PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 2 No. 42

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

December 6, 1999

Happy Holidays!

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

  • Spend $200,000
  • The 12-Foot Tree

Computer Industry News

  • $7.5 Million for A Web Site

Web Site of the Week

  • Arts and Letters Daily


  • The Top 14 Signs Satan is Loose in Manhattan
  • The Top 13 Signs You're Addicted to MTV


  • Toy Story


  • Dalton on Dogma

General News

Spend $200,000

I got to spend much of Friday engaged in a thoroughly enjoyable activity. I was asked to do a quick and dirty budget for a new activity. Since my expertise is in hardware, I was asked to figure out how much that would cost.

What fun! I felt like a kid in a toy store! Even if we never start up the activity, looking up prices, filling in slots on a spreadsheet, and dreaming about all that gear had me so excited that I actually had trouble falling asleep on Thursday night. Time flew by on Friday, and before I knew it, it was 5 o'clock, so I wrapped it up and sent it off.

If you've never done it, I suggest you try making out such a budget sometime, even if there isn't anyone on the other end to read it. I can actually remember doing similar things as a kid--figuring out how many people and how much equipment it would take to do this or that activity. I guess my thrills are a testimony to the enjoyability of dreaming with your eyes open. Maybe that's what makes startups so much fun.

The 12-Foot Tree

Vicki and I went tree shopping Saturday at Orchard Nursery in Lafayette. Marlow asked us to get the biggest live tree we could fit into our house for her first Christmas home from college.

I had my eye on a 14-footer, but it was six feet wide. Alas, the Orinda Design Review Board refused to allow us to build double-doors in front of our house. So, we have a three-foot front door. The 14-footer simply would not fit, even folded up.

Instead, we ended up with a 12-footer, a real beauty, with dense branches all around from top to bottom. It is really going to light up our library and be appropriately impressive when decorated. We bought 10 boxes of 50 colored lights--and we aren't sure that's going to be enough.

After a long run of plastic trees, it will be fun to switch to a real tree this year. I think it will be impressive enough that Marlow won't regret her decision to come home for Christmas (well, OK, it wasn't her decision, I ordered her to come home because of my concerns about possible disruptions during the millenium).

Computer Industry News

$7.5 Million For A Web Site

Thanks Craig Reynolds, for this note:

A new record was set for the sale price of a domain name: $7.5 million. Here is a press release by the new owner.
Interestingly, while I was looking for that, I found this 1997 article indicating that this same domain name was sold for a then-record sum of $150,000.
I think yesterday's seller "Marc Ostrofsky" ("...a Houston-based entrepreneur...") is the same person as the 1997 buyer described as "a Texas-based company"

Web Site of the Week

Arts and Letters Daily

Reader Richard Buck, whom I know from my days at the Associated Press, and who spent years on the business desk at the Seattle Times says he checks out the Arts and Letters Daily every day on the web. He's right, it's a cool site!

Nominations from other readers are welcome; either that, or we return to a slow-motion tour of my bookmark file.


The Top 14 Signs Satan is Loose in Manhattan

Note the entry at No. 7; woo-hoo!

December 1, 1999


Arnold Schwarzeneggar's new movie, "End of Days", is about Satan coming to Manhattan to find a wife, settle down, and start a family.

The Top 14 Signs Satan is Loose in Manhattan

14> The murder rate has actually gone *down*.

13> Red guy with horns standing outside The Today Show's window with a sign that says, "Katie, I love you!"

12> Leona Helmsley turns up pregnant.

11> just had a $15 Billion IPO.

10> Wanton violence... um, no.
That godforsaken odor... ah, scratch that.
The undead walking the streets... er, maybe not.
I give up -- What *are* the signs??

9> Proposed new subway "H" line would run up Second Avenue, take a sharp turn, and head into the Earth's molten center.

8> David Letterman's studio mysteriously warms up to a balmy 50 degrees.

7> Times Square is looking eerily wholesome these days.
(Oops! That's a sign DISNEY is loose in Manhattan.)

6> Guys with hooves and horns, engulfed by fire, are out hailing cabs -- and still getting picked up before Danny Glover.

5> Cab drivers suddenly speaking in a foreign tongue -- English.

4> Apartment rentals in Hell's Kitchen way, WAY up.

3> Newest Broadway smash: Beelzebublin'!

2> Relieved New Yorkers now have someone they can feel good about voting for in the upcoming Senate race.

and's Number 1 Sign Satan is Loose in Manhattan...

1> New total: 666 Starbucks locations!

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 1999 by Chris White ]

Selected from 121 submissions from 45 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
John Gephart IV, Harrisburg, PA -- 1 (Woohoo! 1st #1!)
Jeff Scherer, Brooklyn, NY -- 7, 9
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 7
Chris White, New York, NY -- List owner/editor

The Top 13 Signs You're Addicted to MTV

No. 7 again, in a big four-way tie.

December 3, 1999


Today's topic was the idea of the fine young men and women of Ms. Barb Silvey's class at Rogers High School in Spokane, WA!

13> Your daily mantra: "Carson Daly is *soooo* talented."

12> Watching "Road Rules" reruns has begun to affect your job -- stalking Martha Quinn.

11> You're still P.O.'d you didn't win John Cougar's little pink house -- and you're gonna make life miserable for that loser who did, if it's the last thing you do.

10> You invent a sex life just so you can talk to Adam and Dr. Drew.

9> Your master's thesis? "Puck's Eviction: A necessary move, or the evil plan of that whiny little bitch, Judd."

8> Although you could make a killing on eBay, you refuse to part with your beloved J.J. Jackson action figure.

7> You think The Real World is just that.

6> You lost a 10 grand bet on the "Rock-N-Jock Celebrity Kickball/Trampoline/Spelling Bee Challenge" when Pamela Anderson somehow spelled "endocrine" during a backflip.

5> Your bracelet says, "WWPD", for "What Would Puck Do?"

4> You communicate exclusively in hip-hop slang, even though you're a white geek from Idaho.

3> You just can't understand why Ms. Silvey rejected your term paper comparing and contrasting "Catcher In The Rye" with TLC's "No Scrubs."

2> Your IQ is... Your IQ is... Your IQ is... 'bout 80.

and's Number 1 Sign You're Addicted to MTV...

1> You refer to your grandmother's funeral as "Nana Unplugged."

P.S. Hey, Ms. Silvey's class -- Who's your daddy?

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 1999 by Chris White ]

Selected from 103 submissions from 40 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Joe DiPietro, Brooklyn, NY -- 7
John Gephart IV, Harrisburg, PA -- 7
Mark Schmidt, Amsterdam, Holland -- 7
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 7
Dave Wesley, Pleasant Hill, CA -- 7 (Hall of Famer)
Chris White, New York, NY -- List owner/editor
Beck Hansen, Los Angeles, CA -- Ambience
-> Ambience explanation:


Toy Story

Facts courtesy of Internet Movie Database.

Directed by Ash Brannon John Lasseter; Writing credits: John Lasseter (story) and Peter Docter; Tagline: The toys are back! Tom Hanks: Woody; Tim Allen: Buzz Lightyear; Joan Cusack: Jessie; Kelsey Grammer: Stinky Pete the Prospector; Don Rickles: Mr. Potato Head; Jim Varney: Slinky Dog ;Wallace Shawn: Rex; John Ratzenberger: Hamm; Annie Potts: Bo Peep; Wayne Knight: Al McWhiggin; Runtime: 92 Rated: G

Unlike their live action counterparts, you can always count on animation directors to make movies of a sensible length. They rarely run much over 90 minutes, and are generally better for it.

This is a first-class piece of work, well-written, well-voiced, and well animated. As with all good animation, it has elements for the young and old alike.

And this time, there is even a female character with an actual part, Jessie (Joan Cusack).

Now, I must admit my prejudice here: I am an animation fan. Not the lame, talentless, limited animation crap put out by Hanna Barberra and their ilk, but good stuff: Warner Brothers, Ren and Stimpy, South Park, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Family Dog, Family Guy, The Simpsons and Futurama. Heck, I might even have liked Fish Police if I had ever seen it. I like cartoon physics. I like the humor, which goes way beyond what is acceptable in live action (imagine The Simpsons with real people. It wouldn't have lasted a year). I like the music. I like the voices!

Add world-class computer animation to the mix, as in Toy Story 2, and you get a package that is irresistible to me. Tom Hanks (is there anything that man can't do?) and Tim Allen reprise their roles from the first film, and once again carry the picture with their comedic talents. It's amazing how funny they can be when you can't see them. Kelsey Grammer plays against type, essaying the role of the film's bad guy, Stinky Pete the prospector.

And touching too. I have to admit I cried a little during Jessie's song about being discarded by her owner. You can call it maudlin if you like; I call it touching.

If you have any fondness at all for animation, Disney-style, go see Toy Story 2.


Dalton on Dogma

Richard Dalton writes:

You begin your review of Dogma saying it stands far above "...formulaic Hollywood tripe..." then criticize it because "There is way too much swearing and utterly gratuitous violence in this film, but I guess that's what Indie directors have to do to maintain their street cred."
Is this exchanging tripe for offal?
Is anyone else disturbed by the constant flood of angel-driven entertainment? If you are religious, angels probably have a specific meaning, not to be confused wiith the monsters and palliatives popular on TV and in movies (and on greeting cards, refrigerator magnets, and hand-etched crystals from Sedona). If you have a need for that kind of sludge, I'd suggest Hello Kitty! from Sanrio and all its damnably cute little friends. At least they're more original.

Exchanging tripe for offal. That is exactly what is taking place. And as for Richard's angel remarks, he's right, I hadn't thought of it that way. The whole angel thing is probably pretty offensive to a lot of people.

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