Tolkien Estate Disavows Forthcoming Film

23 April 2019

From The Guardian:

The family and estate of JRR Tolkien have fired a broadside against the forthcoming film starring Nicholas Hoult as a young version of the author, saying that they “do not endorse it or its content in any way”.

Out in May, and starring Hoult in the title role and Lily Collins as his wife Edith, Tolkien explores “the formative years of the renowned author’s life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school”. Directed by Dome Karukoski, it promises to reveal how “their brotherhood strengthens as they grow up … until the outbreak of the first world war which threatens to tear their fellowship apart”, all of which, according to studio Fox Searchlight, would inspire Tolkien to “write his famous Middle-earth novels”.

. . . .

On Tuesday morning, the estate and family of Tolkien issued a terse statement in which they announced their “wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film”, and that “they do not endorse it or its content in any way”.

. . . .

John Garth, author of the biography Tolkien and the Great War, said he felt the estate’s response to the film was “sensible”.

“Biopics typically take considerable licence with the facts, and this one is no exception. Endorsement by the Tolkien family would lend credibility to any divergences and distortions. That would be a disservice to history,” he said. “As a biographer, I expect I’ll be busy correcting new misconceptions arising from the movie. I hope that anyone who enjoys the film and is interested in Tolkien’s formative years will pick up a reliable biography.”

Tolkien’s estate has been careful to protect his legacy. In 2011, it took legal action over a novel that used the author as a central character, months after his heirs settled a multimillion-pound lawsuit over royalties from the Lord of the Rings films. In 2012, the estate also took legal action over gambling games featuring Lord of the Rings characters, saying that it was “causing irreparable harm to Tolkien’s legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works”.

Link to the rest at The Guardian


Can You Save a Dying Italian Town with the Art of Storytelling?

23 April 2019

From The Literary Hub:

When Angelo Carchidi returned to Rosarno in 2012, the peak of Europe’s debt crisis, the place of his birth and home of his youth had become a ghost town. The piazzas, the public squares that are at the heart of Italian social life, were quiet and empty. Homes and apartments were boarded and padlocked and “for sale” signs hung from their façades. Persistent neglect from all levels of government had spurred the collapse of social services, including the public library—one of the town’s only cultural spaces, which seemed neglected and imbued with the smell of mold. Thirty-year-old Carchidi, an architect by trade, was accustomed to the city’s rural slumber. But this time, it was if a malaise had descended upon the town.

Once known as Medma, a name given by the ancient Greeks for this city in southern Italy, Rosarno now exists at the margin of a margin. The town of 15,000 people is located in Calabria, one of Italy’s most disadvantaged regions and the stronghold of the ‘Ndrangheta, the country’s most powerful mafia. For decades, the violence of poverty, crime, and a lack of opportunity has caused young Calabrians like Carchidi to flock to the prosperous north, or others—like my own grandparents—to emigrate elsewhere.

. . . .

“The place you are born forms you, it makes you grow, it makes you frustrated,” Carchidi said. “But in some way, you are indebted to it.”

Seated outside Rosarno’s Bar Spagnolo on a languorous late summer evening last year, Carchidi recounted this story to me, interrupting his musings on urban renewal to joke in Calabrese dialect with friends who pass by. Humble and welcoming, tough and stubborn, Carchidi embodies the Calabrian character that is magnified in the people of Rosarno. When he returned to the city seven years ago, Carchidi was lucky to find people who shared his interests—and more so, his hopes for what Rosarno could be. Along with four friends—Ettore Guerriero, Giovanna Tutino, Umberto Carchidi and Miriana Zungri—the group formed A di Città, an association that exists somewhere between an arts collective and a cultural enterprise. Their first project was a Festival of Urban Regeneration, an attempt to resuscitate the city through art and, in turn, revive the community. But, once the festivities ended, the city’s local council—who were, for a time, attentive to the needs of the people—relapsed.

“We realized that our work through the festival had limitations,” he said. “So we asked, if we were to recount Rosarno in a book, a tourist guidebook, what would we include in it?”

. . . .

“When you say to a person who has always lived in a place, who sees it every day, ‘If you could tell the story of this place, how would you tell it?’ It awakens a whole series of questions that can bring out even the possibilities of a place,” Carchidi said.

In late 2014, A di Città began work on Kiwi: Deliziosa Guida di Rosarno, or as it translates from the Italian, “a delicious guide to Rosarno.” The guide’s name, Kiwi, is both ambiguous and fitting. Across the plains of Gioia Tauro, an area that encompasses Rosarno, the juicy, prickly kiwifruit has begun to supplant the region’s orange groves. While the switch from oranges to kiwifruit is driven by economics, the latter—foreign and exotic to Calabria—is representative of a changing region. The guide would encompass both the old and the new, the local and the foreign, the past and the tentative future.

Over the course of three years, A di Città held workshops and meetings, involving the public in the planning, writing, and distribution of Kiwi. The team decided that their office would be the city and held meetings, much like my own with Carchidi, in the cafés, pizzerias, and piazzas that dot the historic center. During Kiwi’s production, the public library became a makeshift editorial office and the “beating heart” of the guidebook. But just before the book was published in early 2017, the council decided to close the library.

“Culture is not a priority in this city,” Carchidi said. “And this was a question of priorities.”

Kiwi, on the other hand, was the product of prioritizing culture through storytelling and, to paraphrase the Italian writer Cesare Pavese, prioritizing the stories of those for whom Rosarno is “in their blood beyond anyone else’s understanding.” As a hardcover book with more than 200-pages, the guide is punctuated with color photographs, historical illustrations, and chunks of lime green paper that divide it in two. The first half follows the structure of a conventional guidebook with maps, history, notable people, and places of interest. But the preface to this section, aptly titled “before you leave,” begins with a rumination on the perfume of orange blossoms and ends with a note about the book’s underlying purpose: to tell a nuanced story of a typecast city.

“The media have often (and sometimes with reason) written about Rosarno as the land of mafia and exploitation,” it reads. “Before continuing, we recommend leaving the labels and prejudice at home and being open to discover a contradictory place, full of contrast and surprise, with which you will fall in love.”

. . . .

At Bar Duomo, as we snack on olives and crunchy bread, Carchidi opens a copy of Kiwi and flips to this second half of the book entitled, Rosarno Ulterior. The section begins with a preface, written by the A di Città team, on the idea of “possible places” and the importance of paying attention to the everyday spaces in which we spend our lives. What follows is a series of essays that together form an oral history of Rosarno and, more so, an ode to places that exist on the periphery.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

PG couldn’t find Kiwi: Deliziosa Guida di Rosarno on Amazon US, but here is a link to the book’s Home Page (which has a “Buy Now” button in English which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to work) and its Facebook page.

Here’s the introduction to a video about the book (translated from Italian via Google Translate):

Kiwi is a shared guide of the city of Rosarno, written by citizens and travelers, a choral story of the territory made up of internal and external voices. It is a laboratory to find a collective narrative of one’s own community. The path started in October 2014, with the Terra Terra Restart workshop, during which the skeleton of the guide was defined and the involvement of the citizens was started through the construction of a walking cart, a wooden structure that represents the book itself. which will gradually be enriched with pages. Kiwi is taking life thanks to the parallel work of two editorial offices: a local one, made up of citizens who have joined the project and therefore strongly rooted in the territory, and an extra-territorial one, which keeps its eye on the entire national scene.

The Key to Capitalizing on Online Video Trends

22 April 2019

From Forbes:

Software is eating the world and video is taking over the internet. According to Cisco, video will account for 80% of all internet traffic in 2019. Any savvy marketer or business executive should be incorporating video into their business strategy. Companies in a wide range of industries are using premium video as a means of winning a market, and they’re driving consumer engagement and revenues in the process.

To see the seismic shifts in video, look no further than the cable and television industry: Streaming video is the new TV. More and more people are cutting the cable cord and watching instead through online platforms. Direct-to-consumer models have taken over and made it easier than ever for viewers to get the content they want anywhere and on any device.

Video is also dominating when it comes to brand engagement and marketing content. One report found that 79% of consumers would rather watch a video than read about a product.

Link to the rest at Forbes

PG would be interested in hearing about successful video marketing by indie authors. Feel free to comment/provide links, etc., in the comments.


19 April 2019

PG was impressed by the attitude manifested by Rijksmuseum, a world-famous art museum in Amsterdam, towards public use of copies of its artwork.

Per prior posts on TPV, some museums go to great length to prevent individuals from taking photographs or otherwise using copies of their art (even though copyright protection has long expired)  without written consent, which can be very difficult/impossible for an average person to obtain.

In a section of its website called Rijks Studio, the museum provides downloadable high-resolution images of artwork in its collection. You can create your own collection of famous paintings online. The museum also encourages you to download their artworks and use them to make your own creations. You can even sell your creations to the public.



The museum holds contests to recognize some of the best uses of the works in the Rijks Studio. Here’s a video highlighting the ten finalists in 2017.

Fashion Coward

14 April 2019

Absolutely nothing to do with books, but, for PG at least, amusing.


A Detective’s Detective

9 April 2019

From Medium:

By the early 1970s, sadly little proof remained of Dashiell Hammett’s one-time employment as a Pinkerton operative beyond the word of his family. The background of his one-time service as an operative had set him apart from his hard-boiled peers, and given his stories their plausible aura of authenticity. (Pinkerton’s, for their part, would not confirm or deny his employment.) In New York literary society, and in Hollywood, Hammett had entertained with many stories about his old Pinkerton days, but after his death it became cynically fashionable with some to doubt he had even been a detective.

When David Fechheimer arrived in San Francisco in the early Sixties, it was still “Hammett’s city,” he remembered. “Men wore hats, everybody drank.” But by 1965 the city was entering its countercultural bloom; Fechheimer was a “budding flower child” and poet on his way to a literature degree at San Francisco State when he encountered the books that got him off his academic track. It was not a one-night transformation from reading The Maltese Falcon, as would be repeated in later profiles.

“We all lived hand-to-mouth then,” he said, and all were looking for work; after admiring the collection of Hammett’s other jobs listed on the backs of his novels he’d admired, Fechheimer called up Pinkerton’s San Francisco branch and began his own detecting career where the writer had finished his. While working out of the very same Pinkerton branch in San Francisco in the late 1960s, David Fechheimer became increasingly interested in the history of the man whom no one at the businesslike Flood Building seemed to remember.

He learned all the skills of sleuthing, and, later under his longtime boss Hal Lipset, quite a few tricks unknown to Hammett, before eventually going into practice himself as a San Francisco private eye. Like Hammett, he began to learn the city around him right down to its bones.

As an investigator, he noticed things: While waiting for the M car on the traffic island opposite the House of Lucky Wedding Rings, he met Albert Samuels sweeping the sidewalk, who had once employed Hammett to write jewelry ads. He got his hair cut by an old barber named Bill Sibilia, who remembered trimming Hammett’s graying pompadour and that he was a good tipper.

Fechheimer also located a woman Hammett had written poems for in San Francisco; she talked to him in whispers outside her house, having never told her husband about her romance with Hammett or that he had said she inspired Brigid O’Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon. He next found and interviewed Mrs. Hammett, long presumed dead by scholars at the time, then, hoping to find any of his hero’s old colleagues, he used the same method that had drawn Hammett into the agency to begin with — placing a simple newspaper ad.

Two old men answered his query: Jack Knight had been a well-traveled Pinkerton in the early twenties who never worked directly with Hammett but knew his reputation as one of the “fellows with particular ability.” The other, Phil Haultain, said he had learned to shadow from ‘Sam’ Hammett himself, and was his partner in the last months of Hammett’s career as an operative. Fechheimer went to meet Haultain in the office of his conveyor belt company in Emeryville, California in early September 1975. Their conversation remains the only eyewitness testimony about Hammett as a detective.

Link to the rest at Medium

From Tales from Hollywood & Vine:

Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade

There likely isn’t a film buff on the planet who doesn’t know – and love – the 1941 classic detective drama The Maltese Falcon starring, among others, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. It is the living, breathing definition of a film classic. It is also one of the very first movies both written and directed by the same person – in this case, the then 35-year old [John] Huston who made a deal with studio owner Jack Warner that he would only charge his boss a measly ten bucks for the screenplay if only he were permitted to also direct as well. What a lot of film buffs do not know is that Jack Warner actually produced two other films based on Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel prior to the Huston classic:

  • 1931’s The Maltese Falcon, starring Ricardo Cortez as detective Sam Spade and Bebe Daniels as Ruth Wonderly,
  • The 1936 tongue-in-check send up entitled Satan Met a Lady, starring Warren William as Sam Spade (here called “Ted Shane”) and Bette Davis as Ruth, here called “Valerie Purvis.” Unlike the 1931 version, which was a box-office hit, Satan Met a Lady was so bad that Bette Davis spent a lifetime trying to get it expunged from her official filmography.

Link to the rest at Tales from Hollywood & Vine

For PG, there can only be one Sam Spade.

“A Loaf of Bread”, the Walrus Said, “Is What We Chiefly Need”, but Did He Remember Ip?

23 March 2019
Comments Off on “A Loaf of Bread”, the Walrus Said, “Is What We Chiefly Need”, but Did He Remember Ip?

From IPKat:

Given its ubiquity, “bread” is remarkably ill-defined. Simply put, bread is a baked food made of flour. According to Merriam-Webster, bread is “a usually baked and leavened food made of a mixture whose basic constituent is flour or meal” [Kat Question: What is the difference between bread and pastry?]. Bread may or may not contain yeast, may be risen or flat, and may be baked, steamed (e.g. bao), fried (e.g. injera, mchadi) or boiled (e.g. Knedlíky) . Bread can even come in a tin (Boston bread).

The chemical processes involved in bread making are complex. Particularly, bread making methods are highly dependent on the choice of flour (e.g. wheat, rye, spelt, teff etc.) and leavening agent (e.g. sourdough culture or dried yeast). Typically, the process of making bread involves growing a yeast starter culture, adding the culture to a mixture of flour and water to make a dough, fermenting the dough for 4-12 hours, shaping the dough into a loaf, allowing the dough to rise and baking the loaf.

The typical loaf of bread can take half a day to 3 days to produce, longer if you count fermentation of the yeast starter culture. Bread baking can also involve considerable manual labour, for example, in the kneading of the dough. Bread is also a staple source of carbohydrate in many cultures. Considerable bread-tech innovation has therefore been directed to reducing the time and effort required to bake bread.

. . . .

Where to begin if not with one of the most famous inventions of all time. In 1932, the USPTO granted the first patent directed to a bread slicing machine in the name of Frederick Rohwedder of Iowa. The patent (US 1,867,377) was directed to a bread slicing machine having a frame and a series of continuous cutting bands mounted thereon. In contrast to the prior art (e.g. knives), the machine facilitated the slicing of “an entire loaf of baked bread in a single operation”. The invention of the bread slicing machine apparently led to such an increase in bread consumption that there was a brief ban on sliced bread during the second world war, in order to conserve the steel used to make the slicing machines.

. . . .

Bread making often requires the step of “kneading” the dough. Kneading is defined as “to work and press into a mass with the hands”. Kneading stretches or activates the gluten in the dough. As any aspiring bread baker will tell you, kneading dough can be hard work. The process of bread baking is considerably sped up by the use of an electric kneading machine. The most well-known of these machines is the KitchenAid, for which KitchenAid were granted a US patent in 1935 (US 1988244). These machines, however, have their own problems. As the aspiring bread maker will also tell you, it is common for your bread dough to get twisted around the central kneading tool, or stuck on the sides of the bowl. If this happens, the dough may not be worked uniformally. Additionally, if your bread dough is too stiff, the kneading machine motor can overheat.

Recently granted EP3187050 relates to a machine for “domestic use for the preparation of dough for bread”. The movement of the kneading arm is purported to ensure a maximum mixing and blending action of the entire mass of dough. Pending application EP3420821 claims a kneading machine that prevents the dough winding around the central tool.

The labour of bread baking may still be too much for some. EP1670316 seeks to take all the effort out of home-baked bread. The claims (recently maintained in opposition) are directed to a disposable food packaging that can withstand temperatures of up to 300ºC, and includes the necessary ingredients for making the bread. As outlined in the description, use of the packaging has the great advantage that “baking does not include greasing of the baking-tin, dishwashing and cleaning of the table etc. after baking”.

. . . .

Unlike “bread”, “French bread” is a well (and legally) defined substance. Decree No. 93-1074 defines traditional French bread as having the characteristics of being 1) composed exclusively of wheat, water and salt, 2) fermented with baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and sourdough, and containing no or only very small amounts of bean, soy or wheat malt flour. The Board of Appeal found in T 1393/10 that tinkering with the ingredients of French bread can be non-obvious. The case concerned the inventiveness of a patent directed to a process for making French sourdough bread with improved flavour. Claim 1 was directed to a method for making bread dough comprising the addition of a specified range of dry leaven (e.g. yeast) to the dough. The selected range was found to be obvious in view of the prior art. However, an auxiliary request including the step of adding bran to the bread (contrary to the legal requirements for French bread) was found non-obvious. The Board reasoned that a skilled person would be afraid to add the high amounts of bran specified in the claim to French-style bread, as they would worry that the bran would compromise the taste.

Link to the rest at IPKat


Doctors Are Using Hospital “Robots” to Tell Patients They’re Dying, Sparking an Outcry

12 March 2019

You might categorize this under writing prompts.

From Fast Company:

How can you turn a possible Black Mirror scenario into reality, but make it sadder?

That’s what folks are saying about a new hospital trend: using telemedicine to deliver devastating medical news. A doctor at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California informed a 78-year old man, surrounded by his family in the ICU, that he was unlikely to survive–by way of a rolling video technology “robot.” A nurse was in the room to accompany the remote conversation.

“We knew that this was coming and that he was very sick,” the patient’s granddaughter told KTVU on Friday. “But I don’t think somebody should get the news delivered that way. It should have been a human being come in.”

In addition, the family says, the technology suffered some clarity and quality issues. The hard-of-hearing patient couldn’t understand the doctor through the screen, prompting his granddaughter to relay the heartbreaking diagnosis herself.

. . . .

Dr. C. Michael Gibson, a Harvard Medical School professor of medicine, questioned whether a face-to-face convo is necessary in such instances. In a Twitter poll, over 4,300 replied, with 79% admitting they would “be upset” to receive a terminal diagnosis by telemedicine or robot.

“No amount of technology will supplant the benefits of the human presence and physical touch,” wrote one follower. “Empathy’s greatest benefit is by being displayed live, not televised.”

. . . .

According to a recent medical survey by Kantar Media, 2 out of 5 physicians participate in telemedicine or plan to within the next year. Meanwhile, half of consumers think they would feel less comfortable during a telehealth visit versus receiving an in-person diagnosis.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

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