Archive for October, 2012

Pixar, Marvel & Now Lucasfilm. The Force Is Strong With Disney

Disney

DisneyYesterday it was announced that Disney are to acquire Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. This is all “subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions.”

But everything has been approved by both Disney and Lucasfilm’s sole shareholder, George Lucas. So what does this mean for the fans?

Well, besides three new movies, with “Episode 7” being released in 2015 and all sorts of merchandising/theme parks spin-offs, only time will tell.

Did anyone really notice the changes in Pixar and Marvel. I didn’t. Let’s look at this from the fan viewpoint and the easiest way is to look at the responses to films before and after. Comparing Pixar before and after is relatively easy, but Marvel is a bit more complex as they licensed their comics to various companies for production & distribution, some good and some not so much.

Have a look at the two tables below, which are split into 2 sections (post- and pre-Disney) which are split again into public opinion and critic’s opinion. The abbreviations are as follows:

Lets start with Pixar:

PRE-DISNEY
Title Year RT (AR) IMDB RT (F) MC
Toy Story 1995 81 8.3 100 92
A Bug’s Life 1998 61 7.2 92 77
Toy Story 2 1999 72 8 100 88
Monsters, Inc. 2001 84 8 95 78
Finding Nemo 2003 82 8.1 99 89
The Incredibles 2004 67 8 97 90
Cars 2006 80 7.3 74 73
AVERAGE 75.3 7.8 93.9 83.9
POST-DISNEY
Title Year RT (AR) IMDB RT (F) MC
Ratatouille 2007 84 8 96 96
WALL-E 2008 89 8.5 96 94
Up 2009 86 8.3 98 88
Toy Story 3 2010 91 8.5 99 92
Cars 2 2011 54 6.4 38 57
Brave 2012 80 7.5 78 69
AVERAGE 80.7 7.9 84.2 82.7

A quick look the average public ratings (RT(AR) and IMDB) show us that the public prefer the post-Disney Pixar, if only slightly. If you take a closer look, Cars 2 was a major let-down for post-Disney Pixar. If we take that one out, things are very different the averages go up to 86, 8.2, 93.4 & 87.8 respectively. If you look atthe critic’s opinions however, Rotten Tomatoes says that Disney is not doing a great job, while Metacritics says it’s pretty much the same, unless again, you take out Cars 2.

But the jump from Disney to Pixar is not that huge, not as much as it is for Marvel… So what is the verdict with regards to Marvel. Up until 1998, Marvel never really made the jump to the big screen, with only a four movies coming out, including two versions of Captain America. From 1998, they started licensing out more movies to various companies until Disney bought them out in 2009 for $4.24 billion.

PRE-DISNEY
Title Year RT (AR) RT (F) IMDB MC
Year Title
1944 Captain America 6.6
1986 Howard the Duck 4.3
1989 The Punisher 42 24 5.4
1990 Captain America 20 11 3
1998 Blade 78 55 7 45
2000 X-Men 83 82 7.4 64
2002 Blade II 72 59 6.6 52
Spider-Man 65 89 7.3 73
2003 Daredevil 46 45 5.4 42
X2 84 88 7.6 68
Hulk 34 62 5.7 54
2004 The Punisher 68 29 6.4 33
Spider-Man 2 81 93 7.5 83
Blade: Trinity 70 26 5.8 38
2005 Elektra 47 10 4.8 34
Man-Thing 18 20 4
Fantastic Four 57 27 5.7 40
2006 X-Men: The Last Stand 73 57 6.8 58
2007 Ghost Rider 56 26 5.2 35
Spider-Man 3 54 63 6.3 59
FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer 55 37 5.7 45
2008 Iron Man 91 94 7.9 79
The Incredible Hulk. 75 67 6.9 61
Punisher: War Zone 45 27 6 30
AVERAGE 59.7 49.6 6.1 52.3
POST-DISNEY
Title Year RT (AR) RT (F) IMDB MC
2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine 72 37 6.7
2010 Iron Man 2 80 75 7.1 57
2011 Thor 80 77 7 57
X-Men: First Class 88 87 7.8 65
CPT America: The First Avenger 75 79 6.8 66
2012 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 32 18 4.4 32
Marvel’s The Avengers 96 92 8.4 69
The Amazing Spider-Man 81 73 7.4 66
AVERAGE 75.5 67.3 7.0 58.9

No matter which way you look at it, Disney is doing a pretty damn good job, except when it comes to Ghost Rider 2, which was neither produced or distributed by them or Marvel, since talk of it’s production began in 2007 already.

Ultimately, as I said, time will tell, but I’m pretty sure they’ll do a good job

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Must See Movies 2012 #7: Cloud Atlas & Skyfall

AKA:  Must Miss Movies 2012 #1: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2

This month isn’t one of the more promising months when it comes to movies.

Of course, if you’re a Twilight fan, then you may think that how can I say that, but I refuse to watch it, simple, so therefore it can’t be a must see movie for me.

Week 1: Cloud Atlas

Written and Directed by Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run) & The Wachowskis (Matrix Trilogy, V for Vendetta), the movie is based on the award winning book of the same name from David Mitchell. The movie consists of different stories ranging from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future and is “an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future.”

The film’s premier in Toronto received a ten minute standing ovation. Almost every actor in the film plays 3-6 different characters within an almost mind-exploding weave of locales. It stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and many more.

The movies was released in the US on 26 October 2012, but comes to us in SA on 2 November 2012.

IMDB Moviemeter: 19

Tomatometer: 62%

Trailer 1 (Extended):

Trailer 2:

Week 2: ParaNorman

It’s an animated movie, I know… but it has zombies in, that’s enough for me. If that’s not enough for you, how about the fact that it was done in stop-motion?

The movie used 31000 interchangeable parts to make the movie’s characters capable of 1.5 million expressions. Norman’s eye-rig alone has 40 parts and the faces were printed with a 3D printer. The rigs used for each character needed to be precise and even each individual stone & clump of dirt that is flung around when the zombies rise was controlled by individual wires.

On average, Laika’s 35 animators and 58 visual effects artists created all 244733 frames at an average of 4.4 seconds of footage. – (Source: www.wired.co.uk)

IMDB Moviemeter: Top 5000

Tomatometer: 86%

Week 3 & 4

Nada :/

Yeah, that’s right, unless you’re a Twilight fan, in which case, you have my condolences.

Week 5: Skyfall

I’m a huge bond fan, and there are quite a few of us out there. Those who like Bond will already know about this, the 23rd film in the 007 series and those that don’t like Bond will not watch it no matter what I say. For those that are on the fence, the trailer should convince you either way.

Skyfall was released in the UK on 26 October 2012 and is due for release on 2 November 2012 in SA.

IMDB Moviemeter: 11

Tomatometer: 94%


Eastern Cape Floods & Damage

Since last week, the Eastern Cape has been getting a lot of rain. In fact according to the Weather Guru (link below) up to this morning 389mm of rain fell in the Port Alfred area. Click here for details on all areas from last week to now.  He also shared this info:

With still 8 days left in October we have not only exceeded the record in Port Elizabeth as being the wettest NON FLOOD year on record and the second wettest year on record since 1955 (when records started at airport)

Reason for calling it a non flood year is that although we have had a lot of flooding, there is no ONE SINGLE EVEN/DATE that stands out like for example 1 September 1968

Comparative figures up until the end of October

1968 1032.6 mm
1974 966.5 mm
1981 923.5 mm
2012 985.4 mm up until 22 October

For the entire year the total for 1968 was 1068.4 mm. We thus need just over 83 mm before the end of the year to beat that record

Facebook has been buzzing about the heavy rains and people are posting photos like crazy, especially since Saturday.

Where to get more info and updates:

Metro Newspaper: http://www.metronewspaper.co.za/

Follow the Weather Guru for up to date reports: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Weather-Guru/192566374124112

Algoa FM Gallery: http://www.algoafm.co.za/galleryphotos.aspx?id=201#!prettyPhoto

Grahamstown Photos: http://penneyspix.co.za/gtown-rain.php

St Francis photos: http://stfrancischronicle.com/2012/10/21/the-sand-river-canyon-develops-as-bridge-washes-away-for-3rd-time-photo-gallery/#jp-carousel-8398

Videos:

Boesmanriviermond:

Some Images from Facebook:

1)

3rd Avenue, Walmer (Saturday night?)

3rd Avenue, Walmer (Saturday night?)

2)

3rd Avenue, Walmer (Sinkhole in road)

3rd Avenue, Walmer (Sinkhole in road)

3)

N2 between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth

The hole is 25m wide and 50m deep on the N2 between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth

4)

Assegai Bridge between Port Elizabeth & Grahamstown

Assegai Bridge between Port Elizabeth & Grahamstown

5)

Boundary Lane, Mt Pleasant

Boundary Lane, Mt Pleasant (sorry about quality)

6)

Seaview Rd (Bushy Park)

Seaview Rd (Bushy Park)

7)

R72

R72

8)

Spar Despatch

Spar Despatch

9)

St Francis

St Francis

10)

Seaview Rd

Seaview Rd

11)

Grahamstown

Grahamstown

12)

3rd Avenue, Walmer

3rd Avenue, Walmer

13)

Star Bakery, Walmer

Star Bakery, Walmer

14)

Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant

15)

Seaview Rd

Seaview Rd

16)

Little Walmer Golf Course

Little Walmer Golf Course

17)

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

18)

Target Kloof

Target Kloof

19)

Sundays River

Sundays River

20)

Port Alfred

Port Alfred

 


Grow your own! Need some reasons?

GM foodThis year I decided that I wanted to start growing my own vegetables. There was no specific reason, I just wanted to have fresh, homegrown veggies that hadn’t been sitting in cold storage for weeks or months on end.

Since I’ve started, in about July/August, my little veggie patch has started to finally look like something. Being a bit of a geek as well, I spend a lot of time researching how to do it better, be it by reading articles, watching videos or whatever else.

Naturally, while reading articles and finding resources, you come across some related topics, one of which is GM, or genetically modified, foods. The scary part is that a lot of people wont even know what I am talking about. I just had to share some of the stuff that I’ve come across.

What  is GM food?

To understand what all the fuss is about, you first need to understand what GM food is.

For centuries man has been “genetically modifying” food by natural methods, such as selective breeding, where you grow a plot of corn and only take seeds from the ones that were resistant to things like fungus. You would do this year after year until you were left with a crop that was almost completely resistant. Even with chickens, you could find which eggs contained less cholesterol and breed only those chickens until you were left with a low cholesterol egg producing chicken.

With the advent of genetic engineering, scientist have been able to eliminate the trial and error method of selective breeding by simply injecting specific genes into the plant. For example Monsanto produce a herbicide called Roundup (glyphosate based) which kills any plant it comes into contact with. Monsanto then sell seeds that are resistant to Roundup. Farmers can then spray their crops with Roundup and be sure that only the crops themselves are left. These seeds are patented and you cannot reuse the seeds from these crops.

Another example is where BT toxins (Bacillus thuringiensis) are inserted into GM food crops to kill pests.

Since 1994, when Calgene (now owned by Monsanto) first marketed its Flavr Savr delayed ripening tomato, GM crops now include, but are not limited to soybean, maize, cotton, canola, squash, papaya, alfalfa & sugar beet. In 2010 and estimated 10% of crops worldwide were GM crops. In the US, by 2010, 93% of the planted area of soybeans, 93% of cotton, 86% of corn and 95% of the sugar beet were genetically modified varieties.

What does this have to do with me?

There has never been a long-term study of the effects of a diet including GM food on humans. I am also no expert on these matters, but there are more than a few articles on the possible effects of GM foods.

Genetically modified foods are not necessarily a bad thing (if correctly and openly regulated), but the way things are right now, people have a right to be concerned. Everyone out there should be able to make up their own mind up about GM foods. New Scientist have a rather informative article on the pros and cons of GM foods.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9921-introduction-gm-organisms.html?full=true

Also see the selection of articles on GM food from New Scientist:  http://www.newscientist.com/topic/gm-food

The article below describes possible dangers of GM foods to our digestive systems. It also has links to various other articles on other dangers:

http://www.anh-usa.org/genetically-engineered-food-alters-our-digestive-systems/

The Wikipedia article on the controversy surrounding GM food is rather detailed and a must read. As with any Wikipedia article use your own discretion and read the sources.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food_controversies

The WHO has also released a FAQ of sorts regarding GM foods.

http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/20questions/en/

The Daily Mail in the UK has also reported that toxins which were meant to be destroyed by the gut have found their way into the bloodstream of pregnant women and even the umbilical cord.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388888/GM-food-toxins-blood-93-unborn-babies.html

Even though GM crops are meant to be pest resistant, among other things, recently breeds of “super-insects” are now surfacing resistant to the toxins in the crops.

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/12/superinsects-monsanto-corn-epa

Another problem with GM crops is what they go into from harvesting. How many products on our shelves use GM foods in their production?

There are so many articles, and resources out there, but these are some of the highlights

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/312-16/13908-new-gmo-wheat-may-silence-vital-human-genes

https://www.facebook.com/occupymonsanto

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/vandana-shiva-corporate-monopoly-seeds?newsfeed=true

The following video is a nice summary of the dangers

Who is behind this?

One of the largest companies behind GM foods is Monsanto, but other companies include Sygenta, Dupont and Bayer CropScience, all of which are, or were, primarily chemical companies.

Monsanto are no strangers to controversy, before they became a biotech firm as they are known today, they produced and had a virtual monopoly in the US for Polychlorinated bipyls (PCBs) which were used as coolant fluids in transformers, capacitors, and electric motors, and in a wide variety of other industrial applications. It has been banned since 1979 is the US and worldwide due to it being a persistent organic pollutant. Until it was banned in the US, Monsanto continued to defend it’s safety. Who is to say it is not the same case with their Roundup herbicide or engineered seeds?

Monsanto is also known for its involvement in high profile lawsuits, as both plaintiff and defendant. It has been involved in a number of class action suits, where fines and damages have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, usually over health issues related to its products.

Other controversial products include: rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) which is used to increase cow’s milk production and terminator seeds which ensure only one generation of seeds survive.

Monsanto are not alone, as the controversies between the other companies include: CFCs (Dupont were credited as one of the inventors and largest producer), neonicotinoid pesticide (Bayer pesticide that can kill off honeybees and other non-targeted insects) and countless more. For more details on the controversies surrounding the above companies, have a look at the Wikipedia articles under the relevant sections (links are above).

Unfortunately, these corporate giants have deep pockets and Monsanto especially influence those in power.

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/romney-monsanto-bain

What can I do?

Simply grow your own and enjoy fresh from the garden veggies. It is very satisfying to pick your own veggies and enjoy the wonderful flavour and freshness. You don’t need a lot of space, there are lots of ways to use what little space you have.

Follow these facebook pages for some great ideas and info:

https://www.facebook.com/GrowFoodNotLawns?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Food-With-A-Story/153999687989457?fref=ts

Google is definitely your friend in this regard as well.

*

But if you’re not the gardening type, then just make yourself more aware. See below:

Be more aware of what goes into the food you buy. Learn more here (available via web and mobile):

http://www.elabel.org/south-africa/about

Find out more about South Africa’s GMO labelling draft amendment to the Consumer Protection Act 68/2008

Article: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/334690

Goverment Gazette: http://www.acbio.org.za/ACB_35776_9-10_TradeIndustryCV01.pdf

California’s Proposition 37 (November 6 2012), Vote YES

Very detailed article about the proposition: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/magazine/why-californias-proposition-37-should-matter-to-anyone-who-cares-about-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Why to vote YES (must read): http://www.classwarfareexists.com/california-set-to-vote-on-whether-or-not-to-require-labels-for-genetically-modified-foods/#ixzz28rQcOm9v

The giants push millions into advertising campaign to vote against the proposition: http://www.carighttoknow.org/ad_blitz_pummels_support

Al-Jazeera article for a bit of non-US viewpoint: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/20129257471016420.html


The World Is F***ed #7: Woolworths: A Follow Up

Just over a month back, I blogged about the Woolworths racism saga and how I felt that we can’t blame Woolworths for the BEE policies they need to follow.

Yesterday a Facebook group, which I happen to follow, shared my blogpost on their page and I happened to come across it this morning. There were also some comments on the original post, which I replied to, but there are some comments from the facebook post that I wish to address.

Before I begin, let me just state three things:

  • I think Woolworths are wrong in what they are doing, still doing, but the “boycott of Woolies” has been pretty ineffective as far as I’m concerned. Not that it has been much of a boycott, people involved could have spent the energy on more relevant & important things, but it’s easy to basically do nothing else but avoid one particular shop and call it “taking action”
  • I don’t think BEE is an effective means of redressing the mistakes of the past. Any policy which is related to giving preference to one race over another will always be met with criticism and even fear. Almost 20 years on and BEE has done anything that wouldn’t have naturally happened anyway in my opinion. If anything BEE has only made a very small minority of the African population much richer and the majority even worse off.
  • At no stage did I say I like agree with Woolies, the ANC or BEE. But laying the blame on one company is never going to solve the problem. So Woolies close their doors, then what, do you think that is going to change things? If anything it’s just more ammunition for the ANC to use against white people.

Now as for the comments, Let me address each one individually:

Comment 1:

I don’t even know where to start with this comment. The grammar and punctuation alone get me tingling, and not in a good way.

Well Richard, I am definitely not saying you should sit back and eat it up, if it something you feel strongly about, by all means do what you feel that you need to do about something you feel strongly about.

We are not the only country in the world where discrimination occurs, that isn’t to say it doesn’t happen, yes racial discrimination is happening, but that isn’t the only type of discrimination. What about gender and caste discrimination in India, Saudi Arabia and other countries? What about religious discrimination all around the world. Even when it comes to race, I really doubt we are the worst.

You want to protest, fine, but a quiet boycott by maybe a few thousand white people is barely a start, it’s almost insignificant.

Comment 2:

Dear Melanie, thank you for your condolences, but they are however unnecessary and unwanted. From your comment I could assume that you are a narrow-minded fascist bigot, but I cannot know that, so I won’t call you that. The Moral? Don’t make assumptions, simple. In response: If I were brainless, I would not have an opinion, even if it is different to yours. Pinko? I am hardly sympathetic to our socialist government, apathetic maybe, but not sympathetic. My time is spent better on other things. As for Liberal, yes possibly, I consider myself very open minded, so I’ll give you that one…

Comment 3:

Hardly… From the end of August, after an initial drop of R400 which was at its lowest on the 10th of September, it has now gone R200 beyond what it was at the end of August (http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/WHL:SJ)

Comment 4:

No-one ever said that life was easy. I don’t agree with what Woolworths did, and never will, but I do think peoples reactions and consequent reactions are misdirected.

Comment 5:

I agreed with you until your last sentence. “Whities” are definitely too lazy when it comes to standing up for what is right. And when they do something it is generally something insignificant. Like saying you’ll never shop at Woolies…

Comment 6:

Don’t hold you breathe…

Comment 7:

Oh Lord, again with grammar and punctuation… Asskissing, uncomfortable? Hardly, and as for liberal, like I said, possibly, because I do consider myself open minded.

Comment 8-10

I thought I’d group these together, since they’re the only comments I agree with.

The majority definitely love the victim mentality and until everyone stops blaming one another, there is no hope for us as a country.

Mockracy is definitely the right description.

Comment 11:

I have no comment…


The Revenge Returns?

After a looooong break, I have loaded my blog story “Revenge of The Zombie Girlfriend” into yWriter and have started editing the hell out of it! It’s nowhere near completion and I don’t know when I’ll actually get around to having it ready, but I have committed myself

The idea is that I am going to take what I have and turn it into an eBook novella.

I know a few of my friends who were reading it will be very happy to read this, but just remember, I have absolutely no idea when it will be ready for release.

For now, just know that it is happening.

Over and out 🙂

PS: To read the original story, click on “Revenge of The Zombie Girlfriend” in the top right, or just click here: https://myconflictedself.wordpress.com/the-zombie-girlfriend/ 


Gimme Some Series #3: October 2012


Spotlight:

NEW: Arrow (10 October)

Inspired by the DC Comics character, The Green Arrow, this new series is bought to us by Andrew Kreisberg (Fringe, Eli Stone), Greg Berlanti (Everwood, Eli Stone) and Marc Guggenheim (writer at Marvel & DC, co created Eli Stone.

Shipwrecked on a mysterious island and presumed dead for 5 years, billionaire Oliver Queen, portrayed by Stephen Amell (Vampire Diaries, 90210),  returns home, only to fight crime as the vigilante “Arrow”

The creators and the network, The CW, have hinted at a edgy and gritty feel to the series, so hopefully they can pull it off.

Highlights:

Season 3: Walking Dead (14 October)

Merle’s back, the Governor, Michonne, a prison full of zombies, what is there not to like about the new season? Admittedly season 2 was a bit slow moving, but I still loved it.

As a side not, I am busy reviewing Telltale Game’s Walking Dead PC game for blogcritics.org, so the two will definitely overlap and it will be pretty hard not to compare them. Let’s see how this goes.

Season 2: American Horror Story

I could carry on about the awesome series this is, but I’ll say just one word that should sum it up:

Creepy…

Also watch out for these :

Season 8: Supernatural

I know my fiance will be pretty damn happy that this show is returning, and I’m sure there are a few others out there who will be just as excited. Possiblly the last season?

Must see, in case you missed them:

Season 1: Revolution (Currently running)

Season 3: Haven (Currently running)

Season 6: The Big Bang Theory (Currently running)

Season 2: Homeland (Currently running)

Complete List:

For a complete list of new and returning series, I would suggest following at a blogger called Cybermage’s rather exhaustive (and awesome) list here:

http://www.cybermage.se/tv-index/when-is-my-favorite-tv-show-coming-back/