October 30, 2003

AJLW Encryption

I have developed a new form of encryption that I'd like to offer to the world in the interest of information security. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say I have discovered one. It's the "Ami Just Leaving Work" encryption.

If ever I have a conversation with Wife Ami and I happen to catch her on her cell phone and she's just leaving work, then I am assured that whatever meaning was meant to be transmitted or received from the conversation will be garbled and nonsensical. Between her cell phone not working and mine not working either, and the fact that her attention is divided three ways, I submit that this makes it the perfect protocol for passing sensitive information.

Here is how yesterday's conversation went, using AJLW encryption:

HQ: Hey - where are you?
Mobile Unit 1: I'm walking to your office right now to get the car.
HQ: I'm sorry I couldn't come get you - oh, are you guys leaving now? OK, bye!
Mobile Unit 1: What? No, I've already left.
HQ: Sorry - I was talking to my friends here.
Mobile Unit 1: Oh.
HQ: They were just walking out. Sorry. So when are you leaving for [SIGNAL LOST]
Mobile Unit 1: I didn't get that. What?
HQ: [SIGNAL LOST] - the thing tonight. Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Mobile Unit 1: I can hear you now. What thing tonight?
HQ: That thing you're doing tonight. OK, I'll see you in a bit!
Mobile Unit 1: Wait WAIT - are you hanging up?
HQ: No! I was talking to someone here.
Mobile Unit 1: I... I'm going to the shorts thing tonight at 7PM.
HQ: OK, can you pick me up?
Mobile Unit 1: (silence) I...
HQ: Can you pick me up?
Mobile Unit 1: Oh, you're talking to ME! Sure, I can pick you up - I mean, I'm walking there right now! Are you going to the shorts with me? I thought you weren't!
HQ: No, I can't go to that. I'll see you tonight at home, OK?
Mobile Unit 1: ... Are you talking to ME now?
HQ: (abruptly) OK, Bye.

See? Impenetrable! If some terrorist had been listening into our cell conversation, trying to ascertain the location of Cheney's secret underground Command Bunker, he would have torn off his headphones and thrown them to the ground, cursing in confusion about halfway in.

Posted by Chris on 10/30/03

Prime Shorts

I avoid local festivals of film shorts partially because I am lazy but also because the quality of the movies is sometimes spotty and not worth hanging out in a bar I don't like. And I always feel out of place amongst the filmmakers, my bretheren, and wishing I didn't.

But I went to "Prime Shorts" last night, which is held the last Wednesday of every month, at different places I think but last night at the "Hideout" bar - and had a pretty good time. It's a small place, with a warm and excited vibe, as opposed to somehow aloof and arty. (A' la the vibe of "Jinx" on Division.) There was a girl there doing a Shadow Puppet presentation of famous celebrity deaths - I'm not kidding - and they were selling popcorn and caramel apples. And the apple / popcorn vendors gave a hilarious intermission presentation about their declining sales - complete with a chart - and how they needed everyone to think about buying more caramel apples.

The shorts: "Secretly Blonde." This was a three-minute short made for the Fast Forward Film Festival, which is one of those "make it overnight" festivals. I think of myself as not being interested in such a thing, because I really do enjoy putting time into a script, but the simple laughs this one got made me think I could be a lazy idiot just afraid to work fast.

"The Potter's Meal." A long documentary about a man who makes pots, and how natural things are good, and how we come from the earth and so do pots, and that's good. I can't help smirking at these kinds of things. If Christopher Guest had done the same exact movie with the same exact lines delivered the same exact way, it would have been hilarious. But why am I such a cynical ass? This man's living the life. Although, in my defense, the film opens with the memorable line "Sometimes I think too much is said about pots, especially by those that make them." That's funny! Isn't it?

"The Vest." One of those depressing shorts because it's done by someone that knows movie stars and a cinematographer, and has a budget, and it looks great and is funny.

I think I usually feel out of place at these things for a big combination of reasons including, I'm not very social anyway and don't hang out; the movies usually seem to be made for much younger sensibilities than mine, and sometimes without much of an eye to quality; that makes me feel old; they are usually held at bars and those are my least favorite places to hang out; that ALSO makes me feel old; I'm jealous of people that can make movies with spontaneity and energy, and don't have to turn it into a months- or years-long production involving long scripts, revisions, rehearsal and post production; sometimes the movies ARE good, which leaves me no excuse.

Sometimes little fests like this legitimately ARE cliqueish and insular and you get the impression that the kids have been playing with dad's video camera - there was one called "Undershorts" that was the epitome of this. And although there definitely seemed to be a Prime Shorts following, it was not insular but instead fun. I felt a bit like I was down the rabbit hole (especially with the Shadow Puppets) at times, but then I'm a mole-person that never comes out of my cave. I doubt they'd be interested in my movies, but it made me want to try to work in that vein.

Posted by Chris on 10/30/03

October 29, 2003

Relink Fest '03

I'm currently going through and changing ALL MY LINKS. We thank you for your patience while I ensure the site degrades a bit more gracefully.

UPDATE - I have finished October and September. I'm exhausted. SPENT! If you read farther into the past than September, then you will just have to realize that in that distant age, we did not know as much about HTML as we do in the heady futuristic month of October. You are welcome to chuckle condescendingly over the naivete of a past era.

Until I get around to fixing the rest.

Posted by Chris on 10/29/03

October 28, 2003

The Two Towers

God help me, but when I was in CompUSA yesterday getting the IDE connectory thingy that would help the poor girl mentioned below (I got the screws loose, after calling upon several ancient Gods for aid, and my new theory is that if I can mount the laptop hard drive inside a desktop machine, then we can move her data off), I went through the Mac section (which is definitely set off from the rest - SEGREGATED, if you will), and was STRUCK WITH AN IDEA.

I am so tired of having two towers stuffed under my small desk, along with TWELVE ADDITIONAL PERIPHERALS plugged in, all in a big knot of surge protectors right underneath my feet so that I can't so much sit down at my desk as ride it side-saddle, and having to switch back and forth between the two computers depending on the task (word procession, Excel, web-surfing, email, crack-addiction games: PC | photo editing, storage, movie-editing, Illustrator design: MAC), and now XP won't talk to OS X.2 or even W2K so that everything has to be either mailed or burned to CD.

And I'm tired of the GINORMOUS monitor which is great in that it has two inputs but not so great in that it is enormous and leaves no room.

So it occured to me as I wandered through the Mac is Shiny and New section of CompUSA yesterday, and YES I am aware that this is just a delayed reaction to the minor upgrade craze that Apple has sparked in geeks everywhere by releasing Panther:

I could get a Mac Powerbook and get everything I have to get done on that! It would free up so much room!

I could get over this problem I have wherein Office applications have to be run on a PC! I could get over this superstition that something as arcane and magic as video editing has to happen on a tower!

I could get over the idea of playing current games!

But Good Lord. While part of my brain is moving into Must Have New Hardware Mode, the other part is wincing. Am I really about to plop down some $4000 to clear some space on my desk?

The answer: No, not immediately. But soon.

Lame-o option:

iBook (14.1"/1GHz/Combo drive)

• 640MB DDR266 (128MB built-in & 512MB SO-DIMM)
• 60GB Ultra ATA drive
• Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
• Keyboard/Mac OS X - U.S. English
• 14.1-inch TFT XGA display
• 1GHz PowerPC G4
• ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 w/ 32MB DDR video memory

Subtotal $1,649.95

+ Office v.X for Max Standard ($399)

+ Final Cut Pro 4 ($999.00)

Ouchy-Total: $3,047.95

Happy Option:

Powerbook (15.2"/1GHz/Combo drive)

• 1GHz PowerPC G4
• 1GB DDR333 SDRAM - 2x512 SO-DIMMs
• 80GB Ultra ATA drive @ 4200 rpm
• Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
• Keyboard/Mac OS - U.S. English
• 15.2-inch TFT Display

Subtotal - $2,574.00

+ Airport Card ($99)

+ Office ($399)

+ Final Cut Pro 4 ($999.00)

Ho-chee-mama total: $4,071.95

Posted by Chris on 10/28/03

October 27, 2003

Note to HP regarding laptop hard drives

Today I could not recover the data on a girl's hard drive because the tiny screws holding it into its bracket were screwed on so tight, that there was no way to loosen them and then mount it in another machine. Two of them became stripped when I tried.

Let's agree that for the purposes of a laptop hard drive, perhaps we might tighten the screws only to the degree that the hardware will be held firmly in place. Let's save the Strongman Torque Specials for things that might undergo quite a bit more velocity than a laptop; like, say, things that will be launched into space.

Posted by Chris on 10/27/03

October 24, 2003

A Shiny Dubloon...

... to the man that tells me how to make my site links open a new browser window by default, so that I don't have to go back and add TARGET="_top" to every single one.


Ken?!?! WHERE ARE YOU?!?!

Posted by Chris on 10/24/03

Pardon my formatting...

While I play with the blog site for a bit...

OK, it's basically done. Now it fits in with the rest of my site. Of course, the links are all... CRAP. In addition to all the ones that would have been broken through normal Internet Wear n' Tear, now all of them will open inside these frames. Damn me and these frames. You will come to hate them.

I promise to fix as I go along.

Posted by Chris on 10/24/03

Another note to Ebert...

... my favorite critic and writer. In today's review of Pieces of April, he says of the movie's technical flaws:

"You have the feeling that [The film's director] Hedges sees the same stuff that bothers you and it makes him squirm, too."

I can assure him and everyone that any director working on a "low budget*" is not just squirming about their movies technical flaws, they are writhing. Nothing is more painful. I have vowed before God that I will never again show one of my movies for a guest in my living room. At least in a darkened public venue you can slink out to the lobby for a smoke.


*And I don't consider 200K low.

Posted by Chris on 10/24/03

FattyFat: 1 Me: 2

A couple of things for FattyFat:

1. ONCE AGAIN HE HAS MISSED THE POINT. He is hammering on one non-issue to hide the fact that he has the most incurious, unread, uninformed blog this side of the Rio Grande. HE IS THE GEORGE W. OF THE BLOGOVERSE. To me the most interesting question about the whole Matrix thing is not whether the Wachowskis have a solid grasp of all the sources their fans claim they've referenced - it seems doubtful, but OK, whatever - but why it's O.K. to deconstruct the Matrix while Star Wars is for sad fanboys.

Point to me.

2. He says: "I say the technical expertise of the majority of owners of Spam boxes fits into a walnut with room left over." And so he is opposed to those opposed to the Do-Not-Email registry.

I'm not opposed to it, but I'm not running over to add my already-swamped email address to it. I say anybody who stands up and proudly announces that they have a hacker-proof encryption should also paint a big target on the front of their building. I'll bet the day after someone makes this claim the sidewalk outside their place is thick with the warchalk symbol for "JUST ASKING FOR IT."

Point to me.

3. He is perfectly correct that I am WRONG! in my earlier comments concerning the civility of heckling. I'm sure it was all he could do not to surround that headline with asterisks.

Point to him.

Aside to Blogger - thanks for breaking all my links to my own blog after I changed the archive. You're FIRED.

Posted by Chris on 10/24/03

October 23, 2003

From a heckler

I love free speech too, and I suppose that heckling someone's speech may legitimately be your only chance to get an important point across - especially if the administration is carefully staging an event for the media.

However - and I know this is probably a byproduct of that annoying polite Southern upbringing that always gets in my way - but I dislike the idea of interrupting a speech. This although I worked four years at a company called "Hecklers, Inc."

It's just not lateral! It's just not the Al Franken / Dave Barry way!

And anyway, doesn't George W. heckle the administration more effectively HIMSELF with nearly every word he utters?

Posted by Chris on 10/23/03

October 22, 2003

The Extension of your Logic

I find that the Matrix story is much like religion, in that one can only apply so much logic to it before the adherents get pissed.

I'd like to thank FattyFat for sharing this link with all of us, because it was funny and gave me something to blog about today.

I read a bit more than a third of the "spoiler" article until I had to quit. This fellow, whoever he is, is the James Lileks of the sci-fi fan world. And if he's not in I.T. as his day job, then sir, I will eat my hat*.

The writer's arrogant certainty about everything is great. I particularly love the Master-to-Student tone he adopts. I love that he refers to Matrix "fan boys" at one point in the article, which must surely be like Jabba the Hutt talking about all the big slimy worms he has to deal with. I love that he is so very very Right about everything that this essay is not just a theory, but an actual Spoiler. Because This is the Way It Must Be.

Over all, I am STILL really surprised that people want to delve this deeply into this movie! Usually I'm sitting right amongst all the fan boys in the front row, but the whole Matrix... THING has passed me by. It's a Kung Fu movie, right? With really well-thought out philosophical underpinnings, AWESOME special effects, and great costumes, but it's still a Kung Fu movie. Right?

Well, I suppose not. This same logic would describe Star Wars as a REALLY REALLY well-done chapter serial with awesome effects and a fantastic epic score, and that seems like the kind of reduction someone would make that was trying really hard not to like it.

I was trying hard not to like Matrix until I saw it again years after the first one came out, when everyone was so excited to tell me how it kicked Phantom Menace's ass. But the fact was that it DID kick Star Wars' ass, and furthermore at pretty much it's own game: A really exciting sci-fi tale with mythological / philosophical underpinnings.

But, to the substance of Comic Book Guy's Matrix Spoiler. And I am not a fan of people who read these things and seek to puncture them with the It's Only a Movie You Geek argument, throwing it down on the table like some sort of reality-check trump card. Part of the fun of these kinds of movies is that they inspire argument, they inspire people to seek out readings and make connections they might not have before. Teachers of several different subjects could get a lot of mileage out of this movie.

(I'd say that Comic Book Guy is making more connections here and deconstructing more symbolism than the Wachowski's ever DREAMED of, but you'd still have to hand it to them for inspiring this in the first place. I suppose it's not their fault that - again, like Lucas - their fanbase stays light years ahead of them in imagination.)


What is it with hard-core sci-fi fans and Asimov's Three Laws of Robotic Behavior? Why do they always speak of them as immutable laws of nature, like they are inherent in the very alloys the robots are made of? Is it not possible to program a robot to break all the laws? Do these people have no memory of Maximillian the awesome evil demon robot from Black Hole? He FLAGRANTLY broke all those laws! THAT EVIL ROBOT ROCKED!

And why all this query into the origin of Zion - in fact why all this query into the origins and symbolism of the ENTIRE STORY - and not one word spared for William Gibson's "Neuromancer?" Again I ask - is Matrix such a direct descendant of that book that it does not even bear repeating?

And as for his nuanced argument about why a robot takeover of the world would feed their human-batteries a virtual world. There is clearly only one reason for this: BECAUSE IT SETS UP THE POSSIBILITY FOR INCREDIBLE KUNG-FU WIRE WORK IN THE MATRIX. And nothing else!

*This will require the purchase of a hat first, but it would be worth it.

Posted by Chris on 10/22/03

Other things I will have no truck with

1. Using asterisks to indicate that you really *really* want to emphasize something.

Folks, we already have the ability to speak boldly, and the ability to speak from a certain slant. And if we're in pure plaintext mode, there's always the antiquated method of using all caps to indicate that you REALLY mean to emphasize something.

The advent of electronic communication like emails or web pages makes the HOW of human communication a lot different, but I maintain that it has not affected the WHAT. There's no call to draft the special characters into service as some sort of markup for your thoughts.

Similarly, people who do the faux HTML-markup of their text make me <DAFFY DUCK VOICE> SOOOOOOOOOOOOO </DAFFY DUCK VOICE> mad!

2. Any film criticism - or literary for that matter - that cannot resist using the phrases fin-de-seicle or zeitgeist deserves to be disregarded.

My feeling is, and this goes for number one on today's list of Things I'll Have No Truck With as well: If you call yourself a writer then you should be able to express yourself with the words of one language alone. Leave the special formatting to the publisher and leave the foreign phrases to the diplomats.

(Previous things I will have no truck with.)

Posted by Chris on 10/22/03

October 20, 2003

My response to the Movie Answer Man

I love Ebert's "Movie Answer Man" column. I had a further comment about something that was in the latest one, regarding the question about seeing the microphone in the frame. I sent this to him through his site, but in case he doesn't post it , I will:


Regarding your standard answer to the Question That Refuses To Go Away:

Yes, it would be nice if the projectionist would frame the movie properly, but laying the responsibility for microphones left in the frame solely on them seems a bit much. One of the cameraman's jobs is to watch for that on the set and give the boom operator their frame line. It would be just as easy for them to keep the mike out of the frame entirely as to keep it out of a "projection-safe" area.

I also can't believe that the likes of Janusz Kaminski, Haskell Wexler, Gordon Willis or Caleb Deschanel would leave something as jarring as a piece of equipment left in frame up to individual projectionists to mask out - or not - at the theatre. That's trusting quite a lot to someone who might be responsible for starting and focusing ten or more movies within 15 minutes of one another, and probably running down to the lobby to tear tickets as well.


All but that last paragraph.

Posted by Chris on 10/20/03

The Radio Shack Piece of Crap Proclamation

Here ye! Here ye! Henceforth let it be known, that the name "Radio Shack" shall take the place of "cheap piece of crap" when referring to some technical doo-dad!

For example, if you buy a little thingy that connects to your phone and then to your audio recorder so that you can record the funny phone messages your precious nephews and niece have left you, for all time, and although that should be a fairly simple thing it somehow does not work, then THAT DOO-DAD, my friend, shall be a "Radio Shack adaptor."

So have I blogged, so let it be done.

What's that? You mean people ALREADY use "Radio Shack" to denote cheap piece of crap? And that I was dumb to buy anything there anyway?

I declare this proclamation void and moot.

Posted by Chris on 10/20/03

The Meanest Bookstore in Chicago

I dropped by Myopic Books this weekend to sell some of my unwanted books, and was reminded of why I've only gone into this store three times in the three years I've lived in this neighborhood. Like Quimby's Comics a few blocks away, it's a place that would be nice to want to go to. But every so often I seem to need a reminder.

The last time I was in Myopic a year or so ago, I was wearing a sweatshirt with "Alabama" on the front. (It's where I grew up, and also where I went to college) When the man behind the counter saw it, he put on his best hillbilly accent and told me why Southern ladies were so stupid.

Even in "nice" used bookstores, I get the impression that I'm being done a big favor if they buy used books from me. But in Myopic you get the sense that they are only doing it - in fact they are only allowing you in their store - because they are being forced to by civic edict. This is a place that has had consistently shitty customer service over the times I've gone in, so consistent that I suspect it's a policy.

This is a place that has printed signs everywhere telling you the rules for doing business with them and also just for generally being in the store. DO NOT LEAVE BOOKS OUT, a sign that is repeated every other shelf or so goes, BOOKS THAT ARE LEFT OUT ARE RAISED $1 IN PRICE. DO NOT RIFLE THROUGH NEWSPAPERS UNLESS YOU PLAN TO TAKE ONE, says the sign by the Readers and the New Citys. DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE, it continues. There are also the books THAT MUST REMAIN BY THE COUNTER. WE WILL BE GLAD TO SHOW THEM TO YOU BUT THEY MUST REMAIN HERE. This is a bookstore where they want to keep their books in order by author and title on the shelf. I can understand the impulse, but... life (and shopping) is messy.

They have specific days that they are buying books, which makes sense, as that takes some time. But while I awaited my turn to have my bag o' books assessed, I heard one of the clerks (And these are not OLD people that have owned this store forever and have worked at all their lives and have built up decades of animosity for the sticky fingers of the looky-look, no buy, mis-lay the book customer, these are YOUNG, twenty year-olds that came complete with animosity, and do all their interfacing with society in a six block radius of this store, where the disgust with humanity radiates off the youth like summer heat off pavement) explain that they STOPPED looking at books to buy at six, so you'd better be on time, because if we're in the MIDDLE of looking at your books and it turns six, then we STOP.

Having put my name on the waiting list (and NO they can't tell you how long it will be) for book assessment, I left. I'd rather just drop these off at the Salvation Army then have to deal with the person who would probably turn out to be the owner, the one who had set the tone for all these people, peering over his desk at my unworthy cargo.

Myopic Books, on Milwaukee just south of North - training ground for the Angry Librarian Stereotype. Don't take my word for it - stop by and browse.

Posted by Chris on 10/20/03

October 16, 2003

A haiku

Apple Music Store
Inexplicably not there
How can I go on?

Posted by Chris on 10/16/03

October 15, 2003

Random Notes

Note to the man behind the counter at the Sultan's Market yesterday: Don't get pissed at me because I don't have seven cents. Listen to me carefully, and you may need to sit down first: You're going to have to occasionally handle the coins there in your cash register.

Note to telephone voice mail systems: I don't need you to tell me that I can speak after the beep, or that I am welcome to hang up when done. If there is a button to press for special options, that's good info, but otherwise, JUST BRING ON THE BEEP.

Note to that bump in the sidewalk that I tripped over outside: Humiliate ME, will you? I will use all my powers to see that you are destroyed.

Posted by Chris on 10/15/03

Our Rental of Mesopotamia

Nice article by Ron Reagan today:


Well written, witty, confirms my worldview. All the hallmarks. And I'd love to read an intelligent retort to it. One that does not include the sentence "All liberals think __________."

But then, I'd also love a car that could fly.

Posted by Chris on 10/15/03

October 14, 2003

A Blackguard in Hollywood

A new Blackguard play:


Posted by Chris on 10/14/03

Review: Kill Bill & Intolerable Cruelty


It was great to be out with all the fans this weekend. There was a palpable excitement in the air as we entered the theatre! Everyone was there to show their support for Tarantino and the Coens.

What can I say about "Kill Bill?" It was exciting, super-hip, fun. I want the screenplay, the t-shirt, the soundtrack, and the action figures. I'm going as one of the Crazy 88s for Halloween. My friends and I loved it so much that after we left the theatre we went and immediately turned a car over, and torched it. GO TARANTINO!

True, the Coens were a little off their game with "Intolerable Cruelty," but I say the Coens off their game are still stronger than others fully on theirs. George Clooney is now my favorite movie star, replacing Harrison Ford. We liked this, but not as much as "Kill Bill;" when we left the theatre, all we did was smash a few store windows and loot a bit. Still, GO COENS!

The experience as a whole was a bit dampened - or was it improved? - when one of the other movie goers taunted us, sparking a theatre-clearing brawl before the 9PM showing. You should have seen the pile-up in the lobby! It was great, but now I'm suspended from seeing movies for the rest of the month.

Posted by Chris on 10/14/03

October 13, 2003

Looping this weekend

It's usually called "ADR," which means Additional Dialogue Recording, which means that something went wrong with the sound recording during production, and you have to get the actors in to watch a scene again, and record them as they try to mimic the lines they gave on the set, exactly in sync to their lips. You show them short bits of the scene, and play them again and again in loops so that they can get into the rhythm.

Nothing feels more half-assed than my aglet-budget looping set-ups. Invariably it's the actor - usually Casey, although I one time forced two other actors to loop an entire scene in GERMAN, which amazingly was very successful - sitting on my couch, watching a videotape I've made with the loops, while I point the shotgun mic at them and videotape the television. I video the television because that makes it easier to match the sounds up to the original image in editing - I can sync up not just the sound with their lips, but the actual image.

Nothing feels more half-assed, and it's always more of a hassle than shooting the original scene, and I always FORGET that it's more of a hassle, but what's amazing to me is how it actually works. Oh, it's not up to Hollywood standards, where they perform alchemy on the sound in post-production. But it usually goes unnoticed in viewings. I don't believe the actors actually have to perfectly sync the sound, I think if they can get it 90% of the way there, I can scoot things around within the lines in editing, and people usually aren't looking for it anyway.

Of course, I have been described as an Ed Wood sort of filmmaker, so perhaps take this with a grain of salt.

I honestly don't know how hard it is for actors to do this. Usually it seems like they are daunted at first, but then they get it quickly. I think it has to do less with matching their sounds to their lips, and more with listening to the rhythm of the line and learning it almost like a piece of music.

I forget that every bit of recording I have to do for the movie after the fact is harder, even if it's just the tiniest insert. When I shoot, I get into a momentum, and trying to get that back and remember where you were, especially for something like dialogue, is hard.

(I also added this to the main page "production journal" - which is a pathetic attempt to capture the process, as my main page hasn't been updated for almost a year.)

Posted by Chris on 10/13/03

Yet Another Chicago International Film Festival...

... goes by, unseen by me.

Why am I unable to roust myself to go to even one of these movies? Or at least see a program of shorts? Why am I unable even to tune into a program of shorts on either of the two independent film channels I subscribe to? Why is it easier to take a week off work and spend over a thousand dollars to fly to Utah for a film festival, but I can't go to one in my own city? Why do I think spending $200 on a Tivo system to automatically capture these IFC / Sundance channel short programs will make me want to watch them more? Why did I buy the "Roshomon" DVD and never watch it? What sort of filmmaker am I that I don't go to more movie events?

I disgust me, and you should be disgusted too. Stop reading now.

If ever I write a biography of my film career, I believe I will refer to this as my "Galactic Battleground" period. I start up the game at least once every two days, knowing full well that I will not move for three hours. Because that is how long it takes me to chase down every enemy and not merely defeat them, but to smash their farms, their mines, their suburbs. And after the game it takes me a full twenty minutes to shake it off. Last night I actually created a sort of Guantanomo Bay holding area for enemy workers - they dared to hesitate behind a wall, so I had my workers wall them in, and then posted a guard set to NO ATTACK STANCE. Then I sent a special air force detachment to hunt down and destroy every ocean harvester.


Posted by Chris on 10/13/03

October 10, 2003



Posted by Chris on 10/10/03

Lying Liars and their Lies

I wondered why I was not being beaten in the pages of FattyFat and INYF for my blasphemy about Apple's "new" windows system.

And now they claim to me that they never knew that Windows had the ability to tile open windows. EVEN THOUGH IT WAS A STANDARD REFRAIN OF MINE FOR MANY YEARS.

Do you see what I have to contend with?

Posted by Chris on 10/10/03

October 9, 2003


FattyFat tells me my ongoing Joe Q. Lunchpail theories are divisive and unconstructive. I agree! They are. They are spoken out of frustration and anger. If I were ever going to speak to a group about politics, I'd put away the Joe Q. stuff, believe me. But until then, 70%.




Posted by Chris on 10/ 9/03


On Panther's "Exposé" system:

"...wouldn’t it be great if all you had to do was hit one hot key to snap all of that window chaos into order?

That’s exactly what Exposé does. Type the F9 key, and Exposé instantly tiles all of your open windows — scales them down and neatly arranges them, so you can see what’s in every single one."

I have only one thing to say: IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME.

What has been the hold up with this? Why have the Apple people, who have lead the interface parade in so many other ways, refused to offer this simple way to reorder Finder windows? Was it verboten because the PC people do it? I imagine the homes of the Apple founders, and wonder if they even refused to have tiles in their bathrooms.

It doesn't have to be revolutionary every time! If it works, cool!

Listen, I'm probably going to buy Panther the day after it comes out, but I'm not going to be drinking the Kool-Aid they hand out free with every purchase.

I'm also mildly amused that this "new" feature is so fancy that it gets its own cool Apple name: EXPOSE! IT'S MORE THAN JUST WINDOW DRESSING! IT'S NOT AT ALL LIKE THE THING YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO WITH WINDOWS SINCE 3.1, BECAUSE WE'VE GIVEN IT A COOL NAME!

Now someone go ahead and tell me that I could have accomplished this ALL ALONG by merely downloading a third-party utility. A POX ON YOUR THIRD-PARTY UTILITIES!

Posted by Chris on 10/ 9/03

October 8, 2003

Happy Sports Moment

What?!? I had a happy sports moment?!?

Sure I did: I wandered into the catering tent at the Sting concert last night, where they had dozens and dozens of monitors set up so that these folks could watch the concert without the bother of jostling for position near the stage. That is, they could stand 30 yards away from where the concert was going on live, so that they could drink beer and watch it on TV.

But they also had turned the Cubs game on a few of the monitors. So a lot of these people - who had by the way paid $300 a ticket to be there - could watch the game instead. Or perhaps, in addition to. And I wandered in just as __________ hit a home run. AND THE CROWD WENT WILD!


Well, I didn't go wild, but I definitely was caught up in the excitement, and had a momentary glimpse into the Glory of the Game. I mean, we're there in Grant Park, it's one of the best spots downtown, everybody is filled with City Pride, the skyscrapers have their windows done up to say CUBS, and adrenalin is high. So go Cubs!

Posted by Chris on 10/ 8/03

October 7, 2003

Salient Political Point

I'm tired of talking politics, because it seems no matter how many pearls of wisdom I dispense here, people still go out and defy My Will.

Still, here's something: My friends and those I constantly harangue with my theories will know that one thing I worry about most is the truth coming out about some of the unsavory things our administration has been up to - but coming out TOO SOON.

We have more than a year to go 'til the election - do you really think Joe Q. Lunchpail can retain facts for THAT LONG? Talk about yellow uranium cakes and sexed-up reports all you want right now, get everyone whipped up into a righteous froth this week, but all it will take is one ill-advised Democratic blowjob in July '04, and all that is undone.

Case in point: Remember the story about the Bin Ladens being spirited out of the country on 9/11, while all other aircraft were grounded? Remember how that was a big deal several weeks ago? So who's talking about it now?

Posted by Chris on 10/ 7/03

There is More to This Page...

... than you can see. What's up with having to reload this page every time in order to see the whole thing? And not just refresh - I have to go to another page and then come back for it to work.

Posted by Chris on 10/ 7/03


Everyone is on their own personal planet, in complicated orbits around their friends and family - and this last weekend I'd have to say my little world was just about as far out in its orbit as it ever gets. I was completely unable to connect to anyone else; all communication in and out was foreign and incomprehensible, as if I had some shield around me. The planet was icy and cold.

Perhaps it had something to do with the Cubs thing in Chicago; I am not a sports fan and whenever the fervor is high I always feel like a Stranger in a Strange Land. But that was a contributing factor at most, not the whole thing. Still not sure what was going on, but it was a strange and uncomfortable thing. Thank goodness for an understanding wife.

In other news, I saw a skywriter drawing a website address in the sky this weekend, and that was good to see. Do they refer to it as penmanship or planemanship? And if those letters were on the ground how big would they be?

Posted by Chris on 10/ 7/03

October 6, 2003

Today's Lateral Thinking Award...

goes to Dave Barry. Dave - you're my hero.

The Lateral Thinking Award recognizes those who find unexpected, creative and humorous solutions to problems facing us in the world today. Previous recipients include Al Franken for his handling of the Fox lawsuit.

Posted by Chris on 10/ 6/03

October 3, 2003

Terror on the 6 1/2th Floor

Gather round, friends, and hear a tale of terror.

Be warned - all that I shall relate is true. I do not hide behind some fevered fiction here; the events described herein actually transpired. And they have changed all of us who were there... forever.

After shooting last night, we all left Simon and Macy's place on the seventh floor and headed for the elevator. There were six of us going down at the same time. I made an offhand comment about how I didn't believe their passenger elevator was up to code. How those words would soon ring in my ears, with their bitter irony!

The freight elevator came first, and although it wasn't much bigger, we took it instead.

Rich pressed the button. Not that I am blaming him for somehow botching the job! I merely report it as it happened. I do not mean to convey any criticism of his action merely by including the detail that he pressed the button - perhaps a bit harder that I would have, and certainly too many times - and we descended.

But the journey was not long. We went down 1/2 floor - and then stopped.

And that, friends, is where we would remain for the next terrifying thirty minutes.

At first we laughed at our situation. We joked nervously, Casey taped it all, I took some pictures. We phoned Simon and Macy to no avail. We talked of happy times, our dreams for the future. We bonded as we had not bonded on the trip to Wisconsin the weekend before.

But as the night drew on, the jokes stopped. The coppery taste of panic was in our mouths. And friends, the cold, hard reality that we would probably all die there weighed down on us like a pendulum.

We checked and re-checked the weight allowance figure posted on the wall and secretly wondered which of us had tipped the scales towards malfunction. I didn't mention that I'd had more than my share of pizza that night, not to mention probably a pound of M&Ms and goldfish - blast those snacks! - but I'm sure the others knew; I saw their accusing glances.

Had I cursed us with my casual mention of "codes?" Had Casey, by bringing on that enormous, massive video camera? Why had Charissa not done the right thing and organized us into two separate parties, so the weight would not be concentrated in one ancient elevator? Why was John so lazy that he could not take the stairs occasionally?

Soon the spectre of starvation hung over the elevator like a shroud. There was only one thing to do. Friends, I tell you that elevator was like a tomb as we soberly chose which amongst us would give his life for the rest.

You can judge us now from your lofty peak up on the seventh floor. You can cluck your tongue and say "I'd never." You can point and say "Cannibals!" as I know so many of you will. But let me tell you down in the Hell that was the six 1/2 floor, we'd have gladly eaten one another if it meant two more seconds of life.

I dare not relate the discussions that went on down there. The voting, the campaigning for who would be the meal of the others. And I remind my fellow survivors of our agreement: What happens on the six 1/2 floor STAYS THERE. But I will say that the sight of Rich poking and prodding Casey, assessing him for fat and muscle like so much beef, will haunt me for the rest of my days.

In the end it was Brian who was so set upon John being the one. He'd been silent for a while, then he launched into a passionate comparison of "quality of life." I don't know why he was so strident in his opinion. Perhaps some ill word had passed between them before? But in any event, Brian swayed us. Gentle, kind John. So talented! So trustworthy! So succulent!

And then, practically as we fixed our napkins around our necks, the fire brigade broke through to us. Reality and sunlight poured through that door they wedged open with their axes and implements. But the group they yanked out of Freight Elevator 36572, that Freight Elevator that not even Poe could have imagined, was a different group from the one than went in. We'd looked death in the eye, and it had turned all of us - mostly Brian - into savages. Capable of... murder.

Now, in the bright light of a new day, our time down in that hell-shaft seems like a world away. But we cannot quite meet one another's eyes.

My apologies to Charissa for pestering her about "making love one last time" (both while we were trapped in the elevator and afterwards in front of the building) fall flat. My assurances to John that we would not have eaten him are met with a smile I don't quite believe. My insistence on confiscating the videotape from Casey is met with naught but silence. Rich watches the game, but without his usual zest for the sport. Brian eyes John through slitted eyes, as if merely biding his time for another opportunity.

Who were we down on the six 1/2 floor, friends? And what have we become?

Posted by Chris on 10/ 3/03

October 2, 2003

This is not a Switch ad, but...

I've run into a logjam on my XP machine at home, where I usually offload my digital pictures. I made a little VB script on that PC that renames and renumbers the pictures after I get rid of the bad ones. Then there's one that automatically creates an HTML thumbnail page of them. All that's required is bringing them over to the OS X Mac, running the Photoshop action that reduces them to thumbnail size (one for landscape, one for portrait) and optimizes them for web, then bringing them back to the PC, where I FTP them up to my website.

The problem lately is that XP PC is no longer talking to the OS X Mac. And it's not just being platformcentric, because it's also not talking to its little brother, the W2K laptop. And it's not letting me FTP from the browser, which I have in these very pages flaunted as one of my favorite favorite IE features. AND. When I bypass my router and plug it directly into the DSL modem (and enter the magic numbers into the network settings), it acts as if it is no longer connected.

Next steps? Download a separate FTP client and try that, for one. Endure a humiliating call to my DSL people to see if they know anything. Hook the laptop or Mac up to the modem by themselves to see if they get anything. Uninstall / reinstall all network services and protocols on XP. Everything is totally backed up from XP PC, so it could all be totally wiped down to start anew, if I wanted.

But in the meantime, I burned a CD of all my pictures and brought them to their new home: iPhoto. And right away iPhoto rendered both my Photoshop and VB script steps moot, as iPhoto has an export function that can either reduce / enlarge the images, or do that and also create a thumbnail page.

No FTP client, as I have bemoaned in these pages, but I went to fetch Fetch from the web, and probably will gladly shell out the $25 bucks for it when my grace period ends. AND. I also downloaded a freeware HTML editor called Taco that modified the thumbnail page just fine.

I don't like the way iPhoto stores the imported photos in its secretive UNIX folders, but that's a minor quibble. Bottom line, XP is fired from my digital photo storage business.

Also: Behold, my own picture, not harvested or stolen or culled from any other website. It's of the group of us who went up to Wisconsin this last weekend to shoot some "Goat Song" scenes. iPhoto isn't the best at reducing the photos and making them nice to the eye, as you see, but I suppose I could have made the dimensions larger as well.

Posted by Chris on 10/ 2/03