TheKey Chronicle

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Ballpoint Adventures mega-T
THE INKSTREME BALLPOINT
ADVENTURES

Monday, January 31, 2000

I'M RUNNING OUT OF GADGETS!

Ever since I saw my first James Bond movie, I've been in love with gadgets. Within a month of the Sony's Walkman hitting stores I had one - well, it was a competitor's model, but it still was a tape player you could carry with you. I was fourteen years-old. Two years later when Sony put out their portable, personal CD player, I got one. A couple of years after that, Sony put out their mini-Discman that played the smaller (and now defunct) three inch compact discs, again, I made sure to get one. Of course, this was all back when I was a kid. When asking for something for my birthday meant that I would usually get it. It was the Eighties, the economy was doing pretty well and I wasn't in college yet. The summer after my senior year I managed to afford my own camcorder, which I proceeded to cover with comic book stickers. I quickly dubbed the device, the Batcam!

Then, 1989, I went off to school and the gadgets pretty much ended. My folks had enough financial worries just keeping me in school, I wasn't about to turn around and ask them for any more high priced gadgets - especially since I was more interested in having enough money to finish my student films. Another thing happened in 1989, I saw my first Windows Laptop machine. It was glorious for it's day - it was portable, it had a backlit monitor screen, point-and-click and everything! Of course, the most my Mom could afford was a DOS laptop which, while being bell-and-whistle-free, did manage to get the job done. But I never considered it a "gadget" because it there was no cool factor. It simply functioned and that was that. That was ten years ago.

Ten years later, in 1999, I finally got my finances under control as an adult and could actually say in all honesty that I was making more money than I spent. It was great - and not so great. I finally was able to buy that Windows based laptop that I had wanted since 1989. Better late than never, I guess! On top of that, I bought a CD burner which I LOVE. This year for the holidays everyone got my obligatory comics-drawn-by-me calendar on CD-ROM - which allowed me to spend a LOT less money on everyone. For Christmas my Dad got me a RAM card for my digital camera (did I mention that I got a digital camera?) that was too big for it, so I had to take it back to Best Buy. But there, I managed to exchange it for a brand new (but open boxed and therefore discounted) Palm Pilot IIIe!! That's where I am now - what gadgets are left to me? I am infinitely happy in my new found gadgetness, but where do I go from here?

I know - if only we all had these problems. I realize it's pretty lame of me to whine about this sort of thing, BUT IT'S MY DAMN WEB SITE!! If you don't like it, TELL ME ON THE VENTILATION PAGE.

ROLE MODELS? WHERE?!?!

There was a time when children and even adults found role models in literature. What else was the Bible, but a book of fairly reasonable examples of how you should live your life? And since then there have been an endless supply of books jammed with great examples of heroes, both male and female that supplied many Americans with positive examples of how to live one's life. But since the 80s we, as a nation, have started reading fewer and fewer books, looking to television for most of our brain stimulation. That's a pretty frightening prospect, isn't it? Back in my father's day, there was the Lone Ranger and Paladin on the radio - they both made the leap to Television, but by the eighties, characters we could really look up to had vanished. They were replaced by Michael Knight and the Knight Industries Two-Thousand (Knight Rider) and B.A. Baracus (The A-Team) and Remington Steele.

These were the Eighties' equivalent to the Lone Ranger, but they were vacant of any true moralistic spirit. Michael would get in to trouble and KITT would save his ass. Meanwhile, the A-Team would simply get revenge on some mean guy who was taking advantage of some little guy - yip-E. Even when I was a kid I watched these shows and thought they were pretty lame, it's just that watching Mr. T act like an ass and watching that sleek Trans Am made both shows bearable. The Nineties offered up no such role models. The only notable characters that comes to mind from the Nineties would be Bart Simpson, Jerry Seinfeld and Al Bundy. Jeez. So what's the deal here? Why is it that we as a culture don't seem to mind that the examples that are set for us are morally bankrupt? I mean, come on!!

Al Bundy taught we men that we should want to have sex with anyone except our wives.

The Simpsons taught us that men are frigging idiots while women are secretly brilliant but never quite brilliant enough to do anything with that brilliance.

Jerry Seinfeld taught us to blur the line separating fiction and reality so much that no one is really surprised when AFTER his sitcom goes off the air the REAL Jerry Seinfeld hooks up with a married woman and proceeds to break up her marriage.

Hollywood in 1999 gave a lifetime achievement award to a brilliant film maker who just happen to help keep several immensely talented writers from getting work in the film industry during the Communist Witch Hunt. As if it wasn't already hard enough to get work as a writer. We seem to be a country that can quite easily concentrate on what we like about a person and wholly ignore what is sheer evil about them. Did you know Charles Lindburg disliked Jews? Did you know that Bob Fosse, one of the greatest stage and film directors of all time was an alcoholic and used heavy quantities of cocaine, uppers and downers? (The combination of all these drugs help lead Fosse to an early grave.)

Since the real world is filled with flawed, somewhat bankrupt people, why don't we compensate in our media? Why doesn't SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE suggest that we can do better? Oh yeah, someone tried to once. Two thousand years ago and boy did they nail him to the wall for it. Ah well, we all have our cross to bare.

EXTREME SHYNESS A DISORDER? NO! I JUST DON'T LIKE PEOPLE!

I used to be a very quiet guy. I would pretty much keep to myself because I was/am such a scifi/toy geek. I had one or two friends and I was really quite happy with that. Well, now it seems people who have similar behavior to mine are being diagnosed by supposed mental health professionals as having a disorder.

A DISORDER.

I can't believe how hypocondriatic the United States has become. A decade ago, if you never went out and shied away from people you were called mousy. A shut-in. A tea-totaller. Now, you're in need of mental therapy. For me, it wasn't a disorder, I just had an intense dislike of people - or at least dealing with them. I was more than happy to be among them, but I hated dealing with most of them. It wasn't crippling, I just didn't like to deal with people. They didn't understand me and I didn't feel like putting up with their questions, their laughs, their comments. While I do admit that there must be some people who are crippled by their shyness - these people do need help - but I still deny that they have a disorder. They just need to be helped out of their shell - assuming they WANT to be helped out of their shell. So let's not go around telling everyone that there is an epidemic of "extreme shyness disorder" effecting 10 million people when there's a good possibility that some of those people choose to be shy. And besides - if 10 million people suffer from this "disorder", how much of a DISorder is it? It seems pretty common to me.

Monday, January 24, 2000

AOL CAN KISS MY BUTT

And if they were to (HA!) here's how they'd be the most successful:

1) Give out free internet service. They run so many ads on their service as it is - why not just raise their rates a bit and give away free subscriptions? They can afford it!

2) Stop selling any private information to third parties. AOL recently began asking it's subscribers whether they wanted their private information sold to outside marketing companies on an annual basis. So, instead of members having to tell AOL once that they don't want their info being peddled, they have to tell them once a year - if they forget, their mailbox is flooded with Spam. Yipee.

3) Come out with a lite version of AOL, a sort of AOLa. "A" for advanced. For a long time I've considered AOL to be "Internet for Dummies" because it does everything for you. I'd like a version that is customizable - a version that I can decide how much of their service I want to take part in. That way I can use exactly the parts of AOL that I like.

4) Have AOL software come with different sound schemes. Hearing "You've got mail!" from that pencil-necked scrawny white guy over and over every damn time I get mail drives me INSANE. I know I can change it, but I'd like to hear that pencil-necked guy say other things. Like how about "You've got milk!" or "I get royalties" or perhaps my favorite "You got laid!"

5) Burn all copies of You've Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

There, those requests aren't too drastic, are they? Feel free to add your own on the Ventilation page! Once they do all of the above, I'll be MORE than happy to sign up! (Especially #5!)

NO TV? NO PROBLEM!

I haven't given up my TV yet - beleive me - I would never do that! I've got over 400 video tapes in my collection. HOWEVER, I have practically given up watching broadcast or cable TV. Sure, if my fiance has the TV on, I'll pay attention and I do watch the news when ever something big happens in the world, but for the most part I watch almost no television. I still watch the X-Files (not that it's been any good lately), Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel and that's about it. There just isn't much on that I really feel merits my time. None of the new popular shows on any of the networks are interesting enough for me to go even slightly out of my way to watch them. They may be new, but they are hardly different. How many times do we need to see Friends repackaged, or Dawson's Creek? Even the supposedly good stuff isn't all that. I watched the pilot of Malcolm In The Middle and while it definitely was different, it wasn't very funny. I think IT thought it was a laugh riot, but the show ended up feeling more like that guy in high school who would always tell jokes thinking he was a regular George Carlin when in the end he was just a wannabe Jerry Lewis. >SHUDDER!< The other show I gave a try to was Freaks & Geeks. I remember watching the pilot and thinking that it was a pretty cute show but that it would bomb quickly in its 8:00 Saturday night time slot. But after the holidays, it got moved to Monday nights at 8pm, where I gave it another try. It seemed to have lost all of its heart. It was now just a dumb, vacant show with musical cues letting you know when to laugh or just generally feel something. So I am more than happy to spend more time surfing the web, watching old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, playing my Atari, just chatting with my fiance, or even GOD FORBID - reading books...

MOVING AT THE SPEED OF BUSINESS, INDEED!

Are you like me? This past holiday season I spent a lot of money online. I'm a greedy bastard, so I didn't really spend too much of that money on anyone else, I bought myself lots of cool stuff. Hey - I had to spend that Christmas money somewhere! Anyway, so I ordered all this stuff, right? I got lucky on a couple of auctions at egghead.com and eBay. I got some old Atari game consoles and three old Syquest 1 gb removable media drives ($41 a pop!). the Syquest drives came first - or rather, the extra cartridges I ordered came within two days of placing my order. Very nice seeing as I had no drive yet. The internal drive came a week later. Pretty lame since I spent $12 on shipping - you'd think twelve bucks would get me second or third day delivery at the most. To top that off the drive was defective. I spent a week trying to get the damn thing to work which was good because that's how long it took for the first of the two external drives to arrive. Luckily, it worked fine. It's now almost mid January and I have yet to see either a refund or the second external drive I bought. My Atari consoles were supposedly shipped about a week ago. Another $10 was spent to get them sent to me. I'm not expecting much.

You're probably wondering where my point is, well HERE: In this world of overnight deliveries, why is it that my credit card is charged days before my order is even PROCESSED?!? Days after THAT, my order is finally SHIPPED. And THEN - THEN - I discover that some moron sent it UPS ground - the SLOWEST DELIVERY METHOD KNOWN TO MAN. $12 to get something that would never show up. NICE. UPS promises on their commercials that they move at the speed of business. Well, having been in the business world, I know that the speed of business is insanely slow. For once I see truth in advertising. THE BASTARDS! But then, it's not just UPS that is messing up - it's these online services - when you walk into a store and buy something. They charge you and you get to bring it with you right away. Now, I understand that the nature of online shopping is that you have to wait for your item to show up. So, how about a compromise - THEY don't get my MONEY until they SHIP my STUFF! I think that's fair, don't you?

Monday, January 17, 2000

AOL/TIME/WARNER, OH MY!

Wow, I'm not sure what to make of the two biggest companies in America teaming up. I am really quite puzzled. The good things are numerous. You won't ever have trouble finding anything out about a product from Warner Brothers or Time. Want to check out Time Magazine's latest special issue? I'm sure there will be a keyword for it. (There probably is already.) If you want to see a commercial for the latest movie starring Jeff Daniels on TNT, they'll probably email it to you if you want. If you want to find out more about the latest travesty masquerading as a Batman movie, stills, behind the scenes info and more will all be online. Another good thing, assuming the powers that are at the new ATW are good natured (HA!), might be that since the combined revenue of both companies is so massive that maybe, JUST MAYBE, they might give out free internet service. That might sway me back to AOL - FREE is about the only feature that AOL could add to get me back there.

But think about it - I hear they already flash more ads than a calculator on AOL, so they have GOT to be charging for it and if they stopped charging for internet service, EVERYONE would join, which would up their subscription numbers tremendously, which would mean that the ads on their service would be reaching that many more people which would mean they could charge more for the ads and pass the savings on to their victims-- I mean customers, by not charging anything. If AOL really wanted to impress me, they could come out with AOL Advanced for people who just want to get on the 'net. But that's another Bitch.

Here are the negatives to the AOL/Time-Warner merger. First off, we're all going to see a LOT more advertising for the three companies products. As I mentioned above, you'll be able to find out anything about any product they create. Of course, this means they'll do their best to jam advertising for those products down our throats. You'll see loads of cross-promotional spots where you won't know exactly what they're advertising, internet, magazines, TV, movies, cartoons, cable.

The next negative thing is that filmmakers will have less control over how their product is marketed. Odds are once the ATW PR department gets a hold of your movie it'll be plugged into the same old formula. The trailer to your film will look like the trailer for every other film. And let's just say you HATE AOL. Your movie will be splashed all over the damn service.

The third reason AOL and Time-Warner should not merge is the lack of selection for us, the consumers. Not only will the trailers look the same, but the movies, the shows and just about everything else will most likely be way too similar.

The absolute worst thing that could happen as a result of this merger is that it may set the standard for other companies. Already there is talk of Yahoo merging with Disney. I'm sure Viacom would be more than happy to get in bed with Amazon.com. Perhaps Fox's parent company News Corporation (their real name! How INVENTIVE, don't you think?) might want to hook up with Earthlink or Prodigy. SHEESH! The next thing you know, the whole world will be ruled by three or four massive companies. They'll own EVERYTHING. Not just media, but appliances, services, food, etc. By the mid twenty-first century, the three of four companies will be so powerful, they will persuade lawmakers to allow all of the companies to merge into one massive corporation. Then, there will be two kinds of people. People who work for the corporation and the people that don't. The catch is, both kinds of people will pay money to the corporation. The future sure looks bright, doesn't it?

SCRIPTWRITER ON THE MOON

Perhaps you've seen the movie starring Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman. I did and boy did I laugh. Carrey did a wonderful job being a nut. I'm not sure he really caught that wild freaky look Kaufman had in his eyes, but Carrey did a pretty decent job. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't even try to figure the guy out at all. I am not surprised. The guy was bizarre and a bit awe inspiring, it's no surprise that the spineless powers that be in Hollywood wouldn't want to try and actually form a theory on what Kaufman's deal really was. HOWEVER, I did find the film VERY disappointing for another reason. If you base what you know about Andy Kaufman on Man on the Moon then you don't know about his daughter. That's right, Kaufman had a daughter. I think it's pretty reasonable to think that when trying to put a man's LIFE on screen one should be sure to include any major life events, like childhood, death and OFFSPRING PERHAPS?!?!? The film failed to mention that Kaufman had even HAD a sex life during his late teens early twenties, let alone that he GOT A WOMAN PREGNANT!! They also made no reference to the fact that he gave up his child for adoption or that he offered to marry the mother of his daughter. GREAT FILM. You watch - it'll get an Oscar. That's Hollywood, always striving to totally miss their own point.

AH BITE ME, LIKE ANYONE ACTUALLY READS THIS PAGE ANYWAY

I was going to use this essay to apologize for not being able to update the web site. I was going to explain how JUST after traveling to New York City and proposing to my girl friend of two-and-a-half-years I managed to get a cold. The cold wasn't that much of a surprise seeing as I'm a transplanted New Yorker, five years broken by the perpetual nice weather in Los Angeles. So I barely managed to do the New Years Day update when I got sick. The cold lingered for two weeks. I had to work, which of course slowed the healing process. On top of that, I took the last of my Christmas money to buy a new huge hard drive. Thanks to badly written instructions from the fine folks at Maxtor and a corrupt floppy also from the same fine folks at Maxtor, installing the new hard drive totally screwed up my system. That made updating the site rather difficult as I had started some updates before my machine went south. FINALLY, everything is up and running for the most part. But just now I wondered why I should bother apologizing. I mean, who actually READS this page anyway??? I barely even hit it myself! SHEESH! Nobody ever vents on the Ventilation Page and I wonder if anyone actually downloads anything from the Bitch Fun Page. For now, I'm going to keep on with this site, but I devote an awful lot of time to get as few hits a week as I get - I am contemplating possibly shutting down the whole damn site. I just don't see the point.

Saturday, January 1, 2000

THE MARK OF THE BEAST

Recently, a Palm Beach, Florida company announced that it has developed a small chip to be implanted in a person that could use Global Positioning Satellite technology to track the person. The obvious use of such an item would be to track small children should they get lost or be abducted. A less obvious use for such a device would be to monitor heart patients' heart in case of an attack. Both of those uses are reasonable, but imagine what law enforcement would do with this technology. If strict laws (as well as strict enforcement of said laws) were in place things MIGHT not be bad - but without super-strict laws governing why this device is used, cops could use the device to track people who they think might be criminals. Not to sound paranoid, but it really would be like the view screens in 1984 only more efficient. The models that exist now can monitor heart rate and location, what's next? Brain waves? Blood pressure? Blood alcohol level? Stomach contents? Big Brother will be INSIDE us. Even if Big Brother were to be a good guy in the real world, some hacker guy could just wander in and steal all of your personal and private information. Personally, I don't worry about security on the Internet, because I know that there is no such thing as privacy on the 'net. I know that anything I put out there could possibly end up on someone else's computer - that person could be someone I don't know or worse, someone I don't trust. But this implanted chip would be too much, I think that is pretty obvious.

UPN: ALL WHITE TRASH, ALL THE TIME!

Well, United Paramount Networks has finally tapped the Undiscovered Audience - Also Known As The WTM or, The White Trash Market. First, UPN puts pro wrestling in prime time. Soon they will have monster truck rallies gracing our TV screens. They can't make Trek work, so now they are just making it easy for themselves. Personally, I can't imagine what they are thinking - even if every guy with a dead pick-up truck in their lawn were to watch their ratings still wouldn't compete with any of the other networks. So it looks like UPN is helping broadcast television take a step downwards in quality, taste, and just general entertainment. Big surprise there!

THE WORLD IS STILL HERE

As I type this, it is two weeks before the New "Millennium" begins. But I type with great confidence, knowing that the world will still exist at 12:01. I predict that there will be no major Y2K problems and certainly no lives will be lost because of it. Another thing that will not have caused any major problems by the time you are reading this is terrorism. Just a few days previous to this writing a supposed terrorist was nabbed at the Canadian border up in Washington State. This has made a lot of people nervous - I even heard an FBI guy on news radio explain that he would not allow his kids to go to big events, like Times Square for New Year's Eve. Oh nice - way to make folks paranoid. Especially since anyone who knows anything about Rudy Giuliani and his Orwellian version of the Big Apple knows that he runs that city under a microscope. I have no doubt that Giuliani will lock that place down so tight, not one single partier will be able to break wind without getting arrested for indecent odor. In fact, if you are reading this right now, that means that there was no bomb, or at least my girlfriend and I were not caught in any explosion since we had to live to actually upload this web page to the Internet! So THERE! Either that, or we were very lucky. You'll find out next week when I write the next Bitch Page! WISH ME LUCK! I AM SO SCARED!!!

THE MARK OF THE BEAST

Recently, a Palm Beach, Florida company announced that it has developed a small chip to be implanted in a person that could use Global Positioning Satellite technology to track the person. The obvious use of such an item would be to track small children should they get lost or be abducted. A less obvious use for such a device would be to monitor heart patients’ heart in case of an attack. Both of those uses are reasonable, but imagine what law enforcement would do with this technology.

If strict laws (as well as strict enforcement of said laws) were in place things MIGHT not be bad - but without super-strict laws governing why this device is used, cops could use the device to track people who they think might be criminals.

Not to sound paranoid, but it really would be like the view screens in 1984 only more efficient. The models that exist now can monitor heart rate and location, what’s next? Brain waves? Blood pressure? Blood alcohol level? Stomach contents?

Big Brother will be INSIDE us.

Even if Big Brother were to be a good guy in the real world, some hacker guy could just wander in and steal all of your personal and private information. Personally, I don’t worry about security on the Internet, because I know that there is no such thing as privacy on the ‘net. I know that anything I put out there could possibly end up on someone else’s computer - that person could be someone I don’t know or worse, someone I don’t trust. But this implanted chip would be too much, I think that is pretty obvious.