Thursday, January 27, 2005

Movie Review: Imitation of Life (1934)

Based on a 1933 novel by Fanny Hurst. The 1959 remake by Douglas Sirk starring Lana Turner and Sandra Dee is probably better known today. The story is loaded with melodrama but is also interesting, absorbing, and socially conscious (particularly for the 1930s).

Claudette Colbert plays Bea Pullman, a widow with a young daughter. In the opening segment, which today would be a model of parental negligence, she meets Delilah a black woman looking for work, and hires her as her housekeeper. Delilah has a young daughter, Peola, who is very light skinned and can pass for white. Delilah also has a killer pancake recipe from her grandmother, and Bea and she start a very successful pancake business and make fortunes.

So you can see where the various story arcs will go. The women become wealthy, their daughters grow up, Bea gets interested in a man, Peola tries to shed her black heritage and is embarrased by her mother, and more. In spite of the fact they are good friends, Delilah still takes care of Bea and lives downstairs with servants. The world can't conceive of them being equals and neither can they. Delilah just wants to take care of the people in her life, and that makes Peola's rejection of her that much more painful, she has nothing else to live for. This film does poignant well.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


The Oscar Nominations have been announced. Below is the list of them by number of nominations. I've only seen 8 so far, so I have a lot more to see in the next month (I'll be updating the list below as I see them). Yes I will be running my pool again, you can download the Oscar Pool Form. Good Luck.

Seen11The Aviator
Seen 7Finding Neverland
Seen 7Million Dollar Baby
Seen 6Ray
Seen 5Sideways
4Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events
Seen 4The Incredibles
Seen 3Hotel Rwanda
Seen 3Spider-Man 2
Seen 3The Passion of the Christ
3The Phantom of the Opera
3The Polar Express
Seen 3Vera Drake
2A Very Long Engagement
Seen 2Closer
Seen 2Collateral
Seen 2Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Seen 2Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Seen 2Shrek 2
2The Chorus
Seen 2The Motorcycle Diaries
2The Sea Inside
Seen 17:35 in the Morning
1As It Is in Heaven
1Autism Is a World
1Before Sunset
1Being Julia
1Birthday Boy
1Born Into Brothels
1Everything in this Country Must
Seen 1Gopher Broke
Seen 1Guard Dog
1House of Flying Daggers
Seen 1I, Robot
Seen 1Little Terrorist
Seen 1Maria Full of Grace
1Mighty Times: The Children's March
Seen 1Ryan
1Shark Tale
1Sister Rose's Passion
Seen 1Super Size Me
1The Children of Leningradsky
1The Story of the Weeping Camel
1The Village
Seen 1Troy
Seen 1Tupac: Resurrection
1Twist Of Faith
1Two Cars, One Night

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Professor's Saturn Experiment Forgotten

This just has to suck. Professor's Saturn Experiment Forgotten "David Atkinson spent 18 years designing an experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn" and "the command to turn the instrument on was forgotten."

Bunny Suicides

I'm not sure if this is a genre or just a lone site, but Bunny Suicides is very funny.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The 24-Hour Comics

Here's an interesting notion, The 24-Hour Comics. Scott McCloud wrote the wonderful book Understanding Comics and came up with this idea in 1990, write an entire 24-page comic in 24 contiguous hours. The site includes the first attempt by him as well as many other attempts by others in the index.

New Chip Architecture

Here's an interesting article (for geeks only) on the architecture of the new Cell Processor. This chip has been designed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM and will be in the PlayStation 3. It's a radical new chip design and will deliver blazzing performance improvements ("We have never seen a leap in performance like this before and I don't expect we'll ever see one again, It'll send shock-waves through the entire industry and we'll see big changes as a result."). Combine that with it being cheap because the PlayStation 3 will have enough demand that the numbers produced will be huge and as a result the price will be low. The article questions: "Has the PC finally met it's match?"

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dawn of the Space Age

I found in the Boston Globe a lecture at Harvard about space with telescope viewing afterwards. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics sponsors Monthly Observatory Nights. This month was a talk by Jonathan McDowell on the Dawn of the Space Age. He talked about the space programs mostly between 1957 and 1961. With many documents recently declassified by both the Soviet Union and the US, a lot more is now known.

For example the first US spy satellite image was taken Aug 18, 1960; but more interestingly was how it was recovered. It seems the satellite actually developed the film and then dropped a canister down to earth. It releases a parachute and an airplane catches it in mid air to retrieve it!

Then we went to the roof where even through cloudy skies we got a great view of Saturn through the 15-inch telescope known as The Great Refractor. There were also some smaller Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes on the roof that offered a similar image as the large telescope. While I found this on the web afterwards, this is roughly what we saw.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My 2nd Best Toy

After my TiVo, my next best toy is the Navigation System in my Acura TL. It's great that I'm never lost and never need directions. While it doesn't always pick the best route, it will get you where you want to go and having a map right in front of you that's always centered on you and oriented correctly is really wonderful. If I hit traffic, I just take the next exit and it tells me how to go around it. But as the image below shows, what we can get here is nothing like what exists in Japan. This isn't a video game, it's Sony's new Linux-based in-car nav / infotainment product for Japan. Yes the buildings are real and I assume the traffic cones are up-to-date as well.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Inspector Clouseau works the weekend at Charles de Gaulle

The French airport security has been planting explosives in the suitcases of unsuspecting passengers — all in the name of safety. "Four days after police at Charles de Gaulle Airport slipped some plastic explosives into a random passenger’s bag as part of an exercise for sniffer dogs, it is still missing — and authorities are stumped and embarrassed."

Bruce Schiener: "if you are going to plant plastic explosives in the suitcase of some innocent passenger, shouldn't you at least write down which suitcase it was?"

Friday, January 14, 2005

7 miles per pixel

I love pictures of space, I check out APOD each day. I can't help but be amazed by the Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn. Today the Huygens Probe sent back the first pictures from Saturn's moon Titan, thats about 750 Million miles away (about 9 times as far as the Sun is). I love reading sentences like: "The image scale is about 11 kilometers (7 miles) per pixel."

Netflix Friends

I think this is a new feature on but it's one I've wanted for a while. I'm a big movie buff and lots of people ask me what's in my netflix queue and I've wanted to just be able to show it to them. Now it seems you can. Go into netflix and you'll see the friends tab. Try entering my email address (still shy to post it on this blog for fear of spam, if you're reading at this point you probably know me and my email address) and let's connect. I now have lots of time for movies and am always looking for new recommendations.

What's in a name?

So here's my first blog entry. The name of this blog "Castro's Favorite Color" came from a lunch conversation in 1998. Someone at the table asked if everything man knew was on the web. I quickly answered "no" and was asked "like what?" Off the top of my head I said "Fidel Castro's favorite color". When we got back to our desks, we searched (probably with altavista and several other engines back then) and we couldn't find it. About every 6-12 months since then, I've tried searching to see if this vital bit of info was on the web, and AFAIK, it still isn't. Which makes it a good name for something, because google won't confuse it with something else. :)