Off the Top: Movies Entries

May 17, 2020

Week Note 4 - 17 May 2020

Another really busy work week where I set work aside for a few hours then back at it, which means reading and other things were down a bit. It is the last full (5 day) work week (not that work stops at 8 hours or 5 days) until September. Deeply fortunate and grateful for the work and challenges on that front, which are things I find deeply fun and get my brain lighting up. I’ve been joking that I’ve been trying to sort out 6 day work week with 3 day weekends or 7 days workweek and 4 day weekend.

Where I am in Maryland, the county is still shut, which I’m mostly fine with. Quick trips to the store aren’t going to change from the hour to 90 minutes back to 15 to 25 treks they were. I am looking forward to getting back to my favorite bookstores and having a couple favorite restaurants open back up in some form.


Some pre-ordered books and books ordered a while back from local bookstores arrived this week. I’m trying to sort out what follows Agency as my fiction read, but likely going to be finishing Charlie Stross’ Empire Games. I know have Chris Pavone’s The Paris Diversion at hand, which likely could be a good romp of a read.

The long awaited Steven Johnson Enemy of All Mankind arrived and I haven’t had even a preliminary scan of it yet. Robert Reich’s The Common Good also arrived after a good wait. I’m thinking extra weekend day (if I use it that way in coming weeks) could be good to get some reading done.


Early in the week I stumbled onto Coast Modern on Amazon Prime, which is about modern design on the Pacific Coast. Some of the architecture reminded me of homes around Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles that intrigued me when I was a kid. The modern and cutting edge design had shifted into some of the more mainstream vernacular by the time I was a kid and evoked a lot of memories and had me realize some of the seeds for domestic design that feels “normal to me”.

I rented Little Women and finally watched it this weekend. I was really impressed with most everything about the production. I had never read Little Women, nor seen it on screen or stage before. But, a lot of friends have long used the characters as short hand when discussing others. The characters now have resonance, but also set in a really wonderfully filmed movie.

This weekend we finally watched Prince George’s County: In the Water on Showtime on Showtime and have been waiting for this for months. There is a lot of lore and solid history with PG County basketball. Walking into a lot of the gyms and rec centers the trophies and familiar names are impressive, but so is the coaching and the level of play. If you want to know if you can ball as a teen on up, that is a good place to learn that and learn to play well in and against a broad array of styles of offenses and defenses.


Yet another Postlight gem! One of the few must listens each week for me is Track Changes with Paul Ford and Rich Ziade, I though last week I missed and it drifted into this week. tk!

It was great to have Exponents pop-up in my podcast feeds this week and be a good listen for a Friday evening wind down and dinner prep.


My morning routine has been shifted a bit as with the Covid lockdowns my coffee walk in the morning hasn’t been something I can do, before the work day starts. The coffee places are now back open for pick-up, but starting too late to get my work day going. I have been going with Ceremony, which is my favorite brew at home option, particularly Thesis. I’ve picked up beans on sale and a local grocery is back stocking it again, so I’m not doing the delivery route.

I’ve been sticking with my breakfast, which started a couple years ago as heuevos verde, with corn tortilla, black bean refried, then then brown garlic and add fresh spinach and a pinch of salt to cook down, then top with sunny side up covered eggs, and top with salsa verde. That morphed into making my own black bean smash. To now it is a black beans cooked in a Canadian bacon (loin, not reconstituted pork bits), garlic, mushrooms (shiitake or brown button), fresh garlic, and grate in fresh turmeric. Then add some large spoonfuls of canned (not drained and unsalted) black beans to cook down and put in a bowl. Then sunny side up covered runny egg on top. In about 10 minutes it is great comfort that with coffee will get me into afternoon just fine.


My usual routine was get up, check late night messages and email, grab coffee and eat, and map out the day while colleagues are driving to work. Now they don’t have a commute and that planning time on paper or in an app has drifted to the winds a bit.

My scratch paper sort of has some framing and occasionally I get to my journal to map a FGL for the day: Something to Focus on; Something Grateful for; and something to Let go of. Then right out a few things that need to get done. Then check it a few times a day. This week I realized I’m only getting to that once a week at best these days.

The days and weeks shift focus and priority, but longer work goals remain, as well as some of the longer priorities that will take effort over a long stretch to make a lot of things run much more smoothly.

One of the great things about working in tech and optimizing toolsets and patterns, is things change rapidly. What was a really good practice 12 months back is now depricated, or a more secure or computationally efficient way is now the norm. Staying up with this tools, shifts in tools, vendors adding new functionality or tool, and vendors going out of business or selling to another company is all a large task in and of it self (but also part of the fun), but also part of the big challenge.

February 15, 2015

Watched Page One

I finally watched the documentary on the NY Times “Page One”, mostly due to reading the remembrances of David Carr the past few days. Page One is really good and I could easily imagine it as a core piece of undergraduate communication major were I back in the midst of that again. It is like it is a current thin slice of an updated chapter in David Halberstam’s “The Powers That Be”.

October 31, 2014

Deconstructing for Fun

There are two video gems I have fallen into really liking in the last year Every Frame a Painting and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Every Frame is a Painting

Every Frame is a Painting tickles the film nerd in me. This takes me straight back to a great class in media criticism by Father Mike Russo in undergrad. We not only learned how to watch film, but how to deconstruct it, which turned into how to make film for many in that class.

Tony Zhou who creates Every Frame is a Painting provides great insight into film direction and cinematography, by breaking down scenes and the make-up of a shot to convey a story through film. Film and its genres as well as directorial influences not only help see film with a new eye of appreciation, but the world beyond film. A lot of interaction design in technology heavily references film and the ability to direct attention and create an enjoyable experience.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

I’ve wasn’t a fan of the Jerry Seinfeld show. I saw a decent amount out of inertia (was watching the show on same channel prior) or it was a lead-in to something I wanted to watch. But, while there were some gems, most was listening to people whine, which lead to that same whining tone coming from myself the following day.

But, Seinfeld’s stand-up was something I had appreciation for and enjoyed. But, he has a web video series with the construct of him driving a historic car to pick-up another comedian to go get coffee. Most of the episodes are 15 to 20 minutes of he and his fellow comedian talking craft and sharing stories.

Much like Every Frame… Comedians in Cars… puts the focus on deconstruction of the craft, background of the artist, and breaking things down. There is often quite a bit of humor, which also helps.

In college and the years when I lived in San Francisco I loved going to stand-up shows. There were a lot of really good comedians working through their craft in SF in the mid–80s to mid–90s. The best times were often at open mic nights where comics would try out new material and often spill out into the parking lot or streets for an hour or few of riffing and stories.

Deconstruction is Essential for Understanding

A lot of undergrad for me seemed to be about not only learning (building a corpus of knowledge), but learning to deconstruct and understand the world and craft around me. Comedy and film (media in general got this treatment) were two of many of the disciplines I learned to breakdown to understand at more atomic levels, so to understand how to build more than capably as well as much better.

Learning the craft of deconstruction through something fun like film and comedy is a great place to start. Warning - this will change how you not only watch and consume things and may change the enjoyment and mindless nature that is desired, but it does give enjoyment on many other levels.

August 8, 2011

Coming Farther Out of the Grief Fog

Today along with the past week in California at my Mom's place has finally begun feeling like another of many layers of the grief fog lifting. I was not fully prepared for the reality of taking care of my Mom’s and remainder of my Dad’s affairs. After losing my dad last Summer I was more prepared mentally for the passing of my Mom and her long struggles with good health really making it all seem like is was forever close. Yet, with all that was going on at the same time (move and transitions with work and elsewhere) it was a good struggle.

The trip out to California with my son last week really was good. My mom badly wanted to go to baseball games this Summer at some point with the two of us. She was a long time and die hard Oakland A’s game and my son got to run the bases after the game, then watched the Giants play in SF from a few rows behind home plate, went to see the Sacramento Rivercats play, and finally watched the Stockton Ports from right behind their dugout on consecutive days from funds tucked away for just that the grief fog lifted.

The past few days back (and prepping for another few trips to California to continue to go through and close things out) really started sinking in the wonder of life that has been so far. Watching Milk last evening really brought back many memories of growing up in Northern California and that really odd time of teen years sorting things out at the same time the world around me was struggling with the same thing (not sure the world ever is finished with that journey). The drives the week before from the Central Valley to the Bay Area really brought back many memories and understandings of who I’ve been and where I am.

Today I got out and went to Politics & Prose to look around and there is something about a really well curated local bookstore that you can connect with that brings the senses alive. Politics & Prose really did that for me today. I’ve long missed other Washington, DC area bookstores like Olson’s that had just the right things displayed that tickled my mind and soul bringing them to life. Pulling thoughts and glimpses of understandings (for myself and to share with others) out of the denseness of the grief fog really was wonderful. Politics and Prose had so many things out on special displays that are at the top of my Amazon wish list it really was a dangerous place to be.

Today was wrapped up by watching Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that chronicled the existence of the band Rush from its creation to current date. My neighbor Tom Just turned me on to Rush in 1980 when he moved into the neighborhood from Chicago. Listening to “2112”, “A Farewell to Kings”, “Hemispheres”, and “Permanent Waves” really struck me from a music stand point, but also the lyrics (I pay attention to lyrics much later than the music, there are some Rush lyrics I am just getting around to listening to in full after 30 some years). But, in watching this movie tonight it brought out the love and passion the band members have for their craft and the depth to which they put their understanding and pushing the edges of it. The discussion of Neal Peart’s loss of his daughter in a tragic accident and then his wife and his struggle to find it all and put it all back together helped cement the breaking through another layer of this grief fog.

In the past few weeks I've been talking with some companies about their products and some are in fairly good shape and needing a few tweaks and pushes in the right direction, yet others are lost in a world of buzzwords and social development memes with little value. I'm really looking to getting my hands dirty again and anxious to clear through the family affairs that need addressing. I also have a good chunk of writing to do and prepping for some presentations ahead.

On a Sunday evening I am ready for this next week to begin and dig in.

May 7, 2006

Final Cut Pro Site is Stunning

I am not sure when this started, but Apple has started showing its product stories for Final Cut Pro in stunning video. I have been watching and saving down the movies. They are so much better than text for getting me sucked into the story and the pitch. They are each so stunning. So very Apple. Finally!

Apple Pro tools are some of the best on the market and not only put others to shame, they are much less expensive. I have been playing with the movie capabilities in iMovie HD this past week. In 10 minutes I can shoot a movie of my son, edit, and publish to a web page that I can mail those I want to see the page. That to me was hands down incredible. I am not dealing with HD quality video, but the capability is fully there. I just wanted to share a clip with friends and family quickly and get back to work.

Yes, 10 minutes. I have had iMovie for a few years and never played with it much. When I moved to a faster PowerBook this last year I started realizing the potential that was in my hands.

I am continually in awe of Apple for its simplicity, power, beauty, and potential it puts in my hands.

June 27, 2005

Girl in the Cafe

We watched the new HBO film, Girl in the Cafe, last evening. It was a well acted, with painful social graces in the two main characters. The story revealed itself well with only slight hints where it may go. If you have any interest in G8Reboot, you may have an interest in this film as it revolves around the G8.

A Step Ahead

We went and saw Mad Hot Ballroom this evening. It was our first movie out in a long time. It was also a make-up father's day, so I got to choose the movie (somehow the latest Star Wars was not a viable option). Mad Hot was a wonderful documentary with a great heart and a glimpse into the lives of New York City 5th graders in ballroom dancing classes and their city-wide competition. A solid sense of The City and life across The City through the eyes of these 5th graders is shared.

Summer movies to me, mostly means independent and foreign movies. This started the summer of 1986 when I lived in Berkeley and started the theme. this movie fit right in. There are only a couple of movies I really want to see this summer that are in the mainstream, but I am not seeing the flush of wonderful independent and foreign movies coming out. I must dig a little deeper. I may have to watch the Angelika and plan a trip.

May 29, 2005

Empire Falls is Wonderful

Last night I watch the first of two parts of Empire Falls on HBO. The cast is wonderful, but the story and it depiction on the screen is even better. The tensions of the plot are set up very well. The screenplay keeps chapter breaks and author narration. The flashbacks in time are done wonderfully on the screen and the literary narrative seems like it is playing out well.

I watch very little television any more (too many other things have my attention for the same time). But, Empire Falls has made a wonderful change of pace. I put it up with Band of Brothers as one of my favorite cable movie series.

November 21, 2004

Incredibles as the Designables

We went and saw The Incredibles yesterday morning. It was not only wonderful entertainment, but the detail is getting even better. I really want to see it again so I can just take in the background and details. Design Observer calls it the Designables, which is quite fitting.

September 26, 2004

Beautiful Hero

Things have been a little busy about these parts. But we were able to sneak out to see Hero. This is a great film to see on the big screen as it is beautifully filmed. I caught myself absorbing the details of the windblown clothes while the hair stayed perfectly still. The colors and contrasts were amazing making a wonderful visual treat. Yes, the story was good and there were poignant moral lessons about war that were directed at today. If you enjoy great cinematography you really owe it to you to your self to see this on the big screen.

December 17, 2003

LoTR Return of the Kings is worth the wait

The Lord of the Rings - Return of the King is fantastic. This was my favorite of the three by a long shot and I really liked the first two.

A great friend Fred, had purchased tickets as soon as they were being sold and 10 of us saw the 6:30 show this evening at the Uptown in DC, which is where one wants to see big movies like this if you are in DC. Fred even left work at about 2pm or so to go get in line and we were about 25 or so from the font of the monster line. I have been in a child absorption mode and did not realize tonight was the opening (it is a Wednesday not Friday when movies usually come out) night. Fred just flat out rocks.

November 9, 2003

Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live DVD is terrific

We picked up Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live DVD yesterday. I took the first whack at it, and I have really enjoyed the DVD. The version of Red Rain from that tour is my favorite. The video does the concert we saw here in DC justice. Not only was it a great concert, but it makes for a great DVD.

The version of the concert that we saw was based on a raised circular stage in the middle of the arena. There is much going on under the stage to prepare for what comes next on stage. The video, in documentary format, spits the screen horizontally many times during the show to capture what is happening on stage as well as under. It was a very nice effect. The video representation of Downside Up was also done extremely well on the video.

If you are a Gabriel fan and missed the arena concert, the DVD is a great way to capture what was missed.

August 17, 2003

Streaming motion icons in iChat

Rael explains about the streaming iChat icons from the iSight. I noticed Matt had this going on the other night. It was very cool to see live movement in the chat icon in my buddy list. At first I thought it was an animated image with one insanely long loop, but soon realized that the mannerisms of Matt were not perpetuating in the same order.

I was very close to picking up the iSight today, but am holding off for just a little longer. A digital video camera is also on my purchase list, for parental reasons (also some of the reason behind iSight).

July 2, 2003

Movies with iSight

Derrik Story provides Making Movies with the Apple iSight, which can be done on the cheap. This could make Mike's idea of a roving reporter using WiFi more viable.

June 2, 2003

Finding Nemo well worth tracking down

Yesterday we went and saw Finding Nemo, which is a greatly entertaining movie. Much like the first few minutes of any Pixar movie we were amazed at the quality of the ditial elements. This time it was the water that was amazing. Soon the movie gets beyond just being stunningly amazing and sits right down into a solidly entertaining movie.

After watching Matrix Reloaded last weekend we really appreciated the extra time that is spent on Pixar movies, just getting it right, well getting it near perfect. Reloaded was good, but not outstanding and definately did not live up to the quality of story telling, editing, or special effects in the first Matrix. Nemo on the other hand was just stunning and the computer graphics are extremely well done.

We are going back to Nemo next weekend with two 6 (nearly 7) year old boys and one 3 year old girl. It will be a joy to watch it with them. We are already planning when we need to tactfully take the 3 year old for bathroom breaks. This last viewing was not really full as it was 11 on Sunday morning, but there were enough kids to add to our entertainment. There are some points where there is adult humor that gets those over 15 laughing and the kids give curtesy laughs. There are times when the young characters in the Nemo start singing and the kids in the audience start chiming in, very cute.

April 6, 2003

Enjoyed Bend it like Beckham

We took a little timeout last night to go see Bend it like Beckham here in Bethesda. The movies was fun and sweet. It is a great break from much else that is out or has been out lately. We may go see it again it was that much fun.

April 4, 2003

Animatrix - The Detective

The third Animatrix has been posted, The Detective and it is my favorite so far. The first release is a very close second.

March 28, 2003

Portland Moving Public Art

I uploaded my quicktime movie of Portland moving public art(3.5MB Quicktime movie) that is located across the street from Powells Books. This was taken from my digital still camera, but I really wanted have a picture of this in action. Now I share.

February 14, 2003

Robota moves closer

The new teaser is out for Robata and looks stunning. There is some very good sci-fi coming out in the next year.

February 5, 2003

Animatrix first episode available online

You have bandwidth? You like Matrix? The Animatrix is out (animated Matrix) and the graphics are fantastic in spots.

January 4, 2003

Three colors on DVD

Three colors (blue, white, and red) is set to be released on DVD in March. This has been a giant hole missing in my DVD collection. I have pre-ordered and now I am just waiting for the arrival. There are certain days that I really would like to watch Red, while there are others that Blue is what is needed. Soon they will be close at hand.

December 11, 2002

Liars want more money to for blank media

IT Buisiness writes, "Media levy hike may force vendors to drop products", which seems to be part of my problem with the proposed increase in price of any medium to false levels that are not set my the market. In a sense the increase is being proposed by folks who are not creative, are finding they are not creating value, they have nothing productive to contribute, and have found a means to slip their overly padded pockets before the consumer again. The reasons given for the increases are the same poor lies about the starving artists. The artists are starving because of the middle men. The liars in this case have added notthing to society and want to force folks to pay their unproductive behinds more money to copy my own content I created or content I bought and would like to have fair use (my own edit of a movie or a mixed CD I can play in my car). The liars want to point fingers at you when they should point fingers at themselves. Every new media was the downfall of a media's industry. The liars cry "poor me" at each and every turn, but they are replaced with folks that learn to take advantage of the medium and create compelling content. The current band of unsuccessful business must bereplaced with a breed that understands how to take advantage of the medium. The liars know their days are numbered in their own jobs, because they are incapable of doing their jobs.

October 17, 2002

BBC offers Wallace and Gromit

I must come back to the BBC Walace and Gromit page once broadband arrives.


While checking out the updated Wired site I ran across iBrotha. This really had me chuckling and really wanting to see it.

September 19, 2002

Monsters in the house

Most genius, Monsters Inc. DVD arrived today and the "extras" are wonderful. This has so many wonderful extras it could be hours if not days of entertainment and education before watching the actual movie again.

August 25, 2002

Enjoying Possession

We saw Posession this afternoon and enjoyed it very much. The scenery and story were very enjoyable, a little predictable, but good none the less. I would encourage you to see the movie, but not in a theater that has an action flick playing in the next multiplex slot.

July 10, 2002

Gold Box provides

The Amazon Gold Box provides a goodie to get. After watching the Gold Box for weeks, and wondering where it went for a week or so, the Gold Box had a solid offering. I found Memento on DVD popped up. I did not see the movie in the theater, but have had an interest. The 10 dollar plus price made it less than a movie out for two and the fancy tiles are not available at the rental joints. One thing I did not realize about the Gold Box is that if you select an item to buy before the final item you do not get the opportunity to see the remaining items.

May 16, 2002

Creative Commons comes to life

The Creative Commons is up for our perusal. This seems to be a much better approach to digital rights management than the Hollywood and music industry approach, and light years better than DCMA.

April 27, 2002

Bethesda gets a Landmark theater

Wahoo, Bethesda gets a Landmark theater, which means foreign and independant films are going to be with in walking distance. Landmark usually restores historic theaters, but in this instance they have built a new property. That whole area is now hopping on weekend nights.

I am a fan of Landmark. I had many great nights in Landmark theaters in San Francisco and the East Bay. Washington, DC had the Key theater, but even with that I missed the wonderful Landmarks of the Bay Area. Now there is great hope.

March 30, 2002

We finally saw Amelie this evening. I wished I had seen this earlier as I would have seen it a few times by now. This is a wonderful movie that had me laughing and yearning. This deserves an all thumbs up.

March 22, 2002

We finally saw a beautiful mind this evening. I rather liked the movie, but it was not as deep as I thought it was going to be. Yes, I am a wee bit behind in my movie watching. I tend to lean on the computer, Internet, books, and magazines for entertainment.

March 19, 2002

There are Quicktime clips of SXSW sessions and interviews, which includes one from the Josh Davis session. It is rough and not in context, but it does offer a good snippet of Josh and the magnetic dots.

January 21, 2002

We saw the Fellowship of the Ring today. It was better than I was expecting. I my expectations were rather high, but I was also prepared to be let down. The film work, special effects and the acting was quite enjoyable. I have to say I am not only looking forward to next years addition to the trilogy, but also the DVD as there is a bundle of interviews and behind the scenes information that would make it a wonderful addition to the collection.

December 8, 2001

Sting's All This Time DVD Success

Yesterday I purchased the Sting's "All This Time" DVD and have been so happy for the purchase. I caught snippets of this performance and documentary (recorded before and on September 11, 2001 in Tuscany, Italy). The documentary reminds me of "Bring on the Night" video of the assembly and rehersals of the first Sting band. Both the BotN and All This Time offer a great insight into music rehersals and musicianship of some amazing musicians. Watching either digs at that itch to get my sax and keyboard out of the closet and just play.

The "All This Time" provides some wonderful rearrangements of Sting and Police tunes. The performace portion of the DVD offers fantastic music to dig into. One of my favorite jazz bass players, Christian McBride, has joined the Sting ensemble for this DVD and co-released CD.

I did not know there was a DVD that had been released, but was so hoping there would be one. I was overjoyed to find it in the store yesterday. (Not so much Joy as she is having to return one of my Christmas gifts).

November 30, 2001

We went and saw Harry Potter at the Uptown this evening. It was better than I thought it might be (after running it through the hype recalulator). I had not read the books, although Joy has been through the series (up to 4) twice. It was a fun movie and it seemed to be a rather quick two and a half hours. It felt like parking took longer.

November 27, 2001

Zeldman and his folks at Happy Cog and NotLimitedNYC have launched Charlotte Gray for Warner Brothers. At first I thought it was nothing great, but there is a simple elegance that radiates the period and the feeling of the film. The site does not have an over the top Flash interface, but a nicely crafted interface. All the links state exactly what will happen if you click on the link. It is very Zeldman-esque in that it is very well designed and gives the user a wonderful experience.

November 17, 2001

I was trying to catch-up to life today. I ran my usual errands and some of Joy's. Joy got out of the house for the first time today to go get her haircut, a quick trip to the bookstore for magazines, and the movie rental place. Joy has been plowing through movies this week. The short trip wiped Joy out.

We watched The Mighty this evening. It was a good movie in the My Bodygard and Simon Birch genre. It plays on the Nights of the Roundtable lore. It could be one to own for those, need to refocus days.

November 5, 2001

Monsters Inc. is nothing short of great. It is a fun and entertaining story, with amazing graphics. There are some scenes with Sully, on of the main characters with lots of fur, that are just amazing watching gentle breezes flow through his hairs. The animation was better than Shrek, which I thought was wonderful too. In all Monsters may be one of my favorite movies, it was that good. What added to the movie adventure was taking twin five year old boys. Joy and I had the nephews between us and they were so much fun to experience the film with. One was a little scared with Randall, but other than that they were really into the movie. Go check the movie out. You may even want to go back, as I do.

November 2, 2001

Movie industry hit by courts in DeCSS decision, which states that the DVD cracking code printed on t-shirts and such is free speech. As background, DeCSS decrypts DVDs so that they may be played back. DeCSS was coded to build a DVD player for Linux. The movie industry used a very poor encryption scheme, which made for easy cracking. The DeCSS allowed people who owned DVDs the ability to play them, and nothing more. There are other copyright infringement possibilities that one can apply when using the code, but lawn fertilizer has not been banned and it has been commonly used by terrorist to make bombs. Banning code that allows a person to watch a movie they bought legally, is greedy and inane.

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