Dec 15 @ 4pm CST
by Laurel Krahn
Minneapolis, MN
AIM: lakrahn
ICQ: 509473

Weblogging since November 1998
Media . Tech . Science Fiction . Art . Humor . Books . Music . Film . TV . Toys . Net . MN . Culture

TV Picks
TV Portal

Dec 6 - 12
Nov 29 - Dec 5
Nov 22 - 28
Nov 6 - 21
Nov 1 - 5
Oct 18 - 31
Oct 11 - 17
More . . .

now playing
Through the Bitter Frost and Snow
Susan McKeown and Lindsey Horner
Deep Blue Something
No Big Surprise
Steve Goodman

now reading
too many magazines

to read queue
Steven Brust
Ender's Shadow
Orson Scott Card
Mind Changer
James White
Too many others to list

favorite recent movies
The Iron Giant
American Beauty
Being John Malkovich
Toy Story 2

places to go
Minn-stf events
12/17 - Boiled in Lead @ the Cedar
4/21-23 - Minicon

Restoration hardware

my wish list

whim & vinegar
unobserved utterances
The Stuffed Dog
strange brew
Robot Wisdom
Rebecca's Pocket
Pop Culture Junk Mail
pith and vinegar
The Other Side
The Oracle Speaks
Obscure Store
More Like This
Media gossip
dog . . . on the radio
bifurcated rivets
Anita's LOL
more . . .

James Lileks
Michael Rawdon
Al Roker / archive

Jon Carroll
Roger Ebert
Michael Finley
James Lileks

other stuff
Brunching Shuttlecocks
City Pages
daily instigator
The Onion
TV Barn
TV Ultra
My TV Page
Word a Day



TV Picks

Dirty Linen
Entertainment Weekly
In Style
Interactive Week *
Internet Week *
PC Week *
Performance Computing *

December 13 - 15
"Peanut M&Ms are the perfect food, because they contain the four food groups: protein, chocolate, color, and charm. "
- Sharon Kahn

Cute icons for your Mac (including DS9 ones!).

And Mac Desktops has pix for your, um, Mac Desktop. And I agree with Felix Strates (who sent me these links) that this desktop image is particularly cute/cool. And the da Vinci one is neat, too (though now it just reminds me of Now and Again which is perhaps a sign that I watch too much TV . . . ).

* * *

So far I haven't linked to any articles from TeeVee's excellent "Why Do We Watch?" series of articles, I almost broke down and linked to Lisa Schmeiser's piece extolling the virtues of cable TV (she's so very right), but I wanted to wait a little longer and see what else came down the pike. I figured maybe I'd link to dribs and drabs from a couple of things from a couple or a few pieces when the time came, yeah. Plus I've been trying to go a little lighter on the TV links here.

'Sides, I kinda hoped everyone who reads this page regularly and cares even the slightest bit re TV probably already reads TeeVee regularly (if not, you should).

But today's piece from Philip Michaels is right on the money re the current state of network TV. I'm saying "uncle" and linking to it (and while you're there, check out the other pieces, too). Read it. Point people who say "there's nothing good on network TV" to it. I couldn't agree more:

Why even bother with television? For me, the answer's pretty clear. I watch because there are shows that continue to entertain me. The fact that I can name a solid half-dozen on network TV alone suggests that things aren't as bad with the Idiot Box as some grumpuses might have you believe.

But here's the thing -- of the shows I've named above, only a few are guaranteed a life beyond June. Family Guy's been off Fox's schedule since October. Sports Night and It's Like... You Know could be gone once Regis Philbin returns to dole out more millions. Freaks & Geeks is hanging on by a thread.

Why? Low ratings. Why the low ratings? Because folks aren't watching. Why aren't folks watching? Maybe they're too busy complaining about how now is the winter of our discontent, TV-wise.

Of the shows Michaels mentions, I don't care for Family Guy, but I think he's right on the money regarding Now & Again, The West Wing, Sports Night, It's like you know and Everybody Loves Raymond-- all are truly good shows which are well worth watching. I'm still unsure of Freaks and Geeks, but just because I've only seen a single episode (I've got most of the rest on tape, just need to find the time to watch).

Then there's Law & Order which has been a lot of fun this season. Ally McBeal and The Practice which still have their moments (though they each aren't as good as they were during their inaugaral seasons). Even Chicago Hope has shown signs of life this year after being hideous beyond belief for a few years. There's Buffy and The X-Files which are always interesting even when they don't quite work (and when they do, watch out). And if I started listing sitcoms and shows that are good, but not great . . . it becomes a rather long list. There's late night TV where Letterman's funny again and The Daily Show's snarky as ever (but in a good, better way now that Jon Stewart's there). And then there's cable with fab stuff like The Sopranos and GvsE. Plus reruns of good old stuff like Brooklyn Bridge, Northern Exposure, and Due South. A heap of classic movies (sans commercials!) on TCM and AMC. Cartoons galore on the Cartoon Network. And even the Sci-Fi network is now showing truly classic sci-fi TV like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Dark Shadows, and Star Trek. Ahhhh.

Of course each show isn't everyone's cuppa. But I'm a TV fan with eclectic taste and I find there aren't enough hours in my days for me to watch all the stuff that's good or potentially interesting. I end up settling for watching my favorites and that's plenty. Check out my TV Picks, you'll see it's rare that there's a true shortage of stuff to watch. I'd feared the worst for TV this year, I was pining for the loss of a bunch of good shows all at once: Deep Space Nine, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Newsradio. None of the new shows can take the place of any of those old favorites, but there's still plenty of interesting things out there. And, of course, there are reruns.

Oh yeah. Watch the good shows. Especially the ones that are struggling ratings-wise like Sports Night, It's like you know (tonight at 7:30 CST on ABC), Freaks and Geeks, and Dilbert. If you like 'em, tell your friends to watch. Pester any Nielsen families if you can find them. If you truly like the show, write the network and tell them so. We don't have to settle for bad TV; it's important to fight for the good stuff when it shows up.

* * *

Scot's Ahoy now has part of their catalog available online. It's Scottish Terrior and West Highland White Terrier and other Terrier merchandise. (I can't help it, the dogs made me link to it). (Oh wait, I don't have any dogs anymore. But I'm haunted by Scottie ghosts? Something like that).

And some more Scottie links.

(Someday when I have a house and a yard and a roommate of some kind, I'll want to have a Scottie or two as additional housemates. They're tough and intelligent and charismatic and just plain cool).

* * *

Am I the only person in the world who actually likes those amazon.com ads? ('Course I don't see that many commercials so maybe they're cute once or twice, but not a zillion times).

* * *

Charles Schulz is retiring and the last Peanuts strip will run in newspapers on January 3, 2000.

Check out This Day in Peanuts History for a blast from the past. Sigh.

* * *

I've been negligent by not yet linking to The Daily Instigator. It's cool and it's even updated (almost) daily now. Well, close enough for jazz.

The Mars Polar Lander, thought to have been lost during a landing attempt on the surface of the red planet, has in fact been broadcasting from the scalp of Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes for the last four days, NASA engineers said today.

* * *

I figured everyone and their brother would've linked to suckdot by now, but I've friends who hadn't heard about it yet so I'm linking anyway. Ahem.

* * *

Yes! The Board is back in Baltimore and the silly rotation policy the Baltimore P.D. tried is finally gone. Read all about it [via hlotslinks]. Especially appreciated by fans of Homicide: Life on the Street and/or The Book. And those who know folks in the Baltimore police department and/or who live in Baltimore.

* * *

Pictures from the 1999 NASFiC (North American Science Fiction Convention) are online now, including photos of the costume made from Harlan Ellison mousepads (complete with actual Harlan Ellison accessory. Um . . . judge? Observer? Anyway). And photos of the construction of the costume [as mentioned on the smofs mailing list by Chaz Boston Baden].

* * *

Memepool links to Bruce and Karen's fab Minicon 34 Restaurant Guide (worthy of a Hugo? you decide). I've mentioned the guide here, but never linked to it (how wrong is that!):

Bruce Schneier (famed cryptography expert) and Karen Cooper (famed but I don't know for what) write a paper on... Minneapolis restaurants. You think I'm nuts? They've got detailed research into airline food, surveys into what the four food groups really are, and speculation on where M&Ms fit into the Food Pyramid. Plus reviews of restaurants. Many of which are in Minneapolis; many of which they've even eaten at. Cameo by Neal Stephenson, explaining mathematical analysis of Vietnamese menus. (PDF file)

It is a fabulous restaurant guide. Entertaining even if you aren't looking for data on Mpls area restaurants. Contains important info like how to order eggs. Info the true food groups. Quotes from many fine sf fans. Stephenson's not the only sf/fantasy writer quoted, either. One of these days I'll get a version for my Palm Pilot.

As for how Karen Cooper is famous . . . er . . . hmmmmmmm. So many jokes to make, so many serious possibilities as well. What to say, what to say. Um. Famed in alt.fan.warlord and in Pez fandom and science fiction fandom and for catching thieving hooligans at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Rumor also has it that she's married to that Bruce Schneier character. And is part of some inner circle or other. And once lived in Mound, Minnesota (home of TV's Kevin Sorbo) just a few blocks from me. And that's just for starters . . .

Then there was the time I was thinking about going to Defcon and saw that Bruce Schneier famed cryptographer was gonna speak and I saw his picture on the webpage and realized that the Bruce guy I saw around at science fiction conventions and parties was The Applied Cryptography Bruce. A D'oh moment if ever there was one.

* * *

Frequent contributor Felix Strates emailed me a link for Green, which looks like a real cool email client for the Mac. Will give it a try.

* * *

Yowsa! FOX is releasing every episode from season one of The X-Files on DVD in a gift pack set for a May release.

Meanwhile, a boxed set featuring 3 tapes and 6 episodes from the first season of Ally McBeal will be released on January 11. Tapes with two episodes each will be available individually, too. You can also get the episodes all together on DVD.

And I already mentioned Homicide Gift Pack 1 and Homicide Gift Pack 2 which remain mysterious and will be released on February 22nd. Somehow I think they're worth getting unless someone at NBC and Trimark freaked out and is only releasing tapes of Homicide: Life on the Street episodes that feature Jon Seda as "Detective" Paul Falsone.

And, of course, the original three tape-three episode Homicide: Life on the Street tape set is still available from NBC. Recommended. Includes the amazing pilot episode (one of my favorite episodes of TV if not my favorite and I'd rank it higher than many movies, for that matter) as well as two other fab episodes "Every Mother's Son" and "A Doll's Eyes".

* * *

Whoa . . . 704 soundfiles from The X-Files. I'm sure there's a good alert sound in there somewhere.

(I'll have you know that my email alert sound is the phone sound from Homicide: Life on the Street which you can find on this cool Homicide sounds page).

* * *

I've been negligent, I haven't yet linked to the December newsletter from the fab (and demented) folks at the OBSSE.

* * *

Michael Finley's latest piece for The American Reporter is "A Mitzvah for the Future" and it's way-cool. I haven't plugged Finley as much as Lileks here, but they're united in my mind as two writers I know from way back who almost always knock my socks off. Well, at least one sock on an average day. And they're pretty dang cool, to boot.

And an amusing email tale that's all-too-familiar (and I'm amused anyway).

* * *

Why do I read James Lileks' daily bleats? Here's why, a fine bleat for the day. I'm not quoting from it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow the link-- it means you should. Read the whole blessed thing. Trust me.

* * *

You know, sometimes writing for a weblog is a little strange. I write as if I've got people out there reading and caring and following the links. But how do I know who's out there? I'm not gonna sit and stare at the access logs for my website and try to put faces to IP addresses. It's very rare that I receive email about my weblog or anything I write about here and most of my friends blush and mumble when it comes up and admit they don't read it or don't read it often.

Last night I read a bit of X-Files fanfic for the first time in many months and I came across a couple of really good pieces (which I'll link to in this log one of these days). And I read the standard pleas at the beginning and end of the stories for feedback and I realized that yeah, those of us who spend many hours of our lives putting together webpages for fun (not profit) could also use some feedback.

And that while I'll rave about a site or a story or a page or even a person here, it's rare that I'll take the time and email someone to say "thank you" or to comment. And then I stop and I think about how much it means to me when I hear from someone about my site or my tv picks or whatever, even if it's just a couple of words of thanks or of criticism and I feel guilt for not taking the time to write more letters of comment (like in the zine world) or feedback (in the fanfic world) or just plain thank you notes (in all other worlds).

I make excuses. I assume someone will see my comments here in my weblog. Or I assume someone who's really good already gets heaps of email about it. Heck, I'll think email from me just might be more piling up in their mailbox making them feel guilty for not responding or overwhelmed. Wouldn't wanna trouble someone. And lord knows I can't think of anything interesting or original to say, they'll probably think me a loony fangirl or a bore.

But all these (and still other) excuses fall apart when I think about them. I'm short on time these days so I don't visit as many weblogs as I'd like so if another logger has commented about my log, I've missed it and may never see it or won't see it for awhile. My emailbox is full, but mostly of mailing list stuff that doesn't mean much to me, not enough email from bona fide people with original comments. And while I may take a while to respond to everything, I read it all right away and it truly can make my day. The least I can do is help make some days for some of the folks whose work so often inspires me or makes me smile or think or react somehow, anyhow.

So today I resolve that I'll take the time to write feedback about stories, articles, posts, and webpages that move me. To those folks whose weblogs I read each day. It may take a while and I know I've got a lot of letters to write, but I've gotta do it. Small price to pay for such cool stuff. And somehow I know, no matter how jaded the writer, it's appreciated. If I do even just one a day, it's a step in the right direction.

I urge you to do the same, think about the webpages you visit again and again. Or that bit of freeware that you find indispensible. Think about the folks whose work online (and offline) you truly enjoy. And tell them about it.

* * *

Are you familiar with the song "Gloomy Sunday"? How familiar? Here's a page that has the lyrics, a list of artists who've recorded the song, and an article about some of the folklore surrounding it.

I know she's missing at least a few versions of the song that I have in my collection (my music collection, not my Gloomy Sunday collection. I don't have one of the latter, though I s'pose it turns out I have a good start given how many of those listed and not listed I do have. But I digress). Cats Laughing recorded it and Lojo Russo also recorded it on one of her solo albums. I know there are others I have, too . . . further thought is required.

* * *

Joyce Millman looks at the year (1999) in TV.

Re Now and Again:

Created by Glenn Gordon Caron, "Now and Again" is utterly unclassifiable. To call it a sci-fi fantasy would shortchange both its whimsical humor and the gracefulness of [Margaret] Colin's performance as a widow trying to pick up the pieces without letting go of the memories.

And, of course, many don't know that astounding sci-fi fantasy can be whimsical and graceful and downright amazing. But yeah, Now and Again is fun and is probably my favorite new show of the season.

I'm pretty much in agreement with Millman's take on things, though I've not yet given Roswell a chance, nor have I seen The Sopranos or Sex and the City. She's spot on re Judging Amy and I definitely agree with her picks for "on shaky ground" and for "worst" (though I bet I could add some more to the list).

Especially love these worst picks:

Time of Your Life (Fox) Adorable Jennifer Love Hewitt takes her adorable Sarah character from "Party of Five" to adorable New York City in this half-witted spinoff. All cute and twinkly and gushy, Hewitt is like the 25-year-old version of the Olsen twins. She must be stopped.

Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit (NBC) In the criminal justice system, there are two separate but unequal dramas from Dick Wolf. One of them is a crisply plotted "just the facts, ma'am" series without melodramatic overacting or pointless excursions into characters' personal lives. The other is -- this.

I'd probably add regular Law & Order to the list of best shows.

* * *

Hmmm, the Scottie dog game token finished third in a poll asking about favorite Monopoly game pieces. My favorite is the dog, by far, but then I was raised by Scotties (well, my Mom and Dad and Grandparents pitched in, too).

Truth be told, I'm a Monopoly addict. Growing up, I always wanted to play board or card games, but my immediate family was rarely interested. The first game we had for our Commodore 64? Monopoly.

I've now got Monopoly for my PC, of course, and when I first got it I shudder to think how often I played. I even tried playing against strangers over the Net, of course. And later I got the Star Wars version of the PC game (which sounds a lot cooler than it is; if you like the gameplay it lacks many features of the regular version so I never play it). Then I bought the real world Heirloom Edition when it was on sale at Toys R Us. And I find myself coveting the Looney Tunes and original Star Wars editions. Yikes, now I see there's a sequel to the original PC game which lets you change property names and cities and customize how much money you get when you pass Go, etc. Oh-oh. Further investigation may be required.

Last Friday I broke down when I was at Target running errands and bought the electronic handheld Monopoly. I kept thinking I could make do with some of the versions for the Palm Pilot, but none of the clones have been quite right. I know there's an officially licensed version for Windows CE, but I'm not going there. Would be interesting to see how the Gameboy Monopoly compares to this handheld. (Given my game addiction it's a wonder I don't own a Gameboy. I did breakdown and buy a Super Nintendo a while back, but don't have many games for it at all so haven't played with it all that much).

Anyway. What can I tell you about the electronic handheld? Is it worth the price? It is if you like Monopoly. The many sound effects are cute (yet loud and obnoxious), but I turned 'em off after the first minute or so. So far it seems you have to play a four-person game. You can pick your own token, of course, and you can pick from 5 different AI characters to play. Most frustrating for me is you have to play by the standard rules-- on the PC version I got addicted to the Free Parking Jackpot and using "Immunity" heavily in trades. But, of course, the game is more challenging without those crutches (or more boring, depending on your POV).

I gotta say, I like this version. It's portable which is way-cool, no more having to sit at my computer to get my fix (or having to round up humans to play the real version). Of course I couldn't help but wish for a backlight at some point, but that'd be a huge drain on batteries. The batteries that came with it have lasted through many hours of weekend gaming. Love that when you turn it on, it picks up the game from where you left off. Play could be a little quicker, but it's actually probably comparable to one of the faster modes of play on the PC version.

Be wary, game addicted souls like myself might spend many hours with a game when they should be updating webpages or doing dishes or something. A fab toy to entertain someone on a car trip or when in a hospital or somewhere where you'd like an easy distraction that would while away the hours in no time flat.

* * *

My preferred Windows email client is Calypso which most people have never seen. It's fab, supports a slew of filtering options and multiple email accounts and it's great. Once upon a time I used Eudora, then Pegasus, but I've been happy with Calypso for well over a year now.

I just visited the webpage for the first time in a good bit and noticed that Calypso is now compatible with Time and Chaos, a PIM I've heard good things about. And it works with Palm Pilots. Further investigation may be required.

I'm interested in email software recommendations for the Mac, at work we use Netscape which seems awfully clunky to me. And I've heard the latest Mac Eudora is bizarre to say the least (though I could always go with an older version, of course). Right now I'm trying out something called Musashi which seems kinda cool. Thoughts?

* * *

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Got suggestions? Comments? Let me know what you think would improve this page. Don't hesitate, just write. Feedback keeps me going. I read all feedback and do my best to respond with, at the very least, a thank you. If you'd like to email or snail mail me cool stuff (for this weblog or not), I'd love that.

This page created and maintained by Laurel Krahn who can be reached via email to laurel@windowseat.org.

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