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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Why I Like Russia

Cabal the dog is braver than lions. He's braver than elephants and braver than generals. But, I discovered last night, he doesn't like thunderstorms, and turns into a worried two-year old child when the lightning strikes and the thunder roars. Which is why I got very little sleep in the small hours of last night.

Anyway...

The email from Paramount that came in earlier today contained good news -- Stardust opened at Number 1 in Russia, and took 3 million already -- and bad news -- we were Number 4 on Friday night in the USA and took 3 million. Which means, it went on, that the projections are that we'll easily break $100 million internationally; and that as the majority of US reviews are good to excellent*, and the exit polls they've done on people coming out are as good as could be hoped for, that Stardust will hang around for a little while longer in the US (which is, after all, about 40% of the theatrical market) and hope that word of mouth does what the ad campaign has significantly failed to do.

* Stardust reviews can be read at
http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/stardust
and
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/stardust/

(Although the review collections leave out the NPR review at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12688902
which I like mostly because it describes it as reminding him of the Princess Bride with a healthy dollop of Blackadder.)

There's a fascinating article about Stardust and The Princess Bride, and about how Paramount marketing seem to have come a cropper on the same pitfalls that The Princess Bride did:

Meanwhile as an author, the thing I found strangest last night was being able to watch people, more or less in real time, come out of the cinemas and go on to Amazon and order a copy of Stardust in one edition or another. There's a new Amazon Feature which rates the most popular items for an author individually rather than lumped together, and as I type this there are four editions of Stardust in the top five of my things on there (with the audio book of Stardust now in my Amazon top twenty -- hurrah!) http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/15213/.

...

Could you, by any chance, post the mole footage? I know it seems silly, but of all the animals I've seen living in Minnesota (foxes, deer, bears, minks, otters, grouse, pheasants, giant snapping turtles, chipmunks, bald eagles and a few pelicans), I've never actually seen a mole. I feel very curious about the look of the thing.

Sure -- let me see if I can figure out how to put it up here directly through blogger without putting it onto youtube or something first. It's just film from an old phone, and it's small to begin with.

...

I really enjoyed this presentation and annotation, by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, of a letter from an Australian bookselling chain who think they deserve more money from small publishers, so are trying to charge them for the privilege of being stocked, and the reply from an irate but sensible publisher:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009263.html

...

So a few months ago I noticed that things had stopped working. The Slingbox. Various computers. The house network didn't do what it used to. Something was wrong.

I got the electrician who had redone the junction box, where all the cat 5 cables come out to the house, while I was away. "You did it wrong," I told him. "Everything worked before you came." He inspected all the cabling and told me, no, it was all fine.

It wasn't fine. A couple of computers were okay, but the rest of them couldn't get on to the network. Even the network printer didn't work.

Yesterday he came back and we tried to figure out what was wrong.

"I don't understand it," he said. "I mean, I hooked them all up right..."

I went on to the web and checked what where the Cat 5 cable wires are meant to go. There was a huge illustrated colour diagram showing all the different wires, orange and green and blue and brown and their stripy equivalents, and where they fit in the head. "So you did them like this?" I asked.

"Er..." and he looked, and he checked. "No. No, I didn't." It turned out he'd put them in in an order of his own devising. The strange thing was that a couple of the computers had managed to get on the network anyway, despite that.

So he put all the wires where they should have been. As if by magic, things started working...

Except for the Linux computer in the attic, which can no longer find the network.

...

And for those of you looking for your own falling stars...

I don't know if you're aware of it or will even be in the right circumstances to watch it, but tomorrow (Sunday) night around 11ish to Monday morning 6ish the Perseids are making their appearance. The peak of Perseids will be during the predawn period Monday. The professionals are saying it will be a wonderful shower with a lack of moonlight and the shower peaking at 80 meteors per hour. Even Mars will enjoy the show. Anyway, I thought this would be something you'd enjoy.

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