Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time Warner at it again...

Cable tussle threatens viewers' favorites

By Lynette Rice
Entertainment Weekly

(Entertainment Weekly) -- Can you live without "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Hills"?

Some of you may have to, if Viacom can't reach a deal by midnight Wednesday that would keep Comedy Central, MTV, and its 18 other networks on Time Warner Cable systems, according to a report in The New York Times.

The conglomerate was expected to take out full-page ads in major newspapers today explaining how fans would suffer if Time Warner refuses to ante up in the new year.

Viacom is home to kiddie powerhouse Nick (aka, the birthplace of "Dora the Explorer," "Drake and Josh," and "Zoey 101") as well as nets like Comedy Central, VH-1, and Spike TV. Time Warner cable systems reportedly reach up to 13 million subscribers.

Viacom believes the fees it receives for the nets are way too low, given how they attract a healthy percentage of eyeballs for Time Warner. The cable operator, in the meantime, is arguing that Viacom's profits are down because of the soft ad market and are desperate to increase revenue elsewhere. Stay tuned.
CNN and Entertainment Weekly are units of Time Warner, as is Time Warner Cable.

Truly hands-free telephone...

As of today, we no longer have a landline. We got cable internet installed yesterday because our DSL was on the fritz for two whole days, and I'd finally had enough.

From now on, you can reach Kev and I on our cell phones. If you need that number, email my amazon284(at)yahoo(dot)com address and ask for it.

We figure if we don't like it, we can always get Vonage or something like that. I'll be working hard to develop a habit of carrying my phone everywhere, so you can get a hold of me reliably.

We figure we'll be saving about $50 a month on something we rarely even use.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Judge In 'Watchmen' Case Rules For Fox; Fans Brace For Fallout

Dec 26, 2008, 01:12 PM | by Jeff Jensen

You know how Santa Claus gives lumps of coal on Christmas Eve to those who've been very, very naughty? Well, so do judges. In a twist befitting the comic book in question, the judge presiding over the legal battle for distribution rights to Watchmen found in favor of Fox. The bottom line: Warner Bros. had absolutely no right to roll film on Zack Snyder's adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons superhero classic. As fans wait to see if the ruling will prevent the film from being released as scheduled on March 3, Fox and Warner Bros. are waiting to see if the court will determine how much Fox should get for being so wronged -- unless the studios decide to settle the matter themselves.

The ruling comes as a surprise to Hollywood observers, mostly because no one expected the judge would issue this ruling at all. The conventional wisdom was that Warner Bros. and Fox would settle privately, and the rightness and wrongness of the situation would never be officially called. Moreover, on Dec. 16, the judge set a Jan. 20 trial date for the dispute, saying he had no intention of fulfilling the request of both parties to issue a summary judgment. Why? Because, he said, the darn thing was just too complicated!

But on Christmas Eve, Judge Gary Allen Feess reversed course and issued a ruling that was clear and decisive. Why did he change his mind? Because Fox and Warner Bros. asked him to. In the wake of Feess' Dec. 16 edict, both studios pressed him to reconsider and issue a summary judgment, saying that settling this thing between them was all but impossible because they needed his guidance on interpreting an old contract between Fox and Watchmen producer Larry Gordon. That paper appears to indicate the following: Fox has always had the right to distribute a Watchmen movie; anytime Gordon put together a new version of a Watchmen movie (which is to say, develop a new script or snag a new director for the film), he had to offer Fox the chance to produce and distribute it; if Fox passed on the project, Gordon had the right to purchase Fox's interest in Watchmen and take the project elsewhere.

In his ruling, Feess concludes that Gordon never properly presented Fox with the option to produce and distribute the version of Watchmen developed by director Zack Snyder. He also makes it clear that neither Gordon nor Warner Bros. had bought out Fox's interest before Warner Bros. went into production. Indeed, Feess' ruling includes a rather sarcastic footnote blasting Gordon for his conduct in resolving this dispute. In section 3, Feess remarks that during Gordon's deposition, the producer claimed he couldn't properly recollect his contract with Fox. Feess seems so dismissive of Gordon's allegedly faulty memory, he makes the following side ruling: Should Gordon suddenly remember some salient bit of information that could now help Warner Bros.' cause, he should go back to conveniently forgetting about it. "[T]he court will not, during the remainder of this case, receive any evidence from Gordon that attempts to contradict any aspect of this Court's ruling on the copyright issues under discussion."

Feess' plainspoken declaration that Fox has always been in the right on this matter should represent vindication for the studio. Since Fox filed its lawsuit earlier this year, Watchmen fans and entertainment bloggers (including myself) have questioned why Fox waited until Snyder wrapped production before laying claim to the movie. Our questioning, of course, rested on two assumptions: 1. There was no way Gordon and Warner Bros. could have been so dim as to shoot a movie they had no right to make; and 2. If Fox was so possessive of Watchmen, how come it didn't try harder to stop Warner Bros. from wasting millions and millions of dollars on a movie it had no right to make? But as EW subsequently reported, Fox's lawyers did contact Warner Bros. prior to Watchmen's production with the goal of resolving the matter and allowing Warner Bros. to roll film with a clear conscience -- albeit one purchased, no doubt, at great expense.

Nonetheless, fanboy vitriol toward Fox for daring to meddle with a movie they have long wanted to see continues to this very day. Just check out aint-it-cool-news' report on Fox's victory; the site's message boards are currently chockablock with choice, colorful words aimed at Fox and its top exec, Tom Rothman, who has become an unpopular figure because of Fox's spotty track record with genre material under his leadership. Yes, many of them have been huge hits (X-Men; X-Men 3; I, Robot; Fantastic Four), but many of them haven't (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Daredevil, Elektra, The Day The Earth Stood Still), and with few exceptions (most notably, X-Men 2), none of them have made the hardcore sci-fi/comic book fans very happy due to the studio's penchant for short running times, stingy budgets, and adaptation choices designed to make the material more mainstream-friendly. For them, Fox's desire to lay claim to Watchmen gives them an excuse to vent. Some fans have even been calling for a boycott of Fox's Wolverine next summer if the lawsuit should effectively delay Watchmen's release indefinitely.

But does any of this really have anything to do with Watchmen? Absolutely not. With Feess' decision, Fox's lawsuit -- and its victory -- should be seen as an important move that really benefits all of Hollywood, as it affirms copyright laws that protect all studios. Fox deserves a break on Watchmen; according to Feess, their beef with Warner Bros. has always been legit.

How much will being right ultimately be worth to Fox? Perhaps a lot; perhaps nothing at all. Warner Bros. has been asking Feess to make one more crucial ruling in this case. The judge articulates the studio's request like this: "[T]o summarily adjudicate the issue of a contractual cap on the amount of compensatory damages to which Fox is entitled." Now, I am no lawyer, but here's how I might rephrase Warner Bros.' position: "Let's pretend for a moment that Fox is right in this matter. Judge, could you help us decide a fair price for Fox's rights? Because we can't." Perhaps all along, Warner Bros. has been gambling/banking that the judge will "adjudicate" a relatively affordable price for Fox's rights, or at least put a price tag on it that's much lower than the one Fox has been putting on it. As Feess has said that a longer version of his Christmas Eve ruling is forthcoming, perhaps the question of value will be determined at that time.

In the meantime, there are anxieties, questions, and theories: Will Warner Bros. appeal? If it does, Watchmen's release could be held up by months. If Warner Bros. doesn't appeal, what will Fox get in return? A cash payout per Gordon's original contract? A cash payout plus penalties? A share of Watchmen's total revenues? Might Warner Bros. settle the lawsuit by selling or ceding the film to Fox? If Fox got control of Watchmen, would they release Snyder's film in its current 2 hour 30 minute form, or would they order him to (gulp) trim it or (double gulp) make changes?

To be continued…

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Xmas traditions from around the world...


Catalonia Fecal Festival

Happy Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2 days and counting...

We start the final phase of refinishing the bathroom on Friday. We'll be putting in a new tub, surround, shower doors, and faucet/handles. And once that's done, I'll be able to finish painting the bathroom. I'm excited. I'll be able to take a bath for the first time in 10 years without being grossed out at the very concept. I don't take one that often, but every once in a while, it's a treat to soak in a scalding hot tub and just chill.

I colored my hair the other night, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I mixed a dark auburn with a medium brown, and it's almost the color I wanted. I think I'll go with a dark brown next time, to make it a bit darker red.

Christmas is about to climb on top of us like a lusty teenage boy, and I'm ready for it be over with this year. I don't know why, but I'm just not feeling it. I haven't even watched my staple Xmas movies: White Christmas, Muppet Xmas Carol, and Scrooged. I wouldn't be averse to watching them if they happen to be on TV, but I can't be bothered to fire up the DVD player to watch them. But I AM gung ho for my 12 day vacation that starts after I work 2 hours tomorrow. I look forward to playing WoW, watching movies, and not giving a fig about my job for a 12 whole days.

My only agenda for tomorrow is sleeping in, hauling my ass into work for 2 hours, and then going home to prepare my Mediterranean spinach strata for Xmas day at my mom's. I've got a handful of presents to wrap, and I put Kev in charge of getting Brian and Jason's gifts this year because I've had enough to do.

Friday, December 19, 2008

God damn these electric sex pants!

Have you saved a word today?

By David Murray
A writer's campaign to keep our language rich

All it takes for good words to pass from the language is for enough good writers to stand around and do nothing.

Who said that? I did, a couple of years ago, when I smacked my elbow on a desk and exclaimed,"Ow, that smarts!"

The young editor sitting there gave me a blank look. "Smarts?" she asked.

"Yes, smarts—you know, hurts!" I replied, unable to conceal my annoyance at having to clarify and define my howl of pain.

She'd never heard that term. Rubbing my elbow, I stormed around the office like a madman, asking various people about smarts. I discovered, to my astonishment, that no one under 26 had ever heard the term used to describe sharp pain.

Of course, smarts isn't the first word to disappear from our collective vocabulary. Nobody calls anybody butterfingers anymore, and no one says untoward, either.

I like hanging around old guys, and whenever I do, I hear words that passed out of everyday American usage years ago. A friend of mine, when he hits a bad golf shot, calls himself a nitwit. I laugh every time.

My dad describes a pretty girl as a tomato, and when he's happy, he says, "I'm in the catbird seat."

Another friend, when he's got some money, says, "I'm in the chips."

But the king of old words is a 54-year-old guy I know. This baby-boomer-going-on-octogenarian never uses a modern term when an old one will do. He never says food when he can say chow. As in, "You ever had Polish chow?" He never says bar when he can say barroom, and he never says barroom when he can say saloon. He never calls a meeting. He always proposes a powwow. (He'd like to use the ancient palaver, but this stuff has its limits; people have to know what you're talking about. Or do they?)

"Don't queer the deal," he'll warn about a potential business scheme that could be easily derailed by too many people talking about it. "Keep it on the QT," he'll add.

If he's in trouble, he won't say so. He'll say he's in Dutch, a phrase whose etymology he's explained a hundred times and I still can't remember. If he's not in Dutch, he's in the soup.

He's a one-man defender of many old terms and expressions, and he's constantly explaining them. Making hay, for instance: "Why do you make hay while the sun shines?" he'll ask rhetorically. "Because hay isn't hay until you cut it. And you can't cut it while it's wet, or it'll rot. So you have to make hay while the sun shines."

There are good old euphemisms for sex from the days when we heated our houses with fireplaces and coal-burning furnaces. In those days, one man might say to another: "I need to have my ashes hauled."

My friend says he likes these words because they reference our historical
roots. Which is exactly why they're losing currency. It's said that language is a living thing and to try to engineer linguistic change or insist on its stability is a foolish endeavor. Perhaps. But we're writers, and one of the great benefits of the job is that we have more widespread influence on the language than anyone else.

I propose a movement: Pick your favorite old word or expression, and jam it into
your writing and your conversations wherever it will fit, or even where it won't.

"That dog won't hunt," you say?

Now you're getting the idea.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An excerpt from a great (though occasional) blog...

An excerpt from a great (though occasional) blog...

But right now, as I type and tear, I realize THESE moments, THESE raw fucking sad moments, are what builds true grit. It makes you stand straight in auditions when a producer won’t look your way or when some ‘somebody’ makes you feel like a no ‘nobody.’ When someone passes on your script or someone else doesn't like your eye color, you can shrug it off and walk out head high. This grief, this REAL shit, is like a trump card that you throw down in the chaos of everyday life and say ‘Ha ha. See life? I know the secret. And none of this shit matters.’ Because what really matters, at least today, late at night, tucked away in the Southern most part of The United States, with her expired face cream on, a Harry Potter notebook and a crumbled yoga schedule from the local place on my bedside, and some beat up flip flops tossed about---for ME---is human relationships. Building and cherishing the ones I do have and not chasing the ones I don’t.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Because I'm feeling festive...

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Stole this from Capricious Beast...

Zoom in to read the hilarious fine print.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Belly up...

So apparently, RoadRunner Records told Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer her belly was FAR too fat for her to be in a music video.

Above: Amanda Palmer and said horrifically F-A-T belly.

Why are women expected to have washboard abs? It's not normal. I'm sorry it's not. I had a 4-pack when I was 22, and it took HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS of cardio and working out to get them and maintain them. And that was just a 4-pack.

Look at historical paintings and photographs of nude women. WE ARE NOT MEANT TO LOOK LIKE MUSCULAR MEN. We have curves, and not all of them are meant to be concave.

In revolt, Dresden Dolls fans have created Rebellyon, a site dedicated to bellies of all shapes and sizes. I look forward to posting my own pudgy belly on the site. It infuriates me that women are held to damn near unattainable standards and then chastised and made to feel worthless and ugly when we can't reach those unattainable standards.

I spent my entire youth thinking I had an E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S pot belly. Seriously. I was 6 ft tall, weighed a buck-o-five, and I thought my stomach was repulsive. Christ. I wish I had that stomach now. I'd be wearing half-shirts to work every day, office clothing policies be damned!

So join me at the Rebellyon and post your tummy pics!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Nerd Culture Holiday

So did anyone actually SEE the Macy's T-day parade get Rick-rolled?