NEW PODCAST: “The Johnny Carson Show”

Shatner-and-Carson

Welcome to BlissVille, Misadventures in BlissVille, and tonight we’re discussing Johnny Carson, the “King of Late Night”. Andrew asked me to watch the American Masters documentary about Johnny Carson, produced by PBS for Channel 13, here in New York City. It’s a very well-made documentary narrated by the actor Kevin Spacey.

This was a different time, perhaps a stranger time that young people may not be able to understand, or grasp, where a performer had to work very hard to make money. I remember reading an article, I think it was an interview in Life Magazine with Johnny Carson, and the article made reference to Carson starting out as a magician, really quite a talented magician. The documentary makes great play at showing the first book he bought, which was about card tricks and magic. You ever see the magician who got on the train the City every now and then? He would whistle to get everybody’s attention. Most New Yorkers keep their heads down, try not to make an eye contact, but this guy would come in – he had a big, funny hat, he wore a little cape and a tuxedo, and he had a big suitcase, from which would emerge some pretty awesome tricks. He would conjure birds from inside his hat, from up his sleeve. People always want to know how you can accomplish those tricks, and that spoils the fun for me. I don’t want to know how they do what they do.

The article didn’t do much to shed light on Carson’s personal life, and this documentary takes a brave stab at it, but it essentially tells the same story – Carson’s mother appeared to be a dominating, judgmental presence in his life, and he did everything he could to please her, but she remained completely unimpressed throughout his life – even to becoming the King of Late Night. He married four times, had children. One item I was not familiar with was Carson’s drinking problem, and I think we all sort of figured that Ed McMahon was the drunkard of the two. Imagine my surprise when I find he was sober through most of the shows, for 30 years even!

This is the end of our “William Shatner Letter Exchange” series of BlissVille episodes, and it has been incredible fun!  In a little under two weeks, we go back to a Shatner-less version of BlissVille.  We’ll talk the Monkees with Denny Spangler and Bronwyn Knox, and KISS with Mark Jeacoma!  After that, a well-earned Winter’s break and “The Twilight Zone”!

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NEW PODCAST: “Nothing Will Happen Suddenly”

TekWar-Laserdisc

 

I don’t regularly watch movies on Laserdisc, just those titles you can’t find anywhere, and this is what’s troubling to me. Consider that you have nearly every movie made eventually mass-produced for VHS, and then only a very small fraction of those titles were produced and marketed for Laserdisc. A larger percentage of those titles were produced for DVD, but not nearly as many for VHS, right? Blu Ray comes along and it’s, once again, a fraction of the titles produced for DVD, more than Laserdisc but still fewer and far between. Specialty companies, like (I’m reminded of Twilight Time and Criterion), come out and cost upwards of $50 because they’re on limited runs and Blu Rays are expensive to produce and distribute, so we’re getting fewer titles because streaming is popular. You’re not going to get those hard-to-find titles on Blu Ray because it’s a niche market and not worth re-couping production-run costs.

So I watched the documentary, “Rewind This!”, about the enclave of devoted VHS collectors, some of them famous, a lot of them with big basements and media rooms, who proudly display their wares. They know that physical product is on it’s way out, that this is something the Studios and Networks have wanted for years – the ability to control their own distribution, their own exhibition.

Remember Sony Corp. vs. Universal, 1984. Universal Studios sued Sony for developing home video recording technology, which is strange considering video recorders had been on the market for around 20 years before this case went to trial. I think it was only when prices went down and more people were buying VCRs that Universal realized they might lose money in the rental market. Then copy-guard and Macrovision and other copy protection devices were introduced to keep people from dubbing movies. I think Universal was the first company to use copy-protection, after MCA Videocassette, Inc. was dissolved and MCA Home Video was formed.

NEW PODCAST: “God Spreads Rabies!”

God-Spreads-Rabies

 

Advocates on both sides of this massive divide we’ve created repeat the same erroneous talking point – that marriage is a right, or perhaps a privilege accorded by the Constitution of the United States, which isn’t true.  There is absolutely no mention of marriage, the definition or personal rights – in the Constitution, which is the way I think it should be, because – I’m married, but I believe my marriage should not be approved by a State or by Federal Law, it doesn’t matter to me, I don’t need that sort of acknowledgement.  Further, it gives wide-reaching power to the State, the Federal government, the Supreme Court to control what is, essentially, personal choice.  I believe in limited government.  I don’t want the government telling me who I can marry, or who I can’t marry, or – and this is important – threatening to penalize me, either financially, or with jail time for refusing to acknowledge whom other people can marry or can’t marry.  It’s simply none of my business, and it should not be any of the government’s business.  They have guns, and flamethrowers.  They can kill your family and burn your house down if you don’t agree with them when they’ve written up new laws.  I don’t like that.

Tonight, we are introducing a new segment to BlissVille.  As you may or may not know, if you’ve been paying attention, this particular run of BlissVille episodes has paid tribute to an actor among men, William Shatner.  So this next piece is my wife, Bronwyn’s, intepretation of the classic “horrors of war” speech from the Star Trek episode, “A Taste of Armageddon”.  I hope you enjoy it.

I would pray for peace, if I were religious.  I would say listen we’ve just been thrown into the fray of sexual equality, give people time.  Wisdom is it’s own reward.  Peace and understanding are what matters.  The homosexual couples who were denied marriage licenses were preaching a fantastic doctrine of new Christianity, not the old fire and brimstone kill-the-pagans Old Testament stuff, but they didn’t want Ms. Davis to be imprisoned or fined or censured, and for that I applaud them.  That’s the way to go.