, of which anyone with a login account could access, NASA chose to cover it up and make a scapegoat out of the individual. This news article has twisted the story to make it seem that Dave Merritt had malicious intentions while he claims he was trying to help by pointing out possible vulnerabilities. Mr. Merritt is seeking legal representation. If anyone can help please contact us here. (Why is a case against NASA being prosecuted by a County DA, doesn't the fact that it is NASA make it a federal crime?)

Houston Chronicle

I was afraid of something like this (after hearing Roker's account of being followed by photographers):

Two weeks ago I told you about my encounter with a sleazy tabloid photographer back on April 16th. I didn't know what publication he was working for, but now I know.

Yesterday morning, one of the folks who came down to the Today Show window had the Globe tabloid an in it was Al's baby Diary. Obviously what they did was reprint entries from Al's Journal here on the web site. Without permission. So what they did was violate a copyrighted piece of material.

I hate these people. They are exploitive vermin who don't play by rules of journalism or fairness, yet hide behind the First Amendment and journalistic platitudes. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, but please don't buy this crap.

I totally sympathize with finding out your web journal has been published offline or quoted or (cough, cough) performed to music sans permission. It's just creepy.

Another good bleat from James Lileks which includes this gem:

Iím just tired of the twin imperatives of pop culture:

1. If Julia Roberts is in a movie, I should see it, and
2. Rock is a vital, if unfocused, agent of political change.

Julia Roberts has too many teeth. Rock hasnít been politically valid since the Clash, and they were wrong, anyway. Shut up and dance, as we used to say in the days of Stiff Records.

Lileks wasn't so sure Microsoft was evil until The Mouse Incident:

This plot goes back at least a year. I came to work one day, turned on the machinery and began to wander around the Web .†.†. then I realized that my mouse wasn't working. Someone had taken out the ball. A prank. Ha ha. I fumed and sputtered and demanded a buildingwide search and the gibbeting of the miscreant who did this; in short, I overreacted as the prankster knew I would. End of story.

Advance one year. A box arrives from Redmond, Wash. Return address: One Microsoft Way. (A word of advice to Microsoft: When you're fighting a monopoly charge, a corporate address such as One Microsoft Way doesn't suggest you're open to other ideas.) I opened the box. It contained .†.†. a mouse ball.

It was as chilling as getting the ear of a kidnapped relative.

Thursday TV:
Funny new Friends (7pm CST, NBC), Will & Grace (7:30pm CST, NBC)
Christine Baranski as "Dr. Nora" on a new Frasier (8pm CST, NBC)
Fabulous Diagnosis Murder chock full o' faded TV celebs (8pm CST, CBS)
Fergie on Rosie and Late Show w/ David Letterman (10:35pm CST, CBS)
Salman Rushdie (and Jerry Springer, Ted Nugent) on Politically Incorrect (ABC)
More details, picks . . .

Some cool new additions at TV Barn include Zippy's SF Loft in which John Zipperer covers the science fiction TV beat. Updated on Tuesdays for the most part.

Other new columnists? Greg Hall on Sports and Andy Ihnatko on Movies on TV (yup, it's the return of the Fabulous Fridge of Cinema, sorta).

Tuesday TV:
Jimmy James announces his retirement on a new NewsRadio (7:30pm CST, NBC)
Casey's plotting to come between Dana and Gordon on a new Sports Night (8:30pm CST, ABC)
Gail O'Grady returns for a "quirky" new NYPD Blue (9pm CST, ABC)
More details, picks . . .

Oh. My. God. A Yoda Furby. Well, sorta. [via haddock]

While I've been known to sign up for free email forwarding services that have cute domain names, just doesn't do it for me. Seems wrong, somehow. Blasphemous? And I'm fine with people poking fun at the movie or not liking some Star Wars stuff. Being sick of hype, etc. Still. [via haddock]

In case you're wondering why I'm not updating things as often around here, it's mostly 'cuz I'm trying to finally focus on my job hunt. And offline stuff like cleaning my apartment, spending time outside now that the weather's nice, etc.

Monday TV:
"Coming of the Shadows" is today's Babylon 5 (3pm CST, TNT)
Rosie on a new Ally McBeal (8pm CST, FOX)
More details, picks . . .

Excellent: Waiting for C3PO [via salon]:.

Yet for 16 years, George Lucas delivered nothing. For most of Cecil Seaskull's life, the great bearded god did other things, and a generation of kids who first learned of good and evil, of religion and relationships, of life and death from Lucas' movies were left to grow up alone. But they held onto their faith that there would be another. During these Dark Ages, Seaskull returned again and again to the time when she first saw Star Wars, when that spaceship spun away unharmed, and the story arc was revealed to her -- the first time something clicked.


The fans, on the other hand, defy simplistic labels. You can't slap a catchall classification onto them. The Star Wars fan is not a "Wookieehead" or "Warrior" or a "Trekkie" or an "Ackbarian." The simple phrase "Star Wars fan" will do. Theories about their nature and devout allegiance are vast and strange, ranging from religious to Freudian to political. The holy trilogy turned on a light somewhere inside so many young people, people who grew up to become plumbers and directors and special-effects gurus, that they now run a piece of the world. They raise their own kids and write their own movies, and between 1977 and 1999, they helped mold our cultural landscape so that the traditional image of "geek" has forever been recast.

This is a fab article. I'm very impressed. Read it all the way through, it's worth it. He even mentions Gonk! :)

[Geek note, he says all of the pages of Gonk stuff are lost. Not so (though many are): Gonkite's Groovy Grotto / House of Gonk].

Sigh [via robotwisdom]:

A University of Minnesota study showed that two-thirds of students being treated for depression had more than $1,000 in credit card debt. As debt increased, grade-point averages plunged. And students with high balances worked more hours and dropped more classes. Duh. If you want a surprise, though, here's one: Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School projects that 150,000 people younger than 25 will declare personal bankruptcy in 1999. No wonder people in their 20s think reality bites.

I really think more schools should have and require classes about personal finances. It's far too easy these days for folks to make it to college and beyond without having much of a clue about this stuff, making it easier to fall prey to credit card companies.

Cool! Catherine Skidmore's Dorothy Parker poetry archive is back online. [via peterme] Let's hope it stays available, darnit.

Hugo Award Nominees. Speaking of awards, it's awfully close to Nebula time, here's a list of the Nebula nominees, winners will be announced this coming weekend.

Oh-oh, Lileks is trolling for young Star Wars fans again (whee!):

The movie cannot possibly meet the expectations placed on it. Sure, the trailers look great, but I don't know how much flabby blather about the Force I can take before I start checking my watch. You know, we here on Earth have a word for the Force, the mystical property that surrounds everything, affects everything. We call it Gravity. So now we have kids waiting in line for 23 days to see a movie about Gravity worshipers. Probably all got their hats on backward, too! Aggh. Kids.

Here's an old related item: Star Wars Baby-Geek Brigade.

Jon Carroll writes a sensible column about the Littleton tragedy (and media coverage):

THE SHOOTINGS IN Colorado demonstrate the dark side of American culture -- the rush to make pious pronouncements, the scramble to assign blame to the usual scapegoats, the assurance that we are all surprised and saddened and yet these sad events do not change whatever beliefs we had before these sad events happened.

It's a learning experience from which we don't learn. We merely say the things we said before -- it's the guns, it's the media, it's the breakdown of family values, it's some weird cult subculture brought on by drugs, Marilyn Manson and fantasy role-playing games. Littleton, the Gathering.

Perhaps the next time I feel folks are looking at me funny for living in the suburbs or liking sports, I should point them to this fabulous Jon Carroll column about a lazy weekend kind of heaven.

Jon Carroll shares Andy Klein's report on references to other works in The Matrix. Pass on this if you haven't seen the movie yet. It's good to know I'm not the only person who thought of Daffy Duck during a certain scene (but then I often think of Daffy Duck so . . . ).

A link for all your James Lileks @ needs.

As of April 25, 1999, my grandparents Edwin and Florence Olson have been married for 64 years. Wow. Happy Anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa! (No, they aren't online, but I'm saying it here anyway).

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