Skip to content

What the hell is wrong with Hollywood?

Dear Reader,

What the hell is wrong with Hollywood? How can the same mindless machine turn out “Spanglish” and “Paycheck”? (Why the hell is Ben Affleck still able to get work? I mean come on “Perl Harbor”, “Gigli”, “Paycheck” how much more of this must we endure? Can’t we just label him an Illegal Enemy Combatant and ship him off to Club Gitmo?)

Previously I watched Adam Sandler in “Spanglish”. Now, I will admit that I’m not a fan of all of Adam’s work; but by-in-large, he is a great actor and has turned out some funny and heartwarming movies. As it was put to me recently, “…all men should thank Adam Sandler because in most of his movies, the men aren’t ass-holes.” So for that, I thank you Adam.

But this week I watched “Paycheck”. (In the spirit of openness, I also watched “The Life Aquatic” but I’m still confused on that one.) “Paycheck” is what is wrong with Hollywood. It lacked the excitement of “National Treasure” and the depth of “Spanglish”. Basically it was a “paycheck” movie. Everybody gets a paycheck for doing a middle of the road job. Nothing about this movie stands out except for the potential of the script. Yet again, someone has taken a story from Phillip K. Dick and screwed it. (The one and only good PKD movie, IMHO, was “Blade Runner”.) The directing was mediocre. (Obligatory Homer Simpson quote “…no misdirected woo, which is pretty much any John Woo film.”) Sorry John but this one just laid there. I didn’t believe Ben Affleck, Uma Thurmond still looks like Poison Ivey and even if she didn’t, who is going to believe that Ben Affleck is going to fall for an ugo like that. (John, seriously, hire a new makeup artist. Uma is plain enough without bad lighting and makeup. In parts of this movie, she looked more like Skelator than a biologist.)

How can the same industry put both of these out? The main difference is the talent BEHIND the camera. “Spanglish” boasts of James L. Brooks, whose list of credits goes longer than this entire article. Nobody is perfect and I’m sure James has does something I’ve not liked but I can’t name any of them at the moment.

So to Mr. Brooks, I say thank you. I salute you for “Spanglish”, for “War of the Roses”, for “Broadcast News” and of course, for “The Simpsons”. You sir are the reason God has not smitten Hollywood and made L.A. slide off into the ocean.

Until next time, have a safe flight home.

=C=

Stay away from the dark corners of your mind

Dear Reader,

I’m about to make a major life change. I’ve never made one this big but when I come to these cross-roads, I usually take a flashlight up into the attic and poke around to see what I’ve forgotten. Here’s one that I feel it necessary to share.

It was during the dot.com bubble. I was the manager of a small but growing software development team. Those that know me know I love managing development teams. So I was having the time of my life. Well at least at first. See I took the job under a bit of a false pretense. I was hired in March and told I had to staff the team and complete version 1 of the software by the end of July. (By staff the team I do mean from scratch) It was a company I really wanted to work for. I had interviewed with them 12 months before and had been turned down. This time I really wanted the job. I wanted it too much because I agreed to the terms knowing that there was no way it hell that the software would be done by then.

Off I went on my merry way, hiring developers, buying lunches, having a grand old time. Eventually, as all software projects do, it got to crunch time. On more than once occasion, the C.O.O. of the company (the world’s only living brain donor) sat in my office and said the words “…the fate of this company rests on you and your team.” Yep, no pressure here. So I did what any incompetent development manager does, I started mandating longer hours.

Starting in September, I actually REQUIRED people to work 12 hr days, and 6 day weeks. We were in over drive. I had people sleeping on couches overnight; I had people staying at nearby hotels because they were too sleepy to drive home; (I paid for the hotels. it was a standing rule, I’m not a monster) and I even had one girl (Lady, but we’ll use girl cause it sounds nicer) rent a small trailer nearer to the office than her house so she didn’t have a 1.5 hour drive each way. We will call her J.

Nashville is cold in the winter and one December morning J awoke to find that the pilot light on her furnace had gone out. (I’m telling this from memory so J if I get the facts wrong, feel free to correct me) J, wrapped in a blanket because the Trailer was poorly insulated and hovering in the low 30s, went to the furnace to light the pilot light and warm things up here.

Something happened. When she lit the match, there was a pocket of gas that had built up or a leak or something. The end result was the same a ball of flame hit her in the face giving her 3rd degree burns over 40% of her body. Worse yet, since it startled her, she gasped and sucked the flame down into her lungs scarring her lungs.

I never saw her again. I left that job in January (after the project was successfully rolled out in December) because the pressure was too great. As soon as we had the first version out. We hadn’t even begun to work the kinks out of it, management called me into their offices and wanted to start pushing the development team hard for the second phase. I knew then that it wouldn’t end. They had already replaced me functionally because after J’s incident, I lost the will to beat the developers. They brought in a woman who did an excellent job of “whipping the puppies” till the software was done. I just couldn’t do it.

I knew in my heart that I was responsible for J. If I had had the balls to stand up to management and tell them we wouldn’t be done in time and that we will stop this death march, she would have been spared. There were so many times when I could have reversed that situation but I’m ashamed to say I didn’t. Like every other incompetent development manager I thought you could continue to push people past their limits for the sake of the company. The end never justifies the means.

J, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I did that, I’m sorry I never visited you in the hospital (it was shame that kept me away) and I’m sorry I moved you up from Florida only to ruin your life.

Please forgive me.

=C=

PHP Quickie

Dear Reader,

2 quickies for all you PHP junkies out there.

1: Nashville PHP Users Group Ironically, my boss, who lives in San Jose, CA showed me this. Gotta make the next meeting. As part of this one PHP Podcast The second one, “Conversation with Wez Furlong” was pretty interesting. (If a bit long, it might have been better as maybe 3 conversations with Wez)

2: Anyone toying with AJAX? (yea, I know, PHP is not front end but AJAX has to talk to something.) Here’s are 2 pretty cool articles Part 1 and Part 2

That’s it.

Until next time, have a safe flight.

=C=

Resumes

Dear Reader,

I received a nice note from an HR manager to whom I had sent a resume.

“BTW, when applying for a “regular employee” position (vs. consulting), it is best to have another version of your resume, with NO picture, & preferably a Word document you attach – rather than telling the recruiter to go find it on your site. It makes a better impression, plus US laws prohibit discrimination based on race, creed, sex, etc etc – therefore a picture should never be part of presenting yourself.”

Ok, the part about attaching the Word document is true. I usually just send them out to my web site to pick up a copy of it if they want it instead of clogging the network with hundreds of copies of my resume. But I’ll start doing this now. (I’m sorry if it affects your surfing but as you see, it’s the advice I get) It’s the other part, the part about a picture, that saddens me. When did we because such an anal society that we can’t look at someone and say, you know, that’s just not someone I want to work with. Shouldn’t a company have the right to hire whomever they want, for whatever reason they want?

Yes, I’m aware of why we have these laws, I just thing they are a bit outdated now. I realize that there are probably pockets of discrimination left but by and large, it’s a thing of the past. (Ok, so I’m a white guy and have never been discriminated against, no wait, I have. People are always blaming me for discrimination whether I’ve actually done it or not. That’s a form of discrimination and it’s just as valid as any other form)

Anyhow, Ms W. I really do appreciate the advice and am following it. I have a sanitized version of my resume that does not contain my picture. You can probably still infer my sex and approximate age from it but there’s no way around that.

Until next time, enjoy your time off…see you when you get back.

=C=

First Post(card)!

Dear Reader,

Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that life is good; interesting but good. At the moment, all of my energies are focused on finding some contract work. It’s an attempt to forestall my move back into a soul-stealing cube farm. Any leads would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s one I’m thinking about a lot lately. What makes a woman sexy? Is it just tits and ass or is there more? I thought I knew the answer until recently. Now I’m not sure I do. Are we men as shallow as we are portrayed to be or is there more to us?

If anyone reads this and wants to comment, I’d like to hear from you.

Until next time, wish you were here…or at least I was there.
=C=