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Recent Movies

Poor Things abounds in gorgeous steampunk sets and flamboyant fashions that won three Academy Awards. It also won Emma Stone her second Oscar for Best Actress and was nominated for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Music, Film Editing, and Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo). Despite all the acclaims, this eccentric film is controversial. Stone plays a suicide corpse revived by a rogue scientist (Willem Dafoe). But she resumes life with a baby's mind in a woman's body. Relearning the world is a difficult passage through experiences that veer from amusing to appalling. A common thread is her sexual flowering, which men either exploit or repress. Some critics question her prostitution — the impersonal sex scenes are surprisingly graphic and portrayed as enlightening. This picture finds odd ways to lean feminist while pitting a quest for self-improvement against the inertia of a cruel world.

Steve! (Martin): A Documentary in 2 Pieces skillfully reviews the life and career of America's most famous comedian. This two-part AppleTV+ film is overlong (more than three hours) but is revelatory. The first part is more interesting because it shows Martin's long road to fame and the difficult evolution of his quirky comedy. He started at age 11 selling newspapers at Disneyland and gradually created a stand-up act that became a pop-culture phenomenon in the 1970s. In 1980 he abruptly quit those gigs to become a Hollywood actor and writer whose movies ranged from hilarious to dreadful. Now in his 70s, he's returning to his roots and has fathered his first child. Martin expresses awe at his success and seems to genuinely feel impostor's syndrome — a high-achiever's nagging suspicion that his good fortune is undeserved.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar won the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film and is a good 39-minute introduction to the unique style of writer/director Wes Anderson. Famous for his cartoonlike art direction and set designs, as well as his quirky storytelling, Anderson adapted this light comedy from a short story by British author Roald Dahl. The main character, Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch), is an idle man of inherited wealth who learns an unusual skill that can make him much wealthier. His use of this skill brings the tale to its conclusion, but Anderson's visual creations nearly supersede the plot. His feature-length films — such as Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) — strike a better balance of style and substance.

Napoleon dwells on Napoleon Bonaparte's troubled marriage while skimming over his historic conquests and reforms in early 19th-century Europe. The token battle scenes are appropriately violent but undermined by the usual Hollywood inaccuracies, such as a frozen lake enabling the French victory at Austerlitz and Napoleon leading a cavalry charge at Waterloo. These distortions of well-documented events cast even more doubt on scenes between Napoleon and his wife Joséphine that no one witnessed. Joaquin Phoenix portrays Napoleon as a glum, boorish man who makes love like a jackrabbit. Vanessa Kirby is much too young for her role. Whereas Joséphine was 6 years older than Napoleon, Phoenix is 14 years older than Kirby. Director Ridley Scott and writer David Scarpa took the tired route of needlessly embellishing an already dramatic story.

Leave the World Behind narrows the focus of a catastrophe to two families: one middle-class white, the other upper-class black. The interracial characters and atypical status add tension to an already tense scenario that begins with an Internet blackout and gradually deteriorates. Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke play the parents of two teenagers renting a luxurious Long Island vacation home. Mahershala Ali and Myha'la play a wealthy black investment manager and his precocious daughter seeking shelter. The situation is already uneasy when outside events eclipse their personal conflicts. This contrived but plausible thriller heightens suspense by withholding information until nearly the end. Optimists will see a call to change; pessimists will see a warning to prepare for the inevitable.

See more mini-reviews: May December ... Rustin ... Maestro ... American Symphony ... Nyad ... Killers of the Flower Moon ... Barbie ... Oppenheimer ... All the Beauty and the Bloodshed ... Moonage Daydream ... Babylon ... Tár ... The Whale ... Top Gun: Maverick ... Elvis ... Nope ... Everything Everywhere All at Once ... Minamata ... CODA ... and hundreds more!


Tom's Inflation Calculator

Tom's Inflation Calculator includes the latest U.S. government inflation data for 2023 plus alternative data sets. It's free and should run automatically in your web browser after clicking on the link above. By using historical data and forecasts, it can adjust U.S. dollar amounts for retail price inflation either forward or backward in time for any years between 1665 and 2100.

Tom's Inflation Calculator also includes the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, which the Federal Reserve uses to guide its monetary policy, plus an alternative data set from ShadowStats, a private company. It's the best inflation calculator on the Internet!


Computer Dictionary

Are you baffled by a technical term or acronym you've never seen before? Or just curious about the latest techie slang? Tom's Computer Dictionary may have the answer. From "AAC" to "zoo virus," it defines more than 900 terms in plain language. Learn to speak geek!


Mini Movie Reviews

Tom's one-paragraph reviews of more than 1,900 movies and documentaries, including shorts, silents, independent productions, and experimental cinema. Special attention to old classics, film noir, science fiction, and horror thrillers!


Unseen Photographs
of Haunted Franklin Castle


Franklin Castle is said to be Cleveland's most haunted house. Now you can see rare interior views I photographed in 1980 while guided through this spooky 1881 mansion by a ghost hunter. My photos have never been seen before! I shot two rolls of film that dark night, including infrared film in an attempt to capture phenomena beyond the spectrum of human vision. Follow this link to Franklin Castle as it was in 1980 — and will never be again!


Radio Havana 1972

On this page you can listen to rare recordings of English-language shortwave-radio broadcasts from Radio Havana in Cuba. In April 1972, I recorded these shows from an antique radio and learned about propaganda. One recording is "The Voice of Vietnam," with news of the Vietnam War from the communist side. Another is "Post Office Box 7026," which answers questions mailed by listeners from all over the world. These echoes from the past are historical, interesting, and amusing. The MP3 files will play in most web browsers.


Unseen Photographs
of a Lost Earth Artwork

"Partially Buried Woodshed" was an unorthodox earth artwork created in 1970 by Robert Smithson at Kent State University in Ohio. After an arson attack and decades of deterioration, only traces remain, and new campus buildings and parking lots occupy the site. I took numerous photographs of the artwork while it still existed in 1975–76. Now you can see a few, never before published.


Guitar Cheat Sheet

Do you want to learn the most common major and minor guitar chords? Instantly transpose songs from one major key to another? Find out which major and minor chords go together? Play scales in any major key? Learn the notes on the fretboard? It's easy! And it's free! Just print Tom's Guitar Cheat Sheet.


Index to Tom's Articles


Here's an index to more than 500 of Tom's articles in Microprocessor Report, the insider's guide to microprocessors, networking chips, and mobile-phone chips. Learn about embedded processors, microcontrollers, digital-signal processors, and related topics. (TechInsights subscription required to read most articles.)


Scramble Text With ROTator

ROTator is an applet that lets you encode and decode text in the popular Internet format known as "ROT 13." Lots of other programs do that, but my applet goes further by allowing you to encode and decode text in any rotational letter-substitution format. You can shift the letters left or right, and you can shift them by any number of letters from ROT 1 to ROT 26. Use my all-new JavaScript version (recommended) or the original Java version.


Test Your Java Security

How safe is your system from hostile Java applets? Find out with JSecure, one of Tom's free applets. JSecure harmlessly tests the security manager of your Web browser or applet viewer by trying to access information from your computer's operating system and hard disk. Try it today!


[ BYTE JUNE 1998 ]

BYTE Magazine Articles

Here's an index to more than 180 of Tom's computer articles from BYTE Magazine published from 1992 to 1998. (BYTE ceased publication with the July 1998 issue.) All of my articles are available online and some include the original photographs and figures.


And more stuff...

  • Tom's Mini Movie Reviews. Snappy reviews of recent movies, like those in the blue column at left. Reviews that scroll off the column land on the Mini Movie Reviews page.

  • Shutterbug Articles. More than a dozen of Tom's photography articles from Shutterbug magazine are now online. Learn how to personalize your film speed, banish dust from your darkroom, make postcards, find the best deals on used cameras, create special effects with open flash, and more.
  • The Death of BYTE Magazine. In 1998, after 23 years of operation, BYTE Magazine was folded by its new owner. To learn the inside story about what happened to the world's second personal computer magazine, see Tom's Unofficial BYTE FAQ.
  • Tools for Web Builders. The hardware, software, programming tools, and books used to build this web site. Some tools may be useful to you, too.
See old tech:   Computer History Museum
Restore old tech:   Phil's Old Radios
My guitar teacher:   Dave Creamer
Fake news debunked:   Snopes
Tech industry news:   The Register
BYTE Magazine archive:   VintageApple.org
Compute! Magazine articles:   Classic Computer Magazine Archive
Blogger for thinking photographers:   The Online Photographer
Contact the webmaster:   Feedback page

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