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Monday, April 14, 2014

Hate the state of programming on TV and the Internet? We get what we pay for.

How Much Did You Pay?

Not surprising to hear  us ask "How much did you pay?" as often as we do, considering our consumerist culture. It's natural to compare, to want to know details on our friends and neighbors purchases. 

Not always is the same question applied to our information, though there are compelling reasons why it should be, especially as mass media moves from one era to the next in subtle but sure ways.

We used to pay for our mass media and our information with our participation in the advertising structure that was the base of the entire enterprise. And what a structure it was. Three big networks taking in all American television viewers, dividing the audience and the advertising dollars in three big pie slices. It paid for what we got. We didn't get Shakespeare on Sundays evenings, but Bonanza, Ed Sullivan and Disney were not as bad as reality television either. 

Today, the Internet's at the head of the mass media table, and because of its disruptive-to-old-media-models-structure (it's free), the advertising dollar pie's been sliced so thin, it's tempting to think a Ronco kitchen device has been slicing and dicing in super-thin mode. There are so many programming choices (think YouTube), that it's hard to make production dollars pay off for those working in the old media landscape of television. That's why we see so much programming done on the cheap.

When we bemoan the standards of television programming, including news and current affairs, it's helpful to note the staffs at the network news have been cut back commensurate with the audience's shifting attention to the Internet and drops in advertising in traditional, legacy media. 

Here are some interesting and informative talks on the changing landscape of media gathered from TED talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design). Media Talks (each about 18 min.) 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lucky Comes To Say Hello Again

Anyone past their first few years has experienced grief, many over a pet who's died or run away or disappeared.

I was in the throes of sadness and mystery over Lucky's disappearance and almost sure death to the coyotes who were roaming the hills near us when I was visited by a chance message of reassurance about Lucky's demise. 

I found a film to watch one evening last week on Netflix, Dean Spanley  that spun a great yarn about a minister who could, with the help of a special brandy, recall his former life as a dog. He demonstrates how dogs think and what about, but most importantly for me, how death is perceived by an animal as one only more new sniff in the air, another over to run across, no pain whatsoever. 

This message is one I was desperately in need of, but I never dreamed of hoping for the elegant, poetic and heartwarming balm this movie delivered.

Here is a poem from Mary Oliver that comes to me also by surprise and as quietly this foggy, damp morning as Lucky used to appear beside me just to say hello.

The First Time Percy Came Back

The first time Percy came back
he was not sailing on a cloud.
He was loping along the sand as though
he had come a great way.
"Percy," I cried out, and reached to him--
those white curls--
but he was unreachable. As music
is present yet you can't touch it.
"Yes, it's all different," he said.
"You're going to be very surprised."
But I wasn't thinking of that. I only
wanted to hold him. "Listen," he said.
"I miss that too.
And now you'll be telling stories
of my coming back
and they won't be false, and they won't be true,
but they'll be real."
And, then, as he used to, he said, "Let's go!"
And we walked down the beach together.