Saturday, May 26, 2012

The NBC Community Panic Bunker!

Will it be six seasons and a movie or should we just pray for 13 episodes and a show that isn't broken? To be the last one on the dogpile, the day after the season finale of the TV show Community and barely one week after the network finally put us out of our misery by giving the show an abbreviated fourth season, showrunner/cult leader Dan Harmon was relieved of his duties. Of course, the Internet went insane, because that's what the Internet does.

There have been a lot of opinions on what this means for the future of the show, some more coherent than others, and most throwing some three-cameras-and-a-studio-audience-of-idiots show in our faces. Something that wasn't getting nearly as much play as it probably should have in the early going was that the Dan Harmon incident isn't exactly a unique situation in the history of television: the AV Club hit the point on Monday, and Ken Levine, a man who's done the sitcom (and showrunner) thing for a few decades, gave us his perspective in a two part post.  And finally--or somewhere in the middle of all this, to be more honest--Vulture's Josef Adalian laid some down some "hard truths". Actually, all of these articles have "hard truths" in them, a few of which set my teeth on edge but which make perfect sense if you take a breath and count to ten. There are many, many more, but these are the ones that I actually noticed.

My feelings on the topic are fairly simple: Stay optimistic about the fall, but keep one foot pointed towards the door. Cool cool cool?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

G.I. Dunno: Remuneration

via the L.A. Times (among other places): If you were waiting for G.I. Joe: Retaliation to light up the Fourth of July weekend, you might have to wait a little longer...like a whole year.

This last-minute mega-delay, after blowing millions in promotion (which they're going to have to do all over again in 2013, since you can't unspend ad money), was because some jerk looked at the movie and asked "Why isn't this in 3-D?" Not because some jerk looked at the movie and said "GAH! BRUCE WILLIS!"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quick Hits! May 17, 2012

And now, a few things that went up on my Google+ feed that you might have missed because you don't trust the privacy policy:

  • REDD: The Most Bad Ass Indie SciFi Adventure Movie, EVER! (a Kickstarter pitch in search of some sugar daddies, 16 days to go at this posting):  Okay, I admit it. I watched the trailer first, and after I picked my jaw up off the ground, I asked myself, "Is this anything?" Then I hit play on his pitch and the answer was self-evident: "Yes, it is." I'd also love to see what this guy could do with a budget larger than what a used car costs.
  • "Grand Old Party" is a data visualization project. It is also a series of butt plugs." If you're foolish enough to click on that link, Matthew Epler has made latex representations of polling results over the active campaign period, and yes, they can apparently go right up your butt, which is where early polling results belong. Just like in real life, the Bachman is much ado about nothing, while the Santorum looks almost impossible to dislodge.
  • Perfect lead-in for a True Pixar Story (via Mike Elgan), a jolly tale about the day Toy Story 2 was almost completely wiped because of bad backups and one poorly-executed Linux command.

  • A reminder of things you miss when you go to bed at a decent hour: Craig Ferguson telling Mila Kunis to not skip through the Glasgow Necropolis.
  • And the final one is more of a CONSUMER REPORT: Have any of you seen the mysterious ad about "this man" who predicted the end of GM and Fannie Mae and how he's going to tell you how to make money while the world markets collapse? Turns out he didn't predict a $1.5 million fraud fine from the SEC for peddling a $50 newsletter "replete with lies", if this writeup from Antemedius is to believed. So he's a crank, but fortunately he's a well-known crank, and this summary from last year of his too-long-didn't-watch video lays out the snake oil he's peddling.  It's just as true with Amway as it is with anything else: if your rep is so broken that you have to hide what you're selling (and your own name, for that matter), you're in trouble before you open your big mouth.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Is That 'Fifty Shades of Grey'?

Time for a quickie before bed: until a Saturday Night Live sketch made multiple references to the E.L. James book Fifty Shades of Grey, I'd never actually heard of it. Sue me, I'm not up on "mommy porn" trends.  The history of the story that became Fifty Shades of Grey, however, is absolutely fascinating...or is it alarming?

Either way, if you're curious, MediaBistro's GalleyCat posted (a few months ago) "The Lost History of Fifty Shades of Grey". As remarkable as the tale of the road to publication is, the takeaway of this success is "The future of literature is on Fanfiction.net."  That doesn't exactly put me in a place of serenity.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Back (And To The Side) Revisited: Were Our Dogs Chasing The Wrong Rabbit?

Local issues update: Sears closed its Oak Hollow Mall store for the final time last weekend. By the time I made it to the mall this week, all the Sears signs had been stripped off the building. Things are looking dire. There are more bald spots on the directory than you'd find on a dog with mange. It'll be baffling if it's still open for business in its current form at this time next year, but looking at the number of other ghost malls that dragged out the inevitable for years, it wouldn't be entirely surprising.

The last time I spoke to you on this topic, I declined to answer the question "Why did this particular retail venture in this particular time period go belly up?" In part, that was a polite way of saying "Since I don't actually live in the city, I don't get a say in city issues."  However, I'd like to expand my line of questioning to something that isn't being asked nearly enough: Was the city even chasing the right goals in this particular space?  Triad area freebie The Rhino Times, covering the end-of-March visit of architect/city planner AndrĂ©s Duany, made me wonder if the answer is the Magic 8-Ball's classic "Don't count on it."



Rhino's Paul C. Clark characterizes Duany's talk at High Point University as "a series of humorous but all-out assaults on city planners, environmentalists, architects, bureaucrats, road and highway designers and even High Point itself."  Duany's concept of sane development is basically going back to the way cities used to be laid out before cars took over, basically walking-around urban neighborhoods with a mixed zoning development (his ideal Carolina city is Charleston). So predictably, in spite of "high-quality humans" living here ("against all odds"), the town itself is a sprawling mess. That's no surprise; this town is not made for pedestrians, and hasn't been for quite some time.

What followed took a little time to sink in, but when it did, it was a real smack in the chops (my emphasis):

Duany pointed out one thing he said was "fantastic and odd" about the High Point University Campus – that it has a steakhouse, other restaurants, a movie house, stores, a swimming pool at its student center and a host of other amenities that are usually provided by the private sector off-campus in a college town. 
"What this university has had to do, and I'm sure it was conscious, is internalize what a college town usually does," he said. "There is zero college town out there, so they have to internalize everything. Even the housing."
High Point University, which as High Point College has been a part of the city landscape since 1924, has been on an ambitious growth streak in the twenty years since it upgraded to university status. The latest completed addition, the $50 million University Center, was among some people the most controversial. It includes the aforementioned student housing, movie theater, steak house, and a "two-story state-of-the-art 'gaming and restaurant' concept," whatever that means. Rhino Times again: "High Point University has been criticized for fencing itself off from the community, but there are, as Duany said of other cities, few amenities to which its students can walk. [HPU President Nido] Qubein has created his own city[...]"

That, in a nutshell, sets up tonight's study question: While the city boosters were chasing malls and major league baseball bids (the part I referred to in January as "aspirational spending"), what's suddenly starting to feel like the real future of the city felt compelled to build all those "college town" amenities without us. Putting aside for a moment the things we touched on in January, I've become convinced that the question of "Why did Oak Hollow Mall fail in under twenty years?" is a twin joined at the spleen to the question "Why did Qubein have to build his own city behind a fence?"

(While you're mulling that over (and I doubt I'm entirely done with the topic yet), it's worth looking at the Sky City blog entry on Oak Hollow which inspired my first post on the topic. Be sure to read the comment thread, where people who love this town as more than a place to sleep and eat when they don't have to be somewhere else start getting real. Feel free to ignore my input there, though. You've read it already at twice the length...except for the part where I mention that developers started putting out feelers to build yet another mall, even further north, and thus ever-so-slightly closer to the killer Hanes Mall than even Oak Hollow was. This town is impossible to figure out sometimes....)