Today’s Chic Look? ‘Upcycled’ Clothes

Many designers are ‘upcycling’—putting luxury spins on second-hand clothing, repurposing them under the mantle of sustainability to appeal to socially conscious customers Lifestyle


Zegna’s Alessandro Sartori on Designing in Today’s World

When Alessandro Sartori returned to Ermenegildo Zegna as artistic director in June 2016, it represented a homecoming for the Biella-born designer. Sartori had grown up riding his bicycle past the company’s headquarters as a young boy and joined the brand after graduating from design school. He spent more than a decade there, serving as creative director of the Z Zegna collection for eight years, before decamping for Berluti for a five-year stint. But returning to Zegna, he said, was a true “story of love” for the brand, the family and the Biella region.
Sartori spoke with WWD style director Alex Badia about his career, model casting and his advice for young designers.
WWD: Tell us how you became the artistic director of Zegna.
Alessandro Sartori: I grew up in the same area, Biella in northern Italy, which is where most of the wool and textile farms are located. My mom had an atelier for women and had seven tailors working for her. I saw everything she was doing and little by little, it became something very important for me. After that, I went to textile school — which we have a few of in Italy. It’s a kind of high school but with information

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Beano, Revived and Rebranded for Today’s Kids

A fresh new kids TV studio is making waves in the U.K. and is aiming to gain traction in the hyper-competitive global content market including the U.S. Beano Studios is based on the U.K.’s longest surviving comic, “The Beano,” which in its 1950s heyday sold 2 million copies. The studio may be new — it […]



Big Question: What do you like, dislike about today’s game?

As the NHL celebrated its centennial, we asked hockey luminaries — including Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier — to weigh in on what’s good (the speed and otherworldly skill of Sidney Crosby and John Tavares) and bad (rink size) about the league now. – NHL

The Countdown to 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive Reveal Is On! Today’s Hot Guy: Kumail Nanjiani

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the 2017 Sexiest Man Alive will be revealed on Tuesday, Nov. 14! Ahead of the big day, we’re counting down with a handful of hot Hollywood stars who earned spots in the pages of the issue.

Sexiest Husband Kumail Nanjiani, 39, saw his star rise this year with the debut of his film The Big Sick, based on the true story of his relationship with now-wife Emily V. Gordon. But it’s not just her devotion to her — he proposed shortly after she awoke from a medically induced coma just months into their courtship — that makes him sexy, it’s his humor, too.

A tech guy on Silicon Valley, “I did have a tech job for real,” he tells PEOPLE. “For five years in Chicago. I was very bad at it.

“For me, the sexiest part about being a tech guy was leaving the job and not being a tech guy anymore. Even porns don’t have tech guy scenarios: it’s always pizza guys and plumbers. Those are sexy professions. A tech guy would just show up, say, ‘Did you try restarting it?’ and leave before anything really exciting happened. Nobody wants to see that.”

Check out yesterday’s sexy man of the day, 50 Cent. And come back to PEOPLE on Tuesday, Nov. 14, to find out who’s been crowned 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive!

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The Countdown to 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive Reveal Is On! Today’s Hot Guy: 50 Cent

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the 2017 Sexiest Man Alive will be revealed on Tuesday, Nov. 14! Ahead of the big day, we’re counting down with a handful of hot Hollywood stars who earned spots in the pages of the issue.

PEOPLE’s Sexiest Triple Threat, rapper/actor/producer 50 Cent, defines sexy as having confidence.

“I think a lot of a man’s confidence is connected to his accomplishments,” the 42-year-old Power star tells PEOPLE. “I don’t think men are as sexy as women are until we’re successful and it’s publicly noted. But if you can have the confidence to just be yourself … you’ll say things that make women laugh, know they like having you around because your energy is just good. It’s you being you versus you trying to be something.”

What also gives him confidence is being a father to his son, 5-year-old Sire.

“He’s the most important person in my life,” the rapper, né Curtis Jackson, explains. “He’s my motivation.”

Check out yesterday’s sexy man of the day, Kofi Siriboe. And come back to PEOPLE on Tuesday, Nov. 14, to find out who’s been crowned 2017’s Sexiest Man Alive!

Fashion Deals Update:

This Is How Daenerys Targaryen Would Shop If She Lived In Today’s World

A style guide to dressing like the Mother of Dragons.
Fashion News, Celebrity Style and Fashion Trends – HuffPost Style
FASHION NEWS UPDATE-Visit Shoe Deals Online today for the hottest deals online for shoes!

How Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Today’s Cutest Kids Always Steal the Spotlight on Morning TV

Savannah Guthrie, Mike Feldman, Charley Feldman, Vale FeldmanForget about the hard news, concerts or celebrity interviews. Some Today show viewers just can’t get enough of the kid segments.
Although NBC’s morning show doesn’t miss a…

E! Online (US) – Top Stories

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Today’s Grandmother: Your Guide to the First Two Years: A lot has changed since you had your baby! The how-to book to become an active and e

Today’s Grandmother: Your Guide to the First Two Years: A lot has changed since you had your baby! The how-to book to become an active and e

The birth of a baby is exciting for everyone, but much has changed in the last thirty years, meaning it can also be intimidating-especially for the expectant and new grandmother. This is the how-to-guide for grandmothers-to-be, new grandmothers, and those who are becoming grandmothers again. – Explore the most up-to-date facts about pregnancy and birth. – Learn the latest in baby care, such as nutrition, sleep, equipment, and safety. – Prepare for the new family dynamics, challenges, emotions, and parenting approaches today. Get practical information and sensible tips to navigate this wonderful, transforming, yet sometimes challenging relationship with your new grandfamily, alongside Angela Bowen, a Registered Nurse and proud grandmother.
List Price: 27.98

Book, “Finding Style: How Use Today’s Versatile Jewelry-Making Components” Irina Miech. Sold Individually

Book, “Finding Style: How Use Today’s Versatile Jewelry-Making Components” Irina Miech. Sold Individually

Jewelry makers crave creative instruction for using the myriad of new materials, findings and components available today. Who better than a renowned designer and shop owner who sees and sells these fun products every day? Irina Miech has created 27 projects using innovative materials to help beaders explore emerging trends in beading supplies. Intriguing new jewelry-making components and materials are now widely available, and jewelry makers are eager to use them. Finding Style presents “suites” of related projects featuring multiple uses for single components, encouraging designers to maximize potential and think “what if”? Softcover, full color, 96 pages 27 projects Book size: 10-3/4 x 8-1/4 inches Level: Beginning to intermediate Books are shrink-wrapped and are returnable if unopened.
List Price: $ 15.76
Price: $ 15.76

Bill Maher Rips Today’s ‘Sharing Economy’ On ‘Real Time’

It’s probably safe to say you won’t see Bill Maher ride around in an Uber anytime soon. The comedian put the ride-finding app as well as others on blast on Friday, calling out America’s “sharing economy” on “Real Time.”

“Airbnb? You really think anybody really wants to have total strangers living in their apartment for a week? ‘Oh look, someone else’s pubes on my soap. I’m living the dream,'” Maher said.

One major problem with sharing apps is that some of them can put your personal information at risk, though Maher seemed more focused on the financial aspect. The comedian blames outrageous income inequality and greed for the rise in services he says are now replacing people with robots.

“The one thing we’re not sharing are the profits. Somehow they forgot to create an app for that,” he quipped.

Also on HuffPost:

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Comedy – The Huffington Post
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS-Visit Mobile Playboy today for the hottest adult entertainment online!

Today’s Technician: Advanced Automotive Electronic Systems

Today’s Technician: Advanced Automotive Electronic Systems

New – This classroom and shop manual set provides in-depth coverage of the theory and procedures needed for successfully servicing today’s complex automotive electronic systems. Designed to supplement the material covered in Today’s Technician: Automotive Electricity and Electronics with more detailed, more advanced information, this book introduces new theories and expands upon previously introduced theories. With clear, straightforward language, system examples, and detailed illustrations, rea

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The New Christian Charm Course (teacher): Today’s Social Graces for Every Girl

The New Christian Charm Course (teacher): Today’s Social Graces for Every Girl

Emily Hunter’s bestselling Christian Charm Course Teacher’s Book (45,000 copies sold) has updated content and a fresh design for women who are teaching today’s teen girls how to be graceful and godly. This resource provides tips and encouragement for leaders and in-depth information paralleling the student’s edition to help teachers train young women tostrive for beauty within and withoutdevelop style in areas of clothing, hair, and make uphandle social situations with confidencediscover God’s heart for them through Bible studybuild a life of integrity and respectLeaders will inspire teen girls to exude confidence in body, mind, and spirit, and to become women of purpose and poise. An updated student edition of the The New Christian Charm Course is also available.

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Today’s Lesson


Today, like every other day, is more than likely going to present you with an opportunity to expand your consciousness. You probably will not recognize it immediately as it is happening. For instance, you receive a phone call that delays you or even ruins your plans for the day altogether, or you unexpectedly encounter a stranger who could use some help, or maybe your feelings get terribly hurt by someone close to you… whatever the situation, the question should always be the same: “What am I being taught today? Patience? Surrender? Forgiveness? Gratitude? Self-Worth? Humility? Compassion?” You will undoubtedly find that there are underlying themes in your life that show up in many different forms. Understanding this allows you to be centered in the midst of perceived chaos.

So, will you get today’s lesson, or will you have to repeat it? The key to this is to take a step back and recognize the purpose of the scenario that is occurring right in front of you; awareness is 90 percent of getting beyond it. Let the energy that the situation makes you feel pass through you instead of storing it down deep inside to deal with at a later time, because each time you experience it, there will be more of that energy needing to be released, so it will only get harder. You will feel this energy because it will throw you off balance. Every time a lesson is presented, it is a chance to get rid of negative energy that has been pushed down and internalized and is now stuck inside of you. The Universe throws a pebble, a rock, a stone, a boulder, then the whole mountain at you to get your attention, so the sooner you get the lesson, the better!

If you choose to learn what your consciousness is teaching you — because it really is a choice — and you don’t want to feel like you’re Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day,” then take note of these three ways to gain awareness and remain cool, calm, and centered no matter what happens today:

1) Be the Audience

Our lives are like soap operas, hopefully not that melodramatic, but a lot of the time it feels that way. From day to day, we have little or no idea what the heck is going to transpire; we simply try to cope with things as they come. However, I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of NOT getting pulled in — by this, I mean giving your power away to anything or anyone. The moment you do that, the situation you are in has just gained control of your emotions. You are no longer the master of your own life, you are the pawn.

Realize that situations are brought to you and dumped in your lap for a reason; this is not random. Therefore, instead of jumping right in, as usual, head first without looking, observe. Watch it unfold. Who are the players? What are they doing? Have they done this before? Probably. Where do you fit into all of this? Do you need to be a part of it? Is this really about being patient or accepting or possibly something else? What could happen differently this time so that today is the last time this is brought to you? Be an audience member during a performance of the latest “trauma drama,” not one of the actors, and you will be amazed at how much less dramatic your life becomes.

2) Feel the Feeling

We’ve all been embarrassed at some point or another or felt left out or maybe that we just weren’t important or loved. Scenarios that bring up these types of feelings are typically commentaries on our self-worth. Whatever the underlying theme, there is a resistance we have built up in order to avoid the pain. That wall we use to protect ourselves gets higher and wider every time we get hurt. The only way to break down our walls is to recognize that these unpleasant feelings bring to our attention limitations we have placed upon ourselves: “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t deserve to be loved,” I’m stupid.” When you become aware of what is really going on, relax and smile. Take hold of your personal power and do not give it away. You are the master of your thoughts and emotions; they are a choice. You choose them, don’t allow someone else to do it. When you remain in control and don’t fall victim to the same scenario, these hurtful moments will be history.

3) See the Gift

Gifts are not always fun to receive, nor are they always wrapped up in neat little packages; they can be messy and uncomfortable. However, these are the greatest gifts of all because they are life-changers. They may look like nothing you could ever want at the time, but I guarantee you, the amount of positive energy and blessings that those gifts have the power to bring into our lives is boundless if we can just accept them graciously and say, “Thank you.” Recognize that gifts come in all shapes and sizes, but you have to be willing to see their true form. Everything is a gift.

Don’t go through life blindly, living the same day over and over and over again. It is sad that so many people do this until the entire mountain comes crashing down on top of them. Be open to the lesson in this moment and move on. Your life will be so much happier, easier, and fuller because of it.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin- -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

Today’s Patience Is Tomorrow’s Possibility

Patience is not an entity in and of itself, but is a process, the act of learning to embrace a state of mind. It’s something that must be practiced, embodied, and given room to grow.

I must have patience for today, for the days ahead, and a steadfast appreciation for days past and how they have molded me. I would be foolish to tell all of you that I haven’t had moments this week when I’ve lost sight of myself and felt a complete wreck: distraught with emotion for the future and the life I called my own a mere few weeks ago. The devastation that cystic fibrosis has caused in just a short time is unfathomable. I feel as if I have whiplash. cystic fibrosis is not only getting a grasp on my lungs, but my mind as well. I am so used to making plans for tomorrow, cramming as much life into every minute of every day, and living in overdrive. I am having to retrain my mind as much as my body. Most of all though, I am having to embrace patience.


Small Victories
I must embody patience for what today brings, and patience in knowing tomorrow is a new day filled with new possibility. It may look different than I so desperately want it to, but every ounce of progress and growth is something worth celebrating. Each day holds its own victory, no matter the size. The smallest of good and progress overcomes any adversity. The smallest of victories may be paired with the greatest patience, but in the face of this battle against cystic fibrosis any progress is a tremendous victory filled with possibility.

Today was filled with beautiful victories. For the first time in weeks I can catch a glimpse of myself when I look in the mirror. For the first time I feel somewhat like “me.” For the first time in weeks I do not completely fear this body which encapsulates my soul and mind. I do not dread or fear looking in the mirror and seeing what stares back at me. For the first time in over a week, I recognize myself. Part of it might be my body and mind adjusting somewhat to the current mood of my lungs and life, but for sure what I see is the reflection of love, support, and unfathomable kindness I’ve been shown by the medical team here and the all wonderful support I’ve been given outside these walls.

Yesterday, my lungs showed us all some signs of improvement. My lungs and body have a long way to go, but it’s progress. After days and days of decline and not recognizing the person from within myself, having patience for today and hope in tomorrow’s possibility have brought progress and small victories. This is going to be a long road, and there will be tough decisions and days ahead, but I am learning to dwell in patience and remain grateful for the beautiful journey that is my life. Most of all, grateful for each wonderful person and experience whose path I have the privilege to cross. As long as there is hope in tomorrow and I have patience in today, cystic fibrosis will never be victorious.


I am so thankful for every person that is on this journey with me. I owe my life to so many wonderful people. I am so incredibly humbled by the generosity, love and endless kindness I have been shown. I am learning that the pursuit of patience holds a beauty all its own. Love to you all.

Be patient, you never know what beautiful possibility it will give to tomorrow.
GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Special News Bulletin- -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

Developing Library Collections for Today’s Young Adults

Developing Library Collections for Today’s Young Adults

Developing Library Collections for Today’s Young Adults features policies that deal expressly with materials that respect the intellectual freedom of young library patrons. It emphasizes the importance of everything from needs assessment to collection development, encouraging librarians to consider informational, recreational, and curricular needs and interests as the library staff select material on behalf of young adults. With detailed guidelines for developing and evaluating collections of print and electronic material, Amy S. Pattee devotes chapters to materials selection, acquisition, and assessment, describing fiction and nonfiction genres, graphic forms, and multimedia and electronic materials, including networked resources, e-books, and computer games. Developing Library Collections for Today’s Young Adults may be consulted by librarians charged with the development and maintenance of public library collections for young adults and may be employed in library science courses related to young adult literature and library services and collection development.

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The Complete Guide to Navy Seal Fitness: Updated for Today’s Warrior Elite

The Complete Guide to Navy Seal Fitness: Updated for Today’s Warrior Elite

New – Whether you want to be a Navy SEAL or just look like one, this new, revised edition offers insider’s tips to negotiating the famous Navy SEAL obstacle course plus new and improved chapters on swimming, running, and nutrition. 150 photos.

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Today’s Technician

Today’s Technician

This comprehensive training/education package focuses on the major engine systems affecting engine performance and drivability. Today’s Technician: Automotive Engine Performance, 4th Edition includes thoroughly updated content on ignition systems, intake and exhaust systems, fuels and emission controls and related electronics, in two comprehensive manuals. With a sharp focus on current technologies and the inclusion of outstanding learning features, this new edition provides an excellent classroom resource for students preparing to become future technicians.

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Style Advice From Today’s Hottest Latin Teens- The Trend with Victoria Recaño on Zappos

Shop the looks here:

This episode of The Trend on Zappos shows how to dress like the hottest Latin stars in Hollywood. We are behind the scenes for the cover-shoot of the next Para Todos magazine with teen idol Bella Thorne, Soap star Gina Rodriguez, Devious Maids’ Edy Ganem, The Fosters’ Cierra Ramirez, and Vampire Diaries Michael Trevino. See looks from 7 For all Mankind, Splendid, and more!

The Trend is presented by Zappos ( where you can shop all the brands you saw here today, as well as all the latest trends in fashion. Zappos carries everything you need from shoes and clothing to hats, accessories, beauty, and more!

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Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler

Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler

Imagine travelling with all the right things without carrying five suitcases! Sound impossible? Globetrotter Susan Foster shares how-to secrets discovered during hundreds of business and pleasure trips. You can learn to pack for every trip – for business or vacation, for men, women and children, for any place in the world; discover how to dress for all seasons at any destination. Know which fabrics and styles are comfortable and packable; and find out which type of luggage works for each trip, and the best packing methods for any bag.The revised and expanded edition answers all your planning and packing questions: How to travel light; Tips for increased airport security; When to check your bag and when to carry on; How to pack less to meet airline bag weight and size rules; Which clothing is best for a cruise; What and how to pack for adventure trips or sports vacations; Information on packing toiletries, cosmetics, electrical appliances, and the best in travel gadgets; Plus critical information on travel health and safety.

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Beautiful Leather Jewelry: Timeless Techniques for Today’s Trends

Beautiful Leather Jewelry: Timeless Techniques for Today’s Trends

Melissa Cable has a knack for taking traditional jewelry-making techniques and applying them to various materials in an upscale, modern way. In “Beautiful Leather Jewelry,” she shares new methods for altering leather to create unique textures and patterns in a variety of necklaces, bracelets, cuffs, pendants, and more. Proper finishing techniques, such as snap setting, will ensure polished, professional results. Aspiring leather jewelry designers will appreciate learning how to combine familiar materials such as Swarovski crystals, metals, wood, felt, and resin with leather cuffs, cords, and more. This is leather jewelry like you’ve never seen before

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Everything Guide to Raising Adolescent Boys: An essential guide to bringing up happy, healthy boys in today’s world

Everything Guide to Raising Adolescent Boys: An essential guide to bringing up happy, healthy boys in today’s world

He may push you away and claim that you embarrass him but your adolescent son needs your guidance and discipline now more than ever. The Everything Guide to Raising Adolescent Boys will help you make sense of your changing role as your son morphs from cuddly, loveable rascal to surly, untouchable teenager.This essential guide shows you what to expect from your maturing son and how to handle typical adolescent growing pains, including:Sex and datingDrug and alcohol abuseAcademic issuesMoney and responsibilityUnderstand the challenges your son faces and equip him with the tools he needs to become a confident, independent teenager. With your help, your son won’t just survive-he’ll thrive!Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE, is a mother of seven children and author of The Guide to Having a Baby, Guarantee the Sex of Your Baby, The Guide to Baby Care, The Everything New Mother’s First Year, The EverythingPregnancy Fitness Book, and The Everything Getting Pregnant Book. She has lectured on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and related topics to doctors, midwives, nurses, childbirth educators, doulas (professional pregnancy/labor coaches). She has written for numerous publications including Newsweek, Working Mother, the New York Times, Yahoo Internet Life, and American Baby. She lives in Kentucky.Technical Reviewer: Mary E. Muscari, Ph.D., R.N., is a specialist in child health, mental health, and forensics. She has more than thirty years of experience working with children and teens. She has written or coauthored more than 100 publications, including Not My Kid: 21 Steps to Raising a Nonviolent Child, Not My Kid 2: Protecting Your Children from the 21 Threats of the 21st Century, and Let Kids be Kids: Rescuing Childhood. She lives in Hawley, PA.

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Your Vintage Wedding: Unique Ideas and Inspiration for Today’s Bride

Your Vintage Wedding: Unique Ideas and Inspiration for Today’s Bride

Your Vintage Wedding is a lavishly illustrated guide to the most popular types of twentieth-century weddings with advice on how to incorporate creative vintage details into your special day to add romance, fun, acrd unforgettable style. From the Art Nouveau elegance of the 1910s to the Art Deco Hollywood glamour of the 1920s; from the night-club and cafe society of the 1930s and 1940s to the Audrey Hepburn-era elegance of the 1950s, "Your Vintage Weddingreveals what weddings were like during these periods and how to add vintage elements to invitations, flowers, photography, music, menus, and more — including finding the perfect retro gown. Playful, sophisticated, and filled with useful resources, this full-color book includes dozens of photographs to enchant and inspire. It features accounts and photos of actual vintage weddings, including a 1940s extravaganza on San Francisco’s Treasure Island. Whether you dream of a 1910-style bash complete with potted palms, ropes of pearls, top bats, and dancing the tango or simply small touches that add beauty to the day, such as reviving the custom of wearing orange blossoms or tying lovers’ knots in your bouquet ribbons, "Your Vintage Wedding will help make it a day to remember.
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Putting Computers in Their Place: Computer Chess and The Nerd Origins of Today’s Technopoly

Computers need to be put in their place. They really do.

That’s why I’ve been looking forward to the DVD release this week of Andrew Bujalski’s cult Sundance hit Computer Chess. Computer Chess finally spills the beans about where these little monsters came from in the first place.

Every time I pick up a newspaper these days — I’m one of the twelve people left who still read physical newspapers — I read about how computers are spying on us, destroying jobs, or infuriating health insurance customers. Like a hungry Rottweiler off its leash, computers are getting out of control and tearing up the neighborhood.

If you believe what you read, computers are also in the process of wrecking the book publishing and music industries, eliminating celluloid photography — and just this week computers claimed their latest victim, one near and dear to my heart: the local video store, as Blockbuster finally succumbed to laptops, smartphones and tablets as the preferred ways of renting all those movies you couldn’t afford to see (or were too embarrassed to see) when they were in theaters.


No more video stores — who would’ve believed it, even just ten years ago? That means no more pimply teenagers to recommend midnight horror movies to me (“Sir, I definitely recommend C.H.U.D. over TerrorVision“), no more aimless browsing or listening to neighbors argue over which Steven Seagal movie to rent, no more cheap licorice sticks at the checkout counter.

I never thought I’d miss those things so much — but suddenly I do. And it’s all because of our ‘friend’ the computer. Computers are becoming like the Yankees during the ’90s: gobbling up everybody else’s talent, then telling us how good it is for baseball.

The propaganda over the wonders that computers supposedly bring to our lives is getting out of hand. In the very least, it’s out of proportion to the destruction computers are simultaneously causing — that ‘disruptive’ effect Silicon Valley gurus salivate over, like vampires at a blood drive.

So as Twitter — the company currently reducing our public discourse to snarky, 140-character outbursts — celebrates its gaudy IPO right now, I’d like to recommend a new movie out on DVD this week that casts digital technology in a very different light: Computer Chess.

You probably haven’t heard of Computer Chess. After all, it has no stars in it. Neither Disney nor Sony are building spin-off franchises around its characters. Chris Hemsworth doesn’t swing a hammer in the film, and Kate Upton wasn’t invited to the premiere (although it would’ve been funny if she was).

What Computer Chess has going for it, though, is that it tells the unvarnished, gawky truth about the early days of this public menace we’ve come to know as the ‘computer.’

Actually, Computer Chess isn’t all that obscure a film. Written and directed by mumblecore auteur Andrew Bujalski, the film debuted to critical acclaim earlier this year at Sundance (where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize), where I had the pleasure of seeing the funky little movie in a packed house with an appreciative crowd. It was a total hoot, especially for people like me who remember how uncool computers used to be before Steve Jobs arrived on the scene. In fact, you arguably can’t appreciate Jobs’ legacy properly unless you’ve seen Computer Chess — and witnessed what a clunky, nerdy, socially maladroit computer world Jobs inherited.

Computer Chess is set around 1980, in a shabby suburban motel that serves as the film’s entire setting over the course of one weekend. The aristocracy of the computer science world – the geek gods of Cal Tech, MIT, Bell Labs and elsewhere — have gathered for their annual computer chess tournament, with the winning machine getting the chance to face off against the pompous tournament host, who has never yet lost a game to a computer.

So it’s game on, as Apple IIs and Tandy TRS-80s — and their nerd jockeys — take each other on for all the marbles.

The film follows the impossibly awkward programmers as they compete with each other for the (slightly dubious) title, haul blocky computer mainframes around on push-carts, debate the future of computers in late-night bull sessions, and make cringe-inducing attempts at romance and/or sexual conquest with the tournament’s lone female competitor, a hopelessly bespectacled programmer named Shelly. The programmers also have a few droll encounters with a New Age group that shares the motel with them, who try to open up the nerdy programmers’ repressed emotional lives.

Good luck with that.

The performances Bujalski gets out of his mostly non-professional cast are uniformly natural and believable — with special kudos going out to Patrick Riester and Wiley Wiggins as the no-nonsense leads, Myles Paige as the egomaniac/would-be lothario ‘Michael Papageorge,’ and Robin Schwartz as the sweet, ungainly female programmer.

Indeed, Bujalski’s strategy of keeping things real (several cast members are actually programmers themselves) is the best thing Computer Chess has going for it. It’s easy to see how this film could’ve been botched by importing a Michael Cera or Jonah Hill into the mix with their pre-packaged nerd schtick. Computer Chess is too austere and genuinely indie for such Hollywoodisms — to the point that the movie was actually shot in low-res, black-and-white 4:3 analog video using a Sony AVC-3260 camera, dating from the late 1960s.

Bujalski clearly intends Computer Chess to feel like a ‘found object’ of the era — and the film does seem incredibly authentic as a depiction of early-80s geek culture.

The special kick of watching Computer Chess, though, is knowing how the awkward misfits depicted in the film — and the big, blocky, semi-functional machines they cart around — will someday conquer the world. Today’s gods of Silicon Valley (who are apparently getting pretty full of themselves these days) — the slick young guys in hoodies who debut their stock offerings with multi-billion dollar valuations, or who get played by Jesse Eisenberg or Justin Timberlake in the movies are of course no longer the introverted weenies of yesteryear, as depicted in Bujalski’s film. Today’s techies are more likely to drive Porsche 918 Spyder-hybrids, date swimsuit models, or eat granola parfait at Palo Alto’s University Cafe.

What a difference 30 years makes.


Computer Chess is probably not the kind of movie these newer guys — and they’re still mostly guys (with all due respect to Sheryl Sandberg) — want to watch, because it doesn’t suit their current self-image. Computer Chess is like that embarrassing family album from the ’70s you keep in the attic, filled with horrid images of bad hair, braces and bell-bottom jeans — where everybody looks like they just stepped off the set of The Hardy Boys. It’s the kind of thing your relatives pull out during the holidays to keep you humble.

And this is actually why Silicon Valley’s geek aristocracy — and you know who you are – should embrace this film, because it does something vital: it humanizes them, at a time when a lot of us feel that what they’re doing to our society is, well, inhuman. Reading about the NSA and these days is depressing enough, but it’s even worse after years of reading about how companies like Google and Facebook have been undermining our basic sense of privacy, which is the delicate foundation of our freedom.

By the way, Computer Chess actually hints — in a sly, fun way — that the Cal Tech team’s fictional TSAR chess program might be the forerunner of dystopian supermachines of the future, like Skynet from the Terminator films. But the movie is pretty gentle and non-conspiratorial about these things. It could get much worse.

For example, Computer Chess could’ve more been more hard-edged, like Panos Cosmatos’ dystopian cult thriller Beyond the Black Rainbow, released here in the U.S. in 2012. Similarly set in the early 1980s, Black Rainbow depicts a young woman’s escape from a controlling, futuristic New Age research institute. The film’s high-tech ‘Arboria Institute’ — led by a psychotic, permanently disfigured scientist — harbors pretentions of harnessing technology in the achievement of higher spirituality. (By the way, the ‘Arboria Institute’ could easily have been the forerunner to the sinister, New Agey internet company ‘The Circle’ from Dave Eggers’ new novel of the same name.) Black Rainbow‘s Dr. Barry Nyle — along with his mentor, Dr. Mercurio Arboria – represents the dark side of the early ’80s tech and self-actualization gurus depicted comedically in Computer Chess.

Of course, even Black Rainbow doesn’t compare to a film recently unearthed by Criterion: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 sci-fi classic World on a Wire, which originally aired on German television as a two-part miniseries. In World on a Wire (based on American author Daniel F. Galouye’s novel Simulacron-3), an ‘Institute for Cybernetics and Future Research’ develops a computer simulation program featuring an artificial world — based on the real one — with over 9,000 avatars living as human beings, unaware that their world is only a simulation subject to manipulation. The purpose of the simulation? Advanced market research, of course. Things get dicey when the movie’s hero, Dr. Fred Stiller (actor Klaus Löwitsch), begins to suspect that this simulation may actually have multiple layers — and that he himself might be one such avatar.

Such dark visions suggest the will-to-power, the urge to control and manipulate, that many people now associate — with good reason — with a fully computerized society (what Neil Postman back in 1992 called a ‘technopoly‘). Whether that society is controlled by unseen government bureaucracies or huge and indifferent corporations hardly seems to matter anymore.

So the honeymoon is now over. Computers just aren’t that cool any more — mainly because of all the precious things in our lives that they’re destroying. That’s why a lot of us are now looking at the fine print when we buy in to the latest gadget or app, as we ask ourselves this basic question: as shiny and empowering as this new piece of digital technology is, what is it going to destroy that I don’t know about?

All of this stuff seemed a lot more innocent back in 1980, when Computer Chess is set. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Computer Chess is basically about the race to create a machine that can outperform and (thereby replace) a human being. Back in 1980, that premise just seemed a lot funnier and more charming than it does right now.

Right now computers just don’t know their place.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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