The Science Guy
Changing his '80s tune, Thomas Dolby Robertson busts a Web groove
Many of today's Silicon Valley gen Xers adored nerd rocker Thomas Dolby's technopop hit "She Blinded Me with Science" when it ruled MTV in 1983. Now the new wave keyboardist, whose last album was released in 1992, is surfing the new new wave: He's the founder of Beatnik, Inc., a firm that creates sound for Web sites and runs its own site (beatnik, com) where music lovers can remix and swap songs by the likes of 'N Sync. "It feels amazing," says the British expat—he lives near San Francisco—currently known as Thomas Dolby Robertson (Dolby is a nickname he picked up as an electronics-obsessed teen), "to sit in your back room, hit a button and solo David Bowie's voice." A father of three with wife Kathleen Beller (Dynasty's Kirby Colby), Robertson, 41, says he misses performing—but he and about 100 employees are too busy. "Ironically," he says, "many of them would rather be backstage at a rock and roll concert."
Now you don't need a computer to surf the Web—just a phone. Leading a yak pack of new companies: Tellme (1-800-555-TELL), which lets you use voice commands to hear sports scores, weather forecasts or the number of the nearest Thai eatery (and a Zagat review, if it has one). You can even play just-for-fun blackjack with a Sean Connery soundalike.
How do I politely tell people that the e-mail they forwarded to me was the message I sent them?
When this happens, you know your e-circle's joke-forwarding is out of hand. (Somehow I doubt we're talking about urgent business memos.) Respond with a chuckling "Guess what happened?" note. Whether to add a hint about cutting back on the forward flurry is up to you.
Someone recently e-mailed me the news that a member of my family had died. I felt it was a cold, rude way to inform anyone of this kind of news. What are your thoughts?
You're absolutely right. Of all the situations in which e-mail is inappropriate, this one may take the cake.
My Favorite Sites
When he's not at the movies or writing about movies, the dean ot movie critics is looking them up on the Net, He gives thumbs up to "The Hot Button," a dispatch dishing out inside-Hollywood tidbits on TNT's roughcut.com. It's "a daily commentary slanted towards the business and marketing of movies," says Ebert, calling the column "passionate" and "informed. "The cinemaphile, who offers his own 15 years of newspaper reviews at suntimes.com/ebert, also favors the Internet Movie Database, imdb.com, It "contains millions of facts about films—casts, credits, goofs," says Ebert, 58. "What did movie journalists do without it?"
Click and Get It
Feelin' groovy, baby? Bid for getups worn by Heather Graham and Mike Myers in last year's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me at auction.newline.com. Graham's sparkly Felicity Shagwell outfit—including silver boots with clear plastic panels—is on the block through Aug. 23; Austin's tastefully understated ensemble (bright red corduroy pants and red-blue-and-yellow-striped shirt) through Aug. 29.
Getting the Scoop
You crave Cappuccino Commotion or Chunky Monkey—but your grocery store's freezer is a non-thrilla in vanilla. What's an ice-cream fiend to do? If you don't mind spending some cold cash, a few Web sites ship those hard-to-find flavors right to your door, packed in dry ice. Ben & Jerry's buffs can choose from more than 40 flavors at store.ben jerry.com (a six-pack of pints costs $64.95), while up-and-comer Jeremy's MicroBatch Ice Creams offers such treats as minty Purple Passion Pills at microbatch.com (eight for $76). And the new Wisconsin-based IceCream Source.com serves up 200-plus flavors ($59.94 for six pints) from the likes of Häagen-Dazs, Star-bucks and such chichi outfits as New York City's Ciao Bella Gelato Company (which supplies many top restaurants) and Dallas's Out of a Flower Inc., whose Sufferings include Orchid Vanilla Ice Cream and French Lavender Sorbet. If those don't taste good, you could always dab some behind your ears.
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