Sunday, October 22, 2017

Feature Teacher

I was doing something with the TV on in the background.  A rerun (of course) of Johnny Carson's show was playing.  His guest was film and theatre director Elia Kazan.

Johnny started listing Kazan's famous movies, and I thought he said "Beavis And Butt-Head."

Obviously this couldn't be true--Carson went off the air in 1992 and the Beavis and Butt-Head film didn't even come out until 1996.

So I tried to reverse-engineer it.  After going over Kazan's filmography, I'm pretty sure it's got to be Viva Zapata!.  It's got the right rhythm and sounds.  Nothing else really comes close.

Viva Zapata! isn't a bad film, by the way, but it's no Beavis And Butt-Head Do America.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Carrie Over

It's Carrie Fisher's birthday.  In her honor, I've been reading The Princess Diarist, the book she put out late last year.  It's about her experiences with Star Wars, including her affair with Harrison Ford.  It features an old diary she kept during its making.

Fisher died not long after it came out.  What she couldn't know was how spooky this would make some of the book sound.

For instance, from her diary (which has the sort of emotional outpourings one might expect from a young women):

If anyone reads this when I have passed to the big bad beyond I shall be posthumously embarrassed.  I shall spend my entire afterlife blushing.

You might remember her mother Debbie Reynolds died the day after she did.  And we get this in the acknowledgments:

For my mother--for being too stubborn and thoughtful to die.  I love you, but that whole emergency, almost dying thing, wasn't funny.  Don't even THINK about doing it again in any form.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lower The Ceiling

During the summer, Rick And Morty's third season became one of the top comedy hits on TV, at least in the most valued demos, 18-24 and 18-34.

It made me wonder how producer Dan Harmon felt about doing so well after coming off Community, another great show, but one that was never a hit.

But then I thought about the numbers. Community ran for six seasons and 110 episodes.  For a flop, that's pretty good. Rick And Morty have only done 31 episodes. At the rate they're going, it would be quite an achievement to make it to 100.

And how many watched? (That number is getting trickier to measure with fewer people watching a show when it airs.) Even in Community's first, most-watched season, it rarely had over five million viewers.  By it's fifth season, and last on a TV network, it was averaging around three million.

How many watch Rick And Morty (at least at the time it airs). The numbers have been going up each season, which is a good sign, but even in its latest season it's only averaging about 2.5 million viewers.

So congratulations to Dan Harmon on creating a hit show. But part of the trick was moving from the big networks to Adult Swim, where expectations are lower.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Best PR Job Ever

With the Nobel's recently announced, I've been reading up on Alfred Nobel.  Fascinating life.

He was a morose fellow who felt he was a failure.  And why not, considering what people thought of him.  His creation and manufacture of dynamite had him condemned worldwide (though much of it was cheap attacks at an easy target).

His pariah status was not merely due to his materials used in war.  After all, his father was a munitions maker, so he was used to that.  But dynamite, and related discoveries, led to numerous industrial deaths.

(By the way, in later years Nobel had heart problems, and was not happy to find he was prescribed nitroglycerin.)

His brother Ludwig died in Cannes and was mistaken for Alfred. The headline for the obit read (in French) "The Merchant Of Death Is Dead." No one wants to be remembered that way, so Nobel, who had amassed a fortune, wrote a will pledging his assets toward annual prizes. They'd be given out in science (physics, chemistry and medicine), in literature (Nobel always wanted to be a writer) and in peace (that'll show 'em).

His relatives were not thrilled, and challenged the will, but five years after his death, the Nobel Prizes were first awarded.

And since then, they've become the greatest honor in the world (and include a nice chunk of change). Now when anyone thinks of the name Nobel, the thoughts are almost all positive and high-minded.  Nice work, Alfred.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

KM No TM

I just missed the birthday of Kevin MacLeod.  Who he?  A composer who's released 2000 pieces of royalty-free music at his website, incompetech.com.

Because he only requests attribution, his music is heard on numerous YouTube videos and films.






Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Bloom Is Off The Berg

One stop I often make on the internet is Bloomberg View, which has a number of interesting contributors to its editorial department--some of them friends of mine.

But the website is now requiring registration to read its content.  They promise it's free, but I consider it an imposition and won't do it.

If there's one thing that's easy to get on the internet with nothing standing in your way, its people's opinion.  And that's how I like it.  Even the slightest hindrance makes me think twice.

In other words, I can get along fine without Bloomberg View, and I guess they've decided they can get along fine without me.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hang Fire

Halt And Catch Fire has ended its four-season run.  The ratings were always low--well under a million for the initial airings--but its fans got to see it grow from a Mad Men knockoff to something much deeper.

It focused on five characters in the computer business, and how they maneuvered through the 80s and 90s. I didn't go for the fourth season as much as the second or third, perhaps because it was a little slower.  Near the end, one of the major characters died, and the last three episodes were essentially about how the others handled it. Still, Halt And Catch Fire was to the end one of TV's best (if least seen) dramas.

It did have one flaw, if that's the word for it, that it could never get around.  The show is set in the real world, and real brand names are mentioned.  The characters are on the cutting edge, always in on a trend just before it would break.  But we know they'll never make it to the top, because we know which firms really did hit it big.

I liked all five leads, so let me list them: Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishe and Toby Huss.  I look forward to seeing them in other projects. (You've probably seen them already and don't know it--an actor like Toby Huss has done tons of TV guest shots.) Maybe they can return in a few years as their characters for an episode set in the present (their future) and we can see how they turned out.

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