Director Earl Newton at Stranger Things has adapted Gary's story "Rami Temporales" into a short film called "One of Those Faces" ... you can check it out at http://www.strangerthings.tv/

 

And now, time for silliness.

 

Q: What was the cheapest way for Jason and the Argonauts to send scrolls and letters home?

A: Medea Mail.

 

To the tune of the Oscar Meyer bologna jingle ...

My creator has a last name
M-O-R-E-A-U
His assistant has a nickname
M-O-N-T-Y
Oh, I'm so hairy every day
and if they ask me why I'll saaaaay:
Doc Moreau has a way
of altering your DNA!

I want more and more and more and more...

The news on the radio today included the plight of the Writers' Guild of America. They're on strike. Apparently, as the internet and DVD sales open up whole new avenues of revenue for television and Hollywood producers, the folks responsible for putting the words in the mouths of the multi-million dollar talent want a bigger piece of the pie. Well, as much as I like writers, these folks are equal to real writers in the same fashion that personal injury lawyers are to legal aid attorneys.

Hollywood can wait; they're used to delays and cost over-runs. The problem is, the television networks which churn out the half-hour sitcoms as well as scripted late-night television programming are in a jam. This kind of stuff is written on-the-fly. You didn't think Dave Letterman just goes out there and improvises his monologues every night, did you? And I'm certain that Leno doesn't.

Now the networks are happy enough to run re-runs until this strike's settled (although some networks have more material already taped ("in the can") than others; so there'll be a sudden skew in ratings as people go channel-surfing for boring shit that hasn't bored them already). The larger problem is that thousands of unionized grips, camera operators, lighting and sound personnel and the like will be laid off for the duration of the strike. As glamorous as a career behind-the-camera at a television program may seem, it's a job just like any other job. Well, I take that back. Not like any other job. Not like the writers' jobs, in fact.

The Writer's Guild has one of the most diversely compensated memberships of any union in the United States. Some writers (who often are also producers, e.g., Tina Fey, of Saturday Night Live fame, whose new show "30 Rock" on NBC is co-written and co-produced by Ms. Fey) earn millions a year. Others are lucky to get a couple of small projects which will gross them about $50,000 annually. Some, who're now unemployed, live off of their royalties. The West Coast division of the Guild states that over forty per cent of their membership are currently unemployed. The articles I checked in today's New York Times didn't offer information about the employment status of the East Coast division.

So even while on strike, most of the Writers Guild members will have residual checks coming in (ironically, some for the very re-runs which are replacing fresh material during the strike). Sadly, their co-workers who light, decorate, engineer and edit the shows will not be receiving anything. I am clueless as to what the legal status is regarding whether or not they'll be eligible for unemployment (for what that's worth). And given that their average earnings pale in comparison to the writers' average earnings, I think that's a shame.

What's most appalling and, well, disgusting to me is that these writers are shameless enough to go after DVD residuals of crap that's really not even worth a first watch, for the most part. I don't want to bore y'all with another rant about the artless, air-headed garbage being peddled these days by the networks. The fact that the "Big Four" networks dominate the ratings is repugnant to me, when there are alternatives such as The History Channel, A&E (to some extent), Public Television, and, in my case, little or no television at all.

If anyone needs a union, it's the writers of fiction, poetry and non-fiction works. You know, those books lining the shelves at the local library? The ones that perhaps Americans should read during prime-time (after all, if the strike continues for more than a couple of months, they'll have nothing but re-runs, sports, and "reality TV" to see on the boob-tube).

Sure, there're millionaires who write books. But I can count on two hands (an maybe a few toes) the number of folks who've made millions writing books. I'll also stifle the need to go on a rant about the dreck that's made a couple of writers millionaires (see Jacqueline Susann).

I like toast. Do you like toast? More later.

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