Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.

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Friday, July 23, 2004

Wayne Newton?

Turns out that harrowing airline experience essentially amounts to overreaction to "the Syrian Wayne Newton." Even more terrifying? The article notes, "Just one week later, the same company that arranged Mehana's performance, also booked Carrot Top!" (From Rick Bradley on Dave Farber's Interesting People list.)

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Well, what did you expect?

So Wrigley Field is falling down. Remember, it was built by a chewing gum company.

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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Goodbye, Jerry...


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Academy Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, who created the memorable music for scores of classic movies and television shows ranging from the "Star Trek" and "Planet of the Apes" series to "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "Dr. Kildare," has died. He was 75.

Goldsmith died in his sleep Wednesday night at his Beverly Hills home after a long battle with cancer, said Lois Carruth, his personal assistant.

A classically trained composer and conductor who began musical studies at age 6, Goldsmith's award-dappled Hollywood career - he was nominated for 17 Academy Awards, won one, and also took home five Emmys - spanned nearly half a century.

He crafted an astonishing number of TV and movie scores that have become classics in their own right. From the clarions of "Patton" to the syrupy theme for TV's "The Waltons," Goldsmith sometimes seemed virtually synonymous with soundtracks.

He took on action hits such as "Total Recall," which he considered one of his best scores, as well as the "Star Trek" movies and more lightweight fare, like his most recent movie theme, for last year's "Looney Tunes: Back in Action." His hundreds of works included scores for "The Blue Max," "L.A. Confidential," "Basic Instinct" and "Chinatown."

Goldsmith's output also spilled into television, with the themes for shows including "Dr. Kildare," "Barnaby Jones" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He also wrote a fanfare that is used in Academy Awards telecasts.

He won his Oscar for best original score in 1976 for "The Omen." He also earned five Emmy Awards and was nominated for nine Golden Globe awards, though he never won one.

"He could write anything. He did Westerns, comedies," Carruth said. "He preferred writing for more character-driven, quiet films but somehow they kept coming back to him for the action films."

Born Feb. 10, 1929 in Los Angeles, Goldsmith studied with famed pianist Jacob Gimpel and pianist, composer and film musician Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He fell in love with movie composing when he saw the 1945 Ingrid Bergman movie "Spellbound," Carruth said, and while attending the University of California took classes with Miklos Rozsa, who wrote the Oscar-winning score for that film.

In 1950, he got a job as a clerk typist at CBS and eventually got assignments for live radio shows, writing as much as one score a week. He later turned to television.

In the late 1950s he began composing for movies. His career took off in the 1960s with such major films as "Lonely Are the Brave" and "The Blue Max." He earned his first Academy Award nomination for his work on 1962's "Freud."

Goldsmith was know for his versatility and his experimentation. He added electronics to the woodwinds and brasses of his scores. For 1968's "Planet of the Apes," he got a blaring effect by having his musicians blow horns without mouthpieces. With a puckish sense of humor, he reportedly wore an ape mask while conducting the score.

"He experimented a lot and that's what made him so popular with his fans," Carruth said. "When he wrote, he got inside of the characters and he wrote what he felt they were thinking and feeling."

Some of his motion picture scores were adapted for ballets. Goldsmith also wrote composed orchestral pieces and taught occasional music classes at local universities.

He is survived by his wife, Carol; children Aaron, Joel, Carrie, Ellen Edson and Jennifer Grossman, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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This monkey began walking exclusively in an upright position after a severe stomach ailment that veterinarians suspect might have resulted in brain damage (full story).

One interpretation could be that humans are hairless, brain-damaged monkeys. Who eat at Sheetz or ChiChi's.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Friendly skies

MOSCOW (AP) - Drunken passengers often give air crews trouble, but Russia's leading airline on Tuesday reported an "unprecedented" reversal: A passenger was assaulted by intoxicated flight attendants.

Two crew members on a domestic Aeroflot flight beat up a passenger who had complained that the flight attendants were drunk, airline spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg said.

The passenger, identified only as A. Chernopup, was aboard a recent flight from Moscow to the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk, Dannenberg said. She said the crew belonged to another airline, Aviaenergo.

Seeing that the crew were intoxicated and were not fulfilling their duties, Chernopup asked to be served by a sober and competent flight attendant, Dannenberg said. He was then beaten up by crew members.

On Russian flights, attendants often have to struggle to keep intoxicated passengers under control. But on this flight, Dannenberg said, flight attendants were so intoxicated that they "behaved improperly" and only began catering to passengers 1 1/2 hours into the four-hour trip.

The daily Izvestia quoted another passenger as saying that half of the food the crew served ended up on the floor, leaving the aisle strewn with debris that passengers had to walk over as they disembarked.

According to the passenger, Chernopup left the plane with a black eye and was promptly sent to a doctor. Izvestia also reported that a criminal case was opened after Chernopup reported the incident to the police.

Dannenberg said that the plane was carrying out an Aeroflot flight, but both the aircraft and the crew belonged to Aviaenergo. Aeroflot has been contracting out from Aviaenergo since August 2003, but the incident prompted it to tighten control over Aviaenergo's staff, she said.

The entire crew of the flight has been temporarily dismissed and a joint commission is investigating the incident, Dannenberg said.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004


If this is true, I'm glad I fly mostly on small 737s making short hops.

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Better than the news

Imus is on vacation, so when I started flipping channels in my post-wakeup stupor this morning and landed on Back to the Beach, the stupor reached critical levels and I was frozen in my chair for the next 92 minutes.

Quote of the day: "You sure have wasted an incredible pair of hooters."-bad girl Connie Francis to good girl Annette Funicello.

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Monday, July 19, 2004


Just... ouch.

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Oh, lighten up

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's in trouble because he has a sense of humor and understands popular culture.

Arnie, who claims Democrats in the legislature are delaying passage of the state budget, told a rally: "If they don't have the guts to come up here in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers ... if they don't have the guts, I call them girlie men.".

This, of course, references a repeating sketch on Saturday Night Live, where Arnie wannabes Hans and Franz would make fun of others who didn't match their own standards of perfection.

Some Dems, in high dudgeon, are referring to his remarks as sexist and homophobic.

Oh, give it a break.

As former New York mayor Richard Giuliani said in response to another overreaction to another politician's glib remarks, "I think there are some people who spend their lives waiting to be offended."

Instead of being offended, how about answering Arnie's question directly? Forget the girlie-man reference; you've just been accused by your governor as being the pawns of special interest groups. Responding by feigning moral outrage is a Bush administration ploy, California Dems, and beneath you.

Unless, of course, the Guvinator is on to something.

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Sunday, July 18, 2004

Air travel's getting ugly again

Surprise... a line at the security check-in at Greater Pitt this morning.

Typically, I make it through security in under five minutes, but the queue was full this morning. Ten minutes through the serpentine, then another ten to get through x-ray and the magnetometer.

They put my backpack through x-ray three times, apparently in an effort make certain my toothpaste and copy of "Perl for Dummies" were totally irradiated. I suggested they just hand-search the damned thing since, being a good traveler, I had everything in the backpack sealed in clear plastic bags for easy examination. But no, that would be too simple.

They zapped it one more time, then swiped it with a wand and stuck it in the machine that's supposed to detect explosives. Negative, of course. Only then did they ask to open my bag.

The culprit was an extra cellphone battery, which apparently looks suspicious when viewed from the side on an x-ray machine.

I'm really tempted to do something akin to the sight gags in the Austin Powers movies: assemble a collection of totally benign articles in a configuration that appears to be a giant phallus. Or, even better, a giant, explosive phallus. That way, when the highly offended, self-righteous security lady demands that I open my bag, she will discover nothing more than a small alarm clock, a cardboard tube, a couple of tennis balls, and a large economy size bottle of roll-on antiperpirant.

"Why, ma'am, what did you think was in there?

Another irritating change in security procedures at Greater Pitt: you now must keep your boarding pass out and visible at all times. It's checked before you enter the x-ray/magnetometer area, after you pick up your bags, and before you exit the area. The latter two seem excessive to me. Unless a space alien teleports you out and replaces you with a beta unit, how else will your boarding status change while you're in line?

The new rule is inconvenient. It's hard enough putting on a jacket, collecting your carry-ons and removing and repacking your laptop while keeping the pass in the field of view of the wandering TSA folk. Oh, well. At least they don't want both your boarding pass and your i.d.

At least the TSA people at Pittsburgh are the friendliest and most polite I've encountered. And the airport has a nice mall, food court and free wireless broadband.

The charade that is airport security is still irritating. I'm beginning to think the solution offered three decades ago by the Archie Bunker character on All in the Family is the best approach: pass out handguns to all the passengers as they board the plane. You can be pretty certain no hijacker is going to try to pull anything.

Unfortunately, you can also be pretty certain what will happen when, after spending an hour circling over Kokomo, Indiana, the passengers learn their flight to O'Hare is being diverted to Des Moines.

But just think how fast the flight attendants will respond when you push the call button...

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The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


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