Friday, May 31, 2002

This gem, posted today, by Victor Davis Hanson, on NROnline:

There is a reason why the postbellum Afghans so far have belied predictions of instant chaos, misery, and genocide with the collapse of the Taliban, and instead are fascinated with televisions, free schools, and cell phones. They realize that we did not like the Taliban — which they hated — and so by extension now do not despise us. In the same manner, Iranians, Libyans, and Iraqis are probably more sympathetic to Americans than are Saudis, Egyptians, and Kuwaitis — whose despotic governments we either subsidize or protect. Unlike the case with the closed societies beyond the Iron Curtain in the 1940s and 1950s, Americans in this new electronic age can appeal directly to unfree peoples, both on principles of democracy and through our own often crass popular culture that by its very vibrancy is antithetical to fundamentalism and autocracy alike.

Veteran British actor Christopher Lee is off to New Zealand to shoot some new scenes for the second installment of The Lord of the Rings, "The Two Towers. " Apparently someone got word on one of the many web sites that director Peter Jackson was planning to change the way in which Lee's character, the wizard Saruman, meets his fate. In the book, the wizard is finally killed by his own twisted lieutenant. Word is that Jackson is planning to stage a dramatic fall from the battlements in which the wizard gets impaled on a spike or other protruding weapon. Anyone familiar with Lee's body of work will recognize this as a sort of in-joke, an allusion to the end of of his many Hammer films in the Dracula cycle. If it's true, it seems silly. Fans have apparently put together petitions which Lee is taking with him to New Zealand to persuade director Jackson to nix the idea. You'd think at age 80 the actor has earned a little relief from allusions to a character he hasn't played in 30 years. For more info on this, visit the actor's superb web site.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

It's too bad Wayne Woodlief of the Herald wasn't around, or if he was, when all the controversy surroudning the Big Dig, construction of a second tunnel to East Boston and the INNER BELT around the city was dominating the political news of the state and city of Boston, he didn't know what was really going on. In his column in the Boston Herald this morning, Woodlief heaps a mountain of praise on former U.S. and Mass. House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. for fathering and guiding the multi-billion-dollar Big Dig fiasco through the nation's capital and now wants to name the final leg of the Mass Turnpike connection to the Ted Williams Tunnel after him. In his column, Woodlief praised Congressman Barney Frank of Newton for backing the Big Dig, alias the depression of the Boston Central Artery. When Frank was working for the White administration, he thought the burying of the Central Artery, since tabbed the Big Dig by ad agency people paid big bucks to string motorists along, was a joke. It was Rep. Frank who once observed that it would be cheaper "to raise the city of Boston than depress the Artery." He wasn't far off! It was O'Neill who killed the Inner Belt which would have made the depression unnecessary and allowed motorists coming north from Routes 3 and 24 to circumvent downtown Boston with their links to the Melnea Cass highway in Roxbury across the Charles River over through a section of Cambridge (whoops) and reconnect with northbound routes like 3, 93 et al. And the praise Woodlief paid Dukakis Transportation Secretary Fred Salvucci who was anti-motorist and against any expansion of the state's highway program, shows how shallow his grasp of recent Bay State political history is. Woodlief also adopts the line the ad men try to sell us that the original cost of the Artery job was estimated at $2.5 billion. Not so. The Artery project began with a $1 billion price tag. But the PR boys who want to eugolize Tip have been inflating it, as if $2.5 billion isn't enough.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Ron Indrisano, whom the Boston Globe passes off as an expert on horse racing, showed once again on the weekend how inept he is at forecasting the results of major horse races in the United States and abroad. Here are his own words from the front page of this past Saturday's sports page of the Globe regarding the 127th running oi the Preakness race at Pimlico track in Baltimore Saturday:
"I didn't go to War Emblem's wedding at Churchill Downs as the front-runner led a procession through the stretch; so I am not going to his funeral in today's Preakness at Pimlico where his Triple Crown bid will die. I didn't like him in Kentucky where he won easily. How much worse can I look by not picking him in Baltimore?" Not much, but did he admit it in his follow story of the race from Page one of the big Sunday Globe sports section? Not a word! And in a sidebar story he described his pick for the race, Medglia d'Oro, as the biggest disappointment, a "total flop now headed for the grass." Maybe the Globe should put Indrisano out to pasture with his favorite horse!

Friday, May 17, 2002

The Darwin Awards are given every year, and circulated around the Net, in honor (usually posthumously) of those individuals who best demonstrate the way Natural Selection works in keeping the human race relativiely successful (by weeding out the morons among us). This year's 'winners' are no exception.

(The late) John Pernicky and his friend, (the late) Sal Hawkins, of the great state of Washington, decided to attend a local Metallica concert at the George Washington amphitheater. Having no tickets (but having had 18 beers between them), they thought it would be easy to "hop" over the nine-foot fence and sneak into the show.

They pulled their pickup truck over to the fence and the plan was for Mr. Pernicky, who was 100-pounds heavier than Mr. Hawkins to hop the fence and then assist his friend over. Unfortunately for (the late) Mr. Pernicky, there was a 30-foot drop on the other side of the fence. Having heaved himself over, he found himself crashing through a tree. His fall was abruptly halted (and broken, along with his arm) by a large branch that snagged him by his shorts. Dangling from the tree with a broken arm, he looked down and saw some bushes below him. Possibly figuring the bushes would break his fall, he removed his pocketknife and proceeded to cut away his shorts to free himself from the tree.

Finally free, Mr. Pernicky crashed into holly bushes. The sharp leaves scratched his ENTIRE body and now, without the protection of his shorts, a holly branch penetrated his rectum. To make matters worse, on landing, his pocketknife penetrated his thigh. Mr. Hawkins, seeing his friend in considerable pain and agony, threw him a rope and pull him to safety by tying the rope to the pickup truck and slowly driving away. However, in his drunken haste/state, he put the truck into reverse and crashed through the fence landing on his friend and killing him.

Police arrived to find the crashed pickup with its driver thrown 100 feet from the truck and dead at the scene from massive internal injuries. Upon moving the truck, they found John under it half-naked, scratches on his body, a holly stick in his rectum, a knife in his thigh, and his shorts dangling from a tree branch 25-feet in the air.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

This may come as a surprise to some, but as Jeff Jacoby points out in today's Globe there are indeed some courageous Muslim men and women out in the world, in positions where their opinions can be heard, who are not lock-step supporters of murdering civilians and are full of a righteous wrath against those who abuse the teachings of the Koran for their deadly purposes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Serialized novel Doctor Janeway's Plague is now up to Chapters 24 and 24. One more installment and then the process begins for casting and shooting sequences from the book.
New video up today. QuickTime of interview for local UHF station in 1984. 3/4" Umatic was still the standard for field shooting in those days, which don't seem so long ago. At least in Boston, Beta didn't finally supplant the last Umatic edit station until I was at the ABC affiliate Channel 5 in 1992. And they were the city's news leader at the time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

It now appears that the financial background of successful authors is a subject for books, perhaps because publishers deem this will be more interesting to readers than discussion of their literary work. Fine. I'd like to know how much money Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark sock away, and what they do with it. But Alice Munro? Check out this article for a no-nonsense review of this trend in a book that snoops into the financial affairs of one of the best short story writers in the English language.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Posted three new chapters to Doctor Janeway. One of the advantages of serializing a novel is that a writer can benefit from outside critiques and commentary. In my case, very helpful insights and corrections from Cal Tech astrophysicist Scott Hughes...

Thursday, May 09, 2002

If you think the Mideast crisis is hopeless, you're not alone, and here is one of the best pieces (albeit politically incorrect) about why... by NRO regular and sometime novelist John Derbyshire.
New Media posting: Today I added another clip to the Video Archive (see left frame) and also the next two installments of Doctor Janeway's Plague. The novel has attracted the attention of the good readers at today's Site of the Day: BookHaunts which features the work of independently published scribes. Based in Chicago, BookHaunts was recently featured in Pat Holt's newsletter.
Correction to bottom post: through some strange Blogger bug, the link to the Cardinal's deposition somehow got tied up with my posting designation, so it didn't actually appear below, but does appear when I click on Blogger's edit button in edit mode. Go figure....
First item: Cardinal Law's deposition, which can be found

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

In conjunction with a new book on digital video that I am writing for Charles River Media, I am rebuilding the web site here to archive digital samples of video dating back to the days when cameras and video decks were first available to the public. And I mean—way before VHS. If you're interested in viewing these, click on the Video Archive link to the lower left of this page. All clips are in QuickTime, and you can download the free viewer from the archive page. Depending on how much interest the site generates, Real streaming clips may also become available. Another development is the serialization of my first novel, Doctor Janeway's Plague, in Acrobat format (downloadable from the Fiction link). News: Scenes from the book will be shot and posted in QuickTime to this site for those book buffs who have an enduring interest in how fiction is adapted to the screen. As far as I know, nothing like this has ever been done, certainly not with any mainstream published fiction. Check back for new installments, or sign the Guest Book if you want to be alerted to when scenes will be viewable.

Monday, May 06, 2002

At the risk of beating the Boston Cardinal Law story into the ground, I can't ignore the latest bizzare statement he made regarding his hand picked Finance Council's rejection last Friday of the multi-million dollar settlement with 86 victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan to which he had agreed last month. Yesterday Cardinal Law said he didn't know, until last Friday, that the Finance Council's approval was necessary before he could go forward with the settlements because canon law requires such an OK. If he didn't know, the next obvious question is: Why did he call the meeting? He previously had set the meeting for last Wednesday, cancelled it late Tuesday and then on Thursday notified the 15 members of the Council the meeting was on again for the next day! And his alleged lack of knowledge on a matter of such import to the archdiocese he claims to be the best person to run is another reason why he should step down.
Revisiting The Verdict. Over the past couple of months, I've noticed Sidney Lumet's 1982 movie The Verdict playing, perhaps on AMC or one of the other movie channels. When the movie first came out, I rolled my eyes at the (I thought) standard stereotyping of the Catholic hierarchy—the cold, almost corporate Boston archbishop hiring the prestigious Waspy law firm to crush a down-and-out lawyer trying to make a case for an unfortunate woman who went into a coma due to the negligence of a renowned doctor at the archdiocese's world famous Catholic hospital. But now, seeing the way the sex abuse scandal has been handled by the Cardinal and by other bishops around the country, The Verdict seems almost naive in its portrayal. Who'd have thought Hollywood would error on the side of caution in its insinuations about how arrogant Church leaders can be.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

Food for thought: That Boston's Bernard Cardinal Law, or at least his advisers, are becoming more adept playing the media game is apparent from the latest developments in the ongoing scandal which has rocked the Catholic Church. His 15-member Finance Council was to have convened last Wednesday for a vote approving $7 million in payments to 86 alleged victims of John Geoghan who has been defrocked and is now in jail for his sexual escapades with boys and young men. But the cardinal canceled the meeting only hours before its scheduled start, with no new date set up. On Thursday the fifteen council members were called individually and told the session was on again and set for yesterday. With another torrent of bad publicity concerning Cardinal Law's dereliction of duty throughout the growing crisis certain to follow, one may easily speculate that the cardinal changed the date to take advantage of the lower readership of the smaller circulation Saturday newspapers. What do you think???

Friday, May 03, 2002

Bill Buckley's National Review which called for the cardinal's resignation last month, had more to say on the subject in its latest issue. Reiterating how Cardinal Law has acknowledged he had erred when he shuffled Fr. Shanley around various ministeries, National Review said: "What he has not acknowledged is that the only way to do justice to the magnitude of his dereliction is to resign. Cardinal Law no longer has the credibility to be a moral and spiritual leader for his people. It is a great sadness, but if he does not face it his error of judgment will only be compounded."
Another tough day for Boston Archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law as the news of the arrest in San Diego of Fr. Paul Shanley, for years a priest under his jurisdiction and one who liked boys—little boys, was all over the pages of the Boston Globe and the Herald this morning. This all after the four principal TV news stations in the Boston metropolitan area each led off their newscasts last evening with a withering, 10-plus-minute coverage of the tragic story and resumed their telecasts this morning with more of same. The cardinal who has steadfastly ignored the calls of most of the Catholic faithful for his resignation, perhaps will accept the message Sunday when he launches his annual archdiocesan appeal at all masses for $16 million in contributions. Many Catholics are expected to say no, until he says yes.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Site of the day: Total Rewind is about the only place on the Web where you can find a really detailed history of home video technology—dating back to the beginning, meaning the late 1960s and early 1970s. It's a UK site that focuses on UK users, but most of what it says pretty much goes for the U.S. in terms of release dates for decks and formats. I found this excellent 'museum' by doing a search for any information on what might be the oldest home video ever made. The reason: the oldest may very well be something I did in 1976. See our Video Archive page on the left.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

That big puff piece on Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts in today's Boston Globe had a rather amusing 2-column head atop it: "John Kerry hasn't said he'll run for President, but he's hoping that people will get to know him—and like him." Of course, every one at the Globe and the N.Y. Times which owns the Globe, knows that he positively is, but play along with him. However, keep an eye on the other senator from the Bay State! Ted Kennedy is not amused by all the play the junior senator from Mass. who married all that Heinz money on his last trip to the altar, is getting and in line for in the months ahead.

Kevin Paul Dupont, the Globe's premier hockey writer, had an outstanding analysis of the Bruins collapse at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup play offs this morning. Since the heavily-favored Bruins' swan dive, many Boston hockey writers have cited tough luck and other weak excuses for the team's failure. Dupont laid it on the line with a highly critical review of the club. His lead paragraph summed it up very clearly: "Don't be fooled. The better team didn't lose. The Bruins began summer vacation Sunday night for a reason, actually for a number of reasons, but the first and foremost because the Montreal Canadiens outworked and outplayed them from front to back."
Interesting prediction from Former Random House editorial director Jason Epstein bets $1000 that by 2010, 50% of books will be published by print-on-demand (at the place of sale). WorldCom V.P. Vint Cerf says no— they will be published in purely electronic format, either for e-book readers or for other devices like laptops and Palm Pilots. What's interesting about this bet, however, is that both agree that the book publishing industry cannot continue under the current publishing model. (For a taste of either future, please click on the Fiction button to the left....)