Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is a film well-described by its title. Its playful and Amelie-esque opening accurately reflects the film to come: well-structured, and full of crazy characters. Steve Carell (The Office - US), in particular, plays a difficult role, that of a depressed man who learns to enjoy life. The stand-out acting, however, has to be from Abigail Breslin, who plays Olive, the little girl around whom the film is centred. It has always seemed unfair to me that child actors automatically get a lower billing, and this is a good example of that disparity. It is amazing to think that someone so young could get such a strong grip on acting.

The family that forms the meat of the plot of Little Miss Sunshine is just as dysfunctional as The Simpsons, and just as funny. The film is a road trip, and as such is plotted as you might imagine: various different events occur that provide the ups and downs of the emotional journey. I got drawn in - I found it hard not to get angry when they did at ‘the system’ that holds them back. Despite knowing that it’d have a happy ending of a sort (films like this always do), I got nervous when they had a setback.

Little Miss Sunshine is an instant classic, just purely on acting ability alone. But it’s a fully-rounded film, and one that deserves to be enjoyed. I recommend it highly.

From Palm, to Google Calendar

As part of my cunning plan to move my data online, I decided to move away from using my Palm for managing my diary - and towards Google Calendar instead. I’ve already stopped using the Palm to-do list; all I really need to do now is find a decent online addressbook; Plaxo being one possibility that Chris suggested.

It took me a while to figure out how to get my data out of the Palm. Palm don’t provide a decent export to anything other than Palm formats for the datebook, so a third-party exporter was called for. The web is seemingly full of dodgy Windows shareware to do the job, but jpilot (which I already, but rarely, use on my Linux machine) turned up trumps. It exports directly to the modern iCalendar standard, fully supported by Google Calendar. Hurrah! Since this solution doesn’t seem to be well-documented, I thought I’d write it down.

The Departed

'I don't want to be a product of my environment - I want my environment to be a product of me' - Frank Costello.

This noble sentiment from the mouth of a gangster - reminiscent of Milton Friedman’s reproof of JFK’s famous speech - kicks off The Departed.

Acting in it are a ‘who’s who’ of junior and senior male American film stars, including Leonardio DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson, and Martin Sheen. Sure, the first two look a bit alike (yes, they do!), but once you’ve overcome that, it’s pretty easy to follow. And boy, are they all good.

It certainly isn’t as complex as the action/thriller/mystery trailer, and the first 20 minutes, would have you believe. In fact, it’s a pretty straightforward film, almost so much so that you begin to wonder about the Oscars it won. Not because they weren’t deserved - anything without Ben Stiller should surely be a candidate - but simply because it all seems a bit too easy. There’s plenty of violence, some good old-faishoned double-crossing, and a naïve psychiatrist who falls for her patients. There are some sly modern ‘liberal’ digs at the Patriot Act, but otherwise it’s by the numbers.

Nevertheless, The Departed is solid, and a robust chunk of acting and plot. Well worth an evening in.


It appears that all the cool kids are using Dopplr to run into each other more often. I’m kinda curious to know whether it’ll work (I ran some numbers on this a few years ago with some colleagues and we concluded it wouldn’t). So I’ve signed up. I’ve one beta invite left, so if you’d like it, let me know.

Blogging ROI

Of recent months, the frequency of posts on this blog has declined from a peak of about two a day to once every few weeks. This is primarily because I’ve realised that such a high posting frequency isn’t sustainable, and it isn’t giving me the ROI I’d hoped for. Combined with some personal projects I’ve been working on in the past week or two, I simply don’t have the time to write all the articles I want to. I hope my writing is still interesting to my friends, family, and strangers - but it has become, and probably will remain, more sporadic than it once was. This blog isn’t going anywhere, and I’ll continue to post - it might just not be as often as it used to be. I hope you continue to enjoy it.

As always, feedback is very welcome.

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