Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Verdict on The Road, aka Received Wisdom

i was going to write pretty much this, but then the New York Times scooped me. Damn. But seriously, coming out of the theater i thought, "hmmm....not grim enough." or, at least, "not grimm enough to justify the ending."

Thursday, 26 November 2009

It came from my brain

On the drive into work:

"Are you kidding me? Most rock bands today couldn't carry Patti Smith's jock strap."

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

TIFF Dispatch: Apan (The Ape)

I'm not going to write a lot about Apan, the Swedish film I saw at TIFF waaay back in August. This is because:
  • It was about the 8th movie I had seen that day and they were all starting to blur.
  • It was showing at around 5:30 PM (nap time)
  • I had downed two pints in rapid succession moments before going into the theatre.
For a while this was the only trailer I could find.

Then, after some more searching, I found this one:

I will admit that I had every intention of staying awake during Apan. I've liked some of the newer films coming out of Sweden, and not only because they're in color. Its premise was interesting - a man wakes up fully clothed in his bathroom after something has gone most definitely wrong in a most violent way. We're not given any explanation as to his identity or his motivations. We're not really sure what city he's in. I don't even think we get to know his name. Over the next 90 or so minutes a shaky handheld camera struggles to keep pace as he races around town trying to deal with the aftermath and carry out a normal day. He shouts into his cel phone. He argues with his mother. He awkwardly flirts with young boys in the gym sauna. He buys power tools. He clearly has a temper, a fact no doubt related to the mess back home.

This is not a pretty film. The digital video is drab. Our protagonist is drab. The city where he lives is drab. I have a feeling all of this was done on purpose. What that purpose is, however, I have yet to completely understand.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Delaney Turner Collection, Item #995

Hand-carved Gourd, Circa 2007

Purchased after much haggling at the Otavalo market in Ecuador for a now-forgotten sum, this is one of the owner's favourite pieces and enjoys premium placement on the knick-nack shelf. A common sight in many of the craft markets around Quito, this particular example is decorated primarily with musical motifs (harps, horns, etc.) and agricultural scenes no doubt familiar to most Otavalenos. A piece marvelled at by the owner for the sheer number of hours it must have taken to create and the tremendous attention to detail. "I absolutely love this piece," says its owner.

The Delaney Turner Collection, Item #008

"Cedar Saint," circa 2007

Purchased with much enthusiasm in San Antonio de Ibarra, Ecuador, this "Cedar Saint" is indicative of the craftsmanship of the many local artisans (the village is  renowned for its carvings of both sacred and secular objects).  Currently, this Saint stands in silent prayer on the owner's dresser, no doubt bestowing his blessings on assorted socks, sweaters and underwear.

The Delaney Turner Collection, Item #9

Winston Crush-Proof Cigarette Box, most likely tin, era unknown.

Purchased with minimal haggling at the flea market at the Porte de Montreuil, Paris in the mid-1990s, this item, like Item 4, dates from an era when smoking was much more socially acceptable than our current era. Though well-preserved, it does display evidence of having at one time contained cigarettes. For its current owner its duties have primarily been limited to containing smaller items - some of which, no doubt, will appear at a later date in the Delaney Turner collection.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

And they say...

that Chelsea fans have no class.
I'm not sure if this guy confirms or denies that accusation.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

A tale of two Stevies


Fortune Magazine names Steve Jobs the "CEO of the Decade." Jobs, having survived two brushes with death, one securities-law scandal, an also-ran product lineup, and his own "often unpleasant demeanor" has become the dominant personality in four distinct industries, a billionaire many times over, and CEO of the most valuable company in Silicon Valley:

"Remaking any one business is a career-defining achievement; four is unheard-of. Think about that for a moment. Henry Ford altered the course of the nascent auto industry. PanAm's Juan Trippe invented the global airline. Conrad Hilton internationalized American hospitality. These entrepreneurs turned captains of industry defined a single market that had previously not been dominated by anyone. The industries that Jobs has turned topsy-turvy already existed when he focused on them."

Not bad.

Last week, Newsweek called the last 10 years under Steve Ballmer Microsoft's "Lost Decade," having seen the company go from "the meanest, mightiest tech company" into "something of a joke." Yes, Ballmer did triple revenues and built a successful enterprise division, and the Xbox isn't doing badly, either. Still, says Newsweek, in that time Microsoft stock fell by nearly 50 percent (from $55 to $29).

The reason? Unlike the techie Bill Gates, Newsweek writes, Ballmer was a business guy first and had blind spots - big ones, like Web and Search:

"Google got so big so fast that by the time Microsoft recognized the threat, it could not catch up. With Apple, the threat was not the iPod player itself but the Internet-based iTunes store; by the time Microsoft could create a credible clone of the Apple store, Apple had the market locked down."

Not great.

Now, I have friends who work at Microsoft (at least I hope they'll still my friends after all this) and I know it must be difficult to see their company so endlessly ridiculed at every turn. Still, I'm also an industry watcher and I gotta pose the question:


Is the reason for these two nearly parallel reversals of corporate fortune related merely to decisions made by the principal players, or does it speak to a broader shift in business and culture?


In other words, will business fortune (and Fortune Magazine) smile more brightly on techies who bend businesses to their will, or on businesspeople who run tech companies like they would one that makes soap?

If your answer to the first question is the former, then I think you could make the argument that the last 10 years have seen the technology brought to market by Mr. Ballmer (and more importantly, Bill Gates) has driven a profound transformation of the market and the public's buying patterns. Bill Gates built the market for home computing and in doing so built a giant. So did the wider-ranging impact of all those PCs change the DNA of the technology market?

Or, could it be that if you're the CEO of a tech giant and your name happens to be "Steve," maybe your chances of success are 50/50?

I have ideas on this, but what are yours?