Monday, March 12, 2012

Static and Noise: Disney Out In the First Round

Glitterati, Redux: I wonder if the film industry is due for another shakeup. They are dealing with a business model that has few tools to combat piracy; thankfully two factors have helped them: Netflix/Redbox/etc. and 3D. Netflix has provided a cheap alternative to piracy, while 3D films (and other special-effects laden movies) require butts in seats. But is the thrill over? The expected blockbuster John Carter was a colossal flop over this past weekend, echoing last years dismal showing of Mars Needs Moms. Both films, produced by Disney, required writedowns for their earnings expectations. No longer can studios expect overseas profits to bail them out of big-time action flicks; in the past, they could always count on the rest of the world to make up the loss (since action films translate into any language). The biggest markets, such as India, Europe, and China, have caught on, and so expenses have risen as well as the revenues. The industry has had flops before, but the sure things not even five years ago no longer are.

Bracket Time: It's March Madness time, and I...don't care. I enjoy sports, but as I've mentioned many times, I don't care for basketball, I am iffy on baseball, and college sports of any sort--including football--bore me senseless. Besides my philosophical opposition to the nature of college sports, I just find it boring. There are too many teams, they aren't picked based on merit, and the one-and-done aspect makes it less of a test of skill and more a random crapshoot of high expectations. I used to do the college/office pools and basically randomly picked teams, but it ended up just being a complete waste of money and time so I stopped.

Same As It Ever Was: My post yesterday about the presidential primaries sparked me researching the 1912 election, one of the few where there were three viable candidates (former president Theodore Roosevelt, New Jesery Governor Woodrow Wilson, and sitting president William Howard Taft) and one decent third (fourth?) party candidate (socialist Eugene V. Debs). A very good book, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs--The Election that Changed the Country by James Chace has all of the details. Not only was it an interesting election, it was also one of those transitional times in our country where everything was defined in each of those candidates. That said, the one thing I can note is that nothing ever changes. The issues and faces change, but the same accusations, the same knee-jerk reactions to two words out of a thousand, and the same petty differences that end up having huge consequences were present back then as they are today. It's disappointing, but also alarmingly comfortable.

As an aside, the new season of After Hours starts today. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I get a kick out of it.

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