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June 2000

Al Gore To Win

I was really depressed by the recent polls showing George W. Bush out in front of Al Gore. I remember McGovern in '72 and Mondale in '84 and Dukakis in '88. These are not happy memories for me.

So imagine how happy I was to read a solid prediction that Gore's going to win. You read it here first (unless you saw it in the Washington Post or any of the hundreds of papers that picked it up from the Post syndicate):

Is This Any Way to Pick A Winner
So how exactly did Al Gore win the election of 2000? By making the clever decision to run in the midst of an economic boom, and by choosing to succeed a popular incumbent.
You didn't realize that Gore has won the election? A technicality. According to half a dozen political scientists who have honed and polished the art of election forecasting, the die is all but cast. Today, with 165 days left before Americans go to the polls, they are saying Gore will win 53 to 60 percent of the vote cast for him and George W. Bush.
…[the] forecasting model is based on growth of the gross domestic product from the fourth quarter of the pre-election year through the first quarter of election year, and on poll findings on presidential approval and voter opinions on which party's candidate will best promote peace and prosperity.

Bay to Breakers

Marlow's home and she took part in the annual San Francisco traditional "fun run," the Bay to Breakers. Here's her report:

The bay to breakers went quite well. I "ran" with my friend Megan Wood.
It was quite a hot day (90's I think). We took BART over with the Laus (Mr. Lau, Rebecca, and Abigail) and John Schochet. Mr. Lau is a marathon runner (he finished in 50 mins). Becca rows crew at Davis (she finished in 1 hr 25 mins).
Abigail is a cross country runner who also runs hurdles for track (she didn't pay attention to her time, but probably came in around an hour and ten mins).
John used to have a screw in his ankle but is working up to marathon level. Meg and I finished at about 1:35.
I think we only walked about a mile (part on the hill and most of mile 5) and jogged the rest. There seemed to be an unusually high percentage of naked people, but maybe that was just because they were going about the same pace as us. There were plenty of guys in drag as well. More nice gowns than house dresses this year.
I saw a nun and some caveman, but I didn't see all that much in the way of impressive, imaginative costumes.
Megan and I watched Go and ate cheap Chinese food last night rather than create costumes.
At the end of the race we met up at the Polo field and walked to Rebecca's grandma's house where they'd parked their family van last night. Rebecca's uncle was there and asked where we were all going to college as we lay on Grandma Lau's shag carpet avoiding gratuitous motion, and it was an all Ivy reunion (Brown, Yale, and of course, Columbia).
It was a good day. I'm sore.

Congratulations, Kimberly

My wife's sister, Pamela, has two daughters. The older one, Kimberly Marlow Drake, graduated from law school at the University of San Francisco on May 21. She's now hard at work on her bar review.

It's a funny thing about lawyers; we all rail against them in the abstract (well, at least most of us do), but I find it very difficult to take issue with them in the concrete. Barb Moore, my best friend from college, is a lawyer, as is her husband Jack VanWoerkom. So is my friend Peter Peckarsky. All these people seem to be doing perfectly good and necessary work. So, if we have too many lawyers, it must be too many other lawyers.

Congratulations to Kimberly. It was a lovely ceremony at St. Ignatius church on campus, on a day that broke 150-year-old temperature records in San Francisco. The reception at her mother's house in Berkeley afterwards, a catered affair, was also a delight, despite the high temperatures, unrelieved by either a breeze or air conditioning. It's always the company, isn't it?

Good Luck, Kimberly.

NPR News Quiz

All of you got my flash notice last week about my appearance on the NPR news quiz, a weekly audience participation show called Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.

I participated in the Limerick Challenge, in which news stories from the week were rendered as limericks. I got off to a bad start, describing Orinda as a suburb of Boston, then missing the first limerick (gushing and rushing, and the answer was "blushing.") I recovered with a British story about "sax" players and the news that Prince was the Artist Once Again Known As Prince.

For my efforts, in addition to a smidgen of fame, I have won Carl Kassel's voice on my answering machine. He is an NPR Washington newsman. I'll let you know when he's recorded it.

Dumb Virus Coverage Redux I

Craig Reynolds wrote about Glen Speckert's piece on viruses printed here two weeks ago:

Glen, I enjoyed your letter in PSACoT, and agree with everything you said. As an old-timer in the computer world (started programming in the late 60s, first used Internet (ARPAnet) email in 1974) I am constantly flummoxed by the computers=Microsoft mentality. However among the confused reporting on this issue, there were the occasional glimmering of intelligent life among the press corps:

Windows-Haters Crow Over Worm

Craig, as I never tire of pointing out, wrote the first big computer program I ever commissioned, TTIIPP, The Tech Idiotic Indexing Program Project, to run on MIT's Multics-based timesharing system in 1973. He designed an architecture that I re-implemented in dBase, dBase III, Superbase and Lotus Approach during the 80s and 90s.

Awful Bill Clinton Joke

Awful and not true, but a well-executed joke… Moses is using George W. Bush's clock to run his motorboat.

Hillary Clinton died and went to heaven. As she stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates she saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. She asked, "What are all those clocks?"
St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time
you lie the hands on your clock will move."
"Oh," said Hillary, "who's clock is that?"
"That's Mother Theresa's. The hands have never moved indicating that she
never told a lie."
"Whose clock is that?"
"That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have only moved twice telling
us that Abe only told 2 lies in his entire life."
"Where's Bill's clock?" Hillary asked.
"Bill's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."

Seven Movies: Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation, Hamlet, Time Code, Dinosaur, Small-Time Crooks, Girl Next Door, Shanghai Noon.

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database.

OK, by skipping a week, I got a little behind in my movie reviews. Also, these have been a great couple of weeks, and I've seen seven films. Here are my quick reviews:

Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation

GO GO GO! If you like animation, don't ever miss the festival. Don't mistake this for the "sick and twisted" version which is really sick and twisted. However, the regular festival is still sick and twisted enough that you don't want to take preteens to see it. I particularly enjoyed Ends Of The Earth, Mutts and When The Day Breaks. Animation is at its best when it shows things you could never do, even with digital special effects. There will always be a place for animation this good.


As Rae asked me when I told her about this film, and several more Shakespeare films planned for this summer, "What's with all the Shakespeare?"

Well, I'd say we have to judge them individually. And for this modern-dress Hamlet (with extensive cuts; running time is 111 minutes), I say Go. A must-see if you are a big fan of either Shakespeare or Ethan Hawke, who here plays the melancholy Dane. Director Michael Almereyda has done eight films you've never heard of in his 40 years, including Twister (not that one, the other one). This is a real winner. Hamlet is the son of the CEO of Denmark Corp. in Manhattan. The fencing scene at the end is a real fencing scene. The players are gone, replaced by a home-brew movie of Hamlet's making. If you developed a taste for Kyle MacLachlan back in his Twin Peaks days, you'll enjoy him here. Bill Murray, who covers everything he touches these days with genius, is the best Polonius I have ever seen, bar none. Not for everyone.

Time Code

Go, if you're in the mood for an artsy show-off piece. This movie is a direct descendant of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, a film done in continuous takes, with no cuts. This film is done the same way, with a twist: four cameras, each one taking up one-fourth of the screen. The soundtracks overlap, but one usually dominates. Its not quite as hard to follow as it might sound, and the four stores--of course, what else--overlap at the end. Credit for cleverness and filmic razzle-dazzle, if not a really great plot or interesting movie, to director/writer Mike Figgis, best known for the Nicholas Cage vehicle Leaving Las Vegas. It's like the old joke about a talking dog: who cares what he's saying, isn't it amazing he can talk?

Kyle MacLachlan again (hi Kyle, long time no see!), lots of Selma Hayek and Jeanne Tripplehorn, a few brief shots of Holly Hunter (hey, was that Holly Hunter?), as well as some other vaguely familiar faces.

Mildly entertaining, in a talking dog kind of way.


Clearly, I am over demographic for this one, which filled the theater with 5-10-year-olds. Nevertheless, I loved it. Great digital animation--unbelievable really--pasted on top of real photographed backgrounds. Lovely voice talents, a truly derivative and trite plot.

Not unentertaining, and a great movie to go to with any kid over five, or anyone who's a kid at heart. A must-see for animation fans, as it once more moves the state of the art ahead. If only it moved the state of the art ahead in story telling.

Small-Time Crooks

GO GO GO GO! At last, Woody Allen has decided to be funny again! This is his best movie since Annie Hall, and the first one in years I was not embarrassed to take my children to. My parents raved about it. If you have to hide your eyes during the "embarrassing humor" parts of I Love Lucy, then you'll find a few scenes hard to take. Tracey Ullman is brilliant as Allen's wife, Frenchy. Hugh Grant should be strapped to a camera and forced to do light comedy for the rest of his career. There was nowhere near enough Jon Lovitz. The movie was so hysterically funny, I didn't even mind when it turned uplifting at the end. Let's show Woody that we appreciate it when he does a really good film. Rated PG for language, but not very much language. It could easily be G-rated. 94 minutes of rollicking fun.

Girl Next Door

Unrated, but probably an R or even an NC-17. Very esoteric documentary. I was drawn by the favorable reviews, but then I live in SF. It follows Stacy Valentine, a porn star, from the time she leaves Oklahoma until she makes it big in the adult film industry. The shocking scenes are not the sex scenes (R-Rated at most), but the scenes of her multiple operations. Ickk. If you ever wondered "what possesses those people," here's where you can find out.

Shanghai Noon

This film is EXACTLY what you expect from the trailers. A Jackie Chan romp, set in the Old West, but with a satisfying number of explosions. Lots of martial arts scenes. A dumb love story. Not too much plot getting in the way of the action, as Joe Bob Briggs used to say. Owen Wilson, the Chan buddy, wrote Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, two really good indie films, and appeared in several other roles you never noticed. He and Lucy "Ally McBeal" Liu are the only two people in the film who bother acting. This could be a breakthrough film for Wilson, who could be a real light comedy talent.