Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Every so often when there's nothing going on in the entertainment world that I think is worthy or deserving of an entire blogpost devoted to it, we do a little Mixed Bag Blog, where we touch upon a few different topics going on in a little more minor detail, and we're doing that here.

Although, before we do that, don't forget to buy/read "Behind the Staircase" by Christopher Eagan, a collection of short stories reminiscent of "The Twilight Zone".


It's $3.99 on Kindle and $14,99 in paperback. (Paperback copies will be in stock shortly) and it's gotten lots of praise until now. I'd say it's worth checking out. It's also, a book that I'm a contributing writer on, and I think I did some good work on it, so check it out ASAIC. 

Alright, this edition of the Mixed Bag Blog, I rant on the frustration of having to follow ENTERTAINMENT NEWS, I talk about the early days of FACEBOOK WATCH, and as an experiment, I'm gonna do a MUSIC REVIEW of an album I've owned for years, but listened to. Let's get to it right now. 


Is anybody else sick of tired of the business side of Hollywood lately. I mean, I'm sick and tired, of basically everything nowadays, but-, you know I'm trying to muster up the energy to pontificate on what the Disney buyout of 20th Century Fox means, or the whole James Gunn firing and petition, or everything dealing with the Weinsteins, or whatever's going on with some other movie or TV franchise, and-, to be honest, I just don't care at the moment. I know I should be pissed that Disney is buying everything except Fox News, which is the one thing I wish they'd buy from under the Fox brand, and that since they already ABC, this is borderline network monopolizing, although The CW is still partially owned by CBS, so I guess that flew out the window years ago, and we're going have a lot fewer movie releases and everybody thinks that a bad thing, except for me, 'cause a film critic that means I get less work to do, at least until somebody new comes along and replaces them with the next New Wave of American Independent film. (I mean, we are due, right? When was the last one, Mumblecore? That was like almost 15 years ago; we should have a new one in a couple years, right?)

And I should be angry at Disney, not necessarily for firing James Gunn, although why weren't they upset at those tweets before they hired him, but also for tolerating and giving credence, to the real evil villain piece of shit in that story, Mike Cernovich a right-wing conspiracy theory troll who's apparently trying to become the far right's Perez Hilton, so he's dug up old posts and tweets of anybody who apparently said the most minor insignificant criticism of the Republican Party. And it worked. (Although personally, I'm a little annoyed that now, we're at the point where people are accepting of other's past Twitter posts from when they were still younger,and not back when I was getting shit because I defended Lena Dunham, who btw, said or did nothing nearly as offensive or bad that James Gunn wrote on those tweets content-wise, but because it's someone they like and works in comic book movies, suddenly it's the biggest tragedy in the world that they're getting fired for what they did in the past.... [Yeah, some of you are hypocrites and you know it; I lost FB friends and got a shit-ton of criticism for that, and it seems pretty fucking benign and tame now doesn't it!] So, yeah, I can't find myself getting worked up on that story either. Especially since we still have the Weinstein stories and now the Les Moonves scandals developing; I mostly find James Gunn's circumstance to just be unfortunate. Sure, it's wrong, but yeah, I'm not losing my head over-, what the hell is he famous for-, "Guardians of the Galaxy". (Shrugs) I liked those films, sure, but I can't lie here; I barely remember them after I see them.

I-, I mean, I'm trying to care, but I'm just-, have you checked the Top News section of IMDB lately? I'm tired of it all, and except for one weird story about Danica MacKellar and Andy Kindler starring in a comedy movie; which is like odd for those who those two people are, but it's not really Top entertainment news I care about. Everything's either too small or stupid to care about or it's so important and so what-the-fuck that you're too overwhelmed and depressed to care anymore. Which sucks for people like me, 'cause I need to find something to write on. Maybe things are a little better if I check Variety or THR or something, but I doubt it (I checked, it wasn't)  I'm just sick of it all, and I'm tired of it, so, (Sigh) let's find something fun to do instead.

(3 hours later)

Okay, here's the thing. I don't have any real concept on what's "fun", apparently. So-eh, let's toss that idea out. So...- (Sigh)

Alright, I'm gonna go to my "Break Glass in Case of Emergency" idea for this blog in a bit, but, yeah, I really needed to rant on this today. And I know, I'm being obnoxious and stupid because some of these things, it does matter what happens to James Gunn or Les Moonves or when Disney acquires FOX or most of these things, and you know, I'd eat that stuff up, and even if I don't, what am I talking about here, it's the entertainment industry, who the fuck cares?! And considering everything else that's poisoning the media, both social and news media, frankly, I should be taking these stories as breaths of fresh air and pleasant distractions from the rest of the world. But sometimes, it's just- I don't know moving pieces around a board, without any context or anything, and frankly, it's zoned me out. I hate that it has, but sometimes things like that happen and despite everything, hopefully it'll end soon.

Although, watch, I'll post this and tomorrow NBC will buy Apple or nine other ridiculous things like that and suddenly I'll be flooded with interesting stuff to discuss.

P.S.: Sure enough, I was right; that'll be the next blog.


Actually, there is kinda one thing that's sorta interesting to me, it's Facebook Watch. You're forgiven for confusing it with just, every little video you see with graphic letters explaining how something is really something else or dashcam footage of a cop killing a black kid or whatever, but they are technically a channel in of themselves and not just, (Shrugs) a streaming outlet, I guess. It's kinda weird to me. I mean, when Netflix started streaming movies, everybody just took it as an extension of what their brand is, DVD rentals. Now people think of Netflix as a network, and they are now, but basically, anybody who's competent with computers can pretty much shoot something and upload it and call themselves a network as long as their capable of streaming video. (So, not me, but most everybody else) I guess that's okay; it's not new or anything, hell "Quarterlife" was airing on MySpace back in the day, but that wasn't produced by MySpace. (And MySpace had other shows too) but you know, Quarterlife.com really aired originally on its own website, which itself intended to become the next Social Network site, and-, yeah, that didn't pan out. That said, like, MySpace, Twitter, they didn't exactly produce anything, they just were a means of distribution, which is essentially what Facebook is. I go on Facebook Watch now, and I get a lot of recommendation for clips from "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah", I mean, I'll watch them, but I know they're not producing that.

However, that's changed in recent years and now, they've put a billion dollars into material for their Facebook Watch Originals. I mean, I'm not surprised, but you know, it still seems like most of Social Media is better as a gateway to promote and publicized original material, and not-so-much post it yourselves, even still. I mean, I've caught a Phillies game or two on Facebook, which they usually lost, and there's other deals with streaming services like that, but you know, they put a billion into it, let's take a bit of a closer look at what exactly are they putting their billion dollars to?

Well, the first thing that I really remember from Facebook Watch that broke through to the main stream discussion was the Docuseries "Tom vs. Time".


A six-part documentary series that follows Tom Brady as he, combats, time, which is basically age, as he continues to be a Super Bowl caliber NFL quarterback in his '40s. I didn't watch it at the time, 'cause being that it started airing while my Eagles were still in Super Bowl contention, I'd be damned if I was gonna spend any time watching goddamn Tom Brady any more than I had to. But, now that passed, and I can look at it with some objectivity, it's a compelling little limited docuseries. It reminds me a little bit that footage ESPN got of Roger Clemens and Andy Petitte's training methods they got back in the early 2000s when they were teammates with the Astros and that we now observe in hindsight that they were on so many steroids that we're not even considering them for the baseball Hall of Fame. (Shrugs) Take that observation with what you will. That said, you know, it's a good profile docuseries, that's broken 6 20-minute episodes, and it's not that amazing to see documentary series about the behind-the-scenes of the NFL, but it's still good to see.

Let's see what else they've devoted money too? Well, mostly some docs, news, reality,  and a lot of sports, which I think is a very astute move from them, they've also picked up a few series that were on other networks, "The Mind of a Chef" for instance, which is a show I like; that was a PBS series produced by Anthony Bourdain that profiled some of today's best chefs. They have one sitcom and about a handful of drama series, although almost all of which are labeled as "Teen Dramas". I took a brief look at the one that, as of today, Wikipedia says they've renewed for a second season "SKAM Austin" which is a really high-concept multi-platformed series that uses Facebook as well as other social media sites-, like literally all the characters have Instagram accounts, and episodes can be minutes or half-hour long and they upload daily...- actually it seems very similar to what "Quarterlife" tried to do-, I keep bringing that show up and I'll explain why in a minute, but just at a glance of their focus on teenage dramas, quality notwithstanding, I think this is a mistake from Facebook Watch.

"Quarterlife" for those who don't remember was the first TV series to go from a webseries to eventually air on network television. It only aired one full episode and it bombed badly and NBC killed off the rest of the series quietly on Bravo, but it's still a landmark event and many other shows have followed suit, and some really successfully. It didn't hurt that it was produced by the same people who made series like  "My So-Called Life", so it also had big Hollywood backing at the time, still I have to bring it up again here. Now, it aired on MySpace but it also had it's own website, and the idea was that it would be interactive. Quarterlife.com was essentially a social media site, and played off the show and vice-versa; it was actually integral to the series to a certain extent. It was kind of a community of sharing material, it was actually an early precursor to hitrecord.com, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's project. The show, was good for its time, but it was very guided to its audience. See, back in the mid-2000s, Social media, pre-dominance of Facebook and Twitter, was regarded mostly as something the young people were mostly interested in. MySpace in particular, and even before it basically became, a way to promote your indy band, was basically a place to, promote your indy band. So, the material was centered towards this audience. "Quarterlife" was a series about the struggles of being a young 20-something and living on your own, and there's literally dozens of shows over the history of television that can have that description, and because they're about young people, the audience was young people. I was around that age when it appealed to me for instance.

Now, 11 years ago, that made some sense as a marketing strategy if you were a social media site that's attempting to break in film/television, but, I don't think that's true now. I'm sure, there's statistics out there, it'll tell us that young adults and teenagers use Facebook more than most demographics, but I'm a little unsure that that means their programs should be geared towards them. I mean, Facebook, isn't a demographics thing anymore. It's practically a brand and business necessity for everyone. I don't know too many people who are completely off the Facebook grid and those I do, usually have some particular reason for it. There's nothing wrong with aiming for a teenage audience, but this feels like, some shallow-minded observations about the audience for Facebook. It seems like, "Teenagers use Facebook, let's come up with shows for teenagers." I like how they're a little more diverse across the board, but usually when your have dramas and sitcoms, you're hoping those become the signature flagship shows of the network and not the reality show about running a tattoo parlor, or the conflicting CNN and Fox News series that are basically extension of other channels.(Sigh) You want it to be a major scripted series.

I mean, it's early, things can change, but it feels like a weird fit. Not so much as streaming video on Facebook, but a collection of Facebook series. I mean, the only Emmy nomination Facebook got this year was for a series called "Ctrl Alt Delete", which is not a Facebook Watch series. To be fair, I kinda feel the same way about YouTube Red, like why spend extra for something, when there's so many things on here for free? I mean, Facebook Watch isn't charging, yet, and they shouldn't, but the same principle applies, you're already essentially a network in everything but name only, because you're a free distribution outlet already. I guess technically Netflix and Amazon had the same issue, but those were still boutique sites at the time that appealed to certain customers more than others. Facebook, is not specialized,- I mean,-, okay it's specialized to the person who uses it, because we gave up privacy for the right to kill Osama Bin Laden and we didn't get refunded 'til ten years later, but Facebook isn't guided towards a specific audience or group of users. So, I would be leaning more towards a more broad, or at least a more varied demographic if I was them. That's assuming this thing will work to begin with, but that's what I imagine I'd be looking for.

Well, we'll see what'll happen with it  Here's to hoping Facebook doesn't repeat MySpace's mistakes.

ALBUM REVIEW: DAVE MATTHEWS BAND's "Before These Crowded Streets"

Alright, so, we're officially at the "Break Glass in case of Emergency" portion of this blogpost, so bare with me. This was actually brought up in a Facebook group I was in recently, but I've had this backup plan anyway. They were talking about what DVDs and other media they own that they haven't gotten around to watching, or in my case listening. I don't bring this up much, but I actually collect CDs way more than I collect movies. I'm starting to collect films more, but most of my media that I personally go out of my to buy are CDs. Even today. Yeah, I never had an iPod, I don't get Spotify-, I mean, I genuinely don't get it and I don't have an account. I mean, I have a Pandora account, I get Pandora; I'm struggling with Spotify. But- I-, I never bought onto the modern technological innovations in music, post-CDs. Hell, I still have cassettes I've never listened to; if I had a record player, I probably would collect vinyl, but I sold my vinyl and record player years ago. So, I have, I don't know, a full drawer + of CDs, most of which I either bought on my own, and some I've managed to collect randomly through the years. A lot of them, I haven't listened to, especially lately I buy them, 'cause mostly their from the local library and they're like a $1 or $2 so, if it's somebody I like or think I'll like, or if it's something that I think looks good on a shelf, I'll pick it up. Basically, the same rule that applies to how I believe people should collect books. Minus the shelf-, I want shelves but I can only afford drawers right now.

Anyway, even though I do have affection for music like people, I haven't listened to them, 'cause usually I'm too busy watching movies. I've tried keeping up a bit, a bit more than I used to-, some of you may know that I basically gave up on music around the turn of the century, because-, too much music sucked and it was getting too annoying for me to seek out good music I liked, which was too expensive and not as good as, say an old Springsteen album I could pick up. (I have a lot of Springsteen that I've listened to. My family's from Jersey, it's kinda essential) Anyway, after Lilith Fair ended, I didn't find much to like about music for awhile, especially in the mainstream although I wasn't always crazy about much else as my adult alternative genre seemed to be going away. However, I really do need listen to music more, and especially since I haven't stopped collecting, I feel like I should get around to a few of these things.

So, that's what I'm doing, I'm going through my CD collection, and picking up one CD that I haven't listened to before, and I'm going to do a quick review of it. (Shrugs) It's either this or pontificate on Charlotte Rae's or Michael J. Fox's passing passing or how fucking stupid and annoying fake death hoaxes are, so, let's pull out, eh, let's do the first one alphabetically by artist, that I haven't...-

(Pulls out CD)

Alright, so the Dave Matthews Band, and their album,- Um, what the hell is this album-, dammit. (Frustrated grunt) My library put like nine stickers all over the cover photo, um...-

(Looks closely and intently at cover picture.) "Be-hold-, no, "Be-fore-", "Before These Crowded Streets". God, why did they put that title in blue on black background?! Ugh-, I hope I'm not going blind, Christ. Um-, anyway, "Before These Crowded Streets". Um, well, going into this album, I am a fan of Dave Matthews Band. I grew up in the nineties like everybody, and I actually own a copy. of "Crash" their big breakthrough album and I've listened to that album on several occasions, and it gets better every time I hear it. This album was released in 1997 however, which is a bit odd, 'cause I'm actually a little more familiar with some of Dave Matthews later stuff than this. I kinda skipped from "Crash" right into "Everyday", which I think I borrowed once from someone, but I don't have a copy of it. I love the singles from it though. After that, I kinda tuned out to him, but from my memories, he seemed like an artist that was always gonna be around in some capacity. He reminded me of artists like Elvis Costello and The Grateful Dead and Phish that were good at combining genres and knew how to absolutely jam, and from what I remembered they were known as a great live act, even more than their albums. I was always a little surprised at how popular they were, 'cause they always did feel like a more alternative group, but I always liked them, so, hopefully this is a good album of their's. That's just the backstory in my head as I remember them, going into the album, so-eh, let's take a listen and see what they do.

(Opens disc drives, puts CD in)

Also, I should note that, this is just for fun. I'm not a music expert, won't claim to be; go watch Rick Beato on Youtube or someone like that if you want a professional opinion. Unlike my movie reviews, I have a background and knowledge in film, and film criticism and analysis and theory, and all that mumbojumbo. That's stuff I know and can properly analyze, this is just fun filler for me, and I hope you enjoy it, but I'm not a music expert. If you disagree, with whatever I think, fine. I'm not a musician, I don't have a musician's ear for notes, I don't play an instrument, none well anyway, so this is basically me, finding a reason or excuse to actually listen to the albums I've been collecting and hopefully having a little fun. Alright, let's press play.

"Before These Crowded Streets" 


That was a good album. I actually think I might like that album better than "Crash". I completely forgot, "Crush",- what a great song that is. I loved that song growing up, and this full eight-minute version that keeps slowly growing. Starts out as this great lounge smooth jazz song, but it keeps elevating itself as it goes up. The first half of the album though, much more rock'n'roll than I remember thinking; it was almost like Pink Floyd or-, one of those like, Rush, one of those alternative bands in the '70s, with those concept albums to me. I actually wondered if this was a concept album for half the album. That said, the second half, was a lot more, am radio to me, in a good way. Reminded me a lot more of their "Crash" album. It's a little long, and I think songs like "Don't Drink the Water" and "Stay" I imagine are better live performances-, this is the first time where, I finally see what people meant when they said that this is a great live band. I've never seen DMB live, and now I want to. I always imagined that they would be like Phish or one of the jam bands live, not necessarily a heavy rock band, but those songs felt like great concept album songs that you could see a ten-minute version done live and just power-rocking out.

I love the album closer "Spoon", which has a verse and backing vocal from Alanis Morissette,- it feels  a bit like, one side of the album is this heavy rock concept and the other side is this more avant-garde jazz-lounge stuff that I know them more for. I think if I was writing- usually I listen to music when I'm writing my screenplays and such, I would listen to "Crash" more, but this is a great road trip album for me, or a great getting stoned album to put on. Wakes you up and then brings you down. Lyrically, I want to listen a little closer to really dig into them; I usually like Dave Matthews as a lyricist, but in this case, I preferred the music overall; which is a bit odd for me. I'm very much a lyrics-first guy normally, but-eh, not in this case. Glad I bought it, might listen to it again at some point. Definitely, want to see Dave Matthews Band live at some point. That's my take away from the album.  That and-eh, if I ever see more DMB albums on sale at the library then I'm definitely picking them up.

Well, that was fun. So periodically if there's a bit of a lull in the entertainment world, news-wise, or idea-wise for a blogpost, I might pull out another random CD I own, that I haven't listened to before and review it. I've got a few dozen btw, some really strange ones too, some I bought myself, some I didn't so, but I hope this'll be a nice semi-regular feature. JFF, just for fun.

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