Blue Thunder (Special Edition)

Roy Scheider stars in this intense action thriller as a courageous police officer pilot battling government fanatics planning to misuse an experimental attack helicopter. Chosen to test BLUE THUNDER Frank Murphy (Scheider) is amazed by the high-speed high-tech chopper. It can see through walls record a whisper or level a city block. Distrusting the military mentality behind BLUE THUNDER Murphy and his partner Lymangood (Daniel Stern) soon discover that the remarkable craft is slated for use as the ultimate weapon in surveillance and crowd control. Jeopardized after being discovered by sinister Colonel Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell) Murphy flies BLUE THUNDER against military aircraft in a spellbinding contest over Los Angeles.System Requirements:Run Time: 109 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: ACTION/ADVENTURE Rating: R UPC: 043396108882 Manufacturer No: 10888

The Devil Wears Prada

A delightfully dishy novel about the all-time most impossible boss in the history of impossible bosses.

Andrea Sachs, a small-town girl fresh out of college, lands the job “a million girls would die for.” Hired as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, the high-profile, fabulously successful editor of Runway magazine, Andrea finds herself in an office that shouts Prada! Armani! Versace! at every turn, a world populated by impossibly thin, heart-wrenchingly stylish women and beautiful men clad in fine-ribbed turtlenecks and tight leather pants that show off their lifelong dedication to the gym. With breathtaking ease, Miranda can turn each and every one of these hip sophisticates into a scared, whimpering child.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA gives a rich and hilarious new meaning to complaints about “The Boss from Hell.” Narrated in Andrea’s smart, refreshingly disarming voice, it traces a deep, dark, devilish view of life at the top only hinted at in gossip columns and over Cosmopolitans at the trendiest cocktail parties. From sending the latest, not-yet-in-stores Harry Potter to Miranda’s children in Paris by private jet, to locating an unnamed antique store where Miranda had at some point admired a vintage dresser, to serving lattes to Miranda at precisely the piping hot temperature she prefers, Andrea is sorely tested each and every day—and often late into the night with orders barked over the phone. She puts up with it all by keeping her eyes on the prize: a recommendation from Miranda that will get Andrea a top job at any magazine of her choosing. As things escalate from the merely unacceptable to the downright outrageous, however, Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her. And even if she survives, she has to decide whether or not the job is worth the price of her soul.

Brazil

If Franz Kafka had been an animator and film director–oh, and a member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus–this is the sort of outrageously dystopian satire one could easily imagine him making. However, Brazil was made by Terry Gilliam, who is all of the above except, of course, Franz Kafka. Be that as it may, Gilliam sure captures the paranoid-subversive spirit of Kafka’s The Trial (along with his own Python animation) in this bureaucratic nightmare-comedy about a meek governmental clerk named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) whose life is destroyed by a simple bug. Not a software bug, a real bug (no doubt related to Kafka’s famous Metamorphosis insect) that gets smooshed in a printer and causes a typographical error unjustly branding poor Sam as a miscreant.

The movie presents such an unrelentingly imaginative and savage vision of 20th-century bureaucracy that it almost became a victim of small-minded studio management itself–until Gilliam surreptitiously screened his cut for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who named it the best movie of 1985 and virtually embarrassed Universal into releasing it. This DVD version of Brazil is the special director’s cut that first appeared in Criterion’s comprehensive (and expensive) six-disc laser package in 1996. Although the DVD (at a fraction of the price) doesn’t include that set’s many extras, it’s still a bargain. –Jim Emerson

Ze Paul Frank

In my career as a web development I’ve seen a lot of brilliant and competent people, as well as a lot of utter incompetents, on all levels of the corporate ladder and working at all levels of productivity. Basically, if I were to make a competence scale, it would look something like this:

– <–10-9-8-7-6-4-5-4-3-2-1-0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10–> +

Let’s say user data release by AOL would rate at negative 7; setting out to rewrite Netscape from scratch at negative 9; changing all the links of an established website in the name of SEO at negative 5; writing tons of spaghetti code that nevertheless functions and serves users at positive 1; coming up with PageRank algorithm and implementing it — at positive 10. There are also those who come into the office and do nothing at all – that’s 0. Ase we all seem to notice and remember negative things better than positive, sometimes corporate life seems like one big orgy of incompetence and bad ideas.

I’ve long had a theory, why even with so many negative contributions, American companies mostly prosper and thrive, despite incompetency. To explain it, I usually use an ant metaphor. See, when ants are carrying a bug or a caterpillar back to the nest, they almost always succeed. But the thing is, they do not cooperate very well. They all have different ideas about which way to pull, and some, instead of helping, actually climb on the cargo or collide with other ants. Others just watch from the sidelines and generally mill about. But even though ants pull in different directions, the resulting force vector generally leads to the nest, and the caterpillar gets there eventually.

Recently, an article about a designer Paul Frank caught my attention. He is fighting his former business partners who jettisoned him from the company bearing his name. He came up with the design ideas that made the company what it is, as well as lent it his name. The business partners accused him of not contributing to the daily business grind, bought out his shares and either fired him or drove him to resigning (depends on whose story you listen to). It’s getting nasty:

” “Those guys are saying Paul Frank is not a person,” says the designer, whose given name is Paul Frank Sunich. “I hear they’re all wearing T-shirts that say ‘We Are Paul Frank.’ Well, you’re Paul Frank Industries. You’re not Paul Frank.”

I’ve seen the monkey design that Paul Frank is so famous for, but did not know that it was a multimillion dollar business. Apparently it’s very popular – and I definitely do believe that both the business partners that made this quirky brand into such a powerhouse and the guy who conceived it made positive contributions.

What I have the issue with is the person who’s running their web department. It’s not even the unusable obnoxious flash-ridden websites that don’t work in Firefox. It’s the fact that this person apparently never did something very basic – typed in “Paul Frank” into Google. Because when you do, you get this as a first result:

I don’t have a problem with the programmer who used a stock client detection script from somewhere. We all do that. But putting “Client Detection Script” as the title of the first page of your site is rather idiotic. And nobody at the company even searched for “Paul Frank” in Google, even if to see what other Paul Franks there are out there!

Getting back to my ant theory, squabbles, badly designed websites and all those people who prolifically do bad things are balanced out by things done right. The website may suck, but the brand is so good that people will put up with it. Individual ants might be doing stupid and counterproductive things, but it all gets balanced out. The caterpillar gets dragged into the nest, whether it wants it or not.

What’s Wrong With Frank the Goat?

Dear Mena, Studio Ghibli called. They want their mascot back.

Maybe I am not with the times, and this is all a part of “remixing culture.” Like Chibi Totoro being “remixed” into Toph and TophToph and Mei being remixed into “a little 10 year-old girl named Hana”.

I think Mr. Miyazaki will not be amused. Neither will be Frank.


Don’t be like Mena. If you haven’t watched “My Neighbor Totoro” you are missing so much.

There’s also a cheaper 2 disk set

Knowledge Worker’s Dream

I recently remembered the most amazing story that I’ve read 5 or 6 years ago, and my wife found the book that contains it yesterday. The book is called “Fairy Tales For Computers“. , and the story is “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster.

The story was written in 1909 and since it’s in public domain now, so the full text of it is online.

It’s a story of a future in which people live in small apartments underground, all cared for by an almost Matrix-style machine, communicating almost exclusively through telepresence.

“‘Who is it?’ she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often since the music began. She knew several thousand people, in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously.”

“Vashanti’s next move was to turn off the isolation switch, and all the accumulations of the last three minutes burst upon her. The room was filled with the noise of bells, and speaking-tubes. What was the new food like? Could she recommend it? Has she had any ideas lately? Might one tell her one’s own ideas? Would she make an engagement to visit the public nurseries at an early date? – say this day month.
To most of these questions she replied with irritation – a growing quality in that accelerated age. She said that the new food was horrible. That she could not visit the public nurseries through press of engagements. That she had no ideas of her own but had just been told one-that four stars and three in the middle were like a man: she doubted there was much in it. Then she switched off her correspondents, for it was time to deliver her lecture on Australian music. “

Living constantly communicating with hundreds or even thousands of correspondents, looking for and generating “ideas”, being served by and cared for by automatons – isn’t that a knowledge worker’s dream? Are you scared yet? Don’t “accumulations of the last three minutes” strike you familiar? Your inbox, your livejournal “friends” feed?

Too bad that “A Logic Named Joe” is not out of copyright. These two stories together are an irrefutable proof of time travel. But none of you will read it, so nobody will believe me anyway.