Throw Money At It

I’ll be watching Glass Onion, on account of I liked the first one in the series. Netflix blew $450 million on two installments of the Knives Out franchise, presumably because the initial film cost $40 million to make, and did over $300 million box office.

Good luck recouping your investment!

Netflix also shelled out $1 billion with a “B” for The Rings of Power, which is Tolkien content from his sparse writing about the Second Age. I can’t imagine how much The Silmarillion would set them back.

Anyway, as a true Tolkien nerd I’ll say it’s comically off. Not just “hey we’ll edit George RR Martin a bit and Game of Thrones will really zip!” but “we’ll compress centuries of characters into shit that never happened or makes sense and people that never interacted and throw Weta Digital and 20 VFX houses at it.”

Supposedly the Tolkien estate signed off on it but it’s hard to believe. Maybe as a non-Tolkien story it’s fine for some people, but I wouldn’t know as I already know who the major characters are and bring all that baggage to it.
[n.b. I realize you all hate Tolkien, but I love his prose and his attention to detail, layers, and backstory. The Elven languages were created because he felt that gave a “whole cloth” feeling to the stories. For me, it works. I appreciated LOTR more after reading The Silmarillion.]

Pitch Meeting, as always, succinctly captures whatever the hell is supposed to be happening.

Sure I Wanna Meet the Scruffs

My mother gave me an Amazon gift certificate, and rather than spend it on something useful like a Nic Cage pillow, I decided I’d buy something really stupid and overpriced. Kidding. I’ve been looking for this for awhile, and haven’t run across one anywhere, so I pulled the trigger because it was free money. Not in the best shape (record plays great, but cover is a little beat), but I’m happy to finally have it.

Collectors collect.

The nice thing about buying used records is the artists get fuck all from it. If I ever happen to meet any of the contributors to this very good record, I will at least buy them a beer or other beverage of their choice, but that’ll probably never happen.

No Wonder The Beatles Broke Up

This is ridiculous, and I can’t believe those people applauded after having their eardrums assaulted. Everyone knows that the best Billy Joel covers were done by the Subteens…


Ashes to Ashes

I’m sure it’s old news to Makerbot, but I was not aware there was an alternate ending to Army of Darkness. Rather, an original ending that test audiences hated, prompting a rewrite / reshoot.

Bruce Campbell Twitter is also great Twitter, if there is such a thing.

I Can Haz Moar Jazz

Do proto-punks like the Stranglers think they could possibly be as hip as “the world’s coolest insurance salesmen”?  Don’t they know it’s all mistakes? Who wins a fight between 5/4 and 6/8 time signatures?

Pretty Much, Yeah

Directed by Zack King-of-Plot-Holes Snyder, cribbed from Escape From New York, American Werewolf In London, Aliens, Ocean’s 11, and Raider’s Of The Lost Ark. And probably others I missed.

Mediocre Artists Steal Too

Even if you care nothing about classical music, you might enjoy this true tale of weaselry, poltroonery, and downright skulduggery.

Joyce Hatto was an ok British pianist whose career fizzled out fairly early.  She began her career in an era of pianistic titans (the 50’s), so went nowhere fast.  She performed for the last time in the 70’s.  Her husband, who was also her manager, falsely claimed that she retired because she’d been diagnosed with cancer.  In fact, the gigs had just dried up, and she was diagnosed with cancer later in the 90’s.  Almost no one would remember her, except that many years later (early 2000’s), a small label run by her husband began releasing recordings in her name.  And they kept coming, and some of them were extraordinary.  In all some 100+ recordings were issued of all types of repertoire.  It seemed she could do anything.  Most pianists excel in a somewhat limited range of repertoire.  For example, someone who can nail the high-cholesterol fare of Rachmaninov might be less convincing in the leaner music of Bach.  Very rare is the pianist who can do it all, so critics and reviewers were amazed.  Her husband claimed that she could not perform publicly because she had cancer, which was true by that time.  He (and sometimes she) also spent time grooming small-time critics online.  Soon, more influential magazines and reviewers got on board.

Although many journalists and critics were bamboozled, some listeners active in online chat-rooms were not.  They wondered how someone with cancer could have recorded that much material so quickly and at such a high standard.  And how could someone who had no career for decades suddenly be so dazzlingly active?  Her concerto recordings listed conductors no one had heard of and whose identity could not be verified.  The orchestras had generic,  unfamiliar names.  The ensuing kerfuffle caused one stuffy critic in Britain’s stuffiest classical music magazine, The Grammophone, to issue a touchy defense of Hatto.  Brits rallied to the cause.  One of the most vocal of Hatto’s detractors also had the audacity to be a German.  The idea!  Meanwhile, Hatto died in 2006 to a chorus of critical wails and proclamations of her greatness.

In 2007, the fraud was exposed via Gracenote, the music metadata service used by iTunes.  A listener in the US, wanting to put some Liszt on his iPod, uploaded one of her CD’s to iTunes, which identified the artist as Laszlo Simon, a little-known Polish pianist.  Curious, he went to Amazon and listened to mp3 samples of Simon’s recording, and indeed they were exactly like Hatto’s CD.  He informed a critic at an American webzine, who passed the info along to Grammophone, the magazine who had praised her the most (they are always eager to proclaim a British artist as the Greatest Ever).  A Grammophone editor contacted Hatto’s husband, now widower, who pretended befuddlement.  But the cat was out of the bag, and one by one Hatto’s CD’s were revealed as copies of other musicians’ recordings.  Some were altered, sped up, or slowed down, others copied verbatim.  The plagiarised artists ranged from famous to obscure, but mostly obscure.  The scoundrels avoided easily-identified pianists (no wacky Glen Goulds).  Eventually the husband had to partially confess, but he would only admit to taking parts of recordings to fix mistakes he claimed she’d made due to her cancer–more lies, as each CD was proven to be entirely pirated.  He claimed that his wife knew nothing of the fraud, but she’d been interviewed by journalists before her death and had cozied up to critics as well, so that was yet another lie.

Perhaps the funniest thing to come out of this was that a British critic who raved about Hatto’s release of Chopin’s Etudes had earlier panned the same recording issued by the real pianist, who is Japanese.  At least one other critic was similarly exposed.  Predictably, they and other, less culpable champions of Hatto had to lower their tweed trousers for a severe virtual whipping.

There’s a documentary (of course) and a dramatic film as well, but I haven’t seen them.  If you want to read further than my over-simplified summary,  here is a detailed article that concludes with an interview with her weasel of a husband.