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Like Frank Capra

Rod Amis - Unbound

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Event # 259: HEROIC

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[IF YOU HAVE EXTREMELY HIGH BANDWIDTH, listen to this week's MP3 soundtrack. ]

A mystical image of the journey.23 March, 2001 - It seems we have our own shooting stars. If you looked at the video of the space station Mir re-entering Earth's atmosphere, available here online, it was impossible to escape that conclusion. Another event to add to my list for this celebratory month of mine.

Those of you who pay attention to such little details will have noticed that I've been not-so-quietly hacking (as we used to call it) the cover of The World's Magazine during this month. It's actually looked different from one day to the next.

I've been working toward something you'll see congeal on Monday. That's when the OFFICIAL Year Six cover design kicks in.

In the recent survey of our readership (Mailing List members, that is) and in certain e-mails, some of you have complained that G21 is too text-centric.

As a former Web design columnist, I've taken that route to make us accessible to the largest number of people. But, admittedly, the java-based advertising that we run as a member of the bla-bla.com network defeats that purpose. The advertising here is, yes, bloated code and makes our pages load slower than my design would. So I'm trying to make a compromise.

I know you're as excited as I am. Try to contain your enthusiasm.

The point was not to be too dramatic. But there was something I've been working towards. The KEY To Web design, once you've got a site up and running, is not to take your users too far from what they are familiar with, I've always believed.

Okay, maybe I should have just unveiled a completely new look on you overnight!

If you look back at January of last year, the drama of the departure becomes clear.

I just ramped up the departure this month, is all. But enough about the Web design stuff. I can see that you're already yawning...

the glass house

This afternoon, meaning Friday, not my birthday when you'll read this, I'm taking my laundry out so that the Chinese women down the street will wash and fold it.

While I'm out (an ocassion in and of itself) I'll pick up supplies, including the champagne for my birthday tipple.

I'll make Comfort Food tonight. Most likely I'll eat like a child or a bachelor: beans and franks or sphagetti. I woke up thinking that I'd like my mother's wonderful Bermudian codfish or farina pie. But I don't know anyone who can make that, not even me.

Another of the things I want that I can't have.

I also want to be ecstatically happy. I want to have a girlfriend who will sympathetically stroke my hair and comfort me. I want to know how to bring about world peace and end world hunger. I want to live in Rio de Janeiro.

I think about Rio every birthday. When I was married and started my old business, I used to keep a poster of Rio on the wall in my office to remind me that that was what I was working for... So long ago.

I've still never been to Rio, either... and I doubt I'll ever make it. The girls on the beach will have to live without me. Carnaval will have to go on with one less reveler. Maybe I can make Mardi Gras in New Orleans, though.

My friends in California, Barb and Rich (and their cats, Reilly, Ripple and Gram) sent me a funny birthday card and a humungous bar of handmade soap. The soap smells very nice. I cheated and used it this morning. It's that kind of expensive, fragrant stuff with musical note symbols on it in various colors, with clementine, lemon, wormwood and "soft" musk strands running through it. Very Berkeley, which is of course where Rich and Barbara live.

It's a running thing, as long-time readers of G21 know, for Barb and I to exchange gifts for no-reason-at-all and on our personal ocassions like birthdays. The woman just refuses to let me EVER think that I am not loved. I appreciated the thoughtfulness so much that I can't keep myself from reciprocating. I see it as an Old World touch. She blames it on being a transplanted Southern Belle. You know: that thing about letting other people know that you appreciate and value them being on the planet and part of your life. Soppy stuff.

Rich on the other hand plays the Gary Cooper role. Strong silent type. Treats you like gold but never says much about it. Pretends he's just going along...

What About Frank Capra?

Oh yeah. Right. Well, here's the story on that:

I was always a sucker for Frank Capra movies. Unless you're old --- like I'll be tomorrow on my birthday --- or you went to film school, or rent ancient videos, you won't know this guy. But he was freakin' brilliant! My kindah guy!

Short list:

I didn't list the silents. I didn't list Frank Sinatra in "Hole in the Head."

As they used to say in those old movies, "Get the picture?"

It was like dreaming for me watching Capra films --- and for lots of other people, too.

That view of Shangri-la in "Lost Horizon," that guy from nowhere in "Meet John Doe" who echoed Steinbeck's Tom Joad... and, yeah, it's tough NOT to get a lump in your throat when Jimmy Stewart is standing up to Mr. Gower in that now-overused Christmas flick "It's a Wonderful Life."

But do you remember what it was like when you saw it the first time? Do you remember how the idea of an angel getting his wings was like believing in Tinker Bell?

I do.

So my birthday is tomorrow, as I write this. You'll read this about then as our publication schedule stands.

So indulge me in being sentimental and showing my true colors. Wouldn't you figure a guy who puts out a magazine like this would be this kind of sucker for a better view of the world?

Wouldn't you just know that somebody who's always talkin' for The Little Guy and wanting you to be compassionate and taking the cause of the dispossesed, the foreigner, the outsider, would be the same guy to sit and cry during Frank Capra movies...?

And maybe, just maybe, he'd try to give you a view like in a Frank Capra movie at his Web site --- if he got lucky or found the right writer.

Most of the time, I know, I come across as the crusader. That guy who's ready to stand up and be counted, slay some dragons. I know my writers do, too.

But you don't hear us talk among ourselves.

We are as scared as you are... as lost and confused. That's what I think Frank Capra was trying to convey in his way. That the best we can do is admit our common humanity and put up our brave little show against those people who pretend they don't put their panties on one leg at a time.

And MOST OF ALL that we should try to be good to each other because of our shared destination...

Yes, it really really bothers me that I didn't give you your requisite dose of Voyeurism this week. But it's my birthday.

LOVE LETTER?

Our animated butterfly.I know this is probably not the kind of Love Letter you expected from me on my birthday.

Sue me.

When you read this, God willing, I'll be drinking a bottle of champagne and preparing to produce the NEXT wonderful edition of this Web magazine so you'll keep coming back here. I'll be 49 "officially" at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Another day older and deeper in debt.

Last weekend, my pal Terry out in Sebastopol told me that I'd become a crustacean. I had sank, he said, from being a sun around which people used to rotate like satellites to being a reclusive and bitter old man.

Oh shit! I thought. So why am I listening to you, Dickweed? And why am I payin' for this phonecall where you tell me what's wrong with MY life?

I could have spent this dime on a woman!

But I didn't say that. It would have sounded like something a bitter old man would say.

Instead, I chuckled and told him that I thanked God that I had valuable friends like him to point me back toward the path of Salvation.

About that time, I wished that I had a bottle of Scotch nearby... or that I was sitting in a whorehouse. Another of THOSE images.

THINGS I THINK TODAY

1. YOU PEOPLE need to tell more of your friends about this magazine before we join the dot-com downturn.

2. Yes, now I'm almost officially an "old fart" but I never smelled a new fart that was sweet, either.

3. OH no! Am a really worried about becoming 50?

4. I only made love to her ONCE!
Thanks for coming back this week.

"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching..."
Rod


This is another Web site made on a Macintosh.
Mac OS X comes out on my birthday. I couldn't be happier!

Apple Computer's Think Different logo.

ROD AMIS has published this magazine since 1990. It first appeared as a hardcopy 'Zine. In March, 1996, he launched it here on the Web. Rod was a Contributing Editor at Suite101.com, where he wrote the " 'Net Publishing" feature. His work has been featured in the San Francisco Bay Guardian Online, NRV8, and at WebLab's Reality Check site. Rod was also a contributing writer on technology for Faulkner Information Services. He wrote Web issues for MethodFive.com's Hyper newsletter.

Rod was a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he wrote over two hundred articles on web design and development issues. He was also principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviewed technology issues weekly, producing 383 editorials. He became the Managing Editor for Electronic Mail/Newsletter Publications at Andover.net at the end of February, 2000, and left in September of the same year. He was a contributing writer for ACCESS magazine, which appears both on- and offline for 10 million readers in 100 newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Boston Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Denver Post and Orlando Sentinel, among others. In January, 2001, Rod became the US reporter for Silicon.com, a division of Network Multimedia Television in London, UK, reaching 3.5 million European readers.

Rod lives in dreams and visions, edits the writing of people from six continents for The World's Magazine, and wonders if New Orleans is actually the next stop on the hejira.

He continues to be committed to integrity, chastity and a dose of humility.


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