Category Archives: Theater

You can probably skip this post if you haven’t seen or read The Expanse and have no interest in doing so. And if you have any interest in doing so, my advice is to watch it and/or read it, whatever is your pleasure. Then you can come back, though this isn’t a deep post or anything.

I needed something to watch recently, and The Expanse was recommended to me. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to space ship sci fi people. Which I am not even, really. My main frustration is that it butted right up against some ideas that I had (Earth vs Mars with Ceres as a very important place).

I enjoyed it so much that afterwards I immediately went to the novels, which so far I like even more. The show is pretty faithful to the novels, with some rather big exceptions:

  1. The James Holden character is actually a leader in the books. On the TV show, he is basically the leader because he’s the protagonist and the protagonist needed to be a leader. In the books, he’s a leader and he’s the protagonist because he’s the leader. It seems like a subtle difference, maybe, but it’s abundantly clear how he became the second in command of the Canterbury.
  2. The Amos character is way better on the TV show. He may be the only character that is. On the TV show he’s just a mechanically skilled oaf, for the most part. On the show he has this weird intensity.
  3. The Holden/Naomi affair is so much better in the book. The pro forma feel of the TV show is kind of annoying. He’s the leader, she’s the #2, so of course they have to get it on. In the book it’s much more organic and I find myself actually caring about them.
  4. I get a kick out of the fact that Martians have a Texas drawl, even when they’re of South Asian descent. I don’t know why, but it’s cool. It was kind of nondescript on the show.
  5. There is a gaping hole in the first book where I kept expecting Chrisjen Avasarala to be. She was our window into what Earth was doing and why. Without that, their actions were just as mysterious as Mars. I’m on the second book now and am glad she is making an appearance.
  6. I really liked the mole character from the TV show and was disappointed that he didn’t appear in the book. Without Chrisjen he had no place in the book, but maybe now with Chrisjen there will be an equivalent character.
  7. I found it interesting that Mormons were pretty much the only remaining religion. Though the book makes a reference to Buddha, I guess.
  8. It’s really interesting the characters that were recast as white in the TV show. Interesting in part because was not an especially white cast on the whole. I guess they felt like for commercial reason there had to be limits.
  9. In both: The ability of the writers to make the Belters objectively sympathetic but kind of obnoxious is cool. There must have been a temptation to give them all hearts of gold or whatever. But there’s a “they are what they are, and they deserve rights like anyone else” that really works.

Anyway, that’s all I have. Maybe I’ll add more later. I’m looking forward to getting to know Mars more, which I expect will come. And seeing what happens on Venus (Earth and Mars vs Venus, maybe?). Looking forward to trucking through the books. Unless it gets too stupid.


Category: Theater

A while back I watched an episode of the new Netflix version of Voltron.

Voltron was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. I remember that we used to play it on the playground. We were all boys, so we did this thing where we pretended that the original blue lion was actually a guy. At least, I thought we were making that up so that we could get someone to be the blue lion, but it actually appears to be true. Another thing I remember from back in the day was that I thought they switched from Lion Voltron to Car Voltron so that they could sell new toys (and not because, it turns out, they were using existing footage). In both of these cases I was in elementary school and had cynical ideas way ahead of my time. I didn’t have any taste, though, because it turns out that the show is just really bad.

The Netflix one is actually good! It is, in fact, as good a version of Voltron as I can possibly imagine existing.

And yet… I have no interest in watching anymore. It was gorgeous. They made the mythology make as much sense as possible. They gave the characters life. They did everything I could ask of them. Yet, instead of making the story more compelling, the relative realism elsewhere just drew attention to the fact that it’s the story of five robotic lions creating a giant mecha warrior. There’s just no getting around that.

I am not sure why it is that I can accept superheroes but have a problem with this. It’s not conditioning because I was exposed to Voltron as early as I was exposed to anything. It could be a technical plausibility thing. Superheroes are inherently mythical. Robots are machines are real, even if they are sentient like the lions. Not I find myself wishing that, instead of a story about robotic lions, all of that imagination had been dedicated to something else.

Of course, if it had, I probably wouldn’t have watched it.


Category: Theater
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When two companies merge, regulators will sometimes require that the new entity shed some of its properties, if it creates an unfair competitive advantage of some sort. For instance, when one radio station conglomerate buys another, they might have to shed 50 networks in media outlets where they already own three stations and the acquisition would give them another four. Sometimes such acquisitions result in too much market coverage, or redundant properties.

Warner Bros owns both Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbara. These are pretty compatible properties, in the overall. Both have a lot of cartoons with shorter segments aimed at younger audience. They could even do things like put them in the same “universe” for their next project like Tiny Toons, in effect making Huckleberry Hound a Looney Tunes character. Why not?

The problem is that the most popular Hanna Barbara property (except, perhaps, Scooby Doo) already has a Looney Tunes counterpart: Tom & Jerry. Does a universe with Sylvester and Tweety really need a Tom & Jerry? Huckleberry Hound meets Foghorn J Leghorn has some appeal, Tom meeting Sylvester would just be weird.

On the other hand, Disney doesn’t really have as good a counterpart for this. So, in the same way that Verizon had to shed itself of some of the Alltel markets when they bought Allel, maybe Warner Bros should have had to shop Tom & Jerry (or Sylvester and Tweety) over to Disney.


Category: Theater

Populist beer commercials are nothing new. When they’re not presenting scantily clad women, they’re trying to bump up their everyman cred. It’s interesting to see one go so hard over craft beer, though. Is craft beer the new latte?

This next one isn’t even a beer commercial, but plays on a similar thing.

Regarding the Sling ad, I swear it sounds like he’s saying “piggy” rather than “picky” and it confuses me every time.


Category: Theater

Netflix is raising its prices:

Netflix is raising two of its pricing tiers for US subscribers beginning next month, Mashable reports. The standard tier, which allows subscribers to watch on two screens at once, will be bumped up from $9.99 to $10.99 per month. The premium tier, which is available in Ultra HD and allows users to watch on up to four screens, will go up from $11.99 to $13.99. The Basic $7.99 per month plan will remain the same.

“From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we add more exclusive TV shows and movies, introduce new product features and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge.

It’s a little awkward that they’re doing this right as they’ve dropped a couple of popular shows (30 Rock and… something, can’t remember what, but I’ve heard complaints), but they’re often losing (and adding) shows. And they’re slated to lose Disney Stuff soon, so there is probably no best time to pull off this bandaid. Might as well get it over with.

It’s still a pretty good deal, though, all things considered. The standard level price is still cheaper than Hulu, the other main streaming-network-shows service. It’s also cheaper than HBO, the biggest original-programming streaming service rival. (It is more expensive than Showtime-Starz-Cinemax, however.) Netflix right now is straddling the line between being a general content vault (Hulu’s domain) and an original programming service (like HBO) and seems to be in the general process of a transition from the former to the latter once it has ramped up production of enough original content. My advice to people who want to see familiar or better yet nostalgic programming is to go with Hulu, and original programming to go with Netflix. That’s where things are.

But if you’ve Cut the Cord, it’s all pretty much worth it. Even if you’re using a slim cable service, it’s probably something you want to do. You can get Sling/Vue/etc and Netflix and Hulu and other service and still save a whole bunch of money even with this modest price hike.

I’m not sure at what point that ceases to be the case. If they went up another three or four dollars I would probably go from Netflix+Hulu to Netflix or Hulu, doing one six months of the year and the other for the other six months. That’s one of the liabilities with Netflix’s model: You can get it for a few months, get caught up on everything, then cancel. Hulu is in a slightly better spot because it’s more of the go-to if your mind says “Hey, I remember that TV show Silk Stalkings, I should catch an episode!” which is more likely to happen sporadically and makes it nice to have Hulu twelve months of the year. This will become a bigger issue from Netflix if they do become more of an HBO and less of a Hulu.


Category: Theater

The truth is that the translators have gotten ridiculously better than they used to be. I used to actually rely on them being kind of bad, and I’m not sure if I can anymore. We’re going to find out at the end of this post.

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everybody got two and eventually three wrestlers, though I would eventually take over for other people and then I’d have more until I had eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My premier wrestler was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying so his manager made stuff up. One was a Best Buy security guy who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last was a middle-eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce the broken English? Through translations of course. What I would do is I would take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then back to English. The result was English words that sort of made sense but something had obviously gotten lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter got re-translated to “Hunter of the Cousin.” Words with dual meaning plus syntax and it really worked out pretty well. I want to say that I used Russian because Spanish didn’t shake things up enough and other languages weren’t available.

So today we’re going to find out if that would even work by running this post through three languages. Spanish, because obviously, Russian because that’s what I think it used, and Arabic because that’s what I would use today:

Spanish

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everyone had two and eventually three fighters, although they would eventually take control of other people and then have more until they had eight or more. Three of them were not Americans. My first fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying, so his manager did things. One was a Best Buy security guy who emigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last one was a Middle Eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce broken English? Through course translations. What I would do is take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then go back to English. The result was English words that made sense but something was obviously lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter returned to translate to “Hunter of the Cousin”. Dual meaning words plus syntax and really worked pretty well.

Russian

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a pretended wrestling league, where the WWF wrestling game on N64. All got two and, ultimately, three wrestlers, although I will eventually take on other people, and then I will have more until I have eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My main fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying, so his manager earned. One of them was a guy from Best Buy, who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-talk. The last was a middle-aged guy who spoke broken English.

How did I make broken English? Of course, translations. What would I do, I would take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think), and then return to English. As a result, there were English words that made sense, but something clearly lost in translation. The Bounty Hunter was transferred to the “Cousin Hunter”. Words with a double value plus syntax, and it really turned out pretty well.

Arabic:

When I was in college, my friend Denis started to simulate the league wrestling, with the Wrestling Wrestling game on the N64. Everyone got two eventually three wrestlers, although I would eventually take over to other people, and then I would have even more had me eight or so. Three of them non-Americans. The premier wrestler was a man from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying so that his manager made things. One of the best security man was to buy Hagar from Germany, who spoke in Arnold’s speech. He was the last man in the Middle East who spoke in broken English.

How did English produced a break? Through the translation of course. What I will do is that I will take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then return to English. The result was English words that were sensitive but something had obviously lost in the translation. Hunter’s reward got re-translated into “hunter cousin”. Words with double meaning plus syntax and they really worked very well.

Verdict:

Well, Spanish works too well to work, but that was the case back then, too. Russian worked well enough at the time, but now wouldn’t work. But Arabic would work! There is work to do there, apparently. The sign in question above was in Hebrew, which would probably (?) have some of the same liabilities.


Category: Theater

So far good. In fact, a pretty good looking guy for his age.

So far, still good. In fact, that’s a nice head of hair.

Something went horribly wrong here.


Category: Theater

You may be aware of the Disney movie Frozen. Lain hasn’t seen it yet, though she has an Ilsa doll that she got as a gift. But there was another movie by the name that came out a few years before.

It’s a very, very different movie.

The acting was okay. I only recognized one of the actors as the kid partner from The Following.

Not Disney’s Frozen is about three friends who get stuck on a sky lift. Nobody is going to be back for five days and if they don’t do something about it, they’re going to freeze to death. It’s an independent filmmaker’s dream of a plot, because for filming all you need to do is rent out a ski area when it’s not being used and that’s all you have to do for location expenses! All of the drama takes place right there.

The downside to that plot is that it’s hard to fill 90 minutes with it. They aren’t stuck until they’re about 30 minutes in. Some of the stretches of the movie are pretty slow. It’s one of those movies to watch while you’re doing something else.

Don’t watch it right before bed, though, because it is really really dark. I will share with you only one spoiler to give you an idea of how dark. One of the characters, after breaking his legs jumping off the ski lift, is eaten alive by wolves while the others look away. And the kicker? His fate isn’t the worst of the three.

The jumping character made the mistake of holding his legs out straight. Anyone who has ever watched movies knows that’s not what you do. It turns out that I was wrong about what you do do, though. I thought you’d be best just jumping in a ball, but you’re supposed to have bent legs that take some of the pressure as you fall. Lesson learned!

Anyway, I neither recommend the movie nor tell you to stay away from it. You can watch it for free (with ads) on TubiTV. It’s a good background movie, but only if you’re in the mood for something dark.


Category: Theater

When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color? (Ms Magazine)

Why couldn’t Wonder Woman be a woman of color? When it was announced that Gadot would play Wonder Woman, audiences went wild body shaming her for not having large enough breasts. One can only imagine the white supremacy that would have emerged had the announcement said instead that she would be played by a Black woman. On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types. While people have said that warriors can’t be fat, some of our best paid male athletes are, particularly linebackers on the football field, and no one doubts their physical strength.

Another problem is that the story’s overt queerness gets sublimated by heteronormativity. Diana comes from a separatist commune of women who have intentionally chosen to live without men. In one of the first scenes between Diana and Steve, she explains that she read 12 volumes of a series on sex that concluded that while men are required for reproduction, when it comes to female pleasure, they’re unnecessary. While a love story develops between them, a requirement in superhero stories, Diana thankfully doesn’t compromise her integrity for him.

The Sham Psychology of Wonder Woman The beauties of the soul and body do not correspond. (American Conservative)

It doesn’t help that Diana is a beautiful woman. The film never shows the realism of what great beauty can inflict on a person: the deathblows to maturity that are attention, flattery, and unearned affection, and the self-complacency and mistrust of others that can follow. Just as she is unaware of her superpowers, Diana is unaware of her womanly powers. She attempts to undress in public, oblivious to the effect it might have on those watching. She doesn’t understand the concept of partner dancing, complaining that it’s “just swaying.” When she tries it for herself she remarks, with the sterility of a doctor, that the bodies of men and women are very close in this kind of dance.

Not that I can say too much. I have myself complained about female cop characters (and some males) looking more like underwear models than police officers. In Batman vs Superman, Gadot doesn’t really fall into that category, though. And while I do wish Hollywood would be less myopic when it comes to standards of beauty, Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman, and the Amazonians are Amazonians, and it’s built in to the concept that I would not choose to die on that particular hill.


Category: Theater

{Note: None of the videos themselves are especially interesting. They are chosen for the music.}


Category: Theater

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Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

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