PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 20

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

June 5, 2000

The Big Idea

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

  • The Big Idea: At-Home Spa Week
  • Journalism Movies
  • The Value of Writing

Computer Industry News

  • Microsoft's Dubious Logic
  • Blame Canada

Web Site of the Week

  • Death


  • Sex Cliché Shaggy Dog Story


  • M:I-2
  • The Big Kahuna


  • Ross on Broadway

General News

The Big Idea: At-Home Spa Week

So, I can't really afford a week at a fat farm, but then I got this great idea: do a fat farm at home! So, the week of June 19th, I'm taking vacation, but I'm going to use it to exercise four hours a day, get a massage every day, (and two herbal wraps along the way), and carefully control my food intake. It may not be much of a vacation, but I'm counting on it to drop some pounds--something I have been trying in vain to do for some time. It might even break some bad habits!

Journalism Movies

Hey, how many of you have noticed the link at the bottom of my column to my truly excellent Journalism Movies page? It is widely considered to be one of the best resources on this topic on all of the Internet. The Google Search Engine, which ranks pages by the number of pages that point to them, puts mine at the top of the list.

The Value of Writing

This is too good to relegate to the Letters section; a missive from Richard Dalton:

cribbed from Rafe Needleman of Redherring:


Computer Industry News

Microsoft's Dubious Logic

A tip o' the Schindler hat to Craig Reynolds who spotted this cogent analysis of the Microsoft case in the Washington Post:

Microsoft Math: Long Division?
By Rob Pegoraro
Friday, June 2, 2000; Page E01
Who do you trust--Microsoft, the government or neither? Only one of these organizations has access to guns and bombs (well, that I know of). Only one of them controls the tools most of us use every working day (or so I hope). But both draw about equal amounts of fear and suspicion among some people, which makes the argument over how to wield the judicial scissors in the antitrust case all the more interesting to watch.

Blame Canada

Microsoft has since denied it, but this was a cool story last week, from Bloomberg News as reported on the CNET web site:

SEATTLE--Canada is encouraging software giant Microsoft to relocate its operations to British Columbia, according to reports.
Any agreement may hinder the U.S government's efforts to break up the company. Still, Microsoft denied it is discussing the matter with British Columbian authorities, British Broadcasting said without citing sources.

By the way, in case you're worried, don't be: the long arm of the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust division has reached across international boundaries before and will do so again. Even in the unlikely event Microsoft flees, it won't do them any good.

Web Site of the Week


Richard Dalton brought this site to my attention. As they note:

No longer can politicians claim that they stand for the death penalty in the name of the overwhelming support of the American public. Opinion polls show that death penalty support is at a 19-year low. A recent Gallup Poll found that pro-death penalty sentiment has dropped from a high of 84 percent to just 66% today. When given the alternative of Life Sentence Without Possibility of Parole (LWOP), the percentage of Americans favoring the death penalty drops to 52%.


Sex Cliché Shaggy Dog Story

As they say in the lottery business, you can't win if you don't play. I haven't submitted anything to Top 5 lately, so I haven't made the list. But here's the best joke I got this week:

A man boards an airplane and takes his seat. As he settles in, he glances up and sees a most beautiful woman boarding the plane. He soon realizes she is heading straight towards his seat. A wave of nervous anticipation washes over him. Lo and behold, she takes the seat right beside his.
Eager to strike up a conversation, he blurts out, "Business trip or vacation?".
She turns, smiles and says, "Business. I'm going to the annual Nymphomaniac Convention in Chicago,"
Whoa!!! He swallows hard and is instantly crazed with excitement.
Here's the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen, sitting RIGHT next to him and she's going to a meeting of nymphomaniacs!
Struggling to maintain his outward cool, he calmly asks, "What's your business role at this convention?"
"Lecturer,," she says "I use my experiences to debunk some of the myths.
"Really," he says, swallowing hard, "what myths are those?"
"Well," she explains, "one popular myth is that African-American men are the most well-endowed when, in fact, it is the Native American Indian who is most likely to possess that trait. Another popular myth is that French men are the best lovers, when actually it is men of Jewish descent."
Suddenly, the woman becomes very embarrassed and blushes. "I'm sorry," she says, "I shouldn't be discussing this with you, I don't even know your name!"
"Tonto," the man says as he extends his hand. "Tonto Goldstein."



You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database.

As Marlow put it when she saw this film, "So, does John Woo make the same film over and over? This was just like Face/Off," and indeed, there are a lot of similar fight scenes and visual references. It was a substantial improvement over the first outing; this time, you could almost believe Tom Cruise was an action hero. Robert Towne, who did the script for this, is a once-great movie scriptwriter who is clearly slumming.

The only thing rescued from the television series for the movie series is the theme song, which, amazingly, makes an even briefer appearance in this film than in the first. Oh, and the masks, which are, of course, way better in the movie than they were in the television series.

The digital special effects were seamless and fantastic--five different special effects companies took part in their creation. And there were some original new ideas, including a mid-air motorcyclist collision you have to see to believe--oh wait, you've already seen it in the trailer!

No one involved with this film will be clearing any space on his or her mantle for Mr. Oscar, but it is a rip-roaring piece of standard summer action fare, rated PG-13 for violence and mild sex.

At 123 minutes, it's too long, of course, and it would be nice if Cruise, or one of the other producers had told John Woo that no fight scene could last longer than five minutes. I mean, how many times can you stand up after being kicked in the head--especially if the kick makes that kind of thumping noise?

The Big Kahuna

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database.

This is an art film, based on the play Hospitality Suite and adapted for the screen by the play's author, Roger Rueff, who threw in only a handful of scenes to open it up. Rated R for language, it is a snappy 90 minutes long and was directed by first-timer John Swanbeck.

You may have seen the previews. The only reason the movie got made was because Danny DeVito and Kevin Spacey are two of the three leads, and you can bet neither of them made much over scale for this film.

Vicki and I have often commented to each other about the fact that, for the most part, movies are about entertainment and plays are about ideas. This one is about friendship (and the difference between a business friend and a real friend), loyalty, and how to decide what's important in your life. All played out in a Wichita, Kansas hotel suite.

Though-provoking dialog, masterful performances, good-enough movie making. A small, talky movie that will be of interest to thinking adults interested in a movie in which nothing blows up.


Ross On Broadway

Ross Snyder sends in this report on Broadway:

I haven't your stamina for movies, but I do love Broadway musicals, with a standard precision of production and performance that never makes it onto the road. Not to match your marathon of a few weeks back, but I just returned from a weekend of "Fosse," "Footloose," "Contact" and "Kiss Me Kate." The level of every show was, indeed, Broadway-standard. I thought "Contact" a fine display of new-age cleverness, with a touch of surrealism, "Footloose" an excess of teenage glandular exuberance, and "Fosse" a delicious melange of too-brief reminders of that great dancing career. But "Kiss Me, Kate" demonstrated to me that, all these years later, no one, not one soul, can yet touch Cole Porter for intelligence, inventiveness, pathos, melody, wit and slapstick all in one unified, class act.

While scouting for information about her own 15th reunion this year, Barbara Moore ran across a rather unflattering picture of me:

Have you seen yourself on the MIT web pages for reunion activities? I was looking for the times of some events and there you were, with hat and shades, chowing down some barbecue. You can see yourself, if you haven't already.

Well, I have now, and it's a good thing I believe all publicity is good publicity.

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