No Taming This Shrew

5.07.2007

Hollywood Loves Mobile Video

With many video clips floating around the Web, like the 12 one-minute episodes of Borat, the mobile video is becoming increasingly popular among the consumers. However, advertisers seem too prudent, giving the film studios problems with monetization.

Another example of the successful mobile video is Warner Brothers' six-episode series based on the popular Superman television show "Smallville." Fox also experimented with the mobile version of the popular "Prison Break" series. Both projects had hard time monetizing the work involved, with Sprint and Toyota being the only sponsors (Sprint advertised on "Smallville", while Toyota supported "Prison Break").

Mobile advertising is still in its infancy. eMarketer reported that around $421 million was spent to reach the mobile phone users last year. By contrast, broadcast TV advertising was estimated at $48 billion in 2006, according to the Universal McCann media agency. Add to that that only about 5 million users are watching the videos on their handsets, a small fraction of the 195 million mobile phone subscribers nationwide, and you'll have the complete picture.

While companies are still not that eager to advertise in the new media, film studios are continuing to experiment, but suggest that predicted explosive growth is still some time away. The upcoming Apple iPhone may be the light at the end of the tunnel for Hollywood. Its 3.5" touchscreen may provide users with a needed comfort for watching the mobile video...

In the summer of 2006, Sony created behind-the-scenes vignettes from the FX series “Rescue Me,” which were offered in three-minute installments on cellphones in-between the weekly television shows.

“We were trying to leverage the production,” said Mike Arrieta, executive vice president of digital distribution and mobile entertainment for Sony, adding that they had their own team on the set for filming.

Where studios could get into trouble, though, is if mobile phone episodes like these are viewed less as promotional material and more as pure entertainment. Unionized actors, directors and writers have already balked at creating videos and other material for the Web, saying they should be paid for the extra work. (Unionized workers are not paid extra to create promotional materials.)

One way to get around the situation is by creating animated episodes or hiring look-alike actresses instead. That is what Fox did early on. But the issue is expected to be a sticking point in the planned talks with the unions. Some unions are already monitoring how much advertising revenue studios are making.

Not surprising, studios are bracing for tough negotiations.

“I think everyone is trying to figure it out and decide how to deal with it,” said Zack Van Amburg, a co-president with Mr. Erlicht at Sony Pictures Television. “For now we are all in a ‘Let’s embrace it and it’s here’ mode. No one has the answer yet.”
The full article titled "Hollywood Loves the Tiny Screen. Advertisers Don't." is available on The New York Times' site.

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4.20.2006

Hookers and Blow

Hookers and Blow: An Online Journal

You Don't Have to Put Out to Get In

(but it wouldn't hurt...)

1.20.2006

Woman Goes Undercover to Experience Life as a Man

Norah Vincent has lived as a man. She didn't undergo a sex change or radical hormone treatments. She simply went undercover. In an extraordinary feat of acting, disguise and guts, Vincent lived among men -- as a man -- for 18 months to see what life was like on the other side of the gender divide.

"This wasn't just a stunt. This was about learning. This is a human project. It was about finding something out about the human creature. ... And I learned it the best possible way because I went through it," Vincent told "20/20's" JuJu Chang.

Growing up in the Midwest with her actress mother, lawyer father and two older brothers, Vincent was a tomboy with a flair for the dramatic. She says she's still a tomboy, and a lesbian living in midtown Manhattan with her partner, Lisa.

At 5 feet, 10 inches and 155 pounds, Vincent passed as a medium-build man she called Ned. Her transformation began with a buzz cut, baggy men's clothes, and a too-small sports bra to flatten her breasts. She even wore a little padding in a jock strap. For the rest, she enlisted the help of makeup artist Ryan McWilliams, who created Ned's five-o'-clock shadow.

Then there was the theatrical component. Vincent underwent months of training with Juilliard voice teacher Kate Maré to learn how to sound like a man. "Women have much stronger nasal resonances as a rule," Maré explained.

When all the pieces were put together -- hair, makeup, voice, posture and style -- the transformation was complete, and Norah Vincent became Ned Vincent.

Becoming One of the Guys

Vincent, a journalist, didn't take the project lightly. She estimates she put on Ned's whiskers and clothes about 150 times during her 18-month experiment. "I wanted to enter males' spheres of interest and ... see how men are with each other. I wanted to make friends with men. I wanted to know how male friendships work from the inside out," she told "20/20."

Vincent's first act as a newly minted male was to join a quintessential bastion of camaraderie -- a men's bowling team in a working-class Pennsylvania neighborhood. The only problem: She's a terrible bowler.

But the men didn't boot her off the team. "It's an amazing thing, because I think that shows you the generosity that they had," she said.

Her experience with these men turned some of her long-held perceptions about men being harsh and rejecting and women being warm and welcoming upside down.

"I mean, it was just the most wonderful rush to get these guys' handshakes, and I felt comfortable, I mean as comfortable as I could feel, right away. They just took me in ... no questions asked," she said.

The team bowled together for nine months and gradually Vincent gained entrance to their inner sanctum. She found that all the cussing and good-natured ribbing is just how men often show affection for one another.

Near the end of the team's run, Vincent decided to reveal herself as a woman. Nervous about how the guys would react, she tested the waters with Jim, the guy she had become closest with.

Vincent took Jim out for a drink with her partner, Lisa, and told him she had something to say that was going to "blow his mind."

"I said the only thing that would blow my mind is if you told me that you were a girl and that she was a guy. And she goes, well, you're half right," Jim said.

Later, Jim told the rest of the teammates, who all took it well.

Jim said he thinks Vincent came into the experiment with some misconceptions about men. "I think she expected to find like a bunch of guys just talking about women's private parts and a bunch of racists and, you know. I think, kind of, that's what she came into this thinking," he said.

Vincent agreed. "They really showed me up as being the one who was really judgmental, because they were the ones who took me in, not knowing anything about me. They were the ones who made me their friend ... no judgments attached," Vincent said.

Sex: 'For a Man, It's an Urge'

Cracking the mystery of a "boys' night out" is one thing, but understanding the explicit world of a man's sexuality is quite another.

To gain an understanding of what some might consider the quintessential male experience, Vincent went to several strip clubs with a male friend. She describes the experience as hellish -- demeaning for the strippers and even worse for the men.

"I saw the men there. I saw the looks on their faces. This is not about appreciation of women, of course. It's not about appreciation of their own sexuality. It's about an urge and ... that's not always that pleasurable, really," she said.

Vincent said strip joints are about pure sex drive -- completely empty of any meaningful interaction, even when a woman is gyrating on your lap.

Even though Vincent is attracted to women, she said she was never aroused during her visits to the clubs. "I really ran smack up against the difference between male and female sexuality. It's that female sexuality is mental. ... For a man, it's an urge," she said.

"At its core, it's a bodily function. It's a necessity. It's such a powerful drive and I think because we [women] don't have testosterone in our systems, we don't understand how hard it is," she said.

Vincent even dabbled in the art of picking up women and agreed to wear a hidden camera for "20/20" during her exploits.

She was quickly reminded that in this arena, it's women who have the power, she said.

"In fact, we sit there and we just with one word, 'no,' will crush someone," she said. "We don't have to do the part where you cross the room and you go up to a stranger that you've never met in the middle of a room full of people and say the first words. And those first words are so hard to say without sounding like a cheeseball or sounding like a jerk."

Vincent encountered some pretty cold shoulders in her attempts at the bar, but she did manage to go on about 30 dates with women as "Ned," mostly arranging them on the Internet.

Vincent said the dates were rarely fun and that the pressure of "Ned" having to prove himself was grueling. She was surprised that many women had no interest in a soft, vulnerable man.

"My prejudice was that the ideal man is a woman in a man's body. And I learned, no, that's really not. There are a lot of women out there who really want a manly man, and they want his stoicism," she said.

Three Weeks at a Monastery

Vincent didn't limit her exploration of masculinity to just friendships and sexuality. She said she found differences in every walk of life, including shopping for a new car at a dealership.

Going in as Norah, the salesman's pitch quickly turns flirtatious, but when she returned to the same salesman as Ned, the tone was all business and the talk was all about the car's performance.

In Vincent's final months as Ned, she managed to infiltrate all-male environments. A lapsed Catholic, Vincent thought it would be interesting to penetrate the cloistered inner world of a monastery. Ned managed to live there for three weeks as a trainee. The monks, Vincent said, were pious, smart men. But they were still men.

She said she witnessed a "desperate need for male intimacy and the lack of ability to give it" at the retreat. It was "really painful," she added.

Not only were the monks struggling to be open and intimate, Vincent said they were hostile to her feminine side. She said she was ostracized because of the monks' assumptions about her sexual orientation.

"Many of them thought I was gay, as one of them told me in confession. ... And I said, 'Well, yeah, but not in the way you think,'" Vincent said.

Vincent thought the perfect end to her 18-month saga would be to join a men-only therapy group, a place where guys tried to bond and show their emotions instead of hiding them.

Again, Vincent saw the men struggle with vulnerability. "They don't get to show the weakness, they don't get to show the affection, especially with each other. And so often all their emotions are shown in rage," she said.

Instead, Vincent said, the men talked about rage, often their rage toward women, and what they would do physically and violently toward women.

"A lot of this was blowing off steam. ...They would talk about fantasizing about chopping up their wives or something. It's not that they would ever do that, but it was a way to get out the blackest thoughts," she said.

Norah began to empathize with the fear and stress men feel for having to always be the strong provider.

Once again, some group members thought Ned was gay, but nobody suspected Ned was a woman. After eight sessions, the group went on a back-country weekend retreat, but Vincent's 18 months of being an imposter was closing in on her.

"The pressure of being someone that you're not and ... the fear of discovery and the deceit that it involves piles up and piles up. So, by the time I got around to doing this men's group, it was really reaching critical mass," she said.

"I was out in the woods with a bunch of guys who had rage issues about women and I was in drag ... and I thought, oh, God, you know, what am I doing," she added.

She continued her emotional descent, and a week later, checked in to a hospital with severe depression. Identity, she concluded, was not something to play around with.

"When you mess around with that, you really mess around with something that you need that helps you to function. And I found out that gender lives in your brain and is something much more than costume. And I really learned that the hard way," she said.

Vincent says she's healed now and glad to be rid of Ned. But her views about men have changed forever.

"Men are suffering. They have different problems than women have, but they don't have it better," she said. "They need our sympathy. They need our love, and maybe they need each other more than anything else. They need to be together."

Ironically, Vincent said, it took experiencing life as a man for her to appreciate being a woman. "I really like being a woman. ... I like it more now because I think it's more of a privilege."

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8.02.2005

Spotlight on...hormones!

Alley's post today about her tool of a co-worker got me thinking about how much ignorance there is between men and women. On a basic biological level. I'm also pondering the probability of understanding women because of something the Birmingham Boy said regarding my blog: he said he found reading my blog and others irresistible because it offered a weird voyeuristic window into my head. But that's a whole other post.

But, as a public service and what is hopefully an amusing diversion at work on a slow, hot day, here's a morning in the life of a girl who has her period.

First off, I'm not even going to touch arguments that say having one's period completely incapacitates a woman. No launch codes for us when we're on the rag! (Tasteless awful term, that. It's like that terrible southern expression about Auntie Flo. I want to grab whoever came up with that garbage and shake them until their teeth rattle. I want to get a little L7 on them, quite honestly.) I think I could handle a nuclear stand-off in my current condition, but I can't guarantee that I'd be polite about the whole process. Many of the women I know suffer the pains of damnation once a month, huddled in the fetal position, doped to the gills, praying for a hysterectomy. I'm luckily not like that. I think I might be more typical, but even if not, who cares. It's my blog; you're all just living in it.

The Physical:

There's something strangely dissociative about being in this body once a month. You know your bod, you know your flaws and your strengths, then one day you wake up and you're in someone else's skin. Sure, there's the bleeding, but that's so secondary to my experience...it's just there. Big freaking deal. (Another death threat to the tool who made that comment about 'not being able to trust an animal that bleeds for a week and doesn't die.' I can think of lots of ways to bleed that guy, wherever he is. And people wonder why women get angry.)

What's weird is waking up with someone else's figure. My friend S. used to term this feeling "Hoover Dam." You feel as though you're carrying a camel's humpful of water in various parts of your body. Walking becomes a strange sloshy slow motion feature -- I feel as though I'm the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, or perhaps some sort of Megasaurus Regina plowing through the witless pedestrians of Turtle Town. (This is fun to imagine, and much of what makes my walk to work enjoyable on mornings like this. I just hope the sound effects in my head aren't being vocalized. I have a great Godzilla yell.) So I stagger along, but the clothing is snug, and the breasts are totally out of control. Becoming more voluptuous overnight surely sounds kind of fun, but for me it involves a throw-down between me and my chest in the morning. People walking by my bedroom in the morning might hear an exchange like something out of a pirhana feeding tank:

"Get in there! GET DOWN! I have had enough with you! Get in there! STAY! Stay down..."

And that's just putting on a bra! It's not fun to feel antagonism towards your own appendages.

So you feel enormous, weirdly anemic, puffy, and slow. I personally get more clumsy, dropping things a lot and running into corners, as though I can no longer determine the boundaries of my own flesh. But then the weird thing is....

The Emotional:

There's something crazy that happens to my typically stable brain when I get my period. I become weirdly predatory and oversexualized. Two examples from the last 24 hours: I was buying my favorite moisturizer online, and I noticed that the place where I buy my lingerie was having a sale. Within 15 seconds I had bought expensive lingerie in wild colors. It wasn't even conscious thinking or a deliberate movement of my hands on the keyboard. It simply was. And from this reptilian predatory part of my brain, I heard this strange low chuckle. (This spontaneous purchase of sexy items used to happen in malls or other places. It's not an internet shopping thing, but man is it easier now!) Same thing last night as I was sitting at a great bar with two friends. They kept telling me to stop staring at the bartender like I was going to eat him. I apparently had this intense look going on that I wasn't even aware of. Again, the weird low laugh from the dark side of my brain and the sense that I should pity the poor man. So I'm puffy, but I'm also stalking prey apparently.

This weird wildness is tempered somewhat by the typical chick period things -- like listening to music obsessively, particularly chick bands. I personally have been on a New Order kick, but the past few days I've only listened to Bizarre Love Triangle and True Faith. Weird? Probably. I don't eat chocolate, I don't desire ice cream, but I do crave red meat. A lot. Lots of protein. I eat liver, for pete's sake!

Yet through all of this, there's a strange exhilaration that I've beaten the system again. A period is a single girl's best friend. I want to high five my fallopian tubes and tell them "Job well done. Let's clean the decks and forge ahead."

So to the fellow in Alley's cube who thinks he has my womb figured out and marked on his grid, walk a mile in my mules, jackass. No time for your candy-ass misunderstandings -- I've got lingerie to buy.

7.29.2005

Butterscotch Stallion

In case you don't know, this is what some of those celebrity blog sites like Defamer and Gawker call Owen Wilson. The Butterscotch Stallion. I bring it up because, well, I think it's a strangely compelling name, and also because I dreamt about him last night.

Neither my roommate nor I slept last night. This never happens. I'm wondering if the power lines were humming or something strange and X-Filesy was afoot. I was crashed out in bed at 10 pm after my students made me lose my will to live, but then at 12:30 I was up up up up! Up until 4 and then tossing around until 6. Like up and watching Family Guy on Adult Swim. Thank god for the Cartoon Network. It was the episode when the boys all take ipecac and bet who can go the longest without throwing up. ("Peter! Hold my ears!") I had to put a pillow over my mouth so I wouldn't wake the roomie with my cackling. Whoo that's good stuff.

But back to Owen. I've always had a thing for this actor, even though "his nose looks like a penis," in the sage words of my friend TM. I just think he's delicious. Anyway, I had a dream that we met at a bar in DC while I was waiting for a date, and we ended up hanging out rather a lot in Baltimore, my future residence. We had a blast. We drank the same kind of beer. He was much smarter than he looks, which is a plus, because he looks like he's dumber than a bucketful of hair (exhibit A: see this article in Slate about his work on the Wes Anderson films - I'm determined to make him something other than a mimbo). But throughout the dream, the phrase "butterscotch stallion" kept running through my brain. It's weird, but really hot at the same time.

But maybe that's the three hours of sleep talking. I'm off to put cucumbers on my eyes and maybe hit the gym before going to work. Pity my date tonight. He's in for some rough Megarita time, god love him.

7.11.2005

Driven to Distraction

I'm sitting at my desk listening to fiddle music (which is not the same as bluegrass, I've since learned), completely paralyzed by the week that begins here and now.

I start teaching tomorrow night -- no biggie, I can scoot my booty through teaching almost anything, so that's do-able. For some reason that responsibility and its accompanying butterflies in the tummy has gotten mixed up with my dissertation chapter (which is still coming in fits and starts), the three jobs I'm juggling this summer to try and pad the nest before I go on fellowship year, finding a place to live so I can move out of Dudesylvania sometime in August, and some other stuff. Plus I'm feeling rather addled from my weekend -- I didn't sleep at all on Saturday night for some excellent reasons, but it's thrown my (apparently-ready-for-elder-care) system off in a BIG way.

So I'm distracted, a little wacked out by not sleeping, thinking about non-scholastic matters, and incapable of looking at the three large piles on my desk: "Teach This," "Write This," "Rent This." All I can think to do is hit the gym really hard and work out the nerves. Because WOW I've got some nerve. Ha.

7.09.2005

Infiltrating Dude HQ

Diva T and I had some catching up to do last night, so we met up after work on truly one of the nicest nights DC has had in weeks. She was feeling tequila-ey, so we walked over to a Turtle U institution -- which we'll call "Southwestern Metropolis."

This bar/restaurant is dude central -- I never go there for fear of running into students past and present. But it's the 'tween semester time here, and it's a weekend break, so I figured it would be quiet. And it was far mellower than it's been, but still...it's Southwestern Metropolis.

First of all, T and were a solid 7-10 years older than everyone there. No one carded us. I'm surprised they didn't offer me an Ensure or a place to put my walker. Outrageous. Thankfully, T and I can still hold out own, decrepit washed up oldies that we are.

Favorite line of the night (overheard): "So I totally passed out in front of the refrigerator holding a cantelope."

Favorite spotting: Important Renaissance scholar, whom I immediately invited over to join us. He was tempted, but thankfully thought better of my excellent and rather boozily offered plan to hang with the ladies. (That sound you hear is either my nascent career flushing down the toilet or the "cha-ching" of a tenure track job at this man's institution. Chortle...)

Favorite bill from a restaurant: 2 taco salads, 8 margaritas. We will keep our girlish figures while we pound back cheap tequila.

I was even home at a decent enough hour that I woke up around 8:30 and shuffled out to make crepes for the roomie and myself. We settled down to geek out on a Mystery Science Theater re-run and then watched the Tour de France for a bit. French extravaganza! Those guys scare the hell out of me, but damn it's an exciting thing to watch. Also, today's stage winner was a man called "Weening," which I heard as "Wiener," so A. and I got to stand up in our living room and cheer "Go Wiener Go!" It's an inspiring way to start a Saturday...for us and our dudelet neighbors.