Archive for 2019

Cites & Insights 19:5 (September 2019) available

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

The September 2019 issue of Cites & Insights (19:5) is now available for downloading at https://citesandinsights.info/civ19i5.pdf

The 28-page issue–probably the last one that does not feature OA–includes:

The Front pp. 1-4

Two little essays: Why I’m not pursuing an analysis of ROAD, and “should C&I be saved?”

The Middle pp. 4-12

Nine items that didn’t fit elsewhere and don’t deserve the snarky treatment of The Back.

Technology

A range of tech-related items, some mostly nostalgia, some still relevant.

Classic 50 Movie Warriors, Disc 5

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

Damon and Pythias (orig. Il tiranno di Siracusa), 1961, color. Curtis Bernhardt (dir.), Guy Williams, Don Burnett, Ilaria Occhini. 1:39.

The plot summary on the sleeve and the one on IMDB cover roughly the last third of the film, and maybe that’s OK. For the first part: the head of the Pythagorean group in Athens has died, and his logical successor is trying to teach the Pythagorean philosophy in Syracuse—and in hiding since the dictator Dionysus regards Pythagoreanism as dangerous, with its friendship and nonviolent ideals. So Pythias goes off to find him and bring him back, and in doing so is first robbed and then aided by Damon, a rogue. Meanwhile, Pythias’ pregnant wife has gone into terminal decline since he’s gone. After lots of adventures, the successor manages to make it to freedom—but Pythias is captured.

From there, the plot actually mostly follows the legend of Damon and Pythias. It’s about friendship, philosophy, and lots of other stuff. It’s reasonably well-done, remarkably free of gratuitous killings, and relatively low on the sort of spectacle that dominates most of these movies. (If you’re a costume enthusiast: almost all the men wear very short tunics, while all the women wear floor-length clothes.) I’d give it $1.00.

Fury of Hercules (orig. La furia di Ercole), 1961, color. Gianfranco Parolini (dir.), Brad Harris, Luisella Boni, Mara Berni, Serge Gainsbourg. 1:37.

A bit more typical. This time, Hercules visits Arpad, one of his old haunts while on an extended journey and finds that his friend the king has died. His daughter, now queen, is trying to build impenetrable walls around Arpad using slave labor—and things are mostly run by the evil Menistus who hopes to kill her and take over as dictators.

Lots of action, all fairly coherent, culminating in a huge revolt combining slaves and rebels. Brad Harris is impressive, and as Hercules he’s even more so. Another one with no cheesecake and even more beefcake, as Hercules’ oversize chest is mostly exposed. Serge Gainsbourg is appropriately sneering and evil as Menistus.

I was somewhat thrown out of the action during the big extravaganza the queen throws in Hercules’ honor. For background music, authenticity doesn’t matter—but when entertainers are dancing to music, it seems a bit odd for the primary instrument to be a piano. The print’s decent, except that the first five or ten minutes suffer from red shift (that is, most colors are shades of red). All things considered, a pretty decent flick; by the relaxed standards used for this set, I’ll say $1.50.

Caesar the Conqueror (orig. Giulio Cesare, il conquistatore delle Gallie), 1962, color. Tanio Boccia (dor.), Cameron Mitchell, Rik Battaglia, Dominique Wilms, Ivica Pajer, Raffaella Carra. 1:44 [1:38]

Instead of mythology, we get history (or at least one portrayal of it), with Julius Caesar (Mitchell) in 54 BC wanting to invade Britain but beset by a rebellious Gaul, led by Vercingetorix (Battaglia). There are also scenes in the Senate (mostly wanting Caesar to show up in person to justify his expenditures), and a fair amount of stuff on Caesar as a person—including an odd extended scene where he’s dictating to three young scribes, apparently dictating two different letters and his treatise on Gaul being divided into three parts, and doing so simultaneously.

And, of course, there are lots of battle scenes with enormous casts of extras, horses, and arrows. Lots of bloodshed, much of it right there on the screen—and, by the way, a double-betrayal, as the third of Gaul’s tribes that Caesar believed he had bribed to support him choose to attack him instead. There’s also a somewhat complicated love story, involving Caesar’s ward Publia (Carra), who’s pledged to one soldier, then used by Caesar to marry a commander to assure his support, then captured by Vercingetorix…and eventually reunited with the soldier.

The bad: lots of red-shift problems, with much of the movie being in various shades of white and red; extreme pan-and-scan, with speaking characters sometimes invisible on one side or the other; occasionally choppy print. The good: a bit more vividly realistic view of battle, with hundreds of people dying badly; pretty good acting on Mitchell’s part and elsewhere; a bit more nuance than one might expect. (If you read the IMDB reviews, be aware that one negative review says this was a French production. As the original title and most of the cast names may indicate, it was typical of these movies in being an Italian production, this time with most outdoor scenes filmed in Serbia.) Overall, given the print problems, it comes down to $1.25.

Son of Samson (orig. Maciste nella valle dei Re, that is, Maciste in the Valley of the Kings). 1960, color. Carlo Campogalliani (dir.), Mark Forest, Chelo Alonse, Vira Silenti. 1:29.

The basic plot line: In the fifth century BC, the Persians are marauding and essentially controlling Egypt, with Pharaoh Armiteo I a weak ruler essentially in the thralls of his young, beautiful, wicked wife Queen Smedes. His son, Kenamun, goes out wandering and encounters Maciste (who says that means “Son of the Rock” although some call him Son of Samson), a phenomenally strong and always shirtless man. Kenamun sees a lion about to attack Maciste and shoots the lion with an arrow—and then Maciste wrestles a second lion into submission or death (unclear). So they’ve saved each others’ lives. Previously, Kenamun had met and fallen for a young woman in a village and vowed to return to her one day.

That’s the start. Lots of marauding Persians, killing the men of a village and enslaving the women; oodles of “blood.” Maciste frees the enslaved women of one village (yes, the same one). Smedes has Armiteo assassinated. Kenamun returns to Memphis…and the evil grand visir has a forgetfulness necklace that causes Kenamun to forget everything and marry Smedes.

Lots more plot. Much Egyptian scenery, including the pyramids. Decent production values. Some humor. A dance/seduction that’s a cross between a Dance of the Single Veil and a vigorous belly dance. All ends well, albeit only after a bunch more deaths. Apparently Mark Forest was actually bodybuilder Lpu Degni.

Widescreeen (very widescreen, 2.35:1), and if your TV can do the expansion, the print’s good enough that it didn’t look bad expanded to fill the width (not the height) of a widescreen TV. Generally good print. Fairly satisfying, almost worth $1.75, but I’ll say—by the relaxed standards for this set–$1.50.

GOA4: August 2019 update

Saturday, August 31st, 2019


Readership for the new edition and GOAJ3. As always, readership figures omit most of the last day of each month, because of the tools available.

All links available from the project home page, as always.

GOA4: 2013-2018

  • The dataset: 249 views, 53 downloads.
  • GOA4: 1,063 PDF ebooks and one paperback.
  • Countries 4: 255 PDF ebooks
  • Subjects and Publishers: 154 PDF ebooks

GOAJ3: 2012-2017

  • The dataset: 1,510 views, 230 downloads
  • GOAJ3: 3,554 PDF ebooks + 423 copies of first few chapters (C&I 18.3)
  • Countries: 1,075 PDF ebooks
  • Subject supplement (C&I 18.4): 549 downloads
  • One paperback



Cites & Insights 19:4 (August 2019) Available

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Cites & Insights 19:4 (August 2019) is now available for downloading at https://citesandinsights.info/civ19i4.pdf

The 42-page issue consists of a single essay:

Intersections: Open Access Issues pp. 1-42

Thirty-odd items in six subtopic groups, not including items for future roundups (“preditorials,” colors and licenses, DOAJ, and Big Deals including the UC/BigE situation).

If you have to ask…

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Way back in 2016, a Media commentary in Cites & Insights included my lament about not renewing Conde Nast Traveler, in part because the new editor had adopted the “If you have to ask…” policy–that is, eliminating all mention of hotel prices, since if you have to ask…

I don’t subscribe to National Geographic Traveler, which I suppose you could call a fellow Traveler, but my wife does and I read it. We’ll probably continue to get it. But I find that I’m frustrated by the same If You Have To Ask attitude: there are lots of mentions of hotels (and cruise lines, etc.), even roundups of them…and nary a clue as to how much they cost.

My reaction to IYHTA is to assume the worst: that hotels are probably $1,000 per night or more, that resorts are probably at least $1,500, that all-inclusives are $2,000 per night or more.

Just for fun, I took one recent issue, which as usual mentioned a lot of hotels, and did quick checks: jotting down the price if it took me less than 30 seconds to find one.

Not surprisingly, my worst-case assumption is unfair to many of the hotels–and I think it’s stupid and arrogant of NGT not to include basic price info. The usual three-hotels-in-one-city feature turned out to have prices of $112, $237, and one that’s not actually open yet. Much lower than I’d have guessed, especially since this was for a major European city.

Another article had one hotel, which turns out to cost $516. Another city feature had hotels at $134, $85, and $350.

Then there was a major feature on one class of resorts around the world–and from the descriptions and total lack of information I would have guessed $2,000 a day and up. In some cases I would have been right: $2,100; $2,250; $5,000 (all inclusive). But in other cases: $950; $769; $680; $450 all inclusive; $680; $490; $630; $930 all inclusive; $1,500 all inclusive; $360; $1,333; $303; $278; $1,430; $1,719; $631. That’s quite a range…and I would have wrongly ruled out a dozen of them because I’m not willing to pay $1,000 a night for a room.

Other articles? $360; $248; $266; $241 (both of these are much lower than I would have expected); $127; $169 (ditto these two); $263; $260; $232; $531.

The point? Many of these hotels are quite reasonably priced–but there’s no way to know that, given the If You Have To Ask attitude of NGT–and especially given prices for some of NatGeo’s own tours and cruises, and their branded lodges.

Too bad. I still like NGT, but it would be a lot more interesting and useful if it included just a little more information.

GOA4: July 2019 update

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Readership for the new edition and GOAJ3. As always, readership figures omit most of the last day of each month, because of the tools available.

All links available from the project home page, as always.

GOA4: 2013-2018

  • The dataset: 207 views, 3 downloads.
  • GOA4: 833 PDF ebooks and one paperback.
  • Countries 4: 201 PDF ebooks
  • Subjects and Publishers: 113 PDF ebooks

GOAJ3: 2012-2017

  • The dataset: 1,463 views, 195 downloads
  • GOAJ3: 3,428 PDF ebooks + 405 copies of first few chapters (C&I 18.3)
  • Countries: 1,044 PDF ebooks
  • Subject supplement (C&I 18.4): 517 downloads
  • One paperback

Mystery Collection Disc 49

Friday, July 26th, 2019

Hmm. The reviews for Disc 50 appeared on July 3, 2018–one year and 23 days ago. (The discs got out of order in the 60-disc box.) But the, the reviews for a disc from the Warriors set appeared in late July, 2018, so it looks as though it’s taken me a bit less than a year to review these four movies–actually two movies some time during the fall of 2018, and two movies within the last month.

At this rate, I should be done with discs 49-54 by 2023 or 2027…let’s just say that it’s unlike that I’ll complete C&I publication of these old reviews of either collection (or the Spaghetti Westerns collection not yet begun). Too many books to read, too much other stuff to watch, too many walks to take…and from January through June, for a while longer I hope, too much OA investigation to do. Oh, and the new and deproved WP is a nuisance, and no longer seems to accept direct posting from Word. In fact, I’m finding it damnably difficult to cut & paste into the new and improved WordPress… But here’s what I have…

The Beloved Rogue, 1927, b&w. Alan Crosland (dir.), John Barrymore, Conrad Veidt, Marceline Day. 1:39.

I find this one a little difficult to review and rate, and I grant that the dollar value I assign may be faulty as a result. The problem here is that this is a silent movie (there’s a classical music soundtrack that’s not in any way related to the action), and given that I’m not much of a lip-reader, I felt there was a lot I was missing in between title slides.

I guess this is supposed to be historical (but based on a drama with no historical backing), with John Barrymore as François Villon, it comes off as half farce, half near-tragedy, with Barrymore more successful as a clown (and wall-climber). Most of the poems shown on screen struck me as doggerel. Barrymore comes off as a great ham, and that may be intentional.

The print is generally pretty good, but I found it less than entrancing. That may be me. I couldn’t give it more than $1.00.

Submarine Alert, 1943, b&w. Frank McDonald (dir.), Richard Arlen, Wendy Barrie. 1:06.

While it’s a wartime propaganda film, as evidenced by the closing speech, it’s also a pretty decent little spy thriller. The basic plot: all the tankers taking fuel to the fleet are being torpedoed by subs shortly after they leave port—and when the FBI figures out that they must be getting radio tipoffs and starts trying to locate the transmitter, they find that it’s in a different location every night.

So, I guess figuring out that a miniaturized 1943 transmitter is going to break down a lot, they see to it that key radio engineers are fired, figuring that one of them will be recruited to make replacement parts.

There’s lots more, including a little girl needing an operation, a young woman who gets close to the prime candidate for recruitment (a recent immigrant from—gasp—Germany) and is working for the FBI—and clumsy in leaving around a very obviously unique handbag, so he’s on to her. Oh, and using a loudspeaker and overhead light as a makeshift transmitter.

Light on stereotypes, fairly well-acted, lots of plot, lots of action. Incidentally, a few of the IMDB reviews are loony (e.g. one that turns steam into poison gas and more than one saying the firings were because of suspected disloyalty), which isn’t that unusual. Not great but maybe $1.25.

Captain Scarface, 1953, b&w. Paul Guilfoyle (dir.), Barton MacLaine, Virginia Gray, Leif Erickson. 1:12 [1:10]

Here’s the thing: for various reasons, I wound up watching Disc 50 before Disc 49—and I see that I began watching Disc 50 considerably more than a year ago. And Submarine Alert most likely more than six months ago. So don’t be surprised by various discontinuities and changes in rating scale, just as you shouldn’t be surprised if this massive collection isn’t finished before Cites & Insights is.

The sleeve summary is absolutely wrong. It says Captain “Scarface” Trednor uncovers a plot by foreign agents to destroy the Panama Canal (by detonating an atomic bomb on a cargo ship in Gatun Locks) and “decides to fight for what’s right.” In fact, Captain Tred is the leader of the foreign agents who have replaced one ship with another; it’s Sam Wilton, a guy who’s a little too romantic for his own good and needs to get back to the U.S., who saves the day. Anyway, it involves replacing one (torpedoed) ship with another, a crew from several countries (apparently) that’s entirely Russian spies eager to undertake a suicide mission in order to inconvenience Western shipping, a nuclear scientist who’s been cooped up in a Russian—well, not a prison—and is one of only two people who know how to detonate the bomb that’s hidden on this ship, his daughter, and…well, it’s silly but it moves right along.

It’s not a terrible movie. It’s not a great movie by any means, but it’s not terrible. The print’s decent. I’ll give it $1.00.

Under the Red Robe, 1937, b&w. Victor Sjöström (dir.), Conrad Veidt, Raymond Massey, Annabella, Romney Brent. 1:20.

I wonder how many movies and TV shows have been set in the era of Cardinal Richelieu? Well, here’s another, with the estimable Raymond Massey in the red robe—but the star is Conrad Veidt, the notorious dueler and gambler Gil de Berault, sentenced to hanging for disobeying Richelieu’s edict against duels—but open to pardon if he captures the rebellious Duke de Foix. (The IMDB record consistently uses “Fiox,” but the signs on the screen unmistakably say “Foix,” and there is, in fact, a Foix in France.)

The most interesting character is the sidekick foisted on Berault by the Cardinal, an expert pickpocket who adds a mild comic touch. There’s Annabella as the duke’s sister (who Berault mistakenly assumes is the duke’s wife), who of course falls in love with Berault. Lots of talk, some action, much discussion of honor and a happy ending of sorts. Decent, but nothing special—another $1.00.

Cites & Insights 19:3 (July 2019) available

Friday, July 19th, 2019

The July 2019 Cites & Insights (19:3) is now available for downloading at https://citesandinsights.info/civ19i3.pdf

This 48-page issue includes the following:

Policy: A Copyright Miscellany pp. 1-33

Four years of items on First Sale, Public Domain and CC0, Piracy and Nostalgia.

The Back pp. 33-48

A year’s worth of audiofollies and a variety of other items from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

GOA4: June Update

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

Readership for the new edition and GOAJ3. As always, readership figures omit most of the last day of each month, because of the tools available.

All links available from the project home page, as always.

GOA4: 2013-2018

  • The dataset: 153 views, 25 downloads.
  • GOA4: 721 PDF ebooks and one paperback.
  • Countries 4: 173 PDF ebooks
  • Subjects and Publishers: 55 PDF ebooks

GOAJ3: 2012-2017

  • The dataset: 1,412 views, 179 downloads
  • GOAJ3: 3,328 PDF ebooks + 391 copies of first few chapters (C&I 18.3)
  • Countries: 997 PDF ebooks
  • Subject supplement (C&I 18.4): 493 downloads
  • One paperback

Cites & Insights June 2019 (19:2) available

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

The June 2019 Cites & Insights (19:2) is now available at https://citesandinsights.info/civ19i2.pdf

The 72-page issue includes:

The Front: Some Notes on GOA4 pp. 1-12

A discussion of the new Key Facts tables, and a much longer discussion of how I use pivot tables in a template to make it possible to produce all three books from GOA4 within a few weeks after finishing the data gathering.

Intersections: Economics and Access 2019 pp. 12-72

Probably the last Economics and Access roundup, since 2019 is probably the last year for Cites & Insights.

Why is this a very late June 2019 issue rather than a slightly early July 2019 issue? Because I don’t know how many issues it will take to shut things down nicely. This gives me a little flexibility.

What would it take to keep C&I going, I hear almost nobody asking?

  • A lot more readership
  • Some useful feedback
  • Perhaps some sales of the annual paperback issues
  • And, of course, some sense that it still matters to hundreds of people.

I do plan to keep the GOA series going as long as SPARC finds it worth supporting and I believe I can do it well. I also plan to keep this blog going for a while–and I continue to be active on Facebook, Twitter and Mokum.

If plans do not change, I’ll keep the Cites & Insights site up for at least two years after the final edition of GOA or the final issue of C&I, whichever comes last. (And waltcrawford.name up for at least that long.)