Nine books I've recently purchased that I've read half through or haven't started at all. Here are some notes and previews:
1. Veronika Decides to Die Perhaps this is one of Paulo Coelho's most depressing novels.
2. The Truth About Markets: Why Some Nations are Rich, but Most Remain Poor Another economic book I bought to understand market economy and the have vs. have-not. Author: John Kay.
3. Seeing What's Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change Clayton Christiansen co-authors with Anthony and Roth after his groundbreaking innovation theory in disruptive innovation from his successful book, The Innovator's Dilemma.
Part I of this book focuses on how to use theory to do your predictive analysis. in Part II, the authors applies these theories to predict the next changes in education, aviation, semiconductors, health care, corporate and country strategies, and telecommunications.
4. The World Is Flat: The Globalized World in The Twenty-First Century Thomas Friedman definitely has got a lot to say about the flatteners that are flattening the globalized world. A great book to read to understand the current and future trends in economics and technologies. Lots of discussion on the emergence of new economic forces, India and China.
5. Death by PowerPoint: A Modern Office Survival Guide Go read this book and you'll definitely identify your colleagues to the different characteristics Michael Flocker describe in this hilarious yet useful guide.
There are some useful descriptions of corporate lingo (e.g. circle back, engineering synergy, bridging synergy, drill down, mandatory fun), politics (perception,reality), etiqutte (e-mails, presentation), and others.
6. Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Skeptical Muslim I'm still in the first couple of chapters in Ziauddin Sardar's memoir of journey in Islam in the late 20th century and the new millennium. I'm still at the part where Sardar left the Tabligh group with Sister Sofia and returned home.
I can't wait to continue finishing this exciting book as Sardar tells his stories and views from his extensive travels to Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Turkey to name a few.
7. A Perfect Spy After watching The Constant Garderner, I thought I should read John Le Carre's books. I haven't started on this book although I bought it few months back.
8. Everything Bad Is Good For You: Why Popular Culture is Making Us Smarter You know this is a good book social commentary book when Malcolm Gladwell calls it 'Wonderfully Entertaining'. Steven Johnson will convince you that popular culture is making us more intelligent.
I like the chapter where he explores the multi-billion gaming industry - e.g. what makes people spend lots of money buying cheat sheet and spend hours of times getting from one level to another in video/PC/online gaming.
9. Making Globalization Work I read Joseph Stiglitz's Globalization and Its Discontents during my MBA days and I'm a big fan of his ideas. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist lays out the process of reforming globalization after his widely accepted analysis (promise and perils) of globalization in his earlier book.
A Perfect Spy, Clayton Christiansen, Death by PowerPoint - A Modern Office Survival Gui, disruptive innovation, Globalization and Its Discontents, John Kay, John Le Carre, Joseph Stiglitz, Journeys of a Skeptical Muslim, Making Globalization Work, Malcolm Gladwell, MBA, Michael Flocker, Paulo Coelho, Steven Johnson, The Constant Garderner, The Globalized World in The Twenty-First Century, Thomas Friedman, Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Indust, Veronika Decides to Die, Why Popular Culture is Making Us Smarter, Why Some Nations are Rich but Most Remain Poor, Ziauddin Sardar
The World Cup 2006 is here June 9 11pm (Malaysian time) for the opening ceremony and the first match Germany vs. Costa Rica.
Here are my predictions for Round 2 by group (A: German, Poland) (B: England, Sweeden) (C: Argentina, Holland) (D: Mexico, Portugal) (E: Italy, Czech) (F: Brazil, Japan) (G: France, Korea) (H: Spain, Saudi Arabia)
Here are some of the important links for this edition of the World Cup.
1. I like it when Steve Jobs dished out music labels as being greedy after asking price hike on iTunes Music Store. Jobs cited that battle on piracy will be lose out if we increase the price.
2. The female hurricane names: Katrina, Ophelia, Rita. They are going to run out of names soon. "The Atlantic basin has seen 17 named storms since the season began June 1, and only four are left on the list." Suggestion: Go Greek! Alpha, Beta, etc.
3. A.P. news headline "Jennifer Aniston is ready to date" in her first TV interview (Oprah) after Vanity Fair.
4. Everybody Loves Raymond which just ended after successful nine season, won another Emmy awards. Congratulations to Brad Garrett and Doris Roberts!
5. A group of New York based authors are filing suit against Google Inc. on copyright infringement of Google book scanning initiative to index book content. The outcome of this case should be interesting to analyze since few Ivy Leagues already gave green light to Google.
6. English Premiership League is getting boring. Is Chelsea to blame? This rare soccer piece on MSN is an interesting read.
7. The return of our favorite shows on TV! And new fall line ups. Can't wait to see more darker and twisted plots in some of the shows! One of my favorite Slate columnist, Daniel Engber explains why TV do premier in September.
8. I watched Amadeus in the weekend and was so sad to learn on Mozart death. This movie deserved all the 8 Oscar it grabbed in 1984. One of the best biographies I ever watched, this one is told from the perspective to someone who had love-hate relationship with Mozart's work; Salieri, the Italian composer.
9. WebEx is the new Internet darling. Watch out this one capturing corporate market segment on web conferencing.
10. Sony had learned it the hard way when it lost out Beta-max format over VHS. Reason being: content exclusivity. Apparently, the most lucrative content segment, porn got into VHS faster. Reports have it that porn materials have gone mobile with the new UMD format on PSP. Does profit motive beats morale value here? This one makes good discussion!
I googled the news last night to read the earliest postings by major news syndication that will for sure review the finale of SATC, and at about 2 in the morning, there you go ... 365 related news already writing and commenting on all the happy ending to the show ... days before most papers like USA Today already built up the anticipation to the finale ... and 350 others did the same thing.
And since this one says goodbye as well as Friends too this year, and we are now left with The Sopranos and Six Feet Under for that really good drama (comedy) shows.
There are lots of things that we all should learn from Michael Patrick King (SATC producer) as well as the writer team that made this show successful. So, minus the formulaic equation of sex sells, the leaves us with character development, how strong each character was, how well was each developed, how wisdoms has developed over the six year on nearly 100 episodes, i.e. from being naive to being matured, from being single to relationship and commitment, and being from heavy comedy show to a serious one.
And credit has to go to fashion really plays a big role in this show. Success like this will become testament to new marketing strategy that synergies branding and an array of lifestyles that sometimes can be too imaginary. Last night Cat Schwartz on TechTV introduced that new black NOKIA phone that has cool mp3 player that was produced as part of the campaign of promoting a singer, JayZee (I have to verify for this).
In all, let's wait for the movie of which the script will be ready by may this year. Till then, let's hunt for all the DVD boxes for collection. Seriously, I can't wait for the second season of Six Feet Under!!!
Later tonight, I will continue watching the first season of Six Feet Under DVD box that I had purchased. Alan Ball the creator of this highly rated HBO show about a funeral home is a one genius producer. Though the show contains similar themes to his award winning American Beauty, Six Feet Under explores the:
grief after demise,
the intricate social values in America,
the real deal in business world today (small operator vs. corporate chain),
the strong expressions in each of the character (a mom who got married at 19 and seek new life after death of a husband,
a rebelious teenager daughter,
a prodigal son who comes return to his family business after the father will gave him half of it as well as his 'synthetic' communication with his father in getting to know him after years of seperation,
the central character of a son who has worked his life in the funeral business who also has the sixth sense of communicating with the death,
the significant others of which one is a hot brilliant chick,
the Puerto Rican corpse artist,
a same sex partner,
an affair partner, and the 'rebellious daughter' journey through adulthood.
The remaining characters centered around the different cases of death person and the family griviences to pay the last tribute. This show is so addictive and if you are a drama buff, you'll probably end up watching this DVD box hour after hour continuously. This show leverages on the creativity of different directors who direct one of two of the episodes in a season as well as the superb performance of the cast - Frances Conroy recently won the best actress at the Goledn Globe.
And I must say that Alan Ball is my favorite director for this show. He made one of the best, hmmm ... I would say the best pilot episode I have ever watched. The development of each character was well introduced and made you want to see more and more of the show. Another high point of this show is the splendid use camera, instrumental music (John Newman), and the best camera use in scene transition that is done beutifully.
If Ah-Ha, the new comedy show that has just got its pilot episode aired on TV3 could hold on to its blend of casts and content, it is probably the best comedy show there is in town! It looks like the Senario Dream Team might as well restrategize their comedy direction and that TV3 have just found a new show that could boost its rating as well as attract a new audience group for its local programming content.
This half an hour show in some ways could be described like an a-la Saturday Night Live, where host Afdlin Shauki and Harith Iskandar together with an ensemble of cast from the theatre scene in the like of Rashid Salleh, Jit Murad, Eda Nerina, Lina Teo, etc. acted out at their best the satirical perspective of being Malaysian, in three different sketches i.e. the Malaysian rockers lingos, the obsession on South/Central American soap operas, and the ever annoying attitude in our cinemas; in this very first episode.
And Afdlin Shauki attempt to deliver these kinds of jokes in Ah-Ha is worthy of praise compared to his Astro's Bila Larut Malam.
To all the haters of slapsticks, sexual innuendo jokes, as well as the annoying portrayal of she-male on local sitcom, this one definitely defies all the convention of typical humor formula for it will bring back the local comedy scene on Malaysian TV to a new level. Kopitiam could just forget being funny!
And as far as I could remember, the last time I laughed hard on a sitcom was during this Everybody Loves Raymond episode where Raymond stole Robert's "regret" to woo over Debra's. And this time these lines really made it! In of the sketch that took place at a local cinema:
Harith: Hi-ya, I also support local film industry.
Afdlin: I see, so, what was the last Malay film you watch?
Harith: Entrapment lor. Got KLCC and the Malacca river in it!
Monday night is definitely the night to be at home. And if Star World keeps on airing same 'ol episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, then just forget it! Ah-Ha is definitely the ultimate choice!
This is how TV3 describes this show on the station's website:
January, 5 at 9.30 pm. Ah Ha has a rare blend of ingredients and value. They are twisted and grossly misunderstood value-a sure-fire way to spice up the bland array of comedy shows now available on TV. It has an identifiable cast placed in situations they rarely seen in and characters that you can laugh at. Granted, the wicked and offbeat humor may be hazardous to some individuals but what better way to rid those blues than with a touch of comic relief. (Cast: Afdlin Shauki, Harith Iskandar)
Funny isn't it when your dad just called in to tell you that he just won another quality award at his department; and you are just another demotivated employee at your workplace. That it's no longer fun working in a place where after layers of transformation, everything goes back to square one. Ah, all the windows of opportunities that we lost, all the golden eggs that we might have hatched.
At this very time when tech has gone flat, where Moore's Law has only created chaos for business, everything looks uncertain and risky. When career change is another escapism thought to forgo all the negative ideas I am having about my current work, I couldn't just simply discontinue some great plans I've planned. Someone wise once told me that I should just hang in there, be patient, do things right, do the right things, and all the nice things will happen. For now, maybe it's a good idea to 'hang in there', but one thing for sure, I am keeping my options open.
Or maybe, I should just say goodbye to this place, just like the Friends casts and NBC decision to put a stop to their successful show. Go read today's Newsweek article on how NBC is in jeapordy of losing out their Thursday night's Must See TV slot. Thursday is the night for the network to spill all the ads and promos for the weekend shows. Wonder what would be the new hit on NBC after Friends. They had Seinfeld, then Frasier, which also at its last season, and the remaining few episodes of Friends. And that leaves us with "Joey", a spin-off from Friends. So, should I be like Joey and stay with this same thing I've been doing? LeBlanc has got this to say in the article “I can think of worse fates than being Joey forever". Sad isn't, it?
Or should I take on Alfredo advise to Toto in Cinema Paradiso when he told him to leave the small Sicilian town for Rome, never to come back, never to write, and build a new life because the place is cursed and has nothing more to offer him. Being one of great Alfredo's advice that wasn't quoted from John Wayne or from any other actors, Toto made it big in Rome and became the most successful director in Italy. There probably lies some pointers.
Making the connections between "Losing Friends" and "Cinema Paradiso" to one's life is clearly not a good idea I suppose, but when they hit it at the right time, they do matter and make sense!
Anyway, Congratulations Bapak for another inspirational award that you won!
I have to congratulate the casts and crews of Everybody Loves Raymond (ELR) for winning the four Emmy Awards earlier this week. They deserve it. Doris Roberts and Brad Garrett of the Barone family from the show won the comedy series' supporting actor awards. The show was also honored the Best Comedy series and Writing for Comedy Series for its Baggage episode. Kudos to the writing team headed by Philip Rosenthal. Salon writer Joyce Millman dubbed the show as a family sitcom that is not about kids, like those Home Improvement or Growing Pains.
This one is about the Ray (Ray Romano) and Debra Barone (Patricia Heaton) marriage and parenthood life in the suburb. Ray is a sportswriter and she's a full-time housewife. Ray's parent (Marie and Frank) and his giant brother, Robert live across the street. Ray and Debra relationship according to Miller is the most ying-yangst on television. Robert is forever envy at Ray's perfect life. Marie and Frank always get into fight, and true to many family baggage problems in marriage, Debra and Marie are always in conflict of who cooks, cleans the best, etc. And Frank is famous for his Holy Crap! lines.
Other than being funny, I love the show because it is produced for Worldwide Pants Ltd of David Letterman's, my favorite all time late night host (Read: I couldn't stand Jay Leno's joke). It was Letterman show that once hosted Ray's stand-up act and it didn't take long after Letterman brought him to CBS that his first sitcom made it a hit. The show has never failed to make me laugh!
Recently, the Star World has shifted the show from daily 7.30pm to Thursday (if I am not mistaken); because that slot is now taken by Just Shoot Me, another hilarious office setting comedy. David Spade who plays Daniel was recently noted by August 2003 Vanity Fair as on of the most suck-up character on TV.
As usual, back-to-back winning at the Emmy sometime signal the production team that it is a good time to pull down the curtain, but this one will continue to its ninth season this fall. And I look forward to this!