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My Archives: April 2004

Friday, April 30, 2004

Robot Stories Forever
Posted by CKL @ 05:53 PM PST
I'm thoroughly impressed that this independent film, which was originally scheduled for a one-week run in San Francisco and Berkeley, is now entering its third week due to (as Variety might say) boffo box office. Sure, it's only in two theaters now-- I think it started in three-- but the fact that it's still playing at all is great.

This is a movie that people should go see. Here's the info:

April 30 - May 6 in San Francisco and Berkeley

SAN FRANCISCO - April 30 - May 6
Opera Plaza Theatre, 601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, (415) 267-4893
Friday-Sunday, 2:15, 4:45, 7:30, 9:50
Monday - Thursday, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00

California Theatre
2113 Kittredge Street, between Oxford and Shattuck, Berkeley, (510) 464-5980
Friday - 5:30, 7:30, 9:30
Saturday & Sunday - 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30. 9:30
Monday - Thursday - 7:30, 9:30

Official Website:

More moviegoing info at Bay Area Moviegoing.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Gmail for you
Posted by CKL @ 11:11 AM PST
So I've still got 50 (yup, five-zero) Gmail invitations burning a hole in my pocket. Want one? Leave an interesting comment.
UPDATE (05 May 2004): No more invitations. But please, feel free to look around. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I love CD Baby. CD Baby loves me.
Posted by CKL @ 09:02 PM PST
CD Baby only carries albums by small, independent artists, but they have Ookla the Mok's last three albums, and that's good enough for me. Also, their order confirmation emails make me happy. A sample:
Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure
it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money
can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, April 21st.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as 'Customer of the Year'. We're all
exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Think you're going to get that kind of customer service from I think not.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Secret Guardin'
Posted by CKL @ 03:06 PM PST
Something for writers to remember: keeping arbitrary secrets is lame.

You can string people along from the end-of-season cliffhanger to the next season's premiere (see TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds" and every Star Trek series since), and for maybe half a season otherwise (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer, year 5). But you can't sustain a show on a single mystery that drives all your plots. It's too suffocating, and too easily taken apart.

For example: Smallville, which has to concoct ever more preposterous scenarios to put Clark's Big Fat Secret in peril and then keep him from being found out. And then there's the Fox one-season-wonder John Doe, whose Big Honkin' Secret turned out to be, well, pretty damn silly.

A gimmick is not going to keep your audience interested for long. If the only reason I'm watching is to find out who Cartman's father is, the only way to keep me watching is to not tell me who Cartman's father is. And, eventually, I'll get annoyed or bored, just like I did with Twin Peaks.

Good storytelling is where it's at. Is that so difficult to understand?


Friday, April 16, 2004

Thank you, Philo T. Farnsworth
Posted by CKL @ 05:01 PM PST
Every April, the TV Turnoff Network advocates a "TV Turnoff Week" during which participants voluntarily watch no television at all.

To which I say: what are you, insane? The WB just started airing the last six episodes of Angel! My TV is on!

But then, I think I'm a pretty atypical TV watcher. I don't get home every night, plop down on the couch, and channel-surf until the eleven o'clock news comes on. I have TiVo, I hate sitcoms, and I can't stand reality shows. I'm pretty picky about what I do watch, and I don't let TV rule my life.

The fact sheets do contain some pretty appalling statistics. Whether you choose to believe them is your business. For example:

  • Amount of television that the average American watches per day: over 4 hours
  • Time per day that TV is on in an average US home: 7 hours, 40 minutes
  • Chance that an American falls asleep with the TV on at least three nights a week: 1 in 4
The first two stats quoted above come from Nielsen Media Research, dated 2000. The third one I trust even less, since it's from the January, 1996, Harper's Index. That's right, over eight years ago.

To paraphrase Mark Twain said: there are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics, and then there are outdated statistics.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Headline of the day
Posted by CKL @ 08:14 AM PST
From CNN: "Jilted chef admits sawing off wife's head"

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

No taxation without weirdness
Posted by CKL @ 05:26 PM PST
From CNN Money's article on America's Strangest taxes:
Playing card tax: If you want a deck of cards in the state of Alabama, be prepared to shell out an extra dime. The state government has levied a 10-cent tax on the purchase of a playing deck that contains "no more than 54 cards". If you object to this, get your playing cards in a different state, or buy a deck with an extra joker.
Yet another reason to play Fluxx.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Phone companies suck...don't they?
Posted by CKL @ 12:37 AM PST
Here's what the letter said:

"As agreed when you placed your order on our SBC website, by continuing to subscribe to SBC Yahoo! DSL Internet access service for the next year, you will pay only $29.95 per month for the next 12 months for this service as our way of thanking you, our valuable customer... It will take up to 2 billing cycles for the new pricing to reflect on your monthly billing statement [which currently shows $49.95 for DSL service -CKL]. Once that change appears you will receive the discounted price for a full 12 months."

And here's my translation:

"Thanks for supporting our antiquated but near-complete monopoly! To show our appreciation, even though you've generously chosen to do business with us instead of any of our competitors-- not that you have much of a choice, ha ha!-- we're going to gouge you for an extra $40 because, well, we can. What are you going to do, run to fucking Comcast and pay them $60 a month for even shittier service? Yeah, that's what we thought. So shut up and enjoy your pr0n, you 8XL luser."

Maybe I've just been watching too much Deadwood.

(Thanks to Chris Nichols for inspiring the title of this entry.)


Monday, April 5, 2004

Gee! No... Gmail.
Posted by CKL @ 11:58 AM PST
"Much is being written about Gmail, Google's new free webmail system. There's something deeper to learn about Google from this product than the initial reaction to the product features, however... the story is about seemingly incremental features that are actually massively expensive for others to match, and the platform that Google is building which makes it cheaper and easier for them to develop and run web-scale applications than anyone else...

"Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It's running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It's looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application."

-- from Rich Skrenta's blog

Of course, most users won't care about the magic computers that make Gmail possible. They just want to know what it looks like:

More information at


Sunday, April 4, 2004

Who are Genodix?
Posted by CKL @ 05:49 PM PST
So I finally checked my post office box for the first time in weeks, and found this postcard:

DSC01749 (62k image)

Actually, I had received two copies of the same postcard. The first was postmarked March 13, 2004, the second March 31, both from San Francisco.

Here's the back of the card. It's clearly Game-related:

DSC01746 (57k image)

And here it is with the sticker peeled back, revealing a secret message. This spot was covered by the stamp in the first postcard. The second card was mailed in an envelope, I suppose to better ensure delivery:

DSC01748 (59k image)

There's more stuff at Is it just me, or does this theme remind you of FoBiK? Not that that's a bad thing...

Of course, Justice Unlimited, which we announced in early February, happens on July 31 and August 1, 2004. We had a similar, non-optimal situation in 2001, with the420game (April 20th) and HLOTF (May 5th). It's not the end of the world, and it is A Good Thing to have more Games, but they really should be spaced farther apart-- at least a couple of months, IMHO.

Anyway. I'm not sure why they sent the same notice twice. Maybe nobody had responded to the first postcard. I also wonder who's on this GC; the Genodix domain is registered privately, so I can't get any information that way.


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