the candler blog

IT’S OVER

Link

John Campbell in a Kickstarter update:

I shipped about 75% of kickstarter rewards to backers. I will not be shipping any more. I will not be issuing any refunds. For every message I receive about this book through e-mail, social media or any other means, I will burn another book.

The update (which is over 4000 words) is a rather intense polemic on art, capitalism and the ways in which people value one another.

Do read the whole thing, though, as Campbell later (rightly) warns:

If you have been skimming this to get the “gist” of it, it is not going to work in my opinion. If you are reading this to summarize it for someone else, please fuck yourself instead if possible.

How The Comcast & Netflix Deal Is Structured

Link, Movies, Technology

Dan Rayburn at StreamingMediaBlog:

There’s been a lot of speculation involving the business and technical details surrounding the recent deal between Comcast and Netflix and plenty of wrong numbers and information being used. I thought it would be helpful to detail what’s really taking place behind the scenes, highlight some important publicly available data in the market, talk about the deal size, and debunk quite a few myths that people are spouting as facts.

Smart piece that walks you through how streaming works and where the money is.

Here’s something interesting:

In a little known, but public fact, anyone who is on Comcast and using Apple TV to stream Netflix wasn’t having quality problems. The reason for this is that Netflix is using Level 3 and Limelight to stream their content specifically to the Apple TV device. What this shows is that Netflix is the one that decides and controls how they get their content to each device and whether they do it via their own servers or a third party. Netflix decides which third party CDNs to use and when Netflix uses their own CDN, they decide whom to buy transit from, with what capacity, in what locations and how many connections they buy, from the transit provider. Netflix is the one in control of this, not Comcast or any ISP.

In my gut the Netflix-Comcast deal still feels wrong.

Yet it’s interesting to note that Netflix does pick and choose transit providers for different devices. Why? And do the device manufacturers have a say in this? If Apple is negotiating for prime delivery, doesn’t that undercut net neutrality as well?

This is a whole can of worms that will probably be the major technology story of 2014, but there are so many factors involved it’s hard for most readers to keep up. So sensationalism always wins.

(via Scott Macaulay.)

The misguided detective work of the CSI: Cinema Scene Investigators

Link, Movies

Matt Singer writing about “forensic cinematologists” (online debaters trying to get to the bottom of any filmic ambiguities) at The Dissolve:

This obsession with finding the “answers” frequently skews film conversations into fruitless tangents.

Singer then gets into some specifics of Inside Llewyn Davis that I think are beside the point for my purposes here, concluding:

A lengthy debate returned no resolution, but even if it had, what would it have added to the film itself? Nothing. The debaters missed the forest while studying the specific taxonomy of one single, irrelevant tree.

This endless pontificating on specific aspects of movies is certainly something, but an appreciation of cinema it is not.

Alas, we live in an era in which promoting such detective work is good, viral business. See under: summer movie campaigns.

David Fincher in Early Talks to Direct Steve Jobs Film

Link, Movies

Tatiana Siegel in The Hollywood Reporter:

[David] Fincher is in early talks to helm the untitled film based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of the Apple co-founder, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. If a deal comes together, the film would reunite the director with Oscar-winning Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin, who recently finished the adaptation, and Social Network producer Scott Rudin.

First one right guy, now another (maybe).

The internet is fucked

Technology

Nilay Patel for The Verge:

Internet access isn’t a luxury or a choice if you live and participate in the modern economy, it’s a requirement. Have you ever been in an office when the internet goes down? It’s like recess.

Preach.1

  1. I give The Verge a lot of shit but Nilay’s piece is a great walk-through of the current political situation in US.

    That said, I can’t necessarily abide that bro-tastic headline. There’s something…unsavory about the Internet being fucked which is, you know, the analogy at hand. Plus there’s the unfortunate closer from Free Press President Craig Aaron: “We can still unfuck the internet.”

    The piece is a call to arms with accompanying shareable graphic displaying appropriate email and phone contacts at the FCC, asking readers to file complaints beneath the headline “HOW TO UNFUCK THE INTERNET.” Because what we really need is a bunch of dudebros calling up asking for an unfucked Internet.

    Nilay’s article is a great overview. And the suggestion to flood the FCC with complaints is a wise one that requires a bit of sensationalism to light a fire under folks’ asses. (But still…)

Warner Bros. Logo Design Evolution

Design, Link, Movies

Christian Annyas on the Warner Bros. logo:

I couldn’t find a good overview with all logos gathered in one place, so I started to collect them myself, in 2009. Now, five years later, I think I have enough to paint a picture of Warner Bros logo design evolution.

Comprehensive and gorgeous. I feel like I should have known (or even surmised, honestly) that Saul Bass designed the 1972-1984 logo (#10).

Set aside some time and mouse over the over 200 logos Annyas collected.

(via Coudal.)

Alec Baldwin on (Leaving) Public Life

Journalism, Link, Media

Alec Baldwin in New York Magazine:

I used to engage with the media knowing that some of it would be adversarial, but now it’s superfluous at best and toxic at its worst. If MSNBC went off the air tomorrow, what difference would it make? If the Huffington Post went out of business tomorrow, what difference would it make?

I agree with much of his piece but Baldwin’s disdain may be misdirected. The question isn’t what if MSNBC or the Huffington Post goes dark tomorrow, it’s what if Facebook does. What if Twitter disappears? Which is to suggest that the problem isn’t the media, it’s us. Baldwin intimates as much later in the piece:

The heart, the arteries of the country are now clogged with hate. The fuel of American political life is hatred.

And still later, on living in New York City since 1979:

To be a New Yorker meant you gave everybody five feet. You gave everybody their privacy. I recall how, in a big city, many people had to play out private moments in public: a woman sobbing at a pay phone (remember pay phones?), someone studying their paperwork, undisturbed, at the Oyster Bar, before catching the train. We allowed people privacy, we left them alone. And now we don’t leave each other alone. Now we live in a digital arena, like some Roman Colosseum, with our thumbs up or thumbs down.

And:

There was a time the entire world didn’t have a camera in their pocket—the first thing that cell phones did was to kill the autograph business. Nobody cares about your autograph. There are cameras everywhere, and there are media outlets for them to “file their story.” They take your picture in line for coffee. They’re trying to get a picture of your baby. Everyone’s got a camera. When they’re done, they tweet it. It’s … unnatural.

Yeah, I know, boo hoo for the famous the person, but I think he’s on to something that requires at least a little introspection on our part. How do we separate the person from the celebrity? How do we tell the difference between the gossip and the news?

Anyway, Baldwin closes with the worst thing a person can say about New York:

Everything I hated about L.A. I’m beginning to crave. L.A. is a place where you live behind a gate, you get in a car, your interaction with the public is minimal. I used to hate that. But New York has changed. Manhattan is like Beverly Hills.

Oof.

Why I Write

Writing

I write a lot.

I write a lot of chats, texts, emails, tweets and the like. Now, you might say that that’s not writing. You might say that one needs a document or a blank page, that one must have a goal in mind to call it writing. That’s incorrect though. Writing is writing. One needn’t be a lecturer to speak nor an Olympian to swim. Communicating by the word is writing; so be it.1

I also write articles here on the candler blog and, sometimes, elsewhere. Everything I publish starts with an idea. Before I start writing a complete piece I can usually (usually) see where I would like it to end. Often I’ll even come up with a headline before I get started. There is a clear structure to these sorts of writings. As such I have generally approached them in as efficient a manner as possible, sort of like following a recipe.

The bulk of my writing, today, doesn’t appear on the web. Much of it isn’t even digital. Given how many little hacks and workflows I’ve tried out (and apps I’ve accrued) over the years, you’d think I’d have mastered digital writing by now. But I haven’t. And sometimes looking at a screen makes me not want to write. It’s not just about distractions, it’s about the form of digital text itself that sometimes holds me back.2 So for now I write by hand. Daily. Constantly.

How I write is another story. Why I write is my focus today.

I write to slow down my thought process. In my mind I tend to jump ahead while thinking through a new idea.

Say I have an idea for a new website. While I’m considering the site’s function (the idea) I’ll also think of names for it. Are there decent domains available? What would the logo look like? Typeface? Can I build it with Octopress or should I go back to Wordpress? Oh the domain is taken. Nevermind.

The idea gets lost while I fumble three steps ahead. If I write through the idea, though, I can slow down each of those steps and think through each part more thoroughly. Writing, then, helps me think.

The other reason I write is to remember. I don’t mean to recall an event while reading it; I mean I write to create the memory, to fortify it.

Last weekend I went through old notebooks. Some of the events I wrote about in them have stood out vividly for me over the years. I think they are strong memories not because I read about them again but because I wrote about them at all. Writing made them a memory.

I write so that I may remember. Publishing is a bonus.

  1. I will add, though, that this is usually wasted writing. I often “talk” ideas out of myself in this manner.

  2. For example, a new document is always blank whereas I have to pass recent writings to get to a new page in a notebook. This is subtle but significant and worth exploring in another piece.

An Actor Prepares (for Primetime)

Last night it was announced that Greta Gerwig will star in and produce (and potentially write) a pilot spinoff of How I Met Your Mother, titled, predictably, How I Met Your Dad. Reaction was swift: many of her fans are none too pleased. That’s idiotic.

A friend once referred to Gerwig as “a national treasure,” and I don’t disagree. She has that intangible, unlearnable spark that makes a great actor. To watch her perform is a treat. It is strange, then, that the opportunity to see her perform week in and week out would elicit jeers.

I think there are two issues at work here. The first is the idea that Gerwig is “selling out” by doing a sitcom. The second is a broader topic for another day: the weird relationship cinephiles have with television. For now I can speak on the first.

Despite her remarkable talent, Greta Gerwig has spent much of the last decade in relative obscurity. Yes, she has worked with A-list talent and now has a Golden Globe nomination to her name for Frances Ha, one of my favorite films of 2013. Yet only two of her films, Arthur and No Strings Attached,1 have opened wide in the US. Her starring vehicles are popular among the indie film set, but if I were to, say, ask my mother if she knows who Greta Gerwig is, not only would she not know but she probably wouldn’t even be able to back into who she is if I named five of her films. It’s a shame that Gerwig isn’t more popular than she is, which is why it’s welcome news that she is making the jump to network television. I should also note that this is all still pie-in-the-sky talk; Gerwig is making a pilot that may not get picked up (though I’ll bet it does). How much more popular could a sitcom make Gerwig? Let’s look at some numbers.

How I Met Your Mother is now in its ninth season and an unmitigated hit. No one can say what the future holds for the spinoff, so take this with a grain of salt. Just last week How I Met Your Mother pulled in an estimated 9.26 million viewers. Frances Ha, by contrast, made just over $4 million at the box office on 233 screens. Since the National Association of Theater Owners estimates the average ticket price for 2013 was $8.13 we can ham-fistedly arrive at a number of people who saw the film during its theatrical run: 500,594.2

That number says nothing of film festival audiences, DVD sales and rentals, digital downloads and streaming plays, all of which are not easily calculated. However, I still think it’s fair to say that in 17 weeks Frances Ha reached 5% of the audience How I Met Your Mother reached last Monday. In fact, I’d wager that 9 million people still haven’t seen Frances Ha.

My point is simply this: Gerwig is going where the audience is. That’s not selling out. That’s entertainment.

  1. Neither of which, I feel compelled to share, I have seen.

  2. This is actually a generous calculation. Since the film’s release was so limited, the locales in which it played likely have an even higher average ticket price between them.

Weekend Read

Apps, Fountain, Link, Screenwriting, Technology

John August and the team at Quote-Unquote apps have done it again. Weekend Read reformats screenplays and other text files to fit comfortably on an iPhone screen. PDFs, Fountain, Markdown, Final Draft. Dark mode, four fonts and text resizing. And a brilliant file browser to boot. (Oh and character highlighting because why stop there?)

Free for iPhone. $9.99 In-App Purchase to unlock unlimited library storage. Go get it.