PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 13

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

April 2, 2001

Chillin' with Rae

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.

Some Material in this column comes from anonymous incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Arial (Sans Serif) type font to distinguish it from the original material

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Chillin' with Rae.
  • Hardly Workin' after Workin' Hard.
  • Britain Isn't Closed
  • Stanford Forfeits Rugby Game

Computer Industry News

  • Microsoft to Users: Pay Up

Web Site of the Week

  • Jesus Dressup.


  • The Top 16 Real Statistics That We Made Up.
  • The Top 15 Rejected Cocktail Names.


  • Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
  • Momento


  • Praise For My Journalism Site (from Ireland)

General News

Chillin' With Rae

Two great weekends in a row. I can hardly contain myself. Last Saturday, Rae and I went to see the San Francisco Giants play the Oakland Athletics in a pre-season game at Pacific Bell Park. It was clear, in the 70s and there was no breeze, which actually made it a little too hot for me. Also, our seats on the third base side, 26 rows from the field, are hot until the shade rolls around, which comes late this time of year, and not until the 7th inning at a 1:05pm game. We took mass transit to the game, which gave us time to talk and people watch, and we listened on the radio as we watched, giving us a chance to critique the announcers while simultaneously insuring we knew what was going on at all times.

Then to the Embarcadero Cinema in SF for Memento (see review below), a thought-provoking art film, capped off with dinner at the Gaylord Indian restaurant across the way. Vicki had too much to do at home to prepare for our trip to LA and Rae's trip to Portland to college shop. She's checking out USC, UCLA, UCSD and Pomona in Southern California early in the week with us, then Reed and Lewis and Clark later in Portland later in the week with my mother.

I am painfully aware that in two years and two months, I will move from my central position in her life to the role of a bit player, a role for which I have been able to rehearse with her older sister for the last 18 months are so. I already know life will be irretrievably changed soon. That just makes the time she has left at home with us all the more pleasant. I plan to savor every moment.

The best parenting advice we ever got was to love every moment you're in. Don't look ahead, don't look back. Enjoy what you have today. Works for me.

Hardly Workin' after Workin' Hard

Two weeks ago was a difficult week, as already mentioned here. Not only do I not want to dwell on it, I hope to reduce it in my memory over time to a small, painful blip in an otherwise rather pleasant life. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally, by the time I got home on Saturday. So, it was quite nice to have nothing to do that day. The next day involved two very pleasant activities, both of which I was privileged to share with both my wife Vicki and my daughter Rae.

Sunday morning, we went to San Francisco with Rae's friend Jenny Cohen and her godmother Sue Thiem to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, an art museum way out on the west side of town. There we saw an exhibit of the work of Toulouse-Latrec. Rae and I were impressed, but Vicki was disappointed because some her favorite works were not on display. Then it was off to a Carribean restaurant on the Golden Gate Park edge of the Haight Ashbury, and a stroll past a bunch of head shops to an art store. Any time with Rae and Vicki is a good time.

Then, at 5 that evening, we took a crockpot full of vegetarian chili to the home of our friends Fran and David Strykowski, for their annual Oscar-watching party, which consists of a dozen friends…well… sitting around watching the Oscars. I have always felt this even was more fun with potluck food and other people to share the experience. Steve Martin was a great host, but I knew he would be, because he is a genius.

The whole thing seemed a little flat, however, with few good acceptance speeches. It went, basically, downhill after Martin's monologue, and I don't care how fast it was done. And Gladiator for best picture? Give me a break! First, I didn't see it, and second, even if I had, I would have given it to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or to Traffic. Not to a gladiator film, for pity's sake. That's the problem and the joy of the Oscars--really weird voting.

Britain Isn't Closed

For the last few weeks, I have been extremely fortunate in being able to publish letters from England, written by an ex-patriate buddy and former colleague of mine named Larry King. I have spend much of the last 20 years doubled over at Larry's droll take on life and public events, which he has been kind enough to share with me.

(I really need to reproduce his side-splitting classic, "I'm not that Larry King" someday, except I'll have to punch it in by hand from the typed original the next time I run across it. Suffice it to say he is neither the talk-show host, nor the author of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.)

I have been pointing to the letters from my letters department, but I've moved the pointer up here to near the top next week, for those who don't make it all the way to the bottom. Please read Larry's entire letter on the subject of whether this is a good time for tourism in Britain. Let me tempt you with some excerpts:

You ask whether Britain is closed. The short answer is no. The accurate answer is longer and less clear. Sorry; if you'd lived here a while, you would understand there is no situation the British can't make more complicated than it needs to be….
Anyone who'd hoped to visit the Lake District might as well stay home. The area hardest hit by foot-and-mouth is Cumbria, which includes the lakes and their surrounding mountains. The restrictions on movement are making it hard to walk around the lakes and up and down the mountains. I understand that's what one does there.
Other attractive parts of the countryside -- Devon, for example, and Gloucestershire -- also restrict movement, so for all practical purposes hiking and bicycling there are out of the question. The beaches will be open this summer, although I'd advise anyone thinking of visiting a British beach to just find a nice stretch of gravel road beside a sewage-treatment plant and lie down….
If you had in mind one particular attraction, it would be best to write or phone beforehand. Several times. Phones at public facilities in Britain for some reason are often manned by idiots who lie. To get an answer to a question, you need to ask several different idiots, then average their answers out. …

Stanford Forfeits Rugby Game

File this under "what's the world coming to…

Cardinal Tree Wilts Before Brawny Bears
San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 2001
Steve Rubenstein, Tyche Hendricks
An entire campus was bearing the burden for the rugby team, which chickened out of its annual game against Cal. Faces were Cardinal-red and the stomachs of true rugby believers were tossing...

Basically, the Stanford men's team forfeited because they were afraid Cal would hurt them. The story must have been written by Cal grads, because it is about 20 times longer than it deserves to be.

Computer Industry News

MS To Users: Pay Up

Daniel Dern spotted this Mitch Wagner story at Internet Week, it begins:

Microsoft is cracking down on enterprise customers it believes aren't paying for all the software they're using, calling on them to perform audits and stick to a narrow interpretation of license terms, according to several big Microsoft shops.

Web Site of the Week

Jesus Dressup

Kevin Sullivan submitted this one:

This one is just indescribable in its political incorrectness, but it qualifies in the top ten along with the Nuke the Baby Whales bumperstickers You might not burn in hell from looking at the web site, but if you stay there more than two minutes and play with it you are guaranteed a ruler meets knuckles event from Sister Mary Righteous.


The Top 16 Real Statistics That We Made Up

A good week for me, as I made two lists, this one at the No. 2 spot:

March 27, 2001
16> Number of dentists not intimidated by the powerful Trident lobbying committee: 1 out of 5
15> Recommended average inflation pressure for TopFive contributor dates: 100 PSI Average ACTUAL inflation pressure for TopFive contributor dates: 150 PSI
14> Percentage of "very special episodes" on "Blossom": 82%
13> Number of votes by which George W. Bush carried Florida: 862 +/- 9301
12> Amount of time it takes the average office worker to ALT+TAB from to an Excel spreadsheet: .052 seconds
11> Ratio of Cheney arterial blockage to Bush synaptic blockage: 1 to 1
10> Chances that Suzi, newly added to your ICQ list, is actually female: 62%
9> Lifespan of a $45 bouquet of anniversary roses: Two FRIGGIN' days
8> Probability of the new U.S. President doing his Tom Cruise dancing in his Jockies in "Risky Business" impersonation in the Oval Office before 2004: One-hundred-percentiary, dude!
7> Probability that anything will happen when you walk into a room and flick the wall switch: 98% (nationwide) 46% (California)
6> The amount of time Anna Nicole Smith has used up so far: 14 minutes, 59.7 seconds
5> Most frequent odors encountered when meeting Jesse Helms: Tobacco, Brut, Brimstone, Ham
4> Percentage of Americans who have difficulty grasping mathematical concepts: Purple
3> Exact number of dots on the office ceiling at my lousy-ass, dead-end job: 36,783
2> Odds of making the top 5 list without first introducing Chris White to some crisp Franklins: 1 in 104,376
and's Number 1 Real Statistic That We Made Up...
1> Number of Supreme Court justices it takes to screw in a dim bulb: 5
[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 150 submissions from 55 contributors
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Bob Van Voris, New York, NY -- 1, 14 (Woohoo! 1st #1!)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 2

The Top 15 Rejected Cocktail Names

Hey, No. 9 is still on the list…

March 29, 2001
15> Harvey Ballbuster
14> Gin & Colonic
13> Slow Uncomfortable Spew
12> Scabby Mary
11> Sullen Masturbation on the Beach
10> Wrung-Out Bar Rag on the Rocks with a Twist
9> Bloody Navel
8> Blatant Reference To Sexual Activity
7> The Slutmaker
6> Sloe Comfortable Screw Up Against a Wall in Cancun Next to a Fat Dude Named Ramon Who Keeps Flicking Matches at Some Kids Poking a Dead Rat With a Stick They Found Underneath a '57 T-bird with a Dead Prostitute in the Trunk
5> Long Island Iced Pee
4> Screaming Hangover
3> Buttery Pimple
2> Elian on the Beach
and's Number 1 Rejected Cocktail Name...
1> Sex With Your Wife
[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 229 submissions from 82 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Doug Finney, Houston, TX -- 1, 5 (2nd #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 9


Oh Brother, Where Art Thou

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

Those wacky Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, are at it again. What is it about Minnesota, where these two are from? It seems so… well… normal on the outside. I mean, Bob Dylan is from Minnesota, isn't he? Anyway, they can put another notch on their gun. After making some of the best movies of the last two decades, including Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, and The Big Lebowski, they've done it again with O Brother. All their films are good. In fact, to borrow the title of a recent memoir, they are heartbreaking works of staggering genius. O Brother is no exception.

I mean it is one thing to adapt Shakespeare, quite another to adapt Homer's Odyssey, and to cast George Clooney as Ulysses and Holly Hunter as Penelope. Not to mention John Goodman as the Cyclops (ok, with an eyepatch, but if you're on the ball, you get the idea). As my daughter Rae noted, "Who knew Clooney could actually act." None of us certainly. Clever, entertaining, thought-provoking (you want to allow some time to talk about the film after leaving the theater), well done, well-acted: in short, another masterpiece for a pair of directors who don't seem able to make anything but masterpieces. Dare I call the Coen's the Woody Allen of a new generation?

Plus, the old-time bluegrass music on the soundtrack is great.

Rated PG-13 for some violence and language. Highly recommended.


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

This movie is all the rage of college campuses everywhere. Five minutes in, you can understand why. Like the famous Seinfeld episode, The Apology, which ends with a disrupted wedding in India and begins with a date years earlier, this film runs backwards on a scene by scene basis. Each scene ends where the previous scene begins. It is both not as confusing as it sounds and twice as confusing.

I will resist the temptation to write the review backwards. Someone sent me the URL of a site that did just that, but I can't find it. If one of you reading this is that person, send me the URL again. The Memento site is pretty cool (the URL is Memento backwards).

Everyone, including me, thought LA Confidential would be Guy Pearce's breakout film. It wasn't. Memento may well be; his work as Leonard Shelby is spectacular. And Carrie-Anne Moss (Natalie) and Joe Pantoliano (Teddy) are none too shabby either.

I have mentioned in the past that the main difference between most serious movies and most serious plays is that plays are about ideas and make you think, while movies are about entertainment and do not make you think. This is definitely an exception. By an odd coincidence, I have seen two movies this week that cry out for analysis after the fact. In this case, on two sets of issues: did the movie maker play fair with us, and what is the nature of reality--an issue already examined by the Firesign Theater ("What is reality, man," and Lili Tomlin, "What is reality after all but a collective hunch.").

Christopher Nolan directed, from a short story by his brother, Jonathan Nolan. I'd like to see the short story. We will, I hope, see a lot more from everyone involved in this film, and Oscar should take note.

Rated R for violence, language and some drug content. If that's OK with you, highly recommended. And believe me, it doesn't glorify drugs. The violence is bad, not disgusting bad. Not suitable for pre-teens, that's for sure.



Praise for my Journalism Site

Martin Hill, a journalist in Northern Ireland, was kind enough to write this week:

Thank the Lord! At last someone else who agrees The Paper is The Best Newspaper Movie of All Time! My favourite line:
ALAN: Jesus, Bernie! You know, the doctor found nicotine in my urine again.
BERNIE: Then keep your dick outta my ashtray.

You can read my opinion of this film, and others, at Journalism Movies.

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