16 August 2007

Es liest ihn nicht lesen

Well, the Internet ate my homework again... but this time, I've determined exactly why. My access is through Yahoo, and it wasn't playing nicely with the Blogger interface for a few days. Thus, I've gone back to cutting-and-pasting into the blog from the web interface, which really isn't very much fun at all. Almost as much fun as back spasms, in fact.

In any event, here are a few miscellaneous items from the last couple of weeks to keep you amused. I'll try to post the two substantive pieces that got munched in the next day or two. If there's a theme here, it's in the title (and there's a bonus point to scholars of English literature who can name the work that title most famously refers to).

  • In a simultaneously amusing and disturbing sense, the publishing industry is finally starting to catch on to the concept of "branding by author." The amusing sense is the continued appearance in print of dead hacks like L. Ron Hubbard, Virginia Andrews, and Robert Ludlum. And I mean literally dead, as in deceased; departed this mortal plane; gone to meet their makers; in summary, being ex-authors, not merely nailed to their respected perches. Of course, this has led to considerable overreaction in some parts of the publishing industry, such as attempts to impose contract clauses that would restrict an author from ever publishing a book under his/her natural name with another publisher. Excuse me, but just who owns the mark here? Or is this merely another symptom of the mislabelling of a publisher's license to use an author's intellectual property as a "sale"?
  • Speaking of "hacks," some in Hollywood are warning that movie and TV quality may be compromised if the writers strike. Nobody who honestly holds up dreck like half of the teleplay Emmy nominees in the last decade (including more than one winner) as award-worthy, let alone the non-nominees, could possibly be trusted to tell the difference. Ultimately, the problem is the good writing that doesn't lead to something flashy simply does not get recognized on either the small or the large screen; viewers, and critics, assume that the quiet moments of good writing come from the director and/or the actors. Sometimes that's correct; far more often, though, it's there in the screenplay or teleplay... if you actually bother to look.
  • Copyright follies continue. On the one hand, the overreaction of French police in arresting a teenager for criminal copyright infringement when he posted his translation of HP7 online is rather amusing, in an Inspector Clouseau sort of way. On the other hand, it masks a serious problem with the way the publishers have rather ineptly handled translations of literary works in the last couple of decades: They simply don't cooperate enough. And that this happened in the nation with the dictionary police is, in the end, amusing in itself.
  • No week-long period can go by without goofiness in the music industry. We've got the RIAA failing to promptly pay attorney's fees it was ordered to pay when it sued the wrong person for downloading, which looks much worse than it really is (if the RIAA plans to appeal, it would routinely only post a bond); we've got another installment in "how would you tell, given the poor craftsmanship of the content?" episode from someone decrying the quality of MP3s; and we've got questions of censorship in South Africa. It sort of makes one wonder why one should bother.