S’all Good Man

The fourth season of Better Call Saul dropped on Netflix recently. This event inspired me to skim through the past seasons of the show, and then watch all of the fourth season in a two-day marathon. I don’t want to reveal any spoiling events in this little blurb. I just want to say that it has been a hell of a rollercoaster ride getting to the end of fourth season.

I find I don’t like Saul Goodman or Jimmy McGill that much. I liked Charles McGill, Jimmy’s brother, portrayed by Michael McKean. It was his appearance in the pilot episode that got me interested in continuing to watch the show in the first place. In the fourth season I find that I am still watching the show mostly for Mike Ehrmantraut and Nacho Varga. Those two characters had long runs on Breaking Bad, the series that this TV series is a spin-off of.

We have gotten to the point in time where events that are portrayed in the middle seasons of Breaking Bad are about to occur. Gustavo Fring‘s meth cooking bunker is under construction. The conflict between the various criminal gangs that control illegal drug trafficking in Breaking Bad are heating up, leading to the crisis point that finally explodes at the end of season four of that series.

What season five will offer is still unknown to me, even though it is available to rent on Amazon Prime. I pay for Netflix in order to be able to watch streaming media. I am hesitant to bite the bullet and subscribe to another service to watch other media, and I’m not willing to pay rental fees to watch television programs that I should be able to watch with commercial interruptions without having to pay any other price than spending my time watching them. So season five of the show will have to wait until Netflix gets it. If it ever gets it.

Save the OA?

A snapshot of my comment spam from today.

Spam Screencap

Among the still-present faux-spy messages there were four of these #SaveTheOA comments sequestered in the spam folder. I had to go look up what The OA was.

Netflix canceled The OA, a science-fiction melodrama with a small fan base so devout it’s bordering on a religious order. Cancellations are relatively rare at the streaming behemoth, so at first fans suspected that the kibosh was a PR stunt.

…After reality set in, fans began a campaign to reverse the decision, petitioning Netflix and plastering pleas on social media.

While the show’s future is uncertain, the intensity of its fan campaign has showcased how much the relationship between fandoms and the stuff they love has changed. This isn’t about simple appreciation anymore; it’s about full-throated advocacy, about the conflation of self-care and entertainment, about the fact that even if Netflix doesn’t renew The OA it now almost definitely has to have internal meetings addressing how to respond to someone staging a hunger strike. It’s a plot twist so bizarre it’d fit right into the canceled show in question’s narrative.

The Ringer

Their spam will keep me from watching the show. Thanks for saving me some time, spammers!

Rewatching Babylon 5?

We tried rewatching Babylon 5 on DVD and then on Amazon recently, only to discover that the computer-generated imagery (CGI) didn’t upscale correctly for the high-definition format. Every scene involving CGI has jaggies in it, discernable pixelation that draws you right out of the show.

They’ve also been talking about this problem on the Babylon 5 Facebook group recently, so I took the time to go looking for an explanation of the problem and ran across this article on Engadget.

Unfortunately, the CGI and composite elements only existed in 4:3, and so Warner Bros. decided to crop and stretch those sequences. That involved chopping the top and bottom off every frame in a scene, and then increasing its width to fit the aspect ratio. The issue was explored in detail by Henrik Herranen from Finland, who published How Babylon 5 Is Transferred to DVD in 2001. Herranen described himself as a “professional in signal processing and a video technique enthusiast.” Unfortunately, attempts to find and contact Herranen failed.

engadget

In other words, Warner Brothers did another version of pan and scan.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…except they did it in reverse. And they did this because people like me insisted that widescreen was the way we wanted to see the show since it had been filmed in widescreen originally. Nevermind that they didn’t film the effects sequences that way, and they also screwed up the upscaling for the CGI sequences in other ways, as the article goes into. I really wanted to rewatch the show, but now it looks like it will have to remain a memory. Here’s hoping that the 35mm record copies of the show are one day released by Warner Brothers so that new digital transfers of the show are made possible, even if it is only in the 4:3 aspect ratio.

Twitter: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The Good Place

StitcherEzra Klein – The moral philosophy of The Good Place – Dec 10, 2019

After creating and running Parks and Recreation and writing for The Office, Michael Schur decided he wanted to create a sitcom about one of the most fundamental questions of human existence: What does it mean to be a good person? That’s how The Good Place was born.

Soon into the show’s writing, Schur realized he was in way over his head. The question of human morality is one of the most complicated and hotly contested subjects of all time. He needed someone to help him out. So, he recruited Pamela Hieronymi, a professor at UCLA specializing in the subjects of moral responsibility, psychology, and free will, to join the show as a “consulting philosopher” — surely a first in sitcom history.

I wanted to bring Shur and Hieronymi onto the show because The Good Place should not exist. Moral philosophy is traditionally the stuff of obscure academic journals and undergraduate seminars, not popular television. Yet, three-and-a-half seasons on, The Good Place is not only one of the funniest sitcoms on TV, it has popularized academic philosophy in an unprecedented fashion and put forward its own highly sophisticated moral vision.

This is a conversation about how and why The Good Place exists and what it reflects about The Odd Place in which we actually live. Unlike a lot of conversations about moral philosophy, this one is a lot of fun.

Ezra Klein – The moral philosophy of The Good Place – Dec 10, 2019

I mentioned the show here.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…so I thought I could at least mention it again in an article about it. I wish I had more to say on the subject than just watch the show. I’ve gone back and started watching Veronica Mars because of Kristen Bell‘s lead role in the show. That’s how much I like it.

A Tribute To René Auberjonois

TriAngulum Audio StudiosBack Trek- A Tribute To René Auberjonois – Dec 9, 2019

…He might have first run across René Auberjonois in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I will always think of him in his role from the series Benson, the only spin-off from one of my favorite TV shows, SOAP, and the only other character aside from the title character from SOAP that was really memorable. I had forgotten that he played Father Mulcahy in the movie version of M*A*S*H. I’ll miss him and the others from Trekdom who have left us over the last few weeks. It has been a rough year.

Admiral Titan EntertainmentBenson – Season 4 Ep. 8 – Mar 8, 2018

How did I not know that Ethan Phillips was also in Benson?

More Facebook Fail

I’m going through my notifications on Facebook. A tedious task that I frequently just hit Mark All as Read in order to complete it quickly, and then I go on to the next thing on my todo list. Today there was a video notification for Robert Reich being live in amongst everything else, and it was recent, so I figured I could click on it and at least catch the end of the video. Let’s see what the link brings up when I paste it here.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/142474049098533/posts/?notif_id=1574188482955442&notif_t=notify_me_page&ref=notif
Robert Reich was live.

Well, that’s interesting. The pasted link renders out as plain text even though WordPress recognizes it as a Facebook link and gives me the default warning Embedded content from facebook.com can’t be previewed in the editor while I’m in the editor. Robert Reich leaves his videos on Facebook, so I can go to the video later using the link and have it come up as the the video I wanted to see. This is the video:

Posted by Robert Reich on Thursday, November 21, 2019
Robert Reich was live. (that is what Facebook titles these. All of them)

Robert Reich talking with Solana Rice about the fifth Democratic convention, how the slate is shaping up for the future and what the Democratic party needs to do to address the concerns of minorities into the future. A conversation that I wanted to hear but couldn’t when I first saw the notification because when I clicked on the link, I got this video instead:

This swimmer got surrounded by three Killer Whales which she misjudged them for dolphins 😯Credit: storyful

Posted by Ben Phillips on Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Facebook

A over-dramatized video of a swimmer being investigated by killer whales (Orcas) complete with music designed to hype the terror and suspense. Will she get eaten? Won’t she? The answer is no, she won’t get eaten. Wild Orcas don’t attack people except by accident. There was one link in the comments that pointed to a story on a site named Orcazine (that spells quality journalism. A site name that excludes all other kinds of stories other than stories about Orcas. Are any of them true? You can’t know without further research) a story that purport to document one of the rare instances of an Orca mistaking a human for prey. This is an even rarer occurrence than a shark attack, which happens so rarely that you stand a better chance of being struck by lightning than you do of being attacked by a shark. So, Orca attack? Not high on the list of things to worry about.

If you want to talk about Orcas killing someone the facts are not hard to find. A trainer at Seaworld died because one of the Orcas attacked her. It can happen. Orcas are carnivores. Orcas that have been mistreated by humans over and over again, kept in cages all their lives, etcetera, can become violent. It doesn’t mean that the swimmer was in any real danger in the hyper-dramatic bullshit video.

My beef here is, the two videos have nothing to do with each other, and wouldn’t have anything to do with each other unless an Orca appeared on stage at the fifth Democratic debate and ate one of the other candidates. Now, that video might have been worth watching.

Facebook video fail. Just because I click on a link that Facebook says is a video, it doesn’t mean that any video Facebook wants to serve up to me will be something I will find interesting. When I click on a notification, I expect to see the thing the notification says is there wherever you send me, Facebook. If I don’t, I’m liable to get angry and tell a pod of Orcas that seals live at your home address. You wouldn’t want that.

The Warrior

I think I’ve found the winner for the most 80’s of 80’s music videos.

Scandal featuring Patty Smyth – The Warrior (Official Video) – Oct 26, 2013

I probably should have figured that a song whose refrain was

Shootin’ at the walls of heartache, Bang! Bang!

Would have an amazing 80’s music video associated with it. Just another moment where I’m thankful that I didn’t watch much MTV or VH1 back in the day. Radio, radio and more radio. Also Texas disco bars, lots of Texas disco bars.

Texas disco bars were nothing like disco bars anywhere else. A man wearing a cowboy hat onto a disco dancefloor anywhere else in the world could be assumed to be wearing a costume. Not in Texas. Never insult a man’s hat in Texas. It’s always a fine lookin’ hat here. You wear it with style, even when you’re dancing to a song like this one.

Weirdly, I still like this song. I’ll just avoid watching the video in the future. Youtube auto-queued Pat Benatar after Scandal. Freaking Youtube and their mind-reading queues.