March 31, 2004

You're Far Too Dumb to Appreciate My Comics

After reading the interview with Dave Sim today in the AV club, I'm just dying to run out and buy these enormous graphic novels which feature his seminal anti-feminist writings. Something tells me I'll be able to find them at Quimby's.

Posted by Chris on 03/31/04

I bought Hellboy: Odd Jobs yesterday at Graham Crackers. It's book of short stories written by horror writers detailing various Hellboy adventures. No art at all, just stories. I think it's great. I'm also interested in finding Hellboy: The Lost Army which is a full length novel.

I need to see that movie. Stat.

Posted by: friend jessica at March 31, 2004 9:40 AM

March 30, 2004

Perimeter Breach

I'm all for anyone whose mission it is to embiggen penises everywhere, because who doesn't love that, but it bothered me when the "comments" section of this site briefly became a billboard for CIALIS! and V-I-A-G-R-A! this last weekend. So I installed MT-Blacklist, a third-party thingy that helps keep the Bigger Penis advocates at bay, and also deleted some of the Movable Type CGI thingies that I hear bad men take advantage of.

I then got a response from a friend to a spam email that I hadn't sent. A few replies later, we'd sorted out that apparently I'd been SPOOFED: a spammer was using my email address to appear "legitimate." I don't think there's anything I can do about it. My rep is forever damaged. But more importantly, this had been going on for ABOUT A MONTH, according to my friend. THANKS FOR TELLING ME, PAL.

PEOPLE! If you're getting tons of spam from MY EMAIL ADDRESS, FEEL FREE TO SING OUT! MAKE SOME NOISE! BRING IN DA FUNK! I need to know! Throw me a frickin' bone over here! I need the info!

You people are the same ones that let me walk around all day with my fly open, my collar unbuttoned, and toothpaste on my mouth. You bastards are laughing at me behind my back. I KNOW YOU ARE. No wonder you never respond to my emails - you've probably set up an Outlook Rule to delete them all.

On the other hand - HAVE you considered buying some generic C-I-A-L-I-S? I'd be glad to set you up with some.

CODA: Last night I came across the analog, real-world equivalent of the spammers I'd been trying to secure my site against. I walked by three men sitting on the sidewalk, busily rolling up menus for a Thai restaurant and putting rubber bands on them. To save them time, I took about 500 of their rubber bands and threw them on the sidewalk in a pile, then I grabbed about fifty of their menus and threw them on my front stoop. Later I'll transfer the menus to the foyer garbage can, and the circle of life will continue.
Posted by Chris on 03/30/04

March 29, 2004

Station Attendant Duties

I've been riding the CTA for 9 years, man and boy, and I STILL wonder what those people in the booths by the turnstiles do. They sure have fancy uniforms - they must be doing SOMETHING. Maybe running the trains by remote control? Here's what I imagine their job listing looked like:

  • Must be able to not be able to make change

  • Must be able to not be able to fix CTA ticket machines

  • Must be willing to not be willing to help people with bags over the turnstiles

  • Must be willing to enjoy personal reading materials at work

    Posted by Chris on 03/29/04

    This should answer all your questions ...

    Posted by: Little Person at March 30, 2004 5:21 PM
  • Note to the "Harry Potter" movie people

    I begged you to make all those movies at once, or at least a batch of them, like Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings. And now what's happened? Exactly what I said would: the kids have all started to be gangly and misshapen, and NOBODY likes looking at that.

    Posted by Chris on 03/29/04

    Scroll around livejournal sometime and be appalled. I threw up a little bit in my mouth when I encountered someone participating in a sexual count down to when the actor playing Ron Weazley was legal.

    Legal to have sexual intercourse with.

    Legal. Ron Weasley.

    People...get a hold of yourselves.

    Posted by: friend jessica at March 29, 2004 3:03 PM

    I spit my drink out of my mouth a little bit when I read this.

    Posted by: Chris at March 29, 2004 8:52 PM

    The books cover the "gangly" years of teenage life. I'm glad they have used the same kids and we see them grow up. It wouldn't make any sense to have an eleven year old play the role of Harry and his friends throughout a seven year school career. The example of LOTR just doesn't work here.

    Posted by: Danny at April 4, 2004 3:49 PM

    I'm still not sure Harry, Ron, and Hermione are really meant to be as gangly in "Prisoner" as the actors actually are now. And what about the next movie? And the next? If we don't get one Harry Potter movie per year, clearly reality will outpace the books.

    Posted by: Chris at April 5, 2004 9:13 AM

    Whirlyball, the Great Leveler

    A few thoughts about Whirlyball this weekend:

  • The game is as close as Muggles will every come to knowing how it feels to play Quidditch.

  • It is a great leveler between athletic people and non-athletic, and could be advertised as such. No matter how much you work out on a regular basis, I can ram you just as hard as you can me in my bumper car.

  • Idea for the Whirlyball company: Have you considered a blacklight version? Perhaps an accompanying laser show?

  • Kudos to Jessica Queen of Playlets for organizing, and thanks to Brian for having the birthday around which the event would be organized. And my apologies in advance to both of you for the pending lawsuit, as it was not adequately explained to me that I might experience bruising around the ribs, nor that I should not drink a lot first. Note to you for next time: waivers.

  • Idea for the Guide to Whirlyball Strategy FattyFat is thinking of writing: When you are coming up with a name for the position I ended up playing, that of the guy that mostly drives around a lot on the empty side of the court, occasionally ramming into other people but not really dealing with the "whirlyball" aspect of Whirlyball, I suggest Interferer or Harassment.

    Posted by Chris on 03/29/04


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    Posted by: webcam at March 3, 2005 8:43 AM
  • "Jersey Girl"

    I laughed at parts of this movie, and the little girl was almost über in her adorability. I mean this is the prototypical, utter, complete, Jungian archetype of Cute Little Girl; when philosophers conjecture about a Platonic Ideal of the Cute Little Girl, this is the one they are thinking about. That, plus the charm of Ben Affleck will be enough for a lot of people with this movie. But with every hour that has passed since I saw it, the movie has sunk lower and lower in my opinion, until now, three days later, I have come to the realization that it is just bad.

    So Kevin Smith wants us to know that he is a father now, and to prove it, here is his movie with a father and daughter and some Sad Scenes about the mother, so we will know he is a serious grown-up filmmaker.

    But he has added not one single skill to his bag of director tricks since "Clerks." Which is fine if you happen to be delighted with those tricks, and I admit I was - up until the opening frames of "Dogma," when Smith choose to fill several screens with his written Director's Statement, preparing us, I suppose, for his Big Blistering Assault on the Church. For some reason his monumental immaturity only struck me at that moment, and for the rest of that film I was just embarassed for all involved.

    Smith must have been absolutely mobbed by sycophants after the success of "Clerks," or maybe he had an unassaultable tower of an ego to start with. What else could explain how well he has managed to insulate himself from his own shortcomings and consistently not progress past them?

    The lengthy animated logo for his "View Askew" company says it all, as his beloved Jay and Silent Bob stumble over each other in a little bit of slapstick business that goes on perhaps five times too long. Is there anyone who finds these characters as clever as Smith himself? He is perfectly delighted with everything he thinks up - it is all just too cute for revision. Here is a filmmaker who thinks non-sequitor references to other films are a laudable goal by themselves, who cannot resist scribbling individual personal notes to cast members, God ("I am a fan of His, and apparently He is of me"), and the apparently vicious tabloids in his credits.

    What does it matter if you can repeat a shot from Citizen Kane, if it's in this movie and in support of nothing? Does he even know that he rips off a line and situation from "Kramer vs. Kramer" in one scene? Why does Ebert give him the benefit of the doubt for employing the tired cliches of Character Reconciliations Onstage During A School Play and the Lone Clapper at the end of his movie? Can we not all practically call out the music cues in advance for when he will fade up the Slow Bruce Springsteen Ballad over an emotional scene? Does anyone else read his interviews about how he had to "reign in" renowned cinematographer Vilmos ("Close Encounters," "Deer Hunter," "Heaven's Gate," for Christ's sake) Zsigmond and simply marvel at the arrogance? Why are newspapers asking him what he thinks about "The Passion," as if "Dogma" made him some sort of spokesperson for Catholicism?

    Smith obviously labors at having a distinctive style to his movies, and indeed his dialogue is smarter than most. But the problem with putting so much of your personality into a movie is that if you are relentlessly immature, then so are your movies. Affleck does more than a decent job in this, but he (as well as Jason Lee and Matt Damon) need to realize their debt to Kevin Smith is paid; they need to align themselves with only top scripts and top directors from here on out.

    Posted by Chris on 03/29/04

    "The Ladykillers"

    The Coen Bros. are my favorites, so it pains me to say that the trailer for this film had all the good parts. I chuckled throughout at Tom Hanks and the others, but this was still only a slight comedy, in the same way that "Intolerable Cruelty" was.

    I long for another "O Brother" or "Miller's Crossing," but in the same month that "Scooby Doo II" came out, let's reflect that only a slight Coen brothers movie is better than the best others have to offer.

    PEOPLE! This is why I insist on getting to the theatre early enough to see the trailers! Sometimes that is the best you will have of a movie!

    In fact I suggest that some filmmakers might JUST make the trailer to a film. If it's exciting enough, they can always go ahead with the whole thing.

    Posted by Chris on 03/29/04

    March 26, 2004

    Review: "Ring"

    Not the movie, but the science fiction novel from Stephen Baxter. I was in the mood for some "hard" sci-fi three weeks ago, and as penalty I've been lugging around Baxter's 500-page-plus treatise since then.

    The story would have all the makings of a great read, dealing with the last survivors of humanity going forward and backward millions of years in time in an alien spaceship because some strange force is eating all the stars in the universe. Except that Baxter is much more interested in talking about things like how a G-class star decays or how fast photinos fly or how many superstrings might have been around at the Big Bang than he is dealing with "characters."

    His characters don't so much interact as they do deliver long speeches at each other about event horizons and time-like travel and neutrinos and radiation and what might be going on deep inside the Sun. The book should have been called "The Lives of the Stars."

    To make matters worse, once he has set up a fabulous futuristic society made nearly immortal by an undescribed nanotechnology, he then plunges them into primitivism, so that we're left with people running around a jungle with names like Spinner-of-Rope and Catcher-of-Frogs. And then they're STILL talking about how the stars die.

    He also says the word "baryonic" about ten thousand times throughout the book, leading me to call for a temporary embargo of all such particles. Too bad, as I understand from about a hundred monologues in the book that those are the good sort.

    Here's someone who does this sort of long-term sci-fi thing much, much, much better: Robert Reed, in "Marrow."

    Posted by Chris on 03/26/04

    March 24, 2004

    Amicus Brief

    This story about the Pledge of Allegiance case being heard by the Supreme Court today has all the makings of a great Christopher Guest movie.

    It seems like more of the same liberal / conservative Spy vs. Spy game until you hear that the man filing the suit on behalf of his daughter doesn't actually have custody of her - his ex-wife does. AND the ex-wife is 1) very religious, 2) is opposed to the lawsuit, and 3) filed a "friend of the court" brief against it. Along with the Bush administration.

    But these parents, Newdow an atheist, and the mother and appropriately-named Sandra Banning a born-again Christian, have both carefully avoided disparaging one another (over the protest of the Bush administration, I imagine.) And Newdow requested Scalia recuse himself, and Scalia DID.

    But then before I can finish my Up With Newdow slogan, I learn that he is PERSONALLY arguing his case to the Supreme Court - ouch. He IS a lawyer, but... ouch. And on NPR this morning they played a CD of some of the humorous songs he's written and sung himself illustrating his case. Again I say: OUCH.

    Here we go again. Anyone could write the responses to this issue before they are made: the Christians will say their faith is under attack and this is another of the End-Signs that society is deteriorating. The liberals will say church vs. state is under attack and this is another sign that our leaders are moving this country towards a theocracy.

    People don't discuss things in this country, they just line up on a particular side of the fence and start throwing stones. Every day it's another episode of intellectual ragnarok, where you only win when everyone not exactly like you is utterly destroyed. It's exhausting.

    Here's my "friend of the court" brief: I'd like to see us be adult enough to tolerate other viewpoints once in a while. I think everyone should have to wait tables for a month, everyone should have to learn one magic trick that impresses kids, and everybody should have to learn that great, immortal phrase of the Dude which has the power to rise above all argument: "Well... that's... like... your OPINION, man."

    Newdow is in the right, but instead of running like a nancy to the Supreme Court for Rehnquist to make it all better, he could be teaching his daughter a skill which is becoming more and more valuable in our brave new world: tolerance of the people who believe in Invisible Men in the Sky.

    On the other side, it would also be nice for the crowd singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" on the Capitol steps to get some perspective. Maybe announcing that the entire religion is under seige every time someone slightly begs to differ isn't the best idea. Isn't declaring your Christianity basically required if you're to hold office in this country? Don't we already put religion in government all the time? Aren't we fighting terrorists that came out of places where religion and government were the same thing? The irony meter actually explodes.

    Posted by Chris on 03/24/04

    Dear Baron Von Incrementalist,

    It is political "theories" like yours that are destroying the very moral fabric of our country! Yes, and Hitler only wanted a leee-tle bit of vacation property for the Mrs. Shame, flabby llama, shame! You're corrupting the world one inconsequential decision at a time! What would Fatty Fat Fat Think? (WWFFFT?) Or better still, What Thinks Fatty? (WTF?)

    Posted by: Jimmy Crack Corn at March 26, 2004 12:25 PM

    Here's my biased partisian opinion. I'm the Anti-Paul or the new improved Saul according to your reading of the New Testament. No quarter for the God stuff in government. Freedom of Religion begins with freedom from it in the public space. Religion is faith based. At its hard dark center, there's underpining of rational knowledge, just faith based belief. And belief can't be stopped unless the belief itself is disowned by its holder. This stuff it's going to stop. One rock with the ten commandments today, then five years from now the state attorney general is going to have to turn around five times and recite the Lords Prayer before he enters his office. He'll have to do that to show he cares about our "moral and spiritual decline." Shouldn't these people be shaking down their children's bedrooms for roaches and not spending their time chained to a rock in front of a courthouse? To sum up then: On the Invisible Guy in the sky in Governement thing? No quarter! Not an inch. And speaking of the quarter, if they won't shut up about religion, we'll threaten to change the motto and erase His name, or replace it with a collection of randomly imoral nouns. The Georgia Quarter will say "In Sodomy We Trust", Michigan's "In CrackWhores."

    So, anybody want to take a crack at witnessing to me or converting me over to your team? It'd be a challenge.

    Posted by: FattyFat at March 26, 2004 12:38 PM

    This is the sort of thing that gives progressives a bad name. Tolerance should work both ways and any reasonable person understands in the course of life he/she will encounter disagreeable beliefs and ideas.

    Newdow should be teaching his daughter to tolerate the beliefs of others not fight them. Instead his actions reveal an agenda no better than any fundamentalists: the absence of opposing ideas and beliefs.

    I don't believe in talking animals but I wouldn't take the education department to court to have them stop teaching Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh to kindergarten.

    Has anyone asked his daughter what she thinks? If she wants to say the pledge, fine. If not, don't make her. It seems to me it's her choice.

    I first heard about this case in the summer of 2002 and find it disturbing that such a divisive argument appears now, in an election year. The real loser in this argument is a much needed and honest political debate. We have a terrible economy, the largest job-loss since Hoover, reckless spending and deficits, weakened environmental protection, tax-cuts for those without need, unconstitutional and intrusive security measures, a "war on terror" that stalled when we invaded and occupied a country that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, a government weak on corporate stock market crime, an administration that draws strength from and desires our fear, womens' reproductive choices under attack, terrible foreign policy that's brought weakened relations with our allies and a president who cracks jokes for the press about not finding the WMDs he sent 570 Americans (and 10,000 "newly liberated" Iraqis) to their deaths to find.

    Instead the debate is becoming the Jerry Springer Show: outrage over a flash of celebrity tit on TV, bigots versus gay marriage and some guy who doesn't want his daughter to hear about something he doesn't believe in.

    These trivial issues are meant to divide and distract us from the real issues. This argument is not helpful now and Mr. Newdow, along with Ralph Nader, should step back off the stage and wait for a more opportune time instead of playing into GOP divide and conquer strategy. Cripes.

    Posted by: Isaac at March 26, 2004 4:14 PM

    "...and I hate your ass face!"
    -- Christopher Guest

    Posted by: Pete at March 29, 2004 10:50 AM

    A Flabby Llama

    I continue to receive coded wisdom from the likes of Particular D. Damnably, Nonchalance A. Corner, and Mutiny F. Fangs in email. Their knowledge comes camoflauged as spam, presumably to weed out the casual reader and those that are not "ready" to hear such things. The spam can be categorized in a few broad themes:

    1. A device exists which can duplicate any DVD, CD, or video game. A related theme: You can receive unreleased movies and music.

    2. Contrary to your own experience, college girls are absolutely wild about oral sex.

    3. Your debt can be consolidated / reduced in a Christian manner.

    4. Apparently girls on the farm have lost all control.

    5. Your penis can be enlarged using any variety of methods.

    But once you get past the smokescreen of solicitation, there are smatterings of brilliance and art that must be shared:

    Pterodactyls U. Witching says "When you're riding, only the race in which you're riding is important."

    Boutonni T. Blankness says "When the house burns one forgets even lunch." Later in the email he responds to himself with "Yes, but one eats it later in the ashes."

    Loophole V. Dandy, who I picture as wearing a tweed suit with a red bowtie while addressing a jury in a Mississippi courtroom, says "Death has but one terror, that it has no tomorrow."

    Sensibilities L. Snuff said "There is never jealousy where there is not strong regard," then tried to sell me Discount Cigarettes.

    Correctional M. Solicitors said "A good friend is my nearest relation."

    Besides these general proverbs, there was also wisdom specifically about... the ladies.

    Hampshire S. Cunningest says that "If you think that all big-busted chicks have got silicone in their boobs, you are wrong."

    Vaporizes R. Rationalizing says "Small-breasted women just comfort themselves saying that men do not pay attention to the size of the bust. But they do!"

    Deficient D. Phoenix maintains that "No man will say that big boobs are not cool."

    From Kandinsky L. Softwoods: "There’s one thing hot cuties are proud of most – it’s their bazongas."

    Lettuces R. Ancientest: "One can always spot an ignored housewife by the lonely looks she casts."

    Irvin K. Populous believes that "Poor women in their prime have to suppress their strong sexual appetite."

    Words to live by. Other random proclamations:

    You are totally anonymous!

    Leave no whore unsatisfied!

    Delete yourself from the list!

    Get yourself from the database!

    And not all the emails were from names like Stunt F. Adulteries, Lashed V. Archaically, and Deployment E. Adelaide, which are clearly robots that have tried to name themselves inconspicuously. There were also messages from Charlie Salata, Johnnie Shelmon, Ula Kirt, and Ceola Cuebas. I repeat my assertion: the A.I. is getting smarter.

    And to close, some Suspensory Cyclopentane Porn Poetry, from author Quest M. Vortices.

    Who among us cannot relate to his image of the Human as "heap?" Who amongst us does not identify with the flabby llama? And Quest's final, searing line, exhorting us not only to enlarge the cup but to make the gangster, will surely be compared in literature to lines such as "seize the day" or "rage against the dying of the light."

    ENLARGE THE CUP by Quest M. Vortices

    Something to think about: And what is a heap, but a flabby llama?
    Lives slowly, allegedly, like answers living, undeniably
    Lamps like heaps prove messily to shadow, quoting
    Lofty as of mauve rot as nectars.

    In queens, the car will undo, uncover not
    Kill violins with no near stain. In cases, the season will conduct, hit not
    Scary as of hot say as shames.
    Hangers like cars demonstrate succulently but quietly.
    Displays messily, unexpectedly, like pants conducting, vocally

    In years, the plan will destroy, break not
    Speculated by mice, says the ham to spark.
    And powders demonstrate, yelling by penetrating unfortunately yet doubly,
    Thin nostril as a cheese proves about the marbled rug,
    And shames speak, hitting by reconciling darkly yet pleasantly,
    Enlarge the cup! Make the gangster!

    More Squarsonry here.

    Posted by Chris on 03/24/04

    March 23, 2004

    One Debt to Bind Them

    I paid off a credit card last week, which was a cause for much celebration. It is a card that has plagued me for some time, with its merciless 22% interest and brutal finance charges. I got it way down, then it crawled back up as I used it for those "occasional" purchases, then I got it down again, then I used it for Sundance so it went way up again.

    It has been an epic struggle between myself and this card, but now its defeat is at hand! Or... is it?

    So I made the final, painfully large payment last week - large enough that I'd have to watch myself very carefully until the next paycheck comes in - and was prepared to call Capital One and do my long-awaited Sydney Greenstreet routine, or maybe Khan, or maybe Blofeld. I've fantasized about this routine, this little scene that would play out over the phone, where I toy with them for a while, make a ridiculous offer they won't meet, then lower the boom and CANCEL!

    CREDIT CARD CUSTOMER SERVICE: How may I help you, sir?

    ME: (In my Sydney Greenstreet from "Maltese Falcon" voice) Well, well. So we find our positions somewhat... reversed, wouldn't you say. Hmm hmm. Heh heh. HEH! HEH!

    CREDIT CARD CUSTOMER SERVICE: I see you've recently paid down your balance quite a bit. Would you be interested in hearing about some of our other offers, where-

    ME: Oh, I don't believe that will be... NECESSARY. Hrmm. Haa. HA HA! HA!


    ME: (stroking an imaginary white cat) Yes. I believe the time has come to... shall we say... SEVER... our relationship. Yes, yes, ha ha! "Sever" is the right word for it, don't you agree. Yes, yes.

    CREDIT CARD CUSTOMER SERVICE: Um... seeing as how you've maintained such a good payment schedule with us, we're prepared to increase your limit at this time.

    ME: Yes, yes. I'm SURE YOU ARE. Hrmm. Haa. HA HA! HA! Wouldn't that be nice. Hrmm. Like a drowning man offering his life preserver to the man in the dingy? Hmm? HMMM? What generosity! What human kindness! HA! HA!

    CREDIT CARD CUSTOMER SERVICE: Sir? You're not saying that...

    ME: (Suddenly bored with Sydney Greenstreet, now I'm going to do Khan) Oh, I think you'll find that... I never forget an interest rate. I never forget... THOSE THAT WOULD STRIKE ME WHEN I AM DOWN!

    CREDIT CARD CUSTOMER SERVICE: Please. Sir. I was only doing my duty.

    ME: (utterly enraged) INDEED! AS! AM! I! (Suddenly calm again, regarding my enemy dispassionately) You have two choices.

    CREDIT CARD CUSTOMER SERVICE: Yes! Anything! Tell me!

    ME: You will lower my interest rate... to FIVE PERCENT! Or...


    ME: (my Cuban accent thickening as I grow to anger again) OR YOU WILL CANCEL THE CARD COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY!




    Of course, I realize that they literally could not care less if I'm cancelling. But, the fantasy kept me going.

    So we celebrated the demise of the card... but it's a week later and I find I haven't yet made that call to cancel it. I have waited and worked for this moment for months and months and months. Now the card is at 0. It's paid off. "So why not hang on to it?" a little voice asks. "In case something comes up?"

    I hesitate - I listen.

    "Taxes are coming up, and those are expensive. The movie premiere is coming up, that's expensive. And what about that Powerbook you want. No, strike that - that Powerbook you NEED?" Suddenly I'm Bilbo Baggins about to give up the Ring to Frodo, and Gandalf has to remind him that he never actually took it out of his pocket. I find it hard to let go of the card, and not just because of all the things I could be buying. What will I do with my money each month, if not give it to Capital One?

    Have I developed Stockholm Syndrome with the card? Have I become permanently domesticated by my Debt-Master?

    Posted by Chris on 03/23/04

    Buttttt the bankes onesies, it LOVES us!
    Here here. I listened to This American Life last year running an episode about debt and I became hooked on Dave Ramsey, a Christian debt advisor. He thinks credit cards are the work of the dark one and quotes proverbs: "And lo, the borrow is a servant to the lender.." He believes there's no good reason for a credit card for anything. He gives excellent advice, has a great debt program and is a compelling speaker. However, in weak moments with my credit card, it's easy to dismiss the man because he believes a 2000 year old dead person somewhere in the sky is helping him with his 1040. But if you want to borrow the tapes...

    Posted by: Gollumm at March 23, 2004 2:05 PM

    Avoid the Biggest FICO Blunder:
    Do not close down your credit cards. So many of you call into my TV show and tell me how proud you are that as you are paying off the balances on your credit cards you are also closing down some accounts so you will have just one credit card ...

    Posted by: Suze Orman at March 24, 2004 7:59 AM

    And it was written, "When the Dark One shall cometh to you, it shall not be as a Scaly, Foul-Breathed Thing with many spiny points on its Forked Tail, but as an attractive, well considered Debt-Counselor, who shall use her Wiles upon ye."

    Posted by: Chris at March 24, 2004 2:36 PM

    online poker

    Posted by: online poker at December 17, 2004 6:46 AM

    March 22, 2004

    Welcome to Sedna

    There may be another planet in the solar system? How cool! Unless this is just more re-districting and gerry-mandering by those tax-happy NASA bastards.

    It's called Sedna? Weird name, but better than its neighbor "Quaoar," I suppose.

    I've chosen not to make this URL an automatic link. Why? Because sometimes... you have to work for it.

    You're not going to copy and paste a URL even to see a new planet? Shiftless. Lazy. SHIFTLESS, LAZY BUMS. THE LOT OF YOU.

    And how disappointing it must be for Sedna to be barely discovered before there's the controversy over whether it ranks as a planet or not. Regardless, to all Sednaans I say welcome to the solar system. Your first task: sort through all the controversy around yourself, Pluto, and the rest of you iceball planets and come up with another acronym for me to remember all the names, since by being discovered you have even further invalidated the "My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas" one.

    I'm amused at the artist' rendering of Sedna, which is about as detailed as the one police artist sketch of a quasi-latino guy I see up in my neighborhood all the time. Apparently this same guy has been terrorizing the Ukrainian Village / Wicker Park area for some thirty years. That fiend! That cunning mastermind!

    Posted by Chris on 03/22/04

    Review: "Dawn of the Dead"

    Great matinee fun, and it had secret girlfriend Sara Polley in it - what more could I want? Yes, yes, Romero's original had more social commentary (Zombies in a mall! Get it? ZOMBIES IN A MALL!), but so what.

    On the zombie movie scale, this doesn't make it as far as Danny Boyle's brilliant recent flick "28 Days Later," and it never quite shocked the hell out of me the way at least one shot of Romero's did, but it's still a lot of fun. If you love this horror sub-genre, then you should see it, but if you're one of those, you probably already have.

    Also, I saw two trailers that worked me into a frenzy: "Van Helsing," and "Around the World in 80 Days" with Steve ("24-Hour Party People") Coogan.

    Posted by Chris on 03/22/04

    The movie succeeded for me because it amply used the leitmotifs of a) zombies running around, while on fire and b) a montage in which people with no welding experience suddenly weld together metal and turn a minivan into a tank. Random acts of welding! Zombies running around, while on fire!

    I miss slow, shambling zombies.
    I miss awkwardly constructed social commentary - though this movie did have some of that going for it.

    I encourage you to check out to see how well you might fare in a zombie attack.

    Posted by: Jennifer at March 23, 2004 10:02 AM

    Review: "Eternal Sunshine..."

    Push your way past the curtain of universal praise for Charlie Kaufman that surrounds this film, if that kind of thing turns you off - because this is a movie you should see. It's original and good, and we're still talking about the characters in it a few days later.

    And it is the characters we're talking about, not the fantasy elements of the story, or the clever construction of the plot. The story tells us that there's a company that erases painful memories for people, and then it has already moved passed that into what that means for its characters - not how it might work.

    It doesn't fetishize that sci-fi idea with shiny props and redundant exposition for a whole reel. There's never a scene where we see Jim Carrey suddenly realize "You mean... I'M INSIDE MY OWN MEMORIES?!?" to bring the slower members of the audience up to speed.

    Similarly, though much has been made about the timeline of the film - starting at the end, then looping back on itself, and at what points is the main character "inside his head" reliving a memory (as it's being deleted by the memory-deletion techs) or actually experiencing something - the point of it all is not to decode some puzzle or make your way through a labyrinth. Everything is in the service of the love story, which is interesting because it's a story that we can all recognize and have probably lived - not just the standard series of boy meets girl, boy loves girl, girl rejects boy, boy tries something zany to get back together with her, etc. peaks and valleys.

    It is interesting that this movie is around at the same time that I'm debating once again the merits of the mind-scarring "Irreversible" with some friends. It's still beyond me why that film is given the time of day. And here again, like "Memento," is an example of a film that actually uses non-linear chrononology in the service of something - the theme of memory - instead of just a way to distract from the fact that there's little to the film except shock value.

    P.S. I thought I remembered that "Lacuna" was a part of the brain, but I was wrong: \La*cu"na\, n.; pl. L. {Lacun[ae]}; E. {Lacunas}. [L., ditch, pit, lake, orig., anything hollow. See {Lagoon}.] 1. A small opening; a small pit or depression; a small blank space; a gap or vacancy; a hiatus.
    Posted by Chris on 03/22/04

    March 19, 2004

    Note to Greeting Card Companies

    Unless you are confident that the rhymes and puns of your writers cover every possible conceivable message and tone that your customer base might wish to express, perhaps you should include a few cards on the rack that are JUST BLANK, WITH ATTRACTIVE YET NEUTRAL ARTWORK.

    Posted by Chris on 03/19/04

    Unwarranted Attack #76

    Fattyfat makes such a regular practice of launching unwarranted attacks on my character that I am thinking of creating a special category for my rebuttals to him.

    Very well, time to crank up the Common Sense Machine, since his is on the blink again. He should really get that thing checked out.

    One year ago as we marched through town to protest the war (we went on two marches together, although the Lakeshore Drive one was a bit accidental on my part, and we also attended a Rally of Mostly High School Idiots at the courtyard by the post office), I naively wondered aloud to him if it was really fair to the average Chicagoan that we were tying up their traffic with our protests and making it hard for them to do business.

    Weren't there official channels you could go through to register your displeasure, without making things so inconvenient for people? I wondered. Like voting, for instance? Or strongly-worded letters to your representatives? Weren't we being, well, sort of rude?

    And Fattyfat patiently explained to me that disrupting things was the point. The idea behind snarling up traffic and creating a big noisy show and making things difficult for a few hours in general is, if you are at the point where the powers that be are looking on you only as a meaningless "focus group," if the president is on record as not caring what you think, then disrupting things is the only way to get your point across.

    Yes, you're a headache for the guy just trying to shop downtown, and the cops, and the mayor who resolved AGAINST the war for God's sake, but they aren't the ones this is for - this protest is meant to get the attention of our national leaders.

    So what has changed between now and a year ago?

    The war is now "over," but you wouldn't know it to watch the news. The administration continues to act with disregard for the facts, issues, and the opinion of its citizens and its international neighbors. The even messier and more complex business of post-war Iraq looms over us, and do our leaders show any sign that they are suddenly ready to act with more responsibility than they have with any other political situation? Will bin Laden not be paraded in short order through the streets of D.C., to the deafening yee-haws of John Q.?

    What's changed, anyway, that would mean protests should suddenly be held in a manner more convenient to the city?

    Oh, wait - I know what's changed. Fattyfat WORKS with the city now.

    Posted by Chris on 03/19/04

    What I mentioned before, is that the post war situation is complex, and those that protested last year were in agreement that the war was a bad idea. While everyone agrees on that point, there are a number of issues going forward that we don't agree on as a group except the current sitting president should go.

    The idea that because I've volunteered to REGISTER PEOPLE TO VOTE and campaign to BRING PEOPLE TO THE PRIMARY and working with one of the few standing DEMOCRATIC ORGANISATIONS LEFT in the country, somehow makes my argument that we should cooperate in an election year rather than grandstand our anger in a city where the citizens and the city are in agreement, null and void.

    So, Handeye Hoffman, where will you be then, tomorrow morning? Shouldn't you be leading the revolution, if you think it's such a good idea?
    I have to go now and put a tie on so that I may better shill for the man.

    Posted by: Tom Hayden at March 19, 2004 3:56 PM


    Hater-of-Freedom, Non-Supporter-of-the-Troops, Mr. Un-American Paul Krugman sees it this way:

    We're through the looking glass, people. Up is down. Black is white. Night? It's day.

    Addendum: From the Times Editorial page today:

    Polls show that a plurality of Americans say it was worth a war simply to remove a vicious dictator — an argument that Mr. Bush offered after it became obvious that his original justifications for the war were vaporous.

    Democrats would do well to remember this as they - OK, we - keep hammering on what seem like the big, blatant, obvious flaws in the administration's arguments: JOE Q. DOESN'T CARE. Joe Q. is satisfied. Other ideas will be needed to sway Joe Q., and they may not necessarily be the ones that are actually important.

    Which brings me to another point, which I will refer to in my

    Second Addendum: Every election you hear the pundits go on and on about how this is THE MOST negative campaign they've sever seen in American politics, no, in INTERNATIONAL politics, no, in ALL POLITICS FOR ALL TIME! How tiresome this is.

    OF COURSE politicians use negative campaigns - it's because they work! They always do! Joe Q. responds to it! The issues don't matter, it only matters that one candidate gives Joe Q. a warm feeling in his tummy, and the other guy makes him sick. The Democrats need to stop working so hard on Joe Q.'s brain and start working on his tummy.

    Posted by Chris on 03/19/04

    besides working, negative advertising is also inevitable because candidates (sometimes) actually take their campaigns and positions personally.

    to wit: the recent negative direction taken by the handeye vs fattyfat anit-war campaign.

    sigh. can't we all just get along?

    Posted by: Jack Klugman at March 20, 2004 8:23 AM

    All-Time Box Office

    Interesting site:

    Box office records are the least interesting sort of movie-talk to me. For some reason when people started talking about "Home Alone" being on this sort of list I started to regard it the way Chicago Reader critic Johnathan Rosenbaum regards human joy: Bah, humbug.

    I suppose one of the advantages of having different filters and interpretations of box office returns is that you then have lots of different box office records that producers can claim their films have broken.

    Posted by Chris on 03/19/04

    Box office totals do provide a good measuring stick for the unimaginative (competitive) to judge the worth of a film. For instance, Independence Day was a good film and The Seven Samurai, by comparison, was not.

    Box office totals also provide a good warning for those of us really interested in film. If, during the course of conversation with another "afficionado", box office totals are brought up we know to discontinue the conversation, possibly the acquaintanceship.

    Posted by: Isaac at March 19, 2004 12:00 PM


    I agree with what you're saying. Thanks for sharing the info with us.

    Posted by: webcam at March 3, 2005 1:13 AM

    March 18, 2004

    Candidates for Automation

    A day will come, my friends, when robots will be developed that can run an airline with quality and efficiency. And on that day you will hear much wailing and gnashing of teeth from human airline employees.

    "It's not fair!" they'll say. "We depend on these jobs! It's WRONG to lay us off and replace us with machines!"

    "DOWN WITH ROBOTS," they'll chant outside the airport.

    And on that day, friends, my sympathy will not be with my fellow humans as you might expect.

    I will walk through their picket lines, trailing my luggage which will not be lost, not carrying a ticket because I can be identified by retina or DNA or fingerprint or something, not worried that I won't fly today because the flight has not been "oversold," and stride confidently through security without stopping, because their scans are that fast.

    And I will be happy. Because those whining people outside had their chance to run an airline, and consistently showed that they were not up to the task:

    Posted by Chris on 03/18/04

    March 17, 2004

    On where we will eat, and when

    Deciding where you will go to eat and when: is there any more painful negotiation we go through on a regular basis? Here are the people who make this especially tiresome:

    1. If you are negotiating this via email, there are the People Who Don't Reply To All. Everyone is copying everyone else involved, the negotiation goes into two or three rounds, and there's the one person that replies to YOU ONLY. You then become that person's de facto assistant as they kick back and let you take on the task of presenting their opinion to the group, and also inevitably explaining to the rest of the group what this person's restaurant criteria are today. Imagine standing in a group, but there's one guy who will only whisper things in YOUR ear. Maddening.

    2. People who insist someone else be the first to suggest a place and time. After which they reject what you offered and come forth with what they think would be a better place and time.

    3. People - and unfortunately I fall into this category - who only have tolerance for about, say, two rounds of this negotiation. After which, they are content to scrap the whole thing and eat somewhere alone. These are the people that can often be heard chiming in that there's nothing saying we have to find the ultimate, perfect, optimum place. "Less than perfect" will sometimes do.

    4. People who are actually a bit offended when you suggest you go somewhere new.

    Posted by Chris on 03/17/04

    Guilty to number one. I thought Handeye liked being my assistant. He always picked up my laundry on time and picked out nice teddys for my mistress. He's not so good on the car washing though, he leaves streaks.

    Posted by: Mr. No Reply At All at March 17, 2004 9:35 PM

    Confessions of an Undervoter

    I was intimidated by the polling officials yesterday. They didn't do it deliberately, I'm sure, but whenever I have to stand in line to have some unsmiling person flip through a big thick book to find my name, I get nervous. Do I belong here? Will I be found out? Am I allowed to bring this bag in here? Do they know what I said about Bush? Does it have what I said about Bush in that big book, IS THAT WHY SHE'S TAKING SO LONG? Will there be a big black mark by my name in the Book like my Sunday School teacher said there would, because I was so BAD, and now I'm going to be Left Behind?

    Plus there's the fact that I didn't "study" very hard for the local elections, so then there's test anxiety as well.

    Other thoughts and admissions:

  • That butterfly ballot thing - is it really a marvel of inefficiency or does it just get bad press? If a butterfly ballot flaps its wings in Chicago, can it really create a hurricane in Washington D.C.?

  • I feel inadequate when told by the official that I "undervoted." Did he sort of shake his head in disappointment when he told me that?

  • I felt the people outside the polling place handing out the sample ballots were a little too close. Since the Big Rule with them is having to be a certain amount of yards away, why can't we mark that off with chalk?

  • "Sample Ballots" would make a good band name. They could sing songs of patriotism!

  • I was disappointed not to be "exit polled" upon leaving.

  • I turned to FattyFat, or as I know him, Mr. Electoral College, to explain why there were "Republican" booths and then "Democrat" booths, and only realized how obvious the answer was AFTER the question was through the phone, where it could be used by FattyFat, or as I know him, Mr. Gerry Mander, to further humiliate me.

    Posted by Chris on 03/17/04

    The answer was "Because the ballots are different because they are different parties" and he said, "Yeah, but why are there different booths?" and then we looped that Q&A over in three identical cycles until he said "Oh. Wait."

    As far as chalk lines, we actually used blue cones that seem to be invisible to handeye's handeye. And the poll workers measured from the door to the sidewalk with visible 100 ft lengths of string.

    Posted by: Gerry Mander at March 17, 2004 4:36 PM

    Don't you have some dead people to register?


    Posted by: Chris at March 17, 2004 4:49 PM

    My polling place had 3 democratic booths (use on of the 2 on the left, hon) and 2 republican. And they say the republican party has written off Illinois.

    Also it's in a Funeral Parlor. I don't know what to make of that.

    Posted by: John at March 17, 2004 6:02 PM

    Notice how Michael is parading around his knowledge not that he works for the Machine.

    Posted by: The Machine is Dead at March 17, 2004 6:04 PM

    I only parade on St. Patrick's day, and youse just lost your garbage pickup.

    Posted by: The City That Works at March 17, 2004 9:32 PM

    I actually got this reaction from a 60+-year-old voting official: "Voting Democrat? Yessssss. (*Arm and fist pump*) We may win this thing yet!"

    Win this thing? It's a mother-fathin' primary, fer krissake.

    And, actually, I'd prefer "Simple Ballots" for the band. No, "Chad and the Simple Ballots".

    Posted by: Pete at March 18, 2004 4:51 PM
  • This changes everything

    From CNN:

    "Alexis Stewart, daughter of lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, said she fainted when the guilty verdict was announced in her mother's obstruction of justice trial, and said she thinks it would be wrong for her mother to go to prison.

    'I actually fainted. Nobody really knows that, but it was so horrifying and incomprehensible that I fainted,' Alexis Stewart told CNN's Larry King in an interview to air Wednesday."

    Whoa. You're telling me that Martha Stewart's daughter thinks that prison would be wrong for her mother?

    And that she fainted when she heard the verdict?


    Ladies and gentlemen, it seems clear to me that with this new evidence, we really have no choice but to recommend Martha be fined only, or sentenced to "time served." Because there's no WAY she should be sent to jail now!

    Because her daughter thinks it's wrong! Because it was so horrifying and incomprehensible, she fainted!

    Posted by Chris on 03/17/04

    In defense of Martha...

    They wanted someone to make an example of and they chose a high profile woman rather than a Ken Lay or a George Bush Jr. She was found guilty of lying to investigators, not insider trading which couldn't be proven.

    She is however guilty of promoting kipple and clutter and being an inspiration to soulless and bored housewives who want their homes to look a little more like Bennigans. I don't think this is worth a prison term though.

    Posted by: Isaac at March 18, 2004 8:27 AM

    She's also guilty ... of making a DELIGHTFULLY SCRUMPTIOUS Rutabaga Shepherd's Pie that is absolutely to die for!

    Posted by: Pete at March 18, 2004 5:04 PM

    March 16, 2004

    Review: "Spartan"

    Put aside your fear of David Mamet and your tongue-clucking over his stylized use of language, for this is a top-notch, tense, twisty-plotted exciting thriller with liberal use of the violence that you kids love so much in movies these days. As I left the theatre I was just BEGGING some street tough to try to pull some of his shenanigans for I would have SWIFTLY and PROFESSIONALLY battered him into unconsciousness, much as one Mr. Valerie J. Kilmer did in the film to so many thugs who were not acting in the manner that he'd have liked them to.

    Yes, there are characters not so much using the Normal Talk which is so prized by some drama fans, but in THIS movie, unlike, say, in "Oleanna," where it made you only want to slap, Slap, SLAP, SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! the people, DAMNED be their arcs and DAMNED be their motivations, just TALK!!!! RIGHT!!!! HERE, it serves the notion that you are listening to professionals speak to one another in the shorthand and almost coded parlance of their trade.

    I recommend this movie to all those who enjoy movies. And I can only wonder what conflict my friend Jessica must be in, who is a Known Eye-Roller at Mamet, but then let me inform her that the movie concerns a white slavery ring. A white. Slavery. Ring.

    Posted by Chris on 03/16/04

    Sold me.

    I want to put in a plug for Lana's Rain - local filmmaker, set in Chicago. Some overly-lurid POV tricks and an overly-sappy romance, but still, a solid, gritty-feeling movie that focused on characters and story. Great acting by the lead.

    Posted by: Jennifer at March 17, 2004 10:34 AM

    Review: "Secret Window"

    I didn't remember this Stephen King story, and now that I have seen the movie I remember why: he covered the same territory in a much more interesting way in "The Dark Half." (Oops! That's a bit of a spoiler, sorry.) This one is a little bit obvious. Maybe it was a dry run for "Dark Half?"

    (Don't write in pointing out that one was written before the other or something - I'm not that interested.)

    I like John Torturro, but he was a weird choice for this role. His turn as the shadowy man from Mississippi just reminded me of his character from "O Brother Where Art Thou."

    Posted by Chris on 03/16/04

    Only Non-Christians Hate This Blog

    Today from email address "We're Taught:"


    What does that mean? That as I pay off the credit cards, I also forgive them for their high interest?

    Posted by Chris on 03/16/04

    March 12, 2004

    Brood X

    How many times within the very pages of this blog have I warned of the coming plague of Brood X?


    Posted by Chris on 03/12/04

    Open-Source Innovations: #2 & #3

    Innovations 2 & 3 have to do with coffee shops, bars and other places where people gather in the evening to have stimulating / depressing drinks and snacks, and to revel in human fellowship.

    2. Conversation-Enabled Coffee Shops

    Do you notice that people start to clear out of your cozy little coffee shop when the Jazz Trio starts playing? Have you noticed that drink sales tend to drop off as soon as Open Mic starts? That's because people would rather hear themselves talking than the music you've chosen!

    There are tons of other venues to hear live music in. In fact, ALL of them. Why not be the only coffee shop in your neighborhood billed as THE place to hang out and talk or - GASP - just enjoy the peace and quiet?

    3. Expert-Free Pool Tables

    Is there any other non-professional sport besides pool, where it is next to impossible to play without getting unsolicited advice from an expert? Are dart champions unable to restrain themselves from telling you what's wrong with your throw? Are pinball wizards slapping their foreheads when you don't keep hitting those bumpers? Do people in bowling alleys scream two lanes over when someone isn't putting enough spin on the ball?

    Nope, it's just pool. With the ability to sink a mean bank shot comes the inability to tell others how to do it. How many times have you experienced this?

    The Pool Expert sees you walking around the table, figuring out which ball to knock in.

    POOL EXPERT: What you need to do is hit it HERE (pointing at a specific spot on a ball) and then it will hit HERE (pointing at a specific spot against the side) and knock this one (pointing at another ball) in. But VERY LIGHTLY. And with a slight TOP SPIN.

    YOU: Thanks.

    You'd rather be left alone, but you try what Pool Expert suggested. You fail.

    POOL EXPERT: If you'd put a little more spin on it, it would have worked.

    Here's what I suggest: a sort of "bunny slope" table where UNSOLICITED POOL ADVICE IS NOT ALLOWED. That means no matter how badly they break, no matter how much of a bullshit shot that last one was so it SHOULD NOT count, no matter how many times they scratch, even if that was the EASIEST SHOT IN THE WORLD that they just blew, then you have to SHUT UP AND WRITHE IN THE UNSPOKEN KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE BETTER.

    Posted by Chris on 03/12/04

    You need to get downstate if it's utter nothingness you're after in your cafés. And restaurants. And bars.

    Posted by: Pete at March 12, 2004 4:54 PM

    Screw You, Movable Type

    Movable Type has eaten TWO entries of mine today. One of them the extra long one below about Corporate Coupon Team / Pizza Franchise Synchronization. I took the time to re-do that one, but it just also ate the post about Innovations 2 and 3. What is this, Blogger?

    Posted by Chris on 03/12/04

    Open-Source Innovation: #1

    Occasionally, to support the American economy, I like to put forth ideas for business in these pages that are totally free for anyone to use. Anyone is free to take these ideas, change them around or employ them as-is, and to seek 100% of the profits as I retain no rights to them. I seek no reward or compensation! I do this only to further innovation and stimulate the marketplace.

    Look no further than my idea for a new feature of television remote controls - which I have made no effort to patent though it could make me millions - to prove my philanthropic nature.

    Accordingly, here are three new ideas for business. In the right hands, they might well help your company to exceed profit expectations this quarter.

    1. Corporate Coupon Team / Pizza Franchise Synchronization

    The other day a coupon for Dominos pizza was left hanging on my doorknob. It was an offer for two large pizzas at reduced prize, plus an order of something called Pizza Dots (?) for only a dollar more. In layman's terms, that was two pizzas in standard circular form, and one more in "dot" form. Hey! Great! Some friends were coming over to work on Movie, so that will be perfect!

    I called in the order, and the man on the other end had no idea what I was talking about. Unperturbed, I described the offer on the coupon to him. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and yelled at some back-office authority HE SAYS HE GETS A PIZZA FOR 9.99 DO WE HAVE THAT SPECIAL. A moment later he came back; what would I like on that pizza? When I went on to describe what I'd like on the second pizza, he covered the mouthpiece again. HE SAYS HE GETS ANOTHER PIZZA WITH THIS SPECIAL FOR 7.99 DO WE HAVE THAT. Then he came back to ask what toppings would I like on pizza #2?

    At each new element of the order, he would yell back for confirmation that such a special existed.

    Finally, at the end, he gave me my total, which was ten dollars over what it should have been. I corrected him according to the amount on the coupon; he yelled back; there was a long pause during which I assume someone rooted around for the office calculator; he came back with a revised total.

    I am not bothered in the slightest by this, because it happens every single time I call in a coupon order. I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER, ever, ever, ever, never, EVER, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, never, ever, ever, neva-nev, ever, ever, ever, EVER, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever called in for a special offer pizza order and had the person on the other end know what I was talking about.

    This isn't just for phone-in orders - it happens when I might go to a franchise and present a physical coupon.

    In the times when I have presented the physical coupon, it is always subjected to much heavy scrutiny and passing-around in the back office. Here's the important bit: it's not that they seem to doubt the veracity of the coupon, as if I am the Mad Coupon Counterfeiter here to cheat them once again; they are not back there holding it up to the light or doing the Litmus Configuration Test on it. They are looking at it as if they have never seen such a thing before*.

    But still I am not perturbed. Because I know in times like this that I have the rare privilege of momentarily being a part of the Dominos or Pizza Hut Corporate Team. It is clear to me from these reactions that this is the first time these franchise workers are hearing about such an offer. It's because Corporate Office was relying on me to be a sort of human intra-franchise memo announcing this week's special.

    Looked at in this perspective, I am proud to have such trust placed in me.

    But still, I think there is a better way. Are you listening, Parent Company? Because here comes the idea. (And this doesn't just apply to the pizza industry. Any company that employs "special offers" can take advantage of this innovation.)

    - If you are issuing a coupon for a special offer, inform your individual franchises. -

    But how will we do this? you may be asking. Will this require a lot of additional infrastructure and support personnel? And I say to you that therein lies the beauty of this idea! You can use existing communication methods to deliver information to your franchises.

    For example: if you are having a coupon-advertised special, you might choose to "e-mail" your franchises in advance. Or, you could "phone" them. Or "mail" them! See?

    Next: Conversation-Enabled Coffee Shops and Expert-Free Pool Tables.

    *Regular readers may remember that my super-power may be coming into effect here.
    Posted by Chris on 03/12/04

    Poor Jesus

    Once more having to take the blame for some of his fans' atrocious behavior. Check out FattyFat's rant here:

    I'm glad he got all of this off my chest.

    Certainly the vast majority of Christians in this country are people with common sense and love for their fellow man; surely there are millions who have no desire to ram their beliefs down people's throats, and who, like anyone, can tell when a politician is invoking religion to score points with his base. So wouldn't it be nice to have a Christian step forward and point out hypocrisy once and a while?

    Posted by Chris on 03/12/04

    FattyFat speaks for me also.

    I can't imagine God looking down from the silvery linings to see the Pat Robertsons, Billy Grahams and Jimmy Bakkers building swimming pools and mansions from the donations of the "faithful" and not smiting these con men on the spot. That these sweating bigot swine still prance about with microphones and handkerchiefs, swindling the gullible hordes in stadiums, offers proof there is no God, or at least He's not watching over us.

    Frederick in Hannah and Her Sisters said it best: "If Jesus came back, and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."

    Posted by: Isaac at March 12, 2004 12:46 PM

    March 11, 2004

    Recent Commentary

    Thanks to the girlie who matters at as Google led me to her site when I was having trouble with the "recent comments" code. She seems to be some sort of Uber-OverMind about all things Movable Type.

    At this point I'm still having a few problems with the code (I'd love it to link right to the comments pop-up window, but for now it seems to just go to the top of the monthly archive page), but still, thanks, girlie.

    Posted by Chris on 03/11/04


    A fella named Pete has found this blog, and has left many an interesting comment and link I encourage you to check out. Howdy, Pete! And thanks for the cool links, especially the one to the shareware site that enables OS X to use a DV camera as a data backup device?!?!

    Tape backups on consumer equipment? It's an outrage, AND I WON'T HEAR OF IT.

    Anyway, this sort of internet gift is why I added the "recent comments" thing on the main page.

    Check out also his own blog, The International Gentlemen's Society, and also what looks like a cooperative blog in the same directory, Peter, Langston & Moore.

    On this latter one, especially check out "Oh great, water on Mars," one of those essays that makes me laugh and also gnash my teeth a bit in jealousy.

    Posted by Chris on 03/11/04

    Who is this Pete? I simply must know. His entries have left me agog, simply agog.

    Posted by: Totally not Pete at March 11, 2004 11:15 PM

    O Bitter Drink

    I have deliberately spared you the details of my efforts to lose weight because, is anything as tedious as a journal of dieting? Suffice to say, my Slim-Fast and gym plan has met with a bit of success. But: the old cravings remain.

    Is there anything as sour as the taste of an apple when what you really want - AND DESERVE, MY FRIEND, I DESERVE IT - is a cheese danish? Is there anything as bland as water when what you really want is an ice-cold, refreshing Coke?

    The shiny red apple and bottle of water on the desk - they are like your nerdy but well-meaning new friends from Vacation Bible School. You know they're good for you, and God bless 'em, but how much more fun would it be to go off and party with your old good-for-nothin' friends Coke and Pizza?

    Posted by Chris on 03/11/04

    Predictive Lilekian Response System

    Today I was interested to read this article, which is about a topic I've claimed in the past wouldn't have "legs" enough to carry itself into the election year. I'm still not sure anyone cares; but we'll see how the book does.

    So now you've read the article. And naturally at this point you may wonder how popular bloggist James Lileks might respond to this. Accordingly, I have enabled one of the Extended Features of this blog, the much-vaunted Predictive Lilekian Response System. Using a complicated A.I. algorithm which has parsed several years' worth of bleats, this blog can now predict WWLB. (What Would Lileks Bleat?)

    Here are his potential responses, in order of prevalance:

    1) Ignore story, focus instead on John Kerry having called the current administration "crooked," and that is something Bush has never stooped to, since he prefers instead to focus on issues, facts, and continuing to unite the country.

    2) Dismiss story as a conspiracy theory for kooks and proof of how desperate liberals are to discredit Bush, who by the way is doing his best to keep America safe from the forces of evil. Case closed, no further investigation necessary.

    3) Point out that since former president Bill Clinton didn't take the lead in legitimizing relations with the House of Saud, it's essentially a problem Bush inherited, and like everything else, Bush is doing his best to protect us from the terrorism Clinton allowed to flourish during his eight years of madness and chaos.

    4) As a rebuttal offer up a literary imagining of the last moments of a toddler onboard one of the 9/11 flights. She was fire, then she was ash, then she was gone. Case closed.

    Posted by Chris on 03/11/04

    I seem to remember a microphone being left on in Naperville during the 2000 campaign and the good christians, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush calling a NY Times reporter an asshole.

    Bush has a shadowy past in which rumors are neither confirmed or denyed by his press secretary. Why wouldn't he be crooked? If John Kerry truly feels like that, then he earned double my vote today.

    Posted by: Is this thing on? at March 11, 2004 11:54 AM

    Someone suggests "A Spring of Seals" to refer to your friends at Fisherman's Wharf.
    Also colony, herd or pod of seals.

    I like "a coterie of Prarie Dogs"

    Posted by: Mr Collective Noun at March 11, 2004 12:02 PM

    I haven't read the article, but you're suggesting that Mr. Bush Jr. might have some personal connections with Saudis who knew about 9/11/01?!

    On 9/12 or 9/13 when all flights around the U.S. were grounded there was a flight or two that went around the country (on orders from the top) to pick up members of the bin Laden family and Saudi friends to fly them to Paris instead of, say, interrogating the hell out of them.

    Hmmm. With the coziness of Mr. Bush Jr. to the nation that gave us the hijackers and plenty of money for the Carlyle group, why didn't the president simply ask if they had connections with axis-of-evil Saddam instead of letting the germ of speculation fester in that cob-webbed collective mind shared by Fox "News" viewers, Fear Channel listeners and flag-waving God-botherers.

    Oh, wait. He's the "war president", that's right. He wants war. I'll pay for it, so will you and that whingeing, hand-wringing Lileks.

    Posted by: Isaac at March 11, 2004 1:25 PM

    Come on now young man, you can hem and haw and ballyhoo all you want but I think you need to imagine, just for a minute, just PRETEND mind you, what if WE WERE AT WAR!

    WAR! I say.

    Well, that's a loafer on the other foot now, isn't it. That's all I'm saying. Just PRETEND for a minute that WE'RE AT WAR... and where does your argument go? Huh? Huh!? WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR!

    Posted by: James Lileks Jr at March 12, 2004 3:12 PM

    My GOSH, Mr. Lileks! I didn't look at it like that! What if we WERE at war?!? In that case, it would be TANTAMOUNT TO TREASON to criticize the president! This whole blog would have to be scrapped as UnAmerican!

    Posted by: Chris at March 12, 2004 3:34 PM

    Batman in Chicago

    FattyFat just sent me this:

    Wow! I actually just had a twinge of "Batman" hope! Something I haven't felt since 1989 when Tim Burton crushed it under his heel!

    P.S. to Ruth L. Ratny of ReelChicago: It's "caped crusader," not "caped protector."

    P.P.S. to Ruth: Nothing spells "integrity" more than a newsletter that has a person's name in the title.

    Posted by Chris on 03/11/04

    March 10, 2004

    Review: The Strange Case of the Walking Corpse

    Thanks to my itchy 1-Click Purchase finger I had this book ordered and on its way from Amazon after reading an interesting review online, but I wish I'd just spotted it in a bookstore instead. You could read all the good bits about strange mental illnesses and quaint folk remedies just standing in the aisle at Barnes & Noble.

    The book unfortunately reads like a term-paper done by a very bright senior more than a professionally-written survey of a lively subject. It's padded out with several useless pages of charts cross-referencing herbs, roots and flowers with what people in ye olden times thought they would cure or kill. It also quotes freely from web-sites and other, presumably better-written books, leading me to wonder, could I publish a book of movie reviews based primarily on things I read on Metacritic? And it lingers a bit too long on the "ickiness" - and apparent pandemic - of tapeworms.

    There are some very interesting sections on "zany" mental problems, especially for those prone to self-diagnosis, but the closer a bookstore positions this title to the counter with all the miniature books about cats, the better.

    On balance, it's not a bad place to start to lead you on to other, more thorough books (or websites) and is slim enough that you don't have to sacrifice too much time.

    Posted by Chris on 03/10/04

    March 9, 2004

    Good advice from Arianna...

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 9/04

    More great advice for the Democrats, this one pulled from NPR. Ralph, we love you, but DON'T RUN:

    Posted by: Pete at March 10, 2004 11:04 AM

    March 8, 2004

    I.T. Peeve #1

    If you ask me for technical help then you have to listen to the whole answer.

    If you can only listen to about 40% of what I'm saying before you get bored, so you say "Never mind - I'll figure it out," then I'll be forced to kill you, and no one wants that.

    Sorry, I know you're busy (Which is why I'm not taking the "teach someone to fish" approach right now but the emergency "just give him a damn fish" one instead), but I did offer to come over at a time that was best for you. And, yes, I know you're not technical, and I don't mind going over this again even though we've done it before, but I'm still going to have to ask some questions and have you test some things, and you're going to have to stay focused and tell me what happens when you try X, Y, and Z, because sometimes these things require more than two steps and the answer isn't obvious.

    It's OK to say so if you figure it out on your own while we're talking, it really is, because I know you're smart. But in that case you should tell me what you did rather than saying "Never mind - I fixed it," and then hanging up, because if you do that then I'm going to have to stab you.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 8/04

    I like that fish. It's a nice fish. I sure do wish that could catch one like that too.

    Posted by: Your Other Girlfriend at March 8, 2004 4:10 PM

    why won't anyone just give ME fish. I like fish. gimmee, gimmee!

    Posted by: kjk at March 11, 2004 3:14 PM

    I Am Become Debra Winger

    One of my Worst Fears came true today: When I got to the cashier at Au Bon Pain to pay for my salad, I did not have enough money. AND there was a huge line behind me. HORROR.

    Thank the Christ that I'm groggy from lack of sleep today; that dulled the humiliation a bit, but for a second there I was Debra Winger in "Terms of Endearment" when she doesn't have enough money for the groceries, which is bad enough but then the cashier is a bitch about it and yells over for the manager to unlock the cash register, because HE DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY and now everyone in earshot knows, but then John Lithgow showed up and bought my lunch salad for me, and he called the cashier rude, that nice man, then we end up having an affair which is very wholesome, at least until my no-good husband takes that teaching job in Nebraska and I have to move away, why oh WHY didn't I listen to my mother Shirley Maclaine about him, and the kids are such brats, why won't they listen.

    So I quickly dropped my stuff, apologized, turned bright red, then went to the ATM. I was back in place in about five minutes, profusely apologizing to the cashier (who really didn't care) the whole time, and then actually refused the change I was due, to compensate A.B.P. for time lost.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 8/04

    Another Point of Etiquette

    It is unbecoming to do a little happy dance when someone is convicted of a white-collar crime. Similarly, it is rude to actually hoot and jeer.

    THAT is why I did all those things in the privacy of my home when I heard about Martha. No one could see me, so it was acceptable.

    Also, point of order on the use of the phrase "hard time" in reference to someone's potential prison sentence. Yes, Martha may have to go to the Big House. But to me, "hard time" connotes breaking rocks with sledgehammers and being repeatedly sodomized and having all your front teeth knocked out by a free-weight because someone thinks you stole their cigarette. I don't see Martha doing any kind of "hard time."

    In general I DO think celebrating a guilty verdict is tacky, especially if it's just because you suspect someone is a royal bitch. In my case, however, I have it from a reliable source that has had first-hand experience of the bitchery. (Shout-out to Anna!)

    So, when I hoot and jeer, I do it out of solidarity for a friend that was treated horribly by the Crafty One.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 8/04

    Yo, Yo, Yo Chris.

    I gave you a little trackbacktion. You'll get more in the future ... enjoy your blog. And I, also, would love to be an NPR journalist AND love that new microphone smell.

    Posted by: Pete at March 10, 2004 8:00 AM

    A Quick Phone Etiquette Checkpoint

    Here is my ruling on the question of Considerate Use of Cell Phones in Public. It may shock you to hear my findings: there is nothing inherently rude with people talking on their cell phone in a public place. Let's all back off on the automatic eye-rolling. Yes, some people can't seem to do without that cell phone at every moment, but who cares, right?

    What IS rude, though, is talking WAY TOO LOUD on your cell phone in a public place. Folks, those microphones they put in there are getting better all the time. There's no need to yell into it like it's a can and a piece of string. Trust the technology.

    Let's have the rule of thumb for conversation volume be, speak only as loud as you would if the person on the other end were standing right there with you. If I can make out everything you're saying from two aisles over, then you're too loud.

    And for you loud-talkers that can't monitor yourself: people aren't glaring at you because everyone is an asshole but you. It's because you're harshing their mellow. Sorry, but it's true. Try halving the volume and see if you can still be understood.

    Those of you on the other end of these phone conversations can help the rest of us out by informing Mr. Loudermouth that he sounds like he's yelling.

    And this goes for non-cellular conversations as well. INSIDE voices, people. If you need to get your friend's attention more than two aisles away, you need to WALK OVER TO THAT PERSON - NOT PROJECT YOUR VOICE ACROSS THE STORE TO THEM. Parents scolding your children: you get no special privileges here. This goes for you too.

    A bonus bit of phone etiquette: When you're calling someone, don't force them to initiate the conversation. When they pick the phone up and say "Hello," don't just say "Hello" back at them. Because then what happens? It is now up to the person you called to either 1) recognize who you are and ask after your health, or 2) not recognize you and just say "Hello?" again. That's three "hellos" in a row, people. Where has all the time gone?

    So as I have spoken, so let it be done.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 8/04

    My Trackback Problem

    I'm not really sure what "Trackback" is, but that doesn't keep me from being embarrassed at how abysmal my trackback track record is so far. I've got nothing but straight zeroes.

    Whatever Trackback is, I'm hoping I'll get some soon. So, if you're reading this, please be kind to your server and trackback. Karma, dude.

    I also don't know how to syndicate this site, even though there's a link down there for it.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 8/04

    March 5, 2004

    Once Again I Save America from Fascism

    FattyFat responds, and I also got a comment.

    Let me make it clear that I would like to increase the number of people that are engaged in the issues. That would certainly lead to greater voter turnout. But I think the way to do it is through positive reinforcement (You get $50 off your taxes) instead of negative (You owe the government $50 if you don't vote.)

    My problem with FattyFat's "Fine the Voter" initiative is not that "anything less than 100% compliance makes it not worthwhile," as he suggests. My problem is that if you could accomplish the same thing without curtailing freedoms, why wouldn't you?

    Curtailing freedoms? Yes. Our freedom to vote here also carries with it the freedom NOT to vote. You are free to be a lazy, unpatriotic bum if you want. As amazingly absurd as it sounds, men have died so that some dumb shit can be gleefully unengaged about society but have all kinds of detailed opinions about which girl the Bachelor should have picked. And levying a fine on someone for not coming out to the polls is just a way of curtailing that freedom.

    And it's vital that voting remain a right and not an obligation. Surely the right to express your opinion is only meaningful if it's totally voluntary?

    I'll say it again: if someone asks for your opinion and you choose not to give one, then you have given one.

    I also suspect of these kids that are wearing the VOTING IS FOR OLD PEOPLE shirts, that yet one more negative reinforcement at this point in their lives would tip the scales the wrong way. Instead of educating them that their opinion matters and they can make a difference, we're telling them this is just one more thing they HAVE to do, like pay taxes and spend $75 on a sticker for their license plate.

    As easy it would be to force people to the polls, the game remains the same: if you think someone is wrong or just unengaged, then it's up to YOU to change their minds with great ideas and brilliant presentation. It's not up to the government to make it a chore for them. (P.S. Our government, by the way, is PERFECTLY happy with voter turnout just the way it is.)

    And speaking of the difference between rights and obligations - I DON'T equate the right to vote with a (potential) obligation to do some form of national service. It's dubious for me to drone on about it, because I am far past the age of military service, plus if anyone was ever 4F it would be me, but I DO think service would be a good idea for young people, IF it took the place of paying certain taxes and also made it very easy for them to go to school, if not free. I would consider it appropriate in the same way paying taxes is appropriate!

    NOTE: I happen to know that FattyFat is a tireless worker for democracy, so I have chosen not to release the full brunt of this blog's wrath on him. While I may talk a big game, he is actually literally out there pounding the pavement, having close encounters with Joe Q. Lunchpail. Since his goal is laudable, we will chalk this little flirtation of his with fascism up as a youthful indiscretion.
    Posted by Chris on 03/ 5/04

    Stop talking.

    Posted by: Your other girlfriend at March 5, 2004 3:13 PM

    I hate chicks that don't vote. Get a new secret girlfriend, Handeye.

    Posted by: FancyPants at March 5, 2004 3:42 PM

    I'm pro cheese and I vote!

    Posted by: friend jessica at March 5, 2004 4:28 PM

    The Li'lest Fascist

    You won't hear about this on FattyFat's site, because he is probably not yet ready to reveal his true, fascist nature to America, but I understand he is going to be coming out in favor of COMPULSORY VOTING.

    That is, on election day you would be required to go and vote or be fined $50 or so. He cites Australia, where this system is in place and voter turnout is 97%.

    Like him, I am appalled that only a fraction of our population manages to get themselves to the polls on election day. It requires such a minor effort. Me, I get a charge out of going down the block to the polling place and voting. There's a real sense that what I'm doing will have some consequence, and not just because there's a very real possibility that I punched the wrong holes on the butterfly ballot and accidentally kept the Empire in power.

    It's because it's the only time besides April 15th that I get to barely indirectly interface with the government I complain about so much for the rest of the year. The poll-workers smile and thank me, and we all beam with pride that we've done our part. And not to be a government geek, but at that point I remember that there are people in the world just dying for the right to do what I just did.

    Considering what some people have gone through for it, it seems lazy not to.

    But I don't think we want to start forcing people to do it. It seems to me that if someone can't get their shit together to make it to the polls that day, or if they haven't attended to the barest scrap of information throughout the year to have an opinion, then I don't want them there anyway.

    FattyFat wants to know the true, complete "voice of the people." But we're already hearing the voice of the majority of the people. What they're saying is, "I'm too lazy to keep up with the issues or even take a half hour just to vote along party lines. So I'll go along with whatever you guys decide this term."

    And I say, fine! I'll be glad to order for you! But no complaining when you don't like what the waitress brings.

    I don't want some surly 19-year old punching in ballot holes in the shape of a penis because he's pissed that he had to tear himself away from huffing aerosol fumes for 30 minutes. Because what if that year's "David Duke" candidate happens to get elected because his mark got punched randomly?

    Sure, the kid made it out to the polls, and we can proudly point to our rising voter turnout percentages, but I don't think people are going to become magically engaged just because they have to go. Some might - but not all.

    If you want incentives, why not positive reinforcement instead of negative? Why not $50 off your state taxes if you send in your voting voucher?

    If the goal is a populace more engaged in the political process, then that solution is already out there: get out there and put your case to the people. Engage them with your ideas and tell them how important voting is. The guys you don't agree with are saying dumb things and scaring the voters into passing hateful laws? Then you have to be smarter and better than them.

    Just as I think it's wrong to keep a basic democratic right away from people, I think it's wrong to force them to enjoy that basic democractic right. Choice is good - and if it's a choice to remain unengaged, then at least that person won't be getting in the way of the rest of us that care.

    Bill Maher once said - jokingly, I'm sure - that people should have to take a political literacy test to be able to qualify to vote. That is, you'd have to be able to at least know SOMETHING about the candidates - like their names - before you go in there and place your ballot. That is of course a bad bad bad idea, and it's unnecessary. Because with voluntary voting, those that are too dumb or lazy to vote to muddy up the true "voice of the people" weed themselves out.

    UPDATE: From the looks of his site, it looks like FattyFat has "outed" himself as the world's Jolliest Dictator, probably because he sensed that I was about to.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 5/04

    I think in Australia voting day is also a holiday making it easier for their citizens to be involved in the democratic process.

    I agree it should be an incentivized rather than compulsory process, but isn't avoiding a fifty dollar fine a pretty good incentive? You aren't forced to vote if you choose the fine instead. After a generation or two of teaching people to make voting a part of their lives, the fine can be quietly suspended until the turnout slips again to such dismal levels.

    I'd be curious to find out how many of these non-voters make time to vote for American Idol, the Best Superbowl Commercial of All Time or cast other non-compulsory votes.

    Posted by: Isaac at March 5, 2004 1:17 PM

    March 4, 2004

    Highlights from today's spam

  • Unbuckles H. Sexton has something "round and big" for the ladies.

  • Amanda Lee says that "hypnotic seduction worked on her."

  • Forfeiture M. Firepower wants to know if we're still on for tomorrow.

  • Eli at says URGENT: Kerry needs our support.

  • Inspiration, whose actual email address is ADV@CAREFULCHRISTIANCONSUMER.COM, is offering me the book that inspired Mel Gibson to make "The Passion of The Christ."

  • just has a subject line of "who?"

  • Adult Check would like to do me a favor, and are offering me a discount code to access all their image and video galleries.

  • Baggage B. Clamor says that a Barely legal first-timer is only 18.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 4/04

    A few days ago I got a spam offering me, in the subject line:

    MonSTEr Balls andthe CocK to GO wITh Them.

    Posted by: friend jessica at March 5, 2004 9:39 AM

    Wow - so they were offering you the whole kit? What a deal! Was some assembly required, I assume?

    I got another offer from CAREFULCHRISTIANCONSUMER, this time for a "Collector's Item" book of Mel Gibson's movie. It features "143 graphic photos of Christ’s sufferings before his death, so detailed it's a must read and see."

    That's a coffee table book I have to have!

    Posted by: Chris at March 5, 2004 12:01 PM

    cripes, you call ME kinky

    Posted by: friend jessica at March 5, 2004 2:03 PM
  • Best Admired From Memory

    Another caped hero has fallen.

    I've learned the hard way that many of the superhero shows I loved so much as a kid unfortunately do not stand up to the harsh and rigorous entertainment demands I have as an adult.

    If you loved this show as I did, DO NOT WATCH IT NOW. Let it live on in the only way that it can, in your imperfect memories of it.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 4/04

    No comment


    Spielberg: Won't comment on 'Passion'

    Imagine that, not commenting on something you haven't seen yet. A class act. Also:

    "Spielberg said that in the decade since the release of 'Schindler's List,' the world has become a 'very sad place again,' which shows that people 'don't really learn that much from history, and they need to.'"


    Posted by Chris on 03/ 4/04

    March 3, 2004

    My Emode IQ

    If I just submit to this "Tickle My Brain" I.Q. Test pop-up from Emode once and for all, will it finally go away?

    Or is it a trick? And by showing that I will actually submit content to a pop-up ad, I automatically reduce my I.Q. score by twenty?

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 3/04

    Strange Gershwin Geekery

    Every so often I'll hear "Rhapsody in Blue" in a commercial somewhere, and I'll remember that I like it and so I'll go out and buy it again in whatever music format I'm using at the moment.

    I have it on CD from the last time, so I could have easily waited 'til I got home to rip it into iTunes, but since I have Apple Store Syndrome I just went and grabbed it for a dollar.

    This is perhaps the fourth copy I've owned, all from different performers and periods, and of course I've heard it dozens of times in commercials, movies, in the long underground neon-rainbow concourse at O'Hare, and once at a concert.

    And NONE of the versions sound QUITE right compared to that first cassette I listened to it on. None of the other versions seem to get the tempo just right - it's always WAY TOO SLOW, or basically O.K. but some parts are definitely off, or WAY TOO fast like this latest version I just downloaded, which is strange since I believe George himself is on piano.

    I'm not sure why that first cassette fixed it in my memory as the Definitive Edition.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 3/04

    cool. it's not just me!

    Posted by: kjk at March 3, 2004 6:20 PM

    Oddly, though, this is the only piece of music I have this with.

    Posted by: Chris at March 4, 2004 1:21 PM

    March 2, 2004

    Quiz for VH1 Talking Heads


    Tired of trying to figure out if you should accept that offer from VH1 to be a "culture commentator" on one of their nostalgia specials?

    Don't know whether or not it would be good for your career to talk about how cool the Rubik's Cube was on "I Love the 80s," what Atari games you had, whatever happened to your favorite Fonzie T-shirt, or your theories about which Darren was better on "Bewitched?"

    Confused over whether you may have said "yes" one too many times?

    Then here's a simple quiz you can take to clear it up for you! Just answer the simple questions below, and you'll be well on your way to clarity over this career move!


    1) Are you Mo Rocca, Hal Sparks, or Rob Sheffield?

    2) Have you already appeared on any VH1 nostalgia program such as "I Love The Seventies," "I Love the Eighties," etc., or any retrospective of a band or artist's career, or any compilation show like "One Hit Wonders" or "Most Outrageous Celebrity Moments," or for that matter any of MTV's Behind-The-Scenes-At-MTV specials?

    3) Are you afraid that VH1 keeps calling you because there's this general impression that you don't have much going on right now with your career?

    That's all!


    If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then the answer you should give VH1 is a resounding "NO."

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 2/04

    March 1, 2004

    What's a few degrees?

    The Pentagon says impending global climate change is a worse threat than terrorism:,12374,1153530,00.html

    But! Maybe Dennis Miller can make one of his jokes about how a few more degrees wouldn't be that bad! Ha! Ha! Ha! Stupid liberals!

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 1/04

    The Monstrosity

    The funny thing about my movie is that it has become too big and unwieldy to actually export from the Macintosh I've been editing it on.

    I'm using the same G4 I used to edit my last movie, but that was only a half hour long. This new movie is around an hour and a half long, takes up about 60 GB of space on the drive, and my poor G4, even though I have upgraded the memory, is unable to actually play the whole thing without crashing. In fact I can't even make a slight change to the edit without having to restart my system every five minutes.

    Ha! Ha! Ha! That's funny! It's like when you build a model that's too big for the doorway! Or one of those old college pranks where they disassemble a Volkswagon and then reassemble it in someone's dorm room! HA! Or Richard Dreyfuss building a giant model of Devil's Tower in his living room in Close Encounters*! Ha! Ha! I mean, where's he think that thing is going? HE MADE IT TOO BIG! Ha! Ha! Ha! HE DIDN'T THINK HOW BIG THE DOORWAY WAS FIRST! Ha ha ha!

    Except - wait. This isn't funny at all. Because, seriously: how AM I going to get this thing off my Mac? I can't play this thing on my system that is maxed out on memory. Upgrade my computer? No, because that means also upgrading a whole chain of software I'm using for this, and the bill for that is way too high and MBNA has already informed Apple that I was late on a credit card payment one time back in the nineties, so they won't spot me the money.

    Wait - why don't I just have the premiere in my living room, and I can run cables over to the TV from the G4? Wait - that's insane.

    All right, let's calm down. The answer, of course, is to take the hard drive all the movie data is on to some place that can render and output the thing. It's not like I wasn't going to have to do that at some point anyway, to make copies of the thing.

    Except that there's no way I'm taking that single firewire drive - with all the movie video files on it, and if something happens to it then that's the whole show right there, I may as well start over, because unlike other Final Cut projects, this one has no idea what clip comes from what "reel," because I captured all the video at home from my camera on the fly, because it wouldn't let me set in and out points - out of my house, so it looks like I'm going to be investing in another firewire drive this week.

    120GB = $220

    *This of course being the second time I have referenced something in this movie as a perfect metaphor for what I'm doing. I don't know what that means.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 1/04

    Chris, have you thought about backing up to mini DV tape? I'm pretty sure can output entire folders onto DV. I know, this sounds utterly ridiculous. But check this out:

    I assume you're using FCP. Should be able to back up everything: render files, FCP files, etc.

    Or, you may try molding a plate of mashed potatoes for inspiration.

    Posted by: Pete at March 10, 2004 1:47 PM

    Because There Must Always Be Something To Complain About

    Are you thinking what I'm thinking? EBAY COLLECTOR'S ITEM.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 1/04

    I read that earlier today and immediately thought of you. I'm glad you found that story too.


    Posted by: Your Other Girlfriend at March 1, 2004 12:24 PM

    Short Oscar Commentary

    I have nothing to say about the Oscars, except it's weird how everyone in the world, including the afore-mentioned primitive tree-dwelling Amazonian tribe, acts like they are Constitutionally-entitled to be entertained by them. The entire population of the globe seems to simultaneously fold their arms, furrow their brows, and prepare to be personally offended over what Nicole Kidman's dress looks like and whether Billy Crystal cracks them up sufficiently.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 1/04

    Make with the beep already

    Today's top complaint: voicemail systems. If you're like me, you have at least three to deal with: work, home, and cell phone. Each one of those phones has its own voicemail, all of them chirping at once for your attention like baby birds, and each one of them with their own interface for getting in.

    Hit "9" during the recorded message to go straight to your voicemail on this one, but hit "#" on the other one. "7" deletes messages on this one, but "4" does it on the other one. On one system you can skip past someone's message to record, on the other one, not so much.

    I'm past dreaming that one day there might be a standard that the systems adhere to, so that a command on one system might work on the other. Say, like the way CTRL-C and CTRL-V seem to be the universal commands for copy and paste.

    But what I DO still hold out hope for is that the voicemail prompts can just get to the damn point. I'm already annoyed when my call gets shunted to voice mail, please don't annoy me further by making me sit through a pleasant voice slowly outlining all the options I already know.

    I KNOW to start speaking when I hear the beep. That's OBVIOUS. Primitive tribespeople in undiscovered Amazon tree-communities that have NEVER SEEN A PHONE know this. I'm WAITING for the beep. I'm BEGGING for the beep. Stop talking about the beep and GIVE ME THE BEEP. JUST FLIPPIN' BEEP.

    I also know that when I am done, I CAN HANG UP. I am not waiting for your permission to end the call.

    All I need to know from the voicemail prompts is: are there any other options, like can I page this person? Leave a number instead of a voice? Can I try someone else in your phone system before I hang up? Otherwise: GIVE ME THE DAMN BEEP.

    NOTE: This week's artwork will be "vintage" themed, and will be provided by The Olden Times, a cool spot for free graphics.

    Posted by Chris on 03/ 1/04

    with apologies to Jerry Seinfeld. ;)

    Posted by: Pete at March 10, 2004 1:51 PM