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Violence, sexcess, and a handheld exodus

Those blood-and-gutsmeisters at Id Software have cooked up a lovely seasonal treat for the impressionable under-18s and others with a fourth-grade reading comprehension.

    "Pop, this is the last year I'm doing Christmas," Vermel announced over the weekend. "The amount of wrapping paper you used for my PalmPilot was unconscionable. From now on, if I can't eat it or plant it, I don't want it." After I looked up "unconscionable," I had to admit the kid was right, but it certainly wasn't the only instance of holiday excess.

    Those blood-and-gutsmeisters at Id Software have cooked up a lovely seasonal treat for the impressionable under-18s and others with a fourth-grade reading comprehension. There's now a level of Quake called "Twisted Christmas," in which Evil Santa has kidnapped Good Santa and hijacked his shopping mall. Your mission? Search and destroy, of course. Go ahead, pop a cap in Evil Santa's fat red-velour ass. Trust me, the hand-eye coordination will help when you're standing in an interminable line at the post office, waiting to send back those Eddie Bauer slippers four sizes too small your Aunt Belva ordered for you.

    From excess to sexcess: Did anyone else catch Time's "top Web site" mention as part of its Andy Grove man-of-the-year droolfest? The winner (unrelated to Grove, I assume), with 1.4 billion hits in 1997, was neither CNN, Microsoft, nor Netscape, but Seattle's "clublove.com," home of the naughty Pamela Lee video. The people have spoken...with grunts and primal hand signals, but they have spoken nonetheless.

    Other twisted tales from the Far North: A sled of southbound huskies told me that Starwave board members aren't too pleased with current CEO Mike Slade and are looking for ways to open his parachute. But like a tooth that won't come out without a fight, Slade allegedly has a big enough stake in the company that extraction will be difficult. Passe-moi the Percodan. (Disclaimer: Paul Allen is founder and majority owner of Starwave and also an investor in CNET: The Computer Network. Not to be outdone, Andy Grove's Intel has shoveled some cash into our coffers as well. Now back to your irregularly programmed schedule.)

    That reminds me of the time I had all my wisdom teeth pulled out. I came to in the middle of the procedure to find my dentist with a pair of pliers in one hand and a firm hold of my forehead with the other. "You're going to feel a bit of pressure," he said through his mask, reaching the pliers past my tongue...

    Where were we? Ah oui, extraction. Over a frappuccino in Cupertino, an Apple insider told me that the thumbscrews of Fort Jobs are wrenching ever tighter to find media leaks. (Salauds, you'll never get me to talk!) Come on, Steve, this is the Information Age, and half-baked rumor and innuendo wants to be free! The latest poop from the Cupe is that Newtonians a-gogo are heading across the Valley to U.S. 3 Robotics Com to join the PalmPilot squadron and fend off the invading Gryphonarmies, a.k.a. the second-generation Windows CE PDAs that Microsoft and various hardware makers hope will take a bite out of the Pilot's wing. Could this be the end of Newton? My colleagues are hot on the trail, so keep your eyes glued to NEWS.COM for details. A rumor would be nice,