"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 14 October 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CXCIX



Frivolous lawsuits don't come

much more frivolous than

Whatshappenin.com's donnybrook

with QuePasa.com. "We feel they

are coming in and using our name

in our market," says Chris

Westall, co-founder of

Whatshappenin, which offers

value-subtracted entertainment

listings for the San Francisco

area. A suit filed in the US

District Court alleges that

Phoenix-based QuePasa (News and

Entertainment repackaging in

Spanish and English) infringes

on Whatshappenin's title.

Between the two, we can see the

death of content throughout most

of the North American free trade

zone, but if we had to pick a

winner, we'd go with QuePasa.

Bilingualism covers a multitude

of sins, and we think there is a

possibility, however remote,

that que pasa might just be a

familiar and usable phrase in

the Spanish language. On the

other hand, Whatshappenin's 3.0

default page — which, by the

way, is where you'll end up even

if you're sporting a 4.0 browser

— offers a blurb of text so

clumsy ("WhatsHappenin.com has

been using two version of it's

site for some time. We have

notice that there has been a

significant decline in the

number of users that have 3.0

version browsers.... You will

see drastic changes in the

ability and functionality of

your browsing, as well as, the

content....") that we can only

suggest the site's content

creators learn how to speak

English before casting their

eyes Latinward. With front-page

placement in the Examiner,

Whatshappenin may have scared up

some much-needed publicity, but

there's an old problem for

people in glass houses. Last we

checked, the phrase "What's

Happenin'" was strongly

identified with Raj, Dwayne, and

Rerun, who may just want to show

up and sort things out with some

of their unforgettable antics.



When a celebrity is stricken,

windfall profits are never far

behind. Struck by a wayward

minivan last June, Stephen King

donated US$100,000 to each of

the two hospitals that treated

his broken bones and collapsed

lung. Yuppie driver Bryan E.

Smith's dog-related distraction

and the resulting

incapacitation of the King of

Horror has turned out to be a

blessing indeed for the staph

set. But afflicted celebrities'

true value lies more in their

éclat than in their

pocketbooks. When TV's own

Michael J. Fox lobbied Congress

for $75 million in additional

research into his own infirmity,

Parkinson's disease, he garnered

the kind of attention that not

even fellow sufferers Johnny

Cash, Muhammad Ali, or Janet

Reno could muster. Likewise did

the American Paralysis

Association score big off former

Superman Chris Reeves'

Absalom-esque mishap. Now, if

Oprah is ever diagnosed with

anything more serious than poor

literary taste, someone will

really hit the jackpot.



Well, things might look pretty

grim, but at least they have

nuclear weapons!



The days of stringent morals

clauses have passed in Hollywood,

and they were no help in

keeping the likes of Disney's

Song of the South moppet Bobby

Driscoll from ending up an

unidentified, heroin-riddled

corpse near Avenue A . We all

hope for a brighter future for

Melissa Joan Hart, a cult

favorite among those with a

clandestine yen for tender young

flesh since her Clarissa

Explains It All days on

Nickelodeon. She is now

implicated in a Maxim magazine

shuck, its current cover

promising her "without a

stitch." (She is, in fact,

wearing underpants, boys.)

Magazine industry analysts agree

that this blurb was clever and

appropriate because it rhymes

with the name of the character

Hart now plays on TV, Archie

Comics' occult goddess, Sabrina

the Teenage Witch. Hart reveals

to Maxim that she craves being

kissed on the back of the neck,

wants guys to call, and likes

potentially lethal doses of

tequila. These revelations

transformed Archie Comics

Chairman Michael Silberkleit

into a sputtering Mr.

Weatherbee, griping that he's

"personally embarrassed" and,

while he unfortunately must

grant Hart free speech rights,

she can't speak freely "as a

representative of my trademark"

since she damaged Archie's

"60-year image of decency and

wholesome family entertainment."

He wants an apology or her

firing. Silberkleit can't be

unaware that Archie's Betty and

Veronica are the main

instigators of three-way

fantasies and amateur porno

comics among teens in post-war

culture. And he can't be

oblivious to the recent

introduction into the Archie

universe of a Maxim-like

character, the hot-to-trot

redhead Cheryl Blossom, whose

shtick is that she's the Bad

Girl who'd clearly do what Betty

and Veronica say they won't. Our

culture creates endless tension

with its approximate five-year

gap between sexual maturity and

legal maturity. (As far as

actual maturity goes, magazines

like Maxim are working hard to

eliminate it altogether.) This

tension powers everything from

the jeans industry to Vladimir

Nabokov's reputation to the

heavy breathing over American

Beauty — a film that would have

been much improved if it had

fulfilled its cryptositcom

premise by casting Ed "Al Bundy"

O'Neill in the Kevin Spacey

role. Hart is wise to tap into

this power source while it's

available to her; the voltage

reduces asymptotically as one

approaches 25.



Suck staffers who idled away

their school days by the banks

of the Old Raritan have long

enjoyed the tendency of

Californians to believe that

Rutgers University is an Ivy

League school (after all, Mr.

Magoo is its most famous

alumnus), and have never tried to

disabuse anybody of that

particular illusion. Thus, we're

always sorry when our alma mater

lands in the news, making its

unhallowed status harder to

conceal. This week, a cartoonist

for the student-run Daily

Targum is in hot water for

publishing a cartoon that, while

intended to be antiracist, has

actually been interpreted as

racist. (Among other things, the

brouhaha would suggest the

Scarlet Knights aren't reading

Ionesco anymore.) Faced with a

revolt by the university's Black

Student Union, the paper has

already issued several

apologies, promised several pay

dockings, and suspended the

offending comic strip. Other

demands — including free

advertising for minority events,

firing of all editors who may

have been tainted by the

scandal, and a commissar review of

all comic strips — have yet

to be negotiated. We're

encouraged that the Targum staff

is learning to cast contributors

to the wolves, back off from its own

editorial decisions, and truckle

to organized whiners —

skills that can only come in

handy when they get into

professional journalism. But if

the script of the offending

comic is any indication, our old

school chums are still woefully

undereducated in the art of

concocting a decent setup and

punch line.

courtesy of theSucksters