May 30th, 2004

Down with Love

is a move with Renee Zellweger. I am NOT recommending this movie!

Actually, I enjoyed it for the first 2/3 or so of the film, and then it took, in my view, a turn for the worse.

Anyway, I liked the first part of the film, but I need to warn you to take this report with a grain of salt. The film is hopelessly cutesy... campy even... as much focused on a send-up of sixties style, as it is on its Romantic Comedy story line.

The truth is I will watch Renee Zellweger peel an orange. So that is probably the biggest reason I liked the movie to a certain extent.

I won't give out spoilers. The screenwriters already spoiled the plot, so why should I kick a dead horse?

Here is what I want to mention. The movie has something in common with "What Women Want" and "Something's Got To Give." In all 3 movies, an independent woman with a successful career develops an attraction to a playboy kind of guy. You know, what they call a "player" nowadays. Or, as this movie has it: "A man's man, ladies' man, man about town."

Such story lines long appeared in movies. In the old days, the guy fell in love and settled down and they lived happily ever after. But he wasn't required to apologize for the errors of his ways. In these three films, he is indeed required to apologize for being such a male chauvinist pig. And, somehow, the way in which this is done rings false to me.

Maybe it rings right to a lot of people. I don't know.

What interests me about it is that the alpha male is still held out to be the prize for a woman to land... it's just that when she catches him he has to say he's sorry.

Alpha males do get caught and fall in love and settle down. I don't question that. It's the way the apologizing is shown that falls flat to me.

Jack Nicholson, in "Something Has To Give," apologizes to an astounding number of women, individually seeking them out, just to make amends, like it was part of a Womanizer's 12 step program.

Well, maybe some repentant player has sincerely done such a thing, but I had a lot of trouble suspending my disbelief.

See info on Down With Love at:

Typesetting on your own

As I may have mentioned, I am preparing to publish a novel called Unholy Quest. I am currently planning on doing it at, in a way that does not involve paying any money to Lulu, except when I actually buy a book

This means that the cover, and all the pages inside, are mine to layout and design.

Today I want to talk about typesetting. You can do a pretty good job of typesetting using Microsoft Word. Word can justify the text on both sides, and
Word has a great selection of fonts, and Word can even do kerning.

So that's what I did first. I took my 600 pages of double-space 8.5x11 text and changed the paper size and a lot of Word options, and did the front-matter of the book. It came out pretty good. To a lot of people it looked perfectly professional.

There were some things wrong, but among my close associates, only I saw them. Then Jackie and Lyman Hazelton came to visit our house, and Lyman, knowledgeable fellow that he is, sang the praises of a computer program that does good typesetting, better than Word.

That program is LaTeX, written by Leslie Lamport. It's not pronounced like it looks. It's pronounced like lay-tech. LaTex is a user-friendly tool for using Tex, a less-user-friendly tool for preparing documents. Tex (pronounced Tech) was created by renowned computer algorithms guru, Donald Knuth, a long time ago, so that HE could have good look math papers.

Well, hearing Lyman praise the program's capabilities, I decided to look into it. First I found a site to download the whole thing for free. That took a while, even with DSL. No doubt I downloaded more than I needed.

Then I went to the library and got a book on the subject. The book was from the early nineties, and outdated, but still helpful.

Finally, starting Friday night, I plunged into the re-typesetting task. I stayed up very late Friday, then worked on it most of the day and very VERY late Saturday, and then, finally, late today, I was done.

Lyman told me it was an easy package. In a way, it obviously was, since I got it done in 3 calendar days. But, boy, I had to work at it.

Here's the thing - the work was a lot like the work I do day in and out. It was a lot like programming, testing, debugging, locating programs, studying the technical documentation, searching the internet for answers, and so on. My professional bread and butter.

Here is a brief outline of the steps involved.

1. Save my original Word document as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file.

2. Use a program someone wrote to do a preliminary (but flawed!) conversion to TeX format (.tex)

3. Use an editor (even Word will do) to edit the TeX file to fix problems and make the file come out exactly how you want.

4. Using line commands, run latex2e.exe, to convert the TeX file to a Device Independent file (.dvi)

5. Use another handy utility to convert the DVI file to an Adobe Portable Document File (.pdf)

That's all there is to it. Well, I took some other steps, but you could get by with these. Of course, expect to spend some time looping between 3 and 5. I can't tell you how many times I ran steps 3,4,5. One hundred? Two hundred? I iterate quickly.

One thing I still didn't figure out is how to load a good choice of fonts. I just worked with their default version of Roman. Next book I'll be sure to research fonts first!

Rhyme of the day:

My wife said I was obsessed.
Well... Yes!