Friday, 2 November 2012

Mindset Cafe: 2012-11-02

On this week's menu, the Disney Star Wars thing, Saul Zaentz takes ownership of Hobbits, a useful book on plotting, how witches are being portrayed, industrial fishing, horror knitting and a surprise.

Really good news...

Disney is to buy Lucas Film, and new feature films are expected. Fan boys, Jedis and other purists will no doubt have lost their cool by the time you read this, but Disney has good cred in the buyout department. It already owns Marvel and Pixar, and has shown that it is quite savvy enough to leave successful properties to run themselves with no or minimal interference. Kudos to them. And as for the fan boys, has a good grumble ever stopped anyone from seeing the movies (even if just to sniff at them), and buying the boxed sets, graphic novel adaptations, memorabilia, games, lunchboxes, T-shirts and towels?

I think what's happening is that everyone is hoping to relive the magic of that first release (Episode IV), and so further movies will always be judged against that first sensation and fare poorly, no matter what their merits.

...and disturbing news

Saul Zaentz seems to be getting entirely heavy-handed with the creative property of 'The Hobbit', losing his cool over the name of a pub and the title of a lecture. Hasn't he heard of free advertising? Or is he just getting his 'cantankerous' on?

The idea of use of a name as a 'generic' is put forward in the Hobbit matter. This branding and marketing argument makes no sense to me. It originated with the replacement of 'tissue' with the word 'Kleenex', which is supposedly bad for a brand. Think about that... apparently it is counterproductive for the Kleenex brand if someone says I need to buy a 'box of Kleenex' instead of a 'box of tissues'. I don't feel the need to describe my feelings about this type of reasoning.

Stories for stories

Scientists have transferred genes between two unfertilised human eggs, opening the possibility for humans to have more than two parents. That could complicate inheritances. A school has banned Halloween costumes. Parents were unhappy. What will the ghosts have to say?

Reading and writing

I am not a believer in luck, except for the kind that I make for myself. That means learning and work. I felt very lucky to have three stories accepted, so I hit the books with my hair standing up. One of tThe one things I have the most problems with is plotting, so I was very happy to find James Scott Bell's book on plotting stories which lays things out as an easily understandable blueprint. There's a lot of luck going down on this side. Proof will be in the pudding though.

Penguin and Random House have announced their merger. It's an 'economies of scale' type of thing: sell more and cut costs. The usual PR platitudes show up, but it is obvious that traditional print is struggling. Amongst the signals, they say they will be "adventurous in trying new models in this exciting, fast-moving world of digital books and digital readers." Note the separate reference to 'digital readers'. Will they follow the flock into the the pastures of commercial lunacy by attempting to replicate the success of others with proprietary hardware and software configurations, and a new closed content model in a maturing market which is already heading towards saturation? My guess is that is a distinct possibility. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine. Carson McCullers as a first person shooter?

The Smithsonian posted on 'Witches of Halloween Past' with a roundup of imagery. What is noticable is that the witches are all young and comely. Whether this is a reflection of what was available or an indication of the Smithsonian's take on what is ideal today, it points to degradation of the trope. It's not just the maiden, remember? The triumvirate consists of the maiden, the mother and the crone. I have posted on something similar in the past. If you want more knowledge on the thing, take a look at Marina Warner's 'From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers' which is unfortunately not yet available on Kindle and atrociously expensive, but invaluable as a reference.

Here's a treat...

A whole novel in a song. Press play.

Mother Nature and other terrifying things

The UN has called for a halt to aggressive industrial fishing, which is threatening the world's food supply. Coming from a country where fish stocks are believed to be overexploited in spite of penalties, I feel quite strongly that action needs to be taken on this. Here's a thought... In future, seafood that we take for granted, for instance canned tuna, fish fingers and fish cakes could become luxury items on par with caviar that we think of as a luxury today. Imagine telling young people about this a couple of decades down the line and seeing looks of disgust on their faces.

And finally...

Halloween and Day of the Dead are over. Here's a gallery of Pumpkin carvings which, although impressive, make me wonder if the whole thing shouldn't be renamed International Pumpkin Fetish Day. More interesting is the newly subversive art of knitting and this gallery of horror knits.

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