Catching Up on Bits and Pieces

The one frustrating thing about taking a mini-vacation (even if it was just a long weekend) is all the work that piles up (even if it's only for a few days) waiting to be tackled upon return.  Now I'm back and here are some stories I wanted to write about -- if I didn't lump them all in this "Bits and Pieces" compilation now, I probably wouldn't get to them before they became outdated.  So here we go...

1.  Disney re-released its 1994 blockbuster, The Lion King, in 3-D, and it surprised box office prognosticators by earning over $86,000,000!  On top of the near half-a-billion bucks it's already garnered in its original release and the who-knows-how-much it's made through merchandising and through its Broadway musical adaptation, it has sparked the studio to look at its library and consider other classic films to receive the 3-D conversion and re-distribrution treatment.  (Next up is Beauty and the Beast, followed by Finding Nemo, then Monsters Inc., and finally The Little Mermaid.)  Just when the 3-D trend seemed to be crashing down to Earth, Hollywood honchos felt giddy again thinking that adding three-dimensions to older films might be a good investment and milk some more dough from old cashcows.  Many of my friends have commented on this, stating that The Lion King was a great movie in the first place and its new-found success was only minimally tied to the 3-D fad.  As other classic flicks like Star Wars are about to test the 3-D waters, I hope the executives in Tinseltown realize that movie buffs will continue to flock to theaters to see old favorites and historic films they never saw on the big screen, no matter the flashy gimmicks attached to them.  New generations will want to be introduced to great cinema, so 3-D shouldn't get all the credit.

2.  I've been morbidly fascinated by what has been called "the Michael Jackson death trial."  Was Dr. Conrad Murray responsible for the tragic fate of the King of Pop?  The evidence seems to point to "yes," but I'm not on the jury.  I don't really need to know the details about Jackson's autopsy, but I have to guiltily admit that I've been fascinated by the peaks behind the curtain of his private life -- hearing his slurred words on tape, learning about his bodyguards' efforts to shield Jackson's kids from their dad's horrific final moments. It's a carwreck and I just can't look away.

3.  It's sad that Steve Jobs is no longer with us and won't be around to witness the next stage in evolution of tablet computers and electronic readers.  Amazon's introduction of its new Kindle Fire is arguably the first real threat to the iPad.  Apple makes its money from selling devices on which customers can view content.  Amazon makes its money from selling content that customers can view on such devices. The Kindle Fire is full-color, touchscreen, and most importantly affordable at $199 vs. the iPad 2's 500 buck price tag. It will be interesting to see how the marketplace adjusts as the months and years progress.

4.  One sad side effect of my embarrassing reality show addiction is that I'm starting to recognize so-called "reality show celebrities."  Not only are average, untrained, everyday folks getting more than 15 minutes of fame on television nowadays, some of them are becoming famous for their reality programming stints and making a living from appearing on one reality show after another.  Boston Rob, the Kardashians, Evel Dick, and other "instant celebrities" are making multiple appearances throughout the world of entertainment, usually by appearing in one reality show after another, but also by branching off into other areas, such as writing (or ghostwriting) bestselling books, hosting, singing, and acting.  If someone has an interesting personality, I suppose that's half the battle of becoming an entertainment commodity, but the other half is talent.  Some of these pseudo-celebs I have no problem seeing over and over again, because they actually have a grasp on the concept of entertaining an audience, but others are just bland personalities or emotionally challenged individuals who really shouldn't waste anymore of our time.  Yet, they keep showing up everywhere we look.

5.  The reaction to DC Comics' "New 52" lineup of relaunched titles has been interesting.  The most serious has been the claim of sexism.  Sexist depictions of women in superhero comic books are nothing new, but some are arguing that the new portrayals of Catwoman and Starfire are a bit extreme, objectifying women without empowering them.  I think it's hard to deny the accusation, but I'm hoping the writers have some better characterization for them in future issues.