Windowseat Weblog
"We're looking at millions of dollars worth of actors in the kind of aluminum boat you see on display outside Sam's Club." -Roger Ebert, re Lake Placid

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August 1-7, 1999

What are you doing reading this when you could be at a movie theater seeing The Iron Giant? Go already.

Okay, if you've gone already, nevermind. But um . . . it's a really good movie for people of all ages (and I suspect especially for geeky ones like me). I loved it. I want my own Iron Giant, darnit.

* * *

Harry Knowles on Inspector Gadget (the movie, that is):

When this was over I felt as though I had an indentation in my skull cap and as I stumbled from the theater... a bit dazed and with one of those 1 mile stares, I glanced at the box office and thought, "I donít want my money back... itís been tainted."

And that is the truth. This film will hurt you itís so bad. Itís like snorting glue after 12 hours. Itís just a numbing experience that leaves you unable to have rational thought for days.

Steer clear. Donít rent it, donít watch it, stay away. If you must go, take Advil or Tylenol or whatever headache medicine to subscribe to. Take 3 before the movie, and 3 halfway through... and 3 more as the credits roll.

* * *

The Hacker's Diet: How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition

* * *

Oh suuuuuure. First somebody tampers with the rightful order of Lucky Charms, then someone brings blue M&Ms into the world. Now there's talk of getting rid of pineapple lifesavers and replacing them with a new flavor like watermelon (!?!). Has the world gone mad?

Thank God I heard about this via Rebecca's Pocket. Be sure to visit the above link if you haven't already and express your lifesaver preference (before it's too late!).

* * *

Hee! I'm catching up on reading Roger Ebert's recent columns and reviews, including his review of Wild, Wild West:

"Wild Wild West" is so bad, it violates not one but two rules from Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary. By casting M. Emmet Walsh as the train engineer, it invalidates the Stanton-Walsh Rule, which states that no movie with Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh can be altogether bad. And by featuring Kevin Kline without facial hair, it violates the Kevin Kline Mustache Principle, which observes that Kline wears a mustache in comedies but is cleanshaven in serious roles. Of course, Kline can always appeal on the grounds that although he is cleanshaven in his main role here, he sports facial hair in several of the other roles he plays in the movie. Or perhaps he could use the defense that "Wild Wild West" is not a comedy.

And of Runaway Bride:

Movies like this should have an explanatory note at the outset, to help us understand them.

Something like: The following characters all look really great but don't know anything they haven't learned by watching sitcoms.

* * *

Somehow I always meant to check out Diversicon, yet another science fiction convention hosted here in the Twin Cities. But I never quite got around to it. This weekend is Diversicon 7, I'm gonna try and check it out.

* * *

It was about this time last summer that I broke down, tired of TV reruns, and found myself devouring a heap of X-Files fan fiction. My obsession waned a few months back. Last night I watched a rerun of The X-Files and then promptly got online to poke around some old fanfic haunts.

And, well, I saw that Sparky had updated her overlooked classics page. Couldn't resist, dove in. If you're a fan of the show, whether you're a fanfic neo or an old-timer, I bet you'll like these. Angelis and Chains are both quite good, even amazing in spots. Fugue is well . . . I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. Anyway, it's a good set of nontraditional picks.

* * *

Television rules us all. Well, some more than others.

* * *

Dick Wolf on the timeslot for Law & Order: SVU and Aaron Sorkin re The West Wing. Wolf's unhappy that NBC is gonna air SVU at 8pm CST:

Wolf says he lost a battle with NBC to get the Monday 10 p.m. time slot for his new show; that slot currently houses one of five editions of NBC News's "Dateline."

"I'm very surprised that the show has not been moved and I don't think it makes a damn bit of difference where 'Dateline' is," Wolf told about 200 TV critics at the summer TV press tour in Pasadena on Friday.

I hate Dateline.

* * *

Movies, movies, movies!
An amazing weekend for film fans, IMHO. I've heard nothing but raves about The Iron Giant, and a heap of positive reviews for The Sixth Sense (along with some less enthusiastic ones). Plenty of folks seem to think The Thomas Crown Affair and Mystery Men are a lot of fun.

Me? I'm gonna see the earliest show of Iron Giant I can on Friday. I'll probably see The Thomas Crown Affair next because I'm a fan of Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo and of the original film and darnit, the previews look good. Plus I'm a sucker for this kind of film. I'm really eager to see Mystery Men, too . . . and I'm intrigued by The Sixth Sense.

I'm busy with plenty of other things this weekend. Will try to get some mini reviews of the movies I manage to see up here by Monday morning.

* * *

It's All About the Pentiums is the latest single (and video) from Weird Al's Running With Scissors album.

* * *

The Twentieth Anniversary issue of City Pages has hit the streets . . . and the web. It's one of Minneapolis' alternative weekly papers, I guess that's the best way to describe it to those who don't recognize it.

Much good stuff to look at there.

* * *

Michael Sragow profiles Brad Bird (director of The Iron Giant, brilliant animator).

To be the kind of director I want one day to be, you've got to be concerned with both the performances and the visual scheme and how they work together. That's why I wanted to shoot "The Iron Giant" in CinemaScope, even though I was warned that you don't ever want to shoot tall things in that kind of wide-screen. Steven Spielberg didn't shoot "Jurassic Park" in CinemaScope; I actually think that was because it is harder to compose, and he didn't need one more hassle to deal with. But I thought you could use CinemaScope to give scale to the Iron Giant, if you weren't trying to show the Giant all at once, if you could see a part of him and then follow things. People basically see in the dimensions of CinemaScope -- we see more at the sides. There's something immersive about the experience. Also, a lot of movies in the late '50s were shot in 'Scope, so I thought it was appropriate for a movie set in 1957.

And:

One of the things I love most about movies is that they feel dreamlike, and dreams always have a perspective. And I think perspective is a great deal of what separates films from other dramatic arts. If I were doing a film about a basketball player I'd shoot everything 7 feet off the ground.

* * *

Yay! NBC has decided to switch their Tuesday night fall schedule around. Will & Grace will no longer be opposite Sports Night . . . so fans of both series can easily watch both. (It'll be opposite Spin City instead, which has been uneven, IMHO, and I expect the addition of Heather Locklear to the cast will make it worse).

It's pretty sad that I'm as happy over this news as I am. Is a good scheduling move on the part of NBC, for a change.

* * *

IOUMate is a palmpilot app that helps you keep track of stuff you lend or borrow. Freeware. There's also the shareware LoanMate.

* * *

So it's 6am, I should be going about the biz of starting my day-- or else returning to my bed for a couple more hours of sleep. Instead, what am I doing? I'm laughing out loud at Chris Rywalt's piece re TV, memory, and . . . cereal. Go read it. Even better if you can read it while eating a bowl of cereal (I don't think I'm that coordinated. Plus, well, I don't have any cereal. Or milk, for that matter).

* * *

Ha! Robert Bianco does fine TV picks each weekday at USA Today. Had to chuckle at this bit (for Wednesday, August 4th):

Berg (Ryan Reynolds) reacts badly when he loses the top spot in his medical school class on a typically tepid Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (ABC, tonight, 8 ET/PT), which next season is keeping the two guys and the girl but dropping the pizza place. I would have done it the other way around, but maybe the pizza place has a development deal at another network.

* * *

I love fonts. I don't buy many fonts, as I often find cool free fonts available for download.

Emerald City Fontworks gives away some good fonts. Including Intimacy (as seen spelling out "Windowseat" on my homepage), augie, Tall Paul, Webster, and others.

I think I already mentioned that the font I used for the header graphic on this design of my weblog is called fontdiner.com, you can pretty much guess where I got it (right?).

If you've been reading my website for more than a year-- from back in the days before the windowseat.org domain-- you'll recognize the fonts available from fonthead.com: Holstein, Good Dog, and SpillMilk, in particular. I still love 'em and now that I've found them again I'll probably overuse them until y'all beg me to stop. They've other fonts, as well, of course. Much good stuff.

Microsoft's batch o' free fonts.

Chank and the Chank Rockstar Font Archive.

Webdog also has good fonts.

Utopia Fonts has a design that gives me a headache. But they've got some good fonts. You have to like anyone who named a font I hate Comic Sans.

* * *

What? Already? Lileks considers the approach of Autumn in today's Backfence column:

But you'd know the time of year just by listening to the insects. The metrical cheep of informative crickets, telling the temp in their musical code: That's the sound of the long, green season, and one that still sings from the margins of the night. But now in the day there's a different sound -- the sonorous drone of cicadas, boring holes in the tent poles of an August noon. It's the sound of workers dismantling summer, drilling the timbers that will collapse come September. I always forget that sound until I hear it again, and then it reminds me that it's time to start thinking about fall.

* * *

The Generosity Game takes the whole random act of kindness thing one step further: it encourages folks to pass the kindness on. Cute idea [via memepool].

* * *

Better browsers.
It's been awhile since I've mentioned Opera. So, um, Opera! It's my preferred web browser. Why? Because it's *fast* and it's real easy to open multiple windows and well, it's really cool. It does take some getting used to, but if you're using Netscape or IE on a Windows based system . . . you should really give Opera a try.

And I've heard a lot of great things about iCab for the Mac. Sounds remarkably like Opera, actually, which is a Good Thing, IMHO.

Oh yeah, Opera for BeOS is in beta testing now. The Mac version is supposedly nearing beta! (whee!)

* * *

Bizarre. Apocalypse.org seems to have been down since sometime early on August 1st. I've some webpages hosted there and still receive some email to my account there. Puzzling to be unable to access it for so long . . . very very odd. Perhaps the server blew up in the heat or something. :-( I hope John Romkey and the Ranchers of the Apocalypse are okay. (And if any of y'all are on signal-to-noise or leadheads, those mailing lists are hosted on apocalypse.org and have been inaccessible, too. Nothing I, your humble listadmin, can do about it).

* * *

Hey Buffy fans: in case you missed it, TV Guide did a complete episode guide for Buffy the Vampire Slayer last week. Alas, it was easy to miss as they bumped Buffy off the cover to show a pic of JFK, Jr (since he was such a big TV star, I guess . . .).

Anyway, I'm only just starting to make a sincere effort to try to watch the series. Was good to note that the episodes I have seen were rated quite low in the guide-- no wonder I was underwhelmed.

* * *

Michael Nelson reflects on MST3K in this week's TV Guide Insider:

MST3K began producing shows for cable in 1989 out of a small studio in a suburb of Minneapolis called Eden Prairie. Eden Prairie, it should be noted, has no prairie whatsoever, and with a 3-1 ratio of strip malls to citizens, only the most optimistic person would call it Eden. But it allowed us the anonymity we needed.

It's true! Sigh. Anyway, it's worth reading the whole thing. Nelson was head writer for most of the shows run, in addition to playing plenty of roles (including that of, well, Mike) on the air.

It's probably a good time to mention the spiff book Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Very funny stuff (for even the most casual of viewers). Sure the book is a few years old so it's missing data from recent seasons . . . that just makes it easier to find at low, low prices (I recently spotted it at a Half Price Bookstore for $3. Curses, foiled again, I paid full price for mine. Worth it, though).

* * *

Oh the fame! The glory! (or not).

I was quoted in an article by Keith Alexander about the CEO of Lifetime television (Carole Black), in the Money section of Thursday's USA Today:

"Their shows are very stereotypical. They have a lot of the soapier programs that depict women in danger or some sort of peril. It gets a little tiresome," says Laurel Krahn, 27, a Web-site designer in Minneapolis. Krahn, who is single, says many of her girlfriends refer to it as "Wifetime."

"That's an old perception," Black counters. "A few years ago, some of that could have been true." She says Lifetime's shows depict women who overcome obstacles as opposed to being victims.

But she adds that's part of the message she'll try to get across with a new marketing campaign. One strategy she plans to implement is more cross-channel promotion. Black says one of Lifetime's marketing weaknesses was that it aired most ads on Lifetime, not on other networks.

For what it's worth, I was referring to their movies-of-the-week, for the most part. I think their show Any Day Now is decent, for instance. I'm also now 28 (the interview was a couple months back). And I picked up "Wifetime" from the folks of alt.tv.homicide.

(Note: I don't have a deadtree version of the article. Might be nice, I s'pose, to see or have such a beast. Worth a chuckle. But I doubt I know anyone who gets that particular bit o' paper. If you stumble across it and could send me an original or a photocopy, that'd be cool. I might even swap you some bit of flotsam for it).

* * *

Sigh. John Zipperer on the last episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000:

When an ordinary TV series ends production, there are usually others like it still on the air. One cop show gets cancelled, one lawyer show, one family sitcom, no one misses is it. But the same will not be true of "MST3K." Those local horror hosts who show bad flicks and break in with silly skits don't come close to the humor or the satire that the "MST3K" writers at Best Brains have done for a decade. But part of the fun of this series is to watch it and then turn the channel to some mundane show and find yourself automatically critiquing that show. So maybe the bad movies aren't safe after all.

* * *

Babylon 5 humor: Vorlons, the Shadows, and . . . Microsoft?!? [via More Like This]

* * *

peterme's rave about Election reminded me that I meant to post a blurb here myself. I finally saw the movie at one of those late run $2 places last Thursday.

The film rocks. Very funny, very smart. You can take it as just an amusing film or you can chew on all sorts of other issues as well. I'm still thinking about it. And smiling over some scenes. Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon are absolutely wonderful (and the supporting cast is pretty terrific, too). Anyway, if you can find it still showing in your neck of the woods-- go see it. If it's passed you by, rest assured it should show up on video pretty soon.

* * *

Proof of what science fiction fans have known for years: sleep deprivation can often lift depression [via the fabulous Rebecca's Pocket].

(Yeah, I've witnessed a lot of people who suffer from depression get very sleep deprived and silly at science fiction conventions. And a lot more "up" than usual. 'Course close proximity to friends plus easy access to fine sources of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol might also have something to do with it).

* * *

Ha! J. Crow . . . I guess someone had to do it.

* * *

In case anyone was wondering (yeah right), Daniel Baldwin is my favorite Baldwin brother. Largely because of the fab job he did on Homicide as "Beau Felton".

* * *

Still doesn't look like there'll be any more episodes of Crusade after the initial 13-episode run. Recently there were rumors that both FOX and the Sci-Fi channel were considering picking up the series, here's a site that tells you the truth (i.e. there's nothing to those rumors). [via aicn]

* * *

RFC Index
RFC Search
Internet Drafts

(Can you tell I'm poking around my bookmark file looking for interesting and/or useful links I've not yet mentioned?)

* * *

The A.V. Club @ The Onion interviews Neil Gaiman:

All my life, I've felt that I was getting away with something because I was just making things up and writing them down, and that one day there would be a knock, and a man with a clipboard would be standing there and say, "It says here you've just been making things up all these years. Now it's time to go off and work in a bank." Because my grandmother or whoever would always warn me, as they always warn children, "Don't make things up! You know what happens to little boys who make things up!" But they never tell you what happens. As far as I can tell, it involves being able to spend a lot of time at home, plus a bit of international travel, and staying in nice hotels, and lots of very nice people who want you to sign things for them.

I'm also far too amused by this bit, Gaiman on one of the reasons he moved to the United States:

Plus, I told my wife that I'd really like an Addams Family house. You can't get them in England! You can get real Tudor houses built by real Tudors in Tudor times, but one thing you can't get is a proper, honest-to-goodness Addams Family house. I wanted Victorian Gothic. I wanted proper creepy. I wanted a tower. So I set out to find one and found one immediately. That's another wonderful thing about America. They throw all those things out! And they look so cool. They really are wonderful American Gothic houses. Creepy! Every year, we get in supplies of Halloween candy and put out a stack of comics. And every year, we put away the candy and the stack of comics because no kids actually dare come up to our house. Just never turn up.

* * *

Neil Gaiman gave permission to The Dreaming Website to post scans of his 24-hour comic Being An Account of the Life and Death of the Emperor Heliogabolus. Reproduction prohibited, etc. But if you're a fan who's never had a chance to see it, well here's your chance. A rare glimpse at Gaiman's drawing skills (one of the few glimpses one ever gets-- apart from the occasional sketch shown in Sandman collection introductions or doodles he's been known to draw when one gets an autograph).

Green Man Press is the realm of Charles Vess' magical art. As well as info on the fab Ballads and Sagas comic series, among other projects.

* * *

Kevin Poulsen interviews Kevin Mitnick. And, as always, there's more info at Free Kevin.

* * *

Boy am I out of touch, I'm just now hearing about Ender's Shadow, a new novel from Orson Scott Card that's set during the same timeframe as Ender's Game. It tells the tale from the perspective of Bean . . . whoa. Cool concept, I hope Card pulls it off. I love Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead (and blush to admit that I still haven't read the fourth book).

Scott Card's Ender's Shadow page, a CNN review of the book [via slashdot].

* * *

Jim Yoshimura-- one of the best writers for Homicide and one of the best TV writers, period-- gets a multi-million dollar development deal. Yay!

* * *

Lisa Schmeiser beat me to praising VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll. She's said it all, really. I completely agree. Yeah sure I could argue all day about the actual rankings, but I'm just really happy that someone put together such a list, with a usually interesting collection of clips and quotes.

The show manages to sum up rock and roll in all its populist roots and iconoclastic directions, and to watch a television show so perfectly embody its subject is a rare moment of perfection and a joy to behold.

* * *

Technolust: I think I need a new TV.

More Technolust: Palm IIIe: Special Edition-- it's clear!

* * *

Next best thing to seeing Lyle Lovett in concert? Live in Texas, the new(ish) album from Lovett. Fabulous. A must for Lovett fans. And if you're not a fan yet, this album gives you a great taste of one of the best American songwriters out there. He's no slouch as a performer, either, and the Large Band has always been top notch.

I love how Lyle Lovett confounds some folks: does he play country music? jazz? blues? folk? rock? Um, yes.

* * *

When I received an URL from Felix Strates via ICQ with the title "Lightning calculator," I figured it was a really fast calculator. Wrong! It's an app for the Palm Pilot that calculates how far away a lightning strike is (based on data you input, of course. When you see the flash, when you hear the thunder). Now that's geeky.

* * *

A really good piece on the media mess surrounding the crash of a certain plane. From Lisa Schmeiser and Philip Michaels of TeeVee.org:

Whatever the networks did this weekend, it wasn't reporting. It was the adult equivalent of high school yearbook editors putting pictures of their friends on every page.

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This page was updated on August 6, 1999 by Laurel Krahn who can be reached via email to laurel@windowseat.org. If you'd like to email or snail mail Laurel cool stuff (for this weblog or not), she'd love that.

Copyright ©1999 Laurel Krahn unless otherwise noted. May not be redistributed without permission.