|August 2003 Archives
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August 31 Permalink
For today's media event, I watched the DVD that accompanied Scarlett's Walk by Tori Amos. There were videos for "Gold Dust" and "A Sorta Fairytale" and a screensaver-style sequence of Polaroids for "Taxi Ride". The two videos were indistinguishable from each other with no apparent connection to the lyrics. The images consisted of Tori among various heartland cliches-railroads, pickups, dirt roads, empty flat landscapes. They wouldn't win any MTV Awards, but I assume this is the sort of effort put forth by the music companies to encourage you to buy the CD instead of downloading an MP3.
August 30 Permalink
Had dinner at Slade's American Grill in Bethesda. Miranda and I had the simple stuff - cheeseburger and mac and cheese. Whitlock had the fancy sea bass, pan fried.
August 29 Permalink
The MI-5 episode, #4 in the series featured Anthony Stewart Head as legendary spy Peter Salter. The lower-level operatives speak of him in hushed tones as if he actually helped saved the world from demons several times. Harry seems to be running him without anyone else's knowledge to infiltrate a cell of anarcho-terrorists.
Salter has also fallen in love with one of the radical anarchists. We also discover Tessa's been running a phantom agent and pocketing the money supposedly used to pay him off. Most of the episode is spent trying to figure out which side Salter is really on.
After capture, Salter incapacitates Tom and hangs himself in the men's room. Although the anarcho-terrorists are eventually captured, Salter has disrupted Bush's trip to Britain by planting a virus in the air traffic control's computers.
August 28 Permalink
Watched Hitler: The Rise of Evil. Some feared the production would humanize Hitler. Whitlock agrees with that term, although I prefer saying that Robert Carlyle made Hitler real. By no means is he sympathetic, but the evil takes believable dimension. After all, this person actually existed unlike Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader. He could be living in your neighborhood. Certainly, the industrialists who supported him thought they were getting somebody like them.
I can't speak for the accuracy of the production, but I'm not an expert in this part of history. I did notice that Ernst Rohm's time in Bolivia was glossed over.
Robert Carlyle's portrayal of Hitler was one of the best performances I've ever seen. It's a shame he's didn't get an Emmy nomination. Here are the guys who got nominated ahead of him. I didn't see any of them, but the Stage Manager from Our Town, for which Paul Newman got nominated, is rarely the capstone of an acting career.
The entire production got an Emmy nomination as well as Peter O'Toole who played Hindenburg. This was a classic name-recognition nomination. O'Toole was only on screen for a few minutes. If I could nominate a supporting actor from the mini-series, it would be Peter Stormare who played Ernst Rohm.
August 27 Permalink
Scott Edelman has some other SF suggestions for the Governor of California.
August 26 Permalink
Went up to Frederick Nissan nee Jenkins Motors to get my driver's side window fixed. It wouldn't go back up. They repaired the "window regulator" for no charge because it was still covered by the warranty.
August 25 Permalink
Thanks to Teresa Nielsen Hayden for Find a Neighborhood. The predominant marketing group in my neighborhood is described as Upward Bound who tend to do the following: ...own pagers/beepers, ... watch Murphy Brown.
Unfortunately, Murphy Brown has succumbed to Allison LaPlaca while pagers and beepers have given way to cellphones.
Another shock. Sunderland defeated Elton John's team for their second win in a row. They're now in sixth place which is the final position for the promotion playoffs. That leaves DC United with the only loss in four games over weekend. They looked lackluster in losing 1-0 to San Jose, but remain 4 points ahead in playoff position.
Watched the Monk 2nd season closer "Mr. Monk and the 12th Man". Monk manages to connect a series of bizarre murders through sequential ten-dollar bills used. At first he thinks they might be connected to an insurance salesman, so Monk stakes out his house. Unfortunately, he fails to stop a killing of the salesman.
Then Monk realizes they must be a jury and the surviving member of that jury is found. Though the last juror is suspected of the murders, Monk turns his attention of the owner of a house involved in that jury's case. The homeowner was played by former Minnesota Viking Ed Marinaro. A worker was injured at Big Ed's house and sued, although the insurance company paid all damages. The jury had visited the accident site and the currently surviving one wandered off to find that Big Ed had offed his wife and kept her in a freezer. Taking pictures and a finger, this juror, a compulsive gambler, anonymously blackmailed Big Ed. When the demands for money got too big, the killing started.
The B-plot involved Sharona dating the deputy mayor. Suddenly everyone kissed up to her. The relationship breaks up when Sharona realizes he doesn't take her seriously as a person.
The plot failed to connect some of the dots. You had to assume that Big Ed sent his extortion payments in anonymous fashion or else he would know who is blackmailer is. However, we're never told that. Also, the story seemed to gloss over the fact that Big Ed killed 11 innocent people without a regret.
Brilliant as Monk may be, he happens onto the eleventh victim for totally spurious reasons. He decides the connection between the victims must be a jury because they are so diverse. In my experience, a jury tends towards the less intelligent that a clever attorney can sway. Finally, once Monk realizes there is a connection, the police department should have explored the possibility they might have been on a jury. That would be on the top ten of my list issues to look into.
August 24 Permalink
Congratulations to the Washington Freedom for another soccer championship brought back to DC.
Miranda is now playing Fluxx with me. She beats me every now and then. I think she likes getting the food-related keepers.
August 23 Permalink
We could reduce the prison population by legalizing drugs. Since this would probably increase drug abuse, either the users or the industry could be taxed to finance rehab.
I've avoided any mention of Sunderland, while suffering from the depression of their relegation. Today the Black Cats avoided the ignominy of tying an English professional record of 18 consecutive losses by actually winning. As I watched the Ravens-Indigenous Persons exhibition game, a realized how much we miss the derbies in the United States because of the sports monopolies. Despite the Cowboys fans in the area, they always seem like freaks to me.
August 22 Permalink
Does it seem those who scream,"Get a life!" make a comfortable living financed by people with no lives? Sports reporters and other sports media personalities use the phrase, and usually direct it at fans. The targets of their scorn are interested in something the sportsguy finds either trivial, or more likely, don't understand. Of course, these folks are usually paid large amounts of money because people who have no lives watch them, listen to them, or read them.
William Shatner in the classic Saturday Night Live sketch represents the entertainment get-a-life. Certainly, one must draw the line short of stalking and I find intimate details of my favorite actors to be boring. Sure it's nice to know when Sarah Michelle Gellar gets married, but I don't really want to know about her dress. So those who enjoyed the schadenfreude of Gigli probably followed the lives of Ben and J-Lo just a little too closely. Still, in that same SNL sketch, Shatner came to his senses after seeing his contract, a realization that his fans keep him in horses.
On the logo boards I frequent, the Native American nickname debate crops up every few months. Inevitably, someone opposed to any name change accuses the protesters of having no lives. Then one must realize that anyone who posts to a sports logos board has no business telling someone else they have no life.
Which is a circuitous way of getting to this discussion, which challenges the forum to design the sweaters for the Tuvalu National Hockey team. People with no lives are what make the web enjoyable.
Watched the Peacemakers episode "29 Seconds". It's a typical "innocent person sentenced to death" story. An obvious element of tension is added by a hydraulic gallows that give Marshal Stone extra time to ride into town with evidence clearing the sentenced man. Two persons seemed to be opposed to the death penalty which seemed to be two more than there would have been in Colorado in the 1880s.
A minor nitpick on a demonstration of the gallows early in the episode where the hanged dummy is decapitated. The condemned gentleman suddenly panics, expect the same thing to happen to him. I don't think a human could be jerked quickly enough for that to happen.
A bigger problem was Peter O'Meara's English accent. Not only did it mostly disappear, but it sometimes reappeared at random. Part of the charm of the show is hearing an English accent in a Western, but having it randomly fade out was a disappointing sloppiness.
August 21 Permalink
Must have been a hot tip.
To the question from Barry Zito Forever, "What was the best A's game you ever went to?" the answer is May 18, 1986. Tony Phillips hit for the cycle. In the top of the 2nd, Dusty Baker on third, Mike Davis on second, nobody out, Alfredo Griffin grounds to Eddie Murray. Storm Davis tries to cover first, but his foot misses the bag and he's eventually charged with an error. He argues with the umpire. Mike Davis attempts to follow Dusty home by heading for the plate himself during the argument. The home plate umpire has called time and sends Mike Davis back to third. Earl Weaver comes out to help Storm argue. Tony LaRussa comes out to argue himself. It's the only time I remember two managers arguing two different calls on the same play.
Through Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Timothy Burke has a weird view of fandom, having been seduced by the dark side AKA the Wiggles. At this age, Miranda and her friends no longer like Barney, so they sing songs wishing an unpleasant demise for the big purple one. She asked if knew songs like that from my childhood. So I whipped up something extemporaneously about the lameness of the Wiggles. She hadn't figured out that they were kids themselves when I was a kid.
August 20 Permalink
Chris Barylick has an etiquette question.
August 19 Permalink
Last night, during the Angels-White Sox game, Mike Scioscia showed no fear of Frank Thomas when he pitched to him in the bottom of the 9th, one out, a runner on third and the score tied. Also, I've rarely seen an starter still on the mound, as Jarrod Washburn was, in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game. Still, the second gopher ball to Thomas was only Washburn's 101st pitch.
August 18 Permalink
Compelling case made by Stefan Szymanski and Stephen F. Ross for promotion and relegation as a preferred system to the current closed system in North America. You'll need Acrobat, but you can skip the math because the conclusions are also spelled out in text.
What they don't discuss is whether there'd be time for a cross-tier cup, like England's F.A. Cup. I think such a tournament would be necessary to give even lower division teams a target and a national stage. Who gets most excited about March Madness? The schools from the smaller conferences who look for that first round upset.
It's not quite Hollywood Squares, Mike and Dwight, but the Game Show Network has figured out the California gubernatorial recall and election is right up their alley.
August 17 Permalink
Watched the MI-5 episode "Office Politics". Zoe is inside the Turkish consulate performing maintenance on their bugs when Kurds take the occupants hostage. When her unusual possessions are discovered, she claims to be an MI-6 agent.
The Kurds are helped by a group of Brits including someone named Johnny Marks. He was an operative believed to have died 15 years ago. The hostage crisis is just cover for him stealing codes for the agency's special bank. Marks steals £15 million, which MI-5 let him get away with when he doesn't reveal the names of agents he also accessed. Turns out he was a former lover of Tessa.
Nobody dies, even at the Turkish embassy.
August 16 Permalink
Taped episodes 15 and 16 of Silver Screen Test. James Dinan was one of the contestants. It went well considering I had three new people and a small crew. Thanks to Jimmy Albert, Yen-Ming Chen, Lorena Escobar, Alyyssa Newart, Victor Soto and Corey Wallace.
Miranda and Whitlock were out at a birthday party when I got home. I thought I'd fall asleep while watching the Freedom playoff game. Turns out I was too wired and stayed awake anyway.
Watched the Monk epsiode "Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy". Gary Cole plays Dexter, somebody obviously modeled on Hef. His business manager Eric tells him he must shut down his magazine. The next day, Eric is choked to death by a barbell falling on him.
Visiting the crime scene, Monk can't figure out exactly what's wrong, although the clock is 40 minutes off. This is probably where I solved it. Dexter was in the apartment below with a huge electromagnet that brought the barbell down.
Most of the program was a jiggle show with Monk scandalized at every turn. Dexter threatens Monk off the case with blackmail pictures of Sharona back when she was 19. From the hints, I'm guessing hardcore sex was involved because mere nude pictures just don't seem scandalous enough.
Danny Bonaduce makes a cameo. Dexter takes Danny's car to commit the crime.
August 15 Permalink
I put up the non-buzzer set for Silver Screen Test with Spike Bowden and Jimmy Albert. The studio has a shortage of 500 watt lamps which were replaced with softboxes.
August 14 Permalink
Tomorrow's Knossos pick is The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I read the author's preferred version with a middle section Ben Bova rejected for Analog. An award winner and seminal work, it comments on the Vietnam War using the powersuit trappings of Heinlein's Starship Troopers.
On one level it savagely attacks every level of war - the indifference of the political leaders, the incompetence of the military leaders and the brutality of the soldiers in the field. There wasn't any discussion of the unit cohesion that motivates infantry I've read of elsewhere. Instead, the grunts have hypnotic suggestions implanted that turn them into killing machines. The primary motivation for William Mandella is his love for Marygay Potter.
Joe's website says that the Sci-Fi Channel will present it as a mini-series next year. I could picture the novel as a two hour feature film with emphasis on the action and romance.
Overall, I found the book just a little bit below perfect because it was more an intellectual exercise than an emotional experience. The exciting intellectual works make your mind function in ways it never thought before. Maybe it's because I've heard these arguments in the last thirty years and Haldeman did not surprise me.
Nevertheless, The Forever War is competently written with only a few parts displaying clunky Analog exposition. It's an important work that had a huge impact when published 30 years ago.
I met Joe and his wife Gay at the 1983 Worldcon in Baltimore. He reprised his role from a decade before as one of the Discovery astronauts in 2001: A Space Opera. I played a Russian scientist, an American scientist and a space slab.
August 13 Permalink
Finished a slim volume entitled The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch) by Carroll Spinney. It's a light recollection of his experiences inside the big yellow puppet and underneath the trash can operating Oscar the Grouch. I enjoyed reading some of the origin stories.
Fanatics of the Street know that Oscar was originally orange. What I didn't know was that Jim Henson unilaterally decided to make him green. The verdant Oscar made his debut on The Flip Wilson Show, much to the dismay of Children's Television Workshop executives. Oscar later explained that he vacationed in a very damp swamp that turned him green overnight.
Buy The Wisdom of Big Bird if you're a Muppet fan, but otherwise it's a slim book for the hardcover price.
August 12 Permalink
This morning's frustration came courtesy of workers whose job it was to bolt hutches to desks. A team of four came to my office, pulled the hutch and return from the wall. One of them bolted the hutch within five minutes. While this happened, I visited with co-workers.
When I returned, my hutch was bolted, but my desk was away from the wall, leaving my computer, phone and work materials surrounded by walls, shelves and the desk. They only way to get back there was to climb over my desk. The workers took over an hour an a half to come back, while I worked, physically trapped in my office. Instead of putting desks back immediately after bolting them, they bolted eveybody's desk on three floors before restoring the furniture arrangement.
August 11 Permalink
What Finding Nemo Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
August 10 Permalink
Bea, Greg, Victoria and Ian came over late to bring Dakilla and Sonia over to see the house. Dakilla asked if a nearby storm water management pond was a natural lake. Of course we had to tell him that Maryland has no natural lakes.