Bookstores dropping like Melissa Leo F-bombs

March 1, 2011 in Misc, On Writing, Social/Political Commentary by pacejmiller

There’s nothing quite like browsing a good bookstore.  I can spend hours wandering up and down the isles, checking out the commercial bestsellers, the award winners and books with covers that simply appeal to me.  I love it.

When it comes to buying books, however, that’s another story.

Books in Australian stores are, for the most part, notoriously expensive.  There are plenty of reasons why that is the case (amongst them the GST, the population size, publishing houses, etc), but what matters is that Australians aren’t buying books from book stores.  Why would they, when they can get the same books for sometimes half, or even a third of the price online?  And now, with free worldwide shipping offered by some companies such as the Book Depository (and I believe Amazon has followed), Australian booksellers simply can’t compete.

I too have been guilty of purchasing cheaper books — either online or I stock up when I am overseas.  I browse Australian book stores to see what’s on offer, and then I take my business elsewhere.  As someone who hopes to one day crack the Australian book industry, I’m not exactly doing my part to support it.  But on the other side of the coin, why pay more when you can pay less?

As many commentators have said before me, there are no easy answers.  But the reality is that Australian booksellers are dropping (or will be dropping) like Melissa Leo f-bombs during Oscar acceptance speeches.

RedGroup Retail, the conglomerate that owns both the Borders and Angus & Robertson chains in Australia (two of the ‘Big Three’ — the other being Dymocks (there’s also a big Kinokuniya in Sydney)), has been in administration since February, and the latest reports claim that plenty of underachieving stores (out of the 26 Borders and 167 A&R stores) will be closed down in the coming weeks.  Don’t think they have much choice, considering they owe more than $160 million to both secured and unsecured creditors.  Unfortunately, that also means lots of staff will be out of jobs.

With more and more e-books flooding the market, are commercial bookselleser no longer necessary anyway?  Will Aussies head back to the stores if the prices are more competitive?  And how can they possibly make book prices cheaper?  The Government and booksellers around the world need to take a good hard look at the way the industry is currently structured and get their thinking caps on.

In the meantime, I’ll hold off buying more books online and wait for local sales.  Such is the life of a poor student.

Thoughts on the 2011 Oscars

March 1, 2011 in Entertainment, Misc by pacejmiller

The winning actors!

I’m was pretty excited about the Oscars this year (because I’m a huge movie buff), but let’s face it, it’s usually long, boring and extremely predictable (particularly in the major categories) — thus ultimately disappointing.  Last night’s ceremony was no different.

Allow me to throw some random thoughts out there.  Let me just be clear — no matter how much I bash the Oscars, I still enjoy it and I’ll still watch it every year.

The Opening

The opening sequence is usually the most entertaining part of the night, and things usually go downhill from there.  This year they put the hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, into clips of almost all of the Best Picture nominees (via an Inception-esque dream invasion courtesy of Mr Alec Baldwin and a tribute to Back to the Future), and the result was pretty hilarious.  Obviously it’s never as good as Billy Crystal’s ones from back in the day, or even as good as some of the MTV Movie Award ones, but it was good enough.

I couldn’t find any good quality clips but this is the best I could do.

The Hosts

Neither Hathaway or Franco were particularly outstanding (both were safe choices that appealed to younger audiences) — but I’m going to go out on a limb here and against the current — I liked Franco better!

Yes, the Franco that looked and acted like he was stoned the entire night and churned out his lines like he didn’t give a crap!

To me, Hathaway was chirpy and lively but she tried too hard.  I don’t know why, but there was just something about her that didn’t feel genuine.

On the other hand, Franco was just chilled out and mellow, almost like he was bored and thought the whole self-congratulatory ceremony was a big ego trip and a waste of his time.  For some reason it worked for me.

And how great was Franco’s grandma and Marky Mark?

The Outfits

I’m no fashion guru, but all the Aussie fashion experts I’ve been hearing on the radio here are proclaiming that Cate Blanchett’s outfit was the best of the night.  I thought it was the worst.  Judge for yourself.

There are lots of beautiful people in Hollywood, so to me, the high marks on this night should go to those who elevate themselves beyond how they normally look.  Sure, Halle Berry looked very nice in her dress last night, but she looks great all the time, so what’s the big deal?

So for me, the most impressive looks of the night came from young Hailee Steinfeld and Jennifer Lawrence.  Both looked so ugly/average in their respective award-nominated films but were stunning on the red carpet.  See below.

Hailee Steinfeld

Jennifer Lawrence

Kirk Douglass

Funny but for all the wrong reasons.

Corey Haim

Speaking of the in memoriam section of the show, where the heck was Corey Haim?  Come on.  That’s even a bigger snub than Christopher Nolan not getting nominated for Best Director for Inception.

The Musical Montage

Probably inspired by the Antoine Dodson Bed Intruder song — pretty good, especially the Twilight bit.  See both below.

The Awards and the Winners

The full list of winners is here.

I’ve already said this, but I’m disappointed The Social Network didn’t get Best Picture.  I knew Inception (the real Best Picture) didn’t have a chance and it was a two horse race, so I was rooting for the Facebook movie to take out the top gong despite The King’s Speech having all the momentum going in.

When Tom Hooper took out the Best Director, I knew it was all over.  Darn it.  Mark my word — The Social Network and Inception will both be better remembered than The King’s Speech years down the track.

As for the rest of the winners?  Glad Aaron Sorkin won.  Glad Christian Bale won (though any of the other nominees would be a deserving winner).  Melissa Leo was/is crazy and probably had the worst acceptance speech of the night, but nevertheless a deserving winner.  I am now desperate to see Inside Job and In a Better World (and I’ll be see a screening of Biutiful later this week).  Good to see Inception win the technical awards but I can’t believe Wolfman won for best make-up.  That’s my winner’s rant.

Final Thoughts

A fairly ‘meh’ year at the Oscars, though the nominated films were excellent and a step above last year’s.  Doubt we’ll see Hathaway and Franco host again.  Who will they get next year?  I have no idea, but whoever it is, it’ll be interesting.