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"There's a part of me that wishes I never said anything onstage." --Richard Thompson

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August 23-31, 1999

Assuming I can find a ride, a roommate, and scrape together enough cash . . . I'll be going to Congenial, a small relaxacon that's in Racine, Wisconsin this year. Guests of Honor are all fabulous folks: Bob Berlien, Kathy Routliffe, Howard Harrison, and Samantha Star Straf.

I had an absolute blast the convention last year: good food, good drink, interesting people, fine guests, and wonderful music parties.

* * *

Salon interview with Richard Thompson

There's 10 times the mileage of being the silent tortured poet. If I thought of that early enough, I could have done that -- just shuffle out moody and silent. They think that you must be a genius if you never say anything.

If I crack jokes between the gloom it can soften the audience up. Then they don't know the intent of a song. They think, "Is this a joke?" And they might chuckle at the first couple of lines. And then they realize that it's not a joke. But then they're involved in it. And then you can muck them over their heads. You've already sucked them in somehow.

* * *

Fan page for Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys! Jerry Doyle and Michael Dorn are among the cast.

* * *

More re the possible Homicide movie [via hlotslinks]:

Given his druthers, Fontana would like every "Homicide" regular from every season to participate. ("I love them all.") Short of that, he'd settle for six to eight players from any season.

NBC plans to contact all the actors, Fontana says. The ones he's spoken to personally, including acclaimed star Andre Braugher, are all up for it.

At this point, however, Fontana stresses there is no movie and no guarantee of one. "It's a complicated process," he says. "I spoke to everybody a long time ago, but now that agents and lawyers and casting directors are involved, it takes time. Everybody wants something."

* * *

I laughed out loud at Lisa Schmeiser's latest piece @ teevee.org. It rings so true. Read it if you love TV-- better yet, read it if you don't watch TV. (Mwhahaha) (Um. Er. Yeah). (I'd form a longer, more coherent sentence, but I can't just now . . . I watched three episodes of Sliders last night).

* * *

Cold Fusion Express is finally available (I've been watching and waiting for this).

* * *

I bought and read Jonathan Carroll's The Marriage of Sticks last week. The first novel I've read in I don't know how long-- which is odd for me, I used to read fiction frequently-- now it seems like a rare treat. I intend to rectify that, darnit.

Anyway, the book is wonderful, of course. I'm never quite sure how to describe Carroll's stuff. It's good. Always makes me think. Is always something I'll read in as few sittings as possible (I read 'em quick and I hate it when I'm through and end up counting the days 'til his next story or book). Things didn't quite come together as well as I'd hoped during the last part of the book, but I think I'm usually disappointed by the end of Carroll's books-- not because they're weak endings, but because I hate to have the book end at all. And he doesn't wrap things up in pretty bows like soem writers do. The book also has gorgeous cover art by Tom Canty. (Me? I've bought some books solely for Canty cover art. Strange, but true).

* * *

Another good bleat from James Lileks.

* * *

Sandra Bernhard and Janeane Garafolo to guest star on The Sopranos. Cool.

* * *

Arrgh!

ABC has pulled Sports Night off of their schedule until the season premiere. Grrrr.

* * *

Entertainment Weekly piece on the future of Homicide and the cast, crew, others [via hlotslinks]. A must-read for any Homicide fan.

* * *

Munch to appear on The Beat [via hlotslinks]:

Along with "Beat," Munch has been Munch on "Homicide," "Law & Order" (in three "Homicide" crossovers), "The X-Files," and "L & O: SVU." If that's not some kind of record, it should be.

So what's the attraction with the Munch-man, anyway?

"The genius of Tom Fontana," Belzer whispered between takes. "He's created a character so endearing to the audience they must see him again and again and again and again and again."

All these pieces about the many appearances of Munch seem to neglect a few other pseudo-appearances. Belzer plays a familiar-looking policeman in A Very Brady Sequel and in an episode of Mad About You as well.

* * *

startribune.com's State Fair webpage has lots of good stuff, even if it does look a lot like an ad for Gateway 2000.

I ran into some of my former coworkers at the Fair yesterday, I guess you could say they were "on assignment", taking pictures of Walleye on a Stick, friend cheese curds, and other Fair delicacies. When I left them, I believe they were about to embark on an investigation into the differences between pronto pups and corndogs. (Could I make this stuff up?)

The Fair was crowded already on the first day, Thursday. Amazing. Fab stuff: African Violet show in the Horticulturve/Agriculture building, Huskie dog show, the many animals of the animal barns (rabbits, sheep, geese, ducks, pigeons, pigs, goats, horses), the young cougar (and other animals) of the DNR building, the parade, the food (too much to go into now), the people-watching (of course), the art exhibit, the crop art exhibit, the free stuff, and so on. I never even got to the Midway or a number of the buildings I usually hit. Nor did I ride the cable cars or the space needle or the river rapids. Hmm, maybe I'll have to go back sometime next week. . .

* * *

A James White tribute page, where fans can write comments.

* * *

Harry Knowles urging Warner Brothers to rerelease Iron Giant or somehow remarket it. Also more details on the marketing failure.

L.A. Times piece about The Iron Giant's box office and marketing woes [via flutterby]:

In a recent radio interview, director Brad Bird lamented, "Our exit poll results have been outstanding--once we get people into the theater for the first minute, they love it. But the challenge has been getting them into the theater at all--a lot of people simply aren't aware that the film is even out there."

Article also mentions the universally good reviews, that the film is probably the best reviewed movie of the year. Ahem. So you've seen it, right? Go.

And many fine points are raised. All the things I've been wondering (like why the pundits aren't embracing it, especially in the wake of Littleton . . . ).

Both these Iron Giant pieces are worth your time, and the movie is splendid. (But I repeat myself. Go now, go often . . . pay no attention to the film's trailer or commercials if you've seen them . . . just go.

* * *

Kevin Mitnick in a multi-car accident when being transferred (unnecessarily, it would seem) from one facility to another. Good grief.

* * *

I'm excited, I got passes to see a sneak preview of American Beauty next week. Yay!

Check out the movie's website if you haven't lately. It takes time to load, but the interesting movie trailer-- of sorts-- is worth it.

* * *

Barry Levinson re his new series, The Beat (that he's co-creating with Tom Fontana):

"'The Beat' is like the city," says Levinson, a man with altogether too much energy for so much white hair. "In your face. A daily collision of people and events, who are all the time chasing something, whether it's an old lady's purse or a dream. But always realistic. Instead of high-speed chases, our cops get stuck in traffic. Like `Homicide' and `Oz,' it's about the people in tension-filled situations more than it is about crime."

* * *

I'm too tired (or something) to properly explain why I like today's bleat from James Lileks so much, but I do. Has me smiling.

Good Backfence column today, too. re Deep Fried candy bars on a stick:

I'm stunned that no one came up with this before. As a grease-fat-sugar delivery system, the deep-fried candy bar would seem to be a natural; add a Snickers bar, and you have grease, fat, sugar and salt. Eat the stick, and you have fiber, too

* * *

I've been urging folks to check out the season 1 episodes of Chicago Hope now airing on Lifetime TV weekdays at 10am CST. I guess the first season of the series ranks up there among my favorite TV ever. Not as high as some, but it's surely some of David E. Kelley's best work.

In chatting with someone about the show, I was reminded of this piece by Philip Michaels for TeeVee circa 1996:

Back in "Chicago Hope's" first season, when peace and love flourished in the land, there were arguably few better things on television. The ensemble cast was first rate. The stories were involving, centering around melancholy ruminations about life and death instead of the overwrought visual gymnastics that pass for plot development on "E.R."

* * *

Catnip repells cockroaches.

* * *

Part 1 of Neil Gaiman's fabulous story "Murder Mysteries" is performed by Brian Dennehy and others for Seeing Ear Theater (Sci-Fi channel/scifi.com).

I haven't had a chance to listen to it all yet, but I like the story heaps. And I've heard it read aloud well before (by Gaiman). Should work well as a radio play (or should I say internet audio broadcast?).

* * *

Fascinating stuff for TV geeks (like me): The Primetime Emmy Awards Database. Includes all nominees for Emmys from 1949-1999. Some detailed data. Most fascinating bits? Seeing which episodes were submitted for various acting and series Emmy nominations . . .

* * *

Go see The Iron Giant. This is a recording. Go see The Iron Giant. Seek it out at a movie theater near you. Go see it. Trust me.

* * *

Just in case any of you don't visit The Obscure Store daily, consider this a recommendation . . . a gentle reminder. Good stuff to be read there.

* * *

A Talk parody site. Well, actually it's more a parody of the promotional stuff pre-launch, but it's funny regardless.

* * *

Where has the summer gone? It's time, once again, for the "Great Minnesota Get Together"--the Minnesota State Fair.

It's one of the largest state fairs in the country and it's one of those must-go events for all Minnesotans. If you live in MN and have never gone-- you simply must go. Now. Well, soon. I'd be happy to play tour guide or to email you tips on what to see, where to go, etc.

And if you aren't from Minnesota . . . what can I tell you? If you ever get a chance to visit Minnesota around Labor Day, you've gotta go to the State Fair. Really. It's just so very . . . um. Very. Words don't quite do it justice.

I'm going today (Thursday), maybe I'll come up with some descriptive prose afterwards.

* * *

Here's some old, but good, FairStuff:

Luke Seeman @ The Fair with Garrison Keillor, a nifty photo essay.

One of Luke Seeman's dispatches re The Fair:

Though geographically in the middle of the Twin Cities, the Minnesota State Fair grounds are technically in neither Minneapolis nor St. Paul. They are the Vatican City of Minnesota, and the sacraments are beer and deep-fried cheese curds (officially, the most disgusting food I have ever eaten).

And another one.

* * *

Always cause for celebration: a new album from Richard Thompson.

* * *

New Onion:
- Man With Complete Mama's Family Video Library Never Going On eBay Drunk Again:

"During my visit to the eBay site," Wollersheim continued, his voice beginning to break, "for some reason known only to God, I entered a maximum bid of $300 in an auction for the entire episode run of the popular '80s situation comedy Mama's Family, starring Vicki Lawrence and Ken Berry."

"I won that auction," he added gravely.

The final sale price for the 44-tape set was $279.50, with shipping charges raising the total amount spent by the 33-year-old elementary-school teacher to $301.67. Wollersheim, who said he is "partway through the first episode," also received a copy of the 1981 made-for-TV movie Eunice, which preceded the sitcom.

"I was understandably stunned by my own actions on that fateful night," Wollersheim said, "yet I was bound by honor to pay in full for the tapes, if only to preserve my positive feedback rating."

* * *

Another good Backfence column from James Lileks (and company):

I'm tempted to call the number on my raisins box, even though I have no questions about raisins. They're rather self-explanatory. But each package contains this line: "Did you know that every raisin was once a grape?" There's my question: How stupid do you think I am?

* * *

James White, science fiction writer and fan, passed away this week. :-(

It was a little eerie, I was just adding one of his Sector General novels to my to-read stack right before I logged in to check email and got the news. I was smiling at the thought of the Sector General series and of the time I met White briefly at a convention. Sigh.

- Bibliography
- The White Papers
- rec.arts.sf.fandom thread re White's passing
- 1997 piece by Dave Langford re White
- A 1991 interview with White

* * *

A new profile of Randy Newman (part of Brilliant Careers @ salon):

Rock is seldom given to nuance, and with his challenging song craft and sardonic eye, Newman can only be called a rocker in the way Andy Kaufman was a comedian. Pop fortune is usually bestowed upon numbers that are personal ("I Love You Just the Way You Are") or anthemic ("No New Tale to Tell"), and Newman's lyrics are more like short fiction, with stories told by all kinds of people. Problems have arisen, then, when his songs were taken at face value, most notably (and incredibly) in 1977, when some short people actually thought Newman's one bona fide national hit, "Short People," was an attack on them and not a parody of prejudice itself. Singer-songwriters are supposed to sing about themselves, rock listeners reckon; they are supposed to stand naked to the world. And when presented with two naked men, one of whom may not be telling the truth, people get confused.

* * *

Some spiff articles about Palm pilots, pilot software, etc. I'm particularly fond of the "My First PDA" column. Some good software recs and fun commentary.

* * *

Entertainment Weekly's Fall Movie Preview.

* * *

. . . Musing . . .
So I'm sitting in the good ol' Metrodome watching the Twins lose (just like old times), bored silly. Despite the fact that I'm keeping score on my pilot (with It's a Hit!). And I find myself noticing lots of guys wearing shorts. Heh. No, not like that exactly . . . I was noticing the shorts themselves: usually jeans or khakis or cargo shorts of some sort . . . all cut just above the knee. And I found myself thinking: why can't I ever find shorts like that for me? Why are all the cargo shorts and jeans shorts I see for women so . . . short?

I know, it's not exactly an earth shattering observation. But I'd really love to have a spiff pair of shorts that went down almost to my knees, with neato pockets to hold my palm pilot and cell phone, for instance. I'd just up and buy men's shorts to fit my needs, but I somehow doubt any of them could accomodate my hips. Sigh. Ach well. I guess I have some jeans shorts that sorta fit the bill, but they're getting ragged. This year, I can't seem to find shorts that are longer than mid-thigh length.

* * *

NBC trying to put together a cast for a Homicide movie. Tom Fontana:

"Part of me wants to do it, part of me says, 'You know what it's over, let it go.'"

"I told them [NBC], 'When you have the cast, call me,' then I'll come up with the story."

"I don't want to do it just to do it, what I want to do is something special."

And another article profiling Fontana mentions movie possibilities. With quotes from Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, and Fontana (of course).

"NBC very much wants to do a two-hour telemovie, to kind of wrap it up, since there's so much disappointment among the real 'Homicide' fans [about the cancellation]," Belzer said recently on the "Special Victims Unit" set.

His "Homicide" co-star Clark Johnson -- who the same day was directing an episode of "Special Victims Unit" -- said he's trying to leave his schedule open in late October or November to shoot the "Homicide" movie.

"It would be fun to see who's around and who's available," says Johnson, who played Detective Meldrick Lewis.

Last week, Fontana reported, "They're [NBC] still trying to negotiate with the actors, so I'm kind of in a holding pattern. I think it looks good, but it's not a done deal."

Which characters would Fontana want to bring back? "Let's bring back everyone -- even the dead ones," he says, laughing.

So he's joking a bit there, but I'd absolutely adore any Homicide movie that brought back Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin) and/or Steve Crosetti (Jon Polito) (a.k.a. The Dead Ones).

* * *

mindsec is a new search engine for a bunch of security and administration resources. Worth checking out. [via HNN]

* * *

Ugh, that's our governor.

Patrick Reusse re The Guv:

It is difficult to assess the source of Ventura's popularity. Perhaps it is based on his gallivanting around the country with taxpayer-paid security selling books, while one of Minnesota's grand institutions, Honeywell, was becoming a New Jersey company.

And then there's Barreiro's column . . . yowch.

I'm waiting for Jesse to talk a lot about a media conspiracy against him, a la Denny Green. Oh wait, he already has, hasn't he? Well, pretty darn close . . .

* * *

Should I be concerned that I think I figured out many of the answers to this crossword puzzle, without looking at the actual puzzle portion?

* * *

Brad Graham (of The Bradlands) on The Iron Giant:

I can recommend it without hesitation, especially if you have children or anything remotely childlike in your own nature. This is an animated feature, but not a cartoon. It has a wonderful story, a warm moral at its heart, charming characterizations and, lest I make this sound like too much of a chick-flick to scare off you he-man types, some stuff gets blowed up real good. I cried at the end, and somewhere near the middle too. I laughed a lot. Go. Now.

* * *

Chuck Taggert (of Looka!) on The Iron Giant:

It's absolutely wonderful -- well-written, beautifully voice-acted, gorgeous animation without being too flashy (i.e., the animation served the story and didn't show off). It was funny and heartwarming and sad and had wonderful lessons and themes to offer. Naturally, it's sinking at the box office. Go see it while you can (like, this week).

I've seen it twice already, think I need to go again. Well, at least a bunch o' webloggers are seeing it. :-)

* * *

For Homicide: Life on the Street fans or those who are wondering what all my fuss is about . . . I can't recommend these videos highly enough. Your chance to own three of the best episodes of arguably the best TV drama ever, uncut. With some extra behind the scenes stuff, too (15 minutes, total). Figured I might as well link to these again as who knows how long NBC will keep 'em available.

* * *

I've ordered scripts from Script Shop before and I've been pleased with their product and services. Cool stuff. If you're a geek like me who enjoys reading scripts for shows you've already watched countless times. They also have movie scripts, of course.

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This page was updated on August 31, 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.