PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 2 No. 9

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

March 15, 1999

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

I have a day job, so I need to make it clear to anyone who comes here that the opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer, my family, or your great-aunt Mathilda. Offer not valid in Wisconsin. You must enter to win.

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Meanwhile, in Orinda
  • Another Impeachment Item

Computer Industry News

  • Microsoft's Irony Deficiency

Web Site of the Week

  • Harry Shearer


  • Journalism 101
  • A Humor Special


  • The Other Sister, Grosse Pointe Blank
  • My Buddy Oscar


  • Barry Surman nominates the Genius of the Week

General News

Meanwhile, in Orinda

Wow, it's like a Christmas letter in March. Oh well, beats another impeachment column, right?

It's Saturday night around the Schindler household. Marlow and a half-dozen classmates are watching Apocalypse Now, so they can compare and contrast it with Heart of Darkness, the Conrad novel on which it was based. Maybe I'll join them later and watch a little, if the column goes quickly. Rae is making a collage from a dozen women's magazines--not because someone asked her to, but because she enjoys doing it. Vicki is reading, having earlier sewn a Feng Shui sash for my office (red, the color of fame).


Speaking of Feng Shui (the Chinese art of object placement to improve the flow of Chi force), Vicki did an analysis of my room a few weeks back and had me move my pictures and bric-a-brac to more appropriate positions. She also noted a notch in my career section and placed a wind chime there. Since then I have been promised a $40,000 share of the proceeds if CMP is sold and promoted to a new job as Executive Editor of Coincidence? I don't think so.


Before I went to the Miramonte High School spring musical revue last night, I petted the cats for 10 minutes. When I got there, several people reminded me why people with orange cats shouldn't wear black shirts while petting them.


...Apparently, there are four ages of youth. They are, in chronological order, "Aren't you cute," "You've grown so much since the last time I saw you," "What are you taking in school," and "Have you heard from any colleges yet." This last phase, which Marlow entered in January, is the shortest but most intense. I swear, there are some parents who will be almost as excited as our family if Marlow gets into Harvard.


The fact that she applied to both Cal and Harvard landed her a slot on a PBS Frontline documentary about SAT scores, meritocracy and college admissions. The show is following two urban kids and two suburban kids. They have been filming Marlow since last December, when they interviewed Vicki, Marlow and me. I was also videotaped helping her edit her Cal essay. They filmed her mailing in her application. They have filmed her playing basketball and filmed a meeting of the Gay-Straight Alliance, of which Marlow is an officer. Saturday, they filmed her Girl Scout Gold Award ceremony at the Orinda Community Center. The show should air in October or so; I'll let you know when it's coming up.


...Marlow didn't just apply to Cal and Harvard(just to see if she can make it); she also applied to Brown (her first choice), Yale, Columbia, Northwestern, Reed, NYU, Tufts, UC San Diego and three more for a total of 13. I figured, "Why not? Admission fees aren't that high." NYU and UC San Diego have admitted her. Most schools won't let her know until April 1. She'll outgrow the "Have you heard from any colleges yet," and enter the first stage on adulthood, "So, what college are you going to?"


After a year on JV and three years on varsity, Marlow's high school basketball career ended on a low note when the Lady Matadors were defeated in their first round of play as a wild card team in the North Coast Section playoffs. They beat El Marino for three quarters, but lost the fourth quarter and the game. Marlow hasn't gotten a lot of playing time the last two seasons, but she's enjoyed the company and the exercise and had a good time. I think that's all that really counts. She's made some lifelong friends I'm sure. The funny thing is, I think I may miss it more than she does. It has become such a central feature of my life each year from November to February. The game schedule has made Christmas and Thanksgiving travel difficult if not impossible. (That's so weird; we certainly didn't practice over the holidays when I played high school sports). I was absorbed with the team, its personalities, its prospects, and its ups and downs for four years. Now, poof, it's gone. Rae doubts she'll be playing.

Another Impeachment Item

The last one. I promise. Maybe.

Rob Morse, San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 24, 1999: Strom warnings for Napa

Where was this tidbit when we needed it? Sen. Barbara Boxer points out that two of the leading House prosecutors of President Clinton, men who kept lecturing us about sexual harassment, opposed and gutted sexual harassment legislation in 1990.

James Sensenbrenner capped damages for victims of on-the-job sexual harassment at $30,000. A Democratic congressman then recalled the case of a woman whose co-workers exposed their buttocks to her.

At that point, according to the Congressional Quarterly Almanac of 1990, Henry Hyde added the distasteful comment that "someone can show me their buttocks all day if I can get $30,000 per view."

This is the man who bemoans the decline of American civilization. Well, he got his metaphorical mooning by the majority of the American people, but not the $30,000. How does it feel now?

Computer Industry News

Microsoft's Irony Deficiency

This from Craig Reynolds, who is a way better writer than he thinks he is:

The irony of this is just too delicious. Throughout the DOJ v. MS anti-trust trial, Microsoft has continually whined about government interference in the private sector. They talk on and on about how the marketplace is a more efficient way to control business practices than intervention by the feds. They complain that governmental regulation stifles innovation. They scoff at the idea that government can better serve the needs of consumers than free enterprise.

Except apparently in those situations where they stand to benefit from anti-trust enforcement,
in which case they think its a great idea:

My headline would be:

Microsoft supports DOJ anti-trust action,
says government interference is good

Web Site of the Week

I probably can't explain this to you if you didn't watch Saturday Night Live in 1982, or if you haven't seen the movie This Is Spinal Tap, or you haven't heard Le Show on KCRW or any of a number of other NPR stations, or if you haven't cracked up at the voices of Monty Burns, Smiths, Dr. Hibbert and a host of others on the Simpsons. Those are just some of the places you'll find Harry Shearer.

He also has two books out. Man Bites Town, a collection of his LA Times columns published by St. Martins appears to have disappeared.. His new book is It's the Stupidity, Stupid : Why (Some) People Hate Clinton and Why the Rest of Us Have to Watch. That one's readily available at, although I don't care where you buy it because I don't have one of those kickback deals with a book site.

Anyway, his show, Le Show, is broadcast in San Francisco by KALW, whose signal doesn't make it over the Berkeley hills, so I record it off the web site each week and listen to it in my car. That way I can fast forward through the music and just listen to Harry. Kind of a home-made air check!

Although the site would be worth it just for the RealAudio download of his show, there are lots of other goodies here as well. Do have a look.


Journalism 101

Two Indiana boys are playing football when one of the boys is attacked by a rabid Rottweiler.

Thinking quickly, the other boy rips a board off the nearby fence, wedges it down the dog's collar and twists, breaking the dog's neck. An Indianapolis Star reporter hears about the incident and rushes over to interview the boy.

"Young Hoosier Fan Saves Friend From Vicious Animal," he starts writing in his notebook.

"But I'm not a Hoosier fan," the little hero replies.

"Sorry, since we are in Indiana I just assumed you were," says the reporter and he starts again.

"Purdue Fan Rescues Friend From Horrific Attack," he jots in his notebook.

"I'm not a Purdue fan either," the boy responds.

"I assumed everyone in the state of Indiana was either for the Hoosiers or for the Boilermakers. What team do you root for?" the reporter asks.

"I'm a Kentucky Wildcat fan." The boy says.

The reporter starts a new sheet in his notebook and writes, "Little Redneck Bastard Kills Beloved Family Pet"

Humor Special

I've got so much backed up humor I haven't used, I did a humor special. What's so special about it? No formatting, no tidying up, no nothing.


Let's do the good news first. I saw this film when it first came out a few years ago, and I loved it. I had almost forgotten it until the arrival of this missive from Joe Brancatelli:

Grosse Pointe Blank. Simply hilarious and, ultimately, very sad. It's got a ton of stars--Jon and Joan Cusack, Minnie Driver, Dan Ackroyd, Hank Azaria, Alan Arkin--and every bit of it is lovely. It's about a hit man (Cusack) who goes home for his tenth high-school reunion and is pestered by a competitor (Ackroyd) who wants him to join the hit-man union. Every frame is a joy!

Go rent it. You'll be glad you did.

The Other Sister

Poor Diane Keaton. Overshadowed by Juliette Lewis, who has taken the Dustin Hoffman/Rain Man route in this dreary, manipulative Gary Marshall film, and the result is 2 hours and 10 minutes of near tedium. Diane can be so good, it's a shame she's wasted in the role of the nasty mother in this film. More comedy, Diane!

There are some funny moments (after all, the director gave us Happy Days), but if you've seen the trailer, you've already seen most of them; the costumes for the party, the reference to the Joy of Sex. Making a movie about efforts by the mildly retarded to live independently is noble--the kind of nobility we've come to expect from our sitcom kings. Now if only it could be entertaining at the same time.

My Buddy Oscar

Perhaps you've noticed I'm a movie fan. The Oscars are one of my favorite times of year. I watch them every year at Fran Strykowski's Oscar watching party. It is going to be very strange to watch on a Sunday instead of a Monday. Anyway, I am proud to say that I've seen all five films nominated for best pictures. Of the 35 nominees in the big seven categories (actor, actress, supporting, director and screenplay), there are only 7 whose work I haven't seen (and I will knock off two of those, Nolte and Coburn, when I see Affliction this week).

I'm going to stick my neck out in public by giving you my picks. Acting: Nolte, Paltrow, Billy Bob, Kathy Bates (sentimental and personal favorite). Madden for directing Shakespeare in Love. Stoppard and Norman for writing Shakespeare in Love (I think Stoppard could do a funny adaptation of the telephone book). Best picture: Shakespeare in Love. I've been invited to join a large Oscar pool this year. I expect to win. Come back in a week and we'll compare notes.

p.s. I miss Gene Siskel. God rest his soul.


Barry Surman offers this nominee for Genius of the Week:

"There is something screwed up about our sense of time," said Danny Hillis, a computer scientist who is spearheading an effort to build a clock that will strike once every 10,000 years. (He wants to encourage a longer view of the future.)
-- The New York Times on the Web, March 7, 1999

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