You know it's time to stop channel surfing and go to bed when you find yourself checking back with HBO's showing of Barb Wire (1996), a sci-fi action flick, in order to see if at some point the story becomes coherent or even intelligible.
The answer is no. The only conceivable point of interest in this movie is to find out which of Pamela Anderson's ventral protuberances is most fully revealed by the end of the movie. Answer: It doesn't matter. No amount of bared-balloon-boobage can compensate for the combination of bad acting, ugliness, and stupidity that seems to have been a requirement of every human being in the cast.
Now go to bed, or you'll have a serious couch-potato hangover in the morning.
This is shaping up to be such an awful movie summer. A writer in Entertainment Weekly, after explaining why King Arthur and Alien: Covenant and Snatched are box office flops, went on to talk about why he had little hope for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie and the comic version of Baywatch. But then he mentioned the rest of the summer's big-budget movies and talked about how much hope he had for them.
That would be Wonder Woman, a Tom Cruise Mummy movie, Cars 3, another Transformers movie, Despicable Me 3, another Spider-Man movie, another Planet of the Apes movie, an Emoji movie, The Dark Tower, and some movies based on various comic books and graphic novels.
Unlike that writer, I don't have much reason for hope, because Hollywood isn't filming scripts anymore, they're performing proctology exams, looking to find some lingering remnant of previous hits in the large intestine of cinema so they can bring it out and make new money from old doo-doo.
Everything in the list I just mentioned is recycled, and sure, the presence of Tom Cruise in a movie makes it better than it would have been, but when Tom Cruise starts recycling old Brendan Fraser material, surely we can take that as a sign that Hollywood is trapped in a downward spiral of depression.
The trailers of the Wonder Woman movie look better than we expected, so we'll probably go see it and give Hollywood some of our money, but is there room in our limited remaining memory for this third cycle through the Spider-Man franchise? Or for another Despicable Apes movie? Or Dark Bay and Caribbean Watch? Or whatever the heck they are?
But even though Hollywood is in a self-induced death dive, it doesn't mean this summer will be a total loss.
With nothing worth seeing in theaters most weeks this summer, we can:
1. Do physical activities, outdoors even.
2. Accomplish long-awaited projects.
3. Grow a garden.
4. Read a new book or reread an old one.
5. Or sit around with one screen or another, binge-watching various tv series or catching the next season of Game of Thrones or cycling through whatever old movies or episodes we've caught in the dream-catcher of our DVRs.
Because it's all alive. When I was a kid, you had to watch the TV Guide to get some idea of when the next showing of Casablanca or It's a Wonderful Life or The Shop around the Corner or Yankee Doodle Dandy would come on late at night. Or take pot luck with a very limited selection of late-afternoon and late-night movie shows. That's how I saw such B-movie classics as The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, The Seven Little Foys, and Love Me or Leave Me.
But now, you can find everything you're looking for and watch it twenty times -- or browse through a hundred different sources and surprise yourself with all kinds of weird stuff.
Or you can do as I do, keeping the habits of my childhood and just letting whatever happens to be on wash over me as I vej in my recliner. Tonight that meant finishing a CSI that I started recording last night (one of the early Ted Danson episodes, when the writers still cared about making his character interesting) and then watching Mr. Right for about the sixth time in the past few months, because that is a great movie.
In fact, having just watched P.S. I Love You, a weepy rom-com that doesn't hold up very well on rewatching it, I realized that even though Mr. Right involves a lot of murders, Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockford have so much more chemistry on screen than, like, anybody, that I find their story compulsively watchable.
Why doesn't P.S. I Love You hold up, you ask? (I didn't say you asked; I know you didn't. I'm giving you a script. You're now supposed to ask the question, and then I'll answer.)
It doesn't hold up because the premise that undoubtedly sounded so romantic in the pitch meetings with the studio brass ("The guy knows he's dying, so he leaves behind ten letters to his widow that get sprung on her by surprise each time, leading her toward finding new love in her life") is actually quite awful.
This time around, I realized: This guy went to a lot of effort to keep controlling his wife long after his death. Maybe she's getting back to normal -- he can't know, being, as they say, "dead" -- but here's this epistle from beyond the grave, usually with some horribly burdensome gift, and suddenly she falls apart and grieves all over again. The guy is stalking her from hell, or wherever he ended up, and somebody who loves this woman needs to take out a restraining order against whoever is handling the guy's post-death mail distribution.
So by the end, I hated the dead guy, and didn't much like anybody else except Harry Connick, Jr., as the widow's amazingly faithful tragic friend.
And speaking of Connick's kiss scene with the widow, where they find out there's nothing magical in their kiss, how many times do we have to see this scene? Is there anybody in the world so stupid as to think that there's some magical thing you discover in somebody's kiss that tells you anything you didn't know before the kiss?
I admit, it's funny to see it parodied at the end of The Sweetest Thing (another movie I let wash over me this week for the fifth time), the last semi-classy female buddy movie before Bridesmaids pushed all such movies into Hangover territory. (And if you know The Sweetest Thing, you understand that calling it any kind of classy compared to other movies is an eloquent expression of the bathos of recent Hollywood girls-as-friends movie.)
Anyway, sometimes you find out that a movie you liked the first time around is actually dreadful in some deep and disturbing way (I discovered that about Philadelphia Story about thirty years ago), and other times you find out that a movie whose trailers looked appallingly bad is actually very good, if you're tired enough to not get up out of your chair until it piques your interest.
Serious digression about "pique": It's pronounced in English exactly like "peek" or "peak," which is pretty much the same as the French pronunciation. But we keep the French spelling so that our schoolchildren will understand how much we hate them.
There are other foreign-origin words, especially French ones, that we have completely anglicized. Imagine how your friends will despise you if you always pronounce the capital of France "pa-REE," stressing that guttural French R, instead of "PAIR-iss."
And then there are the people who pride themselves on pronouncing the word "piquant" in a halfway French way: "pee-KAWN," instead of in the English way, since it is now an English word: "PEE-kwent."
I mean, when a foreign borrowing has been in English for more than a few decades, it's time to start treating it like a native, since most English words were once borrowed. Or are you going to insist on pronouncing "excellent" as "ex-cel-LAWN"? Or how about Latin words -- are you going to pronounce "radius" as "RAH-dee-ooss"? "Populace" as "PO-poo-looss"?
Borrowed words become English. Stop pretending that you speak the original language and can't help but pronounce borrowed words that way.
Unless, like me, you speak Portuguese and it makes you insane to hear people pronounce "Rio de Janeiro" as if it were a hideously mispronounced California town or neighborhood. It's "HEE-oo jee zha-NAY-roo," kids!
(Yeah, I know, I have a double standard, but this language is supposed to run my way, see?)
Language changes. When words are borrowed from a foreign language, we pronounce them using familiar phonemes from our own language. We don't have to pinch up our mouths into a moué and talk through our noses and say R in our throat just because a word used to be French. It's English now.
Except when the pronunciation is American.
If you want a good book on English that isn't written by either Steven Pinker or John McWhorter, I just finished reading The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher, who does a good job of making things clear without diving deeply into abstruse scientific and philosophical issues.
Steven Pinker's brilliant The Language Instinct can be overwhelming. John McWhorter tends to bite off smaller chunks, more easily digestible but also less complete. So if you're interested in the subject but don't want to commit the entire summer to reading about language, you might give Guy Deutscher a try.
End of digression.
I know, I was talking about movies. My students amuse themselves by triggering digressions, and then waiting for a hilarious (to them) amount of time before reminding me what I was talking about before I tied myself in a parenthetical knot.
Let me mention some movies that you probably didn't see in the theaters that will be much better than most of this summer's threatened promised fare.
First, let's start with Sing Street. I know, it sounds like it's a musical, and there's some music in it, but it's not a musical at all. It's not Glee and it's not Pitch Perfect.
Instead, it's an indie movie about some Irish kids in 1985, trapped in a bully-ridden state school in Dublin because it's the best education their parents can afford. Their lives are shaped by poverty and the only ray of hope is to somehow get across the Irish Channel to England where they have these things called "jobs," which simply aren't to be had in Ireland at that time.
There's a girl who stands on a stoop in front of a house across the street from the school -- a really pretty girl who catches the eye of Conor Lawlor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who is being mercilessly bullied by other students and by the principal, Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley).
Example: When Baxter rails at Conor for not wearing black shoes to school as part of his uniform, refusing to accept the excuse that he doesn't own any black shoes, Conor defies him by going about in his stocking feet. It reminded me of Vinny in My Cousin Vinny, desperately trying to comply with the judge's dress code for courtroom appearances.
Conor boldly goes up to the girl and finds out her name is Raphina (Lucy Boynton) and she's an aspiring model. He counters that by announcing that he's in a band, and he wants her to be in their first music video.
There is no band. Or rather, there was no band, until he gets his friends -- and some guys he hardly knows at all -- to form one with him. And despite the absurd beginning, the band practices enough to become pretty good. Raphina not only shows up to film the video, she also gives the band a makeover.
Every step along the way is more than slightly wonderful, and I can promise you that there is not a Napoleon Dynamite ending, except in Conor's fantasies. Instead, Conor and Raphina become real friends and change each other's lives. Conor also takes brilliant vengeance on Baxter, and comes to know and love his older brother, as well.
We come to love everybody.
There's only one thing difficult about the film: Everybody's genuinely Irish, and their Irish accents are sometimes hard to understand. I suggest that unless you've lived in Dublin for a while, you might find it helpful to keep the closed captioning on the screen.
The film came out just about a year ago, in 2016, and got some award attention, including a Golden Globe nomination. It never got Hollywood hype. Instead, it's getting word-of-mouth promotion ... from me, right here, right now.
Your life will be better for having watched it, not in a medicinal sense, but in a love-and-joy way. It's about courage and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, ambition and regret. I loved this movie, the performances were brilliant, the script is outstanding, and it simply works.
By the way, if you're wondering why you should care about a film set in Ireland, keep one thing in mind. Even though it's hard for Americans to understand the accent sometimes, the fact remains that the English language is at its best when spoken by the Irish. It may have been forced on them at the point of a bayonet over centuries of English rule, but their revenge was to turn the language of their oppressors into a lush musical instrument.
It's also worth noting that the second most beautiful version of the English language is heard in the accents of educated people from India and Pakistan. The English had to keep conquering millions of people just to find out how beautiful their own language could be.
Sing Street. It's worth the DVD purchase or the download or however you get your hands on it. It's way better than King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
OK, now I'm going to stick my neck way out and tell you about a semi-fantasy romantic comedy from the Hallmark Channel.
I first recorded it on a whim, because I hadn't checked in with Hallmark since the Christmas season. I started recording it partway in -- after the titles -- and it was stored on my TiVo under the title Love at First Glance.
But when I looked it up to try to record it to watch the whole thing from the beginning, that title didn't exist in the upcoming schedule. Not only that, I couldn't find it on IMDb or the Hallmark Channel itself. What?
Then I finally went over the Hallmark Channel's schedule movie by movie and realized that the movie they were now calling Ring by Spring was the movie I had seen under the other title. I have no idea what caused the mix-up. Maybe somebody realized that Ring by Spring was a terrible title, and then after a while they realized that the replacement title, Love at First Glance, was so generic nobody would remember it, and they went back to the one that actually fits, even if you kind of shudder when you hear it.
Because the premise of the movie is that a busy, successful, and lonely business consultant, Caryn Briggs (played by the ever-lovely and oh-so-smart Rachel Boston), is told by a psychic (played by Stefanie Powers) that she sees Caryn with "a ring by spring."
Caryn takes this prediction way more seriously than she meant to, and begins to go into panic mode -- will it be some new whirlwind romance? Will it be an old boyfriend who comes back into her life? All these efforts come close but fail anyway, and when Caryn runs into the psychic again, she tells her that the prediction failed. Here it is the first day of spring and ... no ring.
This is a Hallmark Channel rom-com, so of course there's going to be a ring by the end of the day. And because it's well-written, it will be a perfectly plausible ring, from a guy she's been ignoring for weeks with the excuse that he's a client and the movie would end too soon if she woke up and realized he's the real thing.
Look, rom-coms are essentially predictable. That's not even a flaw, it's why we watch them. Did anybody think for a moment that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan might not end up together in Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail? It doesn't matter if we guess the ending, because we still love these movies the third or fourth or eighth time we watch them.
Is Ring by Spring in that league? Oh, get real. Of course not. But in a time when women's comedies are trying to out-debauch the boys'-night-out genre, it's nice to have a romantic comedy that's actually romantic. People talk to each other. They have relationships that develop across time. They're, like, normal and real instead of raunchy and gagsome.
Not that you won't gag at the cover photo of Rachel Boston smiling ecstatically in a tire swing that is actually made from a giant engagement ring. If you can't get over your recognition of the audience that the Hallmark Channel is aiming at, then you can spend the summer nursing your snobbery and sneaking off to see subtitled art films in tatty theaters.
Meanwhile, those of us who still think that formulaic romance, well-performed and ingeniously written, is a perfectly good reason to watch a movie will have pleasure that you have denied yourself, poor film snob.
By the way, anyone who uses the term "cultural appropriation" combines ignorance and bigotry into a specially malevolent kind of idiocy.
When colonial powers went to other continents to seize and bring home gold, jewels, and slaves, that was stealing (at least): What they took away was then gone from the place of origin. What belonged to the conquered or colonialized nations was now lost to them.
So it's quite right for European powers to now return monumental artifacts and works of art to their place of origin, as surely as it was right for art stolen by Nazis from museums all over Europe to be returned.
But when it's not artifacts or resources or people that are being carried away, but rather influences, then there is no theft, no crime, and no harm.
This all goes back to the myth surrounding the white pop rock singers who supposedly "stole" the music of American blacks and got rich from it while the black originators of rock 'n' roll continued to be underpaid and underappreciated. The myth is that if these white sanitizers like Ricky Nelson and Pat Boone had not "appropriated" rock 'n' roll songs, then Chuck Berry and Little Richard would have gotten way richer, way sooner.
This is the opposite of the truth. The white music audience, as a whole, had no interest in what was then called "race music." It took safe-seeming pop performers to give softened versions of black musical motifs to that white audience, which then opened the door for studios and distributors to add the original black performers to their lists.
When their audience got bigger, their income got bigger. Bing Crosby did not commit some cultural crime when he introduced Louis Armstrong to white audiences -- while incorporating elements of Armstrong's music into his own.
When Paul Simon went to South Africa and came back to make the brilliant Graceland album, full of genuine South African music, he wasn't stealing anything. He was giving American audiences -- white and black -- an experience with South African music in a pop music context. By doing so, he brought the South African musicians far larger audiences and, therefore, a lot more money than they would ever have made without him.
Did the Beatles "steal" the sitar music of Ravi Shankar? Of course not. They made Ravi Shankar far richer than he would ever have been had his music remained entirely within its originating culture. George Harrison really did work at learning how to play the sitar, because he was a real musician, and musicians borrow from each other all the time.
To complain about white musicians who use licks and motifs from black music to accuse them of "cultural appropriation," is such a segregationist, bigoted move that you'd think anyone would be ashamed to say any such thing.
Imagine the outcry if black opera singers were forbidden to sing any opera music written by the Italians Rossini, Verdi, and Puccini, or by the Austrian Mozart or the German Wagner or ...
If you put the music out there, it's available for everybody to learn from and incorporate into their own music. That's how the world of music grows. India, Africa, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Brazil, China, Japan -- they have all learned music from other cultures, and returned the favor by putting their own spin on everything and giving it back.
It's a public conversation, culture is. We all share with each other. And anybody who tries to own a culture and forbid other cultures from adopting and adapting whatever that one culture invented is not only doomed to fail, they are beneath contempt for even trying to impose such limitations.
I can imagine the absurd scenario in which the anti-cultural-appropriation idiots actually got their way. No white performer could use elements of rap or jazz or rock 'n' roll in their music. But then, no black performer would be allowed to use the twelve-tone tempered scale, or any musical instrument invented in Europe, or any words from the English language that were not developed exclusively from Black culture. Who would benefit from such a racist nightmare? Not music. Not culture. Not anybody.
It is impossible to sort out cultural boundaries. And I'm sick of the virulent racism of the fanatical Left that goes on and on, unpunished, while people of the Middle and Right, even those who are long dead, are accused of racism and then shunned whether they're guilty of anything or not.
Black musicians are welcome to perform Handel's Messiah, if they want, and if white musicians can learn to play a credible version of black musical genres or motifs, then black culture should congratulate itself for its widening influence, not try to stamp out those who pay it the respect of learning from it.
Imagine if Russia tried to stamp out all translations of War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov on the grounds that if you don't speak Russian, you have no right to access those books. I'm thrilled when my books are translated into other languages. I love the idea that in France and China, Russia and Japan, Turkey and Romania and Spain and Brazil there are people who can read a version of my stories in their native language.
Because that's all that "cultural appropriation" is -- translation of cultural elements from one ethnic group to another. It's a natural and unstoppable human process. It's how we all grow together.
When it's time for my study group to get copies of the next book we're going to use as a starting point for discussion, my habit for years has been to get copies for everyone in their preferred format. For nine of them, that's a book printed on paper. For five of them, it's an ebook. And for seven of us, it's an audiobook.
My custom has been to simply buy a gift copy of each audiobook for the other six who prefer to read that way. For years, this has been a very simple, automated task on Audible.com. There was a button you push to give the book as a gift. You plug in the recipient's email address, pay for the book, and it's done.
I've also been doing this for students in my college class on the Fiction of Tolkien and Lewis. Because I wanted them to experience the poems and songs in Lord of the Rings, I would buy them all copies of the three audiobook volumes and they were expected to arrive on the first day of class having recently listened to the novel, in order, without skipping or skimming the poems and songs.
Now I don't know what I'll do, because Audible.com has stopped allowing customers to buy individual books as a gift.
Here's what I was told, when I asked what had happened to the gift-book option: Because Audible.com sold a lot more gift memberships than individual gift books, they canceled the gift-book program.
I will admit right now that my response was completely selfish. Why should I care that Audible.com has a fabulously successful gift-membership program? I never used it, never gave a gift membership, so that's like telling me at the grocery store that because they sell so many raisins, they've stopped selling my favorite brand and flavor of yogurt.
What in the world do they have to do with each other?
Giving someone a gift membership is so lovely. The recipient gets to choose his or her own books. There's so much more liberty. Very thoughtful. Just like giving a gift certificate or gift card, which is very much like giving money, except that you have to spend it at Audible.com.
But I wasn't giving anybody a gift. I was giving them a particular book, for a particular event, an event that had a deadline, and for which no other book would be an adequate substitute.
My students had to have Lord of the Rings and listen to it before the first day of class. My fellow study group members needed to have the book we were going to discuss, in plenty of time to listen to it before we met. So the "freedom" of gift membership would have been wasted.
In fact, it would be counterproductive. With the gift book, they used to get an email that said, basically, click here and your book will download, save itself on your computer, link itself in with iTunes, so you can then listen to it on the computer or on your .mp3 player.
Done and done. There was no reason to dither because There. It. Was.
With a three-month gift membership, my students could also download all three volumes of Lord of the Rings. Why can't I just do that?
Because they're students. They'll forget. And when they remember, they have to go through all the rigmarole of membership and then find the right books.
Lord of the Rings should be easy enough, right? Except that there's also a three-volume dramatization that is easy to mistake for the straight reading of the text. If they download the wrong version, they will not have the experience I need them to share.
And my fellow study group members are very busy. They can easily put that gift membership aside, forget they're supposed to do something, then forget what the book title is. That's what I'd do.
Besides, I'm not giving these guys the books because they can't pay for them -- they all can. I'm giving them these books because (a) I chose the book, so if they think it sucks I don't want them to have paid for it and (b) I want to know they have the book without any further messing around.
I want that to happen because that's what I'd need, so I could read the book in the most convenient way, and so I didn't have to rely on my performing a series of actions by a deadline. I'm not good at that.
So Audible.com's decision is directly inimical to the way they trained me to get audiobooks for my students and for my friends.
But it's their business, and they can do what they want. They can lose me as a customer if they want -- which they partly did, because that's hundreds of dollars a year they won't get from me because they no longer offer the individual gift-book option.
This is not the reason I'm complaining about this, however. I'm complaining because: What are they, idiots?
I don't mean to get personal here, but they already had the website design with the fully automated system of accepting purchases of gift audiobooks and then generating the email that notifies the recipient of the gift.
Then, whenever the recipient clicked, the fully-automated system of downloading the book was already programmed.
At no point was human intervention required. It wasn't even like Amazon.com, where somebody has to physically put the book into a box and ship it out. Everything is digital. Everything was automatic.
So when they discontinued the gift-book program, they didn't get to lay somebody off and save themselves the cost of their salary. The system was fully designed and functional. Killing it saved them no money whatsoever. And it cost them all the money that they made from selling gift books.
What if it's only me and, like, three other guys who are regularly sending out gift books? I don't mind if the people at Audible (or their bosses at Amazon) have a meeting and say, "Well, that's sure a disappointment."
Being disappointed is not a reason to discontinue a completely automatic system that earns you a few bucks and doesn't cost you anything.
If you run Barnes & Noble and you have eight stores that are losing money, it might make sense to close them so that you don't have to pay those employees or that lease or the cost of stocking a whole bunch of books. Closing the store can help your bottom line even if the customers of that store are bitterly disappointed.
That's business. Sometimes you disappoint customers because serving them is losing you money.
But when the service costs you nothing and even makes a few bucks, what possible reason is there for stopping it?
Here's my guess. Some bureaucrat from Amazon.com came in, after Amazon bought Audible, and did an "analysis" of how Audible.com was doing business. Since Audible.com was doing fine, all they could report back to the big bosses was the comparative stuff, not the absolute stuff. "Gift books make way, way less than gift memberships, so clearly the customers prefer the gift membership model, so let's cancel the gift book program."
This is the kind of stupendously stupid thinking that destroyed Crown Books. They looked at bookstore sales and noticed that bestsellers made way more money than all the other books combined. They thought: Why take up all this expensive display space to shelve books that sell one copy for every two hundred copies of the bestsellers? We'll do a bestsellers-only store!
What happened? Customers learned that if the only thing they wanted was a bestseller, Crown would have it. And if they wanted anything else, they'd have to find a real bookstore. If they wanted to browse and maybe find something new and different to read, again: Find a real bookstore. And now you don't see Crown Books anywhere, do you?
But it's more complicated than that. Because what's really going on is this: When I give my students a gift book, Audible.com has their email addresses, so it can send them promotions; but those students' only experience with Audible was click, download, got the book, done.
With a three-month gift membership, the recipient wanders around Audible.com, getting a much greater sense of what's available. Then, when Audible.com offers them a chance to renew that gift membership at a special low rate, they're much more likely to do it.
In other words, gift books don't do nearly as well at generating repeat business from new customers as gift memberships do.
Then there's the gym membership analogy. Gyms make all their profits from the people who buy gym memberships and then never come back after a couple of visits in January. They paid for a whole year, but the gym only has to maintain enough exercise equipment for the thirteen percent of members who actually keep using the gym year-round. (I made that percentage up. I think my guess is kind of high.)
So at the Audible.com executive meeting, dominated by those Amazon.com execs, the gym membership concept is probably part of their thinking.
Except that it's an absurd analogy.
Unlike Amazon, which has to have physical books in stock (except for Kindle ebook sales), Audible.com doesn't have to have any more space for a bestseller than for a one-sale-a-year book.
The people who get gift memberships on Audible and never use them -- well, that's what the gift-certificate game is all about. You make so much money from the unused gifts.
When it's a gift book, though, and the recipient clicks and downloads, then that book was actually taken from the shelves.
Except it's still there! Downloading the digital audiobook does not deplete your stock at all!
Here's where the expense comes in: When the gift book is sold, Audible.com has to pay the publisher of the audiobook -- and, indirectly, the author -- their absurdly small share of the income from that book sale.
There are no royalties and fees to pay for gift memberships that never lead to any book downloads, but the gift books are far more likely to generate an actual download, which requires Audible.com to pay some of that lovely gift money to the people who did the recording, the editing, the acting, and -- hard to believe this -- the actual writing of the book.
Audible.com would rather make clean money from unused gift memberships than all that complicated shared money from gift books that get downloaded.
So no, I'm not going to buy three-month gift memberships for my students so they can download the three volumes of Lord of the Rings from Audible.com. I'll simply read the poems and sing the songs myself in class. I'll make them recite them and sing them, too. They'll work from paper copies.
Just as the members of my study group who preferred audiobooks are getting physical books instead. That's money that Audible.com won't get now.
It won't bankrupt them to lose that portion of my business. And I'm certainly not going try to punish them by no longer buying and downloading the many dozens of books I buy from them each year. Audible.com still offers a great service.
But my former level of gift-book buying represents income they won't get at all because they won't let me. They made their choice.
Their "business" decision was, as far as I can tell, unnecessary, costly, and stupidifically stuporastic. American business!