Archive for May, 2019

Write in my world: the planet Aphotic

May 12, 2019

Write in my world: the planet Aphotic

“You seem nervous…first space trip?”

“No, I’ve been to a lot of planets. It’s my first trip to .”

“You’ll be fine…they are very friendly.”

“I’m sighted.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!”

link to my tweet


That was my response to the daily writing prompt from

firdaus parvez @fairdausp

It was part of a series of prompts for “very short stories” (#vss). What happens is that a single word is given each day as a way to inspire people to write a single tweet incorporating it.

I think it’s fun! It doesn’t take me much time (I’ve always been a fast writer), and I like the challenge of making it fit into 280 characters. I do have a tendency to verbosity, and I’ve always enjoyed having rules (I used to manage a gamestore, and games are all about the rules).

I’ve written quite a few of these now, since I was first tuned into the prompts by

Jeffary Joseph at @JeffaryWrites

You can see them here:

Twitter: from:bufocalvin #vss365

A few times, when doing these, I’ve felt like they had the potential to become longer pieces…and this is one of them.

However, I don’t really have the time right now to do it.

Jeffary also suggested the idea behind this post.

He kindly invited me to write a piece from a prompt he had done. He has a group of writers who respond to his prompts:

Gold Star Stories @GSStories

While I thought my 1-pager came out pretty well, I ended up withdrawing it. The group was much more intense than I had anticipated. I didn’t feel like I could commit the time and creative energy necessary to fairly keep up with what they were doing. I typically spend hours a day on my writing, in addition to a full-time “day job”. I have to be pretty selective about any new things I add. It’s fine if it’s casual and I can just write when and how much I want, but that wasn’t this case.

I like the concept behind my tweet, and would like to see it explored more. I thought it would be fun to see if anybody else wants to do it.

The first thing I want to establish is the rights: I always want to get that specifically stated, to get that out of the way.

If you choose to submit something, I will have the right to publish it without compensation to you. You will retain all other rights: you also can publish it elsewhere, and (perhaps) get compensation for it there. That’s about it: I’d like you to link to me and/or The Measured Circle, but I’m not going to require that.

I may not publish everything that’s submitted, and if it has profanity, I will probably mask that: I don’t use profanity in my blogs (or, actually, in real life either). For example, I might use “f@@king” when you spelled it out.

I also might communicate with you if I want to make or suggest some changes. Those likely wouldn’t be substantial, but could be along the lines of proofreading (much more likely than copy editing).

Here’s the set up for the world:

Earthlings commonly travel in space and contact other intelligent species.

One such planet is called Aphotic by Earthers. It earned that name because, to Earth humans, it appeared to be without light…in darkness.

In actuality, there is light: it’s just outside the relatively narrow bandwidths humans can see.

That could easily be remedied with technology, but the Aphotics (the native intelligent species) don’t believe electricity should be harnessed. They treat it as though it is a being, and don’t like to see it exploited. It’s possible non-electric tech could solve it, but they also believe that if a human can’t see in their world, that is a divine decision and shouldn’t be changed.

How does humanity deal with them?

Earthers who are blind are able to navigate well on Aphotic, and they are the traders and cultural ambassadors who go there.

In fact, a sighted person on Aphotic would be at a significant disadvantage and are pitied.

The protagonist in the tweet (the “nervous” one) is a minor government official. They’ve been sent to Aphotic to pick up a human prisoner…someone who the Aphotics say has violated the technology ban.

Why doesn’t the local Earth representative on Aphotic take custody?

That’s who they’ve accused…the current representative.

Why would a sighted person be chosen to go?

The Aphotics have a thing about names, which Earthers have never really understood. If someone from Earth is to go to Aphotic, the locals have a list of potential names read out loud do them. They reject many of them, due to some unpleasantness with the name they perceive.

Our protagonist was the only available person who had an acceptable name.

I’m interested to see (so to speak) what would happen. I’m looking for the perspective of vision being a weakness, as it is in H.G. Wells’ short story

The Country of the Blind

Another thing that intrigues me: why did the representative break the technology ban…or why did the Aphotics lie about it?

What else is happening on Aphotic?

Again, to be clear: I could publish your submission in this blog (or in collections or other writing) without financial compensation to you. I simply make very little from this blog, and really write it for fun and creative exercise (and sometimes, to help other people). You, though, could publish it yourself (and charge for it) or license it to someone else for them to publish, without you compensating me (although I would like a credit), or requiring prior agreement from me.

I don’t know if I’ll get any submissions. ūüôā I can’t tell you how many people will read it if I publish it here…it’s probably not very many (although I value them all). I’ll mention it in my most popular blog

I Love My Kindle

Still, if this sparks something in you, I’d love to see it! Perhaps someday I’ll write something more about Aphotic myself…

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

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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Why don’t American horror movies make more money internationally?

May 6, 2019

Why don’t American horror movies make more money internationally?

At The Measured Circle, we track the box office regularly. Here’s is our list for 2019:

2019 The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies at IMDb

Movies have to make $40 million in domestic gross (I say “dogro”) to get on the list…there are 19 movies on there at time of writing.

No surprise that the top two movies, in terms of the amount of profit (we calculate profit based on the reported budget vs. dogro) are Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. However, combine their two budgets, and it’s over half a billion dollars.

The third movie, Us, is in one of the genres with the best return on investment. That’s when you look at the¬†percentage of profit, rather than the gross amount of profit. Us is Double Golden (on a reported budget of $20 million)…here is our scale on those awards:

  • Dogro 2X production budget = “Money”
  • Dogro 3X production budget = “Golden”
  • Dogro 30X production budget = “Platinum” (God’s Not Dead prompted the creation of this new award)
  • Dogro less than 50% of production budget= “Underperformer”

Captain Marvel has gotten to the “Money” level (which is a considerable accomplishment for a movie with an over $100m budget), and Avengers: Endgame will get there.

Every year, there are horror movies with small budgets that have a great ROI. They tend to be a flash in the pan…having a great opening weekend, then maybe riding for a week or two more, but that’s the bulk of it.

Recently, I’ve been looking more at the international box office impact. In July of 2017, we added the “Road Winner” award, for movies which make at least two-thirds of their box office with what Box Office Mojo (which is where I get these numbers) calls international.

Success overseas is definitely part of the Marvel story. Endgame’s dogro percentage is only 28.3% (this is all based on the updating I did earlier today), and Captain Marvel is 37.6%.

Four of the 19 movies on the list are Road Winners. More than half of the movies have a dogro percentage under 50%…they make more money internationally than domestically.

Two genres tend not to make much of their money internationally: comedy and horror.

Comedy makes sense to me intuitively. It is often very language-based, making translation or even dubbing a complex proposition. Puns, in particular, are going to be difficult.

The author Scott Calvin (who is my sibling)

Scott Calvin’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile*)

suggested (when I posed the question about horror movies on Twitter) that it could be culturally based. What is scary in one culture might not be scary in another, perhaps due to familiarity with the subject. A car, for example, might be scarier in a society that doesn’t use them regularly (that’s my example, not Scott’s) than it would be for one where they are constantly present.

I’m not sure that’s it, though. Horror movies often take something very familiar and tweak it a bit. There are several American horror movies with cars/trucks as the “monsters” (Christine, The Car, Duel…).

I would also think that a slasher is scary in any culture.

Interestingly, I would say that foreign horror movies have done reasonably well in the USA, my guess would be as well as other genres. In the past decade or two, Japanese horror movies have done quite well here. There is a whole “school” of Italian horror movies called “giallo”. The British studio Hammer has made a definite impression here.

It occurred to me that maybe a movie like Us just isn’t released internationally, but that’s not the case. When I checked, it was released in more than 50 countries, and not dissimilar to Avengers: Endgame.

Humor and horror do have a lot in common. I’ve actually taught people about the use of humor, and I find the best way to understand it is that laughter is a signal that there is apparent danger (it can be social danger), but no real danger.

That’s very tricky even within the same general culture. People make jokes about their own group (using a stereotype, for instance), and it can be seen as funny within that group (because it is clearly seen as not really representing a danger). If someone from outside the group made the same joke to the same group, it might be seen as offensive.

That is similar to what Scott had said, although I think it may be have less to do with familiarity with the threat source than with the language subtlety around it (which would be like humor)…the threat might be imperceptible to someone without a thorough grasp of idiom and shared culture.

I’m just guessing, though. ūüėČ

I still think it’s possible that there is some strategic decision made, perhaps not to spend much on promotion…but that might be based on past experience with low box office returns.

Any ideas? Why do you think American horror movies don’t make much of their money internationally? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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