Friday, October 21, 2005


One interesting discovery in my blogging adventures is how many spammers use other people's blogs to try and promote their own totally unrelated products--everything from laser hair removal to selling life insurance policies. God knows it's never anything interesting. Let alone relevant.

I can't imagine this is very effective advertising, since (speaking only for myself--but I know I'm not unique in my disdain for spam and the inbred halfwits who perpetrate it) I instantly delete these idiotic ads the second my email alerts me that they've been posted (which is about ten seconds after they show up).

Like here's an example:


"I just came across your blog about ebay selling techniqueand wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I also have a web site & blog about **keyword** ebay selling technique so I know I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!"

Uh, well, I like to think so, but it's not actually a resource for ebay selling techniques. In fact, anyone who follows my technique is in for trouble--and probably refinancing. My dear Anonymous, can it be that you did not actually bother to READ WHAT MY BLOG IS ABOUT????

Golly. Are you just targeting every place on the web that mentions eBAY selling? Is your winning strategy truly no more sophisticated than random machine gun fire? Is this how financial wars are won and lost--and fiscal security achieved? You simply spam everyone on the web who mentions eBAY in passing?


(Kind of like newbie writers who send book announcements to an entire mailing list directed towards "everyone who loves a good mystery!" Yes, there are still people out there that...gosh, what's a nice word for it?...Naive?)

I know some of these goofs aren't even that subtle. They merely watch to see who has recently updated his / her blog, and then they add a little congratulatory post (often in broken English) with a spurious link to some weird product or service that only someone like themselves would be interested in. I mean, seriously, if I was going to indulge in laser hair removal, I wouldn't be scouring the web for a provider.

Does any of this stuff work? That's my question. These people must imagine it does.

Question of the day--heck, let's hear what the spammers themselves have to say, because after I post this, we'll get a couple of the usual "YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB COME SEE MY SITE OF SWEATERS MADE FROM HAIRBALLS COUGHED UP BY PEDIGREED CATS." Or the like.

Sorry. So the question of the day you respond to spam? Those email offers or blogged advertisements: do you ever click through and check 'em out? And say you do, have you ever bought anything from one of those sites?

Speaking of which, think about it. It's not like we're exactly high traffic here--the spammers are our most faithful readership. So how sad is that? They're wasting their grand promotional efforts on each other--and something tells me they're not the best listeners in the world. They're wasting their time and energy on every little blog or site that happens to mention keywords like...eBAY???? That's a lot of hopeful clicking and clacking.

But getting back to Anonymous and his (her?) recent post. You've got to wonder if these random acts of spamming reflect the avaunted (Avaunted? Is that a real word? Did I just make it up?) bidding technique. Or was it her selling technique? I forget. I mean, if she's (he's?) so successful wouldn't she at least have written a book that she could be spamming us about on discussion lists?

Anyway, let's go fishing and see if Anonymous will show up on cue and prove my point. I feel like we're after the Loch Ness monster or something!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

'Til Death Do Us Part

I'm not going to pinpoint exactly how old I was in 1971, but let us say that I was old enough to say stay up and watch the NBC Mystery Movies on a school night, but young enough that MacMillan & Wife had a distinct impact on my schemes for the future. Not that I planned to marry a police commissioner or solve murders for a living (or even for a hobby), but I did picture myself living an action-packed, amusing and affluent life-style with a handsome guy who adored me.

(Three out of four ain't bad! We definitely need more cash around here, though.)


In case you're quite a bit younger than me--or spent your formative years more productively--here's the official lowdown on MacMillan & Wife, the first season of which is newly released on DVD.

"They were the happening '70s answer to Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man movies, and when McMillan & Wife premiered as part of the "NBC Mystery Movie" lineup (in three-way rotation with McCloud and Columbo) on September 17, 1971, they were an instant hit with both critics and viewers. The two-hour pilot "Once Upon a Dead Man" set the serio-comic tone for the series: San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan (Rock Hudson, his film career in decline) and the goofy doofus Sgt. Enright (John Schuck) frequently found themselves in the midst of a mystery, typically beginning when McMillan's cute and kooky wife Sally (Susan Saint James) stumbled onto telltale evidence or a murder scene. The McMillans were the perfect image of '70s California cool, attending trendy parties and charity benefits while solving robberies, murders, and other malicious goings-on, sporting the latest fashions (Hudson's handlebar moustache and longish hair perfectly complementing Saint James's bellbottoms and shag hairdo) and verbally sparring with some of the goofiest dialogue this side of Hope & Crosby's Road movies."

How fun is that? Very fun, let me assure you as someone who has spent the last week watching them in bed (me in bed, that is, although Sally and Mac spent a fair amount of time between the sheets). And, best of all, NO SCHOOL TOMORROW!!.

The simplistic plots (Tolstoyian compared to some of what passes for prime crime time these days--the ghastly MONK, anyone?) were padded by the romantic interplay between Mac and Sally (Hudson and Saint James' on-screen chemistry was considerable regardless of off-screen preferences). I think the lack of nastiness between them is part of the charm. Mac teases Sally and Sally teases Mac, but there's no cutting edge to the banter--and that's refreshing in a day and age where meanness is so often mistaken for wit.

There's a lot of cuddling and tickling and flirting--they even have a special toast. (Which I wish someone would explain to me--Arriba, Aruba, Arigula? WHAT ARE THEY SAYING???) He adores her and wishes she would stay out of trouble (she's the daughter of a famous criminologist, however, so snooping is in her blood). She worships him and wishes her chest were bigger. I'm telling you, it's as real as it gets.

So, in short, I am advising you to buy this DVD in bulk, so that they will put out Season Two right away and I can add it to my Christmas list. And if you buy it through Mr. Thrilling's website, we will have more cash around here, and all my childhood dreams will be coming true.

You probably want to know what you'd be getting for your money. Eight episodes or about ten and a half hours, starting with Once Upon a Dead Man (the pilot). In this one an Egyptian sarcophagus is stolen during a charity auction that Sally helped organize. (No wonder I loved this series.) This is a fun one, though they had yet to define what the series would ultimately be.

In Murder by the Barrel, the MacMillans are moving into their new home when Sally discovers a body in a barrel that should contain her good china. I HATE it when that happens! This introduces Sally's enviable yellow roadster (a nice little Nancy Drewish touch) and we finally get to meet Mildred the Maid (Nancy Walker) who is amusing in small doses, but frankly needs her ass fired. (Okay, okay, but they did sort of overdo the eccentric family retainer thing in later seasons.)

The Easy Sunday Murder Case has some very funny bits concerning a woman who is more concerned with her kidnapped dog than her MIA boytoy husband.

I'm still not sure what was happening in Husbands, Wives and Killers since I drifted off--my last vision of Mac in a pink bunny suit (or did I dream that?). A valuable necklace becomes the target of a master thief at a masquerade ball.

Death is a Seven Point Favorite was clearly aimed at the male audience. I think the show was successful because they gave everyone a little something. Sally is smart but scatty--she's a non-threatening little darling but she plays a crucial role in solving crimes. Yes, Mac would undoubtedly solve the crimes without her help, but neither he nor we would have as much fun. And as for Mac, he is a man's man (yeah, yeah, we know) and he may suffer the occasional pratfall, but he is never the butt of any (female's) jokes. See what I'm saying? It's actually a delicate balance. She's not so dumb that she annoys the female audience or so capable that she annoys the men--and everybody loves Rock.

But I guess if they were going to offend anyone, it was the female audience, because a lot of Sally's dialog consists of bits like this:

Sally: "I know, Mac. I guess you're right. It's just that Billy is so terrific!"

Eeegah! Still, she's awfully darn cute and a lot of fun.

(This is not a photo from the first season, but I do remember this episode rather well--I bet you do too!)

Sally is kidnapped by a master jewel-thief (a lot of master jewel thieves turned up in the series--probably a social class thing) in The Face of Murder, but not for so long that it ruins the story. May I say here that I even LOVE the lead-in to the series? The music (this is scary) is sort of corny lazy 70s jazz--Harry Mancini, am I right?--that just seems perfecto, and those great photo overlays of Sally and Mac--they have a sort of nostalgic even poignant charm--and then all those terrific historic shots of San Francisco. Setting is a great part of what makes this series special--talk about a romantic locale!

'Til Death Do Us Part is probably the episode I best remember. It's one of the most original, although it's certainly the most preposterous I now realize. The tension slowly builds up to that moment when Sally and Mac wake to find their home tented by exterminators.

And then, last show of the first season: An Elementary Case of Murder. It's kind of The Parradine Case meets MacMillan & Wife. I have to confess I found Sally's pregnancies tiresome and disruptive (even as kid myself). Not as disruptive as when the imbecillic writers/producers decided to kill off her character in the last season (WHAT is the matter with these lame-brains--and I use the term deliberately. Do they honestly not credit the audience with the smarts to separate the actress from the role? The only time it doesn't work is when they don't pick the right replacement person). Anyway, I guess in those days it never occurred to anyone to CONCEAL Saint James' pregnancies, or that the child-bearing thing was liable to be a drag on the sleuthing.

One of my pet peeves, as you can tell. Don't get me started on The Mummy Returns AKA How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Franchise.

So that's it, the first season of the show that probably is at least partly responsible for my love affair with amateur sleuths and the crimes they solve. My private pet theory is that it was partly inspired by...wait for it... Bullit?

Or maybe not.

Anyway, they don't write them like this anymore.