Gotta love the attention to detail:

Harris is a stickler for this sort of thing. When he restored Hitchcock's Vertigo, he asked Jaguar to send him a color chip from the 1957 model of one of its cars—the same car that Kim Novak drove in the film—so that he could match the shade of green exactly.
— Your DVD Player Sleeps With the Fishes (0)

Nerdery + politics + good branding = the trifecta! Hot. (via df) (0)

Did I Hear That Correctly?

October 2nd, 2008

So I know that Sarah Palin doesn’t interview well and seems to lie effortlessly and frequently. It’s a shame, but I understand it.

Even with all that, I’m still stunned by this (see from 0:36):

I watched [Tina Fey’s impersonation on Saturday Night Live] with the volume all the way down, and I thought it was hilarious, she was spot on. … It was hilarious, again, didn’t hear a word she said, but the visual — spot on.

So let me see if I understand this correctly: a famous actress parodies you on a show watched by millions of people, and you don’t even listen? Where was this, a bar? On the street outside an electronics store? The trading floor of the NYSE? (No, wait, that’s closed Saturdays… and possibly weekdays, soon enough.)

How could she not have heard it, if not then, later? She has friends, neighbors, aides, kids. They’ll all have heard about it, probably even e-mailed her the Web links if she can’t be bothered to spend 20 seconds searching online for the video. And even if they didn’t, why wouldn’t she seek it out on her own?

No, this is patently ridiculous. She didn’t just happen to miss it, she chose to — or claims she did. Therefore she’s either criminally incurious or she can’t take criticism, even from professional comics. I’m not sure which is worse.


September 19th, 2008
  • 11th: Quit my job*
  • 18th: Last day
  • 20th: Off to Iceland
  • 23rd: Turn 31
  • 27th: Return from Iceland
  • 29th: Nick “officially” moves in

Yeah, so, you know… not busy or anything.

*It was a contractor position, so technically I ended the engagement.

Sign of Quality

August 4th, 2008

In an effort to demonstrate a presentation style, Wired author Dan Pink created a video on “Emotionally Intelligent Signage.” It’s an interesting topic, but the part that made me smile was this sign:
Don\'t worry. This line moves really quickly.

The friendly, human voice of the sign is nice all by itself, but for me the cool part was the memory it triggered: earlier this year, The Boy Nick James and I were in Maui at a lovely breakfast spot called the Gazebo. It’s this little hole-in-the-wall joint that somehow manages to make the most amazing omelettes you’ve ever had. (And the fried rice! Heavenly.)

Anyway, as its reputation has inspired a loyal following, we encountered a sizable line both times we visited. The queue started at this sign:
Please wait to be seated

Once we got to the front of the line, I was bored and decided to play with it. I wondered: What did the other versions say? I lifted the “please wait” sign to find:
Please seat yourself

Aha! Clearly there were times when the crowd was a little thinner. I wonder when that would be? Have to arrange my next visit around that time of day if possible. And, hmm, what’s this? Another sign! What might this one reveal? I lifted the “seat yourself” plate to discover:
Don\'t play with the signs.

Hooray for a sense of humor.

Terrible Name, Though

July 31st, 2008

Who else is ready for the new Bond? Mmmmhmmm….

Nothing If Not Flexible

May 9th, 2008

So, after enjoying an amazing meal (and view!) at one of Vallarta’s restaurants, The Boy and I grabbed a cab for the ride back to the hotel.

Our driver’s English was limited, yet his enthusiasm was boundless. He directed this energy partly into driving, but mostly (after a cursory trip through the usual what’s-your-name, isn’t-it-great-here routine) into one area: lap dances. (Or as he put it: “BOOBIES!”)

I must say, I had no idea Puerto Vallarta had so many opportunities for exotic dance. In addition to the Mirage (for which the cabbie had an actual placard affixed in his upper right windshield), there’s Aqua, Hysteria, Candy’s, Estadia, and who knows how many other options — I got lost in the descriptions and comparative pricing.

Not that we didn’t have the opportunity to consider the merits of several of these establishments, conveniently located as they were right along our route — and wouldn’t you know our man Cecil helpfully (or was it hopefully?) slowed when passing each one? (The bouncer at one of the middle ones actually shouted out a friendly greeting to him, which pleased Cecil mightily.)

Alas, we chose not to partake in any of the local “muy caliente Mexicas,” and just as Cecil was pulling up to the digs, I decided to clue him in. “Hey,” I said, indicating my companion and myself, “do you know ‘gay’?”

“Oh,” he said, “Yes. Sorry, guys. Sorry.” Then he paused a moment, brightened, and added: “Club Mañana has lap dances too!”

Thanks, buddy. We’ll see what the night brings after today’s activities.

I’ll Have 18 Popcorn Kernels, Please

April 23rd, 2008

One wonders if the people who wrote the AMC Guest Satisfaction Survey have ever… set foot in an AMC theater.

screen capture of survey showing price ranges for concessions starting at $1

What exactly can you get for two bucks? Or for that matter under $3? And what’s the purpose of getting this level of granularity? Hell, anyone who buys a large drink and popcorn is almost over the max all alone.

Missing Maui

March 17th, 2008

Back from Maui, and would you believe it was sleeting and gray in Chicago? Of course you would. That’s how it works. Sigh…

Anyway, didn’t take too many pictures, but here’s one I kind of liked (click for bigger):
sunrise, viewed from a volcano

That’s a snap of the sunrise from 12,000 ft up in Haleakala National Park. Specifically, it was taken from outside this little building, which is really better appreciated in context.


March 9th, 2008

View from the balcony of my resort; feet up on the railing

Worst. Chart. Ever.

March 5th, 2008

One of the programs I use (alas, sporadically) to try to get some insights into my finances is called iBank. Despite a few glitches, I’ve found it to be tolerable for what I need.

The makers have just released a new update, and my jaw dropped when I saw a screenshot that included this:
pie chart with segments hard to distinguish due to full-color wallpaper graphics being used for each slice

What? I think it’s trying to show auto, childcare, grocery, clothing, and travel expenses, but that’s just a guess based on the horrible, horrible graphic treatments. And the black background? The reflection? Why, why? (Click through to the screenshot for additional, gratuitous “CoverFlow” action.)

Somebody needs to buy these guys a copy of the Tufte canon.

Now, I know some people will place the blame on OS X for tempting developers with flashy built-in systems to make everything — even a simple chart — look slick. And those people would have more ammunition for their argument if they compared this new iBank release to, say, Quicken Online:
cropped screenshot of Quicken online with

There’s a lot to love about this display: the simple money in/out/difference boxes, the Trivial Pursuit-style chart (though the perspective is unnecessary, what’s wrong with a flat view?) and overall the austerity is no doubt influenced by the comparatively limited functionality of a Web-based application.

Maybe the iBank crew should be confined to the Web until they learn that “useful” and “pretty” should go together…

Sandburg Would Love This Guy

February 1st, 2008

In his poem “Chicago“, Carl Sandburg christened this town the “City of the Big Shoulders.” (I’ve also heard it referred to as “broad shoulders.”) It’s a metaphor, but I have to wonder what he’d say if he saw this guy:
picture of Detroit mayor

That’s Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and apparently he’s having some problems. That’s all very interesting, but I just can’t get past the picture. Does he not have a tiny head on an extra-large body? Look at those shoulders!

(I know, posting about pinheads is hardly an auspicious trend for ’08, but the picture draws me in.)

Happy New Year

January 1st, 2008

Well, here it is 2008 and I haven’t made a new post in months, a fact noted by more than a few of you. I know, I know, I suck.

But really, it’s not like much noteworthy happened to me in the last few months of ’07. Other than:

  • I ended a (quasi-)relationship
  • I turned 30
  • I lost my sole surviving grandparent
  • I went to Australia for a few weeks
  • I split Christmas between 2 states

Hmm, maybe I could have had a word or two to say one some of those items (like the Oz trip, woohoo!) I’ll just have to do better this year…

Two Sentences

September 27th, 2007

One, the opening line from a “thriller” I found left behind in a parking garage, made me groan:

The house in Silverlake was dark, its windows as empty as a dead man’s eyes.

Blech. That book’s getting donated.

But turn that frown upside down, as there’s this one, from NYT:

“It’s going to be really good for international travel over the next year and a half,” Mr. Seaney said.

Excellent! Iceland, anyone?

Stippling is Your Friend

September 5th, 2007

Lord knows what havoc Rupert Murdoch will wreak on the Wall Street Journal now that he’s clinched that prize, but I for one hope he doesn’t tinker with one of the paper’s trademarks: its stippled portraits.

And you know what? I bet Angelo Mozilo agrees with me.

That would be the guy who’s chairman of Countrywide Financial. Depending upon whom you ask, he looks like this:

WSJ portrait of Angelo Mozilo
(From WSJ)

or this:

(From NYT)

I think everyone this side of George Hamilton would agree the former is much more flattering.

Of course, Mozilo wasn’t entirely manhandled by the Times. Consider this improbable bit of that story:

Mr. Mozilo has ridden this remarkable wave to immense riches, thanks to generous annual stock option grants. Rarely a buyer of Countrywide shares — he has not bought a share since 1987, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings — he has been a huge seller in recent years. Since the company listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in 1984, he has reaped $406 million selling Countrywide stock.

As the subprime mortgage debacle began to unfold this year, Mr. Mozilo’s selling accelerated. Filings show that he made $129 million from stock sales during the last 12 months, or almost one-third of the entire amount he has reaped over the last 23 years. He still holds 1.4 million shares in Countrywide, a 0.24 percent stake that is worth $29.4 million.

“Mr. Mozilo has stated publicly that his current plan recognizes his personal need to diversify some of his assets as he approaches retirement,” said Rick Simon, a Countrywide spokesman. “His personal wealth remains heavily weighted in Countrywide shares, and he is, by far, the leading individual shareholder in the company.”

So let’s review. He hasn’t purchased a share of his company in two decades. In the last 12 months, he sold $129 million and now has under $30 million in stock — yet his “personal wealth remains heavily weighted in Countrywide shares.”

Now I’m not one to quibble, but he sure was a lot more “heavily weighted” a year ago, before he decided to cash out over 80% of his then-holdings. Why the bum rush for the exit?

Tanning bill come due?