A Slowly Fading Marque?

With Americans having to adjust their budgets now more than ever to modestly harmonize with their incoming cash flow, cutting costs for entertainment expenses is indeed on most everyone’s agenda. Those who enjoy watching movies have had to lay this form of entertainment on the budget chopping block as well, but thanks to mediums such as Netflix and Video On Demand, movies can still be enjoyed for a reasonable price that can easily fit into modest budget. The average cost of going to the cinema is roughly around $25 per person, which includes tickets, snacks, drinks, and other refreshments sold at the concession stands. According to the results of an online survey conducted by “Harris Poll®” in December 2013, 57% of Americans favored watching movies at home as opposed to the 21% of Americans who preferred to go to the cinema. With approximately a little over one-half of American moviegoers faithfully visiting the cinemas, will this amount be enough to keep the cinemas alive within the next few years?

The participants who were surveyed in the aforementioned poll were also asked to give their opinions about the pros and cons of going to the cinema to watch movies verses watching movies using another medium. Being able to experience a movie in 3-D and in digitally mastered sound quality seemed to win the majority of votes on the pros’ list despite the fact that “rude moviegoers” was the number one reason on the cons’ list for why the participants would prefer to watch movies from home. The high cost of refreshments sold at the concession stand was another major turn-off for 62% of those surveyed, and an overwhelming 69% felt theaters take advantage of showing 3-D movies as an excuse to charge outrageously higher prices to view them.

With tablets and smartphones gaining more and more popularity for their video-playing capabilities, a majority of the moviegoers who are constantly on-the-go have converted their medium of viewing pleasure from going to the cinema into indulging in Netflix for downloading movies to their portable device. If the cinemas can come up with an idea that tops this convenience along with figuring out a way to offer lower prices for tickets and refreshments, then the cinema might have a fighting chance to stay alive.

©2014 Learus Ohnine

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Ice Age Reincarnated

With films such as “Twister,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and the most recent release “2012” depicting some of the most horrific weather conditions with impressive special effects, who would have thought we would see these scenes practically come to real life? Although not as extreme in severity, the recent changes in weather conditions around the globe keep scientists speculating just how similar, theoretically speaking, these treading conditions will be in comparison to the Hollywood’s adaptations. From major blizzards to record-breaking temperatures, attributes such as global warming and solar output put together a more precise explanation of why there seems to be a “role reversal” in climatic changes. While glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are decreasing in mass, other parts of the world are either experiencing out-of-season unusually cold temperatures in Summer, abnormally high temperatures in Winter, or vice versa.

Aside from the all the other scientific theories, another intergalactic phenomenon that has slowly yet efficiently progressed over the years may also be a contributing factor as to why the earth seems “upside down.” From 1982 to 2005, the Earth’s geographical poles have changed locations, moving at a speed of approximately 6 centimeters per year according to a research conducted at the University of Texas in Austin. Data collected by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) was used to determine if the shifting of the North and South Pole have had any affect on the changes in weather. The results concluded the exact opposite: the changes in weather caused by global warming have affected the Earth’s positioning; for example, the North Pole is gradually moving southward.

However, there is more to the changes in the weather than just being attributed to a shift in geographically polarity and global warming. The Sun’s atmospheric motions, which includes sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, proposedly has an enormous impact on the Earth’s surface, thus creating a cataclysmic pattern of intensified earthquakes and increased volcanic activity. Japan’s worst earthquake in history occurring on March 11, 2011 followed by the Philippines on April 11, 2012 along with the most recent of earthquakes on January 20, 2014 in New Zealand clearly demonstrates the increasing trend of seismic activity along with the various volcanic eruptions occurring within the 21st century.

Conclusively, all changes in weather conditions has made a gross impact on our lives and daily routines regardless of its origin, with seemingly no relief in sight for the near future. All we can do is hope these changes do not become so increasingly dramatic that it really does seem as if we are living in a science fiction movie.

©2014 Learus Ohnine

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NASA

Literacy In America

The advanced potential of technology, along with its mainstream function of being able to access information at any given time, has now overturned the way readers have access to books. Having the potential to access publications from the comfort of your own home at any given time of the day or night may be the main contributing factor as to why consumers have elected to invest in the purchasing of an e-book reader as opposed to spending money on transportation costs to their local bookstore. More recently, local and large chain bookstores have reported an enormous drop in sales since technology has introduced a more convenient way to read by way of the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Amazon Kindle, the Pandigial Reader, and the Sony Reader. While e-book sales have increased over the years in the United States, the U.S. adult literacy rates have decreased.

Literacy has a major impact on the functional ability of a country. However, statistics reveal a sad truth concerning the readers residing in the United States: approximately 32 million Americans cannot read. According to a study performed by The Organization for Economic Adult Literacy, the United States ranked 16 out of 23 countries. 1 out of 3 American adults cannot read properly, meaning either they do not fully understand the material they have read or they cannot analyze the information they have read correctly. Oddly, 33% of American adults, or 1 out of 4 Americans, own an e-reader of some sort. As the number of e-books sold has increased by 43% over the past 5 years, over 10 million e-books have been sold thus far yet this does not indicate there is hope for an increase in American literacy rates.

One possible explanation as to the awkward imbalance in statistics when comparing the number of e-reader and e-book sales to literacy rates is the decline of available bookstores where physical books may be purchased. When assessing the literacy rates, approximately 1 in 3 adults scored low in problem solving abilities within a technical environment. Not every reader is computer literate. In bookstores, customers can readily ask for assistance if needed when searching for a specific topic or publication. With e-readers, the reader is pretty much on their own. Since the sales of e-books has risen over the past 10 years, bookstores have been forced to shut down due to their low sales volume. Their low sales volume is contributed to the rising number of readers who prefer to purchase e-books rather than the traditionally printed book, and not all adult educational development resources are available in electronic form.

With bookstores becoming extinct and electronic book sales increasing, there may still be hope for raising the literacy stats for American adults as long as the number of library locations does not decline in the process…

©2013 Learus Ohnine

The Resurrection of the “Boob Tube”

Television viewers from around the world can certainly appreciate the way the “Boob Tube” has expanded not only its content by way of regular programming, but also its optional convenience of being able to access most programs at the viewer’s discretion. Gone are the days when it was imperative for television viewers to frantically race home from work in order to catch their favorite prime-time tv show at the exact moment it was to be aired or when the housewife had to postpone her housework during the only available airtimes for her favorite soap opera as to not miss one episode. Television viewing has become so advanced that not only do viewers no longer have to concern themselves with adjusting their own availability according to their favorite program schedules, they don’t even have to be present in front of a television screen to watch it.

VOD, or Video on Demand, has become the most popular (and most convenient) sought-out method for those who have a busy lifestyle and need to stay on-the-go, or even for those who just want to enjoy their favorite television programs and/or movies in the comfort of their own home at their own leisure by way of any preferred technological medium. Video on Demand allows its users to stream selected audio and video content through a “set-top box” connected to their television or personal computer to view in real time, or download content to a digital video recorder (DVR) or any portable media player device for leisurely viewing at any time. Users have the option of viewing their downloaded selected content in much the same style as with a VCR with functions such as fast forwarding, pausing, slow forward and rewind functions, etc.

For those who especially enjoy watching movies from the comfort of their own home without having to travel back and forth to the nearest video rental store, the most popular on-demand provider, Netflix, offers the widest range of variety for movies (and prime time episodes) for a small monthly subscription fee comparably lower than most video store rental rates. Netflix subscribers can choose between watching their favorite selected content online via Internet streaming or DVD and Blu-ray Discs via U.S. mail. Instant-watch devices compatible with Netflix include the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet, the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, the Nintendo Wii, and the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch supported by the Android Version 2.2 and above web browser platform.

According to the research firm Rentrak, American households watched approximately 8.5 hours of programming per day through Video on Demand services with an all-in-all total of over 1 billion hours of VOD programming in 2012. With these statistics guaranteed to continue climbing with each passing year, television networks and cable companies can count on VOD to help build a new audience of viewers from all walks of life.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Social Mediautilation

One of the most favorites of popular fads these days are the social media networks. A majority of electronic devices (desktops, laptops, cell phones, etc.) are already installed with pre-loaded apps for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms before they leave the manufactures. These media platforms are a great source for entertainment purposes, keeping up-to-date on the latest news and events, networking, playing online games, and staying in touch with friends and family. While this social media epidemic appears to be meekly harmless fun on the forefront, there have been reports of it becoming a severe unhealthy addiction for some, especially when that addiction teeters on the avenue of gross negligence.

A South Korean couple was arrested and charged with starving their three-month-old daughter to death while they obsessively devoted a majority of their waking hours into playing an online role-playing game, Prius Online, whose main objective was to raise a virtual baby girl. The couple seemed to have slipped into an overwhelming depressive state of mind due to their sudden unemployment status and the reality of giving birth to a premature baby girl. Obviously, their uncontrollable addiction to this role-playing game was a remedy for escaping their own reality. The tragedy of their willfully negligent behavior became more of an irreparable reality than the one they have imagined was necessary to escape from.

A 28-year-old New Mexico mother was convicted of second degree murder and child abandonment for the negligent death of her three-year-old daughter. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be starvation, with traces of cat liter in her digestive system. FBI agents assigned to the investigation were astonished to find a computer located in the home which showed continuous online activity from noon until 3am on the day of the child’s death. During her trial, the remorseful mother admitted to spending countless hours online playing the fantasy role playing game “World of Warcraft”.

Some parents joyously spend hours at the computer updating their facebook and twitter statuses of their children’s playful antics, milestone developments, and proud photos of their playful antics. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It is only when this devotion to any social media platform begins to mutilate one’s state of mind whereas they are no longer able to distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality is when intervention not only becomes imperative, it becomes an urgent life or death emergency.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Role Models in Sports

Every parent wants their child to have one. Not just any one, but the best one there is. Some of us still hold on to the one we originally had as a child, and still cherish the day we found it throughout our entire lives. It may even be safe to say it’s ingrained in our nature to seek out a least one of these. All of us at some point of our lives will have had at least one or more, but there’s nothing more disappointing than finding out the one we have is not all that its cracked up to be.

What we’re talking about here are role models. A role model can be defined as someone you look up to; someone you admire for their achievements, triumphs, goals, etc., or in short, someone with whom you would like to mirror their image. The behavior of a role model should exhibit a set of examples for others to follow. For example, when a child has dreams of one day becoming a famous fashion designer, pictures of Donatella Versace’s work may be something found plastered all the child’s bedroom walls along with article clippings of magazine interviews highlighting every detail of this designer’s life. The same goes for a child who has dreams of becoming an actor/actress, a model, and so on. Admiring the work that someone is known for being famous for seems harmless at first, and also quite inspiring to the young learner indeed. However, this is also one major reason why parents need to show great concern if their child’s role model is rumored to be involved in less than desirable behaviors.

Over the past 100 years or so, it seems the quality of role models has declined greatly, especially in the world of sports. There has been so much controversy publicized by the media today to the extent where it not only discredits the athlete, but it also undermines the athlete’s integrity by which the individual appeared to have used in order to achieve their victories. Athletic icons of the past such as Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan were all portrayed as genuine highly-skilled athletes whose only “less than desirable” behaviors included reckless gambling, draft evasion, and profiting without conscious.

Nowadays, a majority of global athletic heroes are constantly under scrutiny for steroid usage abuse to the point where their reputation will forever be tarnished as well as their career. Jose Conseco has said he regrets writing his book on the abuse of steroid usage in sports because it exposed a truth that had major adverse effects on his career as well as those of his fellow team players. Chris Benoit was involved in a double murder-suicide role when he killed his wife, his 7-year-old son, and himself while suffering from brain damage due to his steroid usage. This opened the doors for a federal investigation into steroid abuse in the world of sports. While some athletes don’t deny their usage and have actually been convicted as being guilty and disciplined for it, many have been innocently been accused and also suffer with the same murky reputation as the ones whose names really do deserved to be smudged.

With a lack of athletic role models available to play in the lives of today’s youth, should sports be put on the endangered species list of careers for the sake of preserving our fragile youth? Sports should be fun and engaging as well as provide a healthy dose of competitive entertainment to win, but not at someone else’s expense, which is exactly the impression we get from today’s athletic role models.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

The More, The Merrier (In Film)

Recently, there has been quite a bit of controversy over whether or not Hollywood should be allowed to utilize resources supposedly meant only for smaller-scale film makers and emerging talented artists. The Rob Thomas Veronica Mars project and Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here” project drew attention to crowdfunding resources to help develop their artistic projects. Hollywood celebrity projects are also being presented at independent film festivals, which has sparked yet another concern for smaller-scale film makers. Emerging artistic-entrepreneurs are concerned these high-profile projects will deprive them of funding as well as having the presence of Hollywood-related productions at independent film festivals will increase commercial pressure.

Kickstarter, a for-profit fundraiser, is designed to assist artists in a collective effort to help generate the required capital needed towards the development of their creative projects. For those who contribute a donation towards a project (called “Backers”), the artist will reward their pledgers with incentives based on the amount pledged. With the presence of Hollywood celebrities promoting their work, aspiring film makers feel the competition for acquiring funding is now too intense, mainly because of the more appealing incentives being offered by these high-profile projects and the presumption of the celebrity to be already financially secure enough to not need the monetary support. However, the presence of “hollywood” on this site has statistically proven to have drawn more backers who are willing to take the risk to invest in a production. Consequently, the more investors equals greater chances of exposure and in meeting the proposed investment goals for all participants.

Aside from the storylines and genre preferences, surveys have shown that movie goers tend to go see movies that feature their favorite Hollywood performing artists. Therefore, one of the main revenue-generating reasons behind the box office success of a film is due to the casting of the most popular Hollywood stars. Since determining the cast of a low-budget film usually weighs heavily on the film’s budget, this limits the available options for choosing major revenue-generating performers for the production of the film itself. The initial purpose of creating independent film festivals was to allow emerging film makers the opportunity to display their talents without the pressures and conformities of hollywood competition.

Because celebrities have since been able to participate in these independent film festivals, many feel this contradicts the purpose of these festivals in focusing the attention on the work of a lesser-known talent. On the other hand, celebrities bring with them a fan base of many whom attend these film festivals for a chance to meet their favorite celebrity face to face, again more chances of exposure for lesser known talented artists in creating their own fan base. With celebrities and their affiliates in attendance, this also creates more exposure and networking opportunities for emerging artists, and also the possibility of receiving collaborative propositions from those already established within the industry.

Ultimately, the chances of emerging talented artists getting increased exposure is greater when their association is connected to those who are already established within the Hollywood studio system. Many celebrities have begun their career this way–associating, networking, and collaborating their way through exposure. Crowdfunding resources and independent film festivals are about more than just competition; it is now considered the best collaborative social networking system beneficial for artist from all walks of life…

© 2013 Learus Ohnine