Archive for August, 2009

Fri 28 Aug 2009 9:00 am   //   Posted in: Hard times, Movies

We need to talk about your flair

The other day at work I was coding an e-mail newsletter while listening to Dr. Dre and realized: I am pulling a total Michael Bolton.

Ten years ago, Mike Judge directed a movie set at a dot-com company in the generic American suburbs. It flopped in the theater. But time has been good to “Office Space.” It’s actually gotten funnier and even more devastating as the trends this movie dryly observed have become more widespread. For people of a certain age, this movie is as much a cultural touchstone as “Star Wars” and “Back to the Future.”

Gawker uses “The Bobs” as slang for “consultants.” The Wikipedia entry on TPS report includes half a dozen pop culture references. Web sites sell red Swinglines and Initech T-shirts. The “Pieces of Flair” Facebook app has 4 million users. Call “Office Space” a cult movie if you must, but it’s one heck of a big cult.


Wed 26 Aug 2009 9:00 am   //   Posted in: Music, No right to be good, Travel

How I learned to stop worrying and love Jason Mraz

August 12, Rio de Janeiro, on a vacation I felt I had earned.

A banged-up Volkswagen sedan picked me up at the hostel. As I climbed in the back, the driver apologized in part-English, part-Portuguese for the busted rear window, which was stuck open. We turned onto the road that parallels the beach. The air that blew through the car was warm and smelled like the sea.


We followed the coast and passed through tunnels cut into seaside cliffs. I was on my way to go hang gliding for the first time. This is a touristy thing to do, but the gliding conditions were good, and I felt excited.


Mon 24 Aug 2009 10:00 am   //   Posted in: Art, Transit

NYC subway map, without subways

I was changing trains the Chambers Street Subway station last week and saw this unusual poster:


It’s obviously a riff on this standard MTA poster seen in many stations: (more…)

Sat 22 Aug 2009 9:58 am   //   Posted in: Travel, Videos

Airport time

Recently I had two three-hour layovers in the Miami International Airport. Here’s the entire experience summed up in 18 seconds:

Thu 20 Aug 2009 10:00 am   //   Posted in: Travel

Can’t stay long – I’m an American

I love visiting other countries, learning about new places, and meeting fellow travelers. Last week in Rio, I stayed in a hostel, a place that draws together a lot of budget-minded, English-speaking wanderers. We usually have some predictable things in common (a go-with-the-flow sense of adventure, an interest in people different from ourselves, big backpacks). We also have some predictable differences (professions, faith beliefs, sports allegiances).

Wherever I go, including Brazil, new friends inevitably ask where I’ve been, where I’m going, and how long I’ve been traveling. And I say, “I’m only here for a week, then I’m heading back home.” People then give me a look of pity. If you’re an American and you’ve ever been abroad, you know what I’m talking about.


Tue 18 Aug 2009 12:27 am   //   Posted in: Photos, Travel

Photos from my vacation in Brazil

Just posted: A photo gallery from my trip to Rio de Janeiro. I’ll be writing more about this later this week, but pictures first. Enjoy!

Sat 8 Aug 2009 10:44 pm   //   Posted in: Stray data

No posts for a few days

I’m on vacation and won’t be updating my blog until the week of August 17. See you then!

Thu 6 Aug 2009 9:00 am   //   Posted in: Media, Movies, Over!

I will probably never buy another DVD

Last year, I spent $20 for a cable that connects my computer to my TV. It has more than paid for itself. A few months later, I’m streaming most of my home entertainment over the Internet. This week I watched “The Hunt for Red October” from Netflix. The experience delivered just as much Cold War nautical awesomeness as it would have on a DVD. And I can play it again any time I want.

Which makes me wonder, why own DVDs at all? My modest, tightly-edited DVD collection takes up one shelf of a narrow bookcase. Like my long-obsolete CD collection, seeing it sometimes fills me with buyer’s remorse. Eight discs of “Arrested Development” sit there mocking me, now that every single episode is available free online. “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Casablanca,” and “Vertigo” are there too—and also available streaming from Netflix.


Mon 3 Aug 2009 9:00 am   //   Posted in: Media, Technology

Twitter Shame and Facebook Rage

I want to talk about two emotional reactions I felt recently as a result of social networking sites.

twitterbird1. Twitter Shame

I was at a networking event with some other journalists, and one reporter decided to get provocative. “I just don’t get Tweeter,” she said, deliberately misstating the name. “Who cares what you’re having for lunch?”

Ah, the lunch fallacy. I rushed to Twitter’s defense. “Actually, I find it quite useful,” I said, delivering my well-practiced argument in support of using Twitter for journalism.

And then, suddenly, I ran out of gas. A wave of intense embarrassment washed over me. Am I really this much of a tool? I imagined someone tape-recording the conversation, then playing it back to me later, snickering at my emotional defense of a tech start-up in which I have no stake whatsoever. I felt Twitter Shame.