Ramblings & ephemera

Saul Bass changed how audiences view movie credits

From Christian Annyas’s “Saul Bass Title Sequences“: “PROJECTIONISTS – PULL CURTAIN BEFORE TITLES”. This is the text of a note that was stuck on the cans when the reels of film for “The Man With the Golden Arm” arrived at US movie theatres in 1955. Until then the credits were referred to as ‘popcorn time.’ […]

David Pogue’s insights about tech over time

From David Pogue’s “The Lessons of 10 Years of Talking Tech” (The New York Times: 25 November 2010): As tech decades go, this one has been a jaw-dropper. Since my first column in 2000, the tech world has not so much blossomed as exploded. Think of all the commonplace tech that didn’t even exist 10 […]

Don DeLillo on how film has changed our society completely

From Adam Begley’s interview of Don DeLillo in “The Art of Fiction No. 135” (The Paris Review: Fall 1993, No. 128): Film allows us to examine ourselves in ways earlier societies could not—examine ourselves, imitate ourselves, extend ourselves, reshape our reality. It permeates our lives, this double vision, and also detaches us, turns some of […]

The difference between crime films & noir

From Roger Ebert’s “Detour (1945)” (The Chicago Sun-Times: 7 June 1998): The difference between a crime film and a noir film is that the bad guys in crime movies know they’re bad and want to be, while a noir hero thinks he’s a good guy who has been ambushed by life.

Woody Allen’s atheism

From Robert E. Lauder’s interview with Woody Allen, “Whatever Works” (Commonweal: 15 April 2010): Well, you know, you want some kind of relief from the agony and terror of human existence. Human existence is a brutal experience to me…it’s a brutal, meaningless experience—an agonizing, meaningless experience with some oases, delight, some charm and peace, but […]

Errol Morris on film noir

From Errol Morris’s “Film Legend Errol Morris Salutes New Graduates At 2010 Commencement” (Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism: 10 May 2010): There are many things I liked about noir. But in particular, there are images of one benighted character after another struggling to make sense of the world – and sometimes failing in the effort. […]

Coppola on changes in the movie industry

From Bloomberg’s “Francis Ford Coppola Sees Cinema World Falling Apart: Interview” (12 October 2009): “The cinema as we know it is falling apart,” says Francis Ford Coppola. “It’s a period of incredible change,” says the director of “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” “We used to think of six, seven big film companies. Every one of […]

Various confidence scams, tricks, & frauds

From “List of confidence tricks” (Wikipedia: 3 July 2009): Get-rich-quick schemes Get-rich-quick schemes are extremely varied. For example, fake franchises, real estate “sure things”, get-rich-quick books, wealth-building seminars, self-help gurus, sure-fire inventions, useless products, chain letters, fortune tellers, quack doctors, miracle pharmaceuticals, Nigerian money scams, charms and talismans are all used to separate the mark […]

David Foster Wallace on David Lynch

From David Foster Wallace’s “David Lynch Keeps His Head” (Premier: September 1996): AN ACADEMIC DEFINITION of Lynchian might be that the term “refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.” But like postmodern […]

What passwords do people use? phpBB examples

From Robert Graham’s “PHPBB Password Analysis” (Dark Reading: 6 February 2009): A popular Website, phpbb.com, was recently hacked. The hacker published approximately 20,000 user passwords from the site. … This incident is similar to one two years ago when MySpace was hacked, revealing about 30,000 passwords. … The striking different between the two incidents is […]

What happens to IP when it’s easy to copy anything?

From Bruce Sterling’s “2009 Will Be a Year of Panic” (Seed: 29 January 2009): Let’s consider seven other massive reservoirs of potential popular dread. Any one of these could erupt, shattering the fragile social compact we maintain with one another in order to believe things contrary to fact. … 2. Intellectual property. More specifically, the […]

Real-life superheroes

From John Harlow’s “Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US” (The Times: 28 December 2008): There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then […]

Bruce Schneier on security & crime economics

From Stephen J. Dubner’s interview with Bruce Schneier in “Bruce Schneier Blazes Through Your Questions” (The New York Times: 4 December 2007): Basically, you’re asking if crime pays. Most of the time, it doesn’t, and the problem is the different risk characteristics. If I make a computer security mistake — in a book, for a […]

Steve Jobs has changed 4 industries

From Tom Junod’s “Steve Jobs and the Portal to the Invisible” (Esquire: 29 September 2008): … Jobs has changed three industries forever — personal computing with the Apple II, music with the iPod and iTunes, and movies with Pixar — and is on the verge of changing a fourth with the iPhone …

How movies are moved around on botnets

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007): Figure 2.11 illustrates the use of botnets for selling stolen intellectual property, in this case Movies, TV shows, or video. The diagram is based on information from the Pyramid of Internet Piracy created by Motion Picture Arts Association (MPAA) […]

Anonymity and Netflix

From Bruce Schneier’s “Anonymity and the Netflix Dataset” (Crypto-Gram: 15 January 2008): The point of the research was to demonstrate how little information is required to de-anonymize information in the Netflix dataset. … What the University of Texas researchers demonstrate is that this process isn’t hard, and doesn’t require a lot of data. It turns […]

6 reasons why “content” has been devalued

From Jonathan Handel’s “Is Content Worthless?” (The Huffington Post: 11 April 2008): Everyone focuses on piracy, but there are actually six related reasons for the devaluation of content. The first is supply and demand. Demand — the number of consumers and their available leisure time – is relatively constant, but supply — online content — […]

Scarcities and the music, movie, and publishing businesses

In Clay Shirky’s response to R.U. Sirius’ “Is The Net Good For Writers?” (10 Zen Monkeys: 5 October 2007), he takes on the persona of someone talking about what new changes are coming with the Gutenberg movable type press. At one point, he says, “Such a change would also create enormous economic hardship for anyone […]

Best comment I’ve seen on New York Minute, the Olsen twins movie

From Roger Ebert: “Because the movie all takes place during one day and Roxy is being chased by a truant officer, it compares itself to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” It might as reasonably compare itself to “The Third Man” because they wade through sewers.”

Best headline ever

From Entertainment News, 21 March 2004: “Zombies Push Jesus from Top of North American Box Office” (About Dawn of the Dead and The Passion of the Christ)