PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 21

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

June 12, 2000

I Must Be A Blockhead

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

  • This and That Around Here

Computer Industry News

  • Error Messages
  • Microsoft News

Web Site of the Week

  • Better Dogfood


  • Blew A Seal
  • Hamlet's Cat


  • M: i-2: A Nasty Review
  • Winter Sleepers
  • My Dog Skip


  • None

General News

This and That Around Here

No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
Samuel Johnson

Credit: Jerry Pournelle likes to cite this line in discussions of intellectual property on the Internet.

I write this column for the love of it, so I guess I must be a blockhead. It is important to me, which is why it is usually on time. This week, it is going up on Tuesday, because it was either that or stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning, and I'm too old for that, even for love…

…I mean, I could have done the column Sunday afternoon. I was on my way home from a Contra Costa Wind Symphony concert with Marlow, who had come to watch me play. I had a ton of work to do. She said, "Well, you could come home and do the work, or we could go to dinner and a movie." Hmm. That one didn't take long to figure out. No one ever said on their deathbed, "God, I wish I'd spent more time in the office…"

…A lot of you have asked me why I haven't been on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and a few of you have even asked why I wasn't on Twenty One after being so certain I would be selected as a contestant. I can't answer the second question; I did well in the tryout, and I knew the senior contestant coordinator. But obviously, I didn't fit the demographic. And now it is being moved to PAX and the prize money is being cut back and Maury Povich is leaving. As for Millionaire, I passed the telephone test last August, and was promised a callback that never came. In November and April I couldn't pass the call-in test. I'll try again soon, because you're right, I was made for this show and it was made for me--no buzzer (although the speed round that gets you on the show is like a buzzer). Ah well….

…Congratulations to Richard Dalton, a long-time friend of mine and my tent-mate during my AIDS ride from SF to LA a few years back; Richard did the ride again this year. I'll either point to his journal or excerpt it. Also, congrats to Cecile Riborozo, a long-time CMP colleague, who was on the same ride. I supported both of them in this worthy cause.

Computer Industry News

Error Messages

I saw this Washington Post article reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle and it caused me to go and check to make sure my browser was set to display "enhanced" 404 messages instead of plain ones.

Web Users Dial 404 For Frustration

By Rob Pegoraro
Friday, May 26, 2000; Washington Post, Page E01

"404" may be the most hated three-digit number in computing. Not because of any visceral dislike of Atlanta's area code, but because it's the "file not found" error code Web users get whacked over the head with about 50 times a day…

Microsoft News

A semi-talented artist makes fun of Microsoft's TV ad campaign.

Scot Finnie noted these items:

Americans Oppose Break-up of Microsoft

As my mother always said, the masses are asses.

Windows Me To Ship In Mid-July

By the way, of all the buggy, not-ready-for-prime time operating systems Microsoft has ever shipped, this may be the worst. Watch out for a disaster of Titanic proportions.

Web Site of the Week

Better Dogfood

This is a joke, right? I'm not sure. It's so deadpan.

Craig Reynolds recommends this swoosh-related site. I know this is a joke.

Daniel Dern found someone making fun of the search for extra-terrestrial life forms. This, too, is humor the way I like it: obvious.


Blew A Seal

OK, here's the thing with this joke. I fell on the floor laughing when I heard it, and I chuckle about it still, every time I hear it or tell it. I told it to Marlow, Fran and David Strykowski, and they all thought it was dumb, sick or both. But Fran had a great idea. "It's a terrific setup, its just the punchline that stinks." So, I'm printing it without the punchline. Let me know what you think should be the punchline.

A penguin is driving through Death Valley when his car starts to sputter. He just makes it into a gas station. The attendant opens the hood and says "This will take at least two hours."
The penguin says, "Hey, I'm a penguin! Two hours in this desert head and I'll be toast!"
"There's a convenience store over there. Why don't you just sit in the freezer?"
So the penguin waddles over to the store, and sits down in the back of the freezer. After a while, he notices the vanilla ice cream. He dips his little flipper in, and pretty soon, he's off to the races, gobbling down vanilla ice cream.
Then, he looks down at his little penguin watch and realizes two hours have passed. He waddles back over to the gas station. When the attendant sees him coming, he shows, "I think you blew a seal."
The penguin says, "…"

Plus, if I print the real punchline next week (and I'll only do that if none of you come up with a better one), the joke won't seem as gross. I mean, you'll have to put the two parts together to get it.

Hamlet's Cat

I was at the orientation for Rae's summer Shakespeare program last night when I saw Hamlet's Cat's soliloquy posted on the bulletin board. I made a note of it and looked for it on the Internet when I got home. There are literally dozens of postings. I wish I could give credit to the actual author, instead of Shakespaw or William Shakespeare's Cat, the two most common attributions. But, alas, like "Wear Sunscreen" or the so-called Baltimore Church Poem, I am afraid the true origins of this quite clever work are too obscure--at least for me to track down. If any of you know who actually wrote it, feel free to let me know.

In the interests of space, I'll print the opening lines and point you to the full text.

To go outside, and there perchance to stay
Or to remain within: that is the question:
Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer
The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather
That Nature rains on those who roam abroad,
Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,
And so by dozing melt the solid hours
That clog the clock's bright gears with sullen time
And stall the dinner bell.


M: i-2: A Nasty Review

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

One thing you learn early in the reviewing racket is that a nasty review is easier and more fun to write than a favorable one, and is usually more memorable than a favorable one. I read one in the New York Times when I was in college that I tried to find with the help of a friend of mine who works at the times. We couldn't dig it up, which is too bad, because I'd love to quote it exactly. The play was at the McAlpin Rooftop Theater, I remember that. I am pretty sure Clive Barnes was the reviewer. The lead was "Other than the script, actors, scenery, lighting and direction, which were awful, the thing I hated most about this play was…" I carried the clipping in my wallet for years.

In the June 5 issue of the New Yorker (I cannot refer you to the full text because the magazine does not post its text, living, as it does, in the dark ages).

Let me quote just two of his bitchy phrases from one and two-thirds pages of unrelieved pan:

None of the characters could conceivably go do the john without downloading the national sewage blueprints.


If you love this guy [Tom Cruise] this is your picture, but, if you like your thrills more evenly spread, here is the bad news: M: i-2 is N:f-ing G.

Winter Sleepers

You want the facts? IMDB has never heard of this movie.

It's German with subtitles. It is an art film. If you liked Run Lola Run, you'll like Winter Sleepers. Not exactly a bucket of cheer, but verry interesting. Marlow and I liked it.

My Dog Skip

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

It cost $7 million. As of last week, it grossed $33.7 million. My Dog Skip is based on the best-selling 1995 memoir by the late Mississippi writer Willie Morris. It stars Frankie "Malcolm in the Middle" Muniz, and Kevin Bacon. According to IMDB, the tagline is "Every family needs an optimist." And the plot is "A shy boy grows up in 1940s Mississippi with the help of his beloved dog, Skip." One user wrote, "A family movie that the adults will probably appreciate even more than their kids."

Well, my mother grew up in the 1940s, and here's here review: "It you ever had a dog, go see it. If you ever had a child, go see it. If you ever were a child, go see it." She saw it with a group that ranged in age from 10 to 40, and they all loved it. They laughed, they cried. Mom says the "star in the window" parts were particularly moving. When one of your sons went off to WWII, you put a star in your window. If he was killed, your star was replaced with a gold star, and you became a gold star mother.

And I care about you, my readers, so much that in order to get the inside skinny on this film, I laid out $6 for a day pass to Variety's web site (It's a cool site, by the way).

It was finished last August. Dreamworks passed on the film (I guess because it wasn't animated--or maybe because it was actually good?). Warners sat on it until January, when it opened on five screens to blah reviews. There were rumors in the biz that this was going to be "direct to video." But then word of mouth made it a hit, and Warners bumped it up to 26 theaters. It continued to do well. In February, Warner threw it on 2,400 screens. Well, speaking as a critic: We don't know everything. Speaking as a member of the viewing public, damn right.


None This Week

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