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Week of March 5, 2001

Prowse paralyzed. An unusual paralyzing condition has stricken actor David Prowse, first leaving one of his arms paralyzed and now his back, robbing him of his ability to walk. Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader (and in recent years has complained about the fact that James Earl Jones voiced the character) in the original Star Wars trilogy, has made numerous other larger-than-life appearances (including a brief guest shot as the legendary Minotaur in a 1972 episode of Doctor Who), and has lately been a frequent guest on the convention circuit. A spokesman for Mr. Prowse has said that doctors have ruled out a stroke as the cause of his condition, but still have yet to identifty what exactly has happened. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

No escape for space station occupants? Not quite, but budget cutbacks have forced NASA planners to nix a study to create a new escape vehicle to be permanently parked at the new international space station. Presently, the use of Russia's reliable Soyuz capsule as an escape craft limits the station's population to three astronauts at a time. The same cutbacks, said to have been forced on NASA by the Bush administration, have halted development on a program to develop the next generation of reusable spacecraft, a new vehicle which would have replaced the aging fleet of U.S. space shuttles. Designs and engineering tests for that new vehicle have proven problematic. Source: Associated Press

Honor thy anthology. We've had it on our "coming soon" page as a March release for ages, but it looks like David Weber's latest anthology of Honor Harrington short stories is already available. Featuring stories by Weber and a contribution by Eric Flint, Changer Of Worlds delves into the backstories of characters, events, and situations in the Honor Harrington universe - at least enough to tide Honor fans over until Weber writes another full-length novel. (Note to Mr. Weber: shouldn't we put you together with J. Michael Straczynski to adapt this property for TV so we can get some decent SF back on the air? As they say in the intro to The Six Million Dollar Man, "We have the technology."

Honor Harrington: Changer Of Worlds

Gathering DVD to feature TNT edition only. Following up on an item in last week's, J. Michael Straczynski has since clarified that the version of The Gathering, the 1993 Babylon 5 pilot movie which preceeded the first season of the series by almost a year, will be the special re-edited, re-scored edition as shown by TNT in 1998, not the original 1993 version as shown in syndication. The 1993 version of the movie is still available on VHS, however, for those who still wish to see the pilot as it originally aired. Source: J. Michael Straczynski

Finn album to get no exposure in the U.S.? Neil Finn, formerly of Split Enz and Crowded House, is following up his brilliant solo debut with One Nil, a new collection due on April 9th. is making One Nil available through our mates at, and there's a reason for that - apparently no one's stepped up to the plate to release it in North America. In other Finn-related news, Pearl Jam guitarist Eddie Vedder is confirmed as a member of Neil's backing band for an upcoming tour in the south Pacific; Vedder is a long-time fan of all things Finn, dating back to Split Enz. Vedder doesn't play on the album, but some of Neil's guest stars on One Nil include Mitchell Froom, Midnight Oil's Jim Moginie, and Wendy and Lisa (of Prince and the Revolution fame).

Neil Finn - One Nil

Another swipe at real-time Star Wars strategy. LucasArts has licensed Ensemble Studios, the creators of the popular Age Of Empires real-time strategy franchise, to create a new Star Wars strategy game called Star Wars: Battleground. Battleground may even be built on the same game play engine as Age Of Empires. Its initial release date has been pegged as "this fall," though release dates in the PC and video game markets are notorious for slipping. The most recent attempt at a Star Wars RTS, Force Commander, arrived to mixed reviews, but's Jeff Godemann didn't think it was that bad - check out his Pixel Fiction review. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

Killer DVD of the week. I've just barely escaped another February sweeps with my marbles intact, but I can't always account for the ones which are intact. Television is a maddening business, especially on the news end of things, and there's not enough room on this web site for me to tell you every sordid or amusing anecdote. But sometimes it does get interesting, and sometimes I learn stuff that never makes it to air - off-the-record information that can keep you awake at night, if you know what I mean. In the spirit of that kind of knowledge, I offer you this week's Killer DVD, The Insider. It's very long, it's based heavily on a true story, and its merits are still being debated today by those real-life personalities who were portrayed in the film. It concerns explosive revelations about the tobacco industry, which were due to be exposed by CBS' 60 Minutes, only to be quashed due to pressure from the tobacco industry itself. It's an excellent flick, and one I recommend for those who think that the news - especially TV news - is able to sweep all opposition away by quoting the First Amendment. Believe me, it doesn't work that way.

The Insider

Thoughts On Various Things Of Little Or No Importance. It's the end of February, and more importantly, the end of February sweeps. Nielsen sweeps months are those four hallowed times of the year when the networks claim to be dishing out their very best to you, the viewer, only for you to turn the idiot box on and discover that their very best is less entertaining than that painful, protracted bowel movement that you had a few days ago after you ate Uncle Fred's infamous lethally-spicy chili dogs. It's time once again for me to gather my thoughts, roll them up into a tight, solid wad of frustration, and chuck that wad at the nearest person who pisses me off. Let's go down the list, shall we?

eBay. I'm eagerly awaiting the death of this service. I really am. In January and early February, I had to auction off a huge chunk of my Doctor Who book collection out of financial necessity. I hated doing this. I hadn't even gotten around to reading approximately half of them. (Some of the ones I had read were no great loss, though.) But it was a nice, damn near complete collection, y'know? In my terms and policies for my auctions, I clearly stated - since I knew it was about to be a sweeps month, replete with 12+ hour days - that it might be at least two to three weeks before anyone got their loot.

Most people, apparently, didn't read this bit.

I'm grateful for the handful of people who did pick up the hint, but the vast majority who didn't catch that part frustrated me enough to declare to my wife recently, "I've fucking had with these eBay idiots. I'm not selling anything else there. I'm not buying anything else there. I'm not giving them any more of my money. And neither are you."

With that in mind, keep an eye on's Elf Zone in the coming weeks, where I will be posting my remaining items as first-come, first-serve direct sales goodies. No eBay bullshit. And, just so you know, it might still take a week or two for your stuff to reach you.

At the heart of my frustration is that many eBay customers have done e-commerce before, with Amazon or any number of other large outfits, and they expect instant gratification. They don't understand that eBay is not the party with the goods, they're just a forum. (Not that eBay doesn't have its own myriad problems, but we'll get to that some other time.) The buyers don't understand that the merchandise is having to be shipped by another average Joe not unlike they themselves, not someone with a warehouse and overnight staff to pack boxes.

To hell with 'em. I'm done with eBay, and with the idiots who seem to be unable to avail themselves of the nearest clue.

Grammys. I'm sorry, but I thought the whole Eminem "I didn't know I sang a duet with someone who was gay!" thing was outlandishly funny. I guess he doesn't creep very far from his misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic shell. Our boy Marhsall - 'e doesn't get out much, does 'e?

I beg your pardon. Somewhat more annoying is the scandal over ex-President Clinton's spree of pardons on his last day in office. I don't doubt that there's meat to the allegations, but I also feel that the members of Congress hounding the former chief exec about these pardons are just as guilty of abuse of executive power as Clinton is himself. Now that he's not holding the big office anymore, these jackasses are simply trying to catch up with him and give him the hell that they regret not being able to give him in the Lewinsky or Whitewater cases. Some Republican Congresscritters need to join Mr. Clinton in the "no longer in office" category, as far as I'm concerned.

Submarine sandwich. With the recent episode involving a U.S. Navy sub and a Japanese fishing boat, and the subsequent revelations of civilian visitors distracting the sub's crew from doing their jobs, one starts to wonder who was smoking what. Our military - and this goes for any other country's military, for that matter - is not an amusement park or an entertainment attraction. Yes, admittedly, a certain amount of public relations and visibility much be maintained to convince the general populace that a strong military is a good thing to have around, as well as for recruiting purposes, but our military is not some kind of adventure holiday for those bored with white-water rafting and mountain climbing. Not even in peace time. The world is close enough to teetering on the edge of chaos as it is without "special guest stars" screwing things up. Let our men and women in uniform do their jobs. God knows, they may have to do those jobs sooner than we think.

That's really all of my venting for now, but who knows? There may be more to come in the future. I'm always taking aim at something with my not inconsiderable wrath, and opening fire. And if you have any opinions to the contrary, or would like to take the floor and fire away at some overblown institution yourself, whether serious or silly, we've always got room for guest editorials. In fact, we have one coming up next week, a round-up of the latest flavor-of-the-year in network programming, reality TV (if, indeed, you can call it that).

Before you write me off as a bitter, twisted little man, I'll remind fans of fine music everywhere that Neil Finn and Jeff Lynne are at least conspiring to make April a good month. That's the month that Finn's One Nil and Lynne's new ELO album Zoom will be hitting record store shelves. Finn and Lynne? In the same month? If Alan Parsons pops up with a new release with an April street date, even better. It's about time we had some good tunes this year.

Thanks for watching, and remember to turn the lights out as you go. I need to catch up on a month's worth of missed sleep.

Earl Green webmaster/editor-in-chief

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