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Archive for the ‘activity’ Category

The Sincerest Form?

In activity, digital video, fault, film, It Bugs Me, Just Because..., Roughly About Films, Think About It on February 4, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Sometimes I wonder…

Television executives, whoever and whatever they are, keep throwing new series at us.  Something worked once, so they change it slightly, and put it up again.  Cop shows are popular?  See ten or twenty copies come up.  Doctor shows?  All TV is falling sick with exotic diseases.  Private eyes?  You’d think half the population had a license.

And the sad thing?  This is not new.  Sketch comedy shows were big from the late 40’s through the 70’s, with Your Show of Shows, Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle, The Jack Benny Program, carrying over from radio, Burns and Allen, Garry Moore, Red Skelton, and Carol Burnett… Westerns, once a staple of Saturday matinees in movie theaters, dominated early TV, with shows like Gunsmoke, Have Gun, Will Travel, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Wagon Train, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Rebel, Branded, Rawhide, Bonanza, High Chapparal, The Big Valley, and so many more.  Dragnet, another transplant from radio, led the police parade starting in the 1950’s, along with other shows like The Naked City, M Squad, Burke’s Law, and their private eye kin like Hawaiian Eye, Surfside Six, 77 Sunset Strip, and Checkmate,ringing the changes.

For every show I’ve mentioned above, I’m sure there are probably six or seven I’ve missed.

As I said earlier, imitation is a way of life in television… network executives want it “the same, but different“.  Series are sold, premiered, and, if they don’t get traction with an audience immediately, cancelled.  A series getting picked up for a full season’s worth of shows these days is news because of the infrequency of its occurrence.  The trade papers are full of stories of a series getting “the ax” after three episodes aired… and one was even cancelled before its first episode premiered.

Market research, focus groups, “target demographics”, the “Q” rating (a measurement of a performer’s “likeability”), and other quantifications are attempting to objectify the highly subjective field of audience taste.  These methods have been moderately successful, at best, mostly in providing the broadcast and cable networks with a means to set their advertising rates.  The highly coveted “18 to 49 male” demographic, supposedly the group that spends the most money, is the group at which most of the programming is aimed.  (No surprise.)  So, there are action-filled shows, adventure, sports, scantily clad women, and things on the order of “X-Games”, “Wipe-Out”, and “American Ninja Warrior”.

Since research is now showing that females are becoming more of a desirable audience, based on “purchasing power”, we have shows like “The Real Housewives of Wherever”, “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”, and nighttime soap operas which show both men and women in various stages of undress.  This, too, is not new; witness the 70’s and 80’s phenomena of Dallas, Dynasty, and Falcon Crest.  Today it’s Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Revenge, or True Blood.

This fractionating of the audience because of the proliferation of “new media” has also been going on since the beginning of our perceptions of media… The “legitimate theatre” begat vaudeville, which spun off burlesque… Movies arrived, silent at first, then gaining a voice and raiding theater, vaudeville, and burlesque for talent, as did its main competition, radio.  When television came into view in the 1940’s, the movies, reacting to losing some of their audience, came out with big gimmicks like stereophonic sound, Cinerama, CinemaScope, VistaVision, Techniscope, Technirama, Todd-AO, and other forms of wide-screen panorama projection… Sensurround, Dolby Stereo, THX from Lucasfilm, 5.1 and 7.1 stereo systems, and so much more became the buzzwords buzzing in our heads.

And all of this in the service of putting YOUR entertainment dollars into THEIR pockets.

And what are the net results of all this maneuvering, jockeying for position, and technical innovation?

I think one song sums it up… “500 Channels and Nothing’s On”.  In my opinion, there is precious little worth anyone’s time out there… and even with the growing trend of “rolling your own” with the now-ubiquitous portable video recording and editing equipment, which also started back at the beginning of movies with home cameras and projectors, is not a guarantee of anything worth watching.  (Think about it… the most popular things to see on the Internet are cat videos and pornography.)  The taste of audiences is a fickle thing; rapidly shifting, difficult to pin down.

It always was.

So, I still wonder…

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A NASFiC For Detroit…

In activity, no excuses on July 30, 2014 at 10:06 pm

The 17th through the 20th of this past month, at the Marriott Renaissance Center Hotel in the Renaissance Center on the Detroit riverfront, Detroit fandom hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, held when the World Science Fiction Convention is out of the North American region.

This is a big thing for Detroit, since the last time we hosted a Worldcon here was Detention, the 1959 Worldcon.

Detroit had to bid against several other cities to host a NASFiC, with less than the usual two years lead time, since London, England had won the bid to host the 2014 Worldcon two years ago.

In my opinion, the all-volunteer committee (and I can’t emphasize that strongly enough – EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE IS A VOLUNTEER) did a splendid job putting on the con.

Early on, I had volunteered to be on programming, and I was selected to do five panels, based on my responses to questions about my interests and knowledge… I was on a panel discussion about the differences between traditional paper fanzines, APAs (Amateur Press Associations), electronic media (such as LiveJournal) and blogging.  Another panel I was on discussed the problems and opportunities of adapting a book into a movie… and two panels listed as “Iron Costumer: Doll Edition”, where participants, with the help and advice of myself and another costumer, took an 11 ½ inch fashion doll, a pile of materials, paint, and a glue gun, and spent 90 minutes fashioning their own doll dress.

There was also the opportunity to costume up for the four days of the convention, and we did so… we were “The Duke and the Duchess of the D”, we got to be official greeters for the convention, and Megan won a Hall Costume award. She was so pleased…

Megan Bouchard as "Poppy Sunshine"

Megan Bouchard as “Poppy Sunshine”

Megan Bouchard as "The Duchess of the  D"

Megan Bouchard as “The Duchess of the
D”

Alexander Bouchard as "The Duke of the D"

Alexander Bouchard as “The Duke of the D”

Megan wins a Hall Costume award

Megan wins a Hall Costume award

Like most cons Megan and I have been to over the years, things did not go perfectly…  The hotel situation wasn’t the best, since the Marriott (previously the Westin) is something of a labyrinth, and the elevators are split into two banks, the low rise (up to the 40th) and high rise (40th to the 70th), and many people got confused by it.   The elevators had a recorded voice saying that a hotel keycard was needed to stop at any of the room floors, but the key card readers did not all work.  This was a problem all weekend.

The parking situation (the Port Atwater Garage and the Beaubien Place Garage) were slightly inconvenient, moderately expensive, but better than the alternatives (such as parking at the Greektown Casino parking structure and taking the People Mover back).  The convention managed to negotiate a discount for these two garages that reduced the cost by about half of the all-day rate, which helped considerably.

The con suite (a 24-hour hospitality suite, for those who’ve never seen one) was not as convenient as we would have liked, being on the 69th floor.  It was well-stocked the few times I was there, but didn’t have much that I could eat.  (Being allergic to almost everything is definitely a pain.)  On the other hand, being a program participant, I had access to the Green Room, on the main program floor.  The problem they had was that they only had hot drinks… no cold drinks, no snacks.  I’m told that was deliberate, so guests would not “hide out” in the Green Room.

All things considered, I think Detcon 1, the 2014 NASFiC, went off quite well, and proved a credit to Detroit fandom.

Topics, Topics, Who Wants The Topics?

In activity, It Bugs Me, Think About It, writing on March 19, 2014 at 9:11 pm

There have been any number of topics that have come up over the past several months. And, as a result, most so-called “opinion shapers” I’ve been coming across have been teeing them up and swinging away like they were inside a golf worm with unlimited buckets of balls.
The will to resist putting my own two farthings worth in has never been very strong… many of the other things I’ve written over the years can attest to that. It’s just that the motivation, the drive to write down my opinion just hasn’t been there for most of these topics. There hasn’t been that need that gets down in the pit of your stomach, and lays there, and burns.
Many of the above-referenced topics, which I haven’t specified, are issues I care about, and have fairly strong opinions about, but I just don’t feel the need to get up on my soapbox and orate, when others are doing it more eloquently than I feel I could.
As an example, how many times can someone call out the imbecility of the extreme right-wing conservatives and their shocking illogic without sounding like a zealot themselves? How many ignorant, education-resistant, fundamental religious bigots – and make no mistake, they are bigots – can you try to refute before you become as strident as they have been?
Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, said the following: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” In other words, we must guard against becoming the enemy we perceive.
If we, as functioning members of our society, wish to truly be honorable persons, instead of merely being perceived as such, we need to have our principles. We need to live according to these principles. We must NOT be enslaved by them… We live, we learn, we grow; so also must our principles. Living a fifty-year-old life according to the principles of a twenty-year-old isn’t necessarily going to work.
As we age, we gain a certain amount of perspective… at least, if we’re paying attention, we do. We are able to look back and see what worked in our lives, and what didn’t, and how we can learn from that. You find what works now.
And that, my dear friends, is the philosophy course for the day… Aloha. (A very handy word, by the way.)

2014: The Month With Two Faces…

In activity, beginnings, Just Because... on January 23, 2014 at 9:27 pm

In the days of the Roman Republic, the first month of the year was January, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, war and peace, gates, doorways, transitions, birth, and trade. He was depicted with two faces, one looking to the future, and the other simultaneously to the past.
What does this have to do with the turning of the year? Romans named the first month of the year in honor of this god, because of the beginnings, transitions, endings, et cetera, which occurred in this month. And this seems a good enough place to start this month and this year.
Year two thousand fourteen of the Common Era (so used by those who eschew AD (“Anno Domini”, or “In the Year of Our Lord”) and BC (“Before Christ”) dating) has been, in its first twenty-three days, an interesting year… the consciousness of the Vatican has been moving into the twentieth century from its previous stronghold in the fourteenth; in the estimation of many whose opinions I respect, the Republican Party in the United States continues to shoot itself in the foot – repeatedly; observations of the Canadian Parliament, posted by more people whose opinions I respect, don’t seem to be faring much better; it seems to me that all those in power have cried “Havoc!” and let slip the squirrels of war. [Squirrels are rats with better P.R. people.]
In my estimation, no one is likely to escape this year unscathed and unscarred… least of all we, the people.
Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Is this a thing at all?
My best answer is this:
I got nothing.

“Entertainment” Media…

In activity, It Bugs Me, Just Because..., no excuses on June 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm

From that particular wrinkle in the space-time continuum I like to call home, it’s another blog…
The latest thing on the “entertainment news” shows is following show business pregnancies. Seriously, folks… How many times can I look at Kim Kartrashian’s spawning without becoming physically ill?
{Just so you know: All photos in this entry were obtained through Google searches. I don’t own them, nor do I claim any copyright in them. I only intend their use for illustrative purposes under the “Fair Use” section of the copyright laws.}
Jessica-Simpson-Pregnant-20111

pregnant-kim-kardashian-kanye-west-kisses-in-rio-de-janeiro-22

Michael Douglas (and his publicists) are backpedaling furiously about his recent interview with the uk’s guardian about his throat cancer, and the alleged fact (I, at least, have no proof) that his cancer’s cause was human papilloma virus, or HPV. True enough was the statement that HPV-caused oral cancers are likely a result of oral sex. Whether or not that means that Michael had oral sex, and, if so, with whom, remains shrouded in mystery.

Michael_Douglas_VF_2012_Shankbone

Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris, has been splashed all over the media world for allegedly swallowing pills and cutting her wrist. The speculation is running rampant about how she is bullied at school, which already has a reputation for that sort of thing anyway, and how this is a “cry for help”…
Be honest, now, have you ever met a sixteen year old girl who hasn’t thought about killing herself, even if she didn’t have the want-to to try it? Let’s wake up and smell the reality, people… Money doesn’t make your life – or you – perfect. You just have to deal with it as it comes.
Paris Jackson
Look, she lost her father at the age of eleven. That’s a bad age for any girl. Now she’s in court, testifying in a family lawsuit about fixing blame – and allocating money – for that death, which is still being splashed all over the mediaverse. If her name were Paris Bouchard, and her father was nobody famous (like me), this deal wouldn’t be all over every channel, web site, or blog (like mine).
Leave the girl alone. Let her get help. Shut the up!
Meanwhile, the remaining Jackson siblings, Tito, Marlon, Larry, and Curly, recently began a tour in Morocco… where, apparently, people still are willing to pay good money to see an act whose main attraction has been dead for some time.
I was trying to come up with a joke for this, but the event is enough of a joke in itself that I couldn’t top it.
Just goes to show ya…
About the only good thing about not having cable TV is missing all these so-called “reality shows”; after all, who cares which beefcake vacuum-brain this new “bachelorette” picks? Does anyone really care about the “Real Housewives of Pacoima”? Does it matter who survives “Survivor”? And have “American I’m Dull” and “The Voiceless” finally worn out their welcome?
Yes, I’ll even go off on my favorite show, “Dancing With The Stars”… the past couple of seasons, it’s been more like “Dancing With The Supporting Players”. Len Goodman, the chief judge, must be getting plenty as a newlywed, because he’s in a much better mood; Bruno Tonioli is less comprehensible than ever when he gets excited, which is quite often, and Carrie Ann Inaba needs to get a new boyfriend, I think. Tom Bergeron keeps hosting almost everything on television, splitting it with Neil Patrick Harris, and Brooke Burke Charvet still looks damn good, despite thyroid cancer.
len-goodman
bruno-tonioli-2012-arqiva-british-academy-television-awards-01
carrie-ann-inaba-2009-kids-choice-awards-03
Tom-Bergeron6
Brooke-Burke-Collection-by-Chad-Allison_headshot
Did I mention how I miss Maks?
Maksim Chmerkovskiy-SGG-070350
And, while I’m at it, let me just say a few words (as few as possible, actually) about Donald Trump and “The Apprentice”.
Move away from the camera, Mr. Trump. Keep your hairpiece where we can see it. You have the right to remain silent… and we dearly wish you would.
dtrump
By the way… I’m just curious. What exactly is a “Disney Star”? As in, “Disney star Zendaya”, or “Disney Star Raven”… Is there a difference of some sort from being a “Disney star” and being a regular “star”?
Zendaya-3-zendaya-coleman-33189216-500-671
selena2
That’s about all I have to rant about now, I guess. I’m reasonably sure something else will be using a belt sander on my hemorrhoids soon, so stay close!

Care & Cleaning of Equipment Day…

In activity, blogging, It Bugs Me on May 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

My Uncle George, who raised me, referred to days when the weather was miserable and/or the body was unwilling to comply with any requests from the brain as “care and cleaning of equipment days”. This was a holdover from his days in the Army in the Second World War.
Those types of days were (and still are) low energy, high pain index, and zero visibility brain fog days… much like today.
I woke up around 0830 with pain in all my “bad” joints, the beginnings of a cluster headache, and about as much energy as a twenty-year-old car battery. I took care of the immediate necessaries, and, with the advice and consent of My Beautiful Wife, I went back to bed.
I finally got up and moving about 1330 hours. I hadn’t had anything to eat until just now, when I had something light. (My stomach wouldn’t hear of anything else.)
This is becoming a balancing act between forcing myself to stay out of bed (and nursing the aches, pains, and popping/snapping/grinding noises that come from moving around slightly) and giving in, going back to bed, and conceding the entire Memorial Day as a total loss with no insurance.
It’s a near thing, either way.

The Oscars Are Coming! The Oscars Are Coming!

In activity, blogging, film, Film and Related, Just Because..., Roughly About Films, writing on February 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

On Sunday evening, at about 4:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, which is about 7:00 PM here in Detroit, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the 85th Academy Awards® at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.
Back in the mists of time, when I was just a youngster, the show was the ultimate in what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to be one day. Now, after several decades, and roadblocks galore, I find myself no closer to that goal than I ever was.
The only thing in my way now is myself; I have learned the technical tricks to get a film made, and some of the ways to promote it so it’s seen. I have the tools, I (supposedly) have the talent, but it remains to be seen if I have the WILL.
Could I win an Oscar®? Sure. Anything can happen; events have proven this over the years.
Will I? That will depend entirely on whether or not I can get the motivation together to get out and DO something.
To DO… or not to do…
THAT is the problem.
*
More later…

Back from the Abyss…

In activity, film on January 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Well, this is a rising from the dead, more or less… although I think of it more as an awakening from suspended animation, on this site.

Where we are is in transition. I am attempting to finish my last term at Wayne State University, despite the roadblocks the bureaucracy tries to fling in my path.

Such is the way of things, I suppose.

I have a few more things to say from time to time, and I’ll try to refer then here when I can.

For now, so long until next time…

(Whenever that may be.)
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