Watch “Revolution Trilogy” 睇「革命三部曲」

Friday, 18 March, 2016

(Watch my trilogy of documentaries.)

Watch my docs Revolution Trilogy 睇「革命三部曲」

Watch my docs Revolution Trilogy 睇「革命三部曲」

20190812 Director new preface re the word “Revolution”:

The title of my debut documentary “Long Hair Revolution 「長毛革命” was decided in 2004, so 15 years ago. The rationale is similar to “industrial revolution” or “internet revolution”, ideas for improvement. Nothing to do with violence.

“長毛革命”在2004, 即是15年前定名, 其實跟”工業革命”或者”互聯網革命”道理相同, 是嶄新改革的意思, 完全同”暴力”沒有任何關係. Read the rest of this entry »


Kempton & 張婉婷 給十九歲的我 (National Treasure) To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self – Mabel Cheung 2.5 hrs chat

Thursday, 19 January, 2023
  • 10 years in the making, 300,000 hours of footage, and 3 years editing
  • Calling 給十九歲的我 To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self a “National Treasure
  • What good can documentaries do? Can you imagine documentaries changing lives or society?
  • Director Mabel’s “Final Cut” & Ying Wa’s “Final Decision”
  • re Mabel and her filmmaking & loving life partner the late Alex Law 羅啟銳
  • Has Mabel thought of donating Alex’s and her creative archives to her alma mater HKU or NYU like Canadian author & living national treasure Margaret Atwood had donated 600+ boxes to create the Atwood archives at U of T?
  • Sending my thanks & love to Mabel & team, student interviewees, and Ying Wa Girls’ School 英華女校 staff
  • Concluding thoughts
  • Postscripts 後記

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Note: Distributor Golden Scene has provided this link to get Live information on showtimes of 給十九歲的我 To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self in HK (wide release Feb 2nd, 2023).

10 years in the making, 300,000 hours of footage, and 3 years editing

It was my great honour and pleasure to have an extensive ~2.5 hours four parts insightful video interview (watch here) with Ms. Mabel Cheung 張婉婷導演 , an award winning director from the start of her career including her first student film (the famous “Migration trilogy“: The Illegal Immigrant 非法移民 (1985), An Autumn’s Tale 秋天的童話 (1987) and Eight Taels of Gold 八兩金 (1989)). My previous “record” of longest film interview was ~2 hours with Taiwan director Mr. Shen Ko-shang 沈可尚 to talk about his documentary LOVE Talk 幸福定格 which he took 7 years to film 8 couples.

Mabel and I chatted last Sunday Hong Kong time (2023/01/15) to talk about her documentary (10 years in the making, 300,000 hours of footage, and 3 years in the editing room) 給十九歲的我 To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self (in short 給十九 ToMy19). And then the film won 2022 Best Film from Hong Kong Film Critics Society 香港電影評論學會 one day later on Monday (2023/01/16). Perfectly timed for Mabel‘s words of thanks to be appended to Part 4/4 of the interview clips.

My extensive ~2.5 hours chat with Mabel covers many topics, including scenes I love in 給十九 ToMy19 from the perspectives of movie viewers and also things that documentary filmmakers like myself or aspiring filmmakers want to know. Some viewers and filmmakers maybe curious how Mabel worked with 300,000 hours of footage to create a film that is loved by many? Or when the student interviewees didn’t want to be interviewed anymore, what did Mabel & team do to keep things going? What kind of advices does Mabel have for documentary or drama filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers wanting to create their first film?

Have a watch of all four parts of the interview. Mabel & I were originally scheduled to chat for 2 hours and those time flew by in the blink of an eye. And Mabel was so kind in giving me a 30 minutes extension. I used my additional time to ask questions I previously collected from a photographer friend interested in filmmaking and three questions by Norris Wong 黃綺琳 (note: Norris 黃綺琳 is Mabel’s former university student and current filmmaking project mentee 香港電影發展基金薪火相傳計劃 ((2022?)-(3) 張婉婷 / 黃鐦 黃綺琳)」).

Calling 給19歲的我 To My 19-Year-Old Self a “National Treasure

Right from the start, I mentioned to Mabel that I’ve watched 給十九 ToMy19 6+ times and I love it. In the same way that many Brits now love the Up (film series) (a series of docs featuring group of ~14 people in UK when they were 7, 14, 21, 28, … all the way to 63 years old) and consider Up (film series) a National Treasure, I love 給十九 ToMy19 a ton and also consider it a National Treasure.

Love is hard to explain. In some sense I started falling in love with longitudinal documentaries in 1988 as I was lucky to discover and watched the first four Up (documentary series) when the subjects/interviewees were 7, 14, 21, and 28 years old, at the SigSam audio-visual library of my alma mater University of Toronto. To my knowledge, the Up (film series) produced by Granada Television for ITV is the oldest, most famous, and most successful longitudinal documentaries of all time. Hoop Dreams (1994) is another longitudinal doc I love. There is also longitudinal dramas like director Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood (2014) (same actors filmed from 2002 to 2013) and the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013)) of romance films featuring the same leads.

And now you see why I’m primed to LOVE Mabel’s 給十九 ToMy19 which has become my latest favourite. Yes, a National Treasure. If I were a betting man, the 2022 Best Film mentioned above may just be the first of many awards. Of course, “winning awards” should never be any good filmmaker’s goal and definitely wasn’t Mabel’s as she told me. But a good film about HongKongers should be watched by more HongKongers.

What good can documentaries do? Can you imagine documentaries changing lives or society?

Many documentarians (good and even bad ones) aspire to capture their times for history. You may ask what good can documentaries do? Is it even possible that documentaries can change lives or society? Let me share two examples to illustrate.

Oscar winning director Errol Morris‘s documentary The Thin Blue Line (1988) was instrumental in Randall Dale Adams‘ (wrongly convicted of murder) exoneration the following year. Dear Zachary (2008) is a documentary that is instrumental in changing the legal system (specifically, bail reform) in Canada which I had the heartbreaking honour to video interview David & Kate Bagby when they attended the 2008 Calgary International Film Festival screening.

I hope a good documentary like 給十九 ToMy19 can lead to self and collective reflections, follow by positive changes in minds and actions of Hong Kong students, parents, teachers, school admins, education system, and even Hong Kong society in general. I wonder can and should 給十九 ToMy19 be screened at Ying Wa for all incoming new students in future years? Or will other Hong Kong schools want/plan to screen the film for teachable moments and learning purpose? I think the film contains many universal truths and can be used as good teaching aids in the hands of wise and loving teachers, vice-principals and principals. I think. I hope.

One scene that breaks my heart into a million pieces is the one that Vice-Principal Siu-Fung 小鳳 talked about some school where students (and their parents?) were thrilled to burn their school books after public exams were over. How tragic? Joi Ito (伊藤 穰一), former director of the MIT Media Lab, said this in a cool TED talk which I love, “Learning over Education. To me, Education is what people do to you. And Learning is what you do to yourself.”

For the books burning students, their cheering teachers & parents, I wonder what were they thinking? Do they think all their learning were “finally over” once they got accepted into university or graduated and got their undergrad degrees? Have they ever heard of or aspire to the idea/ideal of “Lifelong Learning“?

I want to especially thank the student interviewees and their families for their open sharing of a wide range of topics, including public health topics like mental health, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and many other topics that we can all learn more about and become better members of our communities. Be kind, be caring, and be loving of others.

Director Mabel’s “Final Cut” & Ying Wa’s “Final Decision”

As Mabel told me in our chat, she has the Director’s Final Cut on the documentary so that means anything that is on screen (or not on screen), the length, etc were all her decisions to make and her decisions were final. And “luckily”, the Hong Kong film censor did not have to cut one frame off her film.

And if my memory serves me, Mabel in one of her many interviews with media directly said (or implied) that it is always Ying Wa‘s “Final Decision”, in it I took it to mean that Ying Wa could have nixed the whole documentary after Mabel had done all the hard work. But Ying Wa did not. And for that, I thank the higher-ups at Ying Wa for letting 給十九 ToMy19 have her own life with us HongKongers and viewers around the world.

re Mabel and her filmmaking & loving life partner the late Alex Law 羅啟銳

My heart was broken into million pieces as I watched hours & hours of YouTube videos of insightful interviews of Mabel and her filmmaking & loving life partner the late Alex Law 羅啟銳. (see links below) The sudden passing of Alex last year came as a shock for Mabel and HongKongers and deeply saddened us all. Many in the film industry and media lovingly call the duo “雌雄大導” (for directors) drawing parallel to the saying “雌雄大盜”. To me, Mabel & Alex were 形影不離, the duo were actualization of the word inseparable for their creative & personal lives (see this 美紙 Art & Piece 2022 Nov cover (FB link)).

Some day I would love to ask Mabel about her & Alex’s creative process. Hopefully Mabel will let me interview her again in the future. Will see.

Recommended YouTube videos: a) 書展2013:移民3部曲 – 羅啟銳、張婉婷 (2013, 76 minutes), b) 影談系列——張婉婷 · 羅啟銳《秋天的童話》映後談Movie Talk—Mabel and Alex “An Autumn’s Tale” Post-screening Talk (2022, 105 mins), c) 影談系列——張婉婷 · 羅啟銳《玻璃之城》映後談 Movie Talk—Mabel and Alex “City of Glass” Post-screening Talk (2022, 88 mins)

Has Mabel thought of donating Alex’s and her creative archives to her alma mater HKU or NYU like Canadian author & living national treasure Margaret Atwood had donated 600+ boxes to create the Atwood archives at U of T?

Knowing how precious Mabel’s and Alex’s creative archives can be of inspiring values to filmmakers of this and future generations, I asked if Mabel had thought of donating Alex’s and her creative archives to her alma mater HKU or NYU like Canadian author & living national treasure Margaret Atwood had donated 600+ boxes to create the Margaret Atwood Papers at U of T that anyone can access digitally and freely?

Mabel thought who (no one really?) would be interested in Alex’s and her creative papers? I promptly said I would and think many people would too! And I suggested the papers should be digitized for easy and free global access. (Yes, I’m selfish and thinking of making sure me in Canada can access easily.) Mabel wasn’t thrilled of the amount of work involved. Of which I said it would totally be the receiving institution’s job (in fact, a pre-condition) to make sure these precious papers and creative materials of Mabel’s and Alex’s are as easily, digitally, and freely accessible for research purpose as the Margaret Atwood Papers at U of T that people can access and have a look anytime, like now.

If and when Mabel has decided to donate more of their creative papers, I would love to chat with Mabel to talk more.

Sending my thanks & love to Mabel & team, student interviewees, and Ying Wa Girls’ School 英華女校 staff

I want to send my thanks & love to Mabel & team for their hard work in the last 10 years. Without their dedicated and persistent hard work, 給十九 ToMy19 would have been impossible to make. My special thanks to the so called “師奶兵團 (義務導演) C9 Army corps (Volunteer Directors)“!

And I want to send my thanks & love to all 30+ Form 1 student interviewees, all 13 student interviewees that appeared on the film credit list that, I understood, to have participated till the end. And in particular the 6+3 interviewees that we got to know a little in the film.

In order of featured appearances

「阿佘」Britney

「阿聆」Hayley

馬燕茹  Jenny

“Madam”  Karen

「香港小姐」“Miss HK” Katie

「阿雀」“Birdy” Chloe

plus

“Ken” Myra

Shirley

Angel

And I also want to send my thanks & love to all of Ying Wa Girls’ School 英華女校 teachers, vice-principals, and former & current principal.

To all who appear in front of the cameras, I again thank you for making 給十九 ToMy19 possible.

Concluding thoughts

After watching 給十九 ToMy19, a National Treasure, that took 10 years to make, it is easy for us viewers to think we, all of a sudden, “know” all of the interviewees “deeply” because we watched them “grew up” in front of our eyes for 10 years, right? 10 years flew by in the blink of an eye. Some of us may think we know something or even a lot about them, right? I’m afraid that will be wrong. I think, all documentaries, no matter how good, can only capture some very small parts of people. In fact we only know very little about our beloved student interviewees as there have been a lot of growths and changes happening off cameras. Especially since the film finished shooting in 2019 which was over 3 years ago.

If I may use a “musical tangent” of a song example to illustrate growth and changes. Do you remember in the first few minutes of the film 「阿佘」Britney sang an excerpt of “Think of Me” from Phantom ? I love it. But Britney didn’t. Britney wasn’t too happy as she told Mabel, because she thought she kinda sang off-key (走音) for a few words and would rather see her singing cut. But I (we) love it, right?

Thing is life is all about growing & learning. We all mature in time. Our singing. Thinking. Now here comes my “musical tangent” from me doing “too much research”. This is a clip of the talented Emmy Rossum singing “Think of Me” in The Phantom of the Opera (2004). And in 2012, eight years later, Emmy on a late night comedy talk show singing “O Mio Babbino Caro” impromptu and it was, to me, 20x better than her 2004 movie singing because her voice has more practices and time to mature. I’m no expert in music. Maybe Britney can have a listen and tell me? Or better, maybe we all can have a “listen” to the “music” of growth, learning and maturity with our “ears” in our hearts.

Postscripts 後記:

P1.S.) 張堅庭 Alfred Cheung’s take ===> I read from Facebook that Mabel’s director good friend Alfred Cheung 張堅庭 watched 給十九 ToMy19 in Taiwan twice in three days. Alfred shared a story of an interesting encounter with a 2x viewer concluding with the comment “這就是「給19歲的我」的另一種吸引,有時紀錄片比劇情片更讓人刻骨銘心。近期的心水推薦。”.

P2.S.) 小鳳 Siu-Fung is #cool ===> Check out this interview of Vice-Principal Siu-Fung 小鳳 shared by the movie Facebook page, “我要用上帝的愛浸死他們——訪《給19歲的我》英華女校副校長

P3.S.) Words about translation of National Treasure and pandas 熊貓 ===> I’ve decided to keep on using the English words National Treasure and not translate it to Chinese for this article. For my generation, it feels easier to say “love you” to my parents instead of saying the words “我愛你” which feels very 肉麻. To me, the words 國寶 should ONLY be used to describe pandas 熊貓 like the adorable Jia Yueyue (加悅悅 ‘Canadian Joy’) and Jia Panpan (加盼盼 ‘Canadian Hope’). So 給十九歲的我 To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self will always be a National Treasure to me. :)

P4.S.) 金成 + 張婉婷 ===> Of the many recent interview videos of Mabel I’ve watched, 金成 has done one of the most comprehensive and insightful interview and I highly recommend watching, 叔叔的愛(番外篇):金成、張婉婷對談.

P5.S.) Unprofessional to call 給十九歲的我 “National Treasure”? ===> I can always count on my Better Half being frank with me and call my bull beep out. She warned me that by calling 給十九歲的我 To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self a National Treasure, I appear rather “unprofessional” and appear to “suck up” to Mabel and others. But did I? Did I NOT ask some tough questions during my extensive interview with Mabel? Did I NOT try to correct Mabel about some minor factual info (about the Up (film series)) when I could easily have said nothing? I felt important to ask questions in a respectful manner as Mabel is an accomplished filmmaker and yet, to do a good job, good (and sometimes tough) questions must be asked. While I was typing this, I kept thinking of Alex telling Mabel that her 1st and 2nd versions of 給十九歲的我 To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self was “boring” 好悶啊. Something only an honest and loving partner can and must keep on telling each other. I continue to mourn the passing of Alex, one half of a beautiful creative duo. To expand, “雌雄大導” focus on their creative work, while “形影不離” transcend work and become encompassing of work and life with love. Me think.

P6.S.) Ming Pao’s insightful interview with video ===> worth a read and watch, “花十年拍紀錄片變「老頑童」 張婉婷面對生活像快要崩潰的牆|張婉婷專訪” [HT YWGS]

P7.S) 張婉婷想做飛機師 ==> I love this interview a ton, “(端傳媒) 導演張婉婷專訪:用十年紀錄香港千禧世代之後,她想做飛機師” [HT YWGS] I wish I had more time to chat with Mabel about her dream (or desire) to be a pilot (想做飛機師). You see, my US Wyoming based political talk show host friend Glenn is a private plane pilot and owns a small plane. With my previous CAATS – ATC (Canadian Automated Air Traffic Systems – Air Traffic Control) Software Engineering experience, we love to talk shop sometimes including topics like glass cockpit, Boeing 737 MAX tragic crashes & groundings, … and sometimes Glenn shares beautiful made-by-pilots cockpit YouTube videos like “Vancouver Island Series – Tofino, Long Beach – Can’t believe this is allowed! – Part 4 – (S3:E4)“. I would love to ask Mabel if she really wants to fly herself? Or would she be just as happy (like me) to watch beautiful clips like Vancouver Island Series – Tofino, Long Beach – Can’t believe this is allowed! and be amazed? Or Mabel really want to fly in the air?

P8) 說自己想說的話 ==> Check out am730 “張婉婷是香港的童話” as I love this line a lot, “然後,張婉婷輕輕笑一笑:「我們拍電影,不是為賺錢,是為說自己想說的話呀!」” [HT YWGS]

P9) 20230128 Ming Pao 明報OL, (with video) “《給十九歲的我》成績超乎預期 張婉婷盼成功為母校籌錢建泳池” 20230128 香港01, “優先場票房600萬 張婉婷面對負評︰不能客觀評價

Update history: 20230128 6:28am Minor editorial changes + adding news links. 20230125 11:20pm Minor editorial changes + adding internet links. 20230121 12:25pm Created Internet archive saved page to properly and permanently link info to 香港電影發展基金「薪火相傳計劃 ((2022?)-(3) 張婉婷 / 黃鐦 黃綺琳 project. 5:52am Added P8 and reworded the beginning of each Postscript a little. 20230120 12:50pm Title change to match video clips and few other editorial changes. 11:22am MST Style and top picture position change. 5:18am MST – Add a pix up top which links to YouTube list of all 4 videos. Add P6.S., P7.S. and other minor updates. 20230119 10:25pm MST – Added P4S 金成 video interview recommendation. Added P5S My Better Half challenged me and asked: Did I “suck up” to Mabel and others by calling 給19 ToMy19 a National Treasure? P5S is a reply to her legitimate question. 20230119 9:47pm MST – Fixed typos and making minor changes

First published: 20230119 ~8pm MST


My Brand of Poison #SARSCoV2 – Eight #LessonsLearned from 22 #Covid19 Rapid Tests

Wednesday, 18 January, 2023

First published: 20221224   Latest Updates: 20230118 (Work-In-Progress version, I hope to add more, including useful links to the full text entry at the bottom. And hopefully add a few more tweets to make it to the promised Eight Lessons! :)

I recently tested Covid19 positive. Two weeks later (20221224), I live to share my stories.

Lesson 1: Covid #RAT test before attending events with friends & loved ones (or even strangers). You don’t want to spread Covid to people and get them seriously sick or even dead. The guilt I would have felt if I got any one of them seriously sick. I don’t want to risk that.

Lesson 2 Backstory: In the recent months, I’ve elderly friends & relatives testing #Covid19 positive. Sadly, their friends, loved ones, family members & even their medical doctors had NOT heard of the potentially #lifesaving (+major risks reducing) Covid therapeutics #Paxlovid

Lesson 2: If my elderly 65+ loved ones were to test Covid positive, I’ll make sure their MDs look at using #Paxlovid to reduce risk of serious cases/death. MDs’ “never used Paxlovid before” are bad reasons. Find trusted MDs that have prescribed it & know how2 use it properly…

Note: Link to #JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) – Original Investigation – Infectious Diseases research “Incidence of Viral Rebound After Treatment With Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir and Molnupiravir” (Note: Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir = Paxlovid)

P.S. Sorry4 taking longer than I hope2 share my #Covid19 lessons. So far (as of 20230118), I only had time to share two good lessons so far. In the mean time, wishing you all the best & good health in 2023! #Covid19 is NOT over. But we (countries w good supply of mRNA vax & effective therapeutics like #Paxlovid) are in good positions 2fight #Covid

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Full text version (minus pix) of the above highlight version with pix on Twitter.

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My Brand of Poison #SARSCoV2 – Eight #LessonsLearned from 22 #Covid19 Rapid Tests

I recently tested Covid19 positive. Two weeks later, I live to share my stories.

When my friend/mentor share his insights, he loves to add that is only his “Brand of Poison”. So I’m going to steal from him. And these stories and lessons learned are my “Brand of Poison”, nothing more. I think there are still lots of #ScienceInProgress with Covid19 (have you listened to the podcast #TWiV This Week in Virology?), so when in doubt of what I say, do NOT blindly trust me (I’m an expert in nothing), fact check me with your own doctor, expert doctors, Covid19 researchers, and especially peer-reviewed published research papers with solid data from reputable scientific journals.

Lesson 1 Backstory: I’m four doses vaccinated with Dose 4 in September 2022 (Pfizer-BioNTech original and Omicron BA.1 bivalent Covid19 vaccine). I fully understand vaccines protect us (greatly reduce risks) from seriously illness and deaths but the vaccines are NOT designed to give sterilizing immunity (100% protection) so there are always some risks.

So after 3 years of not hanging out with my MBA classmates, I was seriously missing them and looking forward to our Potluck Party. I try to be responsible and without any symptoms, I RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) test myself the night before the party while I prepared my dish (pork ribs with pineapple). I just didn’t want risk my classmates getting Covid from me or not having enough food. So I RAT tested myself once and I got a positive reading. Beeping beep! Just to confirm the first test wasn’t faulty, I RAT tested myself a second time. Sure enough, the 2nd test still had a faint line on T, so I had no choice but concluded myself Covid positive and called my MBA classmate/host to cancel and apologize. I originally thought I could deliver the food to the party but I’m glad my friend said they have enough food. I was also worried about contaminating the food with my beeping Covid. It turned out I was pretty tired the following morning plus it was rather cold outside so I was glad I didn’t have to go out and have a long drive.

Lesson 1: Covid #RAT test before attending events with friends & loved ones (or even strangers). You don’t want to spread Covid to people and get them seriously sick or even dead. The guilt I would have felt if I got any one of them seriously sick. I don’t want to risk that.

Lesson 2 Backstory: In the recent months, I’ve elderly friends & relatives testing Covid19 positive. Sadly, their friends, loved ones, family members, and even their medical doctors had NOT heard of the potentially lifesaving (+ major risks reducing) Covid therapeutics Paxlovid. Some medicinal doctor and even infectious disease specialist (in US) claim to have heard of “Paxlovid rebound” and baselessly recommended against taking it.

I’m NOT a medical doctor nor expert of anything but in the last ~3 years, I’ve listened to Dr. Daniel Griffin’s weekly clinical updates on the great #TWiV “This Week in Virology” podcast. Should you blindly trust me? Absolutely NOT. Because blind trust is NOT scientific & dangerous. Covid19 is a disease that is still #ScienceInProgress in the recent months and years as we keep on learning new things.

So back to Paxlovid. Remember I said do NOT blindly trust anyone, including me, a NO expert of many things? In this case, even some MDs & infectious disease doctors are misguided to think “Paxlovid rebound” is a thing to NOT recommend lifesaving #Paxlovid to very elderly (like 70+ 80+ or even 90+?). Well, take a quick look of the Key Points, Findings, and Meaning published as a peer-reviewed JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) – Original Investigation – Infectious Diseases research paper that is based on a CUHK cohort study of 12,629 adults in Hong Kong with Covid19: “Incidence of Viral Rebound After Treatment With Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir and Molnupiravir” (Note: Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir =  Paxlovid)

Lesson 2: If my elderly 65+ loved ones were to test Covid positive, I’ll make sure their medical doctors look at using #Paxlovid to reduce risk of serious cases/death. MDs’ ignorance or “never used it before” are bad reasons. Find trusted doctors that have prescribed Paxlovid & know how to use it properly & know its contraindications to use it safely.


“We tried.” – Mikhail Gorbachev – New Quote I Love

Wednesday, 31 August, 2022

I’m adding a new addition to my collection of Quotes I Love.

Werner Herzog Question: “I would like to hear what should be on your gravestone?”

Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – 22022) Answer: “We tried.” – Meeting Gorbachev (2019) (Trailer)


“… it fractures you as a human.” – New Quote I Love

Sunday, 26 June, 2022
Interview – #EmiliaClarke ‘The best place in the world is backstage at a theatre’
by #KathrynBromwich @kathryn42

Reading this #CoolInterview of #EmiliaClarke: ‘The best place in the world is backstage at a theatre’ by @kathryn42 //Ahead of her British stage debut in The Seagull, the Game of Thrones star talks about her self-doubt as the hit show took off, her decision to write about her brain aneurysms – and showing her love through baking//. And I’m adding a new addition to my collection of Quotes I Love.

“In stage work, it’s every cell of your body, it’s a 360 feeling. On screen, it’s so often your left eyeball, your right shoulder – it fractures you as a human.”Emilia Clarke (1986- ) (interview)


“What a Wonderful World” #Lviv #Ukraine Pianist video interview

Wednesday, 9 March, 2022

Watching a reporter’s tweet video of a pianist playing “What a Wonderful World” outside Ukraine Lviv Station amongst many refugees escaping Putin’s War put me to tears. Less than 6 hours later after that first tweet, I tweeted my wish to chat with/interview the pianist, a near impossible (NOT impossible) wish. Less than 48 hours after that, I chatted with her and here is my interview with her.

P.S. If you like there are a bit more of additional background and my “journey” in telling this story here.

xxx


#PianistFound “What a Wonderful World” #Ukraine #Lviv – video interview done (Editing in progress)

Saturday, 5 March, 2022

Video Interview Current Status: Video interview completed this morning. Editing in progress. Brand new entry to be written. This will take me some time. Stay tuned. Near Impossible (but one tiny step closer)

NOTE: Video being worked on & new entry being written.

Last (and no more) Update for this entry (NEXT one will have the video interview, yeah!): 5:50pm, 2022, March 7th

Previous Updates: 5:59am, 5:43am, 3:58am, 3:00am, 2:53am, 2022, March 6th

6:30pm, 12:49pm, 12:31pm, 2022, March 5th (all times MT)

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NEW Post Title: #PianistFound “What a Wonderful World” #Ukraine #Lviv near #impossible video interview

Brief Note:

the pianist’s beautiful playing of “What a wonderful world ” 🎼🎶#Ukraine 🎹 #Lviv put me to #tears😭💔! [HT lyse] I know it is near impossible (NOT impossible) but I wonder if there is video interview of the pianist? I for one would #LOVE to interview her & chat.😭

As tweeted on 11:25am MT, Mar 5th, 2022

I would love to find the pianist to video interview her & chat. I know it is near #impossible but I would LOVE to video interview her & chat. Would love any help I can get, can you help add some missing details? Or help connect?

Pianist: Olya Olyusia (Olya’s Instagram) (Major thanks to @BigBenDeCastro’s tweet for solving the mystery in his reply to @ScooterCasterNY’s tweet of Olya playing another song)

Location: Lviv Railway Station (Google Map)

Piano playing time/date: ~March 4th, 2022 MT (based on Susan’s Tweet1)

Olya played What a Wonderful World at 1:45

Video #1: Tweet1 [HT Susan]

Video #2: Tweet2 [HT lyse & Andrew]

Song used in Movie: Many movies have used “What a wonderful world “, Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) starring the late Robin Williams is possibly one of the more famous one. Someone was kind enough to post a clip of the song/movie on YouTube and here it is. (BTW, the clip has another great song “Over the Rainbow” (not in the movie as far as I know)).

Time for some shut eye.

(To be continued)

xxx


Uplifting #Superbugs #ThePerfectPredator #Phage #SaveTheHusbandSaveTheWorld story told by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD @chngin_the_wrld

Tuesday, 15 February, 2022

Watch this Global TV segment and I think you will find it Dr. Steffanie Strathdee‘s experience saving his husband’s life very uplifting and yet has great potential impact to our world of #Superbugs!

Global TV, 2022 Feb 12, “Superbugs: The global health crisis that threatens modern medicine

Here are a bunch of other resources, articles, videos, etc I found & enjoy.

Time Health Care 50 (2018?), Steffanie Strathdee, Solving Superbugs (K’s note: I added important and useful links to the following text not presence in the original article)

“In 2015, her husband contracted an antibiotic-resistant bug on vacation and almost died. But Strathdee, a University of California, San Diego, epidemiologist, saved him by appealing to researchers of an obscure treatment that uses special viruses called phages [Bacteriophage] to kill the bacteria. In June, she helped launch the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics Useful Twitters: IPATH, Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, UCSDMedSchool], which she hopes will make more superbug treatments possible. —Mandy Oaklander”

In Steffanie‘s own words in a 2017 posted TEDx Talk, “How Sewage Saved My Husband’s Life from a Superbug | Steffanie Strathdee | TEDxNashville” (ref wiki, Acinetobacter Baumannii)

What Steffanie did was kinda “#SaveTheHusbandSaveTheWorld” moment for me which is a phrase I borrowed from the “Save The Cheerleader, Save The World | Heroes” scene.

Also check out Steffanie & Tom’s book The Perfect Predator – A scientist’s race to save her husband from a deadly superbug (book website, book review).

Will try to add more over time. To be continued.

xxx


#Dune 2021 Goodies – Watched & Love it on #IMAX – New #QuoteILove

Monday, 25 October, 2021

Jan 19, 2022 Update: Legendary & WarAdd video of “Dolby – Director Denis Villeneuve and Sound Team on Dune | Sound + Image Lab

Oct 26, 2021 Update: #GreatNews Legendary & Warner Bros are officially moving forward with Dune: Part Two (THR) (FB)! [HT Seastar]

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Watched Dune on IMAX during opening weekend. What an amazing film and world that Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has created! Following is a collection of Dune Goodies that I watched/read (many with #SPOILERS so considered yourself warned), enjoyed, and tried to learn from. I will start with Denis breaks down the Gom Jabbar scene and this cool quote I love by Denis that I’m adding it to my collection of Quotes I Love,

“For the first time, I think I did this movie for a single audience member, which is me. I read the book 40 years ago. I deeply fall, felt in love with it. I was aware that there are millions of hardcore fan of the book out there, but I took up in my shoulder to deal with the one that I was the most afraid of, which is me. I was a teenager. That was a totalitarian dreamer. I was arrogant. I was pretentious. I had big dreams. It was kind of frightening for me. And I will say that the truth is as any movies, it’s movies are made of victories and failures. There’s some moments in Dune that I knew I was not good enough. There’s others that I feel that it was very close to the original dream. And the Gom Jabbar scene is definitely one that I knew that at 14 years old, I will have been okay with that.” – Denis Villeneuve

(17 mins) Oct 22, 2021 ‘Dune’ Director Denis Villeneuve Breaks Down the Gom Jabbar Scene | Vanity Fair

(33 mins) Q on CBC, “Dune director Denis Villeneuve on adapting Frank Herbert’s notoriously unfilmable sci-fi epic

(12 mins) BBC Radio 1 , ““Amazing actor, amazing” Director Denis Villeneuve on Timothée Chalamet, Dune & cinema’s importance.

(23 mins) Denis Villeneuve and Hans Zimmer on Dune | NYFF59 (Film at Lincoln Center)

(29 mins) BFI At Home | Dune Q&A with Denis Villeneuve (“One day somebody else will make a new adaptation.” was what Denis felt after watching David Lynch’s adaption.)

xxxx

Articles

Sept 4, 2021, TorStar, “A lot of people warned Denis Villeneuve not to make ‘Dune’ — he refused to be deterred and this is why

“I read the book when I was around 13 or 14 years old,” Villeneuve says, smiling at the memory. “I wanted to make movies back then. I remember drawing with my best friend, Nicolas Kadima … We were drawing storyboards, drawing costume designs, dreaming about making (‘Dune’) all this time.”

Oct 22, 2021, NYT, “The Man Who Finally Made a ‘Dune’ That Fans Will Love How Denis Villeneuve broke the curse.

“Josh Brolin, who plays the warrior-minstrel Gurney Halleck in the movie, took a lifelong “Dune”-fan friend to a screening in New York, and at the end of the movie the friend started screaming: “That was it! That was it! That’s what I saw! That’s what I saw when I was a kid!””

“Villeneuve’s insistence on filming in real-world environments was shaped by his early work as a documentarian. In the early 1990s he traveled to Ellesmere Island as part of a small unit with the Québécois filmmaker Pierre Perrault to shoot a poetic natural history documentary, called “Cornouailles,” about musk oxen defending their tundra territories. [K note: Stream the doc Cornouailles (French only, no English sub?) for free at NFB.] “It’s about French Canadians and America,” he told me, wryly. He was there to bring the tripods and make the soup, but the experience was transformative. “I saw things there,” he said, “that I will never see again in my life. And that I will never experience again. To walk inside a glacier, things that are difficult to describe — but it was like being on another planet.” Like the desert, the tundra had a deep psychological impact on him, instilling a sense of humility, the feeling that he was “seeing the earth without any skin. It’s like you are at the core, you are in contact with time … with infinity and time.”

The “Cornouailles” shoot taught Villeneuve to embrace the exigencies of a real-life location where “every day the landscape in front of you is totally different, according to light and the nature of the elements” — and in a more existential sense, the tundra revealed to him how small and insignificant we are, an experience familiar to many of those involved with “Dune.””

2021 Nov 6th update: (fascinating) Why is Dune’s Score Like That?

2021 Dec 21 Update: James Cameron & Denis Villeneuve on ‘Avatar’, ‘Dune’, and Pioneering CGI | Directors on Directors

2022 Jan 19 Update: “Dolby – Director Denis Villeneuve and Sound Team on Dune | Sound + Image Lab

xxxx


Norm Macdonald (1959 – 2021)

Wednesday, 15 September, 2021

Canadian comedy giant Norm Macdonald passed away yesterday.

THR (with video) “Seth Rogen, Jon Stewart, Whitney Cummings Remember Norm Macdonald: “We Lost a Comedy Giant Today” – Steve Martin, Ken Jeong and more comics praised the comedian and ‘Saturday Night Live’ alum’s wit and charm after learning of his death at age 61.

(CTV video) (source: tweet) //Worth watching the entire interview. Norm is hilarious, but he’s also whip smart and politically insightful. It was producer @Gray_Mackenzie ’s idea to book Norm on @ctvqp knowing he would never say no to his beloved sister-in-law.//

(source tweet) Love this bit of Tom Power sharing the story behind Norm doing ‘the moth joke’ on Conan.

The Story Behind the Greatest Joke Ever Told

NYT, “Norm Macdonald, ‘Saturday Night Live’ Comedian, Dies at 61 – Acerbic and sometimes controversial, he became familiar to millions as the show’s “Weekend Update” anchor from 1994 to 1998.

Mr. Macdonald had a deadpan style honed on the stand-up circuit, first in his native Canada and then in the United States. By 1990 he was doing his routine on “Late Night With David Letterman” and other shows. Then, in 1993, came his big break: an interview with Lorne Michaels, a fellow Canadian, for a job on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I knew that even though we hailed from the same nation, we were worlds apart,” Mr. Macdonald wrote in “Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir” (2016), a fictional work with occasional hints of biography mixed in. “He was a cosmopolite from Toronto, worldly, the kinda guy who’d be comfortable around the Queen of England herself. Me, I was a hick, born to the barren, rocky soil of the Ottawa Valley, where the richest man in town was the barber.”

In any case, he got the job, and by the next year he was in the anchor chair for the “Weekend Update” segment. In sketches, he impersonated Burt Reynolds and Bob Dole and played other characters.

Mr. Michaels, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, said that Jim Downey, the show’s head writer at the time, had first brought Mr. Macdonald to his attention.

“Jim just liked the intelligence behind the jokes,” he recalled.

And Mr. Michaels saw it, too.

“There’s something in his comedy — there’s just a toughness to it,” he said. “Also, he’s incredibly patient. He can wait” — that is, wait for a punchline.

That, Mr. Michaels said, made Mr. Macdonald different stylistically from other “Weekend Update” anchors.

“I think it took some getting used to for the audience,” Mr. Michaels said. “It wasn’t instantly a hit. But he just grew on them.”

Rolling Stone (with video “Moth Joke”), “Norm Macdonald, Stand-Up and ‘Saturday Night Live’ Star, Dead at 61 Comedian had been privately battling cancer for nearly a decade

“He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra said. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Deadline (with video), “Norm Macdonald Dies: Influential Comedian & Former ‘SNL’ Weekend Update Anchor Was 61

THR (with video), “James Corden Pays Tribute to Norm Macdonald: “There Was Nobody Quite Like Him” – During the ‘Late Late Show’ segment, Corden said that he felt privileged any time he got to be in Macdonald’s orbit.

UK Guardian, “Norm Macdonald was pure funny – he made you laugh by doing almost nothing

Love this heartwarming segment: Seth Meyers Remembers Norm Macdonald

Fascinating to learn about what Norm had been trying to do with his craft and pushing the boundaries of the creativity of how to be funny. I’m going watch Norm’s shows on Netflix in this light to see how he was trying to achieve. Norm will be missed but his shows, jokes, etc will live on.


Joy of Business Case Study Authorship – iStockphoto US$50 million Calgary success story

Friday, 28 May, 2021

Let’s walk down memory lane. Almost 15 years ago in November 2006, I had the joy of writing and publishing my first business case study about iStockphoto, a Calgary based company acquired by Getty Images for US$50 million in cash in February 2006. If was amazing meeting, interviewing and learning from iStockphoto founder and first employee/ex-president to write the case study for the site Startup Review thanks to its editor Nisan Gabbay.

Before I repost my 2006 case study, let’s put “Stock Photo” in a bit of 2021 fun context by sharing screen captures of search results of “stock photo simu liu”. Yes the same star Simu Liu of Kim’s Convenience and Marvel Superhero Shang-Chi fame appeared on the covers of way too many accounting textbooks if you ask him! HuffPost article “Simu Liu Was A Stock Photo Staple Before He Was A Star” quoted Simu screamed well in an adorable tweet, “PLEASE STOP USING MY FACE FOR YOUR ACCOUNTING MATERIALS!!”

Here is a version of the iStockphoto business case study that I rediscovered thanks to the trusty internet archive. I hope you learn as much as I wrote it in 2006 and as I re-read it now in 2021! 15 years have gone by since I conducted the interviews and wrote the case study, it is an insightful read even for me now in 2021, if I may shamelessly say so. Enjoy!

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iStockphoto Case Study: How to evolve from a free community site to successful business

written by Kempton Lam and Nisan Gabbay, posted on November 26th, 2006

Note from Nisan Gabbay: I am pleased to announce that this week’s case study is the first to be authored by a Startup Review reader, Kempton Lam. Kempton is a management consultant who specializes in assisting start-ups. Please see Kempton’s background and blog for more information. Kempton followed the same process that I take in creating these case studies, and I served as editor to ensure that the format is consistent with the Startup Review format. If you’d like to become a guest author for Startup Review, please contact me.

Why profiled on Startup Review

iStockphoto is both an online community for photographers and a source of high quality, low-cost stock photos. As of October 2006, iStockphoto’s stock photo library contained ~1.1 million images contributed by 23,000+ photographers. In 2006, iStockphoto expects to sell 10 to 12 million photo licenses from this library, at prices ranging from $1 up to $40 per image. iStockphoto’s success opened up a new market segment for stock photography, catering to customers who could not afford traditional, high cost stock photos from the likes of Getty Images and Corbis. This success caught the eye of Getty Images, who acquired iStockphoto for $50 million in cash in February 2006.

Interviews conducted: Bruce Livingstone, founder & current CEO of iStockphoto. Patrick Lor, first employee and ex-President of iStockphoto. Paul Connolly, independent consultant specializing in digital media and the stock photography market. Special thanks to Kara Udziela and Yvonne Beyer of iStockphoto for helping to support the creation of this case study.


Key success factors

Offered a free alternative for a previously high cost service

iStockphoto established the market for “microstock” photography by providing high quality stock photos at extremely low price points. iStockphoto’s innovation was offering all its photo licenses royalty-free, available via easy download over the Internet. The notion of high quality photos licensed for free was a game changing development in the stock photography market in 2000. iStockphoto enabled the distribution of photos from budding and semi-professional photographers to reach a large market for the first time. iStockphoto also drastically reduced the cost of stock photography for a slew of customers (graphic designers, small businesses, non-profits, etc.) that could not afford traditional sources of stock photography.

As iStockphoto increased in popularity, hosting and bandwidth fees for the site grew proportionally, forcing a decision upon Bruce as to how to pay for bills approaching $10,000 per month. Bruce opened the discussion to the iStockphoto community, ultimately allowing the community to determine an acceptable solution. In February 2002, the community decided to charge $0.25 per photo mainly to cover site maintenance fees, with 20% of charges going back to the photographer.

iStockphoto has since gone through several iterations of its business model, but continues to offer photos at a relatively low price point. The first iteration occurred in 2004, when iStockphoto officially became a for-profit entity. At that point iStockphoto charged 1, 2, or 3 “credits” (priced at $0.50 per credit) for photos of different sizes, offering a 20% commission to the contributing photographer. Today, iStockphoto offers photos at a myriad of price points and has a more robust photographer commission structure. For example, photos are offered at price points of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, or 40 credits (priced at $1 per credit). Commissions vary from 20% – 40% based on sales milestones reached and whether the photographer grants iStockphoto exclusive use of images.

Fostered a loyal and active community

iStockphoto was started as a hobbyist site by founder Bruce Livingstone and it remained so for several years. The fact that iStockphoto wasn’t created as a business venture from the start was a big factor in iStockphoto’s success. In many ways it parallels the start of another popular online community, Craigslist. Just as Craig Newmark’s personality has had an influence on Craigslist, so too has Bruce’s personality and passion for photography had an influence on the iStockphoto community. Bruce was always a core user of the site, and as such attempted to nurture the needs of its users.

iStockphoto consciously fostered its community from day one through forums, emails and face-to-face meetings. iStockphoto has many active online forums where new users can post questions and get help from experienced users. These active forums have made the iStockphoto community welcoming to new users and engaging for experienced users. Secondly, iStockphoto makes a point to provide very prompt responses to user questions submitted via e-mail. Even as CEO, Bruce routinely takes the time to send emails to users to offer encouragement or help. Thirdly, iStockphoto hosts a series of trips (called iStockalypses) where users can shoot photographs of interesting places and share knowledge about the stock photography trade.

The iStockphoto site itself has many features that help to get users engaged with the service. For one, it provides transparency around how active certain members are with the site, specifically around number of photos uploaded and number of paid downloads. This enables new users to learn from the success of power users, providing examples of the types of photos that get the most traction. iStockphoto also creates a sense of positive psychological exclusivity amongst users by only approving photos that meet certain quality standards. This process helps users improve their photo taking skills and makes them feel that they have “earned” their place within the community.

Emergence of low-cost “prosumer” digital SLR cameras

In the winter of 2003, the Canon Digital Rebel (a 6.3 mega pixel prosumer digital SLR camera) became available at a price under $1,000. Both Bruce and Patrick viewed the availability of these cameras as a turning point for iStockphoto because they created a great influx of high-quality photos. iStockphoto was in a great position to capitalize on this emerging trend through the infrastructure they had developed over the previous years.

Took measures to ensure that submitted photographs met quality standards

As the popularity of the iStockphoto service grew, the number of photos submitted exploded. At the same time, customers came to expect a certain level of photo quality from iStockphoto. As such, iStockphoto developed detailed guidelines for what constituted acceptable photo submissions. iStockphoto views this both as a quality control mechanism and a means to provide feedback to photographers. iStockphoto takes time to explain to contributors why their photos are rejected. According to Patrick, sometimes a new user may only start with a 25% acceptance rate but with constant feedback and guidance are able to improve their acceptance rate to 75% – 90% within 6 months.


Launch strategy and marketing

iStockphoto was originally started as a hobbyist site in May 2000 by Bruce Livingstone. Bruce created the site as a means to share and publicize his portfolio of photographs. Initially seeded with 1,600 of Bruce’s photos available for free download, the popularity of the site prompted Bruce to open the site to other photographers who also wanted to contribute their photo collections. This transformation took place 6 months after initial launch, creating a thriving community of contributing photographers.

Bruce initially marketed the site by word of mouth, telling friends via e-mail. One of Bruce’s friends, web design guru Jeffrey Zeldman helped publicize the site from its early days by blogging about it and using iStockphoto images in magazines like Macworld. Mr. Zeldman’s influence in the designer and photographer communities was highly instrumental in popularizing the use of iStockphoto for royalty-free stock photos.

As the iStockphoto community evolved, its photographer base served as the main marketing vehicle. By promoting their own iStock photos, these photographers create publicity and word of mouth marketing for the service. iStockphoto provides them with some interesting marketing tools (like free, customizable business cards) to help them self-promote their portfolios. Today iStockphoto has 23,000 photographers that are the cornerstone of the company’s marketing efforts.

Later on its lifecycle, iStockphoto began advertising its service on the Internet, in print, and at trade shows. An extension of this advertising strategy was to maintain good long-term relationships with influential book authors within the design community who could provide increased awareness for the iStockphoto service.


Exit analysis

iStockphoto was able to support its operations for many years from the revenue generated by photo sales. However, during business planning in late 2005, the company realized that they needed about $10 million to meet their future growth expectations, including $3 million for hardware expansion costs. With this new capital requirement, the iStockphoto management team sought venture funding for the first time. After securing a term sheet from a VC, management became hesitant that this was the best option for the company. The team feared that they would not be able to maintain product control or nurture the community in the same fashion that iStockphoto had been built upon. Thus Bruce decided to seek other options, and contacted Jonathan Klein, CEO of Getty Images. After some positive conversations regarding company strategy and cultural fit, iStockphoto was sold to Getty Images in February 2006 for $50 million in cash. This represented a valuation substantially higher than the valuation placed on the company by the proposed VC investment. Hence the sale to Getty Images made both financial and cultural sense for Bruce and the rest of the iStockphoto team.


Food for thought

I was surprisingly struck by the parallelism between iStockphoto’s company history and evolution, and that of another successful online community, Craigslist. Both began as a hobby fueled by the passion of their founders: for Bruce it was photography and for Craig Newmark it was local events. The popularity of both services grew beyond anything the founders had envisioned, largely driven by creating a free service where only high cost options existed before (high end stock photography and print classifieds respectively). Both grew to a point where the services had to be sustained by incorporating small fees into the service, all with the support of the community itself.

Some great lessons can be learned by the examples set by these two successful companies. For one, the needs of the user base will tell you when is the right point in time to add fees, rather than implementing a revenue model prematurely. For iStockphoto, as the level of sophistication of its users grew, so did the necessity for more advanced pricing and commission models. For Craigslist, they began charging for some categories of online classifieds to improve the user experience. In both instances, it was actual user needs that drove the revenue model and timing of the revenue model.

Secondly, you have a sustainable company on your hands when you have created or contributed to the financial livelihood of a segment of your users. One reason that iStockphoto has such an active community is that their power users have personal, financial ties to the overall success of the company. For example, the top iStockphoto photographers have had hundreds of thousands of their photos downloaded – that’s real money that iStockphoto is putting into the pocket of its users. eBay and Google are probably the best two examples of Internet companies that have also created significant personal wealth for individual users. iStockphoto has created it as well, albeit on a much smaller scale. Can you create a service that contributes significant personal income to your users? If you can, chances are you’ll have a successful service.

On a separate note, both Bruce and Patrick credited much of their success to having great mentors and advisors involved with iStockphoto. Both Bruce and Patrick have been reading, learning, and applying business concepts and ideas from the business guru Guy Kawasaki for years. After meeting Guy in 2003, he became a close personal mentor for the iStockphoto management team. Having great advisors and mentors can be critical to the success of any company, but particularly a start-up. No entrepreneur can possess all the skills and experiences necessary to succeed themselves; it helps immensely to have the right mentors to act as a sounding board.


Reference articles / additional reading

Additional thoughts on iStockphoto at Kempton Lam’s blog.

“The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, Wired, June 2006 (the paradigm shifts initiated by iStockphoto and others)

“2006 Fast 50 nomination of Bruce Livingstone”, FastCompany.com (a glowing nomination, and a long list of supporters’ endorsements that make for a fascinating read)

“Interview: Bruce Livingstone, CEO istockphoto.com”, Decker Marketing blog, January 2005
Nice interview with Bruce who has some insightful responses on what makes the istockphoto different from the competition and why it was initially successful.

“The stock photo community”, DesignMentor Training website
Has a few detailed paragraphs on Bruce’s background and how iStockphoto got started.


“It is about putting the right people together.” – New Quote I Love #ChloéZhao #Nomadland

Friday, 30 April, 2021

Oscar Best Picture Nomadland‘s Chloé Zhao (who also won Best Directing) made the following insightful observation about directing and I’m adding it to my collection of Quotes I Love.

“It is about putting the right people together. […] Cast your crew like you cast your actors. […] I’m talking about everyone from the studio level to the PA [Production Assistant] have to be excited about the risk you want to take. [special note re: grandmother with ring … hurricane]“ – Chloé Zhao (1982 – ) in a Conversation with actor/director Olivia Wilde


When will Costco stop slapping customers in the face? – #FairCostcoRenew

Monday, 29 March, 2021

In 2010, after fighting members in courts for years, Costco settled a Class Action lawsuit (*Ref-3) for backdating membership renewal. Costco was forced to pay millions of harmed US members benefits valued at $38.8 million & lawyers’ fee of $5.38 million.

11 years later in 2021, it seems Costco kept acting dishonestly & deceitfully by backdating benefits of 105 million members in 12 countries & 803 locations this way:

(Locations) Months of Benefits Backdated (*Ref-1)
(004)Best Green: 0 month (Fair)
(743)Bad Yellow: 2 months (up to)
(056)Worst Red : 12 months (up to)

When will Costco stop slapping customers in the face? #FairCostcoRenew

2021 Bottom Line: ~100+ million customers in 799 locations still have their benefits backdated & faces slapped. It seems Costco kept behaving deceitfully with little integrity and treats only customers in 4 locations fairly. The question remains “When will Costco stop slapping customers in the face?” posed 2009 by the nonprofit consumer organization Consumer Reports. (*Ref-2)

== References ==

(*Ref-1) Fact Check: https://www.change.org/FairCostcoRenew

(*Ref-2) Go read Consumer Reports (CR) 2009 article by Jeff Blyskal “What Happens When You Renew Your Costco Membership After Expiring?” Internet Archive reveals CR titled Jeff’s article “Costco’s renewal rip-off” originally.

(*Ref-2 Quote) To quote Jeff’s Consumer Report article “What Happens When You Renew Your Costco Membership After Expiring?”,

“I think Costco should stop slapping customers in the face this way if they don’t know that they need to ask. Instead, Costco should automatically date all renewals as of the actual renewal date.”

Note: This is exactly the case for China & Spain now in 2021 but for 4 locations ONLY!

(*Ref-3) Costco 2010 Class Action Lawsuit: “Dupler v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 06-cv-3141


Change.org Campaign – #FairCostcoRenew Demand Fair Equal Membership

Friday, 5 March, 2021

Here is my first Change.org campaign #FairCostcoRenew Demand Fair Equal Membership which is inspired and expanded from a six countries investigative report that I conducted in Jan 2021, “Why Costco rips millions off members in US, Canada, UK, … EXCEPT China?

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2021 Change.org campaign – #FairCostcoRenew Demand Fair Equal Membership

During renewal, Costco members in 7 countries are shortchanged up to 2 months. In 3 countries, rip off are up to 12 months. Members in only 2 countries are safe. US$3.54 billion profit in membership fee accounting for 88% of net income in 2020 shows these months of fees paid worldwide by millions of members for ZERO benefit takes unfair advantage of members to enrich Costco shareholders’ pockets.

Costco backdates your membership and give you up to 2 months LESS benefits after you pay 12 FULL months fee in SEVEN ( 7 ) countries. The SIX insidious Costco contractual words of “renewed within 2 months after expiration” count 12 months from your PAST expiration date (the rip off) instead of basing on the day you pay to renew which is how members are treated fairly with respect by Costco China & Costco Spain. Read Costco’s own contract wordings for yourself in countries listed below!

You get up to 2 months LESS benefits in these 7 countries:

Costco US (screen capture of Costco’s own contract wordings for membership renewal) (full contract – direct link to Costco contract Membership Terms and Conditions),
Costco Canada (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco UK (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Japan (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Taiwan (screen capture) (Costco Q&A),
Costco Australia (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Iceland (screen capture) (full contract)

For the following THREE ( 3 ) countries, Costco demands an outrageous backdating of up to 12 months LESS benefits after you pay 12 FULL months fee. Costco counts 12 months from your OLD “date of membership” (contract language of Costco France) or “expiration date of the membership” (contract language of Costco Korea). No mentioning of “within 2 months” here, making things actually far far worse. For example, your membership expires on December 31st and you haven’t gone to Costco for almost a year. You go shopping for Christmas gifts and pay to renew on December 24th. Your membership would have expired merely days later on December 31st because the 12 months are counted from your OLD “expiration date” months and months ago.

You get up to 12 months LESS benefits in these 3 countries:

Costco Korea (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco France (screen capture) (full contract),
Costco Mexico (screen capture) (full contract)

Only Costco members in following TWO ( 2 ) countries experience ZERO membership rip off during renewal. Fairly, when members pay 12 months membership fee to renew after expiration, their “membership will be extended for 12 months from the date of successful payment of the renewal fee” (contract language in Costco China). The way members of Costco China are treated during renewal should really be the gold standard for how Costco members be treated worldwide.

ZERO membership rip off in these 2 countries:

Costco China (screen capture) (full contract)
Costco Spain (screen capture) (full contract)

*** Did you know?

Costco Canada members were shortchanged for 12 months (like Korea) as late as November 2020 (see Internet Archive info). And Costco Canada only reduced its rip off to the current 2 months a few months ago in December 2020! In contrast, Costco US members had been ripped off for “ONLY” up to 2 months since at least 8 years earlier than Canada. We are left to wonder why did Costco make the contract changes when it did? And why did Costco China members get fair treatment from day one when its first China store opened in August 2019?

*** Help #FairCostcoRenew change.org campaign

• Please sign & share this #FairCostcoRenew petition on your social media platforms to demand fair & equal global membership renewal. Enough is enough.

• Please use hashtag #FairCostcoRenew when you share.


Why Costco rips millions off members in US, Canada, UK, … EXCEPT China?

Thursday, 28 January, 2021

Oxford Dictionary defines “Rip Off” as “cheat someone, especially financially“. Decide for yourself if Costco‘s behaviours discussed in this report meet this definition of “rip off” or there are simply a lot of “misunderstanding”?

New & long time Costco members caught in the scheme

Since the world plunged into Covid19 global pandemic in March 2020, millions of grocery shoppers in US, Canada, UK, and around the world have become brand new Costco members and started bulk buying. Who can forget news and social media photos of empty shelves of “essential goods” from toilet paper, household cleaning items, flour to even dry pasta. When medical experts advise us to physical distance and stay at home, bulk-buying at places like Costco seems like a good way to reduce our risk of contracting Covid19.

It may surprise some long time Costco members who have no idea that they have been caught in Costco‘s scheme for years. So the millions of new members who recently joined Costco since March of 2020 need to pay special attention and arm yourselves with knowledge in order to avoid being ripped off. For the record, this reporter’s family has a Costco membership. We shop at Costco periodically. One recent Costco experience was bad enough that it became the proverbial last straw and impetus to conduct this in-depth research and share with you these findings so you can judge Costco for yourself.

Guess what item

So what item does Costco rip members off the most? Hint: Some members get ripped off depending on your shopping habits and can add up to millions of dollars a year. Cosmetic, Costco chickens, or diamond rings? No, it’s what gets you in the door … your membership! For fiscal year ending August 30th 2020, Costco made a whopping $3.54 billion from membership fees.

By this reporter’s estimation (see below), Costco is potentially ripping off members worldwide from US$15 million to US$59 million a year, give or take a few million dollars. Not small change. So how does this scheme work?

The most troubling time of your Costco membership year

Costco membership agreements have pages of fine print. How many of the millions of new (since the start of the pandemic in March 2020) or existing 105.5 million worldwide members/cardholders have actually carefully read every word of the membership legal contract before they signed on the dotted line? One member in 50,000 or less?

You are not alone if you didn’t have time to read before signing it. Few years ago this reporter spent almost 10 minutes standing at the membership counter to read the legal fine print before giving up and signed on the dotted line without finishing like everyone else. Yes, this reporter is happy to say that bit of embarrassment has finally been corrected while researching for this report. Let’s take a quick look of the legal mumble-jumble and see if you notice the problem before it is explained with examples. Ready?

After reviewing five “Member Privileges & Conditions” contractual languages for renewals for Costco U.S. (pix), Canada (pix), U.K. (pix), Australia (pix), and Taiwan (pix), this reporter concluded that they are similar enough. So let’s look at the contractual languages used by the original and mother of all Costcos, Costco U.S. (pix),

“Memberships renewed within 2 months after expiration of the current membership year will be extended for 12 months from the expiration date. Memberships renewed more than 2 months after such expiration will be extended for 12 months from the renewal date. All renewals will be assessed at the membership fee in effect on the date the membership fee is paid.”

To make things easier to explain, we will use a concrete example with dates. Let’s say your membership expired on November 30th, 2020 (actually our family’s case), if you renew your membership within 2 months after expiration, even on January 30th, 2021, that is the last day of that “within 2 months” period, then you are one of the members that have been “ripped off“.

How so? Costco‘s contractual language forces you to pay 12 months of membership fee but only give you 10 months of membership benefits. Your renewed membership expiration date is unfairly backdated for two full months to November 30th, 2021, a rip off of 1/6 of the fee paid by loyal & renewing members! Making membership renewal time the most troubling time of your Costco membership. The kicker is that brand new customers signing up on the same date of January 30th, 2021 as you would get an honest expiration date of January 31, 2022.

How Costco China members are NOT ripped off?

Costco opened its first China store in 2019 August even though Costco co-founder and former CEO James (Jim) Sinegal first visited China over 25 years ago and had thought long & hard of how to be successful in China for years. This news clip posted by Guardian on Aug 28, 2019 is worth a thousand words of the business potential in China, “Opening-day frenzy at first Costco store in China

Read the rest of this entry »

Full Text of #AmandaGorman’s Inauguration Poem #TheHillWeClimb (reading & video interview + bonus lesson plan, 2019 reading)

Wednesday, 20 January, 2021

WATCH: Amanda Gorman reads inauguration poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’

[Following text is based on a version from WXIA-TV. With mistakes and typos corrected. Reformatted with emphasis added by Kempton. CNN reformatted it into very short sentences which somehow I dislike a lot.]

“Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world: 

When day comes we ask ourselves, ‘where can we find light in this never-ending shade, the loss we carry, a sea we must wade?’

We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
And the norms and notions of what “just is” isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide, because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew; that even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division. 

Scripture tells us to envision that ‘everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.’ If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it, because being American is more than a pride we inherit – it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. 

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption we feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves. So while once we asked ‘how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe,’ now we assert: ‘how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.

Our blunders become their burdens but one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy in change, our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west, we will rise from the winds swept north, east where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rinsed cities of the midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

====

20210120 CNN Anderson Cooper did a great interview with Amanda, check out the following video (AC360 tweet, YouTube). Amanda explained to Anderson the origin of the line “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it” is tweets she read. She is inspired by words she read instead of images she sees. And they talked about the last few lines.

On Jan 15, 2021, I tweeted I was “Looking forward to poet #AmandaGorman’ #InauguralPoem #TheHillWeClimb on Jan 20th. Until then, watching Amanda, first Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017, performing her poems in 2019 at The Museum of Contemporary Art.”

//For every teacher who wants a lesson on this…// [HT Molly] via @NewsHour //Lesson Plan: Discuss 22-year-old #AmandaGorman’s inaugural poem “#TheHillWeClimb”// (direct link to PBS lesson plan for grade 6-12)


“What is Modernity? It is what didn’t exist.” – New Quote I Love

Tuesday, 29 December, 2020

On the day of the news (Guardian, BBC, Vogue) of the passing of Pierre Cardin (1922–2020), I’m adding two new additions to my collection of Quotes I Love.

“Pierre Cardin, What is Modernity? [A:] It is what didn’t exist.” – Pierre Cardin (1922–2020) (interview)

“If I have to describe myself, I am a handyman. I can draw and design dresses, furniture, houses … I am very flexible and I don’t take myself too seriously.” – Pierre Cardin (interview)

By the way, ‘House of Cardin’: Film Review from Variety and here is a bonus clip “« House of Cardin » The special evening in honour of Pierre Cardin Théâtre du Châtelet September 21”.

Just majorly #LOVE this film, “I am Thinking of Pierre Cardin – by SCAD

Also #Lovely to watch! Pierre Cardin: Le Futur – SCAD – The Savannah College of Art and Design (2020 Apr)

House of Dior paid tribute to #PierreCardin!

Fascinating to see Pierre Cardin paint the Great Wall of China in fashion on Sept 20, 2018.

xxx


My favourite shows on Netflix (2020)

Monday, 28 December, 2020

Here are some of my favourite TV shows on Netflix in 2020. I especially LOVE the foreign language shows (Norwegian, German, etc) as they kinda open new world to me.

Older series that I rediscovered in 2020

*

xxxxx


“It takes courage to be a scientist.” – New Quote I Love

Monday, 23 November, 2020

Here is a new addition to my collection of Quotes I Love.

It is a strange thing to have to say in this world today that it takes courage to be a scientist. I used to think that it only took brains. And now you need to be brave and courageous as well to do science in the face of the anti-science movement that we see. And the ideologic politics that has come to this process.” – Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO (video source: 2020 Nov 23, WHO Media briefing on COVID-19 (time code 39m 24s))


(Last updated 20201009) #Covid19 Catchall

Friday, 9 October, 2020

Last updated 20201009 #Covid19 Catchall post

Pix Credit: NIAID (NIH) Flickr post

20201009, Stat News, “7 looming questions about the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine” (many VERY insightful questions #mustRead)

  • How do you define high-risk health workers? Essential workers?
  • High-risk medical conditions push you to the front of the vaccine line. How do you prove you have them when you get there?
  • How do you vaccinate special populations when there are little or no data on how the vaccines work for them? [K: children, pregnant people]
  • How widely can Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine be used, given its taxing storage requirements? [K: “Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate, which uses messenger RNA technology, must be shipped and stored at -70 Celsius.”]
  • How will Pfizer and BioNTech’s ordering system affect the potential rollout of its vaccine?
  • With air travel slowed, can vaccines get where they need to go quickly?
  • How can officials keep a highly coveted resource safe from theft — and prevent counterfeits?

20201009, The Atlantic, “Atlas Coughed – Donald Trump has steadily turned masks into symbols—not of government overreach, but of governmental impunity.

====

Above Pix Full Credit: NIAID (NIH) Flickr post //Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Image captured and colorized at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana. Credit: NIAID //


20201001 News Clippings – How America Lost 200,000 Lives to #Covid19

Thursday, 1 October, 2020

20200929 NYT, (great 20m short doc) How America Lost 200,000 Lives to Covid-19 – The U.S. spent 15 years preparing for the coronavirus. Why did we handle it so badly?

How America Bungled the Plague | NYT Opinion

2013, Film at Lincoln Centre, Summer Talks | Before Midnight (full) [Note: I LOVE Richard Linklater‘s Before Trilogy and hoping they are making a new one ~2020, will see] [HT Anne T]

20201001, Eric’s Tweet thread & replies “There’s been a lot of joking about getting a nasopharyngeal swab can be like a brain biopsy. Well, that actually happened”

xxx


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