Thursday, October 13, 2011

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Biz-Speak 101

One of the travesties of the corporate world is its utter bastardization of the English language. For lack of a better word I call this meaningless prattle biz-speak. I suspect it was created by a handful of bored MBA's who were searching for something concrete to rationalize being overpaid. Look, we went to college and came out talking funny, just like you comp-sci guys! The difference is that comp-sci guys (mostly) talk funny because we actually need the extra words to communicate different concepts, biz-speak manages the ignominious feat of using more words to convey less meaning.

You don't talk with someone - you interface with them
You don't use something - you leverage it
You don't meet with people - you align with them
You don't design something - you solution it
You don't assign work - you task it
You don't finish something - you realize it
A plan is not good - it is robust
Prefixing any word with strategic makes that word better

Taken individually you might ask, "what's the harm of these news words, maybe they do serve to make some subtle distinction?". The proof comes when it is time to communicate clearly and concisely about a concept.

Where a normal person might say:
I met with Bob to discuss the Acme project. We agreed that my team is the best fit for their marketing campaign.

A biz-speaker would instead say:
Bob and I interfaced about solutioning for Acme. We strategically aligned and my team is tasked with leveraging our skills to realize a robust marketing campaign.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Bender Brewer Project

I've been getting really into Futurama lately so I was excited to see that someone made a life-size beer-brewing Bender. Not only does it really brew beer but it is wired so that it can deliver classic Bender lines. With the touch of a remote control Bender will recite such classic lines as: "Bite my shiny metal ass", "I guess if you want children beaten you have to do it yourself" and my favorite, "Ah, beer, so many choices, and it makes so little difference".

The audio is actually handled with a 6502 processor - an Apple II era chip that the show mentions Bender runs on (this is one of the more obscure geek jokes that Futurama is chock full of). To say that this robot is faithful to the spirit of the show is a major understatement. I wonder how good the Benderbrau turned out to be?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Glow in the dark cat

Speaking of cats, a Korean scientist has successfully cloned a cat after modifying the gene for skin color. The picture at the head of the article is rather striking; it's not every day that you see a cat that glows under ultraviolet light.

This cat represents a proof-of-concept for a process that they will use to clone tigers and other animals that are in danger of extinction. Unlike with stem cells, a virus is inserted into the ova of one cat and then the ova is implanted into the womb of a donor cat. It is unfortunate that we are coming to the point where genetic engineering will be necessary to preserve these species.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cats, Cats, Cats!

My dad and his wife recently visited and took some pictures of my cats. Tucker is the little black-and-white cat; I adopted him about six months back and he has assimilated into the pride nicely.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Romance and Cigarettes

I just got back from seeing this movie and wow, was I surprised. I honestly didn't expect too much from John Turturro's first film. He's a great actor but that skill doesn't necessarily carry over to the other side of the camera. Originally released in 2005 in a limited fashion, the movie is only now being shown to a wider audience. The tag line: A Savage Musical could not be more appropriate. If Bob Fosse, Joel Coen, Lena Horne and Matthew Barney all met at a singing, dancing, cinematic orgy this is what their illegitimate spawn might look like.

To say that this movie is ambitious would be an understatement. When you feature with Mr. Soprano himself, James Gandolfini belting out torch songs you know that you're talking about a movie outside of the status quo. In fact, within the first ten minutes this movie kills the status quo, buries it and pisses on its grave.

The remarkable thing is that with the exception of some pacing issues in the third act this movie works perfectly. The cast is incredible from top to bottom. Gandolfini plays the hapless lout, Nick Murder and Susan Sarandon his wife and foil, Kitty. Kate Winslet has a hilariously over-the-top turn as Nick's fowl-mouthed mistress, Tula, complete with a ridiculously affected Anglo-accent. Mandy Moore and Mary-Louise Parker (of Weeds fame) are Nick's daughters, Constance and Baby who along with Aida Turturro have formed a terrificly-bad rock band. Steve Buscemi has a great cameo as Angelo, Nick's warped coworker whose love advice is comedy gold. Eddie Izzard has a small but perfect role as Gene Vincent the leader of the church choir and the aforementioned Christopher Walken practically steals the movie as Kitty's neurotic Cousin Bo.

This movie is all over the map: one minute it hits you with a serious scene (Kitty has just discovered poems that prove Nick's infidelity) and the next second characters are bursting out with a song. Normally this sort of haphazard transitioning would be a recipe for disaster but when Nick joins the neighborhood garbage men for a song and dance number in the middle of the street the results are too spontaneous, too absurd to argue with.

For two acts, the movie never lets up; bouncing along, like a kid in a candy store eager to sample the next yummy treat. We're introduced to Fryburg (Bobby Cannavale) - probably the most ridiculous character in the movie - whose infatuation with Baby proves introspective impetus for Kitty and Nick. Having Kitty alternate between bitterly singing love songs to warning Baby of the fleeting impermanence of love is part of this movie's charm. Credit goes to Turturro for the guts to so recklessly mix this fantastical stew of song, dance and emotions.

The casting could not be more perfect. When Christopher Walken (who was born to be in this movie) says without irony, "She was my first love; I traced her name in cow shit", the whole weight of how funny this movie truly is comes crashing down like a wave. More than any movie in recent memory, this movie is fun; when I wasn't laughing my ass off I was grinning like the Cheshire cat.

The only blemish on this otherwise perfect monster of a movie is the final act. Things take a sudden serious turn and the movie just seems to skip a beat. It's not that the seriousness seems out of place when the emotion has been red-lining for half the movie, there is just something jarring about the transition from the silly antics of this truly dysfunctional tribe into sadness at the fate of the patriarch. But to fault the final act is to quibble; this movie is so wonderfully outrageous from beginning to end that you cannot help but love it.