Question

I think the real question is, are people going to start calling out for “Friday” at concerts instead of “Freebird”?

April 16th, 2011 - Posted in meta |

Train things

I recently switched jobs and am now a commuter, so I thought I’d make short posts about things I’ve seen on the train. These are entirely true and totally undoctored.

This morning, a guy three people down from me was so entirely enraptured by his iPhone that he didn’t notice or feel drops of water splashing on his knee. The air conditioner right above him had some condensation on it (or something) and it was dripping down. I was on the train maybe half an hour, and the entire time he didn’t move or do anything to avoid it. Just kept using his iPhone.

(Side note: all glory to Uncle Steve!)

March 7th, 2011 - Posted in train things |

Putting down the stick on Firefly

Update: here’s more on the bottom.

There’s been a slight buzz going around the Internet stemming from something Nathan Fillion said. In particular, he said, “If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to ‘Firefly,’ make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.” Naturally, the fans jumped on this and have created a site titled Help Nathan Buy Firefly, with the purpose of doing exactly that.

My first problem with this is that it’s an entirely unrealistic goal. There is no way a bunch of people on the Internet are going to raise enough cash for something like that. Prior to the Stewart/Colbert rally in October 2010, there was a movement on Reddit to raise a bunch of money in Colbert’s name. It took them quite a few months, but they successfully raised $500,000, and Colbert did an AMA on Reddit. Now on the Help Nathan site, someone estimated that it would take $40 million to get the rights. That’s eighty times as much money as the Redditors gathered – and there are not nearly as many Firefly fans as one thinks. Aside from taking a ridiculously long time, it’s likely that they wouldn’t even be able to gather that much money.

But let’s suppose somehow the money was raised – either by fans, or by Nathan Fillion saving up enough of the $100,000 he makes for each episode of Castle – and Fillion was able to secure the rights to the Firefly franchise. Would it even really be a good idea to make more episodes?

Before I go on, I should state this up front: I consider myself to be a Firefly fan. I’ve got issues with its use of Chinese and some of the logistics (a bunch of people colonize a planet using interplanetary ships, and then use horses and trains on the planet itself?) but the show as a whole was extremely interesting and engaging. The show clearly had enough of an impact on people such that it’s still being referenced years after it was released.

However, I’m of the opinion that it’s time to let it go. It’s been nearly nine years since the show aired, and digging it up to have another go would just not be the same. Look at what happened to Futurama. It was given a future after its initial run, and quite honestly, it’s just not as good as it was. The initial momentum was lost, and I think that new episodes of Firefly would suffer the same hit in quality.

Even beyond that, the story has been told. Let’s not forget how the film ended (with several fewer characters), so where’s to pick up from there? Who would want to see the show without the whole cast? I suppose you could tell more stories between the end of the show and the movie, but that seems to be cheating a bit. And how would you explain that all of the characters somehow look at least nine years older than they did before?

b!X, a guy who posts on Whedonesque, wrote a post about this as well. In particular he wrote that the fans are “dangerously close here to fetishizing both the show and the medium of television”. I think that’s an extremely accurate statement, and one that points out the utter folly of this latest movement. It is most certainly not the case that any episodes of Firefly would be better than no episodes altogether, and holding the show as the apex of all television ever is really shortsighted.

He also implies in the post that smaller forms of storytelling would be a better way to continue the universe. In particular he suggests a radio play, but we’ve already seen a bunch of Firefly comic books. And this isn’t the only Whedon universe to be continued in comics; hell, Buffy had a whole eighth season in comic form. So why not write more comic books? Why not do some little one-off shorts online? The Internet opens up all sorts of possibilities here – in particular, ones that don’t require $40,000,000.

Anyway, I really do think it’s time for people to stop throwing themselves at every new sliver of a chance to bring back Firefly. Remember the show for what it was, but don’t tarnish its legacy by trying to bring it back and potentially damage the franchise – or, as one poster on Whedonesque said, “dig it up and put a pretty hat on its rotted corpse.”

Update: Nathan Fillion wrote on his Twitter, “It’s beautiful to dream of more Firefly, but PLEASE DON’T SEND ANY MONEY. Just keep being great Browncoats, which you are!” I think that says all that needs to be said.

February 24th, 2011 - Posted in tv |

Review: Trailer Music Live in NYC

Last night we went to the NYU Skirball Center to see a performance of Trailer Music Live. For those not familiar with this, basically there are a bunch of groups and companies that make music for film trailers. Think of every trailer you’ve seen with some form of epic music – a choir chanting, huge drums and bombastic noise. That’s all made by a handful of organizations. Now imagine that one of those groups performed some of their music live. That’s what we saw.

Or at least, that was the expectation of what we were going to see. What we actually saw was a valiant attempt at such, but one that more or less fell flat.

I’ll state this upfront: the performance of the music was very good. The NYU Symphony Orchestra played the pieces very well, and the NYC Master Chorale did a really spectacular job with what was basically two straight hours of chanting. From my uninformed viewpoint, they pulled off all the songs – some that I’m quite familiar with – and they were pretty close to the official recordings. They even pulled off a semi-ad libbed version of a song really well, which I’ll get to in a bit.

But the rest of the production suffered quite a bit. The first person I blame is the sound engineer. I don’t know what s/he was doing, but the whole event needed to be remixed. The drums were way, way too loud, and all of the strings and female vocals were largely drowned out. After the first half they seemed to have corrected the sound issues, but three songs in it went back to sounding terrible. The other person that gets blamed is John Graham, the conductor. A lot of the songs were disorganized and messy. During Preliator, easily their most well-known track, the three sections got slightly off cue, and for a good twenty seconds the entire thing was a jumble of noise. Each section was fine on its own, but somehow when they all came together it just didn’t work.

Other production issues included technical difficulties at the beginning (so no video was shown for two songs), odd lighting (particularly during the videos) and extremely awkward dialogue from the emcee. I’m blanking on his name now, but they said he was a blogger for HuffPo. Perhaps he should stick to writing for a website, because his banter just did not work. Coming back after two songs and saying, “Wasn’t that amazing?” (or some such) and having a decent chunk of the audience snicker is really not good. They also had a section where they showed a trailer without music, played three pieces, and asked the audience to vote on which one fit the best. The answer they were looking for was #3, but the audience went with #1. But when the emcee responded, he seemed to put #3 as the audience’s pick, and people grumbled in response.

There’s been a movement in the past few years to do multimedia performances like this. I’ve seen my share of them, but I’ll use Video Games Live as the archetype. Basically during that show, they play a medley from a video game and have video to accompany it; it’s usually clips of in-game video and such. Well, they tried to do that here as well – using clips from trailers – and it worked most of the time. The combination of watching part of an action trailer and hearing action-themed music really did work, and those songs were really enjoyable. But when it didn’t work, it really failed. The first two songs were supposed to have accompanying video, but for whatever reason they didn’t show. At the beginning of the second half, they actually commented on it and replayed both songs with the video, which were actually much better. During the last song of the night, the video was a trailer recap to sort of round things off. Let’s say the trailer was four minutes long. Around 3:30 into it, the song ended – but the trailer was still going. So Yoav Goren, the composer, yells out, “Once more – 1, 2, 3, 4!” and the orchestra and choir went into another few iterations of the main part of the song. By then the video had already ended, so it was really just them playing longer – an awkward thing to witness overall.

I understand that this was the second performance of Trailer Music Live ever, and that there were bound to be mistakes. I guess compared to the polish and gloss of Video Games Live – which is performed by a touring group that is constantly on the road – the show fell flat. It was pretty awesome to hear a bunch of epic music performed live, but there were some serious issues in the production itself that really detracted from the experience. The biggest disappointment was that there was such potential for this to be a really awesome performance: badass source material, capable musicians, and a pretty good venue – and yet somehow it just didn’t work out. Here’s hoping they get it right the third time.

February 20th, 2011 - Posted in music |

Pet ads

There’s an ad I pass when running errands that just bums me out every time I see it. It’s on the side of a bus stop, and it’s a three-panel comic depicting a person taking a new job in another country and being forced to give up their cat for adoption. The last panel is the cat behind bars (presumably in an adoption facility).

I can’t find a version of it online, but I wouldn’t really want to link to it, as it’s the saddest thing of all time.

Maybe it’s me, but I can’t imagine being in a position where I would give up my pets for a job – or for anything else, really. Just tossing your pets aside seems incredibly callous and cruel. All they want is to eat and be loved, and putting them up for adoption because they don’t exactly fit into your lifestyle is pretty mean. I would much rather turn down a job if it meant I had to give up my cats.

And just as a tangent, I really hate ads like that. Yes, they’re meant to pull at your heartstrings and get you to adopt, but it’s almost too much. If either my girlfriend or I are watching TV and one of those commercials with that Sarah McLachlan song comes on, the channel gets changed immediately.

Anyway.. yeah. Maybe I’ll make an actual post soon.

January 31st, 2011 - Posted in essays, tv |

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The last show I saw was Mythos at 92nd St Y - New York, NY on Oct 6, 2014.
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Hey there. I'm a web developer who works and lives in New York City.