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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Tuesday, November 3

Steve Jobs

I just sat down to write a review of a movie we saw today, write it on my personal computer, this thing with a gigundous screen and access to the Internet that allows me to find the answer to any question I can ask it. For example, I had a piece of a song lyric buzzing around in my head and it was driving me crazy. I could hear the music but all I could come up with was the phrase at the end: “Being miserable is gonna be fun.” I went to Google (but it could have been any search engine), plugged it in, and found that Irving Berlin had written “My Defenses Are Down” in 1942. Amazing that I could find the song with only a scrap of lyric. Another example: On Netflix we’ve been whipping through old episodes of “Frasier” and my wife asked me about the dog Eddy. So I went online and searched for Eddy + Frasier and wham, I found more information about him than I wanted. He was a Jack Russell terrier, his name was Moose, and he died at 15½ during the eighth season, replaced by his son Enzo. Another son, Moosie, was adopted by Peri Gilpin (Roz Doyle on the show). Eddy’s salary was around $10,000 an episode. Amazing (not just the salary but also the information). What, you say, does this have to do with a movie review I’m in the process of writing? The movie was Steve Jobs and it was all about Jobs and his role in developing this thing that now so dominates our lives. The movie opened with a black-and-white scene in which Arthur C. Clarke, the English futurist and sci-fi novelist, is explaining to a computer geek what the future will likely hold, that instead of this huge room encompassing one of the first computers, we may all one day be able to carry this thing around in our pockets. Fade to Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) in 1984 about to present his boxy Apple Macintosh to the world, but he couldn’t get it to say hello to the audience. They have only about an hour to get it right and we have confrontation after confrontation between Jobs and his marketing director Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet, looking very unlike Kate Winslet); John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), Apple’s CEO who debated with Jobs about a Pepsi commercial they’d made; Steven Wozniak (Seth Rogen), who simply wants Jobs to acknowledge the guys who developed the Apple II computer, the one that made all the money for the company; Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlberg), who did the dirty work in developing the hardware for the computer; and Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), the woman whose daughter, Lisa, Jobs refuses to acknowledge as his. Lots of confrontations, lots of heated dialogue, very little action. This film may have been better as a stage play. Act Two was another presentation for Jobs’ NeXT computer in 1988, the black imperfect perfect cube that never caught on. More confrontations. And finally, in Act Three, we have Jobs preparing his presentation of the iMac in 1998, with a final confrontation between him and his nineteen-year-old daughter (whom he apparently has now acknowledged as his daughter). He tells her as she is about to get in her car that he’ll be able to give her access to 500 . . . a thousand songs in her pocket instead of the few she has in that boxy cassette player she has strapped around her neck. A wonderful summary of exactly what Steve Jobs did for the computer world, he tells Wozniak, “The musicians play the music. I play the orchestra.” Despite his conducting, I feel more like the movie did a “jobs” on me. Michael Fassbender will undoubtedly be nominated for best actor, but I undoubtedly doubt that either Alan Sorkin for his writing or Danny Boyle for his direction will get the same recognition. Arthur C. Clarke had it right—there’s no way we can accurately envision what lies ahead in this techno world we live in, the one Steve Jobs and his co-workers gave us in the last century.
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