s P.S. A Column On Things: September 3, 2001

PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 33

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

September 3, 2001

August In New York

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:

  • My Dinners with Marlow
  • Now That's Good Writing: Larry Miller

Computer Industry News:

Web Site of the Week:

  • Taglines Galore


  • The Top 16 Things To Do With 1,000 Bras
  • The Top 16 Signs Your Significant Other is Actually a Dog
  • George Bush Joke


  • Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
  • Rat Race
  • The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion
  • Princess Diaries
  • O



General News

My Dinners with Marlow

"Been to New York before," the driver asked me as we approached John F. Kennedy airport. Without hesitation, I answered, "about 50 times in the last 20 years." Intellectually, I realize most Californians don't fly east that often and many have never been. But my 20 years with a Long Island-based company, during many of which I was required to return to headquarters on a quarterly basis, has really piled up my New York experience.

I wanted to start the column this week with a description of my experiences, but I found myself thinking of my mother's complaint about the memoirs I wrote in 1985; it was a compendium of facts and figures, dates and people and incidents, but, she said, "there was nothing in there about how you felt, what you heard and saw and remembered."

Frankly, I have an easier time with facts and figures, dates and people.

But before I forget, let me note that Marlow made me promise to tell everyone about her dorm room, in the Columbia University Marching Band Suite in the East Campus dormitory at Columbia University in the City of New York. Her room is quite cozy, very tidy and well organized, with the posters and postcards meticulously placed on the wall. Her Ikea furniture (which I helped her buy and assemble) looks good, and her computer (which I set up) is very functional.

Since this was not a business trip, I kept expenses down by staying with my old friend and fellow ex-UPI employee Dan Rosenbaum and his wife Olivia at their condo in Brooklyn Heights. You may remember Brooklyn Heights from the Patty Duke Show, since Patty's only seen the sites a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights (and what's with the hot dog that makes her lose control? Why didn't I know any girls like that?)

Anyway, Dan was a good guide to a lovely, tree-lined neighborhood. We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan one day, and on another we walked through the Dumbo neighborhood--Down Under the Manhattan Bridge. The O in the acronym was to keep the name from being "dumb," which would sound, well, dumb.

It was hot, hot, hot and muggy, muggy, muggy, especially on Monday when Marlow and I arrived and I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, a mistake I didn't repeat until Sunday morning, when, in much cooler weather, I wore nice clothes to morning communion at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

Gentrification is an amazing and powerful force, which is on the verge of making valuable and interesting property out of warehouses abandoned 40 and 50 years ago. Plus, in a move reminiscent of that made in Portland, Oregon, my home town, which turned a six-lane highway into a park along the Willamette River downtown, the docks in Brooklyn are about to become parkland. More power to them, I say.

It was hard to gather much in the way of sensory perceptions in Brooklyn Heights because I was so busy perspiring. Really. There was a slight breeze, which was nice, and there was a window air conditioner in Dan's guest room, which was really nice and which ran full blast every second I was in the room. But trying to keep sweat from dripping off my chin into my food or onto the newspaper I was reading was a consuming task. Moving back to the West Coast was the smartest thing I ever did.

It was a pleasure to fly out to New York with Marlow, even though she slept about half the trip. She's funny, clever, smart and excellent company. And she still enjoys my company, which is such a rare thing for the father of a 20-year-old to be able to say.

Monday night, I saw her room for the first time and installed her computer. The computer and I had one of those moments, when I rebooted and that shouldn't have made a difference, but it did. We had a nice dinner at Bistro 10-15 on the corner of Amsterdam Ave. and Cathedral Parkway in Manhattan (right across from St. John's Cathedral).

Wednesday, we went to a Hungarian restaurant which, while it was pretty good, was no Café Budapest (a now departed Boston eatery which I frequented during my college years and my infrequent Boston visits).

We went to a fondue restaurant at 2 Park Avenue, but didn't have the 100-cheese fondue because the waiter waved us off. We had the house blend instead, then a chocolate fondue for dessert. I take back what I've always said about the Swiss contributing nothing to World Cuisine.

We also ate interesting Japanese/Chinese fusion cuisine at Ruby Foo's in the West 70s--they seated us a mere 45 minutes after our 9:15 reservation (boy, do college kids eat late in Manhattan).

Saturday, an otherwise undistinguished dinner at La Monde was brightened considerably by the presence of Ed Sullivan--no, not that Ed Sullivan, but rather the father of Marlow's boyfriend Ian Sullivan, a man who reminds me a great deal of myself. The food was OK college-area fare, but the conversation was fascinating. Ed and I are much alike.

Other highlights of the trip included drinks with Joe Brancatelli in the lobby bar of the Roosevelt Hotel. If you haven't been there since the remodeling, it is worth a special trip. I also had a diet root beer with Robert Malchman, a fellow alumnus of the MIT student newspaper, The Tech. Robert teaches writing to lawyers and works part-time with Gibson, Dunn. We caught up on what we've been doing since he and Barry Surman crashed at my house during the 1984 Democratic Convention in San Francisco. Plus, I got a really good look at Grand Central's new (to me) food court and the effects of the remodeling there. It brings tears to my eyes when I think they almost tore it down, and heightens my sadness at the loss of the real, original Penn Station, which was gone before I ever got to New York.

It is true absence makes the heart grow fonder. I would have thought it difficult for Lee Keough and Aaron Fischer to rise in my esteem, but I found myself basking in a well of good feeling while lunching with them at Isabella's on Amsterdam in the 70s. They are my ex-bosses, now out on their own and already a success with their Internet consulting business, The Foresite Group. I forgot to ask to see pictures of Lee's daughter, and, what's worse, forgot to show her pictures of my wonderful children. Through the miracle of the Internet, perhaps I can share some pictures online. Anyway, as should have been obvious, good people don't become less good just because you're no longer in daily contact with them. It is you, of course, who are deprived.

In passing, I should note that on a day when Marlow was busy I checked out the two new multi cinemas on 42nd Street just off Times Square by seeing 4 movies in 8 hours. Saturday, while she was at Rugby practice and an on-campus concert by They Might Be Giants, I saw Neil Simon's Dinner Party with Jon Lovitz and Larry Miller and the new movie O, a very powerful modern-dress, modern-language riff on Othello (see my review below).

Turns out that Columbia rents out rooms in the East Campus dorm to visiting parents and conference participants that are well-air-conditioned, clean, pleasant and larger than most Manhattan hotel rooms, not to mention a short elevator ride away from Marlow's suite. While not free, they are quite reasonably priced at $100 a day, and I think I'll be staying there again. The network connection was live, giving me T3 Internet access in my room. Well, I don't have to tell those of you who know me what a thrill (and a detriment to a good night's sleep) that was.

But how did I feel? What did I experience? Hot and sweaty most of the time. Happy most of the time.

Oops, I Did It Again: a listing of people and events and numbers. Oh well, at least, perhaps, someday for some of the participants (myself included), this compendium may evoke some of what we experienced this August in New York.

Now That's Good Writing: Larry Miller

Ironically, I think I was 30 before I realized that the actors themselves write their biographies for Playbill. Still, I was struck by the bio written by Larry Miller for his appearance in Neil Simons' Dinner Party, and so I reprint it in part:

Although he has appeared in 10 plays along the way, this is his first time on Broadway, or even close. Or involving money. "How could anything be more wonderful? Neil Simon, the Music Box, a great cast? The only annoying part is this bio. Since everyone who's not a complete idiot knows I'm writing it myself, why am I still using the second person? It's silly." Larry's wife, Golden Globe award-winning writer Eileen Conn, has joined him on this move from Los Angeles with their children.

Computer Industry News


Web Site of the Week

Taglines Galore

Have you ever wished the "tag line" on your email (the little quotation that follows your signature) was particularly memorable? I don't use one myself, unless you consider my address and phone number to be a tag line. But many of my correspondents do (perhaps I'll make a collection of these lines someday). But in the meantime, as Dan Grobstein has discovered, someone has beaten me to the punch and collected a pile of taglines into a website.


The Top 16 Things To Do With 1,000 Bras

Number 11 and proud of it. Even in a three-way tie.

August 28, 2001
In two recent thefts, someone got away with 1075 bras worth more than $37,000 from a Victoria's Secret store in Rochester, MN. Even stranger, the brazen (ha!) thefts took place while the store was open. But what would someone do with over 1000 bras?
16> Thanks to you, scarecrows nationwide will now get in touch with their feminine side.
15> At Halloween: "Here's a piece of candy for you, and a little something for your Mom."
14> You and 999 of your cross-dressing friends smuggle 2,000 cantaloupes out of the Piggly Wiggly.
13> Make 2000 lacey yarmulkes with safety chin straps.
12> 1) Dump them in a pile. 2) Remove clothes. 3) Roll ar... um, I mean "Donate them to a women's shelter."
11> Stitch them together, tie them between two trees, and use them as a launch vehicle for the National Missile Defense System. Twice as effective than the one they're testing now!
10> Get 1000 mannequins and start practicing, Poindexter.
9> Creative wallpapering for the "Hobbies and Recreational Activities" wing of the Clinton Presidential Library.
8> Time to re-stock the J. Edgar Hoover Museum gift shop!
7> "999 bras on the wall, 999 bras. Take one down and pass it around, 998 bras on the wall..."
6> "Attention, Rochester: ALL YOUR BRAS ARE BELONG TO US."
5> Put a check beside "Phase I" of your plan to build 1,000 Britney Spears robots.
4> Bury Tom Jones once and for all.
3> Pick out the largest and start looking for Cinderella.
2> 1) Position friend atop skyscraper with bras. 2) Do "Native American Lingerie Dance" on sidewalk until large crowd gathers. 3) Give the secret signal and wait for hilarity to ensue.
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Thing To Do With 1,000 Bras...
1> Hold them hostage until bra-less Victoria's Secret models storm your house to get them -- and since you're dreaming anyway, they'll bring beer.

[ The Top 5 List
www.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 168 submissions from 64 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Greg Pettit, Houston, TX -- 1, 10 (12th #1)
Jay Allen, San Francisco, CA -- 11
Dave Henry, Slidell, LA -- 11
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 11

The Top 16 Signs Your Significant Other is Actually a Dog

Number 15, and somewhat less proud.

August 30, 2001
16> He just sits around all the time, drinking beer, watching football and gnawing on your shoes.
15> The last hickey she gave you required 40 stitches.
14> Doorman greets you with, "Good afternoon, Mr. Tripp."
13> Your Vegas honeymoon suite weekend was ruined when he steadfastly refused to get into the heart-shaped bathtub with you.
12> Your mother-in-law? A real bitch.
11> "Max, that's my leg again -- aim six inches higher and to the left."
10> All summer long, keeps the freezer stocked with Poopsickles.
9> You have to remove your watch when making love so the little spot of reflected light on the wall won't distract him from the task at hand.
8> For your 25th anniversary gift, he gets you a dead squirrel.
7> Drives his SUV with his head out the window.
6> He humps anything that moves, and his favorite pastime is chasing tail. Then again, he could just be Gary Condit.
5> Makes a mean margarita -- in the toilet.
4> He gets very agitated when you tell him the Katz family is coming to visit.
3> Whenever she walks into an air conditioned room wearing a T-shirt with no bra: BING! BING! BING! BING! BING! BING! BING! BING! BING! BING!
2> You've learned to accept "This tastes like crap!" as a compliment.
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Sign Your Significant Other is Actually a Dog...
1> Your nightly excuse: "Honey, I've got a headache -- lick it yourself."

[ The Top 5 List
www.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 166 submissions from 60 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Ed Brooksbank, Sacramento, CA -- 1 (10th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 15

George Bush Joke

An Israeli doctor says: "Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man put it in another and have him looking for work in six weeks."
A German doctor says: "That's nothing, we can take a lung out of one person put it in another and have him looking for work in four weeks."
A Russian doctor says: "In my country medicine is so advanced we can take half a heart out of one person put it in another and have them both looking for work in two weeks."
The American doctor, not to be outdone, says: "You guys are way behind, we just took a man with no brain out of Texas, put him in the White House, and now half the country is looking for work."


Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

I am trying to take my mother's recent advise to heart, and accepting movies for what they are and who they're made for, rather than trying to impose my own rarified standards.

First, let me make it clear that the MPAA isn't kidding when it rates this film R for nonstop crude and sexual humor, pervasive strong language, and drug content.

I need to say right up front that I really liked Dogma, and never saw Clerks or Mall Rats. But I am a sucker for a movie full of references to other movies, and that describes this film to a "T." These two characters have appeared in several other Kevin Smith films and are given a chance to carry a whole film here. They're almost up to it.

I love the fact that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon continue to be willing to poke fun at themselves on screen--not to mention Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hammill and Carrie "Princess Leia" Fischer. I laughed out loud at several scenes in this film, and physically winced at several others.

It's like golf or tennis, I guess. Anyone can hit a good shot now and then, but it takes a professional to hit every shot (or nearly every shot) well. Kevin Smith is, by this measurement, at best a semi-pro. I have never really developed a taste for flatulence jokes, I guess.

Pretty good for what it is, a must-see if you're a Jay and Silent Bob fan, but only mildly recommended.

Rat Race

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

I recommend this film. It would have been better with more John Cleese. It certainly could have used a little more Jon Lovitz as well, although the Lovitz there is turns out to be pretty satisfying. There is just the right amount of Cuba Gooding, Jr., who is funnier than you might expect. Clearly either the director Jerry Zucker or the writer, Andy Beckman, once had a vision of a chase involving a horde of Lucille Ball impersonators, since much the film seems to be designed to set up that one scene.

It is not quite as good as It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, the last major caper film of this type, although it's not as bad as I feared it could be. Amusing, not drop-dead funny. Well, let's face it, can anyone be as funny as Phil Silvers? I will admit however, that the best scene in the movie involves the eccentric billionaire's attorney, "who, alas, was born without a personality," a Jacuzzi full of Pepto-Bismol and a razor.

The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

Rae didn't like this film; her review was, "he could have done more with it." The New York Times didn't care for it either, calling it an exercise in "pretentious minimalism," and saying that Woody Allen had done the same film, only better, when he did Manhattan Murder Mystery or Bullets Over Broadway.

Me? I'm just glad he's still making films, and that he's decided to go back to making funny, innocent ones rather than the raunchy ones and serious ones of his middle period.

I found it clever, funny and sweet. Helen Hunt was amazingly good, and even Charlize Theron showed that she can do something more than look good. Allen, who directed Jon Lovitz to one of the best acting jobs of his careers, has done the same thing here with Dan Aykroyd in a small but pivotal role.

Not quite as good as his last outing, Small Time Crooks, but very pleasant and enjoyable. Mildly recommended. Allen is becoming more like Garrison Keillor or Bob and Rae all the time; fewer yock-yock jokes and more character humor.

Princess Diaries

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

An entertaining G-rated film that really is fun for the whole family? Yes. This story of the daughter of an artist who finds out that her father was a prince and that she is a princess is both amusing and clever. It moves right along, and comes to a satisfactory happy ending. Julie Andrews is… well… Julie Andrews. We'll no doubt be seeing more of the princess, Anne Hathaway. Didn't she inherit Shakespeare's second-best bed?

Mildly recommended.


You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

Of all the films I saw this week, this is the only one that is going to have a date with the short gold guy who has no sexual organs. No, I don't mean (fill in your joke here), I mean Mr. Oscar.

I won't trouble you with the film's back story, except to mention that it was done two years ago and held up because its theme of violence in high school was considered too sensitive, post-Columbine.

Brad Kaaya's brilliant conceit as the screenwriter is to pay the ultimate homage to Shakespeare, that old plot-stealer. O is Shakespeare's Othello in plot only, without a word of the original dialog that I could hear. Iago becomes Hugo (Josh Hartnett), Othello becomes Odin James (Mekhi Phifer, whom we'd see again if there were any good roles for black actors) and Desdemona becomes Desi Brable (Julia Stiles--we know we'll be seeing a lot of her for a decade or so).

Odin is a black basketball player at an all-white prep school, coached by "The Duke" (Martin Sheen), who is also Hugo's dad.

One thing that happens when you set Othello in modern dress and give it modern dialog is that the engine of the play becomes crystal clear. Hugo isn't just bad, he's evil incarnate. No matter how weak Odin is, he wouldn't be strangling Desi in the third act if not for the malign actions of his so-called friend.

Terrific script, terrific acting. It is rated R for violence, a scene of strong sexuality, language and drug use. I would not take a high-school student to this movie, but that's just me. It is the best of the recent modern-dress movie adaptations of Shakespeare, although the Ethan Hawke Hamlet is a very close second (mostly thanks to Bill Murray).

If the academy fails to nominate Stiles and Phifer, they should be indicted for criminal negligence. They won't win, but they should be nominated.





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