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Category Archives: Floppies

My First Modem

I recently came across a true artifact of its time while cleaning out the garage. This Hayes Accura 1140 modem was purchased after I moved into my first apartment in 1994. Armed with it, a Macintosh IIci, and a new America Online membership, I was ready to blaze the Information Superhighway — at 56K per second! Listen, I even had my place equipped with a separate phone line to enable websurfing and talking on the phone simultaneously (considering my pathetic social life at the time, not really necessary). I’m also not afraid to admit that the AOL membership was mostly used to find dates and look at porn. This was back when it took 15-20 minutes to download one photo, mind you. Thank our lucky stars that the internet has grown up since then, and so have I.

modem1994

Dig this early AOL commercial from 1995. “A friend of mine told me ‘Try America Online.’ I said ‘Why? I’ve got a computer.'” That line always seemed so bizarre to me, even back then. What, were they selling to complete idiots?

Weekly Mishmash: April 11-17

Cradle Will Rock (1999). Tim Robbins’ chaotic yet timely film chronicles the staging of the most notorious play produced by the WPA in the 1930s, Marc Blitzstein’s union-friendly musical Cradle Will Rock. We saw this in the theater when it was originally released and it still holds up. It’s interesting to revisit it during this quasi-Depression time and note how familiar the anti-socialist hysteria portrayed here is. I don’t think this is a perfect film; it’s too wide-ranging in scope and Robbins succumbs all too often to the “keep the camera moving” bug that also afflicted Stephen Fry when he did Bright Young Things. Some scenes are excellently staged and acted, while others are done in an offhand, parodic manner which makes me wonder how historically accurate everything is. Among the huge cast, the only true villains are Bill Murray’s cracked vaudevillian and the uppity case worker played by Joan Cusack. Generally I liked the cast, except perhaps Susan Sarandon hamming it up as a flamboyant Italian diplomat. My favorite was Cherry Jones as Hallie Flanagan, the headstrong manager of the WPA’s theatre division. She completely rocks, and has a beautiful speaking voice to boot (I kept thinking she’d be so much better than Oprah at narrating the nature documentary series Life).
Hollywood and Vine (1945). Another offering in our “cheapie public domain comedies of yore” series! Hollywood and Vine was another cruddy yet genial and fast-paced production from P.R.C. In it, aspiring actress Wanda McKay meets screenwriter James Ellison on her way to Hollywood. She brushes the amorous gent off, but eventually relents when the two end up rooming in the same apartment complex. The pair also become parents to a talented mutt (Daisy, best known as the family pup from the Blondie movies) who becomes a canine movie star. Yep, this movie doesn’t make a lick of sense, and the best celebrity cameo they could come up with was the fake Russian prince who ran Hollywood eatery Romanoff’s. McKay and Ellison are both unbelievably bland actors with zero screen presence, but at least we have the reliable Franklin Pangborn on hand as a soda jerk. Typical of this film’s flights of fancy is the scene where Ellison persuades McKay’s character from dismissive to “I’m giving it all up to marry you and have lotsa babies” in thirty seconds flat.
poster_winnethepoohThe Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977). I know I must have seen this movie when it originally came out, but even so this compilation of the first three Disney Winnie the Pooh shorts is so awash in lyrical, pastel-colored charm that one can’t help but feel a nostalgic pang with it. These films date from 1966-74, the last gasp of classic old guard Disney animation. The stories are silly, leisurely paced and Disneyfied to a fault, but I love the way they incorporated the A. A. Milne book itself into the action, such as when a rush of water washes the words off the page. This DVD included a bonus Pooh short from 1983, which was as plodding and charmless as the trio in this film were magical. It just goes to prove that when they had it, they really had it.
Michael Clayton (2007). I had to chuckle when I read the Netflix reviews on this complaining that it was too talky and boring. Fact is, this was an excellent legal thriller with an absorbing story played by a cast at the top of their game (including Tilda Swinton, somewhat Jodie Fosterish as a dangerously ambitious careerist). The hard to please Christopher actually ranks this and Departures as the two best movies we’ve seen this year.
game_wordjongWord Jong Party. We’re not huge gamers around here, unless you count the pre-Facebook edition of Scrabble. We do, however, enjoy some of the less threatening stuff on the Wii — such as the farming sim Harvest Moon: Tree Of Tranquility. In that game, the most harmful thing you can do is piss somebody off by gifting them with a stinky hunk of algae fished out of the ocean. Lately we’ve been enjoying Word Jong Party, which is basically maj-jongg played with lettered tiles. You advance through the game by making words, the longer the better. Completely harmless and fun, and a bit easy for us Scrabble vets, but the graphics are cute and each day brings a brand new puzzle to enjoy.

Those Are People Who Died, Died

I was in the middle of reading about the fascinating people profiled in the annual Lives They Lived issue of the New York Times Magazine when I heard shocking news about the passing of another fascinating person. One that I knew, actually: Brad Graham of Bradlands.com. It appears that he died in his sleep of natural causes on December 31st, at the young age of 41. Yeah, I don’t believe it, either.

Brad was one of the earliest bloggers I knew of, and pretty much the kingpin of the (small) community of gay bloggers around in the early ’00s. Back then it was such a thrill to be writing on the net, and having someone else noticing what you were doing was an even bigger thrill — especially when that someone was as friendly and witty as Brad. His August 3, 2001 post, using the first Scrubbles redesign to explore childhood fear of Dow Scrubbing Bubbles, was typical Brad. We weren’t close friends or anything, but his warmth and humor was something I treasured over the years (we even briefly bonded over the ’70s kiddie-com Big John, Little John on twitter last year). I’ll miss you, Brad.

Twitter and Facebook

Twitter and Facebook. What’s your opinion? I proudly avoided both sites for a long time — Twitter for being dumb and trendy, Facebook for being home to smarmy real estate agents and lawyers. Now, however, I can’t get enough of either of them. If I want to share a short link or observation with the world, I’m much more likely to do it via Twitter or Facebook. If that thought or link needs a longish explanation to go with it, the story will get posted here.

I know a few people who post identically to both Twitter and Facebook, but I actually use both sites for different means. Twitter is an extension of my “blog” persona. I use it to (try and be) witty, make nonsensical observations, and share my love of goofy pop culture of the past. Facebook is for the “real life” me, a way to stay in contact with flesh-and-blood folks I know or once knew. I first joined it when some non-online friends of ours suggested joining to play games of Scrabble. I also have a guilty tendency for completing all those stupid Facebook quizzes and polls. I’ve notice something over time, though — the longer I’ve been on both sites, the more these distinct personae are merging. Many blogging friends are also Facebook contacts, and I’m sure the “real life” family and friends in my life will eventually find out about Scrubbles.net. Thoughts, anyone?

A Redesigned Scrubbles.net

Hey there — notice something different? I’ve redesigned Scrubbles.net. This is the first true sitewide retooling in five years. Although I still have some kinks to work out, I’m happy with the swanky retro-computer look we’ve got going here.

This redesigning process began about a year ago, actually, in search of a good WordPress theme. I’ve noticed that many of the popular and nicer looking WP themes have one element that works, and a whole bunch of other elements that don’t work. Either the typography is fabulous and the layout is lousy, or the sidebar is beautifully designed but the rest of it uses terrible colors. It’s always something. I was about at the end of my rope before coming across a gorgeous and subtle theme called Vanilla Cart. Top to bottom, I love it. For the logo fonts, I went with Eurostile condensed and Gala (which cost a lot, but it’s absolutely perfect — sometimes one has to spend money for perfection). I also brought back this weblog’s original tagline, which hasn’t been seen here since about 2002. There’s even a new cartoon portrait of yours truly on the sidebar.

Although I currently have about 80% of the redesign in place, there are a couple of issues with the CSS that I’m sending out a plea for help on. Specifically:

  • I have a kickass repeating background for the redesign, similar to the one on my Twitter profile — but I can’t get it to work. I’ve tried everything on this theme’s CSS stylesheet, but the only changes result in a pure white background. Any CSS experts out there who can help?
  • This theme also has an option for you to use your own logo — but when I tried it, the logo was positioned down at the white space above the blog entries. I want it positioned above the “Home” and “About Me” tabs (which is where the blog name and description are normally positioned if one does not use a graphic logo). How can I move it up to its proper place without screwing everything up?

We Are Married, Too

From Christopher: “I want to let you know about a new blog I have started called We Are Married Too over on blogspot. It is intended to be a showcase for lesbian and gay couples around the world who have been legally married.”

The first entry is on our July 3, 2008 union. Awww. Wanna contribute? Contact Christopher at wearemarriedtoo (at) yahoo.com.