Thursday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. charontwo says:

    Reposting from late yesterday, WaPo link is a gift link:

    TFG is very confused:

    Dana Milbank at Post:

    Gift_WaPost

    “I went to Trump’s rally on Saturday night in Manchester, where he didn’t address the Haley-Pelosi mix-up but assured his supporters that he “took a cognitive test” and “I aced it.”

    He has previously boasted of his ability to identify an image of a “whale” on said assessment, but, as The Post’s Ashley Parker and Dan Diamond pointed out, there is no such marine mammal on any version of the test. (Maybe he was being “sarcastic” about the whale, too.)

    Snip

    But I listened carefully to Trump that night — no easy feat because he went on for 100 minutes — and noticed that, even though his text was fed to him through a teleprompter, he told many of the same stories over and over again, repeating some lines almost word for word in the same speech, with no apparent awareness that he had done so.

    This is perseveration – repeating stuff – a common symptom of senile dementia.

    “Each drug dealer kills on average 500 people during his or her lifetime,” he informed his audience early in his speech.

    “Each dealer is responsible for the deaths during their lives of over 500 people or more,” he informed them late in his speech.

    He told them early in the speech about Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell, right, where the 51 intelligence agents said, oh, no, it was from Russia.”

    He told them late in the speech that “Hunter Biden’s laptop from hell was Russian disinformation,” according to “51 intelligence agents.”

    During the Trump presidency, he declared, “Hamas, Hezbollah, they didn’t have any money because Iran had no money to give them.”

    Later, he announced: “Iran was broke under President Trump. They didn’t have the money to fund Hamas, Hezbollah.”

    Near the top of his speech he vowed to end “Biden’s insane electric vehicle mandate,” because the vehicles “don’t go far. That’s true: They don’t go far.”

    Near the bottom of the speech, he complained that “we are a nation whose leaders are demanding all-electric cars, despite the fact that they don’t go far.”

    Some stories were so good he told them three times.

    “We’ll end up in a world war because of this guy,” he said of Biden.

    Later: “We have the serious danger of going into a World War III.”

    Still later: “We’re going to end up in World War III with this guy running.”

    This was somewhat of an improvement for Trump, who in September warned an audience that, under Biden, we will soon be “in World War II.”

    Snip

    In fairness, the Trump of four and eight years ago was also plenty erratic. But a closer look at his public performances — his courtroom outbursts and on the stump — suggests the very stable genius is off his game. He’s propped up by a very professional campaign, which he didn’t have before, and more insulated from questions and spontaneous exchanges. Yet he’s still saying and doing the sort of things that, had Biden done them, Republicans would cry: dementia!

    Snip

    Sounds as though somebody needs a nap.

    And it wasn’t just one off night

    . At a rally the next night, Trump mispronounced the name of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), his devoted ally who had just come to campaign for him in New Hampshire. He mentioned the name of a pollster — his pollster — Tony Fabrizio, with an Italian accent, then asked, “Is he a relation to Al Capone?”

    The following night, he served up this puzzler: “We are an institute and a powerful death penalty. We will put this on.”

    It’s perhaps easy to lose all this in the grotesque carnival that is a Trump rally.

    ReplyReply
    11
  2. Kylopod says:

    And I’ll repost my thoughts from late yesterday’s thread on the evolution of terms for technology.

    One of the most interesting examples to me is the evolution of the words “movie,” “film,” and “television.” These all originally referred strictly to specific technologies–a strip of material featuring images rolled through a camera and projected outward to create an illusion of a single moving image; a cathode-ray tube converting radio waves into images on a screen.

    Gradually, though, the terms have become abstracted from those technologies, particularly TV after the development of cable, satellite, and eventually streaming. There’s part of me that still finds it weird when programs on Netflix or Hulu are called TV, even as I’m watching them on my laptop or even iPhone, and they aren’t part of any regular schedule on the streaming service’s part, and meanwhile, those same services are showing some movies that are concurrently in theaters.

    Film, too, has been increasingly applied to processes that aren’t, well, film anymore, such as digital.

    Also, having grown up in the ’80s and ’90s, one of the most exciting things for me that happened in the decades that followed was the development of shows that felt cinematic in quality–which was absolutely not the norm when I was growing up. But that only highlighted the blurry conceptual line we draw between a show and a movie (or the oddly oxymoronic TV movie) once they aren’t tied to a particular technology. The only real difference at this point is that a show is basically just a set series of short movies, even though we rarely put it that way. (I’ve heard people offhandedly refer to a show as “a film” and then pause, think about it, and correct themselves.) Of course, back in the ’30s and ’40s they actually had serialized short movies, like the Three Stooges or the Spy Smasher. You’d go out to a theater to watch them, but they were essentially the precursors to TV shows. There still was a technological boundary separating the two. At this point, that boundary is almost completely meaningless.

    ReplyReply
    3
  3. charontwo says:

    @Kylopod:

    The only real difference at this point is that a show is basically just a set series of short movies, even though we rarely put it that way.

    You are describing the “episodic” type of TV show, which was the only type that existed throughout the 20th century – each broadcast independently stands alone. The 21st century has brought in “serialized” shows, where each season resembles a long movie.

    (Many shows mix the two styles – a season arc with episodic individual broadcasts. And I guess “broadcast” does not really describe the streaming experience, where the viewer decides when to watch – which might be “binge watching” an old show.)

    ReplyReply
    1
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Stupid is as stupid does: Proud Boys member gets six years in prison for Capitol riot after insulting judge

    Marc Bru repeatedly interrupted chief judge James Boasberg before the sentence was handed down, calling him a “clown” and a “fraud” presiding over a “kangaroo court”.

    The judge warned Bru that he could be kicked out of the courtroom if he continued to disrupt the proceedings.

    “You can give me 100 years and I’d do it all over again,” said Bru, who was handcuffed and shackled.

    “That’s the definition of no remorse in my book,” the judge said.

    Have fun dickhead.

     

    ReplyReply
    15
  5. charontwo says:

    Film, too, has been increasingly applied to processes that aren’t, well, film anymore, such as digital.

    Or applying the term “tape” to recordings where no actual tape is involved.

    ReplyReply
    2
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charontwo: he told many of the same stories over and over again, repeating some lines almost word for word in the same speech, with no apparent awareness that he had done so.

    My father was self aware enough to realize he didn’t have it all together anymore on their 50th anniversary. Some friends of theirs videotaped a conversation they had with them and it was the saddest damned thing I’ve ever watched. The old man was a master story teller and loved making people laugh in the process. Ed would ask him to tell this story or that story or some other story and every time Pop demurred saying, “Mary can tell it better than I.”

    Towards the end our conversations were little more than him asking me a question, my answering it, repeat, ad infinitum. I didn’t mind.

    ReplyReply
    7
  7. Scott says:

    They never stop, do they?

    An East Texas school district’s flagpole raises questions about America’s separation of church and state

    The LaPoynor school district frequently flies a Christian flag, but may not be running afoul of the Constitution because it says students are choosing to raise it.

    ReplyReply
    1
  8. Kylopod says:

    @charontwo: I don’t think the distinction you are making is all that relevant to what I was talking about. It’s true that “story” shows have become more common in the age of streaming, partly because of the increased phenomenon of binge-watching. But they’re hardly new to the 21st century, and binge-watching itself has been possible at least as far back as VHS (even if the term is more recent), the only thing that’s new is the development of shows where bingeing is possible, even encouraged, on a show’s first run (as opposed to bingeing older shows, which people certainly did in the ‘80s and ‘90s).

    In any case, when I said shows are essentially just a series of little movies, my statement wasn’t dependent on whether the episodes are self-contained or not—I think it still holds even when the episodes are parts of larger stories. After all, think of the many theatrical movies that broke a book into multiple films, such as The Hobbit or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The films weren’t self-contained, yet we still consider them films and not “episodes” of a “show.” The convention of when to call a show a show, an episode an episode, and a film a film, is still pretty blurry.

    ReplyReply
  9. charontwo says:

    @Kylopod:

    But they’re hardly new to the 21st century,

    Maybe. Buffy is from 1997 so I suppose that would technically be 20th century. I am having a hard time thinking of any other serialized shows from that early.

    ReplyReply
  10. Bill Jempty says:

    @charontwo:

    Maybe. Buffy is from 1997 so I suppose that would technically be 20th century.

    Star Trek Deep Space Nine ran in the 1990’s and its episodes were a combination of serial (The Dominion War) or stand alones (Lets be mean to Chief O’brien again).

    ReplyReply
    1
  11. Kylopod says:

    @charontwo: Soaps? Telenovelas?

    Honestly I don’t know as I’ve never watched any of those, but I was under the impression they were ongoing stories.

    ReplyReply
    3
  12. MarkedMan says:

    @charontwo:

    The 21st century has brought in “serialized” shows

    It’s pretty amazing how much of an impact the VCR had on broadcast TV. Up until that time it wasn’t feasible to have shows that carried plot points from one episode to the next because if you missed an episode it might be months before you got a chance to see it again. There were exceptions: two part episodes were fairly common, and networks used to make a big deal about “Miniseries” which would have 3-6 episodes in an arc. But basically writers had to accept the fact that most of their audience were going to miss any number of episodes in a 23 show season and so they needed to write in such a way that wouldn’t matter.

    Not too long ago someone pointed to an episode of Star Trek (TOS) in which Kirk tragically lost the love of his life, with a bring-the-audience-to-tears climax. And then, in the very next episode, we pick up as if nothing had ever happened and it was never mentioned again. The audience at the time just accepted this, but it is jarring to anyone under 30.

    ReplyReply
    1
  13. MarkedMan says:

    @charontwo: 1993’s Babylon 5 was one of the first, and Straczynski had a hell of a time convincing the Powers That Be that enough people had VCR’s that it would work.

    ReplyReply
    1
  14. Bill Jempty says:

    20th century television shows and whether they were or weren’t serials. Shows I’m familar with

    Hogan’s Heroes and F Troop- Stand alones
    Barnaby Jones, Mannix*, The Streets of San Francisco- All stand alones
    The original Hawaii Five 0- Stand alones but there were a few returning characters like Avery Filery, Honoree Vashon and most famously Wo Fat
    The reboot Hawaii Five 0- Poorly written serial. Don’t get me started on the stupid stuff in this show which I quit watching when a helicopter with a magnet picked up a moving truck in the season 3 opener…
    Picard- Another poorly written serial.
    The L&O franchise- Began as stand alones but evolved with SVU undergoing the biggest changeover and the original going back and forth, Stand alones to the personal travails of characters on the show*** back to stand alones then back. Did this show ever give out Dramamine to its viewers?
    Green Acres- The series became more and more ‘The Arnold the Pig show’ as time went on but its a stand alone
    Benson- The title character went the person in charge of the governor’s mansion to Lt Governor running for Governor at series end with 3 years of him being Budget Director in between. The show’s story evolved over 7 seasons. Sometimes in backwards fashion like Kraus going from speaking good English at the show’s beginning to in the last season where she starts sounding like Sister Sixto from The Flying Nun. ‘A sneak in the grass’
    The Nanny- Oi Vei. Fran Fine character evolved from Nanny to the Sheffield family to married to Mr Sheffield and mother of twins at series end. I guess you can watch the shows in any order if you can accept the evolving of one or more** characters.
    Star Trek- Stand alones
    Star Trek TNG- Sort of a combination but less so than DS9.
    All Irwin Allen series- Stand alones
    St Elsewhere- Combination
    Get Smart- Stand alones but 86 and 99 did become engaged, married, and parents near the end of the series.
    LA Law- A serial mostly.
    ER- Ditto

    I’d say serials started popping up in the 80’s but becoming prevalent 2000 or later.

    *- The show’s premise was vastly changed after season 1 but the series remained stand alones.
    **- Niles and CC hating one another for 5 seasons and then in Season 6 they…..Oi Vei. I really disliked season 6 of that series.
    ***- The daughter of Lenny having drug issues, The wife of Rey Curtis being diagnosed with MS, Adam Schiff being challenged for re-election….

    ReplyReply
    1
  15. MarkedMan says:

    Yesterday there was some discussion of data harvesting by apps, so I thought this piece in Gizmodo might interest some. Ever wonder why so many apps and web sites ask to send you notifications? It’s because it allows them to circumvent some of the limited permissions you set when you said “Only When Using App” instead of “Always”. Bottom line, aside from messages and a few others, why would you ever allow an app or a web page to send you a notification?

    ReplyReply
    3
  16. just nutha says:

    @charontwo: Dallas, Peyton Place, various “daytime dramas,” I could go on…

    ReplyReply
  17. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: For me, it’s because I conduct ongoing business with the site.

    ReplyReply
  18. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    Hill Street Blues was a serial, I think.

    ReplyReply
    1
  19. Kathy says:

    We don’t really have arc shows today, but rather arc seasons. This is still better than unconnected eps with, at best, character arcs or character development. I just like being clear about such things.

    For an arc show, the best example remains Babylon 5. The story of the Shadow War gets told over four seasons (season 5 misfired in several levels). It would have been better without the cast changes, in particular if Sinclair had remained the protagonist throughout.

    Yes, I think Sheridan was a better character, and played by a better actor, but the whole Jeffrey/Katherine dynamic, and the Jeffrey/Michael dynamic, were wasted. So was part of the impact of Delenn’s transition*. And then Sheridan had to be developed in season 2.

    But overall JMS did very well with the story.

    *Internet rumor in the 90s had it that Delenn was supposed to be male (see how differently the actor looks in the pilot ep) in the first season. Mira Furlan’s voice would have been processed digitally to make it sound masculine. Then in season two Delenn would emerge from the cocoon looking not just different, but also female.

    I don’t think that would have worked.

    I also mislike using science fictiony gimmicks to sneak in trans characters, or same sex relationships.

    ReplyReply
  20. charontwo says:

    @Bill Jempty: @MarkedMan: @just nutha:

    That’s a lot of TV. I wasn’t watching much TV back then, before I retired – 2002.

    ReplyReply
  21. CSK says:

    @charontwo:

    The MAGAs probably prefer to interpret Trump’s perseverations as him being emphatic.

    ReplyReply
  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    On my android phone, I installed Duckduckgo’s browser, though not necessarily for privacy reasons. An added benefit is that they have a tracking blocker applet option that you can invoke. It blocks tracking requests and provides an on demand report of which apps are trying to track you and for who. While I only have a handful of apps running on the phone, the only persistent tracker is the Yahoo Mail app, which has hundreds of attempts per day for 2-3 market intelligence firms.

    ReplyReply
  23. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    This one really snagged my attention last night, but apparently I overslept so here’s a rather jarring shift in focus for those busy discussing the nature of television.*

    The leader of Arizona’s Republican party resigned on Wednesday after leaked audio of him surfaced, appearing to show him offering a bribe to the Republican candidate Kari Lake by asking if there were a dollar amount she would take to stay out of the US Senate race there.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/24/arizona-republican-jeff-dewit-resigns-over-kari-lake-bribe?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

    *Completely losing my mind, but very very entertaining. Thanks everyone!

    ReplyReply
    2
  24. wr says:

    @charontwo: “Buffy is from 1997 so I suppose that would technically be 20th century. I am having a hard time thinking of any other serialized shows from that early.”

    Wiseguy, which premiered in 1987, featured two multi-episode “arcs” per season. It basically anticipated the HBO and then streaming models by at least a decade.

    ReplyReply
  25. charontwo says:

    @Kathy:

    We don’t really have arc shows today, but rather arc seasons.

    Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul? Battlestar Galactica?

    ReplyReply
  26. wr says:

    @CSK: “Hill Street Blues was a serial, I think.”

    Hill Street was revolutionary in its serialization, the first network drama series (aside from nighttime soaps) to feature long-running continuing storylines. In fact it was so revolutionary that NBC demanded it be toned down — originally all the storylines were going to be serialized, but the network begged showrunner Bochco to feature one complete story (beginning, middle, end) in every episode so that new viewers could find something to hold on to…

    ReplyReply
  27. Kathy says:

    @charontwo:

    I suffer from an affliction that prevents me from commenting or rating shows I’ve never seen.

    ReplyReply
    4
  28. Scott says:

    @Kathy: @MarkedMan: Babylon 5 did have a 5 year outline of an arc. What was different then was that B5 had 22 episodes a season which you don’t see today. If I remember right, just about every other episode was a near standalone episode that may have had maybe one scene that reflected the story arc. I also seem to remember reading that there were always a couple of episodes being filmed concurrently to meet the production schedule.

    ReplyReply
    1
  29. MarkedMan says:

    Since we are talking about the evolution of TV series, I’ll take this opportunity to air a pet peeve: cliffhanger season endings. Since the infamous “Who Shot JR?!” ending in 1980, every frickin’ series has felt the need to end each season in some hackneyed cliff hanger. And 90% of the time the writers seemed to a) come up with the shocking cliff hanger, b) take a long vacation, c) come back and come up with the arc of the next season, and then d) remember they had a cliffhanger that had nothing to do with the arc they just crafted and so hastily write 1 to 3 episodes that painfully explain away last years ending and make a handwaving attempt to tie it into the new seasons arc.

    ReplyReply
    2
  30. Jen says:

    X-Files had a mix of stand-alone episodes and the Mulder conspiracy arc stories.

    I feel like there were a bunch of shows that had this type of cadence.

    ReplyReply
    2
  31. Kylopod says:

    The West Wing falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to serialization vs. arcs. There were definitely ongoing stories, such as the two presidential elections, or when Bartlett publicly divulges having MS. But within that framework, most of the episodes were pretty self-contained–they would focus on little events within the larger whole, and much of the time those events were never spoken about again.

    I guess the question is whether you’d tell someone who’s never seen the show that they have to watch it in order. I’d say yes, in a broad sense–but I could imagine someone being a little loose on that requirement and not being confused about what’s going on.

    ReplyReply
    1
  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    I feel a lot of TV execs don’t really understand TV. TV watching is not meant to be a highly focused experience. Need to pee, you get up and pee. Want a snack? Grab a snack. Have something to say to your wife, you say it. There’s a reason Friends and Big Bang Theory and The Office do so well on streaming – they are TV, not two hour movies stretched out into eight eps. TV can be the kind of experience that keeps you enthralled (e.g. Sopranos) but the default is casual. It’s a burger not a tasting menu.

    TV execs make things worse by constant and often inexplicable cancellations. Why is Friends, a 20 year-old show literally every human has seen, still so valuable? Because Rachel and Joey and Chandler will be there for you. (Clap clap clap clap). The constant cancellations train audiences not to commit. I start new shows by assessing their durability. Do they feel like they have it? I don’t want to invest only for some algorithm to pull the plug.

    ReplyReply
    4
  33. Scott says:

    In the “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” category:

    U.S. Secretly Alerted Iran Ahead of Islamic State Terrorist Attack

    The U.S. secretly warned Iran that Islamic State was preparing to carry out the terrorist attack early this month that killed more than 80 Iranians in a pair of coordinated suicide bombings, U.S. officials said.

    The confidential alert came after the U.S. acquired intelligence that Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, was plotting to attack Iran, they said.

    American officials said the information passed to Iran was specific enough about the location and sufficiently timely that it might have proved useful to Tehran in thwarting the attack on Jan. 3 or at least mitigating the casualty toll.

    Reminds me going back to just after 9/11. Iran offered help to the US WRT Afghanistan. After all, they were enemies of the Taliban also. But Bush basically slapped Iran’s hand away, plopped another army on the other side of Iran in Iraq. And blew our chance to change the dynamics of the region. I blame that fiasco on the far-right Christian fanatics that have too much say in our foreign policy.

    ReplyReply
    13
  34. charontwo says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    TV watching is not meant to be a highly focused experience. Need to pee, you get up and pee.

    You are aware of technology like DVR and streaming, no? I need to pee, I can pause the playback for that. I don’t watch shows I don’t need to pay attention, apart from live stuff like sports broadcasts or news shows.

    ReplyReply
    1
  35. Scott says:

    @charontwo: HGTV is our background TV while cooking and cleaning.

    ReplyReply
  36. gVOR10 says:

    In case anyone but Kathy and I still care, mistermix at Balloon Juice had an interesting quote and link yesterday. It’s from an anonymous comment at another blog, so reader discretion advised. The commenter claims to be a Boeing employee with access to the 737 quality record systems.

    Long story short: Spirit builds the fuselage and delivers it to Boeing, Renton with doors and plugs installed. Spirit has people at Renton who do a lot of “warranty” rework. They screwed up some minor rework on the plug and in the course of redoing it, in some unrecorded way, they discovered the pressure seal was damaged. To replace the seal they have to either remove the plug or at least open it. Removing something invokes tighter inspection. They opened it. Opening it requires removing the infamous four bolts. This should have invoked the removal inspection anyway. But it didn’t. The bolts are presumably still on a bench in Renton or in a trash bin.

    (I’d broaden the speculation to perhaps only the cotter pins are still in Renton.)

    ReplyReply
    1
  37. Kingdaddy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Low impulse control can be a lifestyle choice.

    ReplyReply
    1
  38. Kylopod says:

    @charontwo: Nature calls are still an issue in theaters, of course.

    When I was eight my parents brought me to see The Journey of Natty Gann. I had to get up to go to the bathroom at one point, and I missed an exciting and surprisingly dark scene for a Disney movie, where Natty hitches a ride with a man and he tries to sexually assault her, only to have her wolf companion come crashing through glass to rescue her. When the film aired on broadcast TV a year later, the scene was cut. I didn’t get a chance to see it in its entirety for several years (maybe my parents preferred it that way). But it made me hesitant to leave a theater in the middle of a film, worrying I’d miss something I’d later regret not getting the chance to see on the big screen.

    I later saw Speed and True Lies in the theaters. I liked both (especially Speed), but I thought they were both overly long, where there was a logical spot to end the film and yet they went on for at least a half-hour longer, just so they could get an over-the-top action climax where the villain dies gruesomely at the hands of the hero. I never left the theater to pee, but it wasn’t easy. Since then, I never brought a drink into the theater again.

    ReplyReply
    1
  39. Kathy says:

    @gVOR10:

    I saw something about this yesterday while browsing the aviation blogs. I didn’t post here about it because it’s unconfirmed. It does sound plausible, especially now when cutting corners in labor is all the rage. But it’s still unconfirmed.

    I wonder how thorough the parts inventories are at Spirit and Boeing. That is, were the part numbers recorded, and was it known these particular bolts belonged to that specific airframe? If so, finding them not along the route of the Alaska flight would be damning.

    ReplyReply
  40. charontwo says:

    @Kylopod:

    I despise the practice of editing films to fit a TV time slot or be more PG. Often the result is an utterly ruined film.

    ReplyReply
  41. Scott says:

    @gVOR10: The Seattle Times was on it:

    Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says

    Last week, a different person — an anonymous whistleblower who appears to have access to Boeing’s manufacturing records of the work done assembling the specific Alaska Airlines jet that suffered the blowout — on an aviation website separately provided many additional details about how the door plug came to be removed and then mis-installed.

    “The reason the door blew off is stated in black and white in Boeing’s own records,” the whistleblower wrote. “It is also very, very stupid and speaks volumes about the quality culture at certain portions of the business.”

    The self-described Boeing insider said company records show four bolts that prevent the door plug from sliding up off the door frame stop pads that take the pressurization loads in flight, “were not installed when Boeing delivered the airplane.” the whistleblower stated. “Our own records reflect this.”

    ReplyReply
  42. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “I feel a lot of TV execs don’t really understand TV.”

    One thing I will say for Les Moonves — who was a totally horrible person in so many other ways — is that he understood and loved TV. So many executives working in TV don’t like the medium at all, and feel inferior to their peers working in movies (or books or Wall Street or whatever). Brandon Tartikoff was the same way.

    You may not like the nearly-identical procedurals that Moonves (and his successors) programmed at CBS, but the man knew his audience.

    (He also prevented me from hiring a very talented and experienced actress as a second-lead in a series, saying without explanation “That bitch will never get a job on this network.” It was only years later that it came out he was in the habit of demanding sexual favors from actresses and punishing the ones who wouldn’t give in. Which explains to me why this once-promising young woman never had the career she deserved…)

    ReplyReply
    2
  43. Bill Jempty says:

    @charontwo:

    I despise the practice of editing films to fit a TV time slot or be more PG. Often the result is an utterly ruined film.

    Or an utterly ruined television episode. Two examples

    * The Mind of Stephen Miklos is a very complicated and dense Mission Impossible episode. It would be edited for syndication and therefore the plot becomes impossible to follow

    * The Columbo episode Identity Crisis. In it the killer is tripped up by something he includes in a speech that he couldn’t have known about when he claims to have written it. The clue is in a scene that was always cut out of the syndicated versions of that episode.

    ReplyReply
    2
  44. Bill Jempty says:

    @Kylopod:

    I later saw Speed and True Lies in the theaters. I liked both (especially Speed), but I thought they were both overly long, where there was a logical spot to end the film and yet they went on for at least a half-hour longer

    This can also easily describe 3 of the 4 Daniel Craig James Bond films. All
    but Quantum of Solace went on far too long.

    Before going to see No Time to Die with my wife, I checked the running time. It said 160 minutes leading me to quip to the wife. “Are we watching James Bond or Gone with the Wind?” The film starts off with a bloated pre-titles opening and goes down hill from there.

    ReplyReply
  45. Bill Jempty says:

    @Jen:

    X-Files had a mix of stand-alone episodes and the Mulder conspiracy arc stories.

    My only mentionable X Files watching was back in my chemotherapy days where I and other patients are all getting IVs and the television was set to a channel that had it on.

    Two nightmares going on at one time.

    ReplyReply
    1
  46. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Since then, I never brought a drink into the theater again.

    I usually did good use of the intermission for that. Since the late 90s, though, most theaters here began to eliminate the intermission. they said it was due to customer demand. I think it was because 1) they could fit an extra showing, 2) people didn’t buy much at the concession stand halfway through the movie.

    Whatever the reason, I can no longer drink anything while watching the movie, or I will miss something.

    ReplyReply
  47. Bill Jempty says:

    @MarkedMan:

    “Who Shot JR?!” ending in 1980, every frickin’ series has felt the need to end each season in some hackneyed cliff hanger.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think season ending cliff hangers didn’t become prevalent till Star Trek TNG’s The Best of Both Worlds Part One.

    ReplyReply
  48. Bill Jempty says:

    @Kathy:

    I also mislike using science fictiony gimmicks to sneak in trans characters, or same sex relationships.

    Making a note to myself

    Don’t advertise some of my stories to Kathy.

    Honestly it can be done well if the story was focused on characterization and not erotica. Unfortunately most such stories are the latter.

    ReplyReply
    1
  49. Scott says:

    Oh, for crying out loud:

    Iowa lawmakers consider requiring students, teachers to sing national anthem at school each day

    Iowa students would be required to sing part of the national anthem at school each day under a bill advanced Wednesday by a House Education subcommittee.

    In that spirit, I offer this: Deutschland über alles – Germany anthem during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin

    For the record, in Elementary School on Long Island in the 60s, we sang “My Country, Tis of Thee”.

    ReplyReply
    3
  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    @charontwo:
    Yes, we know how to pause a stream, but if we paused every show each time my wife or I got up we’d never watch anything. TV allows life to go on in a way movies in theaters do not. And that’s one of the reasons theaters are in decline. TV allows one to time shift, to drop in and out, to give a second chance to a show that may have been not what you wanted yesterday, but want to reconsider today. TV gives us control. Just like computers (which is what they are in effect).

    @wr:
    I’m curious about your opinion on these nine figure development deals. I haven’t made a study of it but it looks to a casual observer like they just set big piles of money on fire.

    ReplyReply
    1
  51. Jay L Gischer says:

    @wr: Inspired by your mention, I went and read some of Les Moonves’ Wikipedia page. I found this curiousity:

    On June 21, 2019, advice columnist E. Jean Carroll wrote in a first-person essay in New York that Moonves sexually assaulted her in an elevator in the mid-1990s after she interviewed him for a story. Moonves denied the allegation.

    I think inhabiting certain haunts probably puts women at risk of experiencing such behavior. Not so much a coincidence as an occupational hazard?

    ReplyReply
  52. wr says:

    @Bill Jempty: “This can also easily describe 3 of the 4 Daniel Craig James Bond films. All but Quantum of Solace went on far too long.”

    Wow. I’ve never seen Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, but at least I have now found the one person on earth who prefers Quantum of Solace to Casino Royale…

    ReplyReply
    2
  53. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    I also mislike using science fictiony gimmicks to sneak in trans characters, or same sex relationships.

    One of the things science fiction can do well is take situations in real life that we have preformed opinions on, and then present them with enough distance that audiences can see them fresh, without the preconceived opinions taking over. It’s what makes the genre great.

    Because it really is easier to put yourself in the perspective of the green person than a brown person, etc. The green guy is just green. The brown guy is an n-clang.

    It tends not to age well, but I’m not sure it has to. Boundary pushing comedy is the same way — skip forward a few years, and it’s either lame or offensive. Art is about the present that it was created in, it’s not timeless.

    It can also fail very badly. There was a storyline in Aquaman where young Aquaman was in love with a dolphin, and the dolphin’s parents didn’t approve, and what was intended as a metaphor for interracial relationships was just bestiality. And I recall an episode of ST:TNG where the metaphorically gay people were just trans.

    It can be more timeless when it is using the distance of science fiction to explore a problem that is timeless. But civil rights have, thankfully, been progressing quickly enough that stories age quickly (or are even written and implemented by someone behind the times and turn out clunky from the get-go)

    I find those clunky episodes a little charming. They’re a relic of bygone eras when that terrible metaphor was pushing boundaries.

    ReplyReply
    2
  54. Bill Jempty says:

    @wr:

    This can also easily describe 3 of the 4 Daniel Craig James Bond films. All but Quantum of Solace went on far too long.”

    I didn’t say I preferred QOS to CR I was just commenting on the length.

    And it should be 4 of the 5 Daniel Craig entries being too long. CR, Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time to Die. Skyfall is all right, Spectre is dreadful, and No Time to Die rivals Die Another Day and Moonraker as the worst Bond film ever.

    I like CR and QOS.

    ReplyReply
  55. Gustopher says:

    @wr: I also prefer Quantum of Solace. It’s not a good movie, but I hate Casino Royale, and QoS has the benefit of being shorter.

    Skyfall is saved by plentiful Judi Dench. She makes everything better.

    ReplyReply
    2
  56. Kathy says:

    @Scott:

    Part of or whole arc eps became stand alone, or nearly so (some character development took place), when an actor left. The Jason Ironheart ep, for instance. Or the parts of Deathwalker where Talia, Kosh, and Abbut take part in a very odd negotiation.

    ReplyReply
    1
  57. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “I’m curious about your opinion on these nine figure development deals. I haven’t made a study of it but it looks to a casual observer like they just set big piles of money on fire.”

    With the (probably obvious) caveat that I’d really like one, I think they’re mostly nuts. That said, I can see why a Netflix would use them to woo over some big talent because they can’t offer the same kinds of massive windfalls in success that cable and networks can. The really big bucks come in the aftermarket — you can bet that Shonda Rhimes would own a huge chunk of whatever she produced anywhere, and it would keep bringing her money forever. Look at how much Friends and The Office continue to generate year after year. Since Netflix owns their shows and won’t sell them anywhere else, the chance of the backend windfall is gone.

    But I think there are a couple of other factors as well. It’s great to have Shonda Rhimes or Ryan Murphy making shows for you — but it’s even better that they’re not making shows for anyone else. Pay’em the big bucks and they’re all yours.

    And also, well, I remember many years back — like half a century — United Artists had brought in new leadership and was attempting to re-establish itself as a place for creatives to bring projects after the disastrous fallout from Heaven’s Gate. At the time, the buzziest book around was Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Gay Talese’s history of American sexuality post-WW2 — even though it was still a year or more from publication. UA bought the rights for $2.5 million dollars — the largest amount paid for any book up to that time — even though there was no movie to be made in it. They didn’t care — they were announcing their doors and checkbooks were open and producers should come to them first. I’d guess that the occasional megadeal makes the same kind of statement.

    ReplyReply
    3
  58. wr says:

    @Bill Jempty: I didn’t mind No Time to Die, but I do agree that Spectre is the worst of the worst. The idea that Blofeld because a supervillain because little Jimmy Bond was mean to him in kindergarten is the worst kind of phony characterization.

    ReplyReply
    1
  59. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty: Moonraker remains the best Bond movie to me. It has two gondola action scenes, each with an entirely different type of gondola.

    A View To A Kill follows it up with a third gondola action scene, featuring arguably a third type of gondola.

    It’s possible that I hate James Bond.

    ReplyReply
    1
  60. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    @wr:
    I’m curious about your opinion on these nine figure development deals. I haven’t made a study of it but it looks to a casual observer like they just set big piles of money on fire.

    Speaking for myself, it depends on the person for whom the deal was made. For some – Ryan Murphy, Greg Belanti, Chuck Lorre, Shonda Rhimes, Taylor Sheridan, as examples – they’re good deals, because those Showrunners put out so much content. For others – David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, as examples – it’s setting money on fire. This group won’t, and never will, create enough content to justify the upfront money. The first group will, easily.

    ReplyReply
    6
  61. just nutha says:

    @Scott: We did that in grade 1-3 in Seattle, too.

    ReplyReply
    1
  62. Bill Jempty says:

    @Gustopher:

    And I recall an episode of ST:TNG where the metaphorically gay people were just trans.

    I’m drawing a blank on what episode you’re talking about it.

    More famously is this TOS episode where Sandra Smith became the second person to play Captain Kirk.

    I find those clunky episodes a little charming.

    Are we talking The Munsters, Gilligan’s Island, The Flintstones or even Trills on various forms of ST? There was even short lived tv series Turnabout.

    Don’t forget Get Smart. Charlie Watkins and Dr. Svenson though CW said it was just a disguise. Some disguise……

    ReplyReply
  63. Bill Jempty says:

    @Gustopher:

    Skyfall is saved by plentiful Judi Dench. She makes everything better.

    Dame Judi helps anything she is in.

    Three quotes from Skyfall that I like
    Take the bloody shot
    Mommy has been very bad
    and
    Welcome to Scotland

    ReplyReply
  64. Kathy says:

    I forget which was the last Bond movie I saw. I recall Bond was played by Timothy Dalton.

    ReplyReply
  65. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Boundary pushing comedy is the same way — skip forward a few years, and it’s either lame or offensive

    It’s not just comedy, boundary pushing of any sort often either doesn’t land well or doesn’t age well, or both. I’m thinking Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” is a perfect example of this. Shakespeare lived in an era when religious heresy was punishable by torture and death, and presenting Jews as empathetic could easily be construed as opposing Church teaching. Many have remarked that it is as easy to see Shylock as an evil character as a sympathetic one, and speculated that Shakespeare wrote him that way to provide an out should the Inquisition come calling. There may be truth to this, but Shakespeare was a master of serving many story needs at once, and Shylock strikes me as a very real character, one whose anger and spite is understandable, if not admirable. There are no saints among any of the Bard’s characters.

    But, of course, it hasn’t aged well. Making Shylock a moneylender?! What a stereotype! Those ignorant of history are unaware that a successful Jew in Shakespeare’s time was quite likely to be involved in finance, because they weren’t allowed to own land, people wouldn’t publicly conduct business with them, and the elite wouldn’t touch finance themselves because it was considered a debased enterprise, and no gentleman would be involved with it. And I’ve remarked before that there seems to be a real resurgence of the Morality Play in American literature, with the good and sympathetic characters clearly delineated from the bad and evil. The good may be allowed one single failing or temptation, but it is always due to the machinations of the evil and they quickly become the most virtuous characters of all. Shakespeare’s Shylock just doesn’t work in that type of world.

    ReplyReply
    3
  66. Mister Bluster says:

    Captain Video and His Video Rangers – Episode 1
    Well video Rangers what could have happened. The last time we saw the video Ranger he had safely dropped Blakeslee near blonde seat and was flying back to the mountain laboratory. Has the Sparrow’s huge energy machine got something to do with this strange silence? Video Rangers I guess there’s only one way to find out of this sudden turn of events. Yes that’s right back here tomorrow for a close check on what’s going on. Same time same station for Captain Video and his Video Rangers.

    DuMont Television Network
    June 1949

    ReplyReply
    3
  67. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    It has two gondola action scenes, each with an entirely different type of gondola

    Sorry, I just had a vision of the Gustopher rating system: a scale of zero to four gondolas!

    There are worse rating systems…

    ReplyReply
    5
  68. Kathy says:

    Has anyone ever made rice in a pressure cooker? I’m not looking for pointers, tips, tricks, or to ever make rice this way. I saw a video about it, and I was intrigued.

    The recipe was 1 cup rice and 1 1/4 cup of water, set on high pressure for like 3 or 5 minutes, then ten minutes “natural” release.

    Given the time it takes to come to pressure, the whole thing takes as much time as simply making rice on the stove (maybe it takes less water). I fail to see the advantage of a pressure cooker (or instant pot, but I’m trying to be generic). Compared to beans, which take hours on stove top, but fifteen minutes on the instant pot.

    I settled on making slow cooked goulash, and to hope for better results this time. It will be paired with plain white rice, as usual. I will experiment a bit with air fryer potatoes, but starting with basics. So, plain air fryer fries with some seasoning.

    Later on I want to try using the air fryer for twice baked potatoes. That’s still in development.

    If I sound like a kid with a new toy, I guess that’s fair.

    ReplyReply
  69. anjin-san says:

    @charontwo:

    any other serialized shows from that early

    Wiseguy

    ReplyReply
  70. anjin-san says:

    Going back over the thread, I see WR beat me to it.

    ReplyReply
  71. Jen says:

    @Gustopher:

    One of the things science fiction can do well is take situations in real life that we have preformed opinions on, and then present them with enough distance that audiences can see them fresh, without the preconceived opinions taking over. It’s what makes the genre great.

    Agreed, 100%. One of the things I enjoy most about science fiction and fantasy is that the world-building is typically so complete that people don’t really realize what they are reading/watching is usually social commentary. I had to laugh when during the first TV season of Roswell, New Mexico, people were complaining about the inclusion of illegal aliens in the story line…which was about actual aliens, experiencing the same exclusionary treatment. These are probably people who based their book reports on Cliff’s Notes.

    It tends not to age well,

    It depends. Parts of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles hold up, others not so much. I was blown away by how relevant Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness was when I read it a few years ago. It was published in 1969, but I saw relevance in relating to trans issues, and intersex issues, along with questions about the impact of sex and gender on overall society.

    ReplyReply
    4
  72. steve says:

    If you are making an Eastern European version of goulash most people do egg noodles but I would also advocate for mashed potatoes. I made a large batch recently and we ran out fo noodles but just happened to have some leftover mashed potatoes. Was really good. Paprika, caraway and beef go well with potatoes.

    Steve

    ReplyReply
    1
  73. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: I used a Cuckoo rice cooker in Korea. Liked it enough to another (different brand) one when I came back home.

    ReplyReply
    1
  74. Kathy says:

    @steve:

    I’m recreating the goulash I had growing up. That’s a tomatoey, thick sauce with lots of onions, and rice to go with it.

    What works best for me, thus far, is one chopped tomato (seeded) and a little tomato sauce mixed in with the broth and spices. When I do it like that in the cast iron pot in the oven, it’s just about perfect (some will say it needs salt, but that’s a different story).

    ReplyReply
  75. DK says:

    @Kathy: Sounds mouthwatering. Yum.

    ReplyReply
  76. anjin-san says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The constant cancellations

    Many years later, I am still amazed that Freaks & Geeks was canceled after one season. The only TV show I’ve ever seen with teenage characters that were completely believable, and their portrayal of that era was pitch-perfect. The very first scene of the first episode was Seth Rogan talking about his plans for taking mushrooms. I saw that exact scene play out countless times when I was in high school.

    Most of the principal cast went on to become either major stars or successful character actors. For anyone not familiar with the show, check it out.

    ReplyReply
    1
  77. anjin-san says:

    @Jen:

    Check out Drowning Towers by George Turner. He was producing good sci-fi about the catastrophic effects of climate change on society in the 80s.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/626854.Drowning_Towers

    ReplyReply
    3
  78. dazedandconfused says:

    @Scott:

    Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the Boeing issue. Seems they now know the retaining pins were not in place when the door blew off, due to Boeing replacing a defective seal on the plant floor and a flaw in the inspection protocols for that door.

    From my perspective it’s valid, but a larger issue is whoever it was who failed to properly re-install the pins is to blame. Anyone who would make this error, akin to an IKEA assembler who has parts left over and fails to wonder if he might have screwed up, has no place on the floor of an aircraft mfg. and Boeing’s customers know it.

    ReplyReply
    1
  79. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: I like a movie where they set out to do something, and then do it. You will never convince me that there wasn’t someone in that franchise at the time who wanted to see how many different types of gondolas could be wedged in, perhaps just loving the word.

    Merriam-Webster’s definition of gondola:

    1: a long narrow flat-bottomed boat with a high prow and stern used on the canals of Venice

    2
    a: an elongated car attached to the underside of an airship
    b: an often spherical airtight enclosure suspended from a balloon for carrying passengers or instruments
    c: an enclosed car suspended from a cable and used for transporting passengers
    especially : one used as a ski lift

    3: a heavy flat-bottomed boat used on New England rivers and on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers

    4: a railroad car with no top, a flat bottom, and fixed sides that is used chiefly for hauling heavy bulk commodities

    Moonraker gets 1 and 2c
    A View To A Kill gets 2a
    I think Octopussy gets definition 4, if I remember correctly (I didn’t know that was a gondola until just now)

    Could it be a coincidence? I guess it’s possible, but it just feels unlikely. I do wish they got them all in the same movie. I applaud a man who knows to stick with a bit, even if it is a verb dumb bit and even if he will never get credit for it.

    ReplyReply
    4
  80. Bill Jempty says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    From my perspective it’s valid, but a larger issue is whoever it was who failed to properly re-install the pins is to blame.

    Leftover screws have happened before and with catastrophic results

    ReplyReply
    1
  81. wr says:

    @Bill Jempty: “Skyfall is saved by plentiful Judi Dench”

    One of the highlights of my theatregoing life was seeing Judi Dench and Samantha Bond — then playing Moneypenny — co-starring in the West End in David Hare’s Amy’s View…

    ReplyReply
  82. CSK says:

    Melanie (Melanie Safka), 76, singer of “Brand New Key,” has died.

    ReplyReply
  83. EddieInCA says:

    @wr:

    Dame Judi Dench is one of my freaking heroes…

    True story:

    I was living and working in London in 1994-1995, and we wanted Dame Judi Dench for an episode. I contacted her agent, and made our pitch. I was told someone would call me back. A few hours later, I get a call from a woman, claiming to be Dame Judi Dench, saying she was out front of our studio (Ealing) and she wanted to come in to introduce herself and to discuss the invitation I had made for her to appear in the episode. Went into my boss’ office and told him, and we waited for her together to come to our offices.

    Dame Dench walks in, carrying a box of cookies, which gives to us, as “An apology.” She sits down, and after some pleasantries, she apologizes profusely for not being able to do the show. Here’s why: Tuesday-Friday, she was shooting her sitcom “As Time Goes By”, on which she had to be released by 4:30pm every day, because was doing “A Light Night Music” on the West End Tuesday-Saturday, with an 8pm curtain. Additionally, every Sunday she was shooting her scenes for ‘Goldeneye”, for 10 consecutive weeks. Mondays were only only day off for almost three months, as she juggled a TV Series, West End Musical, and Feature Film.

    To this day, I can’t imagine any American actor, a) doing three separate projects like that at the same time, and, b) being so classy to show up in person to NOT ACCEPT THE JOB, and bring cookies to the producers as an apology gift.

    She brought us freaking cookies, man!!!

    ReplyReply
    9
  84. Bill Jempty says:

    @EddieInCA:

    she was shooting her sitcom “As Time Goes By”

    Dench and the late Geoffrey Palmer had great chemistry together.

    After hearing Dench’s schedule you should have given her cookies. And a cold compress for the headache that schedule has to cause her.

    ReplyReply
    2
  85. EddieInCA says:

    @EddieInCA:

    That should have read “A Little Night Music”

    ReplyReply
  86. DrDaveT says:

    @charontwo:

    Buffy is from 1997 so I suppose that would technically be 20th century. I am having a hard time thinking of any other serialized shows from that early.

    Babylon 5, 1994. That was the first (other than the “miniseries” format) that I remember.

    ReplyReply
  87. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    One of the things science fiction can do well is take situations in real life that we have preformed opinions on, and then present them with enough distance that audiences can see them fresh, without the preconceived opinions taking over. It’s what makes the genre great.

    When Ursula Le Guin published The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969, a novel about non-binary or bisexual or transsexual characters would only have been read by a few, and would certainly never have made it into the mainstream or gotten serious critical discussion. A novel about aliens who alternate between male and female, though…

    ReplyReply
    3
  88. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    Has anyone ever made rice in a pressure cooker?

    I have to confess, I do not understand your apparent fascination with cooking grains and pulses in a pressure cooker. That’s not what pressure cookers are for. They are for (relatively) quickly cooking things that normally require low, slow heat, and for making tough cuts of meat tender. For beans, I might replace the soaking with pressure cooking, but I would not replace the actual cooking.

    As you note, cooking rice in a pressure cooker is not appreciably faster than cooking rice in a saucepan. It’s also not appreciably more predictable or reliable. So, why?

    For me, pressure cookers exist to make tasty coq au vin and boeuf carbonnade and pulled pork reasonably quickly. They might also be good for firm root vegetables, like rutabaga and parsnip and celery root — I haven’t tried that yet. Otherwise…

    ReplyReply
    1
  89. DrDaveT says:

    @DrDaveT: Oops, I see that Jen was there way ahead of me. Someday I’ll learn to read all the comments before responding.

    ReplyReply
    1
  90. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The good may be allowed one single failing or temptation, but it is always due to the machinations of the evil and they quickly become the most virtuous characters of all.

    Hadn’t really thought about it, but I do it differently. Characters tend to start out as good or evil then drift toward a center point over time. Gotta have me some moral ambiguity. The good guy male lead of Animorphs flushes thousands of helpless aliens into space. The main bad guy in Gone sacrifices his life to save the girl he loves. One of the three leads in Front Lines murders a Nazi prisoner. The gray zones are the sweet spots.

    ReplyReply
    2
  91. JKB says:

    Democrats calling for Biden to federalize the TX National Guard are kind of putting the Democrats in a bind. See, to call up the NG, there needs to be something of a problem in executing the laws of the Union, not the unlawful whims of a president/dictator. And also to repel invasion, to give aid and comfort to the “invaders”.

    It would be amusing to see this go before the SCOTUS.

    According to Article I, Section 8; Clause 15, the United States Congress is given the power to pass laws for “calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

    ReplyReply
    1

Speak Your Mind

*