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How to Thin Out Management

Even though I got a B.S. in Management from MIT, I didn’t learn a lot because I seldom went to class. But I do remember this description of what it takes to lead a successful organization with very little management.

I was taught this in management school, but I can’t find a citation on the Internet.

In an orchestra everyone has sheet music so they know what to do. The conductor leads, and all the players are professionals so they can follow. Thus they can easily work together towards the common goal of making music under a one-man management team.

If an orchestra were organized like most industrial corporations they would be led by a conductor who couldn’t read music, eight subconductors beating out different rhythms, and a band that was half professional and half amateur and didn’t have any sheet music. I know for a fact my professor put it better, but this captures the gist. If everyone has and understands a clear plan and knows what they’re doing, you don’t need much management.

Movie Review: Spirited

(length warning) I don’t know what kind of reviews you’ve been reading of this Netflix musical Christmas movie, but I think the film is terrific. If you live in the Bay Area, you may have been exposed to Mick Lasalle’s pan, which, while it isn’t the worst review ever, was about as negative as a one-star review gets (the little man was asleep in his chair; at least the chair wasn’t empty)

A word about LasSalle: a great writer (especially when writing about women in film) whose taste in movies is generally the same as mine. But this time he made a mistake.

Not about the length―127 minutes is more than a half-hour too long for a comedy. For any film, really.

And of course, there is the question, “Do we need yet another adaptation of A Christmas Carol?” Well, it turns out, the answer is yes, if it is cleverly written, well-acted and brilliantly staged (with, I’d say, an homage to Monty Python’s Christmas in Heaven, at least in costuming and production values).

I’m not going to give away any plot points. I’ll just tell you that it is a clever refresh of the old story, and you won’t see the ending coming until the halfway point.

The usual conditions apply: you need to like Ryan Reynolds (playing to type), Will Ferrell (not playing to type) and musicals. If you’re weak on any leg of this triad, this film is not for you.

I admit I am easily moved to tears, but parts of Spirited did exactly that. Plus, who doesn’t like an adaptation of Christmas Carol? It was, after all, the story that saved Christmas in the English-speaking world.  Prior to Charles Dickens’ fluffy novella Christmas was a minor holiday. Nothing closed, and celebrations were muted. Making Cratchett stay to work on Christmas wouldn’t have been all that unusual. It’s right up there with Silent Spring and Unsafe At Any Speed in terms of its societal impact, it not its importance.

Bolero-Like Songs


Any American male who was an adult in 1979 and saw Bo Derek’s 10 knows that Ravel’s Bolero is the perfect length and rhythm to serve as a soundtrack for making love.

I once found, but now can’t find, an article naming similar songs. The only one I remembered was Kashmir by Led Zeppelin, released four years earlier.

If you can think of any other songs of a similar length and rhythm (or can find the article I can’t), please let me know.


Another Garbled Quote
The life of quotations amazes me. While I love my UPI chat group, they don’t always double-check the provenance and exact wording of quotes. A garbled but still accurate version of this quote (which I loved and should be inscribed of the top of the PCs of every political reporter and editor) appeared last week.

“It is very difficult to predict — especially the future.”
probably NOT Niels Bohr; most likely a Danish parliamentarian between 1935 and 1939.

Some Accurate Quotes

My mentor, Edwin Diamond, often said, “Life is a shit sandwich, and every day you take another bite.” My mom said, “Life is short and then you die, but have a nice day anyway.” I: believe a better expression is: “Life is a 21,000 course meal. Savor them all. Dessert will be here soon enough, and no one knows if the after-dinner drinks are any good.”