The problem with 30 Rock

It’s just not believable that someone as attractive, smart, and funny as Liz Lemon would be perpetually single, lonely, and mocked as she is. No personality problems or anything. I can’t buy it.

Still watching it though. Good show.

ZoomTV – A Nightmare

Rather than having anything to do with Bollywood, the name ZoomTV described a method of filming in my dream last night. Some friends of ours were making an advertisement as an entry in a contest and asked if we would join. Their amateur film studio was set in a large, brown room with random furniture throughout, inspired perhaps by my recent re-arranging of library furniture, and they had a single camera and a lot of ideas. The people who had helped them set up cleared out quickly, but we agreed to stay and help our friends.

The commercial was ridiculous and soon crossed the border from reality to fantasy. At one point I was swinging a large, spiked flail over my head and wiping out lines of charging enemies while the camera rolled on. After six failed takes we rested and asked a bit more about ZoomTV. Why was it called that?

It is called that, as it turns out, because ZoomTV is a special means of filming that operates faster than the speed of light. Anything in front of the camera is accelerated, and though we didn’t notice a difference, we too had been shooting through time faster than light. April and I were horrified as this sunk in for us, and we suddenly realized why the crew who helped set up had quickly fled. While we had gone through six takes in a matter of hours, ten years had passed outside the studio.

Though April and I were furious, we were already screwed. We went ahead and finished the commercial on the hope it would win, because the money it would bring would be our only saving grace. Surely by now I woud have been fired by my job, our house would have been foreclosed, our car gone, our bank accounts emptied. Though enough time hadn’t passed for the terrifying conclusion that, “Everyone we knew is now dead!” surely some people we knew were gone, or at least thought we had disappeared, died, or abandoned them. We had nothing to our names at this point, and what was worse, it would be nearly impossible for me to catch up. I work with technology and have to stay current in my knowledge, but by the end of filming I was almost fourteen years out of date. I would no longer be able to work in the same field I had been.

We left the studio destitute and wandered around the future for a bit, receiving startled and strange looks from people. We soon saw the commercial on a television and discovered that not only had we been cut out of it completely, an idea I had while brainstorming the commercial, the exact words I had said, were being parroted by our “friend” who had roped us into this without warning. I was furious and, in my already somewhat tender mental state, was becoming rather mean in general. April soon left me and I was alone.

I confronted the friend, to no avail, and was completely lost and directionless before I awoke.

Hulu going the way of Cable TV?

I am often forced to admit that I’m not that old (born in the latter half of 1985), but I hear things. I have been led to understand that cable TV, for instance, was once free of advertisements. You paid for the service, so it didn’t need to be supported by ads. You could watch shows and movies without having to deal with interruptions, and it was great.

But then someone had an idea. “Wait, people are paying for this… so why don’t we collect their money and sell advertising spots? We’ve got a captive audience because people aren’t going to not use what they’re paying for, and advertisers will pay boatloads for those spots!”

Hulu might be working the opposite way down the same track. The new head of News Corp’s digital initiatives, who also happens to have secured a seat on Hulu’s board, is suggesting that what the online video provider needs to do is move to a subscription model, particularly one with “bundling.” We don’t know what these bundles might be, and neither does Jon Miller, but he thinks they’re good ideas.

And Jon Miller knows. After all, he was once a boss for America Online, which bundled CDs with every newspaper, magazine, and hot dog in the country. AOL was hugely successful, and Miller can bring those same powerhouse ideas to Hulu.

Speaking personally, if Hulu wants to charge a modest subscription fee, I won’t begrudge them that. I’d happily pay $10 a month for the service, and while $15 might be pushing it, I might even do that. But if they charged subscription fees and still had advertisers, there is no way in hell I’d give them my money. And let’s not kid ourselves people, they’re not going to tell their advertising partners to take a hike. It would be way more lucrative to have advertisers and paid subscriptions.

I have often lamented that cable TV doesn’t have a more flexible model, because I would happily pay $20 a month to get the 5-6 channels I would actually watch. I won’t pay $30-40 for 60 channels when I will only watch 4 (and still not get a couple of the ones I would like). Hulu doesn’t even have whole channels, just select content, and a lot of it disappears over time. I can’t watch every season of The Office anymore, and they’re only up to around episode 80 of Bleach (out of around 220). Why would I pay to see only what they have to offer and ads on top?

When I’m watching something on Hulu, it is because it is available. I watch what they have because it’s convenient more than because I really want to see what they’re showing. Perhaps I’d rather be watching Show X, but Hulu doesn’t have Show X and neither does anything else online. Therefore, I’ll watch Show Y, because it’s also good, it’s just not what I wanted. I won’t pay to have the luxury of not seeing the things I really want to see.

I doubt Hulu will move to subscriptions, because that would be retarded. But then again, the Internet is filled with many a stupid thing by many a stupid person.

Severely Disturbed

OK, maybe not severely, but enough that it’s bugging me. April and I just watched a few episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (we’re trying to finish this season, which is due back to the library tomorrow, and we’d like it to be overdue as little as possible), and one of the main characters died. This was followed by the most intense two episodes of grieving and sorrow I have ever seen on television, and it brought two things to mind.

The first was that, though I am intimately familiar with those reactions, those feelings, those heartaches, there is no one I would feel that way for anymore… except April. I would not grieve like they were, like I did for Lynette, for anyone but my wife, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. Part of me longs for that intense emotion in a somewhat macabre fashion, because any intense emotion is indicative of life to me, but I fear it as well. Because April is the one closest to me, and the only one, I have to really work hard to keep myself from worrying, obsessing even, about her safety and health. What would happen, if something were to happen to her? I’m not sure if I’d be completely and irrevocably broken, but it’s hard to tell.

The second thing it reminded me of was Lynette’s death and subsequent funeral. Seeing her in the coffin, seeing the coffin at the funeral. Memories of its colour (white, with blue highlights, birds, blue flowers and ribbons…); that they didn’t actually lower the casket while we were still at the cemetery; of speaking to all these people who had no idea who I was; of walking around for hours the night before the funeral; of weeping like I had never wept, uncontrollably; the piano keys wet from my tears because that was the first place I could find to sit after seeing her lying there, white and terrible.

I was able to stop mourning after about three years. To let go and begin to move on from all the death that accompanied my high school career. To remember and cherish the memories, but to stop grieving over Lynette, and Rick, and Dallas, and Jennifer, and everyone else, more than a dozen in all. To let the sorrow go and start healing.

But tonight, I remembered. I don’t know whether to thank Joss Whedon and admire him, or curse his name.