ZIP Beep #55
ARFICE POLITICS
by Chuck Strinz

It must be hard to work closely with a group of ego-fed oncamera slavepeople, all competing for the same air time. Tempers are bound to flair. Some TV personalities don't have the sense to keep it verbal. Worse still, they use their office computer systems to compose their scathing notes, little realizing that E-Mail does not necessarily mean Private Mail. Here's an example currently making the rounds among the better-networked Sysops.

PBS MEMO - 8/7/88, 09:48:35

TO: Andrew Krasne, Producer
FROM: Bob Dog
RE: Current conditions

You will hardly be amazed to learn that I greet your request for my signature on the contracts under negotiation with little enthusiasm.

As I told you in our meeting of 7/24 and again on 8/2, certain conditions are causing a great deal of consternation on the part of my agent and other people who have the interests of my career at heart.

I am proud of my long association with the Neighborhood. It has provided a challenging and worthy foundation for the expression of my talents. No one can deny that. But I feel it incumbent upon myself to express to you my heartfelt desire to see some improvements in the near future, or you can bet this is one pup that's gonna go out for a walk.

Beginning with the most obvious criticism (the magnitude of which seems to have escaped you thus far, much to my utter amazement), Fred Rogers holds the show hostage with his bad taste. This guy is killing us, and no one's even trying to rein him in. I suggest you consider nuking the assistant (or "friend," as he would put it) who provides Rogers with various little objects for him to examine and expound upon ad infinitum ad nauseum. Honestly, I wish that guy had an off button.

Rogers' attitude toward our audience is demeaning. Can he possibly think he's to be taken seriously when he proposes that everyone watching should be his neighbor? Or that everyone watching is special to him? Then there's that wardrobe; the tattered sweatters, the penny loafers, the worn oxfords. Really! He holds the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste.

Now, I'm not proposing any drastic changes. I'm not suggesting we launch "Bob Dog's Neighborhood," or anything like that. The people will decide. But I think it's about time we brought Rogers under control, and held him in check by more clearly defining a limited role for him. As a booth announcer, for example. Or a weatherman.

The fact is, Rogers is only part of the problem. Miss Elaine has a face that could kill a horse at fifty paces in a blizzard at midnight. King Friday makes self-important pronouncements on matters of little relevance (they're often late, and he holds bad court in general). Queen Sarah is a walking cliche. That whole bunch talks without moving their lips. And while you're nuking Rogers' assistant, send a missle at that trolley. It's too local.

I trust you will consider my advice, although judging from past experience with the way you handled the Letterman deal, I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of satisfaction. Just remember this. I was one of the big dogs on the sports circuit before I took this gig.

ZIP Beep #55
HIGH BALL, HARD BROW - THE REPUBLICANS ARE STILL HERE
by Dennis Wallaker

The title above has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this but sometimes I like to make out like I'm a really clever guy. Hard Ball - High Brow, reversed? Well enough of that and on to my regular stuff.

This is the way this one works...

Autobiographical info - I still want to be a poet and while poetry is neat, most poets are not. Most of them are Grant Whores (the Guggenheim Foundation is annually giving some fool professor $50,000 so he'll have the time and security to be able to write down his feelings about winter. If they had given Van Gogh this kind of bread to work with, the "Sunflower" picture would probably be on black velvet and he'd have a wife, two kids, and just as many ears. I'm not encouraging self destructive behavior but as my buddy, the old sober Indian says, "Two thirds of your average newspaper is bull and the rest is advertising. It's all on the streets and the streets mean people").

Besides that if you want to catch a poetry reading in my town, you're either supposed to show up at the library around noon (something that most of us can do, right?) or around 8:00 at a women's book store where invariably they ask me if I'm the guy they sent over to fix the toilet.

I guess I don't look like an incredibly sensitive male. But I figure since I don't have a baby, it's kind of stupid to do the papoose number that most of these balding guys with beards are able to pull off.

Now when I was a kid, I figured I wanted to write books. EXCEPT, it's really a hard thing to do and you've got to think you are really hot you-know-what to even try!

Plus, after all these years, I've realized I don't like novels...you know, like "Bestsellers." Anytime somebody says, "Oh gosh, I just couldn't put it down" I think about all the great things I've read and how I was putting them down all the time to make sure that I knew what the guy was trying to tell me.

When I think "Bestseller" I think of some middle class mother hunkered down in a Jackie Collins novel while the kids are outside drowning in the pool.

As always, I may be wrong.

Except, for me, this short stuff is the way to go and one day me and a couple of guys are going to put this in book form so if "you just can't put it down" at least you won't be carrying a Macintosh around in your purse.

Enuff of that, as Charles Bukowski once said at one of his poetry readings, "Shut up, so we can get down to the so-called Art."

THE RETURN OF THE MOST NERVOUS KID IN THE WORLD
(THAT I'VE EVER MET FOR AT LEAST A YEAR)

I had just returned to my place.

I had been having problems sleeping so I decided to read some of James Joyce's "Finnegan's Wake" 'cause if it doesn't make you sleepy, it will give you dyslexia which is almost as good.

Little Pete, my black cat, was seated on the couch next to me. His mother, Spike, was on the other side. Big Pete was up on the 4th floor beating the tar out of a Siamese and though I'm against violence of any kind, this guy was asking for it. Big Pete is not very smart and he's not a good fighter but I, among others, feel that it's his bulk, his fortitude, and for a lack of a better term, it's his willingness not to quit that has made him what he is today.

I heard a knock on the door and there was The Most Nervous Kid In The World holding a black cat.

THE MOST NERVOUS KID'S SOLO SCENE WITH NO INTERRUPTION FROM ME

"Yeah well, I first spotted Little Pete out in the parking lot around 7:00. I don't know whether or not you were home so I came by as soon as I could.

There was no answer!

So I watched and I waited. Most of the time Little Pete was just sitting in the snow but then he'd go and lay underneath a parked car and I kept thinking what if Little Pete is down there all asleep and that guy comes out and puts his car in reverse and Little Pete is all asleep and don't wake up?

He's dead!

Luckily nobody came and I don't think none of them cars start anyway.

Then I saw you coming home and I thought how upset you'd be when you saw that Little Pete was gone. So when I saw you coming, I hid.

By the way, Man, you wear some pretty stupid looking hats.

So since I thought you'd probably be looking all over inside, and I didn't want to make you nervous because I remember what you told me about nerves, I decided I'd get Little Pete myself even though you told me about going around picking up animals especially cats.

So I went over and got under my uncle's car. It took me about an hour and he acted like he didn't even know me. He even tried to scratch me, I said, 'Cut the crap Little Pete' just like you do.

So here he is. Say Thank You."

END OF HIS BIT

I said, "Come inside and take a look on the couch."

He looked and there was Little Pete licking a part of his anatomy that we can't.

"Little Pete."

I replied, "You bet."

"Who's this?"

"It ain't Big Pete or Little Pete."

"Then it's no Pete at all?"

"Yes."

He asked, "What does this mean?"

I've got a nasty streak in me sometimes like a lot of other folks in where I think I'm saying something funny and it winds up scaring a kid or hurting some adults feelings.

I answered, "It means that you've stolen somebody's cat!"

He asked, "What should I do?"

I said, "Put it out in the hall while I call the police."

"THE POLICE!"

Man, it's a cold thing that I did.

In my ghetto, when you mention POLICE, it can mean all sorts of things especially to a kid. Especially to this guy.

So I said, "Dewayne, I'm joking. Do you ever think I'd let anything happen to you?"

"Not until now."

"Well, I won't 'cause I'm your best friend."

"I know that but I just get so..."

"Nervous."

"Right."

So we put the cat outside and watched him watch a couple of guys throwing an overstuffed chair into the dumpster.

"I said, "Man. it's a school night" stressing the word SCHOOL as only adults that sleep five hours at a crack can do.

He asked, "What about the chair? Do you think the person that owned it, died?"

"Maybe. People die all the time. Old Age, Cancer, etc. Getting hit by a bus..."

His jaw dropped. It didn't hit the floor but it did knick the zipper on his wool down jacket.

"I HAVE TO TAKE A BUS TO GO TO SCHOOL!"

I thought, "Not again."

I said, "Getting hit by a bus and waiting for a bus are very different things."

But he was already nervous and he was late for bed so he took off and I went back to James Joyce.

So much for this being a series of really short pieces.

ZIP Beep #55
DUFAS PROFILES
by Chuck Strinz

It doesn't take a lot of sense to recognize a good scotch when you taste it. That's why Dufas Scotch appeals to so many people. Like the jury of the Oliver North trial. These twelve men and women have lived through intense media coverage and civic interest surrounding the most significant breach of power since Watergate. Yet, they claim to have no preconceived ideas as to what Iranamok was all about. It comes as no surprise to us that Dufas was selected as their scotch on the first ballot.


 Name:  Frank Rogers

 Age:  43

 Occupation:  House painter

 Vehicle:  1976 Chevy pickup

 Favorite book:  Babbs at the Beach by Roland Howle

 Hobbies:  Fishing, stock cars, power tools

 Heros:  Sly Stalone, Bob Vila

 Quote:  "Where're my cigs?"

 Scotch:  Dufas

 

 Name:  Randall Tyler


 Age:  57

 Occupation:  Taking care of Mother

 Vehicle:  1983 Escort
 Favorite book:  The Golden Guide to Birds of North America

 Hobbies:  Bird watching, cooking

 Heros:  Mother, John James Audubon

 Quote:  "Life could be so much simpler (sigh)."

 Scotch:  Dufas

 

 Name:  Bernice Balchester

 Age:  39

 Occupation:  Physical Education Instructor

 Vehicle:  WWII army surplus jeep

 Favorite book:  Tough Buns by Roland Howle

 Hobbies:  Working out, coaching volleyball

 Heros:  Mr. T

 Quote:  "One more crack like that, buddy, and I'll show you how I 
bench press a jerk." Scotch: Dufas Name: Andy Barnaway Age: 45 Occupation: Cleaning stuff Vehicle: Schwinn Varsity Favorite book: Fun With Peanuts by Charles Schultz Hobbies: Looking at rocks and the floor and stuff Heros: The Purple Panda Quote: "(Giggle) I don't know." Scotch: Dufas Name: Stanger La Grange Age: 23 Occupation: Punk rock drummer Vehicle: 1987 Pontiac custom Favorite book: Books are for dweebs Hobbies: Drumming Heros: Heros are for dweebs Quote: "Books and heros are for dweebs." Scotch: Dufas Name: Clarence Fostetler Age: 87 Occupation: Retired hardware store owner Vehicle: 1965 Dodge Dart Favorite book: The Collected AARP Bulletins Hobbies: Stamp collecting, complaining Heros: Real men, like William Jennings Bryan Quote: "What do you care about an old man like me?" Scotch: Dufas Name: Halei Salbani Age: 34 Occupation: Cab driver Vehicle: 1975 Checker Favorite book: Kalaki Dekali Kala Ben Kaladeli by Hassim Mohamed Hobbies: Chanting Heros: Ayatolla Sowata Yahaskinmefor Quote: "How do you get there? Where is that?" Scotch: Dufas Name: Wendell Wilson Age: 49 Occupation: Assistant dogcatcher Vehicle: Some kinda old panel truck, I don't really know Favorite book: TV Guide Hobbies: Watching TV, feeding dogs Heros: The guys that make all those funny TV shows at night Quote: "What's on tonight?" Scotch: Dufas Name: Danniel Jefferson Age: 21 Occupation: Attending a correspondence beauty school Vehicle: The bus Favorite book: I suppose Vogue or something like that Hobbies: Watching game shows, playing with my kids Heros: Maybe Benny in 4B, but maybe not Quote: "Whachu think you're doin, put that back now!" Scotch: Dufas Name: Ron Gannel Age: Don't know Occupation: I get by Vehicle: Whatever Favorite book: It's hard to say Hobbies: All kinds of things Heros: Different people Quote: "Yeah, well, you know." Scotch: Dufas Name: Mrs. John H. Patterson Age: 68, thank you Occupation: Retired Vehicle: It's red, I think Favorite book: The Ideal Fall Sampler Hobbies: Making things out of plastic bleach bottles Heros: The Prophets of the Old Testament Quote: "I'm going to have one more drink, then I'm done with this devil water." Scotch: Dufas Name: Mudball Age: 28 Occupation: Roadie Vehicle: 1984 Peterbuilt, Kawasaki 90 Favorite book: Beers of Many Lands by Grabbet & Chug Hobbies: Drinking, stringing cord Heros: Meatloaf Quote: "Could I, hey could I, hey shut up out there and gimme a level!" Scotch: Dufas

ZIP BEEP #55
SONS OF THE PIONEERS
by Billy Joe Baud

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I happened to run into Billy Joe on a BBS down in the Houston area in the nation of Texas (no, that's not a typo...any Texan worth his or her salt will gladly inform you that Texas was a nation before it was a state). And being the aimable sort of guy that I am, I invited him to visit our system in return. About 6 months went by and nary a peep from him, then, one day, up he pops on my office doorstep waving a manuscript (of what will later turn out to be the article you are about to read). Now everything in Texas is big, including the egos, so it goes without saying that Billy Joe takes it upon himself to keep everybody informed on just what HIS opinions on the state of computing are. So expect to see Billy Joe hold forth on ettiquette, hardware, software and his fellow on-line travellers. He'll no doubt be direct (that's what he calls it...I call it being on the rude side of things -- but only after a few beers and never to his face, I'm not that dim), and expect him to have an opinion on EVERYTHING. So it is with great fanfare (and more than a little trepidation) I'd like to introduce you to a new (hopefully regular) columnist for ZIP Beep. Ladies and gentlemen, Billy Joe Baud.]

BBSing is hot. This has to be the computer enthusiast's equivalent to draggin' main on a Saturday night. Users gather to discuss, life, politics, religion and compare hardware. Instead of Chevys versus Fords, we have DOS versus Mac, Mac versus Amiga, and Atari versus everything. Lots of ideas and folks from lots of different walks of life meet who probably wouldn't give two hoots about each other in the outside world. So hop in and let's cruise around the block a couple of times.

No doubt the editors, one Chuck and Don, have prefaced my initial foray into the realm of electronic journalism with some sort of disclaimer about me being from Texas. And warning y'all about what all that entails. That's alright I suppose, editors got to do sumptin' to earn their keep, right? But let me just tell ya, right here and now, that I calls 'em as I sees 'em...nothing less and nothing more.

Ya ain't gonna find me ravin' up some slick piece of software just because the company laid a free evaluation copy on me. And ya ain't gonna find me worryin' about the fact that product XYZ is popular with a lot of people. Popularity don't mean a thing...look at the last election if y'all don't believe me. If it stinks, it stinks, pure and simple. Likewise, if it's better than anything this side of free money, then y'all can rest assured that I'll tell ya so...

If the above ain't enough to ruffle some feathers, let me tell y'all that I'm bi-computational. That's right, I use BOTH Mac's and PC's! And let me tell ya sumptin' else...they both got problems. More on that some other time.

Which brings me round to this --

Personal computers have existed for only a relatively short period of time. Since their introduction we've gone from crude boxes where you had to flip front panel switches like crazy to get a simple program encoded, to today's high speed number crunching, full technicolor marvels. Day by day these desktop critters have grown stonger and stronger to the point where many of them exceed the power of the mainframes of a decade or so ago.

But it wasn't always this way.

When God created the personal computer, way back in the 70's, he had to go all the way to the danged west coast to find the sort of people who'd be crazy enough to buy into this radical idea, and to be his original prophets. He found them (a couple of techno-hippies both named Steve from California and a crazy tossled haired computer nerd from Bellvue, Washington named Bill), and the rest is, as they say, history.

God said, "Let the power of the computer be placed in the hands of the individual."

And lo, a great wave of apathy spread across the land.

For some reason, the powers that be at that time, IBM, DEC, Hewlett-Packard, and the like, all turned a deaf ear to God's commandment. And the pharisees of MIS strove mightily to keep computing in the domain of the mysterious and awe inspiring mainframe.

Now, this ticked God off a might bit as y'all can imagine. When one is in the position of authority that God is, one is not used to having one's requests ignored. God wanted to waste these dudes right there and then, but upon a moment's reflection he decided to do something worse...he'd get the personal computer built, but by folks that were as far from the mainframe companies as could be possible. Enter the two Steve's...

A is for Apple (yeah, I know it is also for Altair, but it was those two crazy Steve's in a garage that truly validated the whole idea of a personal computer) and like in another famous creation story, an Apple started the whole mess rollin'.

Up in Washington state, Bill Gates was proving B is for BASIC. And because of BASIC, the great IBM would approach Billy boy about creating both a BASIC and DOS for their PC (stands for Personal Computer, ya gotta hand it to the IBM marketing department...they sure know how to name 'em).

C is for Clone. Seeing the success that Apple was having IBM begat the PC and from there the PC begat thousands upon thousands of CLONES. And clones are the main reason we can have a PC on our desk. Clones made it possible to afford a personal computer. But I often wonder if these foreign made clones are gonna do in the domestic computer manufacturers just like the way the foreign car manufacturers have stomped Detroit's iron.

A lot has happened since those early days of the silicon genesis.

The Steve's have made a name (and a considerable fortune) for themselves. After initially dominating the personal computer market, they faced ruin as the clones reinforced IBM's defacto PC standard. But hiring away the heir apparent to the Pepsi-Cola empire turned the tables for them (and in Steve Job's case, on him).

And even though he's probably a billionaire by now, Bill Gates still looks like a computer nerd. Granted, one that can dress in expensive suits, own yachts, and tell IBM "No" from time to time, but still he looks much like guy that hacked out BASIC lo these many years ago.

We owe a lot to these early people of vision, without them we wouldn't have these wonderful critters sitting on our desktops. Yeah, we owe them a lot, but at the current price of both Apple and Microsoft's products I can't help but think that maybe the debt is paid in full...many times over.

In fact, if ya don't mind my saying so, I think some of these pioneers would do good to remember all the other pioneers out there -- all of us users. Without us these guys would be nowhere. It took a lot of users who were willing to pony up the couple of grand it took to have a personal computer, and let me tell ya, that kind of price is pretty darn personal, to make the industry successful.

The pioneer trail is rocky, and often littered with failures -- Sinclairs, Osborne 1's, Adams, PCJr's, Apple III's, Lisa's and many more too obscure to even remember them in their passing. And right along side of them rest the remains of many a PC pioneer's bank account.

Ya can always spot the pioneers, they're the ones with all the arrows stickin' out of their backs.

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