"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 11 July 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run XLII


[Fade to Black]

What's it take to get a little

attention on the Web? In the

real world, dressing up like Mr.

Butts and dancing a jig around

Bob Dole makes for a passably

amusing press-op, but the online

equivalents to aborting flags

and burning fetuses are, as of

yet (and thankfully), fairly

obscure. Michael Page of Fade to

Black, a digital periodical

dedicated to that strain of

marginal "humor" so resonant on

the Web, not only gave it the

old college try, he targeted a

stable of activist organizations

found almost exclusively on

college campuses. Taking aim

indiscriminately at everyone

from ACT UP to the Rainforest

Action Network, his proposal's

elegance was compromised only by

its ill-advised honesty:


After careful consideration by

our creative directors and

public relations staff we came

to the conclusion that it would

increase our visibility quotient

if your organization was to

boycott or start a grass roots

campaign against our web site.


Sadly, most of the coalitions

involved insisted on an

explanation of Fade To Black's

principles - which, at present,

extend no further than being the

object of a boycott or two.

(Falwell Ministries at least

managed to blurt a meek "Get

thee behind me, Satan.") As an

adjunct to its proactive

nuisance campaign, smart

observers are suggesting an IPO

for Mr. Page's cutting-edge Cult

Construction technology - a lull

in Fade To Black's present

activities could generate the

worst grassroots boycott of them

all: being ignored.


We're not sure if Chip Bayers

listed "duplicitous" as one of

his qualifications on his

application for Executive

Producer at HotWired, but his

willingness to scheme must

certainly be a valued asset

within the Wired regime. The man

who has his webmonkeys skim the

site that would label itself

"the most conspicuous fuck-you

on the net" to register its

brain-addled neologisms with the

Internic - scoring such future

Rockefeller Plazas of the Web as

spush.com and pornocopia.com -

seems on the verge of another

big win for the HotWired

Network: piazza.com. It would

appear that piazza.com's current

owner, Bill Moore, who has

previously been little disposed

to cut a deal with Mr. Bayers

for the domain name, is now at

the bargaining table. The

rationale for this reversal?

MacWare, the name of the webzine

that Mr. Moore publishes on

piazza.com, fell into HotWired's

hands only a few short weeks

ago. While others might call

such an act blackmail, we prefer

to hold up this fine blend of

exhortation and extortion as an

object lesson to would-be

net.moguls - just remember to

check those scruples at the




With their brilliantly lazy

approach to content development

and aquisition, the only real

surprise about SchoolSucks.com

is that they aren't owned by

c|net: "STOP!! If you are a

college student, here's your

chance to be a part of the

largest project in scamming

history!! Attach all work to

termpapers@schoolsucks.com Don't

we all need this?" Need what,

exactly? Why, an examination of

Doris Lessing's use of the third

person (you know: "they"). Or,

in the "write what you know"

tradition, a treatise on the

immeasurable benefits of frat

life: "Fraternities are famous

for their energetic social

gatherings (parties) which

require all of their members to

be socially active and outspoken

when the occasion calls for it.

This helps fraternity members

develop very strong social

skills." Ah, yes - nothing

prepares one for the corporate

world of mergers and aquisitions

than knowing when the occasion

calls for forgetting that no

means no.



Cultural weather reports are an

easy way to fill space, but

sometimes what you really need

is a play-by-play. The Drudge

Report, a surly cross between

the McLaughlin Group,

Entertainment Weekly, and the

Weather Channel, has a website,

but true info-junkies are

encouraged to subscribe to the

list-serv. Filed "when

circumstances warrant," the

report is an amusing and

informative dish which sometimes

scoops the dailies on topics

ranging from butchered burgers to

butchered careers. Idiosyncratic

and capricious, its very

unevenness makes it worthwhile -

we like to think of it as our

own "unintelligent agent."


[New Jesse]

Some swear by horoscopes, but

it's always been apparent to us

that whatever you read first

thing in the morning is probably

going to set the tone for the

rest of the day. So if you've

got time to burn while the

coffee cools, why not let

Jesse's Word of the Day fill the

gap from Suck to sucking up. A

jewel among faux-Sapphires,

Jessie explains the uncommon

history behind common words like

"behoove". If you prefer your

bandwidth lite, but your

verbiage heavy, try Wordsmith's

A.Word.A.Day page, a more

scholarly effort that spits out

text according to a weekly

theme. While Wordsmith's

workmanlike interface might

lead you to believe it's the

more useful of the two, terms

such as "arachibutyrophobia" are

more for observation than

utilization. That's fine with us

(confirmed glossophiles that we

are) - those seeking a real

payoff from their waste of time

are encouraged to go back to the


courtesy of the Sucksters