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"I watched 'Homicide' every week, are you kidding?" --Dick Wolf (creator/producer of Law & Order)

Home / Why a Web Log? / The Usual Sources / Archive / Mailing Lists / TV Picks (updated daily!)

August 16-20, 1999

James Collier: Dear Conan . . .

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Friday's Backfence column from James Lileks (and others) is just absurd (but true). I laughed out loud (a relatively rare occurence when I'm reading things). Read it. It's further proof (as if you needed any) that Minnesotans are aliens. It's all about where one should keep the butter-- on a counter, in the cupboard, or in the fridge? (Oh trust me already, I know this sounds odd, just read it).

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Harry Knowles on American Beauty:

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Orson Scott Card re The Iron Giant:

What makes this film a delight is in the small things, the delicious wit and japery that don't feel like they're being pointed up to make sure you "get" them.

(Yeah yeah, I know, I'm a broken record. Go see The Iron Giant. Feel free to email me and say "alright already, I've seen it" . . . )

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You guys know about memepool and read it regularly, right? Just thought I'd mention it again 'cuz they've had some good links (both new and old) of late.

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How many athers does it take to change a lightbulb? ("Ather" is referring to denizens of

10 to argue over the infamous "clean bulb" debate
30 to say "please no, not the clean bulb debate again!"
2 to say the bulbs were never the same after Andre Braugher left
3 to complain about this myth, and say the light bulbs began to decline long before Andre left

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MangoCats is a game for Palm Connected Organizers (or whatever it is we're supposed to call 'em). Felix Strates sent me the link (thanks). I've not tried the game yet, but the name and URL made me smile.

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The Marriage of Sticks by Jonathan Carroll is now available in US (it's been out in the UK for a while now). Hardcover. How long will I be able to last before I scrape together enough money to buy it? And how long will it take me to read it after I buy it? (Not long, judging by what happened with Kissing the Beehive). I'm not sure I dare read the first chapter just now when I can't possibly read the rest. But perhaps you can give it a shot.

If you've never read Carroll's stuff, you're truly missing out. What can I say to convince you? Um. He's been raved about by Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Pat Conroy, Stanislaw Lem, Ramsey Campbell, James Ellroy, and a slew of other writers, book reviewers, fans.

Neil Gaiman's introduction for the official Jonathan Carroll website sums it up quite nicely.

Writing fiction is not a profession that leaves one well-disposed toward reading fiction. One starts out loving books and stories, and then one becomes jaded and increasingly hard to please. I read less and less fiction these days, finding the buzz and the joy I used to get from fiction in ever stranger works of non-fiction, or poetry. But a new book by Jonathan Carroll is still, as they used to say on the back of the book jackets, a cause for celebration.

He has the magic.

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August CRYPTO-GRAM is online. From Bruce Schneier and the other fine folks at Counterpane. Recommended reading.

Huh, cool. Counterpane's Password Safe program just received an Editor's Choice award from PC Magazine. I've been using the program for more than a year now.

And Bruce is profiled at This bit made me chuckle:

Overall, I tend to flow in and out of work pretty freely, so I don't really have a "work day" -- I just have a day. I do a lot of things, at a lot of different times. Right now, for example, as I'm talking to you, I'm also folding my laundry.

I'm tempted at this "point" to make a remark about what Bruce Schneier uses as his "start" page, but that would be wrong. And this joke is so-inside it's not even funny.

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Dan Lyke (of flutterby) reviews The Iron Giant:

See it. We need more movies like this. We need word of mouth to show that good movies can transcend bad advertising.

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Huh. Shades of The Abyss (I can't be the only one who thought of it). Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio cast in The Perfect Storm:

Mastrantonio will play Linda Greenlaw, the world's only female swordfish boat captain, whose vessel, the Hannah Boden, was the sister ship to the Andrea Gail.

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Whoa! Interesting:

Time Warner, Disney, NBC, Liberty Media, Tribune, Showtime Networks and other TV companies are investing $57 million in Replay, the manufacturer of the digital video recorder that will be released to the public next month.

This bit, in particular, worries me:

One service that won’t make it into the retail arena is the quick-skip feature that allows viewers to zip past commercials in a few seconds. Whether the investors required a promise to remove the quick-skip button in exchange for their money is unclear.

Replay Networks’ spokesman Jim Plant wouldn’t confirm that the company has dropped the feature, but said, "It’s not our goal to destroy an advertising-based business model. We know there will be people who want to skip commercials. The goal for us is to find other ways for companies to deliver their messages."

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Character actor Brion James died last week of a heart attack. He was in more than 100 movies and had guest parts on TV shows, too. Follow the link, I bet you'll recognize the guy. Interesting that of all his film roles, they chose to refer most heavily to his role as Leon in Blade Runner.

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I haven't mentioned Kevin Spacey lately. There, now I've done it.

Is it October yet? I'm eager to see American Beauty and not just because Kevin Spacey is in it (although that's always a good reason). There's an unofficial site and an official site-- that was offering free tickets to preview screenings. Check back, they say they're gonna have more tickets available soon (no, really).

Moriarty (of AICN) talks of American Beauty. Harry's review soon to follow at Ain't It Cool News.

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Coleridge meets Homicide: Life on the Street. Absolutely brilliant. (Note it should read "Tom Fontana" not "Frank Fontana" in the first line, other wise it's perfect).

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The Wonderful Icon is a nifty bit of freeware for Windows users. A handy utility that sits in your taskbar tray and does a lot of stuff. I like it. (Quicker for you to follow the link and read about it than it would be for me to try to explain further).

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I saw The Iron Giant again, it still rocks. And I still got very teary-eyed at the end. I didn't think it'd get to me as much the second time around, but it sure did. Fabulous. See it. Best film of the summer. Go now, go often, go while it's still in theaters. (Many theaters are no longer offering late shows of it, I fear it'll only be available for matinees or will be bumped out of first-run theaters entirely soon).

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I'm not the only person with a weblog who's urging y'all to see The Iron Giant (yay!).

Steve Bogart:

And the story? The story? As some other reviewers have said: I can't think of how it could be made better. It's very well-crafted, with some very clever thinking by the good and 'bad' guys -- a refreshing change from too many movies where you just get annoyed by how stupid the simulacra on the screen have to be to make a typical plot work.

It deserves more of an audience than most of the other movies being cranked out, and it's reportedly in danger of dying a quick box-office death. Check it out while you can; you won't regret it. 10/10.

Jason Kottke:

You really need to go see this movie. If you've got kids, take them to the Iron Giant instead of the claptrap that Disney makes everyone see. If no one wants to go with you to see it, go by yourself (like I did). Hell, if you live in Mpls., send me an email and I'll go with you and spring for the popcorn. If you go, let me know what you think.

[ . . . ]

I cried like a baby at the end of this was that good for me.

Me, too.

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The X-Files Virtual Spin the Bottle Game. I refuse to disclose how many spins I've tried today. Um, yeah.

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The Artist (formerly known as Prince) had a yard sale and I didn't hear about it until after the fact. Drat. I could've gone, I've sure gone to sales that were probably a lot less interesting.

Sigh. Oh well. I might've been tempted to buy something silly (not for the first or last time, undoubtedly).

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The Bewitched Project
The Jar Jar Binks Project
The Blair Warner Project

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ICQ 99b has been released. I'm just linking to the far-too-cluttered main ICQ page for now. I haven't downloaded the latest and greatest version yet-- I'll live without it for a bit. I somehow suspect the servers are a bit busy . . .

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WinTabs is a nifty little program that'll add tabs to let you easily switch between active documents in Opera, Word, and other apps. I'm not sure I'm describing it very well, check out the link, then it'll make sense. [Tip of the hat to Dave Locke for recommending the program to me].

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Writing about a Cary Grant movie for my TV Picks inspired me to visit The Ultimate Cary Grant Pages for the first time in a couple of months. Fab pages, all about my favorite actor of all time.

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David Duchovny sues FOX.

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TeeVee's Philip Michaels on Profiler cast changes:

Replacing Ally Walker -- in the same way that Buddy Biancalana once replaced Onix Concepcion as the Kansas City Royals shortstop -- is Jamie Luner. You might best remember her for joining the cast of Melrose Place right before the show was canceled. And before that, you might remember Luner's work from Savannah... provided you caught a glimpse of that show before it, too, was canceled.

And if Jamie Luner should work her magic and pull off the cancellation hat trick with Profiler? Step right up, Ted McGinley -- we'd like you to meet your female equivalent in the acting kiss-of-death department.

Michaels goes on to talk about the more serious issues of money, networks that own shows, etc. The reason so many bad shows are sticking around for *years* (especially on NBC) is all about the money and the networks owning them and syndication deals. Bad stuff that looks to be getting even worse. Sigh.

So how does this increasingly cozy relationship between the networks and the shows they broadcast spell doom for you and me? Because whatever motivation network programmers felt to take a flier on a creatively daring program that may not necessarily become a ratings monster -- and we're not talking about a real strong motivation to begin with -- just got cut in half. The emphasis now is on low-cost, low-risk, nondescript programming that stands a chance of generating some cash when the syndication boys come a-calling. And because of that, these shows are going to stay on the air, no matter how bland, no matter how lowly rated, no matter the overall indifference of the general public.

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Fabulous review of The Iron Giant from CNN of all places. It's spot on [via Now This]:

It's no accident that "The Iron Giant" movie poster is the most evocative one to grace theater walls in years, not that there's been much competition. Set in a small American town in the 1950s, the film's style is more reminiscent of the graphic novels and science-fiction pictures of the Eisenhower era than anything Disney's ever done, with a touch of Max Fleischer's brilliant "Superman" cartoons thrown in for good measure.

The movie's playful look and sharp adults-included tone are a hugely needed breath of cinematic fresh air. It's an overused term, but Bird has a unique vision, and he's delivered a classic. Not bad for a guy who's never directed a film before.

You've seen it by now, haven't you? If not . . . please go. Really. I love this movie like I haven't loved a movie in a good long while. I guess I just wanna share the joy, or something. Corny as that sounds. Drag your friends and/or family. Or strangers. Or just go by yourself. But go.

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Saw Mystery Men over the weekend, liked it a lot. Though I felt it lost some momentum after getting off to a fabulous start. A little disappointing, but still much fun if you're at all into comic books and/or superhero movies/shows. Some amazing visuals. Gotta love the many zeppelins of Champion City, that's for sure. Definitely worth seeing in a theater if you're keen on all manner of superheroes.

Some cool characters, too, of course. Fabulous cast: William H. Macy, Hank Azaria, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Tom Waits, Geoffrey Rush, and other cool folk. I love The Shoveler and The Bowler. Jon Carroll talks about the movie, focusing on Janeane Garofalo's character:

Janeane Garofalo is the first great movie hero of the 21st century. She is the transitional cultural figure we have long sought. Her very presence on the screen brings an easiness of mind, a gentling of the spirit.

Because she is crazy in a good way. Rather: She is crazy, and she has made that a virtue. Rather than overcoming her craziness, rather than triumphing or some damn 20th century thing, she has accepted her neurotic aspects, incorporated them into her essence and put the whole package up front and made it sing. Is that incoherent enough for you?

Janeane Garofalo has given me the courage to construct sentences like that. You don't like it? Bite me.

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Richard Belzer to break a record and bring Detective John Munch to a fifth series. Yikes. From a cool article about Belzer/Munch on Law & Order: SVU. [via hlotslinks]

And another fine article about Belzer and SVU. Clark Johnson (Homicide's Meldrick Lewis) directed an episode of the new show:

Here are Belzer and Johnson in a squad room again, except it's not in Baltimore, but New York City -- or, rather, a North Bergen warehouse, surrounded by Meadowlands marshes, that's made up to look like a Big Apple precinct.

And these two familiar TV figures are surrounded by a completely new cast.

"It was weird," Johnson says of his arrival on the new set. "To walk in and see this squad room and see Munch walking in with Jerry Orbach and not me ... I felt like he was being unfaithful. I felt like he was cheating on me."

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An incredibly cool and useful page: Letterboxed Movie TV Schedule. Fabulous. I far prefer watching films in widescreen format, I'm always searching for letterboxed flicks on AMC and TCM in particular.

The same site also has heaps of other widescreen resources, including a comprehensive list of movies available in widescreen format.

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This page was updated on August 20, 1999 by Laurel Krahn who can be reached via email to 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.