Okay, today absolutely ROCKED for reasons I can’t yet detail. Next week for half of the story, next month for the rest.

A note on modern talk radio: there are two issues I find quite interesting, and they’re gay marriage and Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” And if I never hear another radio show about either I will be a happy man.

Speaking of Mel: whoever approved the most recent Entertainment Weekly cover needs to be taken aside and given a little talk about religious iconography. The cover shows Mel Gibson photoshopped in chiarascuro light, wearing a crown of film strips bristling with thorns. That would make him Jesus, right? That would equate his decision to make this film with Christ’s sacrifice, hmm? The headline: “Can Mel Gibson’s Career Survive ‘The Passion of the Christ’?” Makes you wonder if an earlier mockup had Mel nailed to a cross. Clueless, these people.

Speaking of clueless: I didn’t know if EW’s website was or or some mutant variant, so I typed in . . .

Which makes me Methuselah, in web years.

Speaking of the web: I will now, contrary to previous assertions, be spending the majority of my time on the Usenet. Blame Unison, a Mac OSX newsreader released by the fine folks at Panic software. Non Mac people are advised to head for the exits – specifically, the NEW site over on the lower right hand side. Remember: Wednesday bleats are gruel-thin, with a site update to compensate. And why are they such lame affairs? Simple: column due at noon. Column due at 4:30 PM. Column due at 12:00 AM. And today I had to do an emergency rewrite for my monthly postcard feature in Mpls/St. Paul magazine. Which makes this the fifth discrete thing I’ve written today. That’s why it’s lame. So:

When I decided to dip a toe back into the Usenet, I used Entourage, part of Microsoft Office. What a heap. It’s a mail program! It’s a newsreader! It’s a floor polish and a dessert topping! Plus, it announces itself with a Microsoftian Chord that reminds you that it’s 11:52 PM and you forgot to switch the sound output from external speakers to the headphone jack. Such a drama queen. Since Entourage couldn’t deal with yEnc files, I looked around for another program, and discovered something called Hogwasher. Very powerful; very ugly. The name stunk, for starters. The splash screen had a picture that looked like something one of the developer’s Really Deep Artistic Girlfriends did, and it depicted a man washing a hog. So you got this scrubbing-the-swine vibe from the start. And it was pricey – fifty bucks, I think. I had 32 days left in the trial when I noted something new on Apple’s downloads page: Unison, a newsreader by Panic Software.

Panic wrote Transit, the FTP program I use every day - it’s fast, tight, feature-packed, and lovely. Nimble and robust. And cheap! I tried Unison for ten minutes, and realized that they had more or less redefined the Usenet. Instead of writing a program that attempted to negotiate the bit-blizzard we know and love, they decided to rewrite the Usenet to fit their interface. It’s quite remarkable. And cheap! It turns the Usenet into a library, albeit an anarchic one – when you access an MP3 newsgroup, for example, it sorts all the threats and provides streaming previews. Pictures are displayed in a scrolling window that consists of grayed-out boxes – click on box for a thumbnail. Files are identified by application-specific icons. Some programs you wait for the trial period to expire before you buy; this one I bought right away. Twenty-five bucks. Cheap!

Now the icon sits in my dock, and it joins all the other applications that stand as a Stern Rebuke to those who insist that there’s just no software for the Macintosh. I have Adobe Photoshop for image manipulation, MS word for writing, GoLive for website creation, Safari for browsing, GarageBand and Soundtrack for music creation, iTunes for MP3s, Final Cut for widescreen movies, iDVD for burning my creations, Transmit for FTP, Unison for the Usenet, iPhoto for digital photo albums, WireTap for capturing Internet radio streams and DVD audio, SnapzPro for stills AND full-screen DVD motion capture, and Halo for carnage. It’s the Golden Age of Macs.

Did I mention that I brought my wife over to the Dark Side? She’d been working with the crappy Sony VAIO for a few years, and I finally said this must end. I gave her the old 733 with the old flat-panel screen, loaded up all the Gnat pictures in iPhoto, and put some smoove jazz in iTunes. And she loved it. Everything fit, like it hadn’t before. This wasn’t a computer. This was her computer.

(Hallelujah chorus)

Anyway. Back to work; have to fire up the EVO and schlep the columns to the Strib mainframe through a Win2K emulation of a mid-80s program that has a Win95 icon. Cutting edge, we are. Cutting edge.

What was I saying? No Bleat! Here’s the Wednesday addition.

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