Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Bargain Bin

I received an email from my Broadway friend today. I hoped he was asking where to send cash for his share of some recent tabs, but no, he made no mention of that.

"Wow, did you see your Twitter Feed today? I just noticed that TDF is now broadcasting the shows they offer their members! It's a master stroke!"

His emails always dispensed with the usual social niceties, but that let him get to the point.

I replied, "Yes, I did. But I'm confused. Since when was it a good idea to make public deep discounts on Broadway tickets? Whose going to buy regular priced tickets, or even the normal discounts like Direct Mail cuts, or even TKTS?" I clicked send.

His answer came swiftly, at the speed of internet!

"Don't you remember anything? We've already established two things. We talked about all this already, don't you remember? The general public is ignorant. A collection of idiots! On the one hand, they love a deal. On the other hand they feed their ego on overpaying. Broadway, among all savvy purveyors of "commodities", is more than happy to give the people what they want! Fill it up with Premium, please!"

His message continued, "Look, we know from hard experience that TDF members, by and large, are the bottom of the barrel. Most are slobs that love the dirt cheap price (yet still want tenth row center), and many others are serial abusers of their membership, continually buying excess tickets for their family and friends and going into business for themselves, reselling cheap Broadway tickets at a profit."

I thought to myself, "Wow, this is harsh. He's not pulling any punches here!" Can't hit send with thoughts, not yet, anyway.

"Fat premium priced tickets, regular priced tickets even, only fuel the fire at the very few winners on Broadway. You KNOW that! The rest of the pack muddle along on all kinds of unending discounts. What's the difference if TDF sells the worst seats (or even the best seats) at the slowest time of the year for a pittance? Better than empty seats, my airline executive friends always say!"

"Aren't we trying to make money here? All the discounting becomes incoherent at some point, no?" was my curt reply.

"No." was his even more curt answer.

"Wha-a-a-at?" was my question.

"Just as we know that the audiences are lame narcissists with no grasp of economics, when it comes to producers, you ain't seen nothin yet! It's OPM, my friend. Other peoples money fuels the engine. For their money, investors get to go to an opening night party, hobnob with famous people, get house seats for shows, and pretend that the glitz and glitter of Broadway will somehow transfer to them. It's both funny and pathetic! But that's what makes the Broadway world go around, when all is said and done. And don't forget, it pays your salary, and the salaries of everyone on Broadway. There's real value in that, wouldn't you say? So what's wrong with TDF trumpeting their dirt cheap prices to fill the houses of the Broadway also-rans? It makes everyone feel better when the theaters are full, right? Most shows lose money, so what's the bloody difference? These producers and their investors are getting what they paid for, as does the premium ticket buyer and even the lowliest TDF putz."

I felt speechless. His email paragraphs seemed to go on forever.

"I can't argue with you. Once again, you've made your case quite well," I sent a few moments later.

",...btw, when can we get together for a few drinks? I think it's your turn to pay." I was unsubtle, but I couldn't figure out how else to end this email exchange.

His reply came five minutes later.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Doze Nuts

It's off to the races!

Trump wins New Hampshire and the soul of the Republican party, along with party elites, will be having endless conniptions.

Trump trampled the field, and without the lunacy of caucusing, Republican voters were able to express their wishes in the sanctity of a secret ballot.

It doesn't speak well of the Republicans that a xenophobic bigoted misogynist can win going away by simply "speaking his mind".

It doesn't speak well of the country at large that can countenance a candidate like Trump, let alone have him leading the pack.

But, I believe that the longer that Trump can hold his lead, the more the Republicans will descend into further chaos.

That's the kind of chaos I like.

Is that Michael Bloomberg I hear knocking on the door?

Monday, February 8, 2016

You Don't Forget Your First Time

I believe that this was the first Broadway I ever saw. It was a school trip, and while the particulars of the show have faded from my brain, I recall it being an exciting and fun trip and show. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Tower of Power


The oldies aren't as old as they used to be. This is one of the songs the oldies stations don't play anymore.

For some insane reason, they are calling "oldies" songs from the 80's and 90's!

That's just nutty!

Insomnia Theater

Before the advent of cable TV, if you had no interest in the farm report, these would be the televised sleep aids.



Sweet dreams...?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Thirty Mile Zone

I live thirty miles from Times Square, as the LIRR flies, at least. This morning, my Long Island shtetl, I mean village, got socked with about a foot of snow.

The weathermen had only forecast a few inches, so when the snow kept piling up, I started getting awful flashbacks from the blizzard we had a couple of weeks ago. I dug my car out, left early for the city, and hoped that I'd be able to get home tonight.

I was shocked that at the end of my thirty mile journey, I emerged from the subway on 42nd Street to find a clear blue sunny day, not a speck of snow to be seen! The air was a bit brisk, but it could have been an early spring day, not a winter day in February.

Famously, TMZ, the gossip site devoted to the scandals of all manner of celebrities, refers to the "thirty mile zone" (TMZ) that encompasses Hollywood, California. For me today, my thirty mile zone stretched all the way from the North Pole to sunny Manhattan!

PS: The trek home was blessedly uneventful. Yay!

And So It Begins...

I received an email from a web app that I use on my phone called 8tracks. The app is a music streamer, it uses playlists submitted by users. It's a nice app, but it competes in a most difficult space, with internet powerhouses like Google Play Music, Apple Itunes, and Pandora, among others.

The email was a plea for money. Investment money.

Here's the email:


 Hi Michael, 

In an unusual turn, I’m not writing today to suggest playlists we’ve hand-picked for you (though I've slipped in a few that our community love at the end of this email). Instead, I’m writing about potentially investing in 8tracks.  

Under US law, only wealthy individuals and venture capitalists have historically had the ability to invest in startups. This changed last summer: the JOBS Act now allows anyone to invest in private companies. Unlike typical crowdfunding platforms (like Kickstarter), this new process would allow you to actually own stock in 8tracks. 

8tracks was founded to showcase the passion and talent of people who care about great music and wish to share it, delivering the perfect playlist for a listener’s taste, time and place. As our DJs and listeners have both created and promoted this infinite soundtrack, so too should they have the opportunity to finance it by taking a stake in the company while we’re still relatively small. 

New funding would allow us to build out a full music library for DJs, make it easier for listeners to find playlists they like, integrate 8tracks on new platforms, and refine our business model to continue to grow 8tracks for years to come. 

This isn’t an offer to invest, and as of now you still can’t buy shares. I’d simply like to understand if you would be interested in participating. If there’s broad interest, we may file official paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to pursue this new crowdfunding option. 

 Show Your Interest

David Porter 
CEO & founder, 8tracks 


Claiming to only trying to gauge interest, it seems to me like they are really trying to gin up interest in their users to pony up investment in the company. Considering the massive competitive disadvantage they have from their 800 pound gorilla competition, it seems the prospects for 8tracks are dim at best. 

But the JOBS Act that the email references is the vehicle that will allow an entire new generation of stock fraud and manipulation to occur with an entire swath of people that have no business whatsoever investing in startups or even being solicited to do so. 

Even Broadway, where investments in shows have a notoriously low chance of recoupment, will soon be banging the drum for JOBS Act investments. There is one Broadway producer that is publicly chomping at the bit to bring in starry-eyed small investors to fund his shows via the JOBS Act. 

Curiously, there never has been a constituency for the creation of the JOBS Act. There has never been any demand by small unaccredited investors to be allowed to put money into such dubious ventures as internet start-ups or Broadway shows. 

It's only the hucksters that want to raise money for their endeavors, that have been thwarted by sound regulations against this sort of chicanery, that championed the creation of this horrible legislation. 

Without a doubt, we will see many tragic outcomes from the JOBS Act. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I've Got a Nickel


I was quite impressed with how much a nickel would buy.

Coming Right at You!


 A fun old time kids show.

With Doug and Emmy Jo, even!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Late Show


It's been several months, and it seems to me, at least, that Stephen Colbert is thriving on the Late Show. More fluff for a bigger audience, but a lot of Colbert Report DNA that makes it a great watch.

A great part of it are the marvelous opening credits. This is a "Director's Cut" extended version and it's simply terrific.