Losing in the Writers Strike

As time wears on, I – like most other television watching Americans – want the Writers Guild of America strike to end. For the most part the strike doesn’t bother me (God forbid I be forced to leave the house or read a book), but I am annoyed by the idea that the strike might promote an influx of more eye-gouging ‘reality’ television or that it could negatively impact the shows that are coming to an end this year.

I have no sympathy for the producers and studio executives who could have easily forgone a strike by making equitable concessions to Writers Guild demands. I was surprised by how little control and compensation many Hollywood writers receive for their work, which plays no small role in making studios billions of dollars. I understand that the major studios are playing their available cards – and that their considerations encompass more than just appearing insuperable to the writers – but this generally sucks.

On the other hand, it irritates me to see two generally wealthy and well-off groups argue melodramatically about money, particularly when the country is filled with people who are much more screwed over than Hollywood writers are.

Seeing the panic that “new media” has caused for both the film and music industries, I think it was wise of the writers to go on strike now. I disagree with those who say that they should have waited to see how lucrative methods of “new media”/internet distribution will become. If companies do find means of profit in these distribution methods, I would think that it would be much harder for writers to get financial ownership of them down the road. What would compel major studios to generously give up the financial rights to an assured area of tremendous revenue? It could be argued that the studios would want to invest what is necessary to keep their “new” revenue stream going, but I suspect that wouldn’t turn out to be the case.

My primary concerns, as I stated above, reflect my status as a television watcher; not an insider. What will happen to the shows whose final seasons are this year? Will I be able to see the end of Scrubs as it was intended? Will scripted comedies and dramas become even less visible on television as studios favor even more easy-to-produce ‘reality’ shows? As with many other things, we probably won’t be able to assess the damage until it’s done. Here’s to pastime creativity.

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The Japanese Maple Tree and the Rock Garden

As I was becoming more accustomed to the idea of writing in this blog again and finding more time in which to pursue the venture, someone in my family died. My grandmother passed away.

At the age of 77, she had battled breast and ovarian cancer for 15 years. Then, what seems like a short while ago but was most definitely longer, she developed Alzheimer’s Disease. She managed to live on for a very long time despite the fact that her husband had died; despite the fact that she was plagued by frequent pains and discomfort caused by these various ailments (including the pain of treatment); despite the fact that certain members of her family had disowned her for what I can only ascertain are the stupidest, most puzzling reasons; despite the fact that she no longer recognized anyone or even realized how sick she was much of the time, causing her to do things like jump out of bed, pull out her IVs, and break her hip. And she continued to be a nice person through most of the process; someone people wanted to have around. She rarely complained about any of this and didn’t feel sorry for herself.

I went to see her not this previous weekend but the one before it in the hospital. The Tuesday before that, she had collapsed in a supermarket and had to be rushed to the ER. For 24 hours, my mother and my sister stayed with her in the ER, where her condition worsened over time. By the time I came to see her, when she had been admitted to the hospital, she was in a sleep-like state. Her mouth was agape and she was breathing deeply but laboriously, every outward breath marked by a gurgling sound which was due to the fluid accumulating in her lungs. Her mouth was sore and dry from the lack of moisture. Every once in a while, one of my relatives or my mother would wet it with a sponge as they were instructed to do by the nurses. Her body would shake and convulse periodically; the medical staff weren’t sure if it was voluntary or involuntary movement. Sometimes tears would fall down her face. People were unsure of whether she was crying or whether this was another ungoverned reaction.

I loved and respected my grandmother a lot, even though our relationship was strained and I never thought we were extremely close. She was incredibly strong-willed and resilient. She was kind and gave away many of her things if she thought it would make other people happy. She loved animals. She was patient and encouraged people to learn by doing. Alternately she was stubborn and disconcerting in some ways. As a kid, she admonished me for being too much of a baby about physical pain but as I got older she would say kind things about me to other people which surprised me.

My mother has lost both her parents. She loved them both, even though she’s convinced that both her parents liked her less than their other children. My mother moved close to my grandmother to help take care of her as she became sicker. My mother was alone with my grandmother in the hospital room when my grandmother died. My aunt and uncle didn’t make it in time. I know this will upset her more down the road and I’m sorry she had to deal with it alone.

I’m not certain why I’m choosing to share so much here. Some of it, yes, I know, and there are other things I remember. It saddens me that there is no one else to hear it, I guess.

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Bounding Back Into the World

So, I haven’t died, nor have I abandoned my desire to write in this blog. I hope to start again soon.

Take that, world.

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I love you, Radiohead.

No, not for your music, but for your decision to release your new album In Rainbows yourselves, and for the fact that you made it available for download at a pay-what-you-will price. I thunderously applaud the decision… not that the members of Radiohead are likely gasping for accolades. :)

Sometimes you may not like the artist, but you love their decisions. How truly enterprising.

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Thank You, Robert Wilonsky

For making Ebert and Roeper watchable again.

For exhibiting laudably intelligent and humorous characteristics.

For delivering substantial, articulate, and mentally stimulating film critiques.

For offsetting Richard Roeper’s overall weasellyness.

For obviously loving your job and for conveying that general love to your audience.

There are no YouTube clips of his recent Ebert and Roeper appearances, but YouTube, at the very least, has some footage from his HDNet show which is called Higher Definition. The link is to one of those amusingly frivolous outtakes reels. Enjoy.

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The Weather’s Been Better

I’ve been feeling under the weather for the last couple of days, but I’m sure I’ll be up and fascinated/appalled by things shortly. Until then, kidsters.

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And this was scarcely odd, because…

Random bits of interest.

1. Schizophrenia Gene May Have On/Off Switch Interesting, specifically for people suffering from schizophrenia and their families. The study was done on mice and there is no guarantee that the results will transfer over into humans, but the mice supposedly displayed behaviors similar to those that are seen in people with the disorder. Hopefully we’ll hear about this again someday, as opposed to many of the seemingly revolutionary medical tests I read about in the news that mysteriously disappear.

2. Amish donate cash to school gunman’s widow Although I am wary of people who urge universal forgiveness, I was struck and impressed by the sympathy in this act. For the Amish people to be able to make such a kind gesture toward a woman who has probably suffered a great deal since the incident in question – when her husband took several Amish schoolgirls hostage, eventually killing four and injuring others – is thought-provoking and inspiring.

3. Commuting Sucks One of the most beneficial perks of living in New York City is the top-notch public transportation system. NYC is the only place I have ever lived where the public transportation system was so comprehensive and reliable that it greatly diminished your need for a car. In most American places, people have to rely on cars because they have no alternatives – places where public transit is limited to poor to non-existent. This study isn’t telling people anything they don’t know. Comprehensive public transportation improvements need to be a higher priority of the American public and of our politicians.

4. White Stripes cancel all 2007 tour dates :*[ Anyone who has read of my love of the White Stripes knows this is distressing news. Here’s hoping Meg gets better sometime soon. If she needs a break, she needs a break. I’m just glad I was able to see them when I did.

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