Random Acts Of Violence

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Sobell: B+ | Grade It Now!
You're Not My Real Dad, Gil!

And now we're on tiresome employee #2, and I've figured out what bothers me so much about this setting: it's too aseptic and dumb. Where are the stacks of O'Reilly books? Where are the whiteboards where people have been diagramming program flows or grep statement syntaxes? Where are the life-sized cardboard cutouts of Claudia Christian and Sarah Michelle Gellar, where is the requisite artistically mangled Microsoft object, where are the pyramids of Jolt cola cans? Why is it so quiet -- why is someone not playing Rush, or Beck, or algorhythmically-generated trance? It's like someone grew these alleged high-tech types in a vacuum tube instead of checking out the native habitat of geeks. Sulky Black-Clad Guy is all, "I didn't see a thing: link, compile, debug. All night. The work absorbs me." Nicky's not too impressed, as he knows from absorbed workers, what with Gil and Sara back at the office. Sulky Black-Clad Guy is all, "My code monitors internet traffic and server load." He says that like it's something remarkable, and yet I spent ten hours at a trade show last month looking at five products that do the exact same thing. The real genius isn't in the functionality -- anyone can access HTTP requests on a server -- but in the interface for managing the traffic loads. Nicky, however, is getting all meta: "So you make your computer watch other computers that...other people are watching?" No, he's probably making sure some teenage wannabe 3l33t isn't trying to use his server as a mule for moving warez, but that's not nearly so cool and symbolic as the "who watches the watchman?" theme they're developing in this plot. Sulky Black-Clad Guy's all, "You can't see the beauty in data flow. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist." You just know this guy gets his kicks by pretending he's Neo in The Matrix. Vega asks what Sulky Black-Clad Guy's relationship to Kwan was, and in a nice moment of start-up verisimilitude, Sulky Black-Clad Guy says, "I'm employee #7. Kwan was employee #6." We then establish that Kwan and Sulky Black-Clad Guy had something of an intellectual rivalry going on.

Fortunately, there's nothing too mentally taxing about employee #3, Miss 1997. She deadpans, "You know, they confiscated all my murder weapons when I left Microsoft." She doesn't look like she has enough Gore-Tex or Polar Tec in her wardrobe to have been hired at Microsoft; I worked up on the Redmond campus for a few weeks during the summer of 1997, and it was pretty obvious REI was right down the road. This girl is working the clunky-shoed pro-sex kitten thing that swept the West Coast like a virus during the late nineties. Nicky comments appreciatively, "Yeah, you don't exactly fit the corporate image." She shoots back, "Well, it's my image. The company doesn't get a say in it." Vega takes in her work area -- which actually shows bona fide start-up personality and detritus -- and comments that it looks like Miss Thang gets special treatment. She explains, "I earn it. I optimize net infrastructure, incorporate buzzwords, do things that are generally derided in the latest IBM ad campaign, and skip around the technical details so actual geeks can't chortle at my claims that I'm all that and a bag of chips." Or maybe she stops before the buzzwords part. Anyway, Miss Thang brags about her five-figure bonus as Nicky swabs her hand. He fails to look impressed. She adds, "And, yes, I did see Garrett go into the server farm around six, six-thirty." Nicky says, "So, your boss is laying there dead for five and a half hours plus, and you never even notice he's gone." Miss Thang defends herself with, "Nobody else did, either." The sad thing is, I can totally buy that. There's a little bit of attitude-slinging that more or less leaves the viewer with the impression that all those dot-com brats got what was coming to them, and then we're out of the B-plot for a while and back to the downer A-plot.

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