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6 March, 2003

An Insightful Book Review

You've probably seen the the "Family Circus" newspaper comic strip, written by Bil Keane. Keane has also written a number of Family Circus books.

A few years ago, a minor controversy arose. It seems that many people were posting fake (and very funny) reviews of Keane's books at amazon.com. Well, Amazon eventually removed these reviews, but it seems that they overlooked one of them. I'm reproducing this brilliant book review here just in case it doesn't stick around at Amazon.

A dark turn for the Keane family
By: A reader from Walla Walla, WA

Bil Keane is undeniably a master of delving into the inner child in us all--his usual focus is on the simple joys of watching a flutterby or eating p'sghetti. But in "I had a Frightmare", he uncovers the darker side of childhood, when Jeffy suffers from a terrifying dream. We never learn the nature of it--Keane holds the suspense, keeping us on the edge of our seats--but it reminds us of the frailty of life, our darkest fears, our impending mortality.

If this were all there was to the story, it might seem only a superficial exploration of our quiet despair. But the ghostly spirits of "Ida Know" and "Not me" haunt the unsuspecting Keane family, driving the unsuspecting Keane parents to punish their innocent children. Even the familiar circular panels take on sinister overtones, and the cartoon drawings, with their partially incomplete lines and bizarre shading, take on Lovecraftian overtones. There is no respite until the book, mercifully, reaches its end.

As with his previous books, Keane has shown us deep insight. But this book, and the traumatic stories it contains, may prove too intense for the youngest readers. Be warned: you may have a frightmare of your own.

Fortunately, somebody archived many of those old reviews before they were deleted by Amazon. You can read them here.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

50 Years of Delicious Food

Swanson celebrates its 50th anniversary, and posts a bunch of old TV Dinner print ads and commercials.

And their press release has some exciting news:

Among the flat screen, plasma and high-definition televisions, one of the most exciting showings at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is courtesy of Swanson. Legendary television actress Morgan Fairchild is teaming up with Swanson to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to take "TV Dinners" into the 21st Century.

(via Scrubbles)

Posted on 6 March, 2003

The Guestbook of Jeff Bridges

Actor Jeff Bridges has a web site, and that site has a guestbook. The web site is absolutely horrible, and recent entries in the guestbook are very funny. Apparently they weed out the non-serious messages occasionally, because all of the good ones are near the top.


Jeff, Can you help me out with this one? On more then one occasion, I have had food and/or beverages removed from the refrigerator in the break room. Most recently, I brought in a tub of "light" butter (yes, I know this is an oxymoron). It is now nearly empty, and I used it once. How would you like it if, on a regular basis, someone came to your home and ate you and your family's food?

And this:

Wait a minute...this schmuck was in the atrocious '76 remake of King Kong, not to mention the famously bad Heaven's Gate, and he deserves his own site?

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Welcome to Antarctica

Antarctica has a year-round population of 0. But occasionally, visitors show up. Sometimes they are politicians. For them we have Big Dead Place: A Guidebook for Distinguished Congressional Visitors.

Here's a small excerpt:

Accommodations: You are staying in the most luxurious accommodations on station. If you weren't a Congressman, you would be staying in a room where the sounds of lurching sex and vomiting firefighters groaned beyond the paper-thin walls. If you weren't a Congressman, you would be housed according to Ice Time, a point system that awards status according to months in The Program. You have thus earned the most comfortable quarters on station. Perhaps this is because of your engaging personality and your energizing conversation.

This site is actually very entertaining.

The site is administered by Erebus Overlord, a red-white-and-blue-blooded sonofabitch from the real Southwest, give a holler. He wields great power as a child twists a blade of grass. He dusts code from his keyboard that would take an army of programmers a thousand years of toil.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Follow-up to the T-Shirt Mall Arrest

Yesterday I noted that a guy wearing a peace t-shirt was arrested in an Albany mall for trespassing. The mall has decided to drop the charges -- no great surprise, considering the massive amount of publicity that resulted. The Smoking Gun has published a copy of the criminal complaint. I tried to read it, but the handwriting is so bad that I gave up.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Long, Ugly Fingernails

Here's a site that has links to lots of photos of long fingernails on women.

I guess some people like this sort of thing.


Posted on 6 March, 2003

Searching at the White House

Brian Dear has compiled an unscientific survey of search result counts at the White House web site.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Is Earthlink Really This Bad?

I've seen TV ads for Earthlink, a leading ISP. They position themselves as a customer-friendly organization and make nice claims about their spam filtering and pop-up blockers.

But according to Cringely, it ain't so:

Earthlink's pop-up blocker for Windows computers is, in essence, a trojan -- innocent appearing code that carries with some hidden pathogen. Earthlink's Pop-up Blocker may stop any pop-ups from www.bigboobies.com, but it generates its own pop-up ads for Earthlink, itself. But it gets worse. What most people have installed is a beta copy of Pop-up Blocker. Now Earthlink members with Windows computers are being told that the beta has expired and they should download the permanent version.

The "permanent version" is called Total Access, and it's actually a huge app that attempts to take over your system.

And it's even worse than that. Read the article.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Delta Airlines and Privacy

The folks at the Boycott Delta site aren't too happy these days.

Starting later this month, Delta passengers will be asked a lot more than "window or aisle", or whether you want that "special meal". Delta wants to know more: a lot more. As a pilot test of a new Orwellian airline "security" program, Delta will be running background checks on anyone who flies Delta from one of three as-yet undisclosed airports.

For each passenger, Delta plans to run a credit check, investigate their banking history, and do a criminal background check.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

No Soup For You!

Find out everything you've ever wanted to know about soup at soupsong.com.

You'll find soup jokes, soup references in art, soup songs, soup confessions, and (of course) jillions of soup recipes.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Interview With a Spammer

Over the years, I've received hundreds of emails that contained an attachment (often a virus) , along with text that goes something like this:

This is a very new game
This game is my first work
You're the first player
I wish you would enjoy it

Pravda has an interview with a guy who claims to have originated this.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Head Scans

Just what you would expect from a site named HeadScan: scans of heads.

Ever wondered what someone on the other side of the world looks like when they squash their face onto a scanner? Now's your chance to find out - Headscan brings hilarious images from across the globe direct to your desktop. Send us your picture and we will add it to the Scan Gallery, along with a dot marking you out on the map, and a link to your website.

Posted on 6 March, 2003

Cheney vs. whitehouse.org

Vice President Dick Cheney doesn't like what he sees at whitehouse.org, a parody web site run by John Wooden. Story here.

Two weeks ago, Wooden got a letter from the Office of the Vice President requesting that he delete photos and a phony biography of Second Lady Lynne Cheney from whitehouse.org - as well as remove the Seal of the President from his site.

A copy of the letter is here.

Posted on 6 March, 2003