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Television like nobody’s watching

Posted by Nick Chase on May 17, 2012 in Miscellaneous, Rants

Last week, CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” averaged about 38,000 viewers a night. In the whole country. That’s it. Just 38,000 people. Which in the scale of a national news network, is pretty much… nobody.

Now, I’m not saying that to be mean to Piers Morgan. He seems like a reasonably decent guy, even if he did take the “crabby English guy” role on the America’s Got Talent judging panel. The reason that I’m mentioning it is that this is a golden opportunity for Piers Morgan, and I wonder if he’s going to take it.

I mean, if you’ve got a show and you’ve got millions of people watching, then you kind of feel obligated to do what’s expected. You’ve got to have the big guests, and you’ve got to do the incisive interviews and all that stuff. But when nobody’s watching, you kind of have the opportunity to do whatever you want.

I mean, if you’re afraid you’re going to get canceled anyway, you might as well just pull out all the stops and do anything you can to enjoy yourself. Because if you’re enjoying yourself, your audience is going to enjoy themselves. Unless you’re really, really freaky.

And actually, even then I suppose you’d find an audience.

But if Piers Morgan can find a way to do things that are interesting and outrageous, some of those 38,000 people are going to start generating some buzz for him, and then other people are going to start checking it out to see what’s going on. I mean, there’s a reason that nobody’s watching. What is he doing that’s different form everybody else? I’m not one of those 38,000 people, so I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that the answer is probably “nothing”.

I mean, look at some of the real innovators. Take Ernie Kovacs. I love Ernie Kovacs as an example because he started out at a time when television was new. Nobody knew what to do with it. It’s kind of where we were with the web 10 or 15 years ago. We’re kind of coming out of that period now when it comes to web TV, but Ernie Kovacs had the first morning wake up show anywhere. It was 1950 in Philadelpha, and to start with at least, nobody was watching. And he did the most outrageous, most wonderful things. If the weatherman said it was raining, Ernie would climb up a ladder and pour water on him. On another of his shows, the guest chef didn’t show up and he shows the audience how to make “Eggs Scavok”. Because there was none of that pressure. And over his career he created some of the funniest, most innovative television ever.

That’s the kind of thing that Piers Morgan needs to be doing. Not that he has to have puppets and crash cars through the studio floor — I mean, he’s supposed to be covering the news. But he needs to do something interesting. Something that he would never do if there were millions of people watching. Look at John Stewart and the Daily Show. They cover the news, but they’re never boring.

Take a risk, Peirs, take a risk! You can afford to do that. Nobody is watching you.

You know that expression “Dance like nobody’s watching?” Piers Morgan needs to create television like nobody’s watching. Because nobody is. But those dances that you do when nobody’s watching? There’s a wonderful authenticity and beauty to them. And it’s interesting.

And look, if he keeps going the way he’s going, he’s going to get cancelled. So he has nothing to lose. And that, that can be a huge blessing. He needs to embrace it.

Piers! Take the risk!

Create television like nobody’s watching.

 
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Something to remember

Posted by admin on February 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

A great quote from “The Jolson Story”: Al (whose real name was Asa) tells his father that he has an idea about some “new” music — jazz — but that everyone thinks he’s crazy. His father tells him:

“The thing about crazy people, Asa, it’s very funny. Once they prove they are right, they are suddenly great people.”

Something to think about.

 
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How aware are you, really?

Posted by Nick Chase on December 9, 2010 in Fun stuff

I am up to my eyeballs in deadlines, but I had to take a moment to post this. It’s about awareness, and what you see or don’t see.

Ironically, in order to make this post, I had to request my password three times because I kept missing the instruction telling me to check my email for it.

Must finish whitepaper.

 
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Star Wars in 3D — Coming Soon

Posted by admin on October 6, 2010 in Star Wars

When I went to see Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones, I did it in digital, on an IMAX screen. I said to myself (and anybody who would listen) that I just wish that it had been in 3D. “Wouldn’t that be awesome?” When the Special Editions on the original Star Wars trilogy came out, I sat in the IMAX theater and watched the Star Destroyer come over my head and said, “Man, I wish this was in 3D.” My wife asked me how much I would pay for that. I said I’d probably pay $50 for a ticket to see Star Wars in 3D — more, if I had it.

Well, thank you, James Cameron. Avatar has proved that it’s possible to do it right, apparently, and while some films just shouldn’t be made in 3D — Step Up 3D? Really? — there are some that are just begging for it.

So I was thrilled when my wife woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that Lucasfilm has announced that all six Star Wars films would be converted to 3D and shown in theaters starting in 2012. I mumbled that that was great, and that I’d of course have to buy them again, to add to my collection. All I could think of was Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black holding up a mini-disc and saying “Of course that means I’ll have to by The White Album again.”

She reminded me of what I’d said when the Special Edition was first announced: “Now you know that some geek is going to sit there with two DVD players and two TVs and compare the two of them to see what the differences are. My only question is, ‘Where can I get another DVD player?’”

Now, I am really happy about the decision when it comes to the prequels. They’re mostly CGI anyway, so converting them should be pretty straightforward. And of course the chase scenes just BEG for it.

The originals, however … not so much. First off, since they weren’t originally CGI (forget the Special Edition here) they’ll have to be retrofitted, and that scares me for two reasons. Yes, the space battles could do with some great 3D effects, but … well, let’s face it. Star Wars (the original) was, by today’s standards, pretty sedate.

The second reason? Four words: Clash of the Titans. I mean, I’d like to think that retrofitting isn’t always bad. That Lucas, of all people, would take his time and do it right.

But even the new ones will be a challenge, because if the first film out is The Phantom Menace Lucas is already starting out in a deep, deep hole.

Hey, maybe he’ll take this opportunity to “strategically excise” the midichlorians. Hey, a guy can hope!

 
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The dangers of taking a break

Posted by admin on September 25, 2010 in Fun stuff, Personal

I work. A lot. And I associate with people who work a lot. One of my friends, a pretty high powered engineer, just got back from vacation, and he’s having trouble getting his head back in the game.

“I’m still like — wow, it’s sunny today … let’s go out with the dog and make excuses to the clients.

The trouble with working super-hard for years is that when you slack, the urge is to slack to a pathological degree because you have zero guilt built up.

I’m like — remember those all-nighters in 1997? Screw work!

It’s like I have an infinite psychoemotional credit account to draw down against. 10 million all-nighters, 20 family vacations ruined, 4476 arguments with wives and girlfriends about workaholism, a stretch in rehab due to work-stress-self-medication, etc.

The trouble is, clients and employers’ memories only stretch to last week.”

Funny how that works.

 
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How to see all of Gimp’s filters in action

Posted by Nick Chase on September 19, 2010 in Miscellaneous

Just a tiny tidbit today. I was working on some images for another site using the free graphics program Gimp, and got frustrated trying to run through all of Gimp’s filters to see how they would affect my image. Finally I found that in the Gimp Documentation, you can run through the Filters section and see what all of Gimp’s filters do. Major timesaver!

 
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Modern patronage — support independant musicians and get cool prizes

Posted by admin on September 18, 2010 in Fun stuff, Personal

Used to be, artists survived using patronage, where one rich person would support them just “because”, or for the prestige of being the one who enabled this talented person to create their art. Long ago that system gave way to big companies basically enslaving their artists, but now that the internet has begun changing the revenue model (can you say “YouTube”?) an interesting new wrinkle has popped up.

There’s a talented blues artist by the name of Manitobal Hal Brolund who’s putting together a new album, Huckster. He’s also trying something new. In order to raise the money for producing the finished CD — $2500 — Hal has gone to Rocketub, a “crowdsourcing” site that enables regular people like you and me to contribute to artistic endeavors. You aren’t getting a stake or anything, but if you donate, say, $20, you get an autographed copy of the CD when it comes out. (As little as $5 gets your name in the liner notes.) If you really want to splurge, $500 gets you a personal concert for you and up to 20 of your friends. Also, if the project doesn’t get fully funded, everybody gets their money back, so there’s no risk to anybody.

Now, full disclosure means I should tell you that Hal is a good friend of mine. But I should also tell you that we got to be friends because Sarah and I loved his music so much when he was performing in Second Life (as Forsythe Whitfield) that we attended so many of his concerts that it was probably inevitable. So here are a few of my favorite Manitobal Hal Brolund songs so you know what you’re getting into.

Poulet Shack, by Manitoba Hal Brolund (as Forsythe Whitfield)

(More after the break)
… continue reading.

 
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The little dancing girl is just too cute

Posted by Nick Chase on September 15, 2010 in Fun stuff

OK, so I’m not into viral things, but the last couple have been pretty funny.  I’m just really enjoying this little girl.  I can’t figure out whether it’s done with special effects, or it’s just not as spontaneous as it looks.  Either way, it’s just too damned cute.  It’s a commercial, but it’s damned cute commerical.

I’ll save you from trying to find it on YouTube:

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Why Ianto had to die, and other Torchwood mysteries

Posted by Nick Chase on September 13, 2010 in Fun stuff, Science Fiction, Torchwood

Sorry, Ianto, but it's all about story arc.

I really intended today’s post to be about something other than the Doctor Who universe, but sometimes life just hands you things you can’t ignore. Airlock Alpha posted an article about an interview with John Fay, who’s writing for Torchwood: The New World, the fourth season of Torchwood. The basic contention is that Ianto had to die for two reasons: first, it reminded us that nobody is safe on Torchwood, even the main characters — well, except for Jack, but even he was dead for a while there — and second, it reminds us about the curse of immortality, and how every time Jack falls in love with someone, it’s with the full knowledge that he’s absolutely going to lose them eventually. Lots of fanfic shows Jack off moping about it, but frankly, I think that’s normal. (And it something you see a lot in Doctor Who, as well, with the Doctor being, for all practical purposes, immortal.)

The complete interview also refuses to answer the question of whether Ianto will be resurrected. As a fan, there’s a little part of me that hopes he is, because I really liked Ianto. On the other hand, as a writer, I will be seriously pissed if he is, because it will completely destroy the power of … well, a lot, and not just Ianto’s death scene (which I thought was fantastic).

In the meantime, I’m still trying to solve some Torchwood mysteries of my own. I have only seen seasons one and three, and 2-3 eps at the end of season 2, and I’ve been doling them out to myself as slowly as possible to make it last. I got season one and two for Father’s Day, and I’m down to the last disc on season one, watching all the Torchwood Declassifieds. (Interestingly, they were WAY less expensive on Amazon.UK, even after shipping. Just make sure you get a version that will play in your country. For the US, I think that’s Region 1, or region free.)

So here are the two things that confuse me: first, I know there’s an episode in season two where Jack asks Ianto out on a date, and in season three, Ianto seems to be dealing with this idea that he’s in a relationship with Jack. But season one implies pretty strongly that they’re already sleeping together. Did I miss something?

Second, there’s this notion that I’ve seen around that Jack is actually a clone, and that’s supported by a throwaway line in an episode of Doctor Who. But I haven’t seen it documented anywhere. Anybody know where I can find a reference to that? Or am I completely misreading something?

 
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Back after four years

Posted by Nick Chase on September 11, 2010 in Fun stuff, Personal, Science Fiction

OK, so I’ve dropped the ball on updating Chaos Magnet. Yes, it has actually been four years since I last posted. Even I couldn’t believe it!

I won’t bore you with what the last four years have been like. Suffice to say I’ve moved three times (or is it four) and I’m happy to say we’re no longer in hiding. I think. I still look over my shoulder occasionally. (Shudder.)

But on to lighter things! Sarah and I have started writing again, and I’m absolutely thrilled about it. These days we’re mostly writing Doctor Who fanfic, but we did do a huge epic involving some characters we created back when we first got together, which was a blast. Today we’re debating whether we could ever do a sequel to Little Girl, Big Magic. The original was just such a kick-butt piece that we’re afraid we won’t do it justice in a sequel.

And I am pleased to report that I’ve actually spent an entire day just updating this blog and my professional blog, Nick Chase, Private Programmer. Basically, I took the old Chaos Magnet posts and split them between the two sites, so I don’t have to worry about cluttering up the pro site with posts like this, and I don’t have to worry about boring people who came for fun with technical discussions.

In other words, this baby is all for me. If you want to come along for the ride, great to have you!

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