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Recent Movies

Civil War imagines a near-future conflict ignited by a U.S. president who won't quit after his constitutionally limited second term. California and Texas form a military alliance to fight the rogue president and his supporters. British writer/director Alex Garland conceived this violent and disturbing movie to warn that "American exceptionalism" doesn't except the U.S. from the internal discord that has sabotaged many democracies. Although this particular scenario may seem unlikely, Garland unites the two prominent blue and red states in a pro-constitutional rebellion to avoid leaning either liberal or conservative. The scenario is less important than the warning, which is that Americans would probably behave no better than anyone else when the social order breaks down. Thus we see unaffiliated vigilantes torturing and executing people they dislike, pointless duels between anonymous snipers, and American soldiers battling each other. To further present a neutral viewpoint, the main characters are journalists who cover both sides. Kirsten Dunst plays a famous photographer weary from years of foreign wars who now sees her own nation disintegrating. Cailee Spaeny plays a young admirer who aspires to equal fame without comprehending the hazards to body and soul. This controversial film is also a litmus test: Does the rogue president most resemble Trump or Biden? Our answers justify the warning.

Unfrosted debuts comedian Jerry Seinfeld as the director, co-writer, and star in a quick-witted farce about the invention of Pop-Tarts. It fictionalizes a feud between the two corporate giants of breakfast cereals: Kelloggs and Post. They're spying on each other while trying to develop a new breakfast pastry. Seinfeld's fingerprints are all over this comedy, which abounds in crazy characters and zippy one-liners. A great cast includes Melissa McCarthy, Hugh Grant, Amy Schumer, Peter Dinklage, Christian Slater, Jon Hamm, Cedric the Entertainer, and Saturday Night Live regulars Mikey Day and Kyle Mooney. One amusing scene mocks the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Two jokes in poor taste should be cut, though: one about NASA astronaut Gus Grissom (killed in the 1967 Apollo fire) and another about President John F. Kennedy (assassinated in 1963).

The Bloody Hundredth is the companion documentary to the AppleTV+ fictional series Masters of the Air, but it stands alone as an excellent one-hour summary of air combat over Western Europe during World War II. It focuses on the U.S. Army Air Corps 100th Bomb Group, which flew Boeing B-17 heavy bombers against Nazi targets. Winning air superiority and degrading Nazi war production was crucial to the success of the Allies' D-Day assault in June 1944, but it came at a great cost. Casualties were so severe that this group of squadrons was labeled the "Bloody Hundredth." Informative interviews and archival film footage honor the men who fought in this deadly air campaign.

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.

See more mini-reviews: Godzilla Minus One ... American Fiction ... Poor Things ... The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar ... Napoleon ... Leave the World Behind ... May December ... Rustin ... Maestro ... American Symphony ... Nyad ... Killers of the Flower Moon ... Barbie ... Oppenheimer ... All the Beauty and the Bloodshed ... Moonage Daydream ... 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
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