Thoughts On Changes To The Oscars

There are two thoughts when it comes to The Oscars. One thought is that this is Hollywood presenting awards to their best and brightest films and those who contributed to making those films. The other thought is that this is Hollywood giving itself a self-congratulatory pat on the back.

It was announced yesterday that starting in 2020, changes will be made to the Oscar ceremony. The changes are as follows:

  1. Pushing up the air date from the end of February to the beginning of February.
  2. Cutting down the length of the show from four hours to three hours by announcing some awards during commercial breaks. The announcement of the winners of these categories will added later in the broadcast.
  3. Creating a new category entitled “Outstanding Achievement In Popular Film”.

I have to admit that I agree with these changes. Let’s be honest, the Oscars can be boring. As important as categories such as lighting design and set design are, the average movie fan is not watching for these categories. It’s the acting nominees that we care about. Those are the ones that we stay up late to watch.

I also appreciate the new category. It will hopefully give a spotlight to films that are appreciated by fans, but are often overlooked by the Academy because they are not as artsy as other films.

Only time will tell if the changes will raise the declining ratings of the Oscars. I personally hope they do, because I enjoy watching the Oscars, but that is my opinion.


Reminisces Of The 2003 Blackout

There are some events that those who experienced will never forget. No matter how much time passes, they can all recount where they were when the event occurred.

Next week is the 15th anniversary of the blackout of 2003.

At the time, I was a new college graduate, trying to make my way in  the world and find a job in the process. I was in the car with my family when the lights that controlled the traffic went dark. Driving home was pure chaos. Car accident were on nearly every block and glass from the headlights littered the streets. It was a little under two years after 9/11 and many wondered if the loss of electricity was due to another terrorist attack. Fortunately, it was not due to a terror attack. Unfortunately, the power grid went down, affecting most of the Northeastern United States and parts of Canada.

The only store that was open was the local pizza parlor, because they ran on gas and not electricity. Neighbors got together to eat outside, pooling their food to prevent it from going bad. It was almost like in the darkness, people came together to survive those few days,

In the end, the electricity returned and life went back to normal. I got my first job and moved on since those memorable days. But I will never forget the 2003 blackout.



Star Wars Character Review: Vice Admiral Holdo/General Hux/Captain Phasma

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the new characters that were introduced to audiences for the episodes seven and eight in the Star Wars franchise. Read at your own risk if you have not seen The Force Awakens Or The Last Jedi.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Star Wars to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is supporting a cause and then there is supporting a cause. It is possible to support cause without it consuming everything around you. But for some, that cause is everything. Nothing else and no one else matters. In the most recent Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, the complete commitment to the cause is represented by Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).

Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) is high up in the chain of command in the rebellion. She becomes General Leia Organa’s (the late Carrie Fisher) second in command after Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is demoted and General Organa is incapacitated. As she watched the rebellion ships being destroyed by the First Order, she makes the ultimate sacrifice by jumping her ship to light speed and destroying the First Order’s flagship.

On the dark side, this complete adherence to the cause is General Hux and Captain Phasma. General Hux is a First Order General, answerable only to Supreme Leader Snoke. He is cold, ruthless, calculating and believes that First Order is destined to rule the galaxy at all costs. Right behind General Hux is Captain Phasma. In charge of the storm troopers, her job is to make sure that her soldiers do as they are told. Her one failing is Finn (John Boyega), with whom she battles with in The Last Jedi.

To sum it up: It takes a certain type of person to give everything to a cause. Especially when the cause is life or death. In Star Wars, Vice Admiral Holdo, General Hux and Captain Phasma represent that commitment so fully that nothing else matters. When creating these characters, the writer(s) must ensure that nothing deters the characters from the cause.

Throwback Thursday-Making The Band (2000-2009)

Reality television has inspired multiple sub-genres. One of the more interesting sub-genres is the music competition that leads to the creation of a new musical act.

Making The Band had several incarnations.

In 2000, record producer Lou Pearlman (best remembered for creation of The Backstreet Boys and NSNYC) led the search for a new boy band. At the end of the competition, the band O-Town was formed.

In 2002, rap impresario P. Diddy (also known as Sean Combs), took over from Lou Pearlman. In 2006, after the failure the musical acts in previous seasons, Diddy  chose to create a girl group. By the end of the series, Danity Kane was introduced to the world.

I have mixed feelings about this show. On one hand, my late teens and twenties self is very happy to revisit shows that were must see TV. But, looking back, I see both shows with a set of eyes that I could not have had back then. At the end of the day, it’s still reality television, which as we all know, it’s not exactly completely real. It’s also noteworthy that the bands that were formed as a result of this show did not stay together for very long.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Throwback Thursday-Sharknado (2013)

The Syfy channel is not exactly known for producing intellectual, high-minded entertainment.

In 2013, Sharknado premiered on the channel. Los Angeles is hit by a hurricane. Somehow, sharks are imported from the sea and are attacking the land dwelling population. It’s up to Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and April Wexler (Tara Reid) to kill to save the city and her citizens before it’s too late.

Sharknado is one of those films that you either love or you late. You love it because it’s fun, campy and does not require many brain cells to  enjoy. You hate it because it is gory, dumb and the narrative is too simple. I’m personally in the middle. As much as I enjoy entertainment that makes me think, I also enjoy entertainment that is just plain fun and does not require a lot of thinking. But, the writer in me would prefer a more complex narrative than is presented.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.


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