The theme of the day is genes.
I read an excerpt from Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene and found the whole premise of the book fascinating. Organisms don't use genes to reproduce. Instead, genes use organisms to propagate themselves. I am being used by my genes for their dirty mission of propagation. I am a mere puppet of pollination.
Well, all I have to say is, my genes are doing a lousy job.
I think the uber tennis genes conspired to get Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi together. Now they're close to success--Graf is pregnant with Andre's baby. Whoa, now if there was ever a kid who was in risk of having oppressive tennis parents. Of course, with Andre's hand-eye coordination and Steffi's athleticism, the kid will be jump roping with the umbilical cord as soon he or she is out of the womb.
The amazing genetics in Lance Armstrong were lucky when, with the aid of some serious chemotherapy, he survived a bout with testicular cancer. And managed, with the help of modern medicine, to preserve some of his sperm before the intense treatment so that he could have a baby with his wife Kristin after he recovered. Well, tomorrow is the first mountain stage of the Tour, and it's time for Lance to go to work. Heras and the other boys of USPS have to launch him off the front, and the stage ends with the incomparable L'Alpe D'Huez. I'll be glued to my set. It's moving day. It's going to be fascinating to see if Lance can put everyone away like he's done in the past. He looks strong. We'll see.
If Napster had genes, they would be upset. The government has managed to take it down, amazingly. I now realize that any sites that want to replicate Napster's business model legally will have serious issues because the courts and the music labels will come down on them with tremendous resources. The only way Napster can be replaced is with something distributed across the citizens of the Net. The music is still out there in the form of CDs, and the software to turn music into MP3s is still available. All that's needed is the software to link people up, to present a front-end interface that allows for easy search and retrieval. Unfortunately, it will take a Robin Hood to create it, because there isn't much money in that direction now, what with the courts breathing down Napster's necks, and the music labels hogging all their music for themselves. The digital music efforts by the music labels right now are pathetic and will take years to perfect. Micropayments will help, but until then, I mourn the extinction of Napster. It's actually reduced my music purchases, though the labels would never believe me.
The genes for movies of the Final Fantasy genre are not in good shape. The film, which took $113 million to make, only pulled in $11.4 million this weekend, despite opening with $5 million on a Wednesday! Ouch. It finished in fourth place behind Legally Blonde, The Score, and Cats and Dogs. I was surprised Legally Blonde finished first, as I hadn't seen any trailers for it. I was not surprised Final Fantasy had a relatively weak opening:

  • The trailers did not impress me with any recognizable storyline or human characters I should care about. What is the story about, anyway?

  • Most of America was not familiar with the video game. Only gamers, but I think all of them watched it on Wednesday. That left the rest of the world, which mostly could care less about watching some teenage boy cartoon (at least that's what it was perceived to be.

  • The graphics in the trailers on TV looked okay but it's difficult to convey amazing graphics through TV or print

  • Yes, it's impressive that they fully animated a human character, but while that's technically impressive that doesn't really matter to the average moviegoer, who wants to see interesting, realistic characters, and the ones in Final Fantasy still can't compare to live actors

  • American adults are skeptical about the idea of serious animated films. The average American adult thinks of animated films as being for kids, or being comedies with adult sensibilities, like Shrek. I bet Final Fantasy performs much better in Japan, where anime and manga are highly respected as serious storytelling mediums.

Having said that, I will probably go see Final Fantasy because I do think animation can tell serious stories, and I find the technical achievement to be a milestone in film history.