Thursday, October 20, 2016

The End is in Sight

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November 8th is almost here, and the imploding Trump candidacy appears headed to the dust bin of history. Many people believe that even if Trump loses, he is positioning himself to create some sort of media entity, TrumpTV, as it were.

His rabid followers, those deplorables in a basket or basket cases, will have a field day. It is reminiscent of when Glenn Beck was eased off of Fox News because of his strident conspiracy theories and lunatic pronouncements, and went on to form The Blaze, a website and media company designed to capitalize on the Glenn Beck brand.

The Blaze is now sputtering out. Published reports indicate the site is failing and flailing about in a haze of executive turnover and low employee morale. The Blaze never extended Beck's brand, only his most loyal fellow travellers cared enough to fork over the subscription fees that was the lifeblood of The Blaze.

TrumpTV appears headed for a similar trajectory. With alt.-right Breitbart DNA coursing through its corporate blood, TrumpTV will fly for a bit, and ultimately collapse under its own weight. The Trump cohort doesn't have the sophistication to support a for profit media operation. When the KKK, InfoWars and other insane sites spew conspiracy theories for free, getting the Trump folk to shell out for TrumpTV is a decidedly dicey proposition.

TodayTix Cracks

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TodayTix, the ersatz discount mobile ticket app, has now started to raise their prices. Obviously unable to show profits, the business model of paying people to use the app with unsustainable rebates and bonuses is starting to burden their VC backers.

As we've seen, all TodayTix does is take orders from millennials too lazy to understand how to buy Broadway theater tickets, sends runners to wait on box office lines to purchase tickets at prices available to any ticket buyer, and charges fees to have a red shirted hipster hand them their tickets out on the street. Well, those fees are going up now as reality starts to set in.

The scalability of the TodayTix model has always been it's weakest point. The dizzying churn of their low wage employees has also been a problem, no doubt. Now, fees are starting to rise, as they clearly had to.

Even the idiots on Broadway chatboards are complaining about how the fee increase will eat into their coupon code sharing profits.

The days of TodayTix seem to be numbered now. That must mean it's time for Ticketmaster to make an offer. The last hope for TodayTix is to just survive until the offer comes through.  

Entyr Sandman

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I've been dogged by a nasty cold for a few days now. It's been going around, I hear so many people coughing and sniffling lately. Lucky for me, Nyquil lets me sleep even while congested. It's the sick man's (or women's) friend.

I don't care about the brand, the generics do quite nicely, and are much cheaper.

Maybe it's the medicine talking, but I wonder if anyone is working on other useful formulations.

Workquil? Commutequil?


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Casey's Coast to Coast

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Ever since I found out that IHEART Radio has a channel dedicated to Casey Kasem's classic American Top 40, it's become all I listen to.

IHeart alternates random broadcasts of '70s and '80s countdowns. The older they are, the better I like it. What's more, there are no commercials! And it's free! The internet has found it's killer app!

I used to listen to the dulcet tones of Casey Kasem each week, when it was somehow important to know where my favorite pop songs fared on those Billboard charts. It didn't hurt that Kasem was the cartoon voice of Shaggy on the old Scooby Doo cartoons. A cultural pinnacle of the '70s!

Casey is gone now, and sadly, not gone well. Here's my own long distance dedication to Casey and A.T. 40:

"Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars."--Casey Kasem

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Between Rock and a Hard Place

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Rock is dead. If the modern Rock era began with Bill Haley rockin' around the clock, it will have succumbed at the not very ripe age of 61.

The cause of death is reported to be a deadly form of creeping conservatism. Live fast, and die young was the fate of many, but that isn't the source. It seems to be the survivors are afflicted with cringe-worthy political changes.

The first example is the once-named Motor City Madman. Now you'd more accurately call him, simply, Madman. That would be Ted Nugent. The rocker that based his entire career on playing blues inspired music, can't help but characterize black people in the most derogatory terms. Now, as everyone knows, his music career is moribund, but his political activities are reprehensible. He is a true gun nut and a vicious and cruel racist and misogynist.

We can't forget Roger Waters, he of Pink Floyd. The rock icon has been flailing anti-Semitic charges against Israel for years, promoting boycotts and terrorist Palestinian behavior. I suppose he do need some education.

Another example is the guitar wiz known as Slow Hand. Nowadays, maybe a more appropriate name would be Slow Brain. Eric Clapton, a very white guitar god played the blues like few others has aged into a Brexit type in merry olde England, speaking out against immigration and the effects it has on English society. I wonder what effects he might be referring to?

Who can forget the numerous skinhead punk bands dedicated to various flavors of Nazi ideology? Punk music was originally hailed  for it's infusion of energy and revitalization of rock music. Well, that turned into a dead end, didn't it?


Saturday, October 8, 2016


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In the horrible aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, I remember waiting on long gas lines for the opportunity to pay jacked up prices for gas. Many stations participated in the practice, and I've not returned to those stations in the years since. There was never a shortage, just the typical market inefficiencies found in the aftermath of that disaster of a storm. Those gougers, and others like them proved the lie that "we all come together in the face of adversity". The greed showed by those price gougers proved that they were just the worst of the worst.

In Florida now, Hurricane Matthew is bringing many areas to their knees, and we will no doubt hear about more price gouging in the aftermath of this storm. Hopefully, the perps will have the full weight of law fall upon them.

Some recent examples of pharmaceutical price gouging are particularly galling. Folk anti-hero Martin Shkreli became the face of unbridled greed when his company bought the drug Daraprim and raised the price over five thousand percent. He was quite properly vilified, but sadly, the system that permits such abuse is allowed to continue.

Mylan Labs, seller of Epi-Pens, also showed where it's corporate heart is by raising the price of the device to eye-popping levels. The fallout has been impressive, but once again, the system that permits this abuse continues unchecked.

Natural disasters and life saving drugs make price gouging particularly heinous. When the very necessities of life are controlled by a market system that allows this kind of unethical profiteering, the gougers are quite properly described as unethical at best, evil at worst.

Wouldn't it also be true of  the gouging of items that are not necessities of life? Is the action any less unethical, if not rising (or sinking) to the level of evil, if the items being price gouged are merely discretionary?

This week, the smash Broadway show Hamilton announced a new block of tickets were going on sale. Not newsworthy in and of itself, but for the reported price of the tickets. They are being offered at $998.00 each.

No one needs to see a Broadway show. Life goes on for those that can't afford it. But, what does it do to the perception of the industry as a whole, when the general public comes to believe that insane prices like that may be commonplace? Does the prospect of seeing a Broadway show fall off the radar of typical tourists or local theater goers that have been weaned for years on discounts and the TKTS booth? Like I said, I have never returned to the gas stations that price gouged during Sandy.

The price gouging of Hamilton is completely unethical, but it doesn't hurt the public. It does, however, hurt the industry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Will it Go Round in Circles?


A new American demagogue is on the verge of rising to the presidency.

What makes for such fertile ground for demagogues? Fear and loathing. Whether it is fear of communists, or loathing of Islam, it was and remains the antithesis of American values.

There never was an excuse for it, and there is still no excuse for it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

75 Years Young


Last night, my union Local 751 IATSE, had it's 75th Anniversary celebration. It was a wonderful night and a great turnout. It was great seeing everyone in our union, and it was also a treat to see some of our retirees.

Our 50th Anniversary was a memorable party, and so was last night's 75th. The 100th promises to be a blowout!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Real Deplorables

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People get very upset when they hear something unpleasant. The truth hurts, by golly.

When Hillary Clinton called out half of Trump supporters as a "basket of deplorables, racists, homophobes, xenophobes etc." there was quite an uproar. Apparently, it is impolitic to call racists, homophobes xenophobes,, what they are. It must hurt their feelings. Clinton backed off, but only on her reckoning of the percentage.

Racists, homophobes, xenophobes and islamophobes all propelled Trump to the Republican presidential nomination. That was clear for all to see, no doubt about it. Deplorable is as deplorable does, when it's the Republican base.

What we are seeing now in the general election, is how deplorable the general electorate of this country is. As Trump narrows the gap, by some polls measurements, it becomes clear that those unaffiliated voters, the "undecideds" (or low information voters) are actually coming close to crowning Trump as the next president.

These people are being persuaded by Trump's cold reading of scripted speeches and posturing. They appear to be completely unaware of the lies and the racism that is the Trump candidacy.

Now THAT, is what's truly deplorable. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Come Set a Spell


This is a lame commercial for the Empire Casino at Yonkers Raceway. The casino touts its electronic blackjack games, because the law prevents live tables there.

The thought of betting $25 a hand on these machines is unnerving enough. What really gets me queasy is how at the end of the commercial, the machine is dealing out a perfect blackjack, as the commercial chops through images of "exciting casino action".

How do you get an electronic blackjack machine to deal a blackjack on command while filming a commercial? Hmm?

It doesn't seem like a player has any chance at all. The house edge is total.