"I saw that trick on You Tube last night!"

"I have vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals."

--Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.


"You could have just sent a check. Jewelry would have been nice, too."

The original purpose behind creating Mary Stu's Tavern was to repay a big debt I owed. The year 1996 had started out to be a pretty nasty one, and there weren't too many pleasant diversions from several months of constant crises. This period started with getting stranded in Somerset, Pennsylvania in the middle of an ice and snow storm. Stuck at the Knights Inn, in the last room available in town, I woke early to find Bad Girls on HBO at 5:00 in the morning. It was an entertaining movie, but the main thing was I recognized the actress playing Anita Crown. I had seen her in other movies, such as At Close Range. I decided shortly after starting for home on that first Saturday in February, 1996 that I would take a look at some of Mary Stuart Masterson's other movies. That decision provided the respite from all the crises, and the year went by with everything still in one piece. A lot of restful solace was found in viewing Fried Green Tomatoes, Bed of Roses, Some Kind of Wonderful, Lily Dale, and Heaven's Prisoners. When I discovered the Internet in 1997, that was the means chosen to repay a debt Ms. Masterson never knew was on her "books." The debt would be paid with a Web site that would attempt to provide a different kind of atmosphere than the usual fan Web site. Playing it by the straight formula of such sites just wouldn't do it, and so the creative process began.


"Well, at least you didn't make me a soda jerk in a drug store!"

My old Internet friend, Erin "Ravie" Lillis, who is about 25 years younger than me, was a student at Emerson College when she first started venturing out into the Web as a Webmistress with such sites as Fried Green Obsession and The Winona Lounge. When I was struggling to come up with a concept for a different sort of "fan" site for MSM, I remembered Erin's Winona Lounge, and started to get an idea. Of course the name Cafe immediately came to mind, but that was too much like Fried Green Tomatoes, but I could see MSM as the owner of a tavern and restaurant. There's a staid side, and there's a more raucous side, to a place with a bar on one side and a fancy dining area on the other, sort of like the two sides a lot of her characters would show. Still, the idea of including her in the action as the "proprietress" of this fictional tavern hadn't occurred to me. I had to start putting the pages together on Claris to see that just having a couple of photos on a page, just stuck there, would never do.


To make the Tavern more active, or interactive, and less just a recitation of facts about Mary Stuart Masterson, a few links, and some photos, I hit on the idea of actually writing captions under the photos to create the character of the Tavern's proprietress. I had engaged in photo caption writing contests on a Web forum, and got some pretty good reviews, so captions were added to the photos to bring the character of the proprietress to virutal life. She would deal with customer's quirks, such as tipping a barmaid with a bouquet of flowers rather than cash, and slovenly customers not wearing shirts or shoes. Some of my favorite captions follow in the table below. An inspiration for this idea came from the Web site "Britney Spears' Guide to Semiconductor Physics" in which a scientist had the pop star utter physics equations and explain complex theorems. Some kind of Photoshop program was used to put Britney in the action, including a group photo of Britney among famous early Twentieth Century physicists like Albert Einstein! This convinced me that it was possible to put MSM in the action as the owner of the Tavern through photo captioning.

"The placemats were designed by Martha Stewart."

"I hope the beer truckers' strike ends soon!"

"I said, 'No shirt, no shoes, no service!'"

"You want a reception here for WHAT kind of Greek wedding?"

"It was a nice thought, but next time use CASH to tip the barmaid!"

"Now I'm glad my dad made me learn how to drive a stick!"

With the addition of the site's subject as the lead character of the Web site, the place became something very different than a more standard "fan" site. The Tavern wasn't just the name for a typical, almost hackneyed Web site. As one of her friends posted anonymously on the Guest Book, the tone was not one of making Mary Stuart Masterson someone "superhuman," but a talented young woman who just happens to earn a living by acting. She likes a good time, and some laughs, just like the rest of us. She wouldn't have been any different as a dentist! However, it is hard to imagine a dentist out to dinner with family and friends having their evening interrupted by someone who walks up to the table, and presents their dentures for the dentist to autograph!



"It's never a dull moment when the Webmaster is a Wing Nut!"


Britney Spears, prominent among Physicists, a thumbnail of a wallpaper available for public download on "Britney Spears' Guide to Semiconductor Physics."


I have read that some people called Mary Stuart Masterson "Stu," and one of her old Houston friends called her "Marnie" in the Guest Book. Coming up with imaginative nicknames for girls was never a problem for me. They are my favorite people, after all, and the ones I nickname are generally ones that I try to make laugh a lot. Combining "Stu" with "Mary" was just a no-brainer. I've come up with better ones, such as the co-worker with the last name "Beretsel." I call her "Pretzel." "Hey, what are you doing here, Pretzel?" A tiny nurse named Amber, who looked after my Mom, was called "The Big A." A landlady, or "landperson" from whom I once rented was named "Jackie." I called her "Jackson."

Hey, it could have been a lot worse.



The design of the pages was geared to the technology of the period. Dial-up was the predominate means of accessing the Internet in the first five years of the site's life. Pages had to be clean of excess images, particularly animated images, and photo size had to be taken into account. If you had one large photo at the top, I always wanted a smaller one on the bottom, and most pages followed this pattern. The two photos that decorated the pages I called "Page Trim" photos. Visitors want to see pictures, but on navigation pages it was a good idea to limit them to two photos to shorten load time. There were a few animated GIF icons on several of the pages, all from Animation Factory, but they were always small. Those icons were removed from the main page just before the move from Geocities to Angel Fire. On almost every page, photos, graphics, and text were all centered in the middle of the page, because visitors' eyes tend to focus there.

Early on, we thought each page's background had to be a different color, just to present a different look. People told me to bag that idea, and just go with black lettering on white background for most of the pages as that scheme speeds loading with dial-up. I also used several different page dividers, or horizontal rules, for the same reason. A few months into keeping the site, almost every page had the black-and-white checkerboard divider, just like you see on this page. There were only a couple of exceptions over the years, but now only two pages have a green divider.

Nearly every photo on the Tavern was of Mary Stuart Masterson or one of her co-stars in the "Costars Banquet Table" pages. The exceptions were on the Guestbook Gateway page at the "end" of the site. Towards the bottom of the page, there was always room for someone, or some other film, I wanted to acknowledge. John Candy showed up as Uncle Buck. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and the gang from "Three Kings" made two appearances. Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart in "Panic Room" were on another version of the page. We had a 25th anniversary posting of the cast from "Animal House." Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney made two appearances, and presently Judy Garland is back again with some words of wisdom for Mary Stuart Masterson.

"I'm glad they didn't have the Internet when I was in that business!"