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eToys dreams of stock; Upside's on the block?

I'm back, and I'm ready to dish! Rumoro numero uno concerns our toner-stained brethren down in San Mateo. It's been a while since we heard anything much out of the Upside crowd--though a mini employee exodus did catch our attention some months back. Since then, a Skinformant tells us, a plan to migrate north to the civilized head of the peninsula was scuttled, hiring has been slow, pages are down, and sales are off.

    Who could ask for a better homecoming after a month's vacation: 1,750 messages in my in-box. I felt so relevant, cared for; I felt like I mattered--until I found out it was all spam.

    Except for one kind message, which redeemed the several hours I spent digging through the mess:

    "Where is Skinny?" inquired a concerned reader. "Is there a possibility of foul play? When is the last time anyone has seen Skinny?"

    Apart from a brief detour to a Southern California spa, I spent much of my vacation under the watchful eye of Grandma DuBaud and my son Vermel at our family estate in the wilds of Quebec. After three weeks of this cozy domestic arrangement, there was no foul play. Just some close calls.

    Now I'm back, and I'm ready to dish! Rumoro numero uno concerns our toner-stained brethren down in San Mateo. It's been a while since we heard anything much out of the Upside crowd--though a mini employee exodus did catch our attention some months back. Since then, a Skinformant tells us, a plan to migrate north to the civilized head of the peninsula was scuttled, hiring has been slow, pages are down, and sales are off.

    Details, details! Upside has big plans, according to the rumor mill, and the first item of business is putting the print magazine up for sale--Web site not included. Now can you imagine selling a print magazine without its online counterpart? It's practically unthinkable.

    "Upside online is completely dependent on the magazine," observed our puzzled source. "Unless you count Tish Williams."

    But all of this is mere child's play compared with the scuttlebutt we're hearing about eToys. That outfit is toying with the idea of an IPO and is in talks with various investment houses, Skinformants close to these preliminary negotiations tell us, including Hambrecht & Quist and BT Alex. Brown. None of the babes I could reach in eToyland would comment, but look for a deal to take shape in a matter of weeks.

    Ready to roll with some racy rumors from Redmond? The story is that a Microsoft millionaire checked into San Francisco's Davies Medical Center for a full sex change operation about six weeks ago. No word on the original or final sex of said millionaire, but we suspect a nice chunk of his/her fortune was left at the doc's office. Monsieur le Docteur is famous in his field and imported from Denmark.

    But enough with these famed Danes--how about some lame-brained domain name games? Microsoft legal is out to get the owner of m1crosoft.com, one Michael Froogle of Melbourne, Australia. Screenwriting software designer Alan Baird writes in with the following adults-only Disney anecdote that cannot be paraphrased:

    "Tiny acts of rebellion (like the nude pic in The Rescuers) are common practice for animators, especially when working for a repressive company like Disney. These gals/guys are creative, and they sweat over every frame, so they want to put some individuality into the finished product.

    "We all know the story of the nubile girl/fawns in Fantasia's 'Pastorale' sequence--although their naked torsos were allowed to have breasts, upper management nixed the nipples...So, one day, I'm sitting and enjoying some flashbacks, when the 'Night On Bald Mountain' chapter pops up. The souls of the dead are streaming at my face in dark tints, when I notice a flash of lighter hue. Intrigued, I back up the disc, and sure enough, there are two frames of nude ladies. And they're incongruously flesh-colored, in contrast with the dark gray skin colors of all the other lost souls. Furthermore, the nipples which had been denied to the earlier fawns were resplendent on these two frames, bright rosy red nipples!

    "And I grinned, because I knew that these two frames were an arrogant flip of the bird to Unca Walt, from those late-30s animators..."

    Now before you run out and rent the Fantasia DVD, and while your mind is still in the gutter, help me figure out this ZD headline from earlier in the week: "eBay bidders balk at McGwire balls." Takes a lot of cojones to write a headline like that, if you ask me.

    After a week at Betty Ford, I'm having a ball back here in my adopted hometown. Pitch me some rumors and I'll do my best to knock 'em out of the park.