Thursday, August 8, 2002




Like the old lady who, when asked how she liked HAMLET, replied, "It was nice, except for all the cliches," the movie THIS IS SPINAL TAP is a seminal work, borrowed and stolen from and even become real. Who saw Clinton's walk backstage at the 2000 convention and didn't think of the boys from Tap making their hilarious backstage trek to get on stage? Who hasn't seen VH1's Behind the Music and grimaced or laughed at the Tap-moments, when a band member bolts or a girlfriend causes dissension with the rest of the group? The DVD commentary track gets the boys together, in character, and the theme is, the director only showed the bad parts, the most embarrassing parts, of the infamous tour that sees their career spiral down from arenas to a theme park puppet theater. Other DVD exrtas include the full-length videos of Hell Hole, Big Bottom, and Listen to the Flower People, an appearance on the Joe Franklin Show, and outtakes. Hours of fun, go get it now!
I'm impresed by what directors cut out. Starting with an ABC network showing of SUPERMAN with added scenes, I always think, yeah, he had that right, that scene should have been cut. In TIST-DVD, we see a deleted scene where the limo driver, Tommy, is invited to party with the boys. It might have made the movie but it takes the comic edge off the shabby treatment that they give Tommy in the scene that did make the movie. In the deleted scene, thy're laughing at him in his skivvies as he croons Sinatra, but he has realized a dream for many people, partying with rock stars. Bruno Kirby has good billing but leaves the film early on after his only surviving scene.
Bruno and Billy Crystal alledgedly had a fight during CITY SLICKERS, along the line of
Billy: Don't tell me how to act.
Bruno: I was acting even before you were unknown.
This alledgedly ruptured their friendship and Bruno was replaced by Jon Lovitz for the sequel. I intend to check out the Internet Movie Database and see what Bruno has been up to. Always gives a professional perf with that straight face, not a laugh at my own joke perf, and perhaps that is what caused the Kirby-Crystal contretemps.

Coming soon:

  • Disney in Coney? Don't tread on me. The end of Brooklyn as we know it.
  • I review Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS, the ebook edition featuring excerpts from his online diary.
  • Le Grand Illusion: the DVD. This is the Jean Renoir film that inspired Stalag 17, The Great Escape, and Hogan's Heroes [no really]

7.24.02 THE STOCK MARKET/401Ks

Disregarding today's mini-recovery, if the Dow hits 5000, that will mark a new psychological barrier that will finally see people transfer their money from 401K stock funds and into low-return lowest-risk 401K money market funds. My own fund has a money market option that was paying 4-6% in the last few years but this year is down to a half-percent, but any port in a storm.
A quick analysis: with the free money aspect [employer contributions] I'm ahead 25% for the last few years but in real dollars I'm down 32%. There's an eventual point where the free money aspect becomes a break even, i.e., the money my employer puts in is eaten up by falling prices. No one know where the Dow will rest [5000, 3000, zero]. Wherever it stops and stays at for several months, the experts will call it a correction, but no one has come out and predicted where it will end because they can't. The fund managers came in and scared us and told us if we didn't invest in stocks we'd be eating dog food in 30 years. We did and we might. Will the historic 12% rate of return on stocks survive? It will interesting to see if this dictum holds in 2032 compared to today.
No one is talking about privatizing Social Security any more. But they will again. Memories are short.

Beware of Internet2.

Just a gut feeling. When Internet2 is up and running and a lot of new things are possible [high quality TV and radio] you'll see a whole new wave of Internet irrational exuberance.

7.22.02 THE COMING STRIKE will not kill baseball.

Baseball already died with the 1994-95 strike that resulted in the cancellation of the World Series. Even a mid-winter settlement might have allowed a warm weather or domed site World Series between the Expos and the Yankees.
I’ve lost most of my interest in baseball. Guys like me with several kids can’t see shelling out $150-200 [to recreate an experience that probably cost my old man $10-15] to see players who don’t run out pop ups.
I watched the last game of the 2000 series. It was over after midnight as the Yanks celebrated on the Shea turf. My kids were long asleep. This is a game I would have pinned my young Met-loving eyelids open for to see in 1970, ‘80, or ‘90. But in 2000, my kids slept. No one cared. The owners care more about luxury boxes than future fans.
The coming years will find the unthinkable--massive contraction of teams, old guard and new. And the taxpayers will be paying for the empty stadiums for years and years. I would advise Major League Soccer to hold off on stadium building, there may be some empty stadiums looking for summer rentals.
Whose fault is it? I have to blame the owners for agreeing to arbitration, the cause of so many overpaid nobodies. Can’t blame the players for getting what they can but the quality has never been lower, maybe not since during WWII when old guys who should have retired, a fifteen-year old, and a one-armed man played the game. The players should be trying harder and know the fundamentals.
Lower salaries that the owners want to impose via hard salary caps might allow lower ticket prices but we’re pretty sure the savings would end up in the owners' pockets. Let's watch these events play out in September 2002 as the nation copes with the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in NY, PA, and D.C. Players and owners both are going to look pretty bad arguing over their millions and billions.


I was the production editor for both the 1st and 2nd editions of a perennial best seller, THE SHAPE OF SPACE. Read all about it in my company newsletter. He is the winner of a MacArthur Grant and is an expert in the field of topology.

7.11.02: Movie recommendation: THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES [not a Disney picture]

Put aside your remote and forget the lines for the summer blockbusters. Go see THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES. An interesting and short fantasy about the interesting and short Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Lookalike Ian Holm excels once again [he's played him twice before] as Napoleon Bonaparte, who, so this tale goes, escaped from island exile by trading places with a humble deckhand [hilariously also played by Holm]. The genius of Napoleon is unquenchable as he makes his way to Paris, anticipating the discovery of the impostor to be followed by the acclaim of the people for their returned Emperor. His efficiency in showing a canal bargeman how to speed his trip, his analysis and exploitation of the melon trade, and his regal bearing in the mundane world are humorous but touching, as we see that France may not even want their old Emperor back.
He finds love with a good woman [totally convincing thesping by Iben Hjejle as the melon merchant, who was also good in HIGH FIDELITY with John Cusack], something maybe more valuable than the crown of Europe, that can make a humble man a king or a king renounce his throne. A nuanced turn was also delivered by Tim McInnerney as the knowing doctor who holds the fate of Napoleon [and Europe?] in his hands. The doctor's motivations are his love for the melon lady and also patriotism. He is best known to American audiences as Darling in Rowan Atkinson's classic BLACK ADDER tv series.
Now playing at The Screening Room, 54 Varick Street. Near Canal St. Stations on the 8th Avenue and 7th Avenue lines. [Be careful on Canal St. I saw a pretty big rat not too far from the theatre.]

Blackboard 2000

In the News

The New York Times printed my letter about my mother and buying recordings on demand in the 1940s in the Circuits column. Enjoy. Live link version.
Recently published my letter to Laura Miler commenting on her article about the Rocket Ebook and they said I can reprint here for your enjoyment. Apparently I own my own words! Thanks The reply asked if I was going to present it as a screenshot but I'm presenting it to you in all its HTML glory. Live link version.
I'm getting another Ebook, the 16MB model, and will have more on that in May 2000. Read The Rocket Ebook for my earlier review of the 4MB model, before I broke it.

Spam Spam Spam Spam Alert
You're never far from spam. I checked my old address the other day and found 296 spams from the last 45 days and one birthday greting from my brother Dennis. Never list your address on ATT Worldnet directory. It will be prey to every overseas porno site and get rich scheme on the Net.
Comin' at ya: the Spenser 2000 novel, HUGGER MUGGER by Robert B. Parker. Parker recently had a health scare but got this book to press before the docs almost killed him. Yeah, that doesn't happen much. We hear he lost a lot of lbs and no longer resembles the dust jacket. Don't be surprised if Parker's experience becomes a future plot point. Spenser makes two concessions to age, one regarding his prowess with his lady and another versus a steep street in San Francisco. He's still going strong for a guy who was boxing right after he got out of Korea. A look at the Aubrey/Maturin seafaring series by the late Patrick O'Brian. This series puts you on the con right next to Captain Jack Aubrey and his best friend Dr. Stephen Maturin. Taking place during the Napoleonic Wars, they fight, they laugh, they play music and have pulse-pounding adventures on the high seas. So far I've read the first book in the series, Master and Commander where the two heroes have a first meeting worthy of Holmes and Watson, and the third, H.M.S. Surprise. I listened to the second, Post Captain on tape [19 1/2 hours]. A rollicking good read/listen.

Election Special 2000: Team Coverage of the Bill Bradley rally in NYC.
This marked the kickoff of the fight for New York against Al Gore. See the candidate at the podium and me [lower right corner with confetti in hair, behind leather-lunged dude in baseball cap].

Product Review 1999: Must Read PC! The Rocket Ebook
The review contains a bonus link to Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

don't forget to check out for the latest on GHOST DANCE: A Film by Eric Stannard

Movies Reviews

The Blackboard congratulates the enchanting Angelina Jolie on her Academy Award triumph for GIRL INTERRUPTED. Read about her sizzling perf in:

Pushing Tin

Celebrity Meetings and Sightings

Gore Vidal at the 92nd St. Y

Sentimental Recollections

From 1992! All about the early years at home with 3 in diapers.
Full-Time Father
part 1 part 2 part 3

Looks at Books

Hugger Mugger

Aubrey/Maturin Weaving the Web Les Miserables


Check out the Dowd Report for the real story on Pete Rose. I read the Agreement and part one of a three-part PDF file. Basically, Pete agrees to the ban and agrees that the ban is justified by the facts. The ban is only issued to people who bet on their own teams. However, the agreement also lets Pete not formally admit that he bet on the Reds. But, unless he is illiterate, he admits by the signed agreement that the weight of the evidence is in the category described in the second paragraph. Either he bet on the Reds or he is the victim of a terrible conspiracy.

Science and Technology

From 1998! Read A Level Playing Field. I had a vision that a small company could compete with a larger one most effectively by exploiting emerging technology. This first appeared in the MDEye, the company newsletter of Marcel Dekker, Inc.. That was the last issue ever published. Too bad because I think a lot of people miss it.

letters to the Editor

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