Commentary

This is what’s wrong with the world. Really?

So a girl named SuperHeidi who I think used to run a website called Pretty/Scary, and now writes for a site dedicated to women filmmakers called Planet Etheria, wrote an article criticizing my selections of the Splatcademy Awards as being too male oriented. Essentially, the implication is that I may have intentionally whitewashed women from the awards….or something? It’s kind of ridiculous as the gender of a director is meaningless. A good horror movie is a good horror movie. Who cares if you have a cock or have ovaries? Anyway, thought you guys might be interested in some negative press we got.

I posted a response to her article in the comments section but I’ll repost it after the jump for anyone interested. I would please ask that nobody get the wild hair up their ass to engage in any flame war on DeadLantern’s behalf. If you must comment, please be respectful.

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Top 10 Horror Films of 2011

After finishing up my Worst of 2011 list, I figured I might as well give my Best Of list.

Best of lists are always more difficult than worst of lists. It’s easy to pick ten shitty movies, but not so easy when it comes to deciding which film sneaks into entry 8, 9, or 10. This year had a whole lot of movies that I dug. Stuff like Dream Home, Wake Wood, Cold Fish, and Evil Things all struck my fancy. I dug Stake Land and Troll Hunter. I liked the ideas in Yellowbrickroad, and was alright with The Thing prequel. Fright Night was surprisingly decent, as was the theatrical experience of Final Destination 5. And Rubber was fun in a “WTF am I watching?” sort of way. I’ve been saying for months that there is a lot of really solid horror stuff this year. It might not have been a year where stuff like Paranormal Activity and A Serbian Film sort of blow you away and dominate the discussion, but overall I would put this year up against any of the others in recent memory for overall quality. That doesn’t even count all the really top notch genre television that hit its stride this year. Even goofy stuff like Teen Wolf was better than expected (Granted, the expectations weren’t high). And marginal genre fare like The Killing was really interesting and got the watercooler abuzz each week.

Sometimes I think we look at Top 10 lists as “definitive”. They really aren’t. If I wrote this list yesterday, or even tomorrow, some of the films I mentioned above would certainly replace some of the films on my current Top 10. I think they are all worth checking out in their own ways. And in full disclosure, there are just some things that I didn’t quite get around to yet (Attack the Block, for example). But, that being said, my list reflects the stuff that really struck me this year. Stuff that, even months afterward, still seem fresh in my mind. I imagine there will be quite a bit of disagreement with some of my selections, but that’s a good thing! Who wants boredom?

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The 10 Worst Horror Films of 2011

Another year in horror has about wrapped up and so it is time for the obligatory “Top 10″ lists to start appearing. Though lists are pretty much meaningless, they are fun nonetheless and as I’m making my final preparations for the Splatcademy Award nominees, I figured I’d make a brief return to the site and mention the properties I thought were unforgivably bad. As I explained with last year’s list, it’s easy to pick 10 direct to video shlock films, but this list is more representative of films that really had no business being as bad as they were.

In making this list, I realized that, surprisingly, I was having a tough time finding ten movies I really, really disliked this year. It’s been such a strange year for horror. Not a whole lot that stands out as being either really bad, or really great for that matter. A lot of the films sort of exist in this weird “could go either way, I guess” category. In some respects, maybe that’s a strength? I guess the genre must have done something right if I couldn’t immediately name 10 things I just despised. That, or maybe I just lucked out by missing the garbage. Whatever the reason, here are the ten properties I think stunk up the joint this year…..

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Some updates regarding the next couple of months

First off, I want to thank all of the Dead Lantern crew for putting in so much work this year. Deejay, Jeff, Steve, Tony, Jo, Lauren, Chris, Bryan, Ronin and all the other people who have helped us create this massive pod empire! :) It’s very much appreciated. Watching movies and doing multiple podcasts is crazy time consuming and all of you do it without complaint. You’ve all helped Dead Lantern become bigger than ever this year and it couldn’t have been done without you. So pat yourselves on the back, you deserve it!

I also want to give special thanks to our film crew. Deejay, Steve, Spooky, Jeremy, T.J., Ali, Jenny, Tina,  Brady, Jeff, Bryan, Tony, and the rest who will no doubt be doing a lot of hours for very little in return over the coming months. Filmmaking is even more time consuming than podcasting and I appreciate everything all of them do. We have a lot of cool stuff planned to show you (an Ancient Rome horror short is coming for Shivers Down Your Spine!) and we’re all very excited. And yeah, there might be another feature length happening here soon…

And of course, all you listeners. We’ve made some great friendships over the past couple of years and we’re all very humbled that you guys and gals keep coming back to listen to our shitty little podcasts and support our dopey horror movies. You guys make it all worth it and we’re excited to bring you all some rad content in 2012.

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, I did want to update you all on a few changes happening over the next couple of months.

  • Cold Case Cinema will not be scheduling any new shows for November and December. We’re taking a much deserved two month break for the Holidays. We have 7 episodes in the can so you’ll still get new CCC’s from now until the new year, but we won’t be covering any current TCM flicks until January. Please feel free to continue to send in feedback, though! We’ll get to it in January.
  • The Round Table will also be taking a bit of a break. This is the most intensive cast to produce because we have to edit down 5+ hours of content to around 90 minutes. It’s just too tough to try to get those out weekly, so they’ll be released sporadically. Maybe once a month. You’ll probably see one more before the new year.
  • Dead Trax will probably continue to be posted (remember, it’s not in the feed) though maybe not consistently weekly like it has been. Though look for our upcoming Commando commentary track!
  • Splattercast will continue as normal. We might be off next week for Halloween but we’ll be back in full force to do Noirvember. And don’t forget Deejcember, a month of shows programmed entirely by Deejay!
  • Due to recent events, the first episode of SHIVERS DOWN YOUR SPINE might not be out on Halloween as planned. If not, don’t fear because it will be posted very soon! We promise!
  • And last but not least, I’m gonna be taking a break from site blogging for the next couple months. I’ll still post when new podcasts are uploaded but I’m very keen on just taking as much of a break from Dead Lantern as I can for awhile. Sort of a mini-vacation for the holidays. So don’t think we’re quitting, just things might be a tad quieter around here beginning in November.

So once again, thanks to everyone who has made this year a big success for Dead Lantern. There’s a ton of great stuff coming in 2012, including more episodes of SHIVERS, the 2012 Splatcademy Awards, and possibly a new feature length movie! And of course, more of the podcasts that you’ve come to tolerate.

We appreciate all of your support.

Paranormal Activity 3 smashes the box office

I’m checking this out tomorrow night but it’s worth noting that something odd happened at the box office this weekend. Paranormal Activity 3 apparently smashed it. It’s rare to see a horror film do this much business in a single weekend, let alone the third in franchise it’s critics call a one-trick pony.

To put this in perspective, let’s take a look at the first 3 films in the Saw franchise, which most people agree is the dominant horror franchise of the past decade.

The first Saw made $103 million worldwide with $55 of that coming domestically. Paranormal Activity made $193 million worldwide with $108 being domestic. Also consider that PA was a word of mouth flick not given a traditional wide release immediately.

Saw, of course, was a huge hit and its sequel showed that. The sequel grabbed about $148 million worldwide, with $87 of that being domestic. It’s opening weekend was about $32 million, large for a horror film, for sure. So how did PA2 stack up to that? Quite nicely. The sequel grabbed $177 million worldwide, nearly thirty million more than the highly decorated Saw 2. It also stacked up just about even domestically with about $85 million. It’s opening weekend put Saw 2 to shame with a haul of $41 million.

The verdict is still out on how well PA3 will do. After all, it’s only been out for two days. It could drop like an anvil next weekend. But if the $50 million dollar opening weekend holds, that puts it well ahead of Saw 3‘s opening weekend of $34 million (which was about the same as Saw 2’s opening with higher ticket prices. Part of the phenomenon of Saw was it’s quirky ability to open with complete stability over and over, which helped make it a venerable franchise). It wasn’t until the fourth film that Saw began seeing noticeable diminishing returns (though still hugely profitable in movie terms). To put PA3’s opening weekend into even more perspective, Green Lantern opened at $53 million. So it’s operating in superhero film range.

Let’s also not forget that though the budgets for both franchises are extremely small (part of the reason they are successes regardless of diminishing returns), the PA films are dramatically different from the Saw films. The first Saw and PA were dead even, right around a million dollars. PA2 stayed around that range whereas Saw 2 moved into the $4 million range. After that, the Saw films average $10 million for their budgets (with Saw 3-D coming in at $20). The Saw films also had massive marketing campaigns that probably added at least double to those production budgets, if not more. I think it’s safe to say, as of now anyway, that the PA films have been more successful financially.

So what am I saying? Well, it appears just based on numbers that Paranormal Activity could well be on its way to usurping Saw as the dominant horror franchise of this century. It has a long way to go. A lot will depend on how well PA3 holds over the next month. Is it front loaded, or is it genuinely scaring the crap out of people to keep word of mouth going? It would also have to hold up over four more movies. Can it make it? I dunno. But I was kind of taken aback when I actually looked at the numbers and compared the two franchises. Is Paranormal Activity actually more popular than Saw? To me, that’s weird to think about. The default answer would be “Of course not” but right now, I think the answer is “yes”. I don’t know if it will have the longevity of Saw, but it’s certainly on its way. There are so many variables (changing ticket prices, weekend competition, release dates, the zeitgeist), but the numbers right now seem to tell the tale. My review of PA3 on Monday’s Splattercast, by the way.

P.S. Can we please get an actual sequel to Paranormal Activity? I want to know what happened to Katie (and her boobs) at the end of the first!

Back from the Poltergeist screening and American Horror Story

I caught the first episode of Ryan Murphy’s new show American Horror Story tonight before I headed off to see Poltergeist. First off, this is exactly what I expected from a Ryan Murphy crafted horror story. Bizarre, artsy fartsy, unlikeable characters, extreme (for television) content, and a serious case of melodrama. In short: I totally dug it. This show is Nip/Tuck crossed with Bunuel if he was a 25 year old hipster into old Nine Inch Nails videos . The story follows a family of three who move out to California for a fresh start. Vivian, played by Connie Britton, catches her husband banging a college student after her miscarriage. Rather than divorce, they decide to start anew and try to repair their marriage. Of course they have a screwed up daughter who likes to cut herself and he is a psychiatrist who thinks it’s smart to have his patients visit him in his house. Speaking of the house, it has a history of its occupants murdering each other and, unsurprisingly for a Murphy project, shit starts happening immediately. Weird neighbors with “mongoloid” daughters (Jessica Lange actually calls her mentally handicapped daughter that), teens who want to shoot up their schools, naked men masturbating while crying, and capped by that guy in the latex body suit having sex with Vivian and impregnating her. Did I mention the old lady housekeeper might be a ghost and who appears as a sexy maid to Ben? There’s also an old lady monster ghost in the basement with razor sharp teeth. The first episode is pretty balls to the wall.  I’ve seen a lot of people criticizing the fact that the episode is just so wild and zany from the get go.  Personally, I thought it was a breath of fresh air. The conventional thing to do in a haunted house story is to build the ghostly activity sloooooooowly. This? S&M ghosts raping our main character in the first episode. You’re thrown right into it.

I thought it was really good and different. The style is gonna turn a lot of people off, I think. Jump cuts, multiple angles for simple lines of dialogue (edited together rapid style), and some very odd musical choices during certain moments all serve to create this weird sense of “WTF am I watching?” If Murphy was trying to make something unique and unlike anything else on television, he certainly achieved that. One criticism I’d have is that Murphy can’t just let a scene be a scene without putting as many curse words and “OMG I’M SO EDGY” face slaps into it as possible. I think every cuss word you are allowed to say on television was repeated about 10o times each in the first episode alone. Murphy’s trademark is being Jump The Shark All The Time. Nip/Tuck eventually collapsed under the sheer absurdity of its scenarios. That would be my biggest fear with American Horror Story. Can Murphy sustain the successful feeling of freakiness for a full season before everyone starts rolling their eyes? For what it’s worth, my girlfriend was genuinely creeped out by this show, going so far as to say it was the weirdest thing she had ever seen on tv and that she couldn’t believe that this was actually allowed on non-premium pay television. That’s from a non-horror fan. For me, I liked it. I’m genuinely interested in watching the rest of it. I loved that it just threw a bunch of wackiness at me and said “Process this…if you can”. A haunted house story with no buildup, I dig it! I’m afraid it’ll collapse under the sheer weight of its own zaniness, but hey, Nip/Tuck got 3 excellent seasons in before it imploded. If American Horror Story can get just one, I’d consider that a win for genre fans.

And then of course there was Poltergeist! Our local theater is screening some famous horror flicks every Thursday this month and this was the first one on the docket. Unlike past old movies they’ve screened, like The Thing, I’m pretty sure this was not a 35mm print (If it was, it was a remastered, pristine version. It was totally clean). I’d guess this was a digital projection. There were zero scratches or marks on it. Other than the audio being quieter than I would have liked, it was a pretty perfect screening. The place was packed to the brim. So full that I’d guess it actually sold out. If not, then it was damn close. When the lights went down and the movie started there were still people standing around and struggling to find seats. I’ve always liked Poltergeist and seeing it on the big screen was great fun. It’s pretty clear Hooper didn’t direct this movie. Steven Spielberg’s mitts are all over this thing. Even when it ends, he’s tosses up ” A STEPHEN SPIELBERG PRODUCTION” before the credits roll (gotta make sure one last time that everyone knows his name, lol). Interestingly enough, though the film is rated PG, my theater had it listed as an R on their board. Rewatching it, I’m not sure the film holds up as much as it once did. Some of the scenes just don’t have the same oomph as they once did (such as the clown sequence) and the film’s last act destroys its internal logic. Act 2 ends with them getting Carol Anne out of the netherworld where her and the mother almost die. So what do they do? Stay in the house while Coach conveniently heads off to his job and leaves them alone for the night. It sets up the rollicking finish (by the way, the entire family gets out of the house without the help of Coach even though they are screaming for him to help. The magic of editing.) which is certainly fun but honestly, it’s pretty lazy screenwriting. Still, it’s a fun movie even if it’s twenty minutes too long and doesn’t make a lick of sense. That guy ripping his face off is aces.

Next week is The Shining. I can’t wait to see that on the big screen. That’s a quintessential movie designed and shot for the theatrical experience. Be jealous.

 

Quick thoughts on TV: Supernatural, Ringer, Pan Am, and Terra Nova


Supernatural is one of my favorite shows on television. It also happens to be one of the best genre shows that horror fans never seem to talk, or care about. It’s got a cool mythology (even though it does seem to be stretching at this point), neat monster-of-the-week episodes, and excellent action. Last season ended with everyone’s favorite angel, Castiel, consuming all of the souls caught in Purgatory, thus making him God. The cliffhanger final involved Cas turning into God right after Sam and Dead attempted to kill him. It’s never wise to make God angry and thus, season 7 picks up with Cas deciding that God is better when he instills fear into his subjects. Forget that free will crap. Cas is going to show everyone he is here, real, and that they better worship him or else. Turns out, though, that when he consumed the souls in Purgatory, there also happened to be all manner of other stuff in there including the Leviathans. Unable to control them, they quickly take over Castiel and are intent on turning Earth into a hellscape of pain and suffering. Sam, Dean, and Bobby do a binding spell on Death (pic above) trying to get him to kill God. Meanwhile, Sam continues to deal with the after effects of the mental barrier Death put in place coming down, as he is hallucinating (or is he?) about Lucifer coming back and escaping the cage in hell he was put into.

I really dug this season premiere. Sam and Dean don’t have much to do as it mostly focuses on Castiel but I liked that they completely changed your expectations. Instead of Cas as God as the main season struggle, that is solved by the end of the episode, it becomes Cas as an evil Leviathan. On one hand, I like that because it gives Misha Collins out of his stoic, emotionless acting and lets him get a little crazy. Plus, we’re not exactly sure what the Leviathans are and how powerful they are so the first episode hints at a good narrative thread that could be coming up. But it is a little disappointing that the Leviathans seem to be just inhabiting bodies instead of us getting any genuine Lovecraftian monsters. But we’ll see. I have a feeling we’ll see Lucifer escape the cage this season and our heroes will have to make some sort of deal with devil to figure out this Leviathan stuff. Which is good, I think, because Lucifer always felt like a genuine threat to me, whereas stuff like the Mother of All just felt like “We need another powerful entity”, thrown into the story. Supernatural continues to be a quality genre show but if you haven’t seen anything from Season 3 on, you’ll be completely lost in terms of the mythology. My recommendation? Go watch them. It’s a wonderful series.

Ringer is the new show by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who sort of disappeared after Buffy, deciding to focus on a couple Scooby Doo flicks and making babies. This show is three episodes in so far. The plot is insane but basically, SMG switches places with her successful twin sister in New York who just so happens to have not told anyone about her crackhead prostitute little sister. The twin then seemingly kills herself, leaving SMG to take her place and start a new life. Unfortunately for her, her twin wasn’t the good girl she made out to be. She’s been having an affair on her husband, has been transferring money into secret accounts, and has had a hitman try to kill her. So now SMG must try to negotiate her twins fucked up life while simultaneously trying to hide out from the cops who have had her under protective custody ever since she witnessed a mob murder. And oh yeah, the mob is trying to find and kill her as well.

The premise of this show is solid. It’s twist after twist. You never really know what’s going on. It’s been described as a neo-noir and that description fits it in some way. The characters, other than SMG aren’t really that interesting yet, but they’ve been giving hints that none of them are what they seem so maybe they’ll flesh them out more in the future. I like the show so far, but I can’t help but feel like this show will lose its interest in the coming weeks. Like, once the novelty of the situation wears off, is there going to be any “there,” there? It’s also filled with lots and lots of rich people melodrama, fashion, money, design, dinner parties, etc. So if that’s not your thing then you probably aren’t going to go for it. I’ll give it a few more weeks and hope it keeps my attention. It certainly has potential, that’s for sure.

I’ve been singing the praises of Mad Men since the very first episode. It’s easily my favorite show on television right now. It feels good to be a fan of something from the beginning and then to watch it become this really successful thing. One offshoot of success is that everyone will try to copy your formula. Hence, Pan Am. One of the novel things about Mad Men is the 60’s period of it. The fashion, the different culture, it’s the in thing right now. And c’mon, chicks looked smoking hot back then. Take a cue, ladies, you can be completely covered and gorgeous. Pan Am utilizes all of that. It takes place in 1962, when Flight Attendants were still called Stewardesses. The premiere is mostly just an introduction to all of the hot chicks in tight uniforms that will be the backbone of the show. One of em is played by Christina Ricci, which was weird, not because of the forehead, but because I wasn’t expecting Christina Ricci. There wasn’t enough to really give a lot of development to any of the characters, but you see bits of their backstories and to how they came to be on the plane. One stewardess had an affair with a passenger and now finds herself face to face with his wife. Another pair are sisters, one helped the other escape a wedding. The pilot is in love with a stewardess who happens to be missing. And the main plot of the show is we find out that one stewardess is a spy “Pan Am girls can go anywhere and talk to anyone without raising suspicion”.

It looks good, has a nice espionage angle, and those women do look gorgeous. I’ll keep watching, for sure.

$20 million dollars. That’s the rumored budget of this pilot episode. Outrageous for a television show, and unsustainable as far as profit goes (Each episode is reportedly $4 million buckeroo banzai’s). But Stephen Spielberg’s name is attached, and much like his other show this year, Falling Skies, Terra Nova is pretty bland right off the bat. Basically, in the future we have destroyed earth’s environment. So scientists discover a rip in time. That time turns out to be 85 million years ago. So they send back people to colonize earth (don’t worry, it’s a separate timeline) and give humanity a new start. They have this little colony which they call Terra Nova. Anytime anyone leaves the walls, dinosaurs try to eat them. There’s also this mystery of another colony that was sent through the time rift and why they hate the Terra Nova peeps. There’s a Lost style “WTF is Terra Nova REALLY?” angle that they set up. Meanwhile the other group of outsiders (which all seem to be minorities. I guess Terra Nova is white utopia, or something lol) has control of the mine that has the show’s version of Unobtanium (Avatar reference). It’s pretty much Jurassic Park meets Avatar meets Lost. Which is fine, I guess, but the show just recycles a bunch of stuff you’ve already seen before (How much do you want to be that that kids girlfriend he left in the future comes back and is all “WTF?” when she sees him with his new love interest? Didn’t take long for that kid to get past his girlfriend who he tells he’ll find a way to bring back “no matter what”. Love is fickle like that)

Dinosaurs. You want to know about the dinosaurs, right? I mean, that’s the ultimate draw of Terra Nova.  Just like Jurassic Park, the first dinosaur you see is a Brontosaurus type thing. Just like in Jurassic Park, there is T-Rex style dinosaur attack. Just like Jurassic Park, there are Raptor like dinos that attack a group of kids. What I was struck by is the shitty CG. For a pilot that cost this much money, and which was delayed because of the fx work, I couldn’t believe that I was watching SyFy level CG. I mean, it all looks like an expensive show…until you see the dinosaurs. Even Spielberg’s other show, Falling Skies, had better CG than this. I like dinosaurs, but I can already tell that I don’t give a shit about this show. I’ll keep watching if only because my girlfriend is interested in it. Maybe it will get better. It took a good two-thirds of the season before Falling Skies got interesting. Both shows suffer from the same problem: the characters are totally uninteresting. They are bland. Spielberg bland. My prediction is that Terra Nova will be seen as a big failure. I would expect a significant drop off in terms of viewership over the next couple weeks. We’ll see.

Netflix…er, Qwikster…er…WTF?!

A couple of months back, the internet got a major case of butthurt when Netflix split its streaming and mail order plans and jacked up the prices by 60%. Everybody hates price increases but at the time, I said that Netflix’s mistake was in not adequately explaining why to its customers. I argued that simply rolling this out in a “better” manner would have helped the company save some face and maybe not put customers  in near suicidal states of anger. We talked about this a bit on Splattercast 238. Well, now that Wall Street numbers are in, Netflix’s subscriber base has dropped by over a million in some estimates and the stock price dropped like an anvil on Teddy Valient. Looks like the butthurt was, indeed, real.

So now Netflix shakes things up again with the announcement that they are splitting their business into two companies and renaming their DVD by mail service Qwikster. Before I get to that WTF moment, I will say that I do appreciate the mea culpa offered by CEO Reed Hastings regarding the uproar from the price increases:

When Netflix is evolving rapidly, however, I need to be extra-communicative. This is the key thing I got wrong.

That’s nice, and exactly what I said should have been done in a better manner from the beginning. Unfortunately, it’s a few months late and by this point, I don’t think there is anything Netflix can say or do that is going to appease the angry customers from a few months back. Once butthurt manifests itself, the butthurter will never stop hurting. It’s a Podcast Law that applies to all thing on the internet.

So now Mr. Hastings is out with a new plan. To create two separate websites, two separate queues, and rebrand Netflix, who made their name and who has become synonymous with mail order rental, as a separate company called Qwikster (while maintaining the Netflix name for streaming only). My girlfriend was quick to point out that this seems like a ploy to sell off the DVD portion of their business, which is probably where this will ultimately lead. Regardless, in the here and now, if you have streaming and dvd rental, you’re gonna have to manage two separate accounts on two separate websites. And the websites will not be integrated, which means that you’ll have to check twice to see if certain movies are available. Example:

Kenneth: If a film I search for on Netflix is not available for streaming, will the website still tell me if the DVD is available? Or must I search twice?

Reed Hastings: ouch. You’d have to search the second place if we didn’t have it in the first place.

Non integration of the sites is a really stupid move. Customers are already angry about that and I don’t blame them. But hey, at least the guy is up front about it and isn’t dropping it on 24 million customers “overnight”. The obvious solution is that both sites need to be integrated somehow, but that won’t happen if, indeed, Netflix wants to ultimately sell off Qwikster. I’m not even convinced that streaming “is the future” when it comes to Netflix. The studios already hate them and content has been dropping out left and right. Have they shown any recent ability to provide quality content? I mean, I love watching Vampegeddon, but c’mon. I guess Mad Men is on there now. But it all feels like Netflix is in a slow death spiral. To be fair, much of it not of their own doing. Netflix is changing. People hate change.

Judging from the comments on Netflix’s blog, customers aren’t happy with having their queues split up. It’s an annoyance on top of a price increase many already found hard to swallow. If Netflix was hoping to get some good will, it looks like they failed.

Annoyance of two separate queues aside, I am intrigued by Qwikster. It should be noted that none of the new changes are going to increase prices again, but with Qwikster, they will start to offer video games for rental. Now, I want to see what the video game plan will be (ex. Is there a limit to how many games you can have in a month? Are the wait times for games going to be insane? Will it be a robust selection? etc.) but this might be a feature of Qwikster that supercedes any amount of annoyance factor that I might have with queues. Offering video games is a pretty big deal if they do it right.  And that’s a feature that doesn’t seem to be getting any play amongst this new round of butthurt.

I think customers are justified in being angry about being forced into managing two separate queues from two separate websites, but I’m cautiously optimistic about this new Qwikster thing. I primarily get my Netflix content via mail anyway and I’m looking forward to this game feature. In the end, prices didn’t increase or anything, and so it seems like we might all be getting a really great function at the expense of another minute or two of our times each day managing queues (Sacrifice some porn browsing, you should be fine). In the long run, I’m certainly concerned as a mail order user that Netflix is going to kick me to the curb by selling off to some shitty company who will then change rates and/or reduce selection. I think mail order users should be genuinely concerned about that possibility. But in the here and now, it might turn out alright. We’ll see. And hope!

 

Conference Re-alignment

This article is dedicated to Bryan from Drunken Zombie.

There has been much clamor over the past year about the inevitability of four 16 team Super Conferences. In the past year, teams like Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M have all switched conferences signaling the start of a major change in college athletics as history and tradition are jettisoned for greener pa$tures. The  ultimate endgame of all this is that when the four super conferences are created, they will then opt out of the NCAA (A lot of people don’t know that the NCAA is a volunteer organization in that, the schools voluntarily allow it to police them and can snap their fingers and say “Fuck your sanctions” if they have 63 other schools having their back), keep all the money themselves, and get that playoff we all want started.

The driving force behind all of this is football. Or at least, that’s what we’ve all thought. But with the recent announcement that Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East for the ACC, and the new report today that the ACC is trying to round out its roster with Connecticut and Rutgers, the first conference to actively try to get a full 16 teams is the one conference nobody really regards as a football power. Pitt, Syracuse, and Connecticut, the two latter moreso than the former, are basketball powers. The ACC, of course, is home to North Carolina and Duke, and by extension has always been viewed as primarily a “basketball conference”. That’s not to say that the ACC is a chump when it comes to football, just that Florida State and Miami have been down the past decade and Virginia Tech for all their success, just isn’t a sexy program that garners the kind of respect that the ACC basketball schools command.

So I find it really interesting that the first conference to be proactive in getting 16 teams (the others have flirted with it in football, but have been afraid to pull the trigger) is a basketball conference. Make no mistake, Pitt, Syracuse, Uconn, and Rutgers are not scaring the likes of FSU, VaTech, or Miami. If anything, the football programs are gleeful. Why? Because the in conference football schedule gets decidedly easier allowing the big teams in the ACC to have a better shot at big bowl games and National Championships, while the basketball aspect of the ACC gets insanely stronger. Not only that, but it successfully stifles any attempt by the SEC to poach teams from the ACC and gives a big middle finger to Texas and their Longhorn Network.

Basketball has become the trigger that starts knocking the dominoes over, not football. As a devoted lover of all things basketball (way more than football), I find this to be an interesting angle of discussion in this football dominated world. I’ll be interested to see if the talking heads on ESPN bring this up at all during the next week or so.

Other thoughts

  • What happens with Kansas when the Big 12 dissolves? My guess would be that the Big 10 will pick up Missouri and Kansas. Missouri is mid-tier successful in football and basketball, but Kansas is an all-time basketball program. That would be like Kentucky not having a conference. I would think that the Big 10 would jump on the chance to bring an all-time basketball program like Kansas into themselves because honestly, the Big 10 just isn’t a basketball power now that Indiana is nothing.
  • Will Notre Dame be forced into joining a conference? Notre Dame places an unusually high importance on tradition. They’ve been basically playing the same schedule for a thousand years. But conference re-alignment is going to blow up a lot of their famous schedule and rivalries. ND is independent in football, but their basketball team is a member of the Big East, which is dissolving before their eyes. Would the Big 10 let ND in and give them a special exemption to keep that phat NBC tv contract? I don’t think so. ND is in a tough position.
  • Who will the SEC add? West Virginia? Assuming that the ACC’s new 16 team conference holds together, who in the world is the SEC gonna go after? Texas would be the most prestigious, of course, but that Longhorn Network is a deal breaker in terms of a recruiting edge. Do they take a run at Missouri? It’s hard to see what “big time” splashy choices would be left for them to choose from. If they could make Texas their bitch and force their will on the Longhorns, that would certainly be something. But doesn’t it feel like the SEC, the most powerful conference in America, might be getting sloppy seconds? The ACC sorta punked them here.
  • Oh, and poor, poor TCU. Those guys got fcked.