PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 35

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

September 25, 2000

A New Hobby

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

    • A New Hobby
    • New York in September

Computer Industry News

    • Pseudo Dies
    • MP3 Point/Counterpoint

Web Site of the Week

  • Meet The Millers


    • Jigsaw Puzzle


  • The Fantasticks
  • Croupier


  • Anonymous on the Debates, Getting Noticed

General News

A New Hobby

It has been ages since I had a hobby. In fact, I haven't really had one since I started doing this column. Well, now I do, and so the column will be quite short this week.

During my freshman year, Mike Wildermuth, who lived at MIT Student House with me, adapted the American folk legend of Sam Patch, an apparently real man who jumped from high ledges into small amounts of water. I was so taken with his short story I adapted it for radio.

Thus was born "Sam Patch, The Greatest Story Ever Told So Far," a 90 minute musical presented on April 21, 1971, the 10th anniversary of the MIT radio station, WTBS (now WMBR). Clark Smith was Sam. I had numerous small roles. Mike and Clark wrote and performed the music.

Fast forward to 2000. I once had the master tape for Sam Patch, but apparently misplaced it years ago. I don't even have an audiocassette dub of it anymore. I was having lunch with Clark Smith and bemoaned the loss. "My daughters have never heard you sing the songs, just me," I said. "I'm sure I have a reel-to-reel copy," he told me. And he did. Unabridged, and in excellent condition.

I digitized it last week, and have been having the best darn time remastering it. I used to really enjoy audio work as a hobby, and this is the first time in years I have gotten back to it.

A musician friend of mine is willing to sweeten the sound track. I am cutting it to an hour, so it will fit on a single CD. I will make it available in streaming audio, and will make a CD version as well.

And for fans of the folk singing group known as Pope Pius XII (Smith, Wildermuth and Michael McClure, who was also in Sam Patch), I have their May 1971 Potluck Coffee House performance on tape; I'll be releasing that as well.

Hours of good clean fun.

New York In September

Marlow is sending weekly reports again; here are excerpts from her latest.

This week is the week of the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy. W went down to Canal Street and walked over to Little Italy. There were a bunch of booths that basically had a very few themes: games, alcohol, Italian food, not Italian food, jewelry, Italian shirts, and cigars. It was kind of like a weird Italian carnival in the middle of a city. Ryan and I went on a Ferris wheel that was basically in an alley. It was kind of weird, but everyone's shades were pulled so you couldn't actually see anything as you went by. It had been raining earlier, but it stopped for the most part while we were there. There was a big statue of the Saint and a cute church tucked behind a building dedicated to him I believe. Apparently the tradition at this festival is to pin money onto a statue of the Saint. We admired but did not partake of this tradition.
I went down in the tunnels again. It was fun except that I was wearing Birkenstocks. We went the farthest I've ever gone. The highlights would probably be the powerhouse (which apparently you can get kicked out of housing for going into without official credentials or "swipe") and the area under the fitness center that I only got halfway through last time.
There is a completely unlit useless section of the tunnel with slowly running and standing water that leads back to some flood gates and finally to a duct (air conditioning we think). These are the tunnels under Columbia's campus. Some of them used to be legit walkways for students during the winter or just as shortcuts. They've been closed for the most part over the last decades for various reasons. They were too convenient for the students during the riots. There's uranium down there from the Manhattan project. Etc.

Computer Industry News

Pseudo Dies

This from Silicon Alley Daily:

Pseudo Shuts Down

Six-year-old webcaster Pseudo shut its doors this afternoon, after exhausting its cash supply and failing to find a buyer. In an all-staff meeting, CEO David Bohrman said the executives will continue trying to sell the company, but the staff is now jobless. Pseudo canceled its broadcast for the day, and temporarily closed its chat room shortly after 3 pm. According to one source, staff were asked to leave immediately, and were offered no severance pay. A company spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

All of us who are engaged in the work of making audio and video viable on the net were saddened by the disappearance of this industry pioneer. Alas, they spent all their time and money developing killer content, and none on generating revenue. Alas, the Internet, like the rest of the American media, is about commerce, not Art.

MP 3 Point/Counterpoint

This from Craig Reynolds.

A well-written 'blog (web log) had a link to this CNN piece about how the band Barenaked Ladies is taking an undeniably clever non-lawsuit- based approach to encouraging its fans to BUY its new release:
Barenaked Ladies battle Napster with 'Trojan' downloads
They say that politics makes strange bed fellows. Who'da thunk that (conservative Republican Senator) Orrin Hatch, (Hole's lead singer) Courtney Love, and (more-chuzpa-than-business-plan Internet startup) Napster would end up on the same side?:
Is Orrin Hatch a Napster Fan?
Courtney Love does the math
Napster fires last written shot in court case

Let me just add that I've had my doubts about Courtney Love over the years. Frankly, I figured her for a bimbo. Boy, was I wrong. I read her whole speech. And there's just enough amateurism and redundancy in it to convince me she wrote it herself--and I am totally impressed. This is a woman with her head screwed on straight, who is telling the truth to and about the music business. I might not like her music, but I love her candor and her opinions.

And the Barenaked Ladies story is darn interesting too. Thanks Craig!

Web Site of the Week

Meet The Millers

Here's what Icebox said when they promoted this show to me:

In 1951, the precursor to all great '50's sitcoms was lost before it ever aired. Now, thanks to Icebox, that footage is available for the first time ever. Join in this historic event and come meet America's first TV family: the Millers - upholding the traditional and anti-individualistic values that made our country great.

Of course, it isn't really true, but the show is really funny.

Two other quick hits worthy of your attention:

The IT Olympics

Web Economy Bullshit Generator


Jigsaw Puzzle

One morning this blonde calls her engineer friend and says, "Please come over and help me. I have this killer jigsaw puzzle and I can't figure out how to start it."

Her friend asks, "What is it a puzzle of?"

The blonde says, "From the picture on the box, it's a tiger."

The engineer figures that he's pretty good at puzzles so he heads over to her place.

She lets him in the door and shows him to where she has the puzzle spread all over the table. He studies the pieces for a moment, then he studies the box.

He then turns to her and says, "First, no matter what I do, I'm not going to be able to show you how to assemble these to look like the picture of that tiger."

Then, he says, "Second, I'd advise you to relax, have a cup of coffee, and put all these Frosted Flakes back in the box."


The Fantasticks

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

The longest-running off-Broadway show in history. A terrific hit. A great director. A fascinating little movie. And MGM/United Artists has been sitting on it since 1995. Why? No one knows for sure. Francis Ford Coppola recut the film (without credit) and it's finally been released. It isn't likely to break any box office records, but itís a lovely, eccentric little movie musical with some clever dancing and some surreal dream sequences. Also, great acting by newcomers, as well as the veteran Joel Gray.

Those of you familiar with the show may well wonder what became of the Rape Song, which is so un-PC it couldn't possibly be depicted on the screen. You're right. It is now the Theatrical Abduction Song (which is really what the Rape Song was all about anyway).

Rae loved this film, I liked it. If you like movie musicals, go. The rating is PG, for some carnival bawdiness. Anyone who likes the songs should like the movie.

The Croupier

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

Mike Hodges, who directed this 90-minute film for Britain's Channel 4 two years ago has certainly spread his career out. His previous films go back 30 years: Morons from Outer Space (1985), The Hitchhiker TV Series (1983), The Terminal Man (1974) and the famous Get Carter (1971) (just remade with Sylvester Stallone).

Paul Mayersberg, the writer, also has spread out credits for interesting films: The Last Samurai, (1990) Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), The Man Who Fell to Earth, (1976). I guess if you only write one or two films a decade, you're in no danger of burning out.

Well, The Croupier, at one level, is about a struggling author (Clive Owen) who uses his father's connections to get a job, in the words of IMDB. At another level, its about gambling and addiction, about the difficulties of an authors' life, about infidelity, inability to commit, and a truly odd father/son relationship. With a fair amount of gratuitous implied sex thrown in for good measure, and enough confusion for a good episode of Mission Impossible.

Very arty. Moves right along. Quite entertaining. Definitely not a film for the kids. Well-acted, well-written, well-shot. Very British. And, best of all it's educational: you actually learn a little something about casino gambling.


Anonymous on the Debates, Getting Noticed

My anonymous correspondent disputes my use of the term "debates" to describe the upcoming encounters between Bush and Gore.

Great column as usual; one error on the part of one of your correspondents should be corrected.
Replace all references to "debate" (insofar as the reference is to the first two) with "joint press conference". The third occasion (so-called alleged ersatz town hall meeting in a television studio or some other location) is probably more properly referred to as a "joint job interview" since (assuming those at the meeting are all US citizens) it is merely two job applicants meeting with some of their prospective employers.

You may remember in last week's column (if you read it Monday afternoon or later) that I had a correction in the Virtual Fishtank item; the owner of the site had sent me a note. I asked Bruce Wyman how he found my column:

Checking through the website referrer logs this morning for the fishtank, I saw about 10 visitors coming from your article. 10's just enough to catch my attention, so I followed the link back and read through the article.
It's been interesting to see where the traffic has been coming from in the last month since we launched the site. We were absolutely huge in Greece for a week or so when one of their major Internet starting points had us as a featured link. I'm just interested in how the meme is spreading.

The cool thing to me is that 10 of you were interested enough to follow the link! Wow!

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