Friday, November 30, 2018

Flashback Friday: You have to draw the line somewhere

Originally published September 12, 2014
NFL Cracks Down on Domestic Violence; Affirms Nightclub Brawls, Strip Joint Shootings and Other Random Violence Still OK 

Flashback Friday: The problem with corporate suits

In these days of corporate ownership, the Commissioner has become of particular importance to the hustler. Corporate ownership brings company men, company policy, and company cards with little holes in them. Corporate ownership, in short, brings committee-think, and with ComThink comes the banishment, discouragement, and attrition of colorful characters. The hustler is dependent upon colorful characters, because color is what is salable. Corporations don’t want to be regulated. They don’t want a Commissioner with any powers … The hustler needs a Commissioner who will throw his weight against the stuffiness, the routine, the deadly boredom of the executive suite. He needs a Commissioner who will help baseball, in spite of itself."

- Bill Veeck, The Hustler's Handbook, as quoted by Charles Pierce.  

Notice how easily you can substitute so many different things for "Commissioner [of baseball]" -  just about anything that the suits of Corporate America touch, in fact.  Capitalism is a great model for economic diversity and success, but as Whittaker Chambers once pointed out, it's an ideology the same as Communism and Socialism, and if it lacks a moral foundation, it's no better than they are.

Originally published July 1, 2014

Friday, November 23, 2018

Flashback Friday - On owning your soul

Until you guys own your own souls you don't own mine.  Until you guys can be trusted every time and always, in all times and conditions, to seek the truth out and find it and let the chips fall where they may - until that time comes, I have the right to listen to my conscience, and protect my client the best way I can.  Until I'm sure you won't do him more harm than you'll do the truth good.  Or until I'm hauled before somebody who can make me talk.

- Raymond Chandler, The High Window

Originally published September 15, 2014

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

For me, Thanksgiving has always been a special time of the year, something more than just the beginning of the Christmas season. Thanksgiving often gets short shrift; by tomorrow, any sign of the holiday will have disappeared, covered by snowmen and Santa and all the trappings of the Yuletide. And as much as I love Christmas, I'm in no hurry to see today fade to the background.

This blog has been around for many years now, and it's even given birth to a larger, more successful website about television, but I still keep it alive, because there's a need for all of us here to have a chance to express themselves from time to time. Increasingly, I've relied on others to carry the burden here: David, Bobby, Steve, Drew. We'll have a period of a month or so here as the year begins to wind down when I'll be writing regularly again, but for the most part if you're looking for me, it's best to check out It's About TV! first.

But on this day I'm back here to take a moment, on behalf of all of us here at In Other Words, to thank you for your years of reading, and for having given me a chance to change my life by discovering things I never would have otherwise, both here and at It's About TV, by taking a chance on thinking that someone might be interested in what I write. For that, I have much to be thankful, and so it is my wish for you all that you have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Opera Wednesday: Deseret, by Leonard Kastle

Back in 2017 (and at the TV blog), I mentioned Deseret, the made-for-TV opera by Leonard Kastle, which aired on NBC in 1960, and has seldom been performed since. The opera tells the story of a woman who, against her will, finds herself engaged to marry Brigham Young, the leader of the Latter-day Saints. Deseret received mixed reviews on it's premiere; even so, I wish it would pop up somewhere. One of my complaints about the rash of new operas in the last couple of decades is that we ought to be paying more attention to the underperformed operas of the past, rather than spending money on new ones that may only be performed once or twice themselves. (It also says something about the days when operas were seen, at least occasionally, on broadcast TV, but that's a discussion for the TV blog).

I'm told that a video copy of Deseret exists at the Paley Center in New York, but I was quite pleased to discover, quite by accident, an audio recording of the opera as it was broadcast back then on NBC. Check it out sometime, if you're so inclined.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Classic Sports Thursday: In Memoriam, David Gene Pearson

We just received word that Spartanburg NASCAR legend David Gene Pearson has died at 83 Monday.   The 1976 Daytona 500 winner is one of seven drivers to have been recognised as a winner of all four majors.

Here was that 1976 Daytona 500 finish where he defeated Richard Petty by over one lap (under NASCAR rules, Petty's last lap did not count because the crew pushed the car to the finish line).

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Opera Wednesday: Don Giovanni, by W.A. Mozart

From Mozart's magnificent* opera Don Giovanni, here's the great Ferruccio Furlanetto as the Don's sidekick Leporello, reciting the names from the Don's little black book (which isn't so little).  It's "Madamina, il catalogo è questo" – "My dear lady, this is the catalogue". The performance is at the Metropolitan Opera; the conductor is James Levine

*Magnificent except for the ensemble ending, that is. I've always complained that after someone is dragged down to Hell, anything that follows is an anti-climax. Up to the early 20th Century, this scene was almost always omitted (the opera was written in 1787) - I don't know why producers think it needs to be done today. Oh well.

Paying $30 for the final episode of a season?

In college, we had a group of friends that went to the student centre and organised pay-per-view watch parties for fake fights (aka "Professional Wrestling").  I learned from them that professional wrestling was a femme genre of television, the daytime serial drama, for a male audience, in effect each week's episode was a continuing story as we see with the five-day-a-week dramas that appear in the afternoon aimed at women (and it's proven that way;  Pop TV reairs all Sony dramas in the prime-time access hour).  As I researched the importance of pay-per-view in the fake fighting industry, whether it was WWE, New Japan, AAA, or Sinclair's Ring of Honor, which is the current squabble as Fox affiliates in many markets -- including mine -- air Ring of Honor, as it is owned and operated by the station, I learned that a wrestling pay-per-view is designed as a tie-up to end numerous storylines or keep extending them into another season.  In essence, they are season finales and a new season starts with the first episode after the pay-per-view event.

With that fact, I wondered what would happen if network television shows such as the NCIS franchise had a similar angle.  At the end of the 22 to 25 episode season, the season finale is aired not on network television but on pay-per-view at a cost of $30 for the final episode.  What might viewers think if those season finales, which may be double episodes, are pay-per-view shows after the other 21 to 24 episodes aired on network television?

That is how professional wrestling "seasons" are organised.  While Royal Rumble is a "season finale" for one season, it starts a story arc that will run to two seasons (No Escape* and WrestleMania).  Viewers pay for the pay-per-view that ends the first "season" and again for the end of the second "season" in this story arc.  Just imagine if Dallas had "Who Shot J.R.?" as a pay-per-view and then the opening of the next season on network television began the investigation, and the next pay-per-view episode determined who was the shooter.  That is exactly how professional wrestling works.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Television prophetic?

As I drove up US 378 to the area near the start line of Saturday's half-marathon that ended in complete disaster (disqualified at the sixth mile), I saw a sign promoting a play by a local theater company in the area.

Angrily after the disqualification I had thought of suicide and hearing "Suicide is Painless" in my head afterwards came (see "The Pain of Losing" for references). That theater sign was the problem.  And that's because of that sign from the theatre promoting a play based on a 1970 movie and later a television show that even to this day is known for its ratings shares that are higher than any Super Bowl could ever have. What show was it?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Opera Wednesday: Duke Bluebeard's Castle, by Bela Bartok

I've often been critical of contemporary opera, frequently with good reason, but there are some masterpieces out there from the 20th Century - some of my favorite operas were written post-1900.

Here's one of them, for instance: the controversial, often brutal but frequently magnificent Duke Bluebeard's Castle, written in 1911 by Béla Bartók, and filmed here for West German television by Michael Powell.  The Metropolitan Opera did a stunning adaptation of Bluebeard's Castle a few years ago, one that turned me into a beleiver, but Powell's production, rich in symbolism, is every bit its equal.  Don't be afraid to give it a try!

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