there are 10 posts from April 2005

April 30, 2005

jennifer's fifteen minutes

I should have known better than to tune in to CNN this morning, where they were covering the reappearance of Jennifer Wilbanks, the missing bride from Georgia. The reporter covering the story live was speculating on the mental state of her fiancee; the marriage counselor from Seattle, Washington was holding forth on “cold feet” syndrome; the minister who was scheduled to perform the ceremony was holding a press conference; and the anchor holding it all together could barely contain her disappointment that the story was heading into its denouement.

I should have known better because after about 15 minutes of this I found myself (in an empty house) yelling at the television set in disbelief. They’re cutting to reporters live? They’re bringing in experts? The minister is holding a press conference? They’re spending this much time on a person who got on a Greyhound bus?

And thanks to the wonders of synergy, the story’s plastered all over You have to love the backhanded way they deflect any criticism that producers may have been hoping for a story with a bit more legs…

Her disappearance quickly drew national media attention, including talk show speculation sometimes comparing the story to that of Laci Peterson, the pregnant woman who disappeared from her Modesto, California, home on Christmas Eve, 2002.

Ahhh, talk show speculation, eh? Surprised they didn’t blame it on the bloggers. Of course, even with all the live coverage, I didn’t see any tape of this…

The announcement that Wilbanks had been found set off a celebration among anxious relatives and friends. The joy turned to shocked silence about six hours later, when Schultz told reporters that Wilbanks had admitted fabricating the abduction story.

Now that would have been great television.

Update: So apparently the wedding isn’t off, just postponed. Which gives the morning talk shows plenty of time to put their bids in for exclusive coverage of the event; or an enterprising CPG conglomerate to turn the whole thing into an exercise in product placement.

April 28, 2005

not a single tag was harmed in this conversion

For no particular reasons other than to continue this week’s nostalgia theme, and to ride on the coattails of a couple other folks leading the “less is more” microtrend, herewith a stylesheet resurrected from a years-old rev of (And this parenthetical is the usual nod to those sucking down the XML and not seeing this wonder of 11px verdana spaced at 140%: hi!).

April 27, 2005

black holes

Speaking of black holes, I’m coming up on ten years of Stating the Obvious (dead, dying, nearly buried – don’t even bother clicking, there’s nothing there to see; instead, do me a favor and just imagine Jeremy Piven (yes, that’s his name) in Grosse Pointe Blank yelling “Ten years!  Ten years, man!”).  No need to celebrate; the thing should have been buried back in about 1999, after I gave up the thrice-weekly schedule for the thrice-quarterly schedule, which slipped into the thrice-yearly schedule.

Anyway, where was I.  Black holes.  Right.  Well, since it’s been ten years for theobvious, that means it was about nine years ago that I wrote a few pieces for the oft-missed Suck, under the editorial guidance of former and current microstars.  And believe it or not, one of those pieces, An Astral Theory of Rock, actually had something to do with black holes!  And rock stars.  And rock stars that turned into black holes.  Here’s a brief excerpt:

If the [rock] star is sufficiently massive, it will collapse into a Black Hole.  The rocket scientists among us will  immediately recognize the KISS revival tour as the largest black hole the industry has ever seen. In the center of the black hole lies the singularity (Gene Simmons’s  tongue), where matter is crushed to infinite density, and the curvature of spacetime is extreme. Which explains why millions of people keep  expecting to hear “Beth” on the  radio, and to be reunited with their  7th-grade car pools.

There’s more after that…and plenty before it as well.  (Remember, it was the mid-nineties, back when writing on the web actually meant stringing multiple paragraphs together – good times.)  But hey, if the analogy fits, right?  And since my fine friend Jason seems to think that some of us have disappeared into a “blackhole for creative people,” that must mean it’s time to dust off the old standards, get the band back together, and kick off our Internet revival tour with a rousing rendition of “Those Were the Days.”

And hey!  We don’t need the big concert promoters – we’ll raise tour bus funds with Dropcash, plan the logistics with Basecamp, list the dates on Upcoming, distribute nightly direct-from-the-board ogg’s as cc-licensed torrents, blog about it on TypePad, and afterwards sell the commemorative photo album through Lulu.  It’ll be great!

Just after I figure out this whole quantum tunneling thing.

April 24, 2005

sleeper curve economics

In today’s Times, Steven Johnson argues that television is getting smarter, and is demanding more of its readers.  I love the infographics that demonstrate the “chordal” nature of Sopranos plot lines, and the dissection of the flashing arrow conundrum.  (My current obsession, Alias, is getting much better at not flashing arrows at every available opportunity; watching the first three seasons on DVD in an obsessive two month jag made that practice that much more obvious and annoying.)

I’m hopeful that that Johnson uses his upcoming book to dive into his hypothesis that there’s economic incentive behind the “Sleeper Curve.”  As he writes in today’s piece…

The entertainment industry isn’t increasing the cognitive complexity of its products for charitable reasons. The Sleeper Curve exists because there’s money to be made by making culture smarter. The economics of television syndication and DVD sales mean that there’s a tremendous financial pressure to make programs that can be watched multiple times, revealing new nuances and shadings on the third viewing.

Specifically, if the industry is just responding to market demand for smarter entertainment, what is driving that demand?

April 23, 2005

kill bill

Finally got around to watching Kill Bill (both volumes).  Why hadn’t someone forced me to do that sooner?  The mix of kung fu and spaghetti western was pitch perfect; as were the soundtrack, the wire work, the time shifting, the mix of b/w and color. etc., etc.  Despite its length, Tarantino did a great job of not mucking up the revenge plot with too much backstory – there was just enough to make the time-shifting worthwhile.  I probably could have done without the bleeping of The Bride’s real name, but the other cute “I’m an auteur” tricks weren’t nearly as annoying as they were in Pulp Fiction.  The anime sequence was brilliant, and the battle between Thurman and Liu in the snow was one of the more beautiful set pieces I’ve seen in a long time…

April 21, 2005

The future of Spotlight and OS X

Kottke digests some interesting notes about Spotlight and the coming tools in OS X to denote relationships between two objects in the OS (this invoice is related to this PSD file).  Being a recovering Brain user, I have to wonder just how Apple will handle the task of presenting those relationships.  And, assuming that they make those relationships discoverable, what kind of apps get built to browse that data.

(Jason’s writeup: The future of Spotlight and OS X.)

April 21, 2005


Kudos to Rogers Cadenhead (a) for using his newly nabbed to benefit Modest Needs, and (b) for the delightully arch “Katie?” at the end of his Today show appearance. 

(I’m sure it will be linked all over, but here’s the href anyway:  Supporting Modest Needs.)

April 18, 2005

the instinct to discard.

Courtesy of, an excerpt from the 1993 Paris Review interview with Don DeLillo.  It’s so nice to see this online (thanks, Bryan, for the pointer); I have a copy of the issue in a box somewhere.  This graf about his editing process has stuck with me for years…

Discarded pages mark the physical dimensions of a writer’s labor–you know, how many shots it took to get a certain paragraph right. Or the awesome accumulation, the gross tonnage, of first draft pages. … I find I’m more ready to discard pages than I used to be. I used to look for things to keep. I used to find ways to save a paragraph of sentence, maybe by relocating it. Now I look for ways to discard things. If I discard a sentence I like, it’s almost as satisfying as keeping a sentence I like. I don’t think I’ve become ruthless or perverse–just a bit more willing to believe that nature will restore itself. The instinct to discard is finally a kind of faith. It tells me there’s a better way to do this page even though the evidence is not accessible at the present time.

Emphasis mine.

April 03, 2005

since you've been gone

When it comes to PowerPoint, I just can’t leave well enough alone.  Here’s a little ditty I whipped up to utterly shame Matt and Merlin:  another PPT version of everyone’s favorite earworm, constructed with the help of the AutoContent Wizard. 

> Download since-youve-been-gone.pps (76k PowerPoint Show file).  Requires either PowerPoint or the PowerPoint viewer.

April 03, 2005

amazon prime

You know, I’d probably sign up for Amazon Prime if it meant that any gifts that were sent to me off of my wish list were afforded the same privileges (free two-day shipping or overnight shipping for only $3.99).