Tuesday, February 18, 2020

I, Peppa Pig

Speaking of I, Claudius, I just realized that two cast members from that series are voice actors for the British childrens' cartoon show Peppa Pig.

Brian Blessed, who played the emperor Augustus in I, Claudius, plays Grampy Rabbit.



And Frances White, who played Julia, the daughter of Augustus (even though she's only two years younger than Blessed) plays Granny Pig.




So how do I know about Peppa Pig in the first place?

Because I practice French by watching Peppa Pig in French. In general they speak slowly and clearly which helps me understand.



There's a lot more Peppa Pig content in English than in French though, so lately I've had to branch out into another British TV show in French Le Petit Royaume de Ben et Holly about a society of elves and fairies.

Monday, February 17, 2020

I, Podius

I was really excited to see that John Hodgman was doing a podcast, called I, Podius, an episode-by-episode discussion of the 1976 British television series I, Claudius. I have blogged about my admiration for that series a few times.

Hodgman has a way of referencing semi-obscure culture that I'm interested in. I was disappointed that I missed Hodgman's riff on Ayn Rand, which was on stage right during the time I was working on my play DARK MARKET, which is about the influence of Ayn Rand on the fiscal policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

A play I put aside once the election of Trump made that scenario seem quaint and tame by comparison.

In theory John Hodgman doing a podcast on I, Claudius is great. In practice... not so much.

I don't know how much planning went into the approach of the series, but the first episode seemed to be organized around the idea that Hodgman would be the one focused on I Claudius, while his co-host Elliott Calin, who had not seen the series prior to recording the podcast, would provide commentary focusing on post-I Claudius culture, from Star Wars - released in 1977 - on. I guess in order to make it accessible to the under-40 demographic who make up the bulk of podcast listeners.

This is a mistake. The people who are likely to listen to this series are likely to already be familiar with I, Claudius and don't appreciate the excessive number of asides about things not related to I, Claudius.

I also have issues with the editing, or rather lack of editing of the first episode. There was a moment where they were discussing a scene and they couldn't remember the name of one of the actors (Cheryl Johnson) nor her character's name (Octavia) and they don't even bother to look it up. Why? Instead of including their chatter about not knowing the actor/character they could have edited that part out, and included them saying the character and actor names.

This seems to be a feature of podcasts in general - this refusal to edit anything and let the audience hear plenty of chatter or failed attempts at humor amongst worthwhile content. It was something I noticed about another podcast I blogged about, the Embrace the Void Pod.

All these podcast dudes seem to think their audience wants hear every error or random pointless comment made in the course of producing something worth listening to. Or at any rate, they don't care enough to take out all the verbal excelsior.

Maybe that's why my attempt at podcasting for NYCPlaywrights failed to find an audience - I used to edit the hell out of each episode, including limiting my own voice to the bare minimum. But since many people say they listen to podcasts during their commutes, maybe it's more important to fill up time than to focus on the quality of what is being said.

In any case, I will keep listening since there isn't a lot of new I, Claudius-related content out there and I have hope that they will stop trying to be clever and relevant and focus more on the actual television series I, Claudius.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Fun with weightlessness over 50 years

James Burke in 1969

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Weightless astronauts and fluids 1973





NASA cat and astronauts, 1980s





Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton rehearse for the movie "Apollo 13" in 1995



OK Go music video 2016

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Ugh, Edward Einhorn

Since the lawsuit of Einhorn v Mergatroyd Productions ended 14 years ago this April, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Edward Einhorn, happily.


I am not unhappy it is a fairly negative review:
Yet Einhorn remains a distant invention, a documentarian-artist through whom we encounter facts but who allows us no access to his own emotional back story: any hints of his early relationship with his mother, any depths to his fascination with his grandfather. 
As the show’s director as well, he serves up moments of postmodern fun, but sometimes falls prey to making scenes so cute they are obnoxious (a top-hat-and-lab-coat song-and-dance number, for example). Mike Mroch’s set design, with walls made of disconnected vertical panels, emphasizes the show’s fragmentary approach. 
“Doctors” is beholden to its premise, the story of Einhorn’s famous grandfather, even as it playfully cartwheels beyond to reveal its real intent. Yet it doesn’t commit fully to either Doctor Jane or Doctor Alexander but rather to the idea of writing about them. Here the writer, not the doctor, is in.
I think it's appropriate that Einhorn's theatrical production is about his family. Einhorn would not have a theatrical career if it wasn't for his family's vast wealth: he once mentioned on his blog that he doesn't have to work for a living thanks to his inheritance. 

He is a mediocre writer and a worse director. When he directed my play TAM LIN he put actors in dangerous situations and his staging was dead. Not to mention the excess audio-video equipment he decided he needed at the last minute, for a play that was much, much better low-tech. 

This is the problem with economic inequality in the United States. It leads to people like Edward Einhorn and Donald Trump doing this they really should not be doing, but which wealth permits them to do.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Mitt Romney, American Patriot

I never thought I'd see the day when I praised Mitt Romney. 

But he is a true American patriot. I am extremely impressed by his integrity, honor and courage in the face of the hideous Trump machine.

I salute you, Mitch Romney.