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Recent Movies

May December simmers with tension and is a rare example of an actor's film powered by two female leads: Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore. They are subtle but superb. The plot resembles a real sex scandal involving a middle-aged woman and an underage boy (the Mary Kay Letourneau case in the 1990s). Here, Moore plays a woman who (like Letourneau) eventually married the boy and bore his children. Now she's 55 and he's 36, and their twins are graduating high school. Charles Melton skillfully plays her husband as a flat personality who quietly harbors doubts. Portman plays the catalyst that heats the simmer to a boil — her character is a famous actress who will portray Moore's character in an upcoming movie. Her immersive research for the role disrupts the shaky status quo, and she begins to relish playing Eve to an immature Adam. But this is a film in which the performances supersede the story.

Rustin tells the story of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (1912–1987), who organized the massive 1963 March on Washington at which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech. Although Rustin was a lifelong activist, he's relatively obscure, because his homosexuality relegated him to the background. This film centers on Rustin's planning for the 1963 event and is more accurate than a typical Hollywood dramatization. Colman Domingo was nominated as Best Actor for his lead role. Instead of downplaying Rustin's homosexuality, the screenplay highlights his affairs and shows how they jeopardized his contributions to the movement. It honestly paints Rustin as a tragic figure who nevertheless was an important freedom fighter.

Maestro is a disappointing biopic of Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990), the famous American conductor, composer, and pianist. If you know little about him, you won't learn much more, except that he was a bisexual chain-smoking philanderer. It centers on his marriage to Felicia Montealegre, a stage actress. Although a few scenes show him conducting orchestras, composing music, and teaching youths, it ignores his philanthropy, influential music, and political activism. Of course, it's not a documentary, but it's not an illuminating biopic, either. The highlights are Oscar-nominated performances by Bradley Cooper as Bernstein and Carey Mulligan as Montealegre. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Makeup/Hairstyling, and Sound. Cooper directed and co-wrote the melodramatic script.

American Symphony profiles polymath musician Jon Batiste during an especially difficult period when he was composing and arranging an orchestral performance for Carnegie Hall while his wife suffered a relapse of leukemia. This intimate documentary by Matthew Heineman showcases Batiste's versatile musical talent and his loving relationship with Suleika "Boo" Jaouad, whom he married in 2022. Batiste won fame when his band Stay Human appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert from 2015 to 2022. His music has also won five Grammy Awards and an Oscar. Working at close quarters, Heineman reveals the highs and lows of two people struggling to beat the odds, both professionally and personally. It's one of the year's best documentaries.

Nyad dramatizes the true story of Diana Nyad, a marathon swimmer in her youth who tried to swim from Cuba to Florida in her 60s. It had never been done before without the protection of a shark cage or other assistance. Nyad herself failed and almost died when she was only 28. To try again in her 60s was daring at best, reckless at worst. Annette Bening delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Nyad, with Jodie Foster as her partner and coach. As usual, Hollywood needlessly embellishes an already dramatic story with fake events (shark attack!), but it's generally realistic. It's also refreshing to see an actress in her 60s playing a woman in her 60s as an athlete in command of her life. This movie is really about the late-stage struggle against irrelevance, infirmity, and death.

See more mini-reviews: 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 Oscar Contest

Deadline is March 10 — Enter Now

It's time to enter Tom's Oscar Contest — now in its 41st year! You must submit your contest ballot by midnight (your local time) Friday, March 8. The Academy Awards show will be broadcast on TV on Sunday night, March 10. As always, the latest scores in Tom's Oscar Contest will be updated live on this website during the awards show. Don't miss this thrilling event! (Sorry, participation is restricted to Tom's friends, acquaintances, and previous contestants.)


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
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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
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