Interviewed by a twelfth grader

So, this happened. I was interviewed by David Silverman this week. Nice kid. And considering all the high-quality exchanges from other people on his site — some by friends of mine — I’m really impressed that David is still just in high school. He’s going far.

David had some really clever questions, too. I wasn’t expecting, “You are trapped on a desert island…” But it’s not like he was the Spanish Inquisition, either. I was allowed to answer via email so I could craft the responses myself from my comfy chair. I’m just particular that way.

All in all, a good experience and much better than my last phone interview. Thanks, David.

The best “The Force Awakens” review

Not mine. I think that honor should go to this piece by my friend and podcasting partner, Matt Drance.

You should read it. Well, you should read it if you’ve already seen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” because it contains some rather significant spoilers. Caveat lector and all that.

Anyway, I like Matt’s review so much, in fact, that I wish I could have written it. But I’m just not that insightful.

Which is why we canceled today’s recording of a “Review” episode on the film. Because Matt couldn’t make it. And having him is essential. Really.

Sorry about that. I know I teased it yesterday, but we will reschedule. In the meantime, read Matt’s review.

A podcast about things you people wouldn’t believe

Back on September 7 of last year, I sent Rene Ritchie and Guy English an email titled “Some ’80s films for your consideration.” This was shortly after our popular “Dune” podcast (and before the always insightful Matt Drance would join us to discuss “RoboCop“). At the time we were trying to come up with another geek movie to blather on about for 90 minutes.

The email was a list of 40 films that I thought were significant and timeless. On that list was “Blade Runner.” This is what I had to say about it in the email:

This is the biggest impact science fiction film of the ’80s, as far as I’m concerned. Everything changed after this one. In fact, the creators of RoboCop were inspired by it. But maybe it’s already been over-analyzed to death.

I wasn’t being hyperbolic. Every dystopian-cyberpunk-noir thriller that would follow has “Blade Runner” in its DNA. And there were a lot of them. Some might not exist at all if it weren’t for the singular and prescient vision of Ridley Scott and his collaborators.

Look at “Ghost in the Shell,” “Dark City” and “The Matrix.” Would those be the same without “Blade Runner?” I doubt it. Even Ronald Moore has said that the Cylons in his re-imagined “Battlestar Galactica” owe much to the replicants of “Blade Runner.”

That fear of everything already having been said about “Blade Runner” — at least everything of consequence — is why I had it so far down the list.

So I asked Rene to put off doing “the big one” for awhile. Maybe I thought we needed to first earn the right to discuss it. Who knows. For me, it was intimidating.

Eventually I realized that doing the podcast is not necessarily about saying something new. It’s about saying something true. That took the pressure off. Because I truly love this movie. I hope that comes through.

You can listen to our celebration of “Blade Runner” here.

As you wish, another ’80s movie podcast

If you enjoyed the “RoboCop” show that Rene Ritchie recorded with Guy English, Matt Drance and myself last month, then we have another ’80s movie diversion for you — an inconceivable 1 celebration of “The Princess Bride” that the four of us recorded last week.

That makes three ’80s movie podcasts so far, starting with “Dune” way back in August. And we plan to do still more. Seriously, one of these every month. We’re just crazy like that.

We’re focusing on ’80s movies because an ancient relic of that era, me, is available to do stream-of-unconsciousness commentary with folks who were probably children back then. And people wonder why I’m called “Gramps.”


  1. See what I did there?

He who controls the Spice, controls the podcast

I did another podcast last week. With my usual broadcasting buddies, Guy English and Rene Ritchie. I’m not sure why they keep inviting me on their various shows, but I have so much fun talking to them it’s not like I’m going to say “no.” Even if they ask me again. Especially if they ask me again.

Anyway, this time we didn’t even talk about Apple. Much. No, this podcast was entirely (yeah, right) on the subject of “Dune,” the classic Frank Herbert novel and the surreal David Lynch film. In the process, I suffered a serious ’80s flashback and we had trouble staying on topic. No doubt due to all of us being jacked up on Melange. But even with all that Spice, Guy and Rene managed to sound articulate and informed while I talked over everyone else. Just like usual.

Why in God’s name they asked me to join them for a “Dune” podcast is still beyond me. It’s not really my area of known or even suspected expertise. So I just made shit up like any other media reviewer. Whatever works. I think this whole thing started as a bad run of “my name is a killing word” jokes between the three of us and a few other folks on Twitter back in June. And then it got completely out of hand so we had to record it.

Rene told me he hardly edited this one at all, other than clipping the beginning when we were futzing around with our microphones and exchanging mundane stuff about our personal lives. So if you want to hear me unvarnished and raw, I suppose this is as close as it gets.

The Spice must flow. And it did.

I’m on the “Debug” podcast this week

My thanks to Guy English and Rene Ritchie for inviting me on their podcast. I don’t know what they were thinking but they’re good people anyway.

Apparently we talked for an hour and a half. At least that’s the length of Rene’s final edit. I don’t remember half of what I said, but I certainly enjoyed droning on and on at those two. I might have mentioned Safari and WebKit maybe once or twice. And used the “F” word — you know, just so you’re certain it was me.

Touring by yourself

Dalton Caldwell after watching Phil Elvrum perform his solo act:

Going “indie” is clearly not for everyone, but I have the utmost respect for the people that are able and willing to do it.

Read the whole story of how Dalton arrived at that thought. It’s such a wonderful reminder of the courage people must summon to venture out on their own. I immediately sent this article to a friend who recently left Apple to start her own business. Just seemed an appropriate way to tell her how much I respect what she’s doing.

Power users vs. empowered users

Rene Ritchie on the tension between the traditional desktop and the new world of touch:

When the iPad was announced, a friend and former colleague of mine lamented it as the death-knell of powerful, open computing. I welcomed it as the death-knell of me providing tech support for every relative and neighbor who walked into a Best Buy and walked out with a beige box of mystery and pain. Turns out, we were both right.

And this:

And that was Apple’s plan. It’s always been their plan. From Apple II to Mac to iPad to Siri or whatever’s next, Apple has relentlessly pushed form factor and interface towards the mainstream.

Don’t know how I missed this article last week, especially with that perfectly catchy title. Rene totally gets it. That was our plan. And we came to terms with the bargain that made it.

They’ll pry the Mac from my cold, dead hands, but I’m a geek. The good news for me and other power users? That Mac is not going away anytime soon. Plus, now we have an even better solution to recommend to everyone else. Nothing but upside since we can enjoy it too.

By the way, the support war stories within the article are great — the anecdotes aren’t just anecdotal. As I mentioned to Rene earlier today, we’ve all been there with friends and relatives.

Obama’s fighting words

Conservative writer David Frum on President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address:

In the past, President Obama has spoken of the divisions between Republicans and Democrats as fundamentally unreal, subject to compromise and reconciliation by leaders of goodwill. Not this time. This time, he called his opponents out. Yes, many of them deserve it. Yet that does not make his words any less aggressive. Quite the contrary, actually:

We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.

Those are not words intended to invite Republican cooperation, but to slam Republican non-cooperation; not to conciliate, but to confront. They were fighting words, and they portend a second term in which the president is fully as willing to take the fight to his opponents as they have been to take the fight to him.

Frum is at least more reasoned in his reaction compared to the faux indignation of other Republicans. Like schoolyard bullies, they just can’t believe the skinny kid wants his lunch money back now.

I don’t think President Obama is picking a fight. But it’s clear he’s not going to back away from one anymore.

15 things Kurt Vonnegut said better than anyone else ever has or will

During a conversation on today, Dalton Caldwell linked to this article to source a snippet from Kurt Vonnegut he had just posted.

Today isn’t the anniversary of anything significant in Vonnegut’s life. At least, not that I know of. And this article dates back to 2007, the year we were all robbed of his acerbic wit. But I never saw it before.

And I’m fascinated by the selection and exegesis of each of these quotations. My favorite of the fifteen is this koan from “Cat’s Cradle” regarding the curse of sentience:

Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?” Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.

Dalton Caldwell liked that one too. So much so, it was the very first post he made — and only the third anyone ever made — to Good start, sir.

So it goes.