stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (Default)
#44 A Fantastic Four film exists that is so terrible it will never reach a screen. In 1992 the production company Constantin Film was in danger of losing the film rights to the Fantastic Four unless it started production on the movie by the end of the year. Lacking the $40 million it needed to make a full-budget film, it turned to low-budget movie supremo Roger Corman for help. He spent just $1.98 million to crank a quickie Fantastic Four movie. Constantin never intended to release the film but it never told the director or the actors this. "Oh, that was a tragic event. I feel so sorry for the people involved," Stan Lee remembered years later. "The director really tried his best, and so did the actors. They all thought that this was their big chance. But the movie was never supposed to be seen. Most people thought, "Jesus, what a terrible job that is! How corny! How cheap!" They didn't realize that it wasn't meant to be any better than that. Unfortunately, the people working on the project didn't know that, and they tried their best. Really, I feel so bad for all of them." Other low-budget Marvel misfires include the 1989 Punisher film starring Dolph Lundgren and the 1990 Captain America film - starring no one you've ever heard of. (Times Online)

Dolph Lundren? *chokes*
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (giornalista)
From The Times Online:

The President of Honduras was ousted in a military coup today when troops arrested him in his pyjamas and sent him into exile in neighbouring Costa Rica.

The action against President Zelaya, the country’s most popular leader in recent history, raised fears of widespread violence, as supporters took to the streets, throwing rocks at army vehicles and shouting “Traitors! Traitors!”

The United States called for calm, with President Obama saying that “existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully”. The European Union condemned the coup. The Organisation of American States called an emergency meeting at its Washington headquarters.


In a nutshell: President Zelaya, having extended reached the end of his term limit, sought to pass a referendum that would make a change to the country's constitution and allow him to stand for re-election. When Zelaya sacked the military chief opposing the referendum and refused to reinstate him, the military stepped in to remove the president from power.
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (giornalista)
The Times OnlineBurma's junta leader has agreed to allow access to all foreign aid workers to help with the relief operation after Cyclone Nargis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said.

Mr Ban made the announcement after more than two hours of talks with Senior General Than Shwe, the reclusive leader of the country’s military regime, whose refusal to let them in earlier set off international outrage.

About damn time. Remember, the cyclone was on 2-3 May and this belated response has meant several hundreds of thousands were needlessly suffering from lack of support for close to three weeks. The Burmese government do not have the resources -- both in supplies and manpower -- to assist, particularly in the most rural areas. The junta's first moves should be to grant visas for foreign aid workers and allow the ships ladened with aid to dock.

Unfortunately, I'm still a little cynical as to whether the Burmese authorities will not somehow impede the aid workers in providing services. Think diverting aid to certain areas instead of where it may be needed. In this case, ASEAN should be more visible in telling the junta off.

It's a bit disappointing the UN didn't do a forcible humanitarian relief effort. As I've noted before this is extremely unlikely and would wreak havoc in the squabbling International community, but in a perfect world and all that.

In the end (barring the junta going back on its word), this event has shown how successful Ban Ki Moon's diplomatic talks are. I hope this means we might be seeing a Dag Hammarskjöld in the making :) 
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (giornalista)
The Times estimates the death toll at 50,000 and millions made homeless. The Telegraph has disturbing news that the Junta executed prisoners after the cyclone hit. The Guardian reports Bush has pledged $3 million to Burma, and asks the Burmese authorities to allow foreign aid in. The LA Times reports on the desperate situation within the country and for the expats trying to reach loved ones back home. The BBC has footage of the aid finally trickling into Burma.

There are fears of starvation, disease, and lack of clean drinking water affecting the survivors. Please consider making donations at this Google page towards Unicef or Direct Relief International, or any of the large British charity and aid organisations through the Disasters Emergency Committee.
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (aw no)
I like shopping just fine, but X Almighty... I do not want to repeat today's experience, EVER. Going through as many shops as it takes to snag a bargain may be a fantastic sport for some, but it just makes me grumpy. And because it's going into the hotter part of Spring, the long-sleeved dress shirts were nowhere to be seen. Instead, the fancier stores as selling ones with the puffy sleeves, with elastic bands in the cuffs. Since I have skinny arms, the shirts make me look as if I'm dressing up as Snow White for Halloween.

In the end I gave up, bought a fancy (and pricey) blazer so I could get away with wearing something more casual underneath. Surely I won't be turned away from the job expo for that piece of comfort. Bloody job hunt.

By the way, I wonder how long I should wait before deciding to move on from the job I've applied to. If someone from the hiring department doesn't respond in say, 10 days, it's pretty much over? If it sounds like it's obvious, I have to admit this will be the first time since graduating university I've applied to a job not through personal contacts. This is all very new to me.

Well, I guess I shall have to make do with catching up with the current financial news. This is the sort of thing I used to keep track of at my last job. Doesn't the dry prose make you want to fall asleep? Heehee. Once you read it in the context of millions and billions of dollars, believe me, it gets much more exciting.

The Times also has this lovely piece on what NOT to do on your first day of work. I'm guilty of this:

Eager beavers. Relax. “No one's going to expect you to perform miracles on your first day,” Maynard says. “Don't put too much pressure on yourself. It takes three months to get your head around a new company.” Miller advises letting things happen to you, rather than being desperate to show initiative, which can put your new colleagues' backs up.

The last one especially got a lot of my former co-workers thinking I was a suck-up. I can't help it! I get really excited and curious about everything in a new job. It's after the three months that I no longer care to ask any questions. Not that it's because I know everything, it's just at the point my supervisor will begin to avoid me and my questions :P
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (giornalista)
From The Times Online: Book piracy on the internet will ultimately drive authors to stop writing unless radical methods are devised to compensate them for lost sales. This is the bleak forecast of the Society of Authors, which represents more than 8,500 professional writers in the UK and believes that the havoc caused to the music business by illegal downloading is beginning to envelop the book trade.

Obviously people will continue to write and push for their works to be published. However the authors in this case are the established professional writers such as the chairperson of Society of Authors, Tracy Chevalier. It seems Chevalier means to warn us the latent book piracy on the net will result in a possible loss of output by writers because they are not being compensated for the illegal trade in their copyrighted material. Again, output by established writers.

But to suggest people will stop writing because anyone can lift off a page of their published work online is really stupid. A confession: years after the second Harry Potter film, I decided to pick up the first book. Because our university library did not have a copy and no one else in the dorm did either, I downloaded a pdf off Morpheus. Although reading it in one go on a crummy screen gave me a headache, I was glad I did so. Why? Because that weekend I went out and bought all four HP books available at the time.

Chevalier says the book industry will become like the music industry, hobbled by outright theft online. Is the internet such a big threat to writers? As I'm not a published author, I'm not sure. Several of my favourite food writers post their recipes or sections from their book on blogs or other sites. Then there are those whose food blogs have been turned into cookbooks. Yes, there are torrents of their books online. Yes, I'm sure people download them. But I'm sure the majority of the readership continue to buy physical copies.

The question could be posed to other parts of the publishing industry, like comic books and manga. It is very easy to download scanlated (scan and translated) manga off numerous sites and doesn't cost a penny. Buying it in a store is about $10 a volume. There are loads of .cbr torrents of various comic books as well. A single issue can cost up to $5 nowadays. The decision for consumers is easy, isn't it? Well... it's the same thing with my HP example. Many download the scans, but a significant few then buys a physical copy.Then there is the compliance of the fans: when a manga title is newly licensed in the US, many fan sites will take down their scanlations and urge their readers to buy the title instead. [community profile] scans_daily is a good example of fans uploading significant portions (less than 11 pages an issue) of a copyrighted work in order to garner interest. And I've dropped a pretty penny since watching the community as it introduces me to loads of works I would have otherwise missed.

Despite this, has anyone outright given up? Have mangakas, with all the doujinshi (published fan work) decide the piracy is enough to make them give up their craft? I doubt it. It may make them even more wary and increase copyright protection for their works, like JK Rowling's lawsuit over a fan site trying to publish it's unofficial copy of HP references.

As a commenter at The Times article says, perhaps the digital revolution will result in greater quality instead of quantity. Post a couple of chapters of a new novel online. If the punters like it, they'll buy a copy in store or maybe download it in its entirety. The pay structure will have to be tweaked: the author may only be paid per downloads, or per copy. It sucks, but it'll certainly mean in a more streamlined process. The ones that don't do well will have avoided the waste of many unsold copies. This scenario's already in play with lulu.com where you can set the price for your labour of love.

I've never bought a book from lulu.com, though. I think I still suffer from the bias that self-publishing is somehow inferior from the established publishing houses. But the more mainstream self-publishing gets, I'm sure that view will soon disappear. Would I mind then if my own work is available for free download? Hey, if it means someone actually bought a copy in the first place, I'd be happy and mildly annoyed.
stinglikeabee: classic denny colt  (giornalista)
In case you've missed it, there were several rather good pieces in the opinion section of the Los Angeles Times:

MODERN SLAVERY
Slavery's Staying Power - E. Benjamin Skinner

HOMELESSNESS AND MEDICINE
Street Medicine's Hard Choices - Susan Partovi

COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS AND JOURNALISM
Read It And Weep - Dennis McDougal

TIBET AND CHINA (Olympics)
Volcano In the Himalayas - Joshua Kurlantzick
Gold Medals, Iron Fists - Dave Zirin
Chinese Police Fire on Monks (today's Times Online)
A Beijing Boycott Won't Work (Times Online)
Free Countries Must Defy Chinese Blackmail (Guardian Online)
Younger Generation Rejects Non-Violent Tradition (Guardian Online)

I added the last four links to supplement both sides of the argument on whether to boycott the Beijing Olympics. I have a friend who is extremely proud of her Chinese heritage and is willing to overlook heinous crimes in the name of money and stability (her own words) - she already has tickets for the major sporting events in Beijing. On the other hand, my ex-supervisor will be strongly boycotting the event with members of his family and the Taiwanese community, marching against the Chinese government. It's a personal choice but one I hope people will make with facts, and not emotion.

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