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Archive for the ‘television’ Category

If you are under 13, good. Stay here and learn this now, because body parts are body parts and the more you know about them the less scary they are. The less scary the less likely you are to misunderstand and misuse them.

Really, though, I know most people who read my blog are well past 13 and probably already know this. Still, I figure I’d better put it out there.

Last night I was watching a week-old episode of Conan on TiVo and he was talking about a woman who flashed her “vagina” on So You Think You Can Dance. I did whatever I do whenever anyone mentions a Celebrity Vagina Sighting. I looked it up on the internet. Because I know that rumours of the Celebrity Vagina Sighting are greatly exaggerated. Despite all the glimpses of famous nether regions we’ve all been treated to in the last 10 years or so, I can’t think of a single time we’ve seen a vagina.

We have certainly seen pubic hair. And Labia Majora. Labia, which is Latin for ‘lips’ is also the name given to the two sets of folds concealing the actual VAGINA from the harsh outside world. Frankly, in order to see an actual vagina you need a) a woman’s permission and b) a very direct pose. You will no more see a candid shot of a vagina than you will a candid shot of a lung or a sinus or a medulla oblongata.

This is the female genito-urinary anatomy, as depicted in ASCII format because I’m on a borrowed computer and can’t upload a drawing and am not going to link to a picture in a medical textbook because I’m too lazy and too on a roll with the text writing. And also because I think ASCII depictions of anything are hilarious.

Anyway:

({B})

() These things are the Labia Majora. They are the large outside folds of skin, fatty deposits and muscle. Unless groomed or sexually immature they will have pubic hair on them.
{} These things are the Labia Minora. They are the small inside folds of skin, nerves, and blood vessels. They are called “minora” because they are thinner than the outside lips, but it is perfectly normal if they extend beyond the outside lips on some women.

Together these two sets of organs are the VULVA. And these are what you see in all those unfortunate crotch shots of stupid young girls who think fame is worth compromising your dignity.

B the top loop of the B is the urethra, where urine exits the body. The infamous clitoris sits atop the urethra, but I don’t know how depict that in ASCII. So just know for future reference that the top loop of the B is a busy place.

The bottom loop of the B is the actual vagina itself. It’s tucked away under quite a lot of things, as you can tell. This is where the penis goes during intercourse and where the baby leaves during a vaginal birth. This is also where menstrual blood leaves the body during a woman’s period, and where mucus discharge leaves the body before ovulation, after intercourse and (although thicker and a different colour) if a woman has a vaginal infection of fungus or bacteria.

If you are kind of squicked out reading this, I understand. We apparently don’t like to talk about this stuff, given the fact that a highly educated Harvard graduate who is the son of a doctor, married and the father of two children thinks that the Vulva is the vagina.

But still, I must set the record straight.

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Fringe and Flashforward

Guess what I watched on TiVo this weekend?

I am the worst sort of tv blogger in that most of my shows I watch long after they’ve aired. By the time I get around to them the water in the cooler is room temp. We were picked as a Nielsen family and that makes me nervous. I’m afraid shows we really get into but watch later won’t have as good a rating as they should. (mourning Arrested Development to this day)

Fringe was great. I vastly prefer the ones which are more about tge larger mythology and less about some skinless old man baby robbing a Sears in Poughkeepsie and then exploding into a ball of slimegoo. But that’s just me.

Flashforward, on the other hand…

This was the third episode. This was also the third or fourth (or fifth) time we got an extended monologue about how Everything is Different and Knowing The Future Upsets The Balance Of The Present. That same old chorus is getting to be the FF version of Baywatch’s music-and-mammaries video sequence. You can always count on it and it’s never as stirring once you’ve seen it before.

I still like the mysteries and the touches of humour. But I could do without the I-sing-the-body-electric sophomoric philosophizing. A little more Show and a little less Tell.

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In a conversation about the WGA Strike (no,this post isn’t about that…) a few days ago, Jackson Miller said that the true future of revenue in television was most likely in product placement. I’ve been re-reading that statement in my head over the last week, and I have to tell you. I think Jackson is dead-on. And I have to further tell you that I think I find product placement in my shows both entertaining and memorable. For the most part, that is.

I was watching NCIS [shut up! It’s a good show!] last night, and the Diet Coke product placement was both subtle and entertaining, but I remembered the product. Arrested Development‘s tie-ins with Burger King were hysterical and left me craving BK for a week afterward.

All of that being said, I am sick and tired of the product placement in the reality shows I watch. I’m not big on most reality TV because I just don’t find it all that entertaining, but I will cop to both Little People, Big World and Deadliest Catch. After last night, though, I’m about ready to cancel my season pass to LPBW. It’s been obvious for awhile that Matt Roloff is gaming the popularity of the show to cash in on endorsements and product placement. I started watching the show to see how someone with a unique condition faces the obstacles and challenges of daily life. I kept watching because I liked the family dynamic. But now? I can’t help but think all of the strategic product placement is ruining the show AND the kids. On the last episode there were 4 minutes devoted to watching Amy Roloff and two of the kids play with a new Wii. We even got a close-up of the box and a mention of the product name. A recent episode mentioned “Mountain Dew” about 11 times. [Don’t even get me started on all of the underwritten trips and home improvements that I initially whined about a year ago.]

I guess I don’t mind seeing products crop up in a subtle way when the show works them into the plot. But when the entire point of the show is diverted to such mindless pursuits as “watch us play with our Wiis!” then I feel like I’ve been tricked into an infomercial.

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Fight Your Own Battles

Oh please, Damon Lindelhof. Get real. You sound like a buggy whip maker outside the first Ford plant.

If television truly dies, you all are euthanising it with this strike.

But that’s not the point I want to make. The point that the libertarian in me is dying to make right now is that this is one of the stupidest statements I’ve read in a long time:

Most of all, I’m angry that I’m not working. Not working means not getting paid. My weekly salary is considerably more than the small percentage of Internet gains we are hoping to make in this negotiation and if I’m on the picket line for just three months, I will never recoup those losses, no matter what deal gets made.

But I am willing to hold firm for considerably longer than three months because this is a fight for the livelihoods of a future generation of writers, whose work will never “air,” but instead be streamed, beamed or zapped onto a tiny chip.

Honestly, this glory-hallelujah talk about future generations of writers is, frankly, absurd. It’s an arty extension of “do it for the CHIIIILDREN!” and it’s a naked quest to impart one’s life with meaning beyond his own temporal existence.

I find myself agreeing with the writers in the abstract. They do deserve fair remuneration for their work. I like to see merit-based pay scales, and that’s what residuals translate to–the better the show or film the more viewers it has and the greater the residual payout.

But all of this high-flown gab sounds increasingly like a large passel of drama queens who, very deep down, wish their life was more interesting than it is. It’s the same sort of reaction that drove me nuts about the whole Jena 6 thing. Many people currently have pretty comfortable lives. They aren’t faced with any direct hardship; we don’t even have a problem with strawberries being out of season anymore.

I suppose it’s natural to crave a bit of excitement and to want to feel as though you are part of a larger force for change. It’s why people go to church, volunteer for charities and wear ribbons and (red). I shouldn’t also be surprised that a bunch of television and movie writers have a tendency to speak in narcissistic hyperbole.

But, really, this is an argument over how many pennies the writer gets for a download of “Joanie Loves Chachi.” It’s hardly manning the barricades.

And therein the problem with modern entertainment. Someone–I think it was Joss Whedon–actually said that storytelling was a greater necessity for humanity than clothing or shelter. While that may be true on one level, I highly doubt that there are people out there struggling to put a story over their heads. No one ever says “come on! Baby needs a new pair of stories!” At its most basic level, storytelling is a part of all our legacies, and for many thousands of years it was–hold on to your hats–free. Mothers told stories to children, husbands told stories to wives. In the whole of human history, wealthy writers are a recently new development. Writers became wealthy because consumers were willing to pay for stories. This strike punishes the paying consumer, and killing that bird in the hand for some mythical future writers in the bush is a classically stupid move.

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They may be on strike, but the WGA folks are still amusing me. The “Why We Fight” video is everywhere these days, and the first few seconds of it never fail to make me laugh.

When an author writes a book, they get paid for every copy sold.

I’ve written a couple of (small) books. I was also a Licensing Administrator for a publisher, which means that I was the person who filled in the blanks on the contracts, made sure they were signed and then mailed out the checks to the authors for every copy of their book sold. I’m also currently writing my own fiction books, and am very up to date on the fiction publishing market.

Now, the WGA video shows a Harry Potter book cover when it’s talking about the money authors make. Trust me right now when I promise you that J.K. Rowling is one of a kind as far as book earnings go.

Let’s walk through a more typical author’s contract.

1. It starts with an advance. (more…)

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WGA Demands–I Fisk Them

The WGA Strike is looming.   As a writer I have some interest in the outcome.  As a television viewer I have dread for the process.   The last time we had one of these it ushered in the era of Reality TV.  (Or, as I like to call it, the Dung Era of Television.)   I’ve got my books and Arrested Development DVDs at the ready while we prepare to weather this storm.   According to a producer acquaintance, the WGA is so far apart from the other parties that the strike is essentially a foregone conclusion.   The producers and networks are actually not minding the idea because it’s cheaper for them to air more reality TV than it is to cough up for actually GOOD shows like Journeyman, Pushing Daisies, and Chuck.

So here are the demands and what I think of them.

* Internet residuals: Writers currently earn 1.2% on Internet residuals. The WGA wants an increase to 2.5% of receipts.

I think this is probably fair.  The networks have talked about how Internet product is “found money”.  It wouldn’t hurt for the guys who actually make the product interesting to “find” a bit more of the money.

* New media: The WGA wants residual payments for new-media product like Webisodes and mobisodes.

Is anyone making money from these Webisodes and Mobisodes?   I was under the impression that these were advertising and promotional gambits.   As I writer I’ve done a LOT of Work-For-Hire writing.   When you do WFH, it’s usually for promotional product (like catalog copy) or bundled product (like a book included in a game set.)   The definition of WFH is that you get paid to do the work and the company owns that work outright.      I’ve always assumed that since Webisodes and Mobisodes are promotional product they’d fall under the WFH model.   I don’t think residuals are necessary here.   Now, when that web content is packaged on a DVD as a “DVD Extra” I think a 1.5% residual for all copies of the DVD sold would be fair.

* Streaming video: The WGA wants residuals on streaming video — network-produced shows that are streamed on Web sites. Producers argued that free online episodes are not ad-supported (although they run with limited, unskippable commercials in most cases) and therefore fall into the “promotional-use” category, exempting them from residual payouts.

See above.

* Home-video and DVD residuals: The WGA wants to double the current base rate for payouts from 20% to 40%.

This was the Spanish Inquisition nobody expected. Home Video and DVD are eating mightily into film receipts and are now also eating into Cable TV and, more slowly, Network TV.   Many people are choosing to pay $15 at Target to own the DVD versus $20 for movie tickets to see the thing first-run.   As the bulk of the audience changes its viewing model, writers are seeing their bottom line hit hard.   But 40%?  I don’t think so.  There’s no way that a writer’s work is worth 40% on most productions.  And I say that as a writer.    I’d be all for increasing the payout to 25-27%, but no more.

* Reality TV: After loudly advocating for WGA jurisdiction over reality TV for the past two years, the WGA appears ready to concede on this issue. Last year, the WGA convinced “writers” to walk. They were let go and the show was subsequently organized by IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).

I’ve always thought the main reason the WGA wants jurisdiction over Reality TV is because that’s been the network’s bargaining chip in a time of strike–like this one.   The “writers” for Reality TV are mostly editors and don’t turn out the same volume or style of work as the rest of the WGA.    Claiming Reality TV as a WGA product actually cheapens the effort of other WGA members and is largely a bad idea.

* The CW: The WGA wants network minimums for work appearing on The CW.

Seems fair, even though nobody watches the CW.

* Contract length: The WGA wants a three-year contract to coincide with the expiration of the Directors Guild of America contract.

Yeah, fine.  Whatever. Seems fair to me.

So there you have it.   My thoughts on the strike.

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Some Spoilers, Maybe

  • I cannot believe that the Sylar dude is going to play Spock. I have not warmed to that idea yet. Especially after tonight’s episode.
  • Whew. No Eirinn Go Blah tonight.
  • Why does Parkman’s dad look like Willard Scott? I mean, really. Here’s this guy whose supposed to have been this major nightmare threat to Slarti’s Son’s School Chum, and he more closely resembles a jovial middle school custodian than a skulking terror overlord.
  • Please give Adrian Pasdar his beard back. I mean the one on his face–not Natalie Dixie Chick.
  • “Claire, I know you can heal. But I never want to see you in pain.” Girl, just dump his emo self NOW. Do not wait. Guys who talk like that are either scripted by some evil megacorporation or spent their elementary school years setting kittens on fire. That kind of open schmoopiness is sociopathic. It sounds so right it’s fake.
  • I wonder what skills the TV Skill Absorption Hero girl would be able to do after watching like 50 Watson’s commercials in a row.
  • I also wonder if it’s intentional that she shares Eye Power Noises with The Bore-onic Woman. It’s as though the NBC Sci Fi budget has to share.
  • The History Channel is running this mega cool documentary on The History of the Superhero in Comics. I liked it so much I’ve watched it twice already. I guess it originally aired in 2003. I wish I’d thought of a History Channel. Over there the reruns are even MORE thematic. “To you, it’s a repeat. To us, it’s History!”

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