Sunday, December 26, 2010

Goodbye DirecTV

Dear DirecTV,

I know we've been together for a while. Eight years is a long time. When we first met, I was so excited. I loved the crystal clear picture. I loved the huge channel selection. And you've added features since then - DVR, local stations. Everything you do is still beautiful.

But it's time for us to part ways.

It's true, your price keeps going up. Costs have increased. I understand. But, that's not the real issue. The real problem is this: Your content no longer meets my needs. All those channels for children are great, but my child is a teenager now. She's long outgrown Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. And the channels I liked to watch? Most of them have devolved into showing things I have no interest in. There has been a long standing joke that MTV doesn't show videos anymore, but that joke has become the new norm. The History Channel doesn't show history anymore. The Sci-Fi channel shows less and less Science Fiction each year. Now they show wrestling. It would be easy for me to make a joke about Sarah Palin having a show on TLC, (formerly The Learning Channel), but that's just water over the dam. You have lots of shows, but not very many I want to watch.

I'll miss BBCAmerica. I've learned to love Top Gear and Doctor Who, but they're just not enough to make me want to continue our relationship.

I've gotten back together with our old former friend Tivo. I've realized that most of what I am watching was on the networks now, so we're recording all those shows that I like to watch.

Also, I have to confess. I've found someone new. I've started a relationship with Netflix. They have more content then I'll ever be able to watch. And they cost 1/10th the price. No, the picture quality is not as good, but I'd rather see things I like in mediocre picture quality than a crystal clear picture of something I'm not interested in.

I'm sorry DirecTV. That's just how I feel.

Don't take it so hard. I'm sure you'll find someone new.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rock and Roll Christmas Music - HUMBUG!

Am I the only one that HATES Rock and Roll Christmas music? It's not that I hate Christmas music, per se. Some of it I enjoy quite a bit, but there's something about Rock and Roll Christmas music that I just find...repulsive. It's like the worst of both kinds of music - sickeningly sweet lyrics, simplistic cheery melodies, mediocre vocals and a bunch of musicians that sound like they just learned the song in the previous take.

I've never been a Bruce Springsteen fan, but I respect him as an artist - except when I hear his version of Santa Clause is Coming to Town. Please, Bruce, just stop. Ugh. I hate Jingle Bell Rock and it seems like people keep making new versions of it, but it never gets any better. The song I hate the most - by far - is the Beach Boys Little Saint Nick. Don't get me wrong. I think the Beach Boys are great. Good Vibrations is one of the best songs of the 60's, but Little Saint Nick is horrendous, like fingernails-on-a-chalkboard horrendous. Seriously, it sounds like the Beach Boys making fun of themselves - Blech!

Maybe part if it is that I hear the same few irritating songs year after year - over and over and over. Of course, it that were true, then the cure would be MORE of this crap and that's not something I want to encourage - at all. In the last decade or so, I've started hearing country versions of Rock and Roll Christmas songs. Since I generally dislike country music, I'm not hopeful.

Great - now I'm imagining a country version of Jingle Bell Rock. You'll have to excuse me now. I need to play my copy of the "Charlie Brown Christmas" album. Maybe Vince Guaraldi can wipe that other slush out of my brain.

Good Grief.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Han Shot First

You already know the story and it's an old meme, but let me sum up anyway. In the original Star Wars, Han Solo shot Greedo the bounty hunter in the Cantina - in cold blood. In the first revised edition, George Lucas changed it so that Greedo shot first (and missed) and Han shot him back. In the second revised edition, Han and Greedo shot at the same time. Greedo missed. Han didn't.

...and an entire planet of nerds were outraged.

Lucas said he made the change because Han was a hero and heroes don't shoot first. Far be it from me to tell him he was wrong to make that change, but since this is the internet, I'm going to do it anyway.

Han shooting first improves the story in two different ways. Firstly, if you can, think back to the very first time you saw Star Wars - assuming you are old enough to have seen the original version. Luke and Ben go into this seedy bar to hire a pilot to take them to some other planet. After they hire the guy, we see him calmly murder someone, admittedly someone who looked like he deserved it. This immediately jacks up the tension for the audience. Oh Crap! The pilot they hired is a murderer! Surely, he'll turn on them before they get where they are going.
This doesn't happen, of course, but the first time you see the movie, you don't know that. This tension is lost if Han doesn't shoot first.

Secondly, let's look at the long term character development of Han. Through the course of two movies, he evolves into a self-less hero - so selfless that he gives himself up to Boba Fett in order to save his friends. Him being lowered into the carbonite chamber is the climax of his development. But it is where he evolves from that has been changed. In the original, Han starts as a cold blooded murderer and grows into a selfless, though roguish hero. In the updated version, Han merely starts as a small time crook trying to project the image of being a badass.

I think this is one place where Lucas got it right the first time.

Why wait?

I was listening to a podcast the other day (Fear the boot's occasional spinoff - fear en route) in which they were discussing Podfade, or, the phenomenon where podcasts simply stop producing material and fade away without explanation. As they mentioned, the same thing happens with blogs. The reasons are all perfectly logical - the writer lost interest, the writer got too busy, the writer ran out of things to say - i.e. real life intruded.

Not having posted anything in two years, I asked myself why. After a bit of reflection, I realized that it was none of the typical reasons. It was simply that I didn't want to follow up such a significant event with something trivial, fluffy or just silly.

Now I realize that was a stupid trap to be caught in. Did I stop watching movies after seeing something é important?é Why should I stop writing after writing about an important event? Enough with seriousness!

Let the parade of trivialities begin!