So… Sunday

The good news is that I’m not sick.  After two days of rather strenuous physical effort, yesterday I felt as though I was ill most of the day, and was really worried I was coming down with something.

The day was fairly wasted for work, too, because Miranda-the-feisty shook her head so hard, the leech went flying and took a chunk out of her ear.  So they had to do what they’d been trying to avoid because of her heart, and put her under, and sewed up the ear.

So we went to pick her, and found out not only is her ear bleeding freely (It’s supposed to, till it drains the hematoma, but she’s also having continuous liquid diarrhea.  The blood was copable, but the diarrhea not so so much.  Which is a little worrisome as I don’t know if it will stop.  The doctor seems to think it’s the result of their giving her whatever, just to keep her happy while doing treatment, but I wonder if she was responsible for the mess upstairs.  anyway — okay, copable, but we’d have to confine her, and better not while her ear is bleeding.  After that, I suppose I can buy an old playpen with a vinyl bottom if needed, while we figure out what’s causing it.  If it’s her heart medicine it might not be stoppable.

We only found out about the issues when we got there, which means we hurried through the morning to go pick her up, couldn’t, came home and I had a long phone call with my mom, which in the circumstances I didn’t want to curtail.  So… I didn’t even sit down except to answer a couple of emails, I’m late with a set of short stories proofs (GAH) and I have contracts I haven’t sent back.

At nine pm I gave up thinking I could write, and just went to bed.  Slept till eight am.  And I’m not sick.  I am still a little tired, though.  This annoys me.  this body is definitely a lemon.  I shouldn’t still be tired from the week.

So, to amuse you: Charlie and I continue our series on the workmonster. My addition is less interesting than his article, since there isn’t much space for the workmonster when I’m battling all the other monsters.  You know about the devils who come and occupy the place from which a demon was exorcised?  Like that.  Only I wasn’t trying to exorcise work, precisely.

In other amusing stuff… London is discovering that when the government heavily subsidizes anything the prices go up.  I know, I know, you’re shocked, right?  Then again our colleges have issues with this.  Sometimes it seems humanity doesn’t learn.  I don’t know if that’s the result of really not learning or our education and newspaper establishment striving to obfuscate cause and effect.  Of course, people — connected, well to do people, who nonetheless I’d bet identify themselves as “being for the little people” are making massive money off these inflated prices.  So, once again, everyone’s money (taxes) gets funneled to the pockets of the well to do in the guise of helping the little people.  “Same as it ever was.”  And that’s why I drink and why I have to struggle not to drink more than I do.

Then there’s this piece of idiocy that thinks they’re going to make The Musketeer’s “relevant” or something.  I’m completely puzzled as to why Porthos is black.  I’m fully okay with black actors (do I need to tell you that?) and as despicable as his political opinions are (standard for Hollywood) I love a lot of Will Smith’s work.  I’m just getting sick — onto ARGH — of finding people of ethnicity that would not be at all common in the time and place the thing was written about, okay?  Like the Robin Hood series episode with a pretend nun (she’s actually a grifter) who is black and NO ONE REMARKS UPON IT.  In what?  13th century England?  Good heavens.  Look, guys, in my native village there was a lady known solely as “the Algarvia” (She who comes from Algarve — which is ANOTHER PROVINCE OF PORTUGAL.)  Her mannerisms and accent were considered odd, and I never knew her real name, because she was “A Algarvia.”  Someone who was black — as the mulato neighbor who eventually moved in — was “The black woman.” This was not rank racism, it was just that in a village where everyone was pretty uniform-looking and had been there for generations, you got known by what stuck out.  (I’d have been much more upset if my nickname was The Lighted C**t than The Black Woman, for instance.  The Lighted… er… one was lilly white.  Everyone knew her by that name.  I have no clue what incident originated the nickname.  Mind you, being the village, this could have been her misspeaking once and its being repeated.  Or it could be (a pune or a play on words, to quote PTerry) because chickens went by the same slang term, and she once accidentally set fire to a chicken (one hopes while cooking it.)  The other hypothesis scare me a little.

But the point is no one who looked that different would go unnoticed.

BUT Sarah, you’ll say, surely there were black musketeers.  I mean, Dumas’s own father was mulato.

Oh, there were mulatos in Paris at that time (and a little earlier) but this is the thing — those who were nobility were ALL KNOWN and talked about by that characteristic. So the chances of Porthos going undercover by changing his name… nill.  Zilch.  Nothing.

Worst of all, they made him a pirate, which means the idiots making this are probably basing it on … the Disney movie, not the works of Dumas.  I got so tired, while sending out the Musketeers because I got back “but isn’t he a pirate.”

Hollywood seems incapable of reading or even considering reading and just makes movies based on movies.   Apparently publishing prefers their books based on movies as well.  It is of course the result of their epistomological closure and refusal to take any new ideas that don’t religiously adhere to liberal cant, which in turn causes them to suffer what I call “third generation blight” which tends to take down totalitarian systems after 3 generations.  The first are the hungry people who got power, the second are chosen for their loyalty to the party line.  The third are chosen for that AND for not being smarter than the second.  Usually this means in three generations they achieve what takes an absolute monarchy where cousins marry cousins, ten.  I.e. they have rulers smart enough to figure out which end of a queen gets the crown two times out of ten.  Fortunately, considering our press and all, like Kim Jong Un, the press will hail them as masterminds and good at everything — so the people will never suspect.  Which brings us back to the London housing subsidies.  Though, of course, at least in Hollywood (And for the purposes of this Hollywood encompasses even British movie making establishment) people can — and do — stay away from these duds in droves.  Which they’ve been doing.  I hear Hollywood is pinched, but as long as they have no competition, they’ll make at lest enough money to keep going.  Heck, books did that for years.  I wonder when the equivalent of indie will start eating the cake of sclerotic Hollywood?  My son says not inside twenty years, but he’s a stodgy and conservative young man.  Well, he is compared to me.  He says, however, that I’m a fire-eating radical who tends to overestimate the ability of society changing for the better.

Bah.  I haven’t eaten fire in at least 36 years.  And I still think he’s stodgy.  So I rest assured that Indie will come to Hollywood too and maybe in 10 years or so.  And then we’ll have better movies and we’ll see Hollywood writhe.  Which is better sport than we’ve seen in years.

Which of course, will make me happy.

AND THEN we’ll leave everyone alone.  That will teach them.

UPDATE: By the by, Elf Blood Chapter is up.  And I finally collected all the back posts on the Elf Blood page for your reading convenience.  Kindly remember is first draft and continuity can get dodgy in these serials.  I’ll fix before I put it up for sale.

119 responses to “So… Sunday

  1. Grumpy Cat: “I took over the world once. It was awful.”

  2. It was about five years from a lot of musicians going indie before the authors started the experiment. With movies I give them five to ten years. It takes a while to get started. Plus if you go online, people are putting together comedy, soaps, and other shows that are not connected to TV. I see it in the beginning stages already.

    But I was very upset when they called our generation Boomer Two (heard this on TV yesterday). Lost GENERATION anyone? And yes – I have a volcano burning inside me.

    • Yes, there are quite a few up-and-coming actors, producers, effects artists, etc. who have a purely online presence. I love checking out some of the effects-focused filmmakers on YouTube like Freddie Wong and Corridor Digital. That bunch in particular have gone so far as to produce an online series akin to a television show, though I haven’t had time to watch it yet. There are some fantastic animators putting their material on YouTube as well. On the other hand, no one I know of is doing that sort of thing for feature-length stuff – feature-length indie still seems to be tied to the old distribution models: brick-and-mortar theaters and film festivals. The time and resource investment may be out of reach for the really small operators, I don’t know. On the gripping hand, the independent creators as a whole are making progress, and that is hopeful regardless of the time-frame.

      • Yes – progress, however small. I need to make that a mantra.

      • With the nearly complete conversion of exhibitors to digital projection the opportunities for a breakthrough in distribution grow. “Back in the day” the costs of producing multiple prints of a film and promoting the opening were often as much as the cost of an independent film’s production. Now, with digital? The problems to be resolved are promotion and getting payment for exhibition rights (aka: avoiding bootlegging.)

        I bet some smart folk are already working the kinks out on that.

        The boom in multiplex theatres means they almost always have a screen available for taking a chance on an “unknown” product. Sundance (or a conservative equivalent — imagine if the NRA membership got behind an anti-Michael Moore and pushed) and Netflix (see: Mitt: The movie — Howie Carr, Boston Herald) or Amazon (Harry Bosch fans are looking forward to the Michael Connelly produced adaption) are creating alternate distribution systems and alternate income streams — Amazon is reportedly counting on a boost in purchases of the Harry Bosch books to recoup the costs.

        Ironic — the conversion to digital distribution was pushed through by the studios & distributors and may be their death knell.

        • I wonder if there might not be a “gentleman’s agreement” between the Hollywood distributors and the multiplex owners. Something along the lines of “you won’t show non-Hollywood films on more than x% of your screens each year or you won’t get next year’s blockbuster.” I’d love to see a Congressional committee dedicated to rooting through the Hollywood system and airing out all the dirty laundry.

          Of course, Hollywood has some pretty substantial advantages even beyond possible illegal actions. There’s an entire infrastructure there, everything from sound stages and prop warehouses to a workforce trained and experienced at everything from acting to catering in a remote desert location. Plus the social networks that allow ideas to connect with the money and tradesmen necessary to bring them to life. The internet can help with the latter, but there’s quite a bit more friction in setting up a kickstarter than calling a guy who knows a guy and prepping your elevator pitch.

          • Previously I think the technical end was vertically integrated, as in the whole shebang was funded and owned by the production company. I understand. now. that a lot of the tech end is being farmed out to indy contractors to save on labor and equipment costs and taxes. Say you want to do a on-site filming and you need to light it You hire one small company that has the equipment to light indoors and they sub contract the equipment and crew for the outdoors lighting, and they bring along another company that does outside night illumination, and so on.
            I wonder if the business is getting slow enough that the high-end subs are starting to wonder if they should be working for themselves exclusively, or drumming up work in Indys.

      • At this point, at least half of the TV I watch is pure online presence.

        “Sheila wait, go back! Why do you have six pedals?”

        And then there is the Yogcast team:
        Volts: The Bomb:
        Or, why you don’t spawn in random explosives just to see what happens…

      • Wuzgonna say, “Felicia Day.”

        Being somewhat conversant with the major, capital costs involved in making a movie, I’m always amazed at the quality of production values these small, independent, shoestring operations can achieve.

        But, like a nearsighted batter hitting endless foul balls gets told, if they could just get some wood on the ball and straighten it out, (i.e., figure out how to make money at it), sky’s the limit, baby. Sky’s the limit.


  3. BTW glad you were just tired and not sick. I spent the last two weeks trying to survive this flu. I am on the tail-end now. (Hubby brought it home for work). This one wasn’t fun.

  4. chickens went by the same slang term

    That puts me in mind of teaching a young American man years ago how to shop for groceries in Brasil. Part of that lesson was to ask for chicken meat and not for a chicken. Given that the fellow was a visiting Christian missionary, the results would have been exceptionally awkward.

    As far as the growth of indie in film/television, does anyone know how things are going with Declaration Entertainment? It seemed like a promising model with some decent-or-better film concepts, but I’ve not had the cash to spare to participate, so I haven’t kept track.of their progress.

  5. Love the Pinky and the Brain pic.

    As to London, housing and huh? It’s an incentive and market dynamics question. And progressives never look at incentives and decry market dynamics. An understanding of incentives in human nature undercuts their programs in the first generation, and freely moving market dynamics mark them as obsolete even faster.

    On indie video (‘TV’, Features, Big Screen), I think sooner rather than later. While it is a very much outside the mainstream movement right now, tech has enabled a lot of people to play and folks are learning new ways and new venues all the time. There’s a great deal going on in the wilds of the internet that Hollywood/The Networks are oblivious to, but some of it percolates up and they try to copy and paste to plus up their old model. But — they don’t get it, so they foul it up. And each time they foul it up, people can compare and contrast big money Holly/Works and independents — the independents are gonna smear ’em.

    And commiserations on the feline troubles. It’s hard to watch friends go through sickness, knowing there’s nothing you can do. Even harder when you’re responsible for them, and they can’t tell you all about it. Wishes of wellness en route. And I’ll toss in wealth and happiness while I’m about it.

  6. Birthday girl

    The nickname thing reminds me of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo characters, who would identify people by physical characteristics. According to the novels, in Navajo culture, one’s name is too important to use casually, so nicknames are used. Things like Ponytail or Blue Shirt or Baldy or whatnot. I kinda liked that.

    • Or callsigns. I have yet to meet someone who didn’t start out with a callsign that wasn’t 1) insulting, 2)stupid or 3) absolutely off the wall. Then you earn a different one. I got tagged with “The Hat” because that’s all you can see of me in a crowd due to my having been, let us say, built for maximum wind resistance through low elevation.

      • Birthday girl

        I like that. I hope it was used affectionately…

      • Yep, I grew up around several guys that I knew only by their nicknames/CB handles, often times not knowing their real names for years. Often times these were descriptive and mildly insulting, like Tubby (come to think of it, I have known him for over twenty years and still don’t know his first name) The Honky-tonk man, etc. Others were just descriptive, like Red Dog (he raised red dogs), Stump Rancher (Christmas tree farmer) or obscure off the wall, I was known as Possum because that is what my dad called me as a little tyke, and when you get three Travis’s together they need differentiated somehow, and a friend of mine’s wife is Griz (no idea where that came from). Others would be fightin’ words if used by someone not a friend, I’ll skip examples of them other than to say at least a couple were derogatory racial slurs.

        • My dad’s nickname, that I assume he got in the Navy (I never asked) was simply “Blackie”. Everyone called him that for many years, though of course today I’ve been told that’s a bad thing, even though it was based on last name, not ethnicity.

    • This attribute of the Politically Correct brings to mind a scene from No Time For Sergeants:

      There is a set-up sequence with Stockton’s buddy, Ben Whitledge (played by Nick Adams) which I wish was readily available.

    • When I was learning Gaelic we watched a funny show for language learners, the premise of which was if you went to the Gaeltacht (Gaelic-speaking area in the highlands) pretty much everyone in a town would all have the same last name and first names weren’t much help either, lacking variety. So in reality, some little towns have phone directories where everyone is *listed* by their nickname. Since looking for Donald MacDonald gets you eleventy prospects, but Donald Dhubh (Black Donald) is unique. Also funny, because the nickname might have been earned a long time ago (Young Donald got his name back in the 1920s, Wee Donald is now 6’3″, etc.)

      • My visitors from overseas would arrive at the village and blithely ask for Antonio Almeida’s house, only to be turned away with “there’s no one of that name here” even when they added his daughter’s name.
        They’d then find a phone both and call. After we stopped laughing, we’d say “Ask for Antonio Batateiro” (Of the potatoes.) My great great grandmother owned a potato distribution warehouse for some 20 years, see? Since then (more than 100 years ago) the family has had no more to do with potatoes than can be found on the plate, but that was (before the village was taken over by the city) what everyone knew the family as. NO ONE KNEW let alone cared about the last name. And the family had lived there forever.

        • Many years ago my parents spent some time playing rancher in Oklahoma in the ’80’s. When I was driving out to see them, I stopped to ask directions and finally figured out that the locals called their property the “old Miller farm”. When I looked at the chain of title, someone named MIller had last owned the property in the early ’50’s.

          • This was typical where I grew up, and still is fairly typical here. I recall growing up there was “the Stewart Place”, where we used to go pick fruit out of the old homestead orchard. When talking to the owners and some of the locals I discovered that no one alive could recall when the place was ever owned by someone named Stewart, including the people who had owned it for forty years. And some of those I talked to were well into their eighties.

            • In western Finland families didn’t have surnames until the 20th century. People were known by the name of the house or the farm they lived on. My grandfather used a different surname when he moved to America, when he came back with a family and bought a farm they started using that name. Then the official system started to demand that people have permanent surnames, and so people got tagged with the name of the place they happened to live on at the time as that. So I know for sure that most people here with the same surname are not related to my family.

              One end result was that I didn’t figure out until I was about 30 that the ‘Grandpa Lahti’ my father and aunts and uncles occasionally mentioned was my great grandfather. Lahti wasn’t his original surname either, he had started with ‘Savilahti’, then dropped the ‘Savi’ part at some time. I don’t know if his official surname was that, or the same as mine when he died because he had moved in with my grandfather at some point, but he was from a different part of the country where the surnames had already been permanently attached to families. As for my more distant relatives, since ‘Savilahti’ is one of the rarer surnames in the country I suppose there is a good chance that maybe even most of the people called that are. Some others in that part of the family also had also started to use just ‘Lahti’, but they would be harder to find since that surname is fairly common.

              Heh. I would have been interested in knowing more about family history and such things, unfortunately my family was never particularly interested in talking about those, my father least of all. I don’t think he even knows much. What I have are some bits and pieces, and most of them I got from one aunt who had married into the family.

              • Okay, should maybe add this, going by the name of the house was the common practice in the countryside, due to obvious reasons city folk more often had a surname which they had gotten from their father, or by marriage.

      • Clorinda Madsen

        I’ve lived in multiple places where I tell people my address and they can’t place it. These are neighbors. People who have lived there for years. When I tell them, it’s the old Marcum place, or Wright place, they know exactly where I am.

  7. The other half of that using characters of color in historic settings where they would have stood out is that there are those real stories which could be turned into damn fine films – like the story of that mulatto Dumas, or that slave who escaped and became a very successful deputy U.S. Marshal (or, since it seems a lot of the real wild west cowboys actually were black, how about something like one of those classic western stories about a long cattle drive, only with a black cowboy hero?), or that other slave who became a Russian nobleman.

    But instead of telling those stories – or inventing new characters who resemble those real historical ones – they just keep casting a POC actor into a role but treating the character pretty much exactly the same as if he/she was still played by a white person.

    • I’ve noticed that too. Of the three Musketeers, it is d’Artagnan who is the dark and swarthy one. If you’re goign to have Will Smith play a musketeer, have him play the Gaston.

      It is as though they want minority characters, but they never want to do one that has any real dramatic role.

    • You know the acronym POC generally stands for something different, although there are plenty of actors in Hollywood who fit the standard acronym also.

      • I do have hated that acronym since I first saw it. First, yes, lots of other meanings attached to it, and second, at least to me the way you’d pronounce it first brings to mind pock, as in pustule. If the people who dreamed up ‘person of color’ and started pushing the use of the acronym were trying for something neutral or maybe positive, they chose badly, that acronym was so, so prone to be used as a pejorative from the beginning that you start to suspect that maybe they really weren’t trying for a neutral expression. On the other hand, it seems to be, right now, what can be used when you want to indicate everybody who is not white in shorthand, without getting piled on by the professionally offended (if one happened to notice) so I do sometimes use it. While cackling internally.

        • And grouping people like that is necessary – generally speaking I don’t give a damn what race anybody is as long as they share my values and don’t make a number of their looks themselves (I am, however, afraid I can be pretty prejudiced when it comes to some cultures, and I do, of course, find some looks more attractive than others – for example I happen to find some shades of dark skin to be quite visually pleasing, while I don’t particularly like wide noses). Except in one way. How we look tends to be the way we identify each other when we see each other so yes, if I’m for example about to meet somebody for the first time I’d like to know what I’m going to be looking for. Or if I’m trying to tell what somebody not well known to a third party said or did in some situation when that third party was not present damn well the first thing I will tell that third party is going to be something like ‘it’s that black lady’ if the lady in question happens to be black. And in that kind of situations having a word for the race – race as ‘a group of people with a similar look’ – really is rather important.

          The fact that something like ‘POC’ exists, as a stand-in for nonwhite is kinda, well, still rather obsessive about the white race, though. Is ‘nonwhite’ really so insulting that you need a different word, or an acronym, for that? I think the reason given is that ‘nonwhite’ describes somebody as not what they are instead of what they are, but when you are talking about something where defining somebody as not being something, like ‘this is a character from a period in history when somebody non-whatever would have really stood out’ the ‘not something’ really is the defining part, isn’t it? And in any case, ‘person of color’ is still lumping most of humanity, several different groups who don’t all have that much in common with each other besides being humans, into one pile, and whatever you then call them you are still defining them just by the fact that they are not white.

  8. Prayers for the princess.
    I ran across a fact I hadn’t known on line, another Dumas movie adaptation you can check out. Or avoid. “Days of Heaven,” one of the better American art movies and perhaps the most beautifully photographed movie ever, is loosely based on Milady de Winter’s backstory, set in mid America during the Depression. Milady, the priest, Athos as the landowner… it actually fits pretty well.

  9. Is this the Three Musketeers or a spin-off of Firefly? Because that’s what the costumes remind me of more than anything. Although I’ll take Milady’s dress, size [redacted], same color.

    • It’s the musketeers. Supposedly. Watch — as in Disney — Milady being a misunderstood victim.

      • Does anyone know how much did they actually use leather in clothes back in the days of the Musketeers? Or any other historical era for that matter? During the last couple of decades or so it seems every historical hero gets dressed in leather – leather trousers, leather vests, leather jackets, dark brown or black leather, possibly with metal decorations, studs or something, here and there.

        (I was active in the SCA for well over a decade, but since who I am there is a lady from the 10th century version of what is now southern Finland I have a pretty good idea of what is known of European clothing styles from that time, and a little bit of 16th century because I used that garb too for a while before choosing the earlier era, but pretty much nothing after that, beyond what you can get by seeing paintings or taking a casual look in some well illustrated history books. Besides, even when it comes to that era I have studied what I do know is mostly just how women dressed anyway.)

        • In the era of the musketeers and growing until a century later there was a lot done with buckskin — but cotton and wool were way more common and cheaper.

          • Heh. Probably all that dark leather will point out the era of these movies as well to people looking at them in the future as the green tights Errol Flynn wore as Robin Hood mark that movie as a product of its time. Admittedly the costumes have gotten better with time, they are now quite a bit closer to what you see in paintings than they once were, but the fashions of the time when something is made still do show pretty well, at least after what was popular then no longer is. And even better indicator than costumes is usually the make-up on the women.

          • Cotton and wool cheaper? Really? I certainly can’t dispute such a claim, but I would have thought that leather was something used by peasants, being a leftover from butchering various meat animals.

            On the other hand, cleaning and tanning leather is a bit of work, so maybe not.

            • No. Cleaning and tanning leather properly is EXPENSIVE. I think that is the “normal” reasoning and why all these people in pre-modern societies wear leather.
              Also, peasants who “butchered” animals mostly butchered rabbits and chickens. You’re thinking pioneers, not peasants. Game animals weren’t that common in Europe, particularly not in early-industrial society, and meat was a small part of diet.

              • Ah. The way I was thinking of it (not having the actual historical information), was those who raised an provided meat for the upper class having the hides to do something with, and selling them off. I figured that, being a waste product, untanned hides would go cheaply, and that they would be useful, even if not prepared, “properly”.

          • My impression was that, in France and inland northern Europe, cotton was still mostly an imported fabric in the musketeers’ period, coming from India, Egypt, mostly woven in Italy and beginning to be woven in Britain. Linen would still be pretty common in France – the Huguenots did linen-weaving as an industry – as an alternative to wool, I think. Wealth and religious discrimination would play a role in who would wear cotton in preference to linen.

            • I meant linen. Sorry — brain nor working. Actually most common was a mix of linen and wool which sounds… prickly.

              • I don’t know why but the mix of linen and wool is not kosher.

                By the way I’ve been reading Ludwig von Mises lately. Did you read him when you were younger? I noticed there were some Portuguese translations. He also had some wonderful things to say about the book/literary industry about 60 years ago.

        • Some of the trades used leather for heavy-duty clothes (blacksmith’s trousers and aprons, for example) that needed to be fire-resistant. I’ve also read about leather vests. But that’s about it for tanned cow-leather garments, from what I’ve read. What Sarah said about buckskin. (Buckskin was one of the major-minor exports from the southern colonies [Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia] prior to 1800.)

          • Anybody who has ever used cowhide gloves and gotten them wet, realizes as soon as they are dry why cowhide is a very poor choice to make a shirt out of. Buckskin and goat hide were much more popular choices for garments, because of their suppleness, on the other hand many societies at different times used cowhide or similar stiff, heavy leathers as a type of light armor.

  10. Clorinda Madsen

    The only time “color-blind” casting works is when they go totally color-blind and cast anybody who would work well in the part regardless of race/ethnic background. Usually works best in fantasy productions or musicals and plays. If there is just one token “color-blind” casting then it is absolutely NOT color-blind. They did it on purpose to show how progressive and forward thinking they were to highlight that “anybody could do a good job in that role.”

    • Disney kid that, sort of in the version of Cinderella where they cast Brandy Norwood as Cinderella, but they they made their random distribution of ethnicities very, very deliberately. It was so self-consciously “diverse” that it detracted from the production, IMHO.

      • Clorinda Madsen

        Very true, on the Disney/Rogers & Hammerstein Cinderella. I’m also thinking of various stage plays and musicals/operas where they really will pick the best available tenor or whatever to fill a part because they have the talent for it. For some reason, it works in The Phantom of the Opera or Les Mis to have a black or Chinese or Brazilian Phantom or Jean Val Jean even when the rest of the cast isn’t.

        Though from what I’ve been learning about Hollywood and Broadway, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there wasn’t some sort of score sheet producers needed to fill out. Do we have the right ethnic balance in the cast? Will this actor add to or detract from that balance? Have we found a way to fit in something multicultural to “appeal to the broader audience”? Should the multicultural thing be an actor in one of the main rolls? Or a place that the main characters visit? Etc.

  11. Interesting bit on subsidies driving the prices up. I recently read an essay that addressed that very item. It was one of the principal arguments in a pamphlet published in London in 1798 called _An Essay on Population_ by Thomas Malthus.
    Briefly, since he is wordy, he states that subsidizing the poor for their food is counterproductive because it only would drive up the demand, and so drive up the price, since it does not affect the basic element that would lower the price which is to increase the supply.

  12. Subsidies drive up prices, yes, especially when production can’t increase much if at all. It’s impossible to create more land in London, and there are serious obstacles to building more homes and apartments on existing land: regulations, greenbelt set-asides, etc. So subsidies to buy housing result in driving up the prices of land (which can’t be built) and existing structures (which it is difficult to build more of).

    There’s a more general point, that booms in “housing” are largely booms in land prices. Land prices go up and up in expectation of future increases, until they can’t go up any more; then they can’t stabilize, because they’re based on these expectations, rather than value for current use, so they crash, and you get a recession. That’s the basic cause of the boom and bust cycle.

  13. Hollywood. I’d say it would have been tougher to break Hollywood back under the Studio System days than it is today, but .. not really confident of that conclusion.

    The studio system was an external control – standards office, deal-making between the oligarchs, blackballing of the “problem children” – the system was more or less predictable, and – to an extent – possible to work around by going to television or back to the theatre.

    The current Hollywood system is an internal control – more like a theocracy than anything else. Mouth the right beliefs, show up at the right rites, and you get to work. Step outside, go heterodox, and .. you don’t get to work..

    The current system is also wider spread – the Studio System didn’t really control TV, certainly not the theatre – but the priesthood can make sure the only work an actor or actress can get is the “christian dinner theatre” set.

    That said .. I fully agree about third-generation-blight. It shows up in small businesses as well, you know – accounting firms have .. I won’t say “programs”, but – let’s say they see patterns in working with the transition of family businesses from the 2nd to 3rd generation .. transitions that often boil down to “Here’s the money, go away, we’ll take care of the business”.

    Hollywood is somewhat protected, in that young film wannabes go, like acolytes to the religious leadership, in film schools .. and if you don’t have film school cred, getting a job in the system is pretty tough.


    • not only going to film school, going to the right film school, or even going to the right school that has a film department…

      I have a film degree, and that and $4.53 will get me a mocha latte at CBTL.

  14. “I’m just getting sick — onto ARGH — of finding people of ethnicity that would not be at all common in the time and place the thing was written about, okay?”

    While I loved “The Desolation of Smaug”, there was a moment that snapped me out of the movie and nearly ruined any connect I had with the people of Laketown. There’s a crowd scene, and a handful of the women in the crowd are darker-skinned — Indian, maybe Maori, maybe some of both. But, wait, everyone we’d seen in Laketown up to then was pale-skinned with dark hair. Where did these women come from? Where are their children? Their parents? Brothers and sisters? Did Laketown men buy brides from down south? Something worse?

    Then it dawned on me that Peter Jackson was either putting some fans/friends/co-workers into the scene for their benefit (good for them) or trying to be “properly color balanced”.

    Still, bad movie-making. Imagine a movie about Shaka Zulu were half his tribe are played by Chinese actors…

  15. “I wonder when the equivalent of indie will start eating the cake of sclerotic Hollywood? My son says not inside twenty years, but he’s a stodgy and conservative young man.”

    I’d say, considering that by some definitions of “eating the cake…”, he wasn’t born yet when the impending death of Hollywood became obvious. Hell, there’s a credible argument to be made that YOU weren’t born yet when it got started.

    The only things keeping the studios even as powerful as they are now are the requirements, for most movies, of a lot of people and a lot of money. They still actually do control the “lot of money” part, but they haven’t really controlled the “lot of people” part for a generation. It sometimes looks like they do, but that’s mostly because the number of people who are really experienced and skilled at making movies isn’t that big, and they’re all pretty much part of the same social circles. For the bulk of movies nowadays (and indeed for decades now), the studio is more like an investor than a project manager. The organization of the people who actually do the work to get a particular movie made is already pretty ad-hoc.

    It’s classic disruption-from-below. All that remains to happen before it’s obvious to _everybody_ that the monolithic Hollywood culture is doomed, is for a few more people from inside it to turn “traitor” to their kind, the way Mel Gibson did with Passion of the Christ.

    • There probably are quite a lot of people outside of Hollywood who could become as good or better than the ones who now make movies, but since getting the needed experience and skill does take time and training, and the best place to get that training (as opposed to learning by yourself, which takes a lot more time and the end result may still never be quite as good) probably is still mostly in there, yep.

      And Hollywood still is very tempting, most of the people who start to stand out outside that system seem to end in there after a while.

      So I suppose what would be needed is some financiers willing to risk unknowns, some well trained defectors who can then start training people outside the system, and then maybe one or two really big hits everybody notices by people who will not afterwards accept the offers by the big studios but will stay independent before the actual landslide may start to happen. Which probably means it could either happen tomorrow or it will take decades, and in the latter case there may never be an actual landslide but it will rather be one of those slow creep things where somebody just someday notices that hey, actually the new system is now more relevant than the old system, when did that happen?

      • The independent revolutions in publishing and music were enabled by technology, but the sentiment for individual producers to ‘leave the labels’ was always there. TV and Bigscreen have a slightly different cultural expectation, and the pressure to get out of Hollywood/Networks is starting from a smaller base. So I expect the shift to lag significantly. Which it has, but the lag, I believe, is drawing to an end.

        The other complication is cost. The various technologies used in Bigscreen productions are expensive. Just isolating to camera tech, there are multiple variations on equipment and accessories specifically designed for various effects and scene framings, and that stuff costs, some of it costs big. But, I think we’ll start seeing the same shifts (already are, to a small extent) in digital motion photography that we saw in still photography. As the cost of tech production decreases manufacturers will make more advanced feature sets available to the ‘amateur’. The more people buying the advanced feature sets the more the tech cost is subsidized and the faster the costs of production come down. Until people are walking around with ridiculously powerful pocket cameras to snap pictures of the dogs in the bath (can’t be kids in the bath, that’s porn nowadays). And the people so inclined take those pocket powerhouses and go do great photography with them.

        I suspect the slower commercial to consumer development will lie in accessories: steadicam rigs, track-sleds, camera booms, etc. Fewer amateurs to amortize the costs over.

        Others have noted, this shift is indeed occurring in small parts on the internet, and Netflix and such are now producing their own series, mini-films for online release are being done. I’ve caught a piece of a combined media bit that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been doing, HitRecord which is taking motion photography from fan submittals, professional shoots, animation, etc. and producing a variety show. People are exploring, and like much of ‘art’ the crowdsourcing will bend the direction. And now the technology can keep larger chunks out of the hands of the Hollywood/Network fossils.

        Or so my pre-lunch brain surmises.

        • There’s a lot of people with steadicams. I’ve seen a number of productions with completely steady camera motion. Track-sleds rely on, well, tracks, though I think programmed RC vehicles may work well. There’s a lot that can be done without such large equipment as currently used, too. Think steadicam mounted on one of the larger drone vehicles, though that would probably only work for shots where the sound could be dubbed in later.

          • And Wayne demonstrates! Yay!

            Yeah, the in-camera image stabilization tech is amazing, and always improving. I don’t know one way or the other whether or not it can fully match a steady-cam rig — yet. The RC vehicle is a fantastic demonstration of what people are coming up with, and I’ve seen some stuff on using aerial RC’s to replicate boom-rig shots. The increasing miniaturization of digital photography facilitates this. As to sound, it’s usually decoupled from the cameras so, no impediment there.

            I think, as always happens and as you demonstrate, that multiple people will come up with multiple solutions that we can’t predict and the future will be wonderful. And it won’t take 20 years IM(purportedly)HO.

            • I want one of the BlackMagic pocket Cinema cameras… not that i have as much use for it anymore….

          • I wonder how successful mounting a stedi-cam on a a wheelbarrow that you could run down a chalked line laid would be? It would be easier to modify a pan on the fly than using a track, and could use rougher ground than a mechanic’s creeper or a small cart.
            Are you talking about putting a cam on a quad-copter? Those could do the boom-work very cheaply.

      • Sarah likes to talk about how the old model for ‘going into work’ for most office jobs isn’t valid anymore… well, I don’t think it is in VFX either. It wouldn’t even require artists to have the client’s proprietary data on their systems- something that makes producers everywhere quake in fear about leaks (tho leaks of VFX shots are usually interns on the production side, not VFX people)- or even require the employees to have their own copies of all of the software (high end VFX software, especially that used in top-of-the-line feature films, can get insanely expensive…. the 3d painting software most used on feature films costs $2000, and the primary high-end compositing application costs $8000) because remote desktop software (thanks to developments from NVIDIA) mean you can use those packages remotely. The data and the software can be hosted on severs wherever electricity is cheapest, and the employees can be anywhere in the world that they can get a fast enough internet connection to be able to do the work. (It starts getting really usable at 10 megabits per second, but higher is better… it tops out at something like thirty megabits). Imagine living in the ‘lowest cost of living’ area (say, Nebraska) and working ‘from home’ for Digital Domain (in Venice, CA) on servers in, say, Utah. Yes, I know the Pohjalainen won’t like my US bias, but looking through the entirety of Europe for power prices isn’t how I was planning on spending my morning… That and most European countries seem to pay between twice and four times the 8 US cents per KWh that you get in Utah.

        • Nothing against an US bias. You do several things better – or in smarter ways – than the people on my side of the ocean, and yep, a lot of things are more expensive here. 🙂

          Something which might be cheaper to do in some parts of Europe would probably be exactly what now gets done there, filming on location. Especially for some types of historical and fantasy productions. East Europe is cheaper at least for now, cheaper extras and actors and crews. And the landscapes can be spectacular and there are real castles, old towns and quaint villages which already look like the set build for some fantasy story (to people who don’t live in them) so a lot can be filmed without that much of a need for special effects shots or building whole sets which can save quite a bit when it comes to expenses.

          • A lot of Eastern Europe has nice tax breaks too, and the crews are getting more and more experienced.

          • Re. “quaint villages.” I read an ad for a travel package to go look at fortified churches in Transylvania that said more-or-less, “these are going to be demolished or turned into Disney-esque attractions soon. Now’s your chance.” (They tap-danced around why the Romanian govt would not be interested in preserving ethnic Saxon and Hungarian village churches.) A different ad, for a tour of Bohemia, referred to the effects of the Communist period on major cultural sites as “slightly acidic aspic” i.e. gentle deterioration but otherwise preserved. (As compared to bulldozed a’ la Bucharest.)

            • Yep. The villages and such wont last long. That happened here too. Finns could do historical films without bothering to build much in the way of sets sixty years ago because there were still plenty enough old farm houses and even parts of villages which had been build maybe half a century earlier but in styles which had been fairly similar to those used in previous centuries. They were something a historian could see was not from the 17th or 18th century but they looked good enough for the audiences watching those films. But hardly anybody wanted to live in those buildings when it became possible for them to get something more modern. So if somebody here wants to film something which happens in a small 18th century village now they may very well have to build a set. There are some old buildings left but finding something which the owners would be willing to rent for that purpose is a lot harder, and the rent is going to be way more.

              • And by the way, my people have been pretty bad when it comes to bulldozing. There used to be some truly gorgeous looking buildings where I live, but renovating and modernizing them would have cost more than tearing them down and building something new so a lot of them were torn down during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

                Okay, I do not have the opinion that something is of high value simply because it’s old, but unfortunately there was a long period of time, several decades, when what got built to replace those beautiful older buildings was often just plain ugly (and often not of very good quality either). Especially when compared to what they had replaced. At least what has been built during the last decade and are being build now are starting to look slightly more pleasing to the eye than the Soviet-style blocks of the previous decades.

                • *grin* I’ve heard the Soviet-style architecture described as “Stalin baroque” and “Khrushchev eclectic,” depending on when it was built. Yeah, 90% of anything else is better than those. And no one wants to use them to film movies, either. Can’t imagine why . . . 😉

                    • I don’t connect to things the way other people do – could you elaborate on why they made you ill? I’m not sure which facet you are thinking of. I can see possible ways of making connections that would do that, but I’m interested to understand your reaction.

                      I don’t want anyone to think that I believe there’s anything wrong with that – I really just don’t understand most of the time when people tell me they have certain reactions to various things.

                    • How that architecture is wonderful, and how great the buildings are. I have seen these advancing in Portugal — EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

                    • Thanks. I wasn’t sure if that was it, or if it was because of some emotional response to what the buildings represented, or exactly what.

                    • One question is of course how many of those commenters really, truly like those buildings, and how many are just trying to be ‘edgy’

                      ‘No sharing opinions with the commoners, so if they find this ugly I, with my special insight, am going to see the beauty hidden to their eyes…’ Of course it’s not all of the artsy people, but some of them really do seem to pigeonhole things on reflex in that way, at least when that something is new: popular with ordinary people = bah, it’s kitschy and cheap, not real art. Unpopular = Oooh… so real, so, so… (faints). 😀

                    • YES!

                      I cannot adequately express the irritation I felt in art courses at the intellectual justifications for BAD. I’ve done bad art, sometimes working through the process is more important than the result. But I didn’t take the bad result and try to talk it up to revolutionary. Yech.

                    • Heh. I can relate to that. Part of my attitude is also due to some of the courses I have taken throughout the years. Especially a couple where I had thought I was going to get actual instruction in techniques and such, but got something which seemed more like some combination of art appreciation class/art therapy instead. Waste of good money.

                    • Yeah, more than one technical art class that turned out to be a bit — vague on actual technique has come my way. Money, gone.

                    • Some of the stuff in that story isn’t that bad. Honestly, paint some of that stuff red and put it on the cover of Amazing Stories pre-WW II and you’d sell copies.

                    • Yes, but the reality of living in it!

                    • I didn’t read the comments, the article was enough to set the tone (*hangs head* I’m sorry I didn’t do the homework).

                      Couple of things going on there, I think: brutalist modern architecture lends itself nicely to B&W architectural photography, can make for interesting architectural abstracts. And then none of the people who love it have ever been inside, much less lived in it. They were designed for efficiency, all right. The efficient shoddy use of substandard materials to build boxes at some randomly determined optimum size for the storage of humans. NOT for living. The author harps on maintenance as a cause for disrepair, with a mention about many being built quickly post-war and not intended to last. Hah! Crap melts in the rain, folks. Maintenance or no.

                      That modern architects are looking to this shoddy shyte for inspiration is telling. And it’s telling me a lot of modern architects are idiots. But I’ve got family that’s been in construction for decades (and generations) so I already knew that…

                    • Oh yeah. Hipster architectural history tourism indeed. Sorry, I was one of hundreds of thousands who danced a little jig when they finally got rid of the Communist Party headquarters in former East Berlin, as much for aesthetics as for the symbolism. I understand that in some places there is a need for mass housing blocks, but shoddily-built blank concrete towers surrounded by concrete boulevards do not encourage the soul. Especially when you make no efforts to improve on said blocks of apartments, ever.

                    • Improvements discouraged. Individualism discouraged. Soul discouraged. State issues all needed. Needing more is treason to State.

                    • I’m one of those people who look at functionality first. Frankly I could care less how ugly the building is, I see it a lot of truth in the saying, “pretty is as pretty does.” Unfortunately what those buildings do rather efficiently, is fall apart.
                      And I would actually like to work with the architect that used that construction as an inspiration. As a surveyor I find squares, tangents and right angles much more attractive than spiral curves with multiple PRC’s. Apparantly our architects out West are apparently behind the times, they still think random curves (both vertical and horizontal) are more pleasing, and if you simply must have an angle connecting two tangents, make sure it is not 90 degrees.

      • “the new system is now more relevant than the old system, when did that happen?”

        That’s what disruption from below generally looks like, all right. At first, some upstart comes along and starts taking over a trivial niche at the bottom of the dominant player’s market. The dominant player, seeing that the niche is trivial, doesn’t bother adapting its own practices. Then the upstart gets better and better, taking over more and more of the market until eventually, the formerly dominant player discovers that where formerly the upstart was only preferred for a trivial niche at the bottom, now _they_ are only preferred for a trivial niche at the top. Even at my young age, I’ve seen it happen a bunch of times in the computer business:

        1. Hey, when did mainframes stop being a thing that mattered?
        2. Hey, when did minicomputers stop being a thing that mattered?
        3. Hey, when did workstations stop being a thing that mattered?
        4. (Almost complete now, but not quite) Hey, when did desktops stop being a thing that mattered?
        5. (Early stages, but its inevitability is obvious to anyone who knows the industry, or watches Microsoft’s pathetic attempts to be relevant in the mobile space) Hey, when did laptops stop being a thing that mattered?

        Like I said, making movies or TV shows that don’t suck is actually harder than it looks, and right now the skills are concentrated in one subculture. That’s changing. What remains of the Hollywood system has been irrevocably doomed since the moment that change began. But how long it’ll take the average Joe to _notice_ that Hollywood is doomed is a much harder question to answer. How long it’ll take those doomed studios to stop twitching and give up the ghost is more opaque still.

        IBM’s death warrant, after all, got signed and sealed in the early 1980s, but the corpse is still wandering around pretending it’ll deliver $20/share in 2015. (Digital Equipment, the dominant player until Phase 2, got bought by HP and quickly forgotten. Sun Microsystems, which dominated until Phase 3, is part of Oracle now, and isn’t quite forgotten yet, but is well on its way.)

        The film business is harder to enter successfully than the computer business, largely because in addition to talent, it’s often taken a lot of capital expenditure to gamble on inherently risky projects. But the dominance of the giant studio players has been diminishing since 1948, (before which, “independent film” exclusively meant that nobody but the friends and family of the production team would ever see it), and diminishing _rapidly_ for 20-odd years (since “independent film” became a moderately popular genre unto itself, and distributors started regularly picking up properties at film festivals and showing them in suburban multiplexes) so it’s not exactly surprising that we’re finally starting to see some cracks big enough to be noticed by outsiders. 🙂

        • ok this one get ‘notes’…

          workstations still matter. Sure, they are PC workstations, but they are still workstations. alot of the VFX you see, still gets done on workstations, as does most of the editing. Despite that you *can* do it on an off-the-shelf ‘gaming’ PC, that isn’t the fastest or most efficient way of getting it done. That gaming PC usually runs out of processing power or memory long before a workstation does.

          (note: I have worked at a couple of VFX studios, and most of the writing I do these days is workstation reviews…)

          • Different definitions of “matter”. 🙂

            To the people who still use them, of course they do still matter. The same could even still be said of mainframes.

            But the days when the companies that made them were powerful enough to impose their will on the whole industry, or important enough for their boardroom antics to regularly be the subject of features in the national business press are over a decade past. Not to mention that the people who buy them no longer think that they’re purchasing a mainstream product, but rather something designed for their niche, and integrated by specialists.

            • My husband and his co-workers use laptops. They are power users so I don’t think that tablets would have the necessary features. His current laptop — paid for by his employer– is small and light.

              • In 5 years, tablets will have everything a current laptop user, even a power user, will need, except:

                1) Display size (though glasses/goggles may make that work)
                2) Full-sized keyboard (though a tabletop-projected keyboard is already available)

                In 10 years, this limitation will apply to smartphones, and voice recognition will be able to learn to understand even people with accents as thick as Sarah’s. (Oh, HI, Sarah! Uh, wasn’t talking about you at all… No, uh, what are you doing with that carp? Bye!)

                • Oh, and possibly a digitizer, but the tabletop-projected keyboard may be able to work for that, too.

                • Dell has a hint of a cross-over, the XPS 18. It’s a desktop all in one with the 18″ screen — that picks up as a stand-alone tablet. Things are a-changing (as usual).

  16. On Hollywood losing its grip to indie:

    It has already started.

    submitted as evidence:

    Also submitted: all the Hollywood people currently having kittens over work moving out of Hollywood, blaming it all on tax subsidies when most of the tax subsidies in other states have caps on them and people keep filming in the other locations even when the subsidies are exhausted…

    (and there is a certain segment among VFX workers who thing that the solution for VFX work going outside Hollywood is to unionize… ignoring that productions are filming out of state so they can avoid the unions in the first place… and considering the sheer number of them that have worked on non-union films, and some have even written or directed or produced non-union films, i think this is ridiculous)

  17. Gaaah. Not looking forward to this newest bad rehash of the Musketeers. For me, the Only True Musketeers will always & only be Richard Lester’s movies from the early 70’s, altho’ the latest movie (with steampunk airships-of-the-line) was fun. BTW for those who wondered about 17-century clothing, Lester’s version is very accurate in nearly all regards. Linen, silk, wool with leather only for accessories like gloves and boots. And hats. Where are the BBC guys’ hats?

  18. The editing software that was used for “The King’s Speech”, Braveheart, and “Mrs Doubtfire, is only $60 a year for licensing the Pro version.

    That’s in reach of must anyone wanting to make movies.

    It will take multiple formats (mixed cameras) and does the same job (or better) than the high dollar spread.

    • Lightworks went open source, and ;freemium’, partly because it wasn’t setlling for its previous price anymore. (BTW, ‘pro support’, i.e. telephone and email tech support for Lightwaorks, is $595/yr.) It has largely been replaced in feature film usage by Avid and Final Cut Pro (for years, hence why more of the list of films edited with it is mostly nineties films.) And now because Apple made such a botch of FCP X, people are moving to Premiere. (Esppecially since Premiere introduced GPU acceleration.)

      And editing high-quality HD video still pretty much requires a workstation-class PC, even if its really an overbuilt gaming PC with lots of storage… you’re still not going to be editing a feature on your laptop. You’re still talking about needing huge amounts of storage…. color me skeptical.

      • All-in, though, you’re still talking about less than the price of a minivan, and for a capital purchase that can then be used on multiple projects. They have to exist, but not everybody who wants to make a movie using them needs to buy such a rig, any more than everybody who wants to fabricate objects need to buy their own machine shop.

        • That just boils down to whether you want to make something professional-quality and saleable, or something middling quality that you can earn 1 cent per view on your monetized YouTube channel.

          People like to use Blair Witch Project as an example, forgetting that between $500,000 and $750,000 was spent doing final color correction, finessing the audio, and upconverting it for theatrical screening.

          (A new workstation set up for editing a feature-length film is going to cost about the same as a good used minivan. An off-lease one, with a new graphics card and some more storage thrown in, considerably less, but you should still figure on putting one or two thousand dollars into an editing system…)

          • Well, if your retort was that I (or the would-be filmmaker) should plan on putting one or two MILLION dollars into an editing system, then I’d agree that we were talking about a barrier sufficient to keep the big studios relevant. But as long as the job can get properly done with five-figures (even high five-figures) worth of hardware and software, I’ll still contend that the real limitation isn’t the cost of gear, but the cost (and more generally, the relative shortage) of people qualified to make professional-level _use_ of that gear.

            And just like with machine tools in a hackerspace, the hardware and software are eminently amenable to being incorporated into a shared-workspace arrangement, so that people who aren’t yet ready to branch out and do this stuff professionally can nevertheless have an opportunity to learn, without having to spend all the bucks to buy their own kit.

            • sure, but the barrier to a film editing system hasn’t been ‘one or two million’ for a decade and a half now.
              (btw, the entire paradigm fifteen years ago as well… you didn’t ‘buy an editing system’ and an editor didn’t ‘own an editing system’- you ‘hired an editor’ and ‘rented an editing suite’)
              Comparison to a hackerspace?
              I don’t think there would be much group work on an editing system when a single person needs to hog the entire system for days and weeks on end, and about 25% of the time they aren’t ‘on’ the system, the system is locked up rendering an edit… even *with* GPU acceleration. One video edit with minor color correction and a corner pin from SIGGRAPH- running time 19m 32s- took overnight to encode to h.264 for YouTube (which, by the by, uses similar settings to what you’d use to author a Blu-Ray)