Archive for May, 2017

My travel magazine grumpiness: An example

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Some of you may remember that somewhere (apparently not here) I wrote a brief elegy mourning the death of the Conde Nast Traveler I’d read and loved for years–the new editorial team increasing page size, making it mostly Pretty Photos for Beautiful People, and–most of all–abandoning prices when discussing hotels and restaurants. I didn’t renew what had once been a first-rate travel magazine; I don’t miss it. I believe it’s become a magazine for the eight-digit crowd: those with $10 million or more net worth who can go along with “If you have to ask…” price irrelevance.

More recently, it appears that National Geographic Traveler has been redesigned: still more text, but, well, there go the prices.

Meanwhile, Travel + Leisure has become more substantive since Time Inc. acquired it–with, wonder of wonders, price notes in most hotel/restaurant discussions. What a concept!

I’m reading the March 2017 issue (I’m usually two months behind on magazines) and hit a little item about chefs who have opened up restaurants with a few hotel rooms attached. Consider:

  • Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis wants $58 and up for a three-course meal…and $166 and up for a double room. So that’s $282 plus tax and tips and wine for two people. Not bad.
  • Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall wants $61 and up for a farm-to-table dinner and $215 and up for a double room. Figure $327 plus tax and tips and wine. Also plausible.

And then there’s the nearby one:

  • SingleThread in Healdsburg wants $294 and up for a fancy tasting menu…and $700 and up for a double room. Figure $1,288 plus tax and tips and wine.

See, without prices, I might either believe that all three are “If you have to ask…” situations or ponder whether the Healdsburg place–just a couple of hours away–might be worth a try.

But with prices: well. $961 (the smallest differential) would pay for a pretty decent two-night Monterey vacation. We live in Livermore, only “reasonably priced” by the Bay Area’s odd standards, but at one of our favorite restaurants a good three-course meal (salad, entree with starch and vegetables, bread, and dessert) goes for $23. At another good local restaurant I see the bill for dinner for three, including wine and tip, as $136.

We’re not poverty-stricken, but in planning possible vacations and visits the difference between $327 and $1,288 is decidedly worth noting…and knowing about. A travel magazine that deliberately hides that difference–and the decision at Conde Nast to get rid of prices can’t have been accidental–is doing a disservice to all but the wealthiest readers.

Oh, and if SingleThread is actually a life-changing experience well worth the fee, well, I guess my life just won’t be changed.

Sad.

Cites & Insights 17:4 (May 2017) available

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Cites & Insights 17:4 (May 2017) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights,info/civ17i4.pdf

The 80-page issue consists of an introductory page, a final page, and the first seven chapters of GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2017.

It’s a shorter version–unchanged but omitting sections on subjects and regions.

If you’re downloading the free ebook or purchasing the $6 trade paperback (see here for links), there’s no reason to read the issue: you won’t learn anything more.

GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

I’m pleased to announce the availability of GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016, the results of the second comprehensive study of serious gold OA: journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals as of 12:0 a.m., January 1, 2017.

For links to the free (and complete) dataset, the free PDF ebook, and the $6 trade paperback, check the project page at http://waltcrawford.name/goaj.html

Thanks again to SPARC for sponsoring this project.

This edition includes 8,992 fully-analyzed journals that published 523,205 articles in 2016. (A few hundred journals were excluded for various reasons, fully described.)

Additionally, a brief one-time-only discussion, “The Biggest Numbers,” covers the broadest known universe of gold OA, including journals removed from DOAJ in 2016 and journals included in one-time “blacklists.”

The project is not quite done yet: there will be a book-length supplement detailing OA by country (excluding the 12 big publishers in “APCLand”). That supplement will show up on the project page and be announced in posts when it’s ready. It’s likely that a near-future issue of Cites & Insights will add to the subject coverage in GOAJ2, but that won’t appear as a book or separate PDF.

A brief version of the book, the first seven chapters, will appear as Cites & Insights 17:4 in a few days.

Mystery Collection Disc 47

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

In the past, you could expect about one old-movie-on-DVD post every four to six weeks, and a disc from this endless (OK, 60 disc/250 movie) collection every two or three months. Now…well, the post for Disc 46 was in December 2015 and the most recent post was April 2016. With no further ado, then…

The Swap (orig. Sam’s Song), 1969, color. Jordan Leondopoulos (dir,), Robert De Niro, Jarred Mickey, Jennifer Warren, Sybil Danning, Terrayne Crawford. 1:29 [1:21]

Guy gets out of prison, goes looking for his brother’s murderer, gets warned off by a cop, keeps looking, finds out his brother was making pornos, keeps looking, eventually finds and shoots the killer…getting shot himself in the process.

Put that way, it doesn’t sound that great…and the movie’s nothing special. Maybe the missing eight minutes (which must have had the footage that got an R rating) made all the difference? A young (and, honestly, not very interesting) De Niro stars…or doesn’t. Ah, looking at the IMDB listing and reviews makes it a bit more interesting: De Niro’s the director, and what I saw is a 1979 thing that remakes his 1969 Sam’s Song into a different movie. Still not compelling or very good. Charitably, for De Niro completists, $0.75.

Night of the Sharks (orig. La notte degli squali), 1988, color. Tonino Ricci (dir.), Treat Williams, Janet Agren, Antonio Fargas. 1:27.

Let’s see. I watched this on December 15, 2016. Apparently I watched the previous movie on April 2, 2016. At this rate, I’ll be done with the remainder of this set and the other two megapacks on hand in…about 75 years. Guess I’ll have to pick up the pace. One can only hope that most of the rest aren’t quite as lame as this one is.

Plot? Such as it is: the brother of a laid-back diver had been bugging telephone calls between a crook and the President for years, and has cut a CD with the Greatest Hits: he wants a big payoff to return the disc. He then mails the original to his beach-bum brother (the flick was filmed in the Dominican Republic, so let’s assume it’s set there). From then on, we have occasional spurts of action and lots of underwater and above-water footage, all of it in the daytime, involving this really mean shark who really, really wants our hero. There’s more, of course, but it’s all pretty lame: poorly directed, not very well shot, badly “written.” Oh: I suppose this is the R version, as there’s about 15 seconds of topless women at a swimming pool who are totally unrelated to the plot. Hey, it’s bad Italian cinema. Very charitably, $0.75.

We Interrupt These Mini-Reviews for a Message

My wife asked a reasonable question, given that book reading, OA research, etc., etc. conspired to leave more than half a year between viewing movies that weren’t any good: Why? Thinking about it…I’m raising my standards. If after fifteen or twenty minutes the flick doesn’t seem likely to be at least at the $1 level, I’ll stop and do one of the “not viewed” write-ups. That should help. Now, back to the flicks.

Beyond Justice, color, 1992. Duccio Tessari (dir.), Rutger Hauer, Carol Alt, Omar Sharif, Elliott Gould. 1:53 [1:46]

A wealthy young businesswoman’s son (sort of a rotten kid, kept in private school only through her frequent donations) is kidnapped by her ex-husband (his father), the son of a Moroccan Emir. There’s some nonsense with silver boxes planted in both their houses—all of which leads up to The Situation: the Emir wants the grandson to become the next Emir (Omar Sharif), since his son is too Westernized or something.

Meanwhile…the mother (Carol Alt, with Elliott Gould as her lawyer who also wants to marry her) hires a mercenary (Rutger Hauer) to find and rescue the son—and insists on accompanying them. After which we get lots of intrigue, lots of shooting, an enormous amount of Moroccan desert scenery, a feuding desert tribe that gets involved at the last minute—and an ending that leaves me wondering why the whole bloody mess was necessary in the first place, as the still-alive Emir gives his grandson the choice of how to proceed and he goes with his mother. (The father’s kaput.) Oh, and the mother falls for the handsome mercenary.

Great cast (but Gould’s completely wasted). Great scenery. Ennio Morricone score. Bizarre and ultimately pointless plot. There must have been dialogue and direction, but…. I watched the last half of it double-speed, which kept it moving. Not a great movie by a long shot, but possibly worth $1.

Cold Blood (orig. Das Amulett des Todes), color, 1975. Günter Vaessen (dir), Rutger Hauer, Vera Tschechowa, Horst Frank. 1:20 [says 1:30 on sleeve, actual runtime 1:14]

The original title makes a little more sense, but not a lot. The “plot”? A young woman has gone off to a country house—where she has the key oh-so-cleverly hidden by leaving it on the sill over the door, because nobody would ever think to look there. Anyway, she takes a shower, hears shots, and see that three men have been chasing another man who’s headed for her house…and shoot him, while seeing her.

So they’re going to take her with them so she won’t call the police and can bind up the guy’s wounds. Of course, she drives her car with The Boss of the little gang and the guy who’s been shot (Hauer). Of course, The Boss either falls asleep or has been stabbed and she easily eludes the other car, gets the guy worked on by a doctor, and goes with him to a semi-deserted country estate…where, equally of course, she jumps into bed with him (after a display of nudity which pleases one of the gang watching with binoculars—because, of course, they’ve found where she’s driven to and she disrobes in front of an open window).

What can I say? The explicit sex scene is the most complicated acting in the flick and makes no more sense than anything else. Of course she’d jump in bed with a guy she’s never met but who’s endangered her life and is probably a criminal because…well, Rutger Hauer, I guess. $0.50 if you’re a Hauer or Tschechowa fan, $0.25 otherwise.