Adding Product Advertisements Into Old Films…?

Ran across this fascinating article by Jonty Bloom and presented on bbc.com:

How product placements may soon be added to classic films

The upshot of the article is that computer graphics have advanced to such a degree that it is possible to digitally “place” products into old works that didn’t have them.

The article uses as an example the classic sequence involving Steve McQueen jumping his motorcycle in The Great Escape, and noting that at this point in time they could digitally add a billboard in the background of that sequence advertising… whatever the company paying wants to advertise.

It’s not limited to “just” old movies. Even current films could show different advertisements depending on which country they’re showing them.

As horrified of the concept as I am, I have to admit its ingenious as well: Its another way a studio can profit from an older release!

Having said that, this bit from the article intrigued me the most:

Product placement in films is almost as old as the movie industry itself. The first example of the phenomenon is said to be the 1919 Buster Keaton comedy The Garage, which featured the logos of petrol firms and motor oil companies.

Wow…!

I never really considered how far back product placement might go and its intriguing that it may go back as far as 1919…!

I suppose this newest development is simply a sign of the times and… its too bad yet not unexpected.

On Writing: How I Do It…

I’ve always been fascinated by how authors write.

I’ve bought books by some noted authors who go into explanations of their writing techniques and I’ve found that, for the most part, there are similarities and differences but one thing is clear: They put in the work.

As much as writing is presented -especially in the media- as some kind of diversion, writing is hard work, at least for me, which involves considerable concentration and thought along with many, many hours of sitting either behind a desk or on a chair going over page upon page of material.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: When I set about writing a novel, it becomes something of an obsession. In quiet times, when driving or when eating or showering or you-name-it, my mind tends to wander upon whatever story I’m currently writing and thinking through scenarios and bits and pieces of the book and, at times, coming up with new/interesting material to add to the whole thing.

It’s almost like going into an OCD trance that can quite literally last for many months and, in extreme cases, a year or more!

But let’s take a step back and please note, this is my way of doing things and may not apply to other authors.

How do I begin the whole process?

This is the hardest part of the whole thing: Coming up with a concept you feel is worth pursuing.

It’s so easy to say so very hard to put into practice. At any given time I may think -when I’m not concentrating on whatever novel I’m currently writing- scenarios and possibilities for future stories.

Sometimes, I back into works I’ve considered before and/or not quite completed and revisit them to see if they’re worth giving a second look. Other times I’ll simply come up with an interesting new concept -one I very much like- and work from there.

There are no hard and fast rules about this, other than that the initial idea, however it came about, is one that I feel is worth pursuing.

In the novel I’m currently writing, I did a little of both. The story begins with a short story I wrote quite literally many, many years ago and always felt like it would make a great intro to a cool longer story/novel.

Only problem was at the time I wrote that original story, I simply had no place to go with it.

I subsequently got involved in my Corrosive Knights series and, following finishing that off and looking around for a follow up, I then recalled that original short story I wanted to expand upon all those years before and, like magic, the gears in my head start turning and soon I had an interesting initial concept which used the short story as the novel’s intro and went off from there.

But, just because I had an initial concept doesn’t mean the whole story, start to end, is all planned out and ready.

I started the process of writing this new novel and, as I did, the story morphed from something relatively simple/simplistic into something a little more involved. Often, it moved into directions I couldn’t have anticipated without the hard work of sitting down and typing away and/or thinking about the story day after day.

This is a standard part of my process of writing, by the way. Every novel I’ve written, every one, I start off with an initial set of ideas that appeal to me enough to pursue but over time the story inevitably moves into all kinds of new and interesting -and unanticipated!- directions.

Why?

Maybe because I can’t stand the idea of writing something that isn’t to some degree original/interesting to me as a writer… and I need to surprise myself with these new directions.

See, this is part of what makes for a successful book in my mind: I want to be as surprised and excited by new and interesting ideas as I hope I make readers feel. I don’t want to go through an “easy” route and write something that repeats other stories. I want there to be an unpredictability to the story being told, to offer surprises that make sense yet are just that. In as much as possible, I want to give my readers -as much as I’m able to- something they may not have read before.

That’s not to say I’ll always succeed at doing this, but I try!

If I’m very lucky -or in a good groove- I’ll have the first full draft done in a matter of 2-4 months or so, usually the later and in some cases sometimes longer.

The “completeness” of the first draft of my novel varies wildly but it usually represents a point where I’m comfortable enough with what I’ve written -start to end- that its time to print it out, read through it, and add notes and new material while starting the process of getting rid of any extraneous material.

There have been times I’ve decided to print out a “first draft” with significant chunks of the book missing/not yet written. Sometimes its because I’m unsure what will go into these sections and I want to step back and get a clear look at the book “as is” to figure out what it may need. Once again, creativity is the key as I’m coming up with scenarios and sequences.

Speaking of which, at this stage I sometimes realize sections of the book may need to be re-ordered. An action scene on page, say, 100 works much better if it is placed a little earlier in the book proper.

By the time I finish the first draft read-through, I have a printed copy that’s filled with red marks and notations. Sometimes, I’ll write on separate pages what I need to put in.

I take those revisions -and at this stage they’re pretty significant- and put them into the computer. I then print the whole revised thing out and read through it, once again adding in things that are needed, taking out things that aren’t, while cleaning up whatever I can. The earliest drafts are mostly about getting the novel’s sequences in order and making sure the book works like it should.

When we get around to the third draft, its usually more of the same: Going over the book, trimming whatever fat there is, and adding or subtracting what needs to be added or subtracted. In some instances I may realize that there are two or three separate sequences that work better if they’re merged together into one, or one sequence that works better if its split in two.

It’s like having Lego blocks and swapping out pieces here and there as well as sometimes moving bigger sections to other places.

This will go on with each subsequent draft and soon I’ll have the novel’s story pretty well “locked” down. All the parts will flow, leading to the climax and conclusion and there will be no need to either add or subtract sequences.

When I’ve gotten to that point, my revisions tend to move into the storytelling mechanics themselves. In this part of the process I become interested in streamlining the writing and making sure its as sharp as possible while leaving the story itself.

I’m an impatient reader and this informs my writing. I don’t like novels which waste page after page with what winds up being pointless dialogue or overlong description. While it may work for other authors, for me it becomes an exercise in “trimming the fat”.

While the page/word count tends to rise from the first draft until I have the story “locked down”, the opposite happens when I reach this later stage of writing. As I cut things down, making sure that I’m not repeating myself and offering the reader the essence of the story I’m trying to tell without the bloat, the word count now tends to start falling.

Soon enough I reach a point where my red marker is being used very little from page to page and that’s when I know the book is just about ready to be released.

And that’s when the reward for all that hard work comes.

The moment I finally hold a fresh copy of my latest novel and flip through it.

It’s an absolutely beautiful feeling!

…And so it begins… Again!

Last week Wednesday I flew to Texas to deal with some family business. It was a short flight and I was back home by Sunday morning.

However, before taking the flight, I was determined to finish off the first draft of my latest novel. It was a tight thing but I managed to do so, creating a more than adequate first draft before flying off and, on Monday, I printed the whole thing out.

Alas, Monday through Wednesday have been something of a nightmare. I’ve been super busy with other work and the stresses associated with it -and they have been just beautiful, let me tell you- and I haven’t been able to give the new novel as much time as I’d like.

Today, Thursday the 15th of April, I finally had some time to devote to it and I managed to work through a few pages. Not a lot, granted, but I feel like the book’s opening is pretty solid.

I also feel the novel is not unlike Terminus Island, my last novel, in that I feel we’re moving quite well here and I have a book that’s much closer to done than some of my previous ones that required up to 12 or so drafts before I felt they were good enough to be released.

In the case of Terminus Island, I wound up doing some five or so drafts of the book before I felt it was good enough for release.

I’m hoping the same happens this time around. If that’s the case, its not inconceivable that this new novel will become available later this year.

Oh, and in case you were curious: This novel will be an independent story and not part of the Corrosive Knights series.

I may well return to that universe after this novel -I still have story ideas!- but this concept proved too much of a draw to let go!

I’ll tell you more as I go along!

Twin Peaks (2017) A (First Half Of The Season) Review

Had to do some flying (*gasp*) to take care of some family business so I haven’t been around as much as I wanted. Luckily, I’ve already had my two Pfizer shots and, while the entire two weeks’ time since the second injection hadn’t quite elapsed (they did the day after I returned home), I felt far more comfortable doing this trip than I have the previous one I was also forced to do earlier on.

Whew.

Anyway: Get vaccinated, people! If I could do it, you can as well and most states nowadays seem to be offering vaccines to almost everyone.

Ahem.

Anyway, Twin Peaks 2017.

I recall the show being released -to Showtime- and it was for a little while the talk of critics, but it didn’t seem to be the world-stopping event that some other writer/director David Lynch works, up to and including the original season of Twin Peaks released waaaaaay back in 1989. The show lasted two seasons before being cancelled, with many saying that once Lynch left the show in the second season it went downhill.

A year or so after the TV series was done, David Lynch would release Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which was originally met with considerable critical hatred though, over the years, people re-assessed it far more positively.

Anyway, that movie came out in 1992 and a whopping twenty nine years later and via Showtime what is effectively the third season of Twin Peaks was released and, thanks to the free time both on my flight and afterwards, I was able to blow through eight of the 18 episodes made.

As I said above, this new “season” of Twin Peaks didn’t seem to have the lasting power some of Lynch’s works have. It’s been four years since its release and I have to admit it surprised me to remember I picked it up -digitally- a while back and had yet to see it.

I wondered why it was that it didn’t seem to peak like some other Lynch works and, further, if maybe this series might wind up being something of a disappointment.

Based on the 8 episodes I’ve seen, culminating in an episode which I recall some critics were particularly blown away (pun intended, I guess!) over, the show is a fascinating, though perhaps over stuffed, work that falls neatly in line with your typical Lynchian work.

But its also a lot of material being thrown at you and at times its bewildering, amusing, creepy, and drawn out… and I’m not sure if it might have benefitted from being a little more streamlined.

For example, what many consider David Lynch’s best work, the 2001 film Mulholland Dr., was originally intended to be a TV series not unlike Twin Peaks but ultimately wound up being compressed into a fantastic two and a half hour movie. There was weirdness, there was comedy, there was rot under the gleaming surface, but there was also a story that was told in toto without any real bloat.

I worry that with this Twin Peaks work, as fantastic as it is at times, we’re given more extraneous stuff than is necessary.

Worries aside, the eight episodes I’ve seen so far have been enjoyable. There are bits that are absolutely hilarious mixed with bits that are creepy and suspenseful as hell. Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost (who worked with him on the original Twin Peaks show) have given us a veritable avalanche of characters moving about doing their thing, natural or supernatural, and in the middle of it all are two Dale Coopers (Longtime Lynch collaborator/actor Kyle MacLachlan), one who is possessed by evil and the other -dazed for the episodes I’ve seen- is the “good” Agent Dale Cooper, recently released from the mystical Black Lodge where he’s been imprisoned for over twenty five years while his evil version runs rampant on the roads of the U.S.

It’s difficult to give a full on review of the series, not having seen it all yet, but at least for these eight episodes I’ve been entertained, certainly, and have to give considerable credit to Mr. Lynch and company for creating something as visually sumptuous and meaty as this series and not lose track and go off the rails into complete bizarreness.

Anyway, a thumbs up for me -at least for now!- and let’s see how the rest plays out…

Taylor Swift and artistic redux

Over on Slate.com Carl Wilson offers the following fascinating review/examination of Taylor Swift’s reworking of her album Fearless, titled Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

Taylor Swift’s Fearless Redux is both business stunt and conceptual art

Let me say right up front: I’m not a Taylor Swift fan. If someone were to play a trio of songs for me by modern female artists, there is probably a 99% plus chance I couldn’t identify any of the songs or artists who sing them, much less which song is by Taylor Swift.

Sad but true: I’m not really that into the modern music scene. Been a while since I was.

Having said that, I’m not here to knock Taylor Swift fans for making Fearless (Taylor’s Version) a HUGE hit.

The original version of Fearless, released when Ms. Swift was 18 years old (she’s 31 now), and a number of her older albums, have been the source of considerable consternation for Ms. Swift. She, like many other artists, released her early albums (six of them, to be exact) and a gentleman by the name of Scooter Braun has control over those master recordings… but not the rights to the songs themselves.

So its like this: Ms. Swift, while having the copyright to the songs, does not have the rights to those original recordings of them. Over the years and as she’s become a bigger and bigger star, she’s tried to regain control over them but, given that those albums sell extremely well, Mr. Braun has not been terribly inclined to release control over those original recordings and give them back to Ms. Swift.

To get around this, Ms. Swift decided to re-record the entire album and released this new recording, along with several bonus songs, in an attempt to supplant the original version of her album. This is a totally legitimate way of gaining back control of this album and its songs. While Mr. Braun keeps the original recordings, Ms. Swift has essentially offered fans a way of still enjoying that album without any of the proceeds going to Mr. Braun.

Given the loyalty her fans have to Ms. Swift and the tremendous success of this album’s release, looks like Ms. Swift has managed to stick it to Mr. Braun… and good.

Given the success of this re-recording/release, she now can go back and redo the other albums Mr. Braun owns the original masters to as well. If this continues to be a success, those original recordings may wind up being worthless… if indeed fans prefer the new versions over the old.

As far as I’m concerned, good for Ms. Swift!

Anyway, indulge me for a moment while I paste a paragraph from the article I linked to above. I know its a long paragraph, but it totally fascinates me. I’ve put in bold a part I particularly liked:

The reasons to rerecord always involve dry intellectual-property distinctions, like publishing versus mechanical rights, as well as larger principles of artistic autonomy. But they also invoke questions about authenticity and originality within a creative economy of mass reproduction, questions that aesthetic philosophers have wrestled with for going on a century. The ambiguous status of the remake long predates mass media itself; consider that there are multiple “originals” of works like Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Munch’s The Scream, Duchamp’s urinal, and arguably even the Mona Lisa, likely due to a mixture of artistic and avaricious motives. Just like Swift, these artists had to deal with the frustration that once you’ve sold something you’ve made, you can’t sell it again unless you find a way to repossess or remake it. (Hell, you could say the same about all of our time and labor under capitalism.) That’s partly why artists from Warhol to Koons to Banksy, whose works dart back-and-forth across the borders of perceptual object and commodity, have been so influential. Every art market perpetually wrestles with the implicit postures and falsehoods of how it generates value. If the Swift vs. Braun feud were just starting now, might they have been able to split the difference on the album masters by rendering unto one side or the other a nice shiny non-fungible token?

As an artist, the part I put in bold really hits home.

I’ve written several novels and, to date, have tried to make each and every one of them, even my 8 part (to date) Corrosive Knights books be original to each other.

Yet I’m keenly aware that if one of those books did better -let’s say incredibly better- than the others and fans truly loved that book above all the rest, as someone who needs to make money to pay for food and rent, this might prove a big temptation to emulate the book(s) that did better.

After all, we want to be rewarded for our hard work, don’t we?

But that’s the conundrum mentioned above. As artists, you are often paid for a work and that’s that.

When I was younger, I worked in the comic book field and the work I did was “work for hire”. What that meant was that the publisher of the company paid me to do my work (usually inking work) and once I was paid, that was that.

Let’s say a book I inked proved to be incredibly popular. Let’s say it sold in the millions of copies and did so because people liked my inking.

The publisher could continue to print the book ad nauseum, and what would I be entitled to?

Nothing.

Oh, I grant you, if a book was that popular, the publisher would come back to me for any future work and, yes, I could demand a bigger pay.

But let’s say this particular story I inked was the one people were interested in, and no other works of mine merited even a tenth of the interest.

Again, what would I get from reprints of the work?

Nothing.

Because I was paid for the original work and that, folks, was that.

Which is why I realized that if I was ever going to make it in the entertainment field the way I wanted to make it, I needed to have some control over my work. This made sense to me financially and, frankly, mentally. I couldn’t stand the idea of others having control over my creative works.

The only way to do this was to move away from work for hire situations, though they might pay well, and focus on releasing things on my own but which I alone controlled.

So all the novels, one graphic novel, and one short story collection are all mine. All publication rights and any future publications will be under my control.

The good thing about this is that if (and its a BIG if) the work hits, I stand to make more from it versus doing a “work for hire” story/novel. I also decide how the works will continue. No company will make any decisions about any of the characters I spent considerable time and effort working on.

On the minus side, its solely up to me to succeed. I don’t have any big pocketed company promoting my work(s). I don’t have a big pocketed company and the goodwill it has created with readers to get them looking at me and my works.

But I want it that way.

For better or worse and unless something really big changes, that’s the only way I want to be.

Premium Rush (2012) a (very) Belated Review

There was a time when I would have described myself as something of a movie snob. I enjoyed the hell out of watching films, mind you, but I was the sort of fan who would nitpick all the faults I’d see in films, even the ones I adored.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve mellowed out considerably. As an author, I know the hard work that goes into making something and I know that as a creator you simply can’t do everything you want with whatever work you’re involved in. Sometimes, you may be a victim of a time crunch. Other times, you simply miss out on something that others may notice (the dreaded not quite seeing the forest for the trees cliche). Other times you did the best you could and need to let a project go -you can literally spend your whole life revising and revising and revising a work if you let yourself.

Anyway, long story short, the 2012 film Premium Rush was on yesterday on one of the premium cable stations and I started watching it and damned if I didn’t find it interesting enough to keep watching it through.

Here’s the movie’s trailer:

Let me state up front: This is a popcorn film through and through. There’s no intention, by the actors, producers, directors, and screenwriters, to make something deep which explores the human condition.

The story involves Wilee (as in Wile E. Coyote) a bike courier (Joseph Gorden-Levitt, enjoyable as our protagonist) versus Bobby Monday, a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon, not quite chewing all the scenery and never presented as too terribly evil… but evil enough) who hides his true identity behind the phony name Forrest J. Ackerman (a nice, though coming out of nowhere in-joke for movie fans).

Wilee is hired to deliver a letter and Bobby Monday very much needs to intercept it and get his hands on it.

The movie involves the efforts by both to take care of this McGuffin letter.

I won’t get into too many spoilers about what the letter has -this is explained, naturally, in the course of the movie- but suffice to say there’s a noble reason to deliver the letter and an evil reason by our corrupt cop to get his hands on it.

The movie could have been dark, presenting the villain as an out of control killer and New York as a slaughter ground for bike couriers, but instead decided to go for a much lighter presentation. The film is amiable, surprisingly so, and the interactions between Wilee and Bobby Monday are often semi-humorous, though the tension is always there.

The only debit I’d place on the film is that, like the Road Runner cartoon character Wilee’s name is based on, there isn’t much “there” there. The plot is pretty simple, the various characters’ motivations too, and by the time the story unfurls, one can’t help but feel the movie would -and maybe should- have been much shorter. To expand the time, the film often goes back in time to fill us in on events which led to where we are “now”. At times its interesting though at times these little past interludes feel like they break up the movie’s momentum.

The director/co-writer of the film is David Koepp, who is perhaps best known for screenplays rather than direction. Among the movies he’s written screenplays for are Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way, Mission Impossible, and the Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man. Most recently he directed the suspense/horror film You Should Have Left with Kevin Bacon. He does a decent job here, clearly showing us the action and immersing us in this version of New York City, full of people and buildings and cars… plenty of obstacles your average bike courier has to deal with.

Again, while the film may not be a masterpiece of cinema, its a pleasant enough time killer with a pleasant cast of characters. You could do far worse than spend a quiet afternoon watching Premium Rush.

Movie Theaters… will they ever return as before?

If you’ve read my posts for any length of time, you know I’m a huge movie fan.

I’ve been into movies since I first saw, likely when I was not much older than 5 or 6 years old, the Steven Spielberg directed film Duel when it first aired on TV way, waaaaaaaaay back in/around 1971 (I saw it in Canada, where we were living at the time, and I don’t know if it aired on the same night as it did in the U.S.)…

Anyway, that film -which until many years later I didn’t know was actually directed by Spielberg!- initiated my lifelong love of movies.

The theater experience is a wonderful one. Going to see a movie on a large screen, the sound system and images filling your senses… it’s immersive, beautiful stuff.

But since the rise of COVID-19, that’s been pretty much it for films being shown in theaters.

The movie companies, which had -and still have!- several films they wanted to release, held back, hoping the pandemic would go away so they could resume their business. Time passed. More time passed, and eventually, some films were released.

Tenet, the Christopher Nolan time traveling thematic remake of the Bond film Thunderball was released after a while to theaters but based on some of the things I’ve read, it might have proven to be too soon a release.

There was also Wonder Woman 1984 waiting to be released and pushed back frequently, until Warner Brothers and their HBO Max service decided to show it there for people who subscribe to it. They showed the film there for something like a month before it was yanked for home video purchase/rent. Similarly, the Godzilla vs King Kong film I believe was just released to the streaming service as well and, soon, the James Gunn directed Suicide Squad will follow a similar path.

This is not to mention the Zack Snyder Justice League film, which was essentially “restored/finished” solely for the HBO Max service.

Disney, on the other hand, has several features, perhaps the biggest being the Black Widow film, held back for a hopeful theatrical release. There’s also the latest and perhaps last Daniel Craig James Bond film, No Time To Die, which is also in the can and awaiting its eventual release.

Are people -and especially the movie companies- when the pandemic is over going to resume their previous policy of releasing films to theaters and waiting a few months before releasing them to their streaming services before doing the home video sales/rentals? And if there is at least a comparable amount of money to be made by releasing these films to their streaming services and making money via streaming subscriptions, would they be as interested in the continuing the theater experience?

I recall many years ago when the Tim Burton directed Batman film was released to theaters and did incredible business. Back then, it would take sometimes a year or so before a film eventually was released to home video but Warner Brothers turned around and released the video version of the film in a matter of months following the end of its theatrical run, and they made even more money off the box office hit that it was.

This prompted other companies to release their theatrical films faster and faster to home video, to the point where it takes maybe two or three months following a theatrical run that one has the film available for home video.

But now, with the simultaneous releases of films to theater (though one wonders just how many people risk going to see them then) and streaming, will studios realize they can make more simply streaming the films themselves? After all, this way they have full control over how many people actually see the film upon its initial release and, given the increasingly sophisticated home theater equipment, people may prefer to see it in their home initially anyway.

Now that the proverbial toothpaste is out of the tube, can it be pushed back in?

Could this mean trouble for the theater business?

This is, obviously, all speculation on my part. I have no idea if the movie companies made decent money off their simultaneous streaming/theater presentations of movies. I don’t know but they most certainly do,

If streaming films -and getting the money for their subscription streaming service- proves at least as profitable to movie making companies, why would they keep sending films to theaters?

Understand, I hope the theaters survive, but the reality is that things like book stores, video rental stores, and music stores existed only as long as they made a profit. The moment they didn’t, they began disappearing.

If this is to happen with theaters, then they too are unfortunately gone.

Coronavirus Diaries 31

A couple of very interesting articles regarding COVID 19 and from CNN.com.

The first, written by Christina Maxouris, is a cautionary warning regarding the state of the states with regard to COVID 19 numbers, which are now looking as if they are starting to rise:

Some US states report concerning Covid-19 case increases — and one warns the surge is already here

I’m not going to get into the full rundown of the article but I will sum it up this way: Who didn’t see this coming?

I mean, seriously?

The problem, as I see it, is that there are just too many… man, I don’t want to be insulting here… short-sighted (how’s that for being somewhat nice about it?) people out there who think that the worst is over and now’s the time to get back to the old ways.

Mind you, I suspect a large number of these individuals -especially the politicians of one certain party- never felt there was a need for masks or social distancing to begin with and now that the numbers have gone down -coincidental with the rise of vaccinations- they are chomping at the bit to do away with any and all those pesky preventative measures.

I was in Jacksonville, Florida over the weekend, where we began the move of my daughter and the Mayor there declared all businesses could now operate without masks.

I was bewildered by the statement and find it damn concerning to walk around the area and notice a few -thankfully not that many- people walking around others without masks.

But we went to the Riverwalk, a downtown arts/food market on Saturday and it was very concerning to see people in a large -though, I would add, not huge– groups walking around not wearing masks.

On Sunday, when we left to return home, we stopped by this Breakfast/Biscuit place and ordered some food to go. As we sat down to wait for our order, a largish family (it seemed to be a grandfather/mother, a mother, and two kids) walk into the place and the older ones are not wearing any masks. Mind you, they’re older and also all three of them (the grandfather, grandmother, and mother) were also somewhat overweight, making them much more in the danger zone regarding COVID 19 than the two 20 year old or thereabout youngsters with them.

Those two youngsters were the only ones of the group wearing masks.

Yikes.

On a more personal note, as of this morning I’ve now had both of my shots and, in another two weeks, should have the full benefit of the vaccine.

I hope everyone out there is doing all they can to get theirs. The supplies are obviously becoming greater and greater and more states are now allowing virtually everyone who wants it to get a vaccine.

Do it.

But please, stay safe.

*****

The second article I wanted to point out, also on CNN.com and written by Jim Parrott and Laurie Goodman, concerns something that will become a very big issue soon enough, mortgages and rents.

The article:

We can’t suspend evictions and foreclosures forever

Basically, because the economy essentially went into the shitter with the rise of COVID 19, Congress as well as localities instituted a slowdown/freeze on evictions in many places because people -many of whom through no fault of their own and the economic problems- simply didn’t have the money to pay for either their mortgages or rents and there was the very real fear that a massive amount of people might be homeless.

Naturally, in the middle of a freaking pandemic the last thing we need is to have a ton of families and children displaces so the freeze was enacted.

However, as we seem to be approaching the end of the worst of the Pandemic (provided the possible next surge isn’t that horrific), there will come a time when the freezes will have to be lifted. Further, there will likely be a need to create some kind of funds that people may borrow from at low interest so that they can pay any back rent and mortgages.

It’s a fascinating topic, at least to me, because I’ve dealt with both sides of the issue in my life, both with owing rent and mortgages to dealing with tenants at properties my family owns.

Its a delicate balance, as I mentioned. You don’t want people to be thrown out due to the economic hardship of a pandemic. But on the other side, the people who own the properties have to have the rents paid so they may continue to provide services and care for the building(s) they operate. While its sometimes tempting to lump all building owners as unsavory because of some, the reality is that there is a tremendous amount of work on that end as well, and they do deserve to be able to get the rents from their tenants so they can pay for the various services they provide.

I’ll be real curious to see how this all plays out in the coming months.

*****

So here we are, on the cusp of entering into April. The rate of the vaccines per day is moving at a sizzling pace, rising to nearly 3 million or so per day.

While I don’t often like to get too political, in these days its hard not to be and so: I think the Biden administration is doing a terrific job with the vaccinations. Check out this chart, taken from NPR.com’s vaccine administration tracking site:

Note that the chart essentially begins in the later part of December and, come January, the line is going up and up and up in terms of vaccinations.

I’m not going to totally badmouth the Trump administration for the low number of vaccines early on, but the fact is that he had such a “I don’t care” attitude about the vaccine process that I can’t help but wonder what this chart would have looked like had he somehow gotten re-elected.

Frankly, that thought chills me.

On the other hand, the Biden administration’s laser like focus on getting more and more vaccines out there is showing in this chart. At this point about 15 percent of the population has been injected at least once. I hope in the next few months this chart will really start to take off.

I can’t wait to get back to some semblance of normalcy, but we have to be prudent about it and not jump the gun.

Let’s see how things go…

That ship in the Suez…

…has been “unstuck”!

From CNN.com, here’s your latest information on the unsticking of the Evergreen, a very large -like the size of the Empire State Building- cargo ship which somehow managed to ram itself across the Suez Canal and therefore all other cargo ships couldn’t pass through. This created quite a large problems, given how important the canal is for trade, and not to mention there were other stuck cargo ships behind it with live animal cargo which were (and I suppose still are) in danger of perishing.

Anyway, from CNN.com:

The ship stuck in the Suez canal has been fully dislodged

I suppose that qualifies as some good news, no?

A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 29, 2021, shows tugboats pulling the Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' container ship lodged sideways impeding traffic across Egypt's Suez Canal waterway.

Jessica Walter (1941-2021)

A couple of days ago came the very sad news of the passing of actor George Segal and yesterday came the equally sad news of the passing of another great actor, Jessica Walter.

Jessica Walter dead: Veteran actor starred on 'Arrested Development' -  Chicago Sun-Times

Jessica Walter’s been around for a very long time, her first roles on television appearing in the early 1960’s, and has an incredible number of roles over her career, the most recent of which were the acerbic Lucille Bluth, the matriarch of the Bluth household in the hilarious series Arrested Development, and as the voice of Mallory Archer in the equally hilarious cartoon series Archer. The later role, quite frankly, was an extension of the Lucille Bluth role and featured an equally acerbic and borderline alcoholic character whose self-interest is as pathological as it is laugh out loud funny.

But her roles weren’t all comedic, and she made an especially chilling spurned one-night stand in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut, the 1971 film Play Misty For Me. The film was essentially reworked/remade in the film Fatal Attraction

She left behind a very long list of roles and had a very healthy career.

She will very much be missed.

The Blog of E. R. Torre

%d bloggers like this: