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Friday, February 18, 2005



Phillip Swann, aka "Swanni Sez", reported the following today in his fine TV PREDICTIONS newsletter:

TiVo Passes 3M Subscribers
DVR service meets earlier forecast for new subs.

TiVo announced this morning that it has passed the three million subscriber mark. Not only that, the Digital Video Recorder service accumulated approximately 250,000 non-DIRECTV subs. To learn more, click this link: TiVo Passes 3M Subscribers

Monday, February 07, 2005



Try out www.mooter.com - this site searches similar to the current search engine king, Google, but does it one better: results are CLUSTERED into categories, making it quicker to find the most relevant results.

Read more about Mooter and other new fangled search engines in the Feb 2005 Scientific American.

Saturday, February 05, 2005



by Don Rose

Johnny will be right back... any time you want. Thanks to this 3-DVD collection, you can revel in over 30 years of memories for many years to come.

There are so many great parts of this box set it is hard to cover them all. Three amazing decades, covered in three discs, with extras galore... bringing you to bellylaughs as well as tears. If you lived through a lot of the years (1962 to 92), the emotion will well up even more. A highly recommended boxset.

The first two discs cover Carson's career, careening through the years. Disc One gives you the first 2 decades of highlights, 60s/70s and 70s/80s. Disc Two gives you 80s/90s highlights, and the documentary Johnny Goes Home, about his trip back to his boyhood home, Nebraska (which starts with his driving home in the EXACT car his Dad let him use as a teenager, and there is footage of him doing just that, way back when, via home movie footage -- a very nice touch).

Disc Three gives you the two final hour-long editions of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The penultimate show features Robin Williams and Bette Midler (whose musical numbers and brief duet with JC will make your eyes moist), and the final show is a final overview and goodbye edition, complete with the opening sitdown (not standup!) monologue... a series of clips, choice moments, slo-mo overview of stars that graced the show over the three decades... a great behind the scenes mini-doc with Doc, Johnny, Ed and Fred (show producer DeCordova) that is a wonderful peek where no fan has gone before (very few, anyway, if any). I especially liked the shots from behind the Great Desk, and the POV shot of what Johnny saw when he walked out of That Curtain every night and faced his audience. There is also, of course, those final-show moments of Doc and Ed thanking Johnny personally, and Carson's emotion-packed final farewell moment.

You can watch each disc in its entirety, as if watching a film in a theatre, OR you have the option to go to each individual bit or interview. All three discs have great extras you can't really see anywhere else (at least not easily). Like: ISO cam shots from the final show (usually a TV director is constantly using bits from all three cameras, switching among them, but the ISO cam footage lets you linger like an insider, like you are there). Then there is one of my favorite things: a short but very well done overview of Carson's entire life, The Johnny Carson Story (made for the 25th anniversary of his reign, in 1987). Other extras I liked: Script notes for some shows... and a peek at some of the question lists Johnny drew from to ask some of his celeb guests (which, the box says, totalled over 25000 over his 4000-odd shows). Truly Carson was the Cal Ripken of late night television, a record that may last forever given the current fragmented short-attention-span landscape that is now TV.

Carson told his audience, in that last emotional show, that if he could magically go back and do it all over again, he would. Now you can. Get this boxset. You will treasure it, and go back to it again and again.

For more info, see www.johnnycarson.com .



Guitarists, sitarists, satirists -- this 2 disc set has something for everyone who loved the writer/singer of "Something" and singer of "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" and creator/force behind so many classic songs, all of which are sung here by a wide assortment of George's best pals. Watching the DVDs, I felt, almost, like I was there. Any Beatles or Harrison fan will love "Concert For George".

And then there's MONTY PYTHON. Harrison loved and supported this group (even financially, by backing some of their film work), and was friends with Eric Idle and Michael Palin (remember when George cameod in the Rutles film? that was a partially Python project). The Python parts of the film were well done, and the DVD extra feature showing them backstage is one of the highlights of the entire box. Michael Palin's brief onstage speeches, with his mock over the top pomposity, was just what a Harrison event needed, and it fit perfectly. The lumberjack song, okay, we have all heard it a million times before, but it is an Evergreen, so why not. (Did you know Harrison used to sometimes use the alias Jack Lumber? This disc taught me that!) Even Tom Hanks was there, "filling in" for missing John Cleese, playing one of the background chorus, one of the redcoated, um -- what are they, mounties? -- the Dudley Do Right types that back up Palin's lead vocal. More on Hanks below. And lead Rutle Neil Innes is there too, playing bouncy piano, and joining Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Palin in a rousing version of Sit On My Face --- also somehow a good deflator and antidote for an overall reverential tone you feel watching the Concert. (Remember, of course, that most of the stars that play on the disc are 60s icons in their 60s (or close to it), so you can't really expect too much crazy bouncy youthful sounds and silliness --- but the Python Boys do their best!)

Seeing Dhani, George's son, on stage does help bring a little injection of youth to the proceedings, and Dhani's uncanny resemblance to his famous dad makes it all the more like George is there. Ravi Shankar and his daughter also play on the disc, the Concert could not be complete without Ravi, the great sitarist who taught George a thing or two to expand his musical consciousness.

The only odd thing about the film, perhaps, was how underutilized, or unneeded, Tom Hanks was. I love Tom, but he kinda stuck out to me, not really blending in with the whole event, although of course it was nice of him to be part of it. Was he REALLY replacing John Cleese or filling his shoes? Nah... but my nitpicking here is perhaps symptomatic of how much is good about this DVD set, that this is the only (minor) fault!

So go get it already!

And, oh yeah, my favorite bits: the two uke tunes (ukelele being one of George's many passions): "I'll See You In My Dreams" (performed with touching charm by Joe Brown, a song that has now catapulted into the Top Two of Don's Can't Stop Singing Songs), and "Something" (done by Harrison mate Sir Paul, in an odd time signature at first, but changing slowly to a slow rocker by the end, well done all round).

Buy it now.
Have I made my point yet?