This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

February 2000 Archives

February 29, 2000

Smackie O'Garvey with the latest in entertainment weblog news!

Goodbye, World New York. We'll miss you.

"Hi, this is Garry Owens, and you're watching the Alternative Entertainment Network, aren't you." Yes, folks, AENTV presents the Golden Years of Television! In glorious living RealVideo.

Meet the Sadistic family! (Thanks Yuppie Slayer. You rock.)

East meets west in the "pop"/"soda" debate. I say "Coke", but that's only because I invariably mean Coca-Cola brand cola and nothing else. Thanks to exclusivity contracts, I'm often given Pep si anyway. *sigh*

Too fun! Guess the Dictator/Sit-com Character. Guessing "Mimi from the Drew Carey Show" in 16 yes/no questions was no surprise, but guessing "Malory Keaton from Family Ties" in 60 was. (Well, n ot really. The seemingly "off-the-track" questions are actually eliminating possibilities with brute force. But the "pretend you are the character" bit contributes to the illusion.) And it guesses dictators with the same data bank. (Thanks Rebecca.)

Article on sex in kindergarten. (Thanks Flutterby.)

Obligatory Leap Year link.

February 28, 2000

The best part about almost all of the Simpsons episodes online is finally being able to see 7F19, Lisa's Substitute--considered o ne of the best episodes ever, guest starring Dustin Hoffman (alias "Sam Etic", as in 'Semitic')--which almost never gets re-run. I haven't seen it since it was originally aired in 1991, so it's like a new quality episode to me. See it now, before Fox se nds its goons to France.

James Lileks rants about that crappy X-Files episode. I shoulda known it was another William Gibson X-Files; the first one (about the Internet beast that, once again, doesn't need any specific computer or po wer source to survive, and has control of government destructo-laser satelites) wasn't nearly as bad, but I was still quite disappointed.

Women in science fiction: any recommendations?

Roger Ebert and Martin Scorsese discussed their top 10 films of the '90s on Ebert & the Movies, with some good discussion. Ebert's picks were pretty much all the films he'd been going on ab out for the last 10 years (his #1 being Hoop Dreams), talked a little too much about Scorsese's work (Ebert's #3 is Goodfellas). Scorsese had more interesting p icks, picking as his #1 film a film actually made in 1986 but only popular in the U.S. in the '90s, Horse Thief. Supposedly the full show will soon be here and maybe some coverage here (?), but until then, here's their lists:

Ebert Scorsese

TV shows pay tribute to David Letterman. Must see.

"Ultimate TV" interview with SportsNight creator Aaron Sorkin. (Supposedly full video of the interview is available, not to mention dozens of other SportsNight-related interview clips, but I'm having problems accessing.) I didn't realize this was the same Aaron Sorkin who wrote A Few Good Men (both on stage and screen). (Many thanks SportsNight weblog.)

Bad cat! Bad dog! Bad iguana!

Hey neat! NewsRadio cast members on King of the Hill! Maura Tierney, Andy Dick, and even Vicki Lewis (Beth). Almost made up for the sucky X-Files (for me, anyway).

February 25, 2000

If you see someone on campus stealing computers, do not try to intervene. Just call the police (9-911).

No original content today. Been too busy. Instead, some stolen stuff I've been saving for slow days:

Cyber-Krunch cereal bowl. It's about friggin' time science caught up with breakfast. (Thanks Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

10 Big Myths about copyright explained. (Thanks Bump.)

Martha Stewart snowball maker. (Thanks Fairvue Central. Nice squares, BTW.)

MindGuard, the popular anti-psychotronic software for Amiga, is available for Linux. Of course, more traditional methods are still rec ommended. (Thanks CamWorld.)

February 24, 2000

Mom! Dad! If you've been waiting to get me a DVD player, get me the Apex AD600A! Only $180 at Circuit City (search for "Apex AD600A"). Not only is this about as c heap as they come, but this baby plays MP3s off of CD-R's as well as DVD's. Rumor has it that a hidden menu lets you change the region code.

(And no, I don't already have a DVD player. I have a DVD-ROM drive that doesn't really function as a DVD player.)

Celebration Cake Barbie! Squirt frosting on her plastic cake dress, then lick it off. Makes sense to me! ( Worth $20, fer sure!)

Big scan of Melty's sketchbook. Most fun with a wheelmouse on a PC: middle-click, whee!

How to Play a Text Adventure.

Almost missed #blogirc tonight. Not that we talk about anything special.

February 23, 2000

More Dave Dittrich: Dave was part of a panel discussion on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show on Internet security, which Dave deemed "very interesting". Listen to the show with RealAudio (show synopsis). Co-panelists included Jeffrey Hunker, coordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counter-terrorism for the National Security Council; James Adams, CEO of iDefense; and Elias Levy,

<drool> Or, more realistically: <drool>

The Grim Reaper's Age Guesser guessed my age within a year. (Thanks Anil Dash.)

Who is Sam Sloan? Check out the New York Press profile, which he himself is hosting, as with the hundreds of other documents. (Thanks the always excellent metascene.)

February 22, 2000

The Daily Show send-up of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire is still online, probably for a very short time (i.e. until they put up today's show after they film it).

"DVDArtist is the Internet community for DVD design, authoring and manufacturing professionals." Discusses DVD interface authoring software, job opportunities, and more.

Professors and teaching assistants may wish to check out Dr. William Talbott's guidelines for creating effective assignments. Dr. Talbott is a Philosophy prof here at the UW.

Hatterdashery is a great small custom-made hat store in Seattle. They do mail order over the web! I bought my wool sports snap cap from his booth at Bumbershoot las t year, and I still love it.

Unintentionally Funny Site of the Year, 1999. (Thanks metascene.)

From the above site: Scott Sloan Enterprises. I'll gladly read my secrets for success into a tape recorder if you'll pay $40/tape.

February 21, 2000

BrainLog feature: Ode to a Disc Gun.

The proverbial "shout out" to all the Seattle bloggers at our semi-spontaneous get-together. Clockwise: Jessamyn, Eric, Rebecca, Jesse, Nina, Julia, Clark, me, Lisa, Jim, and Anita. Anita has pictures from the get-together. We will do this again.

Play the hangman game on the movie website for Final Destination, and learn one of life's lessons.

Now that we're starting to see more detailed trailers for the new Garry Shandling comedy, I can't help but reneg on the off-the-cuff remark I made earlier (about it seeming stupid). I' m actually kinda looking forward to it now. They've got a new web site, including a sweepstakes, and that other site no w has a link to a trailer.

Unitic has an Aibo sweepstakes.

Play's daily movie trivia and get $0.50 (at for every question you get right. They only let you claim in $10 intervals, so that's visiting daily for 20 days to get a $10 coupon. But still.

Even easier: has a bunch of $10 off coupons floating around, including one you get for opening yet another free email account at (You don't have to enter any factual info to open the account or get the coupon.) BigStar's selection is only OK, but I've already had positive ordering experiences and a very positive customer service experience.

Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill! sounds. (Thanks gmtPlus9.)

Economist article on the biology of music. (Many thanks GirlHacker.)

February 18, 2000

University of Washington web site wins top honors. The home page is here. It is a great web site (though I have a couple of very nit-picky co mplaints). Very commendable is how they've gradually improved site-wide navigation for quicker access to the things I need. Also very commendable is their dedication to putting everything on the web--and I'm pleased to work with the people respon sible. (Technology gets #1 priority around here. I'll let Lisa rant about the gradual disassembling of one of our libraries in favor of expanding the computer lab.)

Once again, I'm compelled to blog something everyone else is blogging: Salon's interview with Will Wright, creator of the new computer game that makes me wish I had $40, The Sims. Reviews and articles:

Jump The Shark: "It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it jumping the shark." (Thanks Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Vib Ribbon appears to be the delightfully minimalist Playstation game it's made out to be. The game comes with levels based on six included songs, but "[t]he meat of the gameplay, however, comes fro m a single, ingenious feature: gamers can create levels from their own music CDs. Just drop the CD in and watch as Vib Ribbon works its magic, creating a level that matches the tempo and tone of the music." The rules sung by the main character is worth the 13MB download, and then check out video of an easy level ("Laughs and Beats", 8.2MB). If that looks too easy, see also video of a more difficult level ("Everytime You Touch Me", 8.8MB). (Vibri is a guy?) (Thanks twernt.)

February 17, 2000

Anyone into film knows the famed director Alan Smithee. Alan is the industry's scapegoat director, the only alias allowed by the Director's Guild of America, and is canonically reserved for projects stolen away from the director for whatever reason such that the director wishes to disown the thing. Smithee's 1997 film Burn, Hollywood, Burn (actually a film by former DGA president Arthur Hiller) has been nominated for a Razzie this year. The film has gotten so much press, the D GA has decided to retire the alias. This year's Supernova (which I believe I criticized here without having seen it) is the first film with a non-Smithee director's alias.

See Smithee's IMDb bio sheet. See also the Mr. Showbiz feature, and The Alan Smithee Home Page, w hich also lists his TV and music video credits.

Premier Online's Declaration of Independents first annual film festival is accepting submissions. Don't let the word "film" mislead you; they wa nt submissions on VHS tape. "The contest will be ongoing and film clips from two entrants will be added to the site each week. Viewers will vote on their favorite film and we will publish the contest results at the end of the competition." Deadline is O ctober 1, 2000.

Biking in the City is a new web journal about commuting in San Fransisco. I wonder how long Michael can keep this up. Biking to work, I mean.

So where do you get those little plastic credit card wallet inserts to replace them when they wear out? Try They sent me mine in a fancy wallet box. (OK, so I could probably get them at any depa rtment store, but I don't go into department stores all that often.)

The Annotated American Pie. (Thanks Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Animated evolution of the Latin alphabet, as well as those of other alphabets. (Thanks GirlHacker, Yahoo's Weekly Picks.)

February 16, 2000

[Update] The Slashdot interview with Dave Dittrich is in.

I'd call Dave Dittrich a co-worker, but that just makes me sound too good. (And I don't really work with him, but his office is down the hall. And he knows my name.) Anyone who's read an arti cle on the recent denial of service attacks has probably seen him quoted and tagged as an expert. As the PI summarizes: "Dittrich was the first person to access the source code, analyze it and write a report. He was the guy who brought this new cyberthre at to the attention of the FBI and CERT, a federally funded center devoted to computer security issues." Dave authored the software the FBI wants us to use to scan our servers.

See the Slashdot interview, read the profile in the Seattle PI (thanks Julia's Journal for this link), check out his home page for resources on DDoS and hundreds of other things security related. Want me to get you an autograph?

Edit your own Psycho shower scene! (Many thanks twernt!)

Neale's Compendium of Human Knowledge. I think WJH needs new textbooks.

Web site offers fake alibi for philanderers. The site is (Thanks Davenetics.)

Once again ripping off the Powell's newsletter for links: Contest for a trip for two to Portland, 3 days in a fancy hotel, fancy dinner, $250 at Powell's, $250 at Django Music, and an umbrella.

Django Music is like Powell's, but for music and videos. Kudos to them for having a used VHS of Little Man Tate. :)

February 15, 2000

The 2000 Puddly Award Winners are in. (You know, the Powell's bookstore user-voted book awards.) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver won for the fiction category, and Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt won for non-fiction. Harry Potter, Cryptonomicon... Well, it's a people's choice award...

If you really care: the Oscar nominations are in. (Apologies for the confusing text I put up earlier.)

The 1st Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards give proper recognition to some excellent DVD releases. Too bad the Criterion DVD box set of Brazil seems back-ordered into oblivion. (I'd cancel my order and use my gift certificate for something else, but if it ever becomes available, I feel I should get it. You know, so it's properly archived and preserved.) Should I be buyi ng up all the other Criterion DVDs before I lose the opportunity?

I didn't realize the A Bug's Life special edition DVD was a straight-digital transfer. That kicks ass.

LinuxPPC 2000 now available. "Probably has slightly less than 63,000 bugs."

Report from the 1999 Xyzzy Awards. The Xyzzy Awards are the Oscars of the Interactive Fiction community. The ceremony took place on ifMUD.

My name is Danielle, my birthday is January 11, and my most attractive quality is my Intelligence. I want a guy with Brown eyes, Brown hair, and who's most attractive quality is that he is Real. My best match is Chris, card #214. He's a Gemini and has neither brown hair nor is he Real. I hate him already. (Thanks djinn of memepool.)

February 14, 2000

Now that I'm seeing more clips of Hamlet 2000 (as I'd been calling it), my skepticism is starting to wear away. I'm actually getting kinda excited.

On the subject of cool-looking Sundance films, I sure hope someone picks up Panic for release. Check out the Sundance Guid e entry and the IMDb sheet. Alex (William H. Macy) is a hitman that falls in love with "a sexually-charged-23-year-old" (Neve Campbell).

IMDb has a new Photo Gallery feature for many of its entries.

Why would the most revered comedian in America do a movie like this? Well, let's check the sheet... Story by Garry, directed by Mike Nichols, great cast... I dunno, still sounds dumb.

With all these celebrities dying on us, you better get in your entries for Luke's St. Valentine's Day Massacre III before you run out of good options. (Thanks luke of MetaFilter.)

Whatever happened to Rob Reiner? (Thanks Robot Wisdom.)

Little Man Tate is out of print. Hmph.

February 11, 2000

I love Maura Tierney. Far more than I love Sarah Silverman. A billion times more than I love Jim Varney, but that goes without saying. Maura's settling in nicely on ER, though so far he r character is pretty typical for new characters on the show. I just hope they wait a few seasons before putting her into an (inevitable) romantic relationship.

Ask me a NewsRadio trivia question.

Wow. Uh, dramatic event on ER tonight. Is sweeps week in February? home page. The medical reality of ER explained.

Thanks Scott for catching me up on the Sports Night I missed. (Yes, I know there's an official episode guide, but you r summary was better.) So is Jeremy gonna be a prick for the rest of the season?

ER and SportsNight are the only shows I really pay any attention to. Really. I guess I'm a sucker for snappy dialogue and fancy camera work. Or the shows are just damn good.

Is anyone else bothered by the Sprint "nickel nights" commercial that appears to be an elementary school teacher of the future (hot young woman in a business suit, digital projector in a silver grey darkened room) "teaching" kids about the wonders of u sing Sprint long distance? Reminds me of a recent Simpsons episode (#BABF07, Grift of the Magi) where a toy company takes over the school to do market research. Not to mention the lusty look the teacher gives the boy.

Yahoo category on TV Commercial Spokesanimals. Where's Spuds MacKenzie?

Yes, I'm watching TV instead of browsing the web. Is that so wrong?

February 10, 2000

I just realized Laura Silverman, who plays Laura on Dr. Katz, is Sarah Silverman's sister. They both have roles in Who's the Caboose?, a 1997 film c o-produced by Sarah. Starring a bunch of semi-famous comics. (Directed, co-produced, and co-written by Sam Seder who, I guess, used to date Sarah. Not that he's done anything special. Besides dating Sar ah, I mean.)

Jim Varney dead at 50. How many celebrities have to die before our government will step in and do something?

Seriously, though, I love Jim Varney. It's too bad he was mostly known for his Ernest character (as in Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest Goes to Jail). Certainly his latest famous role was Slink in the Toy Story movies. Too many character actors don't get a chance to test their range...

I love Sarah Silverman. At least as much as I love Janeane Garofalo. This substantial (and rather doting) fan site seems mostly fascinated with her acting career (she was in a Star Trek Voyager episode?), but she's primarily a comedy writer and comedianne. Not that she's not an actress: I loved her in her "comedy writer" role on The Larry Sanders Show. Her recent appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien was electric.

Pop culture archivists kick ass. has over 950 TV ads online in a bunch of categories. (Thanks /usr/bin/girl.)

Do you or someone you know use conversational terrorism unintentionally? Intentionally? You weren't breast fed as a child, were you? (Thanks array.)

Welcome back, Fred!

February 9, 2000

No doubt other bloggers will pick this up, but I too must blog about Patrick Warburton cast as The Tick in the upcoming live-action series for Fox. "Metaphysically perfect casting" is almost an understatement. What is The Tick? Who is Patrick Warburton? See also the story from Variety and the MetaFilter thread.

#blogirc chat tonight, 5:30 PST, .

God bless Stan Lee:

My old pals the Backstreet Boys were smack-dab in the middle of yet another of their sold out concert tours when suddenly and without warning a spaceship crash landed next to the stadium where they were perf orming. The young minstrels raced to the rescue of a beautiful alien creature who emerged from the crashed starship. The Backstreet Boys quickly learn that the curvaceous interstellar visitor is on a dire mission to protect the Earth from an approaching a lien invasion. The alien gives each of the boys an enchanted amulet embedded with mystic crystals. When our lyrical lads wear the amulets their DNA gets twisted by a virtual genetic cyclone that gives each of them astonishing super powers.

Twice as many women filmmakers at Sundance this year than last. About one quarter of the films. Quoth Jodie Foster: "It’s the last great dispar ity in Hollywood... There aren’t good reasons for it, really, except that producers tend to be men, and when they’re about to entrust $5 million or whatever to someone, they like to pick people that look like them. It makes them feel safer..."

Sam Norkin interview on His art now graces's front page and interface. (Many thanks to Mermaniac for reminding me to visit semi-regularly.)

Spielberg has kidney removed. (Thanks my dog wants to be on the radio.)

February 8, 2000

#blogirc chat tomorrow, 5:30 PST. Get your IRC client ready. (What's the preferred Mac client?)

Why isn't my Internet working? This is madness. It really is.

$35 million opening weekend?!? Goodness! More than the other nine of the top 10 grossing films combined. And it only took $40 mil to make. I'm actually something of a fan of the Scream films--gotta love that self-parody! I received my videos (yes, videos; rounding out a commitment to a video club) of the first two this afternoon. Other s have already blogged it, but for good measure: the official Scream 3 website, a fake front for the movie-in-a-movie's production studio., an online movie studio supply store, has monthly contests for DVD gift packs. This month's collection "...includes movies chosen by the ASC as some of 'the Best Shot Films from 1950 - 1997.' Th ey have changed the way we think about films and cinematography."

Imperfect Pitch: Online screenplay ideas underwhelm Sundance.

Every movie musical on TV this month. (Many thanks BradLands, though as I don't have cable, I will have to never look at this site again lest it make me sad.)

Interview with James Katz, the man (well, a man) responsible for the restoration and re-release of some of the greatest American films. He talks about the new restoration of Rear Window. (Good work James! Now make those DVDs, will ya!!)

February 7, 2000

Introducing: The Subhonker Filter, your customizable dynamic list of recently updated weblogs. A handful of people have been using it so far, and nobody has said it sucked, so I'm finally releasi ng it. Let me know what you think, if it breaks, how it can be improved...

Roger Ebert's interview with Bill Clinton aired this weekend. (The video is not yet available online, but should be here s oon.)

Last week, Ebert and Harry Knowles discussed cult films on video. Harry mentions Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2, and discusses how Bruce Campbell has such a cult following that any major motion picture that casts him will bring that audience into the theaters--if only they would.

I finally caught, by accident, Jack of All Trades, a revolutionary (ahem) new comedy adventure TV series on the WB (or USA in some areas? check local listings), starring Bruce Campbell, produced by Bruce and Sam Raimi. The production values are about on par with Xena, Hercules, and its airing partner, Cleopatra 2525 (V.I.P. with no-names an d a sci-fi setting), but Bruce and Sam have a heavy influence, bumping it up a notch. The contemporary dialogue in the period context is surprisingly charming.

Orson Scott Card, the bigot. Sometimes it's more interesting when interviews go terribly wrong. (Thanks Mermaniac.)

Congrats Gael (of Pop Culture Junk Mail) on the new professional weblog! (Click on the headline.)

Rock on: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Weblog Portal.

Finally, a website for the hit boy group, The Meaty Cheesy Boys!!! (Thanks BradLands.)

February 4, 2000

Is the new design working out OK? Let me know if there are any problems, or if you have any comments or suggestions in general.

I-695 damage to Metro routes begin today. Pick up the new purple schedules and be outraged.

Michael Douglas goes Flash. My sources tell me his newly redesigned site is getting major banner ad placement on AOL. Puppet Auction Closes at $20,100.

I greatly enjoyed PBS's Great Performances Central Park. (I taped it a couple of weeks ago and am only getting around to it now.) Three one-act operas with librettos by Wendy Wasserstein, A.R. Gurney, and Terrence McNally, all set in Central Park. If you know the names, you can imagine the quality of the operas. (Should I know the composers as well ?) Check out the web site for several articles.

I used to feel inexperienced with opera, and while I'm far from experienced now, I'd like to think I'm getting the hang of it. I could kind of understand why traditional operas would be sung with traditional opera technique, despite the fact that it's difficult to understand even English words (thank God for stage subtitle systems!). But why, I asked 5 minutes into the first one-act, would a contemporary opera be performed this way? After the first one-act was over, I pretty much figured it out. Co nsidering the operatic voice as a different instrument as, say, the musical theater voice, it is clear that, like the violin and the viola, they each have their applications. When used properly, such as in Central Park, it is clear the musical the ater voice would have been inadequate, while the operatic voice was essential to bringing out the emotion in the score.

My last contemporary opera experience was about eight months ago. I was relieved to hear that everyone hated it as much as I did. I can't remember the name of the work, and quite frankly, I don't want to...

Fresh Air, 9/18/1998: Jerry Stahl, on his memoir, Permanent Midnight.

Red Dwarf FAQ. Is it true that American Red Dwarf fandom is primarily centered in Seattle? Weird...

February 3, 2000

Free e-books from Adobe. See especially Through the Looking Glass, illustrated (the John Tenniel illustrations). All are nice looking PDFs that require a (free) key to be downloaded from Adobe.

Fresh Air, 5/17/1999: Janeane Garofalo and Ben Stiller, on their book.

A Gentle Introduction to Optical Design. Doesn't seem that gentle to me...

Looking to scrape weather information for your city to put on your weblog? Consider the University of Michigan's Weather Underground. Simply construct a URL with your zipcode (e.g. and snatch HTML comments apparently thrown in for this very purpose. Check out a Perl LWP::Simple tutorial for specifics. (I scrape other sources out of many I found way back when I put that together, but it was fun to find this one.)

This site attempts to be a thorough resource on DeCSS, related court documents, and news links. (Kinda difficult to look at, but they link to outside sources.)

February 2, 2000

Fresh Air, 10/21/1998: Ethan Coen, on his and his brother's films, and his book of short stories, Gates of Eden.

Terry Gross: One of the things I really like about this film [Fargo] is that although the criminals are all actually pretty dumb, Marge, the police chief, who looks like she might be mocked in the movie, is actually a very good cop with a very big heart, and very likable....
Ethan Coen: Well, you know, it's funny you say that. A lot of people liked her, and I'm sure that's why the movie did well. I always thought she was the bad guy.
TG: Did you really? Why did you think she was the bad guy?
EC: I don't know, I just related to Steve Buscemi's character more. He seemed like the classic "sane person in an insane land," and Marge... embodying the "insane land"... I kind of found her a little bit alarming, as did [Francis McDormand]. We were all surprised, actually, that people liked her quite as much as they did....

God bless AdCritic. Thanks to them you can watch those commercials without having to sit through all that boring football.

The complete Super Bowl advertising schedule.

Chess in a Moebius Strip. (Thanks knobby low boy quarterly.) The whole Chess Variant Page is p retty neat.

Dharma & Greg vanity cards, official site. Vanity cards are the split seconds the producers get after the closing credits on a TV show, usually used for the production company logo. D&G producer Chuck Lorre use s his split seconds for screenfuls of tiny text. (Thanks Lake Effect.)

LSSU Banished Words List 2000. (Thanks Running Tally.)

February 1, 2000

Ah, lugnuts. M-W seems to have implemented a block to external forms accessing their database, such as mine. Has anyone found a work-around? I use that dictionary a lot...

Anyone close to my age (22) will enjoy visiting compilations of 90's pop music via and clicking on the RealAudio clips. I would im agine it's equally fun for you older folks to go back the appropriate number of decades, but I wonder if there is something about the eerie proximity that makes these particularly entertaining...

Minipops! (Thanks Geegaw.)

Jason's recent question on mirrors reminded me of David Feldman's Imponderables books. A quick domain name guess landed me at David Feldman's web site. Alas, there is no index of Imponderables. But you can participate in gender-oriented surveys, buy the books, or buy the board game.

For an answer to the mirror question, you can consult the rec.puzzles archive, Physics puzzles (search for "mirror"); Gardner's New Ambidextrous Universe (3rd revised edition) has a concise explanation, if I remember correctly. You might find this Glenbrook High School Physics tutorial on image formation helpful in visualizing it, as well.

Pixhell. Start watching here, here and here. (Thanks mrradon of memepool.)