PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 2 No. 28

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

August 2, 1999

When Will I Learn To Say No?

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

  • Big New Job

Computer Industry News

  • Mice and Mouses
  • Briefs

Web Site of the Week

  • Funny Face


  • Golf Joke
  • Secret Humor
  • Paul Make's Top Five--Twice!


  • Blair Witch Project
  • Briefs


  • Only On The Internet

General News

Big New Job

I think the subhead here should be "When Will I Ever Learn To Say No." This last Wednesday, out of the blue, Matt Bromberg, the publisher of the Business Technology Group at CMP Media (now a unit of Miller Freeman, a subsidiary of United News and Media of London) called. He asked me if I would be willing to take on the job of editor of, while continuing as editor of

I asked him for some time to think and to talk it over with my wife and family. Vicki, Marlow and Rae were all worried about the extra work and the stress. And I admit, those things worry me as well. But instead of viewing this as a negative, I view it as a challenge; my job was stressing me. I need to learn to control stress, to relax effectively, to budget my time. I must learn to do those things now for sure, or I will fail at this new endeavor. And I have no intention of failing.

The new job is quite a challenge. CMP shut down WINDOWS Magazine last month. I once worked there (see the details of my resume on my home page), and still had many friends among the laid off. There were 11 people kept on board to run the web site. For several weeks, there was no designated leader. This was not a good thing. I lobbied for some friends of mine to get the job. Instead, the management asked me to take it.

I am honored, flattered--and scared half witless. I guess if I was scared witless, I wouldn't have anything left to do the job with. But half witless--that may be enough.

With, I had to take a dead site and breathe life into it. With, I have a live site (more than 6 million -page views a month) I have to endeavor not to mess it up.

It is the biggest challenge of my career, but they say you're at your intellectual peak in your late 40s and early 50s. I'll be 47 on Sept. 17. So, while part of me wanted to say no, I said yes.

Computer Industry News

Mice and Mouses

This from my dependably interesting correspondent Craig Reynolds:

On Sunday I was reading the San Francisco Examiner and came to an article on ergonomic issues surrounding the computer "mouse":

I was stunned by their use of "mouses" as the plural of mouse instead of the traditional English word "mice". (What language do they speak at the Examiner?) At first I thought it was a typo, but it occurred several times in the article, "mice" appeared only in a quote.

Before sending this note to you I thought I'd do a quick web search on "mouses plural mouse mice" and found that this was a widely discussed issue. I agree completely with Bill Poser (the first message in the first URL below) who says, "I am astounded by the contention that computer mice have the plural `mouses'":

Reference One.
Reference Two
Reference Three
Reference Four

The mouse was invented about 30 years ago by Doug Englebart, I started using them about 17 years ago. I must be lucky, because before this week I'd never encountered anyone who thought the plural should be "mouses". Yuck!


One of the sharpest analyses of the whole AOL/Microsoft Instant Messaging battle was penned by my friend and former colleague David Strom for his Web Informant newsletter. If you're not a subscriber, you should be. The stench of hypocricy is strong on both sides in this fight. David cuts through it.

Craig Reynolds spotted this. It is pretty amusing.

'Girly' iBook Not Worthy of Men
in WIRED by Polly Sprenger.

Web Site of the Week

Funny Face

A simple site that pokes fun at Bill Clinton. Between this and virtual cow-tipping, you have to love the Internet.


Golf Joke

Too much humor again this week, but it's short and I found it screamingly funny.

A man and a woman meet on vacation and quickly fall in love. At the trip's end, they decide to open up to each other.

"It's only fair to warn you, Jody," Bill says. "I'm a golf nut. I live, eat, sleep, and breathe golf."

"Well, I'll be honest, too," Jody says. "I'm a hooker."

The man looks crestfallen for a moment, then says, "Are you keeping your wrists straight?"

Secret Humor

"The Top 5 Menu Items in the Astro Lounge"

Distributed only to the writers of the Top5 List, but I'm sharing this unpublished short list with you:

Flan 9 from Outer Space
Stomach-Bursting Alien Parasite Wings
Harvey Ceilingbanger
Clockwork Duck a l'Orange
Obi Wan Cannoli

My favorite: Harvey Ceilingbanger

Paul Makes The Top 5 List -- Twice

I made TWO of the lists! For space reasons, I have left off the full credits, but you can find them at the site.

I submitted No. 5 on the Police Academy list (along with several other people)

[ T H E T O P F I V E L I S T ]
[ Copyright 1999 by Chris White All rights reserved. Do not forward, publish, broadcast, or use in any manner without crediting "The Top 5 List at" ]

July 26, 1999

The Top 15 Signs Your Local Police Academy Sucks
15> Final exam consists of guessing the end of a "Scooby Doo" episode.

14> They spent last year's entire budget on a bronze replica of Barney Fife.

13> Across the street: Dunkin' Donuts, Winchell's, and a house they're tearing down to make way for Krispy Kreme.

12> All graduates immediately placed on administrative leave subject to internal department review.

11> It advertises for new recruits on late night television, and promises a "Tater Twister" and two tubes of Miracle Spot Remover with every enrollment.

10> "Bulletproof vests" issued to cadets are nothing but Domino's "Heat Wave" pizza totes with arm holes.

9> Chalk body outlines consistently lack compositional balance and stylistic integrity.

8> Instead of karate lessons, you learn the Moe Howard eye poke.

7> When your combat instructor tells you to "put a cork in it", he's referring to reloading your weapon.

6> Stun gun training? Twelve butter knives and a toaster.

5> First rule: if someone has fruit on their head, read them their Miranda rights.

4> Obstacle course consists of one tire and an aggressive telemarketer.

3> Firearms training: 2 hours. Sucking the filling out of a jelly doughnut training: 2 weeks.

2> Your squad car has an *actual* cherry on top.

and's Number 1 Sign Your Local Police Academy Sucks...

1> Rubber bullets, rubber guns, rubber pants.

On this list, I submitted No. 3

July 29, 1999
The Top 10 Pick-Up Lines Used in the Astro Lounge

10> "Let's get weightless."

9> "Your eyes are like two black holes that I keep getting sucked into."

8> "Is your name 'Hyperspace'? Because my instruments tell me I'm about to make the jump to you."

7> "Your lips may be saying, 'No, no, no', but your antennae are saying, 'Yes, yes, yes!'"

6> "Hey, want to go to a kickin' Y3K party?"

5> "Is that a fluctuation in the antimatter injection tubes
of your vortex ionizer, or are you happy to see me?"

4> "What's a well-engineered female life form like you doing in a campy post-modern representation of a social meeting place like this?"

3> "Are you happy to see me, or is that your low battery
warning light?"

2> "You have the most beautiful butts I've ever seen."

and's Number 1 Pick-Up Line Used in the Astro Lounge...

1> "Is your hovercar low on crystalloid fusion particles? 'Cause you've been driving it through my mind all night


Blair Witch Project

Just the facts (courtesy of the Internet Movie Database).

Directed by Daniel Myrick. Writing credits: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez (II). Tagline: In October of 1994, three student filmmakers dissapeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. One year later, their footage was found. Heather Donahue: Heather Donahue; Michael C. Williams: Michael Williams ; Joshua Leonard: Joshua Leonard. Rated R for language (I'll Say!) Runtime: 82 minutes.

Maybe you've heard the buzz about this film. It cost like $30,000 to make. This was the writers' last chance; if this film didn't click, they were going to find another line of work. It didn't open "wide," but rather in select theaters. The word of mouth was monumental. Sellouts were the norm. The Act 1 and 2 theaters in Berkeley ran it in both theaters, sold out ever show, added a midnight show, sold that out. In Rheem, where I saw it, it sold out the 350-seat main theater several times a day.

No special effects. No stars. Just sheer, stark terror. And the F-word every 12 seconds for 82 minutes (I exaggerate, but not by much). This is the scariest non-special effect film I have ever seen. Marlow, who has seen both says it is scarier by far than The Haunting.

This is an old-fashioned Hollywood picture, in the spirit of Hitchcock, where the terror derives from things you can only imagine. It isn't what you see that scares the daylights out of you, no matter realistic the puppet, the claymation, the digital rendering; it is what you don't see. With the success of this film, maybe we'll have a sexy romance in which we never see either protagonist naked--wouldn't that be a kick.

The terror is achieved through the relentless accretion of mundane detail, as we gradually watch a trio of documentary filmmakers lose their way--and their minds in the Maryland woods. The ending is shocking, even if it becomes easy to anticipate.

If you have a visceral distaste for jerky handheld footage, do not attend this movie. What it lacks in technical sophistication it makes up in storytelling bravado.


Run, Lola, Run is a German film with English subtitles. Although the Germans are not known for their sense of humor, it is a funny film (perhaps inadvertently so) and a pretentious one, with echoes of Sliding Doors and Groundhog Day. Lola has 20 minutes to find 100,000 marks and save her low-life boyfriend's life. As it turns out, she gets three tries. Like Groundhog Day, this film doesn't waste any time explaining why she gets a second and third chance. Suitable for anyone old enough to read subtitles quickly.

Inspector Gadget is the Disneyfied version of a moderately amusing Japanese cartoon series, whose man character was voiced by Don Adams when it was released in this country. The central conceit of the cartoon is that Gadget is an idiot, constantly bailed out by his niece Penny and her dog Brain. All that is dropped in the film; we're left with just Gadget and the special effects. But that lovable scamp Matthew Broderick plays Gadget, and Rupert Evertt plays the claw, and they both chew all the scenery in site. If it was a minute longer than 88 minutes, it would be tedious. But at this length it is mildly amusing for adults and a kick in the pants for kids. Very G-rated.


Only On The Internet

I got the coolest letter this week, which can only be filed under the category of "Only On The Internet." I mean think about it, before the Internet, how else could I share my hobby (collecting Journalism movies, books and quotes) with anyone outside my own town, my immediate family and my personal acquaintances. But because of the Internet, 1,879 people have viewed my page of Journalism Movies and my opinions of them. A few of them have written, but none so fulsomely as this person. I darn near busted my buttons.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this Web site. I am the assistant features editor at the Lansing State Journal in Michigan and although I review movies as part of my job, when I'm called on the spot to come up with a list of films on a particular topic, my mind can go blank. I am currently running a journalism camp for 9- to 15-year-olds in the news room this week, and we are planning to show a movie to them tomorrow. I figured they'd be bored by any of the older films, and the newer ones usually are (realistically) full of swearing, so your site helped me decided to show "I Love Trouble" (despite how unbelievable those of us in the know felt it was...) I was relieved to find your site.

Thanks for the help.
Robin Swartz
Assistant Features Editor
Lansing State Journal

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