Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just for the Hell of It -- Week Six



I spotted this van while heading home from work one day last season, and couldn't resist taking a photo -- just for the Hell of it...

                              Quotes of the Week

The following quotes come from LA Times reviews of two new so-called reality television shows, and express some of my feelings about the bloated, overhyped genre of look-at-me-TV.  Due to the nature of their jobs, television critics have to take a balanced approach to their reviews, but I'm under no such obligation.  I think reality TV has always sucked, from the very first "Survivor" two decades ago to the latest televised garbage being shoveled through the Toob into the open mouths of the viewing public.

But there really is no accounting for taste, and some of my friends -- smart people who I respect -- like this kind of programming.  Go figure.

“Reality TV these days is no longer just a comforting block of Velveeta sitting on your DVR.  It has strapped on a Mexican wrestling mask and peacocks its ridiculousness around the ring.”

Patrick Kevin Day, reviewing “The Chair”

“...it wasn’t so long ago that what we now call “reality television” was the stuff merely of science fiction and usually stood for some kind of deformity, some bad wrinkle, in the social fabric.  Now it’s just TV.”

Robert Lloyd, reviewing “Utopia.”

Granted, as a reflection of the current state of our society and culture, Reality TV offers us a collective look in the mirror, but the older I get, the less I like looking in the mirror -- and the less time I have to waste watching crap TV.  But if you happen to like it or make a living in "reality," then you're in luck, because we're living through a Golden Age of the stuff.  That it feels to me more like a portent of a looming New Dark Age doesn't really matter, because so long as the audience keeps tuning in, reality TV will continue to fill the airwaves -- and as of yet there's no sign of any diminution in the public's appetite for the Kardashians and Duck Dynasties of this world.

So hey, pop the tab on another can of taste-free Lite Beer, rip open a bag of low-sodium, gluten-free pork rinds, then plop down in front of the Toob and enjoy.  One thing I have to admit about television these days -- there's something for everyone.

But if you're in the mood for some true filmic reality that's actually worth watching, try a short film called Reefnet that was made by a few years ago by one of the camera assistants on my show.  Eugene "Sketch" Pasinski's lyrical eleven minute film was good enough to win a local Emmy up in the Pacific Northwest, and worth sharing with you.

I liked it a lot -- maybe you will too.

One final note:  Since last week's JFTHOI hit the web, another seventeen of you downloaded Jim Gallagher's e-book Zenia, bringing the total to twenty-one and counting -- well over ten percent of those who read the original post.  That's a vast improvement than the four stalwart souls who'd previously clicked the download link, and I thank each and every one of you for making the effort.*

Now I just hope you like the book as much as I did -- and if so, great... but if not, hey, at least you gave a brand new author a chance.  Anybody who has attempted to write a book knows how much work such a project is, and once finished, all you want is for people to read it and experience the world you've created.**  The possibility of any financial gain takes a distant back seat to the simple desire to get the book in the hands of readers. You answered the call, and as far as I'm concerned, your Karmic bank account is solidly in the black.

You guys rock.  Thanks.

* And if anybody is still interested in the free download but has yet to click that link, it's good for another two weeks. 

** Yeah, that's me in the back row, holding up my hand.  And one of these days, that book will be available… but not yet.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Here We Go Again

Season Four, Day Five

                                                      It's never easy
(Photo by Andre Williams)

The first few days of getting any show up and running are very physical. Arising to the blare of an alarm clock before 5 a.m. is the worst of it for me, but once on stage there's a real satisfaction in working at a steady pace, hanging and powering the lamps while joking and laughing with the rest of the crew. This lighting crew hadn't worked together in more than four months, so we had some catching up to do.

Not everybody is back, of course. A certain degree of turnover from one season to the next is the norm in Hollywood, for any number of reasons.  One or two people -- having apparently offended The Powers That Be in some way last season -- weren't asked to come back, while others landed new shows since we wrapped back in April and are no longer available. We have new set dressing and construction crews this season, along with a new production designer and camera coordinator.  A young woman who performed some mysterious tasks in the office the last two seasons is gone, having managed to land a Writer's Assistant gig on another show.  She was a lot of fun, and her big smile will be missed, but she wants to write for a show someday, and one path to a chair in the Writer's Room is an assistant's job.  We send her a collective Hollywood air-kiss and wish her well.

But for the most part, the crew from Season 3B (don't ask…) is back for Season Four.

The pleasant on-set vibe ended on Day Five.* We started at 6:00 a.m. sharp and went at it hammer-and-tongs with a palpable sense of urgency.  Problems with the dimmer console (which crashed five times on Day Four) prevented our OCDP from being able to get a jump on the lighting, so he was all cranked up on Day Five.  The pipe grid was jammed with lamps, cable, and grip equipment by then, which meant much of the work had to be done from ladders rather than man-lifts... and working off the very top of a wobbly single-sided 12 step ladder is a draining endeavor.

And of course, very much against The Rules.

Hanging lamps is enough work in a man-lift, but using a ladder requires climbing to the top step carrying a heavy steel stirrup hanger, a lamp, and a safety cable. The stirrup hanger bolts onto the pipe grid, the lamp bolts onto the stirrup hanger, and the safety cable is then installed to make sure the lamp won't fall on an actor's head if something unexpected happens.  Then the power cable is tossed up and over the pipes to an open circuit at the nearest breakout.  Once the lamp has been labeled with the proper circuit number using white gaffer's tape and a magic marker, it must be roughly aimed in full-flood mode with the switch on so the dimmer operator can bring it up whenever the DP or gaffer want.  Then you climb back down the ladder, move it, and repeat the process until all the lamps are up or somebody calls "wrap."  That ever-more crowded pipe grid means that much of the remaining work has to be done while in a very precarious position, sometimes standing on one leg and leaning out into space while hanging onto the pipe with one hand to keep from falling.

It's a bit like doing a series of intense isometric exercises all day long, each progressively more difficult than the last, and that just wears me out.

Our dimmer problems were compounded by a defective opto-splitter (a device that distributes DMX control cable to the 40-odd LED heads we're using again this year), which sank us down to the wheel hubs in soft, deep sand. And as tensions mounted, the proverbial shit began its inevitable roll downhill.

At a certain point in every job, there comes a grim moment when I'm tired, sweaty, frustrated, and faced with a situation that seems all but impossible.  Suddenly in the grip of serious grumpitude, the words "I can't do this one more fucking day" echo through my head.  That moment arrived deep into the afternoon of Day Five, when the rising tide of obstacles to getting the job done pushed me to my personal limit -- and right then I felt like Gulliver tied down by a thousand tiny Lilliputian ropes.

Something similar probably happens to my fellow juicers and grips from time to time, and I suppose we each have our own ways of dealing with such internal melt-downs.  I vented for thirty seconds or so, cursing as quietly but vehemently as possible, then took a deep breath and went back to work.  That's the only way I know to get through such a frustrating, dispiriting situation… and gradually, bit by bruising bit, I crawled out of that dark existential hole back into the light.

Again.

Okay, so maybe I won't retire today after all...

With Day Five behind us, the worst was past.  Day Six wasn't exactly a picnic, but at least the dimmer began working properly and the lighting was looking reasonably good.  There's much more to do before we shoot our first show, of course -- dozens of niggling little details to be dealt with -- but what lies ahead will be a cakewalk compared to Day Five.

It helped that the schedule shifted into show-mode two days later.  Instead of rising before the crack of dawn, we can now sleep in to a civilized hour before heading to work in the early afternoon.  We'll toil late into the nights, of course, but that's the deal on a multi-camera show.  Besides, the sun doesn't shine, the wind doesn't blow, and the rain doesn't fall on stage unless it's in the script, and the only "day" or "night" are those we create with lighting.

And so with fingers crossed  -- and a brand new pair of gloves -- we're on our way…

* It's also the day one of my fellow juicers snapped that picture at the top.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Just for the Hell of It -- Week Five


What do I have to do to get you to download a free e-book -- climb in a kangaroo suit and jump all around the stage?

Remember this?  The free e-book download of Zenia offered by author Jim Gallagher to the readers of this blog (on an exclusive basis, I might add) is still good, and will be until the end of September.

But that's just three weeks away.

Did I mention the download is free, as in no money, no obligation, no nothing required other than you clicking on the link to receive the book?

As a matter of fact, I did -- more than once, actually -- and as of today, more than a hundred and seventy people have read the JFTHOI post that brought this offer to your attention.

So how many accepted Jim's generous offer and clicked that link?

Four.  That's right, four downloads of a free book, out of a hundred and seventy.  That, dear readers, is pathetic.

I know what you're thinking. "Well jeeze, how good can a free book be, anyway?  If it was any good, why isn't Mr. Gallagher selling the damned thing? And why should I go to the immense bother of actually clicking a link, then waiting several seconds for the book to download?"

Ahem:

1)  It's pretty darned good.  Nobody was more surprised than I when it landed in my e-mail, and my first thought was "Oh shit -- now I'm going to have to read and pretend I like Jim's book."  Since he's an old friend, I really did have to read it -- but I did not have to pretend to like it, because it turned out to be a good, fast, fun read.

2)  Hey, you try selling a short novella by an unknown, unpublished author.  One way to get such work out is to offer it free, no strings attached, to a select, discriminating audience who has already demonstrated they're smart and like to read -- and that would be you.

3)  Do I even have to say this?  You click on all manner of Internet crap all day long without a second thought, but when a good book is handed to you free of cost or any obligation whatsoever, it's just too much trouble to take a look?

Wow.  That's disappointing, kiddos.

Industry veterans get a pass here.  Most are busy working and dealing with family life in those few precious hours away from the set, and don't have time for downloading(much less reading) e-books.  But the rest of you young wannabes out there might want to consider the karmic implications here. Many of you plan to assault the citadels of the film and television industry one of these days, and when that time comes, you'll arrive without knowing fuck-all about anything other than what you learned in school  -- none of which is remotely relevant to getting a job -- hoping against hope that somebody in the industry will take pity and give you an opportunity to prove yourself.

But really, why should they?  With thousands upon thousands of young wannabes already knocking on its doors, the Industry has all the warm body/cannon fodder it needs for the next five years.  So by what merit do you, having just rolled into town fresh off the academic turnip truck, deserve any kind of a shot?

Well, maybe a few of you have something special to offer. You never can tell.  After you've put in some time learning the basics, you might actually know enough to be somewhat useful on set or in a production office.  Because that's what it's all about: you developing talents and skills the Industry needs, NOT the industry helping you to reach your personal potential in becoming a happy, well-balanced, creatively fulfilled and fully self-actualized human being.

I hate to break it to you, but the film and television industry doesn't give a flying fuck about any of that.  The only reason industry professionals in this town might be interested in you is if you can help them one way or another.

What if all one hundred and seventy of you showed up knocking on the industry doors, but only four of those doors opened?  How would the other hundred and sixty-six feel?

Pretty crappy.  So how do you think I feel when only four readers out of a hundred and seventy bothers to download Jim's free e-book?

Look, you might not like Zenia as much as I did -- you might be indifferent, or even hate it -- but you'll never know unless you give it a chance... just like you're hoping somebody will give you a chance in Hollywood, New York, New Orleans, Georgia, or any of the other places they're grinding out the film and television sausage these days.

Think about it. The only way anybody gets the opportunity to show what they can do in this world is when someone else takes a chance on them -- and right now it's your turn to give Zenia a chance.  What goes around comes around, and one of these days (if you work hard at it) somebody just might be willing to take a chance on you when that's exactly what you need.  

Besides, you've got nothing to lose -- it's free, for chrissakes -- and if you like the book half as much as I did, you'll come out way ahead on the deal.

There are still three weeks to download Jim's free e-book, so get off your cyber-asses and do it, already.

Because I am not getting in that fucking kangaroo suit again...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to School



Traffic was already starting to build under the gray light of dawn as I crept through quiet city streets towards Laurel Canyon, there to make the oh-so-familiar drive up and over the hill from Hollywood to the aptly-named Studio City.  There, on what has become my home lot over the past decade, our little cable sit-com is gearing up for one last 22 episode season.  By late winter of 2015, we’ll have more than a hundred episodes in the can, at which point the above-the-liners on this show will relax into the warm embrace of syndication.  The details of syndication remain a mystery to me, but it will allow the multitude of producers on our show to enjoy a lucrative revenue stream as those hundred+ episodes run and re-run on cable networks for many years to come. 

For them, the grind of having to write, re-write, and crank out fresh episodes for this show will be over.  Most will go on to new shows at some point, but some might just get off the merry-go-round and relax by the pool, secure in the knowledge that syndication money is rolling into their bank accounts with the soothing regularity of waves crashing onto the beach.

I’ll bet that’s a nice feeling.  

There will be nothing for rest of us, of course -- those who did the heavy lifting required to put those hundred shows on the screen.  At the end of the season we’ll do what we always do: wrap the equipment until the stage is once again empty, then shake hands and go our separate ways, each of us melting back into the Hollywood jungle to hunt for the next job.  

But that'll be then and this is now, and there are many mountains of work to climb before the former becomes the latter.

I’m not bitching about any of this, mind you -- it is what it is and has always been.  If my heart was set on getting a share of that syndication gold, I should have turned my efforts to becoming a producer rather than settling for the life of a juicer.  When you make your bed in Hollywood, you'd better be ready to sleep in it. 

Still, four and a half months is a long time to be unemployed in this town.  I spent much of that dealing with family issues back on the Home Planet before returning to LA and the tender mercies (read: bi-weekly financial infusions) of the California Department of Employment. With the summer shows fully crewed-up and the new Fall season not yet underway, nobody I knew was hiring.  So I made the best of it, writing a few blog posts, getting some work in on the book, and trying not to get too fat and lazy.  I'm not one to go to the gym, but kept up my usual forty-five minute routine of stretching and core-work every morning, using a bicycle to run errands rather than the car during the day, and taking a nice long walk in the evenings.  That all helped, but nothing keeps you in shape for work like work -- and not having touched lamps or cable for a very long time, I knew my re-entry to the world of physical labor on set would be a challenge.

First, though, the challenge of Laurel Canyon.  After such a long stretch of very limited driving, it was a rude awakening to be thrust back into the white-knuckle stampede of over-caffeinated LA assholes in their BMWs, Audis, and Range Rovers, each frantic to get to work before the rest of Los Angeles awakened to clog the roads. But I refused to succumb to their lead-foot morning madness.  With a Beemer inches from my bumper heading up the canyon, I maintained a steady six-mph-over-the-limit pace, keeping my eyes on the road and off the mirror.  

Fuck that jerk and the expensive German horse he rode in on.

He blew past me at Mulholland, of course, where the north-bound Laurel Canyon finally opens up into two lanes, then raced down into the valley towards his Very Busy Day at his Very Important Job.  

My old, faded credential still worked at the studio gates, allowing me into the parking structure, and soon I was pedaling my ancient beater-bike with very little air in the tires across the lot to our stage.  The sets were mostly up -- slightly different this year, but essentially the same -- and the painters were hard at work turning the lightweight construction of luan and one-by-three pine into a convincing simulacrum of a real house.  There were smiles and handshakes all around as the grip and electric crews renewed acquaintances.  Then came the rumble of a high-torque motor and a hiss of hydraulics as the first forklift pulled in through the big elephant doors to deposit a heavy load of lamps. Many more would follow before this day was done.

The long wait finally over, our work now begins.  The next few days will be hard going as we push the big rock up the steep hill one more time, but after the spring/summer layoff, returning to this show -- as familiar and comfortable as a pair of old shoes by now -- reminds me of heading back to school as a kid.

And that feels good.    

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just for the Hell of It -- Week Four

Apples and Oranges

These props from the kitchen set of my little cable sit-com look like they came fresh from the farmer's market, but -- like everything else in Hollywood -- they're fake.

The quote of the week, from producer/director Ed Zwick, on learning:

"It's really only in the humiliation and abject despair of making horrible mistakes that you learn."  

He's right.  There's an apples-and-oranges difference between the kid-gloves comfort of book-learning in school -- theory -- and the bruising, punch-in-the-face ordeal of actual learning, otherwise known as "reality." The former offers an intellectual framework to add depth and context to one's understanding of a subject, but the latter -- real-world learning --  provides a whole new dimension to the process. Making mistakes isn't much fun, but anybody who doesn't make mistakes just isn't trying hard enough. 

The lessons learned from those mistakes will not be forgotten, and just might allow you to make a living in this town.


Then we have this, from a recent LA Times interview with Matt Weiner, writer and show runner of "Mad Men," discussing his new film "Are You There," and the current popularity of TV over movies among so many observers of the medium.

"For Weiner, the distinctions and divisions between television and film that outsiders might get hung up on stem from engines more economic than creative. 'I have a less artistic view of that whole shift, when I hear about TV being the new whatever it is,' he said. 'I'm here to tell stories: I don't even think about it."

"That's all happening in a world of hype that's unrelated to anything.  It really is. There was an economic boom in TV is what happened. These small channels that were in a lot of homes but couldn't get any attention could raise a lot of revenue with shows that were very specific. At the same time, in a parallel universe, the movie business has gone so broadly international that it feels like silent film."


That's an interesting perspective, particularly the second paragraph. While a few cable networks specialize in dense, complex, edgy dramas that attract a small and very loyal viewership -- shows that would horrify much of the mainstream television audience -- Hollywood's movie machine now favors massive, vacuous comic book epics big on action and violence, but offering very little else. Consciously designed to appeal to the widest possible domestic and international audience, these tent-pole blockbusters really do have much in common with the silent era, when Charlie Chaplin was probably the most recognized face on the planet. 

There's one big difference, though. As products of their time, silent movies are considered quant relics by modern audiences, and thus ignored, but the best of them are infinitely better films than crap like the "Transformers" series.


Finally (and apropos of nothing in particular*), another short, amusing meditation from Rob Long -- more-or-less his version of a name is a name is a name.  In retrospect, I probably should have included the link in this postbut that horse left the barn a long time ago.

That's all for this week.


* In other words, just for the hell of it...




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grips, Part Three -- Thirty Days



The third in an occasional series on my brief career as a grip way back in the day, before the road turned me towards the life of a juicer. If you missed Part One or Part Two, here's your chance to catch up.


You only need two things to become a dues-paying member of IATSE, the crafts union serving the film and television industry in Hollywood and beyond: thirty days of union work in a specific craft over the course of one year, and enough money to cover the initiation fee.* Check off those two boxes and bingo, you’re in.  

Piece of cake, right?

But as always, the Devil is in the details. Under normal circumstances, you can't work a union job until you're a member of the union, but you can’t join the union until you’ve worked thirty days on union jobs.

Catch 22, anyone?  

There are two basic ways to get your thirty days.  Either you work on a non-union show that signs a union contract during the course of production (the show “turns”), or you’ll have to accumulate the requisite thirty days while working as a “permit” -- an off-the-street hire -- which is possible when the industry demand for labor burns all the way through the union roster of eligible workers. Working as a permit is how I got my first few union days at Sam Goldwyn Jr. Studios, then over at Paramount early in my Hollywood journey.

By definition, the last-hired and first-hired “permits” are called in only when the town is extremely busy.  Back when scores of movies were being made every year in LA, things could get that busy for brief periods at any point from mid-summer to early spring, but the really hot time was July and August, when all the new and returning TV shows geared up for another season. During those three to four weeks of frenetic activity, permits were in demand, and non-union wannabes could log union days at full scale while learning the ropes on major studio lots.**  A permit job might last one day or five weeks, but rarely any longer. The unions didn’t want an influx of new members to expand and dilute the labor pool, so the individual department at each studio made careful to lay off any permits approaching their magical thirty days.  I can’t tell you how many stories I heard of a guy getting twenty-eight or twenty-nine days, then being laid off until his calendar year expired, thus reseting the thirty day clock to zero.  At that point, all credit for those previous union work days evaporated into the thick haze of yellowish-brown smog hovering above Los Angeles, which was frustrating as hell.  

A permit sat at the very bottom of a rigid pecking order enforced by the union seniority system.  Every warm body who found a way to get his thirty days and pay the initiation fee to Local 80 (grip) or 728 (electric) would start out as a Number Three, last in line for jobs dispatched through the union.  The first two years of every young grip's life in the union were an informal apprenticeship.  After that -- assuming he paid attention, kept his mouth shut, and worked hard -- he could become a Number Two, or journeyman grip.  Number Twos did the bulk of the the physically demanding rigging work needed by every studio at the time: hanging green beds, huge blacks, blue screens, and scenic backings to prepare stages for first unit crews (the “show boys”), then dismantling and wrapping all that equipment once filming was completed.  A Number Two could expect to remain that for at least seven years before being eligible to join the ranks of Number Ones, the first-hired/last-fired front-line grips with seniority to bump any Number Two or Three off a job.  Such a promotion was anything but automatic -- the rumor back then was that a Number One had to retire or die before a slot would open for a Number Two to move up.  Whether or not that was literally true, a newly-minted Number Three could expect to serve a decade of toil (much of that time in the studios) before becoming a Number One “show grip.”  Number Ones enjoyed a steady flow of work on first and second unit crews filming in town or on distant locations, and when things slowed down, they were first in line for any available studio work.  At times like that, most of the Number Twos and all of the Number Threes were out of luck and unemployed. 

Rank has its privileges.   

My permit grip job at Paramount ended after four days with a layoff slip -- a “bookmark,” as I came to think of these little yellow pieces of paper over the next couple of years.  Unemployed again, I could only hope that what I’d learned and the people I met during those four days might help me get more work from the studio.  On my way out, the gang pusher offered me some parting advice: “Call every studio once week,” he nodded.  “Make sure they know who you are.”

That’s just what I did.  Whenever I wasn’t eking out a subsistence income day-playing on low-budget movies or industrial films, I called every major studio lot looking for work.  Nothing much happened until the following summer, when Warner Brothers finally got busy enough to hire permit grips. With every sound stage humming and at least one big movie in production on the lot,  there was plenty of grip work to be done.

The Warner Brothers grip department didn’t expect much from permits, and for good reason.  Most were there for a paycheck and nothing more, and although everyone talked the big talk about getting their thirty days, considerably fewer were seriously pursuing an industry career.  While I’d worked on several movies by this point, most of the permits I met hadn't ever been close to a live set with lights, cameras, and actors -- but this was a whole new world, and my experience doing low-budget location features wouldn't be much help on the cavernous sound stages of Warner Brothers. The only edge I had were those seven days at Sam Goldwyn Jr. and Paramount, which gave me an inkling what we were in for.  Still, my ignorance of the studio grip world was a mile deep and twice as wide.  I had much to learn.

But while hoping for work as a lowest-of-the-low permit, there was no point worrying about any of that. My first goal was simple:  be ready for the call when the town finally got busy, then try to get those thirty days.  Everything else could wait.   

And when Warner Brothers finally called, I was ready.


* Initiation fees were around $1200 at the time. Now they're in the neighborhood of $5000, and the seniority system is long gone.

** Full scale was all of $8.65/hour back then.



Next time: Stage 16 -- and by "next time," I mean maybe next week, next month, or sometime after Christmas.  These grip posts emerge when they're good and ready, and only then.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just for the Hell of It -- Week Three

The Eponymous Clamp of Steve Cardellini*

                                            It's a thing of beauty...

This week's JFTHOI includes a link to another of The Anonymous Production Assistant's Crew Call podcasts -- this one with Steve Cardellini, inventor of the Cardellini Clamp.  Steve's namesake clamp is just one of many carefully designed, solidly built, and extremely versatile pieces of grip equipment he currently manufactures for the film and television industry.  You can find them at his website, a link to which lives over there on the right side of the page under "Industry Resources."  The many varieties of Cardellini Clamps are beautiful pieces of equipment in their own right -- to the point where I've been tempted to buy one just to keep around the house as an object 'd art  -- but they work even better than they look.  Cardellini Clamps soon became an essential tool for grips and electricians ever since becoming widely available back in 1992.

I had the pleasure of working with Steve on a few commercials in the SF Bay Area back in the 90's, and found him to be one of the smartest, most helpful grips I've ever met.  Whatever problem we ran into, he came up with a quick and elegant solution. He's a good guy too, and very articulate in this interview explaining exactly what a grip does on film and television shoots.  He also discusses a grip's responsibilities when working in the world of theater -- a very different world indeed.

It's a terrific interview, so check it out.  However much you think you know, you'll learn something new.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with On the Media, a weekly broadcast on pubic radio covering a wide spectrum of subjects relating to all forms of modern media.**  This very good, very smart, and occasionally confrontational show recently ran two pieces dealing with the many changes television has undergone during the past decade. The first --  Dare to Stream  -- discusses the effect internet streaming is having on the industry, while the second -- I Want My Slow TV  -- talks about an odd viewing trend currently making a very deliberate run on Norwegian television.
Very deliberate, the appeal of which is difficult for me to wrap my brain around.  But the  piece is short, to the point, undeniably entertaining, and a lot more interesting than the Norwegian television programming it describes.

Thus it's definitely worth a listen… drumroll please -- just for the hell of it.

* Major props to The Anonymous Production Assistant, who managed to use the word "eponymous" in two recent posts.  I turn towards the East and bow in her honor...

** A link to the home page of On the Media can always be found under the heading "Essential Listening" over on the right side of the page.