PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 32

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

August 27, 2001

Some Quick Vacation Notes

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:

  • Catalina, What An Island
  • How Art Affects Emotions

Computer Industry News:

  • DCMA, Microsoft

Web Site of the Week:

  • Abe Vigoda


  • The Top 15 James Bond Movie Titles if Pierce Brosnan Doesn't Retire Soon


  • More on Apocalypse Now Redux
  • Jackpot



General News

Catalina, What An Island

Yeah, I know, I was going to take this week off, but I had some stuff left over from last week, and some good stuff came in, and I had a few hours, so here I am, back again. I'll be brief.

We flew to LAX on Monday morning, then took a shuttle to Long Beach, where we caught the Catalina Express, a catamaran that makes the 26-mile run to Catalina in an hour. Alas, it drove the Catalina Steamer out of business, since the Steamer took two hours and had union labor. I like unions, I am sorry for the loss of the old boats.

Avalon is the only significant town on the island, which was developed by William Wrigley (chewing gum, Chicago Cubs) and his son Phillip Wrigley. There's a casino (at which no gambling has ever taken place). Inside it is a ballroom that fits 6,000 (or did when Kay Kayser and his College of Musical Knowledge played there in the 40s. There is also a movie theater (built in 1929, still operating, where the family saw Kiss of the Dragon the first time and I saw it the second time). Look up the word Casino; originally, it had nothing to do with gambling.

A few miles past the Casino is Hamilton Cove, an area only recently developed. We rented a two-bedroom condo there for the week, and with it we received the right to use a golf cart. That's handy, since there are no private cars on Catalina, leaving as your transportation choices: bicycle, shank's mare, or a golf cart. There is one grocery store, so you'd better like Von's. They do, however, have cable TV.

We didn't spend much time watching it. We skin dived, played tennis, had a massage, went horseback riding, took out kayaks, toured island sites and spent some time relaxing together as well. Not all of us engaged in all activities.

We took the night-time flying fish tour (you must do this once before you die) and ate in restaurants of widely varying quality, including the over-priced but quite beautiful Catalina Country Club, originally built as a training facility for Mr. Wrigley's Chicago Cubs.

Vicki's family had a vacation home on Catalina during the 50s and 60s, and she spend a decade of summers on the island, which she assures me has not changed much in the last four decades. She loved spending time there, and it turns out the girls loved spending time there too. The temperature was 67 during the day and 60 at night, which is what it is year round, complete with a gentle sea breeze. It's like the Caribbean or Mexico without the humidity and excessive heat.

Our condo overlooked the water. We left our windows open at night and could hear and smell the ocean.

We had a great time.

Twenty-six miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is the island for me
Santa Catalina is the island of romance
Romance, romance, romance…

How Art Affects Emotions

My friend Eddie Frager's sister is conducting a survey. The survey is interesting. So is the survey technolgy. Read the note. Take the survey.

I am conducting research investigating how art and the art process effect our emotions.
Can you take a minute and go to the interview web site and answer the questions? I am interested to learn what you think about how art effects your emotions. Don't worry if you are not an artist, there are important questions for the non-artist as well.
Here is the URL for the interview web site:
If the above address is not highlighted as a link on this email, simply cut and paste the address into your web browser.
Please pass on this email to your friends, the more respondents to the interview, the more valid the research will be.
Thanks you for your time and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Ariel M. Frager Researcher

Computer Industry News

DCMA, Microsoft

Without Craig Reynolds, I wouldn't know anything. He sent three links:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it a crime to write certain kinds of computer programs, even when they have perfectly legitimate "non-infringing" applications.
It strips citizens of their traditional and long-standing Fair Use rights regarding copyrighted material they have legally purchased.
It also circumvents fundamental constitutional rights of due process, under the DMCA you are guilty until proven innocent. Read this example: Fingered by the movie cops.
Microsoft lobbying campaign backfires; even dead people write in support of firm.
Bill Gates' Way or No Way
By JOHN BALZAR, Times Staff Writer

Web Site of the Week

Abe Vigoda

If you want to understand today's college students, have a look at this link and know my daughter Marlow and her friends find it quite amusing.


The Top 15 James Bond Movie Titles if Pierce Brosnan Doesn't Retire Soon

Apparently, I am destined to spend the rest of my life in the middle of the list, and only now and then. Well, no. 10 beats not making the list at all! Hall of Fame, here I don't come.

August 20, 2001
15> Glovedfinger
14> Never Say Never Again, Thanks To Viagra
13> Dr. No Bladder Control
12> Grumpy Old Spies
11> The Spy Who Loved Me On The Third Try, Then Rolled Over and Slept All Afternoon
10> Dude, Where's My Aston Martin?
9> From Tampa, With Love
8> For Your Good Eye Only
7> Dr., No! Not Another Prostate Exam!
6> On Her Majesty's Coroner's Table
5> Lawnraker
4> The Man With the Golden Girls
3> License to Kill (Daylight Hours Only)
2> Octogenarianpussy

and's Number 1 James Bond Movie Title if Pierce Brosnan Doesn't Retire Soon...

1> ColdSphincter

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 174 submissions from 60 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, VA -- 1 (20th #1 / Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 11


More On Apocalypse Now Redux

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

I ran a link last week to an article by Gregory Dunn on Apocalypse Now Redux which complained of the film's racism and inaccuracy. Since the director chose to respond, I feel it only fair to point to his response.

You have to search down for Francis Coppola has his say to read the whole letter. Here is an excerpt:

I do appreciate that the re-release of this film is an opportunity for Dunn to pontificate and use my film to play to his own advantage for the consistent negative view of the S.F. press's opinion of mine and George Lucas' work. As Akira Kurosawa once whispered to me, explaining the poor critical reception of his work in Japan; "You're never a prophet in your hometown."


You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

A fine little independent film, with an excellent performance by Garrett Morris, and a cute cameo by a barely recognizable Daryl Hannah (was her face always that square?). Rated R for bad language. Another in-depth analysis of the pathology of a loser. I will never figure out why Hollywood loves this genre so. Well, it copped an Oscar for Nicholas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas), so I guess people will keep making them.

I was going to go see Rat Race or American Pie II, but what lured me through the tunnel to the Shattuck Theater in Berkeley for the one daily showing of this little film was a story in the Datebook section of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle that pointed out the film was shot in 24p digital video, and was virtually indistinguishable from film.

OK, I've heard that line before. In fact, regular readers will recall that I reviewed a Charlotte Rampling film a few weeks ago that was shot on regular digital video, and I found the low resolution and digital artifacts quite distracting.

Part of this, for you technology buffs, comes from shooting normal TV footage, which is 30 frames per second, interlaced. That is, the camera shoots the odd lines, then the even lines every 1/60th of a second. This was done to accommodate the state of the art in analog technology in 1948, and is no longer necessary--except that's the way every television in America displays video.

Converting these 30 frames to the 24 frames per second of 35 millimeter film results in what's known as "digital artifacts," which are particularly obnoxious when either the camera or the subject move rapidly.

24p is video shot at a rate of 24 frames per second, with all the scan lines shot in sequence (the p stands for progressive, as opposed to 30i the normal television standard, where the I stands for interlaced). That's TMI, right? The point is, when you copy 24p to film, there are no artifacts!

Now, the contrast ratio--the range between the brightest white and darkest black--according to some Internet articles I found, is 300 to 1, which is 10 times better than most TV, but still not as good as film at 1000 to 1 (the human eye, by the way, can see about 1200 to 1). So the shots seem a little "off" in the same kind of hard-to-define way as a cheap stereo system. If you've got a trained ear or eye, you'll hear/see it, if not, you'll probably never notice.

Still, George Lucas shot Star Wars II in 24p video, and I can't wait to see it, for that reason among others.

From what I saw in Jackpot, brightly lit scenes look too sharp and bright to be believable as film, but dark scenes are indistinguishable from filmed scenes. And, as a I say, absolutely no artifacts. Not a one. They even shot scene after scene with horizontal blinds in the background (a particular weakness of digital dubbed to film) without a single moiré pattern. Of course, Lucas is right, the footage will look even better if digitally projected (as I was reminded by a blizzard of scratches during a reel change at the showing of Jackpot), but still, this is real progress.

Go see Jackpot, if it's around you somewhere, as much for the technology as for the plot and acting (which aren't so bad, if you like the genre).

Check out 24P Gamble: The Making of "Jackpot" and the stories that accompany it.

Craig Reynolds was kind enough to send three more links on this subject. I have listed the one I like best first:

New Insights in an Ongoing Debate: Film vs. Videotape

The 24-Frame Progressive HD Production System

An Evolution in Electronic Imaging:
Digital's Destiny with a 24 Frame Rate




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