Monday, November 28, 2016

"The Affair" Cheats on the LIRR

Don't Mess with the Train Nerds

On last night's episode of "The Affair," we see Alison (Ruth Wilson) making her season 3 debut sitting on a train. Given that many of her story arcs take place out in Montauk, it's easy to assume she's heading there.

But then the episode cuts to a shot of an Amtrak train heading through verdant farmland. So, she's headed somewhere up the Hudson Valley. Intriguing. notice the train interior and it's not that of an Amtrak train. Then you see her getting off. Lo and behold, the train not only belongs to the Long Island Railroad, Alison is getting off in Montauk after all.

Yeah, yeah, get a life, train nerd. I hear you. But how hard could it have been to get a shot of an LIRR train. Maybe it was cheaper to use stock footage of an Amtrak consist, but for a show that tries hard at being authentic in both its settings and emotions, it does stand out.

It's like when "Law and Order" detectives were routinely visiting Manhattan apartments that, in the actual street grid, would have been located somewhere in the middle of the Hudson River. It wouldn't have been that hard to come up with a fake address that sounded real. "Law and Order" could have been mildly forgiven that its writer's room was in L.A.

For "The Affair," however, what happens is very much about where it's located. And you wouldn't want Alison getting off at the wrong stop. She's messed up enough as it is.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Viva Miami Herald with Fidel Finale

Glory Days Long Since Passed, but South Florida's Faded Prime News Source Still Owns Story

An editorial in today's Miami Herald is headlined "Damage Done, Fidel Castro Was Irrelevant Long Before He Died."
True enough and well put, from a newspaper that has struggled to stay relevant itself.
Not long ago, the Herald routinely showed up on lists of 10 best newspapers in the U.S. Until the mid-90s, the paper was fat with ads and ambition, with reporters spread over Florida from Key West all the way up the Treasure Coast to go along with overseas bureaus stretched from Jerusalem to Managua.
Of course, the Herald was not immune to the malaise that afflicted all newspapers as the web swallowed its content creators whole. But the paper's problems were magnified by the fact that as its core readership went elsewhere or died off, they were being replaced by a Latin diaspora that didn't read English papers if they read any at all.
In 1973, the Herald had a weekday circulation of nearly 405,000. By 2013, it was down to about 130,000. It fell off the list of the nation's 25 largest newspapers six years ago and is third or fourth in circulation just in Florida, depending on how you count.
Fidel may have gotten a final middle finger in the air by dying late enough for his demise to be announced after the Herald had gone to bed. In more flush times, this news would have warranted an extra edition.
These are not flush times.
The Herald's been down for the count for years, but got off the mat when word came that El Presidente had breathed his last. Given that the Herald had been unrelenting in chronicling the many abuses of the Castro regime and, along with its sister El Nuevo Herald, had served as the media lifelines for the hundreds of thousands of Cubans in Miami-Dade, you would expect nothing less. But the way newspapers have shrunk, you've learned to expect less.
Fortunately, the Herald delivered today, while it still can.

OK, Now Go Buy OK Go's Records

Someone's Gotta Pay for These Videos

A lot of people are justifiably enjoying OK Go's latest video for "The One Moment."

More than 14 million views, as of this writing, notwithstanding the fact that the album the song comes from was actually released in 2014. This prompted me to revisit some of their other other-worldly videos for tracks like "Upside Down and Inside Out"

and the one that started it all in 2006, "Here It Goes Again," you know, the treadmill video.
All of these may obscure the fact that OK Go is a pretty damn good band, which deftly knows how to embrace pop conventions without being swallowed up by them. The beats may sound familiar, but they're hardly derivative.
Still, despite the viral tag that's automatically conferred on their videos, I was hard-pressed to think when was the last time I've heard them on the radio. And the Billboard charts have not exactly burned up with the group's record sales. We're too busy trying to figure out how did they pull that off to buy their music. Viral success doesn't always pay the bills, after all, as this Guardian article noted in 2010.
I'm as guilty of that as anyone, with only "Here It Goes Again" on my iPod back in the days when .99 typically bought you a single. Not that this is news to OK Go. "We're that fucking video band," frontman Damian Kulash once said. Still, they've embraced the moniker, corporate sponsorships and all, and it's safe to say they're getting a few pennies every time someone watches the ads before clicking on the videos.
Nonetheless, if the music was crap it wouldn't matter how elaborately choreographed or ingeniously executed the videos are. That's a right a band to listen to rather than just watch. This could be the one moment for that to happen.