Archive for the ‘Failure’ Category

Mon 25 Aug 2008 9:21 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Transit

Forget something?

The great thing about trains is they never get lost. Or run out of gas. Oh wait.

Thu 7 Aug 2008 2:30 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, In the news

How not to cover a stump speech

From my work blog: Obama Photographer Self-Destructs

Tue 8 Jul 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Travel

The decay of aircraft

Concorde Jet Brooklyn

One of the old Concorde jets is parked out at Floyd Bennett Field, the abandoned airport/park in Brooklyn. Sitting alone on the empty tarmac, it is a bizarre sight (seen above in 2007).

From The New York Times comes this update: The jet’s nosecone was destroyed last Monday when it was hit by a truck hauling equipment to a festival in the park! Per the article: “Within 20 hours of the accident, photos of the damaged plane appeared on the Internet, and Concorde lovers were deploring the level of care it had received during its postretirement odyssey in New York.”

The NYC Aviation board has more pics of the Concorde carnage, which are labeled: “caution: disturbing photos.”

It’s amazing to think that this supersonic jet has basically been scrapped, like it’s an old DC-3 or something. I’m reminded of what happened to the Buran, the Soviet Space Shuttle. What remains of it can be seen in this photo.

Fri 20 Jun 2008 12:00 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Movies

I love a bad review

The Love Guru looks like the worst major movie to be released in a long time. It’s the rare case where the reviews are more inspired and entertaining than the film itself. (I haven’t seen the movie and don’t plan to.) Bad reviews are fun to read, and these did not disappoint. Imagine a poster quoting the critics…

“Antifunny!” –The New York Times
“Anti-entertainment!” – New York Daily News
“Anti-comedy!” – The Washington Post

The film currently has an astonishing 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It has made people forgot that Mike Myers, pre-Shrek, used to be funny. As a reminder, here’s a clip from his last genuinely funny movie, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, which came out in 1997.

Mon 16 Jun 2008 7:25 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Travel

So complicated

I’ve heard it said that Americans are masters of building and operating complex systems. Think about Wall Street. The power grid. The Internet.

The problem is we don’t always seem good at the chores it takes to keep these systems running. Like maintenance. Like educating newcomers about how things work. Despite the amazing incentives not to, Wall Street bankers still manage to make knuckle-headed mistakes that cost themselves and the public lots of money. After the 2003 blackout it became obvious that no living person really understands how our system of electricity works. I heard once that the Space Shuttle is so complicated that we – as in, humanity – do not fully understand it. Now we’re getting ready to scrap it. Sometimes knowledge is so decentralized that it becomes essentially lost. And when the entire system fails, no single entity is responsible.

And yes, I’m about to get to airplanes. Here in the U.S. we have a baffling system of air travel. Many different public and private entities are all working on solving the same problem: transportation. The problem, as I saw yesterday, is that the system was built by people more ambitious than the ones now charged with operating it. Sometimes it’s just that simple: The job is too hard. It’s impossible to get a guy and his suitcase from point to point in the time he was promised when he bought his ticket. We built this system, but we’re not fully capable of operating it. It’s kind of depressing.

Sun 15 Jun 2008 4:26 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Over!, Travel

Air travel is so over!

Greetings from Charlotte. Wait, Charlotte? What’s he doing in North Carolina? I’m suffering in airline hell, that’s what!

I left Charlottesville, Virginia, this morning. I was supposed to board a 10:20 United flight to Dulles. But that plane was already behind schedule, leaving me no time to make my connection. The airline courteously booked me on an on-time U.S. Airways flight to Charlotte, where I could get a connecting flight to Newark. Fine.

Actually, not fine. In Charlotte, my plane left on time and taxied out. It sat on the tarmac for two and a half hours. Then it taxied back. Now I’m part of a planeload of passengers waiting in the terminal while the airline negotiates with air traffic control for permission to land its plane in Newark. The latest word is that we’re supposed to take off at 5:30 – four hours late. The official explanation for the delay? “Weather.” Except it’s an absolutely beautiful day all up and down the Atlantic seaboard, and the departure boards show most of the other flights are on time.

If I’d left my hotel this morning and kept driving to Brooklyn, instead of to the airport, I’d be there by now. Now I am further away from home than when I started.

Also of interest: At no point today has anyone asked to see my identification.

Update: The plane landed in Newark more than four hours late. The pilot explained that landings were slow-going into Newark due to “puffy clouds.” My suitcase followed about 20 minutes later, arriving on a different plane.

Thu 5 Jun 2008 1:00 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Movies

How to fix the Indiana Jones movie

My brother Gerritt helped me realize what made Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull so bad. The culprit? Indiana Jones.

Imagine if Lucas and Spielberg dropped a summer movie on us out of nowhere called The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Instead of Dr. Jones, our hero is a new character. Some kind of nerdy tough-guy professor, played by Will Smith or The Rock or Nick Cage. Imagine…

Roll film. It’s the cold war, 1957. Our hero is fighting the Soviets for possession of a mysterious alien skeleton. There’s action. Comedy. Camp. Flying saucers and killer ants. There’s a flume ride down a treacherous waterfall. There are cute gophers and hilarious monkeys. Sure it’s ridiculous, but that’s what we expect — a mindless escape movie. Everybody loves it.

But back to what happened. We were expecting an Indiana Jones movie, and so was Harrison Ford. He did his best to make it one. But the script was all wrong. That left us with something tantalizingly close to an Indiana Jones movie, but a little off. It’s that slight difference that was so upsetting. The movie had an uncanny valley problem. It made fans like me feel queasy to watch it.

There’s still time for Lucas and Spielberg to scuttle Indiana Jones 5 and get to work on some other movie that would almost certainly be better. We can hope.

Elsewhere: Five Questions Not Answered In ‘Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’

Mon 26 May 2008 10:23 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Movies, Review

Worse than Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones quicksand

The most tragic thing about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that for millions of kids, this will be their introduction to Indiana Jones. Not the swashbuckling hero movies from the 80s, but an incoherent, over-CGI’d space alien picture. (Spoilers follow.)


Thu 22 May 2008 9:29 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Food & drink

Call it a comeback

If Indiana Jones can pull off a comeback, what else?

How about Crystal Pepsi.

It was 1993. With fanfare, a Van Halen song, a Super Bowl ad and a bus wrap, PepsiCo introduced a clear cola soft drink. It was good, if not amazing – a mild, sweet, citrus-y alternative to regular Pepsi, sans caffeine. After the marketing push, the beverage flopped and was quickly discontinued. No one will ever drink Crystal Pepsi again.

Or will they? Somewhere at Pepsi headquarters, the mothballed recipe is sitting in a file drawer (or perhaps on a computer). Some middle manager in the company has seen the online petition, has read blog posts like this one, is aware of the current wave of 90s nostalgia. This person is itching to bring it back. Clearly, Crystal Pepsi would be a hit, if only for a couple of months.

Make it happen! Resurrect this soft drink while people still remember it. Maybe in a limited batch, Pepsi Holiday Spice-style. Or do a promotional tie-in with some movie, a comedy set in the past perhaps? You could even orchestrate the return the 16-ounce glass soda bottle. The public awaits.

No idea what I’m talking about? Learn more about Crystal Pepsi here.

Fri 9 May 2008 9:57 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Technology

Web question of the day

Technologies that are teetering on the brink of failure: E-mail. Craigslist. Amazon reviews. eBay. MySpace. All once held the promise of usefulness, but have been seriously hampered by spam, scams, lies, junk and noise. Wherever people are allowed to type whatever they please, corruption follows.

Two technologies seem to be immune. One, SMS text messages. Two, Facebook.

What do Facebook and the cell phone companies know that nobody else has figured out?