Friday, July 31, 2009

Most anticipated Movie in far

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Death of Blu-ray?

From VHS to DVD is a big reap for most consumers, they mostly opine that DVD gives them extra features and greater quality of pictures. Also, the physical size of it was more comfortable than VHS. Therefore, with the plunge of cost of DVD players, most folks were flocking to move up to viewing DVD as the major format for view movies. Sony lost the war in Beta vs VHS, but it won in Blu-ray vs HDDVD. Theoretically, it should be great for the camp of Sony and Blu-ray. Cos, most major disc manufacturers are now on the bandwagon of Blu-ray. However, the adoption of Blu-ray was disappointing. Certainly, I’m no expert but just a regular folk that entitle to my own opinion. I think that there are many reasons why Blu-ray is not doing well.

Firstly, the cost is no lower enough and fast enough. Secondly, most consumers are happy with their DVD, the leap to Blu-ray is not deemed to be large enough to convince folks to open the pocket. The selling point of Blu-ray is even better picture quality and capacity. However, to most folks, DVD is good enough; Blu-ray is better, but not much better. For extra features, DVD has it too. For capacity, well, a 2-hr movie is a 2-hr movie on either DVD or Blu-ray. The extra capacity is a wasteland. As such, why would folks spend on Blu-ray? Also, the promotion of Blu-ray is not doing that good a job that I’m not sure if Blu-ray player is capable to play DVD, if not, definitely adios!

The biggest problem or threat to Blu-ray is internet. I.e. streaming or digital download. As music side a clear indication, from vinyl/cassette to CD is a great leap, but people never migrate to SACD, DVD audio, etc. Instead, MP3 takes over. Music becomes distributed in a digit format that can be reaped, transfer in a digit format, rather than on a physical medium. Yes, we use iPods, but we got that via iTune or streaming, or even through wireless download. CD is going to its grave; DVD will follow, though it will still take many years for that to happen. Blu-ray as a new comer with smaller acceptance in the market will die earlier than DVD. That’s my prediction.

There are still 2 streams of development in the distribution of moving pictures. On the one hand is the continuous research in physical media in the traditional way. Like, researches saying something about optical media that can carry 500GB on a single disc. I can only see that be something that can help the harddisk technology. I love to have 500TB harddisk in 10 years. However, what is a 500GB disc do for me if I just wanna watch a new movie. To me, it is just a larger wasteland that can’t be used. To have disc with such capacity, it is only good for some HD long TV series, like the 10 years of X-Files on one disc. That’s something people would buy, but not for watching a chick-flick. On the other hand, it is the faster internet, 4G, 5G, wireless whatever name they will be called. By then, movies can be streamed or download in a snap. When that happens, who will need a physical disc? We may need a larger capacity, but smaller size harddisk to save it. Or, if ‘clouds’ develop well, we don’t need to store those movies files, instead, we can laterally pull them from the air. I think it may be it. So, regardless whether larger capacity harddisk will be it or clouds, Blu-ray is gonna die soon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Latest Domestic Suffering 3

After being off from works for 2 weeks for training my new housekeeper, looking back that it has been a complete disaster. What a waste of time. The biggest problem with her is that she can’t speak the languages that I know, she has big memory, and she is dumb! What a killer combination! Yes, we have fault of our own that we didn’t inquire her language skill before she arrived; however, the agent should not pick such raw potato for our selection in the first place.

Therefore, my wife and I went to another agent last week and selected another housekeeper who was interviewed on video chat briefly by us. So, at least we know if she can communication with us. However, come to think of it, our questions may be too simple and perhaps ‘guessable’, so she might have already recite scripts provided by her training school. Anyway, she should arrive in 2 months and such swap would cost me thousands of dollars.

My son was sick for almost a week for fever, then flu and cough. He was mostly recovered on Sat, but turned a bit worse last night for the running nose. Thank God that his fever is gone and the cough is still not serious. However, as he got running nose, he couldn’t drink his milk comfortably. I think our new housekeeper doesn’t know how to cuddle him enough to drink that or feeding him effectively. So, my already-skinny son is getting thinner. Just don’t eat much. That got my wife and I worry. Last night, he couldn’t sleep with an empty enough, woke up 1pm and behavior crazily till 3pm, by then, we were worried that I called my dad to come over to bring him to ER! While he is out on the cab, my son was fine then. After the brief check by the ER doc, we all came back home and went to bed by 4am. My God, what a night and I had to take some caffeine this morning to stay awake.

I hope my new housekeeper will be an ok one and she can arrive ASAP. Cos, we don’t know how long we have to stay in hell……

Friday, July 17, 2009

Latest Domestic Suffering 2

After few days of hell at home, I got back to work for few days and my wife is taking her turn at home to be with our new housekeeper from overseas who doesn’t speak any language that we know. We were originally thinking about replacing her, but thinking about the alternative and the specific domestic requirement that we have. It becomes obvious that keeping her is the option. I think my wife and I have reached a consensus that training her would take much longer than we originally thought it would. The worse case is that she is not only having language barrier with us, she is not good in memorizing things. So, yes she takes notes, but God know if her notes are well written or not. She is not good in remember what to do. It really tests my patience some times. Well, what can I say, I made my choice and I’ve to live with it. I think her communication skill with us is worse than our yet to be 2 years old son. What we hope is that she will input in coming months. My target is 6 months. Hopefully, she can show improvement quicker. Also, I hope she can keep her ‘willing-to-work-hard’ attitude and caring of my son. That’s most matter to us.

Since it is the second time with hired a maid, we have experience in managing such domestic worker. Yes, this one is different from the previous one. The current one is dumber and older. Also, we think that she is poorer and more innocent, so we have to manage her a bit different. More demos and guidelines will be needed, and must train her up of routines. Also, we have to stick to routine more, so she can at least build up some habits that fit us. Also, we have to manage her appetite, learning the lesson from previous ‘big-stomach’. I don’t like micro-management, but I can’t help it in this case. If I don’t, she will wreck our place. She lacks many basic concept of modern life, like energy saving, cost saving, fast pace of city life, hygienic requirement of city folks, multi-tasks and concept of work sequences, etc. Just too many things to teach, can’t tell you how exhausting to be with her all day long. Thanks to my dad that he takes my son out for walks twice a day at least during meal preparation, so we can train her one on one. Otherwise, with my kid running around and poking things here and there, I just can’t manage two ‘trouble-makers’ at the same time! Hopefully, good days will be ahead….sooner than expected!......

Monday, July 13, 2009

Latest domestic Suffering

I've not updated my blog as frequent as before as I'm facing some real life challenges at home. My wife and I just hired a new housemaid and I'm taking few days off to deal with this person. She is basically a woman from a village from her native country. Language barrier is higher than I expected. There is only so much body language that I can do. Cos, some concepts wording are harder to do with hands. On her second day on the job, I spent 5 minutes to explain to her the word 'have' and 'haven't', with an orange on the dinning table. You can imagine how hard it is!

She is a bit older than my wife but looks at least 5 if not 10 years older than my wife. Anyway, what matter is her IQ. That's what matter. I think she is a slow learner and she takes time which is a luxury that we don't have much. When she and my sons are at home. I felt like I need to take care of two kids. I think the life in last 2 days are hardest since my son's birth. That's what my wife has said as well.

Well, after squeezing few minutes to update my blog, time to get back to hell! I hope I won't be staying in this hell for too long. The only thing that give me hope is that my hunch will be right down the road that she will be a relatively reliable domestic servant...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Movies Sequels

Going to movie has been my hobby for many years. I like all kind of movies, domestic vs foreign, commercial vs art, and also pretty much all genres. Throughout the years, not only did I watch movies, I also like to read news about movies. I’m not talking about movie reviews, but things about the movie industry itself. Certainly, I’m no expert. But I still like to comment something about movies industry.

For Hollywood movies, we all know that there is something called the ‘Blockbusters’. It is widely agreed that it started with ‘Jaws’ in the 70s. Since then, every summer, there will be those big popcorn movies that are targeted to make loads of money. I think that has been a well-oiled money making machine that most Hollywood studios is using to prosper. I think it is very smart and healthy that they put those blockbuster movies as tent poles on the calendar, the money that they make would be used to fund the smaller movies, art movies and developing new talents for future usages. That’s one of the reasons why Hollywood can maintain its edge throughout the years.

If ‘Jaws’ started the trend of blockbusters, I’m not sure which movie that started the trend of making sequels, or further developed into ‘trilogy’. Cos, ‘Jaws’ itself became a trilogy, ‘Star Wars’ became a trilogy. Personally, I’m not against sequel or trilogy. As long as they are good, though the fact is many sequels or trilogy suck, not only the studios would rather have not making them, we as audience wish we didn’t spend time to watch them neither. The concept of making sequels and trilogy are very logical. When you have a breakout movie, surely you want to further capitalize on it. If the main characters are not dead in the original, just make up a story and make a sequel or two to milk more money. As the marketing costs + effectiveness of sequels are usually lower, audiences are already familiar with the characters. You just need to add a little here and there, and here you go with another blockbusters (supposed to be). In some occasions, the actors/actresses would be signing for making sequels already, so the cost would be lower if they original has not even been shown yet, the box office figures of which would not be known as well. That’s to the power broker of the studios to squeeze better deals from the actors/actresses, especially, those less famous ones.

These days, almost all major Hollywood actors have a trilogy of some sort under their belt. For examples, Harrison Ford (Star Wars and Indiana Jones), Keanu Reeves (Matrix), Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible), Arnold (Terminator), Sly (Rocky, Rambo), Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Matt Damon (Ocean 11-13, Jason Bourne), Brad Pitt (Ocean 11-13), etc. They are have 1 or 2 trilogies or even quadrilogy. Usually, trilogy would only be made because they are profitable, though the quality of the sequels may not be that good. But, the color of Hollywood is always green. So, that’s only matter. Comparing with actors, actresses usually have less sequels. Come to think of it, I can only remember Siqourney Weaver and Neve Campbell have trilogies (Alien quadrilogy and Scream trilogy respectively) Mostly to do with the type of movies that featuring actresses as the major draws, cos genres pay an important part in make sequels.

Genres that usually can be made into sequels or trilogy are action, sci-fi, horror, animation, and comedies. There are not many Godfathers all these years. For actresses, there were not many action or sci-fi chick flicks, even if they do, usually those movies are usually not that big in box offices. Tomb Raider is an exception, but I heard that Angelina Jolie won’t be in the second sequel. If the action movie is led by actor, actress would usually be dispensable, Die Hard for example. For horrors, scream queens usually died in the movie, so they won’t be in sequels. For animation, there is no actor. So there only come to comedies, good comedy roles that can be made into sequels are rare. I can only think of two movies that have sequels but not yet to trilogy and not sure if they will ever going to be: Sandra Bullock’s Miss Congeniality, and Reese Witherspoon’s Legally Blond.

In the last decade or so, as the movie technology and special effect (FX) have greatly advanced. There have been a renew crop of blockbuster sequels or trilogies that have been doing very well. That’s the comic book heroes. Besides the well-known one like Spiderman and X-Men , the lessor known characters like Watchmen, Punisher, GhostRider were also made into movies as well due to the heavy demand by studios. The cost of licensing those comic book characters is extra cost for movie budget, but the marketing cost would be lowered with the existing fan bases of the characters in other media. Also, the studios would be less tripped by the paycheck of the main actors who could demand extraordinary amount. Cos, if Tobey Maguire cost too much for making a new Spiderman, studio would not hesitate to get another younger actor to play Peter Parker. On the contrary, if Bruce Willies doesn’t play John McClane in a new Die Hard, there will be no more Die Hard. I think that’s the case for Lethal Weapon 5.

Anyway, that’s just some thoughts that I have about Hollywood movies sequels and trilogy. I think I will talk more about other movie subjects in future.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Legacy of Michael Jackson....continue...

Since MJ’s death last week, everytime I put on my headphone of my ipod. I would listen to his songs. It is weird that we don’t pay attention to someone when they are alive than after they are gone. Yes, I’m a fan of MJ, I also a fan of many musicians as well. That’s why my limited music- listening time have always been allocated among many artists. I think I’m the biggest fan of MJ’s music during the time of his Thriller and Dangerous albums. Perhaps I had more free time to listen to music back in those days. Anyway, during the past weeks, as I listened to his songs more, I begin to appreciate more of his songs than before. For those fast tunes, those dances beat, I love time for sure. But even for the slower tunes, and particularly the lyrics, which was usually overlooked by me, I began to pay more attention, and I have renewed a deeper appreciation of his music and talent. There was a song in his Dangerous album, called ‘Gone too soon’. The title of which really fit the tragic end of his life. I usually skipped that song before, but now, I just found out how good that song is.

With the recent flood of news and comment about what he was planning to do, just full of ‘what ifs’, it seems so sad….I’m not a shrink to comment on his mental state and all that, also there is no way I can understand the truth about his real life, what he had been through as a person day to day. However, I am entitled to my opinion that he is a genius with artistic talent. He is a king on the stage and in studio, but he is tragic figure in many other aspects in his life.

Of course, with his passing, there will still be news about his life and death in the coming weeks and months. As a passive fan like me, I don’t really care too much about how much money his children or his family gonna get, what is the cause of death, who’s gonna be blamed and all that? Cos, he is gone. That’s it, just as his never materialized concert’s title as. For us, what matter is his music (and his visual performance as well). That would have two aspects of it: the songs that alright out, and those that will be released in years to come.

As most fans do, I will definitely pay attention to more of his music in the vault. Though, it is believed that MJ had chosen to release those songs that he thought were the best in his album, it doesn’t mean that those in the vault were bad at all. They are just hidden gems that pending to be heard and I’m sure many of them could be very good as well. We will just have to wait and hear…

Just like other past icons: Elvis, Beatles, etc. They are already bigger than life and become part of our culture. I’m sure MJ are joining them. Fans of Elvis and Beatles are largely older. Yes, every now and then, we would watch news and see eight or ten years old kids would dress like Elvis and singing Jailhouse Rock, etc. However, the commotion from MJ’s fans would be even larger in years to come. Cos, his fans are younger, more diverse, and have a bigger base. With the abundant records of his songs and performance, and the aids of visual recording and technology, he will have a wider and deeper impression to more fans to come in future. When I listened to his Billie Jean, and Beat it last week, the beat and rhythm doesn’t get old though they were recorded more than 25 years old. It really proves that his music has been tested of time. I think the aura of his works will stay for decades to come. Cos, in the world today, it becomes very hard to have artists that can achieve and get that big these days. The closest one is Madonna, who got famous around the same time as MJ and often viewed as able to achieve a female version of MJ. Other than her, who else? Nobody! Not Britney, Justin, Eminem….I think as a fan of pop music, we do all thank God for MJ for all he had done for the world of entertainment and culture.