2/7/20

I Have NEVER Been Happier To Have A Think Piece Ruined (Bye Netflix Autoplay Previews)

Those Netflix autoplay previews are FINALLY DEAD!!!

I wrote this in December. Then I ignored it. I let it rot on my desktop until it was no longer topically relevant. What can I say? It's my superpower as a writer. (RIP my essay about what I hoped Picard would bring to the small screen.)

AND THEN THIS EARTH ANGEL FIXED EVERYTHING, both solving the problem itself and saving me from having to go into research and redraft mode. Please note my very professional note to myself to "insert brain science" in the essay below.

Meet Sarah Hollowell. Truly, a queen. She saved the day.

I now present to you, the unfinished think piece that totes doesn't matter anymore. Thank GOD.

Bye, Netflix

The greatest thing about Netflix was that you could pick and choose whatever you wanted at your convenience. Back when the streaming phenomena first began, the biggest revelation was that you didn’t even have to leave your house. I was born in 1982 and for the majority of my young life, if we wanted to watch a movie we had to either:

a. check it out at the library

b. rent it at the “video store” (You know, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, the mom and pop down the street…)

c. go to a friends’ house who had cable or a satellite dish, or…

d. buy it at a box store

Make no mistake, this won’t be an essay about me shaking my fist to the sky. Things change. Change is good. Remember that.

This is an essay about pushy salesmen. Not good salesmen. Pushy ones. The kind who become increasingly aggressive with you the more they notice you pulling away. That’s what Netflix has become. In a world where we can have almost anything we want nearly instantaneously, Netflix is choosing to fall behind the times intentionally.

Autoplay isn’t exactly the devil. And since it’s nearly ubiquitous, I think we’ve all learned to simply mute our laptops or phones. But it’s not innocuous either. (Insert brain science) 

When Netflix first initiated autoplay previews, I wasn’t the only one wondering, “Commercials? Isn’t this what I pay to avoid?” (Insert other people who were frustrated.)

But it’s a private company. It can do what it wants. Even if what it wants to do is loud, distracting, and infuriatingly quick on the draw. And initially, the service it offered was greater than the annoyances it began to push through said autoplay previews. Until today. Today, when I was touching up my roots and my gloved hands COULDN'T STOP THE MOVIE AND TV MACHINE from playing something I didn't want to see.

I’ll tell you what finally sent me over the edge. “Don’t Fuck With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” That’s what. A movie I never wanted to see about a crime I never even knew existed before it autoplayed itself into my brain forever. And now it’s in there. I'm just too sensitive to know certain things even exist. And cat murder is definitely one of those things. 

I’m starting to understand how conspiracy theorists form their crazy conspiracies. (flesh this out) I’ve been tired of being sold true crime via these autoplay previews. And edgy action. Now, it’s a true story about a serial killer who filmed himself murdering cats. And they leave footage from the actual video in the preview. Nevermind the fact that the poster makes the movie look cute. Funny, almost.

It's not cute you guys. Repeat, not cute. DO NOT WATCH if you're a fellow sensitive soul.

I’m not advocating for censorship. I’m staunchly against that. Plus, Tipper Gore already tried it back in the day and it didn’t work out so well. I often wonder how she’s doing with music today. Sincerely. If Twisted Sister was hard for her, I sort of hope someone placed her in a giant glass snowglobe with fresh air, a comfy chair, and plenty of Bach. The music scene nowadays can be downright Biff Tannen-y in its dystopianism. I want her to be okay. We sensitive souls have to stick together.

Anyway.

Leisurely scrolling seems to be a thing of the past. I’m just saying that when I go for Netflix now, I pause. I consider before I engage. I doubt. Often, I turn to Hulu instead. And when I do choose Netflix because I gotta have my sweet, sweet Star Trek: The Next Generation fix, more often than not, I wince as I reach for the mute button, preemptively annoyed or nervous about which serial killer I'll be confronting today. Seriously.

HOW MANY MOVIES DO WE NEED ABOUT TED BUNDY?

I’m sure the reason why the feature is so inescapable now, so prominent, is that it works. I’m sure it makes whiz-bang business sense. I bet millions of people are going to watch the “limited series” about a guy who tortures and murders cats. No judgment. He was a horrible dude. I'm glad internet justice ran him down. 

But I’m officially too accustomed to the money I pay to subscription services working in my favor annoyance-wise. All hail the algorithm that shows me movies and Australian reality shows I never would've considered. But I never wanted to know about this. Netflix decided I should and I didn’t get a say. It seems like such a small thing to sever a decade-long relationship over. But the salesman just got too pushy. Too greedy.

I want my tiny little patch of digital earth as commercial-free as possible. I pay for that convenience. I consider that cash well-spent in my ongoing fight to dodge just a few of the hundreds of commercials we face everywhere we go nowadays. Life...our soundscape..it’s weird right now. Again, dystopian. Commercials are at the gas station. On our phones. It’s all noise pollution.  And I’m not willing to pay a service anymore that takes away one of the only places left in the world where I can control that. And that’s okay. Things change. Change is good.

Bye, Netflix

12/19/19

Holidays in Space at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex - Happening Now

Hi, everyone. Merry Happy! Last Friday night, I attended the media preview of Holidays in Space at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. I'm going to review the experience here and include a link where you can buy tickets.

But first, a disclaimer.

I'm a fangirl. I love everything. Sincerely. I've been called a Pollyanna (and much worse) for being an eternal optimist. And listen...I get it. Times are weird. It's tough out there. But I made the decision to turn to the light side of my geekdom long ago and it hasn't failed me yet. That being said...

Holidays in Space is a delight. Let me tell you why in three parts.

Part 1 - Pretty lights good.

Holidays in space is a pretty little set-up right next to the building that houses the Shuttle Atlantis. It feels like a party. (If you're reading this from the far reaches of the world, Atlantis alone is worth a trip to Florida. Especially if you're a NASA nerd.) There's festive lighting, delightful photo-ops, and best of all, a bright video wall.

Every fifteen minutes, it plays a mini-documentary that teaches you just how far we've come technologically. It's happy, it's nostalgic, and the video had an interesting effect on the audience. Every time it played, it turned strangers into friends. Before the video, people were sticking to their groups. Afterward, they'd literally turn to the people next to them and ask things like, "Do you remember when...?"


Part 2 - Nostalgia? Good.

Guests of all ages will love a day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors complex. But if you're of a certain pop cultural ilk, you'll find extra joy being amidst reminders of Space Camp, Apollo 11, and the countless other space movies you may have enjoyed in your childhood.


Part 3 - The reality connection.

In a couple days, we're all gonna trek to the multiplex and see a Star War. Half of us will love it and half of us will hate it. The world is getting weird that way. Or maybe it's always been weird and I just grew up in a bubble because I was born in 1982 and lived 18 blissful years without the internet.

Whatever the reason for the division, one thing's for sure, sci-fi fans love the idea of space. We love progress and adventure. Or at least, we used to? The photos from Hubble still make me misty-eyed with awe and wonder. I never met an episode of Nova I didn't like. The research done during the shuttle era of NASA changed the world.

Whether you're a Trekkie, a Star Wars nerd, or both, there's something indescribably moving about being at Kennedy. It's hallowed ground. For all the emotional investment we put into our fandoms, here's a place that's making our sci-fi dreams come true every day. Rockets are launching. Landing systems are tested. Heck, KSC sits amidst a gigantic wildlife preserve. The surrounding area is pristine. Bald eagles thrive there. It's almost a cartoon of patriotism.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex represents the best of what we have to offer as people and as a country when we put our minds to work. Technological advancement? Check. A clean environment? Check. A safe haven for animals? CHECK. Sci-fi fans want to believe in a better future. We want to believe that humanity will stop its petty squabbling and clean up the planet. And KSC is a test run that proves we can do it.

It's easy for the holidays to feel, well...hollow. We're accustomed to artifice. I've lived in Florida for almost a decade now and I've seen every light show and fireworks display at every tourist attraction you can imagine. Holiday shows are typically themed to a vague, non-offensive idea about being unselfish or treasuring your family. And that's great. But Holidays in Space is a sweet little ceremony centered around massive, measurable human progress. We sent people to the moon, you guys. THE MOON. We're going to Mars. Along the way, we've discovered medical treatments and everyday conveniences and everything in between. Every astronaut who's ever taken up residence on the space station talks about how differently they see the world when they've seen it from above, how it makes them feel familial about every human on the planet.

This is real science with real results and it matters. That's worth celebrating, right alongside the ideals of generosity and family.


Honestly? I wish they could transform Holidays in Space it into a pop-up and take the show on the road with a few dancers in retro sixties costumes with some living historical characters that could mill around and educate the audience. Or they could set it up like a party in school gymnasiums. A SPACE PARTY. Just try and stop me.

In the meantime, go to Holidays in Space. It's a happy place with warm feelings. See the movie at night, when the lights are at their most vibrant and the many photo ops are most effective.

Tickets are available for purchase here and the event runs until December 31st. Please do yourself a favor and go.

Here are some other things I've made about The KSC Visitors Center:

A Playlist for Visiting KSC

5/14/19

"She does her own stunts."



"The studio doesn't like it. It makes them nervous, but when you can get that kind of action on camera actually performed by your leading lady, it's priceless."

Movies geeks know these beats well. We hear them in behind-the-scenes special features and documentaries allllllll the time, from Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider to Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow and most recently, the astounding Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.

Special features never cease to thrill me or remind me to throw some weights into my workouts. I love stunt actors and stunt performers and the actors who are willing to train for their roles. But this was happening much, much earlier than most of us realize.

Enter Lillian Gish, silent film star extraordinaire. Admittedly, I know more about Louise Brooks and Mary Pickford. But when I heard the movie Way Down East mentioned in an episode of Downton Abbey, I got curious. Silent London did a fantastic story about the film and the lengths Gish went to create a convincing finale. Very worth a read.

Here's Scarlett Johansson's Heidi Moneymaker

Too Busy To Post about GOT

Shocker, but I'm working a lot. This should suffice while I'm busy paying bills. 

4/29/19

Happy Monday! (no sarcasm intended)

I am emotionally WIPED OUT, in a good way, after Endgame and GOT this weekend and I just...I really needed this. Thanks, Last Week Tonight.

4/15/19

Three of the Beautiful, Jubilant Weirdos Who Got Me Through High School in the 90s

1. Imani Coppola


 2. David Bowie

People hate the techno-pop phase, but not me. I LOVED it and I'm not sorry.


3. Bjork


Bonus

Let's Dance

Last week was difficult, this week will be long. Most of my problems are happy. One can hardly whine for having too much client work, can one? But still, I sure did lose myself in a lot of World of Dance videos this weekend. The purpose was two-fold because I have my head in a dance routine I get to inform creatively for a client. Which is...a literal dream come true.

It's my second time working with dancers (at a distance and only in generating the initial ideas) and even though I've been dancing my entire life, I still feel so unqualified. When I feel unqualified, I have to hang onto joy by seeking inspiration. It's the only thing that keeps me from running out of the room.

I'm still feeling too vulnerable about the Star Wars preview to even talk about it. I can't even think about it without crying. But we're all fine here now thank you...how are you?

Let's start with a classic to warm up.


Now, onto the World of Dance. 


The song they're using is from this number, and it's phenomenal. Imagine if Lord of the Rings had musical numbers, that's what it's like.


And finally, the brilliant master craftsmen, Les Twins.