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A weblog by Joe Caiati

Thoughts on ‘Gone Girl’ (Spoiler Free)

I was finally able to see Gone Girl over the weekend and as I expected from a David Fincher production, it was a fantastic film. I had some spoiler free thoughts I’d like to share.

The opening credits were unique. Not because of the shots of the town that Nick and Amy live in, but because of the fast-paced fade-away transitions of the text.

To describe it a bit clearer, the text that displayed the actors, directors, and producers names would be put on screen for a shorter amount of time that the viewer is used to and faded away just as fast. If you blinked, you’d miss them. That unique display of text paired with quick cuts of the town and a killer score, sets up the entire tone of the film.

The score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who also composed Fincher’s superb The Social Network) was a big part of this film — almost like playing a supporting role. Fincher didn’t overuse the music. In some scenes you almost forget a score was created for the film, but that made it all the better when you were pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised by its industrial and ominous feeling. It was pretty genius because even the parts of the film that show a couple at their happiest times, the score made you feel a sense of uncertainty.

It would be unfair to discuss the acting without giving key plot points and twists away, but I do want to touch on a couple of more things.

For a film that turns everything upside down within the first 45 minutes, it’s tough to cut a compelling trailer without giving even a hint away and I must commend the editor who was able to accomplish that.

I did not read the book before hand, but my wife did and from what she tells me, the adaptation was done pitch perfectly and any thing that was cut out was either incorporated into other scenes or unimportant and would be redundant to display on screen. I’m not too shocked about this fact because the author of the novel also adapted it for screen. Something that we are seeing more and more as of late. There have been too many past films that have butchered the experience the novel gave you.

There aren’t many films that when they end, I’m begging for more, but Gone Girl accomplished that feeling for me. I’m a realistic moviegoer and I know filmmakers are working in the confines of the book, script, and screen time, but when you sit through a two and a half hours movie and you are ready to do another two and a half hours, that’s when you know you’ve just seen something special and worth talking about.

"Do you Write?"

If you asked one hundred people “What are the qualifications of a writer?”, you would get an array of different answers. I’ve often asked myself that same question and over the years my answer has changed. The word “writer”, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is “a person who has written a particular text” or “a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation”. Anyone can write a “particular text,” but will it be coherent and written properly? And yes, someone who has published books or articles as a job is a writer, but getting paid for writing shouldn’t be a barrier to entry. This topic in and of itself could be debated for many years, especially with the rise of internet publishing, but what I’ve realized earlier in my adult life is that my preconceived ideas on who a writer is had kept me from doing what I now love to do: write.

Throughout my education, I was not the star student. I kept an average grade, but lost interest in many non-pertinent topics. In hindsight, after reflecting about my time in college, I realized that writing was actually my strongest attribute. I didn’t work towards a journalism degree or anything close to it. I went seeking out a Computer Information Systems degree. During those four plus years, you take a lot of general “BS” classes that do not relate to your major. There were two classes that come to mind in which writing helped me succeed in. One was a creative writing class and the other was a history class.

I enjoyed the creative writing class a lot. The professor appreciated my ideas and effort. The class did require a heavy amount of reading, but I found myself being able to write about those readings very easily even if I just skimmed through the materials.

The history class, however, was not as interesting, but the professor had a unique test format policy. He allowed everyone to choose between a multiple choice test or a written test. Most picked multiple choice without flinching, but I knew that multiple choice in such an uninteresting topic would not bode well for my final grade. I took decent notes during that class, rarely read the textbook, but I passed every test with above-average scores and I knew it was because of the way I wrote. It was something that came easier to me. Grammar and sentence structure was always an opportunity during these times, but they weren’t as important for hand written tests and for anything requiring emailed or printed out text, spellcheck helped at least fix the typos.

So, I knew how to write and pass a couple of tests, who cares? I didn’t at the time. It wasn’t until about four years ago did I realize that I had a passion for writing and the drive to make my opinions known.

I’ve followed mainstream technology journalism for a while. Engadget and CNET were the type of sites I visited often in the early oughts. Around late 2010 was when I also started taking interest in reading independent writers. I would read articles from writers like John Gruber and were seeking out more opinion pieces around the web versus regurgitated tech news writing. These types of articles had gotten me thinking more critically and I’d often wanted to argue points back with the original author or add my thoughts to the ongoing dialogue. But I was just a nobody with no background and experience. I didn’t have the confidence nor was in the mindset that I could be a writer. I did write little how-to articles for the iPhone on forums, but that felt procedural and I wasn’t focusing on how it was written.

In 2011, I had the fortunate opportunity to interview for an assistant position for The Verge, though they were called This Is My Next at the time. I remember sitting across from Josh Topolsky, in way over my head, and he asked me a simple question. “Do you write?” I was little confused because this wasn’t for a writer position, but I remember my exact answer. I said, “Yea, I’ve written before, but I don’t have a journalism degree or anything.” And I remember his face. He tilted his head back towards the door of the small conference room we were sitting in and said something similar to “Pshh. That doesn’t mean everything. Many of our writers do not come from a journalism background.” In many ways that answer shaped the way I viewed writing. I didn’t get that assistant job, but it wasn’t important. What was important was the concept that writing wasn’t exclusively for the trained, the skilled, or the professionally educated. Sure, that helps a lot and will further your development exponentially if that’s your intended goal. But the notion that I, Joe Caiati, could just write and may get my voice heard was a major turning point.

On December 14th 2011, I started a blog. Here is my first written piece. Reading it now there is so much that I can critique, but I welcome every cringeworthy mistake. If I never took the leap to write, I don’t think I’d be as happy as I am now being able to share whats on my mind. I have accomplished more than I ever thought I would and it all may have boiled down to a simple question in a job interview.

I don’t write every single day, but when something important to me happens or I want to share what I think is interesting, I can’t stop writing until it’s out there for everyone to see. Over the pass couple of years it has been an amazing learning experience. I’ve taught myself Markdown, improved my grammar, sentence structure, and overall style. I now find it easier each time to write, edit, and publish, but I know that I still can improve and can’t wait to look back at this piece in a few years to see how I’ve enhanced the way I share my thoughts. So, am I a writer? Yes, I believe that I am.

My First iPod (and Apple Product)

After hearing about the news that the iPod Classic will no longer be sold, it had gotten me reminiscing about the click wheel era and how it’s coming to an end. But it had also gotten me thinking about the first iPod that I owned which happened to be my first Apple product.

I knew about the iPod for a while before I could get my own. I remember the first time I interacted with one. It was a 1st generation (rev 1) iPod that my friend’s father just purchased. It was inside of a black leather case and when I ran my thumb across the click wheel, it felt like performing a magic trick over and over again. I was probably around twelve-years old at the time, but old enough to appreciate the expensive new MP3 player from Apple. One that I knew I wanted and a company that I now was interested in.

By 2004, the iPod gained even more popularity and some friends with well-off parents were starting to get their own iPods to bring to school. Also, broadband internet was on the rise and downloading MP3’s was an after school pastime. I settled for a Dell Pocket DJ which held 5 GBs of music for a reasonable price that a sixteen-year old part-time buss boy could afford. It got the job done, but it was clear to me that the DJ wasn’t as elegant or as fast as an iPod. I knew it was only a matter of time that I would get my hands on one of them.

Now that the iPod was getting more mainstream attention, I had more vested interest in what Apple was doing. The first keynote that I remember watching was in October 2005. They were expected to release new iPods and since there was no such thing as internet connectivity in your pocket while at school, I remember getting off the school bus and rushing inside to log onto and see what was on its home page. It was the iPod Video; or at least that’s what I called it. Technically it was just called the iPod 5th generation, but when Steve Jobs unveiled it to the world, it was a dramatic redesign over its predecessors.

Watch its unveiling around 22 minutes into the keynote:

I was blown away by the announcement and marveled at the keynote presentation. The iPod Video was gorgeous and I had to have it for myself. And ultimately I did get it. It came with a carrying slip cover and earbuds. That iPod never left my side. I spent countless hours listening to my favorite music and marveling over this great piece of machinery I had in my hands. It truly was the start of a love affair between me and Apple.

Though technology advanced very fast. The iPhone and iPod Touch soon became the new top contenders and the iPod all of sudden became a true classic. We all knew the click wheel was going to see its last day — It was inevitable. We just didn’t know when it would be. It’s truly an end of an era. One that I am just glad I was a part of it. Redesigned »

With all of the announcements made on September 9th, something like a site redesign may have been overlooked if you aren’t one to keep up with web design trends. Apple’s full site redesign that launched after the keynote stood out to me and was something that I really wanted them to do for a long time. Its adaptive site looks amazing on any device and the compare iPhone models page in particular has a beautiful layout. If you haven’t already, I would recommend browsing around.

Tweetbot Negligence

I love Tweetbot; Well, loved it. It’s a great third party Twitter client and I’ve been a user of it for years. It has a unique design and uses clever ways to keep me away from the terrible stock Twitter app. There’s only one issue; Tapbots, its developers, have neglected the iPad app and didn’t even redesign it for iOS 7 last year. We barely got an iPhone redesign a couple of months after iOS 7’s release.

The app still functions on the iPad, but every other single app on my devices have been at least updated past the iOS 6 interface. With iOS 8 around the corner, I can’t do it anymore. I’m now using Twitterrific which has progressed a lot further since I’ve last tried it. It now utilizes the streaming API and syncs my reading position more accurately than it did in prior use. The iconfactory have been speedy with their updates which is a plus for their users and seem to value all iOS devices.

With using my iPad as a main device, it’s important to have a consistent experience alongside my iPhone. I’m going to stick with Twitterrific for the foreseeable future and maybe one day Tweebot for iPad will return to the quality that I expected more than a year ago.

The Extra Point »

The Extra Point is a new American football blog by Joe Arico that has launched with its first post just in time for the NFL regular season. Joe is a close friend of mine and I trust his insights on sports more than anyone else I know. His unique approach, background, and seasoned writing style makes it joy to read.

I think this part of the about page sums up the site pretty nicely:

We know there are plenty of places you can go to read and hear people’s points and opinions on sports, so getting another may not seem necessary. But just like in a football game that ends 31-30, sometimes getting that one extra point can make all the difference.