Amazon Prime is Gaining Ground

Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:09 pm
missmediajunkie: (Default)
[personal profile] missmediajunkie
It's been a while since I've checked in with the state of internet streaming services. Last time around I was bemoaning the state of Hulu, which has become so user unfriendly and clogged with commercials that I took it out of my streaming rotation. Netflix suffered some setbacks after splitting their service, but they got a boost by successfully launching original content, notably "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black." Amazon, Hulu, and a few others have tried to follow suit, but their series haven't attracted nearly as much attention. Netflix looks to be back on top of the streaming game and entrenching itself ever more firmly into the media landscape while the traditional networks continue to decline.

I'd mostly ignored what Amazon Prime was up to, having concluded that most of the content mirrored what was on Netflix. Their movie selection in particular hasn't been impressive. However, a couple of recent incidents have changed my mind. First, my significant other got himself hooked on FX's "Justified," which just finished its fifth season. Amazon Prime has exclusive streaming rights to the series, and currently offers the first four seasons. He's been marathoning them all month. Amazon Prime is also the only place where you can catch up on "Orphan Black" and "Hannibal," two shows in their sophomore years that are quickly moving up my list of current favorites. Netflix has its own exclusives, notably Disney movies and the AMC shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," but Amazon Prime is quickly stepping up its game in the content arms race.

And then the bombshell hit today. HBO, which vocally refused to have anything to do with Netflix in the past, announced that they have licensed a nice, big chunk of their older programming exclusively to Amazon Prime. Soon you can go binge on all the episodes of "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under," and "The Wire" you like. Alas, no "Deadwood," which was the next show on my "To Watch" list. For those hoping for a standalone HBO Go service, no such luck either. New content is strictly off limits, so don't expect the ravenous hordes of "Game of Thrones" fans to flock to Prime for their fix. Still, this is a big win for Amazon, and a clear sign that the studios are becoming more and more willing to do business with the streaming services.

Full disclosure - I still own a couple of shares of Netflix stock, but as a media junkie, I couldn't be happier that they now have a real competitor in Amazon Prime. It keeps both companies healthy and on their toes. I don't expect Netflix is going to make another mistake like Qwikster anytime soon, because the stakes have gone up so high. Amazon will also have more incentive to make some much-needed improvements. Their user interface and queuing features remain pretty atrocious. Just look at the way they've both been handling pricing announcements. Amazon Prime recently bumped up its yearly fee by $20 a year, making it slightly more per month than Netflix currently. And Netflix just announced that their prices will go up a dollar or two per month in the near future, but for new customers only.

I'm happy to continue subscribing to both services, which together cost less than half of what I was paying for basic cable five years ago. I do miss Netflix's streaming and DVD combo plan, but swapping out between one and the other has been working pretty well for me. Keep in mind that I'm still watching mostly films on these services, and most of the big deals that have been coming down have been geared toward securing licenses of television shows, so their impact on me has been fairly limited so far. Ironically, the only time that I've really gotten excited over new content being available through a streaming service was back when Hulu landed a big chunk of the Criterion Collection. However, Hulu's treatment of it has been so poor that I'm now biding my time, waiting for the license to expire and for the titles to go somewhere else when Hulu inevitably folds.

That's the biggest fallout I can see from Amazon becoming a big streaming player. Netflix won't be going anywhere, having established themselves so firmly. Amazon has the ambition and the deep pockets to compete with them on even terms. However, Hulu is owned by a collection of the networks, and they have consistently been unwilling to give their customers not only what they want, but what they have come to expect from online streaming content. The fact that they're not only still running commercials on Hulu Plus, but have increased them to the point where the service is almost indistinguishable from regular television, is maddening. I really don't see them lasting much longer.
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Confused!

Apr. 23rd, 2014 07:34 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
I am doing a lot! Too much! Yet not enough.

Since Zond7 left Monday night I have suddenly degenerated from my smug routine, forget to eat meals, and there is laundry everywhere. somehow instead of writing extra poetry and living in a nice neat environment I have entered odd workaholic and not taking care of myself mode.

Weird! Instructive!

I think it is also the tramadol and extra coffee. Must fix that tomorrow.

Tea only after 1 cup of coffee, and no tramadol after .. umm..... 1pm?

I wrote to the EFF as i said i would, yesterday i did a fun zine reading thing at DU, I worked quite hard, went to all the meetings ever fucking invented, and hacked some portals whicih was super relaxing and fun, and grocery shopped.

i read from a funny old zine and a section from a newish poem that i think is nearly done.

Cannot do enough at work to feel like i'm on top of things or truly competent. HOw to limit things????? why do i keep on taking more responsiblity?

i do not want to burn out.

also i went to 2 doctor appointments which while not specially stressful or hard, and i went in a cab, were still stressful and hard.

i miss zond7 quite a lot!

i think i need to strictly enforce some hours off even if i can't take a whole day ... which i don't feel that i can....
terriko: (Default)
[personal profile] terriko
Straight Punch by Monique Polak
Straight Punch
by Monique Polak

When Tessa gets caught leaving one too many graffiti tags, she finds herself kicked out of school and sent to "New Directions" a last-chance school for troubled teens with an impressive boxing program. Unfortunately, Tessa hates violence and isn't sure how she'll ever fit in given that most of the kids have situations much more dire than her own, but she's not getting out of this.

The backdrop of Montréal (a city with more than a little street art) works well for this coming of age story. I chose to read this while visiting the city, so the setting felt rich to me in ways that it might not have if I'd read it at another time. I was expecting more boxing out of Straight Punch, but actually the thing that struck me most about this were the moments you were seeing the world through Tessa's artist eyes.

I agree that it does feel a little "after school special with troubled teens" but the messages about standing up for what's right and what matters aren't any less true for having been told a thousand times. This book is perhaps better for teens than jaded adult readers, but it's still a nice little story about a teenager finding her inner strengths.
jjhunter: A sheep with shaded glasses and a straw hat lies on its side; overhead floats the pun 'on the lamb' (as in baby sheep). (on the lamb)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Let's take a breath for poetry. It is April, and as good a time as any for a collaborative poetry fest. Please find below a starting stanza or two of a brand new shiny haikai (what's a haikai, you ask? think extended haiku: alternating stanzas of 5-7-5 and 7-7). Comment with a new stanza responding to the original theme. Someone (most likely me) will respond with another stanza, and so on and so forth throughout the day.
===

egg me on, will you?
egg-travagant egg-cellence
egg-tices egging


inspirational image behind the cut )

(no subject)

Apr. 23rd, 2014 06:56 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
It's time for today's picture of Ginny draped over my knee and laptop being painfully cute. Earlier she unplugged my monitor cord. With her chin.
Read more... )

It's Going to be Quite a Summer

Apr. 22nd, 2014 09:06 pm
missmediajunkie: (Default)
[personal profile] missmediajunkie
Good grief, it's nearly the last week of April already. As previously announced, this blog is going on hiatus for most of the summer while I take care of Real Life Business, so I'm not going to be around for the bulk of the summer blockbuster season. I'm a little sad about that, because this is definitely going to be an interesting one. 2014 has its share of sequels and franchise movies, but it can also be viewed as the calm before the storm that will be the summers of 2015 and 2016, when the really big franchise showdowns are scheduled. This summer actually features a lot of original projects and a fair amount of lower budgeted titles that could become potential sleepers.

These are the kinds of conditions that could lead to a bust at the box office, where multiple would-be tentpole projects fail one after another. More likely we're going to see the trends from 2012 and 2013 continue, where we get a mix of big hits and big underperformers. 2014 has had one major flop already, the Wally Pfister directed "Transcendence," with Johnny Depp, which doesn't bode well for all the other original science-fiction movies coming our way soon. Most of the expected heavy hitters are frontloaded in May, as usual, but there are also some major franchise films scattered throughout the summer that should keep the momentum going through mid-August. Watch out for last year's bout of mid-summer blockbuster fatigue making a comeback though.

Most of the box office winners are easy to guess. I expect to see the new "X-Men," "Spider-Man," "Transformers," and "How to Train Your Dragon" films at the top of the list. "Guardians of the Galaxy" will be up there too, because of its Marvel pedigree. Though it's been dismissed sight unseen by so many, I think "Teenage Mutant Ninja" stands a good shot at being a hit because the offerings for kids are pretty paltry this year. The absence of a PIXAR feature is noticeable. As a result, the "Planes" sequel is probably going to make a good chunk of change too. Smaller franchise films like "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," "Expendables 3," "22 Jump Street," and "The Purge: Anarchy" should also at least turn a profit. The only sequel I think has iffier prospects is the long-delayed "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," which is coming in late August, and nearly ten years after the original. Still, the "300" sequel didn't do too badly, did it?

The big question marks are the star-driven vehicles and original projects. Will people show up to see Angelina Jolie play "Maleficent"? Or Melissa McCarthy in "Tammy"? What about Tom Cruise in "Edge of Tomorrow? Adam Sandler's new comedy "Blended" seems like a sure bet, but what about Duane Johnson in "Hercules"? Or Scarlett Johanssen in "Lucy"? If that one does well, does that increase the chances of a Black Widow movie? Does Godzilla still have enough notoriety and cultural cachet to headline his own movie? Does the underperformance of similar kaiju movie "Pacific Rim" last year mean anything? Will pitting Seth Rogen against Zac Efron sell people on "Neighbors"? Is putting Seth McFarland in western spoof "A Million Ways to Die in the West" a good idea? How about the pairing of Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz for "Sex Tape"? And what are we supposed to make of Channing Tatum in elf ears for the Wachowskis' "Jupiter Ascending"?

And then there are the smaller films. There seem to be a lot of non-traditional counterprogramming this year for older and less blockbuster-inclined audiences. Right smack in the middle of May we're getting Jon Favreau's foodie feel-good comedy "Chef," and Disney sports biopic "Million Dollar Arm." Fox is putting out a low-budget romantic drama "The Fault in Our Stars," starring Shailene Woodley in June. Then comes Clint Eastwood's screen adaptation of the "Jersey Boys" musical on the same day as "Think Like a Man Too." In August, filling the traditional feel-good picture for older women berth, Disney has "The Hundred-Foot Journey" starring Helen Mirren. And of course there are a slew of art house pictures to look forward to, including Woody Allen's "Magic in the Moonlight" and Richard Linklater's "Boyhood."

I don't have any particular stake in any of these movies doing well, though I'm looking forward to several. What I'd really like to see is the big franchise films not entirely dominate the top spots this year. I'd love to see any of the smaller films break out, or even one of the star or director driven projects. Ideally, there should be more of a balance among all these different types of films, which would help to encourage more variety at the box office. Otherwise, there aren't going to be many more summers as potentially interesting as this one in the future.
---

(no subject)

Apr. 22nd, 2014 09:41 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Yay, glasses are fixable for not-much-money (the dude at the Pearle took pity on me and rung them up as a different repair) and since the frames are still made, they're just ordering a new pair of the same frames and popping the existing lenses into them. Shouldn't be too long.

...mind you, until then I have to wear my old ones, but still.
yasaman: Troy and Abed from Community hugging with red hearts surrounding them (&troy/abed;)
[personal profile] yasaman
Man, I had such a nice streak of posting going. What can I say, last week was a long week at work and I spent my free time reading all of the CA:tWS and Steve/Bucky fic (I continue to have a Bucky Barnes Problem).

I watched the Community Season 5 finale, and am now anxious about its renewal. I love the show, and I don't think it's gone super downhill, but it is reaching the point where I'll accept its end gracefully, but goddamn, I want that sixth season (and a movie). A few scattered spoilery thoughts behind the cut.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Apr. 22nd, 2014 11:53 am
copperbadge: (chicago City Boy)
[personal profile] copperbadge
And then this morning I got a job offer from one place and an interview request from another.

They were very gracious when I told them I had just received and accepted a promotion. Neither would pay as well as here, and both were about the same rank as the job I'm moving into, so it was no great loss. Also I didn't really want to move to Minneapolis. It's a lovely town! But Chicago is more convenient.

Apparently it will take a significant amount of power to kick free of Chicago, but at this point I'm disinclined to try. NO. I SHALL NESTLE DEEPER IN THE SERPENTINE BONDS OF THE WINDY CITY MONSTER.

Linkspam Swift As Swiftness

Apr. 22nd, 2014 07:45 am
jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (science flower)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I'm afraid I will likely be somewhat scarce online this week, as I have been the last two days. In the meantime, however, some ongoing awesome not to be missed!
---

[personal profile] alexconall is hosting a week on the diversity of queer women's poetic experience @ [community profile] poetree this week (!). Rest assured that the subject is in able & loving hands; for some of Alex's own poetry, check out their free ebook Lavender Blue and other poems, which I'll be reviewing here later this month.

[tumblr.com profile] elisabethhewer (yes, this Elisabeth Hewer (e.h.)) is taking commissions over at tumblr via paypal. N.B. if you'd be interested in commissioning her but do not have a paypal yourself, and/or find tumblr confusing, PM me — I've got both, and alternate ways of getting in touch.

& for the sheer beauty of it:

Artist Greg Dunn has been pushing the boundaries of neuron visualization by teaming up with a physicist an engineer and taking microetching to the next level. See below for a video about his stunning Brainbow piece, of which the 2D pic does not do full justice:



Video behind the cut )

Haikai Fest: "Have Another Slice"

Apr. 22nd, 2014 07:22 am
jjhunter: Watercolor purple ruffled monster with mouthful of raw vegetables looks exceedingly self-pleased (veggie monster)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Let's take a breath for poetry. It is April, and as good a time as any for a collaborative poetry fest. Please find below a starting stanza or two of a brand new shiny haikai (what's a haikai, you ask? think extended haiku: alternating stanzas of 5-7-5 and 7-7). Comment with a new stanza responding to the original theme. Someone (most likely me) will respond with another stanza, and so on and so forth throughout the day.
===

I cannot feed you
courage, hope, patience — but I
can feed you pizza


image under the cut )

Year Five of "Community"

Apr. 21st, 2014 10:18 pm
missmediajunkie: (Default)
[personal profile] missmediajunkie
I never get tired of writing about this show, and as we say goodbye to the fifth season, the big question is, did Dan Harmon and the other creators get away with it? Did they manage to course-correct after that disastrous fourth season and bring back the show that its fans wanted? I'm willing to say yes. Clearly year five was better than year four, and I'd even go as far as saying that it was better than a lot of the third season, when Dan Harmon started getting a little too carried away with the metatextual madness. And yet, despite gaining some vital ground, there are some big problems with Season Five.

The season started out well enough, with Jeff becoming the newest Greendale educator and the whole gang reuniting as the Save Greendale Committee. I thought Troy and Pierce's departures were handled about as well as they possibly could have been, and that the amped up part for John Oliver's Professor Ian Duncan and the introduction of Professor Buzz Hickey, played by Jonathan Banks, were pretty good at helping to fill the void. However, neither are quite fleshed out well enough yet to really be replacements. But then, sadly, nothing was really done with Jeff's new position. We never saw him in a classroom again after the first time and his status as a teacher was never explored at all. More time was devoted to Abed getting a girlfriend and even Hickey's cartooning efforts.

I suspect the limited number of episodes was probably responsible for this. The truncated thirteen episode season meant that there wasn't a lot of space to devote to character development in general. What bits and pieces that we did get just didn't cohere as well as they have in the past. The two-parter ending that explored the possibility of Greendale ceasing to exist felt wholly unconnected to anything that had been set up earlier in the season. Character arcs were set up that didn't really go anywhere, and others have been quietly dropped. At least all the characters feel like themselves again, with the exception of the reformed Jeff, who I'm still not sure about. Annie and Abed benefited the most from this, and Chang has been thankfully de-emphasized. Alas, Britta was sorely underused.

Individual episodes hit some impressive bullseyes. I've already talked about the farewell to Troy in "Geothermal Escapism," that turned the whole school into a post-apocalypse spoof thanks to a game of "The Floor is Lava." However, my favorite of the crazy theme episodes this year was definitely "App Development and Condiments," where a new social netwoking app known as MeowMeowBeenz is tested on the campus, leading to Greendale becoming a '70s sci-fi dystopia spoof with lots of references to "Logan's Run," and Starburns in Sean Connery's outfit from "Zardoz." There was also the entirely animated "G.I. Jeff," that took on Saturday morning cartoons and toy commercials, plus another round of Dungeons and Dragons.

And while they're a little nuttier than they used to be, the regular school life episodes like "Analysis of Cork-Based Networking" and "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing" also did a good job of establishing new group dynamics and making use of the campus setting. I could easily see "Community" continuing in this vein for another season or two, improving on the groundwork that was laid this year. However, like many other reviewers have pointed out, I'm also starting to feel like "Community" has run its course. This year spent so much time getting us back to the old "Community," and then trying to maintain the status quo that it didn't do enough to push forward into new territory. There's a clear sense of the writers trying to patch too many gaps at once, reacting to format changes by doubling down on the old formulas instead of trying to find new ones.

The goal of six seasons and a movie is in sight, and considering NBC's fortunes, there's a good chance we'll get another thirteen episodes next year. However, all the drama and the cast changes and the shuffled creatives have taken their toll on the show, and will probably continue to. Season Five had some similar problems with Season Four, ironically, which is that it was trying too hard to backpedal to the point where the show was at its best. I'll continue to watch it weekly as long as they keep running it, but my enthusiasm for "Community" is starting to go south. I'm having a hard time seeing where the creators can take things from here, with most of the big arcs from prior seasons wrapped up and the new ones sputtering as they try to get off the ground.

There have been more than a few episodes in the last batch that I loved, but I'm starting to think that it might have been better for everyone involved if the show had just wrapped up after three strong seasons and didn't try to push its luck.
---

Anti-procrastination Tuesday 4/22/14

Apr. 21st, 2014 11:11 pm
sid: (pretty Green steps)
[personal profile] sid posting in [community profile] bitesizedcleaning
Is there something you've been procrastinating on? Something that really needs must be done, but is kind of a pain in the tuckus? Today's challenge is to do That Thing.

Go team, go! We can do it together!

NOTE: Optional 5 minute challenge for those who just do not have the brains for this challenge, because it is just too much. (Which is totally okay.) Spend 5 minutes dealing with paper. Recycle, shred, trash, sort, file, pay, respond. Or even just get it all into one pile to cut down on clutter. 5 minutes totally can make a difference!

(I'm off to bed. See you later in the comments!)

(no subject)

Apr. 21st, 2014 10:23 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
...The bridge of my glasses just snapped while I was cleaning them o.O

Mutter. On the one hand, I have both contact lenses and my old pair of glasses to fall back on. On the other hand, the contact lenses don't have the astigmatism correction and the old glasses are a slightly weaker prescription and aren't the high-def lenses. (And boy, let me tell you, if you're considering the high-def lenses when you get your next pair, if you spend any time at all staring at a screen, do it. I was wondering if I was really imagining the difference, until I put on the old pair and went ...oh, right.)

I put on the old glasses. I realized that wearing them would mean spending the next eight hours with a screaming headache bumping into things. I put in the lenses. I will now spend the next eight hours thinking the world has gone unexpectedly two-dimensional, but it's better than the migraines, at least?

Mutter.

Haikai Fest: "Validate But Verify"

Apr. 21st, 2014 09:21 pm
jjhunter: closeup of library dragon balancing book on its head (library dragon 2)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Let's take a breath for poetry. It is April, and as good a time as any for a collaborative poetry fest. Please find below a starting stanza or two of a brand new shiny haikai (what's a haikai, you ask? think extended haiku: alternating stanzas of 5-7-5 and 7-7). Comment with a new stanza responding to the original theme. Someone (most likely me) will respond with another stanza, and so on and so forth throughout the day.
===

listen: it's okay
to feel what you feel, and still
treat it as data

Blog hop: on writing

Apr. 14th, 2014 02:00 pm
qian: Tiny pink head of a Katamari character (Default)
[personal profile] qian

I am doing a blog hop thing! I was invited to do it by Shannon Phillips, who has a story in a new anthology from World Weaver Press. It is like a promotional meme — you answer a bunch of questions about writing and then you link to other writers and tell people about them — so here goes.

This is Shannon Phillips:

Shannon Phillips lives in Oakland, where she keeps chickens, a dog, three boys, and a husband. Her first novel, The Millennial Sword, tells the story of the modern-day Lady of the Lake. Her short fiction has been featured in Dragon magazine, Rose Red Review, and the upcoming anthology Fae from World Weaver Press.

And these are the questions she sent me!

 

1) What am I working on?

I’m working on yet another revision of my Regency fantasy of manners about England’s first black Sorcerer Royal. This has been my main writing project since late 2012, but in intervals between working on it I’ve also been working on Space Villette (not its real title), a novella based on Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, but with a space opera setting influenced by the early kingdoms (or should I say mandalas?) of maritime Southeast Asia.

Well, I say it is a novella, but it’s almost 30k words in and the Lucy Snowe character hasn’t even started to make googly eyes at the M. Paul equivalent. That said, I plan to rewrite the whole thing from scratch once I’ve got the first draft done, so pretty much everything I say about it now should be discounted!

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

All of my stories are about colonialism. I guess the most obvious point of difference is that the main characters are usually non-white. To the extent that I can, even when I am playing with very Western/Eurocentric genres or tropes, I try to infuse my stories with a non-Western sensibility, to refocus the narrative around characters who aren’t as often in the spotlight in English-language fiction. I don’t know how successful I am at doing that, but I keep trying.

Of course, when I am actually writing my main goal is not to make some big political point or other. My main goal is to write as many long rambling conversations and dumb jokes as people will let me get away with.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I remain profoundly shaped by my childhood reading and am processing it the best way I know how. I got told a lot of stories by my mom that I want other people to hear. I like reading long rambling conversations and dumb jokes myself. I think comfort reading shouldn’t come in just one flavour, or have just one kind of character as the focus. I’ve got a niche and I might as well keep going with it. History is interesting. I can’t write other stuff — I mean, in theory I could write a baseball economics book instead, but I don’t understand baseball or economics.

Lots of reasons!

4) How does my writing process work?

(i) Do anything except writing for as long as I can.

(ii) Bash out some hasty words just before bedtime, when I can no longer put it off.

(iii) Repeat the next day.

I generally take off one day a week, and don’t tend to write on holidays or if I’m travelling.

 

I’ve tagged the following authors, who will be posting the meme next week:

Alexandra Singer graduated from SUNY Purchase with a B.A. in Creative Writing. The is the author of the ongoing independent comic, Sfeer Theory. An avid fan of historical fantasy and fairy tales, her short stories have been featured in publications such as Chamberton Publishing’s Spotlight anthology and Crossed Genres Magazine. Her blog is at http://moonsheen.dreamwidth.org.

Eve Shi is an Indonesian writer. Her YA supernatural/horror novels are available in Indonesian bookstores. She’s working on more books of the same genre, as well as planning to write books in other genres.

Mirrored from Zen Cho.

pre- and post- con rooming

Apr. 21st, 2014 12:13 pm
meganbmoore: (Default)
[personal profile] meganbmoore posting in [community profile] wiscon
 I have roommates for the convention itself (Thurs-Sun night) but I'll be flying in on Wednesday and not leaving until Tuesday morning.  Does anyone have space/need a roommate for either Wednesday or Monday night?  I'm fine with the floor or a cot.

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