Tuesday, February 27, 2001

CNNfyi.com - Minnesota school bans hugging - February 23, 2001

Next on the banning list for this forward-thinking school: laughter.

Monday, February 26, 2001

Slashdot | Napster Helps RIAA Again; RIAA Still Ungrateful (Updated)

You may have heard in the news today that the recording industry is claiming that they have proof Napster is damaging to their business: sales of 'music compact discs' fell by 39% last year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Actually, the 'music compact discs' they're talking about are CD singles, not full albums, and CD singles represent less than 1 percent of the RIAA's total profits in a given year. So that works out to 39% of that 1%, and what they don't tell you is that album sales continued to increase, selling 3.6 million more albums than 1999.

This is merely an effort by the RIAA to keep spin control in their favor, by twisting the truth and not giving out all the facts. The slashdot article I linked to above does a nice job of destroying the RIAA's press release/bullshit.
Comic Strip Creator

Think the comics in your local newspaper suck? Have no ability to draw anything more than pathetic stick figures? Well, here's your chance to show the world you can do better than those idiot cartoonists. (Hey, since Bill Watterson quit the business and took his 'Calvin and Hobbes' strip with him, I've been very, very bitter)

Saturday, February 24, 2001

Ain't It Cool News - Big Trouble In Little China Super DVD Coming

I need no other reason to buy a DVD player. Big Trouble In Little China is my favorite cheesy B-movie, matching the irreverent, laughably macho Kurt Russell with a hokey action-adventure plot that exploits all of the Chinatown stereotypes to maximum effect. Russell has some of the best one-liners ever, including:

"Son of a bitch must pay!"
"Okay, people! Sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn... call the president."
"Would you just stop rubbing your body up against mine, because I can't concentrate when you do that."
"Ready? I was born ready."
"Just remember what ol' Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big old storm right in the eye and says, 'Give me your best shot. I can take it.'"

Friday, February 23, 2001

Survivor: Australian Outback: Episode Five

I believe this to be as certain as the sun rising tomorrow: a vegetarian will never win on Survivor. You can't subsist on rice for 42 days. And I'm sure we're all glad Kimmi is gone, because her strident, judgmental vegetarianism was getting on everybody's nerves, especially the audience's.

How hypocritical is it that animal activists are bitching at Survivor? Have they never been to a slaughterhouse? Shouldn't they be picketing the meat section of the grocery stone? It's called survival, people. Of the fittest, actually.

Thursday, February 22, 2001

CNN.com - Sci-Tech - Naked newscasters wanted for Web venture - February 22, 2001

I'm not sure when broadcasting the news was just about the information; maybe when Walter Cronkite was still a CBS news anchor. nakednews.com already boasts 5.6 million hits a month, which is about 10% of the traffic Yahoo! gets, but that popular web portal doesn't have boobs and butts... yet. It's not that I'm against the idea - I like nudity as much as the next open-minded person. I just don't see the point. If I want news, I want news. If I want to look at naked chicks... Well, that's why we have a porn industry, kids. If a naked person is reading the news to me, what am I thinking? I'm thinking...
a) gee, it must be cold in that studio
b) are those real?
c) what, does he hang a lead weight from it all day?
These aren't thoughts to be having while hearing about tragedies and disasters and murders and atrocities. These are thoughts to be having while watching a classy porn video with your significant other. (Whoever, or whatever, that 'other' happens to be)
CNN.com - New controversy emerges in Clinton pardons - February 21, 2001

Trouble follows this guy around like Pigpen's dustcloud. I'm surprised Hillary hasn't filed for divorce yet.

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Napster offers recording industry $1 billion - Tech News - CNET.com

The key to this whole situation lies within one shocking sentence:

"Although payments of $200 million per year could be a headline grabber, the sum amounts to only a little more than 1 percent of the recording industry's revenue in 2000."

Read that again. For those without calculators, the recording industry's total revenue for the year 2000 was 20 billion dollars. This is why Napster can offer a billion dollars or ten; it won't matter, because the industry is already making a ridiculous amount of money. Wouldn't we all like to see what percentage of that 20 billion ends up in the pockets of the artists? Oh, but that information isn't available to the media. Probably because it would incite riots.

I say again that Napster's value is in promotion, and the recording industry's attempts to kill the service is like trying to stop a flood with a paper towel. Music just wants to be free...

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

CNN.com - Technology - Hackers deemed terrorists under new U.K. law - February 20, 2001

Sigh. The malicious stereotyping continues unabated.

A spokesman is quoted in the news story as saying, "There isn't a specific section that deals with cybercrime as such, it is covered within the various sections, but anyone who seriously interferes with, or seriously disrupts an electronic system will be dealt with under the anti-terrorism law."
Well, what does that mean? Can they be specific? This sure sounds to me like a one-size-fits-all law that the U.K. government can manipulate at will. Will they decide that using a copy of DeCSS, the DVD de-encryption software, is an act of terrorism? How about Napster users? Hey, I accidentally dropped a big magnet on my Nintendo - am I in trouble?
According to the news story, the U.K. police now have the authority to determine what they deem to be 'violent' (in computer terms). Advice to Britons on the 'net: avoid writing any flame e-mails or making jokes about getting rid of people you don't like. You may end up in prison, or worse: France!

Monday, February 19, 2001

CNN.com - Roger Clinton arrested on drunk driving charge - February 18, 2001

Hey, Roger. Just a tip - your brother isn't the President anymore.

Friday, February 16, 2001

The Drug War Comes to the Rez

This story is a good example of why drug laws in the U.S., particularly those concerning hemp/marijuana, are hopelessly outdated. And since there's been a long American tradition of f*cking with natives, why stop now?
Survivor: Australian Outback: Episode Four

Well, we finally got to see what happens when the Tribal Council vote is a tie - they vote again! :) Mitchell obviously knew he was screwed, so that's why he had that noble little speech where he told his tribe members to support Keith instead of him. (You're still a lazy punk, Mitch)
Michael kills a pig, and didn't it seem to you that he was working out some of his frustrations on the porker? Animal activists are, predictably, up in arms, and Kucha's resident idiot, Kimmi, was all in tears, calling her teammates a 'sick tribe'. It's called the food chain, honey. Deal with it. Well, her time in the Outback is limited at best.
I think Colby is probably the smartest of the whole bunch. He knows what his strategy is, his support is being sought after by everybody, and he can dance around people with remarkable skill. Colby threw his lot in with Keith and Tina because he knew that the real competition for him is Jerri and Amber. That's why Jerri is so scared - she knows if she doesn't have Colby's support, she's history. Amber doesn't seem to do or say much of anything, so of course she'll stick around for a while.
Have you noticed how toned Alicia's and Elisabeth's midriffs are? What, do they do 500 sit-ups every morning or something? Britney Spears would kill for rippled stomachs like theirs.

Thursday, February 15, 2001

CNN.com - Utah man, 91, accused of stealing power for decades - February 15, 2001

This is pretty funny - guy taps into a nearby power line and steals electricity for nearly fifty years, and he gets caught because he calls the power company to complain about an outage.

Hey, idiot - if the hand doesn't know it's feeding you, why the heck would you bite it?

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Happy Valentine's Day!

In my more cynical moments, I view Valentine's Day as a made-up holiday intended to give the retail economy a little boost between Christmas and Easter. Well, I used to think that before I fell in love. Now, Valentine's Day is just another excuse to cuddle with my soulmate and do all the things that remind us why we're in love with each other.

But for those single people out there, Valentine's Day is just about the worst day of the year. To balance things out, I think we need a day reserved for indifference and frustration. We could send 'You really annoy me' cards to the people we dislike; perhaps we could be allowed to egg a person's house without fear of reprisal. Instead of flowers, shove a stink bomb down the back of an irritating person's shirt. It could be called 'Give Everyone The Finger Day'. Go out of your way to be rude to strangers. Call up celebrities whose careers have dried up just to laugh at them. The possibilities are endless, really.
Sure, all that sounds cruel and hurtful. Hey, bitterness is something to be shared, not kept all bottled up inside. :)
And for those who think I'm serious about this, you might want to get off the crack. :) Although at one time or another, we've all been so bitter at the world that 'Give Everyone The Finger Day' seems like a good idea.

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

E! Online News - "Gladiator" Rises to Oscar Glory

I'll handicap this race later on this week in the StoneDog's Growl section of the discussion forums, but I just wanted to note that the biggest surprise is the 10 nominations for 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', including a nod for Best Picture. It's not often that the Academy extracts the bug up their ass long enough to recognize a foreign film's excellence...
Entertainment Weekly's EW.com | EW.com

EW.com used to be one of my favourite sites. It was efficient, clean-looking, and simple. Then somebody came along and decided the site should look more like the magazine, but with some Shockwave Flash animations, plenty of distracting white space, and a remarkably non-intuitive interface. Sigh. If EW wants to know how to do an entertainment website, they should check out eonline.com, which is very well-designed. Actually, what I'd really like to see is an entertainment news site set up like slashdot.org, where stories/links hit the front page, and people can comment on them directly. Someday, maybe...

Monday, February 12, 2001


For nitpickers like me, movie-mistakes.com is a godsend. Ever watch a movie and come out of it scratching your head about something? Maybe a detail wasn't sitting right with you? A plot point seemed a little ridiculous? movie-mistakes.com will fill you in. The most comprehensive page is for 'Titanic', which shows that even the anal-retentive James Cameron can't cover every single detail.
E! Online News - Hannibal's $58 Million Feast

This shows how desperate people are to see a half-decent movie. Hannibal Lecter is one of those iconic movie villains that will be a pop culture legend for decades to come, so it's not too surprising that this sequel is doing so well. But, still, it's not like 'Hannibal' had a lot of competition for box-office dollars on the weekend. 'Saving Silverman'? 'The Wedding Planner'? 'Valentine'? There are only a couple of good movies playing right now ('Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'Traffic', 'Cast Away'), and everybody who wanted to see those flicks have seen them already. The other side to this is that there doesn't seem to be any hotly-anticipated movies on the horizon, so what else are moviegoers going to do? :)

Saturday, February 10, 2001

The Editing Room: Abridged Scripts for Movies

Humour on the Internet is plentiful, but good humour is harder to find. This site offers terrific 'down-sized' versions of popular movies, with as much effort as possible put towards being sarcastic, cynical, and smart-ass. Profanity abounds, though, so be warned.

Friday, February 09, 2001

Survivor: Australian Outback: Episode Three - Dog Day Afternoon

Despite her best efforts at resurrecting memories of Rudy, Maralyn Hershey found several knives in her back last night at Tribal Council. I have to say, the next idiot that says he/she trusts somebody should be the next one to be voted off. "Oh, Tina and I have really bonded..." says Maralyn, and that's when Tina boots you off with all the ceremony of a dog trying to shake off a flea.
There are two reasons to vote a person off at this point:
a) liability in the challenges - Maralyn couldn't keep up, and if I were that old guy Rodger Bingham, I'd start packing right now, too
b) getting rid of the competition - Jerri thought that Kel was competition to her, so she orchestrated his departure. Who's next?
At this point, Ogakor Tribe has lost most of the dead weight, and should do well in the athletic competitions for the next few episodes. Kucha Tribe still has the old guy, Rodger, and the soft blabbermouth, Kimmi, to slow them down. Obviously Kucha has some Tribal Council visits in their future to streamline their tribe.
Ogakor's next move will be to get rid of some competition, and since nobody has anything good to say about the erstwhile chef, Keith, he's in the most danger. It'll really start getting interesting when the tribes merge, because the contestants will know that the people they vote off will end up voting in the last Tribal Council, and you don't want to make too many enemies (see Kelly Wiglesworth).

Thursday, February 08, 2001

CNN.com - Police probe background of White House shooting suspect - February 8, 2001

Ever notice it's always middle-aged, middle-class white guys doing crazy stuff like this? I mean, the guy lives alone and works as an accountant. Talk about your recipe for disaster, huh?

Tuesday, February 06, 2001

'Survivor' sued - Former contestant charges producer rigged her ouster, manipulated outcome

I'm not sure this is such a big surprise. Stacey Stillman filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging that the 'Survivor' producer, Mark Burnett, convinced two other contestants, Sean Kenniff and Dirk Been, to change their votes from Rudy Boesch to Stacey. Burnett was worried that it would look bad if the first three contestants voted off were also the oldest, according to Stillman.

I think we first have to acknowledge that the original show and its sequel are already heavily manipulated. Burnett and his editors decide what conversations and confessionals to air and when; they form 'scripts' for each show, intended to make the audience feel a certain way about the individual contestants. Remember, they literally shoot hours and hours and hours of videotape, and we get a one hour sum-up per week. We don't know these people at all - we only know what the producer decides to tell us.

With all that in mind, would a producer like Burnett go to the extreme of suggesting to contestants who they should vote for? What would Dirk and Sean get out of it? Dirk was out on his ass soon after Stacey, and while Sean lasted a lot longer, his stunning idiocy presented little threat to the others, so he ended up being a sacrificial lamb. So it doesn't seem like Burnett promised them anything show-related if they did things his way. This makes their participation in this little scheme rather unlikely. Then there's the possibility of being caught, which would be disastrous for the integrity of the show. Would Burnett risk it all just to get the early Tribal Council outcome he wanted? I doubt it.

Could it have happened? Sure. Did it? I doubt that we'll ever know. Should Stacey Stillman be suing CBS? Not unless she's got some decent evidence, and let's not forget, she's a practicing attorney. Get me Johnnie Cochran!

Monday, February 05, 2001

The Adrenaline Vault - Featured Article - All the News That's Fit?
Online game journalism's making a lot of mistakes lately. Maybe we should step back and work on our news judgment

This is a great essay on the responsibilities (or lack thereof) of online journalism, and how the standards of print and TV journalism have yet to be universally adopted. The writer, Bruce Rolston, concentrates on the gaming scene, but it applies to all online journalism, especially in the entertainment field.
JAM! Movie Box Office | North America

As most fans of the TV show 'Angel' know, David Boreanaz's new movie 'Valentine' opened this past weekend, and it performed pretty well, coming in second behind Jennifer Lopez's 'The Wedding Planner'. Now, every reviewer out there thought 'Valentine' was a stinking pile of cow dung, but that movie's target audience doesn't pay much attention to critics anyway.
Believe it or not, it's movies like 'Valentine', 'Dude, Where's My Car?', and 'Save The Last Dance' that studios make most of their money on, as the profit margins are much greater than the megabudget monsters. 'Valentine' cost 10 million to make, and that's how much it made over the weekend, so any more money it earns from this point onward is gravy, baby. On the other hand, after Disney spends 150 million bucks on 'Pearl Harbor', and then another 30-40 million on marketing, promotion, and distribution, they'll be lucky to see any profits unless the flick is the next 'Titanic'.
The studios will continue to throw money at big-budget 'tentpole' movies, because it many cases it's an ego thing, but I always like to see a small-budget underdog like 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' doing well at the box office. In the end, people don't care how much money was spent on a project as long as the result is good.

Friday, February 02, 2001

I wonder how ugly Survivor II is going to get. Last night, we saw Kel get the unceremonious boot from his tribe of whiny, bitchy teammates, and it seems like the impetus of this tribal decision was an accusation made by Jerri that Kel was chewing on some unshared beef jerky. What is disappointing is that

a) none of the other tribe members seemed to suspect that Jerri could have been lying to make Kel look bad, and

b) Kel seemed to be the only one in the tribe with any integrity.

I'll bet Kel is fuming this morning after he saw how he was so viciously stabbed in the back. It's funny, because it took several episodes before the original Survivor castaways got to this level of screwing each other. All I know is that the sooner Jerri is gone, the better. Doesn't she understand that no matter how stupid her tribe is, they will eventually figure out what a lying, scheming bitch she is? Richard Hatch played the game, but he was subtle enough that few of the losers felt like they were personally betrayed. Jerri lacks this subtlety, and it'll cost her in the end. The biggest irony is that Jerri wanted to be a Survivor contestant because she's an 'aspiring actress', and she wanted the exposure to get some work. Well, guess what, Jerri? When Hollywood sees what a backstabber you are, who's going to want to work with you? Try nobody, honey. I hope you like working as a waitress, 'cause that's your career path from this point onward.

Thursday, February 01, 2001

Coming Attractions - Willy Wonka

From a Warner Bros. release Thursday morning:

Contrary to a false and misleading report published in the Jan. 31 edition of the New York Post, singer Marilyn Manson has not been cast in a role in the upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Additionally, the director of the project is not Tim Burton, as falsely stated in the Post. Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Dave, Big) is directing the film, currently in development at the Studio, from a screenplay by Scott Frank (Out of Sight), which he is adapting from the beloved Roald Dahl novel. Neither Gary Ross nor Warner Bros. Pictures have any intention whatsoever of casting Marilyn Manson in the revered role of 'Willy Wonka' or any other role in the film. Warner Bros. Pictures has requested that the New York Post issue a retraction of this erroneous story immediately.

Whew. Big sigh of relief, kids. Reality has returned to its original size and shape. :)
Movie & TV News @ IMDb.com: Manson To Play Willy Wonka "As Satan"

Marilyn Manson as Willy Wonka? Has the world gone insane?