Netflix new subscriber sign-ups plummeted over the summer, marking the end of pandemic-fueled growth #SootinClaimon.Com

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Netflix new subscriber sign-ups plummeted over the summer, marking the end of pandemic-fueled growth

EntertainmentOct 21. 2020

By The Washington Post · Steven Zeitchik · BUSINESS, ENTERTAINMENT, TV 

People went outside, and Netflix subscriptions started going down.

That was the lesson from the streaming giant Tuesday, as the company reported that its quarterly net subscriber gains dipped below 10 million for the first time since the start of the pandemic, to just 2.2 million over the summer.

The streaming company had seen massive subscriber spikes since early 2020, gaining 16 million global subscribers in the quarter ending in March, as stay-at-home orders dominated in Europe and began taking hold in the United States. Robust growth continued in the spring, with the period from April to June seeing Netflix rack up a net addition of 10.1 million subscribers around the world.

But July, August and September – historically a strong quarter for Netflix – saw much slower growth, including just 177,000 adds in the United States. The period was one in which many Americans emerged from shutdowns to gather in outdoor locations. In contrast, Netflix had drawn nearly 3 million new American subscribers in the spring.

“As expected, growth has slowed,” the company’s executives said in a letter to investors. “We think this is primarily due to our record first half results,” it added, suggesting that many people who would think about subscribing during the pandemic already had.

The 2.2 million figure is also way down from the 6.7 million Netflix added in the same period last summer.

While the numbers could be viewed as partly a function of subscriber cancellations over the controversial “Cuties,” data has shown this is not likely to have a material impact. 

With $6.43 billion in quarterly revenue, Netflix exceeded forecasters’ projections of $6.38 billion. But earnings per share of $1.74 came in well below expectations of $2.14.

Analysts are unlikely to be concerned with the subscriber slowdown, though, in part because the company is approaching 200 million worldwide subscribers. Its official count was 193 million coming into the quarter. Those figures are well above its nearest streaming competitor, Disney Plus, which several months ago reported it had topped 60 million subscribers worldwide.

On a call with investors, Netflix chief financial officer Spence Neumann said that the firm’s “general underlying metrics are very healthy,” while co-chief executive Reed Hastings added that “We’ve been doing high 20 [million] net adds per year for four years. And this year on guidance it’ll be 34 million. So we’ll set all kinds of new records this year.”

Netflix executives noted in their letter that the company had racked up more than 28 million global subscribers so far this year, surpassing the 27.8 million it gained in all of 2019.

Even as it touted the subscriber numbers, the company has been canceling a number of shows in recent weeks, including fan favorites “Glow,” “The Society” and “Altered Carbon,” often for apparent covid-related cost issues. On Monday, it canceled the outerspace drama “Away” after one season.

On the call, Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos also addressed the surprise departure of the originals executive Cindy Holland last month, saying he wanted to “restructure the content team to. . ..have one global organization.” Holland drove early series like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black” and was replaced in an unexpected move by Bela Bajaria, who previously ran local-language originals.

A fall and winter in which rising virus rates and cold weather are expected to drive people inside could keep Netflix subscriber numbers high.

Meanwhile, the lack of new movies in theaters could ensure people turn to the streaming giant for their entertainment fix. Already, Aaron Sorkin’s war-protest legal drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and Darren Star’s dramatic comedy “Emily in Paris” are among the most talked-about pieces of content this fall, with a new take on the Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel “Rebecca” starring Lily James expected to further drive conversation this month.

The company said one of its most-viewed shows in the most recent quarter was “Ratched,” Ryan Murphy’s spinoff of sorts from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; at least a few minutes of the series were viewed by 48 million households in its first four weeks of release.

Netflix, which has benefited from Oscar-nominated movies such as “The Irishman” and “Roma” in recent years, is likely to really reap its rewards this year. New rule changes allow for movies to qualify this year without playing in theaters, broadening Netflix’s potential base of contenders. And many studios have postponed their films until later in 2021, thinning out the field.

Netflix’s stock price, which has risen 80% since the start of shutdowns in mid-March, was down 6% in after-hours trading Tuesday.

Thai-Canadian model crowned Miss Universe Thailand #SootinClaimon.Com

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Thai-Canadian model crowned Miss Universe Thailand

EntertainmentOct 11. 2020

By The Nation

A 27-year-old Thai-Canadian, Chalisa ‘Amanda, Obdam, has won the Miss Universe Thailand 2020 crown.

Phuket-born Amanda pipped 29 others in the fray for the Mouawaddiamond crown worth Bt3.5 million.

Winner Amanda has a career as a model and beauty queen, having previously won Miss Grand Rising Stars 2016 and Miss Tourism Metropolitan International 2016.

Amanda, who has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in economics from the University of Toronto, Canada, impressed the judges as much with her brains as her beauty, answering questions fluently.

Twenty-nine beauties were in the fray in the final round on Saturday evening at True Icon Hall, Iconsiam in Bangkok.

During the question and answer segment for the top five contenders, Amanda was asked: “A hundred years from today, who would historians select as the most influential woman of the 21st century and why?” She answered that all women have a chance because “we are very strong”.

In the Q&A round of the final three contestants, all the ladies were asked the same question: “The Temple of Dawn symbolises Thailand’s spirit and is a landmark; how would you represent yourself as an icon of Thailand?” Amanda’s reply that even though she was born Thai-Canadian, she is truly a Thai lady and she is going to present all of her Thainess to the world, impressed the judges

Chalisa 'Amanda' Obdam is crowned Miss Universe Thailand by Paweensuda Drouin, the 2019 winner.

Chalisa ‘Amanda’ Obdam is crowned Miss Universe Thailand by Paweensuda Drouin, the 2019 winner.

Amanda was crowned the winner, while first runner-up was Praveenar Singh, a Thai of Indian descent from Chiang Mai province, and the second runner-up was Punika Kulsoontornrut from Prachuap Khiri Khan province

Should BTS get military exemption? #SootinClaimon.Com

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Should BTS get military exemption?

EntertainmentOct 11. 2020BTS (Big Hit Entertainment-Yonhap)
BTS (Big Hit Entertainment-Yonhap) 

By Korea Herald

South Korea debates whether to exempt K-pop superstars from mandatory active duty

As K-pop juggernaut BTS’ global domination continues, South Korea is again debating whether or not to conscript the seven young men for their mandatory active duty.

Talk of special treatment resurfaced on Sept. 3, two days after BTS’ latest single “Dynamite” claimed the coveted top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart — a first in the history of Korean music and a “splendid feat” that boosted national pride, according to President Moon Jae-in.

A ruling party lawmaker publicly proposed a revision to the conscription law to allow high-achieving pop stars like BTS to put off enlistment until the age of 30.

All able-bodied South Korean men aged between 18 and 30 must serve active duty for 18 to 21 months. In this country, still technically at war with North Korea, military service is a highly sensitive issue – so much so that the conscription status of public figures and their sons makes headlines upon any hint of unfairness.

Pop stars have often enrolled in graduate studies to postpone enlistment until after the peak of their careers. BTS’ eldest member Jin is currently enrolled in an online graduate program and can postpone his enlistment until after 2021.

Then on Monday, another ruling party lawmaker finally raised the question: Why not just exempt BTS from active duty?

“Not everyone has to take up a rifle to serve his own country,” Rep. Noh Woong-rae said at a party meeting, stressing that allowing BTS to continue what they are doing is in the best interest of the country.

South Korea exempts exceptionally talented people in the fields of classical music, dance and sports from active duty, but so far not K-pop artists.

Classical musicians and dancers are exempt when they win awards at government-chosen competitions. Athletes need to win any medal at the Olympics or a gold medal at the Asian Games to avoid active duty.

While exempt from active duty, which requires communal living and training at military bases, they are still required to fulfill about four weeks of basic training and mandatory 544 hours of community service during the 34-month term, while carrying on with their day-to-day life. 

The law describes it as an alternative service and no major change has been made to this rule since it was first introduced in 1973.

Giving K-pop artists the same special treatment is again proving to be a highly divisive issue, prompting a clear discord along party lines, ministries and the public.

“I don’t think the public and BTS themselves want us to continue debating their conscription,” Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Nak-yon said at a party meeting Wednesday, advising his fellow party members to say “as little as possible” on the matter.

Lee was clearly putting the brakes on Rep. Noh’s outspoken rhetoric backing a change in the law so that BTS could become the first pop artists to take advantage of alternative service.

“Suppose BTS serves active duty, I think they can do what they do now there, making contributions to this country and elevating its stature,” Lee said.

The defense minister was more direct on the matter, speaking against alternative service for BTS.

“We need public consensus before proceeding to look into it,” he told a parliamentary audit Wednesday. But he conceded a merit-based delay in draft was worth looking into.

At the same audit, the culture minister, however, sounded a different tone, saying the matter needs to be “looked into positively,” adding there were voices in favor of pop artists’ admission to the alternative program.

The public stands split, with those for and against granting pop artists the new privilege standing at 31.3 percent and 30.5 percent, respectively, according to the latest poll commissioned by local outlet Kuki News on Sept. 21.

Those against the privilege argued that there would be no uniform standard to the rule on pop artists’ admission to the alternative program.

“Classic musicians, dancers and athletes have their own competitions – foreign or domestic – to win and prove their exceptional performance to qualify for the service,” a Seoul resident who asked only to be identified by his surname Kim said.

“How are we going to gauge their performance?”

Those in favor of the alternative service spoke of how BTS enhanced Korea’s image abroad and stimulated its economic growth through tourism, among other aspects, but conceded there is a long road ahead.

“We’ll have to come up with a just and fair means based on merit to determine whether certain K-pop artists qualify for the alternative program,” said Han Diane, a freelance writer.

Regarding the issue, the bandmates of BTS have repeatedly said they are willing to fulfill their duty, just like all other ordinary Korean men.

“Someday when duty calls, we will be ready to respond and do our best,” Jin previously said in an interview with CBS’ “Sunday Morning” last year.

“We have nothing to add other than what Jin said himself and the fact that we believe he can postpone his enlistment until 2021,” BTS label Big Hit Entertainment told The Korea Herald.

World music forum aims to introduce Indonesian ethnic music #SootinClaimon.Com

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World music forum aims to introduce Indonesian ethnic music

EntertainmentOct 11. 2020

By GISELA SWARAGITA
THE JAKARTA POST

In a bid to introduce Indonesian ethnic music as part of world music, the Culture Directorate General of the Education and Culture Ministry is set to organize the Indonesian Music Expo (IMEX) Forum.

The forum will take place in Ubud, Bali, from July 1 to 4, 2021. Prior to the forum, an online event will run from Oct. 11 to 18 through Lokaswara Project’s YouTube channel and Indonesian Music Expo’s Facebook page from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We hope that players from the world music industry can come and trade according to their needs,” Ahmad Mahendra, the Culture Directorate General’s head of film, music and new media, said during an online press conference on Wednesday.

“There will be performances from 15 groups. These artists have played in prestigious world music festivals all over the world,” Ahmad said.

He said the ethnic music of Indonesia was very rich and should be introduced to a wider audience. “For thousands of years Indonesia has been the crossroads of east and west. As a result, the progress of world music here is diverse and extraordinary,” he added.

The term “world music” was originally coined among ethnomusicology academics. It became a new trend when major record companies in the United States and Europe started to market ethnic music recordings under the term in the 1980s. The genre then became an umbrella for traditional music originating in Latin America, Africa and Asia. European Celtic music and gamelan from Indonesia are also known throughout the world as part of the genre.

According to the ministry’s statement, 30 years after the genre was introduced it had grabbed 10 percent of the market, worth around US$6.5 billion. World music festivals and new talent are increasingly popular on the global stage. (wng)

Book World: National Book Awards finalists are a strikingly fresh group #SootinClaimon.Com

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Book World: National Book Awards finalists are a strikingly fresh group

EntertainmentOct 10. 2020

By The Washington Post · Ron Charles

Books about race and the struggle for equality feature prominently among the finalists for the National Book Awards announced Tuesday. The 25 honored titles include a satire of Hollywood’s Asian American stereotypes, a history of the forced relocation of Native Americans, a biography of Malcolm X and a YA novel about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Selected from almost 1,700 submissions in five categories – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people’s literature and translated literature – the finalists are a strikingly fresh group: None of the authors has been a finalist for a National Book Award before, and almost a third are debuts. One of those debut authors, Scottish American writer Douglas Stuart, has impressed judges on both sides of the Atlantic. Stuart’s novel, “Shuggie Bain,” about a family in Glasgow, is now a finalist for a National Book Award, a Kirkus Prize and the Booker Prize.

Due to the pandemic, the National Book Awards ceremony, usually the country’s glitziest literary event, will be conducted entirely online on Nov. 18. The winners will receive $10,000 each (for the Translated Literature prize, the money is split with the translator); the finalists will receive $1,000 a piece. During the ceremony, novelist Walter Mosley will formally receive the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and the late Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy will be honored with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

Here is the complete list of finalists:

Fiction

– “Leave the World Behind,” Rumaan Alam (Ecco) (review)

– “A Children’s Bible,” by Lydia Millet (W.W. Norton) (review)

– “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” by Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia Univ. Press
)

– “Shuggie Bain,” by Douglas Stuart (Grove) (review)

– “Interior Chinatown,” by Charles Yu (Pantheon) (review)

Nonfiction

– “The Undocumented Americans,” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (One World)

– “The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X,” by Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Liveright)

– “Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory,” by Claudio Saunt (W.W. Norton) (review)

– “My Autobiography of Carson McCullers,” by Jenn Shapland (Tin House)

– “How to Make a Slave and Other Essays,” by Jerald Walker (Mad Creek)

Young People’s Literature

– “King and the Dragonflies,” by Kacen Callender (Scholastic)

– “We Are Not Free,” by Traci Chee (HMH)

– “Every Body Looking,” by Candice Iloh (Dutton Books for Young Readers)

– “When Stars Are Scattered,” by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (Dial Books for Young Readers)

– “The Way Back,” by Gavriel Savit (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Poetry

– “A Treatise on Stars,” by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (New Directions)

– “Fantasia for the Man in Blue,” by Tommye Blount (Four Way)

– “DMZ Colony,” by Don Mee Choi (Wave)

– “Borderland Apocrypha,” by Anthony Cody (Omnidawn)

– “Postcolonial Love Poem,” by Natalie Diaz (Graywolf)

Translated Literature

– “High as the Waters Rise,” by Anja Kampmann, translated from the German by Anne Posten (Catapult)

– “The Family Clause,” by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies (FSG)

– “Tokyo Ueno Station,” by Yu Miri, translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles (Riverhead) (review)

– “The Bitch,” by Pilar Quintana, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (World Editions)

– “Minor Detail,” by Adania Shibli, translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette (New Directions)

Book World: May meets September; love lives in the moment #SootinClaimon.Com

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Book World: May meets September; love lives in the moment

EntertainmentOct 10. 2020Just Like You
Photo by: Riverhead Books — HandoutJust Like You Photo by: Riverhead Books — Handout 

By Special To The Washington Post · Lisa Zeidner 

Just Like You

By Nick Hornby

Riverhead Books. 355 pp. $27.00

– – –

An ongoing critical debate is whether fiction featuring sympathetic characters can still qualify as “literary.” Serious writers tend to gravitate toward the distasteful and dastardly; Jennifer Weiner has complained that female novelists with likable heroines have been unfairly dismissed as “chick lit.” As the first to have his fiction dubbed “lad lit,” British novelist Nick Hornby knows this critical syndrome well. Hornby’s young male heroes might be a tad hapless – “High Fidelity” (and its movie iteration) preceded many of the failure-to-launch rom-coms that followed – but they have good hearts, and the love of a good woman goads them to mature.

Hornby himself has matured over his writing career, with his male and female protagonists getting older, getting married, having children, getting divorced, looking for love all over again. His ninth novel, “Just Like You,” continues this trajectory. He writes insightfully about the daily disappointments, both professional and personal, that haunt ordinary lives.

Lucy is a separated school administrator and mother of two young boys in her early 40s. She’s affable about her unreasonable expectations as she embarks on yet another blind date. “Imagine that this unlikely man loved fresh flowers and the films of Asghar Farhadi, that he preferred cities to the countryside, that he read fiction – proper fiction, not novels about terrorists and submarines – that, yes, he enjoyed both giving and receiving oral sex, that he was kind to her sons, that he was tall, dark, handsome, solvent, funny, clever, liberal, stimulating.” Matchmaking friends introduce her to a famous novelist who checks at least some of these boxes. However, improbably and inconveniently, she finds herself drawn to Joseph, a 22-year-old who works the counter at the local butcher shop.

This is not our first fictional May-September romance, and we know the odds are against it succeeding, especially when it’s the older woman being drawn to the young man she hires to babysit. In addition to the age difference, Joseph (don’t call him Joe!) is Black, working class and lives with his mother. He has never read Shakespeare, whereas Lucy is clueless about the kind of club music that Joseph aspires to compose. As far back as “High Fidelity,” published in 1995, an enduring theme of Hornby’s work has been how essential shared aesthetic tastes should be in a relationship. Joseph proves to be a fast learner. Lucy realizes that “she thought she could get away with not being her quickest self, because she was older than him, but she couldn’t. She could probably beat him in a quiz about Jane Austen, but that was about it.”

Not every novelist excels at writing screenplays. The key to Hornby’s success in both genres is his sharp dialogue, which manages to define character and introduce complicated questions while being breezy and congenial. It’s not easy to portray an uneducated character without seeming patronizing, but Joseph’s intelligence shines. This is no beer-guzzling bro: Despite his skill at video games that impresses Lucy’s boys, Joseph is thoughtful, kind, hard-working, reliable, self-aware. Although he’s more virile than Lucy’s middle-aged suitor, it isn’t the sex that wins her over. Indeed, their bond is more emotional, as Hornby shows through their companionable repartee. When Lucy bemoans the fact that “when you’re fifty, I’ll be seventy,” Joe deadpans, “Yep. Whether we’re together or not.”

The romance in “Just Like You” is set during the lead-up to the Brexit vote and its immediate aftermath. Hornby parses out how the vote split along socioeconomic lines, with the referendum “giving groups of people who didn’t like each other, or at least failed to comprehend each other, an opportunity to fight.” He identifies many of the semaphores of British class that factored in that debate, which are, after all, squarely in his wheelhouse: not just political leanings but taste in sports, clothes, music and books.

Some of the Brexit references will translate better than others – and be more compelling – to an American audience, which may be puzzled by details like “looted stores in Wood Green.” But Hornby’s readers across the Atlantic will certainly get that he’s using the referendum as a metaphor. Lucy “was uneasy about the future direction of the country, and she was also uneasy about the future of her relationship with Joseph.” As they discuss her possibilities with the far more appropriate novelist, Joseph wryly reminds her: “It’s not a choice between me and him. It’s a choice between me, him, and every other single man in Britain. Or Europe, really. If you factor in like Skype and cheap flights.”

Despite Joseph’s vacillation on Brexit (one of the novel’s running gags), the vote could go only one of two ways: in or out. About Lucy and Joseph’s relationship, perhaps there’s more wiggle room. Readers may think they know how the plot will resolve, but one of the pleasures of “Just Like You” is how skillfully Hornby takes his unlikely lovers, and the novel, to a conclusion that’s both convincing and surprising.

– – –

Zeidner is the author of “Love Bomb” and other novels. Her book of criticism, “Who Says?: Mastering Point of View in Fiction,” is forthcoming.

Book World: Eight decades of observing ants and their amazing adventures #SootinClaimon.Com

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Book World: Eight decades of observing ants and their amazing adventures

EntertainmentOct 09. 2020

Ant World
Photo by: Liveright. — handout

Ant World Photo by: Liveright. — handout 

By Special To The Washington Post · Barbara J. King · ENTERTAINMENT, BOOKWORLD 
Tales from the Ant World By Edward O. Wilson Liveright. 227 pp. $26.95 – – –

When biologist Edward O. Wilson heads into a forest to study ants, he sometimes carries a portable cafeteria. The plaster-of-Paris device features two rooms, one that lets in more light than the other. Wilson places ants inside, then into the brighter room adds soil, leaf litter and wood scooped up from near the insects’ colony. The ants gravitate toward the buffet of mites, spiders, earthworms and beetles hidden in the soil, make their cafeteria selections, and carry them next door to the darker chamber that they prefer.

This kind of experiment has kept Wilson fascinated with ants for eight decades. In “Tales From the Ant World,” the latest of his more than 30 books, Wilson writes, “I have not until this book told the amazing stories of myrmecology as a physical and intellectual adventure – if you will, an adventure story.” With its modest and sometimes amusing tone, the book is a delight – and may coax readers to take up ant-watching themselves.

“The love of Nature is a form of religion,” Wilson observes, “and naturalists serve as its clergy.” If that’s so, Wilson got religion early. A child whose parents divorced when he was 8, Wilson was indifferent to his schoolwork, a situation exacerbated by his attending 16 schools in 16 cities through 11 grades. He reserved his enthusiasm for exploring the natural environment in places like Alabama and Rock Creek Park in Washington.

In 1942, at age 13, Wilson created what is now called the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI), a widely used census of all species of a chosen group of organisms in a single place. For teenage Wilson, it was ants in a vacant lot in Mobile, Ala. He found a variety of species familiar to him, then one nest teeming with ants strange and unexpected. “It turned out to be the imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta, the first record in the northern hemisphere,” which he calls “the find of a lifetime.” These South American ants – a mid-century example of an invasive species – had hitched a ride in cargo bound for Mobile from Argentina and Uruguay.

Young Wilson felt an overwhelming drive “to become an expert in some aspect of natural history, and to learn the science supporting it.” To note that he achieved his goal makes for vast understatement. He went on to a decorated academic career at Harvard University and to fame as an author, igniting furious scientific controversy with his 1975 book, “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis,” which attempted to explain the biological basis of social behavior in animals, including humans. Wilson has twice won the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction, in 1979 for “On Human Nature” and in 1991 for “The Ants,” co-authored with Bert Hölldobler. The popularizer of the biophilia concept (humans feel an urge to connect with other creatures) and the conservation project aiming to set aside half the Earth to protect biodiversity, Wilson is today considered the world’s top ant expert.

In “Tales From the Ant World,” his explanations of ant “gender” (most scientists would grant to insects only “sex”) and raiding behavior make for exciting reading. Because males live inside the nest except for the one-time act of mating, any ant we may notice is female, including the soldiers. Males – Wilson describes them as “pathetic creatures” and “flying sperm missiles” – contribute nothing except that single mating, and then they die. Females are tiny powerhouses that rule and defend the nest and, of course, ensure the future. The queen’s power is absolute: She makes a choice either to allow a single sperm through a tube inside her body, resulting in a female egg, or to close off the tube, resulting in a male egg. 

In Mozambique, Wilson studied the Matabele ant, a species that favors termites as food. Watching these ants raid a termite nest, he declares, “is one of the most dramatic wildlife spectacles of Africa.” One ant heads off to scout a termite mound. If she discovers a way to get inside, she lays down a chemical trail on her way back home. This trail recruits a large group of female raiders that rush into the mound and may carry off up to 10 dead termites each in their mandibles. Despite this level of Matabele aggression, Wilson anoints a garden ant of the Amazonian rainforest, Camponotus femoratus, with the “most ferocious” status. Ant tales ensue from the Amazon, indeed from all corners of the world, including the Australian outback and Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

We humans may wish to see ourselves as the Earth’s dominant species, but this assumption overlooks the ecological facts. “On arrival in a new land,” Wilson writes, “ants penetrate every available nest site, take control of most available food sources, and in so doing create an arthropod hegemony that controls every level of the land from the highest canopy to the lowest root mass.” Ants sculpt our planet, a process that began more than 100 million years ago. Take that, human ego!

At any one time, some 10,000 trillion ants of 15,000 species roam the Earth. Wilson offers suggestions for how we can better appreciate the ones that dwell near us. Find ants in your kitchen? Remember that they carry no disease and are fun to observe: Feed them, don’t smush them. These ants are “especially fond of honey, sugar water, chopped nuts, and canned tuna.” For Wilson, these home visitors – like ants everywhere – are beautiful little animals to be cherished. 

– – –

King is emerita professor at William & Mary. Her seventh book, “Animals’ Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and the Wild,” will be published in March.

Crown for Miss Universe Thailand open to ‘private viewing’ #SootinClaimon.Com

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Crown for Miss Universe Thailand open to ‘private viewing’

EntertainmentOct 09. 2020

By The Nation

The bejewelled crown waiting to be worn by Miss Universe Thailand has arrived and is open to “private viewing” at Hyatt Regency Bangkok.

Last year, jewellery giant Mouawad entered into a partnership with the Miss Universe Organisation, and is providing a resplendent crown for Miss Universe Thailand this year worth Bt3.5 million.

The crown, designed to display the “power of authenticity”, recalls the motif of traditional headwear of Ayutthaya nobility and intricate patterns of Thai temples. It is decorated with red, white and blue gems to signify the Thai flag.

Mouawad has been a jeweller for royalty, high society and the uber rich for more than 120 years.

As Cineworld shutters, Japan’s movie king Toho nears new high #SootinClaimon.Com

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As Cineworld shutters, Japan’s movie king Toho nears new high

EntertainmentOct 08. 2020A Godzilla figurine sits on display at Toho Cinemas Hibiya in Tokyo on March 22, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Noriko Hayashi.
/Photo by: Noriko Hayashi — Bloomberg
Location: TokyoJapanA Godzilla figurine sits on display at Toho Cinemas Hibiya in Tokyo on March 22, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Noriko Hayashi. /Photo by: Noriko Hayashi — Bloomberg Location: TokyoJapan 

By Syndication The Washington Post, Bloomberg · Gearoid Reidy, Shoko Oda
While global cinemas are reeling from the coronavirus and delays to “Dune” and the latest James Bond release, shares of Japan’s biggest movie company are climbing back toward a record high as the world’s third-largest movie market slowly returns to normal.

Japan has weathered the pandemic better than most Western countries, with total infections at about 1% of the number of cases in the U.S. Gradual easing of social distancing measures have helped renew the upward trajectory for Toho Co., which operates movie theaters and produces film favorites including Godzilla.

Local audiences that once flocked to the likes of “Titanic” and Arnold Schwarzenegger hits started to favor domestic productions in the 2000s as quality and budgets rose. That’s helped isolate Japan’s movie market from the 2020 blockbuster drought that forced Cineworld Group Plc to suspend operations at American and British theaters.

Cineworld shares are down 87% this year while those of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. have dropped 44%. In contrast, Toho’s stock has recovered 45% from its March low, nearly erasing their 2020 loss and coming within 9% of their all-time record set last year.

Toho operates almost 20% of the nation’s movie screens and is also a major studio, thanks to Japan’s lack of an antitrust law like the one in the U.S. that has barred such arrangements. The company certainly hasn’t been immune to the pandemic, with its theaters shut for weeks at the height of the state of emergency earlier this year and forcing postponement of a Doraemon release. Attendance had been limited to 50% but now full shows are allowed, provided popcorns and drinks aren’t served.

A recent government campaign aimed at spurring entertainment and travel spending “gives people the impression that it’s safe to go see movies now, if theaters take precaution,” said Shoichi Arisawa, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities Co.

While U.S. studios and cinemas play a chicken-and-egg game — with studios delaying releases because of low theater attendance, which is in turn due to a lack of hits — Toho has less to worry about. Domestic movies have made up more than half of the Japanese box office every year since 2008 and the country’s movie productions are back in business. Many of those movies are made by Toho itself, and are now facing even less competition with Hollywood hits.

Box office data for September will be announced in the coming days, a Toho spokesman said. Still, receipts in August were down 60% compared to a year earlier, which has some concerned.

“Looking at its longer term chart you wouldn’t know there is any crisis at all,” said Amir Anvarzadeh, a senior strategist at Asymmetric Advisors in Singapore. “It’s amazing to see how Toho has rallied since early August.” He recommends shorting the stock ahead of earnings, set to be reported on Oct. 13.

Hundreds of theaters are closing as the pandemic upends the film industry; here are the biggest releases you’ll have to keep waiting for #SootinClaimon.Com

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Hundreds of theaters are closing as the pandemic upends the film industry; here are the biggest releases you’ll have to keep waiting for

EntertainmentOct 08. 2020Timothée Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson appear in Timothée Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson appear in “Dune,” which has been delayed to October 2021. MUST CREDIT: Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Entertainment /Photo by: Chiabella James — Warner Bros. Entertainment 

By The Washington Post · Sonia Rao

Regal Cinemas, the country’s second-largest movie theater chain after AMC Theatres, will be suspending operations at its 536 locations on Thursday – a bold move that its parent company, Cineworld, attributes to an “increasingly challenging theatrical landscape.” The decision affects approximately 40,000 jobs and was primarily driven by delayed release dates and continued closures in major markets like New York.

It seems America didn’t pass the “Tenet” test, as the highly anticipated Christopher Nolan release, which has amassed more than $300 million globally, fizzled out in theaters stateside. The likely reasoning is that people were nervous (or unable) to linger in enclosed spaces amid a surging pandemic, and who can blame them? Theater employees feel the same way. The lackluster response to the Hollywood tentpole seemed to set off another series of delays, including that of the new James Bond film, previously slated for Thanksgiving, and star-studded Warner Bros. projects like “Dune” and “The Batman.”

Cineworld announced the suspensions in the wake of Universal and MGM pushing Bond’s “No Time to Die” (again) to April 2021, a full year after its original release date. The film was among the first to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak, back when thousands of Chinese theaters remained closed. Nearly seven months later, the Chinese box office is reportedly hitting pre-coronavirus heights again. America is still scrambling.

Studios continue to shuffle titles as the theatrical landscape evolves, and it can be hard to keep track. Here’s a breakdown of where major studios stand, and which films to expect (for now) in late 2020 and beyond. (We have omitted far-off projects such as James Cameron’s four “Avatar” sequels, now slated to hit theaters between 2022 and 2028, and the “Star Wars” films set for 2023 onward.)

– Universal Pictures

“No Time to Die,” Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond, is now due for an April 2021 release. The star told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” that this November, already a rescheduled date, “just isn’t the right time.”

“Candyman” was supposed to hit theaters in mid-October but will now premiere sometime in 2021. Director Nia DaCosta’s “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 film stars recent Emmy winner Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

“F9,” the “Fast and Furious” installment originally scheduled for this past May, was pushed to April 2021 in the first couple weeks of the pandemic – a move that seemed drastic then, but seems quite prescient now. Universal has since delayed the movie again, this time just to May 2021.

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” and its bright yellow creatures will wreak havoc on young households in July 2021, a full year after the original date. Brace yourself, as the poster itself recommends.

– Warner Bros.

“The Batman” was directly hit by the pandemic when its lead, Robert Pattinson, reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus during production. Filming has since resumed, and the Matt Reeves-directed movie, as of Monday evening, is now on track to reach audiences in March 2022 (five months later than the previous date).

“Dune” was initially intended to close out the year for Warner Bros., a hopeful box-office hit starring A-listers like Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin as Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel characters. But on Monday afternoon, the December release date was pushed to October 2021.

“Godzilla vs. Kong,” planned as a second major faceoff for Americans to witness this November, will instead hit the big screen in May 2021. The film stars Alexander Skarsgard and Millie Bobby Brown, among others.

“In the Heights,” the movie version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical, made the jump early on in the pandemic from summer 2020 to next June. It stars Anthony Ramos of “Hamilton” fame.

“The Matrix 4” was actually moved up from April 2022 to December 2021, a new date announced alongside the “Batman” delay. But in case that still isn’t soon enough, you can turn to HBO Max for more Keanu Reeves.

“Wonder Woman 1984” is the 2020 holdout. Originally intended as a June release, the superhero sequel starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine was pushed to August, then October and, finally, to Christmas.

– Walt Disney Studios

Numerous titles fall under the Disney umbrella, given that the studio dominates the entertainment industry – reportedly accounting for around 33 percent of last year’s box office. The classic Disney label, as well as Marvel and former Fox studios, all belong to the House of Mouse, so we’ve divided up the movies accordingly.

Walt Disney Studios hasn’t moved “Soul,” an existential Pixar cartoon about a junior high band teacher, from its November release date, but Variety reported last month that it might head straight to Disney Plus (as the live-action “Mulan” did). “Raya and the Last Dragon,” featuring Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina as the lead voice actors, will hit theaters in March 2021, while the live-action “Cruella,” starring Emma Stone as the villain from “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” will be released that May. “Jungle Cruise,” in which Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt play a riverboat captain and scientist, respectively, will come out in July.

Most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 films have been affected by the pandemic. The long-awaited “Black Widow” film, starring Scarlett Johansson as the titular Avenger, was delayed twice; originally scheduled for May 2020, it will now come out a year later. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was shifted a few months to July 2021 in light of the “Black Widow” delay, while Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” was pushed from November 2021 to March of the next year. “The Eternals,” which features a star-studded cast as the immortal beings, took that November spot.

Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, meaning that films developed by Twentieth Century Fox – and adjacent studio Fox Searchlight Pictures – are also associated with the behemoth. (They have since dropped the “Fox” to become 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.) “Free Guy,” starring Ryan Reynolds as a video game character, was pushed from this past July to December. Steven Spielberg’s take on “West Side Story” leaped from its family- and Oscar-friendly Christmas release to an unspecified date next year. The Ben Affleck films “Deep Water,” co-starring real-life girlfriend Ana de Armas, and “The Last Duel,” co-starring real-life best friend Matt Damon, have each been bumped several months to August 2021 and October 2021, respectively. Both Searchlight’s “Antlers,” a horror film starring Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons, and 20th Century’s “The King’s Man,” the third film in the “Kingsman” series, are slated for February 2021.

– Paramount Pictures

“Mission: Impossible 7” is currently underway, with longtime star Tom Cruise taking on more death-defying stunts as secret agent Ethan Hunt. Production hit pause for a bit due to the pandemic, but the Christopher McQuarrie film is on track for a November 2021 release (with the eighth installment set for a year later).

“A Quiet Place Part II” joined “No Time to Die” in being one of the early films to have its release delayed. The sequel, again directed by John Krasinski, was postponed (for a second time) to April 2021.

“Top Gun: Maverick” will bring us even more Tom Cruise next year when it premieres in July 2021, roughly a year after the initial release date and a whopping 35 years after the original film.

– Sony Pictures

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” stars Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon and Finn Wolfhard, who are joined by “Ghostbusters” actors Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts. The film, directed by Jason Reitman, was another summer 2020 release booted to next year (March, specifically).

“Morbius” stars Jared Leto as a scientist who becomes a vampire after attempting to cure his rare blood disease. (Oops!) It also comes out in March and takes place in the same universe as “Venom.”

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” – speak of the devil! – was delayed from this year’s spooky season to June 2021. Tom Hardy reprises the title role in this Andy Serkis-directed film, playing opposite Woody Harrelson’s Carnage, a serial killer who also hosts an alien symbiote. It should be a hoot.