Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ramblings for the Evening (11/13/2007)

The countdown continues. Roughly seventeen days until this blog goes dark...kind of like Broadway, but that's another story.
Let's get to it....
So without further ado: BOOGIE!
The Cost of Politics:
By now everyone knows the story about Stephen Colbert and his attempt to run for President in only South Carolina.
What I find fascinating is the immense difference in the filing fee.

Democratic filing fee: $2,500
Republican filing fee: $35,000

The almost $33,000 difference illustrates the problem with modern politics: he (or she) with the most money will almost always win.

Now maybe this will be wrong, but so far I believe the last few elections have worked this way. Examples of cash can be seen here.

So, if the race is truly about money, here's my idea: do away with the whole election process. The electoral college is unbalanced, the whole "absentee" and "electronic" ballet issue means it's easy to cheat, and most people don't like to wait in line in order to decide. With the writers on strike (more on that later), I propose a 13 episode reality series along the lines of Project Runway (which my wife is anxiously awaiting with bated breath...me not so much). This can go one of two ways (and this is all copyrighted, so no stealing...Hollywood...I'm watching).

1. We get 12 candidates: 5 GOP, 5 Democrat, and 2 Independent (numbers work this out right). Each candidate has exactly thirteen weeks to raise as much money as possible through a series of challenges. The first challenge could be actually walking the street and trying to get money from the people. Businesses, however, cannot dump huge chunks on these people (sorry Oil, Special Interests, and such). Each week, a candidate is released after he or she fails to raise enough money (lowest goes..and so on). In the end, there will be two candidates, and here is where America gets to decide. This can be done in one of two ways as well.

A. Each person gets one phone call. Whoever has the most calls, wins. No phone banking, no repeat dialing. Or...

B. Everyone in America gets to donate $1 to the candidate of choice. Whoever has the most money, wins.

Now if this ideas doesn't sound pleasant, let's try...

2. A la Project Runway, we have a panel of ex-presidents, presidential candidates, and respected journalists (such as Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ross Perot [the sassy voice on the panel], and Walter Cronkite). We then follow our candidates through a series of challenges and debates. One could be talking to a room full of people registered for the other party, for example. In the end, three candidates are left (here it's preferably a GOP, a Democrat, and an Independent, but you never know), and they face off in debates, and a big challenge: convincing their worst enemy or political foe (for Democrats, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter; for Republicans, Al Franken and Bill Maher) that the candidate is the right man or woman for the job. The panel then picks the winner, and we have the next President of the United States.
It would work. If only we could work in Tim Gunn....
Seven/Ten Split...or Strike:

Both ends of the spectrum are on strike. In Hollywood, the writers have walked out. At the same time the stagehands walked off the job. Again, this seems to be happening at the right time for certain shows and horribly wrong time for others. Let's start in L.A.

The writers walk, taking some actors with them, and now many of the networks are spinning up cheap replacements in the form of reality shows. What's interesting is that many of the networks seem to want to use these reality shows. It's pretty easy to see why:

Advertisers have already bought the ad time, so the networks have the money. With the shows on hiatus, the networks have cheaper replacements that cost little to make and have high revenue. No wonder Newscorp keeps vetoing any contract talks. They want the money.

Just look at some of these shows:

Celebrity Apprentice: "Stars" compete for Donald Trump's thumbs up.

Amnesia: Dennis Miller (why?) asks contestants to recall moments in their lives.

Farmer Wants a Wife: (My favorite) A farmer gets to choose a city gal to be his betrothed.

American Gladiators: It's back...with Hulk Hogan. Woot?

Do You Trust Me?: Ironically enough, the host is Tucker Carlson...oh and the show is about contestants having confidence in each other.

It just keeps going. Personally I love this strike, because it means that bad movies will be on hold, TV shows can take a moment to think about the scripts instead of rushing them, and maybe now...people will read more...or maybe go to the theatre...WAIT A SECOND.

On the opposite coast, the stagehands walked out of most shows. There are only eight still going:

1. “Cymbeline”

2. “Mary Poppins”

3. “Mauritius”

4. “Pygmalion”

5. “The Ritz”

6. “Young Frankenstein”

7. “Xanadu”

8. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

What a boon for these shows that they have a separate union contracts and can continue. As for the rest...well...many people have been getting refunds, and after a few days, Broadway is asking for financial help.

Now as a techy, I see why they're striking. They want better pay and new work rules that keeps them safe. Isn't that what everyone wants? Good pay and a safe place to work. How could that be wrong?
Two (Sadly) Down:
Two people that I admire died recently.
The first, though it may sound funny, is Robert Goulet.
The second is Norman Mailer.
Goulet was one of those guys who really had no problem making fun of himself, and he was a genuinely nice guy. For the modern generation he'll probably be remembered as nothing more than the guy in those Emerald Nuts commercials, but he had quite a voice.
Mailer is different. He may not have been the nicest person in the world, but he wrote one of, if not the best, World War II stories: The Naxed and the Dead.
If you haven't read the book, do it now. Stop reading this, and go pick up the book.
Mailer, in the fiftieth anniversary of the book, mused on Tolstoy and explained his reasoning behind creating characters that struggle to retain dignity in the face of war:
"Compassion is of value and enriches our life only when compassion is severe, which is to say when we can perceive everything that is good and bad about a character but are still able to feel that the sum of us as human beings is probably a little more good than awful. In any case, good or bad, it reminds us that life is like a gladiators' arena for the soul and so we can feel strengthened by those who endure, and feel awe and pity for those who do not."
How can I possibly follow that up?
Seventeen days.

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