Wednesday, December 4, 2013
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month when you gather the land’s produce, you shall celebrate YHWH’s holiday seven days. [...] And on the first day you shall take fruit of appealing trees, branches of palms, boughs of thick trees, and willows of a wadi, and you shall be happy in front of YHWH, your God, seven days. [...] Every citizen in Israel shall live in booths, so your generations will know that I had the children of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am YHWH, your God.”
–Leviticus 23:39–43, Translated by Richard Elliot Friedman
Those of you who celebrate Christmas may not give a lot of thought to those who don’t. Sure, you may say “happy holidays” and support having a menorah next to the Christmas tree downtown. But the mere existence of Christmas affects people who don’t celebrate it. read more »
Monday, December 2, 2013
I went AWOL last week. (I crumbled at the first strains of holiday music, fantastic Assistant Editor that I am.) I didn’t give in to Black Friday. I never left the house on Small Business Saturday. Now it’s Cyber Monday and I really couldn’t give a flying… fluffernutter. (It’s my daughter’s word. Very handy.) It was combination of cleaning, winterizing–yes, even at this late date–food shopping, food prepping, frantically trying to meet a deadline that was utterly hopeless, desperate job searching, and the obligatory nasty cold that swept through the household. All of this finally did me in. read more »
Friday, November 29, 2013
Christmas was the ultimate childhood experience. You spent weekends perusing Sears catalogs as thick as phone books. There were nighttime gingerbread making sessions. The very calendar days were made of chocolate.
And in the 1970s, the Monday before any holiday at 8pm on CBS was reserved for Charlie Brown.
It was a threshold. When you saw a Charlie Brown special, some kind of special occasion was almost here: one week away at most. And you didn’t just watch it; you prepared for it. read more »
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The holidays are the perfect time of year to join friends and family in enjoying holiday themed music, books, and, of course, film. It explains why TBS can get away with a twenty-four hour marathon of A Christmas Story or Home Alone. Christmas puts people in a good mood, and they want that reflected in the media they consume. While I could write about obvious choices such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or the live-action comedy Elf, it’s much more fun to pop in more alternative choices such as Die Hard or Lethal Weapon. I guess I’m a funny sort of guy since I find extreme violence contrasted with the joyous feelings of the holidays to be darkly humorous.
And nowhere is this theme more prevalent than in the works of film director Shane Black, who has made Christmas his own cinematic playground for his bombastic action films; the aforementioned Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodbye, and even the recent Iron Man 3 have all featured the holiday as a backdrop. But a film that certainly puts me into the Christmas Spirit is Black’s first directed film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2006), a comedy-noir hybrid that takes place around the Christmas holidays. read more »
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Boys and girls of every age, would you like to see something strange? Come with us and you will see–this, our town of Halloween…
There’s something deliciously exotic about Halloween, given that it’s not really celebrated in Australia. I think my cul-de-sac is one of the few exceptions where parents actually bother taking their children trick-or-treating up and down the street. Certainly, no one bothers with house decorations or anything elaborate. The most we do to prepare for it is head out to the local grocery store and buy a pack or two of chocolate. read more »
Monday, November 25, 2013
Surprised to find this 1989 Rob Reiner/Nora Ephron classic on the holiday movie lists? Well, why not? When Harry Met Sally is snappily written, gracefully directed, and lusciously filmed, with a rich dollop of holiday atmosphere–on the side, to quote Sally Albright. Two Christmas and New Year’s seasons, a year apart, bookend the last hour of the film, during which likable would-be antagonists find the beginnings of a beautiful friendship, then endure miserable loneliness. Will they face the holidays alone, or find a happy ending?
With its iconic New York setting, the film sets the perfect mood for a holiday filled with gifts, miraculous surprises, and above all, love, the most miraculous surprise of all. This satisfying and uplifting urban fairy tale, starring two of the most charming romantic leads ever, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, is for viewers who don’t want a spoon-feeding of the usual holiday pablum. read more »
Thursday, November 21, 2013
The 1942 film Casablanca is beloved by millions. With its achingly romantic setting in 1940s Morocco, the nostalgic, smoke-filled den of Rick’s Cafè Amèricain, and the tragic love story between Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), the film’s lasting legacy gives weight to the idea that “yes, they really don’t make them like they used to.”
Upon first glance, Casablanca is a fairly straightforward film: Rick Blaine is the owner of a very popular bar, which plays host to diplomats, soldiers, and commoners who all are looking for a distraction from the impending occupation of the Nazis. Ilsa Lund, a mysterious woman from Rick’s past, reappears with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a resistance leader attempting to reach America in order to escape the clutches of the Nazis. While the plot calls for the usual romance–we know that Rick and Ilsa will eventually reconnect–it’s the setting that makes the film as engaging as it is. read more »
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The first time I had a terrible failure at work was a few months into my first job. I hadn’t checked the information I was given, we imported some code into the development environment on a faulty assumption, and it caused an error that couldn’t be fixed without rebuilding the whole environment from a back-up. The last back-up was taken a few days previously. That’s a lot of work when you have a whole team working in the environment. My manager was not pleased, to say the least.
Then there was the time, a few years on, when the component I was supposed to be working on with the lead from another team crashed and burned during the initial testing. I hadn’t been able to get a solid block of time with the team lead, and it didn’t help that we were in different cities. Because we were too busy with other work to put aside a whole day when everyone was available to test the component, we relied on it being built to design, and on the design being correct. Needless to say, it was neither. When you have many moving parts and a lot of things being done under the covers, there’s a million ways for it to screw up. During our troubleshooting, it felt like we hit every single one. read more »
Monday, November 18, 2013
This weekend, an event known as The Geek Creation Show was held in Piscataway, NJ. As a lead up to the event, Magnificent Nose interviewed its organizer Jeff Mach a few weeks ago. He was somewhat coy in answering questions, believing the even was best left to the attendee to experience. If this was your first time at such an event, it’s doubtful he could have told you anything that would have prepared you anyway.
There was an incredible mashup of people with interests ranging from the cutting edge of today’s best science to craftsmanship of a kind that has very nearly been lost. Some folk were dressed to the nines in every kind of cosplay garb imaginable. Characters in a range of styles from medieval to anime to just plain fantastic could be found everywhere. All were gleefully blending together into a whirl of sights that lend a new meaning to the term colorful. read more »