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April 4, 2003

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Burrow into The Gay Blade’s enclave. The Spork Boards

Wh’appen? This terse but evocative query lifted from staunch American co-militarists The English Beat pretty much sums up The Gay Blade’s sentiments upon finding himself unwashed, welty and back in Baghdad-by-the-Bay after his short-lived play for political refuge in the South Pacific.

While the animal tranquilizers still need a few more days to leech from his copious fat cells, the Blade can hazily trace the unraveling of his plan to the moment when he decided to leave his new home base of Niue Island for a jaunt to nearby Nauru, to tour the phosphate mines and add another ridiculously ornate national seal to his passport. Alas, eight (nine?) too many kava daiquiris prompted a wrong turn into the alien-detention facility the impoverished island runs on behalf of the Australian government, where the Blade’s luxuriant, “Robinson Crusoe”-inspired facial foliage; unintelligible mutterings; and well-thumbed pop-up Koran prompted his immediate detainment and eventual gurney-borne return to his natal shores.

While he still misses the tropical rhythms of Niue, he has few regrets about his unceremonious return voyage. He’ll always treasure the cavity search (props to the dextrous staff of Cell Block 6!), and the mandatory delousing left him minty-fresh, not mediciney. Besides, he’s picked up a smattering of conversational Farsi from his friends in the exercise yard, a skill that could become a serious career-enhancer if Halliburton indeed follows through on plans to extend its current operations east to Tehran.

Speaking of which, the Blade is pleased as punch to find that his November exit strategy was founded on too many cold tablets and too little faith in the wisdom of the United States government: The intervening four months have indeed proven that the good ship Pax Americana is on a fast, one-way voyage to world amity and security. This utensil humbly apologizes for doubting the wisdom or morality of the current administration.

Now, will John Ashcroft please disconnect this ankle bracelet?

A steaming pile

Speaking of clandestine surveillance for the greater good, the Blade’s faithful mole familiars have been eagerly tracking the progress of Apple’s Mac OS X development efforts during their master’s lengthy sabbatical.

Right now, these mammalian morsels are homing in like tiny, lederhosen-clad bloodhounds on the spoor of Panther, Apple’s forthcoming revision to its queerly lickable operating system. The first pink, quivering gobbet of GUI intelligence in their jaws: Mac OS X 10.3 will finally see the implementation of the “piles” interface concept patented by Apple back in the dear, dead days of Copland but never delivered to the desktop. The feature, which has been lobbied for by Bruce Tognazzini and other interface curmudgeons, is designed to ease the clutter of windows in the Finder: The Blade’s sources indicate that extraneous windows will shrink and jump out of the way automatically, rearranging themselves into scaled-down tiles in response to the user’s movements.)

The Blade has already experienced just this sort of user-at-the-center experience - on Market Street at rush hour, after consuming four bottles of Dramamine and a whole nutmeg.

Broadcast news

Meanwhile, on the applications front, the Blade’s friends in the adult-entertainment industry are standing up and saluting over upgrades to Apple’s adopted family of multimedia software that the company will allegedly unfurl at next week’s National Association of Broadcasters love-fest in Las Vegas. On the roster: Final Cut Pro 4; DVD Studio Pro 2; Shake 3; and an upgrade to the Logic audio software Apple acquired last July with the purchase of Emagic.

The Blade’s pen-pals wax fulsome on the features in Shake 3, compositing software Apple bought alongside Nothing Real in February 2002, early in its recent buying jag. New niceties include morphing and warping as well as the film-grain tools Apple acquired when it bought Silicon Grail (which originally pried them out of Kodak’s defunct Cineon software).

All this and better Mac OS X performance, too? Bismillah! The Blade thanks the Justice Department for the loose, comfortable fit of this prison-issue jumpsuit.

His own intelligence operation might not hold a candle to the government’s uncannily accurate Osama hunt, but the ground rules are pretty much the same: Drop a dime to the Blade, and a handsome door prize (i.e., chubby plastic mole rat) could be yours!

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