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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trapped Between Worlds

I'm at the Drupalcon in San Francisco. It's a crush of 3000 people who use Drupal-- programmers, project managers, web monkeys, and academics. It's an amazing crowd to behold. There is a homogeny to them-- they all look like they could fit in Silicon Valley-- some have the dumpy student look, some have the hipster thing going on and a few are clad in sports jackets-- I think I counted one tie in 3000 and that was one the guy dressed in a Drupal zoot suit.
I don't know where I fit in. When we get into server administration, I go dumb-- I really can't brain that at all. When we get into programming and theming, I go to sleep because it's all well known territory. There's no way to identify newbie from pro and with 3000 people, I can't possibly hope to figure out who's who. At every session I make a point of quizzing the people near me on what they do. Much of it is very interesting: university folk; a coder from the Audobon Society; entrepreneurs; people who are doing lots and lots of cool stuff. Well, they are. I am stuck with too little time to do anything that deeply interests me. At work, 3000 hr projects are budgeted 200 hours and allowed 100. On my own time, I do some snazzy stuff, but it's semi-pedestrian coding-- so basic that I don't even bother sharing it with the Drupal community. With my own stuff, a lengthening list of produced but unrealized websites are cranked out and they hide in plain sight.
(and on... and on...)

I'm always trying to make a buck. It's as though I don't want to code anymore for a living. Maybe I don't. That said, lock me in a room with a computer and I'll program on it. It's involuntary. It's an urge.
The Moscone Center is a massive structure, multiple blocks in size, with connections between buildings beneath the city street. As luck would have it, I heard that in the same building, there is another conference called "AdTech"-- a meet-up of people who are making money by selling online. Or, at the very least, they make money selling to each other. I visited the Drupalcon expo floor and picked up lots of cool swag-- most of it bound for kiddo. I thought, "I bet those Adtech people have some wicked swag!"-- $50 off of AdWords is just the tip of the ice berg. These guys may be parting with some of these SEO and revenue secrets-- like action at a swingers party: you have to be there to get it.
I saw lots of Adtech people wandering around, invading our turf. The dividing line is pretty obvious. We have like a 70-30 men-woman split. They have a roughly 50-50 split of men and women. Our people look like they spend alot of time indoors. Their people look like they've all come back from a lunch on the patio: tanned and full. We look like garage salers. They look like realtors. For someone who's trying to make a buck, it looked like the promised land.
Lured by their swag and a free 20 minute window, I clad myself in my own sports jacket-- a little Frodo-esque, but it could be the jacket of a hipster (I like to tell myself that I could look like a hipster instead of looking like Chris Farley). I thought: I can bridge the gap and leap to the world that lay just one brane away. I ducked into the mens room on our side of the event horizon to relieve myself and pocket my Drupalcon lanyard. After all, a lot of the Adtech crowd were wandering around without them on (I could tell they were the Adtech/realtor types). I could be one of them.
I jumped the brane. Giggly blondes and good haircuts abounded. Their coffee smelled better. Their bookstand was big and shiny. And there was a shoe shine stand. A shoe shine stand? The last time I saw one of those was in 1985. But the topper was their expo floor: a bright carnival like space thrumming with hucksters and huckees(?).
I walked up and a security person stopped me: "Can I see you badge?"
Shit! "Uh, sure." I knew I was jiggered, but I thought I'd play out the rest of my fallacy. I pulled out my Drupalcon badge. She said I was in the wrong place. I said I got turned around. I apologized and turned around cloaked in the dishonesty of my honest mistake.
No Adtech swag for me.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Cooking + Writing = Cookbook

I have cooked since enchiladas when I was 10. About 25 years ago, I found that people really enjoyed my breakfast and brunches. People are amazed that I don't snap and run for it in the face of 20 hungry guests. I like the challenge and I've made it an easy affair. allows people to self publish anything from angsty memoirs to cookbooks. I put together some of my favourite recipes and sage advice (sage optional) and published a book entitled "How to Impress The World Before 11AM." I do hope you check out my book and give me feedback.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Weekend At Bernie's : European Vacation

A friend of mine knows the writer for the first Weekend at Bernie's. While that movie is a non-event for me, it's the life's passion for the writer-- it's his dead white whale. He needs to start writing again, because the European edition is out:

Two women have been arrested at an airport in Liverpool for attempting to smuggle a dead 91-year-old man onto a plane. They tried to get the corpse onto a flight bound for Germany, by dressing him in sunglasses and sending him through check-in on a wheelchair.

Staff became suspicious and prevented the trio from boarding the plane. (Cracker jack security staff who eventually picked up that the person was dead).

According to Reuters, the women were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of a death and were released on bail.

The man traveled about 35 miles to the airport by taxi from Oldham, Greater Manchester, police added. No word as to whether the dead was driving.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Buried Movies

I am always surprised how so many movies and expensive productions can be buried. It's a like hiding an office building that is 80% done. There are countless numbers of movies that have never made it to the light of day.

Citizen Kane - The granddaddy of all of the buried movies was Citizen Kane. By holding billionaire William Randolph Hearst in ridicule, Orson Welles drew fire on his first movie. Hearst papers ignored Citizen Kane and buried it. While it did win some praise at the Academy Awards, it disappeared until the 1950s when film aficionados uncovered the film and it was soon considered the best film ever made.
The Day the Clown Cried - The Holocaust is a touchy subject. For the sake of winning an Oscar, Jerry Lewis decided to make it the subject of his 1972 comedy about a clown at Auschwitz. It made it all the way to the point of screeners before being circulated. The movie was summarily buried. It was said that the prints and negatives were destroyed but rumors abound that copies stayed in circulation into the 1990s. Someone in Sweden held onto their copy, eventually transferred it to video and then to the Interwebs ( There are very few seeds, so getting this via Bittorrent will only be slightly easier than building a time machine.
Hamster of Happiness / Secondhand Hearts - Robert Blake (murderer / Lil Rascal / actor) kept going onto the Johnny Carson show and talk about the Hamster of Happiness. Three years after production wrapped, this regrettable film saw the light as "Secondhand Hearts."
Fantastic Four - Roger Corman was a prolific producer. Someone he snagged the rights to Marvel's first superhero team, the Fantastic Four for his 1994 movie. My guess this happened in the era when superhero movies were low budget schlock fests and the rights would be easy to obtain. I got to watch this back in the 1990s. Supposedly, the film was poorly received so the studio bought the distribution rights, buried it and pledged to make a better version. The real sin of it: this movie is better than the two cinematic disasters that came out in the last couple years. Via Bittorrent, this movie lives on:
I Love Lucy (the movie) - While it seems like the trend is to turn every lame TV series into a movie. This happened in the 1950s too. For fear it would distract from the other Lucy Ball / Desi Arnez comedy, The Long Trailer, the studio buried it. The movie will see the light of day on April 27th 2010, as a DVD release. Ricky!!!
The Other Side of the Wind - Orson Welles should be Lord Daemon of Production Hell. After Citizen Kane, he went on to be involved in other troubled works like the Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil and other works. The Other Side of the Wind is his opus from the 1970s. Unfortunately, he made a bad choice in the financing, by getting backing from the brother-in-law to the Shah of Iran on the eve before the Iranian Revolution. Years after his death, Peter Bogdanovich took up the cause of the film. In January 2010, Bogdanovich said he doubted if the work could ever be edited into a usable state.

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