In the wonderful world of tomorrow, AIs will oversee all the robots and drones as they do the real work, and humans will indulge in lifetimes of inquiry, learning, and other scientific and philosophical pursuits.
Some of us will of course turn to literature for entertainment and education. But we won’t be reading our literature. No way. Who needs it when, as the following Los Angeles Times headline and article demonstrate:
For these five dramatic actors, the depth of storytelling on TV stuns
by Mary McNamara
se are our novels,” says “Ray Donovan” star Liev Schreiber of the quality of current television programming. And who can argue? With the depth and complexity of characters being written today, it’s storytelling at its finest – so let’s all gather around the new Tolstoy, shall we? Schreiber wasn’t alone in marveling at the intricacies of modern plotting. He was joined in a conversation with The Envelope by fellow actors Tom Hiddleston (“The Night Manager”), Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”), Bob Odenkirk(“Better Call Saul”) and Jean Smart (“Fargo”) to talk about character development, changing roles for women, and remembering what it is your character doesn’t know. Here’s what they had to say in that late April chat.
We have represented here mini-series, we have anthology series, dramas. But one thing that unites you guys is that the characters are very complicated. Even when they are bad guys, they have some sort of essential humanity. Or even when they are heroes, they have things that they’re dealing with. How do you balance those often contradictory characteristics?
Bob Odenkirk: Well, I just call the writers and say, “Stop adding sides to my character.”
Odenkirk: Because Saul Goodman in “Breaking Bad”was such a one-dimensional—sort of intentionally—guy. He was a facade of that he was presenting. So I didn’t feel like it was a lot of work to get these new sides to the character when he was Jimmy McGill, to try to marry those two up. And I just love all the interesting versions of the guy that there are, just like real people. I mean, you’re one way at work, and you’re a different way with your family, and on your own, you’re a kind of a different person. And it all made sense to me right away. It wasn’t hard.
So you approached them like two different characters, not like “I have to get to here”?
Odenkirk: No, I didn’t think about that at all. Because we all knew right away, [co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould] and I, who really wants to watch Saul Goodman for any length of time? The actual Saul Goodman as presented in “Breaking Bad” was just a selfish, self-interested—he was fun to watch in short increments, but you wouldn’t really want to build a show around him. So they just sort of threw that away and built somebody from the ground up.
What about you, Jean? You played the crime matriarch, sort of accidentally, because her husband has been felled by a stroke and she’s having to take over. How was that?
Jean Smart: Well, first of all, I loved the fact that her name was Floyd and I never asked [“Fargo” creator] Noah Hawley why he named her Floyd until we were done. I came up with my own notions of why he called her Floyd. But the thing I loved about her was that she was just a very practical person. You just do what needs to be done, no matter what. And Noah had laid the character out so well that I had a great backstory for her almost right away. But, like, in the second episode, there’s a scene where she’s in the kitchen basting a turkey or something, and her son is out in the barn doing, shall we say, “enhanced interrogation” on a poor fellow. And I’m sure she knows what’s going on, but but then he comes in the kitchen later and makes a dirty joke, and she bites his head off for using crude language….
We may or may not be living in the future, but we sure as hell are closing in on Media Impossible. Or, as a certain Vulcan we all know and love might say, “Fascinating:”
by Mike Masnick
A few weeks ago, a couple of friends friends were tweeting about an incredible new YouTube video in which some people created a “real life first-person shooter” and hooked it up to Chatroulette, Skype and Omegle. Random people on the services were transported into this game, which they controlled with their voice.
My first reaction [to the video above] was to marvel at how much effort must have gone into setting all of this up. I had initially assumed the “game” couldn’t go very far beyond the tiny room where it started — but it goes much, much further. My second thought was about how hard it must have been to coordinate all the sounds, effects and movements (even while recognizing that the final version is cut together from the takes that “worked”). Thankfully, the people behind it — Realm Pictures — alsoput together a behind the scenes video that reveals the inner workings (and doesn’t make the original any less magical):
I started looking into the team, and realized I actually knew a bit about them, as this is hardly the first time that Realm Pictures has done cool stuff online. Years back, while based out of their home in Devon in the UK, these guys filmed their very own zombie flick called Zomblies, which they posted for free on YouTube. For a bunch of “amateurs” (at the time), the production value is amazing — they even got someone to donate time in a helicopter, allowing them to film aerial shots. But there’s another important piece of the story: while they were making the film, Realm Pictures was also using the internet to build up a community of people who were interested in the process, with their daily blog about the work acquiring a big following.
David Reynolds, the founder and creative director of Realm Pictures (and the voice in the first person shooter above), told me that “building a community has always been instrumental to both our process and our success with projects thus far.”…
Nowhere is that more obvious to me in the earworms that I get. Earworms are a song or piece of a song that gets stuck in your head and seems to be on an endless replay cycle. I don’t know about you but I get them a lot. A lot. I wish I could say they were songs that I like but often they’re songs I’m pretty “meh” about and sometimes even hate.
They’re almost always pop songs – nothing classical although I am a fan of classical music. Not of all classical music, but of some. The only opera I really like, for example, is Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten. The closest I get to classical earworms are the orchestral movie soundtracks – I like soundtracks quite a bit. For example, the Star Wars Theme is likely to pop up in rotation pretty often, but that’s okay by me.
Others, not so much.
Sometimes an earworm is triggered by songs I hear on the radio or that’s playing in the muzac at the store but just as often they just come into my head for no damn good reason whatsoever. They come in and take up residence and unless I can find another tune to drown them out, I can’t get rid of them. The problem with fighting an earworm with another earworm is that you can get stuck with the second one.
Here’s some that have bedeviled me lately. If you don’t want them stuck in your head,SPOILER ALERT: bail out now.
Today I’ve had “Have You Ever Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton John. I always been so-so about Ms Newton-John and this particular song is not the one I find most endurable in her repertoire but there it is in my head.
Recently, I’ve been inflicted with Abba’s “Waterloo.” I’m not and never have been a big fan of Abba. I don’t hate them; they just never did much for me. I don’t even know the lyrics to the song. “Waterloo! something something something something. Waterloo! Some something something forevermore.” That’s all I got – over and over again. Gaaaah!
That’s another thing about the earworms. I may only know a portion of the lyrics or discover that I have them wrong but there is no autocorrect in my head. If you’ve read this column before, you may not be surprised to learn that.
I’ve also had the opening theme to The Daily Show running through my brain at times. The Jon Stewart version, not Trevor Noah. I like Noah just fine and always watch the show but it’s Stewart’s version my brain coughs up.
A good song that has gotten in my cranial sound loop is Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Sometimes it’s that iconic opening that has inspired a thousand lesser rock anthems and sometimes it’s the chorus. One problem, however, is that I’ve never been able to understand what Bruce is singing, at least with this song. To me, it sounds like “Baaarm inna Hew Hess Hay! I was baaarm inna Hew Hess Hay! Ima rap scraggle flaggart inna Hew Hess Hay now!” I’m reasonably certain those aren’t the actual lyrics, but that’s what they sound like to me.
I can sometimes chase that earworm by singing the song in my Elmer Fudd voice. I’m reasonably certain that those who have heard me do Elmer Fudd can hear me doing that at this moment. (I’m looking at you, Tim Brown.) In fact, almost any of the earworms can be banished by singing them in my Elmer Fudd voice. Elmer is sort on an earworm exterminator.
“Baaaawm inna Hew Hess Hay! Heh-heh-heh-heh!”
Like I said, I’m a child of pop culture.
John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix.