Thursday, May 31, 2001 - Police investigate whether Bush daughters tried to buy alcohol - May 30, 2001

This sounds like a plotline on 'The West Wing', doesn't it? How dumb do these First Daughters have to be, to think that they could get away with flashing a fake I.D. when they're the daughters of the friggin' President? Even worse, how dumb do they have to be to forget that they've got a Secret Service agent right there, ready and possibly willing to buy alcohol for them? (Okay, that might be stretching things a bit, but still...) I'll tell you this, though - a Secret Service agent doesn't look like anyone except a Secret Service agent, and any bartender worth his or her salt would have noticed the agent first and put two and two together in about three seconds.

Then again, I guess Daddy's liquor cabinet was several states away at the time, so what is a teenager to do?

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

PlanetCrap -- the crappiest discussion site on the web!

Ah, the Crap. For those who don't know, it's a place for gamers to argue about game-related crap. Gaming sites, gaming companies, gaming trends... you get the idea. There are a couple of reasons why it's fun to drop by this place from time to time:

1) Game developers like Warren Marshall (Unreal, Wheel Of Time) often post comments on the current hot topic, which is neat. It's kind of like if you frequented a celebrity messageboard, and various celebrities would actually show up to toss some comments around.

2) The arguments tend to get real scorching. This usually ends up being really funny. Name-calling, trash-talking, all that stuff. It's like the Jerry Springer show for gamers, except that most of the participants have I.Q.s above 100.

I rarely contribute, if only because I feel a little out of my depth - these people love to jump into the pit and start swinging, while I prefer to watch the battle from the cheap seats. But if you like PC games, and you know a little bit about the online gaming scene, check out the Crap.

Monday, May 28, 2001

News: Microsoft, AOL ink Windows XP pact

Is today April Fool's Day? Let me check... Nope. So what the hell is going on here? I mean, sure, mediocrity tends to attract more mediocrity, but this is criminal. For 200 dollars, the answer is: AOL bundled with Windows XP. Uh, yeah, Alex, 'What is the best reason for not upgrading to Microsoft's latest bloatware operating system?'

Friday, May 25, 2001

PEARL HARBOR / * 1/2 (PG-13)

Roger Ebert's negative reviews are far more entertaining than his positive ones, and this is no exception. Witness his opening line:

'"Pearl Harbor" is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle.'

Mark Twain would be proud of such wit.

Thursday, May 24, 2001 - Japan, Germany to get modified 'Pearl Harbor' - May 24, 2001

I suspect that by this time next week, many moviegoers will be wishing that they also got to see a modified 'Pearl Harbor'... As in, the version that doesn't suck.

Tuesday, May 22, 2001 - Report: 37 percent of worldwide software pirated - May 21, 2001

The key to this whole news story lies within the following quoted paragraph:

"In response to this threat, Microsoft's upcoming Office XP and Windows XP products will require an online "product activation" sequence that uses a combination of a software serial code and a number created by scanning the hardware of a person's computer. If the customer doesn't activate the program, it will stop working within several days."

Expect more news stories in the next several months telling us how bad software piracy is around the world... to prepare us for the strictest, most annoying copy-protection scheme ever invented. It's not enough that Microsoft makes the kind of profits to cause Donald Trump to drool; no, they want to inconvenience millions of customers just to prevent what they claim are billions of dollars lost to piracy. Note I said 'they claim'. This isn't an independent study, kids. Their claims exist to justify their intrusive and unnecessary copy-protection scheme. See, it's not the home users that Microsoft gives a shit about - it's the corporate users, and guess what? All the major corporations are already legal. It's the small companies with less than a hundred employees that are pirating software, and why? Because MS's licensing scheme is a financial kick in the ass to a small company's bottom line. So MS plans to put the squeeze on the little guys so they can extract a few more million bucks. Caught in the middle? Us.

Meanwhile, the government's pursuit of Microsoft seems to fade deeper and deeper into the mist. I wonder why that is...

Friday, May 18, 2001

Tom's Golf Anger Chart

I think I reach Rage Level 5 about half the time I play golf, which is probably a sign that I should find another sport to play, but... - Simpson offers advice to Blake in murder investigation - May 17, 2001

Sweet effing Jesus, O.J. giving advice to Robert Blake, that's great. Hey, O.J., where were YOU on the night of Blake's wife's murder? I'll bet it wasn't Chicago. You have to figure that celebrities who need to off their spouses could do worse than to hire the guy that got away with it, right? O.J., hitman for hire. He could have Mark Fuhrman as his sidekick.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

"Why Are Movies So Bad? or, The Numbers" by Pauline Kael

This is an essay written 21 years ago by the esteemed (and now retired) movie critic Pauline Kael. Jeffrey Wells, one of the Net's respectable movie industry insiders, has tried to bring this essay to the attention of Hollywood types, and it's a good read. Why is it good? Because it doesn't seem like much has changed in 21 years. Studios still churn out crap for the lowest common denominator; directors with a fluke hit under their belts dive into self-indulgent morasses; executives still think that the best movies are the ones that make the most money.
The biggest change in 21 years has been the development of digital video, which theoretically makes anybody with a few grand to spare the next Sergei Eisenstein. My hope is that DV will allow more directors to work outside the studio system, giving them the space and freedom necessary to remain true to his or her vision.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001 - Bart Simpson on the big screen? - May 15, 2001

This news is at least a month old, but CNN can't be on top of everything, I guess. :)

I could see the value of creating a South Park movie, because then Trey Parker and Matt Stone could stuff it full of profanities, something they couldn't do on Comedy Central. However, I don't much see the point of a Simpsons' movie. What could they do on the big screen that they can't do on the small screen now? I doubt we'll be hearing Bart say the F-word anytime soon, and I'm sure Marge has a no-nudity clause in her contract, so what's the point? Cash money. That's the point. A movie means box-office receipts, merchandising tie-ins, video and DVD sales. Will Fox green-light an unnecessary movie just to make a few more millions?


Monday, May 14, 2001 - Unanimous court rejects medical marijuana - May 14, 2001

Despite all the evidence that suggests that marijuana does help ease the pain of many sufferers, the U.S. Supreme Court chickens out and hides behind the old 'Reefer Madness' bullshit that permeates the U.S. justice system. Several states have a majority of voters that approve of marijuana being used for medical purposes, and I suspect that as the years go by, that number will increase. But authority has always feared marijuana with a puzzling irrationality, even though 'legal' drugs like nicotine and caffeine are far more addictive.

Thursday, May 10, 2001

'Dark Angel' co-stars to marry

That sound you hear is a chorus of several million pimply fan-boys weeping miserably as their astronomical chance to nail Jessica Alba is about to disappear.
Stampede at soccer match in Ghana kills at least 100

You know, in North America, we get our shorts in a knot when baseball fans in Minnesota throw batteries at outfielders, but that sure pales in comparison to all the tragedies surrounding soccer matches. The strange thing is that no country seems safe from soccer-related violence. No matter where the game is played, rabid fans and hooligans coalesce into a frightening mob and wreak havoc. How many people have to die before the organizations that run the sport take some responsibility? Maybe the problem is that soccer is so boring to watch, people get restless too easily. (We have that problem with baseball, too, but that's why they sell beer)

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Dell cuts staff - May 7, 2001

Right now, the computer industry suffers from a lack of compelling reasons to buy a new computer. If you already have a computer, chances are that it's running your operating system and associated programs rather well, and with our economy on the slide, you're probably leaning towards paying off debts instead of throwing money at an upgrade. If you don't have a computer... how the hell are you reading this? If you don't have a computer, the only compelling reason to buy one now is the Internet, but with companies dropping like flies, and everyone scrambling to find a new business model that will financially support unique web content, the outlook seems shaky to Joe Consumer.

Caught in the middle are the computer manufacturers like Dell, who were the darlings of Wall Street a year ago, and now are struggling to keep their balance sheets above the red line. Their only choice is to cut prices, which means cutting jobs. This hurts independent computer stores, which have a hard enough time competing with the big boys, and now have to shave their margins even further just to keep up. Add in Microsoft's planned release of their next operating system, Windows XP, in October, and you've got a computer industry reeling like Buster Douglas.

I think the problem for consumers is that computer turnover happens too fast. You buy a computer, it's obsolete as you walk out the door. This is a new sensation for a lot of people. You can drive a twenty-year old car on the highway with all the new cars, if properly maintained. But bring that twenty-year old computer out of the closet, and it takes three days to tell you what today's $20 calculator can figure out in half a second. There's no sense of value with a computer; there's always something it lacks.

Well, as long as I still have broadband internet access and a computer to surf with, I'll be happy. :)

Thursday, May 03, 2001 - Entertainment - Cruise sues porn actor over claims of affair - May 3, 2001

One of the long-standing Hollywood rumors has been that Tom Cruise is gay. I suspect the rumor began out of petty jealousy; sometimes it just doesn't seem fair that a guy could be that good-looking. There are many other actors that are handsome, though, and we never hear rumors about them, so what's the deal?

Perhaps the problem is that Cruise takes the rumor so seriously. If you went up to George Clooney and suggested that he might be gay, George would laugh good-naturedly. If you went up to Tom Cruise with the same suggestion, he'd be on the phone to his lawyer before you finished the sentence. This kind of forceful denial tends to suggest a deep-rooted psychological problem - is there something about himself that he doesn't want to face?

Now we have a gay porn actor claiming he had an affair with Tommy-boy several months ago. Of course, Cruise is suing. But you'd think the gay porn actor would have known that a lawsuit was coming, so why tell a lie? To get more work? Lawsuits don't convince anybody; all they do is make people question your motives. If Cruise isn't gay, why not just publicly say that this porn star is an idiot, and be done with it? If Cruise is gay, then suing the porn star is your best move because he's hoping to bankrupt the guy with lawyer's fees, which will force him to settle out of court with a public apology.

I'm not saying Cruise is gay, and I understand why he wouldn't want it to be public if he was gay, but he's already rich and famous, and if he is gay, his behaviour is perpetuating the 'stay in the closet' stereotype. Hardly the best way to promote tolerance and understanding. Of course, now that I've said all this, I'll probably get sued.

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Hollywood strike down to the wire - May 1, 2001

If this strike drags on, we won't see the effects until autumn, when the fall TV season is supposed to start. Hollywood has enough movies in the can or in postproduction to last until Christmas. How the writer's guide strike goes will largely determine how quickly the actor's guild strike gets resolved. If the studios go hard-line on the writers, expect the actors to dig in for the long haul, too.

In most union-management disputes, it's difficult to separate the truth from the lies. For decades, baseball owners have claimed poverty, while continuing to one-up each other with higher and higher player salaries. Now the Hollywood studios are crying poor, even as they greenlight blockbusters like 'Pearl Harbor' for $150 million. Since Tinseltown accountants are world-famous for massaging the numbers to make any movie look like a financial failure, it's impossible to know whether or not the studios really are in trouble. That's why the actors have got the upper hand here - the public simply will not believe that the studios don't have the money. The actors and writers are fighting for the same thing - a higher minimum wage. This isn't about Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts making $25 million a flick; it's about Joe Schmo the character actor making enough money to survive on bit parts and non-speaking roles. It may take a while for the studios to bend, but bend they will.