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My Archives: August 2003

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Implicit Campaigning
Posted by CKL @ 01:00 PM PST
From the latest TiVo newsletter:

"Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to run for governor of California in a recall election scheduled for Oct. 7 is wreaking havoc on local TV listings. Recently the Sci Fi channel became the second cable network in two days to take his movies off air, pulling an entire night of scheduled Schwarzenegger films. The cable networks are taking the steps proactively, since under current law they are technically exempt from FCC rules requiring broadcasters to give equal air time to all candidates, free of charge, if they air entertainment content featuring a political rival. (Meaning if Arnie's films air on broadcast TV, all of the 134 other opponents in California's recall election race could demand equal time - FREE!) To fill the programming hole and perhaps to prove that truth is indeed stranger and, in fact, more ironic than even Hollywood fiction, Sci Fi offered golden state viewers a slate of California-themed disaster movies instead. "

Presumably, paid commercial spots and news coverage are excluded from "entertainment content." But I wonder, what would the other candidates do if they had two hours of air time to fill? (Insert your own stand-up comedy routine here...)

[Link]

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Can't See A Blessed Thing
Posted by CKL @ 10:51 PM PST
Today is Mars Day. Right now, Mars is closer to Earth than it's ever been in tens of thousands of years, there's a new moon tonight, Foothill Observatory just a few miles away is hosting a special viewing event, and I've invited eight friends out for some good old fashioned optical astronomy.

And what happens? The sky's full of clouds, of course. Can't see a blessed thing in the heavens.

I guess we'll try again later:

"Mars will remain a stunning nighttime attraction for weeks. Most sky watchers can see the planet, presently in the constellation Aquarius, in the southeastern sky soon after sunset, high overhead during the midnight hours and in the southwestern sky before sunrise."
-- CNN.com

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Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness
Posted by CKL @ 08:59 AM PST
http://www.darrenbarefoot.com/hall/

My favorite has to be Exhibit 10, mostly because it reminds me of a joke I heard once about the old Apple Macintosh floppy drives which had motorized loaders-- i.e., they would "suck your disk."

[Link]

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Nothing But Static on Radio Sunnydale
Posted by CKL @ 10:59 PM PST
I hate it when I find out about really cool products I can't buy yet.

Virgin Records is releasing a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack album on September 30th, just over a month away, but I can't find anywhere on the web I can pre-order it. Even Amazon.com has failed me. Stop teasing me and just take my money, dammit!

"The BREEDERS version of the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' theme will be included on Radio Sunnydale, due September 30th. The set will also feature songs by MICHELLE BRANCH and the DANDY WARHOLS."
-- RollingStone.com

"Michelle Branch, the Breeders, Blur, Aimee Mann and Bush, artists whose songs complemented poignant moments in the much-mourned TV series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' are among those set to appear on Radio Sunnydale, a 12-track LP due September 30." [Bonus points for correct usage and spelling of "complement" -ed.]
-- MTV.com

"RADIO SUNNYDALE: Buffy The Vampire Slayer -
Music From The Television Series Track Listing:
1. Buffy Main Title Theme - The Breeders
2. Goodbye to You (Bronze Mix) - Michelle Branch
3. Bohemian Like You - Dandy Warhols
4. There's No Other Way - Blur
5. Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Melanie Doane
6. Sound of the Revolution - Lunatic Calm
7. Out of This World - Bush
8. Pavlov's Bell - Aimee Mann
9. Stop Thinking About It - Joey Ramone
10. Key - Devics
11. Ballad for Dead Friends - Dashboard Prophets
12. ORIGINAL SCORE - Rob Duncan"
-- teenmusic.com

Drool.

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Nickel and Dimed
Posted by CKL @ 10:00 PM PST
Something new I just noticed on my long distance telephone bill:
AT&T Regulatory Assessment Fee
Beginning on July 1, 2003, your bill will include a 99 cent per month Regulatory Assessment Fee. This fee will help AT&T recover the costs associated with interstate access charges, property taxes, and the expenses associated with regulatory proceedings and compliance. This fee applies for each month in which you have any AT&T charges on your bill. This fee is not a tax or charge required by the government. (my emphasis)
Well, that's nice. Now how do I get the government to regulate the phone company a little bit more, so they can't charge this bogus fee or any others like it? And how is AT&T not asking to be slapped down with this boneheaded move?

Also, I'd like to be able to deal with just one freakin' "utility" company for all my telephone needs, instead of three-- SBC Local, AT&T Long Distance, and AT&T Wireless (of which the latter two are actually different companies, of course, who have nothing in common except they're both riding the coattails of the brand name). I deal with three different phone companies, and I don't much like any of them. They know most people can't function in modern society without some kind of telephone service, and they're too lazy or out of touch to innovate, so their primary means of profit is by creating confusing "offer bundles," adding hidden and not-so-hidden fees, and generally getting people to pay more for things they don't need.

This is why I hate salesmen, and why I love Glengarry Glen Ross. Isn't it ironic?

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Lightning!
Posted by CKL @ 12:15 AM PST
It's after midnight, and I've just spent the last ten minutes looking out my bedroom window. I had been lying in bed for a short while when I noticed intermittent blue flashes-- through my closed eyelids. At first, I thought it was cars passing on the street outside, but then I got up and saw the cause: coruscating white bolts of lightning, far enough away (more than 15 miles) that I couldn't hear the thunderclaps, but still sharp and clear and illuminating half the sky. They've been coming several times a minute, and I can't even imagine how far huge these things must be-- they extend from the ground to deep inside the clouds above.

They're beautiful from this distance, but I'm sure they're doing terrible damage wherever it is they're hitting, somewhere to the north and east. Nature has a funny way of delivering good news and bad news at the same time.

I hope it's not this cloudy on Wednesday; otherwise my Mars viewing is going to be a real non-event.

[Link]

Monday, August 25, 2003

Sigh.
Posted by CKL @ 12:45 PM PST
Place your bets now: how long before this shows up on an episode of Law & Order?
Torrance Cantrell, an autistic eight-year-old from Milwaukee, is dead after an hourlong "faith healing" at the Faith Temple Church of Apostolic Faith. The child's autopsy results were not revealed due to the police investigation, but one of the ministers of the church has been jailed on suspicion of felony abuse of a child... Torrance was involved in other abusive "prayer sessions" both at the church and at home. During some of these sessions, church members would hold the child down and strike him. At another session, a neighbor reported seeing church members beat the eight-year-old boy with a belt.
I really should go take a good entry-level constitutional law course at a local university. Even if the Constitution doesn't explicitly guarantee any right to privacy, separation of church and state implies it pretty strongly, and from that you can extrapolate all kinds of good stuff (gay marriages) and bad stuff (domestic abuse). Of course, before you even go there, you have to decide what the fundamental role of government should be-- are you Hamiltonian or Jeffersonian? Socialist or Libertarian? Arnold or Georgy?
[Link]

Friday, August 22, 2003

Things I Will Never Do
Posted by CKL @ 06:23 PM PST
I will never:
  • Use the word "leverage" as a verb.
  • Use the word "irregardless" in any context.
  • Pronounce the word "nuclear" as "nucular."
  • Use the word "alleged" as an adjective.
If you ever catch me doing any of these things, I demand that you immediately smack some sense into me. (The only exception is if I'm pointing out its monstrous stupidity, either explicitly or mockingly.)

Look. I understand and support the evolution of slang and its integration into standard usage, but there are some words that are just wrong. They're not clever, or inventive, or indicative of a cultural "paradigm shift." They're just plain wrong. Make up a new language if you want-- don't insist that we change ours because you can't be bothered to learn it.

[Link]

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Why is this man smiling?
Posted by CKL @ 11:30 AM PST
i-1_B_L (31k image)

"Hi. My name's David, and I'd like to sell you my car. I'm so sure you'll like it, I'll even spend the day with you to help break it in! No, we won't be doing anything in the backseat. Don't worry-- I don't bite. Not even if you ask me to. No, really, I won't. So don't ask. And smearing warm butterscotch all over your naked body won't help. I get enough of that at home."

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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Official Statement of the Week
Posted by CKL @ 05:33 PM PST
"A preliminary inquiry has found that, with the exception of one activity, the allegations contained in the [UC Berkeley] student newspaper were not directly associated with the course but were independent social activities that were undertaken by students from this class, along with other individuals. Some students may have chosen to visit a strip club as part of their class projects."
[Link]

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Sunset
Posted by CKL @ 10:30 PM PST
One good thing about staying late at work.

DSC00201 (103k image)

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Monday, August 18, 2003

Hats
Posted by CKL @ 11:49 PM PST
"Dammit, Ed, you're right. We've done the birthday cake hat in various sizes, the springy Santa hat that rips off the Jim Carrey Grinch movie, the orange clown fish hat that shamelessly capitalizes on Finding Nemo's success, and we even ponied up to make an official Harry Potter sorting hat-- with glasses, no less! But the products just aren't moving!

"We need something new! Exciting! Innovative! And your new design is it, Ed! It's brilliant! The stars will be wearing these on Oscar night! Well, Björk will, anyway. But just imagine the free publicity!

"We're going to sell millions of these Frog/Prince Reversible Hats-- you know, for kids. Millions, Ed! Millions, I tell ya!"

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Friday, August 15, 2003

The Johnny Depp Quiz
Posted by CKL @ 09:16 AM PST
Here's what the Johnny Depp Quiz has to say about me:

You Are Edward From "Edward Scissorhands."

You are very shy and often misunderstood. Innocent, sweet, and artistic, you like to pass your days by daydreaming and expressing yourself through the arts. You are a truly unique individual. Unfortunately, you are quite lonely, and few people truly understand you.

Take The Johnny Depp Quiz!

[Link]

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Red Light, Green Light
Posted by CKL @ 11:54 PM PST
Tonight, DeeAnn and I watched the last episode of Futurama (wah! but thank ghod for DVDs) and the third-to-last episode of the second season of Project Greenlight ("PGL" if you're hip, or employed by Miramax's marketing division). Then, not coincidentally, we went to the QuickTime web site and watched the trailer for The Battle of Shaker Heights, the film whose making is documented in PGL2. DeeAnn ("D" if you're hip, or monosyllabic) remarked that the movie advertised in the trailer is a far cry from the movie which we've seen the production team discussing on the show.

This last episode ended with a public test screening of Shaker Heights, which scored a disappointing 48 out of 100-- according to the producers, 55 is average, and 82 is American Pie. I suspect the final two episodes will include a lot of frantic re-editing and the novice directors butting heads yet again with people who know better. I'm so amused. This, my friends, is great television.

Also not coincidentally, on Friday night, we watched Stolen Summer, the first PGL movie. It didn't suck-- there were some good moments in it, mostly involving Aidan Quinn and Bonnie Hunt-- but it showed a lot of seams. Salon.com's review pretty much says it all: "Stolen Summer isn't so bad that it's an embarrassment, but it does have an unfocused, amateurish sheen."

Does documenting the creative process cheapen it or interfere with its purity? I don't know, but hey, people were making crappy movies long before Project Greenlight ever got greenlighted. (Pun intended.) And just like any other no-purchase-necessary, void-where-prohibited, all-American sweepstakes, the big prize comes with strings attached.

[Link]

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Hedwig Redux
Posted by CKL @ 01:11 AM PST
Just watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch on DVD. Great movie. I understand why some reviewers have complained that the movie soundtrack album is positively drowsy when compared to recordings of the stage show, but I disagree. The movie makes use of cinematic grammars-- fast cuts, animations, explicit flashbacks-- that would be impossible in a live show, and the unrelenting punk music of the theatrical version would have overpowered those images. It's a tricky balancing act, but it works.

I'm still tripping out over the fact that John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote, directed, and stars as the titular drag queen, once played an evil nerd on MacGyver. I'll get over it.

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Thursday, August 7, 2003

Walk-In Movies
Posted by CKL @ 11:46 AM PST
I was in downtown San Jose last night to see a free screening of Iron Monkey, the second movie in the Cinema San Pedro outdoor film series. If you live in the bay area, I highly recommend checking it out; it happens every Wednesday night through September 3rd.

The movie was a lot of fun, but the environment also added to the experience-- there was some crowd noise, and got colder as the night went on, but even the streetlight and occasional pedestrians blocking my view of the screen weren't hugely annoying. And that's saying something, since I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to seeing movies. I guess the promoters were successful in selling this as "an event" instead of just a movie.

If I had just wanted to see the movie, I could have rented the DVD and watched it at home. But then I wouldn't have gone out to dinner, chatted with my friends, watched the martial arts demonstration during intermission, or seen the wacky rabbit guy playing his trumpet on the sidewalk. The play's the thing, but it's not a performance without an audience.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2003

At least we know he'll look good on television
Posted by CKL @ 06:26 PM PST
So Arnold Schwarzenegger is running for California Governor. And he announced it to Jay Leno on a taping of The Tonight Show.

This coming a few weeks after he denied, in interviews with several print media journalists, wanting to get into politics. Will his entire campaign be conducted through television talk shows?

"Yah, yoo should vote for me, und also go see my noo movie, Terminator Baby Geniuses!"

Truth is stranger than fiction.

[Link]

Sunday, August 3, 2003

Borg Borg Borg
Posted by CKL @ 01:44 PM PST
On Friday, Paramount announced the planned opening of a new attraction at Star Trek - The Experience in Las Vegas: Borg Invasion 4D. From the fact sheet:
Borg Invasion 4D will combine live actors and phenomenal special effects to create an excitingly realistic Star Trek experience. As visitors tour a futuristic research facility, the terrifying drones of the Borg collective attempt to capture and assimilate them using 24th century cybernetic technology. 3D and 4D effects will merge in chilling realization of state-of-the-art technology to provide an all-immersive tactile experience for visitors to the attraction.
I have no idea what they mean by "4D effects," but since they also advertise "atmospheric and hydraulic effects, physical probes, pneumatic actuators and an array of audio transducers" and "the first-ever live action, steady cam stereo shot with real-time 3D playback onscreen," it's pretty clear that the Borg attempt to assimilate you will be successful to some degree.

I'm really hoping this won't be a total cheese-fest, but I'll have to wait until next spring to find out. Besides, it can't be all bad if Robert Picardo is in it, right?

[Link]

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