Real people aren’t fictional characters. They don’t follow a plot. None of us wakes up in the morning with the aim of advancing our narrative or reinforcing our core themes. Instead, we simply live, pursuing our interests while adapting to the changing circumstances around us. It’s messy. It’s unwritten.
Khushbu Shah and Cynthia Correa have done yeoman’s work over at Eater:
Nothing pairs better with crazy, over-the-top stadium snacks than an ice-cold beer while watching baseball on a hot summer day. Luckily, fans are no longer stuck forking over an arm and a leg for awful, run-of-the-mill beers. Instead, many stadiums have stepped up their craft beer line-ups, and are often sourcing brews from local breweries.
Philadelphia needs to up its game.1 I went to a game at the Twins’s Target Field last year and enjoyed quite a few local brews. Shocked to see they have more on offer than Colorado’s Coors Field.
Anyway, play ball and drink up.
Both in beer and in actually, you know, hitting and pitching.↩
Jeff Sneider for The Wrap:
After receiving his first Oscar nomination for his acclaimed performance in “Foxcatcher,” Steve Carell is signing on to star in Robert Zemeckis‘ feature adaptation of Jeff Malmberg’s 2010 documentary “Marwencol” at Universal Pictures, TheWrap has learned.
What?! I was a huge fan of Marwencol when it premiered way back in 2010 at SXSW.1 I just brought it up the other day when a friend pointed out that I don’t seem to like any documentaries. I like Marwencol, and I highly recommend you seek it out. It’s available for rent or purchase on iTunes.
I don’t really know how I feel about it being turned into a Hollywood movie. The story of Mark Hogancamp, the man at the center of Marwencol, is certinly interesting enough to command a feature film. Still, the fact will probably always be stranger than the fiction, in this case.
For The New York Times, Tyler Kepner on the state of baseball in 2015:
The areas of emphasis are changing, but teams, of course, will always seek ways to gain an edge. Players will, too, but the drug culture that once led to an offensive boom is mostly gone. Thousands of runs and homers have gone with it, but baseball — for now — can live with that.
“You have to get rid of performance-enhancing drugs, because they are a threat to the integrity of the game,” [league commissioner Rob] Manfred said. “And whatever the game looks like with players playing clean is what the game looks like.”
Strikeouts are up and homers are down. The game is evolving, but I say: good for the game. I grew up in the PED-fueled home run era. It was fun to watch, but now I look back on those years ashamed of what the game became. Baseball needs to move forward and if it’s a more defensive game, so be it.
Man, I’m so happy it’s Spring. Go, Phillies.
Oh and speaking of my Phils:
They lost Thursday afternoon to the Rays at Bright House Field, 10-1, to finish 1-7-1 in their last nine games. They were outscored 72-27 in that stretch.
Oof. Whatever. Go team.
I wonder what it will be like to wear an Apple Watch at the movies. This is, I realize, a controversial subject. Especially here in Austin:
The accepted rule is: no talking or texting at the movies. In 2015 that’s not likely to change. My phone remains pretty much in my pocket for the duration of any film I see in the theater.1 I say “pretty much” because there are exceptions to keeping the phone out of sight, out of mind.
I don’t turn my phone completely off. I recognize that I could, but the fact is that there are things in this world that might be more important than the movie I’m in. I don’t think any notification that has gone off on my phone during a movie has ever more important than the movie itself, but when that day comes, do I really want to miss it? I’m talking about the big deal stuff: life and, more likely, death. I ignore the tiny buzzing in my pocket just fine.
Now, the exception to keeping my phone in my pocket is simple: if I ever get the dreaded double call, the phone will come partway, though never above the waist, out of my pocket to see who’s calling. If it’s nothing, it slips away out of sight. If it’s something then I spring into action out in the hallway. My loved ones know (as all loved ones really should) that the double call is reserved for emergencies only.2 I suppose I’d make a similar exception for something like ten texts in a row.
So how does this all play out if you have an Apple Watch?
An open question (for me, at least) is how the watch’s screen works in tandem with the “Taptic Engine,” the little actuator inside that “taps you on the wrist.” Up until now, notifications have come in through vibrations in our phones. These vibrations are often audible, as when a phone on silent vibrates on a table. Anyone nearby will notice it is vibrating. The taps on the Apple Watch, by all accounts, can only be felt by the wearer. Those nearby will not hear or feel anything. My question is what does the screen do when a notification comes in. Here’s how Apple describes getting text messages on their “New Ways to Connect” page:
You’ll know right away when someone sends you a message, because a notification appears front and center on Apple Watch. Hold up your wrist to read the message, or lower your arm to dismiss it.
If I had to guess, I would say that, just like with iPhone, a notification will light up the screen, but it’s unclear. Here’s how I’d like it to happen:
- A message comes in
- Your Apple Watch taps your wrist but the screen doesn’t turn on
- Raise your wrist and the screen comes on to show you who sent you the text
- Lower your wrist and it’s gone and silent
That would be ideal for movie theater use so long as the screen is automatically dimmed to the lowest setting. Even at its brightest, I have trouble believing a 312 x 390 (for the 42mm model) screen will be that annoying in a movie. Will it be any more annoying than an Indiglo® or similar watch?
I just really hope that the screen doesn’t light up for every notification. Even if it does, though, Apple does seem to have made it very simple to get rid of them. If lifting the wrist and lowering it seems like too much work (in a movie, I think it is) then the way Apple describes dismissing a phone call is even easier:
To mute an incoming call, just cover Apple Watch with your hand.
Maybe all notifications could be silenced this way.
Now, to move into controversial movie theater etiquette: what about responding? If you raise your wrist and see a message that requires some kind of response, you’re two taps away from sending your location. As in: “I’m at the movies, don’t bother me.” You’re also two taps away from a pre-filled response. We’ll see what it’s like, but I’m betting these quick interactions won’t be noticeable to other movie-goers.
And then there’s the “Digital Touch” functionality Apple is touting. If a friend or loved one has an Apple Watch, they could send you some taps, a sketch or their heartbeat. You, in turn, could send a few taps back and be on your way. I see the following becoming very commonplace:
- My girlfriend sends me two taps, indicating “Where are you?”3
- I send three back, indicating “Can’t talk now,” which, if you know me, means “I’m in a movie.”
Again this seems like it will be almost unnoticeable to other moviegoers. Better yet, this seems like it will be fast enough to barely be noticeable to the wearer. Here’s an animation of Digital Touch taps in action.4
Now, keep that image in mind, and then consider this explanation from Craig Hockenberry of how the watch’s AMOLED display works:
And from what we’ve seen so far of the watch, that black is really really black. We’ve become accustomed to blacks on LCD displays that aren’t really dark: that’s because the crystals that are blocking light let a small amount pass through. Total darkness lets the edgeless illusion work.
I suspect that any time black is displayed on Apple Watch, it will be as if the screen isn’t illuminated at all. With Digital Touch, there is so little that will actually emanate light. So in a setting like a darkened room where everyone expects silence, Digital Touch interactions may fly well below the radar.
So in a movie theater I would think of Apple Watch as, well, a watch. If, for example, someone actuates a light up screen on an analog watch and leaves it on for more than a few seconds, that will become annoying fast. The same goes for Apple Watch. Quick interactions will likely go unnoticed by engrossed moviegoers. Anything more is rude.
I don’t see theaters instituting a serious “no Apple Watching” policy. I’m guessing that as they first come out reactions will visceral and negative. For whatever reason (probably the price, probably because it’s Apple), there is a presumption of douchebaggery for people wearing Apple Watches. I think that will quickly fade. As someone who owned the original iPhone which came into the world with the same “Who would spend $600 on a phone” incredulousness, I predict that that noise will move to the background right quick.
The (supposed, remember I’ve never seen or used one) intimacy and simplicity of using Apple Watch at the movies removes most of the problems smartphones have introduced at the theater. I think going to the movies in our hyperconnected world will become easier, not harder, with Apple Watch. But that’s me.
I learned this the hard way in college when I double called a roommate at work to ask something dumb, like where’s the detergent.↩
Both parties would have to come to an agreement on what different taps mean, which I think would happen organically over time.↩
Note that these are pulled from the video featured at the September 2014 event. The interface has since been updated, as seen on Apple’s “New Ways to Connect” page, but for my purposes here, this inital design is close enough to what is shipping later this month.↩
I wrote a piece about Alex Gibney’s latest documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, for GOOD Magazine.
The film is by no means a comprehensive portrait of Jobs, though it features a number of interesting new interviews with those close to him, like the aforementioned [Chrisann] Brennan, iPod chief Jon Rubinstein, and Macintosh engineering head Bob Belleville. […] Mostly though, it seems Gibney set out to make a negative portrait of Jobs, and he succeeds.
Audiences who know little about Jobs are certainly in for a shock. I heard plenty of gasps among the SXSW audience I watched the film with.
While I believe Gibney made this film to better understand his relationship with the technology that has conquered the world, I think he’s a bit cagey in his narration about how deliberately unsavory his portrayal of Jobs is. This is not a flat out biography. I’m not sure I’d call it a hit piece either, but it comes very close.
That said: it’s all true. Jobs had a very dark side that was never quite hidden, but surely overshadowed by his incredible successes.
I’m not sure why now, but the legacy of Jobs seems to be coming more to the fore this year. Besides Man in the Machine, which has been picked up by Magnolia Pictures and will probably see a release sometime this year, just this week we saw the release of Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader.1 That latest unauthorized biography of Jobs has been met with praise so far by the Mac blogging community and even Apple itself.
I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t speak to whether it looks at Jobs through rose-colored glasses (whereas Gibney’s glasses would be more ashen) or if it truly is a comprehensive investigation into Jobs’s life. If I had to guess, Man in the Machine will fade, just as the scandals rehashed in it have done over the years.
Me, for Heeb Magazine:
This year, at SXSW, we have the premiere of Bob Byington’s 7 Chinese Brothers, a film that showcases the lighter side of [Jason] Schwartzman’s on-screen schmuckery. He plays Larry, a fuck-up to be sure, but a fuck-up you can cheer for.
I enjoyed this one. If you’re a Schwartzman fan, 7 Chinese Brothers should head to the top of your list.
I joined my pal Ryan Gallagher (of CriterionCast fame) to talk about this year’s SXSW Film lineup. I can’t wait to see so many of these films. Give a listen.
Big scoop from Michael Learmonth over at the International Business Times:
HBO is in talks with Apple to make Apple TV one of the launch partners for its highly anticipated streaming service when it debuts next month. HBO and streaming partner Major League Baseball Advanced Media are working to have the standalone service, called “HBO Now,” ready to launch in April in conjunction with the premiere of the fifth season of “Game of Thrones,” according to sources familiar with their plans.
$15 a month. No cable subscription required.
Maybe we’ll hear just a bit about this on Monday when Apple has its Apple Watch event. If Apple landed an exclusive launch window it would be huge for the Apple TV. If for even just a few weeks into the latest season of Game of Thrones Apple TV is the only device you can get standalone HBO on, they would sell a bundle without updating the hardware.
Time will tell.
Linda Rodriguez writing for Boing Boing:
“The problem with the pocket watch is that you have to hold it,” explained Doyle. That wasn’t going to work for the officer at the Western Front – when an officer lead his men “over the top”, leaving the relative safety of the trenches for the pock-marked no man’s land in between and very possible death, he had his gun in one hand and his whistle in the other. “You haven’t got another hand in which to hold your watch.”
I came across similar histories to this piece when researching my “Smartwatch through History” article for GOOD Magazine. Rodriguez offers a great, conciese refresher on the history of the wristwatch.
We’re on the precipice of another wave of wristwatch innovation. Hopefully it won’t take another war to push the state of the art forward.