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Monday, October 13, 2021

Yes, I actually did pick up Esquire Magazine’s 75th Anniversary Issue, with the electronic-ink dynamic cover. Just like I said that I would (not that that’s any guarantee, but this time it was).

I have thumbed through it, but mostly it’s been sitting around my bedroom. I’m finding the incessant blinking of that e-ink to be unfailing eye-catching, and as a result, a bit unnerving. At least it doesn’t glow in the dark.

As far as what’s making the gee-whiz display do what it does, I’m not adventurous enough to tinker with it. But this guy was, and even took a quickie video, pre-op:

As for the actual hacking possibilities, they seem scant, although Esquire itself is soliciting attempts. I assume the “Esquire Sucks” re-flashes will be mostly ignored…

Neat stuff. I guess we can expect more of this from Esquire, and soon, since they have exclusive rights to the technology through the end of 2009. They need to figure out a way to make the package less bulky, though. And something a little more truly animated — this cover is strictly just a blink-on/blink-off affair, less fluid than I imagined e-ink would be.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/13/2008 07:45:50 PM
Category: Publishing, Tech
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Once upon a time, Joel and Ethan Coen put out really good movies, infused with a quirky sensibility that shined through regardless of genre. Think Blood Simple, Barton Fink, Fargo.

Then, around the turn of the century… Something happened. I don’t know for sure what. Maybe they met George Clooney, maybe they got a new high-powered Hollywood agent, whatever. But the quality of the Coen Brothers output got really erratic after that: Charmers like O Brother, Where Art Thou? would be followed up by throwaway star-vehicle crap like Intolerable Cruelty.

That actually seems to be the pattern now: The Coens crank out one really strong piece, then chase that with some half-baked nonsense. That daily-double turned up most recently with the stellar No Country for Old Men and the unfortunate Burn After Reading.

And the point of this post is, really, to kvetch about Burn. To say I was disappointed in this under-plotted mess is a fair understatement. While it started out promisingly enough, with a wacky comedy of errors meets espionage motif, it devolved into little more than a bunch of overblown character sketches that were barely related to one another. The storyline got so weak that the Coens resorted to essentially abdicating the flow in the second half of the film to a virtual narration of events between two CIA officers. Most nerve-wracking of all, the sloppiness in this rushed-through conclusion completely abandoned one character’s (Tilda Swinton) specific subplot altogether.

The ultimate problem is that, because the Coens have their names branded onto these efforts, they seem to get a pass on what otherwise would be recognized as dismal failures. I realized I’m in a distinct minority in my opinion, as Burn got a healthy level of endorsement from the critical ranks. Again, I’m thinking that has more to do with the post-Oscar glow of No Country. Great for business, not so great for artistic integrity.

According to the backstory, the Coens wrote Burn and No Country simultaneously, switching off on alternate days to concentrate on one film or the other. It worked well enough with the latter, perhaps because they were adapting from the original Cormac McCarthy book. But it didn’t work with what I assume was the Brothers’ original concept. Next time, the need to slow down and flesh things out a bit more, plot-wise.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/13/2008 02:03:17 PM
Category: Movies
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