Showing posts with label entertainment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label entertainment. Show all posts

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Partial List of Wisdom From Classic TV

"Just the facts ma’am" - Removing emotions and focusing on facts is critical when gathering initial information; like in researching this to relearn that he never actually said it.

"What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" - Question authority, question received wisdom, question those who would sell you a bill of goods.

Father Knows Best - There is wisdom to be learned from one's elders, but also (as the show's ironic title continually demonstrated) the elders are always learning too as they very often do not have all the answers (especially in this case the father who didn't always know best).

"Nip it in the bud!" - Overzealous policing is best controlled by judicious, thoughtful leadership and a soft touch.

"Kiss my grits!" - Stand up for your rights and your point of view.

"Hey, Alex" - Wisdom and beauty come in surprising packages.

"Heyyyy" - Sometimes it is best to say little, be cool, and walk away. Also, it is both desirable to be able to and to avoid jumping the shark.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Top 100 Movies - Required Viewing

This is my partially complete list of "classic", right-of-passage movies everyone should see. I had my kids in mind when crafting this list. I drew from a much larger list of movies I want them to experience wanting to cull it down to an elite must-see list. 

It is partially complete because while it is a top 100, I am open to changing what makes the list. But I do feel that 100 is a sufficient number such that to be added to the list a new entrant would need to bump a movie from the list. 

Do not confuse this with a “greatest 100 movies” as this is not a measure of cinematic excellence or advancement of the medium. It is closer to a kind of most culturally important list, which overlaps largely but not entirely with a most popular list. Case in point: no one would list Caddyshack as a movie that set a bar artistically. However, it’s influence on and depiction of the subculture of golf has been phenomenal. I would bet that virtually everyone who has played a round since the movie came out roughly 40 years ago has during a golf outing made or heard a reference (if not many) to that movie. 

Additionally, there are other criteria or factors that to some degree contribute to a movie’s inclusion on the list including: I enjoy the movie/it has some nostalgia value for me, it is a movie that speaks to an important truth/it teaches something about the time it is set in or its genre or its underlying story, and it has cultural importance. Being culturally important and being on the list means that you can’t just read a synopsis of the movie to fully understand the cultural importance. You have to see it to get it.

The list in alphabetical order (sorry about "The" titles):

2001: A Space Odyssey
A Christmas Story
A Few Good Men
A League of Their Own
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Apocalypse Now
Apollo 13
Back To The Future
Christmas Vacation
City Slickers
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Cool Hand Luke
Dead Poets Society
Die Hard
Dirty Dancing
Duck Soup
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
Forrest Gump
Good Will Hunting
Groundhog Day
Happy Gilmore
Home Alone
It's A Wonderful Life
Jurassic Park
Karate Kid
Lethal Weapon
Life Is Beautiful
Match Point
Men in Black
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Mr. Mom
Mrs. Doubtfire
Napoleon Dynamite
North By Northwest
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Office Space
Old Yeller
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Psycho (1960)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rain Man
Raising Arizona
Remember the Titans
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Spies Like Us
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
The Bad News Bears
The Big Lebowski
The Blues Brothers
The Breakfast Club
The Dark Knight
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
The Godfather I
The Godfather II
The Goonies
The Jerk
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Matrix
The Princess Bride
The Royal Tenebaums
The Sandlot
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shining
The Silence of the Lambs
The Sixth Sense
The Terminator
This Is Spinal Tap
Three Amigos!
Top Gun
Trading Places
War Games
Weird Science
When Harry Met Sally
Young Frankenstein
You've Got Mail

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's On My DVR And On My Netflix List:

I've made a lot of progress against the ever-rising tide of television programming that beckons, but so much more work remains to be done.

If you remember from my previous post, I was ranking the comedic shows I was watching. Not much changed in the rankings as this past season progressed. "HIMYM" disappointingly but expectantly continued its slumping trend right up to the bitter end. I was an early predictor that the mother was dead. I was wrong about Ted and Robin getting together for good. I was right that it was evident the skill of the writers had run out preventing them from pulling off that ending.

On a bright note Jeff Winger did indeed right the ship of "Community"--another prediction I nailed. I think this show is basically back to original form even with the cast changes. That is an impressive feat.

"New Girl" is still probably my top show. I am equally impressed at how this show is integrating new characters.

"Louie" is amazing. This show is arguably one of the best dramas on TV as well as best comedies. Charles Grodin's appearances are apropos the quality of this show. This scene in particular was great writing--"Misery is wasted on the miserable".

Now, to the point of the post. My current to-watch list includes in no particular order:

  • "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" - I could watch these conversations go on for hours. Each episode is too short.
  • "The Middle" - Kept passing by this one. Need a marathon to catch up.
  • "The Simpsons" & "Family Guy" & "Futurama"- I list these together since I have to watch them on my own sans wife. 
  • "The Americans" - Still on the list. Still not started.
  • "The Goldbergs
  • "Breaking Bad" - If nothing else, doing it to keep up with the rest of society.
  • "House of Cards" - Ditto
  • "Mad Men" - Going back to fill in the gaps in my viewership. 
Notably off the list is "Downton Abbey". Remember, I found religion (seventh item down). 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Highly Linkable

I want to go to there.

We are so amazingly wealthy. Not only can we afford to use resources towards the manufacturing of superfluous jewelry; we can do so to the extent of using this magnitude of technology, craftsmanship in high focus in this case. I am not being sarcastic about affording it. Many manufacturers such as the one showcased here are truly profitable proving they improve upon the status and use of the world's resources.

The French labor unions are working hard to make sure nobody works too hard in France (or perhaps at all eventually--be careful what you ask for).

Speaking of unions and government interference in free-market labor, Ohio Republicans would rather the state subsidize one kind of non-employed workers than have them earn a wage.

Once we as a society realize that environmentalism is economics not religion, we will have advanced significantly from where we stand today. I took this article as a small, positive step in that direction.

First they came for the large fountain drinks . . . a lesson in bad scientism.

This one might be labeled fast and loose statistics applied to television, but it is pretty cool just the same. (HT: BoxScoreGeeks)

I look forward to reading Michael Lewis' Flash Boys, and I expect he'll pull some of the mystery out of high-frequency trading. But as Noah Smith skillfully points out, we just don't know if HFT is on net bad or good--too much remains in the shadows. Perhaps The Shadow knows, but the rest of us are in the dark.

As if we needed another example, Obama is a demagogue and a hypocrite. Thankfully, we have Mark Perry and Andrew Biggs to set us straight on the myth of gender-pay inequality. Unfortunately, they may have goofed on a calculation of the profit opportunity the assumed gap implies. Thankfully, we have Steven Landsburg to shore up the gap and improve still upon the argument. And finally, Megan McArdle offers thorough insight and reasoning on the issue.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's On My DVR--listed in a very particular order.

Here is a list of comedic TV shows I am currently recording/watching listed from best to worst with commentary where I feel compelled to offer it:

  1. New Girl - This show is excellent. I laugh out loud at this more than just about all the others combined. I think this show is more in the tradition of Seinfeld, the penultimate sitcom, than anything else on TV. That shouldn't necessarily be the goal for every sitcom, but that is largely because most shows cannot play in that realm. This show is definitely sponge worthy.
  2. Modern Family - The ability of this show to have such a great cast of characters who have such amazing chemistry together is why it is an easy pick at the Emmy's every year. Because one should consider such things, I am 2 parts Jay Pritchett, 1.5 parts Phil Dunphy, and .5 parts of each Mitchell Pritchett and Cam Tucker.
  3. (tie) Parks and Recreation/The Big Bang Theory - Both of these compete well in the Modern Family style of great chemistry among characters. If I had to break the tie, it would be tough. There is a little Sheldon in all of us; he just dares to fully express what we are all thinking. There hasn't been a stronger secondary character than Ron Swanson in decades. He is the Norm of this generation. Parks & Rec would have to get my nod to break the tie simply because it doesn't have a laugh track--I don't need to be told when to laugh . . . ironically, I am channeling Sheldon Cooper in that response. 
  4. [stupid Blogger makes me do this to keep the numbering consistent]
  5. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee - Seinfeld himself couldn't out Seinfeld New Girl, but he comes close with this show. It only loosely fits in the category with these, but blurring the lines of traditional TV is what great TV has always been made of. It is Internet only, so I'm sure to get disapproving looks from Big TV. The hell with it; this one is awesome. My preferred method of viewing: with the wife, drinking bourbon, smoking cigars, in the backyard, after dark.
  6. Community - I'm worried about this one. A few seasons back this would have been competing for the top slots. That said, it will have to burn me good to turn my back on it (see HIMYM below). If I know Jeff Winger, he'll have this one back challenging for that tied-up three spot by season's end.
  7. Louie - About to start its fourth season in May, this one is edgy and on FX for a reason. And all that is what makes it great. This is an adult's sitcom. Grow up and watch it. It is great. Once it is in season, I may very well be reminded that it should be rated higher on this list. 
  8. Family Guy - As opposed to the next show but parallel with the prior show, this one is boundary breaking. If they weren't animated characters, the very serious people wouldn't put up with such insolence. This show makes me cringe occasionally, but it makes me laugh much more often. 
  9. The Middle - This is a very solid show. I'm sure it rings a bit hollow for those who aren't parents; although, I see my own parents in the characters quite a bit. As a parent, it is ridiculously on the mark. It is also fairly wholesome--add a laugh track, and this show could be right out of 1990. The fact the writers can pull this off while being consistently funny is impressive. 
  10. The Simpsons - This show is still funny, but it is not laugh out loud funny any more. It is still important. Many shows on this list are. Modern Family is disarming those opposed to same-sex marriage. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Louie, and Family Guy is telling it like it is. The Simpsons has been doing all that and more for 25 seasons. I'm seeing this one to the end. It has earned it and continues to deserve it.
  11. How I Met Your Mother - This show has jumped the shark. No doubt about it. Do not start it unless you're going back to the beginning, in which case it is probably worth your time. It was amazing once. It is humorous still but tedious now. The flashbacks within the flashback was brilliant and well executed. The magic's gone. The veil has been pierced. We know too much and care too little. I think they let it slip when they made Barney a real person--put him on the straight and narrow. The problem is they sent him there and then brought him back and then sent him again, which is where he needs to go eventually with Robin. But there has been a little too much misdirection. This is true of Ted and the quest to meet the mother as well. We've been too close one too many times. I feel like I have whiplash. The twists and turns were great and made the show, but at some point I just want off the rollercoaster. 
In the non-comedy category I am almost caught up with the epic Boardwalk Empire. I can't say enough about how good this drama is. I've been reading Daniel Okrent's Last Call coincidentally during this time. The TV show's ability to capture the history and the drama of the era is remarkable. While I didn't see it from the beginning but may go back and start, I have been watching Mad Men recently. If they gave awards for really good dramas, it would probably win a lot . . . oh, wait.

Shows I plan on starting from the beginning:

  • Downton Abbey - actually I have seen the first two episodes
  • Breaking Bad
  • The Americans
  • The Goldbergs - actually I might only pick it up where it lies

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Highly linkable

Back from bi-coastal travel with a backlog of blogs to write. Let's start with some links to get us caught up:

What is probably most amazing about this is that we don't find it as amazing as it is. (HT: Steven Landsburg)

Art Carden is demanding action "FOR THE CHILDREN" a la, Helen Lovejoy, in this first of what will perhaps become an on-going series (there have been three posts in this meme so far).

The United States is incredibly and perhaps paradoxically wealthy.

Caplan shows how Game of Thrones makes the case for pacifism.

The EA Sports proposed settlement in the on-going legal battle between college players and the NCAA cartel is a both a win for the players as well as a win for consumers as pointed out by Sports Law Blog's Rick Karcher. Probability of a strike or other work-stoppage demonstration is rising. A couple of years ago it was rumoured that a team in the NCAA March Madness tournament was planning on a demonstration including perhaps refusal to play if they made the Final Four. The team was eliminated in the Elite Eight round.

Posts like this one make me understand why I relate to Scott Sumner. Perhaps I should discount somewhat my agreement with his views on monetary policy fearing I have an unconscious bias.

Is the magnitude of U.S. gun violence evidence of civil war warranting international intervention? I think not so much. This article is hyperbolic and the arguments within fallacious I believe.  I found the biggest problem with the lumping of suicide deaths by firearms, accident deaths, and violent crime deaths. Those are quite different subjects. Attacking firearms is attacking the particular method and not the underlying conditions. Crimes aided by guns and accidents are the cost side. The benefit side, crimes reduced or prevented (including government-committed) and the joy of gun ownership, is completely ignored. But the article was thought-provoking, nonetheless.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Those were the days . . .

Before it got any further belated, I wanted to give proper mention to what was a great TV show that ended this spring--"The Office". This is another show from my top 50 of all time and this one would make the top 10 I am guessing. Here are some thoughts:

  • "The Office" was path breaking (both the original British and the American versions). Like "Survivor" in the reality genre, it brought an idea mainstream (sorry, "The Real World" was about as mainstream as "Girls Gone Wild"). "Moonlighting" 20-years prior made use of the direct dialogue to the camera and then some, breaking the so called Fourth Wall. The idea of merging the reality concept with a scripted sitcom was brilliant allowing dynamic elements never before possible.
  • Incidentally, I think this show did more to accelerate the trend away from laugh tracks than any other. 
  • I felt this show had somewhat run its course when Michael, Steve Carell, left. But they were able to avoid jumping the shark ever so narrowly--aside from Nellie, the Cousin Oliver of Scranton.
  • I saw every episode of this show. Watching every moment, I regret nothing. That's what she said.
While this show ended continuing the trend of me losing more shows than gaining, there are several ideas recommended to me: "The Americans", "Breaking Bad", and a few others. My official TV advisor is reconstructing my portfolio. If I can simply learn to take his advice, perhaps I will stop making mistakes like "Up All Night". I stayed with that one far too long. I've started "Downton Abbey" and dabbled in "Mad Men". Both are shows followed and loved by my wife. I probably will catch up with both and continue along. 

At least one show will still be around that I had not counted on. The prototypical overachieving, underappreciated show "Community" received a reprieve from the gallows. I am afraid its ultimate, untimely fate lies there. I anticipated its demise and began thinking about a post using it as an example; it lives, but I will use it anyway. 

I used to lament how many shows I felt were very good that were cut down early into existence. Many didn't make it past a first season. While I won't work so hard as to try to recall them, the pain being too much, I will mention one of the most famous since it has been resurrected in a way, "Arrested Development". This show was similarly overachieving and under appreciated. It also was path breaking. Its return via Netflix says a lot about my more developed thoughts on TV show evolution. 

Remember how I said, "I used to lament . . ."; well, that is because it dawned on me one day that economics teaches us to roll with the changes rather than mourn for what will no longer be. Schumpeter's Creative Destruction is alive and well here. When a new show is ahead of its time or just not mainstream enough or simply not well marketed, etc., the death of the show does not mean the death of the creative, desirable, inventive elements that drew its too few fans in. Those same writers, producers, and actors are still out there trying again. The process of success and failure leads to better and better products down the line. Consider this as an anecdote against bailouts and the moral hazard that accompanies them. Better to let "Community" die, than to prop up its existence artificially. 

What's more, the overwhelming trend in this medium is to profitably broaden the scope and narrow the target audience. "Arrested Development" is back on but not on Fox, its original network. It is web based essentially. As the movement to a more and more decentralized and individualized market in television entertainment continues, more and more opportunities emerge. Consider this as an anecdote against monopolistic protections.

PS. "Futurama" would have been another example of a show resurrected. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

I want to go to there.

This past week the sitcom "30 Rock" aired its final episode. I believe I saw every one. I'd rank it on my favorite list in the top 50 but not the top 10. I was a fan. Some thoughts:

  • Though I'm sorry to see it go, it had run its course. It is good to see a show end in stride rather than jump the shark. And of course some jump the shark, get up, and jump the shark again. Another show still on the air that comes to mind is "How I Met Your Mother". HIMYM is dangerously close to getting on a surfboard. It is also a show in my top 50 if not in my top 10. It definitely has had top 10 moments as did "30 Rock". Put in that same category "The Office". I still like it and watch it, but I believe the shark may have been jumped some time around the departure of Michael Scott.
  • While most of the shows I like tend to have multiple very good characters that nearly stand on their own, I felt like this show was dominated by two: Liz Lemon played by Tina Fey and Jack Donaghy played by Alec Baldwin. These characters were brilliant. Their lines were consistently laugh-out-loud funny and clever and their delivery was tremendous--not surprising given the quality of those actors. Tracy Morgan's character Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski's character Jenna Maroney, and Jack McBrayer's character Kenneth Parcell were at a few times awesome but at most times only good. Probably the design of the show to have them and so many others as extreme caricatures limited their reach. 
  • The extreme caricatures was fine for most characters, but I found it problematic in one respect. I thought that Jack Donaghy versus Liz Lemon was a bit of unequal caricatures. Jack was generally all knowing and a step ahead, but he was portrayed in a way that was less charitable to his supposed political group, rich Republicans, than Liz's supposed political group, progressive Democrats. Of course, Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey are both rich Democrats. Perhaps the unbalanced approach was intentional. If so, I think it was unwarranted. But my hypothesis is this treatment where a more disdainful side comes out in one character is what I would expect if I asked a person not well versed in opposing viewpoints to create a satirical portrayal of two politically opposed characters. For a more thoughtful approach, I point to "Parks and Recreation" where the libertarian Ron Swanson is equally shown against the progressive Leslie Knope. These characters are truer to their represented group and the comedy and satirical exaggeration does not show contempt for either's group.
  • I was always impressed by how far they could go on the show toward satirizing if not denigrating GE and NBC. This was to the parent company and the network's extreme credit to allow such self-deprecating comedy. I believe FOX gets credit for breaking this barrier back in the early days of "The Simpsons".
Expect more on this topic of TV shows. It seems that many of my shows are ending and several are getting up there in age, but I have started very few in the past few seasons and none in the current season going back to the fall. Perhaps I will find more time to read . . . and blog.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Vegas observations

I'm just back from Vegas, baby! and have a few observations to share:

  • They didn't give daddy the Rainman suite, but they treated me well. Stayed at the Venetian, which is a hard act to beat and maybe the best option in town for a family such as us.
  • Vegas has got to be the people watching capital of the world. Perhaps someday (hopefully) a cross section of the world will in fact be as wealthy and glamorous as the Vegas Strip population appears, but it will perhaps (unfortunately) also be just as shallow.
  • Speaking of watching the shallow-minded people, it is fun to hear how confident foolish people can be. Craps and Blackjack are the penultimate examples of this. This observation deserves its own breakdown:
    • It is amazing how many people have a long history of "always paying for their trips with their (Craps, Blackjack, et al.) winnings". I don't see how those casinos can afford to keep the lights on. Perhaps we should take up a collection.
    • The ability to add quickly does not make you "good at math". Knowledge of mathematical principals, ability to see things in algorithmic terms, and appreciation for underlying systems like probability are qualities of good mathematical minds. They don't give out many Fields Medals for counting. To conflate that you can add up an Ace, Seven, Queen, and Four quickly or pay out at 6:5 odds on $15 bet with $75 backing it up in a swift motion with being "good at math" is like saying spelling bee performance is highly correlated with great writing in literature.
    • The human mind is ridiculously susceptible to the lure of superstition. 
  • How much can you really make in tips standing on the Strip in a creepy, B-level children's entertainment character costume? Apparently enough as compared to about 20 people's next best option.
  • The variety of hotel casinos reminds me that it takes all kinds. I hear you say, "Is that what it takes? I always wondered what it took." But it is as true here as ever. A Las Vegas central planner would probably be a lot like Steve Wynn. His design would be remarkable, beautiful, distinctive, and exclusive while also being unappealing and unavailable to most. His monopoly status would promise unprofitability if without subsidy. Or the planner would be like the group that runs Caesars Entertainment Corporation (the owners of Caesar's, Harrah's, and a host of additional properties that appeal to a group much less sophisticated than the Encore set). The place would be tacky without perspective and a "big-box" version of a gaming destination. The monopoly status would again promise unprofitability if without subsidy. Fortunately, we have a mostly free-market approach, which allows for some, really a lot, of both styles with many degrees in between, above, and below. It is just important to realize that the right side of the distribution (almost no matter what distribution we consider: quality, variety, quantity, price, etc.) necessitates a left side. 
  • I'm glad I saw this excellent piece in the New Yorker after my trip. I would have been even more paranoid about street crime. Watch the video as well. (hat tip: Kottke)
PS. Don't be misled by my hypothetical on a Las Vegas central planner. I very much admire the entertainment products of both Steve Wynn and the Caesars group.