Monday, June 14, 2021

physical media, and the need to own what you own

 I saw this and thought of Joe.



The TLDR (TLDW?) version of this is that some guy had an an Apple Account, and had paid for $25,000 worth of stuff (apps, in-app purchases, music, etc...). Apple decided that the guy had violated the terms of service and cancelled his account. No warning. No appeal. He's lost access to everything he "bought," and he's out all that money. He's suing. I hope he wins. I actually have no idea what he did -- or what Apple thinks he did -- that led to his expulsion from Eden. And I really don't care. I hope he wins.

The "Joe" I referred to above is Joe from my cinema history class. He's big on owning physical media -- something that Lehto talks about in the video above -- so that no corporation has the power to decide what you can and can't listen to or watch.

Joe made me aware of his interest in physical media when, in fr4ont of him, I mentioned having "bought" some video on Amazon Prime. What do I have, he demanded. I don't have a disc or a videotape. I have the right to watch the movie (I forget what it was) on Amazon's platform as long as I have my Amazon Prime account -- and, I suppose, as long as Amazon doesn't decide to stop showing that movie. The fact is, that I have, over the years, "bought" a bunch of movies and TV shows on Amazon. And I recognize that I haven't "bought" these shows in the same sense that I may have bought a videotape or a DVD. In my mind, I've simply rented it with an extra option to rewatch. I rarely rewatch, but I want that option just in case. And if I lose access to something? Que sera sera.*

And I'm pretty sure I have lost content that I "bought," since two episodes of Spongebob Squarepants were removed from circulation. And I may find that more "purchases" are lost, as increasing numbers of movies or TV episodes are deemed to violate contemporary pieties.

Getting back to Joe, I appreciate where he's coming from. And I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to how big his collection of movies and television shows (all on physical media) is. But I can't go down that road. I don't collect video -- it doesn't interest me the way it does him, and I also wouldn't hazard a guess as to how much money he has spent on his collection. Worth it, I suppose, if there's a large volume of stuff that you want to be able to watch when you want to watch it, and it's important to you that none of it ever be taken away from you. But I'm not devoted to video that way.

Now, music...that's another story for me. I was never a big radio listener. From the time I first had records I preferred listening to music from my collection. And I still do. So, whereas Joe buys DVDs and BluRays, I buy CDs. There have been a few occasions when I had to buy download-only music. But even then it doesn't feel like it's really part of my collection until I burn it onto a CD. So I'm not sure how much of that phenomenon is fear of having something taken away from me and how much is simple OCD.

Back to Joe again, the topic of physical media has been a recurring subject of our conversations and emails. Every time we hear news about something being censored or edited, he brings up the need to have physical media. And if he reads this blogpost, I know I'll hear it from him...

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*I really shouldn't publicize this attitude. If I am ever involved in a class action suit regarding my rights to what I bought, I don;t want the lawyers to access my account and find the evidence they need to argue that I knew what I was getting into.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

cinema history class: duel

Session: TV Terrors, Week 2
Movie: Duel (1972)
Directed by Steven Spielberg


As always, there may be spoilers here. And the trailer may be NSFW and/or NSFL.

Plot:
A salesman, driving to meet a client, encounters a sociopathic truck driver who wants him dead. Horror ensues.

Reaction and Other Folderol:
Let me start by noting that the original version of Duel was a 74-minute made for TV movie. But Spielberg and company shot and added some extra scenes to lengthen it for the European cinema market. What we watched was the lengthened version which the extra scenes. I bring this up now because I will refer to the added scenes below and I want to give context.

When I was summarizing the plot (above), I initially characterized the salesman as "mild-mannered." Upon reflection I took that part out because the character, David Mann, isn't really mild-mannered. And that's a big part of the problem. To put it in perspective, let me suppose -- hypothetically, of course -- that I am in Mann's shoes. I'm on a long drive, and I get caught behind a slow-moving, smoke-belching tanker truck. When I have an opportunity I pass the truck. The trucker's response is to come roaring past me and then break-check me. What would I do? I might figure out an alternate route. I might give up on my meeting and go home. Most likely I would simply drive behind the truck -- even at the cost of going annoyingly slowly and inhaling fumes. But Mann decides to do battle with the truck. He becomes a willing participant in the titular duel, even though he has seen that the trucker has a screw loose. And he continues the duel, even as the truck driver makes his murderous intentions clear.

And that flaw in the plot -- the idea that Mann, despite being outgunned, allows himself to get into this duel -- is why Christina and Bob rated the movie a 9.5 instead of a 10. I was willing to look past this flaw because not everyone is as sweet and accommodating as I am. But, in fact, one of the added scenes helps to explain Mann's possible motivations. At a gas station, Mann calls his wife who is apparently angry at him about his inaction at a party the prior night. It's not clear exactly what happened, but she characterizes another man's actions as practically raping her. And Mann failed to defend her to the degree that she feels he should have. This implicit challenge to his manhood could have been a factor in his aggression. That said, the phone call comes after the first round of sparring. Of course, since it's kind of a continuation of an argument from the night before or the morning, we can infer that Mann had already had his manhood challenged and it was on his mind as he set out on the open road.

Related, during the early part of the movie before Mann first encounters the truck, he is listening to talk radio as he drives along. For an extended time he hears a man questioning some census form. He is being asked whether he is the head of his household. He feels he isn't the head because he's a househusband and his wife earns the money. But he doesn't want to say "no" because he worries about what his friends will think. So that bit may have been intended to explain Mann's motivation.

One of the amazing things about Duel is the way Spielberg creates dread of the truck. He turns it into an animal, and gives it the same sense of menace as we see in Jaws, or the titular menace in the Alien series of movies. We never see the trucker's face -- we rarely see any of him. Occasionally we see his arm or his feet. But they seem to be nothing more than extensions of the truck/monster.

The simple fact about this movie is that it got my adrenaline up and it got my heart pumping in a way that few movies do these days. And that's having seen it several times and therefore always knowing what's coming. For it to have that effect on me, it deserves all ten of the points I gave it.

Ratings
Me: 10
Bob: 9.5
Christina: 9.5
Joe: 10*
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* or 10.5 or 11 or 11.2 or 11.9, depending on what point in the post-screening portion of the evening we're talking about. Don't get me started.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

happy tunesday! "write a song (about me)" duet

 


The last two weeks I posted recordings of this song, both sung as s solo. Those were here and here. This is the promised duet version. I love all three recordings and honestly can't tell which is my favorite. We should all have such problems.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

cream, 2008-2021

Sometimes, when a pet is in decline, there's a discrete event that makes it clear the end has come. That's how it was for Bungee. And for Morgan. And, as painful as that is, the decision is easy. For other pets, you never get a discrete event. The pet's health and quality of life gradually deteriorates. And you keep asking yourself and your vet -- if you're lucky enough to have a good vet -- the same questions. What's his quality of life? Is he in pain? Is he enjoying life? That's how it has been with Cream.

We made the decision this week. Early this afternoon, we had him put to sleep.

My purpose here is not to document Cream's decline. I'm not writing this to justify our decision -- or the fact that it took so long to make it. This is to write about some of my good memories of Cream. For the record, his official name was The Brewery Cream, because "The Brewery" is the name of the cattery where he was bred.

When we first visited The Brewery, we were looking for two kittens. Blair was pregnant with Asher, and we thought that getting cats for Ethan and Sharon would be a good idea. Having played the role of kitty hospice for a Maine Coon* and having done some research, we wanted Maine Coons. Ethan picked one of the kittens because he loved the energy. That kitten (who would become known as Red) was bouncing off the walls, though he occasionally checked in on us. He seemed to like when Ethan picked him up. Sharon also had her eye on one particular kitten. But then this cream-colored one came over and kind of sat next to her. We don't know why, but he seemed to show a real interest in Sharon. And that was how Sharon was picked by her cat.

Cream was particularly docile. I remember a time that Sharon was carrying him down the stairs. She tripped, and the two of them went tumbling down. He didn't bite or scratch or anything like that. He spent a second or two looking around puzzled. Then, when he got his bearings, he went to Sharon (who was, herself, just getting her bearings), and waited for her to pick him up.

And yet Cream was (before he wet deaf and blind) a great hunter. To this day, Sharon will tell you that her favorite birthday present was the mouse Cream left on her bed on her birthday.

Cream particularly enjoyed carb-heavy people food. Which meant that bread wasn't safe around him. That's not so bad. But when he was young -- three or so? -- he ate a big chunk of corn cob. This got lodged in his intestines and made him sick. So sick, in fact, that he would have died without surgery. Afterwards, the vet reminded us: "Remember. He has learned nothing from this incident."

There was a time a few years ago that Red was missing for several months. I wrote about his return here. When we got him back, Cream -- though blind and deaf -- was beside himself with joy.

In the last couple years, we've occasionally taken Cream outside to enjoy the sunshine. In his declined state, we felt there was really no risk of him running away. So we would sit with him in the yard as he sniffed the air and rubbed against the flowers or the clover.

During the time after he lost his hearing and vision, but before his mobility deteriorated, he would still move around the house. He seemed to have a good mental picture of where everything was, so he generally didn;t need help -- though he took things slower than he had when he could see. Occasionally he would lose his bearings. When that happened, he would sit down and meow very loudly until someone came and carried him to some familiar point. We stared calling that "resetting the cat." I was once on a work meeting, when someone made a suggestion. At that moment Cream, who was in my office, decided he wanted help and yowled particularly loudly. The guy who had made the suggestion quipped "I guess someone thinks that's a bad idea." Cream yowled again. I had to sheepishly excuse myself with "Sorry. Gotta reset the cat." I suppose I should have been on mute.

It's painful to lose a beloved pet, especially when you have to make the decision, which leaves you open to second-guessing. But I am very glad that Sharon had a cat**. And I'm particularly happy that Cream picked her. Cream was a great cat.

We loved you, Cream.

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*That was Morgan. We got him used. He was about 12, and had spent most of his life as a lap cat for an elderly lady. Her last words, spoken to her husband, were "Take care of Morgan." The husband did his best, but couldn't hack it. So Morgan bounced from home to home. Eventually we answered an ad in Freecycle, and adopted him. We had him for the last year or so of his life.

**Which should not be read to imply that she won't have another

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

cinema history class: the night stalker

Session: TV Terrors, Week 1
Movie: The Night Stalker (1972)
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey


As always, there may be spoilers here. And the trailer may be NSFW and/or NSFL.

Plot:
A serial killer is stalking women in Las Vegas. Disgraced reporter, Carl Kolchak, is convinced he's a vampire. Horror ensues.

Reaction and Other Folderol:
Before talking about the movie, I should note that Joe is back in the class after a COVID-driven absence of more than a year. I haven't seen him in that time, though we did occasionally email. It was good to see him again.

And thius movie was an appropriate one for Joe to make his return. The Night Stalker did so well that it spawned a TV series, called Kolchak: The Night Stalker. That series is one of Joe's absolute favorites, and he considers it a travesty that it only lasted one season.

I loved the crisp diualog, especially when Darren McGavin and Claude Akins shared the screen. I can't say I'm a huge Claude Akins fan, but I have liked him in everything I've seen him in.

I also loved the ending. As the movie was heading for its close, I was anticipating two possible endings. In one, the town officials would force Kolchak to leave town. In the other they would arrest him for murder. I was wondering which ending we'd see. And the script (well-written by Richard Matheson) managed to combine those twoi possibilities into one.

Also relevant: I hate Las Vegas.

Ratings
Me: 8.8
Bob: 9
Christina: 9.5
Joe: 10 (duh)