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log entries
August 2000


 

Tuesday, 1 August 2000, 10:50 am

The ad man giveth, and the ad man taketh away. Saturday I waxed lyrical (and I really need to find a new brand of wax) about a print ad for the nascent Mazda Tribute, which contained the tagline "What if an SUV were raised by a family of sports cars?" The subjunctive mood, I was delighted to see, had not been forgotten after all — until this morning's banner ad at Salon.com, which renders it "What if an SUV was raised by a family of sports cars?" I guess print readers are still supposed to be smarter than Net surfers. Break my heart, why doncha?

Speaking of things simultaneously automotive and cultural, Peter Michael DiLorenzo's rant in Autoextremist.com #60 is a gem. Taking off from Nissan's retreating from an "edgy" ad campaign for its Frontier truck after complaints from the usual suspects, DiLorenzo launches this fusillade:

"This country needs an enema. In our quest not to offend anybody, we're in danger of becoming cultural automatons, walking around completely devoid of any point of view, afraid to have a free thought or even express the lingering residue of one. We allow our simulated culture to be spoon-fed to us (it's just like New Orleans — only better!) like our morning mellow pill at the home. We walk around on tiptoes so as not to disrupt anything or anyone's 'space.' And in the process, we're denying ourselves an opportunity to experience a large part of what's meaningful, memorable or even quirky about life."

Does anyone (not you, Nova) remember the Longines Symphonette Society? Back in the dear, dead days of vinyl, this affiliate of the renowned watchmaker released untold googobs of LPs (and the occasional 8-track) of what the radio mavens were wont to call "Beautiful Music". Of course, radio has since been reduced to two formats — basically, Limbaugh and Non-Limbaugh — and Longines has fallen into the hands of kitschmeisters Swatch Group, but the vinyl legacy remains, waiting for someone to get off the dime and unload it on eBay.

Wednesday, 2 August 2000, 6:40 pm

I have pretty much decided that I don't really care about the results of my colonoscopy (which, as a topic, has been beaten to death and then some in this log anyway). Odds are that it's nothing of earth-shattering importance anyway — and if it is, there's probably nothing I can do about it anyway. Mere longevity has never really figured into my dreams, so if That Time is approaching, let it approach. If nothing else, it will inconvenience the ingrates at work.

A friend bestowed upon me a slightly used Hewlett-Packard CD-Writer Plus; I spent most of the day trying to get it to live up to its name and actually write a CD. At some level I have been unable to establish, this drive has a fundamental problem with my system, and since I'm in no position to buy a new system and slide it under the drive, out came the CD burner. It will get another chance later in the year, when I have fewer things to worry about — assuming I ever have fewer things to worry about, which is a lot to assume.

Thursday, 3 August 2000, 6:45 pm

One of the stranger ironies of life on line is that over on WHquestion, I'm actually giving what some people seem to consider useful romantic advice. I suppose diet tips are next.

Tomorrow morning, I will get to see just how much of a shambles has been made of my office in my absence. I do not expect to be thrilled.

And after a week or so that was downright pleasant, the heat was cranked back up today. I suppose it's necessary to help dry out the Eastern Seaboard and all, but it definitely discourages staying out long hours.

Friday, 4 August 2000, 8:45 pm

Well, George W. didn't embarrass himself last night, which, for the Republicans, must be reckoned a Good Thing, since for the next three months he's going to have to shine a whole lot of light on himself without reflecting the tarnish of Gore. There's still the question of how many places are available under the big tent with all those angry white guys still taking up space, but I'm starting to think that W.'s talk about diversity in the GOP is genuine. And certainly a lot of the Democrats' core constituencies could just as easily be enlisted under the GOP banner if the holier-than-thou crowd could be shoved back into the corner — there are a lot of people who are Democratic only because Pat Robertson and his vapid ilk are Republicans. I have gone on record as predicting just such a shove, circa 2003; it would be gratifying to see Bush fils making it come true.

Thirty-nine degrees Celsius may sound better, but it doesn't feel any better, and tomorrow it's supposed to get beyond today's mere 102° Fahrenheit. I guess it had to come sooner or later.

Saturday, 5 August 2000, 7:15 pm

I hit Salon.com late last night, and found the Mazda Tribute banner ad, beaten to death previously in this log, subtly altered to "What if an SUV were raised by a family of sports cars?" — but this morning, the verb had changed back to was. It's enough to make your head spin.

And apparently the pranksters were well-represented among the protesters outside (way outside) the Republican Convention — that is, unless you think there are people crazed enough to take a stand against breast-feeding. Then again, all manner of bizarre people are out there.

Stories persist that Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin will try for the top spot in 2002, replacing Frank Keating, who's running into term limits, and not a moment too soon. In fact, Keating is known to be desperate for a job in a George W. Bush administration, so he might be gone even faster than that. I'm not a major Fallin fan, but if Keating leaves and she inherits the governorship, she'll have the advantages of incumbency when certified loon Rep. Steve Largent makes his expected play for the post in 2002, and anything that gets Largent sent back to Seattle is fine with me; the guy's a carpetbagger, though not quite enough to register on the Hillary scale, and worse, he's a tool of the Christian Drool Squad. Assuming the Democrats come up with yet another lamer — a safe assumption, unfortunately — I'm weighing in early for Mary.

Sunday, 6 August 2000, 2:25 pm

Remind me not to get another green car. Or maybe I can paint this one the exact color of bird droppings. It's absolutely amazing how quickly the stuff accumulates. And I don't even drive a Nissan.

Speaking of cars, after giving the matter not enough thought, I decided that what my daughter really needs is a Hyundai Elantra wagon. Well, that and a whole lot of money. Then again, if she had a whole lot of money, she probably wouldn't look at a Hyundai — one thing she seems to have in common with the old man. I wouldn't generalize beyond that point, though; I am discovering that my ability to relate to twentysomethings is not nearly as good as I think.

And a tip of the fedora to The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, the rest of the Turtles past and present, and of course Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, for saying exactly what I thought needed to be said — in three-quarter time, no less.

Monday, 7 August 2000, 10:05 pm

Two new bodies on staff today, to train for the busy season which starts, uh, today.

Well, I still don't have the final lab report on the polyps, but, by gum, I do have the bill: $1,768.30. The insurance company will likely pay at least a couple hundred bucks.

Tuesday, 8 August 2000, 6:55 pm

One thing Democratic Veepstakes entrant Joe Lieberman has in common with his GOP counterpart, Dick Cheney — I'd rather have him in the top position on the ticket than at #2. There are, however, differences; for instance, at no time while listening to Cheney talk have I imagined I was hearing Dr Zoidberg from Futurama.

And yet another day of intemperate temperatures. I stood outside in the sun for twenty minutes just to see if I could fry an egg on my scalp. (Not that I would eat it if I could.)

The real fun, though, will be in some air-conditioned courtroom, when the same record companies who went crying to the courts that Napster was eating up all their profits — remember that? — get to face 28 states' attorneys general in a price-fixing suit. Expect doubletalk in stereo (quadratalk?).

Wednesday, 9 August 2000, 8:50 pm

Could anyone have imagined this? The sanest voice in the Reform Party, after all is said and done, may turn out to be that of Ross Perot. Then again, who would have thought, after years and years of all those wild and woolly Beach Boys stories, that the last surviving Wilson brother would be Brian?

Speaking of Brian Wilson, his Web site is running a poll: "What is your favorite song from Pet Sounds?" (No, I won't spoil it for you; go vote.)

Aside to management, courtesy of Robert Townsend's Up the Organization:

"All decisions should be made as low as possible in the organization. The Charge of the Light Brigade was ordered by an officer who wasn't there looking at the territory."

Thursday, 10 August 2000, 7:05 pm

A moment of silence, if you please, for IntellectualCapital.com, a breezy little policy-wonk forum presided over by former Delaware governor (and one-time Republican presidential candidate) Pete du Pont; the site, like so many before it, is a casualty of Yet Another Media Merger. Thursday mornings won't be the same without it.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has come up with an odd notion. The new Regulation FD requires that information which may affect the price of your stock has to go public — not just to the ear of your favorite Wall Street insider. Perhaps needless to say, your favorite Wall Street insider is livid.

It is often said that gentlemen prefer blondes; the possibility, however, should be considered that blondes might actually prefer gentlemen. And if you don't believe me, ask Mamie Van Doren.

Thursday, 10 August 2000, 8:55 pm

Uh, where exactly did it say that I was expected to be perky?

Friday, 11 August 2000, 7:55 pm

I never was one to pay much attention to pseudo-scientific claptrap like biorhythms, and the events of this week, in which I have ostensibly reached the peak of my 28-day emotional cycle, yet somehow I feel like driving into a bridge abutment, are not going to give me any greater confidence in such things.

Another day over a hundred. Does seasonal affective disorder work in reverse?

Saturday, 12 August 2000, 8:40 pm

Back when I was much younger and a trifle less cynical, most of us had, or knew someone who had, Fritz Perls' Gestalt Prayer hanging on the wall. In case you'd forgotten it, it goes like this:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.

Of course, we always forgot — or the manufacturers of posters conveniently omitted — the last line, which was

If not, it can't be helped.

Come to think of it, I haven't been doing such a hot job of living up to my expectations, either.

This site recorded its 35,000th visitor today. I didn't expect that either.

Sunday, 13 August 2000, 6:50 pm

Found a penny in the washing machine today, and two cents in the dryer. At this rate, I'll be ready to retire in about 12,500 years.

Is Arianna Huffington a Major Babe? I'm starting to think so, and at least part of the credit must go to her book How to Overthrow the Government, which I finished up last night. Not that I have any business spending any time evaluating Major Babes, of course — but geez, how often do you get to meet, in the actual flesh, someone who is genuinely brilliant and drop-dead gorgeous? (I first wrote that as "how often do I get to meet, in the actual flesh, someone who is genuinely brilliant and drop-dead gorgeous?", but the answer was just too depressing to contemplate.)

The Democrats are gathering in the City of Angels, and you can write your own joke for that. I'm sure they're busy even now, checking the convention agenda to make sure nobody actually says anything. The GOP set the bar for impenetrability pretty high this year, but not so high that it's completely out of reach.

Monday, 14 August 2000, 8:00 pm

It is generally accepted that the American electorate has shifted rightward in recent years. Just the same, some things still astonish me. Today, some Gen-X type asked me about some unheard-of organization which he thought might be called the "Jim Birch Society". (Although you can be sure I ran this through a couple of search engines before correcting the chap — just in case.)

A relatively minor place in hell — accompanied by, I hope, a bill for $30 or so — awaits software authors who manage to lose your registration-key info when you copy their program onto a new computer. Yes, I can go look it up in my 30 megabytes of accumulated email somewhere, but I shouldn't have to.

Tomorrow, I meet with my doctor. At the very least, I should get a Vent out of it.

Tuesday, 15 August 2000, 6:45 pm

The little plastic cover for the base of Molly's windshield seems to have vanished into thin air. "Very seldom do these fly off," said the local service manager, so I conclude that (1) it's fairly expensive and (2) some light-fingered loser couldn't bring himself to obtain one honestly.

Today's medical exam contained a revelation, which was not entirely unexpected, and a prescription change, which was. Evidently I'm shakier than I thought.

Whose idea was it to put on a Beach Boys record just now, anyway?

Wednesday, 16 August 2000, 6:20 pm

It's been twenty-three years, and Elvis is still dead. Yes, I know, there are those who take issue with the very idea, and those who quibble about the actual date — I have a copy of the Weekly World News which declares, in no uncertain terms, that Elvis died on May 14, 1993. In Nashville. Of diabetes, yet.

What this country needs, I have decided, is a good twenty-five-cent tranquilizer. (I don't seem to be getting much for my 74 cents' worth of lorazepam.)

We have now had sixteen sunny days in a row, so I guess this is probably a lousy time to invite John McCain to dinner. Anyway, I wish him well.

Thursday, 17 August 2000, 6:25 pm

This was one of those odd days when the temperature rose out of sight and the dew point took a nose-dive; at afternoon-commute time, it was 103 degrees with a relative humidity down in the 20-percent range, resulting in a heat index of 102. Another reason to listen to the automated voice from the National Weather Service: it didn't flinch, or attempt to make a joke, while reading it off.

I sent a proposal up to The Powers That Be which would speed up some of our online distribution. Buried deep in the text is the revelation that it would cut my workload substantially. If nothing else, this way I'll find out if anyone actually reads these things.

Friday, 18 August 2000, 7:50 pm

For about five days during three months of summer, we get a reasonable balance of weather ingredients — high temperature around 90 (instead of 100), a light breeze from the north (instead of 20-mph blasts of hot air from Texas), and just enough clouds here and there to give you a reason to look forward to the sunset. This, to me, is daylight worth saving. Too bad we can't bottle it up for, say, the last week of January.

You'd think that everyone by now had learned what happens when you leave popcorn in the microwave too long. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. I can still smell it, and I'm four miles away. It's a good thing John Waters didn't have this stuff available for Polyester.

This being Friday, I got to work extended — or perhaps distended — hours. Blessed are the wage slaves, for eventually they shall collect time and a half.

Saturday, 19 August 2000, 4:25 pm

Given my peripheral interest — or perhaps not so peripheral interest — in the subject of human invisibility, it was inevitable that I should wind up seeing Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man. I probably shouldn't have bothered. Apart from reducing a few people's Bacon numbers, the entire 110-minute film seems rather pointless, unless you're in need of something with emetic effect. The feeling of nausea will pass; the one concept with staying power — that characters with delusions of godhood have no business being in charge of anything — I can get five days a week without ever setting foot in a movie house.

On the upside, full marks, once again, to the Cinemark staff; they actually seem to like movies.

Sunday, 20 August 2000, 5:50 pm

After 104 yesterday, it's clear that the blast furnace has been cranked back up. And it still hasn't rained all month.

The cable company is finally getting around to shuffling the local channels. Some people are up in arms — "You mean channel 4 won't be on channel 4 anymore?" — but it's way overdue. Besides, if there's the slightest signal leakage, you'll get both channel 4 signals, over-the-air and cable, and if there's the slightest time differential between them, you'll get ghosting. Besides, when the FCC's you-will-go-digital-or-else decree kicks in, channel 4 will be on channel 27 anyway. In fact, if you have one of the nine digital TVs in the state, you'll find them there already.

Monday is not looking good.

Monday, 21 August 2000, 6:50 pm

Yesterday, I said something to the effect that "Monday is not looking good." Well, it didn't. I seem to have developed some form of emotional constipation — the harder I try, the poorer the results. Then again, everybody probably already assumed I was full of crap to begin with.

Every portal from Alta Vista to Yahoo! can point you to presidential-election analysis, but no matter which ones you hit, you won't find anything more concise, more spin-free, than the commentary most generously provided by the Misanthropic Bitch. Needless to say, she's in a good mood.

Tuesday, 22 August 2000, 5:40 pm

Still down in the dumps. However, it appears I may get my workload lightened a bit after all, which is bound to help.

Almost any consumer advisor worth his clipboard will tell you that the smartest automotive buy, generally, is a vehicle one or two years old. The previous owner has already bitten the depreciation bullet, and you've still got warranty coverage. This being Oklahoma, though, smartness must be punished. In an effort to appear to be doing something about this state's asinine license-plate fees, the legislature, having failed to override Governor Keating's veto in the past (like he pays any of these damn fees), has bestowed upon us State Question 691, which will, if passed, cut the fees for new-car buyers by a little, cut the fees for old car plates by a little less, and just incidentally raise the fees for the smart guys buying the Certified Pre-Owned. Molly turned seven this year, so I'd presumably get a break from SQ 691. I still voted against it, just on general principle. It will, of course, pass by a wide margin.

Wednesday, 23 August 2000, 9:15 pm

I want it clearly understood from the get-go that I didn't watch one single episode of Survivor.

The local classical-music station played a perfectly lovely chamber-music version of "Yesterday" as a filler item, and then killed the mood by announcing it as a composition by the late John Lennon. Well, according to the Beatles' composing contract with Northern Songs, songs written either by Lennon or McCartney were credited to both, but surely someone on staff must have known that, regardless of what it says on the sheet music, this song is Paul's.

The auto-license bill, as predicted, passed, and by a margin of something like four to one. And people wonder why I'm prone to despair.

Thursday, 24 August 2000, 6:45 pm

Elsewhere on this site, your humble Webmaster attempts to second-guess Hugh M. Hefner, with results as dismal as you'd expect. Still, differences of opinion make the world go 'round, and Hef himself, bless him, isn't the sort of person to let things like this get in the way of having a good time. Besides, so far as I know, he hasn't seen it. Yet.

Speaking of Playboy, a brief foray into one of their feature areas turned up a banner ad — for what, I'm not sure — which said, and I quote, "Never underestimate the power of a woman." I, of course, never do, but isn't that the slogan of Ladies' Home Journal?

(We pause briefly while I contemplate the sort of wondrous biology that turns a Playmate into a soccer mom without diminishing her appeal one whit.)

I haven't seen any "Gore Sucks" bumper stickers yet, but I figure it's just a matter of time before I see one that says "Gore Sucks Face".

Friday, 25 August 2000, 9:40 pm

How dry is it? By some measures, the dustiest time during the fabled Dust Bowl years was August 1936, a month in which the temperature in Oklahoma City reached a record 113 degrees Fahrenheit, and total rainfall for the whole month was a meager 0.17 inches. With less than a week to go in August 2000, we are, um, 0.17 inches behind August 1936.

Then again, rainfall in September 1936 was about eight and a half inches. When the floodgates open, it's gonna pour.

I just looked over the new cable lineup. Seventy channels, and sixty of them are moving next Wednesday. It will be interesting, though, to have CNBC, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News all clustered together on adjacent channels. For the first few weeks, people won't be entirely sure which pompous gasbag they're ignoring.

Saturday, 26 August 2000, 5:20 pm

For some reason, I have become persona non grata at Entertainment Weekly's message boards, and there doesn't seem to be any way to contact the weasels at AOL Time Warner Cisco Verizon Daewoo to tell them about it. I've bought every issue of EW up to now, but apparently that's not enough to stay in their good graces. Well, fine. On the off-chance that this is a server glitch, I'll let it slide through the weekend. Monday, a nastygram goes to EW board host Chris Marti.

Still no rain, and still none in the forecast. The sodden East Coast must be sick of hearing this by now.

Saturday, 26 August 2000, 9:30 pm

EW (see earlier kvetch today) has reopened the doors. Thank you.

Sunday, 27 August 2000, 5:50 pm

Happy birthday, Becky.

It keeps on getting hotter. We're promised a cold front around Thursday; the high temperature will allegedly reach no higher than the upper 90s. I can hardly wait. And I think the rainfall record for a month (zilch) is about to be tied.

There is something a tad disquieting about driving across Martin Luther King Boulevard while listening to Christopher Cross.

Monday, 28 August 2000, 6:10 pm

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, but sometimes I veer off into Hypocrite Hollow without even thinking about it. Today on WHquestion, some lovesick adolescent (I presume) asked the following:

If you like a girl, but she is so beautiful and is way out of your league, should you still go after her or just keep dreaming?

And I answered:

You may, indeed, have next to no chance with her. On the other hand, if you don't pursue, you definitely have no chance with her. The choice, framed in those terms, becomes much easier, I think.

Now, rounded off to the nearest ten-billionth, what is the probability that I, in a similar situation, would follow this lead?

Tuesday, 29 August 2000, 7:00 pm

By rights, I suppose I ought to be thrilled. I got one of the more onerous tasks in my daily workload jettisoned entirely; I got a not-entirely-insubstantial raise; and I got almost entirely through one of the nastiest months in history without an air-conditioning failure.

So naturally I'm blue, because the paint fumes from the upstairs flat are affecting my few remaining brain cells — and, more likely, because they portend the arrival of yet another Neighbor From Hell — and because this not-entirely-insubstantial raise will manage to shave maybe six weeks off the 82 years it's going to take me to get out of debt.

Some people are never satisfied.

Wednesday, 30 August 2000, 8:25 pm

I suppose anything the size of a cable company moves with something less than lightning speed. Today was the Big Channel Swap, and while most of the signals got placed correctly (if "correctly" is the word to describe this particular distribution pattern, which is partly ordered, partly disorderd, and partly completely wacko), the channel numbers — not the actual channels themselves, mind you, just the numbers — from a formerly surcharged tier have been replaced with absolutely nothing. I'm guessing they have to come undo five or six bazillion signal traps around town. It would have been nice to have gotten that done before Job One, but that would mean that somebody might have gotten those channels without paying extra for a couple of days, and God knows we can't have that, can we?

Which reminds me: Where the hell is autumn? Labor Day weekend is coming up and it's still over 100 outside.

Thursday, 31 August 2000, 6:20 pm

This being the end of the month, corrections are in order.

The cable company had the one gaffe I reported yesterday repaired by this afternoon, though I understand some subscribers got their setups screwed up far worse than anything I had to endure.

And yes, I know the official beginning of autumn is still three weeks or so away. Still, I cringe at the thought of leaving my car, trudging through 100-degree heat, and finding a store full of Christmas crap. It will happen Tuesday.

 


 | Copyright © 2000 by Charles G. Hill