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The Pecman

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  1. I believe this is called a "novel argument" that nobody had thought of yet: claiming the priest was not a priest when he was off-duty. I don't think this is gonna hold up, but I understand why the lawyer is trying every trick in the book. I gotta wonder why this young man (who apparently was as old as 20 during some of these get-togethers) kept putting up with the affair. At some point, you stop and say "not interested."
  2. The failure of Windows 8, Windows Surface, and the Windows Phone was a huge part of CEO's Steve Ballmer's forced retirement. Maybe he'll have better luck owning the Clippers. I agree with you that taking away the Start menu was a bizarre step. I have no idea how Microsoft comes up with this crap. I'm almost as upset with Apple taking away the three-dimensionality of all the icons, making everything flat. Some changes, I get; others, they're just F-ing with it. I still laugh at Microsoft using the Stones' song "Start Me Up" when they introduced Windows95 in late 1994. Note that they never used the part of the lyric that went "you make a grown man cryyyyyy...", which is too true when it comes to Win95. I can remember a three-month period where I swear to god, we were doing a re-install of Win95 about every two weeks due to horrific crashes. It eventually got a lot better, but Jesus... BTW, just to be an equal-opportunity OS slammer, I just went through 24 friggin' hours of Mac OSX hell, because Apple went behind my back and automatically updated the OS without telling me. This caused a bunch of programs to become unstable, and we went nuts trying to figure out what new installation was causing this erratic behavior. It's very, very hard to roll back an OS, but in our case, we did have a week-old backup and I was able to painstakingly bring it up to yesterday through careful restores and copying. I'm just now back to normal, but godamighty, that was a pain in the ass. And let me just say on the record that Avid Technology might be the single worst computer software company on the planet. I hated them when I was using Pro Tools; I hate them still now that I'm using Avid editing and other tools. The programs are great; the company is about 10 times more evil than Microshaft (and that's saying something).
  3. Good luck, Richard! Hang in there, and I hope Minnesota treats you well.
  4. Hey, I still know a bunch of WordStar commands. Some of this stuff, you never forget. Control-K-S, Control-K-Q... not that big a deal. The dot-commands for formatting were a total pain in the ass, though. In truth, I rarely delivered anything to magazines except a plain manuscript, 12 pt. Courier. WordStar was remarkably efficient if all you needed was the text in cold, hard green letters on a monochrome display. The insider's joke is: how many people inside Apple's Human User Interface department? 3000, working around the clock, testing new ideas, coming up with new menus and new icons. How many work at Microsoft? 3. Their job is to find out what Apple is doing.
  5. Here we go, here's the Today Show interview with the family: The mom's comments about running outside to see the family cat attack the dog are great. This is a great, great, human interest story. And they seem like a great family, too. 2 million views on just this story... and I think 1000 people posted the actual clip of the cat attacking the dog.
  6. The sadder story than that is that Gary Kildall spent the rest of his life angry about losing the billions that Gates had gotten from IBM. Kildall became a hopeless alcoholic and died after falling down in a bar in 1994. All of this stuff is in the Fire in the Valley book I mentioned above. I believe HBO also did a version of the book as a TV movie, essentially pitching it as a story of Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs, which was fairly entertaining (but not 100% accurate). Bah! Real men used Wordstar. Incredibly, George R.R. Martin still writes on Wordstar! That's no frills, baby! The Leading Edge computer was a really good one for its time. I knew people who had Kaypros, IBMs, cheap clones, all kinds of stuff. For some reason, I only bought IBM until I switched to Mac in 1987. But in the 25+ years since, I always, always owned a PC as well, because (as any hardcore computer person knows) there are things that are best done in a different operating system. I had no problem with DOS for years and years and years; hated the first few versions of Windows, but grew to accept Windows 95 when that came out... almost 20 years ago! I think the best 1980s computer story was the one about the Osbourne, which was a very cool "portable" computer for its time. It used a proprietary operating system, but was much beloved by its users. CEO Adam Osborne made the mistake of announcing in 1983 that they would come out with an MS-DOS compatible computer about a year later... which immediately resulted in people not buying his computer, since they wanted to wait for the new one. The company went bankrupt before that could ever happen. This became an important business lesson, christened "The Osborne Effect," where you must never announce a new product too early. Apple takes this to an extreme, being extremely secretive and never saying anything about future products until maybe a week before they come out.
  7. It's hard to see from the video, but the dog also bit the mother, and she talked about it in the Today show interview I referenced above. The family was very calm and articulate about the whole thing, and seemed very down-to-earth and kind. What was great to me was how affectionate the cat was towards the family, which couldn't be faked for TV. If a dog came up and bit me in the face and gouged my partner's guts out, our (extremely fat) cat would raise an eyebrow and say, "darn. There goes my food source. Oh, well."
  8. Des, I assure you that Satan in Hell is running his entire empire on Windows 3.1. Zork! Only the real die hard Superfans remember a 35-year-old game like that. I don't think I was ever able to finish it, but I got pretty far into it on occasion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zork
  9. After a week, the dog was still trying to bite the animal control officers in the shelter, so that was the reason why the dog was declared "incorrigible" and put to death. There are animals out there with terrible, terrible dispositions that are inclined to attack people for almost no reason, and they have no place running loose in suburban neighborhoods with kids. If the dog had been on a 200-acre farm in the middle of the country, he might never have hurt anybody. Bad choice on the part of the owners. What I thought was incredibly decent is that the boy's family chose not to sue the dog's owners, which was very kind and compassionate.
  10. And here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/One-Man-Guy-Michael-Barakiva/dp/0374356459/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401332811&sr=1-1&keywords=Michael+Barakiva I agree, it looks like a terrific book.
  11. Yes, they were like this. I had an Apple II in 1980 -- I was the third person I knew who owned a computer -- and I believe that first system with a whopping two floppy disk drives and a monochrome monitor was over $2000. I can remember adding the second floppy drive, which was a very big deal at the time, and just the drive (160K!) was $350. My partner bought the original 8088 IBM PC, and I waited a little while and got the improved 286 machine a couple of years later, and that was also well over $2000; in fact, I think it was about $3500. I have more power in my iPhone than 100 of these computers today. For a good chunk of the 1970s/1980s story, read Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, which is a fascinating book. It helps to know where we've been in order to look ahead at the future and predict where we're going to go.
  12. I think the most important rule is #3: make each of the characters want something. All of my stories have done that, and I think when you can define precisely what it is they want, ultimately it makes a better story. Vonnegut is a very frustrating writer to read, and I think his stories are often very uneven. But I think his rules have a lot of truth to them, and they've been echoed by many good writing teachers over the years.
  13. That is an apt description of Almost Famous -- there are several characters in the movie who are misguided (including the rock stars, the young writer, the would-be girl friend, and several others). Some of the greatest stories going back to Shakespeare concern characters who are misguided or at least have the wrong idea about life and each other, often leading to comic (or tragic) situations. The better line I like about plagiarism is from Picasso: "good artists copy; great artists steal." I don't think that's necessarily true about writing, but I see no problem if you borrow the core of an idea and then do something completely different with it. BTW, the best scene in Almost Famous (to me) was an ad-lib where the girl tells the kid she wants to run off and go to Morocco on an adventure and take him with her, and he immediately responds, "ask me again!" That was the actor telling the girl to do the line again, because he wanted another take. The director thought this was such a natural and unexpected moment, he left it in the film! I had no idea that was the case when I saw it, but it was a memorable scene that stuck with me for a long time. Actually, the best scene in that film, now that I think about it, was the one where Phillip Seymour Hoffman tells the kid that "people like us will never be cool. It's the misfits in life who become the greatest artists, because they weren't cool." And that's a very touching and poignant moment:
  14. Just looked -- can't see nothin' in LA. Overcast, gray, and dark. Actually chilly for this time of year, like 58 degrees.
  15. I thought they were a 1970s group, featuring lead singer Angus Young! "FI-YAHHHHHHH!"
  16. I don't think this scene isn't about forgiveness at all. It's a group of disparate people -- rock stars, a manager, a kid who's a fledgling Rolling Stone journalist, and an experienced rock groupie -- who briefly join together for a moment singing a classic song (only 2 years old in 1974) on a tour bus. The forgiveness doesn't come until the end of the movie, when the rock star reluctantly lets Rolling Stone print the kid's article. I love the film but I don't think the scene is what you think it is. Almost Famous is a very interesting, insightful movie with a lot of nuances. I think the scenes between the kid and Phillip Hoffman's "Lester Bangs" character are the best in the entire film -- and are also very true to life, if you know Cameron Crowe's own story. Crowe is a helluva writer, though I think the movie kind of falls apart towards the end.
  17. Yes, Russell T Davies is a first-class writer and producer. I haven't seen his Dr. Who work, but Torchwood and Queer as Folk were fantastic.
  18. That is one wacky high school play. TLA Releasing does a ton of these little gay indies, and some of them are very intriguing films.
  19. I believe that was the Season 5 open. Sad that they were never able to really wrap up the show. Two of the actors reportedly did not get along, so the word from some of the others is that a reunion will probably never be possible. But they got some great episodes out while it was happening. The British show is also very good, but very, very different from the American show.
  20. I would never join a club that would have somebody like me for a member!
  21. And the link is here: http://awesomedude.com/bi_janus/courage/courage.htm
  22. I'm waiting for the half-hour late-night infomercial...
  23. This is a great story. The Today Show here in America on NBC opened up with a story about the family, and I got a little teary eyed at seeing how much affection there was between the family and the cat. This cat clearly loved the family and sat with them the entire time they were being interviewed on live TV. I don't so much think that the cat was defending the kid, but rather defending its territory -- like telling the dog, "what the F are you doing in my driveway?" But god damn, that was a powerful visual, particularly given the great security camera coverage the family had. (Our cat, on the other hand, would probably let me be mauled by Godzilla and neither notice nor care.) I hope they sue the crap out of the family who let their dog loose to bite a kid riding a tricycle on his own driveway. Idiots!
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