Wednesday, April 9, 2014

You Damn Kids with Your Netflix and Your Hulu and Your Torrents ...

I was having dinner tonight at Miceli’s. Miceli’s is a venerable Eye-talian restaurant on Cahuenga Blvd in Los Angeles. (What I believe is the original location is on Las Palmas, just off of Hollywood Blvd., but we were at the other iteration.) Miceli’s is old, old, old school Eye-talian, which is exactly what you want sometimes – and tonight, I did. I hadn’t been to the restaurant since I went there on a blind date in the mid-80s. The date didn’t go anywhere, and neither has the restaurant. Things tasted exactly as they should have – and as I remembered – especially the house dinner rolls. My heavens, them boys is tasty.

But, while having this dinner with an old, old, old friend, in the course of conversation, this here blog became a brief topic of conversation (as it will in almost every conversation). My friend told me she liked the blog, especially the way I “never get to the point.”

C'mon; you know you want to eat here.

I have no idea, of course, what she’s talking about. I mean, I’m only (checks the toolbar) 171 words into this and I’m just about to deal with the topic at hand. 171 words? That’s barely clearing my throat.

My topic – continued from yesterday, natch – is the ways in which moviegoing has changed over the years. The spark (no pun intended) for this topic was this: I discovered the Warner Archive Collection podcast in the past week or so, and that’s all I’ve been listening to lately. I’ll freely admit that its content – three film nerds discussing the Warner Archive’s latest DVD releases – is not to all tastes. My lovely and talented wife described it as the most irritating thing she’d ever heard – and this a woman who has lived with me for twentysome years.

The subject is meat and drink to me, though. In-depth discussions of old movies and TV series? Sign me up. Although I must admit that, in my early listening, I kept thinking that the hosts are just too damn enthusiastic about these pictures. They love every one of them – or at least they love parts of them – or at least they shut up about the parts they don’t love. “They need a guy like me,” I thought. “Someone who will call out lousy movies and TV shows.” I then, of course, realized, that these hosts are there for one reason: to sell product, and any disparaging remarks will stop those sales. 

I dunno. For all I know, they may genuinely be enthused about all the stuff they’re hawking. But, no matter how hard they try, they’re not going to convince me that either “The FBI” or “Medical Center” are any good.

 A series as bland as its logo.

But what got me thinking was a remark they made about one of the movies (I can’t remember which one); that someone had told one of the hosts that they had seen this movie in 1933, and hadn’t seen it since, but still went on to describe it in great detail.
Nowadays, if I want to watch something or see something, it’s almost always just a few clicks away. I can get it through fair means (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube) or foul (wouldn’t you like to know?), but whatever it is, it’s probably out there and available to watch or listen to. Like so much in our modern lives, there’s a good chance I’ll be instantly gratified.

When I was a kid, though, it was different. There were plenty of things you knew you were going to see only once, or if not once, rarely. If there was a television show you wanted to see, you had to be by your set when it was on; there were few second chances. Oh, you might be able to catch it in the summer if they re-ran it (and the odds of that were not good; most shows shot 30 or even 39 episodes and re-ran only about 10 or 13) or the show didn’t have a summer replacement series. You generally had only one shot. (Summer replacement series weren't all bad, by the way. Patrick McGoohan's "The Prisoner," a television landmark by any standard, was the summer replacement for "The Jackie Gleason Show.")

 Also known by its alternate title: "Failed Pilot Showcase."

And movies on TV? I know I was not alone in getting the new issue of TV Guide and scouring it to see what movies would be showing the following week. Sometimes, you’d get lucky and a great picture would be scheduled in prime time. (All three – yes, three – networks had prime-time slots dedicated to movies, and competed to buy the rights to show the latest Hollywood hits. Hell, they’d even show really old black-and-white movies, even after all of the networks had moved to color broadcasts.) About the only evidence of this still remaining is ABC's annual Eastertime broadcast of "The Ten Commandments," a movie that has nothing to do with Easter.

 Almost makes you want to pop up a 
big bucket of popcorn, doesn't it?

In the middle of writing this post, I realized that I'd hit 1,300+ words and was nowhere near the end, so I've chosen this spot to leave matters until tomorrow. 

Suffice it to say, I've missed getting to the point once again. 


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