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January 17, 2013

Kiss Me Quick Stamp

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Pucker up, St. Valentine's Day is four weeks from today.

You know what to do, don't you?

Self-inking, the way we like it.

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Wait a sec... what's that movie scene I'm visualizing?

January 17, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Writers: Publish your work on bookofjoe and keep ALL your rights

Christine Haughney's January 13 New York Times article about how Condé Nast is now really putting the squeeze on writers for its publications gave me an idea: offer bookofjoe as a place where writers can publish their work while keeping any and all possible future possibilities open.

You want to keep the exclusive movie and TV rights to your work, forever and ever?

No problem.

Publish here, sell anywhere else you like.

Perhaps there's great work you can't get published in a more conventional arena, for whatever reason: no problema — if I like it, you're in.

Think about it.

Would you rather have something world-shaking sitting in a drawer or right here in front of the world, ready for The Huffington Post or the New York Times to take it and run with it?

Costs you nothing to try.

Below, excerpts from the Times piece.

It's a dream tucked in the backs of many journalists’ minds: the article they write becomes a blockbuster movie and they reap a healthy share of the profits, a walk on the red carpet and — who knows? — maybe even an Oscar.

At Condé Nast magazines like Wired, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, that wish has become reality for a small but steady number of writers. Condé Nast articles led to the movie "Argo," which so far has generated $166 million in worldwide box-office sales, "Eat Pray Love," which made $204 million in global sales, and "Brokeback Mountain," which brought in $178 million.

But now, Condé Nast, whose magazines are battling a punishing business environment, wants to capture more of the film and television profits, which previously went to writers who owned the rights to these works. The new contracts have angered writers and their agents who argue that it's another cut at their already rapidly shrinking compensation.

"It doesn't give authors the option or the alternative to go elsewhere for their movie and television rights, and therefore there's no competition," said Jan Constantine, general counsel for the Authors Guild who recently advised an agent negotiating one of these contracts.

According to copies of the various contracts provided and described to The New York Times, those exclusive rights ranged from 30 days to one year. The contracts also show that if Condé Nast decides to option the article, writers receive $2,500 to $5,000 for a 12-month option. If an article is developed into a major feature film, writers receive no more than 1 percent or $150,000 toward the purchase price.

Television programs and made-for-television movies are capped at even lower amounts, especially for less experienced writers. These arrangements are agreed to before an article has even been published.

"This is bottom-of-the-barrel pricing," said one agent who refused to allow writers to sign the new contracts, but declined to be identified for fear of retribution toward the agent's clients. "There's no reason my clients who are the premier writers in the country should be shackled by this agreement that forces them to accept very low prices and also take their project off the market."

Many writers for Condé Nast magazines like The New Yorker work under one-year contracts that lack basic employee benefits like a 401(k) retirement plan or health insurance, but they are allowed to keep the rights to their work. (By contrast, newspapers typically own the full rights to articles published by their employees.)

Some agents have warned writers not to sign the contracts because they chip away further at their income. But other writers have signed the agreements because they don’t want to lose the chance to have their byline appear in The New Yorker or Vanity Fair.

Writers interviewed for this article who have contracts with Condé Nast emphasized that in this economy they can't simply go out and get a contract with another magazine.

Some writers predict that these contracts will create an even wider divide between Condé Nast's most celebrated writers and its stable of lesser known but productive contributors.

"The people who really get the big options are not going to sign, and the people who don’t get the big options are going to be railroaded," said one Condé Nast writer who asked not to be identified because of fears of retribution from the company. "What you are really taking is people's self-respect."

The plans to secure more of these rights started in late 2011, when Condé Nast formed an entertainment group to help it secure some of the profits its writers received when their articles were developed into film and television programs.

In the past, Condé Nast struggled to profit from many of the programs made about its publications. For example, it did not receive any of the $6.4 million made at the global box office for "The September Issue," a documentary about Vogue.

In late 2011, the company hired Dawn Ostroff, previously president of the CW television network, to run the entertainment group. While a Condé Nast spokesman declined to talk about the specific contract negotiations, the spokesman said the company hopes to offer its writers more development options through the new entertainment group.

January 17, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Influenza Sorbet — MUCH better than a flu shot




Because once you've gotten the flu after having taken the time and trouble to get a flu shot — FunFact: this season's version offers a 62% likelihood of protection — you'll be even more miserable realizing you wasted your time and money on something useless.


I could've told you as much and in fact have alluded to this here in several posts over the past couple weeks but never too stridently: after all, when I point out that flu shots are based on weak science — at best — more often than not people retort, "What do you know? You're an anesthesiologist, not a real doctor."

Hard to argue with that.


From Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams comes Influenza Sorbet, packed with cayenne pepper, ginger, Maker's Mark bourbon, honey, orange juice, and lemon juice.

Yo Jane Friedman — this beats some bozo doctor administering a bogus flu test, then telling you with a straight face you've got "paraflu."

That wasn't in my infectious diseases textbook at UCLA Medical School in the 70s but then again I'm an anesthesiologist, not a real doctor.


One pint costs $12.

[via NOTCOT and MillHouse]

January 17, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Notes on "Zero Dark Thirty"

Yesterday I made a rare foray out to the theater to watch this film.

By rare I mean I can't remember the last time I actually went to a movie theater as opposed to watching movies on TV at home via Apple TV, with fantastically comfortable seating, great food, perfect projection and sound, and the ability to stop watching for any reason at any time and come back later that night or tomorrow if I so choose.

I might not have gone to a single film all last year, that's how long it's been.

The negative externalities of today's moviegoing experience are just too numerous and soul-sapping for me to overcome and take the time and trouble to make the trip.

Plus, at home I get lagniappe in the form of Gray Cat napping on my lap throughout, a delight whose pleasure simply cannot be overstated.

No matter: I went to the cinema for several reasons:

1. I wanted to see this movie while it was still in active release and the national conversation.

2. I hadn't yet visited the new Stonefield Mall, which turns out to be only 2.3 miles from my house according to the odometer.

3. Sometimes it's good to shake things up.

I've read all the reviews and have heard from a couple people I know about their own impressions, which were that the movie was just too tedious — and in one case soporific — until the final climactic raid.

I thought just the opposite.

I found the first couple hours of analysis, laying the foundation for the final assault, utterly compelling.


Jessica Chastain gets my Oscar vote — doesn't matter who else is in the running.

As I drove home from the theater, the thought occurred to me I know three people who share many of the traits of Maya, the CIA analyst at the heart of the film.

All three are women: one is in her fifties, one in her thirties, and one in her late twenties.

The former two live in my Podunk town and the latter grew up here before heading north for school and profession.

Is it just chance that no man I know combines, as do these three remarkable women, 1. unflinching resolve; 2. the ability to stay with a deadening, beyond boring task through endless tedium while maintaining the very highest attention; 3. a kind of borderline scary/crazy intensity when focused on something; 4. an unwillingness to let go no matter what; 5. a kind of personal shyness and preference not to call attention to themselves?


Perhaps not.

The three of you know who you are; everyone else, please move along, nothing to see here. 

January 17, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Phone with built-in closed captioning — not just for those with hearing loss


That's the target audience but there's a whole lot larger potential pool of users of this device.

Long story short from Edward C. Baig's USA Today review: Free captioning of what is being said by the other party on phone calls and answering machines messages. Transcription accuracy "decent but imperfect."

Also: no speakerphone.


January 17, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"A Quantum of Physics" — Oliver Jeffers

Not only are the visuals in this video striking, but also Jeffers' voice and accent make for a wonderfully absorbing few minutes.

A far better use of the time than anything else you might do.

Trust me on this.

[via Rob Weaver]

January 17, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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