Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Give Me an E!
The Texas House has approved legislation toban sexually suggestive routinesby school cheerleaders:

"Girls can get out and do all of these overly sexually performances and we applaud them and that's not right,"said Democratic Rep.Al Edwardsof Houston, who filed the legislation.

Edwards argued that lascivious exhibitions are a distraction for high school students that result in pregnancies, high school dropouts, contraction of AIDS and herpes and"cutting off their youthful life at an early age."

If Edwards hopes to turn the thoughts of teens away from sex, he'll have to restrict a lot more than an NC-17 rendition of"Rock Steady."He seems to have forgotten what it was like after the adolescent change of life known asPeter Brady, which turns the entire world into a lascivious exhibition.

When I was a teen, a legislator trying to protect me from knocking up a dropout would have banned all of the following:

  • The time Laura Dumais fell into my arms and my left wrist inadvertently reached second base
  • Drawing theShe-Hulknaked
  • A breeze of at least three knots
  • Role-playing a female NPC with a charisma score of 15 or better inAdvanced Dungeons&Dragons
  • The scene inThe Sword and the Sorcerorwhere Kathleen Beller had to be lathered in oil to prepare for her wedding
  • Phoebe Cates

Good times.

Take a Bite of the Apple

Michael Moore is swimming in money afterFahrenheit 9/11, according to aSlate analysisthat describes how the filmmaker and Disney rode the controversy over the movie all the way to the bank:

Under normal circumstances, documentaries rarely, if ever, make profits (especially if distributors charge the usual 33 percent fee). So, when Miramax made the deal for Fahrenheit 9/11, it allowed Moore a generous profit participation -- which turned out to be 27 percent of the film's net receipts. Disney, in honoring this deal, paid Moore a stunning $21 million. Moore never disclosed the amount of his profit participation. When asked about it, the proletarian Moore joked to reporters on a conference call,"I don't read the contracts."

I lovedRoger&MeandTV Nation, but over the years Moore'spenchantfor dramatic embellishment and sloppy facts made it hard for me to enjoyFahrenheit. He produces great diatribes, but documentary filmmakers are one of the last remaining groups who believe in the quaint notion that facts matter. If we lose them to spin, all we'll have left are reference librarians, theSociety of Professional Journalists, andBob Somersby.

I'm not surprised that Moore exaggerated Disney's actions in refusing to distribute the film, nor that Disney found a way to profit handsomely from a project it was ostensibly refusing to release. Their relationship is a lot like Tom Cruise publiclygrouting the esophagusof Katie Holmes right before both release summer blockbusters.

The same cynical game appears to be at work with the new Steve Jobs biographyiCon: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. The book's print run was doubled after Apple, at the presumed behest of Jobs,banned the publisher's booksfrom Apple stores.

I haven't spoken about this with anyone at Wiley, a company that also publishesone of my books, but I have trouble believing that a marketing genius like Jobs took this action without knowing it would send book ordersthrough the roof. The guy runs a company with so much hype you'd never know it sellsfewer desktop computersthan also-rans likeAcerandLenovo. Apple's marketing is difficult to resist. I own five computers and a laptop, and I'm still convinced I need aMac mini.

Memo to self: Find a way in next book to anger Steve Jobs.


I tookBuzzword.Comoffline for several hours this morning to compact the databases and perform some other server maintenance. I'm tempting fate by saying this, but so far, so good.

We're nearing the one-year anniversary of the server, which became the home for 3,000 longtime Weblogs.Com bloggers last June. I have some ambitious plans to mark the occasion, but for now my priority is to keep theactive bloggersrunning smoothly and bring all of UserLand'supgradesonline.

UserLand has a new version of Manila, the software hosting these weblogs, inbeta release. There are a bunch of new features, among them a better way for bloggers to manage visitor comments and trackback.

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