Nanami togarashi! Very similar to the shichimi togarashi from a few days ago, but not quite. Details on Toby's blog here: http://myrialux.net/2014/12/21/advent-c
Nanami togarashi! Very similar to the shichimi togarashi from a few days ago, but not quite. Details on Toby's blog here: http://myrialux.net/2014/12/21/advent-c
Vanilla ice cream flavor Kit Kats! Which tell you to keep them in the freezer, which is good as Toby's seekrit* candy stash drawer is overflowing with Japanese snacks right now! His reaction here: http://myrialux.net/2014/12/20/advent-c
* for values of "seekrit" that equal "I know exactly where it is."
Three mango-flavored candies and another gummy lychee, because it happened to make it into that bag when I was doling out the contents. Toby's comments on the slightly odd flavor of the mango ones ehre: http://myrialux.net/2014/12/20/advent-c
About 10-15% of the student body was Jewish as were some of the teachers. Almost all of them went along with the whole thing in the spirit of seasonal goodwill.
In an ideal world, majorities stage their celebrations in a way which promotes universal goodwill. Minorities can partake of these celebrations in that same universal spirit.
FUCK SEASONAL UNIVERSAL GOODWILL. SERIOUSLY, FUCK IT. I just want to celebrate Chanukah with my friends and family and not celebrate Christmas. Is that really so much to ask?
And pity poor Ken Greenberg, who probably just wanted to be in a play with his friends at school and in order to do that was forced to embody a symbol of a religion he didn't believe in as part of a play embodying a religious ritual that meant nothing to him. And who certainly didn't sign up to be David Kopel's "my Jewish friend" in heinous stories like this one.
I could cheat and say "walking down the street to the on campus cafeteria," which is usually what I do for weekday lunches. It's almost always less than ¥500, it's decent for the price, and it gets me variety. On the other hand I could say that large parts of Japanese cuisine actually evolved out of snack food (viz. sushi), and that entire restaurant categories (i.e. ramen joints) are dedicated to getting food into people and people out the door as soon as possible--though you'll hardly ever be pressured to hurry up with your meal.
But in reality this often comes down to the grocery store and to whatever random little food shop is in your neighborhood. Three years ago in Kyoto I only had one burner, which meant that most days I biked down to the grocery store at about 6:30pm and picked up a package of store-made gyoza with the 20% off "time service discount," biked back up to my place, refried them, and called that a meal. For variety's sake every so often I'd go to the takoyaki stand down the street instead. (Side note: my kingdom for a neighborhood takoyaki stand here in Tokyo, omg.) The downside to this strategy was that I eventually gave myself a vitamin deficiency, and indeed, for people who were basically all vegetarians until the 1860s, there are not a lot of vegetables (particularly greens) in the Japanese diet--especially up here in Tokyo, where people's habits are much more visibly influenced by the "modern" of, say, Germany in the 1880s than in Kyoto, where traditionalism and hippies meet and eat vegan cuisine together. (Fun fact: there is a statue of Townsend Harris in Shimoda, erected by the nation's grateful beef farmers. I like to think that the statue is Townsend Harris as played by John Wayne.) The other night at a Belgian bar in Akasaka I ordered a Caesar salad and got half of an endive with dressing, croutons, and bacon and was so happy, but I digress.
So, yeah. Basically the quickest you can get is a bento at the grocery store or conbini, or instant noodles at a conbini--99% of them have hot water and microwaves available for you to make the instant noodles in-store. I actually never eat instant noodles and don't eat bento very often, though I probably should given my positive paranoia about getting enough vegetables. (Vegetables! I miss them so much.) I keep a package of frozen gyoza in my freezer and eat them as desperation calls for. If I'm out and about and not planning on heading back to my house, though, there are many, many places where you can get food very quickly in Japan, particularly in Tokyo. I'm thinking of a curry joint I really like in Dogenzaka that is quick and surprisingly tasty. Mmm, curry. And in Tokyo a surprising number of places here have the ticket machines where you pay for your food before you sit down and then just leave when you finish eating. Tokyo, man.
by Guest Contributor Jon Gosier, originally published at Gosier.org
When I tell people I used to work for Tyler Perry there are overwhelmingly two reactions. The first is the number of people around the world who haven’t ever heard of him or his work. The second reaction is laughter or condescension:
“The guy who dresses like a woman?”
“The guy who makes those black films?”
“The guy who puts his name in the title of all his films?”
Yes. That guy.
Regardless of whether or not you think he’s a creative genius, he is a genius of a different type and a lot smarter than people seem to give him credit for, especially when it comes to business.
First, some background. I only worked for Tyler Perry Studios briefly from 2006 to 2007. It was just after he had closed a deal for $200 million dollars to build his studio in Atlanta and produce his first set of TV Shows, HOUSE OF PAYNE and MEET THE BROWNS, for TBS. I was a Sound Designer and Audio Engineer at the time and not involved in any business dealings so nothing I’m saying here is confidential. In fact, much of what I write here can be discovered through a few searches on Google, Wikipedia or Variety.com.
In any case, through following Perry over the years and reflecting on my own observations at his studio, I learned a lot that I later used to find success in the tech industry. What are some of these lessons?
1- He Knows the Business He’s In
The secret to Tyler Perry’s success is really in that second group of people I mentioned. The smug people who underestimate him.
The first lesson I learned is, rarely are successful people in the business of the things their critics think they are.
People think Tyler Perry is in the business of pleasing the public or critics. He’s not. He’s not even in the business of speaking to his ‘niche’ audience. No, Tyler Perry is in the business of making movies that earn returns for his financiers. Yes, he speaks to an audience he understands but he’s always been smart enough to focus on what matters most which is the bottom-line.
But what makes him stand out, is that people at every level are always underestimating his ability to do one thing because of their opinion about how poorly they feel he does another. In this case, because they don’t get or simply don’t like his films, they often assume they will flop. When they don’t, not only has he succeeded, but he’s surpassed expectations that were probably unfairly low to begin with. He knows this and uses it to his advantage.
2 – He’s Bankable
At Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses they use the term ‘bankable’ to describe people and companies who are attractive to investors. In other words, people who prove they will use money wisely and therefore attract more money.
There is a saying that goes, “A good engineer is someone who can do for $1 what any idiot can do for $2”. In this regard, Tyler Perry is a good engineer.
His first film DIARY OF MAD BLACK WOMAN woman only cost $5.5 million dollars to make. It went on to gross over $50 million.
Many of the methodologies Steve Blank described in ‘The Lean Startup”, I watched Perry apply to his work in TV and Film. Prior to having the money to actually produce feature films, he just set up a camera and FILMED THE PLAYS ON STAGE!! Frugal innovation that would make even Navi Radjou proud. It was the sale of those homegrown DVDs and related merchandise and tickets that originally gave him his first big financial successes. This also proved he had an audience that was hungry and unspoken to.
It was these numbers that convinced Lionsgate to back him for his first few films. It was the success of those films that lead TBS to back him for TV syndication deal for his first two TV Shows, which lead his deal with Oprah’s OWN network and so on.
He essentially sold his first TV Show, HOUSE OF PAYNE, into syndication before he produced a single episode. This was smart for many reasons. First, it gave him the money up front to produce the show, which would go on to build his brand over the next five years. Second, because his deal with Lionsgate also underwrote his studio, this asset dramatically cut costs on producing the TV show (and all his subsequent TV shows and movies). Third, because TBS put the money up for a syndicated show, we ended up shooting and editing the entire series (which ended up being 7 seasons long) in just over a year. One year!
Why? Because the longer you shot a show, the more costs you have. Staff, insurance, on screen talent, if it took 7 years to produce the show, you’d have to pay for all of those for 7 years. By doing it all in barely over one year, that’s essentially 1/7th the cost for the same amount of money. That money he reinvested into producing other content which at that point could be sold for all profit.
The fourth amazing thing about that deal was the fact that he completely de-risked the entire process of launching a successful TV show in the first place.
Syndication means that a TV show will go on to air and ideally generate profit for the TV Network that purchased it for years. Usually syndication deals only work with popular, proven shows that have amassed huge followings when they originally aired. Shows like BIG BANG THEORY, SEINFELD, and CHEERS. Rather than run the risk of HOUSE OF PAYNE airing and not being that successful, by selling it directly into syndication he ensured that, regardless, his product was sold. It’s a bit like starting a business with a guaranteed exit.
There are a lot of people who try to argue away Tyler Perry’s success because of they don’t like his creative choices. But they fail to realize that there are plenty of people who have talent who don’t survive in business. Talent isn’t always bankable, generating profit is.
3 – He’s Consistent
More than the fact that he knows how to operate leanly and still generate profit, the reason why investors continue to back his projects is the fact that he’s so amazingly consistent. He has NEVER lost money on a film. Not a single one. In fact, almost all of his films made all their money back on the first weekend, Which is crazy given that in Hollywood’s eyes he’s still relatively ‘new’ (he’s only been directing for around 12 years). This is in comparison to an industry full of big name directors who have lost tons of money on various projects.
Here is a list of the movies Tyler Perry has made throughout his career and their box respective office earnings (and cost where I could find it):
Title / Budget / Opening Weekend / Total Earnings (in millions)
MADEA GOES TO JAIL Unknown/$41M/$90.4M
MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION $20M/$25.3M/$65.6M
MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION $6M/$30M/$63.3M
WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? $20M/$29.2M/$60M
WHY DID I GET MARRIED? $15M/$21.3M/$55.1M
MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY $25M/$25M/$53.3M
A MADEA CHRISTMAS Unknown/$16M/$52M
I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF $13M/$23.4M/$51.6M
DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN $5.5M/$21.9M/$50.3M
MEET THE BROWNS Unknown/$20M/$41.9M
FOR COLORED GIRLS Unknown/$19.4M/$37.7M
THE FAMILY THAT PREYS Unknown/$17.3M/$37M
GOOD DEEDS Unknown/$15.5M/$35M
DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS $10M/$13M/$31.3M
THE SINGLE MOM’S CLUB Unknown/$8M/$15.9M
This data is gathered from the IMDB page on Perry.
My initial reaction is holy cow, MADEA GOES TO JAIL made $90 million dollars! Combined his movies have made $792.3 million dollars. That’s just theatrical releases and doesn’t include merchandise, DVDs and Blueray, his TV and licensing deals etc. No wonder he keeps making Madea movies!
Beyond that, if he were an entrepreneur or a venture capitalist Perry’s track record would be the equivalent of a like 9.3 of 10. (This assumes THE SINGLE MOM’S CLUB may have lost money since it was a theatrical release with big talent but relatively low earnings. The rest almost certainly did not lose money based on what they ultimately earned.)
It’s actually stupid to bet against a guy who performs this consistently.
4 – He Bets on Himself
I’ve talked a lot about how much money Tyler’s work generates in this post. While the arts aren’t always about profit, being able to finance your own work means you don’t need anyone’s approval to get stuff done.
From what I understand, Tyler Perry is still 100% in control of all his own work. This is similar to how Mark Zuckerberg has built Facebook into a public company valued at over $50 billion dollars without ever giving up more than 51% ownership. It means that nothing happens at Facebook without Mark’s say. He controls the show.
Likewise, with Tyler Perry, he’s the world’s most successful independent film-maker. He never gave up control. Lionsgate is an independent film distribution company and it largely backs independent film projects. By working with them instead of anyone else, Tyler insured that he never really gives up creative control of his work.
This means he doesn’t have to go to the Weinstein Company or Sony or anyone else to ask for money to produce anything. He has enough personal wealth, and enough credibility and success to convince people to back his projects himself.
In fact, the way Tyler’s films are backed tend to resemble venture capital deals more than typical film deals. He proposes a project, investors put up money, he does the project and returns their capital at some multiple of what they originally gave him. That’s the whole bankability thing at play. But because he reinvested his early money to build his own studio, there are far fewer middle men to pay. This means the costs of making a film or show are far lower for him than they would be for anyone else not in his position which allows him to take greater risks on projects.
If he was working within the studio system, he’d have a much harder time convincing “The Studio” that his projects were the right movies to make in the first place. Studios tend to want to make a lot of changes to scripts and they inflate costs because to them, putting more money into fewer projects is more efficient. But what that does is greatly diminish their tolerance for risk. This is why they spend even more money developing and retaining A-List stars who they then cast. The assumption is that A-List talent leading well financed film projects is far more likely to succeed than a bunch of unknowns in smaller budget films. This, as a rule, is usually true. Unfortunately for writers and directors, this ultimately means they have less control over projects that are backed by big Studios. When you hear some directors talking about how hard it is to get controversial films made, it’s because they are asking permission from people at major film studios who are inherently risk-adverse. The Studios want to finance money makers, and they will do everything in their power to ensure everything they produce is such. For them ‘controversial’ means alienating, and alienating audiences isn’t helpful if you’re trying to get the most people possible to go see a film.
The equivalent in the startup world would be the entrepreneur who successfully bootstraps a series of companies, versus entrepreneurs who only rely on venture capital. Neither way is wrong and both can lead to great success but the boot-strapper can take greater risks because he or she has less people to answer to.
5- He’s Obsessive and Detail Oriented
Now you might ask yourself how on earth I could learn anything from a film director if I was working in the audio department. At most film studios, you’d be right. The sound designers usually don’t work too closely with the director.
I’m not sure what it’s like at his studio now but back then, initially I probably saw Tyler Perry once a week (which is a lot). He wanted to change the music, he hated the laugh tracks I added, he wanted some dialogue to be louder, he made suggestions on sound effects. It wasn’t just the audio department, he’d go into the writers room and rewrite portions of the script himself. He’d be on stage with the actors helping them with their performance. He’d supervise video edits. He was in accounting. He was in props. He was the lunchroom with the interns.
The point is, he wanted to know what was going on at every level of his business. While it sometimes it felt like micromanagement, it was ultimately because he cared.
On top of that, he was used to doing a lot with a little. When you build something from nothing, you aren’t used to the people around you chipping in to make things happen. This is because people tend to assume you’re going to fail, and therefore you aren’t worth going out on a limb for. As the founder you know differently, you bet on yourself and you double-down on yourself. This means you’re going to make sure everything gets done.
At Tyler Perry’s studio I saw both sides. Initially he was always there making sure everyone was doing everything. This is completely unsustainable for any business. You have to delegate to scale. As he got more comfortable with the people around him, and saw that we were all actually doing good work (and better work if he left us alone he backed off. He was able to delegate and ultimately start doing multiple things at the same time.
While that ‘founder anxiety’ probably still rears its head every now and then, to be successful at his level you have to learn to let go. Regardless of the business you’re in, this is a good management skill to develop.
6 – When the Rules Aren’t in Your Favor, Make New Rules
While Hollywood has about 100 years on Silicon Valley, the film and tech industries have a lot in common. Both have very insular communities at “the top” which make it hard for newcomers to break in, both require access to capital or financing that not everyone has access to, both require more than just creative talent to be successful, and whether it’s intentional or not, a lot of people feel like many forces conspire to keep them out of the industry at all.
When faced with a tough environment like this, there are two options: fight the system or work outside of it. As far as I’m concerned, Tyler Perry provides one of this generations best examples of a businessman who worked completely outside of the system until the system couldn’t ignore his potential for profit. At that point he had the leverage to basically do whatever he wanted.
From what I can see of his career, Tyler Perry rewrote all the rules that lead to his success because the old rules would have completely prevented it. While that isn’t always easy, it’s necessary for anyone who wants to succeed when the odds are stacked against them.
Sometimes fighting the system in place is a futile effort because you as a lone individual usually can’t change an establishment fast enough to also benefit from the change. If your goal is to make it easier for the next generation that’s one thing, but if your goal is to change it and play in it at the same time, that’s almost sisyphean.
So the lesson here is that when you feel the rules of a system are working against you, one option is to stop working in the system altogether. There is more than one way to do anything.
If you can’t raise venture capital as an entrepreneur perhaps because you feel decimated against or any other reason, then double-down on what you do have. Changing the entire venture capital industry is hard, it’s not impossible but it’s likely not going to be a battle worth fighting if you need capital tomorrow.
If you have an idea for a product or company, bootstrap as far as you can. Do what you can to prove that customers are ready for that product. If you still can’t convince investors to back you, then use that demand to partner with other businesses who can help you get your own to the next level. You never know, you might build a massive business without backing, in which case you’re in the best place to be.
But most importantly, don’t let the fact that the system wasn’t designed in your favor prevent you from trying at all. Not trying is not challenging and not being challenged is exactly what any establishment requires to preserve its status quo.
The post What I Learned About Tech and Business from Tyler Perry appeared first on Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture.
A coworker of mine is trying to write his first novel. Knowing that I edit, he’s asked me for advice. I’ve told him what I’ve learned from the writing community, from professional writers of books and comics, from fanfic, from editing. Keep writing. Finish. Throw out the parts that don’t work. Your first book will likely suck, that’s okay. Re-write. Find beta readers you can trust. Think about what they say. Re-write. Kill your darlings. Write. Finish. Re-write.
To my slight surprise, he’s been doing it.
This weekend, he mentioned he was going to re-read some of his favorite novels to see how writers do things. He named the novels, and I winced. I wrote out the list of books I thought he SHOULD be reading, books written with great skill, demonstrations of great writing.
And then I thought, that’s my Best Of List for 2014.
Bravo, by Greg Rucka
City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
I rec’d Paul Cornell’s London Falling and Severed Streets.
And I rec’d the work of Mira Grant, especially Parasite and Symbiote.
These works are all wildly different from each other. Imaginative. Easy to get into and easy to read. (The older and possibly wiser I get, the more value I place on the readability of a novel. I … tire … of difficult prose. There’s a skill to clean prose that I admire comprehensively.)
These books — these books are good.
I recommend them. Wholeheartedly.
seekingferret asked about Japanese sports.
I don't actually know too much about Japanese sports! The first time I lived here I went to see American football (Kyoto University vs. Ritsumeikan University), sumo, and a Hanshin Tigers baseball game. The football game remains the only one I've seen in its entirety; the interesting thing was the composition of the cheerleading squad: they had a mixed-gender band, a group of dudes in a made-up hakama/kimono outfit combo who were in the stands leading the crowd in cheers (we were given cheer sticks and a handout with songs to sing. Our side was terrible so all we sang were the defense songs), and girls in stereotypical cheerleader outfits down on the field.
The baseball game was much more interesting--in Japan in the seventh inning stretch everyone releases the balloons they bought on the way in, and since the stadium is so small (about 30K people?) it's like being in a sea of balloons floating upwards. Of course it's bad for the environment, but it was cool. And the style of the game is very different here--it's like baseball was in the States before the 1990s, when everyone started doping. The game is much faster-paced and more dynamic because the "home run or nothing" mentality also isn't a thing here. I like that, because the strategy aspects of baseball are something that has always appealed to me.
Sumo was cool, too. I need to see about getting tickets up here in Tokyo, though in recent years the revelations about bullying and match-fixing (not very surprising, to be clear) have somewhat tarnished the sport's reputation. When I went we made a day of it and watched the entire first half of the matches from ringside seats, because it's totally okay to sit in other people's seats as long as they're not there, not to mention eat food and drink beer. And then when Asashoryu lost everyone threw their cushions (zabuton), which was pretty hilarious.
It's my highly subjective impression that figure skating and horseracing are enjoying higher profiles recently. The figure skating thing I'm pretty sure of; Yuzuru Hanyu's latest sports feats regularly make the news, and I see his face around Tokyo fairly frequently. Other than that, I've seen the Seijin-no-Hi archery at Sanjusangen-do and mounted archery and sacred kickball (okemari) at Kamigamo Shrine. Sumo evolved out of shrine festivals, after all, and a number of shrine events still have a sports component. Those are all pretty cool because whatever people are doing, they're doing it in elaborate costumes.
(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
Sunday: I woke up and then was slow about getting myself together to go off to the Gaymer December Shindig. ( I dressed up! ) The event is usually held in the church of one of the guys. It had stayed in the same location between this year and last year. I discovered a parking garage around the corner from the church, so I picked that instead of trying for street parking.
jd was there, and Dave, and xlerb, and many of the usual suspects. I had brought a package for Dave and then a package for the White Elephant. I brought the Bigger Blacker Box. I brought a sack of little oranges.
The door of the church is kept locked outside of regular hours. I came in partway through an Ongoing Saga with some little old lady. Apparently earlier she had asked to come in and then cussed at people and told them they were Hitler when she was either not allowed in or shown the door. I was there when she asked to come in to eat her doughnut (and was refused). Later, she started messing with the security doors, and made them a hazard to the sidewalk, so someone had to go out to fold them back up.
xlerb and I commiserated about our most favoritest ever helldesk software, to wit:
"Tell me you're not using $NAME."
"I'm so sorry. I wish I could."
Not only is it the $NAME he knows and
The thing about watching Dr. Who Christmas Specials on Netflix is that if you start from the same place each year, that's the same thing you'll watch. So there was the spider lady with all the eyes, and Donna, and the darling little adipose beasties, and the Doctor popping up over the side of the cube, and all was familiar and happy. I got some more loonembellishment done, and one of the existing buttons fell off. I'll have to sew it back on.
I joined in a game which had a lot of improbable beans. The politicking was hilarious.
Then there was another game, which I think was Betrayal at House on the Hill, in which Dave was the traitor and also won.
Finally there was the White Elephant (which waited for our game to finish up), which was fun. It combined White Elephant, Werewolf, and various characters from various Christmas/winter-themed things (The Grinch, Max the dog, Santa, Jack Skellington, various reindeer and elves, Elsa). Since I was wearing a tiara, I represented the 1% in the debate over who was the Grinch, in that pretty much everybody said "She's the 1%, it's probably her!" Although I did last until the final 3.
There was a surprisingly small amount of present-stealing, though it heated up at the end. I wound up with a tote bag from the Gaymer convention and a stuffed frog. It is a cute stuffed frog. Dave mentioned the origin story later.
The guy who got the chocolate shared, and there were some dramatic readings from the by-now-at-least-fourthhand book of porn. The pages did flip, and were not stuck together. There was also some kleenex in the package.
It was a lovely evening, and I think we did our part in holding back the darkness.
I gave JD a ride, and we got a chance to talk; we'll try and get together for Boxing Day.
I have a meeting tomorrow at 11am, to try and take a tour of the place we want to have the conference.
I'll believe in anything if you'll believe in anything
Fandom: San Francisco Giants RPS
Pairing: Buster Posey/Tim Lincecum
Summary: Tim's dad squints at the name, twisting his mouth in a grimace. Six months ago he got a tattoo of a baseball on his own wrist, right after Mom left, which is when Tim first understood that being soulmates doesn't always mean things work out. "Maybe it'll turn into Geraldine," he says.
It doesn't turn into Geraldine.
Link to story on AO3
I'm getting my Yuletide recs up early this year! . . . by which I mean earlier than last year, by a whole two days. (Well, it was the 21st before I started reworking my organization scheme on the fly and His Pipliness needed soothing back to sleep, twice. Close enough.) But these are still recs for last year's Yuletide.
Despite the timing, these are all pre-reveal recs: I clipped everything that looked vaguely interesting into Evernote and read it that way, with "anonymous" listed as every author. (In fact I am cutting and pasting so fast now that I am not even registering the author half the time . . . ) There are 59 of these, if my tag count in Evernote is correct, so they are broken down into cut-tagged categories for your convenience; there are headers inside that match the cut-tags for skimming purposes. I am sorry for the lack of detailed discussion, but I hope the headers and my comments give you an idea of whether you want to read the story anyway. Feel free to comment if you'd like more information.
Remember, if you like a story, please at least hit "kudos," or leave a comment if you can! No need for an AO3 account.