Is The Walking Dead the best cast of characters since the original Star Trek?

March 25, 2015

Is The Walking Dead the best cast of characters since the original Star Trek?

I was recently at an event with a bunch of strangers, and we were having a conversation.

Not surprisingly, I got involved in a pretty geeky one.

At one point, I made that statement: “I think The Walking Dead is the best cast of characters since the original Star Trek.”

My conversational partner said, “That’s a bold statement.”

It is.

I’ve thought about it more, and haven’t changed my mind.

Let’s start out with defining it a bit.

By “cast of characters”, I don’t mean the actors…I mean the roles they play.

Just like with ST:ToS, I feel like I know each of the characters. They are distinct, and true to themselves. If somebody acted out of character, we’d know it.

That doesn’t mean that they are wholly predictable, or that they’ve stayed the same the entire series. I didn’t even really get into the series in the beginning, because I thought Rick was cartoonishly good. Without spoilers, let’s just say there has been real character development with several of the main characters…but they’ve always still been themselves.

This really came home to me in a scene where almost no one was saying anything. Most of them were just listening…but they were still completely individuals…and interesting individuals.

Well, in challenging myself on this, I quickly came up with other shows where that was true…Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers, but they were all sitcoms.

Sitcom characters are different and almost by definition have an  exaggeration to them. That’s going to tend to make them more distinct.

If we eliminate sitcoms, I’m going to challenge you to come up with other shows with casts of characters as good as The Walking Dead or Star Trek: The Original Series. I can think of a few contenders, but I’m interested to hear what you think.

Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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Putting my money where the movies are: April 2015

March 11, 2015

Putting my money where the movies are: April 2015

We’re still weeks away from April, but I thought I’d go ahead and show you my “investments” in

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

That’s a new game we are playing, and you can participate! There is no charge, and there we play for that most valuable of human possessions: braggin’ rights. ;)

The March game is closed, but the April game is open.

The basic idea is that you have $100 million in imaginary money. You “invest” that in the movies, and you “win” imaginary money based on how well the movies do.

This how I’ve allocated my $100 million for April, and my reasoning:
Furious 7 (April 3)

There aren’t a lot of precedents in the modern era for a seventh movie in a series. If we keep it to this century, we have the Saw series and X-Men (and later this year, Star Wars) as two examples. In both cases, the seventh movie succeeded at the box office.

If we look at the six previous movies:

Furious

 

  • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
  • Fast & Furious (2009)
  • Fast Five (2011)
  • Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

they’ve been on a roll, so to speak, since 2009.

When we look at the return (which is how this game works), that’s also been doing very well:

Title Dogro ProdBud Profit Return
The Fast and the Furious (2001) 145 38 107 136%
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) 127 76 51 249%
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) 63
Fast & Furious (2009) 155 85 70 221%
Fast Five (2011) 210 125 85 247%
Fast & Furious 6 (2013) 238 160 78 305%

I don’t have a production budget report for Tokyo Drift, which does appear to be an anomaly here.

I’d say a 200% return may be a safe bet, given also that this movie may be boosted by the fan reaction to the loss of Paul Walker (who does appear in this movie, with the actor’s brothers having helped out with some appearances…the fans may appreciate that).

The production budget (prodbud) is also likely to be high here, and  none of the movies have profited (dogro…domestic gross vs. prodbud…production budget) $100m.

I’m going with $20 million on this one, although that may be a risk.

The Longest Ride (April 10)

Sorry, director George Tillman, Jr., and Scott Eastwood, Melissa Benoist, and all the others…this is going to be judged as a Nicholas Sparks movie.

The Notebook, now more than a decade ago, has had a lot more pop cultural influence than it did box office…although the latter was certainly fine.

On a prodbud of $29m, it dogroed $81…a 280% return. Not enough to be Golden in our scale, but still good. However, last year’s The Best of Me barely beat the prodbud.

Safe Haven in 2013 was closer to The Notebook: $71m dogro on a $28m prodbud…254%.

I’m not comfortable with this one…I’m going to pass on “investing” my imaginary money.

The Moon and the Sun (April 10)

King Louis XIV…and a mermaid?

Yes, it’s based on a Vonda McIntyre novel, and it has big name stars (Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt, Bingbing Fan as the mermaid), but the latter is a negative to me in this case. I think the prodbud will have to be too high on this quirky a movie for the domestic gross (might do well later on streaming video).

I’ll pass.

Child 44 (April 17)

R-rated movies have been doing well lately. This one has Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and Gary Oldman. Hardy and Oldman have worked together (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), and Hardy has really been on the rise. Pace has also been in hit movies.

I’m hoping the budget is low enough on this, and Lionsgate has been pretty smart about that (look at The Hunger Games, Divergent, Now You See Me…).

I don’t think this is a blockbuster, but I’ll invest $15m.

Monkey Kingdom

A Disney nature documentary…and a Buena Vista nature documentary hasn’t broken $40m, I think. Arguably, 2012’s Chimpanzee is a decent comparison, and it did $29m on an unknown budget.

The DisneyNature movies have been trending upwards…this one might get close to $40m.

I suspect we won’t get the budget on this one either. If I invest money in this one and we don’t find out the prodbud, it’s a wash for me…no win, no loss. I might put my “leftover” money in this one for that reason, but that would likely result in a loss for me if we do get a budget. However, that seems like gaming the system…if I can find worthwhile investments for my whole $100m, I’ll do that.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (April 17)

There may not be a lot of competition in this genre when this is released. The last movie had a very nice return ($146m on a $26m prodbud…562%).

I don’t think they’ve overspent on this…yes, they are in a new location, but it’s Las Vegas, not Monte Carlo.

Let’s say that the movie costs $50m (we don’t know yet). Could it do $100m? Yeah, maybe…while it is making me antsy to do it, I’ll put $20m into this one.

Unfriended (April 17)

A low budget horror movie, it might have a big opening (these tend to be frontloaded). I’m guessing the budget is well under $20m, and that it could do something like $60m. I’m going to risk $25m on this one…I can’t see it losing money (although those could be famous last words). ;)

The Age of Adaline (April 24)

A Lionsgate movie with romantic appeal…and Harrison Ford and Blake Lively.

I think this one has an interesting premise, and may hit the right chord with a certain audience. I like that there are some older actors as well. which spreads the demographic appeal.

I’m thinking this could get to the slot on our charts between $40m and $80m…

Hoping the budget is low enough (under $50m), I’ll put in $10m.

Little Boy (April 24)

Likely to be fairly low budget and to appeal to the faith-based audience, I’m feeling pretty good about this one. It has a child star, and is a Mexican-US co-production…I think both of those are pluses.

I’m going with $10m on this…and that might be my best investment of the month.

Summary:

  • Furious 7: $20m
  • The Longest Ride: none
  • The Moon and the Sun: none
  • Child 44: $15m
  • Monkey Kingdom: none
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: $20m
  • Unfriended: $25m
  • The Age of Adaline: $10m
  • Little Boy: $10m

Think I’m way off? You can play the game at

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Putting my money where the movies are: March 2015

March 5, 2015

Putting my money where the movies are: March 2015

The first widely released movies (for the USA) for March 2015 are about to hit the theatres, so I wanted to share with you my allocations in our

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

That’s a new game we are playing, and you can participate! There is no charge, and there we play for that most valuable of human possessions: braggin’ rights. ;)

The March game is closed, but the April game is now open.

The basic idea is that you have $100 million in imaginary money. You “invest” that in the movies, and you “win” imaginary money based on how well the movies do.

This how I’ve allocated my $100 million for March (this will be updated with production budgets and dogroes, but I won’t know either when I make my “investments”):

  • Chappie $20m (prodbud: $49m | dogro to date: $29.3m | % return: 60% |  $8.1m loss to date for me)
  • Unfinished Business $5m (prodbud: $35m | dogro to date: $10.1m | % return: 29% | $3.6m loss to date for me)
  • Cinderella None (prodbud: $95m | dogro to date: $132.5m | % return: 139% | not invested)
  • Run All Night $5m (prodbud: $50m | dogro to date: $21.6m | % return: 43% | $2.8m loss to date for me)
  • Insurgent $20m (prodbud: $110m | dogro to date: $64.3m | % return: 58% | $8.4m loss to date for me)
  • Do You Believe? $10m (prodbud: N/A | dogro to date: $4.9 | if the prodbud remains unknown, no win or loss for me)
  • The Gunman $10m (prodbud: $40m | dogro to date: $6.8m | % return: 17% | $8.3m loss to date for me)
  • Get Hard $15m (prodbud: $40.0m | dogro to date: | % return | )
  • Home $15m (prodbud: $135m | dogro to date: | % return: |

It’s important to note that I can’t get back more than the movie makes, which helps explain some of these “investments”.

For example, Get Hard is an R-rated comedy starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. Hart has been on a roll lately:

Title Dogro Prod Budget Return Profit
Ride Along 135 25 540% 110
About Last Night 49 12.5 392% 36.5
Think Like a Man Too 65 24 271% 41
The Wedding Ringer 65 23 283% 42
Average 78.5 21.125 371% 57.375

So, for the past year or so, betting on Kevin Hart makes sense.

Why not invest all $100m in that one movie?

The profits haven’t been that high.

Let’s say the movie makes that average return of 371%. I’d get back $56m (rounded). That’s fine…if the movie profits that much, which is only the case in one out of the four listed above. It may turn out that I invested too much money based on that (I didn’t do the analysis above when I made my “investments”.

I don’t know what the budget is when I make the investments…we usually don’t get that until the movie is released.

I just can’t see a scenario where I would invest $100m, and I wouldn’t hit the return cap. If the production budget is $25m, and the return is 371%, it would need to make several hundreds of millions of dollars domestically for me to get the fullest return…and that’s just not going to happen.

It is worth noting that The Wedding Ringer will still make some more money.

I think people are going to think of this as a Kevin Hart movie, because he has been so hot at the box office (and that hasn’t depended on the co-star). Still, looking at Will Ferrell is also a good bet: The LEGO Movie, Ancorman 2, The Campaign…we’ll stop before we get to Casa De Mi Padre. ;)

While Chappie has some really big name and big box office stars (Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver), I think it’s going to be seen as a Neill Blomkamp movie. That makes this trickier: District 9 had a great return on a $30m budget; Elysium didn’t break even (production budget versus dogro ((domestic gross)), which is how we do this), but still did close to $100m.

I think that Blomkamp learned a lesson. It’s a super clear premise (and one that worked for Short Circuit), and has been promoted a lot. The timing feels good on the opening: if the budget is low enough, I’m pretty confident.

Unfinished Business is not one that I’m expecting to break $100m, but I think the budget is low. Dave Franco has been bringing in the bucks. I thought a small investment here might have a pretty big return, even without huge box office.

It might seem odd that I didn’t invest any money in Cinderella. I’m just not confident that they haven’t overspent on this, in terms of dogro. That doesn’t by any means mean that the movie was a mistake: it should do well internationally, and have big merchandising bucks. A Frozen short might help get people into the theatres…but I don’t think it will be enough to do, say, double the budget.

Run All Night is another one of those which I think will have a good return rate, but not great box office overall. My guess is that the budget is under $50m…and Liam Neeson is a draw.

Insurgent could do really well at the box office, and the first one wasn’t a “break the bank” budget. It should run well for quite a while, so I won’t know what my return is until…Memorial Day, and perhaps a bit past then. I invested a relatively large amount, but I think it could profit over $100m.

Do You Believe? I believe that low budgeted faith-based movies are a good investment (and high budgeted ones often aren’t). I’m guessing I could profit at least $40m on this one.

The Gunman…Sean Penn isn’t why I went with this. I think there may be some resonance with American Sniper in it, and I’m guessing the budget is quite low.

You might think Home is a sure bet, but animation isn’t, in terms of return rate (look at Penguins of Madagascar, which should have had a lot going for it). The director is not a known quantity, and I’m unconvinced that the voice cast is going to make it a must see. I suspect this one will do fine with kids, but won’t draw in the adults enough. I still invested quite a bit in it…looking at it now, I may have overdone it, but we’ll see.

Don’t agree with my assessments? It’s too late to play for this month, but don’t forget that you can play for April!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died

February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died

More later, but it is with great sadness that we report that Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died.

Update:

We were Spock.

That was part of the incredible talent, wisdom, and (yes, illogically) magic that was Leonard Nimoy.

Geeks everywhere understood Spock. That idea of being different, of not fitting in, but of being seen by others as being superior in certain ways…and nonexistent in others.

While there is no denying the contributions of writers (including Theodore Sturgeon) and producer Gene Roddenberry, Nimoy contributed important elements to the Spock mythos.

Certainly, the Vulcan salute was Nimoy’s. More importantly, though, Nimoy didn’t think Spock should simply punch somebody, and invented the Vulcan nerve pinch. This nonviolent and scientific way of temporarily disabling an enemy really resonated with many of us. It wasn’t dependent on strength (even though Spock’s was superhuman), it didn’t damage…it simply allowed intellect and technique to defeat physicality.

As the old 1960s bumper sticker said, “I grok Spock”…Nimoy did.

Nimoy also understood Star Trek in general…perhaps better than anyone else who directed the original cast in a Trek movie (Nimoy directed two of them).

While many people cite Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as their favorite TOS (The Original Series) movie, which is understandable, it is reasonable to argue that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, may have been the best at capturing the spirit of the original.

Think about the “character moments” in the Star Trek movie series, where somebody besides Kirk or Spock get the spotlight. Scotty trying to talk to a 1980s computer. Chekov asking people on the street, in a Russian accent, during the Cold War, where he could find the “nuclear wessels”.

Even Kirk telling the crew to “remember where we parked” an invisible ship illustrates Kirk beautifully…and while you credit Shatner the actor for the delivery,  you have to credit Nimoy the director for the impact of the scene.

When Nimoy wrote I Am Not Spock (at AmazonSmile*: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), it wasn’t to say that Spock didn’t exist or that the actor wanted nothing to do with the character. It was to say that there were two of them…Spock and Nimoy, and that they weren’t exactly the same.

Certainly, Nimoy (actor, director, singer, photographer, mentor, inspiration) made great contributions to the world even if we removed Spock from the resume. Yes, that included mainstream works and recognition: playing Theo Van Gogh, and being nominated for an Emmy (his fourth nomination, after three for Spock) in A Woman Called Golda.

Other geek-friendly credits include:

  • Francis (the talking mule) Goes to West Point
  • Zombies of the Stratosphere
  • Them!
  • The Brain Eaters
  • Twilight Zone
  • The Outer Limits
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Get Smart
  • Mission:Impossible (as Paris, the magician/master of disguise)…multi-season role, essentially taking over from Martin Landau
  • Night Gallery
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Donald Sutherland remake)
  • Faerie Tale Theatre
  • The Transformers: The Movie
  • The Pagemaster (as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  • The Simpsons
  • Duckman
  • The First Men in the Moon (TV movie)
  • The Lost World (TV movie)
  • Brave New World (TV movie)
  • Invasion America (TV series)
  • Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  • Civilization IV (videogame)
  • Land of the Lost (the remake with Will Ferrell)
  • Kingdom Hearts (videogame series as Master Xehanort)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (as Sentinel Prime)
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Fringe
  • Zambezia
  • The recent Star Trek movies (as Spock Prime)

The Measured Circle also can not fail to mention Nimoy’s role as the narrator of In Search of… (and later, History’s Mysteries). We had come to trust Nimoy, in some ways, and certainly to see him as science oriented. Having him as the host of this series gave it credibility in a way that many other people would not.

That all only scratches the surface of this remarkable life. Leonard Nimoy directed 3 Men and a Baby, a very successful mainstream comedy. Nimoy had hit records. However, it may be the way he interacted with other people that will be his greatest legacy.

Look at the reactions in social media to his passing. See the stories, from stars, from scientists…and from geeks like me.

I had a hard time figuring out what to say. Spock has been one of my fictional heroes, but I knew much more about Nimoy (without ever having met him) than that. I found a particular resonance in a quote from the series:

“Parted from me and never parted, never and always touching and touched.” Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy: in some way, we were all Spock. Thank you

I will always carry Spock with me.

Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy…the world is simply less without you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

This post originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

2015 March $100 Million Box Office Challenge

February 24, 2015

2015 March $100 Million Box Office Challenge

This is a new game for us!

We follow the box office quite closely here at The Measured Circle. You can see our tracking for

2015 The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies

for example.

Well, we wanted to design a game where you could see how good you are at predicting which movies will be the most profitable.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the highest grossing movies: If a movie cost $200 million to make and makes $300 million, each million dollars you “invested” would only get you $1.5 million. If a movie cost $40 million to make and dogros (domestic grosses) $100 million, you would get $2.5 million for each $1 million you “invested”.

Want to give it a shot?

This Survey Monkey poll will close at the of February so all guesses need to be done by then.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y653T2W

All the rules are there…we’ll see how it goes this month, and may adjust them in the future.

I’ll be making my own “investments”…think you can beat me? ;)

We are doing this just for fun…no real money is involved, and we only play for that most valuable of human possessions: braggin’ rights!

Challenge extended…

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) predictions

February 22, 2015

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) predictions

Thank you once again to everyone who made predictions this year!

It will be very interesting to see how we do…there are some very tight races this year!

Here are our predictions:

Best Picture:

1. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland) 76% chance
2. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole) 75% chance Winner
3. Selma (Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner) 60% chance
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven M. Rales, Jeremy Dawson) 51% chance
5. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, Peter Morgan) 49% chance
6. The Imitation Game (Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman) 43% chance (tie)
6. The Theory of Everything (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten) 43% chance (tie)
8. Whiplash (Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster) 41% chance

Lead Actor:

1. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) 91% chance Winner correct
2. Michael Keaton (Birdman) 76% chance
3. Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) 49% chance
4. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) 47% chance
5. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) 40% chance
Lead Actress:
1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice) 92% chance Winner correct
2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) 58% chance
3, Reese Witherspoon (Wild) 52% chance
4. Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) 50% chance
5. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) 48% chance
Supporting Actor:
1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) 86% chance Winner (correct)
2. Edward Norton (Birdman) 62% chance
3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood) 58% chance
4. Robert Duvall (The Judge) 52% chance
5. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) 42% chance
Supporting Actress:
1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) 90% chance Winner correct
2. Emma Stone (Birdman) 66% chance
3. Laura Dern (Wild) 52% chance (tie)
3. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods) 52% chance (tie)
5. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) 40% chance
Director:
1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood) 86% chance
2. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) 80% chance Winner
3. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) 58% chance
4. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) 46% chance
5. Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) 30% chance
Adapted Screenplay:
1. The Imitation Game (Graham Moore) 72% chance (tie)  Winner (half correct)
1. The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten) 72% chance (tie)
3. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle) 62% chance
4. American Sniper (Jason Hall) 52% chance
5. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson) 42% chance
Original Screenplay:
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness) 78% chance
2. Boyhood (Richard Linklater) 76% chance
3. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo) 74% chance Winner
4. Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman) 44% chance
5. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy) 28% chance
Cinematography:
1.Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki) 76% chance (tie) Winner (half correct)
1.The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert D. Yeoman) 76% chance (tie)
3. Unbroken (Roger Deakins) 52% chance
4. Mr. Turner (Dick Pope) 50% chance
5. Ida (Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski) 46% chance
Costume Design:
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero) 80% chance Winner correct
2. Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood) 78% chance
3. Mr. Turner (2014): Jacqueline Durran) 58% chance
4. Maleficent (Anna B. Sheppard, Jane Clive) 48% chance
5. Inherent Vice (Mark Bridges) 36% chance
Film Editing:
1. Boyhood (Sandra Adair) 84% chance
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling) 62% chance (tie)
3. American Sniper (Joel Cox, Gary Roach) 62% chance (tie)
4. Whiplash (Tom Cross) 54% chance Winner
5. The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg) 28% chance
Makeup & Hairstyling:
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier) 87% chance Winner correct
2. Foxcatcher (Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard) 57% chance (tie)
2. Guardians of the Galaxy (Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White) 57% chance (tie)
Production Design:
1.The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock) 86% chance Winner correct
2. Into the Woods (Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock) 68% chance
3. The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald) 60% chance
4. Mr. Turner (Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts) 48% chance
5. Interstellar (Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis) 28% chance
Sound Editing:
1. American Sniper (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman) 90% chance Winner correct
2. Birdman (Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández) 58% chance (tie)
2. Interstellar (Richard King) 58% chance (tie)
4. Unbroken (Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro) 56% chance
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Brent Burge, Jason Canovas) 38% chance
Sound Mixing:
1. American Sniper (John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin) 78% chance
2. Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley) 66% chance Winner
3. Birdman (on Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga) 56% chance
4. Unbroken (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee) 52% chance
5. Interstellar (Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten) 48% chance
Visual Effects:
1. Interstellar (Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher) 84% chance Winner correct
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist) 74% chance
3. Guardians of the Galaxy (Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould) 68% chance
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer) 40% chance
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick) 34% chance
Animated Feature:
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 73% chance
2. Big Hero Six 71% chance Winner
3. The Boxtrolls 56% chance (tie)
3. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 56% chance (tie)
5. Song of the Sea 44% chance
Documentary Feature:
1. Virunga (Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara) 67% chance
2. Citizenfour: Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky) 62% chance (tie) Winner
2. Last Days in Vietnam (Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester) 62% chance (tie)
4. Finding Vivian Maier (John Maloof, Charlie Siskel)  58% chance
5. The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier) 51% chance
Documentary Short:
1. White Earth (Christian Jensen) 78% chance
2. Joanna (Aneta Kopacz) 62% chance
3. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry) 56% chance (tie) Winner
3. The Reaper (Gabriel Serra) 56% chance (tie)
5. Our Curse (Tomasz Sliwinski, Maciej Slesicki) 49% chance
Foreign Language Film:
1. Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski) 80% chance Winner correct
2. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) 58% chance
3. Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev) 56% chance (tie)
3. Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) 56% chance (tie)
5. Tangerines (Zaza Urushadze) 51% chance
Music – Score:
1. The Theory of Everything (Jóhann Jóhannsson) 84% chance
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat) 76% chance Winner
3. The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat) 58% chance
4. Mr. Turner (Gary Yershon) 42% chance
5. Interstellar (Hans Zimmer) 40% chance
Music – Song:
1. Selma (Common, John Legend) (Glory) 90% chance Winner correct
2. Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond) (I’m Not Gonna Miss You)  68% chance
3. The Lego Movie (Shawn Patterson) (Everything is Awesome) 60% chance
4. Begin Again (Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois) (Lost Stars) 43% chance
5. Beyond the Lights (Diane Warren) (Grateful) 40% chance
Short – Animated:
1. Feast (Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed) 89% chance Winner correct
2. The Dam Keeper (Robert Kondo, Daisuke ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi) 64% chance
3. A Single Life (Joris Oprins) 53% chance
4. The Bigger Picture (Daisy Jacobs, Chris Hees) 47% chance (tie)
4. Me and My Moulton (Torill Kove) 47% chance (tie)
Short – Live Action:
1. The Phone Call (Mat Kirkby, James Lucas) 76% chance Winner correct
2. Parvaneh (Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger) 67% chance
3. Boogaloo and Graham (Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney) 64% chance
4. Butter Lamp (Wei Hu, Julien Féret) 51% chance
5. Aya (Oded Binnun, Mihal Brezis) 42% chance
Our best bets (90% or higher):
  1. Lead Actress: Julianne Moore 92%
  2. Lead Actor: Eddie Remayne: 91%
  3. Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette: 90%
  4. Music – Song: Glory from Selma: 90%
  5. Sound Editing: American Sniper 90%

We have some very close races this year!

  1. Adapted Screenplay tied for The Imitation Game and the Theory of Everything
  2. Cinematography tied for Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Best Picture: we have Boyhood edging out Birdman by 1%!

See you in the movies!

Update: here is a summary of the results.

We weren’t quite as accurate as a team in 2015 as we were in 2014.

Overall, we were at 74.55% this year, versus 77.38% last year.

We were better on the Incredibly Difficult Maven section this year (74.55%) versus last year 68.07%.

On the Big Six (acting, Picture, Director) we got 88.33% this year, beating last years 79.41%.

Our individual winners were:

  • Big Six was Jimmy Orsag…with a perfect 100%!
  • The Incredibly Difficult Maven section was Neil Lapinsky, with a remarkable 90.91%!
  • Neil also did well on the Big Six, which combined meant winning overall with 92.56%!

Congratulations to Jimmy and Neil!

They have won that most valuable of human possessions: braggin’ rights! :)

As a group, we called all of the acting categories…but missed on both Director and Picture. We thought both would go to Boyhood, although Birdman was our second choice.

We were most shocked by the Documentary Short, only getting a 55.56%.

I would say that generally, we slightly underestimated Birdman (I didn’t think the Academy would go that geeky, for example), and Whiplash surprised us with technical wins.

Hope everybody reading this will play next year!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Tech controversy 1908: PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

February 15, 2015

Tech controversy 1908: PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

The San Francisco Call | July 9 1908 | page 1
retyped from http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1908-07-09/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1836&index=0&rows=20&words=BARS+FROM+MAGNATE+PHONE+STANFORD+WIRELESS&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=phone+magnate+bars+wireless+from+stanford&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

===

PHONE MAGNATE BARS WIRELESS FROM STANFORD

Trustee Hopkins Orders Experimenter from Laboratory When Voices Sound

Stock Holder in  Commercial  System Resents Sordid Spirit of Worker

Brave Professors Comes to Aid of Young Scientist with Offer of Barn

When advancement of  learning  leads to sordid gain should it be frowned upon by a university? Trustee Timothy Hokins [sic] of Stanford, the temporary business manager of the institution while Treasurer Charles G. Lathrop is away, has answered this question emphatically in the affirmative by withholding the privileges of the laboratories for a brilliant young graduate of the cardinal institution, who has lately developed some startling improvement in wireless telephony.

Dr. C. D. Marx,  head of the department of civil engineering and a member of the commission of engineers, engaged in the rebuilding of the university, has answered the question just as emphatically in the negative by installing the apparatus of the young inventor in his spacious barn,  where  it is said that the system has proven so successful that the professor’s livestock have been driven into a  state of panic by the mysterious voices in the loft of their home.

IS HEAVY STOCK HOLDER

Friends of C.F. Elwell, the inventor in the case, have been unkind enough to suggest that Hopkins was moved to issue his ukase by the fact that he is a heavy stock holder and a member of the executive board of the Pacific States telephone and telegraph company. They point to the significant fact that the apparatus of the big steel tower of the ruined library building was allowed to remain  undisturbed  as long as the university authorities believed that it was there to catch dots and dashes and not vocal sounds.

Elwell has become well known for his original work in electrical engineering and long before his graduation he was made an assistant in that department at Stanford. Last year his work attracted the attention of the men who are trying to sell a wireless telephone system to the government, and the young engineer was appointed to conduct experiments for the company on this coast. The backers the enterprise supplied him with $6,000 worth of apparatus, and while college was still open he used this in conjunction with the electrical and chemical laboratories of the university.

OVERLOOK PHONE SIDE

As soon as Stanford closed for the summer he applied to Hopkins for the privilege of using the  laboratories during the vacation period, and it is said that the business manager, still laboring under the delusion that the experiments were concerned with wireless telegraphy alone, granted the required permission without question.

The secret was well kept for a time, but the voices in the tower swore at central one day, and Hopkins must have been passing at the time, for the inventor was summoned to his office and ordered to remove himself and his apparatus from the campus.

Asked for a reason for this order, the business manager declared that the project was purely a commercial affair, and ans such should be given neither the aid nor the sanction of the university. With no place to take his expensive apparatus, Elwell was in danger of despair until Marx came forward with his offer of a refuge.

===

The Measured Circle note: it’s fascinating that we already see the narrative of a corporate interest trying to prevent disruption to its industry. Wireless voice transmission? Sounds like a cellphone…which may make the use of one in Oz a few years later less impressive (The Wizard of Oz invented the cellphone). Is it also being suggested here that it was profanity that led to the shutdown (“…the voices in the tower swore at central one day”), or was that just because it was loud enough to be overheard? If the former, it mirrors issues which still exist today.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2015 February geeky movie preview

February 4, 2015

2015 February geeky movie preview

We have already stated confidently that this year will have more $400 million plus dogroing (domestic grossing) movies than ever before.

One consequence of so many blockbusters is that they have to be spread out more throughout the year. Once a Star Wars or Avengers or Jurassic movie claims a weekend, well, you have to be either really brave or really counter-programming to go up against it.

So, you have to run for another weekend.

Some movies, of course, run out of time…and actually move to the next year.

Still, we think you may see several record months this year, as movies which might have gotten a prime slot in a past year shift backwards or forwards.

Let’s take a look at some of the geeky movies scheduled for release this month, February 2015:

February 6

Jupiter Ascending

Directed and written by the Wachowskis (The Matrix), and starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, and Eddie Redmayne (who may win an Oscar for Best Actor while this is in theatres), it’s a big science fiction wide release spectacle.

The Wachowskis have arguably been coasting on The Matrix (and its offshoots), but this PG-13 movie may succeed on its own.

Seventh Son

Julianne Moore (another possible Oscar winner who would have a geeky movie in the theatres at the time), Jeff Bridges, Jason Scott Lee stars. Inspired by The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney.

Not opening in as many theatres (but still a wide release), and won’t get the comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy (but might to Into the Woods…you know, they both have a witch), this one is a bit of a longer shot than Jupiter.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

The most theatres of the bunch and budgeted at a moderate $66m, this could be the most profitable big movie of the weekend. Kids’ movies tend to have long legs (they keep making money for a long time), so if you’d had to invest in of these three, this might have been the safest bet. It doesn’t have the same blockbuster potential (even with Antonio Banderas as a guest voice), but should make Paramount happy.

February 13 

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Spy spoof with Colin Firth, Mark Hamill, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson…and they have been promoting it a lot. Hard to tell with this one, but it may open big. 1st place this weekend is likely going to Fifty Shades of Grey, though.

What We Do in the Shadows

Small imported (from New Zealand) horror comedy with vampire flatmates. Some folks will love it…more of an arthouse picture.

February 20

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

The gang is mostly back (no John Cusack…see Maps to the Stars, below) in a sequel to the $50m grossing 2010 comedy. I’d say it would be a surprise for this to get to $100m dogro…but probably doesn’t need to do that to be a success.

February 27

The Lazarus Effect

Horror movie directed by David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi), and featuring Evan Peters, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, and Mark Duplass. We wish every movie well, but are concerned that this one may underperform expectations.

Maps to the Stars (2014)

David Cronenberg with a low $16m budgeted movie, and a cast including Julianne Moore (who will therefore likely have two movies in theatres at the same time), Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, and John Cusack. This one won’t be expected to have a huge dogro…this is art, people. ;)

Not bad for a 28 day month! Now, about March…

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

January 25, 2015

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

For more than twenty years, I’ve been doing an Oscar prediction contest.

Important note: there is no fee to play the  game, and we only play for that most valuable of human possessions…bragging rights. 

We do ours a bit differently than most. You rank every nominee, and then you get the number of points you assigned to the winner.

For example, there are five nominees for Actor in a Leading Role. You would assign the one you thought the Academy was most likely to pick (not necessarily the one you thought most deserved it) with a 5. Your second most likely would be a 4, and so on.

For the first time this year, we are using SurveyMonkey, rather than Excel.

That means you can play anonymously, if you prefer…we also think many people may find it easier.

There are three surveys (we are currently limited to no more than ten questions per survey):

Big Six and Screenwriting:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QHWZNNZ

Design and Appearance:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JRVRTCB

Whole Movies and Music

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JM2JTCS

If you would like to be recognized as a winner of the Big Six (the acting awards, Best Picture, and Best Director), the Incredibly Difficult Maven Section (everything else), and/or Overall, you’ll have the opportunity at the site to enter your name (that will not be public). If you’d like to receive future communications about BOPMadness, you can also enter your e-mail address there (again, that will not be public).

If you have any questions, you can comment on this post. If you’d like your comment to remain private, please let me know in the comment.

We will post the group predictions here before the Oscar ceremony on Sunday, February 22nd.

The more people who play, the more accurate we tend to be…feel free to share this with anyone you think would like to participate.

See you in the movies!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2015 Oscar noms

January 15, 2015

2015 Oscar noms

This is very preliminary, almost live-blogging. :) I’ll call out the geeky nominees as I catch them, sometimes shortening the names. After the announcements, I’ll formalize it more and add some comments.

Announcements are over…some early thoughts:

  • I’m surprised by the number of nominations for Interstellar…more than I expected
  • Birdman gets three acting noms
  • Best songs can still come from animated movies…and very popular (and profitable) ones at that
  • Maleficent is Oscar nominated
  • Guardians of the Galaxy was nominated for Hair and Makeup…and Into the Woods wasn’t
  • The Imitation Game got a lot of love
  • Eddie Redmayne was nominated…and seems to me to be the one to beat. It’s almost a perfect Oscar storm…and wouldn’t it be great to see Stephen Hawking at the ceremony?
  • Blockbuster geek movies which may be critical disfaves often get rewarded in technical categories…I didn’t see so much of that this time. For example, no noms for Transformers (we could have seen sound or Special Effects, perhaps)
  • You could notice how the lack of eligibility affects some categories: The Hanging Tree from The Hunger Games wasn’t eligible, Birdman for Score…
  • The Lego Movie was not nominated for Best Animated Feature
  • This is a notably non-diverse group of major nominees: I think we’ll hear people commenting on that

Best Original Song

  • Everything is Awesome from the Lego Movie

SFX (Special Effects)

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

Doc Short

Doc Feature

  • Citizen Four

Editing

  • The Imitation Game

Sound Editing

  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar

Sound Mixing

  • Birdman
  • Interstellar

Production Design

  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods

Live Action Short

Animated Short

Best Animated Feature

  • Big Hero Six
  • Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • Tale of the Princess Kaguya

 Supporting Actor

  • Edward Norton in Birdman

Supporting Actress

  • Keira Knightly in The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone in Birdman
  • Meryl Srteep in Into the Woods

Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

Costume

  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent

Cinematography

  • Birdman

Adapted Screenplay

  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything

Original Screenplay

  • Birdman

Original Score

  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • The Theory of Everything

Foreign Language

Directing

  • Birdman
  • The Imitation Game

Lead Actress

  • Felicity Jones The Theory of Everything

Lead Actor

  • Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton in Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Best Picture

  • Birdman
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything

2015 Oscar nominations video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1G_C6ygtRA

Complete list of nominees from the Academy website:

http://oscar.go.com/nominees

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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