Monday, June 30, 2008

Can we strike the word strike please?

I'm annoyed by all the talk of SAG going on strike. It's particularly annoying because all these rumors started before negotiations did, which means there was a great deal of pressure to just take whatever deal was offered by the studios.

If you look at the deal the WGA took the writers are fucked (my analysis of course) because they still aren't really getting paid for new media. There is a waiting period after a show runs and no payment for anything streamed during that time. So my friend M. who watches House online watches it within that timeframe, no payment to the writers.

The writers are supposed to wait years to see if the internet is going to pan out. Um, right. We all know it's just a fly by night soap bubble, here today and gone tomorrow.

This is essentially what happened when video sales started, the writers took a deal that paid very little while everyone waited to see if there was going to be a market. Of course there was but the amount of pay per sale didn't go up, at least not until the strike a few months ago. So if you bought a copy of season two of Buffy for eighty bucks or whatever, Joss Whedan got five cents. But then wouldn't he have had to split it with all the other writers who wrote that season? I'm not completely clear on that. Maybe he got a ha'penny for all I know.

The writers were asking for twice what they were getting, which may sound like a lot, but worked out to ten cents per DVD. And for new media they wanted some money instead of no money. Isn't it funny how in the end most people like to get paid for their work?

I saw an article during the strike that said that an executive for a studio got a raise that would have covered the entire demands for the entire WGA. That's interesting isn't it?

So now we, meaning SAG, would like to get paid for our work that is going to appear online. Certain big name actors paid for full page ads saying we should get to the table while our union was still talking to actors and seeing what our concerns are. Very frustrating.

Anyway, this article in today's WaPo brought on my post today:

Good luck. Isn't all this uncertainty hurting the industry?

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. estimated that the writers' strike cost the county $2.5 billion in lost income. A lot of TV executives (and writers and talent) think that the strike hurt their scripted television shows, as viewers turned to other fare, such as reality programming.

Oh my god, shut up! We are NOT on strike!! We're not taking a strike vote! Enough already.

And you know what, the writers strike was very difficult for everyone but you know how much money 2.5 billion is in Hollywood? Let's look at some numbers. (These are domestic and foreign combined.)

Ratatouille grossed $620,421,654. This is box office only.

Iron Man grossed $559,979,318. This is box office only.

Spider-Man three grossed $891,930,303. This is box office only.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull grossed $713,085,447. This is box office only.

With this type of money to be made I've no idea why the studios didn't try harder to at least negotiate. I would have thought they would have wanted to prevent exactly what occurred.

What do I want? For now I'd like both sides to be able to meet, talk, bargain, etc without a lot of pressure and rumors making that job next to impossible.

One final quote, from an email from our president, Alan Rosenberg:

“We have taken no steps to initiate a strike authorization vote by the members of Screen Actors Guild. Any talk about a strike or a management lockout at this point is simply a distraction. The Screen Actors Guild national negotiating committee is coming to the bargaining table every day in good faith to negotiate a fair contract for actors.”
Nuff' said.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rat Trap

I was watching High Fidelity this week and thinking about how I don't go to record stores anymore so I miss out on walking in and hearing a new exciting band.

When I was fourteen we moved to San Francisco, where I lived for the next seven years or so, and found some great record stores. I walked into one near Van Ness and Polk one fine day and saw a video that made me into a lifelong fan. Man those were the days. Living in the city during the heydey of punk was more wonderful than I can say.


Friday, June 27, 2008

A few things

In this article from WaPo about the waterfall art installations in New York City someone says they've never seen a waterfall but these aren't what they imagined. It's weird for me to think someone doesn't know what they look like. They're in a million movies and tiny ones are in gardens and I've been lucky enough to hike to and swim in or near some. I guess that's just me having a privilege I take for granted. So today I am grateful that I've been able to hang out with waterfalls and not realize what a big deal they are.

PICC line came out today. Blah blah blah, too many troubles so out it came. I'm a bit nervous because the nurse didn't see the special tip that needs to come out but then she thought maybe she just wasn't used to the power PICC so hopefully the while thing came out and some little piece isn't floating around my heart...

Finally this article about the soil on Mars is very cool. When do we start terraforming? I also like how science and literature naturally go together and the two trenches on Mars are called Snow White and Wonderland. Nice.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Help cure AIDS and cancer

Read today's awesome dinosaur comics, which cameos a tiny elephant dressed up like a werewolf,, then scroll down and read how to join the dino comics team and use your computer to help people. You enjoy yourself then do nothing while you rake in the cosmic credits. Awesome!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Racing cross the desert


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just a few words

I've been stupidly busy lately, mostly with some sort of brewing infection in my PICC line or perhaps the stitches that hold it in place or maybe just the skin around that is annoyed by the dressings that keep the whole thing sterile. Yesterday I had to run into the office for a quick consult to decide if I needed blood cultures - thankfully I didn't, which is good. My desire for a case of sepsis is nonexistent. But these visits take time and money that I can ill afford.

I'm also proofing the MID, which is huge and comes in spurts that need a quick turn around. End result, I've been working a lot during what is usually my free time (weekends) trying to make up for missed time and to make sure my schedule is clear when the MID chapters come through.

Here's a contest that would pay off your mortgage. The guidelines are very strict, for instance we live in a 950 square foot condo that is currently going for about 210 grand so we wouldn't qualify. That's partly where we live, one of the more expensive areas. But anyway, take a peek and see if you can enter. It would nice to have no mortgage, wouldn't you say?

I guess that's it. Back to fighting my fever. My poor kids, one minute I'm freezing then I'm burning up. Luckily I've got a nice fan so it's not like they're alternately boiling and icing up but still, somewhat annoying I'm sure.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Foreign body in bladder

Here is a disturbing account in the New England Journal of Medicine about a bi polar woman who tried to put a nail in her uterus to deter rape.

I wonder if they ever followed up on the hypodense area in her head. They only mention sending her to the psych ward after she "painlessly" passed the nail (!). I can only imagine how out of touch someone would be if they had severe bi polar and a brain tumor. It's rather terrifying.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

When I was a very small boy

There are a lot of ticks out this season. I went to the doctor on Thursday and Chris ran around in the woods, climbing over fallen trees and trudging through the swamp muck and got two ticks. He's gotten one earlier after doing some yard work for a friend so total was three in one day. Which is you know, more than the entire family has gotten in the preceding ten years...

A couple of people have written to ask what I'm writing now. I started a project that was inspired by this ad:

I'm about six thousand words into it and things are happening, like a little girl stole the dog, but I've been unsure where I'm going with it and not entirely sure the story was ready to be told but then a couple of minutes ago I figured out the most important thing so hopefully it will work.

Cam went to Alaska on Monday, via Georgia, which I don't quite understand as it's kind of in the opposite direction. He called on Wednesday because he was bored but yesterday he went salmon fishing so hopefully he's having a good time.

Chris im'ed this video to me. It's weirdly like a dream I was having when he sent it, which makes it even stranger.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fact Check Please

I just started reading Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder and I came to this:

Three miles up to the left, a farm caught the suns’ light: within a net a hundred feet across, the farmer had gathered pulverized rock and soil, and was growing a crop of yellow canola. Each plant clutched its own little ball of mud and they all tumbled about slowly, catching and losing the light in one another’s shadow.

Canola isn't a plant. It's a type of oil and the name is a sort of acronym that stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid. The reason it's got that name instead of something simple like corn or safflower oil is because it's made from rapeseed oil and the market for rape oil is rather limited.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My hobby


Monday, June 16, 2008

Scam Alert from Victoria Strauss

I got an email earlier today from Victoria Strauss of the Writer Beware blog warning of a scam. Purporting to be a writing contest put together by the SFWA and advertised on Craigslist of all places, the whole thing is a con job. Here is the link to the warning at the blog.

Victoria asks how the can artist plans to cash checks made out to SFWA, which reminds me of a script my friend Alan wrote years ago about con artists. One of them goes around with a van, cameras, balloons etc and pretends to be from a big giveaway, passing out a check but telling the "winner" they have to pay taxes on the spot. The check for taxes is made out to the IRS and the conman has a business account for his company, the Icelandic Review Society. Voila.


Sunday, June 15, 2008


The rodents in our house were apparently conspiring with Seth and Kyra's rodents and they all made a break for it last night. Seth and Kyra's hamster escaped and one of our rats chewed right through the bottom of the cage.

The hamster was located and is safely back in its house and the rats are all jammed into a smaller cage until we can replace the bottom of the old cage. We didn't have any trouble finding them as Cam noticed that they had escaped when the one that was loose walked up to him and climbed into his lap. Maybe the thrill was in the escape, not in the trying to live free.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dr. Bob has some words of wisdom

Dr. Bob has some interesting things to say to someone who is having some trouble coping seven years after her initial diagnosis with HIV. I think that what he has to say is relevant to a great many people with other chronic ailments or devastating diseases. My own experiences with cancer patients is proof of this.

And interesting, or sadly really, I have spoken with a great many people who have had the same response as the patient from friends and family when confronted with a chronic illness. They're expected to suck it up and are told they don't look sick (?) and are greeted with exasperation when they don't join in all the reindeer games so to speak.

And amusingly, just as I was typing "greeted with exasperation" Chris came in to tell me he locked the keys in my car, which is over at his friend's house. Sigh.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Important lesson here


Thursday, June 12, 2008

When I was a kid

When I was a kid we used to spend a fair amount of time engineering in our backyard. We built cities, trenches and lakes. We got to flood these things and had a pretty good time but we never attained our greatest goal, digging a hole to China.

We wanted to find out if the people on the other side of the world walked on their hands or walked upside down. We had only the smallest grasp of physics, clearly, but we were pretty young and determined.

We built a replica of the Nile and Lake Victoria, which we knew all about from watching a film with our mom. Then we played Dr. Livingston I presume.

The question is did we fail to dig to China because we were lazy or because we were afraid of the molten core of the earth?

Good old science.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry

I'm geeking out over the release of The Incredible Hulk this weekend. I was a little shocked when I first heard Edward Norton was playing Bruce Banner but then I got to thinking and he has a history of playing characters with a hidden dual persona.

Think about Fight Club, Down in the Valley or Primal Fear and you'll see what I mean. This is just the first time that persona comes bursting out all mean and green.

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Monday, June 09, 2008


Ha ha ha ha.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

T t talkin bout the weather

103 degrees outside. 93 degrees inside. That's today. My New York twin penpals, who just turned 11, report that it is 96 at their place and the rabbit is flattened out in an effort to cool off. So are the hamsters. I suggested a dish of ice cubes, which seems to have gone over well. Our rats had a tiny bit of peach ice cream which also went over well.

Yesterday 97 degrees outside and 93 in. Then a big storm which cooled things off but took out our power until some time today. Once the electric came back on we had trouble with our cable, which means no internet...

Someone was supposed to come and fix our AC on Tuesday but she called to say she can't come as she has too many contracted customers that are calling that she has to bump up in front of us. So no-one is scheduled to come. Thinking about moving into a hotel for the summer...


Friday, June 06, 2008

Not engaging

I'm reading my second book by Libba Bray about Gemma Doyle. This is the kind of story I should love as it's sort of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden meet The Chronicles of Narnia with some gothic romances thrown in. We go from India to a horrible boarding school filled with snooty girls and one token charity case.

Gemma is determined to discover the mystery behind her mother's recent death and soon discovers magic and an ominous enemy.

This should all combine into an exciting and interesting book but somehow it never quite works for me. I'm never engaged and I can't bring myself to care about the characters.

I'm trying to read the second one while paying close attention to plot because Connie Willis said that many problems that seem to be unrelated to plot are actually plot problems. A character doesn't work because he or she is behaving in a way that doesn't make sense for who they are but this isn't because the character hasn't been developed, it's because it doesn't make sense in context of the plot. And maybe that's it for these books. Maybe there are too many elements and they don't fit into the story properly. One thing that bugs me is a boy from Bombay is always hanging out with these gypsies in England, in the woods. Why would a city boy from India be in the woods at all, much less automatically taking cover with the gypsy tribe?


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nothing but good news this week

Coraline the graphic novel got a starred review at Kirkus, calling it "deliciously dark," an expression I'm wondering if I've used before.

Mongol opens this weekend. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign picture and I've been curious to see it ever since. It's about Genghis Kahn's youth and childhood, stopping when he becomes the almost unstoppable war machine of his later days.

I'm reading Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong and it's as good as the rest of the series. If you haven't read my comments about her previous books up at you may want to. Or better yet just go and get them. The first one is a little distant but man, one of them almost gave me heart failure.

Chris comes home from school tommorow and Cam has his last day of tenth grade. Cam sings for graduation on Saturday, at a big arena, for probably the biggest audience of his life. If you know, we don't count all the people who saw Hannibal...

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Heartbreaking comics

This series of comics is from Coco Wang who turned newspaper stories about the recent major earthquake in China into comics. Some of the are funny and some of them will tear your heart out. Courtesy of Neil.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Borg rejects

I'm wondering what happens when the Borg tries to assimilate someone and their equipment won't install. What do they do?

I'm wondering because I went to the hospital this morning to get my PICC line and was there for five hours of torture (in enough pain to cry, cried enough to fill my ears with tears and I usually have a pretty high threshold for pain) while two different departments tried three times to put the PICC line in.

Apparently the basila (is that right? like a basilisk or the basilica but different...) vein in my left arm is occluded. Occluded with what? It's not the place of the PICC installers to say. Another blood clot? Maybe. Who knows.

Finally staggered out of the interventional radiology department to go home and promptly fell into some sort of spill, twisting my ankle and banging the hell out of my wrists, knee and new PICC line. The area around it is still bleeding, like seven hours later. So that was fun.

Tomorrow I start the infusion at the hematologist's office. That will be fun also. I'd forgotten what a horrible pain these things are, starting with no swimming or baths and moving through being allergic to the dressings. Oh well, I'll only have to keep it in for seven to fifteen weeks...


Monday, June 02, 2008

Tally Youngblood isn't the only one

I was poking around looking for menu planner templates, not finding any I liked, when I ran across this site. This bit is advice for things to do and not do when you're trying to get a job in a ski chalet.


Main courses- many companies do not allow the following main courses:

spaghetti bolognese
chilli con carne
shepherd's pie
Sometimes your guests may particularly ask for one of these, in which case your company will have given you guidelines on whether you can then serve them what they have requested.

See the very first on the list? Everyone hates spag bol!

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Amusing tale of a bank robbery

This is a classic story. Greed, a fall from grace, a cliche ("this is a stick up"), not profiting from the crime and best of all, the name of the bank employee; Kawasaki Johnson.

A couple of ministers go off to rob a bank, complete with stockings over their faces. One fires a shot into the ceiling and says, "This is a stick up." Seriously, what movies has this guy been watching?

He jumps over the counter (who knew ministers were in such good shape?) and empties Kawasaki's teller drawer, then the other drawers, before jumping back over the counter where he makes his escape, but not before stuffing the loot into what looks like a pillowcase.

The two make off with forty grand, which they split. Then they split up, one heading to Georgia, where he confesses (!!??!!) and the other back to church, where I guess he is eventually arrested since he was out on bail at the time of the article. Twenty grand in bail, the precise amount he stole.

Wow. Just wow.