Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Day in the Life: Random Thoughts

When I was writing political crap, I used to write some quick thoughts about recent political happenings from the four corners of the earth.  I think I called it Around the World with Clyde or some idiotic sounding name.  So after having spent the week writing movie reviews and having polished up some of the old ones while hauling them over from the my soon to be deleted other blog, I thought I would take it easy for a moment and just write some of my thoughts on anything that comes to mind.  Let’s get busy.

The Let’s Get busy bit that I used here and on my Netflix reviews comes to you courtesy of the old Arsenio Hall show.  I began wondering whatever happened to him because at one time he was such a hot commodity. 

He showed up on George Lopez’s show as a guest, before it was canceled. 

He was once in consideration to host the crap game show Deal or no Deal, but lost out to Howie Mandel for that privilege.  Lost out?  He should consider himself lucky to have missed that gig. 

He has hosted a show called The World’s Funniest Moments on myNetworkTV.  I’ve never seen the show, I’m not even sure I get that network on our Craphouse Cable.  But for my money, video clip shows cloned from World’s Funniest Home Videos wore out their welcome with me a long time ago.  So has the original. 

He’s been a guest on Jay Leno as well, which is funny considering he once proclaimed he was going to “kick Jay Leno’s ass.”  So it’s nice to see he’s not impoverished and living on some street corner. 

I seldom watch talk shows anymore.  The guests are usually nothing more than celebrities trying to sell their next movie, book, or television show.  But now you know what happened to Arsenio and so do I.

My latest DVD/Purchase is a show from the seventies called Medical Center.  It starred Chad Everett and Tyne Daly’s dad James Daly.  As a matter of fact, I made the purchase just a few moments ago when Amazon so generously dropped the price down about ten dollars.  The thing to remember about Amazon is that some prices go up and down like schizophrenic yoyo.  Don’t blink or you may miss it.  I’ve put stuff in my shopping cart to mull over whether I really want to make the purchase, then come back a short time later to find the price all jacked up.  

I almost bought Medical Center from the Warner’s Archive Store for a couple of dollars less but by the time shipping, handling, and tax was added, then the price was jacked up quite a bit easily making Amazon the better value.

Bricks and Mortar stores claim Amazon has a huge advantage because they don’t charge tax.  That may be true, but if they think that Amazon charging tax is going to make customers suddenly ditch Amazon and head out to the shopping center, they are badly mistaken.  Here’s my opinion as to why that would be even when they do start charging taxes after having shopped there for about the past four years: 

1.  Amazon prices are often cheaper, regardless of tax. 
2.  If you buy a lot and have Amazon prime, you pay no shipping and handling and get two day delivery on most items.  Without Amazon prime, if you buy more than $25, there is still no shipping and handling fees but you get it regular ground shipping. 
3.  If you have Amazon Prime, you can get an item over night for $3.99.   For two day air, the Warner Archive wanted $10.00 which is just idiotic.
4.  As far as I’m concerned, Amazon customer service has been exemplary.  I’ve had no problem with item returns at all.  You simply print up a return label, and ship the article back.  It costs you nothing.  I’ve had to do that twice in two years, and once for something that was my own fault.

So I paid $41.79 at Amazon, I’ll get the item on Wednesday.  I would have paid $45.54 at the Warner store, and would have received it whenever via ground. 

I’ll be honest enough to say that last year I did drop Amazon Prime because I figured I could wait out the extra shipping time.  But I reinstated it when they added the free streaming movies, which made it a better value than Netflix, especially after Netflix jacked up their prices. 

And yeah, they need work with their streaming interface, and the selection isn’t as large, but it is growing steadily and actually growing at a pace faster than Netflix streaming did in it’s early days.  And besides, I found I really missed the free shipping and two day delivery when the order doesn’t total twenty five dollars.  Just a few days ago I bought a DVD for about $2.98.  And it cost me no more than that.  That’s better than the bargain bin at Wal-mart.

I’m sure you’ll say this post has something to do with the Amazon ads posted all over the blog.  No, it doesn’t.  I’ve had those ads previously on Clyde’s Movie Palace, the blog I’m in the process of integrating into this one.  I had those posted for three years.  Recently, Amazon closed all the California accounts and settled up  all outstanding balances. My settlement was just over $7 dollars for those three years, which almost paid for my Top Gun on blu-ray, but not quite.  When they sent me an email saying I was getting it, I’d just about forgotten I even had those ads.  So why am I  bothering with the ads again? 

Well, $7 dollars is still better than no dollars.  And once you put them up, they really don’t require much maintenance.  As for the wish list near the bottom of the right hand column, that’s there for family members to find easily.  I became tired of them asking me to send it to them last Christmas, especially since it was always changing depending on what I bought or finding something I wanted more and what I thought were real possibilities.  And besides, how the hell else am I going to get them to read this blog, something they seem to regard as pure poison. So Merry Christmas to you all.

About a week and a half ago I pre-ordered The Donna Reed Show, The Complete Fourth Season.  These are the Lost Episodes, that weren’t seen when the series ran on Nick at Nite.  When I ordered, the price was $39 dollars and has dropped down to under $30 as of this writing.  (Which is another thing about Amazon.  When you pre-order you always get the lowest price from the time you order until the item ships.  But this little article isn’t about Amazon.)

I already own seasons one, two, and three, and for a long time it looked as if we were not going to get season four.  So this made me extremely happy.

I’m sure the biggest percentage of those who read this will shrug their shoulders when I mention The Donna Reed Show and this DVD release.  But it is important, and it’s important in a lot of ways.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m also big on Classic Television.  I hope to write a lot of articles regarding that hobby but they will have to wait until I get the other blog articles transferred over here.  By then I should have more time.

What I’m afraid of is that we are going to lose our television heritage.  Even more than films, I believe that most television programs are a microcosm of the world in which we lived at a certain point in time.  They are a part of our history, and in a way are a recorded time capsule.   Yet, while much is being done to preserve our motion picture history, the majority of our television history is being ignored, except by those of us who are old enough to appreciate it for what it was.

Think about it.  If someone hadn’t been willing to put together these episodes of this show, they would have probably been lost forever.  And if there are to be more released, it will probably be dependent on how well these sell.  We hear about one society after another working for film preservation, yet I know of no effort to preserve our television heritage unless more than a few pennies in profit can be squeezed out of bringing these shows back to life.  But this is just the tip of an iceberg, and part of a longer article I really have to be writing.  Maybe a series of articles.

If you visited this blog before I began re-working it, you probably saw a long list of feeds in the margins.  Most had to do with entertainment sites, some with political sites, and others concerning consumer affairs.  I debated a long time before taking them down, but after studying the situation, I found out that most of them had the same exact stories and it was all very repetitious, not to mention how much they slowed the page down when it was trying to load.  I had all of these same sites in my Google reader and when I would go to read the articles, there was seldom very little difference between most of them or the headlined stories. 

So I decided it was all pretty useless information, just as posting the same news bits on here would be.  I made up my mind there would be no copying and pasting news articles unless I knew for sure it was very fresh information, (the Netflix/Qwikster story broke and I was on top of it by accident which is why I posted it), or if I had something to say about the story other than one or two sentences.  So my advice is if you want to read all that stuff, use an RSS reader.  Most of it is boring useless crap anyway. 

But on the other hand, I’m still pasting links on my Clyde Stuff Facebook page in the hopes that someone will respond and there will be a half way decent follow up or discussion of whatever it is I posted about.  And if by chance you go there, try hitting the like button for me.  There is no prize, this is not Digital Bits, and it is not DVD verdict.    This is just me writing my fool ass off.  But maybe someday.  But feel free to post and comment as long as you keep it in bounds.

I’m a skeptic sometimes when it comes to new gadgets.  I for one thought that blu-ray players were not that big of a deal and repeatedly said I wouldn’t buy one.  But when the prices came way down they made them so that you could stream Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon I caved and bought one.  Yeah, I know I could have bought a Roku but for a top of the line Roku Player, the price difference just wasn’t that prohibitive.  I did eventually buy a Roku for one of the other rooms.

But having experienced the format,  I can now say that for many movies, the difference is remarkable, especially when a studio ends up cleaning up older films so that the picture is like it’s brand new.  My son bought me Casablanca on Blu-ray, and it was as if they had developed the movie off of a fresh negative.  Likewise, some others have just blown me away like Gone With The Wind, How The West Was Won, Ben-Hur, Quo-Vadis, and most of all The Sound of Music.

One problem though is that for some damn reason, my laptop that has a blu-ray play player in it won’t play them.  Even after installing software to enable you to do so.  It just won’t recognize the discs, so it would be impossible for me to do a few screen captures for a review unless I use my web cam as I did on this article for The Big Bird Cage.  Come to think of it, I should do another one of those.  I had a lot of fun writing that.

I hope to get back to doing a lot of reading sometime before I’m placed in the furnace and my ashes dumped into some pretty urn. Between work, this blog, and dealing with pain on a day to day basis, I haven’t had the time. I do have one large book back in the bedroom I intend to read soon, just before I review the movie version of that same book. And no, I won’t say what it is but it’s an older book and movie. I can tell you for sure it isn’t Harry Potter though.

And so I was also a skeptic about the Kindle, until I my son bought one.  Now, I want one.  Sure you can read books on your laptop, desktop, or your I-pad, but it’s not even close to the same experience as reading the printed page.  The Kindle comes as close to that as you possibly can get electronically.  I can’t compare it to the Nook, because I haven’t seen one of those, but if you want to send me one, I’ll check it out and let you know.

And finally, if you look in the right hand margin you’ll see a list of my most popular posts.  Of course, a bunch of dirty old bastards searching endlessly for Jenni and Dex porn have made the Jennifer Ringsley article number one.  Right beneath it however is my review of the 1973 version of Walking Tall.  I was kind of perplexed about that at first but not any more.  People aren’t looking to read my review about Walking Tall, they want to buy it. Some of them may be vendors hoping to pick up a cheap copy for resale at an exorbitant price.

The problem is that for whatever reason, the movie is out of print again, and the prices on Amazon have skyrocketed and are climbing on a daily basis.  The lowest price for a used disc is $40 but a new unopened copy will put you back $60 dollars or more.  Why is it out of print?  I don’t know.  Ask Paramount.  I think they have the rights.  I don’t know how well the movie sold, or what their plans are.  Maybe they will sell the rights to Amazon or Netflix for streaming, which might put a dent in the DVD price, but not much of one because streaming is still not the same as owning  it. 

I have three copies of this film.  The first time I bought it was part of a three disc set that included all three original movies.  And the quality was abysmal to say the least.  I think it was issued by Rhino.  Yet, this crappy quality three disc box set is selling for $85 dollars right now at Amazon by outside sellers.  But I won’t be selling mine.  Not because I cherish it that much, but it is the only copies of the other two films that I have should I decide to revisit that franchise, something that is a distinct possibility. 

When Paramount finally reissued the film in widescreen with good picture quality, I for one was eternally grateful.  But somehow my disc came up missing here in the house and I had to repurchase it.  Eventually the other disc showed up which is how I ended up with two of them.  The original one I bought was only played once I think, so I guess I could list it as like new and sell it.

But I won’t.  Posting ads for Amazon all over the place is one thing, getting into actually having to sell them is another story altogether.  Maybe if I were healthy and retired and had hours to kill, I could manage it.  What I can’t figure out is why any one would pay these prices?  Well, hell yes I can.

Way back when, Disney had issued a copy of The Little Mermaid on DVD for a limited time.  This was a bare bones edition released when DVD’s were in their infancy.  By the time I bought a DVD player, it had been out of print for a quite a while.  So I got caught up in an auction for one on Ebay.  I really wanted the disc, and ended up paying fifty dollars for a brand new unopened copy.  Afterwards I kind of regretted it and later Disney reissued the movie as a special edition just like they always do, which meant that the value of the copy I had went into the dumpster.  So even to this day I kind of regret having bought it.

Still, I don’t know what the odds are of Walking Talk getting another reprieve on disc.  It would be cool to see a blu-ray issue of the set with some special features and commentary by some of the cast, even if I didn’t particularly care for the sequels.  I would say that’s a long shot though.  I don’t know if the film has a large enough following for penny pinching Paramount to believe it merits that.

But that’s the gamble you take if you buy it.  If it is reissued, than you lose.  If it never sees the light of day again, then you win.  So if you want to spend that kind of money, be my guest.  Since you’ll be buying from an outside seller, it doesn’t affect me one way or the other in regards to Amazon.  Catch you later!

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