TV-PGJune 19, 2000: The AtAT staff needs sarcasm lessons in a bad way. Meanwhile, a tantalizing hint at the Newton's rebirth surfaces in the form of a Macworld reader comment, and the Appeals Court still shows signs of being a Redmond sympathizer as it strikes down the government's latest request...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Reality Check Redux (6/19/00)

Don't mind us; we at AtAT are just thumbing through the night course catalog from the local community college. We figure it's high time we took an extension class or two to shore up the sagging quality of the show's writing. Unfortunately, they don't seem to offer the course in "Dramatic Sarcasm For Fun And Profit" which we so desperately need. See, occasionally on this show we pad the plot by introducing some outré fictional event or situation designed to entertain, enlighten, or prove a point. Generally when we do this, we try to trowel on so much sarcasm it virtually oozes from your set. But that's where the night class comes in, because instead, we invariably dig ourselves into a hole when the sarcasm evidently turns out to be a shade too subtle to register with all our viewers. The result? Widespread panic, general consternation, and an avalanche of email in our inbox that puts the ILOVEYOU virus to shame.

For example, a couple of years ago there was an interesting coincidence when several Mac-oriented web sites were all down at roughly the same time. Some were on hiatus, others were experiencing connection troubles, and a few were upgrading to new servers or migrating to different presence providers. We figured, "hey, wouldn't it be funny to blame these site outages on a covert Apple initiative to eliminate the Mac Web's more 'troublesome' sites by dispatching an elite black-ops ninja force trained to disable web sites and terminate their proprietors?" We made the rookie mistake of thinking that an Apple-funded corps of ninjas commanded by Steve Jobs was sufficiently over the top to register as satire to any who might tune in. The result? One very upset webmaster of AppleInsider (then known as MacNN Reality) yelling at us because several viewers were bombarding him with mail, asking if Apple was indeed trying to shut his site down-- the very idea of which is patently absurd, since everyone knows it's Adobe who sends out the ninja lawyers. So, we broadcast a public retraction and figured we learned our lesson: when going for sarcasm, subtlety only leads to heartbreak. From then on, we resolved, we'd always throw in a truckload of obvious clues that we weren't serious.

Clues, for example, like, oh, I don't know... how about: MSN buying out our tiny Mac soap opera; Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer taking over AtAT's writing with the help of the creative staff from the short-lived "Melrose Place" spin-off "Models Inc."; AtAT's newly Windows-optimized content accusing iCab users of being commies; the imminent changing of AtAT's name to "As the Sweater Spins"; the revisionist replacement of all former AtAT references to Microsoft with references to Oracle instead; etc. etc. etc. Here we thought yesterday's episode was a brilliant (though obvious) piece of satire meant to deliver an editorial viewpoint on the big event of the day, when in fact all it did was kick up a ruckus and flood our mailbox with the thoughts of concerned citizens who felt the show's quality and integrity might suffer following its sale to the Redmond Beast. Hence, our need for a night class-- or at the very least, a copy of Satiric Writing for Dummies, because we're clearly failing miserably on the sarcasm front, here.

So the bottom line, folks, is this: It was a joke. We assure you that AtAT remains a fully independent production. AtAT has not been bought by Microsoft, and considering what we thought were our plainly evident feelings about that particular corporation (hint: rhymes with "schmevil"), we're not likely to sell out to them at any time in the foreseeable future. At least, not unless they kick us some serious cash. (Note: That, too, was a joke. Please don't email us calling us sellouts. Thank you.) And really, do you honestly think Microsoft would be interested in buying this little show? If so, how much do you think we could get for it? (Note: Again, we're kidding. Please, please, for the love of Mike, don't flame us.) Really, it all comes down to this: in order for the scenario described in yesterday's episode to have been true, you'd have to believe that a once-staunchly-Mac-loyal enterprise that built its popularity and success upon the faithful support of the Mac community would then turn around and spit on those that made it successful by selling itself to Microsoft. Now, come on-- like that would ever happen in real life!

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Walt Hates Graffiti (6/19/00)

Other than the enormously entertaining fallout of the Microsoft Empire's most recent extension into Mac territory, this is shaping up to be one slow week for Apple watchers. Is it possible that we've drifted into the traditional pre-Expo doldrums already? We sincerely hope not, since there's a solid month left before Uncle Steve addresses the faithful and (we hope) knocks our collective socks off with some huge consumer-oriented product surprise. We figure the rumor mill will kick into high gear about a week before the event, as per the usual, but if we're really sitting in the calm before the storm, we've got three deadly weeks of boredom to deal with before the sparks start flying.

Thank goodness for the classics, right? Nothing sustains us in the lean days like a rumor that's so old it's wearing an "I LIKE IKE" button. But just to pace ourselves in this drought, we're going to save up the classic "Disney's Buying Apple" rumor and draw your attention to another long-standing nugget of questionable Apple lore: your friend and mine, the Apple handheld. It seems like the Apple-Palm variant of this pipe dream has gone into hibernation of late, due no doubt in part to the fact that an Apple-branded Palm has been rumored to be "just around the corner" for over a year now; we remember going to last year's Expo and hoping against hope we'd be able to buy an Apple PDA there.

So here's the latest on Apple's long-awaited handheld computer: apparently Apple's going to replace the Newton with-- are you ready for this?-- the Newton. See, Macworld's running one of those slow-news-day stories about how the Newton has sustained its popularity two years after its cancellation, but it was Applelinks who pointed out a very interesting "talkbalk" comment a reader appended to the article. Titled "NEW NEWTON IN 2001," its author makes the bold claim that the printer for which he works "just got an order from Apple for new Newton boxes." So there you have it, friends-- the uncontestable truth. The Newton wasn't killed; it was cryogenically frozen to be revived when the market caught up to its ahead-of-its-time feature set and design. Cryogenically frozen like a certain supposedly-deceased animator we could name? Hmmm, and just a couple of weeks ago faithful viewer J. Lot personally witnessed "three managerial Disney employees in two different theme parks walking around with Apple Newton MP2000s." We should have known that the handheld rumors and the Disney rumors were connected...

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The Wind's A-Changin' (6/19/00)

In "Redmond Justice" news, we think it's safe to say that the tables have turned. In Judge Jackson's courtroom, Microsoft's legal team quickly pigeonholed itself as a pack of inept clowns, and Smilin' David Boies and the rest of the Justice Department mopped the floor with them for two solid years, to the delight and amusement of the entire viewing audience. But as we head into the appeal phase of this case, it's pretty clear that the U.S. Court of Appeals is siding early on with the Redmond gang.

Before this current case even got started, Microsoft had history on its side; the Appeals Court has sided with the company in two previous antitrust tussles. And then there was the way in which the Appeals Court responded so quickly to Microsoft's filing, stating that it would not only take the case, but also would expedite it by foregoing the usual three-judge panel and rocking out with a big ol' gaggle of seven judges right off the bat. That little stunt effectively short-circuited the government's plan to kick the case upstairs to the Supreme Court, who's far less likely to intervene now that the Appeals Court has shown such interest. So right away we have to assume that the "Redmond Justice" writers are going for a reversal of sympathies to try and liven things up a bit. It'll be exciting to see the government try to maneuver in a less favorable courtroom environment.

Still not convinced that the Appeals Court is squarely in Microsoft's corner? Well, according to CNET, the government may not have been sure either-- but they are now. The court that's setting itself up as the "anti-Jackson" just shot down the government's latest request: that the Appeals Court "cede jurisdiction" over the trial on the grounds that the way in which Microsoft requested a stay of its conduct restrictions didn't give Jackson a chance to rule on it. But it wasn't a total victory for Redmond, since the Appeals Court stopped short of trying to assume total control of the case; officially, Jackson's still in charge. And there's still a chance that the Supreme Court will step in and start breaking heads. At this stage, we'd say it's still anyone's game-- and isn't that all for the best, dramatically speaking?

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